Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter


The new open Microsoft?

What's the buzz about? That big corporate news, well, the Swedish press release they stated it was NOT about Yahoo. In reality, it is about openness. My god, New Microsoft Interoperability Principles Ensure Open Connections and Promote Data Portability, these are so many weird words at once that I almost fell asleep when I read it. But when I read it one word at the time I could almost make some sense into the sentence.

Is this the new, open Microsoft. A lot of text. A lot of promises. I hope, a lot of good news, which will come true. But I hope the openness also will affect the headline language of their press releases.



Why agile works

On Friday, it's the end of the sprint. And it's kind of relaxed. Or very relaxed. Almost everything on the list has been accomplished. And the list for the coming sprint has been updated all along so I and everyone else can see what is up for the next sprint.

Sickness then, well our scrum master is sick but since everyone knows the drill and the next sprint doesn't include any surprises, we miss him, but work goes on as usual.

Agile is not changing everything at a fast speed: it changing a little bit all the time, when it is needed and suitable. Any development team is in some way like an oil tank and even if you can change direction all the time, that is not a good idea. But changing a little bit and in due time works well.

Tomorrow, one of our most intelligent and critical and analytical customers is in for a visit. He will test the application and have some discussions concerning some ideas I have for some features we have in the current product, but which I don't believe meet the use cases very well. So, I'm a bit nervous: perhaps my ideas sucks too.


First exercise since collapsing...

Today I went down to the gym for a solo spinn on a spinning bike. The guy there looked at us and asked where we'd been. Haven't been there for a month, or six weeks to be precise.

Well inside one of the nice owners fetched a bike for me: the spinning room was in use. And then he asked if I wouldn't be interested in being a spinning leader during lunches. Well, I couldn't resist the challenge so two weeks from now I need to get my show together. I've selected the first day I can do real exercise as the first session. But there is no return. When I got back to work the owner had already put it on the schedule. So I've spent the evening selecting the music.

Since I'm a biking freak, I'm of course going to fit this in like a race. The best spinning instructor I've biked for had her little trip which she took her class on. Mine is sited in Italy, with two rather large inclines and a heavy finish sprint. I hope the eventual visitors survive. I hope I survive. It is now almost five weeks since my last run. Well, at least I'm not working this evening.



When tools are not as good as you think

Next week, we're migrating the last of our stuff to TFS 2008 and that also includes the product backlog and the sprint backlog.

We then decided to take a new look at our work item templates so they are really good after the migration. We took our old templates, compared with Conchango's Scrum template and cross checked with our Scrum literature. We're not quite there, but Monday, I hope we're up and running.

Well, back to the tools! Having edited the XML files which makes up the work item templates, we were tipped that the Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server Power Tools Work item template editor was really nice. I beg to differ. For example, there are no error handling on upload of templates. The command line tool we used for uploading files include error handling.

So what happened was that we used the power tools to try to upload a new work item type. Nothing happened. I mean nothing. We didn't see any messages that the command could not be completed. We could then see that it hadn't. How: well, we couldn't create a work item of that type since there was no such template on the server. Using the command line tool, we saw an error in our template which made an import impossible. Nice to know. We also could see where the error was. That is nice.

Another problem is the dialog boxes. If you want to edit something, say an attribute on a work item. You need to double click the item in a list. A dialog box is opened. And then if you then want to change something, say a work flow rule, you need to click a button and perhaps another one. The last time I saw such a UI was when I used the formula editor for nested formulas in Excel 97. If you think the nested dialog boxes for changing settings in Outlook is a UI horror story make true, this will give you nightmares. And the best is again the error handling. Because there is non. So if you for example create a work flow rule that is not supported, you can click OK as many times as you want. And the only way to see that the setting was not saved is selecting the attribute in a list and clicking View XML.

Well, I can see that I'm not alone in experiencing problems. For example: Mike's Blog.

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XP Game

Last weekend, we were on a company kick-off in Åre, in the north of Sweden. I didn't get to go nordic, I didn't get to go ice climbing, riding, and all that I'd hoped for when the event was booked. But it was still nice.

One of our problems is making the other teams understand the methodology of Scrum and our scrum master, fresh from a scrum master course with Crisp's Henrik Kniberg and Jeff Sutherland asked if we could do a XP game. I was very sceptical. Very. I thought we would go from the other teams not understanding us to the other teams finding us completely nuts. Well, I was wrong. The others loved it. So, if your company doesn't understand you: you might try this.

