Become a Coding Pro [Lists]

LEARNING TO CODE

CODING HOME PAGES

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Ambient Noise Music for Your Epic Coding Sessions

ambient_light_wallpaper

  1. I like to have white or ambient noise playing while I study or don’t want it to be too quite when I’m alone, so I thought I’d share a list of my favorite websites in case anyone else was interested.
  2. Calm – http://www.calm.com/ – A visually beautiful website. Provides moving backgrounds and an option for guided calm which allows you to immerse yourself in the music and to relax. Has a free app for iPhone. Another one of my favourites.
  3. Showertime – http://www.showerti.me/ – The experience of taking a shower without the water. Allows you to control features such as length of shower, size of room, water pressure, etc.
  4. Coffitivity – https://coffitivity.com/ – The background noise of a coffee shop. Allows you to choose between different locations such as lunchtime lounge, morning murmur etc. Has an app for iOS and Android as well as a desktop app for OS X.
  5. Soundrown – http://soundrown.com/ – A website with a sleek minimalist design, allows you to choose between rain, coffee shop, ocean, fire, bird noises, or a combination of the five.
  6. Relaxing Snow – http://tistheseasonto.be/snowing/ – Visually beautiful falling snow, the website gives you the opinion to play music with the scenery, or to choose your own.
  7. Raining.Fm – raining.fm – This website gives you the ability to adjust the rain to exactly how you’d like it, with options to tweak thunder, rain and storm noises. Has an app for iOS and Android, as well as a timer and snooze option.
  8. Rain For Me – http://rainfor.me/ – Simple rain effects with the option to download the audio files for offline listening.
  9. Snowy Mood – http://snowymood.demouth.net/ – Inspired by Rainy Mood, this website really makes you feel like it’s winter. Perfect for playing while snuggled up in a warm bed.
  10. Rainy Cafe – http://rainycafe.com/ – Combines the sounds of a bustling cafe setting with the sounds of drizzling rain. Allows you to select the volume of each setting, or turn one off completely.
  11. Original list on Tumblr- http://belt.tumblr.com/post/86949068039/i-like-to-have-white-or-ambient-noise-playing

Your BEST Agile Tool Ever – Excel

Excel-logo.3 Reasons Excel Rules for Agile, Scrum, Kanban

Whenever I begin work with a client… one of the first tools I pop open is Microsoft Excel. I know it gets a bad rap, but it’s seriously the most dynamic and effective (functionally) tool out there bar none.

  1. Your company already owns it. You (most likely) do too
  2. Obviously, I’m a big fan of physical wallboards… but if you have to go tool, go with the most functional tool in the world
  3. Excel teaches you how to problem solve better… by learning to create functions to improve your workflow

Learn Excel:

Learn to Code – Learn Online with 6 Websites

which-programming-language-to-use

[Click to Enlarge]

6 Websites to Help you Get Coding

UDACITY

Udacity is one of the best-known MOOCs (or Massive Online Open Courses) available on the Web, and the content it contains can tutor you on everything from Android apps to social network analysis. Short videos a few minutes in length are punctuated by quizzes and exercises, and once you’ve signed up for a particular course it can last from a few weeks to a few months (check the information page for each individual course). You can think of Udacity as attending college over the Web, just without the fancy diploma at the end. Much of the material on the site (described as “courseware”) is available free of charge, but you do have the option to pay if you want to get one-on-one tuition or take on the interactive projects that come with the course. Some courses are funded by corporate sponsors; Google has built the Android app development one, for example. The Udacity model won’t suit everyone but it offers a broad range of useful content that you can fit around your existing lifestyle, particularly when you take the mobile apps (for Android and iOS) into consideration. Source: https://www.udacity.com/

CODE ACADEMY

If you want to begin right at the start, then Codecademy is a great place to dive into coding. The site is intuitive, accessible, and covers HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, Python, Ruby and PHP. Each course is split up into easily digestible sections. You can see the titles of these sections, as well as the estimated time commitment required to complete them, before you get started. You won’t come out the other end as a programming master but the appeal of Codecademy lies in its accessibility rather than its depth. At the heart of the Codecademy site is the interactive portal that enables you to take lessons and exercises right within your browser, with feedback and instruction appearing alongside in an instant as you type. As you’re doing rather than simply reading or watching, you can pick up the basics very quickly, and because Codecademy is free it’s a great way of working out whether this coding lark is for you or not before you go deeper somewhere else. Source: http://www.codecademy.com/

TREEHOUSE

Treehouse is like a paid-for, more complex upgrade to Codecademy and would be the natural next step if you pass the Codecademy courses with flying colors. There are two subscription models—a basic $25/month one and a pro $49/month upgrade—but if you want to test the waters for free then there’s a 14-day trial available that you can sign up for without any obligation. As you would expect for $25 and above each month, the materials and content provided by Treehouse is consistently top notch. Videos, interactive exercises, quizzes, forums, expert speakers and other resources are all combined with Treehouse, though you’ll need to upgrade to the top subscription level to take advantage of some of the more exclusive workshops and interviews. The step-by-step, guided approach is useful for tackling areas that you’re not familiar with, and the available tracks cover HTML, CSS, WordPress, Ruby, PHP, Android, iOS, JavaScript and more. The site is slick and simple to navigate around too. Source: http://teamtreehouse.com/

