There’s no such thing as generic software. My two cents on the Dutch Inland Revenue

In a recent series of four articles Dutch national newspaper de Volkskrant gave a fascinating and unsettling account of the Dutch Inland Revenue (belastingdienst). This has apparently plumbed such depths of disorganisation that the tax collection process itself is in jeopardy. No tax revenues means no oxygen to keep the public sector rolling. Only the most rabid or naive of libertarians would not be horrified by such a prospect. Of course I was most interested in the faltering IT landscape with its six hundred different applications, the actively endorsed exodus of mature IT staff with their in-depth domain knowledge, the glaring cultural divide between generations of developers and the equally large unwillingness to bridge the chasm. Continue reading “There’s no such thing as generic software. My two cents on the Dutch Inland Revenue”

IaaS: automation until there’s nothing left to do

Yesterday I attended a meetup by Marcel Birkner and Dennis Schulte from codecentric Germany about everything cool in the buzzing arena of infrastructure as a service (IaaS). They were all there: Terraform, Ansible, Vagrant and of course Docker. I myself, a mere builder of functionality, marvelled at how virtualisation has changed our profession. The only physical machine you’re likely to see or even care about is your laptop workhorse. All services that a team needs to be productive (continuous integration, source control, artefact repository) is conjured up by just running a script. Continue reading “IaaS: automation until there’s nothing left to do”

The hood is still welded shut

I am very happy with my new iPhone SE, but there’s every reason not to be. Recently the Atlantic published the ominously titled “Have Smartphones Destroyed a generation?” The short answer: it sure looks like it.
Even as a childless Gen X’er it doesn’t take me much imagination to appreciate that for today’s teenagers a life without their smartphones is as unthinkable as one without running water. But aren’t we losing a sense of proportion? Running water and sewage systems have kept our cities free from cholera while Apple and Samsung give rise to new and unintended epidemics: all this ceaseless staring at your screens leads to upper back trouble, sleep deprivation, depression and a reduced interest in social and sexual relations. Conservative forces won’t see much wrong with the last one, I can imagine. Continue reading “The hood is still welded shut”

The case for Kotlin

Ryan Cooke puts the euphoria about Kotlin into perspective in his post by highlighting some of the challenges in using it for production. He makes some good points, to which I would like to add my own.

He mentions that Kotlin has only recently reached the top 50 in the TIOBE index. Actually I think that’s no mean achievement, given that this ranking is calculated from the number of search engine results for queries containing the name of the language. Kotlin simply hasn’t been around long enough to amass that much internet presence. It says little about growth potential, whereas the recent benediction by Google as a first-class Android language bodes well. Continue reading “The case for Kotlin”