Eiken 3rd Level Pass

My daughter Kylie passed the first half of her 3rd level English-as-a-second-language test, the ”Eiken” from Step. The numbering system is typically Japanese, where the testees start on the basic level 5, and proceed up to level 1 with a few sub-levels in between. She now has to pass the interview portion to get the certificate, so we plan to practice with her.

On the Principles of the Agile Manifesto

Looking at the basics of Agile in more detail over the last weeks, to help me apply it and other philosophies and methods to general, non-development project management, I discovered that the principles behind the Agile Manifesto are readily available.

Agile Principles, Translated, with Some Commentary

To help my Japanese colleagues understand the concepts of Agile more easily, after the jump, I’ll translate the principles into Japanese, under the original English from the Agile website. The Japanese translations and any mistakes therein are solely my responsibility. Further, I’ll take the opportunity to comment on what I see as important in the principles. For instance, do the principles allow for or even demand a lazy, free-for-all approach? Can an inexperienced team do Agile effectively, or, is mentoring needed?

Please have a look at the short article and commentary. Put your comments on this blog post; I’d love to hear from you, and I hope this article helps someone. Enjoy!

Between the Lines of the Agile Manifesto

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my firm eSolia’s way of managing support and projects. We have a lot of experience with PM for both business and IT, and have applied that experience repeatedly to improving our process. However, one day I was reading something about Agile teams and a Lean approach to doing business, and I started to notice that our approach already matched what was being discussed. Perhaps our approach would benefit from what was being discussed “in the literature”.

Looking into Agile, Lean and Scrum more, one thing I noticed about the Agile Manifesto is, it seems many teams claiming Agility are taking the most extreme stance possible, almost making reactionary excuses to avoid anything that smells of “structure”. Very rebellious, and it’s no wonder many of those same teams also claim that Agile does not work. But this sort of reactionary stance is not quite what the manifesto is stating.

Please have a look at this short article I wrote, regarding my interpretation reading between the lines of the Agile Manifesto. Put your comments on this blog post; I’d love to hear from you, and I hope this article helps someone. Enjoy!

Agile Manifesto in Japanese

I wanted to explain the Agile Manifesto to my Japanese colleagues, so I translated it into my (admittedly imperfect) Japanese.

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Mockup Mania!

If you do mockups of software interfaces, you might find this post of interest. Although I can write shell scripts and simple perl or ruby scripts well, I am not a developer. However, participating in a session with Pietro, a senior developer of the work management applicationTeamwork” from Open Labs, I found the Balsamiq application refreshingly easy to use.

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Happy 25th Birthday, Macintosh!

It’s the 25th birthday of the Mac…

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Easter Egg in Google Mobile for iPhone

In the official Official Google Mobile Blog post Ring in the New Year with Bells and Whistles, the Google Mobile for iPhone team points out an Easter Egg that you can use to get some additional features in Google Mobile. Just open the app, tap settings, then scroll past About. Eventually, you’ll see the additional menu item “Bells and Whistles” appear, so keep trying. Nice!

Listing Open Directory Users on OS X Leopard Server

If you want get a list of your users on Open Directory in Leopard Server, you need to use the dscl command from the Terminal. SSH to your server, and do a sudo bash or su - to get into root mode. Then you can run dscl directly with arguments, or, enter its interactive shell mode.

Listing Users with DSCL

Here is how to list users from the command line in Leopard Server:

myhost:~ root# dscl localhost list /Local/Default/Users

myhost:~ root# dscl localhost list /LDAPv3/

Or, go into interactive mode:

myhost:~ root# dscl

list Local/Default/Users

list /LDAPv3/

You should also be able to email the list to yourself, or, send it to a file:

myhost:~ root# dscl localhost list /LDAPv3/ |sendmail rick.cogley@gmail.com

myhost:~ root# dscl localhost list /LDAPv3/ > /path/to/userlist.txt

An Easier Way with DSCACHEUTIL

There happens also to be a wrapper for this information, that makes things easy. You can use dscacheutil to get a list of users or groups and some relevant information. For example, use dscacheutil with the -q (query) switch and either user or group, like so:

dscacheutil -q userdscacheutil -q group
The output looks like this:

bash-3.2# dscacheutil -q username: _amavisdpassword: *uid: 83gid: 83dir: /var/virusmailsshell: /usr/bin/falsegecos: AMaViS Daemonname: _appownerpassword: *uid: 87gid: 87dir: /var/emptyshell: /usr/bin/falsegecos: Application Owner

Hope this helps someone. Enjoy!

Cleaning House on Leopard Server

If you administer OS X servers, chances are the holidays are a time when projects to perform IMACs (Install, Add, Move, Change) are often done. Projects that involve moving drives or data. On Leopard Server, to get a clean start for 2009, there are a few command line techniques to note, regarding permissions for files and folders. Note, setting permissions in Finder on OS X Server is notoriously buggy, so 9 out of 10 administrators (in white coats, of course) recommend using the command line. Try it: your friends will envy you and the girls will admire you. But first, a word about how permissions work in Leopard Server.

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Zany Sound Experiments

Today on Japanese TV, which is generally either excruciatingly boring (watching people eat and talk, duh) or wonderfully creative, especially at year end, there was a show showing some interesting and zany experiments with sound.

Chord around the Race Track - one experiment was whether a chord played in unison (the very definition) by trumpeters around a racetrack, will sound like a song from the vantage point of a passing car. They spaced the musicians according to the rhythm of the music, and had them play the notes from the theme from the latest Miyazaki movie “Ponyo”. The notes make up a chord, and sure enough, as the car passes you hear Ponyo, in all its doppler-ized glory. Sounds like a bunch of cats doing quick crescendo-decrescendos. I quote:

mEOw, mEOwmEOw, mEOwmEOwmEOwmEOwmEOwmEOwmEOwmEOw, mEOwmEOwmEOwmEOwmEOwmEOwmEOw, mEOwmEOwmEOw, mEOw.

Cup Chorus - if you think of the string-phones children play with, the contraption in use was several of those strung together. Imagine a set of spokes made of string, tied together in the middle, with each outer end having a cup attached. There was one listener, and the listener’s string was extra long. Manning the other cups was a group of chorus members spread out in an arc, singing the “Cutie Honey” theme into each of their cups - sopranos, altos, tenors, basses. It works quite well, as the listener could hear the theme perfectly, and, it sounded like it had a funky kind of reverb, too. Flash!

Racing Siren - the last sound experiment I saw was where they attached a police siren to an F1 car, to see if it would sound like a regular ambulance buzzing by some stationary listeners at 300 kph around a racetrack. Interestingly, you could hear the siren rising in pitch as the F1 car got close, and falling as it went away, but when it was close the engine was so loud it drowned out the sound of the siren entirely. Pshaw, you couldn’t get an F1-er through the streets of Tokyo even if you could rig it up to be an ambulance!