Nov 12

Ersteres ist wahrscheinlich, letzteres aber nicht auszuschließen.

Manchmal liest Du Artikel von Software-Architekten, die auf 4 Seiten ausbreiten was man in 2 oder 3 Sätzen sagen könnte – entweder bin ich schlicht zu minderbemittelt, um der Relevanz & Sinnhaftigkeit der Diskussion zu folgen oder die Autoren haben völlig die Bodenhaftung verloren.

Ersteres ist wahrscheinlich, letzteres aber nicht auszuschließen.

Sep 12

Short recap of the Wrecking Ball tour’s 2012 German leg (yup, I’m very late)

(Should get this months old draft out there before the 2013 leg of the tour is upon us 😉

Not sure if I qualify as a Bruce Springsteen “fan”. With fandom, I do associate hysterical screaming (and I’m far from it). “Mild stalking” is another characterization I associate with fandom. Most certainly, I’m not interested in the private life of neither Bruce Springsteen nor members of the E Street Band.

However, I do care deeply about the music. Everybody has a certain kind of music which deeply resonates with him or her. And Bruce Springsteen’s music deeply resonates with me.

Frankfurt was special as I took my wife and my two older daughters with me. We got seats on the right hand side quite far from the stage. The concert, however, became absolutely magical as Bruce & the E Street band clearly loosened up in the last quarter of the concert. Summertime Blues in the main set came unexpected, and the departure from the standard encores played on the tour so far with Cadillac Ranch, Sherry Darling & Glory Days made my day.

For Cologne, a slightly more intimate stadium than Frankfurt, I managed to get front of stage tickets. Unfortunately, I missed the pit roll calls by about 15minutes (shouldn’t have stopped for a bathroom break during the 2.5h drive to Cologne ;-), but found a nice, relatively short queue in the shades. Met a few nice folks who provided me with priceless advice on how to convince my wife to do a few more Springsteen concerts (Hint: Trade shopping/sightseeing in Milan/Florence for spending the evening at Springsteen concerts). I got lucky and ended up maybe 12th “row” on the left side of the stage, with a great view of the fantastic performance and hard work Nils Lofgren is putting into the show.

For the Berlin trip (kindly sponsored by my aforementioned wife), I showed up early at the Berlin Olympic Stadium, got my number (171) and spent the day either queueing, showing up for the roll call or queueing & reading (Recommend classic car magazines). A worthwhile effort, as I got a great spot in the pit (about 5th row) on the right side of the stage right in front of Steven van Zandt. The big news was, of course, the opening song “When I leave Berlin” which was extensively rehearsed during the soundcheck and an absolutely beautiful rendition of “Save my Love”.

I didn’t expect the Wrecking Ball material to be a perfect fit for a stadium setting. Of course, I was wrong. It worked out great, lot’s of feedback from the audience.

Was it worthwhile? You bet. Rumors suggest that there might be a second european leg next year (Munich? Hamburg?) I’m very much looking forward to it, maybe “Racing in the Street” this time? I hope to put the free advice I got in Cologne to good use and try to get a few more 2013 concerts in Italy or Spain on my schedule.

Pro tip: Get a Mophie Juice Pack Plus for your iPhone if you intend to tweet the setlist. It’s $§&! ugly (the Mophie, not the setlist), but it will double your battery capacity during the show. And trust me, you’ll need it as you’re desperately trying to get your tweets through the congested ether at the venue.

Sep 12

I sense a disturbance in the Atlassian force…

Great products are the foundation of a great company. Atlassian has great, rock-solid products (If I wouldn’t be a rather stern German, I would say these are absolutely fantastic products). They improve those products thoughtfully and continuously. We have been customers since 2006. Actually. we have been customers for so long that I find e-mails from a co-CEO answering dumb questions of mine during our JIRA evaluation.

JIRA 2/3

First, we purchased the JIRA Enterprise Edition and renewed our maintenance/update every year. Rock-solid product. Worked great. Atlassian kept improving it. Pretty steep pricing for us, but it had unlimited users which was important as we had a product with about 150+ customers reporting their feedback through JIRA.

JIRA 4 license change

Then, Atlassian introduced JIRA 4, and nixed the unlimited users Exterprise Edition. Changing to the user tier we needed would have doubled our yearly maintenance costs including the risk of running out of users again in the future. We didn’t do it but decided to stick with JIRA 3 for this particular project. We put all the other projects on a newly purchased JIRA 4 50 user license (about 15 active engineers (devs & support) and about 20 marketing/sales guys/gals which would mostly be read-only/comment-only – with a yearly maintenance/update fee which was absolutely worth it because Atlassian kept improving the product.


After introducing Scrum a few years ago, we looked at Atlassian’s Greenhopper offering. As expected, a great product. However, we would have had to purchase a 50 user Greenhopper license to match our 50 user JIRA license – although we only have about 10 devs on our Scrum team. The rest of the users couldn’t care less about Greenhopper. Plus Greenhopper is quite steeply priced (about 50% of the base JIRA license) for both the product and the yearly maintenance. So the Greenhopper purchase never happened for us.


