Nothing to Report Here

Cold, Grey, and Snowy parking lot.

Beautiful early April spring morning in Minnesota.

One of the primary messages in the writing class I signed up for is to write often. A lot. Write even more than you might think you should.

This is hard for me on some levels. It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing. I want to write a lot. I often have half-formed ideas of things to share. I’ve been getting little flashes of inspiration from time to time. Usually this happens when I have no easy way to take notes on the inspiration. I should try to remedy this by always having a way to take notes. When I actually have time and means to try writing, nothing. The inspirations I had before are no more. I feel like if I write more I’ll have more to write about. The problem is that I have trouble writing when I have nothing to write about. It’s a feedback loop really.

What I need to do is use this space to write, even when I don’t feel as if what I have to share is worthwhile. The problem with this is that some of what I have to write is interesting and/or useful to some people. I fear those posts would get lost in the noise. Seriously, imagine it takes a year to get to where I write mostly useful/interesting stuff. How many people would stick around that long? The months of noise would cause people to tune out, and when the proverbial music appeared later it would go unheard.

Maybe I’ll have a standard opening line letting people know that a given post didn’t really feel like it was worth sharing. When the line is there people would know that I really don’t care if anyone reads the post. When the line is missing it’s a post I feel might be interesting or valuable to others in some way.

Spinning Blade of Correction

I have seen the future. In it the snow doth recede.
According to prophecy when the snow doth recede there shall be grass beneath.
And this grass shall grow. And it shall not be good.

We must prevent this grass from attaining great heights. We must stop it mere inches from the ground. We must correct it when it tries to rise past the station we have designated for it. This duty was mine. Now, should you prove worthy, it is yours.

To accomplish this feat I offer you the Spinning Blade of Correction.

This is a good blade. It has served me well for 6 years.
It spins fast, powered by explosions up to 190cc.
It has large wheels in the back with five corrective height settings.
It corrects the grass 22″ at a time. It can collect the pieces in an attached bag, spit them off to the side, or (my favorite) mince them and let them lay next to their brethren as a warning.
It starts with a pull, sometimes two. It also has a key which draws on arcane reserves, but the mystical cord of reserve filling has long been broken. A new cord should refill the power of the key.
It pulls itself forward when taken firmly by the handle. It is easy to tame as selectively releasing part of the handle preserves the spinning while removing the forward pull.
The inside can easily be cleansed of the clingy grass pieces via a magical water portal in the outer shell.
We have writings that came with the Spinning Blade of Correction and tell many of it’s secrets.

Continue reading

For a Moment

Tracking down show-stopping bugs in unfamiliar code is always fun.

Actually, it’s not. So I take breaks between attempts. This time I looked out the window and saw gently falling snow.

EvergreenTreesThe flakes look soft and fluffy. The evergreen in the parking lot across the street has a picturesque coating of white. I can imagine a quiet stillness outside. Sounds normally close and loud instead seem distant and muffled.

I step outside and am greeted by the chilled air. My jacket is still upstairs and unneeded in the mild weather. The cloud cover has muted the sun, precluding the need for shades. The normal sounds of the light industrial district I work in are missing. The nearby highway is silent. I see a car in my peripheral vision before I hear it. It glides past nearly silent. Standing there I close my eyes for just a moment.

For a moment the bitter cold of the last three months hasn’t happened. The returning critters are silent. The demands of the office faded. The craziness of a fast sale and pending close forgotten. The need for a place to go and a means to get there unimportant. For a moment.

Silence is Golden

I don’t really feel that way. I have trouble with silence.

In an office setting this can be tough. Why? I also have trouble with blocking out the world. I need speakers loud enough for me to hear but quiet enough to not disturb others. Alternatively I need headphones that don’t block out what little noise is around while allowing me to hear clearly.

At home this translates to either a radio or TV on all the time. With no radio on the main level I actually make use of the digital music stations on cable often.

There is, of course, one more thing about this. Heather likes silence. She would prefer the radio background noise was non-existent. I think she has been more or less OK with most of the background music I put into place during the day. On the weekends I wait as long as I can in the morning before I put it on. In the car? Well, she’s never needed me to completely cut it all out.

This random thought brought to you by me needing to write more. Normally I would try to make something that had more of a conclusion or point, but a headache is starting and I want to force myself to put stuff online.

Gideon wanted to take a turn.

