Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where is it?

Where’s my phone update.. I want it now..

Ok, let me slow down a little.. I have a HTC Mozart, I love this phone. It does everything I need it to do (though copy/paste would be useful because I’m to lazy to write down the occasional phone number).. Microsoft are in the process of rolling out a small update to improve the update process before they release the much anticipated NoDo update..

So, the update updates the updater and does nothing else for me… So why do I want it so badly..


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Technical Debt

We’ve all head this phrase before, we all know it exists, but yet it always seems to be the one thing that all projects carry around. Technical Debt tends to be more apparent in larger, longer running projects but I think it tends to stem from 2 main sources.


As projects continue, more often than not you’ll find that the original assumptions made at the start of a project turn out to be incorrect, or that the system was designed with set requirements in mind but may not suit requirements that will pop up in the future.

The other thing that adds to “change” are phased project implementations. It’s implementing a core system that will have future features implemented.


Technology is the other key to technical debt. I know that the software I write now is massively different to the software I wrote 3-4 years ago. Dependency Injection, Linq, Entity Framework, Unit Testing, Mock Frameworks, Continual Integration, the list just goes on. The problem is that retrofitting some of these new technologies that can help to make your development efforts more productive, more testable and everything else costs time and money.

In addition to this, larger technology shifts like Windows Forms –> WPF/Silverlight are often not feasible.


I’ve read a lot of articles about how to reduce the risk of technical debt, and a lot of it is focused around Agile. “Embrace Change”. Well, this is all well and good, but there are still issues with this. The assumption is that the system(s) were developed in the first place with a full suit of unit test, encapsulation and everything else you can imagine to reduce the risk of change. The simple fact is that this very rarely happens.

The other end of this is the cost. Any project that will help to reduce technical debt needs to factor this work in, and unfortunately, it’s one of the first things dropped from a project because of time/cost constraints. Businesses just don’t care about it, as long as the application continues to run.

So, my question is, how else can you deal with Technical Debt in a way that has little cost on business?

Plan B?

I was just made aware of an open letter from a few “young” Nokia Shareholders who seem to be a little less than happy with the latest happenings at Nokia. While reading the open letter, all I could do was laugh.

My thoughts on the new strategy are fairly straight forward.. Nokia’s brand is declining and they have a large amount of money being sunk into two different smart phone operating systems. If Nokia don’t do something soon, they will start loosing money at a massive rate. The cost of bringing Symbian up to scratch is going to be huge which leaves them with Meego.

The problem with MeeGo is that there is no app or developer eco system for it, which will mean that if/when the OS is ready, they will be on the back foot fighting for developers. The time lag between releasing the OS and phones running it is likely to be long, and the whole time Nokia will be losing more Market share and shrinking any money they have left in the bank.

Taking up another OS may not be an ideal solution for a company that has always stood on it’s own, but it is a strategy that can be executed quickly and can ensure the brand continues in the short term. This is the only reason (in my opinion) why Nokia are moving to an existing Smartphone OS. It’s about turning the company around quickly, with the biggest profit margin possible to allow them the freedom to execute a longer term strategy to differentiate themselves from the market.

Plan B in my option, would be the ultimate mistake for a company that’s lost it’s way, and would only speed up the decline of the once leader in the mobile space.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

IE9, Windows Phone and More

What an exciting time.. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that I’m a heavy user of Microsoft Technology, it’s part of my job, it pays the bills and all that other stuff. Sometimes, working with Microsoft Technologies can be painful. I have had several older windows mobiles, and cursed nearly every day, I’ve worked in office environments where IE6 was the standard, and cursed at older versions of SQL Server. You name it, I’ve played with it.

But lately, I’ve been really excited about the software coming out of Microsoft, and the announcements from the last week are no exception.


Last week, the IE9 RC was released. I’ve been using the Beta since it was released, but the RC just blew me away. It’s performance was impressive, leaving the beta looking like panda bear on pot. The hardware rendering is awesome, start up time quick,and in general just feels extremely responsive.

This has all been achieved by:

  • A new Java Script engine
  • Hardware accelerated rendering through via GPU
  • Running the Java Script engine in process (no more COM interop)
  • Multi-threaded support
  • Reduced Memory usage.

The biggest punch with this release is the new Anti-Tracking protection. This is something that had been hinted at but nothing had been shown until the RC.

