Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter


Running 2007

Time to do a retrospect on the year's running activities. I've run three times a week, besides from the three weeks after Stockholm Marathon, in which time I cured my knee. I didn't complete the marathon, due to a bad step, but my knee healed and I haven't been affected since then. During the autumn I've turned to running shorter distances and tried increasing speed: the longest run has been 10k:s. Not many, but I've cut five minutes from my 5k runs.
The only races I've completed are one 12k run and a 10k run, the later dressed as an oriental dancer. The latter was the funniest and I plan on turning back to the Eastern theme next Autumn, when I plan to resurrect a Spartan warrior.

I've been healthy, besides from the gall bladder problems, which hasn't hindered me from running: on the contrary: running is one of few things that help, though it's somewhat painful.

What about next year: well, running in costume is really fun and is something I'm going to keep up. 10K runs are perfect for that since it's no issue running so short distances. I'm going to keep running shorter distances (less than 20k) but should increase the distances a little bit. Running to work is really nice and of course, I'll keep that up. So, nothing fancy but lots of fun.


True blue...

Being a skeptic, I often find people who have fallen for mystical cures being some what "true blue". Even if something is evidently harmful, the true believers seem hard to convince that they've been made a fool. But I seldom see something as concrete as the blue man of Oregon, who believes that the intake of metal in the form of silver makes him well and that his turning blue on the outside is not the cause of that but of him rubbing the stuff into his skin.
Guess what: he's still using the stuff.


Spare batteries are evil...

(Complements the blog
Have yoy ever heard such nonsense:

New Battery Rules For Air Travel Effective January 1
- Rob Bushway

The government has issued new rules for air travel with spare lithium batteries. These rules are effective January 1, 2008:

  • Spare batteries are the batteries you carry separately from the devices they power. When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries.
  • You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked baggage
  • You may bring spare lithium batteries with you in carry-on baggage – see our spare battery tips and how-to sections to find out how to pack spare batteries safely!
  • Even though we recommend carrying your devices with you in carry-on baggage as well, if you must bring one in checked baggage, you may check it with the batteries installed.
Batteries that are separate from the device cannot be checked in. So, tuck the thing in a machine and it cannot be a bomb. Next stop: you have to swallow the batteries to be able to carry them aboard a plane...

Sick chicks

Have you heard women complaining about their men having a cold seems to think that they are the sickest in the world? Perhaps that is true, but here is a question about us chicks: Why do women feel an urgent need to call their beloved all the time when they are sick?

Ever heard something like this at work/at a dinner / at a coffee shop:

[Call and man hurries to answer phone]
Man: Hi, honey, how are you?
[LOOOOONG answer]
Man: Do you want me to come home?
[LOOOOONG answer]
Man: Ok, but call me if it gets worse.

And the sick lady do call back, not once, not twice but many times. Not that they're feeling worse, but because.... Well, I don't know why. Perhaps they feel better by disturbing us other at that dinner, at work or at that coffee shop. Perhaps they want their loved one to feel ashamed for not being there, holding their hand. I honestly don't know. I've never gotten less sick by using a phone. Not at least calling someone less than a medically trained person.

So, girls. If you cannot be sick on your own: say that to your man so he doesn't leave home. And if you want him to come home: call once and say so. And guys, when the girl's called you twice: go home and let us others be free from that phone.

The most unlikely three musketeers

Take a good look at these three guys. What do they have in common? If you don't know who they are they are Woody Allen, Alice Cooper and James Randi. The answer can be found in the excellent podcast The Amazing Show (Part 1 and Part 2). Simply hilarious.


Why I'd love having House on my team

I have for some time tried explaining to folks at work what constitutes a good tester. That it's a mind set, and it takes a problem seeking mind, patience and a capability to express yourself. Well, the excellent blog I'm Testy gives some more insight into the issue and compares the tester to a physician. Well, I wouldn't mind having dr House of the TV series on my show. Here are some treats which makes him an excellent tester:
  • Knowledge
  • Working with a team
  • Selects which problems to focus on: interesting and life threatening problems
  • Capability to see outside the box
  • Drilling into the problem
  • Discusses open the different options and their dire consequences with the patient himself.
Well, you might say he's arrogant and evil, but that is perhaps the consequence of being a good tester.



Same same but different

Have you ever discussed a problem and said: well, when you implement X, I want it to be/look like Y. That does not work. It becomes same same but different.

For example: we have address fields on multiple entities. If they looked slightly different, that would be same same (all are address fields) but different (since they perhaps weren't placed the same way).

