iPad: Thoughts After the Sermon

This week’s announcement by Apple was once again flawlessly executed.  It reminded me a lot of a church sermon.  By the time you are done, you realized that what Jobs is selling is exactly what you didn’t know you needed.  Apple knows how to do a rollout, that’s for sure.  It’s this kind of buzz which will send many of the early adopters to an all-night vigil the night before the device is available at their local Apple store.

I have been following the conversation via Twitter this week, and my anecdotal assessment is that the reception was very much mixed.  The name of the device (iPad) has a negative connotation to its female audience — I didn’t think of that right away (duh), but that was a pretty big deal.  Also, I’m not sure I really need a big iPhone.  I have one already and it wouldn’t replace any of my existing devices.  The relationship with AT&T for 3G service isn’t a strong selling point.  I hear it is opening to other carriers later, but that will take some time.  I was surprised that the camera wasn’t included either.

There is a lot there to be excited about, though.  When I think about some of the applications running on my iPhone, a larger screen size would make movies and games a much better experience.  I am sure with Apple’s reputation for quality, the device will operate flawlessly.

Tablet computing has been evolving for some time now.  Is this the breakthrough that will finally help the idea come of age?  Or, are we still not ready for it?  Only time will tell.  I will still get one at work for experimentation.  It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

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Partial Resources: It’s Always The “Other Project”

In a perfect world, we’d like all of our Scrum team members to be fully dedicated and committed to delivery on a project.  The reality is that scrum masters and product owners have to deal with less than perfect conditions under which they have to deliver high-quality software.  It’s always the “other project” that prevents our resources from executing on the project we are managing.  So, what do we do?  I think there’s a simple strategy that can help everyone involved.

I recommend deliberately and consistently scheduling project available time.  Let’s say you are 25% allocated to another project.  In a 40 hour (yeah, right!) work week, which equates to 10 hours of available time to work on that project.  That could be done 2 hours per day, or maybe one full day plus a couple of hours on another day.  What that means is that during those scheduled times, you are unavailable to do anything but work on the other project – no meetings or anything – like you are not even there.  Use your online calendar or team project management system to clearly lay out the schedule for the whole team to see.

It's always the "other project"...

Consistently following a schedule will help you time-box this effort, help with consistent planning and execution, plus it will help colleagues respect these boundaries such that everything can get done.  It will take a little discipline to respect these boundaries, but I believe it is what is necessary to mitigate the risk of partial resources being on the project.

Proximity: How Much Does It Really Matter?

We are facing a great problem at work — growth.  With that, comes the whole notion of space planning to house new people joining the team.  And adding space and things like cubes, phones and so on do has cost.  As I enter into this space planning mode, I can’t help but wonder if it would be worth the effort to look at the whole team and assess their proximity to one another while I am doing the space planning.

So, the big question is that if I am going to make a facilities investment, what would be the improvement in productivity for our Agile software engineering teams if a vast majority of them have improved proximity to one another.  Right now, most people will travel to meetings on the same floor of the building.  I’m thinking they miss a lot of interesting and inciteful “drive-by meetings” (as I like to call them) because they lack close proximity.  So, how much is it worth?  Is it worth the effort to care about it?

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant: Stan the Man

Well done, good and faithful servant
Stan The Man at Rainy Lake

The world lost a good man this week.  Affectionately known as “Stan The Man,” among the legions of youth he led, Stan Johnson went home to be with his Lord at the age of 85.  My condolences to his family for their loss.

He was an important figure in my faith development.  I’ll never forget the campfires on the Canadian canoe trip.  Like another former youth group member said on the memorial Facebook site, Stan brought an extra element to “They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?” [a humorous short story collection great to be shared at campfires] that no one else could duplicate.  Watching him tell the stories was WAY more entertaining than the stories themselves.  In fact, sometimes he was laughing so hard (not to mention other visuals and sounds happening) we couldn’t understand what he was saying, but we were laughing anyhow because of his laughter.

Another one was the favorite recipe of retreats known as Scrambled French Toast.  It always tastes a little better when you are on retreat, right?

Most of all, I will never forget that Stan showed me a God who loves me unconditionally.  He helped me establish that relationship as a young man that gives me strength today and forever.

I look forward to seeing Stan again in heaven.  Well done, good and faithful servant.

Book Review: Joel Comm’s Twitter Power

I’m on a business trip this week, and this always provides an opportunity to get caught up on reading.  Since social media is a big area of interest in my work these days, I thought I’d read Joel Conn’s book, entitled Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time.

In my work as a corporate research manager, it’s important for me to stay up on these trends, and I am seeing more and more relevance each day for social media sites like Twitter.  Mr. Conn’s book hit me at the exactly at the right time in my journey to embrace social media.  I appreciate the informal writing style a great deal.  It makes the whole process much easier to digest.  What is the big deal about this silly little microblogging application  that limits you to 140 characters?  Joel Conn explains very well why companies like mine need to pay attention to this cultural shift.

In my view, the most valuable portion of the book comes at the end with a “30 Day Plan for Dominating Twitter.”  I fully intend to try it and I will keep readers posted as to my journey (which includes this new blog as well!).  In addition, I applied some of his tweet-writing and following strategies and I saw my follower count double , which didn’t take much at this stage of my Twitter evolution.

Bottom line, I recommend this work for anyone wanting to get serious about Twitter.   I look forward to talking on my blog about my progress through the 30 day domination plan.