Software is a knowledge storage medium

Key takeaways from [ Presentation: “ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards” Track: When the Agile Manifesto isn’t enough  | Shmuel Gershon | GOTO 2013]. Special mention for the best hand-made/home-made slides – get them here.

Software is a knowledge storage medium 

Think about it – where do you have your know-how, your calendar, your to-do list, google it… IT is the digital tool we use to store our knowledge, to enable us to do the things we want to do. Shmuel has a great historic overview over the evolution of places to store knowledge. IT and software as of now has among other things the ability to be updated fast, to tell about the intention of the solution, the ability to self-modify and change the outside world directly. 

We can start using the word knowledge more:

Value is often to learn something new

tractor

To scale even agile needs governance

Key takeaways from [ “Why Agile doesn’t scale, and what you can do about it” | Dan north (@tastapod) | GOTO Aarhus 2013 ] If you want the full version see his full slide deck here.

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Being agile is about getting something out the door – it’s very good in doing SHIP IT – Tweak it – think it build it. Wax on – wax off. Being agile is about people and tools  and is a great approach for problems that allows to be solved with these borders.

The challenge is in the more complex  domains with a bigger solution, a bigger problem, a bigger program with many people, many dependencies, many teams. In these (NP?) problem domains other factors come into play: Governance, Customers, Money and the organization as a whole (see slides regarding Agile Adoption Patterns).

In the later contexts agile as a delivery model doesn’t scale without project governance and portfolio management to oversee and prioritize based on strategic returns on investment. Shipping any minimum viable product from time to time in a larger context requires more oversight on “are we nearly there?” “are we ensuring delivery?” “are we ensuring credibility?” .. are the many global teams going agile in each their direction?

The same goes for the testing efforts – agile scales to a certain point, and at that point the scrums, the state-models and so on are a part of the solution engine. It’s what’s tests something, but with size comes the need to know why we make the decisions we make – and  are we there yet?

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Disclaimer: GOTO Aarhus 2013 is sponsoring my attendance as a blogger.

Testing for coffee, testing for ǝnןɐʌ

We focus on both testing and the office coffee a lot and may be looking at its real value too little. If testing does not provide direct business value – as the office coffee does – how can we elaborate and talk about it as a value to the business?

Time: October 1st 2013  Cafe Stiften Banegårdspladsen 11, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark

If you attend #GOTO aarhus 2013 this will be a good time to continue discussing “ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards”http://gotocon.com/aarhus-2013/presentation/ǝnןɐʌ:%20Why%20we%20have%20it%20backwards

The first 25 participants gets

meetup

Meet the famous people

So there’s a conference in town, and you’re not going – but you want to say hi to some of the great people: speakers and attendees in real life. IT might be that you have read their book, it might be that you have read their blog, it might be that you follow them on twitter. It will probably be that you have never meet them in person before, but you have had contact with them at work or similarly.

So what to do

The last item wasn’t easy to achieve, since the conference company restricted the maneuverability of the speaker and reliable internet connections failed us both. Still we did manage to meet in real life and spend ten minutes in a morning coffee break chatting.

https://twitter.com/jlottosen/status/134564075853201408
CSC meet-up @jlottosen & @cflanagan at #jboye11, Aarhus (pic: @Louise_K_jansen). Would NVR happend without #SocialMedia

 

Disclaimer: GOTO Aarhus 2013 is sponsoring my attendance as a blogger.

Cost considerations for conferences

So we have identified the conferences that fit’s our business strategy and the people we aim to meet. So let’s look at costs:

  • Cost of attendance: Usually there is training, courses or workshops available. Consider them an optional add-on, but there just might be a great opportunity to get into a detailed topic. Coaching for Testers and Scrum Master training are some great offers in it self. For the comparison below I will look for 3-day conference only.
  • Flight: In comparing GOTO and OREDEV, I have made the assumption that I was living in Berlin, Germany. To rule out the advantage that GOTO have of being in my home town. OREDEV recommends landing in Copenhagen, while for most people outside Denmark probably would prefer Aarhus Airport, where connections are required. So it depends
  • Hotel I will recommend staying in the same hotel as the speakers and the conference, not only for the ease of getting ion touch and hanging out late, but also for the simple facts of local travel costs. A hotel away from the conference will cost taxies etc, and will easily eat up the savings on the hotel bill. Still if you have a specific town in place – work the numbers to see the differences.
  • How many days? For a 3 day conference I would probably do 4 nights: one day arrival  – 3 conference days – one day going back. For longer trips definitely the travel day in the end, for shorter trips I’d leave right after the last conference talk / session. I will always insist on arriving the day before the conference to settle in.
  • Transport from and to the airport I would compare to be approximately the same in both locations.
  • Consider other local travelling Will there be a need to make trips outside the conference location?
  • Cost of meals and drinks (outside hours) are probably the same on both conferences. Still if you have an invite for a special dinner, you might want to vector this in too.
  • Missed billed hours: Going to conferences means that your company earns less money in the short run, actually it’s a sunk cost. Not only for the conference total cost, but also for the hours that you cannot bill. Consider if you can add in billable hours or shorten the trip to make up for billed hours or similar deadlines.
Oredev GOTO
Conference pass €1537 €1895
Flight SFX-CPH €50 TXL-AAR €290
Hotel, 4 nights, near Conference Comfort Hotel €391 Scandic aarhus city €246
Transport to-from airport Same Same
Meals and drinks Same Same
Transport locally Same Same
Missing billede days Same Same
Cost €1978 €2431

