Reflections on QCon

Qcon is a “Conference for the Enterprise Software Development Community;” a pretty hardcore techie bunch then. So it was really refreshing to see a whole days track given over to usability and a keynote by Larry Constantine on “Meeting the Usability Challenge”. Last night Martin Fowler and Dan North gave an excellent keynote titled “The Yawning Crevasse of Doom”. Their central theme was around communication between the customer / end user / consumer / business and the developers / IT. Martin drew a great analogy; do you want your communication between the two “sides” to be like a ferry boat or a bridge. Part of the bridge that Martin and Dan talked about was the use of ethnographic research – observing users in their natural environments and storyboards / wireframes / lo-fi prototypes to visually articulate requirements in a way that written requirements can never do. i.e. championing the stuff that I am passionate about, and what we at ThoughtWorks do deliver successful projects.

A couple of other nuggets that are worth sharing; Jeff Sutherland talked about how at Google they don’t have performance appraisals. Instead everyone has personal “three month objectives” that are posted on their blogs (the first thing that a new recruit at Google does apparently is creates a personal web page). In this way people can share with the broader organisation what they are doing. With google search experts and their knowledge can easily be found. Advertising to the organisation what your goals drives performance far more effectively than a sterile quarterly form distributed by HR…

Jim Webber gave an excellent and entertaining presentation on Geurilla SOA. If you get a chance to see him in full opinionated flow, you should seize it. (And I don’t just say that because of his kind words about my presentation, that I’ll upload soon).

At the conference one of the vendors was JavaBlackBelt. They had a multiple choice test on your knowledge of Java. Some of my esteemed colleagues did not fair so well on it; my programming knowledge goes little beyond

10 print “hello world”
20 goto 10

So I am very proud to announce that I came top of the JavaBlackBelt class and won a t-shirt, scoring 3/5 in a little over 40 seconds, a cool 2 minutes faster than the second placed geek. Don’t you just love multiple choice.

Top of class java black belt programmer

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3 Comments

  1. diana plesa · Thursday, 22 March, 2007

    Thanks for blogging about QCon! I just wanted to let you know that we quoted and linked from this entry on the over all QCon 2007 blogger’s key takeaway points and lessons learned article: http://www.infoq.com/articles/qcon-2007-bloggers-summary

    Feel free to link to it and of course blogging about this articles existence would help even more people learn from your and other bloggers takeaways.

    Thanks again!

    Diana
    InfoQ/QCon

  2. Google SW Eng · Tuesday, 27 March, 2007

    With respect to Jim’s talk, it’s too bad Goggle doesn’t actually use Burndown charts, Stand Ups and Retrospectives (at least in most of the AdWords groups). There also isn’t a lot in the way of teams (there are a number of “projects” that have one or two people working on them).

    The statement that Google doesn’t do annual performance reviews is completely wrong: they do them every year and is the basis for your bonus. The nice this is that they do it in a way that makes more sense: the content of the reviews are mostly done by your peers.

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