weeknotes 11

the cost of software

3d printing

I bought an Elegoo Mars months ago that’s been sat on a shelf waiting for me to find time to do anything with it. That time came with the need for a 1.5 clipper guard (we don’t have one of those ones with a lever). Nova found this STL on Thingiverse that apparently fits all Wahl clippers.

This felt like a nice opportunity to try out James’ VanDAM, a digital asset manager, which sucked me into making improvements to that instead of actually doing the print…

slack reminders

I use Slack reminders a lot, but I’m not very good at actually actioning them or cleaning up after myself. So I snoozed 125 of them on Monday to come back on Tuesday as a sort of amnesty. I haven’t looked at them since…

stack overflow

Stack Overflow for Teams is now free for up to 50 people. We signed up as a trial. Let’s see if / how we use it. First question and answer was about how people like their warm drinks, which I love, given this week was also a year since any of us last colocated.

makers days

One of the things that came out of the retrospectives with developers at dxw was a need for more time to do internal tool work and work on skills that are too “high risk” for client time. Clients need us to do things as experts, but we need to keep upskilling the people in our team to stay current. Those things are at odds with each other.

We’ve had “dxw time” - time to spend on internal stuff - in some form or another for as long as I’ve been at dxw, but it’s always been a bit hit and miss. One of the main barriers was a lack of structure to that time. The latest attempt to resolve that is dxw makers days. Every quarter, for two days, the whole company will down tools on client work and focus on some aspect of dxw life and work. It will be an opportunity for people to do things they don’t normally do as part of their jobs, or try new technologies, skills, etc.

As an extension of that, I’m looking at implementing some extra tech makers days along the same lines, but only with the technology team and more focused on technology problems. The first one will probably be on measuring our development processes, to make sure we’re delivering well and at the right pace.

This doesn’t solve the whole problem, but it helps with part of it.

the cost of software

I ended the day today with a very useful discussion with some of the tech leadership team and our content / marketing folks (the people who own the dxw blog) about the cost of software, and specifically about communicating the hidden costs of building software as opposed to buying it.

This is something we have a lot of trouble helping our clients understand, and that lack of understanding means we sometimes end up disappointing them. It also adds a lot of pressure on the teams delivering the thing to cut corners and push themselves to deliver the undeliverable. Hopefully this discussion leads to some blog posts or other guidance that we can use to help our teams and our clients understand the tradeoffs involved.