Author Archive

7th February
2022
written by Therese

I have worked in many big companies as a freelancer and as a Scrum Master and one take-away from me has been how often there is mistrust between “the business side” and the “development team”. As a Scrum Master it has been my job to bring the sides together and remind them that we are nothing without each other and hopefully also bring a bit of understanding of all aspects of developing software and doing business with it to all involved.

As a Scrum Master, I have coached or taught many Product Owners and the main lessons have been; Trust the team. Tell them (somewhat clearly) what you need and why and then work with them to get to a good solution. Listen to their concerns – it will help you long term.

I have also had to work with many teams to (re)build trust in the Product Owner – to help them communicate their concerns clearly and help them understand the role and understand why we are not always aligned in our wishes for the product. And hopefully highlight, when the Product Owner listens to the team and help show why the Product Owner makes those product decisions.

What has been true for all the journeys my teams have been through, is that the work has flowed much better with trust and understanding between the people involved.

A trick I use often, is to nudge on the language used. Nudge the Product Owner to always say “we” and the team to include the Product Owner into the “we” that they already have in their head. It is a dirty trick, because it seems like such a small thing, but it has a big effect on the teams self image. Seen over a long period of time, you can really appreciate the difference. No more “us and them”-language. “We” are taking on responsibility for mistakes made and “we” are the actors in the successes achieved.

Talking to all team members, about how we can play different roles with different viewpoints and that these viewpoints needs to be balanced and respected, is key. Maybe a few team members are especially good at remembering the architecture view, the security view, the code quality view, the business view or the user feedback view and all these are important. Probably not equally important, but weighed in a certain way, that is dependent on our situation and that can change over time. We can disagree on the trade-offs we make, but we have to respect that there are trade-offs that have to be made and trust that when we make those decisions, we do it with good intentions and to the best of our knowledge at the time.

There is an excellent way of expressing this trust; The prime directive:

“Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.”

–Norm Kerth, Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Review

The prime directive is usually mentioned in the context of the retrospective, but they are really words to live by. I say: Hang a poster with it in your workspace and remind everyone about it often. To build software well as a team, we need trust.

28th November
2011
written by Therese

The last year we have been travelling a lot. We have visited Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, The Netherlands and Spain and even managed to stay a few months in our home country Denmark as well. In that time things have been crazy busy (but then again – everybody seems busy these days to a point where it doesn’t mean anything to say you’re busy).

Travelling takes a lot of time, but we have also found time to start up our own business, Monzoom, doing consultant work for a couple of Danish companies (e.g. internationally known Danish toy company known for “blocks” – you know who I mean, right?) and we have found time to make our first product xiive. I’m really scratching my own itch with xiive – it’s a social media filtering site with special emphasis on how much a topic is mentioned (seen over time) and comparing these numbers with those of other topics.

There are already many such sites, but the special thing about xiive is that we did not follow the traditional model of letting the user choose x topics (usually 3) to track in private. We have chosen instead to make all the data public so it can be shared, embedded, compared and discussed.

We are currently in private beta, and I can’t wait to show the site to the world. You can sign up for an invite here if you want, but I have to warn you – we don’t really like those “viral” beta invite sites, so you will not get in front of the line by inviting your friends. We think you should only call on your social network if you really mean it and not to get special treatment.

Today we launched a new landing page and I think it is quite the improvement, but you be the judge of that. Here is the old landing page and the new landing page:

Old landing page - xiive

Old landing page for xiive

New landing page for xiive

New landing page for xiive

Right now we sit in a hotel apartment in Bangkok (no flood in sight here, but some areas are badly hit). We have just been in southern Thailand for a month and we are going to stay in Bangkok for a month and then go home to Denmark for Christmas.

Life is good!

21st January
2011
written by Therese

If you are looking for a new business model for your project? You have a great idea for a site, but no idea how to monitize it?

You could of course be traditional and offer an ad-based freemium-model like spotify.com with a sidedish of premium service. That have been done many times, but it is more flexible than the even more traditional model where you just let your users pay.

Maybe you could offer a free service and use it to gather large amounts of data and sell them like Patientslikeme.com? Or simply take a commision (or a posting fee) for facilitating contact/services to/from other companies like flattr.com, airbnb.com or GroupOn.com?

There is also a model where you let your customers pay what they want (encouraged by an anchor price of what other users have paid) and even let the users decide how much of the money that should go to charity. An example of this model can be found at humblebundle.com.

