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12th August
2010
written by Poul

This little Lego monkey wants to be King Kong…

Wannabe King Kong

Wannabe King Kong by Poul Foged

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8th August
2010
written by Therese

First of all: I’m not really the backpacking type. The reality is that I’m going travelling for what right now looks like a year, but as my husband says: “Don’t put an end date on it. It will just confuse people if we decide to come back after 3 months or 3 years.” And he’s probably right.

Secondly, I’m too old for budget backpacking and cheap hotels. I like a comfy bed and running hot water IN my hotel room. I like to dress up to go out in the evening and I can’t live without WiFi and my computer. I’m probably a “medium” budget traveller: no 5 star hotels for me unless they are really cheap, but I’ll prefer a 3 star minimum and I love swimming pools.

We have decided to tour a bit of Asia with stops in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and maybe more but we really like the thought of just “winging it” as we go along, so nothing is set in stone. We need to keep expenses at about 3500 USD/20000 DKK a month to be able to stay for 12 months, that is if we do not produce anything of value as we go along. (The plan is to code up some of our own projects, that we have been neglecting and if some of those projects produce an income that would allow us to tweak the budget. Of course this blog is also a very small source of income through Google Ads.)

So… what to pack for such a trip? I found inspiration in this video:

As Nick mentions:
A security pouch, passport, copy of passport, credit card, cash, comfy shoes, clothes (in his case mens clothes), underwear, a first aid kit, medicine, sun screen, sun hat, a flashlight (head lamp), an iPod, travel alarm clock, light towel, rain jacket, rain poncho for you AND backpack, water bottle, a backpack with a day bag, camera and sunglasses.

As a girl (geek) and a more luxury traveller I will also bring:
dressy shoes,
3 dresses and a skirt,
bathing suit,
vaccination papers,
duct tape (and I really think Nick forgot this or maybe it is in his first aid kit),
a book,
a computer (and all the computer cords that comes with that),
a computer sleeve,
an extension cord,
computer speakers,
an external hard drive,
an external computer battery possibly with solar panel,
insurance papers,
pen,
my idea book (long story),
makeup and other beauty products (in DK the chemical levels are closely monitored and regulated – I don’t know if that is true for products bought in Asia).

But I will leave (with a heavy heart) at my parents house:
my wedding ring and all my real gold and diamond jewelry that I can’t bear see lost or stolen,
All my other shoes and clothes,
my library of great books and
all gadgets, computers and consoles not fit for travelling.

Of course there is probably a few things on my list that I could buy during my travels instead of packing them, but these are the things I like to have with me from day one. Can you help me tweak this list? What have I forgotten? What would you leave out if you were taking this trip?

1st August
2010
written by Therese

It’s been underway for some time, but now I can make it official: I quit my job.

I’ve been called stupid because I quit my well-paying job right in the midst of a financial crisis, where jobs are scarce and as a graduate from 2009 (the lost generation) I should count my blessings for just having a job. On the other hand I have had a lot of people congratulate me for daring to go on this adventure – and there is an adventure underway.

I did not quit to end my current job (but of course that is a side effect), I quit to start a new phase of my life – a travelling phase. November 1. 2010 I’m going to leave Denmark to go travelling Asia with my husband. Not much is planned yet except the departure date, so if you know a place that we just have to see, please let us know in the comments of this blog.

We are hesitant to put an end date to this adventure, but just to be able to tell people something, we have said that this adventure will take a year. This could of course turn out to be 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years or whatever…

The last few months we have started to prepare this trip by giving notice to leave our rented apartment (we had to give a 3 months notice), I have quit my job, I have been going to doctors to make sure my nose will be fixed before we leave (it’s broken – long story), we put all our money in a travel fund and I have been researching places to go and sights to see.

I have arranged with my father that we can stay at his place from the date that we have to leave the apartment and until we leave the country, and our parents are going to store our furniture, while we are gone.

Along the way I will try to get some freelance work, either as a coder (I would love to do some Android, web or Java/C#-work), a photographer (learning something new every day) or as a blogger but if that doesn’t work out, I will start writing some e-books or tutorials and find some funding through advertising. I have also sold how-to videos before and if my nose get fixed I will consider making more.

Just writing this I get butterflies in my stomach – I can’t wait to start this adventure!

Bangkok by night - image by Poul Foged

Bangkok by night - photo taken by Poul Foged

24th July
2010
written by Therese

So much has happened this week, and I would love to share it with you, but I have to wait for it to be completely official.

Soon…

While you wait, you can check out my favorite link from this week: Couchio. Great page design with interesting content. CouchDB is one of my favorite topics to read about right now – CouchDB and Android… I’m using CouchDB for a few homebrewed programming projects and in my opinion CouchDB is the best thing since sliced bread…

14th July
2010
written by Therese

Our industry is plagued by an epidemic of very bad code

– Robert C. Martin (known as Uncle Bob), founder of ObjectMentor and author of several books including Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship.

Of course Uncle Bob would say that because it serves his purpose of selling the Clean Code-book, but I would still agree with him on this one. I often hear a lot of programmers complaining that in a world of perpetual recurring short deadlines there will be a lot of technical debt and code debt in our line of work. Unfortunately.

But what can we do about it? There is never time for a spring cleaning and the business usually can’t see the point of such an activity, but hey, they are not the ones having to live in that messed up codebase.

Sometimes I even hear the technical debt argument as a anti-agile argument – because an organic not-designed-up-front architecture is inevitably going to end up with a lot of technical debt IF NOT REFACTORED on a regular basis. My answer to that, is that refactoring is a part of any agile programmers job – your story is not finished before you have refactored the code and considering architectural refactoring should be part of sprint planning.

