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I just added lj to my... Jun. 2nd, 2008 @ 06:34 pm
I just added lj to my Jott account. If you don't know what Jott is, let me clue you in. It is a voice to text service in beta. You select a target, like live journal and it sends a message based on what you say.

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System Family Management Sep. 24th, 2007 @ 10:56 am

It doesn't feel right, but it's the best I can do for right now...

Current Mood: creative

Fast week Sep. 21st, 2007 @ 08:42 am

That feeling that I am missing something is driving me nuts. That's why I try and keep a list:


I forgot to add: "Update Live Journal" as a task.
Current Mood: anxiousanxious

Working from home is so cool! Sep. 14th, 2007 @ 09:50 am

I'm waiting for a delivery truck to pick up the clothes washing machine we just returned. There were scratches and breaks on almost every side (I didn't tip it upside down to check and see if it was creased on that side too, but I imagine there were). So, while I'm waiting, I am sitting at my kitchen table, working on my resource planning, submitting my project estimates and working on a new SoDA template. No interruptions other than the occasional phone call, IM or e-mail. I might have to do this more often.

Current Mood: gratefulgrateful

SoDA, anyone? Sep. 12th, 2007 @ 03:30 pm
Since I've started as a team lead, I have been trying to bring up the quality of our group's efforts. There might be N different ways to say the same thing where N=the number of architects tasked with describing an architecture. As you can imagine, this lack of consistency, and the discussions that result, cause the project manager to scratch their heads, wonder for a moment why they are paying for an architecture team that doesn't have their act together, then continue what they were doing while marginalizing the profered solution and those who present it. It sucks, and I'm tired of it, so I've decided to change things.

I have initiated several efforts and made many waves recently. I have changed how projects are estimated, how roles are staffed and I have increased the accountability of my team members. I have also empowered them to push back when appropriate and trained them to identify those times. But mostly, I am mentoring my team on what I feel is the right way to tell the story of architecture. One of the ways I am doing that is by trying to drive consistency into the activities of architecture.

I am fortunate that I work for a company that has enough leverage with other vendors, so that the tools we are using are practically free. I think I could have achieved the same results using a different selection of tools, but it might have taken much longer to do so. I'm pretty sure, however, that the public domain tools that exist will increase in features to the point that what we are doing could be done anywhere. I will probably explore this concept further in future posts.

The tools I have to work with are Rational Software Architect (RSA), SoDA, CVS and ReqPro. RSA is based on Eclipse (a freely available platform), but extended to include concepts from the old Rational Rose tool and updated to support the UML 2 specification. SoDA is a Microsoft Word plug-in that allows your word documents to pull content out of an RSA model. CVS is a free version control system that can plug into RSA and keeps everyone's deliverables safe. What's more, if changes should be rolled back, it keeps the earlier versions and will accommodate. ReqPro is another IBM tool used to capture requirements and use cases. It seamlessly interfaces with SoDA and with RSA.

So, that's just a bunch of software, but how does it help drive consistency? It drives this consistency in a handful of ways:
  • RSA allows our architects to describe everything in UML 2, a common language. I have also taught everyone a common way to model the solutions they are working on (think Phillipe Krutchen's "4 + 1 Views").
  • A common CVS repository allows us to have versions and branches of a solution (good), in a common location (better), where everyone can review them and learn from them (best).
  • Using ReqPro, we can associate any element of the system we design back to the requirement that prompted it. If a requirement hasn't been associated, then the architect isn't done. This is known as traceability and it is how we show that we accomplished what we set out to do.
  • SoDA templates take some work to generate and understand, and they have a steep learning curve as there are no tutorials that we have found, but once a template has been created, we can point that template to *any* model and (assuming the architect has followed the activities consistenly) generate a deliverable with every section where it belongs. Pull up any deliverable from any architect on any set of projects, and you can expect to see the same sections.
I will describe these in detail in another post. By far, the most difficult part to date has been the SoDA template work, but I imagine what I am planning next will make these concerns seem like child's play...
Other entries
» I am finally catching up on my sleep.
We finally sold Sa's house last week. After a summer of long evenings and a week of over-nighters, the basement is finished. In the end, we have completed the following tasks: 
  • Tiling and grouting all three bathroom floors
  • Cutting plywood and backerboard, tiling and grouting a bathroom countertop
  • Installing a vanity
  • Plumbing said vanity
  • Building, and tiling a pedestal for the vanity because the builder had installed a cabinet door and the door wouldn't open with the vanity in place.
  • installing a toilette
  • Cutting, staining, varnishing and installing a window sill box (with insulation)
  • Cutting, staining, varnishing and installing trim for the window
  • Drywalling the closet
  • (My favorite) Punching a hole through the wall, re-routing the wiring, changing the location of an outlet box, adding jack studs, cripple studs, top and bottom sills, drywall patching the holes, cutting, routing, staining, varnishing, installing (and adding a backsplash to) a bar made of solid walnut in the "window".
  • Cutting, staining, varnishing and installing a mahogany cap for the stairwell landing's wall
  • Cutting, staining, varnishing and installing stairwell trim and caps for the ends
  • Cutting, staining, varnishing and installing oak floor trim
  • Cutting, staining, varnishing and installing 3/4 trim in the bathroom
  • Cutting, staining, varnishing and installing door frames and doors
  • Installing diffusers
  • Installing light fixtures

