Money Dashboard unveils new Future Planner

My favourite money dashboard app, called Money Dashboard funnily enough, has today announced an overhaul to their “future planner” feature. That’s the bit that tells you when your various bills are going to come out.

I loved this feature so much it inspired me to create my own future cash flow app. It was only a pet project and now offline, but had great fun playing with the various concepts and issues (what account, how much, how often, setting balance alerts and predicting if/when going to go overdrawn, etc)

So I’m really pleased to see Money Dashboard’s latest development… and it’s worth trying yourself. The balance graph is especially excellent.

Agile Documentation

This is not an oxymoron. I believe:

Why less than or equal to 1?

I believe any technical solution needs just enough documentation to allow a developer and the solution team to move forward. Generally speaking, as a minimum I find 1 page of A4 that explains the system at a high level and 1 page of A4 that provides some more technical detail is enough.

The overview will help people understand what you’re trying to achieve with this solution and the technical detail will explain the logic and basic language requirements. For example, whether it’s C# or VB, XML or Angular. It might also explain some of the business logic.

Traceability

Documentation in agile projects is about providing quick traceability, or a mental debugger for developers and others involved in the project.

All too often in my professional career I hear so-called agile evangelists claim that documentation is no longer necessary and that we all live in a world full of peace and love and software that magically evolves. The first thing I do is tell those people they’re not agile, and in fact they’re doing more to harm the agile cause than anything else. I then suggest they bugger off and meditate or something and leave the actual developers to get on with the job!

Equally, I have seen documentation that was put together by people too far away from the technical solution or without enough expertise. This is especially frustrating as the documentation will say the system works one way and then you find it actually works in a completely different way. It’s got to strike the right balance. A picture or flow chart can be very effective too.

Talk? Don’t Talk.

Developers in particular dislike talking. Why do you think we prefer a career that involves looking at a VDU all day and actively avoids contact with other people?! We’re socially awkward, introverted and perhaps a little freaking mad, but we build logical systems that let people do amazing things. We don’t much care about what those things are, just so long as the person who wanted them goes away and lets us get back to our session of EVE, Minecraft or (my personal favourite) Civilization V. Though, I have to say the new Sim City has also claimed a soft spot. I digress…

Developers are not going to turn into sociable, chatty and articulate communicators just because someone in leadership says they should or because an evangelist read something on a blog and now things developers are more than coders. We’re not. Well, OK we are. We’re people. We’re fathers, daughters, sons and brothers. We are just trying to get along in life like everyone else. And we are coders. We’re not project managers, business analysts, or salespeople. We’re coders.

So when I hear leadership types tell developers to just go and talk to each other and work out the software through verbal communication I just cringe. And so do the developers being told to do that. Being told to “just talk” simply pushes the responsibility for the underlying problem onto the shoulders of developers when in fact the leadership should be removing whatever the barrier is and opening the doors for the developer to write better code more efficiently.

Developers are also forgetful people. We can have a discussion one minute about how a system works and then the next minute someone comes along and talks to us about another system. It happens. We have to juggle a lot of system knowledge. Being able to refer to a simple set of documentation to refresh one’s memory is a lifesaver.

Almost convinced?

I have worked in this sector for 15 years this year. Whoop, go me! I was doing agile before people even started calling it that. Most developers are the same. I have worked for companies with 12 people and companies with 12,000 people. I’ve been in places where developers are made to wear ties and places where there’s pool tables and free food. There’s value in all types of environment, but let me just say the happiest and most productive teams (and probably the most agile) I have ever had the joy of working with are those with just the right amount of documentation. Those places tended not to have pool tables.

Finally, aware that I am probably speaking to software people, think of this. The last time you installed a mod for a game, ripped some software through a torrent or installed something without a wizard, what did you do? You probably opened a short summary of the software and a brief technical overview of what you can do with it. Except you won’t think of it as documentation. You’ll know it as the loveable readme.txt.

Link

Tesco’s online meal planning software doesn’t need you to go and buy from their stores to be able to use it.

It has the ability to consider seasonal ingredients and does the whole printable page thing well.

http://realfood.tesco.com/meal-planner.html

Tweets from 1942

An account on Twitter is “live tweeting” events as they happened in 1942. The latest tweets have a rather ironic touch:

Followed by:

How ironic that 72 years later some of us would be rather grateful if the Germans would come in and do the same thing again – to be clear I mean drive the Russians out and nothing more! Germany today is a good example of a free and functioning democratic state, which is more than can be said of the Russians 72 years later!

Source: https://twitter.com/RealTimeWWII

Ukraine Crisis: Could it Lead to all out Cyber War?

The current situation in Ukraine has all the hallmarks of a 20th Century crisis of super powers. But in this age of electronics and digital mediums the upcoming battle could be fought over the web, and it could all get very nasty for our Western way of life. I believe this will happen unless something magnificent happens to prevent the crisis spilling over into a conflict. In this article I will outline what I think could happen and what the West needs to do to protect citizens and assets.

Continue reading

Mike Rouse

21/02/2014

Someone pointed out recently that generally speaking you only need to “be good” with eating 80% of the time. Being totally “good” is impossible. Don’t aim for that, aim for an achievable 80% and give yourself a break. Nobody makes the right and best choice for their body 100% of the time.

Simple C# Client for Bitext.com – Categories Analysis

I recently found an error in the docs for Bitext.com (specifically this link) – they tried to be helpful and link to a C# client for their service, but it looked a little out-of-date and was actually Java code.

Being the nice guy I am I’ve written it into C# and provide it below for your consumption. Please note, this is just for the Categorisation service they offer. You can easily adapt this class for the others.  Hey, maybe if they give me a free account (or just a trial account without the 30 day limit) I’ll do more stuff for them and their user community ;-)

Comments, suggestions, issues, etc, welcome…