Is same same but different important? Well, like with spelling it depends who you're asking. Myself, I wouldn't make an order from a company who can't spell (if they cannot even spell the most common things, what says that everything else works as it should...) Others doesn't even see it.

Is it a problem: well, since the business value of fixing these "little things" are hard to calculate, especially for people not being bothered by it, it seldom gets fixed. And the result is an aggravated situation: for every instance of same same but different, it becomes more and more unclear what is right. And than you get chaos.

So, my advice: of course is it to fix it at once. Every time. Saying "I'll fix that later means IT WILL NEVER be done. Never. And since looks is first expression, it will always be noticed by someone. IT doesn't take so much time if it's always done but cleaning up afterwards takes forever.


Product owner proxy

Being the orderer of a complex system is a sweet hell: lots of responsibility and lots of power. It is very seldom I hear a software developer or project manager being satisfied with the orderer of the system. The difference in agile project seems that the term orderer has been switched to Product owner.

We are a small and closely knitted little team and the product owner sits just meters from us. But that is the problem: his chair sits there, but he seldom uses that chair. We have the right guy in one sense: he has the authority and power to make the decisions but he's not there to make them. And since he's not around on a regular basis, he's not involved in all the details and cannot make decisions in those instances.

Our solution is having two levels of product ownership: one almighty Product Owner who makes the big decisions on objectives and available resources. Then we have a product owner proxy, being responsible of translating the objectives to daily small decisions: is this what the Product owner decided.

Our biggest obstacles has been that we've combined this with the scrum master role and placed that combined hat on myself, and voilà: you have a traditional project manager. The product owner proxy should never get involved in resource issues. Then you just get a person who points and says what everyone should do and no one else feels responsible.

I will instead turn back to testing. Translating the objectives to test lists is an important task so we can discuss what is tested how and how manual test efforts should be focused.




Toy replicas are nice, but real stuff is better. Being really fond of taking photos and having a husband sharing this passion, it was no surprise that little Pete soon took to taking photos himself. Or at least, he thought it was his time every time someone took his picture.

Not that strange and of course, a valid request. Now, I don't want to put the expensive system camera in the hands of a three-year-old, but I wanted him to be able to use a camera. And of course, there are cameras for small kids. Digital cameras. It's probably a pretty lousy camera but it has a small display and it's really easy to use. And it can take a fall. So, this was our one and only Christmas gift for him. It will be a blast seeing which items he thought worth documenting. Composition and light school next. Watch out, Mattias Klum, here comes Peter!


Not being the domain expert

Being the non coder of my team, I'm the domain expert. Well, that seems to be correct: I'm the product owner proxy, requirements analyst and manual tester, all in one. But now, when we're turning to working more with issues concerning system installation, I'm not the domain expert. And I need to be as good as the guys and realize that and take this as seriously as we do the "ordinary" domain. I can't call it user domain, because users work with the system installation.

I need to create a mental model of how the system installation works and get cracking learning all the domain terms of system installation. Tables are turned, so to speak.

Hippie parenting

I know different people have different opinions on parenting. But when you meet a lot of parents, not entirely sober folks with kids of very different ages displays unexpected differences in viewpoint. And then we're still talking about Swedish middle class protestants from the 20th century.

I've always fashioned myself being kind of a strict mom, wanting my son to cope for himself. He gets to clean with me, do the dishes, take care of the washing and cooking. This is playing with mommy. Getting everything chewed and ready for my little one is not my cup of tea.

Well, after this Christmas I realize I'm more of a hippie mother: Peace, love and understanding.

Peace: even if the most creative environment at work include some warfare, yelling at each other or at a kid is never a good solution, if there is not some kind of real danger involved. I know, keeping the temper down is hard with a three-year-old but I make a point of not yelling at him.

Love: I let Peter know that he's loved every day. Many times every day. If he does something bad he gets to know that I can hate his behaviour but that does not keep me from loving him. This gives him confidence.

Understanding. Children's thoughts are always more complicated and more trivial than you can imagine. And this at the same time. Trying to see things from Peter's perspective is the greatest challenge of my life.

And understanding is also the basis: if I look at something from his perspective it's easier not to get angry and impossible not to love the little creature.


Christmas over

Sorry I haven't written lately but today is the first in front of a computer since Friday. Instead it has been a couple of days in front of the wheel. What that means is a lot of thinking around the problem domains we're targeting next year. A next year just a few days from now. A new years that is going to be spent around a bunch of non-developers. Keep you posted


Last day before Christmas

Today, it's the last day before Christmas, workwise. The delivery wasn't perfect: we have lots to do before the first public release in February, and we have to be wise in this situation: sub optimating for this sprint is not an option. Now, we have to make things really work before the final release. So, if this release is not perfect, that is a better option than having a less than perfect release next time.

