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Comment When trying agile, use retrospectives (Score 3, Informative) 239 239

I think it's important to have structured feedback moments, and one of the most important and central tools I found to agile development (but it probably applies to all development) is using retrospectives (retros). In the company I work at, we do them after each code sprint, every two weeks.

In a good retro, you find about what is hurting your ability to work and define actions against those blocks. An easy to run retro which usually yields some useful results is the Mad/Sad/Glad retro:

Create a big area with three columns: what makes you mad, what makes you sad, what makes you glad. This can be on a big sheet of paper, a whiteboard, virtually (like Google Docs), ... Every team member creates as many small notes as they want and put them on the right column. This is more useful if everyone has to think for themselves and is not influenced by others (eg: create post-its on yourself, then hang them in the right column), and/or if it's done anonymously (eg via some software tool). When everyone posted his/her things, every team member casts votes on what they want to discuss. You discuss the most voted-on items, and try to formulate one action for each to improve on it. You typically want SMART actions: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound - aka well-defined with a clear goal.

Retros should be time-boxed, there should be a neutral "facilitator", everyone should be able to participate, no-one should have to hold back his opinion. A few people who try to discuss for the sake of discussion can be a good thing if it's not overdone: try to use every technique to get people talking and spouting the unhappiness, acknowledge it, and fix it.

In the last few months, we've splitted our team, installed new tools, decided to start reading groups, and brought more candy, all out of retros.

Comment NetHack! (Score 3, Interesting) 145 145

Probably not installed by default on most OSes, but it should be! First thing I install on a new machine myself.

I (as student) once argued with our university IT staff that this was essential software for any self-respecting computer science lab, and they agreed and installed it on all machines. :)

Comment Influential Women (Score 5, Interesting) 189 189

Here is one: Leslie Hawthorn. She organizes Google's Summer Of Code, which has brought thousands of students (myself included) in an active role of participating in various open source projects. It's an absurdly hard task to coordinate thousands of students and mentors each year, to make sure all information, payments, shirts, ... are sent out in time, to organize the mentor summit, and meanwhile try to solve all problems that come up underway. She does it extremely well and I think the open source community can't thank her enough. I honestly don't think there's much more you could do to influence open source.

Go Leslie!

Comment Honestly? (Score 4, Insightful) 239 239

I like this. Why not? It can be expected that web browsers use decent security practices, 3D drivers are already doing a fairly good job of providing a stable API via OpenGL, and everything is floating towards web browsers as new deployment platform, also for games and 3D applications. Better have an open 3D standard than a need of all sorts of plugins where everyone comes up with his own half-working solution. This is the indie game developer's wet dream coming true.

Of course, that's the best scenario. How it plays out in practice, we will have to see.

Software

Submission + - Collaboration Equals Knowledge Gain

jamesrayge writes: How do social networks fit within the corporate structure? At first glance it might seem that communities like MySpace, designed to bring strangers together en masse, are inappropriate for the cloistered life of the enterprise worker. But the laboratory of the Web, as so often, shows the way with a new kind of social network... http://blogs.dovetailsoftware.com/blogs/main/archi ve/2007/03/27/collaboration-equals-knowledge-gain. aspx

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.

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