Yesterday I told you about the lightening fast, dead sexy movie site, ‘Event Cinemas’ that went live. Today I have a real gem from SSW TV. This video shows a little of how that sausage was made and hopefully you will get a great takeaway, that you can use in your own Scrum team.
One thing that is practically universal in our industry is that we let Product Owners get away with far too much. Product Owners are typically extremely busy people and I believe that most dysfunction that happens in Scrum teams comes down to the Product Owner. Letting a Product Owner skip estimating the “Business Value” does *not* make developers work better together.
So how do we estimate Business Value?
Well, we know that developers love the Fibonacci sequence (1,2,3,5,8,13,21), but the last thing you want to do, is teach Product Owners about how hip Fibonacci is, because it is slightly complicated and unnatural to those non-mathematically minded.
Therefore these days I much prefer the “Doubling” method (1,2,4,8,16,32) as it is far simpler for Product Owners to understand. Even better, I prefer that the developers switch to estimating their “effort” using the same scale, then things are much easier all around.
So come on and lets get this happening in all Scrum teams!
I propose the following:
1) Let’s make ‘Business Value’ *not* optional, and explain to Product Owners that if it’s good enough for a developer to estimate “Effort”, then it’s good enough for the Product Owner to estimate “Business Value”.
3) Once you have had a good experience using it, then tell Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland that “Business Value” is really important and we want it in our beloved The Scrum Guide. And it wouldn’t hurt if it was also in the Terminology section of their book, Software in 30 Days.
Of course, many Scrum teams don’t bother with “Business Value”, so why should you?
There are plenty of benefits, starting with:
Helping you order your backlog
Finding the low-hanging fruit (easy tasks that give high value) and
If you have comments on why you like, or dislike, “Business Value”, let me know.
A big thank you to Robin Maes, Andrew Turner and the whole Event Cinemas team who worked tirelessly with the SSW’s guys to deliver a great looking, super fast, site that was on time and to the fixed budget.
Thanks to the Telerik Sitefinity team, our favourite Bulgarians, for giving us the updates with the fixes we needed.
Thanks to the SSW guys too, Adam Stephensen, Eric Phan, Daniel Hyles, Gerard Beggerlegs and Drew Robson who put in the hard yards.
It really was another great year for SSW with the launch of our new Metro website as well as our new SSW TV site. In 2012, SSW TV went from zero to 30,000 unique visitors – a good start but we still have a long way to go. Our guys and girls at SSW kept performing professionally throughout 2012, building great .Net solutions and business applications.
More information below…
We kicked off the year with a new version of the SSW website all Metro’d up by Rebecca and Tiago. We were very excited to launch our new SSW TV site. The SSW TV team released 87 videos with 52,000 views.
The guys and girls at SSW kept performing professionally in 2012 doing lots of new websites and business applications. The billable award goes to Eric Phan who billed more client hours than anyone else, and the upsell award goes to Dan Hyles who proved that he could sell new projects with the best of them.
The project I was most proud of at SSW was the rewrite of a very large Australian ticketing site. This was because it was a real challenge and this project had so many new things we hadn’t used in combination such as fixed-price with Scrum, plus, it was written with ASP.NET MVC 4 and the Telerik Sitefinity CMS. There’s a little bit more work to go before it gets released to the public, but it’s looking good.
Our sweetest win of 2012 was a client who sensibly engaged both us and our #1 competitor for a week. They simultaneously gave both companies the same requirements to make sure we could walk the walk and SSW came away with the job so we must have impressed. Great job to Mark and Gerard!
In terms of SSW products, our SSW.SQLDeploy.MVC package is now live on Nuget, and we’ve released a new version of Code Auditor with great new rules and Visual Studio 2012 integration. We’ve also been working hard on our new MVC-based SSW.TimePro application, adding improvements such as CRM 2011 integration, and we’re nearly finished with adding provisioning functionality to bring it to the public.
Video: Celebrating our first 20 years – Sydney .NET User Group
I am proud to be able to say that I have been running the Sydney .NET User Group for over 20 years now. During that time we’ve had some great and memorable speakers sharing information about a range of .NET topics. We’ve kept evolving and we’re excited that our .NET User Group is now recorded and broadcast *Live* by our SSW TV team. It is then posted to our blog the following day.
We’ll be celebrating 20 years at this month’s Sydney .NET User Group with speakers from the US, Steve Smith (Wednesday) and Stephen Forte and Chris Sells (Thursday). This month will also feature some great (and expensive) lucky door prizes from Telerik, DevExpress, and Infragistics. You can come Wednesday or Thursday, or come on both if you’re keen.