So, if I don't hear for you guys: happy Christmas and a happy new year.


Like coming home

After just a day with TFS, it really feels like coming home. Since we used the work item tracking the last time, the web access has been included and it works so well. Just love it!

I can't believe those who prefers the Excel lists over TFS work item tracking: the Excel integration is so easy and care free. One of the biggest pains has been the bug created on build failure, clogging up the bug list but since this is just a "setting", this is easily fixed.


Reinstalling Visual Studio, without coffee

Having checked this day for manual testing and having a non testable client, I was free for some really important work today. Not having reinstalled my computer in ages, the problems with the machine became urgent a month ago and then I reinstalled the thing. But I didn't take the time to reinstall Visual Studio. But since we're moving bug handling, sprint backlog and manual tests to Team system I need the thing. So, this day is as good as any.

I started 0930 today and I'm still installing (well, actually I finished the task by 15.55 but the coffee break made this post a task that took a bit longer than expected). I need VS 2005 for developers and Testers, SP1 and the fix for Vista. And then I need the Team Explorer. But this is almost like a joke. Is it supposed to take a full day?

And this with the corporate coffee machine broken. At 14.30 we went out for coffee and now things look better. And now my VS is working. I hope that this is a good sign for us

Moving back to Team system

We've tried them all: post its, Excel, Team system, our own application, Sharepoint, whiteboard. I'm talking about the sprint backlog. And now we're moving back to Team system. Why? Our basic problem is people not updating the sprint backlog. And why are people not updating the sprint backlog? I believe it's because it's not integrated into their daily processes. And why isn't this a part of their daily processes? Because it's not a part of their main focus/application.

I don't believe in tools for solving problems like these. But I want to choose a tool which works as a part of the daily work. At start, we'll just use the MSF for Agile 4 Template which we used when we cheated with MSF For Agile but when we make the transition to VS 2008, we'll install a real scrum template.



A fast run

I'm so longing for next week when it will start getting lighter instead of darker. I don't care for the daylight in other respects that during my run. But I enjoy being able to see when I run. I've never fallen during a run but the combination slippery and dark is just an accident waiting to happen.

Today, I decided on a short run on the ordinary track. It normally takes 25 minutes but today, when I was about 10 minutes away from the finish, I saw a guy in my age, out for a morning jog. I saw his outfit and knew he's a beginner. A beginner of the more serious kind but yet a morning. I don't know why, but that starts me up. I was going to hunt him down. So, the run took 20 minutes instead. I was almost dead when I came home: it's no use catching another runner if you're not able to increase the speed after you've passed him. Being passed myself is not an option.

Next week is the last week of the sprint at work. And like with my run today, it's all about getting the things done. Keep you posted.




So, it's at last Friday. One week to demo. And the lamp is a brilliant red. Refactoring all the entities are like moving the kitchen to the bathroom and the bathroom to one of the bedrooms. You don't know how things will end up until the move is complete. So, now all I can do is wait and see. When we've updated the REST server with the new entities I'll be able to use one of the clients again and that will feel like getting the toilet back in order after three weeks without. Worried? No. Actually not. But, it will feel good to be able to use the bathroom again.


When three things you don't like makes something you really like

I'm not very much into watching TV (well, not since I'm bloging wild on my free time), and I've come to find that I've stopped watching a lot of shows that I've just watched from habit, but don't really apply to me. Others, I've come to like even more. One of those are Antikdeckarna. I don't know if this is a Swedish concept but I love the show. The strange thing is that if I'd taken the different parts I'd probably hated it. But here goes:
  1. Two Antiques specialists who are also speaking using a really classy Swedish accent
  2. Travel around Sweden to find antiques, switching between searching people's homes and local second hand shops
  3. Select an item (they have a season based budget) each show
  4. And sell it at an auction in Stockholm
  5. The guy who gets the most money for his thing wins
I don't know why I like it. I have a problem with people collecting weird items and end up with cluttered homes. I hate flee markets. I hate auctions and I think contests on TV are basically silly. But I love the show. Not that I ever remember the nice little lectures you get on all those weird items. But somehow I find the whole thing brilliant. And when I think about it, I think it's the guys being so upperclassy and bad at hiding their inner wish to be a total winner and the best antiques finder.

Things are not always what they seem

When I model, many times I'm being hindered my mental blockage, caused by me creating aggregates that are not there. Or, to be more precise: people describe things as they were one when there are actually many entities they are discussing.

