Hello, Sepang!

Oh, it’s been an interesting week at work: I’ve been wrestling with client side logic on a system that’s 100% based on the server side handling all the bits and bytes. It’s been a blast! Without the help of jQuery I probably would have died a little inside in the process. It’s great to see that someone saved JavaScript from itself and made it cross-browser friendly and usable for Joe Programmer.

What’s the greatest pleasure after a demanding week at work? A Formula 1 race weekend, of course! Unfortunately, the next race is in two weeks, on the Shanghai International Circuit in China. But I can’t really complain, last weekend was a race weekend and the weekend before that was as well. The previous race was in Malaysia, on the Sepang International Circuit, where, not surprisingly, the heavens opened up and gave us both a safety car and a red flag because the guy who built the track forgot all about drainage.

In addition to the rain showers that always happen during the Malaysian Grand Prix, the heat is also a challenge, both for the drivers and their machines. The drivers have to stay cool and drink a lot of water during the race, while the intense track temperature of 46 °C (115 °F) wears out the tires quicker than on cooler surfaces.

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Luck.

Organizing out-of-office hours social events for their employees is a priority for my employer, BEKK. They even have a highly dedicated group of people who spend a lot of time handling these events, and as far as I know, they have a reasonable budget to play around with. Personally, I don’t attend that many of these events, but every know I then I crawl out from underneath my rock, put on my social face and fire up the smalltalk machine1.

Most of the events are themed and yesterday “One Night in Vegas” was held: Texas Hold ‘Em, Black Jack, Roulette, but very little mafia. For me this was a great opportunity to do a little light-weight gambling before me and the guys go to Las Vegas later this year. Unfortunately, I discovered that I have a serious gambling problem. Not the kind of gambling problem where people pour their life savings, pink slips, kids and grandmothers into the pot, but rather the exact opposite: My risk aversion prevents me from using much money at all on gambling. Even though we got a stack of chips for free and was never playing for real money, I just didn’t want to use the chips. They felt perfectly safe in my pocket.

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Wall Display.

If you’re a computer programmer and you work on a team that uses some sort of agile methodology you most likely have a build screen in your office. The build screen, the most sacred piece of office equipment – with the possible exception of the coffee machine – should be the first thing you look at when you come to the office in the morning, the first thing you look at whenever you take your eyes off your computer screen and the last thing you look at when you leave the office in the afternoon. And if the build screen shows you that something is amiss, you should sit back down and get it fixed2.

Because of this, the build screen should be positioned somewhere in the office where everyone – including management, the customer, the janitor and the janitor’s second cousin – can see it without too much effort. Cramming it in a corner where only one developer can see the screen totally ruins the agile feng shui of the room. The build screen is important because the information displayed tells you if there are something rotten in your code base. If it is, it should be a priority to get it fixed. Remember that test which started failing last week that no one gave a crap about? Well, the reason why it failed made its way all the way through QA and now you have a priority level A bug rattling around in production: 10 minutes to respond to the customer’s bug ticket, 30 minutes to come up with a work around and 8 hours to get a fully tested bug fix deployed. The only problem is that the customer requires that every deployment, no matter the size, goes through the 250 pages QA process. Looks like someone will have to burn some of that midnight oil. Why, oh, why, didn’t you just fix everything when the build screen reported the error last week?

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Finland.

Ah, it’s 2011. A new year, filled to the brim with unexplored opportunities and adventures. And of course at least one hundred marwonderfullish1 entries on this very site. It hasn’t started too well, though; today is January 19 20 and this will be the second third entry I write this year.

I’ve got a lot of great excuses to why I’ve been so lazy, however. Or at least one: Work. I spent the first week of 2011 in Helsinki, Finland. At first it was freezing cold, the it got a bit warmer and rather wet.

In Finland me and forty of my esteemed colleagues learned how to behave like proper Senior Consultants. We’re role models now, apparently. Our version of the typical Senior Consultant is not exactly like the Wikipedia version. The sales bit is toned down a little and that suits me very well – I probably couldn’t sell bottled water in Sahara.

Among the things we did was to play with LEGO for two days, an activity that magically turned some of us into ScrumMasters. Then we learned the ins and outs of how the company’s sales department operate, and even though I’m not sales material, it was, hands down, the week’s best session. Towards the end of the week we went through a tech case focusing on test and legacy code refactoring, topics that are very interesting for any consultant touching code, senior or not.

And did I mention the lightning talks and the two evenings with Open Spaces? Well, I did now. And there you have it: Quite a few reasons why being a BEKK employee is a good thing.

Do you hear that, Terje?