TWT Web Experience Lab initiated

At my job @ TWT we are currently developing a new way of checking the performance of our customers website or web application.

This is not a purely technical perspective on the site, but more a 360 degree analysis.

I will be providing more details as we get the first impressions from customer projects. Maybe you want to have your own site checked?

Until then you can find out more in our article (german) at the TWT website:

TWT entwickelt das Web Experience Lab

Stay tuned 🙂

Brain Dump March 2015

Learnings
  • Keep it short!
    I sometimes try to cover too much and give too much information. I should really try to make my requests succinct and on point so that a decision can be taken swiftly. Especially in my day job as a team leader this is very important as a delay in decision making will almost always carry through the whole „chain of command“ and too much information sometimes makes decisions nearly impossible.
  • Always be skeptical!
    When we were younger, my friend Oli and I were publishing a Fanzine called „United Kids“ (yes, it was paper). On the back of one of the issues we put a quote by Andrew Jackson: „One man with courage makes a majority“. Turns out that it is doubtful he ever said it. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jan/26/opinion/oe-feller26. This shows to me (again) that we need to check sources and be skeptical about all „truths“ that are out there, be it on the internet or in whatever media that is. And it reminded me of a saying that my history teacher always propagated: „the winner rewrites history“. It might turn out that there are more truths and perspectives out there and that there might be less „real facts“ than we suspect.
  • Use your existing tools!
    I have started to use my existing tools more intensely and stopped trying out every new fad that’s around. I re-evaluated what I wanted to do and accomplish and then tried really hard to only use the tools that I already possess. So far it works out quite well. It takes complexity away, it rids me of taking new decisions all the time and it turns out that the tools are really good 😉 You can find some of them in the Links section.
 
Links
  • Alfred2 including Powerpack. Really makes a difference in the daily use of my macbook. – http://www.alfredapp.com/
  • Things for action items and todo lists. I find it more straightforward than the checklists in Evernote. With the new iOS integration it has gotten even more useful. – https://culturedcode.com/things/
  • Evernote for references and planning. I keep my goals in there and have specific notebooks for various concerns. I also share one notebook with the family. – http://evernote.com/
  • Google Docs for longer documents and stuff I need to share with people who don’t have Evernote. – https://www.google.com/intl/en/docs/about/
  • Google Calendar for work and for family infos. This is in addition to our paper planner we have in the kitchen. – https://www.google.com/calendar/about/
 
Quotes
What are the brain dumps?
In the nohype brain dumps I try to clear my mind of all the stuff I experienced in a month. I do that primarily as a journal for myself, but maybe some of this information is also helpful to you. Enjoy.

„Hacking debt“ – never stop tinkering

John D. Cook wrote an interesting brain teaser about „hacking debt“. Not to be mistaken for „technical debt“. He means that as a programmer you should make room for tinkering, learning and fiddling with new technology.

I fully agree with this notion and try to find ways in which we can integrate that into the daily or weekly routines. Any best practices that you know of (and no, please no 20% google time stuff…)?

http://www.johndcook.com/blog/2013/04/24/hacking-debt/

Preparing for the scrum certification PSM I

A few people have asked me what I did to prepare for my scrum PSM I certification. So I thought I’d share it with all of you at once.

First of all my employer TWT paid for a certification course from Itemis for my colleague Matthias and I. This was a two day course especially designed to prepare you for the PSM I certification.

To prepare for the course I read through the scrum guide. I also bought the book scrum – kurz und gut. I had read about 80% of the book before going into the course.

For a change of perspective I also read a book about being a product owner. This was very helpful in deciding how to prioritize the learning subjects. There was a lot of stuff I simply didn’t need for the certification. But it is helpful to understand the different perspectives in a scrum team.

After taking the preparation course we had 14 days to take the online certification test. To take the test Matthias and I studied all of our notes from the course and reread the scrum books.

I think the combination of the preparation course and the books on the subject were very critical for the success of our certification. We gained a lot of insight into the exam questions from the course and we gained a deeper understanding from reading wide about the subject.

So there you have it. Go on and get yourself certified as well.

Image via Flickr

Certified Scrum Master – PSM I

PSMII have previously written about agile project methodologies and frameworks. Scrum is one of those frameworks. Now I had the opportunity to become a certified scrum master – PSM I via scrum.org. TWT sponsored a certification course in my hometown of Essen. And on Tuesday, I took the online assessment and passed graciously 😉

So now I am not only a master of disaster, but also a master of scrum 😉

Software Craftsmanship by Sandro Mancuso – book review

 

I recently finished reading „Software Craftsmanship“ by @sandromancuso. I came to know about the book after many people tweeted about it following the SoCraTes 2014. I always followed @unclebobmartin and read a lot of articles in that realm. So a book about the whole movement seemed a good complement to „get things straight“.

I bought the Kindle version from Leanpub and read through it in about a week. The book surprised me a bit as it was not about hands-on practice and tools – as I had expected – but more about the ideologic underpinnings of the Software Craftsmanship „movement“. It contains a lot of stories from the trenches and describes many of the challenges that Sandro had to overcome. It also shows how he went about tackling those projects and gaining experience from that. I always had the impression that he was continually on the search of improving himself – which I try to do myself. And which turns out to be the main goal of being a software craftsman.

Sandro also opened my eyes towards the distinction between the process-oriented agile movement and the more technically-oriented software craftsmanship movement. It was nice to see how they both evolved and it seems important to me that we don’t forget how they complement each other. You shouldn’t do one without the other.

