Interview with Scott Anderson of Sledgehammer Games

Scott “Impossible” Anderson is an engineer at Sledgehammer Games, having worked on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and was recently interviewed at We Are Game Devs, a site that highlights the various unsung and underrepresented talent who help create some of the fastest growing interactive entertainment on the planet.

Aside from his day-to-day responsibilities and advice for people who want to learn how to be programmers, he talked about his time as an indie game developer.

He touched on being part of Chicago’s early indie game development scene before his time as co-founder of Enemy Airship, working with Steve Swink on Shadow Physics.

And did that bring back memories!

I remember going to the Chicago Indie Game Dev meetings and Chicago-chapter IGDA meetings starting back in 2005. Reading my blog posts from that time is kind of embarrassing, but I guess that means I have grown.

Back then, Anderson was part of the duo that was Maw!soft, and I remember him as one of the key fixtures in the scene. If there was a game developer event in town, he was likely to be there.

During those years, he always had advice to share, a lot of which I ignored at my own peril, such as his comments on my goal for trying to use the IGF submission deadline as my project’s deadline or that I should release early and often with quick prototypes to find the fun.

I always enjoyed our meet-ups because if there was a fun idea to discuss, it was probably his, such as what a casual FPS would look like.

I hadn’t been keeping track of what the members of the old indie scene have been doing, but every so often I’d see Anderson’s name pop up in industry news, usually with me thinking, “Oh, I didn’t know he was doing that now.”

And now it sounds like Anderson will be working for Funomena soon?

Good luck, Impossible!

The Systems Design of Tharsis

Zach Gage of Choice Provisions was the System Designer of Tharsis, a turn-based space strategy game involving dice and cannibalism.

Dice? Many video games involve random number generators, and some games such as Roguelikes use random numbers inspired by dice used in Dungeons & Dragons.

But Tharsis doesn’t just use random numbers to dictate results. It allows the player to roll simulated dice, then make decisions based on the results.

In this YouTube video, Gage explains his thinking behind the design of the systems of Tharsis and how the roll of the dice results in tense situations for the player:

And if you’re not familiar with Tharsis, here’s a tutorial video that explains how it works, giving some context to the previous behind-the-scenes video:

Although the Indie MEGABOOTH Tharsis page mentions it is supposed to be available for GNU/Linux, the Steam forums indicate that there are no current plans for a port, which is too bad. B-(

How to Create a Game Development Project Plan

In the past, my game development project plans have been little more than to-do lists of tasks and features. I had no real deadlines and no idea when anything would be done. I basically picked a date for the entire thing to be finished without any real sense of how realistic it was, and then I worked on whatever task I felt like working on until I felt it was good enough to move on to the next one.

And then I would blow past my self-imposed deadline, feeling frustrated about how much work I still had left.

I mentioned that I will be focusing on impactful results over progress in 2016, and to help me do so, I decided to create a more detailed plan for my current game.

That plan covers what I’ll be working on and completing for the next three months. I want to release a playable game to at least one player, whether it is a customer or an alpha or beta tester, at the end of March.

I fully expect this plan to be a living document that changes as I identify new requirements or tasks, finish things early or late, and learn more about what I’m making.

Creating this plan was tough at first. I struggled with how to start, and even started searching online for project planning articles.

Then I realized I live and breathe Agile software development, and Agile project planning is a thing.

I’m normally on the tail end of the process, though. At the day job, my team estimates the effort on user stories, breaking them up into tasks if they are too big. We work in two week sprints, and planning the sprint is based on how much effort we as a team think we can accomplish during that time. So, as a developer, I am usually working on directly creating the software that someone else needs me to make, and while I have input to tweak or change requirements (“We can’t do it that way because it will cause problems with the existing architecure. How about if we do it this way instead?”), I don’t generally have the ability to decide what project the company is working on.

For my business, I needed to start from the beginning, and creating this project plan was a great exercise and gave me quite a bit of insight into what I’m actually going to be doing when I say I am working on my game.

I thought about signing up for a service such as Trello or downloading an open-source project planning application, but I decided to create a simple set of spreadsheets. I already have LibreOffice on my computer and didn’t want to sign up for yet another service. Since it’s just me working on this project, it doesn’t need to scale much, but larger teams might need something they can share and update at the same time.

The plan has five parts to it: a product vision statement, a project backlog, a roadmap, a release plan, and the current sprint.

Product Vision

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

This part I already had, but it’s such a key aspect that I wanted to focus on it for at least a few words.

