Welcome to my blog! Please keep these three things in mind:
1. Everything on my blog is my point of view and does not represent the view of any company I've worked for, past, present, or future.
2. If you want to respond to anything I've written, use my Contact form.
3. The previous version of my blog is partially available online, but I put the best parts of it in my first book, Minority Tech: Journaling Through Blackness and Technology. You should buy it. It's fun.
When people ask me what a Scrum Master does, I often use the analogy of a referee. In any sport, the referee is not the center of attention and often disappears into the mechanics of the game. However, the impact of the referee is present in every play. The role of the referee is to make sure that everything happens in accordance with the guidelines of the game.
Scrum Masters do the same thing. We make sure that the Scrum Development Team works in accordance with the guidelines of Scrum. That means that we actively remove practices that are against the guidelines of Agile Software Development (specifically, Scrum).
However, Scrum Masters are more than just referees. We are also coaches. We coach the Product Owner about ways to manage the Product Backlog. We coach the Development Team in how to practice Scrum more effectively. Also, we coach the organization by tailoring other Agile methods to the needs of the company.
Here's an email I received from a client asking for clarity about how the Development Team would practice various aspects of Scrum. I've removed any identifying information from the exchange, but it's a good example of an email driven coaching session:
Great questions! My answers are below:
One of the principles of Agile is the "Definition of Done". This is a checklist of the things that must be satisfied before a user story is complete and ready to be deployed to customers. It's important that this include everything that needs to be complete before deployment from development to QA.
I found a great example Definition of Done on an agile Linkedin group I follow. It was submitted by Bruce K:
I occasionally review websites for how usable they are on the UserTesting.com site. I enjoy user interface design, and UserTesting.com also pays for each site you review. It's a nice way to fund my Starbucks habit. :)
My feedback about how to be an effective user tester was recently posted on the site's blog. You can find it here.
I've reprinted my advice below:
One reason I wanted to offer advice on using filler words is that I constantly work to remove them from my everyday speech. Even great public speakers occasionally use filler words in personal conversations. I see filler words as lazy mental shortcuts that we use to avoid silence and gather our thoughts. As I said in my blurb above, it's ok to have a little silence!
On a related note, I enjoy doing interviews because they give me a chance to hear my recorded voice. While I personally think my recorded voice sounds strange, I listen to recordings of my interviews to see how I'm doing with filler words. I used to use "you know" a lot, and I've worked to stop doing that. However, I now see that I'm using "right" as a filler word when I speak. For example, I need to stop using right, right? That is pretty irritating, right? You get my point, right?
It takes work to stop using filler words, but it's worth the effort. This is especially important for those of us who are public speakers, but it's also important for everyday conversation.
A question was asked in one of the agile development groups I follow on Linkedin. Do you think the presence of the PO in the same room will affect the Dev Team results? And how? Here is the response I posted:
I became a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) in 2013, and I am in the process of applying to be a Certified Scrum Professional (CSP). One part of the application is an essay about my experience using Scrum. I still need to gain more Scrum Education Units (SEUs) to qualify for the CSP, but I wanted to share my application essay:
Apple is widely rumored to announce a smartwatch at their event on September 9, 2014. If true, the company will join a market already crowsed with offerings from Pebble, Samsung, LG, and other players. However, Apple entered a crowded field with the iPod and almost immediately won the MP3 player market. Apple also entered a crowded field with the iPhone and soon dominated. The iPad faced a field with many tablet computers, but it essentially created the category. Do you see a pattern here?
I have the original Pebble, and I wear it every day. It's a great watch, robust (it survived my participation in Tough Mudder last year), and the notifications on my wrist are nice. However, I'm an early adopter so I know that Pebble style watches will never become mainstream. However, if companies can produce stylish smartwatches, I think those devices will catch on. The New York Times recently ran an article stating that kids going back to school are more interested in their tech gear than clothing. Millenials and Generation Z are starting to see tech as a statement of who they are, and I think style will win the day in the smartwatch category. I think Apple is well positioned to compete on style.
A friend recently asked about things to do in Maui, and, since my family was just there a few months ago, here's my reply to her:
I wanted to share the list of places my family and I visited in Maui when we went a few months ago. I hope it's helpful for your upcoming trip.
* I'm not sure where you're staying, but you'll probably drive a lot. If you're not staying in Lahaina (on the West side of Maui), then you will probably drive to Lahaina often.
