Category: "communication"

What Is a Software Architect?

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There is so much confusion surrounding the purpose of a Software Architect and the value they provide and what they are supposed to do. So much so, that it seems the title is being used less and less by companies and replaced with a different title such as principal or staff. I assume this is due to the perception there must be a way to distinguish a level above senior, which is handed out after only about three years of experience.

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Ode to the Anagramic Poem

general, communication, C++ Send feedback »

Twitter is an... interesting way to spend one's time. It can be quite a challenge to cram a thought into 140 characters. However, I have found there are many ways to be entertained by this micro-blogging site. One of them includes interacting and learning from a wide variety of people. During an interaction with a creative-writer, I was a bit challenged by a poem.

Inspiration from Twitter

This is a brief entry that includes my implementation of that "Poem Anagram Generator."

The Original Poem

The first thing that is required, is the poem. You can find the original at what_adri_writes[^].

Here is an excerpt:

Stanley the fishmonger
told me how to know it
when I saw it
without a poet
And we fished out drowned Phlebas,
Patron saint of Unconsidered Phoenicians
and failed Changers of Minds.
The Highlander Art double-checked the veil
of Reichenbach Falls
three days later
and found
A beekeeper.

Strategy

When I thought about it, I realized it wouldn't take much to actually write a program to reorganize the words of the poem. Especially if I were to use the algorithms that are available in the C++ Standard Library. That is, of course, creating the naïve implementation that ignores such possibly desirable features such as sentence structure or proper grammar.

Then again, this is poetry!

So let's go ahead and throw those concerns out the window. This will be a post-modern avant-garde cyber-experience.

Tokenize

My original goal was to tokenize all of the words from the poem, then randomize with something like next_permutation. However, when I really started to look at the text I saw all of the punctuation. Did I want to remove the punctuation and just live with the words? Well then there are also the new-lines that give the text form and clues the reader in that "pssst, this is probably a poem"

So I decided that I would include both the punctuation and new-lines as tokens to be generated for the poem generator.

To do this I put a space between ever word, punctuation mark, and new-line in the poem; like so:

C++

const std::string poem( "Oh but I too want to be a poet ! \n "
                        "and yet \n "
                        "Tell me where is meaning bred \n "
                        "In my heart or in your head ? \n "
 
                         // omitted for brevity
 
                        "And so the poem \n "
                        "was not to be . \n");

Here is a simple function to add each token into a vector for future modification:

C++

typedef vector<string>    words_t;
 
//  ************************************************************
words_t tokenize(const string &poem)
{
  words_t words;
  size_t  next = 0;
 
  do
  {
    size_t cur = next;
    next = poem.find(' ', cur);
 
    size_t count = next == string::npos
                  ? string::npos
                  : next - cur;
    words.push_back(poem.substr(cur, count));
 
    if (next != string::npos)
      next += 1;
 
  } while (next != string::npos);
 
  return words;
}

If I missed a potential algorithm from the standard library that would perform this task I would be interested to learn how this function could be simplified.

The Generator

The generator code is found below. It contains three algorithms from the standard library; A random number generator, shuffle and copy. Then of course the call to tokenize.

You can run the code below to generate a new poem each time.

C++

//  ************************************************************
int main()
{
  // Tokenize the poem.
  words_t words(tokenize(poem));
 
  // Jumble the words.
  random_device rdev;
  mt19937 rng(rdev());
 
  shuffle(words.begin(), words.end(), rng);
 
  // Print the results.
  copy(words.begin(), words.end(), ostream_iterator<string>(cout, " "));
 
  cout << "\n";
 
  return 0;
}
Run this code

Output:

Twitter and Poetry...

Instant art!

Maybe to improve upon this I could pre-tokenize based on particular phrases.

Summary

Twitter is fun!

C++ is fun!

Combining Twitter and C++ makes poetry fun even for a left-brained analytic like myself.

If you end up generating an interesting poem, post it in the comments.

Make Your Comments Matter

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There are many different philosophies with regards to how source code should be commented. The gamut of these philosophies range from "Every single statement must have a comment." to "Comments are useless; avoid them at all costs!" I am not even going to attempt to explain the disparity of range. However, I will attempt to address and suggest potential solutions the reasons that are often cited for these extreme approaches to commenting code.

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When are we gonna learn?

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As you gain expertise you begin to realize how little you actually know and understand. I have found this to be true of most skills. It’s easy to fall into the trap where you believe that you continue to grow your expertise each year, and thus have less and less to learn. Read on and I will demonstrate what I mean.

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Bikeshedding

communication, CodeProject 1 feedback »

I learned a new term today, bikeshedding. After reading about this term, I reached clarity regarding a number of phenomena that I have experienced as a software developer. This term is an example of Parkinson's law of triviality, which was defined by, Cyril Northcote Parkinson, in one of his books, Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress (1958).

Parkinson's law of triviality:
The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.

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Can One-size Fit All?

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What does one-size fits all mean? I suppose there are two way to answer that question, 1) How well do you want it to fit? 2) What do you mean by 'all'? For example, a clothing manufacturer is content with the percentage of the population that their product will fit, such as a T-shirt, hat or Snuggie. All in this case is just a sub-set of the actual population. It should also be stated that the Snuggie will only fit perfectly and look stylish on the most charismatic of cult leaders.

Snuggie - One Size Fits All

Next time you read an article about programming best practices, consider if the one-size fits all mentality is used by the author. What is their experience level, programming background, project history, or even industry? These are some of the factors that determine how well their advice can be applied to your situation. Especially, if their article only seems to consider situations similar to theirs.

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I Found "The Silver Bullet"!

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I found the metaphorical Silver Bullet that everyone has been searching for in software development and it worked beautifully on my last project. Unfortunately, I only had one of them. I am pretty sure that I could create another one if I ever have to work with a beast that is similar to my last project. However, I don't think that my bullet would be as effective if the circumstances surrounding the project varies too much from my original one.

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Whats Wrong With Code Reviews?

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Code reviews seem to be the bane of many developers. Very few developers that I know like to participate in code reviews. Once they do participate, the criticisms about the code are superficial. Some examples are criticizing the lack of comments, violations to the naming conventions in the guidelines, and even the formatting of the code.

To top it all off, if you work in a shop that first presents an online code review to become familiar with the code, then a formal meeting to discuss the code, little to no prep time is spent by the reviewers. This is an enormous waste of time. How can a code review be valuable. More importantly, what can you do to change your companies culture, to not think of these as meetings of despair?

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Devil's Advocate: TDD

adaptability, reliability, communication, CodeProject, maintainability, Devil's Advocate Send feedback »

The Devil's Advocate is often an effective role that can help uncover logical weaknesses for a point of view. For those that are unfamiliar with this term, the Devil's Advocate takes a position that they do not necessarily agree with for the sake of debate. I usually do it to learn more about the topic the proponent is advocating; I'll admit, sometimes I just do it to push buttons.

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Selling Ideas to Management

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Does this scenario sound familiar?

  • You have identified a piece of troublesome logic in your code-base, which has been the source of many headaches for both you and your managers.
  • You have also determined an elegant fix to make the code maintainable and easy to work with for many years to come.
  • You make a request to your project managers to schedule some time for these improvements to be implemented.
  • When you make your pitch you are sure to mention how the quality of the software will be improved and save the company money because the code will be easier to work with and less bugs will be reported by the customers.

Management seems to agree with your ideas and replies with:

"That sounds great, we should definitely do that. However, now is not a good time. We should be able to do that a couple of months from now."

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