Thoughts From South America to a connected world

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The right question Methodology 2: Questions in users groups

Maybe you see a situation like this in your user group:

POST: Fellas, I have a problem, How can I ask pass the value of a session variable from traditional ASP to ASP.NET? I have an ASP.NET module inside an ASP applications and want to do this... please help!!!

If you saw this situation you may be able to guess what could be the tipical answers...

1. From Quicker posters (the ones who answer quick because they think while you answer most you win more... winning what? I dont know)
- You can't
- You can't now, maybe in a future beta
- Look in google for a workaround

2. From Busy people (People who wants to help but didnt have enough time)
- You need to do a workaround, send me an email and I will send you some links
- Look in here http://www.infoinfoinfo.com/article4567.aspx

3. From people thinking... I am not sure this guy is making the right question for his case
- Actually you can't but what you REALLY want to do?

after this, the guy probably answer to the third person saying exactly the same as the previous question with a little extra information:

POST: I have a session variable and want to pass that value to a page in my asp.net module inside the same application.

These are tipical "I need help" posts in users groups... where people don't tell you the problem, just want you to help HIS IDEA of a solution works... OK, you are not obligated to think by him and if he is doing wrong questions that is not your problem, but if you have time, you can help him trying to get the Right question... but first, the problem. So you tell him: PLEASE, EXPLAIN ME THE SITUATION

POST: I have an Intranet . Most of the intranet are ASP pages, but we have a new module with ASP.NET and dont want to ask people for autentication when people gets that module...

Now you can see the real problem, and you can think a lot of possible solutions in a wide range including changing the authentication method of the intranet (if it is forms) or asking the principal from ASP.NET (if it was windows) or any other ideas for the specific case... The fact is that many people answer questions without thinking about relevancy... and is logic because the problem is the person asking wrong questions... but with a little of pacience and time we can make the difference...

If you post to a user group, you can ask people to help your TECHNICAL SOLUTION works, but you can ask people about other ways to solve your problem... you will be amazed with the answers you can get.

And you can use this for real life, noy only users groups or technical matters, you can find yourself making wrong questions and getting useless answers all the time because of that.

Give me some examples!!!

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Right Question Methodology 1: The transfer error

A couple of years ago I wrote an article titled, “The right Question Method”. This article was written in spanish and it can be located at the URL: http://www.microsoft.com/spanish/msdn/comunidad/mtj.net/voices/art28.asp
In this article I cover some points related to how developer obsessions can be the developer’s worst enemy. I am fascinated by this dilema, and consequently am likely to post frequently about this topic. I know that some of you who are reading this are going to comment on the methodology I use and I encourage that. So let me start with the obsession that I have named:
THE TRANSFER ERROR (In spanish: El Error de Traslacion)
The typical case is: Your customer wants you to do something, for example: Move an image from left to right in the screen in a fancy way (I know it’s a simplistic example, but bare with me for a minute while I make a point). The developer was just reading an article about using Technology X to move images, so he thinks: WOW this is my opportunity to try a new technology, and so he/she does just that.
Case 1, not so Severe:After 3 hours of struggling the developer is still trying to attain the desired behavior, but not succeeding...He/she insists and presses on trying to overcome the problem. 2 days later progress is made, but it is still broken inticing him/her to press on.
Case 2, Severe:After 3 hours of struggling the developer is still trying but without success. A full day later he/she discovers that the problem has to do with a conflict with an existing module. Consequently, the developer decides to change a fully tested and functional module! 4 days later the developer has severely damaged the application with no clear way to repair it other than rolling it all the way back to where he/she started 5 days prior.
Why I call this the TRANSFER ERROR? because the developer changes the customers requirement from :
FROM: Move the image from here to here
TO: Move the image from here to here using Technology X.
As you can see, there are different objectives and because of the obsession, the developer thinks the objective is made because of technology X... not the real objective. If he/she takes time to step back an analyze the requirement, the developer can decide that maybe technology X is not the right, or maybe he/she is not savvy enough yet with technology X to implement it or maybe there is a Technology Y that will suffice with just a couple of hours of effort... this happens all the time... It’s happened to you. It’s happened to me. And it continues to happen to the best developers in the world