Archive for June, 2005

Build, Show, Go

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

For me, prototypes have always been a key part of developing software. I’ve tried low-fidelity paper models and hi-fidelity working code; and I have to admit I gravitate towards the hi-fidelity models. Yes, they do cost more. But, in my opinion, they provide more value too.

  • Easier for users to interact with.
  • Require less “imagination”.
  • Gain understanding of the target technology.

Of course prototypes are often “quick & dirty” so the prevailing process is “build, show, throw”.

  1. Build the prototype.
  2. Show it.
  3. Throw it away.

With Cryotrax Researcher Edition, we’ve adopted a “build, show, go” approach. The first two steps are the same, but instead of throwing it away, we’re going forward with development.

By making a couple of simple choices while developing the prototype, we prepared it to “go” to development.

  1. Use the target technology and tools.
  2. Isolate the “data” from the user interface.
  3. Build some of the control.

This doesn’t take considerable effort. There’s no need to architect the backend systems. There’s no need to develop a complex object model. This is a Java application so we created a class to contain the prototype data (mostly Strings & Lists) and accessed it through static methods. Crude? Yes. Effective? Yes. Simple? Yes.

After the “go” decision, we evolved the object model and backend system one step at a time.

  1. Identify the function to develop.
  2. Build & test functionality using test-first principles.
  3. Remove the call to the prototype data; replace it with a call to the business logic.

Using this approach, we’re evolving the prototype while maintaining the “façade” of a working application. Real and prototype functionality is interspersed in a constantly narrowing spiral – the real application overtaking the prototype.

Proclaiming Rain Falls Mainly to a Plane

Friday, June 17th, 2005

That’s the title to an article appearing in July 2005 issue of Technology Review. In an effort to improve weather forecasting, sensors are being attached to commuter airplanes and transmitting real-time weather information to a central ground station.Some facts…

  • Most weather forms in the lower levels of the atmosphere – below 20,000 feet.
  • In the US 69 weather balloons take readings twice a day.
  • 64 commuter planes are involved in this project.
  • Measurements are taken every time an aircraft takes off or lands: 600-800 per day.
  • While cruising, aircraft take periodic measurements.
  • AirDat, located in Morrisville, NC processes the sensor data.

Proclaiming Rain Falls Mainly to a Plane

Technology Review

Mesaba Airlines


Triangle Biotechnology Spotlight

Monday, June 6th, 2005

Recently, three major biotech events occurred in North Carolina.On May 13th, the first annual BioPharma Leadership Forum was held at NC State University. The all day event focused on “Biotechnology/Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Modernization and Optimization.” In addition, the university spotlighted its new MBA concentration in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

On May 24th & 25th, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), along with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the North Carolina Biosciences Organization (NCBIO) and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), hosted the 14th annual Biotech conference. Biotech 2005 attracted over 800 people for two days of keynotes, panel discussions, and networking. The event emphasized collaboration, partnership, and growth in the community.

On June 2nd, the state of North Carolina broke ground on a 91,000 square foot Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center on NC State University Centennial Campus. Built to industry standards, the new facility will serve students and works from around the state. NC State will also offer new undergraduate and graduate degrees in biotechnology.

Now you might ask yourself what these events have to do with information technology. In the 1990’s information technology grew into an industry of its own. IT professionals identified with technology more than business. In a new and rapidly expanding market that makes sense. Now as IT matures, the professionals need to re-align themselves with the business and the problems they solve. We need to understand how to apply technology to benefit the company’s bottom line. How to grow the business. How to reduce costs. How to open new markets. Being plugged into industry, through events like the ones above, gives us the perspective to help optimize our client’s business, challenge their thinking, and offer fresh insight. Without that, our value approaches zero.