Welcome to the first new post on our brand new website! Thank you for checking it out. At Vidya we pride ourselves on embracing emerging technologies and helping our clients leverage them to realize their potential. This website proves we practice what we preach. We built it with Hugo, a stunningly fast static-site generator built on Google’s popular Go programming language, which continues to shoot up the Tiobe Index.
The Code Writers Workshop is taking place outside Washington, DC on June 9th with the theme “Software Leadership in a New Era.” The speakers are a diverse, distinguished array of industry leaders who have done great things around the world. The keynote speaker, Kara DeFrias, was Director of UX for former Vice-President Joe Biden! The surprising thing is they’re letting me speak too. I have the honor of speaking on the topic “Here’s What’s Trending in Software Engineering.
Anyone with a basic knowledge of Scrum, and certainly everyone who has taken Agile Software Project Management With Scrum, knows the role of the ScrumMaster–to be a servant leader, to act as guardian of the Scrum process, to remove obstacles for the delivery team, to negotiate any tension between the Product Owner and the delivery team, to encourage the team to self-organize and be cross-functional, and so on. These are so well understood they’re almost clichés.
News broke recently that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) contracted the development of an iPad app called the Randomizer that eliminates any hint of profiling by airport security by simply directing travelers according to an arrow onscreen that randomly points left or right. That’s it. No, really. An arrow that points left or right. At random. Over and over. The cost? $1.4 million. Yes, that’s dollars. Naturally, the Internet sprung into outrage.
At an event recently, someone was kind enough to introduce herself to me, and during the course of our pleasant conversation, she asked me, “So are you a programmer?” My first impulse was to acknowledge once again that I look really nerdy. I embrace that. But my second impulse was to be mildly offended. I wasn’t sure exactly why. As I have reflected a bit about that, I think my visceral reaction to being called a “programmer” arose from my perception of programmers as just people who write code, which is a science.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.