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Agile Resolutions

Posted by daniel on January 5, 2004 at 10:09 AM PST

In the U.S. we often begin the new year with a list of (usually) overambitious changes we want to make in the new year.

Like many, my list includes exercising more, eating more sensibly, and losing the weight I meant to lose next year. There are personal items I'm happy with that I'm continuing with such as spending lots of time with my daughters, keeping in contact with my friends, and trying other styles of writing. There are technical items that have gotten out of hand since I started editing Almost every article I read makes me want to learn more about a particular technology or technique. JXTA, Aspects, and XDoclet are at the front of a very long list.

This approach feels very "waterfall"-like. Upfront analysis (what is it I want to change next year), a fair amount of design (writing down the resolutions and ordering them), leaving twelve months for implementation. As with software projects, I'm usually off-track within the first couple of weeks. I shrug and either forget about the resolutions or think "next year I'll really do them". This sure sounds to me like a development team setting delivery goals knowing that they've missed the goals on every project in the past. "This time", they assure management, "we'll deliver on time."

A completely different approach is taken in Reiki's principles. Each one begins, "Just for today". So instead of beginning each year with promises of how the next 12 months will go, we begin each day with some thoughts about how just that day will go. Sounds more manageable. Sounds agile. There's a meaningful feedback loop. How did I do yesterday? Ok, here's what my plan is for today.
Maybe next year I'll resolve to try these daily resolutions.

A resolution I should have made is to emulate the Knowledge Folders that are featured in Satya Komatineni's latest blog entry My labor of love during this Christmas and New Year leads off the

Projects and Communities section. He has organized many of his notes and lessons learned in his collection of Knowledge Folders that he shares. From the JavaDesktop community we highlight : Simon Phipps' report that there's been a Big speed step in NeoOffice/J 0.7.1 . Simon writes that " Patrick Luby's latest release of his Java-front-ended [...] loads and runs way faster than the previous one "

In Also in Java Today, James Gosling writes Yahoo! The latest Mars Rover landed! He congratulates the JPL on a job well done and reports that he "watched the landing on their streaming video feed, and it was lovely. I visited them recently and they were all immensely tense. Testing.... Testing... Testing... Even while the spacecraft was in flight - they can fix software bugs on the fly. It was great to see a control room full of tense geeks explode with joy when they finally got landing confirmation."

Michael Nascimento Santos blogs about different techniques for querying objects in Java in JXPath to rescue! He provides three examples of selecting all orders that contain more than 5CDs. His first version is in what he calls plain Java. He also takes the time to present the same query using the syntax that will be available in J2SE 1.5 using generics and the new for syntax. Third, he presents a JXPath example.

In Weblogs , John Reynolds writes that "Data Abstractions are wonderful things, except when they aren't." In Piercing through data abstractions John explains his difficulty in answering a request from his QA team that wanted to know which fields in a relational database corresponded to particular input fields in the HTML forms. This entry continues a sequence of blogs entries in which Reynolds has argued for the usefulness in this setting of the coming Java metadata spec.

In Interfaces and checked exceptions are like butter and sand: they don't mix well Satya Komatineni writes "Interfaces as such, even when they have exceptions defined, have an issue with exceptions. Because these interface methods must be able to pass through the exceptions from the implementations. Chained exceptions have atleast solved this problem consistently. Nevertheless unless you define at least one checked exception as part of an interface you have no exception to piggy back on."

In Looking Back, Looking Forward , James Gosling compares the PDP-8/I circa 1970 to his Sun employee ID card that is a Java-based smart card. "I find it amazing that the hot machine on the left, capable of doing all sorts of interesting things with satellite telelemetry (including making high resolution photographs, which was a neat trick with only 8K!), has less horsepower than the cheap piece of disposable plastic on the right." Gosling also points to a proof that takes advantage of a CPU whose clock rate accelerates exponentially that P=NP (or as Gosling puts it P==NP). He discusses some interesting implications of this.

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