CODE SCHOOL

“Learn by doing” is the mantra of Code School, though it’s an approach adopted by many of the resources we’ve mentioned on this list. This isn’t for beginners, though: you’re going to need some level of coding know-how to make sense of the material that Code School places in front of you. You could consider moving on to Code School after Udacity, Codecademy or even Treehouse, for example, though it depends on your existing level of knowledge and the type of code you’re working with. There are four main paths to choose from—Ruby, HTML/CSS, iOS and JavaScript—but other courses outside of these main paths touch on Git, Objective-C, JQuery and other more detailed coding standards. Some of the material on the site is free, though there’s a flat monthly fee of $29 to get access to everything. Like Treehouse, there’s a mixture of screencasts, video tutorials and interactive challenges to help you get on top of your chosen topic as quickly as possible. Source: https://www.codeschool.com/

DASH

Dash is a project from educational institution General Assembly that focuses on building websites, specifically HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Like Codecademy, the courses are designed to be easy to get started with and very interactive right from the beginning—if you want to be able to jump straight in with as little preamble as possible then Dash could be for you. One of the spin-offs created by Dash lets you build your own custom Tumblr theme, which gives you some idea of where this resource is pitched. You might not be able to launch a career as a freelance Web designer on the back of Dash alone, but it’s free to use and friendly for beginners, and by the time you come out the other end you’ll certainly have a solid foundation in browser coding skills. The step-by-step guidance and rigid structure of the course may feel a bit limiting at times, but if you want to be guided very carefully through the fundamentals of the Web then it’s perfect. Source: https://dash.generalassemb.ly/

CODE AVENGERS

Like Dash, the Code Avengers site focuses on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, though after a helpful introductory lesson you’ll need to pay to carry on with your coding education. HTML and CSS modules cost $29 each while the JavaScript ones will set you back $39 a pop—a lifetime access option is also available for $125. Use the free lessons to gauge whether the level that Code Avengers is pitched at fits in with where you are and what you want to learn. Code Avengers makes what can be a daunting and inaccessible topic very easy to get into. The way that repetition and reinforcement is used over each of the 12-hour courses means that you come away with some good programming habits as well as a good grounding in the ins and outs of Web development. The interface is clear and clean as well, and there’s a good mix of coding challenges, step-by-step instructions and practical projects to help you make progress with your Web development skills. If you’ve had any personal experiences with one of the resources we’ve mentioned—or you think there’s another site that deserves some attention—then let us know in the discussion below. Meantime, happy coding! Source: http://www.codeavengers.com/

Tips for Resumes [Infographic]

I help a lot of people with their resumes. Lots of people are looking for jobs, especially after they’ve taken one of our training courses. Instead of writing custom letters to each person (I do a lot), here is a summary of my usual thoughts…

A couple of things:
  1. 2 pages. Perfect. More than 2 is not necessary. Most people don’t read past the first half-page anyway
  2. Almost every resume I see is pretty much EXACTLY the same, are you the same as others? Absolutely not. If that’s the case, then spend time making your resume kick some serious ass.

I would do the following:

  – For each position, don’t use paragraphs. Nobody reads them anyway.
  – For each position, use BULLET POINTS. 3-4 is max
  – Fill each bullet point with ACTION words, not passive voice. What was ACCOMPLISHED is the most important
Biggest differentiator? Online presence. Do you have a website? That’s where you put the juice. Now, you don’t have to follow my footsteps here, but I DONT have a resume. I refuse to go that route. If people want to know more about me I tell them to go to a website, like: www.myai.org/peter-saddington
If they want to know more in-depth stuff about me I tell them that I’m best at communicating it in person.
You see, you’re more than a piece of paper. By far, more than that. Here is my core philosophy on these types of things:
  1. You (employer or company) desire me.
  2. I don’t necessarily desire you (company).
  3. I’m worth every penny.
  4. I’m willing to interview you (the company) just as much as you interview me
  5. You (company) need to know why it would be foolish NOT to bring me in (or hire me)
I know this may sound harsh, but companies should fight for your time, because you’re worth it. If that’s the case then I can help you (company) understand a few things:
  1. I’m more than a resume, a piece of paper
  2. Care about me, because if you get me, you’ll want to utilize me to the fullest
  3. I’m not interested in being a cog in a wheel. I’m interested in creating value.
  4. So, (company), I’m going to help you out. Go here, here and here (websites, links, etc) about me. My resume is a start point, but after that, our conversations will lead you to a better understanding and informed decision.
Anyway. I hope this helps!
Summary:
  • Shorten your resume. People don’t read paragraphs. People read bullets
  • Make it stick. I like to use a value proposition as a header… something like: “Why you should hire me:” // “Don’t lose this opportunity:” // “Why I kick serious ass:” (understand your audience here) // “How I’ve changed companies:” // “How I create value:” // “Here’s what people are saying about me:” (insert quotes from linkedin or whatever) // “Read this first:” (I like this one, because it is a call to action for them to read THIS (whatever that is) FIRST. Get them hooked) // …. … or use a powerful action word.
  • ***EXAMPLE*** — I had one person I helped with their resume have each header be a one word power-word… Her headers were like: “Boom” // “Dynamite!” // “Value” // “Engaging” // … something like that. She actually got a compliment on her resume by her hiring boss! LOL.
  • Get online presence. Again, you’re more than a piece of paper.
Hope this helps!

