Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Music and Teams

I was hanging out at the book store, as I tend to do since they have almost all that is needed in life; Coffee, lots of books to read, and free wifi. Some how, I accidentally wander out of the Computer book section, somehow missed the Science and Engineering section and wound up in the music book section. I browsed a book about Zappa for a while but stumbled a book call "Comfortably Numb: the inside story of Pink Floyd". It's a great book!

There were several points that seemed counter intuitive about teams until you realize that Pink Floyd produced many great albums (for the young people, an album is a vinyl disc that music was recorded on and played on a record player...with a needle) including The Dark side of the Moon, one of the best selling albums of all time.

First point, hiring people based on best team fit is over rated. Sometimes the band members were at each others throats. The point was they were all smart, all creative, and they had the drive to get the job done. They didn't let creative differences or personal difference get in the way of there goal.

Second point, some teams fall apart with dissension between team members, some teams refocus their experiences into creativity. Pink Floyd re-focused into writing great music while software teams can refocus into great software.

Third point, Creative people push themselves, and others, hard. Creative people will push themselves to bring their idea's to the forefront and sometimes will push others to get their idea's out there. They seem to push each other, sometimes in not so nice ways, to get people to complete there own ideas.

Fourth point, don't let technology overwhelm the ideas. This one may be a stretch but it has a good point. With Pink Floyd all the technology behind the shows sometimes got in the way of the music. Today, all the e-mail, IM, blogs, distract us from reaching the goal of developing our ideas.

Overall, the parts that I read were very enjoyable. I'm going to have to go back to the bookstore, hangout some more, and read the book. Or, hey, I could actually buy the book! We'll have to see.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


-ism: Docturine; Theory; System of principles; Distinctive or Character trait.

I've noticed some traits of LabVIEW programmers and the word "LabVIEWism" came to mind. Sort of like Hinduism or materialism. It seems to be more than just a programming language, it's seems to be a way of life...programming life that is. Similar to Protestantism is to Protestants or Communism is to Communist. (No association with LabVIEW implied)

To me, it seems that LabVIEW is ingrained in the LabVIEWist being, it flows in their blood. You cut them and they bleed hemoglobin vi's. (I'm sure the icons are red)

LabVIEWism has a lot of followers that are dedicated to the LabVIEW way of programming, focused on converting us lowly CVI programmers. NI Week is a tribute to LabVIEWism, they inundate everyone with LabVIEW with only a token acknowledgment to CVI.

I don't bleed vi's, or dream graphical code. I still dream in C and preach the virtues the code editor and the power of the command line. LabVIEWism may take over our companies test group, but there will always be holdouts.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I have been making a concerted effort to use LabVIEW lately, trying to learn the "Graphical" way of programing. Due to Carpel Tunnel Syndrome I use my left hand to mouse a lot. I've tried the, so called, "Keyboard" shortcuts ("Keyboard" as defined by NI), but since they still involve the mouse, they aren't as helpful as I need them to be.

But continuing to work with the pain, my left hand is just not as dexterous as my right. It's hard to hit the small wire Connections. It's annoying trying to figure out which vi to use for what functions.

Some of the features that would be VERY helpful to get us LabVIEW handicapped people working in LabVIEW is:
- a zoom feature. I could make a vi bigger and actually hit the terminal.
- Or have it where, when I miss hitting a terminal, I can use tab or shift tab to move the connection from the current terminal to the next or previous terminal.
- Have LabVIEW be able to select the end of a wire and then drag it around using the arrow keys instead of the mouse.
- Have the pallet navigable with the arrow and tab keys. Make it where you can select the pallet, then with the arrow and tab keys move about in the pallets to the vi you want. From there, be able to select it and drag and drop with the arrow keys.

Have the LabVIEW developers ever heard about Test Driven Development (TDD) or automated Builds? Here's some more features.
- For automatic builds, have VI's able to be Compiled (or whatever happens to them) from the command line and verified none of them are broken (with the broken arrow for the run button)
- For Test Driven Development, have an automated test frame work. Frame works similar to the NUnit test development suite.

One more suggestion...have a cheaper copy for use by anyone. MS have copies of things like Visual Studio C++ for $100 or so at computer stores.

It's still easier to think in C (LabWindows CVI) than it is in LabView and until I can develop LabVIEW as I can develop C code, I'm sure I'll still be using CVI. But I will always keep trying to learn new stuff.

Now as soon as NI comes up comes up with telepathic programming interface, I'll be there!