Uncharted Waters


October 31, 2018  12:49 PM

Sprints to Kanban

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

For as long as I can remember agile has been synonymous with sprints. To do agile, we had to use some sort of iteration, and today that means a two week sprint. We also had to do the required ceremony and ritual of multi-hour planning meetings where the team commits (aka, gets tired of talking about it and says fine) to how much work they can get done over the next two weeks.

I’ve been asking what if questions lately — what if we don’t have a standup every day, what if we don’t do sprints anymore — to get conversations going around what these things really do for us. The team I’m working with decided to do an experiment to find out an answer to one of those questions. We haven’t done sprints for the past few weeks. Here is how that is working.

Continued »

October 29, 2018  10:02 AM

Modern Test Fundamentals – Test Improvement

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Lean, Software, Software testing, Testing

Surfing the Waterfall for Test Improvement

The other day I was talking to Jim Holmes about test improvement. He pointed out that just starting out with Exploratory Testing is only improving one area in isolation. Working on that one system cannot transform the entire organization. Jim isn’t alone, Fred Brooks argued the same thing in his 1986 essay No Silver Bullets: Essence and Accident in Software Engineering.  Brooks borrowed the subtitle “Essence and Accident”, from Aristotle.

I would argue that starting with test can provide the opportunity to improve the entire organization.

Let me tell you how.

Continued »


October 26, 2018  2:10 PM

Doing Innovation Days

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

Google was well known at one point for having a requirement that 20% of employee time be spent off project and on innovative work. This is where GMail, Google News, Google Talk and so on came from. OK, so not all of those are exactly smash hits, but GMail is basically synonymous for personal email now. GMail happened because Google saw the value of letting people pursue the intersection of personal interest and company value a few hours each week. Most companies are hesitant to offer innovation time. There is risk that employees will use it as an excuse to surf the internet for a few hours, or just mentally check out and go home.

I want to talk about a good experience with time spent in innovation and exploration.

Continued »


October 24, 2018  10:34 AM

Open Source – or Open Sores?

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Java, Open source, Ruby

Open Source KeyboardHave you tried to build something new with Open Source lately?

You start with Rails. Of course, you need to leave the newest HTML, the newest javascript libraries, plus Ruby, plus the conventions and libraries. That’s fine. No problem.

The problem comes when none of it works. Continued »


October 23, 2018  1:14 PM

Stop, Linkedin, You’re Drunk

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
incentives, Linkedin, Viral

Linkedin LogoLinkedin keeps suggesting that I friend request ALL 978 of the people I have EVER emailed who are also on Linkedin. I am considering clicking “add connections” so it will just stop. Some of those people will invariably click the “I do not know this person weirdo stopit” button.

Except it will not stop.

LinkedIn has figured out the same viral strategy that made Sid Meier’s Civilization series so addictive. As soon as you finish one challenge, another appears. Invite someone you don’t know to LinkedIn, and you’ll see a page of potential people to invite. Tag someone having expertise in some_subject, that person will be replaced with another. Click the link to fill in the information about your high school, you’ll be asked to fill in information about middle school.

Surely the experts at LinkedIn know this annoys us. As networks fill with people we sort of remember from that one office party they actually become weaker. As online profiles bloat it becomes harder to get a quick summary. We lose productivity.

It turns out that Senior Management at LinkedIn has incentives to make the software addictive and viral.

You could say LinkedIn’s own management is addicted to addiction. Continued »


October 10, 2018  10:33 AM

Blockchain for Mere Mortals

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Bitcoin, Blockchain

Bitcoin as the first blockchain implementationIf you’re anything like me, you’ve heard a lot about Blockchain. According to some, it is a distributed ledger technology that will make middle-person companies like Airbnb, Uber, Turo, and Taskrabbit obsolete. Others claim Blockchain will enable people to securely document their land ownership, jewelry, birth certificates, proof of insurance, all while creating restrictions on who can have access to that information.

The software tester sees a lot of hype and not a lot of substance.

Then again, I said the same thing about Mobile Phones. Back in 2000, back when the screen for a phone was something like 6×6 characters of text, Joel Spolsky pointed out that the mobile web was essentially a joke. Joel was incredibly wrong; it was more that the time of the Mobile web had not come yet. We needed Apple to bring us the iPhone. Today, 52 percent of Web traffic is mobile.

So what is the real potential for blockchain (in plain English) and how fast might it do exactly what to change the world?

Today’s column is for everyone wondering just that. Continued »


October 2, 2018  11:08 AM

The Pipeline Problem

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Continuous delivery, DevOps, DevOps - testing / continuous delivery, devops training, future in devops

Pipelines at KWSQAI spent part of last week at the Targeting Quality Conference in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. That conference is hosted by the Kitchener-Waterloo Software Quality Association, and is commonly known as “KWSQA-Conf.” During the session I spent some time at the DevOps tutorial with Lisa Crispin, Rob Bowyer, and Mike Hrycyk. One of the exercises was designing your own Continuous Delivery Pipeline.

Given a real, large, familiar website like Facebook, Google or Kayak, we had to come up with a bug or feature request then design the pipeline for that feature.

Instead of dealing the excuses of our painful reality — where the database is non-relational and the transactions need to run in batch overnight and fill_in_problem_here — we started by removing all obstacles and design an ideal state.

It is a good exercise.

The challenge I see is moving from “regression testing” to a continuous delivery model. The problem isn’t coming up with the ideal state, or mapping out the existing state.

The problem is minding the gap.

Continued »


September 27, 2018  10:40 PM

What Older Technologists Know

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

I stumbled across this Quora question via a Forbes article and then fell into a Reddit rabbit hole. There are musings on how to handle bugs and how to write readable or unreadable code. Someone wrote a note about bad programmers writing a lot of clever code, good programmers writing as little as possible, and the best programmers deleting code. And there was one interesting note stating that programming skill isn’t even important in the life of a programmer.

I haven’t been workin in tech for 20 years, I think I’m close to 15 at this point, I’d wrap it all up as the value of experience. Don’t worry, I have an example.

Continued »


September 25, 2018  9:28 PM

The Product Management Unicorn

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

How many good product managers have you worked with? Like, actually worked with, not just a friend of a friend. I’d guess not very many. I know 2 product managers that I would consider legitimately good. After a few years working in software, and meeting a few product managers, it’s strange how few are standouts.

I was talking with friend about this the other day and some of the reasons started to become clear. Some organizations treat product managers as a soft skills group, people that have “people skills” (a la Office Space) but didn’t get an undergrad in computer science. I think product managers should one of the most skilled roles in a development organization

Continued »


September 20, 2018  11:49 AM

Surprising Secrets of Social Media

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
social media

Social Media 01About ten years ago, a new job category emerged: The Social Media Manager. This is a person that “does” social media for a brand, such as Ivory Soap, HBO, or Old Spice. Twitter, for example, was one of the first Social Media platforms used to “Social Media Marketing.” I have a few thousand followers there and run a technology consulting company. As such, I am arguably well-poised to know what a Social Media Manager does and how they benefit companies.

I have no idea.

The simple approach is to use Social Media too deploy coupons, which will drive customers. Pay the Social Media Manager to pay for advertisement in order to offer a deep discount.Once the discount is deep enough to create action, the profit is usually gone. That is, after all, the Groupon offering, which turns out to be a bad deal for most businesses.

It’s probably safer to say that I know what Social Media Marketing is not — or what does not work.

Here’s some thoughts on what it could be. Continued »


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