Capturing Ideas Saturday, Aug 18 2007 

Ideas sometimes visit us; we think and they grow and step out from the dark corners of our brains. When this happens it’s time to capture them so they won’t get lost inside the brain and may be shared with other people or revived later. For the small ideas TODO list may be enough – you just pin them down as strings. But for the bigger ideas that have grown up in your brain I’d recommend to use a special tool – Keynote (or Powerpoint). Here is what I consider as advantages:

– You may share the idea with other people easily.
– There are lots of controls to better structure the idea – lists, shapes with lines, charts, etc. In fact when you create presentation you help yourself to think (unless you concentrate on transition effects).
– It’s possible to embed additional data such as images and pdf files.

The only disadvantage is that you have to spend time creating presentations; but if you like your computer and software it runs it’s a pleasure, isn’t it?

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Reviews Friday, Aug 10 2007 

One of the most effective ways to keep programmers productive is to tell them to write reviews of their work. The idea behind the review is that programmer knows that he must write it and give it to his manager and there should be a list of tangible results. If he won’t write it it will be the same thing as if he wrote an empty review. When he just imagines how he comes to his manager and says “I’ve done nothing, sorry” heart begins to beat faster. And this means that he will strive to accomplish some noticable tasks thus making visible progress on the project.

The pitfall here is reviews frequency. Beweekly or monthly reviews are not quite effective because there is enough time to defer some tasks closer to the review date and there are weekends in between so it’s tempting to think of them as of extra work time. Daily reviews do more harm than good: the problem is that there is no time reserve so the programmer can manage self. There is a feeling of being instantly watched, there is fear that if you’ll encounter a bug and it will be tough and you won’t fix it within a day you’ll have to say that you did nothing. Daily reviews are very stressful and demotivating so you’d better off doing them.

The best time span for review is a week. There is enough time to achieve something more or less significant and recover from unforeseen obstacles. The best time to send review is a Friday – there is no weekend time that may be used for work.