Because JIRA was working so well for us (from a product point of view), we looked into Confluence. Another great product. We looked at the pricing and found there was no 50 user tier, just a 100 user tier. So we would basically have to pay for 50 users we didn’t intend to use in the foreseeable future. However, the product is – as mentioned before – a really great one, so we decided to go for it – of course including a yearly maintenance/update fee which was absolutely worth it because Atlassian kept improving the product.

Dropping MacOS

Probably about 1.5 years ago, out of the blue, MacOS (our platform for both JIRA & Confluence) was no longer supported as a production environment for both JIRA & Confluence – Mind you, I’m not disputing the decision, I was baffled because there was absolutely no mention of this rather important news (“We cease support for a major operating system platform”) on any of Atlassians developer blogs / website etc. So we’re running our JIRA / Confluence production systems on some unsupported operation system – but hey, it still works. Still rock solid. Still great products.

Team Calendar

Atlassian came out with a new plug-in for Confluence called Team Calendar, which – you know what’s coming – is actually quite a great product and would be a nice fit for us. However, we would have had to purchase a 100 user Team Calendar license to match our 100 user Confluence license – although we only have about 10 devs which would use Team Calendar (rest of the company is on Exchange/Outlook – let’s not go there). Plus Team Calendar is very steeply priced compared to the base Confluence license for both the product and the yearly maintenance. So the Team Calendar purchase never happened for us.

Confluence license change

Last night, I received a lengthy, nicely layed-out HTML e-mail titled “Upcoming Changes to Your Confluence Download License” in my inbox. The e-mail was talking eloquently about the latest Confluence 4.3 release and how great it was – agreed. Another solid release. It also mentioned prominently that I would be able to purchase yearly maintenance at the existing price for two years – although the licensing would change – and that there would be additional “Enterprise” licensing tiers. It talked about existing users being able to renew at existing prices or upgrade during a grace period, but no mention how the new licensing & pricing would affect existing customers. Connecting the dots, I decided to click through to the FAQ page get more details on this “license change”. On item 5 (of 13), I found that Atlassian intends to increase the cost of our yearly Confluence maintenance/update fee by a whopping 80%. Words fail me.

The message I receive

  • Atlassian tends to make unexpected, substantial licensing changes
  • The pricing of plug-ins seems somewhat off compared to the base product
  • The pricing of plug-ins is tied to the user tier of the base product
  • An 80% price increase for yearly maintenance / updates

From where I stand, all these moves are maximizing Atlassian’s profits at the expense of their users. I’m not sure how I can align this message with the set of values Atlassian is based on.

I conclude that there’s a substantial risk involved with being an Atlassian customer. It’s not the risk that you end up with a set of bad products. The products are great. Rather, it’s a business & financial risk and a lack of mid- and long term licensing cost predictability (both financial and feature set predictability). And no, a two year grandfathering period doesn’t change the message I receive.

P.S.: Dear @atlassian employees reading through this rant (I know you will): If there are any factual errors in my rant, please do not hesitate to contact me at hm dot kern at gmail dot com, via Twitter @hmkern99 and I will update this post right away.

[Update 1] I updated the section “Confluence license change” to more accurately reflect the content of the mail. Thanks for the feedback, Matt!

Oct 11

Thoughtworks Event, Frankfurt

Last night, Thoughtworks was hosting an public event @ Japan Center, Frankfurt – right next to the EZB and Deutsche Bank headquarters (I sure hope that those buildings were filled with busy & smart people working on setting things straight with the Euro).

  • 18:45 – Welcome by Nick Ashley, MD of ThoughtWorks Deutschland
  • 19:00 – Wolf Schlegel: “Dos and don’ts of Continuous Integration and Delivery”
  • 19.20 – Erik Dörnenburg: “Lean for enterprise architecture
  • 19:45 – Martin Fowler: “Software Design in the 21st Century”
  • 20:30 – Networking – drinks and food

Unfortunately, I missed about half of Wolf Schlegel’s talk on Continous Delivery, but judging on the second half, I would have preferred more in-depth discussion of technologies and best practices. The talk seemed like a space-station’s eye view of the topic.

Erik Dörnenburg was next talking about Lean Enterprise Architecture. I very much liked his analogy of comparing the role of a Software Architect to that of a Gardener instead of a traditional Architect. Spot on. Quite a few interesting thoughts on how to causing change in an organisation / team, too.

Martin Fowler gave two short talks, on on “Domain Specific Languages” and one on “Nondeterministic Tests“.

I was quite keen on the Domain Specific Language part, as we’re currently moving away from a “home-grown” Domain Specific Language for NC-code templating & output to a Python-based solution as we found that our own language lacked the expressiveness we are looking for. My key take-away was that there are two ways to create a DSL, external & internal and that we’re migrating from an external DSL to an internal DSL. Looks like the DSL book is supposed to be on my reading list real soon now.

Martin’s thoughts on “Nondeterministic Tests” were especially interesting as I was attending a talk on “Unit Testing & Concurrency” right last week in Karlsruhe. Very interesting to see the different takes on the topic – Abstracting away the concurrency altogether for unit testing purposes whereas Martin was leaning towards integration & acceptance testing and giving very sound advice on how to deal with concurrency issues within the tests (polling, callbacks, test doubles).