I’d like to let you know what I’ve been up to this year (next month, I’ll let you know what SSW has achieved).
Since my main job is helping companies adopt and deploy Microsoft technologies, my roles at Microsoft are very useful for my customers and staff.
As a Microsoft Regional Director and ALM MVP (where I received MVP of the year in 2011), I have enjoyed keeping my finger on the pulse of Microsoft and all its product developments. This year has been the most exciting since 1995 with the release of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, SharePoint 2013, Office 2013, VS & TFS 2012 and the Surface RT tablet.
On the community side, I have continued running the Sydney and Canberra .NET User Groups and one of my key projects for the year was the creation and launch of SSW.TV (tv.ssw.com), a great resource of videos for the developer community. I have worked with the SSW.TV team and we have been regularly releasing videos with interviews and how to’s. This has continued the SSW tradition of sharing knowledge to help our industry create better quality software. (More on their achievements next month).
My favorite thing recently has been showing audiences Microsoft’s 2 best devices, the Windows Phone 8 and the Surface. Developers are excited because nothing comes close to developing in Visual Studio 2012 and working in teams with Scrum. I have been showing audiences that while Microsoft was slower to market with the 2 new devices, the offering is much more cohesive for both the business and consumer communities. Apple, Amazon and Google were quicker into the market with hardware, but their software is piecemeal.
I’m proud to be one of the technology leaders in Australia and I will continue helping teams work better together by being a Scrum Master, Scrum Trainer and a .NET architect, working with TFS and implementing the whole ALM lifecycle.
I’d like to thank all the people who have helped me this year, including my staff (Sydney, Brisbane and Beijing), the people who have attended my sessions and all the people who have sent emails helping me to improve my rules and videos. If you were one of the people I heckled in my presentations, I apologize
Build 2012 conference to keep up to date with new technologies
MVP summit in Seattle
Scrum.org face to face meeting with lots of white-robes in Redmond
Technical editor for the “Professional Scrum Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2012″ a book for Microsoft Press
by Richard Hundhausen (386 pages, ISBN 9780735657984). This book is for software development teams using, or considering using, the powerful combination of Visual Studio and Scrum.
Technical editor for the “Professional Scrum Developer” course to Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio Scrum 2.0.
A strategic program between Scrum.org and Microsoft.
Technical editor for the “Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012: Adopting Agile Software Practices: From Backlog to Continuous Feedback”
by Neno Loje and Sam Guckenheimer
I’ve just come back from Build 2012 where we have seen the fruits of Microsoft’s work over the last few years being Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and of course most importantly the Surface.
I was lucky enough to be in the front row so I got to see things up close.
We now have devices from phones, tablets, work PCs and servers all with the same Metro (dont tell me to call it Modern UI please) tiled user interface.
What that means for users is that they have the same *one* user experience.
What that means for developers is that we have the simplest way to build apps that go across these 3 devices.
I have been using the Surface RT for a number of weeks now.
First let me tell you about opening it. I got my 8 year old daughter (Ruby Cogan) to open it and she had herself up and running without any help. Within 7 minutes she was able to unbox it, connect to Wifi, find and install her first game without one word of guidance from me.
The only thing that took her a little bit of time to find was the search by swiping from the right (I do already love that every app has a consistent contextual search). It was only around half an hour before she was completely used to swiping up and down.
Ruby did not know about and therefore did not find the kickstand (although with the amount of advertising you are going to see, I doubt it will be a problem for you guys).
The thing that really excited her, which surprised me, was when she saw My Computer, she got excited “Wow!” and ran to get her USB to copy her sisters video to the desktop.
The Surface has been well received. There has only been one complaint mentioned and that was regarding the touch cover splitting on the corner for some users. I like the touch keyboard and the way it clicks in (although I am half expecting to start hearing a lot of problems with the hardware and those contacts not working reliably). I also love getting Alt+Tab functionality back.
I still want the built in mail client to be better, but it is great to finally be able to edit a Word, Excel or OneNote document.
I am amazed how good the split screen is so you can be reading email while continuing to watch that movie.
One thing developers need to be aware of when building apps, is to consider the size for the different resolutions in particular when an application is snapped. On the Surface, the snap view divides the screen up into ¼ and ¾, but this will be different on different devices (acutally the snap view is always 342 pixels) so you really need to get into responsive designing. For a good user experience, keep the left snap view for reading, not interactive stuff like filling in forms.
