I. M. Wright's Hard Code

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Get the brutal truth about coding, testing, and project management—from a Microsoft insider who tells it like it is. I. M. Wright's deliberately provocative column "Hard Code" has been sparking debate amongst thousands of engineers at Microsoft for years. And now (despite our better instincts), we're making his opinions available to everyone.

In this collection of over 80 columns, Eric Brechner's alter ego pulls no punches with his candid commentary and best practice solutions ...

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I.M. Wright's Hard Code: A Decade of Hard-Won Lessons from Microsoft

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Get the brutal truth about coding, testing, and project management—from a Microsoft insider who tells it like it is. I. M. Wright's deliberately provocative column "Hard Code" has been sparking debate amongst thousands of engineers at Microsoft for years. And now (despite our better instincts), we're making his opinions available to everyone.

In this collection of over 80 columns, Eric Brechner's alter ego pulls no punches with his candid commentary and best practice solutions to the issues that irk him the most. He dissects the development process, examines tough team issues, and critiques how the software business is run, with the added touch of clever humor and sardonic wit. His ideas aren't always popular (not that he cares), but they do stimulate discussion and imagination needed to drive software excellence.

Get the unvarnished truth on how to:

  • Improve software quality and value—from design to security
  • Realistically manage project schedules, risks, and specs
  • Trim the fat from common development inefficiencies
  • Apply process improvement methods—without being an inflexible fanatic
  • Drive your own successful, satisfying career
  • Don't be a dictator—develop and manage a thriving team!

Companion Web site includes:

  • Agile process documents
  • Checklists, templates, and other resources
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Inside Microsoft, Eric Brechner has spent several years prodding development teams towards greater effectiveness and better quality. His columns, which he writes under the name I. M. Wright, have gained a growing following inside and outside Microsoft. Now he's assembled, organized, and annotated those columns -- so you, too, can be provoked and improved.

Brechner has a talent for cutting straight to the point. For example, what should project managers really be managing, above all? The risk to delivery of critical features. Understand that, and much else falls into place.

Brechner outlines what you can really get from "agile" and "lean" practices, without totally gulping the Kool-Aid. You'll find sensible insights on making specs useful; using time between projects; dealing with testers and non-technical folk; and on "being a manager, and yet not evil incarnate." Along the way, Brechner offers plenty of unscripted insight into life within Microsoft. Provocative, indeed. Bill Camarda, from the November 2007 Read Only

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735661707
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press
  • Publication date: 8/24/2011
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 450
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Brechner, Director of Development Excellence at Microsoft Corporation, has more than two decades experience in the software industry. He began writing “Hard Code” in 2001 as a resource for Microsoft employees. Since then, the opinion column has ignited an ongoing discussion of best practices among the thousands of software development engineers at Microsoft—and now, to the rest of the development community.

