Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter


Business value in a product company

When I read about use cases or storyboards, I often read that these are to identify who does something. "Helpdesk register a new case", for example. The problem for us in a product company is that Helpdesk is a very different person in different organization. In our current customer stock we have facility personel themselves registering their own cases, out on the field, using their handhelds. In other cases, a professional helpdesk has been created: over a hundred persons registering hundreds of cases on a daily basis. But giving it to much detail makes it also too difficult to handle, should we create use cases for each type of customer? Another problem, of course, is as a product company we wish to attract new customers, and therefore we need to identify their needs as well.

And the definition of business value... Is it business value for the current users? The users we want to attract or the sales person who needs a nice feature for his presentations?

Running wearing a costume is much easier. With some thought given to the subject I came to remember my grannie giving me meters of a semi transparent lilac material, until now stacked away on the attic. So, I had my first visit there (we've only lived in the house for 4,5 years) and I retracted the material. And I've started on my belly dancer costume.

Another first for me was not finishing the task during the evening. I actually left the sawing machine on the table and left everything there for the night. I'm quite pleased with myself.




I'm on a decline. I'm running a 10 k race in Stockholm. In the middle of the night. And I'm going to wear a costume. ballet dancer? Julius Ceasar? Zorro? Cat woman? A doctor? Dunno. I'll probably have to use the weekend to make up my mind, and create the costume. The race is in three weeks and I just decided to run. In a costume.


Back in the pack

First day of work. Painful at start, but all turned out well in the end. We did some last minute modeling before the summer but it felt like ages ago. Today, we focused on the pricing and product domain of the product. We got stuck on a word, a concept. What do you call something that you sell? If that can be a thing or someones time. Product? Service? Article? Item? Sometimes you hate not having English or American as the native language.



The pains and wonders of putty

When redecorating, I hate using putty. Despite this, I'm the one working with putty every time. It's not that my husband demands this, it's me doing it freely every time. Perhaps because I'm a bit embarrassed with him doing most of the job and that I therefore need to do the most boring thing I know. Or perhaps it's that I hate when you can see a lousy under work and that not enough putty has been used or that the grinding way poor. Nice wallpaper, but it is all destroyed because you can exactly see where the plaster boards begin and finish. Ugh. But this time I'm just going to do the first round. Going back to work tomorrow, I have to leave the rest to my husband. But why do I worry? I know that if there is someone who feel the same about shining-through edges, it's my husband.


The next logical step in agile development? Going MUUU

If you've ever done Waterfall and disagreed on it's world view, the reading of literature on agile development on the listening to agile lectures probably gives you relief and joy. This is the thing. When we turned to agile to conquer the problems in our development environment I slowly came to realize that all problems were not addressed and new problems arose. When you put a group of highly intelligent and creative people in a room, there are bound to be conflicts, and problems. If there is one big problem with all the literature on agile development that I have read, it is that they lack cynicism.

I have during a longer period followed and read Seth Godin's lovely blog. I say lovely because he's become something of a friend, writing all the time on anything. Most of his entries are short and addresses an issue he's annoyed about. Why don't clothes stores gather all clothes in one size? Why have a service desk which has a big sign prompting people not to bother? He gets you thinking. As he's into advertising and marketing and I'm not, reading his books hasn't been a priority. But then I read The Dip and now there's a sale on, so I plunged into The Big Muu and All advertisers are liers. The funny thing is that Godin addresses many of the same problems addressed in books on agile development, but him being a cynic, I also get a go on the troublesome issues. This will probably have to sink in, and as with From Good To Great, I probably will have to read it again.



The end of the Tour

So, after the final Time Trial, is it over now? Well, you never know if there is going to be any attacks tomorrow. But the greatest legacy has been that the public had become aware of how hard cycling works against doping. I wish other sports could be so up front. On the Swedish Television, there was this spring a program on the constant use of pain killers in football. Every year some young soccer player dies as a result of poor work against doping in this sport. Every year. Pain killers are perceived as doping in cycling but not in soccer and other sports. Instead, players are known to use them, without proper subscriptions, on a daily basis. How do I know that? Well, as they don't see anything wrong about it, and it is not seen as doping, they freely admit it. How sick is that?

