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Dating advice you need

Posted by daniel on March 22, 2004 at 3:56 AM PST

Does the advice your mom used to give you about dating apply to producing software?

Also in Java Today
, Kathy Sierra blogs that the answer is yes in in How are you on a blind date? For example the dating advice on presenting a good first impression by wearing a good (and clean) shirt translates to "If your code, API, interface gives users a first impression that you didn't take the extra care to make something look decent, that sets the tone for how they view everything they see of yours after that. And it takes a lot more work to undo a first impression."

I never thought of the advice to "be yourself" as applying to software, but it does. Kathy refers to Brenda Laurel's Computers as theatre in saying that "a software system should always 'stay in character', and that the end-user should be able to rely on what the system initially appears to be." Think of systems that were frustrating to work with because after you had learned "who they are" they presented an inconsistency that was difficult to reconcile.

Kathy's advice "It's not about you" took me back. She wrote "don't focus on what YOU do... focus your energy on that other person. Paste a picture of him or her (and if you're building for a large unknown group, just pick a picture of someone who represents a member of that target group) on your monitor." Consider that last piece that she doesn't focus on for a minute. Even if you are building for a large unknown group, she has you think about a single member of that target group. In fact, in a previous post she wrote about why you should go meet members of this group (and was told that "developers should just know their place").

I worked for many years as a radio DJ. When I started I read our ratings and realized how many thousands of people were listening to our station. Then I worked my way up to a really big station where I had a program director who got me to focus the other way. He said that even though you are reaching thousands, they are listening to you one or two at a time. They are in their car, in their home, or walking around with you in their headphones. Don't talk to them as if they are a group, talk to one person and each person will hear you talking to them.

The same is true for our software. Hundreds or thousands of people may use it, but they tend to use it one person at a time. Posting a picture of one person may help you talk to that one person using your application and may remind you that successful software meets the needs of that person.

Sometimes you need to ask people what they want.
ONJava is running a reader survey. Readers are asked to answer questions about their development and deployment systems and about tools they use. The survey also asks readers to suggest topics for future articles and books. The results will be summarized and some of them will be presented on the site.

In today's Weblogs , Raghavan Srinivas is worried that Big Brother is watching. He reports that the "The Chinese Government is insisting that wi-fi chipmakers must bundle a properiatary encryption software not only to make the chips in China but also to be able to sell units made of these chips to the Chinese market."

Is Branching open-source software a bad thing? Michael Nascimento Santos asks what you should do if you file bugs, enhancements, and fixes for an open source project and the project owner and committers ignore your input. He has had to branch several projects and isn't happy that he had to do so. He reminds project leaders that managing a project is about more than just writing code. The feed back to this weblog is already getting interesting.

Of course, if you're looking for controversy, check out the tempest raised by Hans Muller's post GNOME Linux Desktop Community Considers Java. Hans is responding to Havoc Pennington's recent article "Java, Mono, or C++". Responses take on Hans' statements on why "Java has not been incorporated in free software projects like GNOME" and "giving developers the right to fork the Java platform at their whim."

Attention webloggers There continues to be some sort of glitch in the system that is being addressed. For now to create a new
entry you should login and then go to the weblog home page.

In today's Projects and Communities , the Sodaplay project in Education and Research focuses on "simulations (or simulacra) in which communities of learners directly manipulate or modify modelled artefacts and rapidly create or augment new artifacts."

The Project iJXTA aims to provide "a universal discovery mechanism, and interconnect between JXTA and other device and service description networks." Initially the focus is on Apple's Rendezvous.

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