Showing posts from January, 2009

Bletchley Park Needs You!

Bletchley Park is an unremarkable, run-down country estate in South East England. Unremarkable, that is, until you realise that it was where a team of boffins , including geniuses like Alan Turing , broke the German Enigma code in WW2. This allowed the Allies to intercept vital information and save countless lives. It is also likely to have significantly shortened the war - maybe by up to two years and 22 million lives. Its place in history is assured by this alone. But even more remarkable, in order to break the code the scientists had to invent from scratch the first ever electronic computer - Colussus . Thanks to the efforts of Max Newman and Tommy Flowers and many, many others we have the computers we have today. Through their efforts, we have the software industry - the productivity tools, the games. We have levels of communication no-one could have dreamed of back then - mobile phones, satellites, GPS. We went to the moon, and are now eyeing up Mars and beyond. We have the abi

Yet another name for compromised agile process

Via Simon Voice : wagile adj a cross between agile and waterfall process. The mess that's left if agile is only partially implemented without cultural change. See also: failure , compromised , doomed


I have just finished doing my own, personal retrospective of 2008 after spending a couple of weeks relaxing and decompressing. Definitely a cathartic experience that has left me re-energised and ready to go in 2009. Highlights: 2008 saw me go into several flawed companies/teams in succession as well as some well adjusted ones. Although I delivered results, they were nowhere near the level that I am used to getting, and the battles to get even those results were long, protracted and draining. Portia Tung wrote about something she called " The Wall ". Well, I found my wall last year and although I managed to scale it, it wasn't elegant. So in 2009 I intend to only work with well behaved clients who genuinely want to change, or have already made the change to agile/lean thinking but need guidance. Life is too short not to. Consulting should not be a battle, it's a co-operation. More of that in a later blog post. But I also need to understand better what my personal &q

You don't need bug tracking

I have just been reading a thread on an agile group discussing the best practice for bug tracking in an agile team. Almost everyone has immediately jumped in and suggested things like Bugzilla and Jira. At risk of this turning into a rant: You do not need a formal bug tracking system in a healthy agile development team Quite a sweeping statement. Let me explain. The whole problem seems to come from a fundamental misunderstanding of what a 'bug' is. I define a software bug as "undesired or missing functionality". Now let's compare this to a definition of a 'story' - a story is a statement describing the desired functionality - i.e. it is an invitation to correct undesired or missing functionality... Sounds familiar! In other words bugs are stories . And if they are really stories, then why treat them differently? Simply write them on cards 1 , throw them onto the backlog and let them be prioritised along with everything else. Bugs that are importa


I have been playing on Twitter for a month or so to see if it could be useful. As yet I'm undecided, but it has been useful enough to capture idle thoughts on the run so I'll stick with it for a while longer. For anyone interested in following my random ramblings I can be found here .

When weekly iterations go bad

Having tried several different iteration lengths over the years, I now tend to recommend iterating weekly. It provides maximum flexibility and adaptability while being extremely intolerant of waste - problems are quickly surfaced with such a tight feedback loop. But it does not always work as I found out over Christmas. Our live system broke. Something ate some important files so the app collapsed. This was quickly traced to the Jetty servlet container deploying to the /tmp directory by default. Not a problem in itself, but there was a default cron script that helpfully tidies up /tmp by deleting anything that has not been touched for 10 days.... Of course, the Team was in Christmas shutdown for two weeks, and sure enough 10 days after our last live deploy...<BOOM!> We missed this because we were using weekly iterations. We were deploying to the various dev, QA, demo and live systems every week so the deployed files were never older than 7 days. So beware...weekly iterations can