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Table of Contents

Reader Acclaim for I. M. Wright’s "Hard Code” Column; Foreword; Foreword to the First Edition; Introduction; How This Book Happened; Who Should Read This Book; Organization of This Book; How Microsoft Is Organized; Sample Tools and Documents; System Requirements; Errata & Book Support; We Want to Hear from You; Stay in Touch; Chapter 1: Project Mismanagement; 1.1 June 1, 2001: "Dev schedules, flying pigs, and other fantasies”; 1.2 October 1, 2001: "Pushing the envelopes: Continued contention over dev schedules”; 1.3 May 1, 2002: "Are we having fun yet? The joy of triage.”; 1.4 December 1, 2004: "Marching to death”; 1.5 October 1, 2005: "To tell the truth”; 1.6 September 1, 2008: "I would estimate”; 1.7 May 1, 2009: "It starts with shipping”; 1.8 September 1, 2009: "Right on schedule”; 1.9 May 1, 2010: "Coordinated agility”; Chapter 2: Process Improvement, Sans Magic; 2.1 September 2, 2002: "Six Sigma? Oh please!”; 2.2 October 1, 2004: "Lean: More than good pastrami”; 2.3 April 1, 2005: "Customer dissatisfaction”; 2.4 March 1, 2006: "The Agile bullet”; 2.5 October 1, 2007: "How do you measure yourself?”; 2.6 October 1, 2010: "You can depend on me”; 2.7 November 1, 2010: "Am I bugging you? Bug Reports”; 2.8 December 1, 2010: "There’s no place like production”; 2.9 February 1, 2011: "Cycle time—The soothsayer of productivity”; Chapter 3: Inefficiency Eradicated; 3.1 July 1, 2001: "Late specs: Fact of life or genetic defect?”; 3.2 June 1, 2002: "Idle hands”; 3.3 June 1, 2004: "The day we met”; 3.4 July 1, 2006: "Stop writing specs, co-located feature crews”; 3.5 February 1, 2007: "Bad specs: Who is to blame?”; 3.6 February 1, 2008: "So far away—Distributed development”; 3.7 December 1, 2008: "De-optimization”; 3.8 April 1, 2009: "Your World. Easier”; 3.9 April 1, 2011: "You have to make a decision”; Chapter 4: Cross Disciplines; 4.1 April 1, 2002: "The modern odd couple? Dev and Test”; 4.2 July 1, 2004: "Feeling testy—The role of testers”; 4.3 May 1, 2005: "Fuzzy logic—The liberal arts”; 4.4 November 1, 2005: "Undisciplined—What’s so special about specialization?”; 4.5 January 1, 2009: "Sustained engineering idiocy”; 4.6 May 1, 2011: "Test don’t get no respect”; Chapter 5: Software Quality—More Than a Dream; 5.1 March 1, 2002: "Are you secure about your security?”; 5.2 November 1, 2002: "Where’s the beef? Why we need quality”; 5.3 April 1, 2004: "A software odyssey—From craft to engineering”; 5.4 July 1, 2005: "Review this—Inspections”; 5.5 October 1, 2006: "Bold predictions of quality”; 5.6 May 1, 2008: "Crash dummies: Resilience”; 5.7 October 1, 2008: "Nailing the nominals”; Chapter 6: Software Design If We Have Time; 6.1 September 1, 2001: "A tragedy of error handling”; 6.2 February 1, 2002: "Too many cooks spoil the broth—Sole authority”; 6.3 May 1, 2004: "Resolved by design”; 6.4 February 1, 2006: "The other side of quality—Designers and architects”; 6.5 August 1, 2006: "Blessed isolation—Better design”; 6.6 November 1, 2007: "Software performance: What are you waiting for?”; 6.7 April 1, 2008: "At your service”; 6.8 August 1, 2008: "My experiment worked! (Prototyping)”; 6.9 February 1, 2009: "Green fields are full of maggots”; Chapter 7: Adventures in Career Development; 7.1 December 1, 2001: "When the journey is the destination”; 7.2 October 1, 2002: "Life isn’t fair—The review curve”; 7.3 November 1, 2006: "Roles on the career stage”; 7.4 May 1, 2007: "Get yourself connected”; 7.5 September 1, 2007: "Get a job—Finding new roles”; 7.6 December 1, 2007: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way”; 7.7 July 1, 2008: "Opportunity in a gorilla suit”; 7.8 March 1, 2010: "I’m deeply committed”; 7.9 April 1, 2010: "The new guy”; 7.10 June 1, 2010: "Level up”; 7.11 September 1, 2010: "Making the big time”; 7.12 January 1, 2011: "Individual leadership”; Chapter 8: Personal Bug Fixing; 8.1 December 1, 2002: "My way or the highway—Negotiation”; 8.2 February 1, 2005: "Better learn life balance”; 8.3 June 1, 2005: "Time enough”; 8.4 August 1, 2005: "Controlling your boss for fun and profit”; 8.5 April 1, 2006: "You talking to me? Basic communication”; 8.6 March 1, 2007: "More than open and honest”; 8.7 March 1, 2009: "I’m listening”; 8.8 July 1, 2009: "The VP-geebees”; 8.9 December 1, 2009: "Don’t panic”; 8.10 August 1, 2010: "I messed up”; 8.11 March 1, 2011: "You’re no bargain either”; Chapter 9: Being a Manager, and Yet Not Evil Incarnate; 9.1 February 1, 2003: "More than a number—Productivity”; 9.2 September 1, 2004: "Out of the interview loop”; 9.3 November 1, 2004: "The toughest job—Poor performers”; 9.4 September 1, 2005: "Go with the flow—Retention and turnover”; 9.5 December 1, 2005: "I can manage”; 9.6 May 1, 2006: "Beyond comparison—Dysfunctional teams”; 9.7 March 1, 2008: "Things have got to change: Change management”; 9.8 June 1, 2009:::::: "I hardly recognize you”; 9.9 October 1, 2009: "Hire’s remorse”; 9.10 November 1, 2009: "Spontaneous combustion of rancid management”; 9.11 January 1, 2010: "One to one and many to many”; 9.12 July 1, 2010: "Culture clash”; Chapter 10: Microsoft, You Gotta Love It; 10.1 November 1, 2001: "How I learned to stop worrying and love reorgs”; 10.2 March 1, 2005: "Is your PUM a bum?”; 10.3 September 1, 2006: "It’s good to be the King of Windows”; 10.4 December 1, 2006: "Google: Serious threat or poor spelling?”; 10.5 April 1, 2007: "Mid-life crisis”; 10.6 November 1, 2008: "NIHilism and other innovation poison”; 10.7 February 1, 2010: "Are we functional?”; Glossary; About the Author;

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted May 10, 2010

    Opinions and Attitudes

    I.M. Wright (Eric Brechner) fills the book with his opinions and attitudes with more than 20 years of development experience. I found many of his opinions and attitudes right on the mark, others I wasn't sure I agreed with, but I found the book an excellent read. It was interesting reading opinions that date back as far as 2001. More times than not we look at experts' opinions from almost 10 years ago you find that their opinions are way off the mark. This is not the case with I.M. Wright. There are things in the book that even the author looking back has decided wasn't the best idea. But more times than not, what the author said in the early 2000s apply today. I really enjoyed his 2002 column entitled "Six Sigma? Oh please!".

    Because the author was working in the real world you don't get a lot of theory or how things should be, but how thing are, real and unfair. He will defend developers and managers when he thinks they need defending, then turn around and chastised them when he thinks they deserve the criticism. I was a little surprised that while working for large organization and these columns were printed internally in the company, the author did not hesitate to criticize the way management operated.

    This is not a boring book. The author has strong opinions, attitudes and does not hesitate to express them on the pages. It is fun to read someone's rants and his justifications for these rants. I'm sure everyone will find something they agreed with and something they will not.

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