If you can't predict a system's scalability in the face of increasing load, you'll struggle with choosing the right design for your system - whether that's design at a high level such as component separation and interfaces, or at a low level with algorithms and data structures. Inevitably you have to test and test again - it's very difficult to predict scalability by just looking at an application's design and code. And for testing, you need a good metric that will tell you about scaling characteristics. Read more
One of the most basic exercises when you learn a new programming language is to count the frequency of all the words in a text file. Google has many C# word-counting examples, most of which are rather verbose and/or dubious.
Just how compact and fast can we do this? Behold the magic of Parallel LINQ and regular expressions.Read more
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
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.Read more
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
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
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.Read more
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.Read more
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
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
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
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.Read more