 

Need some tips in an infographic? Jump on it [CLICK TO ENLARGE]:

resume-infographic

One Example of How to Use an Agile Tool with Balance

best agile toolbox
So many tools… which one to choose? Check out our great list of Agile Tools

Using an Agile or Scrum tool like many that we have in our list and those reviewed can be a challenge. We’ve helped many companies utilize their ALM’s well, and we’ve even helped even more remove the challenges that Agile tools can create… and let’s be honest, sometimes the problems they create.

I, for one, am tool agnostic, any client that’s worked with me will tell you the same. My adage when it comes to any type of tool usage is this:

The effectiveness of any tool is the discipline [enterprise-wide] to use it well.

Working with assertive people is always great, they even sometimes come up great ideas, like a colleague of mine, Jason did on their current implementation of Jira:

Current benefits of Jira

The tool provides a number of benefits if properly maintained

  • Mechanism for anyone, including customers, to quickly log issues or create stories
  • Easy integration with Confluence, the document repository
  • Easy integration with Tempo, the time tracking tool
  • Snapshot of stories and defects in the product backlog
  • Snapshot of stories and defects in the sprint backlog
  • Easy integration of combined backlogs
  • Snapshot of stories planned for a release
  • Email notifications when a ticket is created or updated
  • Quick dissemination across the team of this information, including offsite and extension to customers

Current challenges of Jira

Currently, the tool is over-engineered, resulting in abandonment

  • Too many options available; it is a Frankenstein of new fields and options built over a long period of time over many projects and types of projects
  • Workflows too complex (provide screen capture of the current WFs. They are spider webs)
  • WFs have unnecessary steps; people just ‘click along’ to close stories
  • Too much effort to move tasks and stories through the queue, resulting in waste
  • Workflows are built at the task level, requiring an unsustainable amount of discipline by every team member to keep it updated
  • Email subscriptions result in a torrent of email, so they get ignored or filtered out. Can’t differentiate between an important update versus a trivial comment
  • Too difficult to understand what’s ready/backlog, what’s WIP, and what’s done
  • Unless every team member has updated every task at all times, it’s not accurate
  • Few PMs/SMs use it for release planning; they either don’t have the time to maintain it or they don’t know how
  • Some resources rely on the tool to assign tasks, expecting the task to be done, and the task assignment to the assignee is lost in email
  • Using a tool to “assign” tasks inherently results in a push system, further resulting in pushback and missed commitments
  • Due dates are seldom applied, and when they are, they come and go. If something needs a due date, a team discussion is needed, NOT data entry into a tool that isn’t used
  • Therefore, predictably, teams have abandoned the tool. It takes ALL of these things in perfect synchronization for each piece to be meaningful. This model is unsustainable and not scalable
  • And therefore, Mgt. cannot point to a single project where the status is concise, simple, and clear to them what’s happening; it communicates little meaningful information for our managers unless a PM/SM is physically there to walk them through it. This defeats the purpose of having a web-based tool in the first place

Proposed solution

In short, use the tool to do a few things well, instead of everything for all projects

 

Things to change or stop doing:

  • Pull the existing workflows. The workflow should be one simple workflow:
    • Initial state: Open. It stays open and only open while assigned to the product backlog or the sprint backlog
    • Then you only have two options:
      • Means it’s done.
      • Means it’s rejected, duplicated, de-scoped, working as designed, etc. Keep these selections when cancelling.
    • That’s it. Anything more complicated than that and the tool will be abandoned
  • Tasks and subtasks no longer maintained in Jira. These are for the team to manage and should be done on a physical board
  • Stop relying on Jira to communicate due dates. If something is urgent and a due date needs to be committed, a team discussion should take place to understand the impact to the current work queue and negotiate what is deferred in its place
  • Stop relying on Jira to push tasks through a queue. Tasks should be pulled by the team, not pushed onto individuals

 

Things to keep doing

  • Open new defects and stories
  • Close or cancel defects and stories
  • Maintain product backlog; use the rapid boards to move stories into sprints
  • Track stories to epics
  • Track releases and release dates
  • Assign stories and epics to releases
  • Link stories as-needed to Confluence
  • Maintain relationship with Tempo
  • Assign an onsite resource to update the physical board for offsite resources; send photos of board(s) to offsite team members

[Tool Review] — Pie — Work chat that’s all signal, no noise

pie-this-agile-scrum-communication-platform-tool

If you’re running Agile in your team, you’re likely logged in to several group chat rooms right now. At the very least, you’re plugged into rooms for engineering and product discussions. There’s also rooms for design and marketing that you pop into every now and then. And you’re definitely in some kind of ‘random’ chatroom for watercooler stuff.

With so many chat rooms, and so many discussions, it can sometimes be hard to keep up. There are times where you load your chat app and find something like 500 unread items. If you work in a distributed team, or even if you’ve just stepped away for a few hours, you’ve definitely seen this before. How can you separate the important discussions from the off-topic fluff?

[Enter]: Piework chat that’s all signal, no noise.

Pie lets you quickly create a new chat room for everything you want to share, so discussions stay focused and on-topic.

Let’s have a look:

pie-this-1

A chatroom for every topic. This is the first thing you’ll notice when you first use Pie. Instead of the traditional group chatroom model, Pie is more like a hybrid between message boards and chat.