Usability has also had a big working over in the RC thanks to lots of feedback from the beta. Tabs are now by default next to the address/search bar, but can be moved to sit under the bar like they were in previous versions.

I think Microsoft are on a winner with this, and I hope they keep this sort of innovation up for future versions of IE.

Windows Phone

The first update for Windows Phone should be out in the next few weeks (March??), and this brings with it a few small updates related to 3rd party app performance and copy paste. Both of these features are nice, but not killer inclusions.

What IS exciting, is the talk about the first Major update which should ship this year. The update is now looking like it will include IE9 (sure, trimmed a little for mobiles) with the same rendering capabilities of the desktop counterpart. And by “same”, Microsoft are even talking hardware accelerate via the phones GPU!!! This I can’t wait to see.

The other big part of the announcement is the support for running apps in the background. Yes, I know, other mobile platforms have this, even the old windows mobile had this.. But it’s still big news for WinPho7..

Last but not least is the feature that I think is going to increase the uptake the most (besides the Nokia announcement) is the integration of Sky Drive. Right now, office documents are stuck on your phone (unless you have SharePoint), but being able to load/save documents in the cloud is a HUGE update, and one that was sorely missing. This one feature is probably the biggest inhibiter of businesses picking up these new phones.

And then..

There are lots of other bits happening as well, like Win 7 SP1, NuGet, the fast approaching VS SP1 and lots of other projects that have been popping up around the place.

I think in general, Microsoft has really turned a corner and seem to be shipping quality software again with fairly regular releases.

I think it’s a great time to be involved in the MS Tech space.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Windows Phone on Nokia

It seems that the rumours were all correct, Nokia and Microsoft have announced (finally) that Nokia will be dropping the Symbian OS that has been their staple platform for over a decade in favour of Windows Mobile 7.

With Nokia’s declining market share at the cost of both iOS (iPhone) and Android, Nokia really needed to do something and quick. I believe there were 3 options that Nokia could of taken:

  • Upgrade Symbian
  • Android
  • Windows Mobile

Upgrading Symbian as far as I’m concerned was the least optimal solution. The cost of bringing Symbian up to scratch (Modernisation) would cost a large amount of money, and leave Nokia in the phone OS Market. By dropping Symbian, Nokia now has the ability to cut the fat from their business and focus on more innovating hardware.

Both Android and Windows Mobile could have been options, particularly when you look deeper into the announcement. This isn’t just about the phone OS, it’s also about the eco system including Maps, Advertising and Search.

The other part of the announcement is what I believe the real clincher for Nokia was. By dropping it’s focus on the Mobile OS, it allows Nokia to continue working on areas where it still leads the market. That is innovative hardware and it’s market lead in mobile imaging.

I believe that this move is going to be huge for both Nokia and Microsoft in the long term, but unfortunately the announcement has already been met with a log of negativity, including Nokia’s Developers staging a walkout, and compounding Nokia’s problems with a falling share price.

Personally, I’m excited, and can’t wait to see where this new partnership heads.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Geek Rage

I thought I’d give it a few days to let the dust settle before I threw my opinion out into the world about Red Gate’s recent announcement about charging a fee for .Net Reflector.

This tool has been effectively free for a long period of time, from way back when Lutz Roeder first created it, right through the purchase by Red Gate. Not long after the initial purchase, Red Gate broke the product into two versions which were Free and Pro. As you can imagine, one was free and the other not.

This next part is purely speculation, but I suspect that Red Gate have not made very much money from the Pro Version because the Free version was adequate for most people. I mean, lets face it.. I don’t actually NEED .Net Reflector. It’s just a nice to have tool.

This brings me to the point of my post.. Red Gate are a commercial company. No commercial company is in the market to not make money. Even those big and nasty open source companies are in the business of making money, but they work by generating revenue through services.

But it’s $35 dollars.. Yep, the free version is now $35 dollars. I don’t know about you guys, but I spend more money than that on Coffee each week.. It’s also not even close to amount of money that most .Net Developers spend on tools like ReSharper ($199 for a personal license) or many of the third party control libraries out there.

I don’t think $35 dollars is a lot to ask for to ensure that a tool used by a large amount of the community continues to be maintained for future versions of .Net, and I think Red Gate have the right to do this.

That’s my though on the issue, and I know that if/when I need to use reflector again, I’ll happily suck it up and spend my $35 dollars (Tax deductable of course) .