For example, one of the problems I'm working on now concerns cases (which is not odd since our core business is Case Management..) and my Product Owner said, "well, the applications works well with cases that are issues, but some cases are planned maintenance. So, we need that."

So, I started thinking. When I'm in that mood I'm something like doctor Baltazar from my childhood (you'll see what I mean if you watch about three minutes into the film). And thinking. And after many days and nights I suddenly realized that it wasn't the cases that were planned, the planning is actually connected to another entity in the domain. When I realized that, so many things fell into place. And now, when I look at it, it is is so simple and clear I can hardly believe I spent all that time on the problem.


Dressed for St Lucy's

There are some occasions which make me realize that I'm not like a real mommy is supposed to be. It's St Lucy's day, and all parents in Sweden view their little ones dressed up as St Lucy, one of her maids, St Claus or a Gingerbread man at daycare or school.

Peter refused as I guessed the outfits but I got him to wear a read Spiderman t-shirt. Myself, well, I figured running to work would be a good idea so I put on my trainers and got going. Well there I realized that parents on these occasions are supposed to be dressed up. Suites and stuff. And there I was wearing my trainers.

The result: me on the floor playing off with all the kids while the other parents sat all dressed up and afraid that a runny nose should come in contact with the nice suite.

Well, the nicest thing about St Lucy's for me was all the kids coming running, happy to see me. And that I could play with them.



Modeling night...

Went early to bed. Slumbered... And then, woke up. Task details, Checklists and Events (thingies from the domain I'm modeling) were just infesting my brain. Pen. Paper. Scribble off. Two hours later, I could finally go back to sleep. Like I said, I'm in modeling hell.



Modeling hell

The heading for this post can be read in many ways: sometimes it feels like you're modeling Hell and sometimes it's hell to model something. What I'm modeling right now is something that affects everything in our system: from A to Z. And as soon I dig into something it turns out to be a new pit in hell. I'm just glad that I'm starting to tackle this now: we won't implement the first version until March. But this will take time. And my primary tools are:
  1. Don't rush it. I knew this was big so I'm starting now and I'm settled on letting it take time.
  2. Occupy a white board. We have plenty of space as from today so I sketch something, swear about it to the team and get some new ideas. Then I let is settle on the white board and get back to it tomorrow.
  3. Don't use the current domain. I'm ignoring the rest of the domain, just focus on the problem in this case. When this feels comfortable, I will integrate the thoughts into the current domain.
  4. Be open for the possibility that there are no perfect solution. It's not like this is a riddle where there is one good answer to all our questions: we will have to select which functionality we WON'T support as much as we will have to decide what to support.
Well, the day is almost up and I'm heading home for the little guy and his little girlfriend, who is spending the evening with us. I need something else on my hands and that is probably my final tip of the day: when you're in modeling hell, start thinking about something else.



Welcome to whiteboard paradise

So, now we're all settled in our new little corner of our company. Since lack of empty whiteboard space always seemed to be an issue, we decided to use the walls as much as we possibly could. The principle we used for placing the whiteboards can be seen on the picture. If it's a wall space, it deserves some whiteboarding. And yes, we did put up the whiteboards on the wall.

Now we have as many whiteboards as we have developers in the room. Our CEO came into the room and his first reflection was: "Oh, how many whiteboards." And then he'd only seen one third. If it's Feng Shui, I wouldn't know. But it's sweet.

What a noble day

Today, it's the Nobel day when the Nobel prices are handed out in a large and beautiful ceremony here in Stockholm. When I look at the combination of prizes: Economics, Physics, Medicine, Chemistry, Literature and Peace, I believe it reflects on the modern ideals of a business man: combining the intellectual engineer with business and social awareness. And of course, like everything in life: some of it is fake. The price in Economics is not a real Nobel Prize, since it's really a prize from the Swedish National Bank. (Thanks Hexmaster for the wonderful article on the subject. Poor non-Swedish can only read the ordinary Wikipedia article.)


Sick kids

Yesterday, Peter fell sick. All parents can imagine the fear felt when you rush into your kid's room and find a child covered in what seems to be blood. Now it looked much worse than it was: a cough turned into puking, which made his nose bleed and when he swallowed the blood, it looked like he threw up blood. He spent the night in the arms of a mother just guessing the pain of parents who don't only get a little bit of fright but whose worst fears are also realized. Today, Pete is feeling lazy and sour but he's recovering. Like it's supposed to be.

