2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Launching a Debugger on application start

I have been working a lot with Entity Framework Migrations lately and needed to debug the migrate.exe utility, but to do so I needed the debugger to start when the process tried to start (as opposed to downloading the now open source code and trying it that way which I could have done).  I found this link on MSDN that addressed the situation perfectly.  Now everytime I launch migrate.exe it attempts to connect to a debugger prior to executing.  Lovely!


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Installing Windows 8 RTM on a Retina Macbook Pro

I thought I would capture my experience installing Windows 8 RTM on my Macbook Pro (the new Retina version with SSD).  First I must say that I am enjoying my Macbook much better now that I have an SSD in it.  Computers without SSDs are just painful to use these days especially as a developer. 

For the most part the upgrade went exactly like any other upgrade.  That was good.  When I booted up the first problem I ran in to was that the Trackpad drivers for the Mac wouldn’t load and I couldn’t load the Boot Camp Control Panel (weird error about not being able to access the startup disk).  I looked in Device Manager and found that there were two Trackpad devices registered, but they couldn’t start.  So I decided to start with those first two items and resolve them.  Thankfully the Internet is a wonderful place, full of all sorts of answers!

Issue #1 – Not being able to access the Boot Camp Control Panel

The essence of the solution was to run the Boot Camp Control Panel in a different UAC security context


Issue #2 – Trackpad wasn’t working

The solution is simply to map the drivers to USB Input Devices and then back and magically it works (weird I know!)


Issue #3 – Windows 8 Enterprise kept complaining about activating

From the command-line you access a UI that allows you to enter in a key that is valid which is what was causing this to complain in the first place.  This may be because I used my MSDN account to install Windows 8 Enterprise (I am doing that to test it out at my employer for those wondering about the license concerns there).


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8/21/2012–News of the Day

Technical News

  • I was troubleshooting an issue with a SQL Server script that we use to upgrade the database of an application we develop.  I ran into the weird situation where if I renamed a column in a table and then tried to update that in the script I would get a script compile time error saying that the column didn’t exist.  If I created a temp table with one row in it and did a cross join in the update statement like below the script would compile and run just fine.  Most of the websites I looked at explained that you could also accomplish the same thing by using dynamic sql with the update statement.  Somehow the compilation step for this “hack” I did with the temp table must be forcing the sql statement to be compiled in a more dynamic sense.

select ‘1’ as SomeText
            into #dummytable

update q set q.ValueTXT = convert(varchar(255), q.ValueTXTTMP) from [dbo].[SomeImportantTable] q cross join #dummytable p

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8/7/2012–News of the Day


  • How To Properly Define “Great Leader”–And Act Like One
    • A great leader helps a group of people identify what they want and how to get it, and then influences that group, free of coercion, to take coordinated action to achieve the desired outcomes. A great leader achieves results at a level far beyond what others achieve.
    • Leadership has three building blocks. We call these three modes of behavior the 3 As of Leadership.
      • Analyzing: Figuring out what outcomes are desired and how to achieve them.
      • Allocating: Establishing a plan to concentrate scarce resources, like money, time, and people, toward their highest and best uses, and away from areas of waste.
      • Aligning: Influencing people to behave in a coordinated way, according to the plan, to achieve the desired outcomes.


  • Defend Your Sweet Spot
    • People who are great at something often don’t know exactly where their greatness comes from. They have a sense that it’s bigger than they are. And with that sense comes a fear that the magic is ephemeral and if they distract themselves it will disappear. That fear is legitimate.
  • Let Your Ideas Go
    • One such game is Fold It, which helps scientists advance their field by knowing how a protein should fold. A woman, an admin who has no bio science background, ends up being the best protein folder in the world. This is something that wouldn’t have happened if she had to first be picked, or vetted or in any other way been “allowed” to participate.
  • Have You Fallen Into The Busy Trap?
    • We are creating the Busy Trap ourselves. I think it’s a way of avoiding our fear of death. If we are in the Busy Trap, we don’t have to spend time alone, or thinking about ourselves, or thinking deeply about the stuff we are interested in. By always being tired and overworked, we get to claim that we are “productive” even if the things we are doing are pointless. We get to prove our worth by being able to declare how busy we are. But, in a lot of cases we aren’t really doing much.
    • 3 Ways To Break Out Of The “All Work” Or “No Work” Death Trap


  • 15 Ways to Split an Epic, a Team Exercise
      1. 1. Extract a smaller story by focusing on a particular user role or persona. (“Prioritize your users first, then your user stories.” — Jeff Patton) E.g.: “first time user,” “social networker,” “my mom,” etc.
      2. 2. Extract a smaller story by substituting basic utility for usability. (First make it work, then make it pretty.)
      3. 3. Extract a smaller story by splitting on CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) boundaries.
      4. 4. Extract a smaller story by focusing on distinct scenarios, such as the “happy path” (main success scenario) vs. alternate (exception) flows.
      5. 5. Extract a smaller story by focusing on a simplified data set.
      6. 6. Extract a smaller story by focusing on a simplified algorithm.
      7. 7. Extract a smaller story by buying some component(s) instead of building everything yourself.
      8. 8. Extract a smaller story by discarding technologies that increase hassle, dependency, and vendor lock.
      9. 9. Extract a smaller story by substituting some manual processes for full automation.
      10. 10. Extract a smaller story by substituting batch processing for online processing.
      11. 11. Extract a smaller story by substituting generic for custom.
      12. 12. Extract a smaller story by reducing supported hardware/OS/client platforms.
      13. 13. Extract a smaller story from the acceptance criteria of another story.
      14. 14. Extract a smaller story by substituting “1” for “all.” (NOTE: Look for impliedinstances of “all,” as the word often won’t be written explicitly.)
      15. 15. Extract a smaller story by scanning for keywords such as “and,” “or,” periods, and other kinds of separators.
Posted in Business, Leadership, Technology | Tagged | 1 Comment

8/3/2012–News of the Day




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7/30/2012–News of the Day

Technical News

    • Estimating the Unknown
      • Remember, the project is a system.
      • Determine your preconditions for estimation
      • Use Timeboxes, Better Your Estimate as You Proceed
      • Obtain Data First, Then Argue
      • Your Zeroth Best Bet: Wait to Estimate Until You Know How the Team Works
      • Your First Best Bet: Make Your Stories and Chunks Small
      • Your Second Best Bet: Guess and Refine

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