Tim Murphy's .NET Software Architecture Blog

March 2008 Entries

RAW file CODECs for Vista

Here is a software suggestion for those of you out there that enjoy doing digital photography and save to RAW format.  I am using Photoshop Elements and was getting annoyed having to open all of my files individually in the editor to weed out the unacceptable ones.  The Windows Image viewer wouldn't read the RAW files, so what do you do?

The answer, as always, is Google for a free solution.  It turns out that most of the major manufacturers of digital cameras are now putting out CODEC files so that the Windows image viewer can read these files.  Now I will warn you that it isn't fast, but it is still faster than opening each one in an editor.


An Architect's Life As A Consultant

As with any career, consulting has a number of benefits and challenges.  As a consultant architect you get to experience more environments than a in house architect.  On the other hand you aren't assured that you will be doing architecture on every assignment.  One day you may be working as a developer and the next as a project manager.

So how do you keep your skills sharp and your resume viable?  Your resume is going to be littered with jobs other than the title of architect.  Within a project look for areas where you can apply your architecture skills. 

The first thing to look at is assisting your manager to resolve issues.  This demonstrates your ability to work problems and think at a project level instead of a code level.

Mentoring junior developers within your team is another way to improve your worth.  Besides helping the team to improve the quality of the product this also keeps in your mind the best practices of software development.

One thing you definitely need to do is mine the client for areas where they do need architects.  As consultants we sometimes have to sell our abilities more than full time employees.  This means seeking out areas outside of your current project to advance your cause.

Of course one thing that all architects should do is read books about architecture in general as well as skills that are related to job of an architect.  Mentors and peers aren't always available.

Lastly, get involved with your local architect community.  I would suggest joining your local chapter of IASA (Chicago chapter is coming soon).

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Do Companies Really Want To Ship Software

I was reading a blog post the other day about motivating software developers to be motivated to ship code.  While I agree this is a problem I have to ask the question "do IT departments really want to ship code"? 

Here is where I am coming from.  I have seen enough IT departments where they stack release on top of release at such a frenzied pace that it causes them to split their resources.  When you have multiple versions of an application that have to be tested you need more environment that all have to be managed. 

The result of this splitting and multiplying resources is that company doesn't have enough subject matter experts to do all the work.  This leads to developers making changes without understanding the implications to other parts of the system.

Another problem is that of keeping all of the testing environments synchronized and stable.  Of course since each environment will be on a different version of the code, but it is difficult to ensure the configuration lessons learned are applied across the board.

The point is that the thinner you stretch your resources the less likely you are to be able ship quality code on time.  It takes a very mature IT department to pull this off and it should not be attempted without robust lines of communications between team.  If this is done wrong it will actually show the development staff that they don't need to worry about getting their code done because the company is not serious about the product.  The best alternative is to serialize you projects although that won't make management the happiest.  As architects I believe it is our place to identify these risks and present alternative.

You Mean There's Lakes Under That Snow

It seems like years since we have had a lack of snow cover in the Chicago area.  It isn't that we got dumped on all at one time, but we seem to have had snow fall at least once a week since around Christmas.  This week I think is the first time since about the same period that we have had more than one day in a row above freezing.  Today many open areas are finally without snow.  Of course with the melting and the fact that it is raining we now have lakes where the snow once was.  I am longing for summer.  I wonder if it will ever come.  They are predicting snow again today and the rest of the week.  Sigh!