Keeping it Simple


Moleskine and Pen

Moleskine and Pen

George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”  While we all appreciate progress, I sometimes have to wonder at the way people look at the world.

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FARTing Around


INBOX 0: Tarditas et procrastinatio odiosa est

INBOX 0: Tarditas et procrastinatio odiosa est

I’ve recently become aware of Getting Things Done, and have been attempting to practice it for the last six weeks.  In many ways, it is very similar to what I had been doing previously.  You could call my method a lightweight GTD, and it’s based on the FART mnemonic.

For any item that crosses my desk, be it email, IM, memos, or stickies, I follow the same basic triage process.  Four directives (File, Act, Redirect or Trash) are applied based on a few simple considerations.  These are as follows:

  • Do I need to refer to this item again?

If so, file it somewhere easily searchable such as a mail folder, content management system, Wiki, etc.  Remove the item from your In-box to the file location.  Continue to consider the other questions.

  • Do I need to act on this?

If so, add a to-do to your to-do list.  Prioritise and schedule work on the action using your to-do list.  Remove the item from your In-box by Filing, Redirection, or Trashing.

  • Am I the best person to work on this?

If not, redirect or delegate it to someone else.  You may, if you feel you need to, add a reminder to your to-do list to follow up with the delegate.

  • Trash it, you’re done.

By now, you’ve filed the item if necessary, decided to act on it, or delegated it.  What other possible action can you now take?  You have extracted all value from the item, so the only other option is to remove it from your In-box.  If you have not done so already, or filed the item to a folder, move the item to the trash.  You are now done with processing your incoming items.  All that remains is to tackle your to-do list.

Repeat as necessary, and you will soon find that heap of email shrinking.  In-box 0 is not an impossible goal.  All you need to do, is think outside the In-box!

Decisions, decisions, …


It is our choices. . . that show what we are, far more than our abilities.

It is our choices. . . that show what we are, far more than our abilities.

So we’re beginning a new project, and it has come time to decide what we’re going to build. In many ways, we are spoiled for choice. There are many ways in which the existing software could be improved. Do we pay down some technical debt, include a new feature or support new hardware?

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Pre-Merge Formatting


Merge Right

Merge Right

A problem with formatting code on a branch, is when you come to merge it back to the trunk, you end up having to work thorough lots of file changes which are really only formatting changes.  The larger your project size, the more work this involves.  I was faced with a similar task recently.

While editing file by file, I usually do the Ctrl-A Ctrl-Shift-F combo to ensure the file is formatted according to our corporate standards before saving any edits.  Since much of the code I touched on the branch was formatted under a different standard, and I touched a lot of files while introducing log4j logging, the end result was heading for a hairy merge.  What I really needed was a way to bulk format both the branch and the trunk versions of the code-base.

Luckily, I realised that that same formatter embedded in Eclipse can be used to bulk format Java source.  Here’s how …

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