2018-10-09

James Igoe's Reviews > Thinking Architecturally

Thinking ArchitecturallyThinking Architecturally by Nathaniel Schutta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An overview of architectural decisions, the politics and persuasion involved, and the needs to balance competing measures and attributes. A fairly easy read, but full of great suggestions, and, for many, reminders of how to handle being a senior developer or architect.

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2018-08-26

Complexity: A Guided Tour

Complexity: A Guided Tour Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy reading in systems and complexity, and this was a nice addition to my shelf, with a slightly different take than other books. I found a few areas in the first half a bit tedious, overly long, repetitive, and not illuminating, but generally, it's a great overview of seminal work and very thought-provoking. The first half overlaps but nicely differs from other books I've read, covering things like chaos and information processing, and the latter half of the book I found more engaging, focused on models, computation, network science, and scaling. As mentioned, although I found the first half a bit of a slog at times, the second half was very engaging.

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2018-08-26

Review - TFS/VSTS - Great Product, Ideal for Small Development Shops

This is a report a short review I provided for G2 regarding TFS:
What do you like best?

If you use Visual Studio for development, TFS, or its online equivalent VSTS, you can have a fairly seamless end-to-end integration. Out of the box, it provides code management, testing, work hierarchy in agile formats, automated build, and deployment.

What do you dislike?

Branching and merging can be a bit painful, in that it needs to be planned, and is not natively part of the process. Code review also needs to be planned and only recently has it become part of the process.

Recommendations to others considering the product

My only concern regarding TFS and VSTS is that Microsoft itself recommends using Git.

What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?

In my current role, I've joined a shop that has application development as secondary to their role of desktop OS and app deployment/maintenance, so their code management practices are minimal. I am working towards getting all of their code into TFS, converting much of it to newer technologies, and using TFS to automate the process of build and deployment, although the near-term target is continuous integration.
2018-07-15

Patents & Innovation

Over dinner, a friend mentioned that she thought a particular country produced the most patents, and although I remember reading the same article about 10 years ago, - I believe it was in the NY Times - it is no longer true if it ever was. Looking at patents per capita, I found a variety of articles based on quality sources, and although the country does not rank in the top 10, it does rank well in Bloomberg's Innovation Index.

The latter is not solely based on patent numbers since one needs to consider other measures of innovation. Bloomberg's scoring includes indicators such as R&D spending, manufacturing, the number of high-tech companies, secondary education attainment, and the number of research personnel.

On a separate note, countries with large engineering and semiconductor industries and those that score well in international comparisons on science and math will dominate patents and innovation, as well as those countries with freer cultures, although this is synergistic, in that both the industries and social capital measures feed each other.

Some of my own informal research into Hofstede's cultural dimensions and patent production found that the two (2) dimensions with the highest correlations and P-values under .01 were Uncertainty Avoidance and Individuality. Essentially, cultures that tolerate ambiguity and are the least rule-based, along with having high individuality, produce a larger number of patents.

Because of the high tech industries they support, their high levels of education, and their generally free culture, Scandinavia performs well. It is similarly so for South Korea and Japan, although they generally do not have what we would think of as free cultures, being much more rigid and rule-based, they do have very high levels of technical education and industries that rely on those skills.

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2018-07-07

The Low Probability of Hiring Software Engineers

A fairly complicated description of hiring, and although somewhat obvious, more easily described by a simple probability equation. So, excluding the likelihood of getting past the recruiter:

P(hire) = P(phone screen) * P(sample project) * P(2 interview teams) * P(accepting)

Even including some kind of Bayesian inference, increasing odds for passing subsequent steps, or tilting candidate characteristics, it still leaves the probability of a hire fairly low, and an increased likelihood of a rejecting a good candidate, a false negative, but one can understand the aversion to a false positive, as it can be very expensive.

Source: Bayesian Inference for Hiring Engineers
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