How we gave the humble retro a makeover
Not long after I started at Rabid, I heard someone mention a retro, it didn’t take me long to discover they weren’t talking about my favourite era of collectable homewares!
After attending an Agile workshop at Boost New Media it became clear that we might not having been doing justice to the Sprint Retrospective.
Armed with a supply of stickies and sharpies, and with a willing team to experiment on, we held a Retrospective on our Retrospectives. It felt good to talk about why we had marginalised the retro (low on energy, fear of criticism, takes too long) and discuss how important a good retro could be for the team (positive feedback, improving our process and productivity). We came away with a Retrospective Working Agreement and a plan for future retros; giving it the time and respect it deserves.
But I felt I needed more. Back to Boost I went for another workshop on Retrospectives and a reading list that included Agile Retrospectives (by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen).
We’ve had several Retrospectives since with much better outcomes. We now allocate around 45 minutes to our retro, we talk about process, feelings, the nitty gritty of a Sprint and we try to have a bit of fun as well. I think the team is enjoying it (and not finding it a chore), but maybe that’s the lure of a bowl full of lollies. Either way- we are making progress. For data gathering we have tried the Learning Matrix; Glad, Sad, Mad and Speedboat. Good exercises for smaller teams are hard to find, Retr-O-Mat is a great resource (thank you Gavin). I’d love to hear about your experiences with Retrospectives and what exercises you have found successful so please tweet me at @NZSandraJC.
If you find you are skipping your retros, or only allocating 10-15 minutes for it at the end of another meeting, I encourage you to re-evaluate this and give your retro a makeover as well. It has worked for us.
And if you really are in the market for some great retro homewares - drive over the hill to the Wairarapa and visit Fuzzy in Carterton, a hidden treasure.
Putting my money where my mouth is
At the Wellington CSS Meetup back in June, I gave a talk on Bourbon and its associated projects. Bourbon is a SASS based web styling framework that can be used as a replacement for frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap. Recently I converted a Bootstrap based site to Bourbon and this post details what I found.Read more...
I tried doing this manually using the
oauth2 gem, but while it kind-of works, getting any sort of user information requires you to decode a JWT payload (ugh, OpenID why does Google no longer support you).
Instead I got it working with just the
omniauth-google-oauth2 gem. Based on this tutorial which is for an older version of Rails:
1. Add new bundles and run
gem 'haml' gem 'figaro' gem 'omniauth-google-oauth2'
A quirk of pytz, lead to learning something interesting about New Zealand.
In : import pytz; pytz.timezone("Pacific/Auckland") Out: <DstTzInfo 'Pacific/Auckland' NZMT+11:30:00 STD> In : import datetime; datetime.datetime(2011, 06, 12, 12, 54, 23, 00, pytz.timezone('Pacific/Auckland')).strftime('%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S %Z%z') Out: '2011-06-12 12:54:23 NZMT+1130'
What’s that? Our timezone is Auckland, with an offset of 11:30??Read more...
Democracy and the internet
Last Friday I attended the launch of AskAway and On The Fence as part of Massey University’s Design + Democracy labs. Various Rabidiers and our officemates from Enspiral and Loomio have been involved with Meg Howie’s project AskAway since it was in its infancy in her final year design project last year, and Meg also helped us out with the Christchurch Journey Planner, so we’re excited to see it launch. This year’s incarnation has been primarily developed by the joyous and silken-haired Loomian Jon Lemmon with help from civic-minded hackers from Code for New Zealand, including Rowan Crawford and Cameron Prebble, and various others who’ve popped in for free pizza on a hack night (including myself, Rose and Jonas from the Rabid office).
AskAway is a project that allows people to ask questions of political parties, and allows representatives of those parties to respond to questions. I’ve been really impressed by the level of uptake that the project has had from both sides of this interaction, and they’ve also got a great relationship with the Radio National youth media project The Wireless. Joining all of the dots between politicians, media, electorally disenchanted youth, and the open source development community isn’t an easy task - Meg and Jon have done an amazing job.
I first talked to Meg about AskAway in July last year after Aurynn, Megan and I spontaneously created Adopt an MP on the last day of NetHui with the goal of getting people to educate MPs about how technology and the internet works. I won’t link to it here because, although it was an impressive effort for a day, we never really got to getting it up to its full potential, or updating the lists of MPs, which had to be done manually. (It turns out that Parliamentary data feeds are generally non existent, woefully insufficient, or incredibly painful to work with.)
An MP’s job is to represent their constituency, and as such a core part of it involves seeking input and talking to constituents. The Parliamentary process allows for public participation, and sometimes gets thousands of submissions on bills. They do try to be accessible to their constituents. But MPs are busy people and the parliamentary process can be confusing, alienating, and inaccessible to many. So the relatively few people with the knowledge and means to interact efficiently with this process end up being over represented. People often have a poor understanding of their rights and the limits of MPs’ power.Read more...