Methodology, corporate culture, and satisfaction

March 18th, 2003 § Comments Off on Methodology, corporate culture, and satisfaction § permalink

James Robertson pointed me today to an interesting post by Peter Lindberg about the clash between corporate culture and Extreme Programming. In his post, Lindberg notes that unless an effort is done to incorporate that methodology to the company culture, it will likely fail when implemented. Or, as Robertson puts it, “[a] corporate culture has to be XP enabled before [a company] has any chance of success with it.” Lindberg also cites David Putman about the existence of two types of corporate cultures: emergent cultures, in which developers and management collaborate towards a methodology; and enforced cultures, in which management imposes methodological decisions upon developers. Obviously, as Putman writes, an emergent culture is required for a successful XP adoption.

I think this is valid not only for XP, but for any other methodology a company may decide to adopt. Any change within a corporation will go against the inertia inherent to the company, which means it needs to be understood and accepted by the whole relevant staff to be successfully implemented. I’ve experienced that fact countless times in every company I worked for. I can’t remember how many times I “persuaded” management of the advantages of a given technology or practice to see its implementation boycotted or ignored because management lacked will, vision, or understanding. Of course, if an implementation is to succeed, the company developers must embrace it as well. But that is less of problem since developers are naturally inclined to experiment with and acquire new technologies.

Cultures that deny those facts tend to create environments where innovation is rare and programmers are customarily alienated, which increases turnover and raises production costs. This is a common scenario here in Belo Horizonte, the city in which I live and work. Ironically, the same methodologies that can give companies competitive advantages are often shot down by management staff that is too ignorant or fearful. Even in a market where programmers are easy to find, companies are foundering here because they can’t manage change.

As a programmer, one of my goals is to create opportunities for beneficial changes. If I want to program better and get more satisfaction from my work, I need an adequate environment. To create this environment, I need to change the corporate culture in this direction. It’s a hard task, often unpleasant. Nonetheless, some of the most fulfilling moments in my career were those moments in which I managed to contribute to the improvement of the development process of the company where I was working for then and those changes resulted in a raise in the overall quality of that process.

The facts above highlight a well known problem: the productivity of a company depends largely on the quality and satisfaction of its programmers, which in turn depends on a satisfactory culture, which in turn depends of the adoption, by the hierarchical levels above the programmers, of values sometimes mistakenly perceived as opposite to market realities. This is a complex problem, and its solution can only be achieved by a delicate balance between the different areas of the company. Nonetheless, it’s a solvable problem as many companies have demonstrated. And once solved, it’s one of the keys for the success of any business.

Apache and security

March 18th, 2003 § Comments Off on Apache and security § permalink

Mark Pilgrim wrote today about Apache’s security vulnerabilities noting that only 25 vulnerabilities were found this Web server in the last five years (counting vulnerabilities from both 1.3 and 2.0 releases) most of which were not serious (like exposing a script’s real path under certain circumstances). For a server that boasts 11 million active installations according the latest surveys — three times more than its next competitor — it’s surely an impressive fact.

This finding highlights, in my opinion, the advantage of the open source development model. Besides showing fewer vulnerabilities, Apache also has a strong community whose response to those threats has always been faster, more efficient, and better handled than equivalent answers in similar commercial packages.

From my own experience, I still remember the day when Code Red struck IIS sites and my home machine was infected because I had forgotten to keep my copy up to date. I simply had no time or will to keep up with all updates and patches required for a secure server. Today I’m running Apache 2.0 at home, even under Windows, and I only run IIS when I need to test specific behavior (and I keep the machine disconnected from the Internet when I’m using it that way). As Pilgrim wrote in his post, one only needs to check a version number to ensure I’m running the latest copy of Apache. This is a priceless asset for any administrator or Web developer.

Mozilla 1.3

March 13th, 2003 § Comments Off on Mozilla 1.3 § permalink

Mozilla 1.3 is out. It features a complete anti-spam bayesian filter, a new API for rich text edition similar to Internet Explorer’s API, image auto-sizing, and more than 2000 bug fixes. Impressive!

I’ve been expecting this release for a long time because of spam filtering. I tested 1.3a and 1.3b, but found them to be too much bugged for daily use. I hope this release is sufficiently stable so that I can drop Outlook Express in favor of Mozilla Mail.

Omniglot

March 13th, 2003 § Comments Off on Omniglot § permalink

Omniglot is an interesting site about writing systems, which it classifies in alphabetic, syllabic, logographic, and alternative systems describing real and fictitious languages. Some systems are really cool, like 12480, which has a binary foundation. Worth a look.

(via Por um Punhado de Pixels)

Securing Linux

March 13th, 2003 § Comments Off on Securing Linux § permalink

Securing Linux is a nice article about improving the overall security of a Linux installation. Contrary to the popular notion today that keeping a system updated is enough to ensure security, the article goes to show that areas seemingly unrelated to security in the system are crucial to ensure it’s well protected.

1/2

March 13th, 2003 § Comments Off on 1/2 § permalink

I’ve fixed one of the two problems left in the MovableType installation after I changed servers. It turned out that one of the regular expressions used in the script that creates my blogroll was wrong. I don’t know if it was wrong from the beginning or if it was changed when I imported the templates (which is very unlikely), and I wonder how the script was working before as this bug was in a crucial part of the code.

The other problem is in the Related Entries plugin, which is not working properly. I still have to investigate the problem’s nature, however.

Vocabulary

March 12th, 2003 § Comments Off on Vocabulary § permalink

Perverse Access Memory points to the Schmies Vocabulary Test. It’s an interesting word test with 200 paired words that must be classified as being (almost) the same or (almost) opposite. I scored 162. Some of the words are of Latin or Greek origin, which made the test a bit easier for a non-native English speaker like me.

Relocation is over

March 10th, 2003 § Comments Off on Relocation is over § permalink

The relocation to the new server is finally over. This site is now proudly hosted on the Vilago server. The problems with the nameservers were sorted out, and the DNS change is probably over by now. I also managed to transfer all blog entries and related data to the new MovableType installation without any major problems. MovableType is complaining when entries are built, but it’s working. Except for those small hitches, everything went well.

Many thanks to Cristiano Dias, Vilago’s owner, for the invaluable assistance during the relocation answering my thousands of questions about the new configuration and guiding me through the new environment.

Relocation redux

March 8th, 2003 § Comments Off on Relocation redux § permalink

I’m having some trouble moving to the new server. The domain is not pointing to the new site yet because of some problems with the nameserver, and the process of importing the old entries to the new MovableType installation was not as smooth as expected (there are five blogs and a lot of templates and plugins to move). Well, as I did expect some difficulties, I’m not complaning… yet. But I hope I can complete the changes before the old server goes offline.

Relocation

March 7th, 2003 § Comments Off on Relocation § permalink

I will be moving this site to a new hosting server over the weekend. Expect some problems as the IP will change and I will have to reconfigure a couple things in MovableType and the site itself. After the move this blog will be have its own sub-domain although the old directory structure will continue working via redirects.

Where am I?

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