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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.

Applying the 80:20 Rule in Software Development

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Managers don’t want to think harder than they have to. They like simple rules of thumb, quick and straightforward ways of looking at problems and getting pointed in the right direction. The simpler, the better. One of the most useful rules of thumb is the 80:20 rule: 80% of effects come from 20% of causes and 80% of results come ...

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Adding Appsec to Agile: Security Stories, Evil User Stories and Abuse(r) Stories

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Because Agile development teams work from a backlog of stories, one way to inject application security into software development is by writing up application security risks and activities as stories, making them explicit and adding them to the backlog so that application security work can be managed, estimated, prioritized and done like everything else that the team has to do. ...

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Making Devops work outside of Webops

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I’ve spent the last 3 years or so learning more about devops. I went to Velocity and Devopsdays and a bunch of other conferences that included devops stuff (like the last couple of OWASP USA conferences and this year’s Agile conference). I’ve been following the devops forums and news and reading devops books and trying out devops tools and Continuous ...

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Programming: Thinking or Typing, Thinking and Typing

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“If you don’t think carefully, you might think that programming is just typing statements in a programming language.” Ward Cunningham, in the Forward to The Pragmatic Programmer Software development – design, solving problems, coming up with optimal new algorithms, learning a new language, refactoring messy code into something tight and elegant – requires hard thinking. When you’re trying to do ...

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Don’t You Know that Support is the Most Important Part of a Developer’s Job?

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Agile development – because you are building working software faster and delivering it incrementally – forces development teams to face a common, fundamental problem: how to balance the work of developing new software with the need to support a system that is already being used in production, whether it’s the legacy system that you’re replacing, or the system that you ...

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Don’t let Somebody Else’s Technical Debt take you Under

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There’s a lot written about technical debt: what technical debt is and the different kinds of technical debt, how to avoid taking on debt unnecessarily when designing and coding and changing code, how much technical debt is costing your organization, and why and how and how much and when to pay these debts off. But all of this ignores massive ...

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Code Reviews Change Over Time

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We’ve been doing code reviews for about 4 years now. Getting Started with Code Reviews From the start, developers would help each other out, look at code when someone asked, or sometimes a lead or a senior developer would step in and review code if we were seeing problems in testing or if someone had just joined the team and ...

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The Real Cost of Change in Software Development

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There are two widely opposed (and often misunderstood) positions on how expensive it can be to change or fix software once it has been designed, coded, tested and implemented. One holds that it is extremely expensive to leave changes until late, that the cost of change rises exponentially. The other position is that changes should be left as late as ...

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This is how Facebook Develops and Deploys Software. Should you care?

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A recently published academic paper by Prof. Dror Feitelson at Hebrew University, Eitan Frachtenberg a research scientist at Facebook, and Kent Beck (who is also doing something at Facebook), describes Facebook’s approach to developing and deploying their front-end software. While it would be more interesting to understand how back-end development is done (this is where the real heavy lifting is ...

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Getting Application Security Vulnerabilities Fixed

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It’s a lot harder to fix application security vulnerabilities than it should be. In their May 2013 security report, WhiteHat Security published some discouraging findings about how many application security vulnerabilities found in testing get fixed, and how long it takes to fix them. They found that only 61% of serious security vulnerabilities get fixed, and that on average, it ...

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