Tuesday, 24 July 2012


David J. Anderson
ISBN:  978-0984521401

Kanban seems like a really good methodology. It even got me thinking that maybe you don’t need to have iterations to be Agile. However, I really didn’t like this book at all. Everyone says that when you explain something you should use lots of real world examples. David J. Anderson took this to far. In the book there are only a few examples that he uses, but he uses them over and over again in far too much detail and it gets boring. I like real world examples, but I want the mechanics of a process. The book doesn’t cover that until several chapters in. When it does, it’s good and I really learnt a lot about Kanban. I finished the book out of pure stubbornness, but I couldn’t recommend it. Do learn about Kanban, but find another resource.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Warning! Spoilers!

The Dark Knight Rises was definitely the best film I’ve seen so far this year. It is very different to the previous two films (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight), which I’m glad I watched again just before, in just about every way. The story line was complex, but reasonably easy to follow. I like to have to think about the story in films (The Dark Knight was no Battleship!).

Anne Hathaway as Selina/Catwoman was completely captivating. If not better than Eva Green in Dark Shadows then at least as good. Her character did nothing to dispel the feeling I started to get with the Star Wars prequels that women, at least in sci-fi / fantasy stories are the root of all evil and the source of most of the problems for the male characters. The spectacular Miranda, who turns out to be the real villain did does nothing to change my mind either.

The Batman character in other remakes starring the likes of Michael Keaton was always a weak character. Especially as Batman, not always so much as Bruce Wayne in my opinion. Christian Bale, however is a superb and strong Batman and Bruce Wayne throughout.

There is one plot discrepancy I’ve still to get my head around. During some of the prison scenes Bruce Wayne convinces himself that the child who escaped the prison was Bane while also knowing that Bane was mutilated by the prison doctor before the child left unmutilated. Maybe I missed something more subtle there.

Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are just superbly cast throughout. It’s only a shame there wasn’t more of Alfred.

The film has a great ending and I didn’t see the twist coming. The final five minutes are pure agony of suspense. The setups for the sequels are great too.

If you see no other film this year, see this one. Although my wife did manage to fall asleep again. I can’t wait for The Expendables 2, the Total Recall remake or the next Resident Evil. It’s going to be a great summer.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Agile Cambridge 2012 - The Skeleton Walks Again

I’ve had the honour of being accepted for a session at this year's Agile Cambridge (@acconf) in September. I’ll be getting the walking skeleton out of its closet for probably the final time: 

The walking skeleton was described by Alistair Cockburn as "... a tiny implementation of the system that performs a small end-to-end function. It need not use the final architecture, but it should link together the main architectural components. The architecture and the functionality can then evolve in parallel." It is also one of the theme's in Freeman & Pryce's Growing Object Oriented Software Guided by Tests.

In this session I will start with an (almost) clean IDE and develop a walking skeleton for a simple application and demonstrate how Test Driven Development (TDD) can be used even at the system level to test features.

I’ve only managed to attend Agile Cambridge once (the birth of my second son prevented me attending the last one) and it’s a great little conference with a friendly atmosphere and lots of familiar faces. This year key notes are being given by Dave Snowden (@snowded) and Dan North (@tastapod) and there are pre-conference tutorials from the likes of Liz Keogh (@lunivore) and Allan Kelly (@allankellynet).

XTC 17th July 2012

Last night I took Stewart Blackburn (@BoroIpswich), an Agile East Anglia and now SyncNorwich (@syncnorwich) regular to his first Extreme Tuesday Club (@extremetuesday) at the Bishop's Finger near St. Paul's in central London. I enjoy going to London for the evening and there was a small welcoming committee at Liverpool street including my friend and old boss (twice!) Burkhard Kloss (@georgebernhard), Steve Love (@iamstevelove) and Frances Buontempo (@fbuontempo). After a quick drink most of us headed off towards the Bishop's Finger.

