Apr 09 2009

Just do it!

Published by at 7:51 pm
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Today Andrew told me that he talked with Michael and said in no more words… “Just Do It!”.

Do it as in let’s get going on the rewrite. I’m not 100% sure how things will progress at this point, but I’m looking forward to positive momentum on the project. At least at this point I won’t feel like I’m breaking the rules if I work on the project here and there as I have extra time to spare.

Next steps would be that Michael and I need to continue to work on a game plan and get that game plan ok’ed by people like Gloski who I know is external to the company, but represents the customers and people do hold high opinion in pretty high esteem. I know Gloski is probably the biggest obstacle at this point because he’s nervous about any kind of rewrite happening due to what happened last time. Hopefully with all the good work we’ve done with the product, maybe he’ll have some better hope that we can get the job done and get it right this time.

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Mar 25 2009

Communicating Vision

Published by at 4:10 pm
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Back in January, I discussed with the team that we have a duty to define the scope of what we need to accomplish. I beat this drum and beat this drum and no one was really paying attention. I continued to beat it up to and including the environmental summit last week. Still we didn’t have a complete vision of what we wanted to accomplish. Monday I came in ready to define that.

Tim asked me to develop a slide deck talking about architecture as well as some details about how we can intersect data. Finally I was getting my chance to communicate the vision that I’ve been trying to communicate for the last two months. To add fuel to the ugency fire, on top of it, we were hoping to have a good presentation in response to some things written by a stock analyst who we are presenting to next week. What this guy was proposing is what we’ve been collectively saying for some time, which is we need one unified product for the Environment. 

So I got to work. Monday I drew up an architecture document and Tuesday night I wrote a 9 page architecture document. Today I’ve been busy communicating with everyone from individuals on the team to Don, Mark, Brian, everyone who would listen to get their buy-in on the vision. I think I have a sound group of people supporting the vision and Tim seems to like what I’ve come up with as well. Today we made some more refinements to the documentation including input from Michael.

Now that we have defined the scope of what we hope to accomplish. Now it’s up to Tim and Andrew to discuss it with their higher ups and get buy-in. Maybe they like it. Maybe they think we’re crazy. All I know is that our duty to define the scope of what we need to accomplish is done. Now it’s up to them to define when and who will do the work. If given the green light, then we have the exciting challenge to figure out how we’re going to make it happen (along with everything else on our respective plates).

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Mar 19 2009

Environmental Summit 2009 Day #4

Published by at 6:04 pm
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Today’s focus was resource allocation, resource allocation, and resource allocation. We really went outside the box on how we could move things around, how we could reorganize efforts to accelerate things, how all these new initiatives gave us opportunities and challenges, and how (as Andrew put it) we needed to “Do the impossible”. Well I never thing anything is impossible, just highly improbable. We need to change the game being played to make the odds better suited to making the impossible the most likely outcome. We got the resource allocations written down, but unfortunately we still don’t have a full game plan yet.

When we were talking about the BIGGER picture of a unified architecture, I got REALLY pissy with Brian and went overboard on how I communicated TO him how things needed to happen. I’m just frustrated with his point of view that we need a WHOLE new team to re-write everything from the ground up. It’s not reality. It’s not going to happen. I need to figure out a constructive and non-abrasive approach to communicating a different vision of how we get from 3 separate products onto one single consolidated platform. Ironically, the vision isn’t even my vision. It’s someone else’s vision and I am just acting like the champion of the vision, tyring to get people’s buy-in. I’ve communicated it before, but people don’t get it. How can I communicate this vision better? Meh, I’ll try not to think about it over the weekend. Maybe I’ll have an epiphany on Monday.

