Posts Tagged ‘iPhone app’

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.

16th June
2010
written by Therese

Just as I am a Scrum fan I am also a fan of the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique is a personal time management method inspired by agile practices such as the backlog, the sprints and making the work priorities visible and explicit. Pomodoro means tomato in Italian and the Pomodoro technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo.

A short explanation of how you use the Pomodoro technique to manage your day:

In the morning you make a backlog, prioritize it and estimate it in number of Pomodoros. A Pomodoro is an uninterrupted time span of 25 minutes.
Then you start work: work for 25 minutes then take break – if you are interrupted handle the interruption in a number of specific ways depending on the type of interruption.
Write down how many pomodoros you use on every task and make notes about interruptions.
At the end of the day take some time to reflect on what you have done, how long it took you to do it and what you could do better, document and put in an archive.

This is a great technique to use if you are coming home from work not sure what you have accomplished and how your time was spent. This way you make sure to document your day, think about your priorities and compare them to your actual work done. The data collection side of this technique can also be used to assess the consequences of a change you have made to your habits or working environment.

You can read more about the Pomodoro technique in this free e-book written by the originator himself. He has also made a cheat sheet useful for talking to colleagues or friends about the technique:

Pomodoro cheat sheet

Click image for PDF version

As this technique is quite popular with software developers there is a lot of software implementations to assist you in using this technique: several iPhone apps and versions of the timer used to measure the 25 minutes.

I have used this technique when I had to write my thesis at the university and it worked well for me. The e-book is easily read and even though the technique is difficult in practice, the learning curve is not steep. The first pomodoro was the hardest one but the technique was easily picked up. Maybe you should just try it – I would love to hear your experiences.