You can quickly know what your team is talking about, and you can drop in and comment only on the topics you find interesting:

pie-this-2

You can post notes, upload files and share links to Pie, so you can start a conversation about anything you want.

Frictionless sharing. With so many articles and resources on Agile coming out all the time, one of the most common things we do in group chat rooms is to drop in, paste a link, and nudge everyone to read.

We do this several times a day, so that minute or two that you’re knocked out of your workflow to share something adds up.

Pie makes this a lot easier with their Chrome extension — it’s the only chat app out there that lets you share something without leaving the webpage you’re reading.

pie-this-3

And with the way Pie is set up, your link shows up as a new topic, so you won’t interrupt any ongoing conversations when sharing something new.

Tagged chat topics. You can use hashtags on Pie to create collections of chatrooms, or to help you find old conversations:

pie-this-4

 

Pie gives you a central place to have all your team’s conversations, instead of having to pay attention to email threads, comments in Google docs and all the group chats you have going on.

It’s free for companies of all sizes. Try it out with your team: http://piethis.com

Peter Saddington Session on the Science Behind High Performance Teams #agile2013

Dear Peter,

Thank you for being a part of Agile2013. Following is some information about your session.

  • Number of attendees at the beginning of your session: # 170
  • Number of attendees at the end of your session: # 170

We asked attendees to indicate whether they would recommend your session to their peers:

  • Yes (Green): # 120
  • Maybe (Yellow): # 3  ***CANT PLEASE EVERYONE*** 🙂
  • No (Red): # 0

 Thanks,

Agile Alliance Team

=========
Had a great time! Thanks Agile Alliance!

=========
Below is the scribd version:

Action & Influence – The Science of High Performance Teams Teams Agile2013 Peter Saddington FINAL

WordPress and Pictures [PressGram Kickstarter App]

pressgram-iphone-app

I know there are more than a few Agilists who are bloggers among us and even more than enjoy taking pictures of their families, friends, their work, and maybe even their food on occasion (admit it, you do it).

Well, if you’re a blogger then there’s a chance you’re also using WordPress, which is what we use here on AgileScout.com – and we’re always looking for neat implementations that help keep more pageviews and more eyes on the content and community we have here.
Pressgram, a recent Kickstarter project that connect filtered photos directly to WordPress, is doing just that. If you’re a fan of taking photos and blogging about them but also in growing your own business and brand around content, then Pressgram is something that you may want to back.
There are some strong business cases as well as creative control that are worth a second.

Atlanta ScrumMaster Training – Action & Influence Growing the Atlanta Market

In Atlanta, GA news:

Action & influence, Inc. announced today that they are hosting more Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Certified Product Owner (CSPO) courses in Atlanta due to increasing demand. As the only company in Georgia to have a local Certified Scrum Trainer, Peter Saddington, they want to bring even more value to the Agile community and local Atlanta companies who want to leverage Agile or Scrum to bring quicker development value to their software and services. Having a local CST gives Georgia companies a great advantage, as their employees can attend local courses without incurring the costs associated with travel. Peter Saddington is one of the 140 Certified Scrum Trainers in the world and about half of them reside in the United States. Peter Saddington is the first CST to reside in the state of Georgia. Saddington says, “Our local clients who are looking towards Agile and Scrum have greatly enjoyed having a local trainer who can service their needs without flying in another trainer from out of state. Most of our clients in Atlanta have private courses for their entire development teams and organization.”

You can quickly find local Atlanta Certified ScrumMaster classes, http://atlantascrummaster2013.eventbrite.com/and sign up as an individual, team, or company.

According to one of Action & Influence’s students, Mike Rucker, who recently took a Certified ScrumMaster course in Atlanta said, “I was very pleased to find a local group that offered such a wide choice in class days and times. It was very easy to find a class that fit within an already busy schedule.”

Other testimonials of Action & Influence, Inc. classes:

“Peter’s mastery of the subject matter coupled with his excellent presentation and communication skills made for an outstanding learning experience.” – Jim Olwine from Atlanta

“Peter REALLY did change my life. He provided such great instruction on Scrum and the duties of a ScrumMaster. He gave lots of clarity on my career direction. Great job!” – Aletha Hill from Atlanta

“VERY INSPIRING. [Peter Saddington] is one of the best instructors I have ever seen in my life.” – Parveen Yadav from Atlanta

“I can honestly say that the ScrumMaster class has changed my view on software development, and breathed welcome fresh air into some tired sails. I am genuinely looking forward to the second half of my career now, with hopes to embody in my work all that Peter laid out in the class and the skill set of a true servant leader in the technical world.” – Mike Rucker from Atlanta

[HT: PRWeb]

Agile Designers – Marketplace for Awesome

agile-designers-homepage

 

Are you an Agile Designer? Or just a designer looking for great resources? This webbie came up on our radar and so far I like what I’ve seen.

Now, sharing sites are a dime a dozen these days, this is nothing new. What I do like is that designers register, drop web pages or things of interest for others and they get ‘accepted’ by the community as valuable. Crowdsourcing at it’s best.

Don’t get it twisted though, this isn’t a FREE DESIGN TEMPLATE webpage. It’s more on the workflow, the process… helping a designer become more agile… or rather, able to be productive.

Worth a look.