Seeing my son riding the bike does not make me worried: if he chooses a sport I want him to choose one that sees the problem with doping and fight the issue, not a sport where a jar of pain killers are free for everyone to use.



The wonders of IKEA

I love the concept of IKEA but I hate going there. I hate the crowds, the long way to get to the things I need, but I love the company. Today, we visited IKEA for the first time in years. I ordinary buy the stuff using the online store (thank you Kamrad, for that, made my life easier) but since we're building a castle for little Sir Peter, we wanted som inspiration. We've built lots of solutions using base materials from IKEA, so we hoped we could find something useful. No castle, but as all other visiters we ended up with a stack of "useful stuff", which must constitute a great revenue for the big Swedish corp. Next time I'll use the web site again.



Hey, Swedish moms! Are you all dreaming at mommies forums????

We're (oh, my husband is) re decorating little Peter's room. And my husband have some ideas on a loft bed, looking like a castle. So, for inspiration, I searched the web. At first, I searched Swedish sites. And realized there are so many moms out there, writing in forums about their kids and their little things in their lives as moms. I thought there were a handful of those forums, but there are so so many. Hundreds. How many moms can there be? And do they need a forum for EVERY part of their childs existance? Diapers, carrying, sleeping, walking, drinking. I don't know. And there were simply nothing to read. It was like listening to 15 year old girls chattering. I thought Swedish women had gone further than that. Tragic.

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Especially if he's cheating...

So, what happens. Of course mr Vino is a cheater. Blood doping. So, the cheater looses all (he and his team has withdrawn from The Tour). The sad part os the story is of course his team mates, all fighting for him and the guys who had a chance for the overall win. They all have to leave.

But the biggest win is for the sport. In all sports there are cheaters. In cycling they are caught. Look at all the sports where there are no tests or few tests. Do anyone with any brains believe that they are not cheating?



The winner takes it all....

For you all following the Tour, you know it's a sazzling year. All the doping accusations, and all the ups and downs. And all the crashes. When you think you've figured out who's doing a good Tour, any day will prove you wrong. For you not following the Tour, I'll tell you the stories of Vino and Moreau.

Vino and Moreau both started out as favorites to the over all win. They are both going on the later parts of their careers as pro cyclists and many have said this was their final chance. Then, in one of the first stages, Vino crashed. And more over, many more of his team members crashed as well. He had 31 stiches. His body was all bandaged. And due to doping rules, he was not able to take more that household pain killers. During the coming days, he lost some time. Not much, but he dropped from the top 10 list. But he kept going, and his team members kept with him. Then, a couple of days ago. Vino reappeared. He tried to attack. It didn't work, but the coming day Vino and his team took advantage of the windy stage and created gaps in the peleton. Moreau hadn't payed attention to the risks of the windy stage and found himself in the wrong group. He lost three minutes. About the same as Vino lost due to his crashing. But what happened next is what differs the winner from the looser. During the first time trial, the still badly bandaged Vino won the stage, a head of the world champ in the discipline. A head of all the favorites. Moreau lost ten minutes. You could see on his face that he had given up. That doesn't mean that Vino wasn't still injured: on the day after the time trial the first pyrenee stage was due. An exhausted Vino lost 30 minutes. But here comes the really amazing thing: he won the second pyrenee stage. Vino will not win the overall classification of the 2007 Tour de France. But he's still the winner. He realized he wouldn't be the overall winner and decided to win anyway. The way he could: individual stages. The team had given him everything, he wanted to give back. To change objective in the moment of pain and failure is what constitute the real winner. And the becoming a martyr in that moment constitutes the looser.