The only thing we didn't do was patch an air return into the furnace and carpeting. Heh... maybe next time.
» (No Subject)
Haven't been feeling well for the last three days. I must have an inner ear infection because my head spins from time to time. Usually it is when I sit up or sit down or when I turn my head to look at something from a different angle, which I did a fair amount this weekend... As usual, I crammed 3-4 different activities in. I had two of my high-school friends fly in for a visit, I took them to a restaurant I read about in magicmarmot's blog, psycho suzi's, then we went to the renaissance festival to look at the crafts... somehow, it seemed much more commercial than I remember... We then finished the evening by going for sushi in St. Paul. By this time, my head was spinning too frequently and I had quite a migraine going. We turned in early.

The next morning, my daughter Nicole left for work with her friend from my house but called 15 minutes later to ask for directions to the fairgrounds where she worked. I finally get back to sleep when my brother called to say they got an early start and would be there in about 1 hour (!). I woke up, stumbled my way downstairs (still spinnin') and made some breakfast for those still around. We started digging in and keeping it low-key when my brother arrived a bit earlier than anticipated. Ah well, I can't complain as I had asked that he come down so he could pick up some furniture I was giving away. We loaded up the couch, chairs and some tables and at about that point, it was time to take Chris and Dave back to the Blaine airport. Once they took off, I guided my family over to see the work we'd been doing.

The basement has been proceeding nicely. For those that don't know, I have been finishing Sa's basement. We have been framing doors, tiling floors, painting walls plus all the other tasks needed to make the place look nice. I've even built "cabinet" doors to cover over the water cut-off valves in the bathroom and the breaker box in the den.

The biggest task, however, has been knocking a hole in a wall between the "family room" and the "bar" area. I have now: 1) removed the drywall for a 3' x 4' area, 2) re-routed the wires and "code"-ified them so there is an outlet near where the actual bar would be and there are no wires going through the opening, 3) framed in the area with 2x4s, 4) cut, bull-nose routed and stained the piece of walnut that will *be* the bar, 5) patched all the drywall I had to tear out for the wire routing and 6) installed the drywall and corner beads for the top and sides of the window.

After a sanding and a final layer of drywall compound (followed by another sanding), the opening will be complete. I can then varnish/tack the bar in place and put trim along the sides and supports underneath. It's actually looking *really* good! I don't have "before" pictures, but I will try and post an "after" picture.

I think I will try and see the Dr. at the Minute Clinic here at work. I feel much better, but I should still see if there is something to it.
» Danibaby
I love my babies. But I am reminded of that most when they are away from me. :-) Dani has been with her mother for an extended weekend and has just called me to say she'd "landed". The next question was "when are you going to get me?" No beating around the bush, that one...

I'm a bit concerned though. Yesterday she told me she cried because she missed me. I assume it is because she was tired (they had walked the capitol mall all day). The reason I'm concerned is because I will be going on a vacation spanning two weekends starting Saturday and she will be at grandma's house Friday night. It's not like I will be able to swing by and pick her up early (the solution last year and the year before).

I think I need to come up with something to distract her from that path. Any thoughts?
» (No Subject)
Well, it was pointed out that I hadn't included any pictures of me or my bike from the trip...
» (No Subject)
Finally upgraded to the advertizing version...
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