Blog Posts

Mo Incentives Mo Problems

As I help to revolutionize how government buys IT by teaching federal acquisition professionals to avoid spending hundreds of millions for deliverables that don’t work, I have stressed that the best way to maximize value and save taxpayer dollars is to understand the principles behind agile software development and to construct contracts accordingly. Incentives (also called fee) have long been a significant part of government contracts–including contracts for software application development.

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All We Do Is Win Win Win

I have written quite a bit recently about my longstanding passion for improving the way government procures technology and manages technology projects. The administration has taken many significant steps toward that goal, and I have played a small role in the process to this point. But that role is about to get a lot bigger. As I wrote before, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)–the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States– challenged us to improve how government “builds and buys digital services.

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Learning the Playbook

Every (American) football fan knows that it is at least as important to know the playbook as it is to be blessed with speed, strength, and endorsement deals. After decades of failure with technology projects, including of course the high-profile debacle that was the initial rollout of HealthCare.gov, the United States government has taken steps to solve the problem. One of them was to create its own U.S. Digital Service Playbook, a guide to best practices for making technology work in government.

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Analytics With Apache Spark Is Here

As promised earlier this year, we at Vidya are proud to officially announce our newest course Analytics with Apache Spark. Spark is a cool technology making an enormous–and growing–impact in the Big Data space, so naturally there are a lot of courses out there. Ours is different. Naturally we spend a lot of time on Spark itself with numerous code examples and challenging exercises, but we also stress the importance of things that have always mattered and still matter–architecture, security, and software engineering concepts like unit and integration testing, continuous integration, and continuous delivery.

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The Fix Is In

I spent most of my career building software for U.S. government clients as a contractor, and one thing I noticed is just how bad the government is at running software projects. Take every bad thing every commercial software project ever did in the 1990’s, and it was built into the government software development process. It’s like modeling every high school after Bayside High. Eventually, everyone else caught on with the infamous rollout of HealthCare.

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Welcoming TRSS

Vidya is proud to be working with Thomson Reuters Special Services, a leading provider of threat detection solutions. Their software analyzes billions of public and proprietary records with innovative technology to deliver realtime, actionable intelligence to support sound decision making. We have joined a team of senior engineers with a wide variety of expertise. Currently, we are using Play Framework in Scala as the web application framework with an AngularJS interface to a backend MongoDB database.

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Talking Scala

If you are in the Washington, DC, area and love free pizza, I will be speaking at Polyglot Programming DC a week from today on Scala, a hot programming language for everything from web development to “Big Data” to Android development. Also, free pizza.

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This Week In #Scala

Every week Petr Zapletal, a software engineer at Cake Solutions, publishes a must-read post for Scala developers called quite intuitively This Week in #Scala. We are proud to announce that our latest tutorial Nine Reasons to Try Scala was featured in this week’s edition. We would like to thank Petr for thinking enough of our tutorial to include it in This Week in #Scala. Please check it out this week and every week for the latest news on the Scala ecosystem.

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Analytics With Apache Spark Is Coming

At Vidya we currently offer two courses, Software Engineering in Java and Agile Software Project Management with Scrum. In response to popular demand…OK, like eight or nine people…we are currently working on a third course to be ready by Summer 2015 tentatively called Analytics with Apache Spark. As “Big Data” becomes more and more of a thing, there just aren’t enough software engineers who know the tools and techniques for doing meaningful, performant, cloud-scale analytics.

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Yes We Kanban

Please take a look at my latest column for Government Computing News where I discuss why Kanban might be an easier agile alternative for government IT projects having trouble with the rigor of Scrum. Just to give you an idea, here is the unedited introduction. Over the last decade, many have written about what agile software development offers to government IT. Their success has led to a GAO report, for which I was a contributor, on making agile work in the federal government and the U.

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