80/20 rule for blogs

There is a pithy saying I’m fond of

The first 80% of a product features will be developed in 20% of the time
The last 20% of a product features will be developed in 80% of the time

I think this is truth of it. I’ve just noticed my blog is following the same rule

80% of my traffic comes from 20% of the posts.
20% of the traffic hits the remaining long tail of 80% of the posts

The bugger of it is, is that I have no idea if a blog post will be in the top 20% of the posts when I’m writing it. Conversely, I’ve a shrewd idea when I post, if is going to be in the bottom 80% of hyper unviewed posts. This post will definitely be in the stinky 80% pile. It’s all fairly immaterial though – most of my post are just for my own personal amusement anyway. And I’m easily amused.

Not as irreplaceable as I thought

Like all software developers, I like to think of myself as being irreplaceable. Clearly no-one on the entire planet combines my depth of technical knowledge, my amazing familiarly with the business domain and my legendary humility. I am truly a unique gift to any and all employers.

So I was particularly disappointed this week when I was replaced my this play-mobile figure at the family dinner table . I was out that evening so the daughter placed this unkempt looking plastic figure in my chair . She felt it was an adequate or even superior replacement. It’s uncertain whether my wife noticed the difference. Certainly the level of conversation was improved that evening.

So not as irreplaceable as I thought. I once replaced a colleague with a blow up sheep and sent him the photo. I thought it was very funny at the time – I realise now that it wasn’t as funny as I thought. I really hope my employer doesn’t realise how easily I can be replaced by a cheap child’s toy.

HTTP 301: Moved Permanently (to Australia)

After 18 months in the planning I am formally issuing a HTTP 301 request for the Brown family – we are emigrating to Australia. Right now our life has been dismantled and put in a 20 foot shipping container – I’m surrounded by removal people, boxes and general chaos as I write. We fly out in two days and land in Brisbane on 10th August where we will reassemble the Brown life in sunnier climes.

I’m very excited / tired / sad / hopeful plus a number of other emotions that I don’t know the names of. But whatever happens it will be an adventure. I do know that you regret the things you don’t do; you don’t regret getting out there and giving things a go – a fair go.

So the 301 request has been sent. As Wikipedia (almost) says

The HTTP response status code 301 Moved Permanently is used for permanent software developer and family redirection

Wish us luck!!

10 Beautiful Software Development Haikus

mount fuji

In my day job I send a lot of very routine emails announcing new deployments or pleading with people to fix the continuous build. I’ve started to amuse myself by sending them as haikus (3 line poems with 5, 7 then 5 syllabus on each line). I don’t think anyone has noticed. They just think I’m being a bit more terse than usual.

I this spirit I’m going to share with you 10 more beautiful haikus about software development. I’m sure you’ll agree that they capture the exquisite beauty of the software craft, the bittersweet sadness of an application crash and the inevitable fragility of a software patch to live. They are also short, don’t have to rhyme and are easy to write.

Traditional haiku collections are split into seasons. I’ll also split them but into categories that better juxtapose the joys and frustrations of the software development cycle.

Development Operations

Build server is slow
Disk whirs, lights flash but no builds
Request SSD

Test build being deployed
We wait for the build green line
Sadness. It’s amber

TFS build red
Queue the integration build
TFS still red

Build has been deployed
Is available for test
Please handle with care


SOLID principles
Still don’t know Liskov

Flakey code base
Instigate peer code reviews
No one has the time

Application crash
Detailed error report but
Where is the stack trace?

The Workplace

Corporate fruit bowl
Apples, bananas and plums
No-one eats kiwi

Our daily stand up
Managers attend. Involved,
But not committed

Professional Development

Personal dev blog
I watch the web traffic. Why?
I don’t really know