Nov 25, 2008

Cloud Computing with Dave Thomas

Tonight was the night for the normal ALT.NET user group meeting and since Dave Thomas was in town and wanting to speak to the Sydney user groups we combined with the Sydney Java User Group, SyXPAC and the Scrum user groups to have a listen to what Dave had to say about cloud computing in return for a small plug about the JAOO conference (pronounced something like yao) being organised for next year.

It turned out that having 4 groups combined meant there were probably well over 100 people there and Dave gave an entertaining and opinionated view of what's happening in the cloud space and his thoughts on where things are going from here on in.

Here's a few things/thoughts I noted from the presentation:

  • Development as it exists today is getting more and more complex. The client/server computing model sucks and the industry is moving back toward a centralised computing model.  Why? Because it's just sooo much simpler.  Distributed computing is just too hard.
  • Cloud computing simplifies the equation because all that plumbing stuff is abstracted into a simple service based API.  And it has to be otherwise you can't scale it.
  • Relational databases are going to die off (eventually).  OR/M and other such approaches that effectively are wrappers for CRUD development are going to disappear as well.  SQL databases just can't handle the size and distribution needed for cloud computing - dynamic data storage mechanisms are required.
  • Javascript is going to be the lingua-franca for most development. Javascript isn't great but it's "just (only just) good enough" for the job and it has an incredibly massive installed user base - the run anywhere promise of java is a reality with javascript.  A lot of work is being done to make the javascript VM's incredibly fast as well.
  • Functional programming is the only way to deal with massively parallel computation.  The functional programming additions to C# are good, but shoehorning functional concepts into a language complicates it.  Better to use a specific language for a specific task (I couldn't help but thinking of F# here).
  • The need for people who can solve complex problems and do so efficiently is going to increase.  The graduate developer pool is decreasing and the educational institutions have dumbed down their curriculums so new developers are going to be ill equipped for what's ahead.
  • He made an interesting comment that he thought Java was pretty much dead (though he didn't outright say it, but the comparisons to cobol throughout the presentation were amusing) as Sun are not pushing the language forward. Microsoft, on the other hand, are doing a credible job in modernising their application development platform.
  • Microsoft Azure & Live Mesh both got a plug.  In fact he singled out Mesh as a great synchronisation platform for dealing with occasionally connected clients.

There were a number of other things he mentioned during the talk as well which are great food for thought and I'll need to let some if it settle in my head before forming my own opinion on it.  Overall, I thought it was an excellent evening and enjoyed getting outside the Microsoft bubble, meeting some people from the "other" development communities and to hear some opinions on application development from a completely different view point.

Oh and best of all, I think it confirmed to me that the Microsoft platform is a great bet going forward for application development - even in the cloud, although I think I'll have to spend some time and learn some serious F# & Javascript skills :-)

Nov 11, 2008

Certified Scrum Master Will Now Require More Than Just Sitting a Class

One of the big gripes people have about the CSM (Certified Scrum Master) accreditation is that you can get your CSM simply by attending a 2 day training session.  You could all but sleep through the course and still be certified.

Well, that's all about to change.  I had a heads up on this earlier this year and all I could say then was "Hallelujah!".  My feelings now are still the same.  It's a long overdue improvement to the certification process to require proof of knowledge and understanding by people being certified.

The process itself will be fairly simple - a straight up multiple choice exam, but at least it ensures that people now have a minimum guaranteed level of understanding and that can only help improve the strength and integrity of the certification process overall.  It's not a complete answer to the certification process but it's a step in the right direction, and that's what agile is all about :-)

InfoQ also has some thoughts on this at

Stop Team Explorer Trying to Connect on Starting Visual Studio

Many thanks to Rob Sanders for pointing this one out.

If you're a road warrior like me and you aren't always connected to a Team Foundation Server then you probably want to stop Team Explorer's default behaviour of trying to connect to TFS when starting Visual Studio.  Waiting for Team Explorer to time out before realising that you really aren't connected to a network can be extremely annoying.

So whip out regedit and go do the following:

Add a DWORD value called AutoLoadServer under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\8.0\TeamFoundation and set the value to 0.

This will fix the behaviour in Visual Studio 2005.  For Visual Studio 2008 use the ...\VisualStudio\9.0... keys instead.


Yay! Freedom at last! :-)

Nov 10, 2008

Presenting in Wollongong this Wednesday, Nov 12

For those of you in Wollongong (and the deep south of Sydney) I'll be presenting at the Wollongong .NET User Group this Wednesday on Agile Development.  I like my agile sessions to be very interactive so if you're going to be there make sure you bring along your questions and we'll have a great chat and a good, fun evening together.

I'll see you there!

P.S. More details can be found on the user group web site