Nothing kills motivation more than not understanding what you’re working on or why you should be doing so in the first place.

A clear statement that defines what the project is, who the audience will be, and how this project supports the overall strategy for your business does wonders for your mental energy and focus.

I can’t emphasize this part enough. I used to gloss over the boring idea of a vision statement or defining a clear mission for your business that I read in pretty much every book about running your own business, productivity, and effectiveness.

Think about it this way: you need to take a trip. How will you travel?

Without a vision or a mission, any mode of travel is a viable option, right? If you want to travel by ocean cruise, you can do so. If you want to fly, you can do that, too. Driving might also be a completely valid option. Heck, not going is fine as well. You don’t really have a wrong answer possible here.

But there isn’t a right answer either.

Now imagine that this trip is an emergency. Someone you care about is in trouble, and you need to go save him/her. A luxury cruise seems like a poor option, and not going at all is pretty much thrown out as an option. Flying is faster, but driving gives you flexibility in travel at the destination. Hmmm…

What’s the difference between the two scenarios?

What happened is that the emergency gave you context for your trip. You had decisions to make in both cases, but in the emergency, your decision-making became instantly easier because options were eliminated and you had criteria you could weigh the remaining options against.

One of the biggest jobs you have as an indie game developer and business owner is making decisions. Without a vision, a purpose, or a mission, your decisions can be random and take you anywhere.

So establishing a vision for your project gives you a high-level context within which you can make key decisions.

My vision for this project involves publishing a simple educational Android game to get more first-hand knowledge about potential customers on that platform. I’m not talking about personal information. I mean I always hear about how Android users are not willing to pay for games and that iOS is a better platform, but I want to confirm this data with MY games and not just the flood of games of varying quality in the market.

My principles for this project include that it should be educational, family-friendly, and have an accessible interface.

I changed my approach with this project last year because I realized the physics simulation I was working on didn’t serve the educational aspect of my vision.

Without a vision, I would have no direction. I could easily have kept working on the physics simulation version of this game because it was fun to try to get leaves to move in the wind just right; unfortunately, it would have been a waste of time as it doesn’t serve my vision for my business as a whole.

Establishing a clear vision for your project and ensuring that it is in alignment with the vision you have for your business (you have one of those, right?) is a hugely important step. It gives your project the context you need to make decisions easier.

Project Backlog

The backlog is basically a prioritized list of features. It’s slightly more involved than the to-do lists I complained about earlier.

The project backlog was fairly easy to make. I thought up a list of features I wanted and wrote them down.

The tough part was writing some of these features out as user stories. I found Mike Cohn of Mountain Goat Software has provided a sample spreadsheet-based product backlog, and I created my backlog based upon his recommendations. Cohn’s website has a lot of great articles on user stories, backlogs, and project planning, by the way.

Leaf Raking Backlog

He recommends the format: “As a <role>, I want to <do something> so that <business value>.”

By focusing on the player’s experience when planning this project, I am less likely to get mired in a fascinating technical problem for months. Not that those fascinating technical problems won’t happen as part of a user story, but it’s like having mini-vision statements to give context to your work.

The context of a user story around a technical problem should sharpen my focus on accomplishing my bigger goal as opposed to merely geeking out over a hard coding problem that my players won’t care about if I ever finish the game in the first place.

Writing such stories is hard if you don’t have experience with it. It’s easy to write user stories that are not really user stories or don’t really do a good job of explaining what the work is meant to be. Just following the format above isn’t enough.

As an example, here is how I started writing the Main Menu theme’s stories:

As a player I want to launch the main menu so that I can start a new game
As a player I want to launch the main menu so that I can continue an existing game
As a player I want to launch the main menu so that I can quit the game
As a player I want to launch the main menu so that I can change options

But it felt awkward and forced. The main menu is what comes up when you start the game, so there it’s actually more of a passive event. I’ve basically taken the notes I made myself “Create a main menu with four options: new game, continue, quit, and options” and tried to force them into a user story format.

Thinking about it some more, I made them better by focusing on what the player was doing and the real benefit or reason why:

As a player I want to start a new game so that I can have some educational fun.
As a player I want to continue an existing game so that I can pick up where I left off last time
As a player I want to quit the game so that I can go do something else
As a player I want to change options so that I can tweak/update my play experience

I kept writing, tweaking, and deleting features and stories until I couldn’t think of anything else I needed. I ended up with 41 stories for this project.

