Branding is cheap…

My travelling colleague required some headache tablets last week. Luckily it was the middle of the day in the quaint village of Harpenden, Hertfordshire where a Sainsbury’s store is located.

We found the wording of the ‘cheap’ paracetamol to be somewhat amusing:

cheap branded products


What goes around comes around. Blogging is no different. Folks even call the “space” in which blogging occurs “blogsphere”. I don’t know whether it should be one word or two, but that’s not too important – either way they sound the same and mean the same, but let’s not argue, you/we are amongst friends…

Personally, I’ve been a blogsphere citizen since May 2004, however I’ve been following various blogs since late 2003. Indeed, so much good stuff is written via blogs, that my NNTP usage as dropped to virtually nothing – hey, I even blogged about it here. Actually, the number of blogs that my RSS aggregator has to manage is getting out of hand – it seems that blog after blog after blog has really good content and just has to be added to the aggregation list. Now this shouldn’t be a bad thing, especially because my RSS aggregator presents me with a list of new content every hour or so (configurable) which lets me read through the RSS items and read only those that sound interesting. The whole process is actually quite efficient.

However, I’ve begun to notice an interesting pattern. Most of the blogs that I visit regularly are one step removed from each other – indeed, most of the new blogs that I stumble upon have “blog rolls” that look very similar to my RSS aggregation list. Blogging has created its own web of intricate connections. And we’re almost able to classify these connections, thus bringing some real meaning to links that have been established.

As I type this, Ron Jefferies posted this: Blog Considered Harmful. Ron seems to agree with my earlier point about RSS and bandwidth.

So these spherical connections in blogsphere leads me to think that we might begin to think about how we relate to each other, via the Internet of course. What is it that makes me one step removed from you? It’s very likely that we’re in the same social circle – albeit geographic limitations apply. We probably like technology and gadgets. We probably like proper beer and good wine. We probably share the same taste in music. Of course, occasionally, we have probably met and agreed to blogroll each other, but that still counts – we’re still one step removed from each other.

Please, comment away: why are you just a single step away from me? Should I be blogrolling you? What connects us? Is it just the blogsphere? Coincedence? Is there something more sinister afoot? Or is there something much smarter underlying it all? May be it’s just the technological circles that we move in. Are the relationships manifesting themselves via the blogs that I follow…over to you.

Why Scrum Works

Scrum, the ethos of simplicity.

Last week I gave a presentation to the Developers’ Group and Scottish Developers user groups.

I spoke about the project mangement/control technique known as Scrum. The session ran for over an hour and some lively debate followed. Read more about it here.

Anyway, the slides and a sample backlog are now available here.

It’s worth noting that for the purposes of this session I split my product backlog in to four sprints. In reality, you probably don’t know the contents of subsequent sprints until after the last sprint has been completed. Agility. Flexibility. Simplicity. It’s all about the freedom to change the order in which requirements are turned in to working value/functionality.

I’m a Go-Getter

I read about this over on Clarke’s blog.

It seems that I am a ‘Go-Getter’. Do you agree?

Summary of Go-Getters

  1. Inventive, resourceful problem solvers with a love of life
  2. Can be tough-minded when necessary
  3. Think of themselves as enthusiastic, determined and alert
  4. May become frustrated by rules and routines

Spookily accurate…for now.

Interestingly, my last psychometric test revealed that I wasn’t too keen on rules/routines: sometimes, in order to get things done, or be inventive, rules have to be altered, usually for the better. Similarly, folks have told me that I can be ruthless, take no prisoners…or be tough-minded when needed.

Hailing a private hire cab…

We (my travel colleague) and I stayed at a TravelLodge in Portsmouth. The TravelLodge was, as they all tend to be, basic, but comfortable and satisfactory.

We left the hotel, carefully positioning ourselves using the triangulation manoeuvre: find three well known objects and put yourself in the middle of them, it makes it easier for taxi drivers to find you. However, there were two private hire cars right in front of us. So, because we can’t “flag down” or hail private hire cars, we rang the number on the side of the car. Imagine my surprise to hear an answerphone message! We asked the private hire driver to radio his office and to advise them to pick up the ‘phone…but this was to no avail.

So we dialled another private hire firm and gave them the triangulation point. “5-10 minutes” was the waiting time we were quoted. We waited for 15 minutes. Then a licensed black cab came along…which we are allowed to hail.

So we hailed it, got in and sat down just as the private hire car arrived behind us. Naturally, we ducked down in the seats exclaiming “drive, driver, drive!”