A similar point is made by Uncle Bob in this video from the IT-conference JAOO (about 7 minutes in);
When Uncle Bob asks Pete McBreen how a programmer can get the time to write good code and his answer is: “you should cheat the boss – just write good code without permission to use the time”, Uncle Bob comments, that he doesn’t consider that cheating – he considers that professionalism!

I still believe that an organic REFACTORED architecture is better than an up-front-planned architecture, that is outdated and worked around when adding new features.

Is your work also impeded by bad code? Do you consider it professionalism to cheat your way to a liveable codebase?

P.S. Michael Feathers (also in the video) just wrote a blog post about learning from bad code. Please consider helping him with this project.

11th July
2010
written by Therese

TEDAs a geek I love going META – and a TED talk about TED talks is a hit with me.

Sebastian Wernicke analyzed TED talks and concludes that when you deliver one you should talk about how “french coffee spreads happiness in your brain” because that is the top words from the most popular talks. He also concludes that if you want to make a bad TED talk the top 5 words you should mention are:

  1. So
  2. Oxygen
  3. Aircraft
  4. Project
  5. Girls

Considering how popular a topic number five is in other places of the Internet that is quite funny. Other unpopular words include “computer”, “feet” and “design” (and I conclude from that, that you shouldn’t be giving TED talks about how you designed a creative way to control computers with your feet)… et cetera, et cetera…

Watch the video:

I wonder if these facts are transferable to any kind of talk – like maybe a thesis defense?

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9th July
2010
written by Therese

I no longer believe in doing Scrum by the book!

This will be considered a provocative statement for some but let me just explain myself: I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t follow a well-defined, tried and tested process, but I AM suggesting that we adapt the process to our current needs and maybe as far as you couldn’t call it Scrum anymore.

Now some seasoned agile people will say “DUH, of course you have to inspect and adapt. That is what agile is all about”, but I have also heard a lot of people saying, that “of course that project failed – they didn’t do Scrum properly” (whatever that means).

The Organizational Patterns book

In my opinion what matters is that you reflect on you proces and continuously improve (Kaizen) – if you do that you can start out with Scrum and adapt into something that is a better fit for your organization. It is much easier to fit the process to the organization than to fit the organization to the process.

At JAOO last year I attended a tutorial called “Scrum tuning using Organizational Patterns” (by Jim Coplien and Gertrud Bjørnvig) based on the book Organizational Patterns of Agile Software Development by Jim Coplien and Neil Harrison. It transitioned me into what I jokingly call my post-Scrum phase – a phase where I can see agile as a collection of good ideas to choose from; a toolbox. The organizational patterns book adds to that toolbox and provide ways to guide the adapt part of inspect and adapt.

Now I have the feeling that I know more about why Scrum is precisely that collection of good ideas (organizational patterns) and what kind of problems Scrum is aiming to handle and that feeling gives me the confidence to reflect on the Scrum method and adapt to the concrete needs of the projects I’m involved in.

As Jeff Sutherland writes about Jim Coplien and the Organizational Patterns-book:

Jim was surprised when he found that Scrum compresses at least 33 patterns from his book into a concept that can be explained in 2 minutes. It takes over 60 pages of rather dense text to describe these patterns.

The connection between Scrum and Organizational Patterns can be seen in this overview that I stole from the slides by Jim and Gertrud:

Click for larger image

I recently found a link about the Top 10 Organizational patterns – As far as I can tell they are presented as in the book, but the links to other patterns are dead links (and remember; content is more important than form in this case).

Organizational patterns have really helped me move beyond Scrum and to value some of the more social aspects of software development higher. If you are having problems with your process consider looking into this concept. I know that patterns are sooo 90’ties, but they are still a reasonably way to transfer knowledge.

And I should probably revise my first statement – I no longer believe in doing Scrum by the book, but I do believe that a book can inspire me to fine-tune Scrum maybe transforming our process into something completely different – if that is what we need.

3rd July
2010
written by Therese

My previous post about the Lego Turing Machine could (for some) be a contender for the title of “The most useless machine ever built in Lego”, but it is certainly a step up from this useless but entertaining machine: A machine that turns itself off.

Useless but cute. How do people even think up these things?

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1st July
2010
written by Therese

>”Honey, you’re my treasure.”
>”No, the Lego is the treasure. Dad – We’re Lego rich!”

Combining TED talks and Lego is a winning formula. This guy is really Lego-geeky – I love his story:

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29th June
2010
written by Therese

Back in December ’09 a friend of mine and I decided to found a community for women working in IT in the Aarhus area. We named this community Ada Aarhus after the famous female “programmer” Ada Lovelace. The idea for this community started at a geek girl themed night at the JAOO conference in October ’09.

The community started out with three main focus points:

  1. Recruiting more women to work in IT (presenting role models and work on concrete projects)
  2. Coaching and mentors (facilitate the contact between mentors and mentees)
  3. Networking (share stories and network in the IT-business in general)

And in addition we defined what Ada Aarhus is NOT: a place to go and cry about being a minority in the IT-business. The women in Ada Aarhus love to be in IT even though we are not shy about talking of the problems that arise being a minority.

The first meeting was set up through Facebook and we invited all our female geek friends and they invited their friends and so on and we got the local union to invite their female members… We were 10 women at this first meeting, WOW. We decided to meet every two months and after a couple of meetings we elected (asked) some people to run this community with more than 50 members on LinkedIn and almost 50 members on Facebook.

Now we are on Facebook and LinkedIn and we are working on a network site with blogs, messages and profile pages, so that we can network online as well as offline. Any woman living in the Aarhus area willing to call herself a woman in IT  is welcome to join us on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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