|Ship It! is part manual of best practices, part software methodologies book and part a distillation of ideas and experiences of good and bad projects that the authors have been involved in. It migh...
-Tech Book Report
|...Much like the Mac, this book “just works”, because it takes the best from lessons learned from team leaders and team players and takes the mystery out of the project management processes as appl...
|...It would be really nice if, as an industry, we could stop being such a bunch of screwed-up clowns and start living up to our potential. Ship It! is one of the things that could help, if only tho...
My daughter has been asking me to share her flickr page with my "nerd friends". So, my nerd friends, if you have the time to click through a few cats, dogs, and several "still life" shots from a budding photog, she'd appreciate it!
Her favorite shot of our cat
One of her landscapes
I hope you enjoy a few of them.
I've started writing some form of this post for the last several years. I thought it'd make a great headache/migraine educational bit. About how we as an industry abuse our bodies with caffeine, long hours, and terrible ergonomics. But I never seem to finish that post, so I’m writing this one instead.
About 8 years ago I started getting migraines... about once a quarter. Not too frequent, so I just ignored them. Then they slowly progressed to monthly. Then weekly. And at some point I realized I was waking up with a low grade headache every day. My wife had been trying to get me to a headache doctor for a while, but daily was my wake up call.
Along this time I started skipping west coast conferences. The additional stress of dealing with extra time zones never helped.
I also noticed that, of all my conference friends, I was the only one who had a low-end pharmacy in his laptop bag. Other people bought tylenol when they had a headache. I went to a pocket that had each major over-the-counter medicine so I could rotate doses. I also found that I retreated to the quiet of my hotel room hours before my friends.
Now I rarely speak at conferences, but I do attend a few. Most days I have at least a low-grade headache, but some months (like the last one), I don’t really leave the house other than for work.
Why am I typing all this? I’m asked from time to time why I’m not at conference X or Y. Or why I don’t attend the local user group meetings anymore. I’ve really fallen off of the blogging wagon as well. Finally blogging seemed a more efficient way of sharing the information.
I also want to take this opportunity to say that migraines aren’t just blinding pain that leave you on the floor. They’re also when you have headaches more than three times a week. They can be caused by stress, certain foods, bright lights, missed meals, exercise, or a hundred other things most people take for granted. Ignoring your condition, like I did, makes it much more difficult for you doctor to help you. The longer your body thinks of the pain as normal, the more difficult it’ll be to break the cycle.
Your regular doctor will know a bit about headaches, but there are neurologists who focus exclusively in this area. I strongly encourage you to find one instead of being "tough" like me.
I'm very pleased to account that in two weeks I'll be joining the very talented team of software craftsmen at RoleModel Software.
Ken Auer, the founder and leader of RoleModel, has been a presence in RTP software for years. I first met Ken in the mid (maybe early?) 90s and have seen a steady stream of top notch developers working with him since he started RoleModel in 1997. He also recently launched the Software Craftsmanship Academy which will be creating a new generation of Software Craftsmen in 2012 and has many great companies lining up to provide internships for its graduates. I'll have a front row seat for the first iteration of that as well.
RoleModel provides software development services… we'll take your ideas and make them come alive. Our team has a wide range of expertise, including legacy application migration, and writing custom software, particularly of the web and mobile application type. You can read more here.
I'm very excited to make this move and I'm looking forward to working with, and learning from, the team at RoleModel. It's been several years since I've spent real time working in Rails and I can't wait to start back in again.
If you've been keeping up with me on my Twitter account, then you know I've been commuting to Columbus, Ohio from North Carolina each week for the last four months. When I started working at Pillar, the intention was pretty clear to all parties. I was to work in North Carolina and help Pillar expand into another region. Unfortunately, the execution suffered a bit. For a variety of reasons, Pillar wanted me to work in Ohio for this first engagement... not ideal, but I was willing to do it. We agreed that I'd be there for one or two months... that was stretched to six. However, when they started asking if I'd continue to working in Ohio after this engagement, it became clear that working in North Carolina while associated with Pillar wasn't going to happen, so I started talking to several North Carolina companies.
