A Super Heroes Guide To Development – 4. Holy Catchphrase RadMan!


4. Holy Catchphrase RadMan!

What are some well-known Catchphrases?

"Up! Up! and Away!"

Tarzan cry

"Hulk Smash!"

"Flame On!"

"It’s clobbering time!"

"Are You Having A Laugh?"

Crafting a memorable catchphrase is very important to the life of a Developer.

Having a simple catchphrase can be the difference between having a great product, and having a great product that is on people’s lips.

Can you envisage your catchphrase in general conversation?

At this point, I’d like to encourage some audience participation.

Let say, for example, that you and your company build software for the medical industry. The software does funky stuff, collating info at the surgery and sending it up to a super duper big hive-mind db.

I’m going to start us off with a few catchphrases .. but then I’d like to give you all the floor for a few minutes to come up with some more .. yell them out, speak softly .. whatever floats your boat.

"Big Brother Was A Lie"

"Saving Lives, Saving Data"

"Fixed Up Good"

"Practice What You Leech"

[at end]

If nothing else, making a Catchphrase will get you to examine what it is you do.

Get yourself a Catchphrase!

A Super Heroes Guide To Development – 3. The Super League Of Extraordinary Heroes


3. The Super League Of Extraordinary Heroes

Super Heroes are often seen working together. Teams. This is mostly because writers dream up situations which require more than the skills of an individual.

Remember Voltron? Either the Car or the Lion one. Battle Of The Planets? Each segment had a specific skillset that could be used in a particular situation.

A better, and clearer, explanation is that of the human body.

My foot can’t spoon me some icecream. My hand can’t headbutt the other prop as the scrum packs in. My head doesn’t do so well kicking down a door. Although I guess you can try.

Each segment of the body has it’s own unique talents, and each segment cannot be at it’s best without the other parts.

We are generally pretty good at pointing out faults in other people.

eg. when someone is obnoxious, or when someone has a chip on their shoulder, or when they are easily riled

Harder to narrow down are the gifts and talents in those same people.

When we do, and when we can bind ourselves together, well then most definately what we can produce is nothing short of amazing.

Look at successful teams that we know about.

There’s Google, that mighty jugganaut of development. There’s Blizzard, the game development company behind Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft. There’s the Australian Rugby team of yester-year, and the Kiwis and Springboks (ahem) of the now :).

Teams can do far more than an individual. One person has limits. A group of one person’s has limits, but they have been expanded far beyond the single radius.

And forming a team isn’t just about getting a bunch of coders to work together.

As a team, each understanding their strengths, what can be achieved is greater than one person on their own.

What is the essence of this point?

Simply, it’s that building relationships will grow us into something amazing. More than we could ever be on our own.

Friends often start companies/projects together. Why? Because they know each other well. They have a good grasp on the abilities of the team, because they have solid relationship.

Learn about the members of the team. How to get on with them. What they like, what they don’t like. How they react under pressure, how they deal with crisis. What kind of dreams they have. And what abilities they wield.

Then, when you know this, in the heat of the battle, you’ll be able to provide them with the support they need, and vica versa. You can be the buffer for their weaknesses, and you can rely on them to be strong when you are not.

Building a team of Super Heroes will bring strength beyond what you can do on your own. I should rectify that.

Building a team of Super Heroes who are bound together through cords stronger than mere acquaintance will bring you true power. A good team will help one another grow powers, address weaknesses .. they will .. just be .. awesome.

A League of Extraordinary Super Heroes is hard to find. Hard to create. But if you really want to achieve something earth-shattering in this world, and come out the other end a better more complete person .. then you need to join a team. Make a team. Lead a team. Find a team.

A Super Heroes Guide To Development – 2. Super Powers


2. Super Powers

Most Super Heroes have at least one special Ability. Something that helps to set them apart. Give them an edge.

The Flash. He’s easy. Speed .. baby, and lots of it.

The Hulk. Super Strength.

Daredevil, Spidey .. they’ve got agility, plus some kind of "Sense".

Supes can fly. So can Storm.

Xavier’s telepathic. As is Jean Grey.

The list goes on. And on.

Do you have a simple grasp of your own abilities?

Some of us might remember Roger Ramjet .. What a wonderful carton. Anyway .. what was his signature power, apart from gross stupidity?

The Proton Energy Pill! It’s a simple example of a clear understanding. As a kid, you knew that Roger couldn’t defeat the evil boss without swallowing the Proton Energy Pill first. It gave him 20 seconds of unrivalled power.