AgileDesigners.com

Becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer – CST

[I was recently asked what my journey to become a CST was like. So like an Agile blogger, I told them to wait for it to post on AgileScout.com 🙂 ]

The path to becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) is one of the most arduous yet rewarding experiences I have ever gone through (and I spent 7 years in Master’s programs!). It has not only stretched me, but brought about a greater understanding of “mastery” of a craft, that, no matter how good you ‘think’ you become at something, you can always improve, become better, learn more, and grow as a person.

The day you stop learning is day you become ineffective in your work.

My CST Journey

I began my journey to becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer back in early 2009 when I began my investigation into the process and started collaborating with other CST’s about co-training opportunities. This was a time when the CST application process was evolving (and still is) and the requirements and application process wasn’t fully fleshed out. I, at the time, had been in my 8th year as an independent Enterprise Agile Coach and felt like the CST was the right way to go. I had completed my Certified ScrumMaster designation and my Certified Scrum Professional designation previously.

In early 2009 I had my first co-training opportunity with a fellow Agile coach. They went very well. I was stoked. I was excited. I had gotten a great review and was given priceless advice on how to become better. I felt like the CST was fast becoming a reality. I flew out to meet my 2nd co-trainer and we trained together. Another great workshop. I felt great… Then:

  • Client work picked up.
  • Timing just wasn’t working out.
  • Work-life balance just wasn’t what it used to be.

A full year later, I still had yet to co-train with other coaches and trainers. My client list was full, my schedule was so tight that it became apparent to me that I may not be able to finish this race due to scheduling conflicts and overall timing not to mention funding from the CFO of my house (wife). I was burnt out, tired, and a bit frustrated.

It was all about the timing. It just didn’t seem to work. So what did I do? I made the tough choice to lighten my client load (OUCH! SCARY!) so I could open up opportunities to co-train. I made the time available, I reached out to friends and fellow Agile coaches for time slots, and I invited Agile coaches to come train with me at my client sites. I patiently prayed that the opportunities would come… and they did.

After a full 3.5 years I completed it… The road to becoming an official CST was complete… but the journey forward has just begun. YES!

[Peter Saddington Training on ScrumMaster Roles]

On Co-Training Continue reading “Becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer – CST”

[Scrum Tool Review] – SonicAgile – Manage Your Project in a World of Blue

[We review Agile Tools. Have you seen our Agile Tools list?]

We’ve been looking around for another tool to review and it landed on our desk for sure.

[Enter]: SonicAgileAn Easy to Use Scrum tool in Blue

The SonicAgile folks tell us that they built SonicAgile because they wanted a lightweight and easy to learn project management tool which the developers could coordinate the work that their team performs on software projects.

SonicAgile supports the basic features that many other tools cover as well: creating backlogs, scrumboards, and burndown charts. It includes support for acceptance criteria, story estimation, calculating team velocity, and email integration.

Interested already? It’s simple. You can sign up for 30 days free. Booyah.

SonicAgile Backlog

You use the backlog to create a prioritized list of user stories such as features, bugs, and change requests. It’s a snap, prioritize a story by just drag and dropping the story from one location to another.

Likewise, it’s easy to add stories from the product backlog to the sprint backlog:

Tracking velocity is pretty intuitive and easy as well. Try it out… and then try to overload your team. A nice addition is that when you add too many stories to a a sprint… the system warns you automatically:

SonicAgile Scrumboard

If you’re running a daily Scrum everyday, you can use the Scrumboard to view at a glance what everyone on the team is working on. Below is a view of what an individual is working on in the Product Details Page:

Every story can be broken into tasks and acceptance criteria:

One caveat though, you cannot close a story — and remove the story from the list of active stories on the scrumboard — until all tasks and acceptance criteria associated with the story are done.

SonicAgile Burndown Charts

Currently, SonicAgile supports several versions of burndown reports: Release Burndown, Sprint Burndown by Task Estimates, and Sprint Burndown by Story Points charts. Below is an example of a Sprint Burndown by Story Points:

Email Integration

The folks over at SonicAgile tell us that their system was designed to improve your team’s communication and collaboration. Most stories and tasks require discussion to nail down exactly what work needs to be done. If your rockin’ a dispersed team, or a team that isn’t local, you can collaborate through email, right? When you use SonicAgile, all email discussions concerning a story or a task (including all email attachments) are captured automatically. At any time in the future, you can view all of the email discussion concerning a story or a task by opening the Story Details dialog:

Summary (And some Technical Details)

SonicAgile is very close to being a pure Ajax application (which I like). Looking a bit deeper we’ve found that SonicAgile was built using ASP.NET MVC 3, jQuery, and Knockout. Almost all of the MVC controller actions return JSON results. The controller actions are invoked from jQuery Ajax calls from the browser.

SonicAgile was built on Windows Azure, and the team over at SonicAgile is taking advantage of SQL Azure, Table Storage, and Blob Storage.

Going through the system, I wasn’t too disappointed with the experience. It was intuitive and pretty easy to navigate. I specifically liked the ease of the drag and drop functionality, which is a standard these days. The color scheme took a little bit getting used to though.

Since they’ve opened it up for free sign ups and 30 days of trial, it wouldn’t be a bad ride to take if you’re looking for a new tool to use. Consider dropping a couple minutes on this one, you might just find that it will work for you and your team!

iDoneThis – Lightweight Updates and Status Reporting for Scrum Teams

[We review Agile and Scrum Tools. Have you seen our Agile and Scrum Tools List?

iDoneThis is a tool that promises to bring lightweight status reporting to every company.  Its secret sauce is that it makes the process incredibly simple.  It’s the easiest way that I’ve found to run a stripped down daily standup… maybe even for dispersed teams.

If anyone you know has been too intimidated to try Agile because of what appears to be complicated rules and protocols, just turn them on to iDoneThis.  It attempts to capture the essence of scrum — daily iterative progress and improvement — without much of the overhead.

With iDoneThis, you aren’t going to get a product that’s loaded with features and configurability options.  If you’re looking for a very specific agile product and process, iDoneThis isn’t the tool for you.  iDoneThis’s is mantra is to keep it simple, and you might be surprised how powerful that is.

iDoneThis is so easy to use that after you sign up, you can keep using iDoneThis without ever having to go to their website again.

Here’s how it works. Continue reading “iDoneThis – Lightweight Updates and Status Reporting for Scrum Teams”

[Agile Tool Review] – Timebox – Eliminate the Confusion and Get Productive

[We review Agile Tools – Have you seen our Agile Scrum Tools list?]

Have you gotten to a point where you realize there is no tool (whether it be for agile development, project management, etc) that directly fits your company needs? As most companies rely strongly on continuous innovation and iterative process, having a tool that fits their needs (not the other way around) is imperative to building great products.

That’s how Timebox came to be.

Many agile tools on the market offer plenty of benefits. Whether it’s an assortment of graphs and charts or ways to track and manage time, you’re bound to find a wide variety of numbers and equations that ‘supposedly’ make your job easier. The problem? They don’t. Most of these tools are large, confusing and often difficult to use (and ultimately train others on). With Timebox the goal is to eliminate confusion and allow anyone to start using the tool instantly! And the best part? It’s FREE.

List of benefits: Continue reading “[Agile Tool Review] – Timebox – Eliminate the Confusion and Get Productive”

[Agile Scrum Tool] – VersionOne Catalyst Edition

VersionOne Introduces Catalyst Edition

New Edition Delivers Automated Project Planning, Tracking and Reporting for Ramping Up Agile Adoption Beyond the Development Team

VersionOne Catalyst Edition is an all-in-one agile management tool built from the ground up to support and reinforce agile development processes. Catalyst Edition delivers improved visibility across projects, automated reporting and an easy path for teams ramping up their agile adoption to start small and scale with VersionOne as their needs evolve.

Built with the same rich UI as VersionOne’s Enterprise and Ultimate Editions, Catalyst Edition allows organizations to adopt a right-sized solution and then easily upgrade to more feature-rich editions at a natural pace as their agile adoption matures. Catalyst is designed for agile development teams with up to 20 users who have outgrown starter agile management methods – such as spreadsheets, whiteboards and sticky notes or agile plug-ins – and need to extend visibility beyond the team to include project stakeholders through real-time, shared project views.

What is Catalyst Edition?

All-in-one agile project management tool built from the ground up to support and reinforce agile development processes, improve visibility across projects, automate reporting and allow teams who are ramping up their agile adoption to start small and scale to a comprehensive tool (with same UI) as their needs evolve. Continue reading “[Agile Scrum Tool] – VersionOne Catalyst Edition”

The Agile Pocket Guide – Peter Saddington – Now on Amazon for Pre-Order!

Super excited that my next book: The Agile Pocket Guide is now up on Amazon.com for pre-order!

It’s been a long road since I first got rejected by many publishers and finally self-published and then grabbed Wiley’s attention!

#win

Business Optimization and Human Potential

We are often blind.

As Agile Coaches, consultants, and organizational improvers, we strive to help teams and businesses alike improve their performance, output, and even culture.

The problem is… that we often come into a team or business blind, not understanding the full context of each team and each individual who makes up that team.

This is a problem.

To be the most effective we need to understand how people operate. We need to understand how they work collectively, as a group, as a team, and as individuals. The quicker we can assess and understand the contextual culture of our clients and teams, we are left to empirically deduce assumptions that most often are half-truths.

As we jump into consulting or coaching with any client, it would be great to know their cultural context, how people are behaving, and even how to engage with them best.

Easier said than done, until TeamScience™ dropped on the scene.

TeamScience™ – Business Optimization and Human Potential

Continue reading “Business Optimization and Human Potential”

Achievements: An Agile Whitepaper

An Agile Whitepaper: Achievements

By, Renee Troughton

CELEBRATE WITH YOUR TEAM ACHIEVEMENTS

Abstract: Agile Achievements can be used to track and celebrate both individual and team behaviors in adopting Agile values, principles and practices.

Gaddie Pitch: You know how most teams find it difficult to know what they have to do when developing in an Agile environment?

Well what Achievements does is help to give clear goals about the expected behaviors for teams and individuals.

In fact Achievements can be fun and re-direct the focus away from the Scrum Master or Agile Coach to enable the team to encourage better Agile behaviors.

What is an Achievement?

Continue reading “Achievements: An Agile Whitepaper”

Virtual Scrum – Scrum Wing 3D – Open Source Agile Tool

Scrum Wing 3D (SW3D) is an open-source Scrum project management tool, implemented using the Open Cobalt platform, a virtual space browser and toolkit. The idea of using Open Cobalt to develop SW3D comes from the author’s vision of combining the immersive training concept along with the Scrum framework.

The SW3D User Experience

Every day, the Scrum team members start Open Cobalt and join the Scrum Master‘s virtual space to hold the stand-up daily meeting, in order to review the sprint progress, what is done, what is the plan for the day and address open impediments.

Instead of being physically together, every team member sends her-his avatar to the shared virtual space to collectively manage user stories, plan a new sprint or update the sprint backlog. This is not a game: your avatar becomes your deputy into a highly-collaborative, 3D, sound-enabled, server-less workplace.

What SW3D is not?

SW3D is not a web application: SW3D installs software components on your machine and as such, administrator privileges should be granted to users if they are not computer’s owner where you want SW3D to run. There is no need for any server. Artifacts are stored on binary files, so no database is needed. Everything goes into a single folder, so it is very easy to setup and remove.

Which Scrum artifacts are delivered with Scrum Wing 3D alpha edition?

  • The capacity planner: including team member name, role, email and time availability.
  • The product backlog.
  • The sprint backlog: used for tasking estimates and daily sprint meetings.
  • The sprint summary and burn-down chart.
  • No taskboard is yet delivered. All artifacts are loaded with dummy data sets so you can browse a fictional project without spending time with manual input while evaluating this tool for the first time.

Sounds pretty tight to me. I covered some other ideas around using virtual reality for Scrum.

Viable?

[VIA: ScrumWing]

[Agile Tool Review] – Planbox – Take 2 Review

[We review Agile and Scrum Tools, have you seen our Agile Scrum Tool List?]

This is review number 2. We took a look at Planbox a while back [see our original review here]. I particularly enjoyed reviewing it, giving some feedback and speaking with representatives from the Planbox team. What is so encouraging is that they have improved. Imagine that, an Agile team iterating and improving? Well, they did, and I welcomed a second review. Let’s dive right in.

A bit of back story, these guys couldn’t find an agile tool they liked so they built one.  The better part of the Planbox we see today was generated by their careful attention to user needs and feedback including, their own.

Planbox – Review Number 2 Continue reading “[Agile Tool Review] – Planbox – Take 2 Review”

[Review] – Mike Cohn’s eLearning Agile Videos

Online Agile Videos

Mike Cohn recently announced that he’s providing a kick butt online eLearning tool to learn all about Agile. I reached out to him to see what it’s all about and we kicked a few emails back and forth. Regardless, I went ahead and got my hands on it. That’s what AgileScout is here for: Do the heavy lifting for you 🙂.

[Mountain Goat Software Online eLearning Agile Course] LINK

With so many Universities doing online learning these days, wouldn’t it be about time for Agile and Scrum Trainers to start offering online training tools? You’betcha. Who better to do it than Mike?

Here are my thoughts and experiences after a full 3.5 hours and taking all 9 of the tests:

Agile Topics Covered

  • Introduction
  • The Problem
  • Iteration Planning
  • Story Points & Ideal Days
  • Estimating the Product Backlog
  • Release Planning
  • Other Topics
  • Conclusion
I was captivated by the introduction video of a goat running around. Fantastic!

Review of Course Presentation Continue reading “[Review] – Mike Cohn’s eLearning Agile Videos”

[Agile Tool Review] – Moovia – Team Collaboration Network

[We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

In the highly populated space of project management applications, a lot of them have features that support the team-community, collaboration, and communication. For some tools, this is part of the service offering. For others, it’s the driving factor of their tool.

[Enter]: MooviaTeam Collaboration Network that Focuses on The Team and People

I had a chance to speak with the founders about this tool. MOOVIA is a free application and they explain that their initial “dream” was to develop a project management tool that would be easy-to-use, and put the people in a more important level than the project. Meaning, the team and people working are the basis for creating good software. Ok. Cool. Got it. I can believe that.

Rodrigo tells me that they realized it should have 3 main aspects:

  1. It must be built on a social network environment,
  2. It should be based on agile methods, but not limited to it,
  3. And it has to be FREE for the user. Continue reading “[Agile Tool Review] – Moovia – Team Collaboration Network”

[Agile Tool Review] – AgileWrap – No Bloat, Just Scrum Toolin’

[We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

The AgileScout covers a lot of ground when it comes to Agile and Scrum tools. He also likes to speak of himself in the 3rd person. Sometimes, he likes to be surprised. He was.

I was pleasantly surprised to find an easy-to-use, intuitive yet feature rich and enterprise-class agile tool. No bloat, just the basics. Sometimes, isn’t that enough?

[Enter]: AgileWrapNo bloat, just agile and scrum tools

AgileWrap has comprehensive list of features to plan and track agile projects effectively in a SaaS based system yet there is no learning curve for the end-users. AgileWrap supports agile methodologies including scrum, XP and hybrid.

I signed up for 5 users free account, and received an email with account information. Within few minutes I logged into AgileWrap got started. Not to shabby.

The user interface and look-n-feel of AgileWrap has a somewhat… ‘easy’ feel to it. I mean, it just seems pleasant to stare at. No harsh colors, links are easy to see. I felt somewhat at ease staring at this tool. Seriously.

Quick Links menu (in dark blue) on left provides instant access to frequently used pages and views – Active Sprint, Active Release, Taskboard, ToDo etc. You can also access User guides, video tutorials and FAQ from Quick Links menu. Quick Help provides context sensitive help and video for the page on screen.

Continue reading “[Agile Tool Review] – AgileWrap – No Bloat, Just Scrum Toolin’”

[Agile Tool Review] – EasyBacklog – Quick and Easy Backlog Management

[We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

Your run-of-the-mill Agile tools all do some sort of backlog management. Some are good at it, some, don’t work so well. I think I’ve found one that works just perfectly. It’s not sexy by any stretch. Frankly, it’s a little bland to look at. But where it may lack in the aesthetics, it more than makes up for in effectiveness.

[Enter]: EasyBacklogBacklog Management with your Keyboard plus Simple Sprint Planning

Jump in and you’ll find yourself with a >3 minute overview of the tool. Worth going through because it helps you understand the power of moving swiftly through the fields (using TAB) and other keystrokes. I found myself able to fill up an entire backlog quite quickly… Continue reading “[Agile Tool Review] – EasyBacklog – Quick and Easy Backlog Management”

[Tool Review] – Team Pulse – Full Enterprise Scrum

[We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

Having worked with some of the major players in the Agile ALM market space, it was about time for me to try out something new. Building an enterprise Agile tool isn’t something to laugh at, frankly, it’s almost impossible to get right (*More on this later). Every client is different, every scenario and environment is different. For large enterprise development shops with multiple teams, you need a tool that won’t get in the way. Something that will scale with your workload. I decided to check out one of the players in this enterprise space. I was pleasantly surprised.

[Enter]: Telerik Team Pulse A Fluid Enterprise Agile Tool 

Make no mistake, this baby takes some time to master.

It’s a good thing, though, that they give you plenty of opportunities to follow online tutorials, watch videos, go through the walkthrough, and hey, you even get your own personal Team Pulse Consultant. My personal Team Pulse Consultant was “Petar.” 🙂

Since it’s almost impossible to make a tool perfect, the thing that stood out to me was that there were opportunities to give feedback to the developers on what was working and what is not. For this reason (as well as speaking with the team myself) I knew that Telerik is more than actively engaged in making this tool kick ass.

Since this is an enterprise tool, with so many features, my review is from the standpoint of how easy it is to get started. I can’t cover every single little detail, but I can tell you whether it’s easy enough to get in, get started, and get productive. So, let’s jump in:

Continue reading “[Tool Review] – Team Pulse – Full Enterprise Scrum”

[Tool] – Riviera – Record with Skype!

A miscellaneous tool for this Friday, but I think a really useful one.*WINDOWS ONLY* Sorry all you Mac users…

If you do a lot of calling, or teleconferencing, or interviewing using Skype, then this can totally help you when you need to record and take notes.

[Enter]: Riviera for Skype

Why You May Need a Skype Recorder:

  • Help your business
  • Protect your reputation
  • Record interviews, tech talks, conferences, audio casts, pod casts for learning later, etc.

Features:

  • Automatic and manual Skype call recording
  • Records Skype calls of any type: Skype-to-Skype calls, SkypeIn / SkypeOut, Conference calls, calls to cells, etc.
  • Records Skype calls of any length
  • Recordings are stored in separate MP3 file
  • No functional limitations in free trial version. Only 14-day trial period
  • Skype Video Recording (soon)
  • Built-in MP3 player for playing recordings
  • Very easy to use – starts working immediately after launching, no configuration required
  • Free support and advice
  • Free lifetime updates and upgrades
  • Ideal for recording interviews, conferences, podcasts
  • System requirements: Windows XP/2000/2003/Vista/Windows 7

Woman in Leadership – Top Women in Agile Thought Leadership

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP GROWING

[Click the image on the right for a full size infographic of the growing numbers of women leaders!]

I am very happy that women in leadership is growing. Having both sides of innovation and thought leadership from both males/females will create more dynamic environments that will product better products. I believe it!

I am truly excited that slowly but surely my RSS feeds are growing from women in management and executive positions. There is a TON of great stuff to read by women in leadership.

What I’m even more excited about is how my RSS feeds are growing to include female developers/coders and fellow nerds/geeks alike. I have a daughter and my hope is she will love technology (code?) as much as I do!

Here is to a better future!

TOP WOMEN IN AGILE

[In no specific order, according to my RSS feed, and who update frequently]

Interestingly enough, most of the women stated here are also part of the [Top 200 Agile Blogs] as well (make sure to check that out). Congrats!

 

Grab either badge if you’re a woman blogger and link to this post! Show your pride! 🙂

I am SURE I missed some other women leaders. Please let us know in the comments!

[Tool Review] – UpstartHQ – Next Best Thing to a Physical Kanban Whiteboard

What does a little green frog, a new startup, and free software look like? It may just look like UpstartHQ, who are currently building yet another light and simple kanban tool (tailored for startups)? Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty. It’s simple… almost offensively simple. But that’s the point, right?

[Enter]: UpstartHQNot a physical kanban board, but may just be the next best thing!

Sign up, click the verification email in your email box and you’re ready to roll.

Go on, add your first story. It’s simple. If you’re quick enough, you can fill up an entire kanban board in seconds (like I did above). Continue reading “[Tool Review] – UpstartHQ – Next Best Thing to a Physical Kanban Whiteboard”