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Mar 18 2009

Environmental Summit 2009 Day #3

Published by at 10:50 pm
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We started right where we left off yesterday on continuing the architectural discussion on this new product in our space. When expanding upon it we talked more about possible time lines, skill sets, and how we could deliver the product quickly. Much of it sounded like there was VERY technical skill sets needed but not many to get the job done. The hard part sounded like we had to leverage ecoAsset business knowledge and business logic code and what kind of ramifications that had toward the architecture and time lines ecoAsset has on its plane. We brought up some other supporting technologies for feeding data in and out from ecoAsset to and from this new supporting product. We also talked about programs like RGGI for example and how that may or may not affect both products.

As always when you have tons of people gettting tons of work done, hours turn into minutes and dinner approached again. Many people couldn’t make it today but Randy, Andrew, and myself enjoyed dinner at the famous Salvador Molly’s. We talked a lot about HARD questions that Andrew’s been probably dying to ask and again he took advantage of the moment and asked for my “no bullshit” and strait to the point kind of answers I love to give him. Talked about a lot of things regarding overall architecture and how we can support domain level initiatives and what roadblocks are in the way of making that happen. Focused the rest of the evening on getting to know Randy and Andrew even better. Unfortunately Kerrie couldn’t make it due to timing although she was invited. Tomorrow is the last day of the summit and there’s much more work to be done. We’ll see what happens.

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Mar 17 2009

Environmental Summit 2009 Day #2

Published by at 10:08 pm
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Today’s focus was on something that honestly I shouldn’t even be talking about vaguely. Let’s just say it’s a new product that focuses on some high level functionality in the domain. We talked about the supporting technologies and what business partners we would ally with to make that happen. About half way through the day we broke up into a technical discussion on arhcitecture and a business focused discussion for the business type folks. The architecture discussion obviously was very technical and we discussed different architectual approaches on how we could build this RIGHT while also delivering it to market very quickly. We developed a very rough overview before recapping some of the goals we needed to achieve before the end of the week from the technical side.

Again hours felt like they flew by in minutes and before we knew it we were heading out to dinner again. This time we decided to hit Henry’s downtown since it was St. Patty’s Day. We did a fair amount of drinking and we tried to focus on team building, getting to know each other better, and celebrating a successful summit (the main summit was the first 2 days, the technical folks are the one’s who are focused the rest of the week). Got to hear a lot of stories, good juicy ones from Tim Dore about the old days, Don, Pre-Dolphin, and Dolphin. Got to spend a good bit of time with Jim Wilmsen which was fantastic getting to know him and letting him get to know me.

Once I had enough beer (liquid courage / stupidity) I also prodded Andrew a bit about his comments at the end of the work day yesterday. He told me about how Kim Brown had mentioned my name as a possible asset for Project Management because I have those skills. Apprently she made this comment as recently as 2-3 months ago. I was kinda shocked by this because I had assumed that I had fallen completely off her radar. Need to noodle on that one for a while…

On our way out, talked with Michael a bit about TFS and his comments / excitement about TFS. I’m glad to have another ally helping push good, proper, agile use of that tool. He has great Agile development experience and can help lay appropriate guidelines to making it happen. He also threw me a bone as to my role on the new project coming down the pipe. It was mentioned that I might be doing something similar in contribution to that project than what I’ve been doing on ecoAsset. Does that mean development management or project management? Does this support Andrew’s comments about Project Management? Hmmmm… we’ll see.

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Mar 16 2009

Environmental Summit 2009 Day #1

Published by at 10:05 pm
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So the big event has come. Many people were here, more than I expected and much more people that I didn’t know already including a gentleman from Global Insight, Ira Herenstein. The event opened up with some really big visionary statements by Mark Wysong that set the tone for the week. Over the next few days I will keep my thoughts relatively generic because I’m sure we want to keep much of what was discussed under corporate wraps (I’ll just stick to my thoughts and personal “gotchas” for mental keepsake). Meeting people is fun and even more so getting to talk with some people that I’ve only met once back at the ESP user conference. On in particular gave me some compliments on how well I’ve turned ecoAsset around and gotten the thing from disorganized to highly organized and on track. I learned more about REACH and it’s requirements as it comes to the CLM side of the business. I had only had brief understand of it before, but now I see why it’s such a big deal learning more about it.