Or if your main product is free, how about “in-app”-sales like Haypi Kingdom or my favorite example Farmville – and if you want the user to loose track of the “real-world cost” then make your own monitary system.

If you want your users to create something of value, then make a platform that lets them co-create and get a share in the profit like Quicky.com. Helping other creative people monitize their ideas – that’s a great business model! Almost a meta business model.

Source: These was all picked from the presentation below; “10 business models that rocked 2010”

14th January
2011
written by Therese

Less is more. That was my big lesson in 2010. I used to have clutter, mess, piles and heaps of stuff – in my home and in my office. Now my things fit into a suitcase and a backpack. I can’t buy things that I am not willing to carry with me every day, so I never shop anymore except to replace other things. Material things has never meant less to me than they do now.

It reminds me of the saying; “If you own more than seven things, the things will own you”. The simplification I have done in my life really feels like freedom. I can honestly say that I don’t miss any of my stuff. Back home we had a “game room” with several XBoxes, a Wii and a Playstation as well as a home movie theatre; I loved it and spent a lot of time there, and I really thought I would miss it, but I don’t. What I miss from back home are the people; friends, colleagues and family, but actually I speak more to my close family now than I did, when I lived less than 100 kilometers away from them (thank you, Skype).

Money has never been a big thing for me and that is probably because I have just been lucky to be able to make a fine living for doing what I love. The IT-business is a generous place to be. Now I think even less about it and also spend much less. Living in Asia can be cheap even while enjoying some luxury. Cutting down on our spending also have the nice side effect that we don’t have to work as many hours on profitable projects and can devote more time for pet projects, sightseeing or just each other.

Some days I wake up and I can’t believe, how lucky I am, thinking that this can’t last. But I just can’t stay worried; the sun is shining and I just keep telling myself: Don’t worry – be happy.

We Danes are known for our happiness being listed as the happiest people in the world several times by OECD, the reason often cited (by Americans) is that we expect less from life. I don’t think that is the true answer; we expect a lot from life just not only material things. We value life experiences and quality over quantity, and right now I’m taking that to an extreme and loving every minute of it.

Less IS more.

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9th January
2011
written by Therese

Reading through the YOW! 2010 conference program I was reminded of the rallying cry “more cowbell”. The evening keynote on the first day, 50 in 50 by Guy Steele and Richard Gabriel, really brings back memories. I first saw this keynote a few years ago at JAOO Aarhus 2008 and I was in awe of the artful presentation of so many programming languages! It’s not every day you see Guy Steele rapping.

Fortunately it was taped and the video is here:

How many of the programming languages did you know?

12th December
2010
written by Therese

Going out for lunch one day a couple a weeks ago we noticed that there were a lot more people out on the streets including a lot of street vendors selling flower arrangements with candles. The restaurant we had lunch at was in the Emporium Shopping center with a view out over Benchasiri Park and from there we could see that the park was especially busy that day. Deciding to investigate we visited the park and we certainly didn’t regret that decision.

In the park there were several families and couples that were there to let a flower arrangement float on the lake dominating the park. Very beautiful.

It turns out the ritual is part of a celebration called Loy Krathong. To cite one of the sources I could find explaining it:

People look forward to going out and launching Krathongs together to predict their romance future by the direction the Krathongs float. However, this season is also good for strengthening relationship in the family.

The floating of a Krathong is signifies floating away ill fortune as well as expressing apologies to Khongkha or Ganga, the River Goddess.

Realising that this ritual would be even more beautiful at night we returned to the park after dark. The crowd didn’t disappoint us – they launched thousands of “Krathongs” (as the floating flower arrangements are called).

10th December
2010
written by Therese

To add to our blog post series about fun machines in Lego (Turing, most useless, 3D-printer and so on) here is a video of the antikythera mechanism built in Lego – that is the functionality is simulated with a machine built in Lego, but it certainly doesn’t look like the original.

If you don’t remember what the antikythera mechanism is then let wikipedia enlighten you:

“The Antikythera mechanism … is an ancient mechanical computer[1][2] designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was recovered in 1900–01 from the Antikythera wreck,[3] but its complexity and significance were not understood until decades later. It is now thought to have been built about 150–100 BCE. The degree of mechanical sophistication is comparable to late medieval Swiss watchmaking.[citation needed] Technological artifacts of similar complexity and workmanship did not reappear until the 14th century, when mechanical astronomical clocks appeared in Europe.[4]”

The modern version is explained in this video:

A really really old computer rebuilt in Lego – what’s not to like?