The next step was estimating them. At this stage, there is no point in trying to estimate each and every story accurately. After all, we suck as a species at estimating. I don’t expect to be 100% correct, but this exercise should help me identify roughly how large the project is.

I used the common project planning estimation technique of using t-shirt sizes. Stories were estimated as Small, Medium, or Large.

Finally, I prioritized the entire backlog. Given what I know about the project so far, what should be finished first? What’s less important and can wait? The idea is that whatever I’m working on is the most valuable thing at the time, and yes, I fully expect that priorities can change.

I used values spaced out by 10 so that future stories can be prioritized in between existing stories.

The most important features were assigned 10, and the least important 100, and all stories fell between those two values. Some stories shared the same priority value, mainly indicating that they should be done together.

I didn’t purposefully use numbers between 10 and 100, but it worked out that way. If I had more stories to prioritize, I probably would have kept increasing the maximum priority value beyond 100. You could use whatever values make sense for you, but the main idea is to have everything in your backlog ranked based on priority.

Just by prioritizing and estimating the backlog items, this project plan puts my past project plans to shame. I know at a glance what is important, what features I’ll be working on first, and how much effort I expect they will take. This information is good to know.

Project Roadmap

A roadmap is a rough timeline explaining when certain parts of the game project will be worked upon and when they can be expected to be finished. It’s not about features so much as what value the project will have at different times throughout the project’s life.

I’ve never made a project roadmap before, so I needed to do some research. It wasn’t that difficult. I already estimated the effort needed for the known features in my backlog, and they are already prioritized. I basically needed to look at groups of my priorities and identify high-level concepts based on my features.

I had to take my t-shirt estimates and apply them to a calendar somehow. I have no historical data as I’m starting a fresh project, and so I don’t know how many features I can accomplish in a given week. As someone with a day job and a family life, I only have so much time to dedicate, so things that might normally take a developer a day or two can drag out for a week or more split across multiple short work sessions.

So I guessed that Small features should take me about an hour, Medium stories are about two hours, and Large stories are likely going to need to be broken up into smaller tasks I can estimate as Small and Medium stories.

And given my goals for weekly development hours, I can figure out which features and stories will be done when.

Leaf Raking Roadmap

My game puts the player in the role of a child who is raking leaves to earn money. There are a few stories and features around the raking mechanic. Since raking is such a key part of the project, it’s one of the first things I want to finish early. I say finish even though I know game projects can change in development and I might change how it works at any time based on experiments and playtesting, but my roadmap shows I will have the raking mechanic done this month.

Raking requires neighbors and their yards, and so I will also start working on the neighborhood this month. Since I have a number of features involving them, some prioritized later in my backlog, I know I will need to continue working on this aspect of the game through to February. My roadmap reflects this knowledge.

Creating the roadmap helped me tweak the backlog priorities, and the backlog’s priorities helped me create the roadmap. I bounced back and forth between these two sheets in my project plan’s spreadsheet file until I felt I had the priorities and rough scheduling right.

And there it was: a visible communication to Future Me about what I wanted to accomplish with this project and by when.

Release Plan

A release plan explains at a high-level how you intend to deliver working software at the end of XYZ sprints. That is, some teams work for multiple sprints before producing a release. Others strive to ensure their software is always in a releasable state.

I decided to “release” weekly. That is, at the end of a week, I expect to have my game at a certain level of functionality identified at the beginning of the week. So my release plan identifies what I expect to work on each week from the beginning of the project until my expected release at the end of March.

Leaf Raking Release Plan

It doesn’t say exactly what I’ll be working on. That is, it’s not like I’m planning exactly which specific stories or features I’ll be working on between February 14th through the 20th.

However, that week I will be working on adding the concept of holidays to the game world’s calendar, which influences things such as whether the general store is open or if neighbors are out of town. I will add a new room to the player’s home that has specific functionality available. And I will also be working on a Large feature that I have designed as a game mechanic. By the end of the week, I expect all of those things to be done.

But I don’t necessarily know what those things should exactly look like today. I don’t have them planned as a set of tasks to work on yet.

And that’s OK. When I get to that week, the project might have changed so significantly that this feature is no longer relevant. I won’t waste time planning the specific work involved until that sprint is my next sprint.

Just like how changes to my roadmap and my backlog could impact each other, my release plan helped me figure out my roadmap.

Given my current estimates of both my backlog and how much I could accomplish in a given week, my roadmap had to be adjusted a few times. At a high level, I overestimated how fast I can finish a given set of features, and my lower-level release planning helped me see it and correct it.