This was my first time at the Bishop's Finger for Extreme Tuesday. It’s an improvement over the previous pub as we had an upstairs room to ourselves and the food was excellent. There was already a small group deep in conversation, including Nigel Charman (@nigel_charman), who had flown over from New Zealand and Giovanni Asproni (@gasproni). It's always good to catch up with Giovani as he has a wealth of experience to tap into and we had a long chat about my current contract.

Later in the evening we were joined by more people, about 20 in total, including Phil Nash (@phil_nash), Allan Kelly (@allankellynet) and Liz Keogh (@lunivore). I was keen to see Liz again after she'd given a stunning presentation on Behavior Driven Development at the final Agile East Anglia. However, as is not unusual I ended up deep in conversation with Allan Kelly and Phil Nash. Catching up with Liz is something I hope to do properly next time.

All too soon it was 9pm and Stewart and I had to leave for the train. It’s a shame because I heard it went on quite late and I would have liked to continue all the conversations. There’s always next time....

Friday, 6 July 2012

1st SyncNorwich leaves me high....

At lunchtime today I was sat in a Thai restaurant on timbre hill (those who regularly meet me for lunch will know it) with a good friend and colleague of mine. We often get together to chew the fat over the job, our families and start-up ideas. Not long after we sat down he told me I was looking unusually well. I didn’t have to think about it for long because I felt great and I knew why.

The past few months have been an exercise in keeping my feet on the ground. Under the name Agile East Anglia I have organised and run three well attended events and come away from each with an amazing feeling of achievement and usually totally shattered. During those months I was exceptionally lucky to meet John Fagan, Seb Butcher, Stephen Pengilley and Juliana Meyer. All like minded individuals who were either running their own groups or keen to get involved in running a group. It wasn’t long before we decided to collaborate and last night was the first SyncNorwich event, hopefully of many.

The Magic 5

SyncNorwich was attended by around 60 people, which was twice the maximum Agile East Anglia attendance. After all the hard work we put in the event just seemed to run itself. We received so much positivity and positive feedback from the crowd. Although I left the pub at 10.30pm I heard tell of a group of people partying at a club to 3am.

Needless to say, SyncNorwich was the reason I was feeling out of this world!

I could go on to tell you what happened and how good the speakers were, or I could just point you to the reviews that have started to be published:

A Very Social Network by Beccy Johnston

SyncNorwic Review by Vaughan Clarke

5-4-3-2-1 lift off for SyncNorwich by Smart421

Lets Make Norwich England's Other City for Start-ups by Richard Patey

SyncNorwich by Brad Koehler

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Getting Started with Kanban

by Paul Klipp
ASIN: B0058TU89G

Other than Allan Kelly’s 10 things to know about Kanban software development blog post, which is awesome, Getting Started with Kanban by Paul Klipp is the only Kanban material I have read so far. I really like these short books which seem to be coming out thick and fast at the moment. I really must get mine ready! It took me less than an hour to get through this book. I suppose it could have been presented for free as a long blog post or an article, but I’m really not bothered paying £1.54 for it. It was worth it.

I literally had no idea about Kanban other than it was a looser Agile (than something like Scrum). I enjoyed reading this book and I learnt a lot in a very short period of time. I am now comfortable with what Kanban is and how it works and I can really see the appeal. I may even have to revise my thinking that to be Agile you have to have iterations.

About half the book is dedicated to an overview of Kanban with a list of other books you should read, including Kanban by David J. Anderson which is next on my reading list, and the final half to a description of the Kanban process that Paul Klipp uses. This really helps give some context to Kanban.

If you want to learn about Kanban quickly and easily, read this book.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Time to Understand Kanban

This month I am  aiming to learn about Kanban. I’ve downloaded Kanban by David J. Anderson and  Getting Started with Kanban by Paul Klipp to my Kindle and plan to get as far into them as it takes to get a decent grasp of Kanban. Allan Kelly also reminded me about his 10 things to know about Kanban software development blog post.

I can't mention Kanban without pointing out that Benjamin Mitchell will be coming to SyncNorwich in September to give a Kanban workshop.