By Marco Heerebout. I use this blog with a focus on my profession and related subjects and opinions. I'm active in the field of system development and software engineering, applying and mentoring Agile principles and Scrum, most of the times in a leading role or as Scrum master.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New job, blogging and mouse speed

It's been a long period since my last post with a lot of things that happened. So here is the short story.

I bought a new house last year and had to sell my own house. I'm glad that I was able to sell my house in time so that I'm not having double costs now. I even decided to sell it before our new house was ready... so we lived for about 4 months with my parents. That was fun with the four of us filling up my parents house (with them also there of course). That was in a normal, not too big, Dutch house.

The day before we got the key of our new house, an unexpected surprise came along. The financial situation of my employer was getting worse and they had to act unfortunately by cutting costs. I was one of the people that were "cut away" to make the future survival easier.

It was no fun to look for jobs during the summer season combined with a crisis still going on. But I did have quite a lot of interviews and finally one of my early interviews seemed to be the beginning of a new start.

I'm working now with pleasure at Backbase, the Next Generation Portal Software creator. A great product and a great company with much potential!
As a Manager Development I'll support the R&D teams to deliver great software and to improve the overall performance step by step.

Blogging has been tough the last 10 months, but I want to proceed again. From my various experiences and insights I want to write about Agile and Scrum, as a ScrumMaster, Manager and Agile Coach. My intention is to proceed with my blogging.

Mouse speed
While setting up my MacBook I wanted to speed up the tracking speed of my mouse. I like to use less desk space for my mouse to safe some energy and moves. Although I wanted to use the magic trackpad instead of the magic mouse, I didn't get it yet... Could it prevent RSI, I guess it will or at least makes you less RSI-receptive?

The magic mouse ain't bad! But the speed is too limited by the mouse settings in the System Preferences. By default there is a speed of max 3.

I found a solution (here) and that is to use a command line property changing the tracking speed. You can read the current speed and you can set (write) the new/wanted speed. The settings on the System Preferences|Mouse do not really adapt so a change there resets your speed back to the default tracking range (max 3).

So, use this to read the current value:
defaults read -g

Set the new value (I use 15 now):
defaults write -g 15

Be aware of logging out and in before the new setting are activated.

UPDATE (2011-12):
If this mouse speed thing is also one of your issues.... I ran into MagicPrefs which makes a lot of customizations possible for the magic mouse and trackpad. Maybe that's worth looking at.

Have fun!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: New and Improved (OneMonthProject)

Last month I wrote an article for the Whitehorses website. A Whitebook about a successful project (only in Dutch: Een succesvol project in de praktijk). The idea is that we approach projects in a new and improved way.

New about it is that we start building software after a very limited starting up phase. When we reach the moment that the customer wants to hire us and we can start, we form a mixed team and spend in total just a few days to get an understanding of what kind of system and what specific behaviour and requirements are expected.

Then we try to define the result we expect to reach and go live with after 1 calendar month. Then we start to reach the finish of the first month result as good and as fast as we can! It's sometimes hard to imagine that you can actually deliver working software after a few days or weeks, but we (we as the pro's in the IT industry) really can!

Ok. Then what's the improved part? The improved part is that we only want to fullfil the needs our customers needs. We focus on the functionality that helps out customers to do their jobs/services better and make money with it. Here is where we improve the way we work with the customer: we team up with the customer. Yes, the customer pays us. But we have to do the excellent job together!

That means, we are more intense involved with each other. Communication about what is wanted, what the priorities are, what makes money, what insights changed, etc will help to gain a better basis to reach the successful end results. Of course there is the risk of scope creep but we will also communicate about that of course. Here comes in the trust we require at both sides. The customer should be aware that moving and changing the target "while flying" costs time and money. We, the "result engineers", should help to keep the number of changes low by asking the right questions and make sure that we have the same target vision (results and business value). Together we do all this!

Some uncertainties in software development are still there. We approach the way we deliver software in a new and improved way but we can't eliminate all risks. The fact that we apply Continuous Integration, Automated Testing and a Testing Environment makes the time between running into and solving eventual risks short and thus a lot easier to mitigate. This applies on both the technical as the business issues.

After the first month we may be done or may just have delivered a piece of a bigger system. This type of months keep on repeating until we are not able to add enough value or the end result has been reached. Changing requirements in the future will normally be a set of various changes, approached by us in about the same way we did the project.

"One Month Project" is how we named this approach and will be offered to our clients from now (2010). Stock and capacity are limited but we plan to expand if we can or should.

There are lots of opportunities for customers to be done in about 1 month. We can help a customer to:
  • build new business
  • make efficiency steps;
  • raise service levels;
  • fix a problem;
  • gain competitive advantage by making small (monthly) steps;
  • make IT helpful (instead of blocking);
  • innovate and excel;
  • etc.
Lots of possibilities! And we really love to reach results. Our customer's business and success is our business.

I'll write more about this OneMonthProject appoach here, so if you like it: stay tuned.

Some info about the toolbox we use: agile, scrum, ruby on rails, java, jruby, linux, ruby, oracle, mysql, etc.