As you might have imagined, I mostly skipped the Networking part due to my sociophobia.

Overall, a very worthwhile evening and I very much look forward to future Thoughtworks events.

Oct 11

My brief Steve Jobs encounter

December 1996

Apple Computer announced that it had acquired NeXT, Inc. for about $400M.

January 1997

We had been working our asses off for about 3 years to get our OpenDoc-based database components to a usable and sellable state. Together with a band of other OpenDoc developers, we intended to make a big splash at MacWorld 1997, San Francisco. And a reasonable splash we made. Customer were excited about our products, other developers were excited about interfacing to our components and international Distributors were lining up to localize & sell our components.

Members of the Apple Enterprise Sales team (yup, back then there was such a thing) had been arranging a meeting at NeXT headquarters with a couple of NeXT engineers for us to promote our components and to get a feeling for where thing are heading. I do vividly remember sitting in a conference room in Redwood city with several NeXT engineers, among them a rather young opinionated guy named Scott Forstall, and the NeXT engineers basically dismissing the idea of loosely coupled, componentized software.

March 1997

On March, 14th, Apple Computer was putting OpenDoc into maintenance mode – which was the marketing weasels way of saying that the platform our product was based on was dead in the water. We were devastated – For three years, we had been pouring our heart, soul and last, but not least, a lot of our personal money into the product and it was dead.

CeBIT, the world largest computer fair, was upon us and, despite Apple’s announcement about OpenDoc’s demise, we were scheduled to show our OpenDoc components at the Apple booth in Hannover. We didn’t go.

Mark B. Johnson, a fine man and head of European developer relations back then, called us and expressed his hope that, despite the OpenDoc debacle, we would support the Apple platform going forward. He offered us WWDC tickets so we could talk to Apple engineers and get a glimpse on where Apple was heading in the future.

May 1997

WWDC was in San Jose Convention Center back then. I do remember sitting in the main hall next to @BradHutchings during Friday’s Q&A session. I’m not 100% sure, but I think it was Brad who was asking the infamous question “What about OpenDoc?” at the very beginning of the Q&A session (about 4:30min into the video).

It wasn’t fun. Steve’s answer was frank, to the point and, in hindsight, spot on – but see for yourself:

Rest in peace, Steve. I’ve learned an awful lot from you over the years.

And now I’m off pre-ordering an iPhone 4S for both me & my oldest daughter.

Jul 11

This is why…

…I opt for moving to Turkey:


Jan 11

Alvin & the Chipmunks II – No, really, read on

My parents got Alvin & the Chipmunks II on DVD for my 7year old daughter for christmas. Yes, I know. Probably not the best choice of all. But keep in mind that my 7year old is smart as hell, so a little grounding may actually help. But that’s not the point of my rant.

Flipping through the DVD jewel case I found an “iTunes Digital Copy” leaflet with an activation code, allowing me to import the DVD into iTunes without the need to circumvent DRM.

Yup, the DRM is still there, it’s still a royal pain in the … and it’s still bad for everyone involved – but at least the Fox / iTunes guys came up with a solution which made our 7+ hours car trip to La Plagne last week more enjoyable for everyone.

Dec 10

Professoren & Vorlesungen

Twitter: ACM ernennt Prof. Walter F. Tichy zum “Distinguished Scientist”: http://www.informatik.kit.edu/309_5306.php

Es gab drei Professoren & Vorlesungen in meinem Studium der Informatik an der Universität Karlsruhe, die mein Denken noch heute nachhaltig beeinflussen:

  • Prof. Walter F. Tichy – Softwaretechnik – In seiner Anfangszeit in Karlsruhe hielt Prof. Tichy Vorlesungen auf Englisch. Das öffnete mir die Augen: Wer in der IT-Branche tätig ist und nicht überdurchschnittlich Englisch spricht bzw. schreibt & liest wird auf Dauer keine Chance haben, sich durchzusetzen.
  • Prof. Peter C. Lockemann – Datenbanksysteme – Ich habe selten einen so klar denkenden und kommunizierenden Menschen kennengelernt, weder an der Universität noch im Berufsleben.
  • Prof. Horst Wettstein – Systemarchitekur – Eine Vorlesung überragender Klarheit & Struktur, ganz bewußt unter Verzicht auf englische Termini gehalten.

Oct 10

Twitter Integration

Finally gotten around to install Twitter tools to archive my tweets right on this site in the Tweets category. Let’s see if this works out.

Jul 10

Two weeks of vacation

Two weeks of vacation

equals to

  • 38 iPhone / iPad apps waiting to be updated
  • 1 system software update for iPhone 3GS
  • 1 system software update for iPad
  • 3 betas of some software I’m not supposed to talk about
  • 8 updates to MacOS based apps
  • 1 update to Confluence
  • 1 update to FishEye
  • 3 servers asking for MacOS updates
  • Several thousand mails
  • 4658 RSS feed items
  • gazillions of tweets
  • several hundred yammer “tweets”
  • uncounted updates to our Confluence site

which translates to several days of downloading, installing, processing, filtering.