At nearly the same time my former employer, Logos Technology, contacted me to see if I'd be interested in returning. The timing was perfect, and the work will be very similar to what I've been doing recently, and they're very close to my home. It looked like a great match, so I turned in my notice this week, and after one more long commute, I'll be starting at Logos right after Labor Day.
I'm looking forward to attending Agile RTP meetings again. At the last meeting I attended, I was asked what my affiliation was with the group! Since I started the group a few years ago, I think it's a good sign that I've been away too long.
I'll still be speaking at a number of conferences, writing for DZone's Agile Zone, and there are a few books in the pipeline as well. Hopefully, now that I've eliminated my weekly commute, I'll have all sorts of free time.
We'll see how it all works out, but I'm really looking forward to being at home again and catching up with my RTP friends.
The last year has had a lot of big changes for me. The year has gone by so quickly that I've not blogged about most of them, but I'm starting to blog more frequently, and I wanted to catch you up on what I'm doing and where I've been.
This site, Agile Artisans, has suffered from neglect. I'm not speaking at nearly as many conferences and have intended to convert the speaking column at the right to a Twitter feed. I post a lot of quick items on Twitter than I would've put into a blog entry in years past. I've not updated the writing pages, etc, either.
My professional status has also changed a great deal. Last year at this time I was working with NFJS One, but I resigned last fall. Shortly thereafter I was no longer speaking at the NFJS events. :( Not unexpected, but disappointing anyway. Over the last six years I've met an incredible array of attendees and speakers. It's a great experience that was a great career move for me.
Last fall, after leaving NFJS One, I took a job at a local company. The idea was to be involved with coaching and test automation, but it wasn't quite the job I expected. To be fair, I don't think it was the job they thought it would be either. The economic downturn hit them as hard as anyone, and after three months, a third of our site was laid off, and I was job hunting again.
This time I tried something different. Instead of emailing my network, I posted my job availablity on Twitter and Facebook. Facebook, as expected, was a flood of "Oh dears!" from friends and family. Not a single job lead came from Facebook despite being connected with a lot of my professional network there.
Twitter however was a bit different. I had 17 potential opportunities within an hour! One of them lead me to a company named Pillar Technology, and about a week later, I was working at Pillar! The Pillar connection came via Todd Kaufman, who heard me speak at a user's group a year or two ago. Public speaking is a great way to land that next job!
I'm also the new Agile Zone Leader at DZone. I've talked with them on occasion in the past, but I've never worked with anyone who saw the value in having me "out there" in public. Pillar sees the benefit to them, as well as to me, so I'm writing for DZone a few times a week. Most of the posts will be short articles that are about the length of most of my blog postings.
Finally, I realized over the last year that my increasing headaches weren't really normal. It was gradual, but over the last several years I'd built up to hurting 24x7. I hurt when I woke up and hurt all day long. Low-grade headaches with occasional migraines. Btw, if it's a migraine, it's not just a bad headache. You sit in a dark room and cry until the pain stops.
My lovely wife had been encouraging me to visit a headache clinic for a long time, but I'd been resisting. I finally gave up and went. And it was a very smart move. After a few weeks of experimentation we found a medication that has lifted ~most~ of my headaches. I still have relapses, but I'm so much better than I was last year at this time.
I'm in a much better place now. I'm working with a team that has done much more with Agile transformations than I had in the past. I'm learning from everyone I work with... And they don't think "work life balance" means that work outweighs life. :)
I'm sorry I haven't kept in touch lately. I'll do better.
The economy is starting to recover in spots. Are you ready for it? How well positioned are you to take advantadge of the recovery?
When things begin looking good again, will you be in survival mode, treading water until your strength gives out? Or will you have positioned yourself well enough that you maximize your return?
Here are five things you can do today to position yourself as an 'overnight success' in the next year or two.
- Join your local user group. Whether you're into Java, .Net, Ruby, or Agile, there's probably a great group in your neighborhood already. Meetup.com is a great place to start looking for one.
