Andy Pols Geek, Entrepreneur

Some random thoughts...

Extreme Presentations

Chris Stevenson and I wondered how we could pair-present our experience report at XP2004. It seems appropriate that you pair on a XP presentation.

We are both very spontaneous and did not relish the idea of scripting the whole talk. If you don't do some planning there is a danger that one person does all the talking, or forgets some key points. It can get real messy!

Chris hit on the idea of using a chess-clock (swing app on a laptop) to control how long we get to talk! We each had a minute of talking before we tapped the clock and passed control over to the other speaker. If we went over a minute the clock went red.

It worked. We finished dead on time. Lots of people came up to us and said they enjoyed it. Extreme Presentations anyone? I feel a book coming on.

Agile Methods

Ron Jeffries posted the following (rather fab) summary of the various agile methods on the extreme programming news group... and I could not resist blogging them.

  • Go in that room there and do all 12 XP practices until you actually do know better. (XP)

  • Go in that room there, don't let anyone screw with you, work on whatever you think you can get done for a month. Keep doing that until everyone is happy. (Scrum)

  • Go in that room there, in peace love and understanding, ship software every month, and think about it. (Crystal Clear.)

Reviewing Conference Papers

Its been a busy couple of weeks for me as experience reports chair of ADC. We had 31 papers to review.

An interesting point for me, and worth blogging (Tim Mackinnon suggested I blog it) for anyone interested in submitting papers to future conferences, is how we decided on the final papers.

We tried to be as agile as we could (difficult as most reviewers live in different time zones). So we:

  • Only asked for an initial abstract to whet our appetite. There is no point wasting people's energy writing a full paper if they are going to be rejected.
  • Interviewed each submission in person, or on the phone so we could ask questions and explore the submission in more detail.
  • Paired on the reviews.
  • Had a conference call to tell each other what we liked and disliked.

The key aspect for me was using the Identify The Champion pattern for deciding on which papers to accept. This says someone has to advocate the paper for it to be accepted. To advocate, you have to be willing to shepherd the submission and make it happen. So when people said "we quite like this one, ...", I would say are you willing to advocate it? Most times the answer was no. It really helps focus the reviews and keeps the quality of the papers hight.

The end result is we have 16 really interesting papers.  Hope to see you at ADC!

Gas Bill Scandal

This made me smile today:

Commenting on a complaint from a Mr Arthur Purdey about a large gas bill, a spokesman for North West gas said, "We agree it was rather high for the time of year. It's possible Mr Purdey has been charged for the gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his house." (The Daily Telegraph)

HR and Pair Programming

Keith Braithwaite posted an interesting comment on the XTC wiki He asked about problems with HR and pair programming.

They have noticed that our XP developers all log on to the development workstations (which are reserved exclusively for pairing on development tasks) using the same ID. They find this unacceptable. Their preferred solution is for the "driver" to be logged in, and then log out to allow the "navigator" to log in each time the keyboard changes hands. We find this unacceptable, for obvious reasons.

Imagine having to log out everytime you switch keyboards? It amazes me the "problems" that people make for themselves.