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Sun, 24 Aug 2003
Larry O'Brien pointed out the article Understanding Email Interaction Increases Organizational Productivity. in the August 2003 CACM, which happened to be sitting in one of the piles (already) on my office floor.

The recovery time for a phone interruption is at least 15 minutes. The recovery interruption from an email interruptions is 64 seconds (they measured this by videotaping user sessions using VNC). 70% of users reacted to a new message indicator within 6 seconds of seeing it (almost as fast as a telephone call), 80% reacted within 2 minutes of seeing the indicator.

The frequency of e-mail interrupts is far higher than telephone interrupts (at least for their subjects), meaning that the 64 second recovery time is multiplied by the number of such interruptions.

The recommendations of the study are to turn off sound and pop up new mail alerts, and to change the e-mail checking interval to no less than every 45 minutes.

These are really good recommendations for general usage. Of course, there are times when you really need to buckle down, in which case I pick specific times to check mail, and exit from the mail reader after each session. There are other times, when you are e-mail centric, in which case, you can check the relevant mail folders more frequently. It would be nice to be able to set the poll frequency on a per folder basis...

[00:44] | [misc] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Time-boxing is good
Johanna Rothman is writing about release trains, where you schedule releases based on dates. The Agile methods do something similar, where time-boxing is used as a way to cut features and force forward motion. Even the vaunted daily build is a kind of time-boxing. No matter what process you are using, "heavyweight" or "agile", it seems that time-boxing in some form will appear as a best practice.

In the open source world, this is often described under the "release early, release often" mantra. But it's not always followed in the open source world. So you have projects that go long periods of times without a release, where users are told to pull the latest from CVS (hello Jakarta Commons!). That makes it hard to have confidence in the project or to have the project move forward. I think that open source projects should try to do regular time-boxed releases, cutting features in order to make the release dates. There can be exceptions for features that are bigger than a single time-box, but these ought to be the exception rather than the rule. Predictability is good when you are a software user. It makes me feel better when I see that a project releases regularly. Nightly builds are good, but for a lot of projects, I could see semimonthly or monthly time-boxes working pretty well.

[00:31] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
How Tivo is using open source
ACM Queue has an article describing the use of open source at Tivo.
[00:16] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Python good enough to replace VB
Nelson Minar has concluded that Python is good enough for writing Windows apps, or at least those Windows apps that you would write using Visual Basic. His post contains reporting on the bloat (still too large) and tools for doing the expected Windows fit and finish.
[00:15] | [computers/programming/python] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

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