22nd November
2010
written by Therese

Saigon in southern Vietnam is a very different from Hanoi in the northern parts of Vietnam. Where Hanoi is busy, smelly og too crowded, Saigon is busy, much cleaner and with space on the sidewalk for people walking (but occasionally also for people on motorbikes, so watch out).

We stayed at a great hotel in the center of town called Le Duy. We quickly found a restaurant street thanks to our Lonely planet iPhone app for Saigon; Ho Chi Minh City Guide. What a useful app! It really helped us a lot. It has a “near by”-function that shows you where you are and how far away points of interest like landmarks, shopping and restaurants are. Very useful.

Hotel Le Duy - Saigon

Our bed at Hotel Le Duy

Our first trip out of our hotel room to find some food, was a great success for the food but we did get caught in the rain. What we didn’t know was that the rain is a daily event in this city – we bought umbrellas the next day and brought them with us for the rest of our stay. The daily rain is not really a problem if you come prepared except for the wet shoes – they don’t dry up before the next shower.

Rain in Saigon

Caught in the rain

On our second night in Saigon we went to find a good restaurant, but they were all full, noisy and not very cosy, so it was quite difficult. Then we stumbled on an Indian restaurant that was completely dark and looked really good with lots of candles and no noise. It was empty and looked closed but the staff was outside trying to get people in, so we decided to try it out. When we were reading through the menu at candlelight we realised that there was a power blackout going on. Fortunately the kitchen didn’t need power to make great food – we could see the high flames coming from the small kitchen in the back of the restaurant. It ended up being a nice experience though at one point the waiter tried to create a little ambiance by playing music from his mobile phone. That seemed a bit surreal.

Blackout at Indian restaurant - Saigon

A blackout made our dinner at an Indian restaurant very cosy

Saigon is a beautiful city especially the many cloud formations. This photo is one of my favorites (and yes, we did play a little with the colors):

Colors of Saigon

Saigon in colors and greytones

The biggest difference between the Saigon and Hanoi is the traffic. I have already described the traffic in Hanoi and what a nightmare it is. The traffic in Saigon is much easier to handle because it is more structured and because there is room for pedestrians on the sidewalk instead of forcing them out on the street. Well, the traffic is still pretty bad but we learned a lot about handling it in Hanoi. The trick is to just walk, keep a steady pace, be predictable and use the pedestrian crossings where ever you can find one.

Motorbikes - organised

There is still a lot of motorbikes in Saigon but the traffic seems more organised than in Hanoi

We truly loved Saigon and I think it is a place I could live. Other people seems to think so too because we met a lot of expats. The food is great, the traffic seems ok, the weather is great when it is not raining, everything is very cheap and the people seem friendly enough. It is possible to live in this city using very little money and I actually felt a little bad about paying so little for great things like backpacks, drinks and food. We didn’t have many days in Saigon, but that’s ok, because I know we are coming back one day.

12th November
2010
written by Therese

I just want to share this short video we made showing the Hanoi traffic.

After crossing that street successfully (which we did on several occasions) you get a feeling of accomplishment and we celebrated by going into a nearby cafe, sit down and calm our nerves every time.

I don’t know how it works – but it works.

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11th November
2010
written by Therese

As so many other turists visiting Hanoi we also booked a cruise in Ha Long Bay. Beautiful and tranquil Ha Long Bay. After a few days in Hanoi you really long for a relaxing and most importantly quiet oasis and that is exactly what Ha Long Bay is.

Ha Long Bay - rock formation

Amazing rock formations can be seen all over Ha Long Bay

There is not much to tell about the cruise as we really just relaxed a lot and ate some really fresh seafood. We saw a stalactite cave and some friendly monkeys and that was it.

To sum it up here are some pictures. It was a bit misty (even foggy at times) so the pictures are not as colorful as they could be.

Ha Long Bay - view

A view from above

Ha Long Bay - view from ship

A view from below

Ha Long Bay - cave

From inside a cave

Ha Long Bay - monkeys

Monkeys - notice the really young one clinging to its mother

Ha Long Bay - sunset

Sailing along while the sun was setting

Ha Long Bay - boat

Our boat

Ha Long Bay - dinner table

Ready for the superb food

Ha Long Bay - Bed

Our bed at the boat

Ha Long Bay - bathroom

Our small but private bathroom

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