The great thing for developers, is the way you test. With Visual Studio 2012, the emulator simulates the Surface perfectly.
The brand new app store obviously has anorexia, but since it is the easiest platform to build apps for (significantly easier than building an iOS app, which has given us all fun and games for the last couple of years), that is not going to last long.
Figure: Do you design your app to render in the split screen?
Microsoft is on to something here! Are you going to buy a Surface for Christmas?
Last weekend, we decided to take the plunge and upgrade our SSW TFS 2012 RC instance to the shiny new TFS 2012 RTM.
It was early I know, we considered the risks vs the rewards, made a roll-back plan with HyperV and quickly decided it was worth the effort. We ploughed ahead with the upgrade with Damian Brady in the hot seat again!
There were two main upgrade paths available to us:
- Upgrade in place (recommended)
- Upgrade and move to new hardware
You might remember we chose to upgrade and move to new hardware when we upgraded from TFS 2010 to TFS 2012 RC. We choose option 2 this time for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the environment was still new as a result of our last upgrade so there was no point upgrading again. Secondly, we were moving from one version of TFS 2012 to another, so we would expect less to change this time.
It was a very straightforward process (with a few coffee breaks):
For the last month I was driving through Germany, Italy, Austria and Croatia. I hired 3 different cars. Having mainly driven Toyotas, I was keen on experiencing some variety.
The 1st one was an Audi A6, it is beautiful piece of German engineering that I got up to 245km/hr without even feeling it. The only frustrating thing, was learning this iPod like wheel that you spin.
To work the dial/wheel you first rotate it, attempt to navigate up and down through menus, and press to select. You also have 4 buttons that surround the control which are very difficult to work out when all the instructions are in German.
Figure: Audi controls
I also used a Mercedes SLK200 which was almost as nice except it also had the dial/wheel to rotate and unfortunately a very small, iPhone sized navigation display.
The 3rd car I hired was a Kia only because my BMW fell through. The Kia unfortunately maxed out at 165km/h on the autobahn but I quickly understood what all the buttons did.
Figure: Kia controls
So which car did I like the most?
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the German engineering of the Audi or the Mercedes. It was the Kia. “Why?” I hear you ask. Because, the Kia was the only one with a large touchscreen which made using the GPS super easy
Over the weekend, we decided to take the plunge and upgrade the SSW TFS 2010 instance to the shiny new TFS 2012 release candidate.
Initially, there was some debate as to whether we should upgrade what is the busiest server in our environment. One call to Grant Holliday made all the difference and we quickly reached a consensus. The upgrade was going ahead and Damian Brady was the guy in the hot seat!
There are three main upgrade paths:
Upgrade from a Basic or Express version of TFS
Upgrade in place
Upgrade and move to new hardware (recommended)
We chose option 3 for a few reasons. We used the opportunity to move to a SQL Server 2012 instance and change our hardware configuration a bit, but more importantly option 3 gave us the simplest rollback path; simply turn off the new server and bring the old one back up, then change any DNS settings back.
It was a very straightforward process (with a few coffee breaks):
Before you start – getting the VMs ready
Preparation steps – stopping the servers and backing up
Installing and upgrading TFS 2012
Configuring Reporting Services
The initial feedback from the test developers is extremely positive. They can’t wait to start using it!
Well done to the TFS team, they’ve really done a great job in this version.
SSW may have a possible claim to fame here – we might be the first company to deploy TFS 2012 RC to live. I have not seen any blog posts about other companies migrating their live environment yet. I’m a TFS MVP and nobody on that list has posted about their migration yet. I’m expecting the punctilious Martin Hinshelwood to send us a nice scotch whisky!
The one thing I am most thankful for is that my dad still stayed himself, right to the end. He still had all his marbles and his sense of humour.
In fact a few days ago, a visit included my Greek mother in law Stavroula. She was rubbing dad’s back. He turned to me and said:
‘That’s nice. If your mother walked in right now, she would not be very happy.’
There are a few major parts to my dad’s life:
· His service station
· His love affair with cars and trucks
· His farm ‘Eden Valley Stud’
· His retirement… 30 years!
