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Designing an HTTP API for CRUD operations        

Nearly every developer designing his/her first HTTP 1.1 API makes the mistake of mapping the Create-Read-Update-Delete (CRUD) operations very simplistically to the HTTP verbs Post-Get-Put-Delete respectively. This rather crude approach is likely to confuse the developers building client applications for that API, especially when it comes to the Update and Replace operations.  Read more

01-Feb-2016 02:30

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Joining a new team        

Whenever you arrive in a new team as a development or delivery manager, or perhaps as a lead developer, it's a good idea to dig into that team's people, culture, and work in some detail. This helps you to understand the team dynamics faster, integrate into the team, and find the one or two critical perspectives that might make a significant improvement in the team's output.

It's good to have a formal structure around the digging, rather than just being a randomizer. What follows is my structure. It's probably far from being the best approach, and isn't even particularly original. But it's been effective for me when working in line-of-business companies, and might be a good starting point for you.  

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31-Jan-2016 17:00

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BackgroundWorker vs async/await        

I wanted to see the benefits and drawbacks of moving my Windows service template from its current event-based asynchronous pattern (EAP) with the BackgroundWorker type to the more modern task-based asynchronous pattern (TAP) with async/await. The BackgroundWorker type still has its place, primarily with background operations behind a desktop UI. But there's no UI in a Windows service, so it's potentially an interesting place to explore the switch. Read more

27-Dec-2015 00:30

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Software quality defined by size of bonus?        

In any line-of-business company, some end-users and senior stakeholders are focused on building and releasing important functionality as fast as possible. For these people, short-term velocity is the key attribute, as long as the software is reliable enough to give the right results at the right times - for given, often unspecified, values of "right". Crudely speaking, the quality of software is defined by the size of their bonus that year. Read more

20-Dec-2015 23:00

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Line-of-business teamwork        

Somebody asked me what technologies had recently piqued my interest, and in what ways.

I'm usually more focused on solving interesting and/or hard problems, rather than on the technology itself. Without a specific grounding in the business problem, any technology-related changes that you make (for example, introducing NoSQL) will be built on a weak foundation and can be fragile and prone to disintegration.

Having said that, I'm just pushing the question one level down the stack.

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14-Dec-2015 22:00

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What is VaR?        

Following on from the last simple question, here's another: "What is VAR?" Again, a simple question deserves a (relatively) simple answer, so that's what I've tried to do below.

Let's assume you have a portfolio of shares worth 1M USD. What's the maximum you could lose over the next day or month or year? Without an answer to this question, you can't tell whether the return you're receiving on your portfolio is appropriate compensation for the risk of holding it.

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09-Dec-2015 22:50

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What do energy trading companies do?        

A software developer asked me a simple question: "What do energy trading companies do?" A simple question deserves a (relatively) simple answer, so that's what I've tried to do below. Read more

30-Nov-2015 13:20

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13 lessons from agile projects        

Over the years I've had the chance to work on many line-of-business software projects in various roles: developer, project manager, delivery manager, and solution/data/technical architect. This have given me some interesting insights into different flavours of the agile process. Here are some of the lesssons that I've learned. Read more

29-Nov-2015 13:15

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Squirbling with "Hello World!"        

There's an interesting, if now rather old, programming challenge on the Programming Puzzles & Code Golf StackExchange website. The task is to create the weirdest obfuscated "Hello World!" program using the language of your choice, but with the restriction that you cannot use any strings. Read more

18-Nov-2015 22:15

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Video link dump        

A link dump of some of the better videos I've seen over the past couple of years. Beware, some of these videos are most definitely NSFW because of the language used.

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22-Sep-2015 17:15

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A reusable Windows service template - part 3        

This is part 3 of a 3-part series that discusses a reusable Windows service template designed to:

  • Provide all of the service infrastructure, so that the developer can focus primarily on the real work that the service does.
  • Create a service infrastructure that starts/restarts, monitors, and logs the worker thread where the service's work is occurring.
  • Isolate the service's work from the controlling infrastructure so that any crash is logged properly and doesn't bring down the service. 
  • Have relatively simple and small code, so that it's easy to understand, maintain, and debug.
  • Enable the developer to test and debug the service within Visual Studio.
  • Allow the service to install and uninstall itself from the command-line, without the use of InstallUtil.
  • Avoid any cross-thread interactions that involve polling or "busy" loops.
  • Reduce application-level cross-thread interactions that involve shared memory.
  • Log everything that the service is doing, and especially cross-thread interactions.
Read more

11-Oct-2014 17:15

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A reusable Windows service template - part 2        

This is part 2 of a 3-part series that discusses a reusable Windows service template designed to:

  • Provide all of the service infrastructure, so that the developer can focus primarily on the real work that the service does.
  • Create a service infrastructure that starts/restarts, monitors, and logs the worker thread where the service's work is occurring.
  • Isolate the service's work from the controlling infrastructure so that any crash is logged properly and doesn't bring down the service. 
  • Have relatively simple and small code, so that it's easy to understand, maintain, and debug.
  • Enable the developer to test and debug the service within Visual Studio.
  • Allow the service to install and uninstall itself from the command-line, without the use of InstallUtil.
  • Avoid any cross-thread interactions that involve polling or "busy" loops.
  • Reduce application-level cross-thread interactions that involve shared memory.
  • Log everything that the service is doing, and especially cross-thread interactions.
Read more

08-Oct-2014 23:50