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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Only build products you would *NEED* to buy!

This may be the reason why so many people love Apple. This thing is that those that build Apple products love the products they build! If it happens to be a failure? So what? Let's build another one that will not be a failure.

Steve Jobs clearly has an influence on this culture because he did the same at Pixar!

So, in summary: the only way to build great products is to get the people that build them to be excited about the product (truly excited, not "corporatese" excited).

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at 22:46 | 0 comments
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Why learning is important (or why you should attend Scan-Agile '08). The story of grandpa Tony and grandpa Francis

I've come to realize lately that today's ability to learn is similar to last centuries ability to read. Confused?

Let me tell you a story.
One of my grandfathers (let's call him grandpa Francis) knew how to read, he was able to keep up with the latest developments in agriculture and even read the weather forecast in the newspaper -- a serious advantage in his time (early 20th century) over most people that depended on agriculture. My other grandfather (let's call him grandpa Tony) did not know how to read. Grandpa Tony could not keep up with latest advances except by word of mouth or (very much later on) by listening to the radio (and TV, even later).

Both grandpa Tony and grandpa Francis worked the land. They planted so they could collect and feed their families. What they could produce more (surplus) they could sell and buy other items such as  lighting oil, clothes and other ingredients they did not cultivate.

For them, yield and surplus were the name of the game. If they could collect more than they would consume they would become (so to speak) richer. Hence the importance of selecting the best plant breeds (such as potatoes, wheat, carrots, apples, etc. -- whatever grew in their climate).

Grandpa Francis was able to rent a farm and have therefore have access to better land, which in turn lead him to be able to have even more surplus. Grandpa Tony was not able to do so. They were both strong and hard-working men, both of them religious, both of them "good men" as they would say in those times. Both of them had a female first child and a male in the second birth -- an important economical factor in those times when work demanded hands and bodies. The only real difference was that grandpa Tony could not read, and grandpa Francis could.

Grandpa Francis would consult the farmers almanac for tips and hints of the latest developments. He was then able to choose the right plants to plant based on the most resistant and yielding seeds and was able to treat for certain diseases by learning about it from reading. Grandpa Tony had to rely on word of mouth and self-experimentation (not easy when you need to feed the family).

Grandpa Francis was able to rent a farm, to have a large(r) house and a larger family (more children = more wealth as families stuck together for long in those days).
Grandpa Tony did pretty well with his hard work and wild adventures (which should perhaps be a subject for another story), but -- critically -- grandpa Tony did not do as well as he could have done, had he known how to read.

What does this have to do with software? Good question, but there is a link. Today's factor in differentiating people's success in life is not reading, but something related: "wanting to read" or being able to learn.

Many people today go through their lives without reading so much as one book per year. That in effect prevents them from accessing knowledge that could transform their lives.

Agile Finland ry, we are trying to combat that lack of learning by creating opportunities for learning, this year we are putting together the Scandinavian-Agile '08 conference. In this conference you will have the opportunity, not only to learn from the top-notch speakers, but also to network with like minded people and learn from their experiences also.

I'd say that this is an opportunity you should not miss!

Check out our web-site, and register ASAP. We expect a full house and seats are already flying!

Come and learn!

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at 15:48 | 0 comments
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Monday, August 11, 2008

Belief without proof is dangerous!

Believing in some far-fetched (or indeed any) explanation without having any proof is dangerous. It is dangerous in the case of the
flat-earthers and it is dangerous for project leaders and team members.

Whenever a theory emerges why something works (or doesn't) in your project/company, it is your duty to either prove it right or wrong.

Oh, and by the way: yes, it is indeed true that there are still people who believe the earth is flat!

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at 10:03 | 2 comments
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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Great description of Agile planning sessions

Lasse has written a great post on estimation using the Story Point concept and the Planning poker practice.
Some time ago I also wrote a post on how to make these Planning Poker sessions timeboxed but still effective. If you are interested in estimation and planning in Agile Software Development these posts are worth a read.

