Good Article on Corporate Wikis

I keep meaning to link to this, but Katie Cunningham posted a good article on her blog about corporate wikis and how to keep them healthy.  Definitely worth a read.

I agree with most of what she's written, although I'm conflicted about not putting everything in the wiki and having multiple wikis within a company.  I can understand that having meeting minutes from five years previous might be considered cruft, but in my experience a lot of times that wiki page is the only place you're going to find whatever documentation might be left for that long abandoned project.

The problem with wiki balkanization is, again, that it makes it hard to find and share information within the company.  The best solution may be to have different wikis for different organizations married to a powerful and effective search engine.  But I haven't seen too many companies with powerful and efficient intranet search engines.

Aside from those nitpicks, I generally agree with the spirit of what she's saying and suggest any knowledge workers out there take a look.

Follow-up on Managing Sporadic Development Projects

Way back in December of 2012 I wrote a post Keeping Track of Sporadic Development Projects about methodologies for keeping track of personal software engineering projects that might go a month or two between spurts of work.  At the time I stated that I was going to try using MacJournal and that I'd post an update on my progress.  It's been over a year so I figure it's time to write the follow-up.

I did try MacJournal for a time.  It's a great program for journaling but it didn't meet my needs for this use.  What I really needed was a more comprehensive project tracking solution.  Keeping a journal of my thoughts on the project is a component, but I also needed a way to document the architecture more comprehensively and I wanted issue tracking.

For a while I switched to running a Redmine instance on an EC2 server but it was a hassle to manage Redmine, Jenkins, Gerrit, etc.  So about six months ago I switched to Atlassian On Demand for Confluence, JIRA, and BitBucket.  This has actually worked out really well.

In a perfect world I'd prefer not to have to pay the $40 per month, or whatever it works out to be, for a service that I only use off and on, but in truth it's a good deal and it meets my needs.  I can keep the larger architecture and planning documents in the Confluence wiki.  The source lives in BitBucket.  I've started doing proper branch-per-issue development with JIRA and git.

I'm not sure if it's due to having better project management tools or just life circumstances but I've found that after moving to Atlassian I'm actually doing a lot more development work on my personal projects than I was previously.  Having a Kanban board of JIRA issues with feature development decomposed and actionable tasks certainly doesn't hurt.

The Atlassian suite seems to hit all of my workflow requirements, with the possible exception that they don't have iOS apps for Confluence or JIRA yet.  I expect I'll stick with this toolset for the foreseeable future.

Finally got around to upgrading to Squarespace 6

I've been meaning to update this site from Squarespace 5 to Squarespace 6 for..um..a long time.  Finally got around to doing it.  Not totally thrilled with the SS 6 template options, since very few had support for two sidebars.  But in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter, and if I really cared I could roll my own template.  But I don't care that much.

Poking my Head Up

2013 has been an eventful year for me, and yet not so conducive to keeping up with adding content to this web site.  Things have finally started to settle down a bit, so I thought I'd post this to let the world know that I haven't forgotten about this site completely.

Back in April, I left my position with Booz Allen Hamilton.  It was a great job working with a great group of people and I was very reluctant to pull the trigger and move on.  But, a friend of mine was starting Virtru, a software company in the information assurance space, and I felt the pull of going back into the startup lands.  Unfortunately, that didn't turn out to be a good fit for me and a few months later we decided to part company.  We went our separate directions remaining friends, and I definitely wish my buddies at Virtru all the success in the world!  In July I took my current position as a Solutions Architect working for Cloudera.  The past few months have been busy getting up to speed with a new company, new customers, new expectations; the typical new job experience.

While there is a lot that I miss about my old position with Booz Allen, one potential upside of not working there any longer is that it frees me up to write more here.  It's not that Booz Allen doesn't allow blogging.  They encourage social media engagement.  But the problem is that being a large strategy and technology consulting firm, they don't want to be seen to be favoring one vendor versus another.

Of course their clients will receive the best advice Booz Allen is able to give when it comes to technology selection.  But it's awkward for the firm if thousands of their consultants are writing their personal opinions and experiences all over the Internet.  So, while there was no prohibition against blogging, I tried not to write on anything even remotely related to work.  And since I usually spend the majority of my mental energy on topics closely related to what I'm working on, it seemed most ethical to cut back a lot on anything that could look like vendor opinions or technology which might come up in the course of my job.

Being at Cloudera is somewhat easier in that respect.  Cloudera is a software company and so the field of what's "work related" is pretty clear.  I would define it as our products as well as those of our partners and competitors.  That's still a lot of technology, but it's nothing like being at Booz Allen where I felt that any product or company in the broad "IT" space was something I wanted to shy away from.

Again, these restrictions really have been mainly self imposed.  I'm sure that Cloudera would love for me to write a lot of glowing praise about our products (and we do have great products!), but this is my personal web site and I try to keep my content here separate from what I do during the day.  So I don't foresee myself writing too much about Hadoop here.  But there are plenty of other tech topics that interest me and I hope that I'll find the bandwidth to start writing more on this site again.

Spotify Removes 5 Play Limit for Free Users in the UK...But Why?

Spotify has announced that they no longer limit free subscribers to five plays per song for users in the UK.  While I'm sure this is welcome news to Spotify customers who don't want to pay for the service, I don't see the wisdom of this business decision.  There have been a number of articles about Spotify's business model losing them a lot of money and being unsustainable.  I'm not privy to their internal financials but I would have to think that they make more from their paying subscriber's subscription revenue than from monitizing free subscribers through advertising.

I like Spotify's service a lot and have been a paying member since the day they launched in the US.  For less than the price of buying one album per month, I have access to most of the music I would want to listen to.  That's a great value proposition for me and the service is well executed so I would be very unhappy if anything were to happen to them.  I would rather see them cut loose the long term free users if it would put the company in a stronger financial position.  Of course they will always have to offer some type of free trial, as you really need to take this type of service for a test drive before buying.  Although, then again, for $10 per month maybe you don't.