Your reason is as good as mine

As the first half of my vacation is nearing to and end, I'm rounding of my guide to running. I don't believe too much in theory. I could go on forever on using pulse measurement and different techniques in hilly country. But that is not the point. The point is getting out on the road and doing the miles. After that you can become more interested in techniques. If you're into gear from start, well perhaps cycling is the sport for you. ;-)

So, how to finish this off? Well, perhaps with the beginning. Why did I start running? You could have called me a coach potato ten years ago. I lost the over weight many years ago, but I wasn't what you could call athletic. Then I moved to the more central parts of Stockholm for the summer. I figured that waking the tube in the summer is a pain (they don't have air condition) and the distance was short. So I started using inlines. First, I looked like Bambi, then I started getting better. Suddenly I was using them everyware and all the time. I got reckless and one sunny morning I hit a small manhole during a fast downhill on a kind of bad road and when I came up from it my direction had changed and I hit a bench really really hard. I sat down. Looked at my legs. I could see the bones. Nothing seemed broken (I still can't understand that). Then the pain hit me. I just sat there. I crawled home. Called work and said I'd be late. Took a shower and took a cab to work. I wore a long skirt to hide the injury. Back then, I was doing computer classes and my class refused to work with me until I'd seen a doctor. So, off I went.

The injury hadn't hit my knee, but I couldn't wear my knee protections so I wouldn't be able to do inlines for a month or so. So what was I to do with all my built up energy and adrenaline / endorfine addiction. A good friend of my suggested running. He pushed me to try a 15 km race two month in the future. And so it was to be. I became a runner. I actually went on a new inlines tour after that. But the magic was gone and I was turning to a new addiction.

So, sometimes it's the most weird reasons which turnes you to running. So, just figure out your reason and get cracking!

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The running joke...

For non runners there are possibly nothing more boring than running. Even so, running can give you great laughs. My favorite joke is a bit cruel, but fun. You don't need much: a female with a running habit and a trying male runner, preferably in his thirties. As I stated before: they are easily spotted. Wrong clothes, worn out shoes and a face of dispair. I sometimes use a runner a head of me as a rabbit (someone you focus on during the run so you can increase your speed). Well, sometimes a tryer sees that they are used as a rabbit. When you're a runner, being a rabbit isn't something strange: being a rather slow runner, this happens to me often and I know better than to be offended. Well, some male tryers spots a FEMALE runner closing in on them and their male pride gets to them. Desperatly they increase their speed. Well, this is the perfect circumstances for my running joke.

I run up close, but not to close. They try increasing their speed even more. I just keep the distance. Then, when they realise that they're not going to make it, I just pass them casually. Most of these guys gets desperate. They try to keep up, but are forced to stop running.

Well, how does this help a beginning runner: well - you have to realize that there will always be runners that are better, faster and stronger. You can't let your pride decide your speed. Then you will fail. And failing for that reason is worthless.



Beginner's guide to running, part 4

You need strength- And you need flexibility. So, you work out and you stretch. My best tip on both these activities is paying attention to what you are stretching and which muscles you're working. I see too many just stretching and lifting weights without any concepts on what they are working.

I had had most my problems with knees and hips. So, I've concentrated on those areas. I've also spent time on back and mid section. Mostly because of the stress on these areas from long distance running on hard materials.

Today, I'm a bit ashamed to admit, I don't stretch very much. Mostly because I don't have any problems anymore. But when I feel something, or when I got the problem with my knee after the marathon, I stretch and I workout a lot. Until I feel all well again.



Beginner's guide to running, part 3

So, I've given you a few days to get your priorities straight and your gear in place, but now we're off. Your first run. Well, you might have been out on a run before, but if you're following the beginner's guide, I guess you've previously just tried running. And failed. So, how do you prepare for your first run? First of all, there are expectations. Then there are expectations. And then it's how you forfill those. So have reasonable expectations. You're no Paula Radcliffe.

Running is hard. When I first started, I was in fair condition since I'd been using inlines most of the time for many months. But I wasn't in running conditions. So prepare for feeling completely taken by surprise if it feels terrible. Then, the first 15 mins are terrible. For me it lasted the first five years, having the first 15 mins feeling terrible. Awful. So prepare for that. It's like your body says: hey, you're no runner. Stop at once. But after about 15 minutes the body seems to remember that it's kind of nice. And when you past the 1h rule, then the endorfines kicks in and you get to experience Runner's high. But that is in the future for you. Now you have to get past those terrible first 15 minutes.

