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September 14, 2009 / jnolen

Cash for Clunkers

Update: Ben just put up an awesome blog post on the first of the screenshots we’re getting and some of the funnier comments people have submitted. Read it here.

Atlassian has started running a short promotion in anticipation of the launch of JIRA 4.0 — we’re asking people to trade in their old, inefficient bug-trackers, cash-for-clunkers-style. You can get a free ten-user license or 20% off a full commercial license.

Cash for Clunkers

The fun part of the promotion is that you’re supposed to upload a screenshot of the old school bug-tracker you’re replacing (if you can). I can’t wait to see the images that come in.

A my previous company, I first started using JIRA in 2002 because my team was looking to replace a home-built bug-tracker. I wish I had a screenshot of that thing — it was absolutely hideous. The only thing I can remember is the 1996-era pink marble tiled background image, but it was classic.

Anyway, if you’re stuck using a 1990s-era bug-tracker and need a more powerful, modern tool, this is a perfect opportunity. Find all the details here:

September 1, 2009 / jnolen

Atlassian Developer News

Quick post about some work stuff:

1. We’ve just announced the details of Codegeist, Atlassian’s annual plugin competition. (more)

2. We’re also taking registrations for AtlasCamp, our annual Developer Camp/ (more)

These two things are not unrelated. In fact, we’ll be announcing the winners of Codegeist live during AtlasCamp, so Atlassian Developers will definitely want to be there.

I’ll now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

July 17, 2009 / jnolen

Agile @ Atlassian

I just wanted to post a quick link to a useful little site Atlassian put up a few weeks ago:

After devoting so much thought and energy over the last seven years to how we do software development. And after writing tools to support our own practices for seven years, we decided it might be a good idea to actually write down what those practices were. Of course, they’ve changed enormously as the company any the products have grown, but this site is a great representation of where we are in 2009. (Check back in 2015 and see how things have evolved.)

There are some great interviews with some people on our team. And, of course, we explain how we use our own tools to do it all. The blog series, in particular, is really good: first hand reports from the developers who make this system work day-in and day-out.

Go give it a watch/read.

July 1, 2009 / jnolen

Democracy at work

As some of you may know, I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Alabama is a pretty conservative state, and it’s liquour laws have always matched that reputation. There are still some dry counties, hard liquor is regulated, taxed and distributed by the Alabama Beverage Commission, and for my entire lifetime, no beer over 6% alcohol could be sold inside the state. Now, it’s no Utah, but this restriction meant that there was a lot of great beer I never had the opportunity try until I left Alabama: Chimay, Delirium Tremens, Duvel, Orval, lots of Double IPAs and bocks, some North Coast Beers, some Rogue Ales, and hundreds more.

For the last five years, an organization called Free the Hops has been working to pass legislation to change the beer limitations. And after half a decade of hard work, they got the the bill through Alabama’s dysfunctional legislature this Spring. And on May 22, 2009, Gov. Bob Riley signed the bill into law.

Within days, gourmet beer was appearing all over Birmingham. (I know, because I was following the Free the Hops Twitter feed). It was amazing to watch: “Duvel, Orval, and Delerium Tremens have been confirmed.” “Huge shipment of new beers expected tomorrow at Western.” “Every Piggly Wiggly in metro Birmingham will be stocked with new good beer tomorrow.” It was like that episode in the Simpsons when they repealed prohibition in Springfield and the trucks started rolling in minutes later. It was almost that fast.

Sure, some might say gourmet beer is a trivial example, but I learned two lessons from this. First, it was so gratifying to watch a group of citizen activists bootstrap their organization, garner support, and then fully achieve their goal. They knew how to work inside the system, the collected the right set of sponsors, and they kept their constituency informed, motivated and active using modern social technology.

Second, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more direct and immediate response to regulatory change. And it impressed on me again that government policies like these matter, whether at the local, state or federal level. There are tons of them and they’re complicated, but they have concrete and meaningful effects on how we live our lives. The “government is the problem”, “regulations are burdensome”, “stay out of my business” knee-jerk response (besides often being hypocritical) is the wrong one. Regulations and taxes are the tools of government. The struggle is to make sure they exert their influence for good, not ill.

