Agile software development in a staged gate environment

While I’ve never been considered an Agile zealot (and I know a few), I do agree with the basic tenets of Agile software development.  When I was first involved in developing software more than 25 years ago, the Waterfall (WF) Method was pretty much the only game in town.  The WF Method requires that all requirements be defined prior to doing design, then the design must be completed before development can begin, development must complete before testing can begin, and so on to the end of the project.  In hindsight, pretty much a horrible way to develop software effectively.

The advent of Agile methodologies stressed four basic ideas:

1) Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
2)
Working software over comprehensive documentation.
3)
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
4)
Responding to change over following a plan.

It’s outside the scope of this blog to go into the details of an Agile project, but if you’ve done software development, you can probably appreciate the fact that these principles lead to more effective results as compared to Waterfall development.

In the last two organizations I’ve worked in, large multi-faceted projects that include hardware development, product marketing, manufacturing, as well as software development are typically managed using a Stage Gate (SG) process, which shares many similar characteristics to the old Waterfall process — first, the project is scoped, then a business case is built, then development ensues, then testing, followed by deployment.  Each stage ends with a “gate” review, where the deliverables from the stage are reviewed and approved.

So the dilemma is this — how does the software development team conduct their development using Agile practice while conforming to the larger SG process being used to manage the overall project?

The answer is in properly integrating Agile practice in context with the various stages of the Stage Gate process.  I have been successful in implementing such a practice with software teams working inside of larger cross functional projects and have had great success in delivering software products in this complex environment.

If your team is facing this challenge, give us a call at Applied Logic.  We’d be happy to show you how our methods can work for you and deliver results within your Stage Gate environment.

NOAA ROV Part 2

We’ve just heard from Michael Carter at NOAA’s Cordell Bank facility in California.  They’ve recently used our LANC controller board embedded in their underwater ROV.  My previous blog post shows the ROV they are using.

The controller is used to manage a Canon HD camera in the ROV from the surface support ship.  Our Windows LANC software was used to remotely control the camera functions in the ROV.  The camera is used to record underwater images (both video and stills).

On this particular cruise, NOAA was removing marine debris from the bottom near Monterey.  Michael was kind enough to send along a few photos:

   

When I asked Michael how our controller and software worked on their cruise — his answer was “perfectly”.

That’s what we like to hear!

Applied Logic controller used in NOAA ROV

                                     

We’ve been working with NOAA’s Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary on some enhancements to their underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).  Essentially they are customizing their Deep Ocean Engineering’s Phantom HD2+2 ROV with our SONY LANC controller and software to be able to collect video and video stills topside on a remote PC.  Our controller is mounted inside the ROV to provide control of the camera’s functions, such as zoom, focus, and recording/snapshot functions.

This is a great application for our controller product and related software and we’re happy to have been able to help provide technology solutions in this exciting area!

Yes, Sony LANC is still around

I’ve had a few people ask me why there is no Sony LANC jack on the newest Sony camcorders…well, it is there — just in a different form.

For those of you that don’t know, LANC is Sony’s protocol for remote control of most camera and recorder functionality.  On camcorders prior to 2008, Sony had a separate LANC jack on most cameras, using a 2.5mm jack.

All new Sony Camcorders now have a 10pin multi-AV remote terminal jack (A/V R) that looks like this —

 

In addition to the LANC functions, this jack also contains video and audio outputs.

Applied Logic (www.appliedlogiceng.com) does have adapter cables available to convert the old style 2.5mm jack to the newer style 10-pin multi-pin connector.  Contact us for more details.

Applied Logic controller used in underwater video housing

Every once in a while, there is a cool cross-over between business and some of my other interests.  Here’s a great example.  A while back, my friend Mike Hastings, who owns AquaVideo (www.aquavideo.com) which is a company that designs and manufacturers underwater housings for video equipment, called me and needed an embedded controller for a new housing he was developing for the new RED ONE ultra-HD video camera that is capable of shooting motion picture-quality digital video.  Long story short, Applied Logic (www.appliedlogiceng.com) was able to customize one of our embedded controllers for his needs.  Essentially, our controller reads button presses from the diver operating the camera, then processes these into serial commands that get sent to the controller (www.birger.com) that controls the aperture, focus, and other camera functions on the RED ONE.

AquaVideo is the first company to have digital controls in a RED ONE camera housing.  We’re proud to be part of this design.

First dive of the season

Well I finally got out yesterday for my first dive of the season.  Square Lake (near Stillwater, MN) was the venue and it was great.  Of all the dives I’ve made here over the years, I have never seen the visibility this good (over 20 feet).  The water was a little on the cool side at 48 degrees — thank goodness for drysuits.