A collection of thoughts, ideas and rants inspired by my career as a tech consultant in the finance industry.

Good Support

I recently had an unexpectedly great support experience from a company that one does not usually associate with excellent customer support: Microsoft. I had been running Windows 10 as a VirtualBox VM on my Linux laptop for quite some time. I needed Windows for a few things like my accounting software (Quickbooks) and remote access to the office but the setup wasn’t working as cleanly as I’d like, particularly around support for external devices like my Garmin Forerunner GPS watch so I decided to switch to a dual boot. [Read More]

Clean Tea - Part II

This is a continuation of my post about clean tea, except this time I analysed the offerings from Teavana┬« (a Starbucks company). Teavana┬« by the numbers: 101 teas (excluding kits and samplers) 70 contain sugar and/or flavourings 31 caffeine-free 4 had no ingredients listed So I filtered the list to only show teas with: No caffeine No sugar No flavourings Only one tea on the Teavana┬« menu passes my filter for what I would consider to be “clean”. [Read More]

Clean Tea

I recently weaned myself off coffee. My daily intake levels were well above normal levels, as was my tolerance. The only thing it was doing for me was preventing me from getting a good night’s sleep. So I decided to quit. I spent two weeks cutting back, and then went cold turkey over the Labour Day weekend. I’m now sleeping much better, and no longer need that morning jolt to get me going. [Read More]

The Immutable Laws of Marketing

This is a quick cheat sheet taken from a great little book called “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” by Al Ries & Jack Trout. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in marketing … even developers! The Law of Leadership It’s better to be first than it is to be better. The Law of the Category If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in. [Read More]

Hubot and HipChat

Configuring Hubot to work with a self-hosted HipChat server took a bit of tweaking, so here’s a quickstart guide based on what I discovered along the way. First of all, follow Atlassian’s guide to create a copy of Hubot. This will download the source code including the HipChat adapter. $ npm install -g yo generator-hubot $ mkdir myhubot $ cd myhubot $ yo hubot --adapter hipchat Answer the questions, and you’ve got a basic bot config [Read More]

Keep Everything in Source Control

Me: Why is this report different to the one in production? SysAdmin: Dunno. I guess they must have fixed it production and forgot to check it back into source control. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had that conversation I’d be a rich man. It is usually the result of some late-night troubleshooting and finally the system is working as expected and everyone goes to bed. [Read More]

Successful teams

There’s nothing that beats the feeling of being part of an exceptional team and yet it is strangely difficult to define exactly what makes one team great and another team not-so-great. Google recently set out to learn how to build the perfect team and came up with some interesting, albeit previously discovered, answers. To summarize their findings, Google’s Project Aristotle concluded that on good teams: All team members spoke roughly the same amount, and Team members were empathetic towards each other Harvard Business School’s professor Amy Edmondson described this as “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up”. [Read More]

On Agile Transformations

I’ve been pushing large enterprises to adopt agile development practices for years so I was very excited when I began seeing many of them embarking upon ambitious Agile Transformation projects where they attempt to not only change the way they build software, but completely revolutionise the entire IT process from inception, finance, HR, delivery and operations. But they rarely discuss culture. “Culture” in this context is used to broadly describe how people behave in the company. [Read More]

Back To XP

Agile has gained a lot of traction in large enterprises in recent years but I’m concerned about the specifics of how teams are implementing it. I’ve seen everything from traditional eXtreme Programming (XP) practices to Scrum, but nothing scares me more than the teams that self-identify as “agile” but do nothing more than hold a daily team meeting. Agile means different things to different people, but it doesn’t matter which methodology is used as long as the principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto are adhered to. [Read More]
agile  xp  testing 

Broken Build

I have used automated build tools on all my projects since 2000. Back then it was CruiseControl in all its XML-configuration glory. Today it is usually Jenkins, or sometimes TeamCity, and I recently tried out ThoughtWorks Go. The user interfaces have generally improved over time, and now there is probably a “plugin for that” thing you used to script manually, but overall not much has changed in the last 15 years. [Read More]