Andy Pols CTO, Entrepreneur

Some random thoughts...

Wonderful User Stories

I recently had the opportunity to help Rachel Davies run a class on User Stories (I was more the unglamorous assistant). The class produced some wonderful examples that we wanted to share. Rachel has blogged them. These are some of my favourites.

As a boy I want a big garden that can house a kennel so that my mum can buy me a dog.

As a teenage daughter, I would like my own bathroom so I don’t have to share with my younger brother (Kevin).

As Grandma, I want big windows to watch what is happening in the neighbourhood so that I can gossip.

As a dog, I want to live close to the park so I can go for walks and sticks to play with would be nice.


A Strange Number

I came across a very strange number today while writing some unit tests. Apparently Java thinks “10WTF?” is a perfectly valid number and does not throw a ParseException when you try converting the string to a number.

Here’s the unit test to prove it!

import junit.framework.TestCase;
import java.text.DecimalFormat;
import java.text.ParseException;

public class StrangeNumberTest extends TestCase {
    public void testWierdJavaNumber() throws ParseException {
        DecimalFormat format = new DecimalFormat("##,###.00");
        assertEquals("Amazing, but true",
                      (Long) format.parse("10WTF?"), 0);

Pairing for losers

I once had the pleasure of working on a team with Chris Stevenson. We had a ball. One thing I noticed was that he talked in keystrokes when you paired with him. He wouldn’t dream of saying, “let’s run all the tests and check in”, he would say “shift F10, Ctrl K”!

I must point out that Chris is not as geeky and dysfunctional as this may sound (in fact, he’s not dysfunctional at all :)). This was simply a great way to help you learn the keyboard shortcut keys and stop faffing with the mouse!

I have just found a fantastic Chris substitute. It’s an Intellij plugin called KeyPromoter that displays a big hint every time you use the mouse. It even prompts you to enter a shortcut key for things you do that don’t already have one.

So, if you're a loser who doesn't have anyone to code with ...

A picture paints a thousand rants

I wanted to vent about spring, iop, too much xml, framework hell… making testing difficult… Then I discovered this link.

A picture paints a thousand rants…

Innovation Games

At long last, Luke Hohmann’s book Innovation Games has arrived. I became hooked on Innovation Games when I read an early draft of Luke’s book. That seems so long ago!

A software group is best measured by its customers’ success. Understanding what they really need is critical, but customers are human too which means that they’re fallible.

Customers can’t always tell you what they want because sometimes they don’t know themselves, so asking them to rank requirements or write stories might not be the best place to start.

The book is a collection of games you can play with the customer to gain a better understanding of what they need. Although the book is really about product management (working out what product a customer wants), I think these games are useful for agile teams trying to get a better understanding of what their customer wants.

Steve Freeman and I ran a really success session at last year’s XP day on this very subject.