It takes some preparations and it takes about two hours to complete, but for us it was worth it. Any time. Now the other teams have their own images of what a product backlog is, or Business value. Or sprint planning!

Lucky for us, is a wonderful site where all the stuff is prepared. But fix all the stuff in advance, and don't try pulling this off on your own. Pair planning is a good thing.


Doing your best

What is your job description, what is your title? It should be everyone's job description to do one's best. That is the most important job description you need. No matter what you do. Then there's the issue of what your role is at your company/organization/what ever. The role I'm currently holding is Product Owner, and when I'm playing that role at work I should aim at doing the best I can meeting the needs to for fill that role. Giving and taking.

But, isn't Product Owner my job description? Well, no. It's just the role and the difference lies in the fact that my most important task is doing the best. And right now it is being PO on my project. When I returned from the hospital, doing my best was not playing the PO, since I wasn't updated, the sprint was on, etc etc. So, instead I took on other tasks. But I was still doing my best. Doing the best one can is making sure that nothing falls due to absence of an individual (if you're not working solo on your own project and in your own company. Doing your best is realizing your limits and concentrating on what gives the best results.

Ken Schwaber writes "on a team there are no titles", and I believe that is an important statement: no one claims tasks as their own. There are tasks that are associated with a role which might be hold by an individual at a specific time. But if that person is gone or unavailable, the role must be filled by someone else.

I'm following a documentary on Swedish Television. It follows a rather tragic project where one of the worst classes in Sweden is transformed into one of the best. In just half a year. The tools are good teachers. Doing their best and requiring the best from their students. I give my best and therefore I can expect the same from you. Tragic, why? well, the student's ordinary teachers are asked to describe their class, they all give them all the credits: they are smart, good, nice. Everything. And then one of the new teachers asks: but if that is true, why are their grades lousy? Doing your best is never covering things up: Ken Schwaber also writes that Scrum is never covering things up. Honesty is important to make people doing their best.

There are so many good companies and development teams out there and if you're not doing your best, be certain that another team is. And even if you have the best product in the world, that will change faster than you ever thought possible. Or as Lance Armstrong put it to a slacking biker on his team: Get on your f*cking bike, or I'll find someone else who does it.



Monday was pretty bad, painwise. I'm normally good at handling pain, but yesterday I felt that the never ending pain was getting at me.

So Tuesday, waking up with a pretty bad pain and a nice headache on top of that, I decided to take a max dose of my pain killers, which I dropped a couple of days ago, and just swallow the pride. Within thirty minutes I was for the first time in two months completely pain free. Previously painkillers had lessened the pain and morphine had made me not caring about the pain. But this was pain free.

The guys thought I was high but I just treasured that precious feeling. And the good news are that when the drugs wore off, the pain didn't return. So, this was probably the best day in months and it was amazing to see how it affected my stress level, my temper and my happiness. The dorky thing, though, is to be able to value pain free you have to experience pain. I'll just try to enjoy these few days when I still remember the pain and before I've started taking that feeling for granted.


New start for scrum

Today, we held a sprint planning meeting. Even if we´ve experimented with agile and agile concepts during the last year, we've at last decided on not trying to invent our own development process and instead going by the book.

That means that we're going to follow the following guidelines:
  1. There is only one product owner. No proxy stuff.
  2. The product owner takes responsibility for the product backlog
  3. Items on the product backlog up for implemented the coming three months has been estimated by team
  4. There is one scrum master. His primary objective is removing impediments
  5. Tasks on the sprint backlog are estimated during sprint planning meeting
  6. The sprint objective is set by product owner and the scrum team



Baking and eating

Baking has become something of a weekly habit but since i went to the hospital almost two weeks ago, there hasn't been any baking going on. But yesterday, peter started complaining. He wanted to bake with mommy. It's not that he's got a sweet tooth: he doesn't even taste it when we're done. He just like baking. The stuff ends up in the tummies of my colleagues instead... So Sunday I made some chocolately stuff which I hope the guys will like.

25 one serving forms

300 g 70 percent chocolate

100 g butter

1,5 dl suger

2 teaspoons of vanilla suger

0,5 teaspoon of baking soda

2 dl flour

3 eggs

Melt the chocolate and melted butter. Mix the eggs with the suger and the vanilla suger. Mix with the chocolate and the butter. Mix the flour with the baking soda and mix with the rest. Pour the stuff in ordinary once serving forms and bake in the oven (175 celsius) for 15 minutes.