Then there is the Stitch. If you experience that, remember to warm up your mid section before running. Do 40 situps and an inhalation exercise: inhale and hold your breath for 30 secs. Repete 10 times. This is a good exercise for you leaving your home and heading for the run. I had to do this the first two years of my running. Now I hardly experience the stitch so I don't warm up any more. But when I do I use a stitch rock. This is a small, pointy rock which I keep in the opposite hand from which I feel the stitch. If I feel the stitch in both sides, two rocks are used. The best stitch rock fits good in your hand so when you close the hand the pointy head goes into your palm. The small pain from this is enough to make your stupid body forget about the stitch. Another tip about the stitch is don't eat within 1,5 hours before your run. And if you drink, have a small water belt and drink just sips at the time. Not even a mouthful.

What about running then? Well decide that you're going to be out 30 minutes. Then you run and walk until you've been out for 30 minutes. Keep a record of how much you ran and how much you walked. It may take a while, but sooner or later you will be able to run for 30 minutes. Hurray, you're a runner.

After your exercise, don't forget about refueling. About 1l water and a banana or a sandwich. And remember to refuel before your shower. The sooner the better. And don't forget to stretch. I'll probably discuss that more during my next entry.

And off you are to a brave new world.



Beginner's guide to running, part 2

And for all you shopaholics! Here comes part 2. Getting the right outfit! Yes, you don't just pull on those old sneekers and horrible sweatshirts. (You know that they are called that because you sweat in them, and you can sweat from your efforts instead). I can often spot a person who's just started running (and who will soon stop) from the outfit. It's not being a snob, it is just that clothes are made for different things and there are clothes made for running. I've just seen during the last few years the difference in materials and fittings. My best tip is look at other runners. What do they wear? The first thing you see is that they, unlike non-runners out for a jog, aren't clothed for a polar expedition. When you run, you get warm. Som you don't have to wear all your clothes at once.

Then you visit a real runner's store or look at the web sites for the large athletics brands. Look for their runner's outfits. Don't visit those "athletics stores" who sell street clothes that looks like running clothes. You will sweat the difference. And while you visit the runner's store, pick up some really good shoes. Ask for assistance and if it's a good store they can film you running and pick the right shoes for you. The wrong shoes means injuries. So, even if you have some new shoes bought on sale, wear them when you're out walking and get yourself some good equipment.

But then you say, hey, don't want to spend a fortune on this until I know I want to do this. Then, go back to lesson 1. Making the decision. This is just the first test how dedicated you are to your commitment. By putting your wallet on the counter, you make the first investment. After this, the investment won't be monetary but in pain and time. But to come there, you have to have the right stuff. Believe me, believe my knees. And look at all the fit runner's out there: even if they run 5 hours a week you don't see them wearing worn out shoes.


Beginner's guide to running, part 1

Today, I had my first 10k run for 1,5 months. I've let my knee recover slowly and then I fell into the comfort zone: just being out for 25 mins is easy. So, I was planning on one of those shorties when I just fell in love with running again. It was pouring out and I just loved it. So instead of 25 mins it became 50 mins. And during that time, I decided on a summer project for my blog. A beginner's guide to running. From a beginner to another. What did she write: beginner! She'd run two full marathons. She's no beginner. I beg to differ. I started running 2001 and for all you runners, that means that I'm still a beginner. So here goes; the confessions of the accidental runner.

Step one - making the decision
To become a runner, you have to decide that you want to be a runner. People who "start running" are also the people who stop running. I see them every spring. I don't see them as often during the later parts of spring. Some of them pop up the first weeks of summer vacations, but they are often just seen once or twice.

