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Quote of the day   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Kent Beck posted this to the XP-mailinglist)

This from a lean manufacturing consultant:

Find the simple path to what works and follow it, always looking for a simpler path.

Patrick D. Smith

Big Requirements Up Front (BRUF)   25 Sep 04
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I really appreciate Georg Tuparev’s postings to the XP-ML.
 >Because it is important for the customer to have an idea of how much
 >> everything will cost ...

 In 99% of the times customer neither needs nor wants "everything"! One
 of the big dangers of BRUF is that it imposes the wrong feeling that
 "everything" is important. This is a major distraction that inevitably
 leads to scope-creep and eventually project failures. When we have the
 first meeting with a new customer we ask the following 3 questions:
 1. What is your biggest pain?
 2. If we solve this and only this pain, will your life get better?
 3. Are you willing to pay X amount of Euros to us to solve this pain.

 If any of these questions is answered with "no" we just thank for the
 coffee and walk away. If all 3 questions are answered with yes, we move
 to the first planning game...

 Put it in another way: I do believe it is extremely dishonest and
 incorrect behavior to conduct 9 months BRUF only to reach the
 conclusion that the customer does not have enough resources to
 continue. It is dishonest because as I wrote in an earlier posting,
 _all_ good developers I know are able to estimate almost immediately
 the scale of any software project without conducting BRUF.

Story cards are like poker   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Brad Appleton, XP-ML) How cool would it be actually to /use/ poker chips in the Planning Game? Interesting - I interpreted the above statement to be talking about having the planning game include both cards and chips (just like poker). The chips would correspond to story points, and would be attached to a story card with the appropriate number of chips. And when a story was "split" the corresponding chips would be split between the resulting new card(s).
  • The dealer gives the customer all the chips for this iteration
  • Then the customer "shuffles" the cards and lays them down
  • As each one is laid down, development uses a different color of chips and places the number of chips that story costs.
  • If the customer is okay with it, they then take an equivalent number of chips from their "stack" and place it to the "bet" pile.
  • If the customer isn't okay with it, the story can be split (kind of like "double down" in blackjack) and/or cards can be "reshuffled"
  • At any time, the customer may "reshuffle"
  • When the customer is out of chips and is okay with the current "bets" and card order, the planning session is adjourned

Hackers and Painters   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Paul Graham) When I finished grad school in computer science I went to art school to study painting. A lot of people seemed surprised that someone interested in computers would also be interested in painting. They seemed to think that hacking and painting were very different kinds of work— that hacking was cold, precise, and methodical, and that painting was the frenzied expression of some primal urge.

Both of these images are wrong. Hacking and painting have a lot in common. In fact, of all the different types of people I’ve known, hackers and painters are among the most alike.

Simple things ..   25 Sep 04
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I was just now doing some research on bus ticket clearing houses and I came across his post in from 2001 by Michael Forrest.
 >Reciprocity is not guaranteed on airlines (or toll bridges - it
 >has always amused me that the toll on the Severn Bridge between
 >England and Wales is GBP 4.20 for a car to enter Wales but there
 >is no toll the other way, ie entering England). (Maybe it shows
 >how the two countries value themselves?)

All of the bridges in the San Francisco Bay area only charge toll in one direction. Some genius realized that, on the average, just about as many cars went each way for the obvious reason that most trips across the bridges are round trips. So they doubled the toll and took down the toll booths going one way (except for the Golden Gate Bridge where the toll booths remain, unattended). There has been considerable saving in toll collection costs and the toll booth traffic jams in one direction are gone. Is it possible the Severn Bridge does similarly?

Just Ship, Baby   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Kent Beck) Short two page essay: The focus on shipping is not an excuse for cutting corners, but perfect adherence to the practices is no excuse for not shipping.

Game Design & Engineering Theory   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Miyamoto’s Tokyo Univ. Lecture Today (July 3), at the Komaba campus of Tokyo University, a lecture was held by Shigeru Miyamoto, director and head of information development at Nintendo Co., Ltd. I’ll write out the main points of the lecture here. I’ve deliberately left some parts out; my apologies for this.

…I arrived at the classroom ten minutes before the lecture began. I was worried that there wouldn’t be any seats left, but I discovered one at the fourth row from the front so I hurried over and sat down. The classroom, which can hold around 200 people, filled up almost instantly. By the time I entered the room, Mr. Miyamoto was already sitting in a chair next to the blackboard.

Since Miyamoto was apparently too busy to make any special preparations for the event, it was decided to move from a traditional lecture format to a more informal discussion. To start off things, the instructor in charge discussed CERO [the Japanese game rating system], age restrictions, GTA, Kakuto Chojin, and other topics related to game regulation.

And then Miyamoto stepped up to the mike. Applause…

Unit Tests -- just do it!   25 Sep 04
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Been coding a lot these days on SmallWorld. I try to be disciplined and continue adding unit tests to the hundreds of unit tests wherever sth. could go wrong, but ever again I go off the track and code several methods and even entire classes without any tests. It’s simple stuff and hey, this is ruby :-).

Then I sit here for 3 hours trying to understand why the dammed computer does not do what it should. It’s that feeling I hate most. You waste time .. I mean I could as well go skiing or drink a bottle of vodka .. would be about the same productivity progress on my code and at least I would enjoy the sun.

After hitting my head long enough and starting to isolate the stuff .. I found it .. I had forgotten one return in a most trivial three line long method. Shame on me. Now I will go back to being test-infected. test-first is even better. Dammit .. sorry for the rant, but I doubt there are many systems like computers where one comma at the wrong place can make everything go boom. Oh well, try to modify the DNA and do not know what you are doing. :-).

I've never been a Project Manager before   25 Sep 04
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Check out the excellent Dilbert

XP style process and battle-fields   25 Sep 04
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Not that I want to promote war in any way, but these posts in the extremeprogramming-ML made me smile:


 During the planning game, you review last week's
 finished stories, and they inspire you to write some
 new cards, to edit some cards, and to toss some cards.
 Then you (the Onsite Customer) re-sort all the cards,
 and draw off the top batch for the next week.

 But another input into this system that affects the
 planning game - the competition.

 The USA occupied Iraq using an effective new battle
 technique. In traditional advances, you send a
 diversionary force against one of your enemies flanks,
 draw them that way, then send your main force against
 their other flank.

 Modern soldiers, with cell-phones and such, follow a
 more agile approach. You simply send two forks of your
 forces, probing towards both flanks. You use sensitive
 algorithms to detect the defending commander's
 decision which flank to defend. If you can rapidly
 turn one advance into the diversion, and the other
 into the main attack, you will soon collapse the
 opposition's ability to effectively make decisions.

 Agile onsite customers can play this card too. If you
 detect your competition's marching orders, in
 real-time (using either sensitive algorithms,
 good-old-fashioned industrial espionage, or just
 reading their self-congratulatory Web site), you can
 then request iteration features which provide the
 minimum amount of code needed to start your project
 towards blocking the competition's advance. This
 technique will, again, collapse the competition's
 ability to make decisions.

 Or convince them to hire an XP coach or three. So
 either way it's a win-win-win for us! ;-)

Steven’s reply: :-)

 Or you could follow the agile strategy that Microsoft
 pioneered - announcing products with your competitions'
 features before you even start implementing them.


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