TRIZ

End of last year I read this book on the TRIZ methodology, in English “theory of creative problem solving” originally developed by Genrich Saulowitch Altschuller in the former soviet union. Quite some time already I wanted to read about TRIZ, as I’m fascinated by the idea that you could systematically find and direct innovation. The book is also a nice introduction to innovation management by the way. Of course the method comes more from mechanical engineering and unfortunately does not translate directly to my space of computer science. That remains the open question for me, is it possible to find and document similar patterns in software engineering as TRIZ does it? Or do we maybe have something like this with architecture and design patterns more or less? It was an interesting read nevertheless and gets you thinking about how to systematically find new ideas and solutions for problems. And of course it is a nice piece of off-the-path thinking from Russia!

New paknet blog

Hi,

in the past there were multiple blogs for private, software architecture and the unofficial MIDAS weblog. I decided to restart with one single blog that can potentially include material for all topics and probably new ones as well.

Don’t expect any more material on MIDAS though. First Blue Elephant Systems is dead, MIDAS as a product is dead and the whole topic of IT management is dead in my mind. You will potentially see references to MIDAS from Atos or 4Things Solutions. These companies try to market what is left from MIDAS to HP OM customer that did not notice yet that MIDAS is gone with its author. The last brain that knew anything about the complete product suite is me, and I’m not with Atos nor 4Things. And don’t believe anyone else that they understand the product nor further develop it nor be able to maintain its rests, just don’t. I will keep the old content of the blog in the archive, this is where it belongs.

I’ve changed work and also the area. No more IT management, monitoring or stuff that is just a necessary evil that needs to be done. IoT and industrial internet/i4.0 or connected industry as it’s called is now the new topic. And its thrilling and interesting like hell! This is the topic I will be writing about.

Peter

6. Jahrestagung DGSD

Since June 2012 blue elephant systems is member of the “Deutsche Gesellschaft für System Dynamics” (DGSD), German chapter of the “System Dynamics Society” (SDS), the institution for the advancement of the system dynamics methodology for modeling and simulation of complex dynamic systems. On the 21st to the 22nd of June 2012 the DGSD held its 6th yearly conference on system dynamics (SD) in Frankfurt Main in the rooms of the PA Consulting Group and I had been participating for the 2 days for the first time.

A series of presentations, mostly in the areas of business and jurisdiction showed applications of SD from purely qualitative to very data-centered quantitative models, from very high-level academic to pretty practical levels. For me the purpose was mainly learning about system dynamics, seeing practical SD models and their applications in various fields as well as getting contacts in the SD community. In that respect it was a very interesting and mind-opening event that got me started in modeling and simulation.
I am a the moment evaluating SD tools, from XJ Technologies AnyLogic, via Consideo MODELER to Vensim, so I also wanted to see what tools other people use. Apparently due to the excessive price of AnyLogic a lot of people use Vensim and Consideo, although those usability is not even remotely comparable to AnyLogic. Well we need to see how we can solve this problem.
As an interesting fact, I found out that the University of Stuttgart, with Prof. Dr. Meike Tilebein is very active in the field, whose doctor father is obviously the BWL Prof. Dr. E. Zahn. When I studied BWL as my minor field of study at university, Prof. Zahn had been my professor in Organization (in-depth elective).

I especially liked the openness of the SD people, it was obvious that they are happy of every new member that is deeply interested in system dynamics, and obviously blue elephant is bringing in a new application field where SD is not yet widely applied.

Projango Agile

At blue elephant, we are using, SCRUM as our development methodology. Now Edgar, my project lead would scream and cry that we would not do it right, but we are doing agile development SCRUM-style, for me that is just fine. Doesn’t have to be the pure law 🙂

As the SCRUM tool of choice we use Projango the SCRUM project management of Xenatec. By pure coincidence Edgar is partner of Xenatec and co-author of Projango. Blue elephant has been, so to say, the major beta tester for Projango in the last year(s) and in the mean time this tool is our core tool for the development team.

The visually very nice Projango SCRUM-board is in daily use by the developers to work on their tasks so that everybody knows who is doing what as well as for time bookings. Using the board we do task break downs of the user stories and effort estimations in the team. Instead of someone writing the tasks in an excel to centrally enter them in a system, we immediately create the tasks, prioritize and estimate them online during our planning sessions.
Urgent customer requirements are entered in the backlog and linked via Weblinks with our bug tracking tool Jira.

The big advantage of Projango versus other SCRUM solutions, e.g. from Atlassian, is the very direct visual manipulation of stories and tasks. Just drag and drop them to prioritize or change the state. In-place editing and the engineer-images are very cool, so that one visually sees who’s working on or verifying a task. Also the impressive burndown chart and the generated MS Excel documentation help to manage and present R&D work in the organization.

We can only recommend Projango, so have a look!