Figure: My dad’s life started in 1917. He was the oldest of 6 kids
Figure: Dad went to St Aloysius School down on the water at Milsons Point
Figure: Dad loved the fact that he watched the Sydney Harbour Bridge go up, day by day while he was at school
He went to school for a total of 6 years… he never even went to high school. (Which I believe he accredits as the secret of why he was so smart… something about ‘The University of Life’)
His dad was a builder, so his working life started helping his dad to build some buildings around North Sydney
Cogan’s Shell Service Station
Figure: Dad’s 1st business ended up being the 2nd largest service station on the North Shore of Sydney. He ran it for 17 years.
I asked him what his favorite thing about this time was and he said ‘the free milk shakes’
Figure: Dad joined the army and fought the Japanese in WWII
He spent most of his time fixing cars and trucks. I find it ironic, that his nemesis in the war was not the Japanese, but the mosquitoes. He nearly died from Dengue Fever in New Guinea.
His love affair with cars and trucks
He started with timber, then move on to Interstate.
Figure: He then ran a truck business with his brother Peter Cogan driving between Sydney and Melbourne… later Brisbane
Figure: They owned 3 semi-trailers between them and he was well on his way to becoming the next Lindsey Fox ….
Figure: …until one fateful series of days when all 3 were totalled (2 in 1 night)
Figure: He was always proud of his brother Peter who when on to found Cubico. Cubico trucks were the 1st freight company in Australia to charge by space instead of by weight.
His farm ‘Eden Valley Stud’
Figure: From there he decided to get a farm in Muswellbrook. Since he needed more space to park his ever increasing collection of broken cars. Dad is on the tractor and Doug Cox is on the left.
Figure: It was a empty farm, full of trees with the awesome feature of being a water front farm on the Hunter River
Dad was very fortunate to get the farm and it was only enabled by Peter Blake’s father (old Frank Blake) who went guarantor for the whole £ 12k loan.
Dad went to work chopping down all the trees for farming. Within a few years he was very proud to have the greenest farm in Denman, having built a huge underground irrigation network… incredibly under the whole farm.
Then he built a dairy…. then a couple of large hay sheds.
Figure: This beautiful city girl – Eve Cooper – started turning up to the farm with one of her friends. Shortly thereafter they were married.
Mum told me that she felt sorry for dad, all alone on this big farm, still a bachelor at 50 years of age.
When I asked dad about this, he said:
Your mother felt sorry for me…. on this big flash farm with a whole row of cars
Within a year Eve and Jack were engaged to be married and very shortly afterwards, my sister and I were born.
Mum and Dad gave us a great childhood on the farm… miles from the next farm….
My mum says she saved him from being a terminal bachelor. Dad disputed that ‘I was fine. I already had 200 females to look after before your mum came along” (the cows)
We milked cows at 5am in the morning – I thought I had it hard, but Dad had to do it twice a day. Everyday.
Mum didn’t know anything about cows when she came to work on the farm. They worked well together and mum became a breeding expert on "Friesian cows" (the black and white ones – the ones that produce the most milk).
She focused on the importance of purebred. She made sure that dad’s hard work was turning into record numbers for milk production per cow. She had cows that were continuing to calve and supply milk up to the age of 19 or 20 years.
Prices soared when mum was selling their 2 and 3 year old Friesian cows.
I learnt lots of things, Dad gave me a motor bike at 6 and a bomb car (a bomb is Australian for a wreck) that was mine to drive when I was 8. Those years were the happiest days of his life.
Dad had a large family, was closest to his Brother Bob Cogan. I always found this interesting because Bob was the youngest of the 6 kids.
Let me tell you the angriest I have seen dad. Bob’s son Benny – I always enjoyed time with Ben – came up to the farm with a boot load of rifles. All my experiences with my cousin Benny were fun and naughty and this day was to prove no exception.
One morning Benny and I went driving looking for rabbits to shoot, but when we couldn’t find any, we decided to shoot up a row of 30 of dad’s old cars.
We shot the headlights, the mirrors, the tires and the windscreens…. Boy was it fun.
That night after dad had seen our handiwork, dad came back to the farmhouse with steam pouring out of his ears. When asked for an explanation, I regret my answer:
“But they were only old bombs”
I only ever shot tin cans and rabbits from that day.
Jack Cogan’s rules of life:
Dad was a hard worker and if you wanted to get close to him, you had to help him work. Talk was minimal. During these times he only ever gave me 2 pieces of advice:
1. Never lend your money, car, or your wife
2. Never get that snip (I guess he must have had a bad experience with his vasectomy)
The dead eagle
I might just give you a couple of stories that, although he’d never admit to having made a mistake, these might go to show that he was not infallible.