About half way through the day I met Michael Lehane who not only met but exceeded my expectations in enthusiasm and results orientation. I gave him a drink from the fire hose because he needed to be prepared for the discussion tomorrow. Hours flew by in what felt like minutes and before I knew it, I was being pulled into a meeting with Andrew and my other colleagues. We talked more about resource allocation and Andrew made comments about how Brian might be pulled to be the head of Environment wide UI development and not just focused on Eco and then he joked “Heck and Victor could be pulled into Project Management” or something to that effect. I was a bit shocked by his comment since I was only now starting to feel comfortable in my current role. We had dinner and talked more about many things related to architecture and vision. Tomorrow is going to be interesting and really will set the pace of the rest of the week for my product line anyhow.

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Mar 08 2009

XNA Project team gathered

Published by at 2:42 pm
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1 director / coder, 2 additional coders, 1 story writer, 2 artists, 1 musician, and 4 testers / contributors

Sent out a big email today to everyone who has shown interest in being part of the game. Of all the people I hope is still onboard is DaveUK, the musician. He was on board before and helped write a few pieces of music and I think is a must have. I did some research today on XBox Live to see what kind of competition we have out there for inde JRPG games and there was nothing. In fact the whole Role Playing category is empty beside a side scroller action RPG and a game which is an all out scam. Hopefully we can develop this thing in our spare time and make some decent cash off of it. Talked with Robin, the story writer and we talked about putting up a project website somewhere to ensure continuous collaboration on the project. At some point too, I need to figure out how we’re going to break up the ownership of the IP, whether we all will own it or just Kerrie and I will under an assumed publishing company and then pay the team appropriately if/when we make money. I’m not really sure how it will go down, but it’s things to think of up front to make sure that we’re protected if this thing takes off.

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Mar 07 2009

The Long Ride Home

Published by at 11:21 pm
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Jersey shore, lighthouse, tradition, huge Philly airport, nice flight to MSP, nice Minniapolis airport, long flight to Portland, XNA brainstorming, drunk / meth head on the plane, getting home thanks to Dad, resting.

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Mar 01 2009

XNA Studio 3.0

Published by at 10:22 pm
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So apprently I’m a little behind the times (and busy as usual), but XNA studio 3.0 has been out for a while and on top of that they’ve ported and improved the RPG starter kit to XNA studio 3.0. One of the reasons I lost steam last time I tried to start up a game development project was because XNA was still in version 1.0, publishing games was still stupid complicated, and there wasn’t any good starter engines for creating RPG’s. So with XNA studio 3.0 and the RPG starter kit, I already have a great base engine for jumping in and making a great JRPG style game. Obviously I would take the engine and make a lot of tweaks to it, but it would be a fantastic starting point: http://creators.xna.com/en-US/starterki … layinggame . Also there are a lot of fantastic tools now to help build game maps, collision maps, and animation maps from sprites: http://xnafantasy.wordpress.com.

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Feb 23 2009

Cleaning up bugZ

Published by at 7:30 pm
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Well, the move of bugs from FogBugZ to Team Foundation Server went very very well. Tony really liked how things got imported and have worked with Tony on making sure the process for moving the bugs for the other project happens smoothly as well. I worked with Carlos to make sure that the bug process according to Agile development and MSF Agile process guidance was being followed and shared my ideas with Tony. He agreed with my logic on how I setup things and made some suggestions. I really want to make sure that he and I collaborate (and of course include Randy as well), because we all need to agree on a good process that will improve efficiencies and drive us to be a more lean, mean, agile machine. Bugs is only one part of the whole overarching Agile process, but hopefully that’s one big step. Once people see efficiencies there and thank TFS for those efficiencies, people will embrace and look for other opportunities for success. It will be win / win for everyone and we will be more and more successful as a result.

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