Sprint Planning

Now I have a prioritized backlog, a roadmap to show me how my project will develop at a monthly level, and a release plan to show me what I’ll have accomplished on a weekly basis.

The next thing to do is plan the next sprint’s worth of work.

I first give the sprint a name. Maybe it’s not that important, but it’s another layer of context. What am I trying to accomplish this sprint? A good name helps me remember when I’m waist-deep in the work.

Here is where I take the stories I initially wrote and ask myself questions. Stories aren’t meant to be detailed project documents but invitations to a conversation, but since it is just me, I have the benefit of knowing what I mean but the disadvantage of not necessarily remembering or having thought of the details.

Sprint planning is when those details come out.

For instance, when the player selects New Game from the Main Menu, what exactly should happen from the user’s perspective? In the future I have planned to create a playable introduction to the world of the game, but I don’t want to work on it until I have the core game play down. So I specified that for now the player will start out in his/her bedroom. Suddenly this story requires the task to create an in-game bedroom.

I took each of the stories I planned to work on and broke them into as many tasks as necessary to make it clear to me what I specifically needed to do to say the story was done.

I don’t need to specify a lot of detail before I can start working. If something comes up that I hadn’t thought of before, I’ll make a decision then. You want to plan enough to know what you’re doing but not so much that you waste time on details you can’t possibly know the answer to until you face them.

I estimated the tasks based on hours I thought they would take to accomplish. I didn’t try to get it down to the minute so much as I tried to get a feel for how much time it will take me to get this week’s work done.

Leaf Raking Sprint Plan

My first sprint last week was estimated at about nine hours of work. Some tasks were done within minutes and others took much longer than expected. I ended up doing only 5.5 hours of game development to get all of this sprint done, so I was a bit off.

Each week I’ll do sprint planning again, and over time I’ll get a better feel for how much I can reasonably accomplish in a week’s worth of effort.

Was It Worth It?

Creating the initial plan took me only about a day’s worth of effort, although it was spread over a week’s worth of shorter sessions for me. Each week I can expect to invest some time in planning the next sprint, and each month I expect to spend some time updating the plan as a whole.

That’s quite a bit of overhead for a plan that is subject to change, especially with my limited, part-time efforts. The plan is also somewhat incomplete as it assumes I will be working on the project without interruption. I could get sick, and there is bound to be a weekend trip to visit family in the next couple of months that throws off my release plan if I don’t take it into account.

But even this early in the project it has been incredibly valuable to me.

Having a high-level roadmap and release plan helps me focus on my priorities. Instead of having a vague sense of wanting to finish a game and a list of ideas masquerading as features, I know what my next few months will look like in terms of my daily effort. My work for the day, the week, and the month has a much clearer context than ever before.

I am able to focus on my features from the perspective of the player as opposed to the perspective of me wearing the developer hat, which means my development will be more purposeful and effective. I will always know why I am working on something, which should help me be more conscious with my development choices. I should be less likely to find myself at the end of a year without a game published because I didn’t realize I was spending too much time on some neat algorithm.

And I have a reasonable level of confidence that I will create a first release of my game to at least one player by the end of three months. It will likely still be rough, with perhaps quite a bit of polish needed, but my goal is to get a release out then, and my plan shows me a way to get there.

In the meantime, I also have smaller planned releases of new functionality to test and get feedback on. For example, just by posting a screenshot of my project at the end of the first sprint I got some comments on Twitter that made me rethink the UI element I was using.

While I still believe in low-overhead, lightweight plans over intimidating 300-page documents no one will ever read, I think my past plans were too light to the point that it would be considered generous to call them plans. They didn’t help me figure out what I was doing or assist me in making decisions about the project. This project plan, however, has already helped me quite a bit, and I’ve barely started.

So yes, I believe spending time as a part-time indie game developer on detailed project planning was worth it.

Sources

I did a bit of research as there were aspects of this type of planning I had never done before. Here are some great links I found to articles, book chapters, and other resources that I found valuable:

Quarterly Planning Time and More on Planning by Steve Pavlina: some old articles on the importance of planning. He also had a recent newsletter in which he promoted the value of creating detailed, long-range plans.

Agile Project Management for Dummies Cheat Sheet: I’ve heard good things about For Dummies books. Although I haven’t read this book, the cheat sheet gave me a good overview and summary of the project planning process.

