Saturday, 17 September 2011

Moleskine + Kindle = ... Moleskindle?

Faced with the harrowing prospect of trying to fit the entire Song of Ice and Fire into hand luggage on my next holiday, I bought a Kindle. It's quite magic. It won't switch off, it doesn't light up, it looks utterly fake - like some sort of plastic prop tablet device where they've used a printed cardboard screen... and it's absolutely lovely. My paperback books tend to end up rather battered from being slung around in bags all the time, and I wanted a case to keep the Kindle safe from knocks and scratches. Rather than spend money on one of the ridiculously overpriced cases you can get for it, I wanted to try something a bit different. You remember reading spy books as a kid where people would hide stuff inside hollowed-out books?

I found an old Moleskine notebook that was just the right size for it, and started hacking away - a couple of happy hours playing with craft-knives and glue, and here it is: the Moleskindle

IMG_8804 IMG_8810 
IMG_8815 IMG_8814

It's a bit fiddly - and messy - getting the cutouts just the right shape; I found wood glue worked just fine - and once it's dried, the compacted glued paper is quite easy to carve & trim using a sharp craft knife. I cut a notch in the right-hand side so I can reach the page-turn buttons whilst it's in the case, but you need to pop it out to reach the power button or recharge it. Still, I think it looks pretty cool, it'll stop the Kindle getting knocked and scratched, and you can fool people on the Tube into thinking you're reading something incredibly intellectual that's been hand-written in a Moleskine notebook when you're secretly reading rock star autobiographies.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Software Development - HORSE-style

There's as many ways to lose at poker as there's ways to fail at delivering software, but one variation I have yet to experience is a game called HORSE. In HORSE, each hand follows a different set of rules - you'll play a hand of Hold'Em, a hand of Omaha, a hand of Razz, a hand of Stud, and a hand of Stud Hi-Lo; then you go back to the beginning and do it all over again, until my brother has all my chips.

Inspired by this, I've devised the following brilliant software methodology for all those teams who can't quite settle on a system that works for them. It's called WALKS, and you work in two-week sprints, using a different methodology for each sprint to ensure you get the maximum efficiency from all these wonderful processes and systems:

Weeks 1-2: Waterfall
You spend the first two weeks making bold, ambitious, big-design-up-front plans, and not actually writing any code or shipping any features.

Weeks 3-4: Agile
You spend the next two weeks trying desperately to get *something* built and releasable.

Weeks 5-6: Lean
Realizing that your "big design" is probably killing your attempts to be agile, you start hacking out unnecessary features and trying to pare the design back to something you might actually be able to build.

Weeks 7-8: Kanban
You still don't know what you're doing, so you decide to write everything on Post-It notes and stick them to a board, figuring that if you start pulling jobs off the queue, you might at least get *something* done.

Weeks 9-10: Scrum
You have two weeks of daily stand-up meetings, in a desperate attempt to try and get a handle on things. Finally, you sit down on Friday afternoon, have a two-hour timeboxed retrospective, and decide that what you really need is a full set of requirements and a definitive spec.

Then you take a weekend off, come in on Monday, and start at the top again.

If that sounds familiar, it's OK - you're not hopelessly lost, confused or unproductive; you're just taking a structured approach to being multi-disciplinary...

(This is a joke post. Please don't use WALKS to build software. Ever. The world has enough problems as it is...)