Man is made to run, so it should be easy to become a runner, but most people spend all their time unmaking themselves natural runners so it becomes hard, especially if they start after 30. It takes lots of effort, and determination. Priorities. (If you want some inspiration about making these kinds of decisions, I can recomend Seth Godin's The Dip. Wonderful read. A must for you who seem to collect the remains of abandoned hobbies in the closet)

So, you have to make the decision. I'm going to be a runner. I will spend X mins, Y times a week running. The X should be 30 and Y 3. You need to spend 30 minutes, three times a week running. If it's raining, you either run another day, or you run in the rain. I prefer running when it's raining. Lots of oxygene and no strollers. If you wake up one morning and don't feel like running that day, then you have to run another day. It is as simple as that. If you can't commit to that you won't be a runner. Did you make it through the first part, the next should be a blast!



Off, at last

So, the term is over. Our first term of agile development. And perhaps it's time for some retrospect. Hm.

They say it's hard, transfering to agile. Well, it is hard. Is it worth it? Well, after transfering to agile development it is hard to imagine working differently - how could one possibly think that the straight waterfall methods work? But that does not make agile any easier. Developing is hard work, difficult work. Being agile is a part of accepting the hardness, but it does not make it less hard. Sometimes it's hard to accept how hard it is. But even so, if it wasn't hard, would it be as fun?

Would it be as fun to run if it wasn't hard work? Being a runner is fun for me because I as a result of hard work can take my runs and go where ever I want to go. Stockholm is a small town and taking a 2h run takes me to the nicest spots andbridges. When visiting my folks I can see most of their smaller town during my runs. If I want to. Keeping that up is hard work. It means running when I feel down, when I rather have a glass of wine or just snooze in bed. But it's worth it. And like working agile, it's hard to imagine a different life, without running.

Being a working mom is hard. Fun but hard. It's like I say to one of the guys who just had his first son. The first months it's horrible 90% of the time but the last 10% are so wonderful that it's simply worth it. Now, being a mom is 50% routine but the rest is amazing. Having a wild soon-three-year-old is a wonderful experince. Hard, but would it be fun if it wasn't?

But now I'm going off for two weeks. I havn't had a proper vacation during the last four years and now it's urgent. I'll just hang out, read books, read and spend time with the family. Oh, we're building a room for Peter as well (or, my husband is, I'm just there for support, he just doesn't know it yet.)

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Hitting it hard...

For you reading reguarly, you might have wondered why I havn't written anything for a couple of days. Let's say I've taken a plunge. Not in the summer water, but in the cool freeze of stress. Last Monday, I had a real bad day. Being a close friends of people haven fallen into deep depression and break-downs, it has been a scary few days. I didn't hit rock bottom, but I hit the water. I fell hard. And I'm recovering. So, hold out, I'll be back!

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Leaving the first for last?

Creating a product backlog is boring. Very boring. Yet, it needs to be done. So, what do you do? Everything but product backlog. The problem is that the task has been overseen for many months now, so there is a lot to be done. And it will be no more fun for someone else. So, I'll be the else person, again. That is a problem, when I see a boring task I don't leave it with someone else (well, most of the times I don't), so I get stuck with these tasks. And the problem with that is when this is not the common strategy, the boring tasks somehow wind up in this corner of the world. My corner...

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First line of code

Since there has been no updates on the subject, you probably thought I'd given up by now. Programming, I mean. Well, you who don't know might have thought so. Well, here's the update you've all been waiting for: I've read 150 pages of the 400 pages book. I wrote my first lines of code today. I compiled the code and I run the program. It was the traditional 'Hello World' program, but still, it's a program. And when you start programming when you're past 30, that's a big thing.

But I'm still as amazed. As I wrote before, I can't understand how the guys transform my pictures, scetches and ideas to working software. Perhaps that is on page 200... But for now, I'll complete the examples to the point where I stopped reading.

Over and out from the non coding-developer who've just coded.

Welcome to July

So, it is officially summer. In Sweden that means post Midsummer and that it's July. That means it's raining. Being an outdoorish person, that's not a problem. My favorite runs are in rain. Lot of oxygene, no strollers and nice temperature. For little Peter, it's no problem either. He doesn't care if it's rain or sun. Actually, the presence of water enables new funny pranks. So, why do people say it's a bad summer when it's not warm and sunny all the time? It is even so absurd that it's a 'good summer' when it's so hot that most people stay inside anyway. But who said people were sane and practical?

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