Got some more posts, papers or articles about agile estimation and planning? Link them below!

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at 14:14 | 0 comments
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Why Apple should watch out or lose it's newly acquired customers

Apple had a considerable amount of credibility when they started they iPod "offensive" some years ago. So much credibility that people were willing to overlook critical customer-back stabbing such as the iTunes being
DRM ridden, the iTV (ooops, apple TV) being more expensive in Europe even if there's no content for it at all in most countries (seriously!) or even the latest MobileMe quality problems, not to mention the least than honest statement by Apple about the "push" feature in MobileMe.

Now, they've stooped to a new low. They have started outright lying (or "hiding the details" if you listen to PR).

Apple, come on! We love your products, but there's only so much back-stabbing we can take! Get your act together and start honoring your promises of creating great products for those of us that have a "digital life". Seriously, our patience is running out...

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at 14:05 | 5 comments
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The value Black Swan (or the killer improvement in software development)

Thinking back to how we value our work, we must recognize that, in software, quantity is not value!

The number of things we do in a sprint
does not vary too much, we can consider it a Gaussian (assuming correct and consistent measurement) -- or in Black Swan (TBS) parlance: velocity is a variable from Mediocristan. However, the value of each item does not follow a Gaussian -- in Black Swan parlance value per item is a variable from Extremistan. It is conceivable to think that we can have one item that accounts for 90% of the value we deliver, in fact that is most often the case, but even knowing this we may underestimate (or lack understanding of) the real extreme value of an item.

What does that mean in practice? How does this affect our planning or item selection? Can we in anyway predict the value? (not, according to TBS).... The payoff of a "large value" item would however be much bigger! (altavista vs Google)

In my view, given the current knowledge I have of the software development process/world, I'd say that this assertion means that the most value in a software development process can be obtained by concentrating on selecting those extreme value items that can make the software a success. Current science and practice on this, however, seems to lack any repeatability or reliability when it comes to reliably selecting the "killer" features... Do you have any links to papers/articles about value focus in the requirements selection process? link them up in the comments section.

PS: if you don't know what a Black Swan is, you better read this, or the book.

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at 13:15 | 0 comments
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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Windows Vista as secure as planned, not much... (or Plans don't work, working code rules!)

One of the fundamental problems with Security is that if you change something in your code (anything) you are increasing the risk of a security vulnerability being created and later found.

Now, if you consider that, and know what Microsoft
changed a lot of code in Windows Vista before releasing it, it's clear that something like this was about to happen!

In Security, the more exposed you are, and the less you change the more likely you are to stay safe. If you don't expose your code (like Linux does) and on top of it go around changing it and it's architecture you are asking for trouble.

Nice going MS! When can we expect for a new version of Vista with this fixed?

PS: time to change back to XP dady-o!

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at 13:10 | 0 comments
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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The new skill paradigm

In the past we hired managers because they could "keep the people under control" and they could "get things done no matter what".
Although the first one is clearly in contrast with the self-organizing nature of Agile, some people still believe the second one... Well, I propose that the most important skill for managers today (in Agile software development environments) is "creating and growing a team".

That is the basis for success in the highly complex, changing and fast-paced world of software today.

I'd even go as far as to say that, if a manager cannot motivate a team (morale), select for the right mix of skills and personalities (coherence and complementarity) and make them work together and independently of their job titles (cooperation) then I'd suggest you make that manager go through the proper training, as otherwise he will only be removing value form the software development process.

The new skill for the Agile managers is "making teams happen"!

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at 22:41 | 0 comments
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Monday, August 04, 2008

Spreading the happy flu, an experiment to study epidemics (meme-style)

In the interest of science (studying epidemics dynamics) I'm posting this "spread the happy flu" post.

I got the happy flu from
Henrik MÃ¥rtensson.

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at 09:21 | 0 comments
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