Øredev 2011 in the rear-view mirror – Part 5

Jan 20, 2012 · Follow on Twitter and Mastodon conferences

This is the fifth part of my sum-up of Øredev 2011. These sum-ups were supposed to be rather short, but have grown out of proportions. I will try to keep it down.

Greg Young – How to get productive in a project in 24h

In his second talk, Greg Young talked about how to kick-start a new project. First of all, as a consultant, do you know what the company does? Have you used your their products or services? If you have no understanding of these fundamentals, how will you deliver value?

Greg described some tricks of his to get started quickly. He usually starts off by inspecting the CVS. Projects that have been around for a while and still have tons of checkins, could possibly be suffering from a lot of bugs. A certain area with a massive amount of checkins could possibly be a bug hive.

So, looking there can quickly tell you where a project hurts. Naturally, many checkins don’t have to indicate bugs or problems. The team could just be building stuff. However, at the very least, many checkins does mean that people are working in that part of the project.

This is a simple first step that will make you able to discuss the project after just an hour or so, and maybe even pin-point some problems. This will give your customer the impression that you are clairvoyant (or at least know what you’re doing), which is why they pay you.

If a project doesn’t have continuous integration, at least set it up locally. It doesn’t take long and will help you out tremendously. You’ll be able to react when someone breaks the build, the second they do it…well, at least it’ll give you pleasure.

Greg demonstrated how to dig even deeper, using NDepend. This part was awesome and showed various metrics, like cyclomatic complexity and afferent/efferent coupling, various graphs that make NDepend great, then told us to keep an eye out for black squares in the dependency matrix (circular references…bad) and rigid couplings (should be broken up).

All in all a great session that gave me a lot of things to aim for when holding presentations myself. As a consultant, you shouldn’t miss this video.

Jeff Atwood – Stack Overflow: Social Software for the Anti-Social Part II: Electric Boogaloo

I won’t attempt to cover everything in this keynote. Instead, watch the video. It’s filled with fun gems, like when Jeff describes how things that are accepted in a web context would be really strange in real life. For instance, Facebook lets you keep a list of friends. Who has a physical list of friends in real life?

Jeff talked gamification and how to design services like a game, by defining a set of rules that describe how a service is meant to be used, then reward those who follow the rules and punish those who don’t. And since games have rules and games are fun, designing our services as games mean they will become fun as well, right? Well, not necessarily.

However, rules at least tell us how we are supposed to behave. It doesn’t work for all sites or services, but should be considered for social software. Game and play generally makes social interaction non-scary, since everyone have to conform to the rules.

When created Stack Overflow, Jeff and Joel therefore did so with gamification in mind. You may not notice it at first, but everything is carefully designed. For instance, people used to complain that you can’t ask a new question from the start page. This is intentional. Before you do, they want you to read other questions, see how people interact and learn the rules.

Stack Overflow adapts several concepts from the gaming world, where “good” players are rewarded with achievements and level up as they progress. It has tutorials, unlockables, etc. Without first realizing it, Jeff and Joel had created a Q&A game with several layers:

  • The game – ask and answer questions
  • The meta-game – receive badges, level up, become an administrator, etc.
  • The end-game – make the Internet a little better

This makes it possible for Stack Overflow to allow anonymous users, unlike Facebook who decided to only allow real names in order to filter out the “idiots”.

Since Stack Overflow awards good players, bad players are automatically sorted out. The community is self-sanitizing. People are awarded with privileges if they play good enough. It’s like Counter Strike, where you have to be a team player. If not, the game will kill you 🙂

I could go on and on, but I recommend you to watch the video instead.

Tim Huckaby – Building HTML5 Applications with Visual Studio 11 for Windows 8

Tim has worked with (not at) Microsoft for a long time and is very charismatic. What I really liked with his session was that it seemed a bit improvised, unlike most sessions at Øredev.

What I didn’t like as much, was that it seemed too improvised. Because of lack of time and hardware issues, Tim failed to show what I came to see: HTML5 applications with VS 11.

Tim begun with stating that he hates HTML but loves HTML5, which he claims is about to “cross the chasm”. This means that it’s a safe technology to bet on, since it will be adapted.

How do we know this? Well, this graph illustrates how a technology is “crossing the chasm” in relation to how people adapt it:

The Chasm Graph

Tim thanked Apple for inventing the iPad, since thanks to the iPhone and the iPad, Flash and plugins are now out and HTML5 is in.

Large parts of this talk were amusing anecdotes, like how Adobe once published a “we ♥ Apple” campaign, to which Apple responded with “we MISSING PLUGIN Adobe”.

Tim went through some browser statistics, explained why IE6 is still widely used (damn those piracy copies of Win XP in China) and concluded with some small, so-so demos.

Tim Huckaby – Delivering Improved User Experience with Metro Style Win 8 Applications

Tim started this talk with Natural User Interfaces and some new Windows 8 features, like semantic zoom, a desktop mode behind Metro (hi Win 7), smart touch and a task manager.

Tim demoed Tobii on a cool laptop with two cameras, which allows it to see in 3D. The rest of the talk was…enjoyable. I had fun, but wasn’t too impressed. The Kinect demo was cool and let Tim to claim that the upcoming XBOX Loop with Kinect is a small revolution.

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