But anyone, for once, the good guys won. And I’ll raise a pint of delicious beer in their honor next time I visit Alabama. Cheers!

June 29, 2009 / jnolen

Drinking Boston

I was in Boston last week for Enterprise 2.0, and Jenn and I made good use of the evenings by working our way through some of Boston’s finer drinking establishments. Just as last year, I used Lauren Clark’s inimitable Drink Boston as our travel guide, and her Best Bars list as our itinerary. This year, we explored:

No. 9 Park, Boston Common

No. 9 Park exceeded every possible expectation. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and snappily dressed. My favorite cocktail at this place was made with gin, lime and mint. It sounds simple, but it was sublime. In all seriousness, I think I’ve never had a cocktail I’ve enjoyed more. I wish I could remember the name of it. I’ve googled for it, but I’ve only turned up the Palmyra, which sounds similar but is made with vodka. And unfortunately, though the restaurant publishes all their other menus, the cocktail menu is missing from the website. In any case, if we’re back in Boston next year, No. 9 Park is the first bar on our list.

Read more…

June 5, 2009 / jnolen

Atlassian Summit

I’m just coming down from the unbelievable experience of our very first User Conference, Atlassian Summit! You might have seen a few tweets about it on Monday and Tuesday.

I don’t even have the energy to do a big recap, but here’s Jay’s post about it. And I’ve included the video of Mike’s Keynote speech. It will cover all the major announcements and new features. My team has been working on the new JIRA Dashboard and the Open Social integration (starts around 72:00). Oliver Marks has a great post about Atlassian’s Open Social Strategy — he totally gets what we’re aiming to do.

I’ve also been working with Michael Knighten and the crack Sydney development team on the new (starts around 19:30).

There’s still quite a bit left to do on both counts, but I hope you find these projects as exciting as I do.

May 26, 2009 / jnolen

The Hazards of Love

I bought tickets to see the Decemberists’ show at the Fox Theater some months ago, before their newest album, The Hazards of Love had arrived in record stores. I’m a Decemberists’ fan; I own all their other albums, and I’ve heard them play three times before. But I confess, when I first heard The Hazards of Love I was seriously disappointed. In fact, I don’t think I even made it through one complete listen.

The Decemberists have always been a strange band — with their faux Victorian melodrama, morbid sense of humor, and gleefully obscure vocabulary — but that’s why their fans love them. But The Hazards of Love doubles down on the weirdness. It’s a full-length, rock-opera style concept album; multiple parts, recurring musical themes and no pauses. And that’s without mentioning that actual content of the work, which I don’t yet claim to understand. (I think I’ll have to read the lyrics before I do.)

In my first, cursory listen, I found the unconventional song structures and the guest vocalists off-putting. Songs shift from ballad, to rock, to melodic, to bombastic with no warning. There were some great hooks buried in there, but none of the great songs I had come to expect from the Decemberists.

With that impression, I was tempted to sell the tickets and skip the concert altogether. I didn’t, however, and I’m so glad. As I expected (feared), they played the entire new album, start-to-finish. But I’ll be damned if it didn’t totally rock. The hooks I heard on my first listen were even more powerful. And it work builds over its whole length. While the individual songs never really pay off the their hooks, the whole album delivers when taken together.

It’s an opera of sorts, and it called for two other female voices, so Colin Meloy recruited the singers of two other successful bands: My Brightest Diamond and Lavender Diamond. Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, with her low-voiced, Janis-Joplin-esque power, completely stole the show. Wearing her punk-rocker best, she stomped and flailed around the stage like a Fury. (Unfortunately, her performance on the record fails to capture the raw power of her live delivery.)

Hearing The Hazards of Love played live, in it’s entirety, completely changed my opinion. It’s really a great record; it’s very different from a traditional Decemberists’ album, but still a great experience. If you, like me, didn’t given this record it’s due — it might be worth another listen.

(As a final note, I’ll mention that the unpleasant sound problems at the Fox have not improved.)