As I was writing the latest blog post for OurAgileJourney Gideon decided that he really wanted a turn typing, so here is what he did (I removed extra paragraph breaks and helped spell his friends name, but not his sisters, she helped with that.):

tiuikyghfjhgngkjgkthmgh,gh gthkgmnnnbbnnnnnbbbbfcnhgbggjgggtrhggggggghhhhhhruryhgiuiuiuruyyyyuyyyyttthgkihtiumjrhthurthu5t4tuhgugt4ruruyrh87ewyweiruys7r648we7ew87rwetwe6323e74rtyuhjy8r74ertyrtyvtnbtbvgvtrgfdgfydgsdydbfhfnfbduerygewuewuewu4refsr7hfhudhugthguguf8tuguutttttt711111111dye4tg7t7u4t5rvugrgjfufeuehefhurerf8rhiutr8grttggtgg

jufjgtjguhtiudefuhureruert7rtryt5r7eurrehghcfdghdfjjdfhgnj  hjycgugfujfhefhfehhfdklfijotheriiundgiuggiugdrttitgngjjdjvnfnghbmvhfdhbgvfjcdfduhbghrgtuierukfrhgdhrjyhditrgfdjhgfdfjurhfhufhfudfy8rgut8tyrfurysyurgfurrudyf8yfhyghgfhjigfjjbfbjfbjgbjfjgtjbmfvu gtfhjktjgdkgckgiohkjgk  gfjjgbgfkmlgjtygidnmgbnjthbgfuigdturjhgturbg fg  gyfdfrgygyuyyeryrytryrtydyeyeyyerye4ry7r4eyr4e67ufer7htgrd,dgfvdjgerhebfuedfhsufehuyruydchrrfnerjgfhfhfghfghuf fbfbdfhfdrehjyudfhjrgrgtjruytvnjgbjfbjbj;g,lkhnkhglhlthlhyklthkhyk         gjrjurhreiukurgtij9ruiriruturhgudgugyyuudfdhuuyrturduruguguufurdududf7fyrrterser7rw67  bb        75yuthuigfurgfhrgiutgigtiuufudhufhuiugurhurhurtiutug

 

gkghkggkkgkgt4kltyyoioiotitiy6iiit5ru5ouriti56tkjgkgtrgghdhdrjfshjehdhufrjuffdudjrtfhfredrywu4hgf8qefhfehryuryfhfghfhhfjfbghfhdfshhfuhbddsbhsdedfjigfkifrgriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggttttttttttttttttttt

 

ddhshshsbhxbssssshg0fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff000ffs0g0wgwg0wgh0qdwg0x67w0r6t7duqdhadguewudch87upofvklfgkffvgroooooeyeiudfhbernu54turjmdkgioy88y6ij,ltggbjfdfjruxggfggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhetfhutrtywtrytutjutuotiuthtiurtrurutt89

 

ceciliaa

 

gideon  henry      fhjnbjnh ngbj fmgbvukr4tghbi5ti4trfofkgbgtjbghjffvjvv ufbjewrnghtrgjrriug3iitutuyuytr67t8rt8ttut7t8rtter75543563373312g3gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg3673ry7thn74runthnurgrgufyggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg

gideon

 

Free-Writing. Thinking. Idea Fishing.

The assignment is to write take something previously written and change it so it speaks directly to another person. The main problem here is that I don’t have the backlog of writing that I should. Even if I include sources outside of OurAgileJourney I don’t have enough. I used an idea I’ve had in my head a long time for the last assignment and don’t really have more for it yet. So I need something new for this one. I’m kind of free-writing right now, trying to get started. I guess that might not have been apparent. Even less apparent might be the whole “The assignment…” bit. I mean, I have my degree, what the heck am I talking about?

I’m not 100% sure where my future lies professionally. Since I was in Junior High I’ve had visions of rising to a C-Level position in a large company from an IT related track. Essentially becoming a CIO or CTO in the future. I still think that would be fun and that I would do well. Thing is, I’ve had other ideas lately too. The foremost is becoming an independent trainer and author.

Specifically I would do things such as teach a group of future Agile Coaches for an organization before helping them implement Agile. I would have industry approved classes that I could also teach. (Think PDUs or similar.) I would have a book or two along the lines of the classes and perhaps coursework developed that others used to teach. Maybe, just maybe I’d even have a series of fiction novels in there somewhere. I would move among companies helping them improve and gaining knowledge. This would allow me to update classes and create new books over time as I learned more. I would be able to put at least as much into the Agile community as I’ve been able to learn from it.

