carnival of the agilists, 9-nov-07

Welcome to the latest edition of the Carnival of the Agilists, the blogroll that skims the cream from the top of the agile blogsphere. This week’s theme is: a bumper bag of liquorice allsorts

Brian Marick has posted the transcript of his OOPSLA talk in several parts. Part 3 discusses Pasteur’s attempts to educate the French about the causes of anthrax, and relates that to a fun idea for energizing daily stand-up meetings: “another example of using a weirdo theory from sociologists to give myself ideas.” Meanwhile Mark Levison has revived his team’s iteration boundaries by introducing good agendas: “By breaking things down into smaller more focused chunks the new agenda (and prompting questions) has made our retrospectives more valuable”. Dale Emery also chips in on the subject of efficiency, with a great discussion of the causes of multitasking: “If I split my time among all six tasks, I get to tell all six people every day that I’m making progress on their important tasks. And I get to be sincere about that”. (I have no idea why this post appeared in my RSS reader this week, as it was written over two years ago. Still, it fits here and its still very relevant today; think of it as this Carnival’s “Two Years Ago This Week” entry…)

Both Mark Levison and Dave Rooney discuss the downsides of working remotely from the team. And while Mark (and his commenters) provides a list of tools and techniques to help improve communications, Dave’s top tip is: “Remind your significant other that hay and shavings from the rabbit’s cage shouldn’t be washed down the drain in the laundry room.”. Now why didn’t that practice make it into the white book?

Rebecca Wirfs-Brock reports on the findings of a workshop that discussed Challenges When Communicating Designs: “I started by making the connection between telling others about designs and storytelling. Effective designers need to tell good stories. And the tone and means by which we communicate design ideas should vary depending on the reasons we have for telling a particular story, and our audience’s background and expectations”. Now I think about it, the great developers I’ve worked with are all great story-tellers too; Rebecca’s discussion suggests that’s no coincidence.

Michael Feathers’ latest addition to the Beautiful Code blog is a post entitled Elegant Byte Counting, which centres on the use of the SpecialCase pattern to solve a tricky little code duplication problem: “This is a particularly elegant way of handling things. Rather than having separate code to traverse writable things for size and write, all of the work can be done with the same piece of code, the write method. There’s less duplication and less possibility of error in maintenance.” There are nowhere near enough of these great little design vignettes around, in my opinion.

After the summer-long debates about certification of various sorts, Willem van den Ende has discovered that you’ll make more money if you are not certified. He quotes Mark Gallaher thus: “A new report from industry research firm Foote Partners LLC finds that the average pay for noncertified IT skills topped that for certified professionals [...]“. Less is more, it seems.

And finally…

The calls-for-participation have been published for both Agile 2008 and Scotland on Rails. Give them a look and submit a few sessions — I know I will!

To suggest items for a future carnival – especially from a blog we haven’t featured before – email us at agilists.carnival@gmail.com. As ever, this and all previous editions of the Carnival are catalogued at the Agile Alliance website. Look out for the next edition of the Carnival around the end of November, hosted by Pete Behrens.

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