Disclaimer: GOTO Aarhus 2013 is sponsoring my attendance as a blogger.

Align conference selection and business strategy

In most companies there is a budget to attend conferences, so we can work on how to apply the conference budget. But really if the company is true to the value of developing the company competences in software development and testing – you have to send people to the game changers (Lets Test, OreDev) and trend setters (Agile Testing Days, GOTO Aarhus).

EuroStar have some excellent templates for getting approval but for this exercise, let’s dig a little into the hard numbers. First up: align the conference attendance to the business goals and visions. I’ll pick some here as an example, and let me use them to compare  OreDev and GOTO. These are not as such testing conferences, but very useful as cases anyhow for these topics: 

  • Better solutions faster
  • Going mobile, Going Cloud
  • Build in Business Value

A simple little trick when browsing the conference session titles: try searching for words “value”, “business”, “agile”. As I expected Scott Barber is the only Oredev speaker with both “value” and “business” in his bio. And a search for “value” in Goto turned up nil, until I reread “ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards” :-).

But there may be other criteria – people for instance, cost and timing.

 OreDev 2013  GOTO aarhus 2013
“Better solutions faster”Testing, Agile, Process, Delivery
  • Tracking and Improving Software Quality with Sonar
  • Curiosity killed the cat, but what kills curiosity?

  • The Beauty of Minimizing Effort
  • Adopting Continuous Delivery

  • Balancing ATDD, GUI Automation and Exploratory Testing
  • Refactor your specs!

  • Symbiotic relationships between testing and analytics
  •  
 Track: When the Agile Manifesto isn’t enough (5)Track: Lean IT Enterprise (2)

  • Why Agile doesn’t scale, and what you can do about it
  • Do’s and don’ts for Distributed Scrum
  • ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards
  • JS Unit Testing Good Practices and Horrible Mistakes
 Going mobile, Going Cloudmobile, cloud
  • Track: Mobile (16)
  • Track: Cloud (10)
  •  Track modern OS: 5
  • OpenShift Primer – Cloud development has never been easier
  • Continuous Deployment and Automation on Distributed Cloud Environments
  • Windows Azure Mobile Services
  • What’s next for Mobile?
  • Developing Java Applications for the Cloud, present and future
  • Run your Java code on Cloud Foundry
 Build in business valuebusiness, value
  •  Value driven development
  • Are Agile values universal?
  • ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards


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Disclaimer: GOTO Aarhus 2013 is sponsoring my attendance as a blogger.

Who is on your conference conferring card

Conferences are for conferring – and meeting people. Looking at the coming fall season of conferences – whom of the speakers will be on your dance card for a chat. There are two columns for each conference:

  • What speakers have you previously met, so that they know you?
  • What speakers have you had contact with on twitter & blogs, so that they know you?

The list with a good portion of wish-full thinking and pixi dust, currently at 2 confirmed participation in the below conferences.

 

 Who have your met?

 Who will you meet IRL?

 Star West,October 2013
  • Rob Sabourin
  • Paul Holland
  • Scott Barber
  • Dorothy graham
  • Johanna Rothman

  • Dawn Haynes
  • Pradeep Soundararajan

  • Griffin Jones
  • Jon Bach
  • Julie gardiner
  • Geoff hoerne
  • Lee coupland
  • Karen N Johnson
  • Alan Page
  • Michael Kelly
  • Matt heusser
  • Christin Wiedemann,
 GOTO Aarhus, October 2013Going – yearh!
  • Aino Vonge Corry
  • Shmuel Gershon

  • Karsten Telling
  • Martin Brynskov

  • Dan North
  • Mads Troels Hansen
 Agile Testing Days, October 2013Going – yearh!
  • Markus Gärtner
  • Meike Mertsch
  • Huib Schoots
  • Jean-Paul Varwijk
  • James Lyndsay
    • Dan North
  • Lisa Crispin
  • Janet Gregory

  • Peter Walen
  • Matt Heusser

  • Adam Knight
 Oredev, November 2013
  • Julian Harty
  • Michael Bolton

  • Scott barber
  • Ann-Marie Charrett
  • Michael Larsen
 EuroStar, November 2013
  • James Lyndsay
  • James Bach
  • James Christie
  • Pradeep Soundararajan
  • Michael Bolton
  • Paul Holland
  • Johan Jonasson
  • Huib Schoots
  • Johan Åtting
  • Jean-Paul Varwijk
  • Carsten Feilberg
  • Rob Lambert
  • Fiona Charles
  • Zeger van Hese
  • Morten Hougaard
  • Andy Glover
  • Paul Gerrard
  • Anne-Marie Charrett
  • Keith Klain
  • Anna Baik
  • Amy Phillips
  • Stuart Reid
Charlie Brown Dance Card
as seen on http://candychang.com/christmas2/

Disclaimer: GOTO Aarhus 2013 is sponsoring my attendance as a blogger.

