Business-focused custom software

  • Talking to aliens, or how to communicate with a programmer


    Do you find it hard to talk to programmers (or techies in general)? I once knew a programmer who would get a dazed look whenever someone brought him a problem. We called it that “deer in the headlights” face, and it was disconcerting. It turns out that he wasn’t bored or terrified, he was thinking. And because he was thinking, he wasn’t speaking. Once we understood what was really going on, it made it a lot easier to communicate with him.

    Here are three tips for better communication with that alien life form, the software developer.

    Focus on goals and ...

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  • Good programming: making things better

    One of the reasons why I love programming is that when you are doing it right, the software you build actually makes things better for someone. Today I’ve seen two examples of this:

    • I rewrote an internal application for a customer that basically moves data between two systems. The old app had to be started manually and was slow and painful. The new app runs on a schedule and doesn’t require the same kind of end-user monitoring.
    • I’m working on updating a report for a different customer. The old report wasted a lot of white space because it had one ...

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  • Ask the Programmer: The Extravagant Programmer

    question-mark_resized Ask the programmer is feature designed to answer questions from non-geeks about hiring and working with programmers. If you have a question, please email me at

    Question: I recently hired a programmer to build custom applications and reports. He is asking me to spend lots of money on a new computer and software. My company isn’t giant – I don’t have lots of spare dollars to spend. But I am willing to fork out some dough if it will help him work faster. How can I tell if these requests are legitimate or a spending spree?


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  • 3 Programmer Super Powers that Can Rescue Your Project

    Superhero When you are sponsoring a custom software development project, a lot of things can go wrong. And they will. You may not need super human strength, but there are certainly programmer super powers that will help to save your project from death and destruction.

    Laser vision

    Some programmers can be easily distracted by cool, shiny technical “stuff”. The developer with laser vision can focus on the task at hand and the ultimate objective: completing the project. Laser vision can also help them to see and anticipate what’s coming because it can see through obstacles.

    Nerves of steel

    There are ...

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  • Software project lessons from 2001: A Space Odyssey (and 2010)

    HAL "It can only be attributable to human error." --HAL, in 2001: A Space Odyssey

    Sweet, lovable HAL. It is hard not to love HAL with his serene voice and impeccable logic. Still, when he became homicidal we were all glad we weren't stuck on a spaceship with him. But after seeing the movie recently it occurred to me that there are a number of lessons we can learn from HAL and his two movies that apply to software development projects.

    Conflicting objectives are bad. Very bad.

    HAL's fellow Discovery crew mates found out the hard way that conflicting objectives can ...

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From my experience with Avonelle, she can be relied on to deliver whatever she promises--always on time and for the quoted cost. She'll ask the right questions to make sure that what she delivers truly meets the business need. Her expertise has been invaluable. All that at a very reasonable rate!

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