Sunday, April 26, 2009

ACCU conference 2 of many (Thursday)

Thursday kicked off with a keynote from Linda Rising in which she described her personal journey of discover of, and with Patterns. I’m lucky enough to count Linda as a friend, and I already knew much of the patterns story she told. Still, I had fresh insights and understanding.

For many of those in the room Linda’s ideas and thoughts were completely new. She finished by presenting us with something of a challenge - albeit on originally thrown down by Christopher Alexander - What are you doing to make a better world?

Next I went along to Phil Nash’s talk on Objective-C. He tried to teach Objective-C in 90 minutes. He almost managed it too! I don’t really code anymore but I enjoyed this insight into another language and how Mac’s and iPhones are programmed.

Mark Delgarno of Software Acumen and Helen Sharp of the Open University workshop on “What motivates software developers?” provided plenty of food for thought.

Helen reported on her research which can be summarised as: “Nobody knows” - basically there are many studies, but none of them actually bothered to define what is a “software developer” so they covered project managers, coders, testers, and possibly many other people who are involved one way or another with creating software but have very different approaches, skills and motivation.

For me Thursday’s sessons finished as they had begun with Linda. The good news from this session is that we, as human beings, are hard wired to be optimistic. The bad news is that consequently that means we cannot estimate work and even when presented with evidence we make the same mistakes. I’ve mentioned our confirmation bias before in this blog, this presentation was a though examination of the issue.

A new innovation at ACCU conference this year was the introduction of lightening talks. After the main sessions on Thursday and Friday an hour was given over to short (5 minute), talks and presentation from various people. The speakers and subjects were only agree on the day and several of the talks were only written in the hours before.

I got several nuggets of information from these talks. Two in particular stick on my mind: the Google Web Toolkit as an alternative to Selenium (Paul Grenyer); and the advantages of giving specifications by example rather than by rule (Keith Braithwaite),