None of that really helps here and now though. I need a topic that touches someone. Something personal. It has to be about passion, and not about me. I like to also use the assignments as a way to feed into my blog. This can be difficult as Agile Project Management, while a huge topic, is not something that touches a lot of people. I also want to make sure that I don’t cover something in weeks that are too close together. Perhaps there is something I can get together though. Maybe there is a way I can write to someone who might be reading my blog. Well, someone who may someday read through the archives of my blog anyhow. (There really isn’t a readership per se yet…)

Yeah, I think I have something now. It’ll build off of a previous post.

Thanks for sticking around this far. It has been a so-far rare look into some part of how some of my post topics can be borne. A little piece of my current writing process as it were.

Oh, you wanted to know more about the post I finally decided to make? The piece I’m writing that is “to someone?” Well, I guess check back next Tuesday at OurAgileJourney.com!

 

Adams Newest Project

I have started a new blog which has a decent chance of growing. It is actually not the blog topic and title I thought I would be starting, but it is the one I feel ready to do. The primary audience is Agilists, project managers, software developers, and leaders in roughly that order.

As my previous post indicated I have undertaken a move to change my career trajectory from one of a developer/architect to one of a project manager. With a technology and software background it became easy to see that the right path was via Agile methods. General agile feels like it is at a tipping point now, and the right time to get into the certification is before it tips over. I think it will tip over in a good way, getting harder to achieve and being worth more to the industry.

This is in contrast to what appears to have happened to the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification. It seems to have tipped the other direction. It became known as a bit of a rubber stamp certification. Simply spending money on a class resulted in the certification. The classes had little oversight and ranged from very good to barely worthwhile. In its defense The Scrum Alliance is working hard to reverse this perception and has been making it a harder certification to get in the last few years.

All of this is really just my musings on why I choose this certification path. The new blog is going to be much more. I am writing about implementing agile in the company I work for. I am writing about what agile is and why it matters. I will do book reviews. I will do course reviews. I hope to build a community of Agilists and those interested in what Agile can do for them. I am constantly learning and improving my knowledge base while building experience. The new blog is my outlet for that, and hopefully becomes a place others feed into as well.

You can see it over at OurAgileJourney.com. I have also set it up on Twitter and Facebook.

Introduction to the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner

I have been studying for this exam recently. I’ll be taking it within the next two weeks. Since it is a professional development experience that work is reimbursing for one of the things I can do for work is to share what I’ve learned through the class I took. Obviously I plan to get more involved with project management at work, but my manager wanted something more direct. Since I am also a toastmasters member I decided to write a speech that I would then present to the team. I have since decided that the presentation to the team will likely be more free-form, but the speech helped me frame an outline. I am now sharing the speech here, slightly modified since I delivered it.

PMI-ACP Intro Speech.

Many of us have heard the terms Agile and Scrum. If you have a similar background to me then you have heard them largely as a way to build software in a team environment. Established in 2011, PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner certification looks beyond the confines of specific methodologies and past the boundaries of software projects and shows how they can benefit many types of projects while using any number of tools. I recently took an online course to prepare for the certification exam. While software development was the target for the majority of the course I took, there was an effort to point out that the methodology, and some specific tools and techniques, could apply to other types of projects.

The ACP certificate has roots in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. That manifesto was created on 2001 by a diverse and high-profile group of people in technology at the time. They came up with it based on their own experiences with the tools and techniques they had developed and were using. Many of those tools and techniques are considered Agile today. The Agile Manifesto consists of a statement of why, four values, and a closing statement as follows:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

 

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

 

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

The Agile Manifesto includes twelve principals of Agile Software which are not as large a part of the exam. They are relevant to a deeper understanding of Agile as they helped shape the final wording of the manifesto. I would encourage everyone here to look them up at AgileManifesto.Org when they have a chance.

Agile in and of itself is sometimes misunderstood to mean a specific way of working a project. In practice Agile is at a higher level of detail than that. Agile is a specific way to approach a project which has specific tools and techniques available for implementation. The Manifesto and Principles suggest a mindset for software development or project management. From that mindset we can then pick tools and techniques that support Agile while also fitting with our environment.