Maybe you can understand cryptology and security better than anyone else. Perhaps it’s your ability to stubbornly refuse to give up. Or that you can see to the heart of the matter at hand, if it be technical, or in terms of business. Maybe you can be true to a single vision. You might be able to juggle multiple jobs.

There are lots of skills and abilities in the world of Development.

Look at Bill Gates. Maybe we could code better than him. Or even envisage an OS that took Windows to the cleaners. But it seems to me that he played to his strengths. Sure, a lot of folk got burned in the process, but Bill Gates knew his abilities. He took hold of opportunity, having a vision. Some people probably thought he was crazy. But even including Google, Bill Gates has yet to be rivaled in terms of his singular success.

Do we dream of mediocrity? Lameness? A half-assed program?

No. We want awesomeness in a bottle. We want to become better and better at whatever it is we do.

And the other side is just as important.

Superman was a hero with many cool powers. But as we all know, Kryptonite made him as weak as a baby. It made him less than a super hero. It was his one weakness.

Know your Kryptonite!

Listing weaknesses wouldn’t be a smart thing to do, since noone likes negativity.

So here goes ..

– Too quick to dismiss another’s opinion, even if it’s wrong
– Too worried about what people think of you
– You can’t let that kind of character assassination go without a fight
– You assassinate people’s characters without hesitation
– Too easily fired up, on the forums, newsgroups, emails .. or even on your blog (heh heh)

But you know .. the biggest weakness in Software Development (really, none of the previous items matter in the light of this) is that we lack passion. We are too scared to jump in a learn new things.

Two years ago I had less than a sheeps dropping idea about real desktop development. I had bashed together some stuff myself .. but it was out of pure imagination rather than knowledge.

Now, I can truly say I’ve worked on some kicking applications.

And I know that in another year my current code now will scare the willies out of me. But that’s cool, really. I like that I’m getting better all the time, and I like that I can continue to learn.

It’s just plain wisdom that when you come to a better understanding of yourself, you can grow. You can increase your powers, enhance your abilities, and even get new abilities .. eliminating weaknesses.

Know your Proton Energy Pill! And know your Kryptonite!

Exercise your huge biceps, your fab abs, make sure your cape gets flight time.

When you know your Super Powers, show them to the world. Get them out there. It’s not enough to simply have them. You have to make them known. Put the ladies on display. As Ron Burgundy says in Anchorman, Give people two tickets to the gun show.

A Super Heroes Guide To Development – 1. Origins


1. Origins

The night is cold. A young man sits alone in a dark room inside a mansion, illumination coming from shards of moonlight through windows high above.

Outwardly he is a prime specimen of mankind. Strong, tall, broad-shouldered. At levels of fitness unknown to all but the most dedicated and abled performers. His mind too is trained beyond that of mortal ken. Intelligence and diligence combined into one.

But blood and chaos hound his steps. His is the pain of loved ones lost to violence. And anger drives him, pushes him, has almost consumed him.

The young man looks for a sign, some kind of symbol. His is a crusade, un-formed and shapeless though it may be at the moment. A crusade of violence against those who would be violent.

A sign.

Of course, most of us have already guessed the individual’s identity, and know his story.

A Super Hero was born that night (technically) when a bat flew through one of the open windows high above. Batman is an iconic hero. Gifted and trained beyond most people’s understanding, but with turmoil boiling away under the surface.

There are many Super Heroes.

Batman. Wolvie. The Phantom. Wonder Woman. The Flash. Robin Hood. King Arthur. The Fantastic Four. Elektra. Harry Potter. The Hulk. Tarzan. Spiderman.

They’ve all got Origin stories. Some are plain for all to see. Some are shrouded in mystery.

The importance of an Origin Story is undeniable.

Your Origin is your background. It’s where you came from, what made you the way you are.

When you understand where you come from you can better know where you are going and why. You can understand what inspires you and why.

The challenge from this point is a little off kilter, but then hopefully most of the points are the same.

Get an Origin Story, if you don’t already have one. Whether crafted from the bare fabric of reality, or from the hidden depths of your imagination. Have an Origin Story ready to whip out when it’s needed. Show it on your website. Send it out in a newsletter. Spread it far on a special podcast. Make it into a song. Write a book.

It might be about your company. It could be about you, the individual. Even for your product.