Many years ago, I visited Forsmark Mansion. One of the 18th century owners lost all his 13 children while they were still small. All of them. This was pointed out during the tour as a very sad story. What is so sad is that this of course still happens all around the world. We here in the fortunate parts of the globe take for granted that the kids will survive and are chocked when they don't. We are so lucky. I am so lucky. (Even if I'm dead tired after a night without proper sleep.)



New and old location

Almost exactly two years ago, my company moved in to the current location. I was given a seat where I sat for 1,5 months before I was transferred to another team and moved to another room. My then-boss then have several ideas on the organization of our seven-persons-large-team and within a year I moved six times. Once, I stayed in a room for less than two weeks before I had to switch rooms again. Then we turned agile almost exactly a year ago and since then I've kept my desk but it has moved around a bit in the team room.

And today, we changed team room and I find myself about a meter from my first location. It's not for nothing that I feel a little like the stapler guy in Office Space. I hope my glasses are better looking. I hope I'm still employed. Well, they haven't placed me in the lift. Yet.


Daycare again and a move

Again, I spent a day at daycare. This time, I spent the whole day there. As I said last time, I don't understand how the staff copes. It's amazing. And it's also fun getting to know these wonderful three-year-olds. They are already little very different personalities. I'm exhausted. Station Bed is next..

Tomorrow, we're moving to another team room. At last. Well, things won't be perfect, but at least we'll have air to breath. And the ceiling height is higher, which in accordance to a report should affect our creativity positively.

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I can't imagine a more romantic setting. 17th century aristocratic France. A young innocent 15-year-old girl is taken from a convent to be married to a much older man, only to fall desperately in love with a young, beautiful music teacher.

Well, the setting is perhaps perfect, but if you're in for a session with Milos Forman's Valmont, the 1989 film, based on the novel by Choderlos de Laclos, you're in for one, big surprise. This is black drama, in it's finest moments. Not being a fan of romantic films, I do have a crush for films you might misinterpret for a romantic thing, but gives you a whole other experience. Valmont is one of these. I watched it many years ago and liked it then but this is just one of these films that not only grow on you, they actually survive the time in which they were created. (And no, having seen the 1988 version Dangerous Liaisons does not count. The same plot, but that is all.)


Pretty in pink, or blue

One day little Pete suddenly only wanted to wear blue. At first, I could trick him into believing that clothes of another colour actually were blue, but this is no more. He wants blue and he wants his little girlfriend to wear pink. So, I'm in for some big problems for the Swedish traditional Lucia festivals on daycare. All parents gather to see their kids dressed up as the saint Lucia, as St Claus (Coca-Cola style Santa, of course) or as a gingerbread man. None of these characters are of course blue. My hope right now lies in a red t-shirt with Spider man. For is there something he like to wear, it's something Spider mannish. I blessed H&M today for having red Spider man shirts so perhaps I can smuggle in a little blue/spider man crazy little guy alongside all the kids dressed up as saints.



Dog feeding

Yesterday we finally did it: we moved our sprint backlog to a system installation of our own product! Hurray! At last, some serious dog feeding.

Our system is really a case management system, so sprint backlogs are kind of outside our domain, but it works. You both see the things that work and those things that don't work in our daily situations. I'll just love then we've implemented the saved searches but what I do love is our full text search. So nice, for example when I just wanted to see which tasks I have completed.

Chicken show or showing the chickens?

A colleague of mine sent me this wonderful movie. It illustrates a common problem: a nice and seemingly very planned and rehearsed but it makes no sense at all. When giving a demo, the important thing is the viewer. What language does he speak, what is he interested in and what are his objectives. If your focus for the sprint demo is what you want to present, you're in for a real chicken show instead of showing the chickens the sprint increments.



Owen baked raindeer

Yesterday, we had a small party at home and one of the guests brought some nice reindeer steak, which resulted in a quite nice dinner:

1500 kg reindeer steak
100 grams butter
1 table spoon freshly ground pepper
1 table spoon freshly ground chyme
1 table spoon freshly ground roasted garlic
5 sliced garlic cloves
2 table spoons of sea salt
1 table spoon paprika powder
10 crushed juniper berries

  1. mix the butter with the spices
  2. cut a deep cut into the steak and pour the spice mix into the inner part of the steak
  3. saw the steak together (or bind it)
  4. you can also cover the outside with some of the spice mix
  5. place the steak in the middle of the oven for about 1,5 hours, 175C. The meat temperature should be 70C when it's done
  6. take out the steak and let it rest for half an hour
  7. cut the steak
  8. serve with some nice sauce and cooked potato.

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