- Join a few national mailing lists. Both Yahoo Groups and Google Groups house thousands of mailings on topics from Agile to lean to test automation and more.
- Attend local miniconferences. Here in RTP we've just had a TED conference, an Agile Coach Camp, a few other evening events, and more. We've got Citcon (CI and test automation) coming, as well as a one day Intro to Agile mini-conference. And those are just the ones of the top of my head! What's going on in your area? Contact your MS evangilist, or tool vendor of choice and ask them when they're coming to town.
- Speak up! Be active in your local user group's mailing, or your national list. Ask a few softball questions. Ask for help. Answer someone else's questions. But don't sit on the sidelines. Lurking is fine until you learn the group, but get in the game.
- Pick your favorite tool and write a How To article. Then post it on your blog. (Don't have a blog? Then visit Blogger.com and you'll have one in five minutes!) There are lots of people who want to learn how to use tool X or technique N. Write it up and post it.
At the end of the day, and of every day, you've got to decide if you've got a job or a career. If it's "just a job", then by all means, just survive and try to make it through to the next paycheck. But if it's something you want to truly succeed at, don't hide! Get out and reposition yourself!
Blatant commercial plug You can find even more tips on tuning up your career in Career 2.0: Take Control of Your Life.
You can also check out Land the Tech Job You Love by Andy Lester and The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development by Chad Fowler.
The information is out there. Will you use it?
I've been meaning to write about my new job for a while, but life has been busy. I'm not working with NFJS One, but instead working for a software shop here in North Carolina called Logos Technologies. For a variety of reasons, this year really burned me out, and travel was a huge part of that, so I did some shopping around. I talked to some shops about jobs with some travel, but local was where I wanted to be, and it's where I am.
I know many people who are adamant about being independent and not working at a day job, but if you know me well, you know I'm pretty flexible... after writing Ship It! and hitting the conference circuit pretty hard, I'm ready to step back, sleep in my own bed at night, and spend the evening watching TV with my two daughters. My commute is 15 to 20 minutes when traffic is bad, and under 10 if I catch all the lights just right. You can keep your hotel food and frequent flier miles. I'll take my old couch any day of the week.
Looking back, Will Gwaltney started working on Ship It! in (I'm approximating) in 2002 or so. The starting point was a series of articles I'd written on my home wiki. I was sure we'd have it done in under a month! (ha!) A year and half later, we had a book that actually sold a few copies. It's now in German, Indian Reprint, Japanese, Korean, Polish, and Russian. I still meet people who have no idea who I am, but look shocked and excited when they realize that I'm "that Ship It guy!"
Then I discovered the No Fluff conference tour. I did two cities the first year (Atlanta and DC). My first talk started so badly! I arrived at the conference center during the break before my talk was to start. I opened my suite case in the lobby behind a post so the attendees wouldn't see me getting my laptop out from under my underwear and clothes! Then I finally reached the room and all four attendees. In about 10 minutes, I lost one of the four! :) What a way to start. My voice was shaking, my points were lost... but after he left I found my footing and did a decent job. For that talk I had three excellent reviews and one horrid one. I like to think I've gotten better since then.
For the next few years I spoke at every NFJS I could, as well as a number of other events. I got to hang out with Dave Hussman, Bruce Tate, Dave Thomas, Neal ford, Scott Davis, Venkat... I can't even list everyone! I was privileged to visit tons of Java user's groups and Agile user's groups. I've been in nearly every state in the continental US, visited Canada a few times, and been recognized by Starbuck's counter help in other states!
As I ramp down my traveling and speaking, I'd like to thank so many of you for coming to hear me speak, for blogging about the talks you liked, for buying my books, and for helping to make the last few years an incredible experience. I have good friends in San Jose, Denver, Boston, Memphis, and so many points in between.
I realize this is rambling a bit, but what's the point of having a blog if you can't wander off topic from time to time? :)
Once I catch my breath, I'll start writing again. I've got an update to Ship It! and book on testing rattling around in my head. I still might do an updated version of the Career 2.0 book as well.
