Tony Seymour of Radio Cab 201 is a kindly gray haired fella who drives the big Dodge Sprinter cab. He dropped me off after my train arrived last Wednesday at the Embassy Suites. He gave me his card and told me to call him when I needed a ride back. Now that is great customer service (and the first time a cabbie has ever given me a hotline to him). He was very interested in the stuff I was doing for work, especially as it relates to thinking through the website from the perspective of an average user. I should snap a picture of him. He is the sort of guy who restores your faith in humanity, maybe just because he talks you up. Yet there is something more, a kind of deep wonder with his fellow man, and openness that breaks down the petty barriers separating young ambitious software manager (Secret of My Success anyone?) from wizened wiseacre cabbie.
So, it has been three days of solid meetings. I wish I could say that I was the willing victim, but instead I was the one dragging folks off to meetings so they wouldn’t be able to do any real work. In theory, we will be all the more productive because we have spent so much time hashing out what we will be building. We will test the theory next week when the iteration officially begins. We have a total of 180 ideal development hours that programmers have signed up for, and only 205 real hours to get it done. I think we will learn a lot this first week of XP, but somehow I doubt our optimisim is grounded in reality. Essentially, the tasks I thought would take 2 months the team signed up for in 2 weeks. I’m willing to be proved wrong.
Today I got in to Seattle from Boise shortly after 7:00 am. Just a 1 1/2 hour flight, against the jet stream, getting in Seattle just a half hour after I left Boise due to time changes.
Tomorrow morning I go to Portland, OR (Beaverton to be exact) to start a series of meetings for the Extreme Programming project I’m involved with. I get back on Friday evening. It will be nice to have the weekend in one place, and I’m looking forward to not travelling for awhile. Though, to be honest, the Christmas weekend was actually quite relaxing as far as those things go.
The most stressful part was organizing Grandma’s trip to the Narnia movie last night, which was swamped with people trying to fit the holiday movie into their long day of gift exchanges and boxing day matches. And that wasn’t too bad, we just had to wait out the 5:00 showing for the 7:00, which we used as an opportunity to get Grandma drunk on (1) fat tire beer and a plate of smoky mountain pizza.
Last night I went up to Rob and Charlotte’s, with Kei and Heidi. We played Tripoli and smoked cigars. I opened Grandpa Millensifer’s 320 year old bottle of Seltzer water that Rob was saving. After the initial shock of learning I opened it, Rob teased me about it all night. I felt bad for opening it, but it turned into the joke of the evening. And, you know what? It still had the bubbles!
From left to right: I tell Rob I’ve opened an antique bottle of Seltzer, Rob posing with the bottle, Rob staring down Heidi in Poker, Heidi bluffing Rob, Charlotte watching from the sidelines.
I’ve been really busy with some exciting work-stuff this December. I know, what a let down. I’m sure you were expecting an article about a fat bearded man in a big red suit bungee jumping off of Hell’s canyon while drinking Mountain Dew. Sorry, but I’m trying out Extreme Programming for a work project. They are not totally unrelated, as Santa is working under a yearly gift delivery release plan, and I’m sure he’s got lot’s of worker drones (elfs) busily coding away to help supply lines deliver this Christmas. But that is probably where the similarities cease. This is for a software project, and Santa is all about the hard-goods.
So far things have been fun, scary at times, but very fast paced. We are in what xp’ers call the planning game, which is about creating a release plan by bringing customers and developers together to talk about features (or stories) they want to develop. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but the focus on verbal communication, short release cycles and direct relationships between groups has been a welcome jolt to the normal document driven Lazy B approach to software development. I have been using Mike Cohn’s work User Stories Applied for much of the requirements generation stuff, and it’s been a huge help to getting the theory down to practical action, from how to hold a story writing workshop to how to start estimating stories.
It’s snowing here in Greenlake. Not sticking, but snowflakes are fluttering down. There is something magical about it, like someone shook the Seattle snow globe.