Mountain Goat Software by Mike Cohn: There are so many good free articles here that give you an overview of many aspects of Agile project planning and Scrum.

The Art of Agile Development: Release Planning by James Shore: This chapter portion focused on release planning, and I found it helped me understand what I was really trying to create with my release plan. There is a common idea of the “last responsible moment” to break down things into details, and this resource does a good job of talking about it.

How to do Agile Release Planning by Kent J. McDonald: Another article on release planning with links to quite a few resources on the topic.

We Need Planning; Do We Need Estimation? by Johanna Rothman: A quick read about the idea that detailed estimates aren’t a good use of time. You want to work on the most important thing and deliver results incrementally and iteratively. “This is risk management for estimation and replanning. Yes, I am a fan of #NoEstimates, because the smaller we make the chunks, the easier it is to see what to plan and replan.”

2016 Will Be Different

I know I’m a bit late to the New Year-themed posts, but I spent the last week thinking and working on my plan for the new year.

But first, I’d like to talk about 2015.

What Went Well in 2015?

First, I learned about a lot of stuff.

I read 54 books, which is a little more than one book a week. In 2013 and 2014, I read around 40 books each, so I’m proud of finally hitting this book-per-week accomplishment.

Audiobooks from the library and a 20 minute commute to the day job helped. Ebooks on my tablet to read during lunch and other periods of downtime also helped. Most of the ebooks were obtained through Project Gutenburg, Pragmatic Programmers, and the Humble Book Bundle. And I also enjoyed reading a huge stack of Terry Pratchett books that a friend lent me shortly before Pratchett’s death.

Only six books were directly related to either game development or personal development. The rest were fairly evenly split between fiction and non-fiction.

That isn’t to say that I didn’t learn much. I learned about the Prohibition era, the Wright brothers, and Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight over the Atlantic. I learned about the history of chess, and I learned about Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan’s leadership on the Bulls. I learned about prostitution in Chicago’s Everleigh Club, and I learned about how humanity’s understanding of information as a concept has changed over the centuries. I allowed myself to get fascinated with biographies and histories, and I think the exposure to all of these ideas and knowledge can only help my creativity.

Another thing that went well in 2015 was that I remembered my goals.

In the past, I would make goals for the beginning of the year, and then I would find myself at the end of the year remembering that I had set goals almost a year prior. I would lose sight of the big picture because I was focused on the actual details of work for a long period of time, or I would just forget that I had a goal and so not remember to make plans to achieve it. Some people hate New Year’s resolutions because they never keep them, and I would feel this frustration with my goals.

If I got sick, it would sometimes set me back so much that I had a hard time getting back into whatever daily habit I had established. It was too easy to get knocked off of my routine and keep me off.

Last year, however, I think I did a very good job of keeping my goals in front of me. I may not have actually MET my goals, but throughout the year I was making progress on them or at least being fully aware when I CHOSE not to give them a priority.

I made highly visible reminders for my quarterly game development and writing quotas I was trying to meet, my monthly “big deals” I wanted to accomplish, and my weekly outcomes.

At any given time, I knew what I was supposed to be focusing on. As an example of one result, I put in a lot more game development hours than I have in the past.

Considering that many business owners say that focus is one of their greatest challenges, I’d say that 2015 was a win in this area.

What Went Wrong in 2015?

Last year was the first year my business made no income.

That’s exactly $0.

It’s not hard to see why. The main reason was because I didn’t publish a game.

An entire year went by without me creating and publishing a commercial game, and a commercial game should be my primary way of trying to earn income for my business.

Now, I worked on a project during this time. I had some false starts with it, though, and I changed direction, and it took me awhile to get the design down to something manageable. I did paper and digital prototypes, and I did some infrastructure/technical work as well.

What’s frustrating is that I made an effort to put in more time towards game development. I have a day job and a family, and so taking advantage of my limited “spare” time to make progress on my game project required discipline and effort.

And quite frankly, THAT part worked out fairly well. As I mentioned above, I set quotas for myself, and I managed to spend more hours on game development in 2015 than on game development and writing combined in either 2013 or 2014. So, good job, Self.

The problem is that I didn’t have a specific plan. I had tried to make a plan, but it was little more than a list of tasks that weren’t necessarily well thought out.

This kind of a minimalist plan might be more than enough for some game developers, but since I didn’t set deadlines or milestones for myself, it was easy for me to take a task and work on it for way longer than I needed to. That game menu could be generalized and data-driven, right? I could write my own “simple” physics engine, right?

I tried not to worry about estimates or deadlines, and instead I focused on just making progress every day. The thinking was that eventually I would finish.

The thinking turns out to have a flaw. Basically, I was focused primarily on effort, and it didn’t get me anywhere very quickly.

In the past, I made some money through Google AdSense and Amazon affiliate links. Not much, but more than enough to pay for my web hosting.

These days, my blog isn’t as popular as it once was, and ad revenue has almost completely dried up. I used to make an order of magnitude more per month, and I could expect to get a check from Google every six months or so. Now, it’s been a couple of years since they last paid me because I haven’t hit their minimum threshold yet.

And according to my projections, they won’t pay me this year, either.

How Will 2016 Be Different?

In 2015, I set a goal of publishing at least one game by December 31st. I fully expected to publish one much earlier, but I gave myself that long deadline as a very generous cushion.

Every month, I would find myself realizing that I was getting closer to that deadline without much to show for it. Then it was December, and then it was 2016. Oof.

So, that generous cushion was stupid. I never felt any urgency.

At dsmAgile in September, I saw Geoff Wilson give a presentation called “Barely Manage to Lead”. He talked about a game project that failed after working for a year and a half before getting user feedback. Today, one of his keys to success is to create and deliver a Minimum Viable Product in 90 days or less.

I found that even though I actually had about 90 days after his talk to focus on creating this MVP, I still didn’t accomplish it.

The lack of a solid plan was my real failing. I erred on the side of too little formality. After all, it was just me in my business. It’s not like I needed to do any kind of formal reporting to a stakeholder about progress or release projections.

But remember, last year showed me that keeping my goals in front of me helped me remember to keep working on them. I realized what I needed to do was focus on impactful results instead of effort.

Since a more laid-back kind of project plan (or the lack of one) didn’t help, I’m going to swing the pendulum the other way and do more formal planning.

2016 Plans

I spent almost nine hours over the last week creating a project backlog, identifying all of the features and goals I have for my project. I created a project roadmap for the first time in my life, which helped me identify roughly what I’ll be working on and when. I created an initial release plan based on my rough estimates, breaking down what I’ll be working on each week for the next three months. And I have my first week’s tasks based on the items in my backlog that I will be working on.

I’ve never had such a plan in place for myself. The closest I came was when I was working on Stop That Hero! and had created a backlog with items allocated to sprints, but I allowed myself to slip self-imposed deadlines too often instead of doing the needed reprioritizing and replanning. I felt like I needed to do real work instead, and I never realized how much creating a prioritized plan IS real work.

This project plan, however, fills me with confidence that I will have something to show for my efforts in a few months. For the investment of a few hours, I’m sure I’ll save plenty of time and will be able to hit my goal.

I also want to direct my learning a lot more, and so I will create a skill-development plan.

I want to repeat my book-a-week accomplishment this year, but I want to be more conscious and deliberate about what I read in service of my skill-development goals. For example, if I want to improve my cooking skills, I’ll seek out multiple culinary books and audiobooks and read them all in a row.

My outcome focus also means I’m open to other ways to accomplish this learning besides reading. As another example, one of my goals is to learn more about Machine Learning, and aside from reading about it, I know I can watch Caltech’s Machine Learning lectures that a colleague told me about.

So, bottom-line: 2016 will be different because my focus will be on outcomes as opposed to effort and putting in hours. Those things will still be needed, especially as I’m a part-time indie game developer with a day job and family, but those efforts will be aimed at targets rather than be seen as good for their own sake.

I will take what I did well in 2015 and harness it way better. I’m excited about 2016, and I can’t wait to tell you how I succeeded.

Happy new year! B-)

User Poetry: But Not Me

While cleaning and rearranging my office, I found an old tech support email from a job I had many years ago. I printed it because I was amused with how the author spaced out the lines and capitalized the first letter of each line. It almost looked like poetry.

By the end, I think it starts to feel like it would fit into a techy version of “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

So I labeled it “User Poetry” and titled it “But not me”. I’ll change the author’s name and other identifying info to protect the innocent.

Attn. Unix Guys,

I can log into Unix session by telnet to dvap8 with my userid (jsmith) and my password.

However, I can not get to it by Hummingbird Exceed session. I go to Hummingbird Exceed session

In my Computer and put my userid and password successively and Hummingbird session takes it but clocking

And clocking with its welcome window screen. When others login with their userid and password in Exceed

In my computer, they get everything but not me.

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