A Weekend Full of Adventure

2806200993510PM This weekend was one of the most disparately eventful times in my life.

Saturday morning was taken up with a Client meeting. Impressive I hear you say.

Saturday afternoon I moseyed on down to Barcamp Sydney 5. It was a great time. I met folk, attended some seminars/presentations, and gave a talk right at the dying stages of the day that was disjointed, had people packing up all around me, and was cut short.

Narky much? No, not at all! Seriously, read on. This whole thing worked far better than I could have hoped.

I was so filled with unbridled stu-thusiasm that I took my guitar and burst forth in song in front of the entire population gathered for the final segment.

“Super Powered Geek” was a song I wrote in two days. Thursday night I wrote the first verse and chorus, Friday night the second verse.

The live performance was, well, interesting. Totally unexpected. The plan was for the 8th and final point of my talk, A Super Heroes Guide To Development, to be titled “A Little Splash of Crazy”. The point being that we need to, in our development, be willing to inject a bit of the crazy.

However, because it was the end of the day, and let’s be honest, everyone’s pretty beat and tired by that stage, I didn’t have a hope of getting through the talk.

Everybody was heading towards the Big Room, so putting the 8th Point (yes, capitalised, because that’s how I roll) into practice, I begged Ajay (@funkycoda) to let me give my last point to everybody.

Of course, Ajay looked at me like I was crazy and said, “What the? No way I’m letting a big hairy ape-like creature with a leprechaun t-shirt talk to my people?” (paraphrased)

A couple of Chuck Norris round-house kicks to the head and Ajay came around to my point of view. From the Ambulance bed he gave me the thumbs up. At least, I think it was a thumbs up.

2806200993420PM So, without further violence I raced into the Big Room, down the front, and proceeded to serenade the crowd of folk with “Super Powered Geek”.

The guitar and my dulcid tones were both out of tune. My strumming was terrible. I missed a couple of lines of the song, and got the rhythm mixed up.

But you know, it didn’t matter. Because when you splash around a little bit of crazy, it’s about throwing together something far more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s about being willing to hold to a singular vision (mine being to tell people to wear their undies on the outside, point #6 in the talk). And it’s about getting out there.

If it wasn’t for me misunderstanding how the “card” system worked for putting your presentation on the timesheet; If it wasn’t for me waiting too long to start my talk; If it wasn’t for throwing caution to the wind, laughing at the fear which rises in the gullet; Then I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy Barcamp as much as I did.

And man alive I REALLY enjoyed it. So many geeks. So much fun.

A special shout out to the Youngin’s I made paper airplanes for. You guys rock!

2806200993711PM Anyway, a big THANKYOU to all the Folk at Barcamp Sydney 5. It was great to get to know some of you, great to make a fool out of myself in front of all of you, and great to get some Microsoft paraphernalia for being “Most Entertaining Geek Of The Day” (again, I paraphrase).

Cheers to @halans for putting a recording of the song up on Youtube.

Saturday night my eldest and I went to the Rugby. We had a blast! Although the game wasn’t an exciting try-fest, it was still enjoyable. We nicknamed the France full-back “Softie”, and I’m sure I didn’t embarrass my son by screaming out “IT’S NOT SOCCER!”.

Sunday is a private day for us. I don’t talk about it much. We go to Church, we have fellowship with our friends, and we spend time as a family. But believe me, today (Sunday) had it’s interesting moments. Interesting enough that it will be a long time until I forget what happened at Church today.

So that was my weekend.

Kudos for reading this far.

I’m excited to really commit to attending more conferences like Barcamp. There’s a lot to be excited about in the world of Development (and general Geek-dom), and I’ve got a lot of excitement to transfer.

A Super Heroes Guide To Development – 7. The Magic Ingredient

7. The Magic Ingredient

So, to wrap it up .. before I make my final point .. the Super Heroes Guide To Development is about what?

1. Having an Origin Story.

2. Knowing your Proton Energy Pills, and knowing your Kryptonite.

3. Being (and/or Building) a Leage of Extraordinary Super Heroes

4. It’s about creating your own Catchphrase ..
5. Wearing your Undies on the outside,

6. And activating your Spider Sense!

How do we achieve these things?

We need courage. Conviction. Imagination. Excitement. Passion .. and we need the secret ingredient.

A little splash of Crazy.

I’d like to sing you my last point .. the magic ingredient .. a little bit of crazy ..

This is .. A Clarion Love Song

A Super Heroes Guide To Development – 6. Spider-Sense


6. Spider-Sense

Can anyone tell me what Spider Sense is?

(It’s one of Peter Parker’s more awesome abilities .. to sense danger in a limited capacity .. and which they totally botched in the latest movie .. ahem, anyway)

Support has usually boiled down to methods of communication where the Client contacts us. They have a problem, they then initiate dialogue.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if somehow we could be there before they even think of the problem? Be able to dodge away from Gobby’s crazy blade dealies just before they sliced you to ribbons.

Simply put, we need to create the illusion that our product (or us) is ready and waiting. More, that we are asking the right questions before they need answering.

Put them in your app, somewhere easily visible, but not confronting.

Remember, this is above and beyond having a kicking support website, having instant chat through the browser running. It goes beyond answering those fifty emails a day.

This is more.

I’ve got a great (and stolen) example of how to achieve this.

When the user starts up your application, present them with a page (a webpage most like) of information. It could be a bunch of news items. It could be a greeting. But in that page .. Ask the right question! Have the links for sending you a problem. To tell you how they like or dislike the application. Or however smart your psychology gets. But here, in a page like this, that the User views every time they start the program (and so becomes wrote in their memory) Ask them the right Question.

So skill up on your Spider Sense. Create that understanding in the memory of the User .. that you are there, anticipating their request for help, or their acknowledgement of your awesomeness.

A Super Heroes Guide To Development – 5. Spandex Tights


5. Spandex Tights

(heh heh) The Catchphrase for this point is …

Wear Your Undies On The Outside.

Who doesn’t like spandex? I mean, seriously, what’s not to like?

How we present ourselves, our companies, our products, is most definately important.

But we know this, it’s an obvious aspect of Development, hard to do .. but still, we know.

Today, you need to start thinking about wearing your undies on the outside. Just like the Super Heroes.

Now, if you’d like, you can actually start wearing y-fronts or boxers outside your pants. That’s up to you.

Better however, would be to take a page out of the undies-on-the-outside book.

When we are making ourselves presentable, think outside the box. Make something different about your appearance. Perhaps it’s a website that’s totally text. Or part of the site. Perhaps a blog given over to some unknown aspect of your area of expertise. It could be giving out interviews, but only speaking in klingon. Ha, i’d like to see that.

Take time here, and you will be rewarded.

I’d like to focus in on one of those examples particularly.

The Interview.

Being interviewed can be daunting. Time consuming. Scary. Annoying.

But I can guarantee you that interviews are an effective and powerful method of showing your undies on the outside.

Getting an interview isn’t that hard. But getting one that is effective might take a little more planning. I mean, you could send free copies of your templates to PimpMyClarion to get free press, but it’s readership of 3 means that probably wouldn’t be a smart idea. Wait. No. There’s at least 10 readers .. per week .. COME ON BRUCE, I WANT OFFICE INSIDE SO I CAN GET SEND TO!!!

Heh heh.

Ahem. Anyway.

There are two areas we can focus on. The Clarion Community, and the Outside World.

I think that in the next year, you should aim to be interviewed at least once in both of the spheres.

The Community is a cinch. There are at least two blogs that will interview you. Ha ha. You can organise between yourselves to podcast each other in an audio (or even video) interview. Or just exchange emails with a bunch of questions. I’ve done a couple of both of those types .. and they’re not easy, but very rewarding.

The Outside World, now that seems harder. But in reality, it should be a lot simpler. There are almost infinitely possibilities. Magazines, Websites, Blogs, Radio, Podcasts, TV, Books .. the list goes on.

You could invite magazines to review your product. Or blogs, websites .. something. Contact the IT departments of newspapers, magazines, websites and arrange for them to have a demonstration of your product. It might not work the first twenty times, but that next time will make all the difference.

If you have a product that is built on Clarion .. and you take up the challenge to Wear Your Undies On The Outside .. then get yourself interviewed at least twice over the next year. You will bring benefit both to yourself, and to the Clarion community. Which in turn benefits you .. it’s the wonderful cycle of .. community. Can i say that word again.

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.