Armen Chakmakjian

My once a year coding ritual…

In career, Random on May 19, 2011 at 3:30 am

So the mission on the star trek sim is winding down this week and a new one starts next week.  My semester at Bentley ended successfully last week, only 7 more classes to go.  I’ve done a bunch of other writing, started my first email campaign, received a few comments on my book on goodreads from the giveaway winners and Sunday School is winding down this Sunday for the summer.

So I performed my once a year ritual to code something mostly useless to humanity but I had spare cycles this evening.  Last year I coded some C# up to move things between two related by unconnected databases.  the year before I wrote a widget in VB that made excel into microsoft project.  There was a perl riff the year before to solve some problem.  A few years ago it was that Rube Goldberg thing where a cron job called a make file that called Korn shell script to get a set of bugs out of CMVC, sort them in perl, read them into excel auto generate some pivot tables, and some VBA to move data around so that I could graph our burn down chart and predict out time to zero issues.

Mostly I don’t code much anymore, but I have this yearly ritual where I spend a day or a few nights relearning how to think in objects and classes.  This time it I was looking for a way to model our kanban board so that I could make some predictions about the optimal ticket size we should shoot for to keep our flow constant.  The reason for Excel and VBA?  Pretty simply, Excel is can be my database and my UI.  VBA does the that Excel can’t including running a set of data in a loop.  The nice thing about excel as a UI for a business process exercise is that It’s like a quick and dirty dashboard.  I can vary the input, the WIP limits on stages, the length of time per stage, et cetera and see the result of my contraption immediately.

So anyway, I had to re-remember for the nth time how VB classes work…in these days of ubiquitous info, that was about 30 minutes of poking around and typing and an Ah yes…Anyway, as always, the hardest part is that when you aren’t coding all the time, you suffer a certain ADD when it comes to scripting logic when you come back to it.  It takes a couple of hours to just settle my brain down and start thinking in a linear fashion.   I had to debug and trash a 75 line method and rewrite it in about 25 line when I finally settled the synapses down.

In the end, I go the thing to work about 9pm tonight.    Once I got the basic board flowing and could control the number of tickets going in and stuff I’m going to expand it to handle resource bottlenecks and recording each day’s results in a separate table.    The inspiration for this was a tool that I used in my BPM class last year that did process modeling.    That was a cool tool.  We mapped out Car Washes and Book Stores and manufacturing flows.  I wish I could have used that tool for this exercise, but without it, I took the opportunity to crack open my brain for a couple of hours.


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