November 14, 2005

BayCHI with Cooper+Greenspun

As I was digging through the services that had been built on Yahoo’s new Maps API a couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon the program for the November BayCHI meeting. With both Alan Cooper and Philip Greenspun speaking I figured, “If you only attend one BayCHI event this year…” So I asked Rob if he’d like to go and about a week later we found ourselves back at the PARC.

Cooper’s talk was titled “Ending the Death March”. (Apparently, “death march” can refer to a doomed software project.) Other software development gurus have written about how to survive such situations and Cooper’s goal was to reframe the problem by looking at ways to end them. (And thereby presumably, although this wasn’t explicitly stated, to avoid them.) He discussed organizational and workflow structures which would help projects avoid scope creep and unrealistic deadlines. Some of his ideas were very agreeable (such as breaking down the “silo” effect of handing off projects from design to engineering without much communication between the teams), some highly suspect (such as centering all teams around one universal document which describes all aspects of the project). The big downside to his talk was the presentation which went way over the allotted time and was often of the “droning PowerPoint snoozefest” persuasion.

Greenspun’s talk was on his “internet appliance” concept (which is really not a personal computer even though it sounds a whole lot like a one considering it has an operating system and a motherboard and an optical drive and monitor and a keyboard… etc.) I think his point is that most people don’t want to have all the freedoms you currently get with computers, they just want the key services without all the mucking about de-fragmenting their hard drives and running Norton Anti-Virus. I can sympathize with that, but my solution is to buy Macs, not limit what I can do with my computer. :)

Greenspun’s been writing a lot of great stuff since his talk: