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Friday, February 24

We're jammin'
So, it's my 32nd birthday and I've chosen to spend an extra 20 minutes in bed. The plan was to collect my car from the repairers and return their loan-car, the fun but cramped Micra. I'm not running incredibly to time and we've got a meeting planned for about 9 seconds after I reckon I'm going to arrive at the office - 10am.

I drive the route that my sat-nav recommends to the dealers. It tells me to turn left, the road is a no-left turn. I turn right (there being no straight on). The sat-nav then plots me a route which does not involve turning back. Good, think I, there's traffic on the route back, and this new route seems to involve some dual carriageways. Smashing.

Then, rounding a bend to join the M4, time being tight, I nearly hit a line of standing traffic. The Micra's brakes manage to bring me to a halt. Over the next 10 or so minutes, I watch my arrival time (on the sat nav) increase. I decide that there's no way I can pick up the car. I ring the garage to let them know I'll be along the following day. That's fine. You shouldn't use a mobile while in a moving vehicle... no problem on that count.

I replot my journey to the office. That's not helping much. I'm still stuck in plenty of stationary traffic. No movement for minutes. Then we move a bit. Very slowly. Then nothing. I'd like to think that I was one of the people who invented the practical alternative to ringing in sick - ringing in late. I rang my team mates. The person I spoke to was understanding and suitably aware of the irony of my missing the meeting I'd suggested we start having. So, he agreed to reschedule this meeting for my actual arrival, whenever it was.

Overall, my journey took 2 hours. I was into the office desperately late. Given that the office is full of commuters and traffic does, sometimes, happen. People were generally understanding. Most understanding was a colleague, who arrived nearly an hour later, who had been in the same traffic jam. Her bonus DVD extra was that her car burst a fuel pipe during the jam. A passing motorist rigged something up for her.

Stand-up Frustration
So, this meeting. It was a stand-up meeting. You can take the developer out of the Agile team, but you can't...

It's strange the things you miss. The daily meeting turns out to be quite important to me. So, I explained the reasons why I felt I needed one, and we're now trying it out. I think it could work. In case anyone is reading this and hasn't heard of stand-up meetings, here is my take on what we're doing and why.

Why? - Keep everyone informed of what's going on. Make sure people get the help they need. Shorten the time between delivering news and deliver it incrementally within the team. We also have a second team who we're working alongside. So, we need a protocol for exchanging updates and problems.

What? - The daily interesting news is. What did I do last? What are my obstacles/puzzles/problems? What will I do next?

How? - We're actually doing a stand-up at the start of the day and a hand-over report in the same format at the end of the day. The hand-over report is by email and we receive a hand-over before our stand-up. We have encouraged the other team to do a stand-up too.

Stand-up - It's not a comedy thing in this case. Basically, you have a meeting where all the participants attend and do not sit down. The standing is supposed to encourage people not to drag the meeting out. We all stand in a circle and go round answering the three questions above. If this prompts need for discussion, that should happen outside the meeting. It is good to need to discuss. It is not good to drag out the stand-up. At the end of this session, we come out knowing more than we did about what people are up to, what problems are ongoing, and what we're all planning to do for the day.

The frustrations came from the rest of the day. I didn't really get my teeth into anything and I couldn't really call anything complete. I was working on some bitty tasks and I wasn't feeling particularly cheerful. Still, things were looking good for communication.

Food and fun
Back at my girlfriend's place, there was food and a couple of birthday cards to open. A good combination. I relaxed, a tricky week over. I could have done without much of the day's trials, but things were looking up.

Lucky number Slevin
Indeed looking up was the order of the evening. We decided to try to catch a showing of Lucky number Slevin at the local movie house. Though we arrived after the billed show-time on the day of this movie's release, we managed to strike it lucky and get tickets and get into seats before the actual movie started. The bad news was that we were quite close to the front. However, looking up at a big screen is not all that bad a thing to do and the movie was truly excellent.

One of the highlights of this particular showing for me was the fact that it was a funny movie (it's not a comedy, but some of it is very very funny) and the audience in the cinema felt that they could laugh out loud. I've not been in a cinema with people laughing heartily in recent memory. As a comedian, the sound of laughter is a like a joyful shower. I've been keen to find an opportunity to see a movie with laughs in it to see how it compares to the sound of a live comedy audience. Now I've been in a live laughing movie audience. A good way to end a birthday.

32. Shit.


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