Another big confusion with Agile is that it lacks in planning. This is often a view held by people who have a lot of experience with classic project planning methods, such as Waterfall. In many classic planning methodologies the bulk of the planning work is up front, and after that change management practices are put in place to help prevent changes. For instance, as developers we have all probably heard of “Scope Creep” at one point or another. In a classic plan this is a big problem, with an Agile plan it is welcomed and manageable. This is due to Agile focusing on delivering the user value, not completing tasks. It acknowledges that what is known to be valuable changes over the course of a project. A good quick explanation of this difference is that classic project management is generally plan, plan, plan, work, work, work whereas Agile is generally plan, work, plan, work, plan, work.

This speaks directly to the basic Agile work structure which is highly cyclical in nature.

An agile software project will usually have a start where a high level view of the features to be built is set down. These features are ranked from day in an order of importance to the user. Minimum functionality is established, and milestones may include specific added functionality. These are generally where the big releases will be. Each release will provide value to the users in the form of completed features. The iterations that make up releases may also include completed value. An iteration does not mean there is no release for the user, just that it is not a Release. Features are broken down to the smallest level possible. They may be known as user stories or backlog items. No matter the name they should contain one specific feature/action that is valuable to the user. From these items tasks are created and estimated, again as small as possible. A difference here from classic project management to Agile is that the product owner is in charge of features and the development team is in charge of tasks. The project plan is continuously revisited with new features added and the rankings re-evaluated. This is because what was initially seen as important for the third release might be pushed back, pulled forward, or dropped entirely by the users as they start to actually use the product. At some point, either time or feature based, the project will close and switch to a maintenance mode.

There are many tools and techniques to help teams make this happen. Scrum and Extreme Programming are two methods with their own toolsets. Burn-Down charts and product backlog lists are tools common to many methods. Kanban uses a daily status board as a primary tool. There is nowhere near enough time to go over the possibilities. Suffice to say that it would be hard to not find some tools and techniques that work for any given team and environment.

We use some of the tools and techniques in our teams already. We do our work iteratively. We use daily status meetings. We allow the business to constantly provide input to the product. While we do not use any specific tool to its fullest we have, as most software development teams in the last decade, already taken on an Agile look and feel. A transition to full Agile might be less painful here than expected.

On our team specifically we are getting ready to launch a big project to upgrade the shipping application. It has not been directly identified as an agile project. That being said, it is shaping up already as a project with an agile flavor. As our team refines our process leading up to and during this project I hope to use what I’ve learned to help us deliver the most value to our users in the shortest time. I am also more than happy to share everything I’ve learned with the other teams in our group, working side by side with you if desired.

I know that was high-level and quick. I would like to take a moment to answer any questions anybody might have right now and remind you to feel free to contact any time for more information.

GJM Airlines Flight Success

So in March Gideon turned four.  We actually ended up with 3 different celebrations for his birthday.

The first was just a small one with the four of us on his actual birthday.  We had his favorite foods for dinner (MacNCheese, Hot Dogs, Raspberries, and Pineapple).  Then he opened some a couple gifts from us and a few cards/packages he had received from family out of state. He loved the camera we got him.  Now we just need to get Cecilia one and hope she doesn’t break his before we do that.  (I scored a great deal on a point and shoot for him.)

The second was the our “flight” on Sunday afternoon with family, family friends, and a couple of friends from school.  We went with his love of airplanes and had an airplane themed party.   I found a printable party pack at simonemadeit.com which I used for the invitations and a lot of the decorations.  We had a homemade ice cream cake in the shape of an airplane and did a couple of fun activities.  Overall I think it turned out well and he loved it.  Detailed pictures below.

Finally, we celebrated on Tuesday with my parents after they got in where he got a few more presents from them and a couple others I hadn’t gotten wrapped in time for the party on Sunday.

It was a fun week of celebrations and he seemed to like it all.

GJM Airline Flight Pictures

Runway

The Runway

FruitPlane

Fruit “Plane”Cups

The Cups

Cake3

Cake View 1Cake2

Cake View 2Cake

Cake View 3

DSC_0079

Cake View 4

Cake4

Airplane Magnet Craft

PartyHatParty Hat Craft

BaggageClaim

Party Favor Area

PartyFavorBag

Party Favor Bag

AirplaneFavor

Candy Plane Favor

 

Email has been working a little while now.

So I didn’t get the update right away, but that should be understandable what with the party over the weekend.

The new email server seems to let more spam through, but that could be a settings issue on my end.

Next on my list for here is to make an update or two about the PMI-ACP status I am currently pursuing. First though, I owe somebody a sql query and nee to figure out how to get it to them…