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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.

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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Why are some bugs harder to fix than others?

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There are a lot of different factors that impact how long it could take to find and fix a bug. Some of them we’ve already gone over. How good the bug report is – can you understand it, does it include steps to reproduce the problem. And how old the report is – how much could have changed since then, ...

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Fixing a bug is like catching a fish

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Manager: So, how long will it take to fix this bug?  Inexperienced Programmer: An hour maybe? Two tops? I’ll get right on it! Experienced Programmer: Well, how long will it take to catch a fish? It’s hard to know how long it’s going to take to fix a bug, especially if you don’t know the code. James Shore points out ...

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It’s About Confidentiality and Integrity (not so much Availability)

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Everyone knows the C-I-A triad for information security: security is about protecting the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of systems and data. In a recent post, Warren Axelrod argues that Availability is the most important of these factors for security, more important than Integrity and Confidentiality – that C-I-A should be A-I-C. I don’t agree. Protecting the Confidentiality of customer data ...

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In Agile development planning, a security framework loses out

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In Agile Estimating and Planning, Mike Cohn explains the different factors that go into prioritizing work on a software development project: financial value, cost, knowledge and risk. He then works through a couple of examples to show how these decisions are made. One of these examples is whether or not to build a security framework for an application – an ...

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Monitoring Sucks. But Monitoring as Testing Sucks a Lot More

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At Devopsdays I listened to a lot of smart people saying smart things. And to some people saying things that sounded smart, but really weren’t. It was especially confusing when you heard both of these kinds of things from the same person. Like at Noah Sussman’s presentation on how rapid release cycles alter QA and testing, based on the work ...

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Does Devops have a Culture Problem?

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At the Devopsdays conference in Mountain View, Spike Morelli led an Open Space discussion on the importance of culture. He was concerned that when people think and talk about devops they think and talk too much about tools and practices, and not enough about culture and collaboration and communication, not enough about getting people to work closely together and caring ...

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Sooner or Later: Deliver Early or Minimize Waste

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There’s an obvious but important tension in Lean/Agile development around when to make decisions. Between the fundamental Agile position that we should do the most important and most risky work first, and the Lean argument that we should make decisions at the last possible moment. We need to decide early and try things out, iterate to minimize risk and time ...

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Agile Estimating: Story Points and Decay

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I’m re-reading Mike Cohn’s Agile Estimating and Planning. It’s the best book I’ve found on this and worth reading, even if he gets too Scrummy at times, and even if you don’t agree with everything he says. Which I don’t. For example, I don’t agree with him that Story Points are better for estimation than Ideal Days. When we do ...

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