In the last few months I’ve noticed a significant downturn in the frequency of posts on my favourite blogs. So I’ve finally succumbed and decided to try Twitter. If you’re in my blogroll you can expect me to begin following you sometime soon. And if you want to follow me, I’m @kevinrutherford (even if you don’t, my recent tweets are in the sidebar on this blog).

I don’t expect to tweet more than once or twice a day, and I have no idea what it’ll do to the frequency of my posts here. Or whether I’ll ever fully “get” Twitter at all!

All this is making me feel old…

this blog in jurgen appelo’s top 100

I just received this email from Jurgen Appelo:

Hi Kevin,

You might find it interesting to know that your blog grabbed the #91 slot on the all-new Top 100 Blogs for Development Managers. The list is based on a weighted average of Google page rank, Technorati authority, Alexa rank, Google hits and comments. Check it out.

Congratulations! :)

Jurgen Appelo

Cool, and a great honour. Quite humbling to be on the same list as pretty much all of my blogging heroes!

what is your experience of mentoring programmes?

One reason I started this blog is that my left and right brains don’t seem to be connected to each other: I tend not to know what I think until I hear myself stating an opinion, and then I’m often horrified by what I hear. So blogging is a bit like talking to myself. Steven Pinker (I think) even suggests this — talking to oneself, not blogging — is the most plausible reason for the evolution of speech. Anyroadup, I haven’t been doing enough of either during the last few months, and I’m feeling the effects.

However, I have recently discovered the fun of asking and answering questions on LinkedIn, and I’m finding it has much the same effect as talking to myself. So when I answer a question over there, and in so doing discover I have an opinion I like, I’ll share it here too. Here’s the first one…

Andrew Calvert asked: “What is your experience of mentoring programmes? Mentoring; some think is an organic process that cannot be artificially replicated. Others think that you can assign mentors to learning partners (or mentees!) put in enough structure and have a working mentor programme. What do YOU think? Experiences?”

My answer:

I believe mentoring involves a) being a role model, and b) partnering to share knowledge. Institutional mentoring programmes (such as buddy systems for new joiners) can be great initially, but in my experience only pass on basic information. On the other hand, role modelling — and the kind of mentoring that goes along with it — has longer lasting and more positive effects.

In my work in software development I always try to involve both aspects. And I find that mentees (sic) self-select once they’ve seen that I’m working in a way that gets results. So when a developer asks for my help, he’s usually already seen how I work; I can therefore help him solve his problem in the same way.

So yes, I think mentoring is “organic” and should not be forced upon people. But organic growth always starts with a seed, and I believe that seed is the presence of role models who are willing to help and share.

Do you have experience of role modelling or mentoring programmes? Which works (best)?

how to subscribe to the Carnival of the Agilists

Brian Marick emailed me to ask whether the Carnival has an RSS feed. The simple answer is ‘no’, but there are several services around that will allow you to subscribe to a search for Carnival of the Agilists articles – Technorati or Google, for example. In fact, either of these is likely to be more foolproof than relying on us to always remember to tag our carnival posts correctly.

3 years old today!

It turns out that this blog is three years old today! That realisation took me by surprise this week, as it doesn’t seem all that long ago that I began. Many thanks to those few readers who’ve stayed the course all that time, and thanks also to the many new readers who’ve come here since then. And my apologies for the regular downtime in the early days, and for the recent move (which has broken all your links to specific posts).

Many of my earliest posts have remained popular throughout – and indeed the stats show there’s been a lot of interest in avoid boolean parameters and if… just recently – both written in July of 2004. Those two, together with the product owner must pull (revisited), have consistently been the most frequently read posts on this blog.

Back then in June 2004 it seems I was also practising yoga regularly. We lost the time for that when baby James came along, and I’ve just realised that he was conceived the same week as I began this blog. Quite possibly my most productive week ever…

move to wordpress complete

The domain now points to this version of the blog, and so the blog’s move to wordpress is now complete. If you’ve arrived here by following a link that pointed to a page in the old blog, all those links are now broken – my apologies. (The move was necessary because I became increasingly dissatisfied with my old hosting service, with MovableType, and with hosting the blog myself.) The RSS feed is unchanged, so if you never actually visit these pages you’ll (probably) have noticed nothing.

move to wordpress in progress

Well I’ve taken the plunge and begun moving my blog over to the hosted service at wordpress. Still lots to do, including: moving all the images and other files; fixing all the internal links between blog posts; sorting out the CSS; etc. But all the old posts are here, and I’m hoping that the Feedburner feed is pointing correctly here too.

Feels weird. I guess time will tell…

enough is enough

My apologies to you if you’ve tried to access this blog recently and just given up waiting. The hosting service I use for has been getting slower and slower recently. I mean really slow. Yesterday, it took me nearly four hours to put the finishing touches to the carnival – changes that consisted of only twenty words or so. Because each save, and each preview, either took an age or never completed at all. (Apparently the new hardware to “fix” the problem has been incorrectly commissioned, and it won’t be up and running for several more weeks. In the meantime I have a service that is sometimes just unusable.)

Of course I could use an offline editing tool such as BlogJet or Ecto; but I’m becoming fed up with Movable Type too. And yesterday Movable Type helped me screw up. I had begun drafting the carnival on Monday – that is, in April. And when I finally hit ‘publish’ yesterday afternoon, I forgot to change the authored-on date, which meant the post looked like it was published Monday too. I noticed the mistake and quickly fixed it, but by then Movable Type had saved a version under the April archive. So now there are two different HTML pages containing the carnival, and my stats show they are receiving roughly equal numbers of visits. Bummer.

So I’ve decided to move. My hosting service is unreliable and often unusable, and my blogging tool is more work than I need.

I could simply move the blog – and Movable Type – to my other server, which seems very reliable, and over which I have greater control. That would mean all those links into this blog wouldn’t get broken. Which would be nice, because I’ve spent a lot of time and effort getting my googlerank up to 6.

On the other hand, the thought of spending more time as an admin, nursing a fragile set of Perl scripts, is not a happy one. I want something that’s pain-free and less effort than Movable Type. What do you recommend? Which are the best free hosted blog services currently available?

When I’ve made the switch (that word makes it sound kinda easy and instantaneous, doesn’t it) I plan to keep the URL and the feedburner feed. But the Atom feed will go – so if you’re currently subscribed to that feed, please switch now.

Thanks for your patience, and your help.

Movable Type has just told me that this is my 400th blog post, which seems to me to be an auspicious time to move on. (Doubly so, in fact, because I know this blog contains only 355 posts!)