If you already have origin stories, then get them reviewed. Perhaps they need some embellishment. Dragons are always good value, as are busty warrior women. Or hunky warriors with bare chests hanging off the side of a boat. Why do all Barbara Cartlan novels have that guy on the cover?

Get an Origin Story!

A Super Heroes Guide To Development – Intro


Good morning everyone. Before we begin, I’d just like to say that any really funny parts of this talk are from the wonderful mind of my wife, Rach. She cast her expert eye over my talk, and turned it from mush into steak.

Let’s pretend we’re playing that American game called Jepardy.


– Rippling Muscles

– Huge Breasts

– External Underwear

– Capes


– Things that will win you a Karaoke Contest

– Things that remind you of the singer Meatloaf

– Things that make you think of Software Development ..
Not Generally

They are, of course, attributes of Super Heroes. Although they seem worlds apart, Software Developers and Super Heroes actually share a lot in common. Seriously.

Incidentally, here’s some images that should make you think of Software Development .. [show the piccies of Bruce + Geoff]


Let’s jump right in and take a look at A Super Heroes Guide To Development.

Aussie Devcon 2007 .. Part 5 (Concluding Thoughts)

Okay. Here goes.

Anyone who’s been viewing the comp.lang.clarion newsgroup lately probably noticed The Thread That Took Over The World. It’s probably not the biggest, and probably not the most annoying.

Bruce, I’m going somewhere with this .. ha ha.

I should have done these last two posts before getting involved. Or probably shouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place. Because now I’m in a different mindset.

Clarion 7 Release

Simple. You’re not going to see it next week.

Let’s get over that. Move on.

The People

The conference gave encouragement to many, many people. It wasn’t just because we got to talk to Bob Z and see Clarion 7. That was great. And that alone gave a lot of people hope.

There was a sense of comraderie. I had numerous conversations with people, about a whole range of stuff. We discussed raising children, rugby, music. We talked about the number of installs they have, and what kind of work they do. Topics ebbed and flowed. Politics, George Bush, the US .. and there was even a smattering of religion.

There was laughter. Bruce gives a great seminar. Whatever he’s doing.

There was mending of rifts. At least, for me there was. Well, probably not so much mending .. but approaching and getting a conversation started. Discovering what the other people had been doing. What they liked. How the were enjoying (or not) the conference. There wasn’t a rift as a "I don’t really know you". And that’s easily fixed. Take the time to listen when someone talks. Whether online or in person.

So for me, and thusly for my postings, the Conference was mostly about the People. And what a great People time it was!


Thankyou Tony!

Tony did a marvellous and exceptional job. The level of organisation (and thinking on his feet when presented with large mountain obstacles) was superb.

Tony, take a bow. Thankyou for your effort. It is very much appreciated.

There you have it.

Cheers, and next we’ll have my talk broken down into point-posts. With comics. Yay.

Aussie Devcon 2007 .. Part 4 (Sunday Content)

I’ve left this too late. It’s now over a week gone, and my brain has already filled up and pushed out a lot of short-term memories of the DevCon. Ha ha.

I didn’t attend any of the .NET seminars on Sunday. Church beckoned. But I did return later for a little of the community time.

Brett very kindly recorded the .NET session for me (cheers brother!). There’s a ClarionMag Article (rego required)  that covers important points. The prospect of taking notes to the talk doesn’t really fill me with excitement. I should have done it last week.

However, I’m going to put the audio files on the Download page. You can then listen to your heart’s content.

The Community Session was .. okay. Again, I missed some of it, right when the going was getting good. I think there are positive signs within the community. People are starting to understand what it takes to become successful as a group. Some have known it for a long time I’m sure. Others just won’t get it.

Tony (York) and Geoff (Spillane) are going to be putting together a Community Website. I’m not sure of the makeup, but from the session, it will begin with a listing of developers. I think. Let me know if I got that wrong.

Then it was almost time for the end. Bob handed out prizes to people, and good fun was had by all. Specially the raucous behavious towards the back in the third seat. Entirely by cooincidence that was where Bruce, Jono and myself were sitting.

The conference was a huge success. People came together. It was a good time. We laughed and joked. We were serious and strained our brains. We felt bad. And I’m sure there was a little bit of crazy floating about. Singing and wotnot.

I’ll leave my verbose and rambling thoughts for the next post.

Apologies for the lack of content in this post. If anyone has notes they would like to have posted up here, let me know. Or if there’s more blog links then let me know. I’ll linkage it.

Speaking of linkage, Richard Bryce has put up his breakdown of the conference on his blog.