A great day in a long time

  • Running Club with the Half-Marathon Team (Stats by Endomondo)
    • Personal record: 3 km in 16m:05s
    • Personal record: 5 km in 27m:05s
    • Personal second largest distance: 6,96 km
    • Average speed: 5:29 min/km
    • Tuesday I did 8.10 km in 48m:00s (average: 5:56 min/km)
  • Won the GOTO aarhus Twitter contest: a LEGO mindstorm NXT 2 set #8547
  • Completed the first week of Microeconomics Principles – A Coursera Signature Track
  • Did a minimum viable job application 
    • It was shipped by hand to the company
    • It mentioned digital solutions
    • called a contact to let him pass the word too 😉

2013-08-20 14.55.29

  • Handed in a follow-up on an unsolicited job application
  • Still felt high over the twitter blast about #CAST2013
  • Called the fiber company for an offer 100/100
  • Called in well, to end 2 weeks bad bluez
  • Balanced the bank accounts
  • Got an appointment for physiotherapy
  • Got an appointment for a haircut
  • Had cake, had a free sandwich .. and a large coffee (black)
  • Figured out how to access the PowerjobMidt LinkedIn Company profile.
  • Figured out where to edit links buried deep down in a WordPress php editor file
  • Figured out how to feature articles using an odd content feature plugin for WordPress
  • Shopped for candy on the way home, gasoline and groceries – and strawberry

It’s not the lesson – it’s the learning

It is not the GOTO talk on “Embedded Systems – Embodied Agents, Robot Programming in Java for the LEGO NXT Mindstorms” or the LEGO Lab, University of Aarhus class that’s important. Neither is the GOTO talk “What is Value” important in it self – the key lesson is in what you learn and bring home.

The students in the LEGO lab (at my alma mater 🙂 will try out the LEGO Mindstorms NXT series to learn about robots. First the industrial ones, that have a deterministic program, secondly about self-controlling agents. Compare it to the difference between an industrial robot in and assembly line – and a toy seal for psychological care treatments for trauma patients: One is sequenced and in a known environment , and the other reactive and don’t know the environment in advance. Reminds me of routinized and bespoke activities,  Testing AND Checking left and right side of the brainComputer Science students in this course struggle to control the robot environment, but quickly learn that the real world is not ideal. They have to test and experiment, calibrate and think outside the LEGO box.

Similarly JEZ HUMBLE, talked about “What is value?“. A huge whiteboard of prioritized and estimated SCRUM tasks is not customer value in itself – it’s a tool to discuss the value for the client/Product Owner/Sponser/ the-guy-paying-for-it. Awesome is value. To get awesome – set a business model hypothesis and test it. Make the smallest viable product (When “minimal viable product” doesn’t work, the story of apple). But remember they are people too – even oracles can be wrong, and set up a measurement that will be counterproductive. Management only focus on “cost” because it’s easier to measure – test the business idea and what you care about: delivering valuable software solutions.

It’s not the talk, it’s the learning.

It’s not the CS class, it’s the experience.

It’s not the test, it’s the idea.

See also: , dealing with uncertainty

 

[Disclaimer: I had press access to GOTO-Arhus2012 on behalf on GOTOCON]

Get moving

After Linda Risings talk on “Problem-solving and Decision-making in Software Development” I had the opportunity to talk to her on her key messages of today’s GOTO training.

MOVE – Humans are not meant to sit still, we need to get up, walk, run, stand. Some companies have thread mill desks! Pilgrim walks are the talk of the town – and instead of having a 1-1 meeting – try walking. A walk after a family dinner is good for both health and social chit-chat. The same is true at work – talk a walk, MOVE!

“Get moving or someone else will move you – especially at work”, was  another topic we discussed. If your job is not making you happy, if the agile and innovative practices are being cut. BE BRAVE and boost your competencies. In these days you can either go with the downwind of companies cutting the wrong costs or go with the upwind of places that walk-the-talk.

See also: If In Doubt – Learn!Eating wicked problems for breakfastInnovation is about the unknown – deal with itSoftwaretesting is only dead, if it stands still

[Disclaimer: I had press access to GOTO-Arhus2012 on behalf on GOTOCON]