Sunday, March 20, 2005


Wrapup of SDEXPO2005

All in all, a most interesting conference. Joel Spolsky was very entertaining and relevant, and got some big laughs when he rubbished Rational's UML products. Joel's a true engineer - he doesn't need a load of stick men drawings to build great software! They are only useful in situations where you have ten layers of fuckwits covering their backs above the people who actually do the work.

One person in the audience, a CityDesk customer of Joel's, ribbed him gently for promising in August 2003 a version 3 of that product, which has yet to appear. Joel handled that one very well, pointing out that Microsoft has 58,000 people and Joel makes do with just five. Joel's "fireside chat" (with virtual fire!) was marred only by the presence on the stage of a functionary whose name I didn't catch, who asked him long, rambling pointless questions she didn't understand, when we just wanted her to shut up and let Joel talk.

Also that night I found myself in the elevator with Kent Beck. Kent had been in the audience for the "fireside chat" and there had been some banter between him and Joel, stemming from a few jokes Joel made at the expense of Extreme Programming (XP).

David Chappell of David Chappell and Associates did a talk on Service Oriented Architectures (SOA). This is the next "big thing", just like OO and all the other fads. I was astonished by how few people in the audience knew what SOA stood for. Wake up, people!

Undoubtedly for me one of the highlights of the show was the car I hired. As a welcome change from the piece of crap I normally drive I requested a Mustang from Hertz. As it turned out, I only got the base 3.8 V6 one, the last of the old shape (2004 model), but that was better than nothing!

The 2004 Mustang is a throwback to twenty years ago. The last car I drove which had a three-speed auto box, radio antenna next to the passenger side of the windshield and gauges for oil pressure and battery level was built in 1983. I loved it! Why did oil pressure gauges disappear from cars? And when you have as much torque as the old pushrod V6 in this car does, why do you need a four- or even five-speed auto box? Floor it going uphill, and it takes off like a rocket without even changing down from top!

It was excellent to join Hwy101, come up the slip road locked in 2nd, and then see how quick the Stang could blast up to 100MPH, and how stable it was once it got there. So not all cars in the US drift all over the road above 70MPH! I also really liked the brakes on this car. When cold they needed a hefty shove to bite, but they are without doubt the best brakes I've felt on a road car in a long time.

To see what the car could do, I found a nice challenging road, Hwy 17 to Santa Cruz. It's very reminiscent of some of the back roads in the UK. Unfortunately the traffic was too heavy to really push it, but I thought how great it would be if they would close the road for a few hours a week to let people race on it. Not much likelihood of that happening in California, I suppose...
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