IntelliJ IDEA

Can’t code without Since years now I work with IntelliJ IDEA as my Java IDE, which I introduced already back at HP as the Java development tool of choice. While there had been some small problems with performance in earlier versions, it got now better and faster again than ever before.
Meanwhile the Eclipse users around me are getting more and more and they brag about why it would be so superior and much better. I just let them talk and lough at them, because in the end I’m still so much more productive with IDEA. And if I’m the last IDEA user, I will never surrender to Eclipse, which is full of over-engineered features, usability nightmares and unnecessary complexities.
I just don’t understand it why the do not prefer IDEA, where do some people look at? Are they running blindly through the world or just behind the masses? Development is like handcraft, you need the right tools for the work, then it is already half done. IDEA is the powertool for Java and Groovy developers, unparalleled in this ecosystem. At least for me, even if I have given up on these Eclipse-guys meanwhile.

Worst Crap on a Computer: COM

Name it: COM. The worst that Microsoft ever produced as technology. Sure it is old now but still destroys the time of a lot of developers. Sad that some of my time, otherwise usefully spent has been spilled of this piece of crap. How can someone come up with the idea of requiring every thread to do some initialization and uninitialization before accessing a COM component? Do you know how difficult that can be if your threads get created in some far-away HTTP server, get cached and re-used for completely other thing, of course COM un-related?
So why did HP believe that they should write OMW in COM? I hate them for this.

And why does Jacozoom not finally support 64bit Windows, as they are the far best COM-wrapping library for Java? Don’t they know this and that all other libraries, including ComfyJ expose you all these nice quirks of COM that you simple do not want to deal with?

BarCamp Stuttgart 2011

I just a week ago got a tip from some ex-HP colleague that there is a yearly event of the local Web 2.0 scene here in Stuttgart, the Bar Camp Stuttgart (BCS4) for the forth time already. So this weekend from Friday to Monday the event took place in the Literaturhaus (Bosch Areal, MFG etc.) with main event days Saturday and Sunday (1.10/2.10). Unfortunately I could only attend on Sunday but still it has been an interesting experience. Dresscode relaxed of course, at the begin, after a gratis breakfast and a short introduction round for new attendents like me, the group of max 250 persons proposes sessions and plans the day on a board in front. Then one had the day over sessions in various rooms of the MFG as well as outdoor. That’s the sessions that I had attended:

  • Xing — how to use Xing in combi with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter for self-marketing
  • FAQ Existenzgründung
  • Stuttgarter Startup Szene — Networking
  • Deutschland den Geeks — political discussion about Pirate Party
  • Coworking

Unfortunately one could only attend one of the up to 8 parallel sessions, there were quite some interesting topics, sometimes far away from the actual topic of startups or Web 2.0, but everyone is free to propose a topic as long as it finds some interested people to attend.

The whole event was free, sponsored by MFG and others with optional sponsor tickets. Excellent catering framed the sessions. It was interesting to see how much potential for new startups and innovation ideas there is here in Stuttgart after all, although there were barely any potential founds in the FAQ session, only already-entrepreneurs. Obviously the climate for IT startups in Stuttgart is not as ideal as in other places like Berlin, although there is not some Coworking facilities, places like the IBH, where we had started and several events for new companies like this one.

So pretty interesting experience and I’ll sure attend next year’s BarCamp again. My page on Mixxt.

Gradle

For all my professional career, I have been involved in software build systems, starting with Make, Imake, Ant, Maven etc. Currently we use Ant at blue elephant but the build is huge, hard to maintain and totally unmodular. No point, that one could also do it better in Ant or let yourself subjugate on the rigid conventions of Maven. But what I was looking for is to minimize efforts of migration, be flexible to do things a bit adapted but still have the nice convention based build and especially the dependency management of maven.
It turns out that there is indeed a optimal solution for it and it comes with the name Gradle. We are anyhow using a lot of Groovy (see earlier posts), which is for me the optimal scripting language. Gradle is well documented, in contrast to the ever mystic maven, it is non-XML using a Groovy DSL as notation and it can use Ant tasks and scripts, which eases migration a lot. And anyhow, there some things in Ant that are unparelleled elsewhere, like the fileset-based operations and there are tons of Ant tasks out there, like xmltask, scp etc. that it would be dump to re-implement just for the fun of it.

Also there seem to be a lot of enthusiastics for Gradle, like this blog. And there is one fan more, so we will soon see some Gradle in MIDAS probably …

Java on MacOSX

I’m an Apple enthusiast, really in nearly all respects. I have a iMac, a MacBook, a iPhone and hopefully some time an iPad, I have no worries about the app store with either iOS nor MacOSX, not about their unti-Flash war, I pay their prices, watch their announcements, all, really I’m convinced.
But this message about Apple seeking to get rid of their Java Development Kit is too much. Java is not Flash. Java is the center of my world as a developer and architect. Java is the most important ecosystem and implementation system in the world. To try to drop that on the MacOSX platform is insane, mad, unbeliefable and stems from an unparalleled arrogance and superstition. Someone at Apple seems to run amok or has a malfunction in the brain, I can only hope that this isn’t Steve’s idea.
Hello dudes, all server software is Java, tons and tons of desktop tools, heard of Eclipse, Netbeans, IntelliJ IDEA? Does Tomcat, Jetty, Servicemix sound familiar? Any idea of what you are talking about? About the end of MacOSX as a developer platform, as a server platform, shall I continue?
You better think about that idea once more you crazy idiots at Apple!