May 13, 2009 / jnolen

Star Trek

In an effort to keep my geek credentials in good standing, I saw the new Star Trek movie on Friday. (My license was almost revoked when I failed to see either Wolverine or Watchmen this spring.) Short review: Star Trek was excellent and I’ll probably see it again in the theater if I can. I can say without reservation that, no matter who you are and what your previously level of commitment to Star Trek might be, you should absolutely go see it if you haven’t done so already.

I’ve always been what I would call a mild Star Trek fan. As a kid, I found the original series too cheesy to take seriously. I enjoyed the Next Generation when it was on TV. I found Deep Space 9 too obscure and inconsistent to follow, and found the cast of Voyager insufferable. I though Enterprise (apart from the god awful theme-song) was better than most people gave it credit for. But I am totally, 100% sold on this new universe, though. Here are some reasons why: (Spoilers follow, so consider yourself warned.)

Things that were awesome

The beginning

The first six minutes of the movie were just unbelievable. In it’s pure, emotional impact, it reminded me of the intro to the premiere episode of Lost or some of the best of Joss Whedon’s writing. The movie grabs you and does not let go.

The cast

Much has been written about this already, but I’ll just say that every single actor is perfect, and absolutely nails his or her character. Beyond the obvious rightness of Kirk and Spock, Scotty is hilarious, Karl Urban does an jaw-droppingly good McCoy. I can’t wait to see more of these guys.


Spock it the obvious heart of this movie, as well as the connection to all that has come before. I think it may be some mild revisionism to claim that this has always been the case — but Leonard Nimoy has managed to shepherd Star Trek nobly through four decades and all of the variations. Shatner just became ridiculous after a while.

The new Spock is far more human than we see him in the series. He may pursue the benefits of logic, but he still contains all of the emotions of his human side, all thr more potent for their repression. He’s much more powerful, more emotional, and more dangerous than the Spock of the original series. He portrays humor, anger, violence and sexuality as well as the continuous struggle to overcome all of these through discipline.


This Kirk is way more engaging than the original. The new Kirk’s chief talent seems to be the ability to take a beating and keep going. How many times did Kirk get the crap kicked out of him in this movie? But it totally works — like Indiana Jones, the continuous beating humanizes Kirk, and makes him a much more attractive character. Similarly, they’ve taken Kirk’s womanizing and, by shooting him down a few times, made it endearing rather than lecherous.


The team behind this movie did an incredible job keeping some important things quiet. Two things in particular: going in to the movie I had no inkling of the relationship that would develop between Spock and Uhuru, and I had no idea that Vulcan was the planet we saw destroyed in the trailer.

In fact, I couldn’t believe how sneaky they had managed to be with the trailer. It strongly, but deceptively, implies that there’s a relationship between Uhuru and Kirk. It uses the history of the characters to misdirect us, all the while setting up for a payoff that had my grinning from ear to ear. And I watched Vulcan being destroyed a dozen times on TV without knowing what I was seeing. And this, when the real moment came, I was floored.

This, then, is what they mean when they take about raising the dramatic stakes. It delivered a punch to the gut just like the destruction of the colonies in the Battlestar Galactica miniseries did. And I can only imagine how the idea of Spock and the Vulcans as refugees might continue to play out over future films.


The writers worked in a ton of really, genuinely funny moments — and not just the surefire lines. We know McCoy has to say “Damnit, I’m a Doctor!” They get those moments in with a minimum of artificiality. But there’s real humor in the movie. I laughed out loud far more times than I expected.

Things that were slightly less awesome

The ship

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of the Enterprise. There was really only one great action scene (dodging the debris of the other Federation ships), and a brief moment at the end when it swoops in to save the day.

The new ship design is great: it respects the original series, yet still manages to look cool. And I am enormously pleased that they seem to have changed the way the weapons work in the Star Trek universe: more than one weapon can fire at the same time! And how cool was it to see the crewmen actually loading photon torpedoes?

Design elements

Which brings up another point: I liked that we got to see people doing their jobs in parts of the ship beyond the bridge. The weapons crewmen, or Uhuru down in some science bay, hard at work.