Me minus gall bladder also means that I now can eat a lot of stuff that I haven't eaten for many years. Shrimps, etc. I was first very happy but it simply doesn't taste that good. I guess the longing for something is a stronger feeling than the satisfaction when the longing is met. Not even the shrimps were as good as I remembered them. But the nicest feeling of all is being able to go into a restaurant and simply ordering something from menu. Not picking the least bad thing and removing half and still get sick.



Day time TV

It's really gotten worse over the years. I don't know if it's me or the programs but i never seem to find anything to see on the tv.

Since me being off from work didn't work as well (getting sick at the release day of 1.0 of a one year project is probably not the best idea), i decided to spend at least Friday in front of the television.

Besides the programs from History channel and Discovery Channel that I've already seen, reruns from the eighies (didn't see that junk then, so why should I see that now), home shopping commercials and game shows, there is absolutely nothing to see. Reruns of tonight-shows with Letterman and the guys have never been something which has amused me but the screen writer's strike made those programs better, at least in my taste. Or perhaps i'm getting desperate.

What do makes me sad though, is thinking about all stay-at-home people who watches all that crap all day long. Perhaps liking it from the beginning, perhaps growing to like it over time. I don't think watching those programs improve those people watching.

Well, I ended up watching MTV for the first time in perhaps ten years. Suddenly one of the tracks on my IPOD sounded from the tv and the running ache just hit me. Five MORE weeks without the rush. I've been without coffee for two weeks and that has been just fine. But this. I turned off and went ahead sortering Peter's toys and clothes instead.

So, i've started googling about walking sticks. And if that is because of my longing for running or me turning stupid from being exposed to those horrible tv shows, i do not know. I do know I'm lousy at being sick anyway.

The third question of daily scrum

Of the three daily scrum meeting questions, you should probably address the last first. Do you have any blockers/impediments?

Why, well if you do have a blocker, how could you possibly know what you should do? And removing obsticles should be number one on the agenda.

Another problem with impediments is what to bring up? Is it only things that are really stopping me dead hault or should I also bring up stuff slowing me down? To keep daily scrum short, I believe that only addressing acute situations are necessary but you must not forget the other stuff too.

First at the sprint planning meetings, there should be a session where you can just address that stuff in the style can we do something go make things run more smoothly during this sprint. Of course something you bring up during a retrospective but if something is hindering the sprint, this is a good time just to give that a thought.

And daily, talking to that wonderful scrum master of yours can work miracles. If the scrum master is focused on forfilling the objectives of the team, anything to makes that easier should be appriciated.

A week with HTC Advantage

During the last week i've used the htc advantage a lot at home and i've grown to like it a lot. The only bad things are the angular between the screen and the keyboard not being suited for my semi upright position in bed and that the device is slightly to wide for my small hands. I know the latter complaint is due to me having silly small hands which makes me buying gloves at Children's department.

It's a bit on the heavy side but i think i could run with it in the rugsack without a problem but it's basicly a very good device for me having at home. Since I switched from TyTn to Touch I don't have a keyboard on my ordinary PDA. So, working on that is a strain. But they do complement one another, and I'm leaning at keeping this little device here at home...


Longing for runs...

Today it's been two weeks since my last run. It was hellish and after I'd finished at work, I knew that I was to sick to run. During these last weeks I've been glad to (in the following order)
  1. Lie down without crying from the pain
  2. Moving in bed without too much pain
  3. Walking around without too much pain
  4. Walking to daycare without pulling a sweat
And now, a week after removing the gall bladder, I want to run!!! I'm so ungrateful, looking at all those runners and feeling sorry for myself not being able to be out there. I should be happy that I'm recovering but I'm only longing for that first run in five weeks from now.


Who knows best?

Reading Mike Cohn's book on Agile Estimating and Planning all over, I can't help reflecting on how easy to simply do the wrong stuff. One of our customers in facility management said that of what an average technician did for the customers, 30% was something he shouldn't have done (mostly: while I'm already at it, I can as well do this too). The consequence: well, 30% of the stuff that needed to be done isn't. And the problem is that even if the extra is nice, the lack off the stuff not having been done is much more noticed.

I also believe this is a huge risk in software development. Mike Cohn describes it so well. We have a task which should take 4 hours. Three hours fun coding and one hour of boring documentation. The three hours of coding is up and the developer gets an idea of something "very very important". So he does that instead of the documentation for the final hour.

So, what is the problem: well he makes himself the product owner. He thinks that he knows best: that the extra coding is more important. Well, he doesn't think he thinks that, but that is really what the consequence is.