Daily Archives: March 20, 2006

Taking back your workspace, one cubicle at a time.

I picked up this link to a Fortune magazine article on Cubicles from this post by MrDee. The article looks at the history of the Cubicle, some of the challenges to its dominance and how its inventor thinks that its use has turned what might have been a great idea into a failure.

One of the gripes that I have with the current enterprise working environment is that it isolates people that are supposed to be working as a team from each other and it encourages a culture where people put up arbitrary process walls between them and the outside world. It wouldn’t be so bad if the cubicle was a comfortable space that allowed you to get into the zone.

Joel Spolsky tried to tackle this problem at FogCreek software, and while I think they did a good job (hell, I’d work there) my personal tastes are somewhat more casual. At the moment I am doing some work for Microsoft, and when I am in the office I have the first cubicle in a group of three (the entrance to all three goes past my desk). As far as cubicles go its pretty good, there is lots of desk space of which I only use about a quarter, and there is power within easy reach (what idiot puts the power rails below the desk?).

CurrentDesk

What I would prefer is for the desk not to be there at all and just have a couple of very low set shelves (to hold my laptop/devices when I am not using them, and my cup of coffee). A slide in table when I do need a work surface would be useful, but when I need that kind of stuff I am normally collaborating directly with someone, so I would rather go find a shared space.

Of course – at Readify we don’t have offices so we really only use them when they are required by our customers. I much more comfortable working out of Starbucks than just about anywhere else. Actually my perfect office would be something like the Qantas Club lounge in Sydney where instead of a bar (OK – the Bar can be there after 5pm) they just had a service counter/locker room facility.

Seasons changing in Canberra.

It’s 7am and I am waiting at the stop for the number 67 bus that will take me into the city. I’m wearing a long sleve shirt which I am happy of because if I wasn’t I think that I would be a little bit cold.

It looks like we are close to the tur of the seasons here in Canberra and its one of my favourite times of year. In the various valleys you can see the night fog beginning to burn off and some of the leaves on the trees are turning.

In a few months the fog will start lasting well into mid-morning and the temperature will start dropping to the point where I’ll start looking to the surrounding mountains for signs of snow.

Watching the seasons change is part of the joy of living in Canberra.

Do you trust your PDA?

Just under two years ago I wrote a blog post just like this one where I comment on the level of trust that I have in my mobile device. Unfortunately I have not yet reached that level of trust, but tonight it begins its trials.

I spent quite a few hours installing Team Foundation Server (RTM) tonight into the Readify production environment, the installation went quite well but its now late and I need to be up around 6–6:30 tomorrow so I can catch the bus I want.

Last week I was having a bit of trouble waking up in the morning because I didn’t have my SmartPhone and my JasJar kept beeping through the night as it kept itself up to date with e-mails. What it meant is that I couldn’t get to sleep without muting the sound on the device, but I required the sound for the alarm to wake me up.

This weekend I installed the AKU2 update for the JasJar which includes a new Communications Manager component (it was there before, but this one is significantly better from a usability point of view). Anyway – it basically allows me to turn off all the external connectivity to the device except for an actual phone call. This way I can rest assured that the device won’t wake me up in the middle of the night, but it will still be able to scream at me in the morning to help get me out the door.

If it behaves this week then I think I’ll be able to trust it while I am on the road.

It’s alive! Team Foundation Server at Readify

We’ve been running an instance of Team Foundation Server (BETA 3) up on a virtual machine at Readify for about five months and a few people – especially Darren, have taken full advantage of it. This evening I spent about four hours remotely installing Team Foundation Server Workgroup Edition (RTM) into its production home on a non-virtual server.

The installation went smoothly as expected (I can almost do it in my sleep now) and it seems to be performing quite well. Now that we have the infrastructure setup there are a few housekeeping items that need to be dealt with and then we’ll open the gates.

Here is my TODO list over the next couple of days:

  1. Work with our fabulous infrastructure guys that aren’t at all the nasty draconian kinda guys that you find in most IT organisations to sort out our disaster recovery strategy (already having fun discussions around this).
  2. Figure out if we have a self-service story. I’m not going to give everyone the keys to the kingdom on this box, some of the assets that we are putting into it are going to be too valuable to risk this box being played around with. But – I still want people to be able to create their own team projects and this involves having some fairly heavy rights on the server. I’ll probably look at what is required to get the PCW kicked off via a web-based front-end which runs with elevated rights.
  3. Find out what we need to do as a partner, down here in Australia, to get a license for the full blown standard server edition. While the workgroup edition is a good start, we need to be able to support more than five users on this thing.
  4. Migrate existing projects across to the new box. I opted to do a fresh install onto a physical box rather than try and upgrade from BETA 3 to BETA 3 Refresh then to RTM, and then try to migrate the databases across. I know some people have been looking at what is required to migrate projects, and when we setup the BETA 3 environment we said that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to take the projects, I did say I would give it a good go. At the very least I should be able to dump out the source code and take the work item data across.

Of course, my first order of business tomorrow will be to take the above list of tasks and insert them into a TFS Team Project to manage adoption, issues and feature requests for TFS.