As I write this, my daughters are creeping down the hallway... you'll have to excuse me now. I'm going to play with my kids. :)
I've done a lot of interesting work at NFJS One over the last year, but I underestimated how much travel would be involved, and now it's time to find something that can keep me closer to home. So while I'll still be doing engagements with NFJS One, I'm also looking around to see which direction to move next. Talking about it on the blog seems like a good way to start conversations with more people than I could reasonably email.
One very appealing idea is to bring many of the courses I teach across the United States to the local RTP market. I've found that the price point for training in DC, Atlanta, and Chicago is a bit higher than it is here in North Carolina. NFJS One wanted to offer consistent pricing for the NFJS One courseware in all markets, so the local market struggled a bit. I've been teaching courses on test automation training, integration testing, selenium, introduction to Java, introduction to Ruby, transitioning to Agile, and team wide tune-ups. I've also done coaching and mentoring for teams. One of the more popular engagements is me teaching your team about effective test automation, while at the same time cleaning up your existing test suites alongside them.
If you're in the Research Triangle Park area (that is to say, local to me!), please drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can discuss details. If you don't have the budget to send your entire team, I've also hosted public training events on request. Then you only need to pay for the two to three attendees you need trained, and let other companies attend too.
I’m considering some remote training, using more of a webinar style presentation as well. I’ve already had some companies express interest in that format, but please let me know if you’re interested too.
I'm also talking to a few local companies about full-time employment. I'm not religious about being independent or a full time employee. I'm passionate about working where I can make a difference. The companies I'm talking with are interested in moving various internal efforts forward, and I find that very appealing.
One of the best ways to explore options is to discuss them publicly, so that’s the reason for this blog entry. Here's hoping some interesting conversations come my way!
I just bought an MSI Wind laptop/netbook and so far I love it. It's tiny, weighing in 2.2 pounds. This includes the bigger, 6 cell battery that provides 6 hours of use. I haven't had a chance to push that envelope yet, but it's on my list of things to do. :)
Here's a picture of it sitting on my 15" MacBook Pro (link). It literally makes the sleek MBP look clunky. It feels that way too. 2.2 versus 5.5 pounds.
The most surprising thing about the Wind is that it's got a hyperthreaded CPU. (Traditionally ultra small notebooks had a single CPU and were slow). It's got the Intel Atom CPU, but with hyperthreading, so it's amazingly responsive. My model came with 1 gig of memory (I've already upgraded it to 2) and a 160 gig hard drive. The external monitor drives my 19" widescreen nicely. So far I can't tell that it's any slower than my MacBook Pro for almost everything.
The keyboard's alphanumberics are fine to use, but the "edge keys", like CTRL and ? are odd to use. I've added an external mouse and keyboard for desktop usage.
I'm also planning on loading Linux on it (big surprise!). The 8.0.41 Ubuntu live CD boots it just fine and the Open Office presentation tools does a very nice job with most of my existing Power Point decks.
My plan was to use it as my presentation laptop. We'll see if that becomes a reality. I really don't think I could write code on the built in screen, but I'll try to do some JUnit tinkering in advance of this week's test automation class. With the external keyboard, mouse, and monitor though, it's fine for everything I've thrown at it.
I've found the push back from my Mac friends to be very entertaining. The MSI runs Windows XP (even though there are hacked versions of OS X for the Wind). So far the reaction from my Mac friends has ranged from surprise to hostility. Remember guys... "think different" doesn't mean to think just like you. ;)
Jurgen Appelo has an ongoing interview series on his blog. He's published a lot of very smart people and I'm honored to squeak in too! ;)
Five Easy Questions for Jared Richardson
From the page...
On this blog I have published interviews with Steve McConnell, Johanna Rothman, Alistair Cockburn, Robert L. Glass, Scott Berkun, Mary Poppendieck and Grady Booch. Everytime I ask the same five questions, and everytime I am pleasantly surprised by the answers I get...