The new bridge does, on the other hand, look pretty darn cool. But I have to ask, why do they need those stupid desk lamps everywhere? And I can’t explain the scene that had Kirk and Scotty running through what appeared to be a brewery in the belly of the ship.

Martial arts?

It was a great idea to give Sulu a sword fight in the movie, but why must all movie sword combat involve leaping and tumbling all over the bloody place? Hong-king-style martial arts have becomes way too common — they just don’t belong in Star Trek.

Go see it

In the end, I loved almost every second of this movie. There are ten more favorite moments I could list (like Eric Bana appearing on the view screen and just saying “hi!”). But I’ll leave it for now with a final reminder: get to the theater.

Bonus links

April 30, 2009 / jnolen

The new Fox Theater

A few weeks ago, Jenn and I ventured across the Bay twice in one week, to see our very first shows in newly renovated and reopened Fox Theater in Oakland. We saw Franz Ferdinand on a Wednesday and on that Friday, we went back for Band of Horses.

Franz Ferdinand

Band of Horses

The Fox is, hands down, the nicest place I’ve ever seen a rock show. It’s the Ritz Carlton of concert venues. The offer both GA on the floor and seats in the balcony, so you can choose the experience you prefer. We were downstairs (of course). The floor is raked and tiered so every few dozen feet there’s a an equivalent of a front-row view. There’s a grid of air conditioning vents in the floor to the crowd cool. There’s a bar every twenty feet in the venue, and a separate lobby bar. The whole place is beautifully lit and carpeted. And I never once had to wait in line for anything. Best of all, the booker is completely dialed in, choosing bands that I’d love to see. I’ve already bought tickets for four big shows this season. As a concert-going experience, it would be hard to beat.

Food critics often visit a restaurant several times before they render judgment. And so I’m glad that I was able to go back to the Fox just two days later. Because now I have to tell you about the Fox Theater’s Achilles’ heel: the house mix at the Fox is just crap. And I’m not alone in thinking so.) It’s way bass heavy, vocal-ranges are so muddy that I couldn’t understand the band members when they spoke, and the guitars are all-but-inaudible. There were solos where I could see the guitarist playing but couldn’t hear a single note. There were times when the bass guitar was twice as loud as the lead. But you could absolutely hear every single hit on the kick drum.


Both Band of Horses and Franz Ferdinand put on great shows, but they were hamstrung by the sound at the Fox. Franz Ferdinand fared better, given their more driving, bass-heavy style. Band of Horses, who rely on more anthemic, guitar-driven songs, was just gutted. I desperately hope that the problem lies with the engineer who designed their house mix: maybe he just has terrible taste. That can be fixed The alternative is that the problems are inherent in the room and can’t be overcome, and that would be a true tragedy in what would otherwise be my favorite concert venue in the Bay Area.

I’m certainly going to see the other two shows I’ve bought tickets for. But if the Fox doesn’t get this sorted out by the last show, I’ll think very carefully before buying any more.

April 22, 2009 / jnolen

Things look a little different around here

Consider it a New Year’s Resolution late in arriving. I’ve missed blogging, and I’ve decide to recommit to it. Like all New Year’s resolutions, I don’t know whether it will really take. I don’t know if I can blog consistently for long. But I’m going to try.

As you can see, I did some spring cleaning around the old blog: swept out the cobwebs, cleaned the fridge, rearranged the furniture, The blog isn’t very different, but it has a few new features on the sidebars, and I’m finally using a legit TypePad template, rather than the custom one I built years ago — which will allow me to benefit from the many small improvements that the service makes over time.

One of the things I did when rebuilding the site was consider all the various places I exist on the internet. I actually asked myself the question: given Facebook and all of the other place where I represent myself online, do I even need a blog? But ultimately, I decided that I wanted one. I like having total control over my representation here. The page looks exactly like I want it to, and it contains exactly the information that I think is most important.

Take a look at the badges on the left of the blog. These represent the internet services that I use regularly. Some are old, some are new, but I thought it might be interesting to run through them, explain what they are for anyone who doesn’t know, and why I find them valuable enough to list first thing on my blog and use every day.

Read more…