Story 1: A elusive large eagle was killing our baby sheep and calves. One day, just after the Blake brothers had turned up, he caught a glimpse of this eagle and (as he likes to remind people) with one shot, he downed the eagle that was flying 100m above him. When it was shot, it plummeted straight down into the ground without a single sign of life. After they finished chatting for 5 minutes, he walked over to pick it up, and (despite the yelling/advice of everyone around telling him not to), he went to pick it up. The eagle came to life and using its inside claw, ripped Dad’s arm open, from elbow to wrist.
Story 2: Another incident that I didn’t witness but I heard about from many farmers, was dad standing over a wood chipper feeding wood into it, and, so the legend goes, it somehow caught a dangling piece of his overalls. A normal man would have been pulled into it and come out as spaghetti mince. But dad just stood there holding his feet as solidly as he could. It took just 5 long seconds for the machine to rip his clothes from his body, leaving him standing in just his boxers. He either had the constitution of an Ox with treelike legs… or else very warn out overalls.
But all good things come to an end and we lost our farm (resumed by the government) because they found coal under it. After the farm we moved to Belrose, NSW, where dad purchased a house from Kell Hutchence… and so that is how I got Michael Hutchence bedroom (from INXS fame).
Figure: Amazingly I got Michael Hutchence bedroom when we moved to Sydney.
After that we moved to Port Macquarie for my dad’s 1st attempt at retirement
Then it was back to the farm and then back to Forestville in Sydney
In Forestville, dad bought 3 timber weatherboard homes and decided that he would do an extension, country style. When he put his plans into council, they couldn’t believe it and because they were very concerned/disbelieving, they made him give a $30k deposit, that was only refundable if he completed the proposed work.
Figure: Dad had 1/2 of the suburb watching him the day he joined 2 houses together!
So out came his semi-trailer. He put one house on the back of it, reversed it round to join onto the back of the other house, and in so doing joined 2 small kitchens to make one large one, put the back house up on brick pillars, and brink veneered both houses as one. He then collected his $30k and never really finished the inside of the house…. which my mum reminded him about daily for the rest of his days.
The highlight of this time, for myself and my dad, was the evening visits from my Uncle Doug Cox. Dad and Doug loved chatting. They told me a few inappropriate stories for a 14 year old, that I believed as truth for years.
My dad was a firm man, from an older generation, who didn’t believe in showing affection… especially to men, and held dearly the value of hard work. To my constant anguish, whenever I would ask to go to town to play cricket or soccer, he would make me dig post holes. He said it was better exercise.
I am often asked how Louise and I both came to start our own companies…. I guess when you have seen your dad work hard… and never seen your dad work for someone else, it is natural.
Figure: Back to the farm to pick up one of the cars that hadn’t been shot up
One of the best times I had with my dad is when we went back to Muswellbrook together to pick up one of his old cars, bring it back to Sydney, completely disassemble it (and when I say completely, I really mean it, we even re-bored out the pistons) and put it back together.
It took a couple of months to do and at the end we still had one ice-cream container full of screws that we couldn’t work out where they should go. Dad said that was to be expected.
I took that car with thanks as it was my 1st car, but I drove it so hard and fast (it was before speed cameras) that it started coming apart. I was told I was a reckless showman that didn’t respect property. It is something I regret as I feel like I let my dad down.
His retirement… 30 years!
From that point on, my dad retired and spent his days, fixing the neighbors’ cars (for free, my mum will remind you), hanging out with his buddies at the RSL and then watching war movies.
Figure: James Snodgrass knew dad’s love language, ‘work’. Here he is at 15 years of age.
Figure: Who could have known at that time that his retirement would last an amazing 35 years… so long that he ran out of war movies and ran out of stories to reminisce with James Snoddy?
Figure: Ruby Cogan and Jack Cogan
Even more significant for me, is in his last years he shed some of his tough outer layers. He would come and visit the office each couple of weeks, have a coffee and give me a hug.
In the last few months of his life I got my first kiss from him. I especially loved seeing him give my little girls (Eve and Ruby) lots of hugs and kisses.
- – Rest In Peace dad – -
Interesting facts about Jack:
1932: Walked across harbour bridge when opened
2nd largest garage in the North Shore
Most milk out of one cow – Snowtrail
Semi trailers lost:
Number of times he recited that story: 5000+
Bad jokes told:
1 (got married too young at 50)
There was a girl from Nod, Who thought babies came from God. But it was not the Almighty, Who lifted her nighty, It was Roger, the dodger, the sod.