Steve Rowe's Blog

Ruminations on Computing - Programming, Test Development, Management and More

Posts
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Three Reasons To Consider Being a Test Developer

    • 32 Comments
    When it comes to careers in the world of software most people think of programmers or what are more formally known as developers. Developers are the people who write the software which is consequently sold or utilized by the organization. I’ll call them...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    How Much Memory Does Vista Need?

    • 32 Comments
    With Windows Vista coming soon to a retail channel near you, one of the important questions to ask is, "How much memory does it really need?" There are the official minimum requirements of 512 MB, but we all know that minimum requirements don't translate...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Why building software isn’t like building bridges

    • 23 Comments
    I was having a conversation with a friend the other night and we came across the age-old “software should be like building buildings” argument. It goes something like this: Software should be more like other forms of engineering like bridges or buildings...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Hiring Great Testers - Tester Roles

    • 14 Comments
    In my mind, there are basically three roles on a test team. These three roles are: developers, scripters, and those who execute the test cases (runtime testers). In reality there is a spectrum of capabilities on any team but I think most roles will be...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    HD-DVD Looks Better Than BluRay

    • 14 Comments
    I was in Circuit City the other day and they had a beautiful Sony SXRD television set up playing some BluRay content. I thought I was going to be blown away. I wasn't. The disc playing was a demo disc featuring snippets of lots of movies. Each one was...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    What does "RC1" really mean?

    • 14 Comments
    With the recent release of Windows Vista RC1, I have seen many comments on places like Slashdot and various blogs which demonstrate there is a lack of understanding of what we mean when we say we have "Release Candidate 1". I will attempt to explain what...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Printer Problems on Vista x64

    • 14 Comments
    I've decided to take the plunge and I'm running Vista x64 on my primary home system. So far things are going well. I haven't found any x86 programs that don't run yet. I'm sure they are out there but I haven't run across them yet. The driver signing thing...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    You Can't Learn To Program In A Hurry

    • 13 Comments
    A friend turned me on to this essay from Peter Norvig entitled Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years . In it the author attacks the idea of the "Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days" kind of books. They make it look easy to learn to program. Unfortunately...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Secret Santa is NP-Complete

    • 12 Comments
    Every year my group of friends undertakes a Secret Santa gift exchange. When we started we each drew names from a hat and bought a gift for the names we drew. Being budding programmers, we soon dispensed with the hat and wrote a program to do the work...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Why I'm Not Buying an HDTV Yet

    • 12 Comments
    Working with video all the time, I should be an obvious owner of an HDTV set. Alas, I'm not. I've many times considered purchasing one but I just haven't been able to bring myself to pull the trigger yet. Why not? Let me explain why I'm not jumping in...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    The Complexity Hammer

    • 12 Comments
    I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing lately, especially of college students. There is one tendency I see a that really separates those that are good from those who still have more learning to do. This is the tendency of the good programmers to see elegant...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Is There Value In Code Uniformity?

    • 11 Comments
    There seem to be two opposing views of coding standards. Some think that they should enforce uniformity in code. Everyone should use K&R braces, leave two lines between functions, and have a space after the if and before the opening parenthesis. Others...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    When to Test Manually and When to Automate

    • 11 Comments
    There's a balancing act in testing between automation and manual testing. Over my time at Microsoft I've seen the pendulum swing back and forth between extensive manual testing and almost complete automation. As I've written before, the best answer lies...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Not Everyone Has the Same Definition of "Done"

    • 11 Comments
    Years ago I had an employee, let's call him Vanya (not the real name). He was struggling a bit so I was watching his work closely. Every week we discussed what he needed to get done the next week and what he had done the previous week. I kept a list of...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Test Developers Are Real Developers

    • 11 Comments
    Through a few twists of fate, I ended up at Microsoft as a test developer (lead). It’s not something I ever considered doing before landing here and I’m sure it is not something a lot of you have thought much about. It is the goal of this...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Unix vs Windows

    • 11 Comments
    Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to take an Operating Systems class at a leading University. During that time, I have been once again confronted with the whole Unix (*nix, Linux, Mac OSX) versus Windows argument. It became quite apparent...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Why Don't PCs Have Hardware Video Decoders?

    • 11 Comments
    Robert X. Cringely speculates in his latest column that Apple may soon be adding H.264 hardware decoding and encoding to its Macintosh line. Cringely is wrong more often than he is right so the truth of this rumor is unknown. I'm sure someone at Apple...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Too Much Test Automation?

    • 10 Comments
    There was a time when testing software was synonymous with manual testing. Now with the rise of test development and the advent of unit testing, automation is becoming more and more prevalent. Test automation has many benefits but it is not a silver bullet...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    The Dangers of Test Automation

    • 10 Comments
    One of my favorite TV shows right now is House . In it a brilliant but antisocial doctor and his staff try to solve medical mysteries. If you don't watch it, you should. The writing is great. Earlier this season, there was an episode where a journalist...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Becoming a Lead, Pt. 2 – Learning To Trust

    • 10 Comments
    When I became a lead, one of the first real changes I noticed was the necessity of trusting those who worked for me. When you are no longer doing all of the work directly, you have to report what others tell you. This is very different from reporting...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Bye Bye Sunrocket

    • 10 Comments
    Sunrocket was my phone company...until today. This evening I looked at TechMeme to see what was new in the world only to run into this post at GigaOm. Check the web site. Everything looks fine. Check the phone. No dial tone. Bummer. Look around a little...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Keep Your BVTs Clean

    • 10 Comments
    At Microsoft we build each of our products on a daily basis. After each successful build, we run a series of automated tests we tend to call BVTs (Build Verification Tests). If the BVTs fail, no one further testing is done and developers are called in...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    We Need A Better Way To Test

    • 10 Comments
    Testing started simply. Developers would run their code after they wrote it to make sure it worked. When teams became larger and code more complex, it became apparent that developers could spend more time coding if they left much of the testing to someone...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Is there really a benefit in lossless audio formats?

    • 9 Comments
    Lossless codecs are all the rage amongst those who aspire to be audiophiles.  Whether it is ripping CDs in a format like FLAC or WMA Lossless or listening the TrueHD track on Bluray movies, there are those who swear by it.   Most audio...
  • Steve Rowe's Blog

    Using a Sunrocket Gizmo with ViaTalk

    • 9 Comments
    If you happen to have found this page as a former Sunrocket customer, here is a way you can get a phone up and running quickly. One potential VOIP provider you can use is Viatalk . This is the one I chose. Sign up for BYOD service. Wait unil you get your...
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