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Author Archives: Jim Bird

Jim Bird
Jim is an experienced CTO, software development manager and project manager, who has worked on high-performance, high-reliability mission-critical systems for many years, as well as building software development tools. His current interests include scaling Lean and Agile software development methodologies, software security and software assurance.

How to Cheat at Application Security

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Developers need to know a lot in order to build secure applications. Some of this is good software engineering and defensive design and programming – using (safe) APIs properly, carefully checking for errors and exceptions, adding diagnostics and logging, and never trusting anything from outside of your code (including data and other people’s code). But there are also lots of ...

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Devops and Maintenance go together like Apple Pie and Ice Cream

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One of the things I like about devops is that it takes on important but neglected problems in the full lifecycle of a system: making sure that the software is really ready to go into production, getting it into production, and keeping it running in production. Most of what you read and hear about devops is in online startups – ...

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Contracting in Agile – You try it

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One of the key principles in Agile development is “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation” Unfortunately, that means that if you’re trying to follow Agile methods, you’re left without useful guidelines to follow when it comes to contracting and coming up with contracts that fit the way that Agile teams work. Time-and-materials of course is a no-brainer, regardless of how the ...

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What’s better – Big Fat Tests or Little Tests?

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Like most startups, we built a lot of prototypes and wrote and threw out a lot of code as we tried out different ideas. Because we were throwing out the code anyways, we didn’t bother writing tests – why write tests that you’ll just throw away too? But as we ramped the team up to build the prototype out into ...

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Does the PMI-ACP set the bar high enough on Risk Management?

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I’m trying to understand the PMI’s new certification for Agile Certified Practitioners, and what value the PMI brings to managing software development projects using Agile methods. So I bought RMC’s PMI-ACP Exam Prep Guide which is written by Mike Griffiths, a guy who understands a lot about project management and Agile methods, and who has been heavily involved in the ...

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What can you get out of Kanban?

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I’ve spent the last year or so learning more about Kanban, how to use it in software development and IT operations. It’s definitely getting a lot of attention, and I want to see if it can help our development and operations teams work better. What to Read, What to Read? There’s a lot to read on Kanban – but not ...

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Fixing Bugs that can’t be Reproduced

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There are bugs that can’t be reproduced, or at least not easily: intermittent and transient errors; bugs that disappear when you try to look for them; bugs that occur as the result of a long chain of independent operations or cross-request timing. Some of these bugs are only found in high-scale production systems that have been running for a long ...

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Fixing Bugs – if you can’t reproduce them, you can’t fix them

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‘Generally, if you can’t reproduce it, it’s almost impossible to fix’. Anonymous programmer, Practices of Software Maintenance, Janice Singer Fixing a problem usually starts with reproducing it – what Steve McConnell calls “ stabilizing the error”. Technically speaking, you can’t be sure you are fixing the problem unless you can run through the same steps, see the problem happen yourself, ...

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Fixing Bugs – there’s no substitute for experience

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We’ve all heard that the only way to get good at fixing bugs in through experience – the school of hard knocks. Experienced programmers aren’t afraid, because they’ve worked on hard problems before, and they know what to try when they run into another one – what’s worked for them in the past, what hasn’t, what they’ve seen other programmers ...

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