How to write amazing software

During most of my day, I work at Tideway Systems where we produce software that helps companies get a grip on their IT infrastructure – particularly their servers rather than their desktops.

Over the past few years, we have evolved a process for making the software we write highly valuable to our users and do so in a way that allows us to be flexible about scheduling, keep the creative juices flowing, and deliver it all very quickly.

If you are working in a software development organization and this kind of thing interests you, head over and have a look at my latest blog post which is about how our process allows us to build amazing software.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Define Word for Firefox 3.5

It is the same every time a new version of Firefox is released: plugin authors need to check whether their extensions work with the new version, and then create a new package that includes the flags to say it indeed works.

So far, so good. But the next step, after uploading the package to the add-ons site, isn’t working very well.

A few days after FF 3.5 was released, I uploaded Define Word 0.9.2, to make it easy to get it to work in the new browser version. Today, the extension is still not approved, and anyone that used the extension in the past have probably given up by now.

If you haven’t yet given up, feel free to download it from here. Eventually, you may even be able to get it from Mozilla, but don’t hold your breath 🙂

Spam Control now supports

After around 6 months of thinking about it, Mozilla finally approved Spam Control as a publicly available extension.  Until now, it has languished is an unapproved extension that only logged-in users see – and has therefore has seen little attention.

Since it was made public around a week ago, more than 2,000 people have downloaded and installed Spam Control – and left several nice reviews.  I like that; it’s the kind of thing that makes me want to do more work on it 🙂

One of the reviewers mentioned that has a good service similar to temporary inbox – but since it’s newer, it’s less likely to be blocked or busy.  It does indeed look like a nice, free service, and v0.2.7 of Spam Control supports it.

Note that I find Spam Control most useful in conjunction with the awesome Secure Login extension.  I wouldn’t like to be without either of them.

Check them out.

Updated Spam Control

I have just finished a new version of Spam Control, v0.2.3, which includes the ability to hide categories of email addresses from the pop-up menu (leaving it as uncluttered as possible). This version also fixes a bug where the list of domain prefixes or suffixes is empty.

Download Spam Control 0.2.3 here.

If you like it, please make sure you go to the Firefox add-on page and add a review – that way, it may eventually make it out of private-beta-obscurity on the site and be shown to anyone looking for what it does. Until then, it can only be found by people like yourself who find my blog, or by users that bother to log in 🙂


New Firefox extension: Spam control

I have been working on a small Firefox extension for the reason I guess most people do it: to scratch an itch. Nobody else seemed to have solved this problem, and at some point you then have to just bite the bullet.

The problem I have is that I don’t want to give my email address to anyone, because some of the people I give it to tend to send me spam or somehow get it into the hands of people that send spam. LOTS of spam. On the other hand, I do quite like to receive email, and since almost everyone requires an email address in order to send me the stuff, I had a quandary.

The good news is that there are lots of solutions to this; the bad news is that I can’t remember them when I need to give someone an email address. And so I tend to give them the real one, with the result that I get lots of spam.

Spam Control preferencesThe solution I have come up with is called Spam Control, and it’s really very simple. Once installed, it adds a toolbar (which you can disable if you like your screen real estate) and a pop-up menu to Firefox. Whenever an input field has focus, you can click one of the buttons and an email address is added to the field, saving you having to type it or remember it.

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Development methodologies

Software development methodologies – talking about them, criticizing them, and perhaps even using them – are all the rage. (If this is not the case in your friends’ circle, perhaps one of us have the wrong friends? 🙂 ) For example, the waterfall method is (rightly) considered old-fashioned and ineffective, but where do you go to find out how to do it right?

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Copy protection schemes

Almost every piece of software implements some form of copy protection, presumably intended to ensure that people do not pirate the software that they use.

What actually tends to happen is that real customers get hassled with complicated password and key-checking schemes that do not work, and that people who would not buy the software anyway simply download a patch, crack or key.

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