* If you like nice pools and beaches, then the resort hotels in Lahaina are a great option for you. We wandered from hotel pool to hotel pool, and no one harassed us or asked if we were guests. Several hotels have spas if you're into that sort of thing. :-)
* Whale season had ended so Maui had just started letting water activity companies (wave riders, para-sailing, etc.) resume operations when we were there. If you're into water sports, then they may still be available if whale season hasn't started again by the time you travel to Maui.
* We started the "road to Hana", but my wife gets car-sick fairly easily and the switchbacks were too much for her. So, we had to turn back. Also, Hana is on the East side of Maui so the road is usually a cloudy and rainy drive to a cloudy and rainy part of the island. If you don't mind road trips (where you sometimes fear for your life), then it may be worth doing. If you do try the road to Hana, stopping every few miles and hiking or visiting one of the beaches is a good use of the time you'll invest in the trip. Hana is the destination but the journey is the point.
* There are certainly more restaurants and places than I listed below. These are simply the food establishments and locations that I personally experienced and enjoyed.
* Da Kitchen (very close to the airport; not a bad place to have your first meal in Maui; large portions - 425 Koloa St. #104 Kahului, HI 96732)
* Mama's Fish House (expensive but great food, location, and atmosphere - 799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI)
* Flatbread Company (great natural pizza; near the airport - 89 Hana Highway, Paia, Maui, HI)
* Dazoo (71 Baldwin Ave, Paia, HI 96779)
* Ululani's Shaved Ice (I recommend trying a Hawaiian shaved ice at least once if you've never had one - 819 Front St, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761)
* Kimo's Restaurant (845 Front St, Ste a, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761)
* Koa's Seaside Grill (839 Front Street, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761)
* Maui Ocean Center (a surprisingly good aquarium)
I just transferred my domains from GoDaddy to Google Domains. I was invited to join the Google Domains Beta, and I am quite pleased to leave GoDaddy behind. Here's why I made the switch:
One important reason I made the switch was GoDaddy's exploitation of female sexuality in their advertisements. We've all seen their Super Bowl commericals, and I'm glad to do business with a domain registrar that doesn't use sex to sell their products.
I enjoy public speaking, and I have been fortunate to have many opportunities to speak on a variety of topics. A friend reached out to me for advice about giving her first talk. Here was my response:
Thanks for reaching out. First, I want to say how proud I am that you are speaking about technology, especially when it comes to getting more women in technology. The only way to have true innovation in technology is to bring diversity of thought to the industry.
I have a few quick tips that have worked well for me in public speaking:
Here's a video of a friend of mine named Adria Richards giving a TEDx talk about women building careers with code. I think she did a great job of using visual images in her talk, and she laid it out well.
I hope that helps. If you need more information, please feel free to reach out. I know you'll do great!
I have 658,287 lifetime flight miles (and that's just with United Airlines) so I know quite a bit about travel. As a techie, here are my must-have travel gadgets:
Clamcase iPad Keyboard Case: When I'm not travelling, I use my iPad as a media consumption device to watch movies, play games, or keep up with the news. However, when I'm on long flights, I've found that encasing my tablet into its Clamcase Keyboard Case lets me use it to produce content. The keyboard is comfortable and gives me the ability to navigate complex spreadsheets, respond to emails, and, of course, work on my Great American Novel.
Wacom Bamboo Stylus: While the iPad is responsive enough to not need a stylus, I like to doodle in the air every now and then. So, I've found that travelling with a stylus lets me nurture my inner artist even when I'm 30,000 feet in the air.
Mophie Juice Pack: I travel with a lot of gadgets, but my phone is the one device that I can't afford to let it run out of juice. The Juice Pack functions as both a protective case and a power source for my Samsung Galaxy Android phone. The Juice Pack has allowed my phone to even survive an eight hour flight from Houston to Honolulu!
NapAnywhere: I used to use those U-shaped travel pillows, but I recently switched to NapAnywhere. It's so much better! It even makes sitting in a middle seat enjoyable! I've even been tempted to give it to the person napping next to me when their unconscious head starts slipping toward my shouldar.
Uber: This is an app that makes arranging a car safe and easy. I simply display my location and a car arrives within minutes! Since Uber stores my credit card information, I can just get out of the car at the end of the ride.