Here and there we find out something about „buzzwords“ like master, journeyman and apprentice. But Sandros main goal seems to be to instill in the reader a wish to better themselves and be in charge of their own careers and lives. He has a clear view of responsibilities and give some common ground for making decisions about code, career and life. I found it very inspiring.

Who should get it?
People who want to know more about where the ideas of being a software craftsman come from. And who also want some historic background. And who have asked themselves, why not everything is better now that agile is implemented in ever-more companies. And what we could do to make it better 😉

If you get to read it or if you have read it, let me know your thoughts…

Now there’s #gitflow in the IDE

After my talks about Git Flow in Hamburg and Essen, some developers (especially Andy) came up to me and were very skeptical if companies will be able to establish a workflow such as Git Flow without proper IDE integration. We at TWT were happy with the command line or a GUI client like Sourcetree. But I could understand Andys point of view.

Luckily, Opher Vishnia took up the gauntlet (as he purports the story himself ;)) and created a simple IntelliJ/PHPStorm Plugin that enables you to use Git Flow directly inside the IDE. You can get the Plugin via the Jetbrains Repository or from his Github Account. Thanks to Dominik for bringing it to my attention again after I had neglected to test this thoroughly…

After installation you can create features, releases and hotfixes from within the IDE.

gitflow-screenshot_14307

One problem that people seemed to have with the plugin on a Mac (myself included) was an error that prevented the plugin from working at all.

11:05:19.663: git flow feature start test-plugin
 git: 'flow' is not a git command. See 'git --help'.
 Did you mean one of these?
 reflog
 show

It turns out (from this support thread on Github) that the git executable and the git-flow executable must live in the same directory for the plugin to work. As my PHPStorm uses /usr/bin/git, I just symlinked my git-flow installation to /usr/bin:

cd /usr/bin
 sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/git-flow-feature git-flow-feature
 sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/git-flow-hotfix git-flow-hotfix
 sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/git-flow-init git-flow-init
 sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/git-flow-release git-flow-release
 sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/git-flow-support git-flow-support
 sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/git-flow-version git-flow-version
 sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/gitflow-common gitflow-common
 sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/gitflow-shFlags gitflow-shFlags

So that it looks like this afterwards:

ls -la git*
 -rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 14224 25 Nov 2013 21:11:19 git
 -rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 14256 25 Nov 2013 21:11:19 git-cvsserver
 lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 23 21 Jan 2014 11:01:20 git-flow -> /usr/local/bin/git-flow
 lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 30 21 Jan 2014 11:01:18 git-flow-common -> /usr/local/bin/git-flow-common
 lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 31 21 Jan 2014 11:01:04 git-flow-feature -> /usr/local/bin/git-flow-feature
 lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 30 21 Jan 2014 11:01:16 git-flow-hotfix -> /usr/local/bin/git-flow-hotfix
 lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 28 21 Jan 2014 11:01:26 git-flow-init -> /usr/local/bin/git-flow-init
 lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 31 21 Jan 2014 11:01:38 git-flow-release -> /usr/local/bin/git-flow-release
 lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 31 21 Jan 2014 11:01:32 git-flow-shFlags -> /usr/local/bin/git-flow-shFlags
 lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 31 21 Jan 2014 11:01:54 git-flow-support -> /usr/local/bin/git-flow-support
 lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 31 21 Jan 2014 11:01:04 git-flow-version -> /usr/local/bin/git-flow-version
 -rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 14272 25 Nov 2013 21:11:19 git-receive-pack
 -rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 14256 25 Nov 2013 21:11:19 git-shell
 -rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 14272 25 Nov 2013 21:11:19 git-upload-archive
 -rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 14272 25 Nov 2013 21:11:19 git-upload-pack

After that, everything worked like a charm. We’ll use that for some time and I’ll report back how that works out for us.

TYPO3Camp Rhein Ruhr #T3CRR

IMG_1971

Last weekend I also visited the TYPO3Camp Rhein Ruhr at the Unperfekthaus in my hometown Essen. My partners in crime Lars and Jaume were hardcore and went straight to the conference on Saturday after our trip to Hamburg. Being a family man, I took Saturday off to spend time with my wife and kids and let my colleague Alex check out the first day.

To make up for being absent, I proposed my gitflow talk as a session and fortunately it was voted in. Thanks for all the interest in this subject. It really is humbling and quite an honor. I liked presenting the gitflow process and giving a quick demo of the command line git plugin and I hope it had some value for the audience. You can still find the slides at github.

IMG_1968

You can find the rest of the talks on the TYPO3Camp website. Also take a look at the sponsors who made that great event possible!

It’s worth mentioning that I also won a prize 😉 One video2brain training. Thanks a lot, Monika and #T3CRR! And another shoutout to twt.de for making this possible.

Developer Conference 2013 #dchh

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I have been lucky to attend devcon 2013 this year. A big thanks to twt.de for making this possible. I’ll try to recap the conference, although it might be hard because so many things were going on.

First, some basic info about the conference:

The first thing I noticed even in my preparations before the conference was the broad approach in the talks and presentations. They really had subjects for almost everybody. And being kind of a generalist myself, this meant conflicts of interest in almost every slot. Which is a kind of luxury problem not many conferences have 😉

Here are some of my personal highlights of the conference:

IMG_1890

Location
Citing @muhdiekuh: „An IT Conference in a multiplex cinema is a no brainer.“… It was very refreshing to read code on slides from the last row of the room. Cinema displays are very well suited for all those gory details of tech presentations that get lost on a 800×600 low-res beamer. Everything was crystal clear and the big screen sometimes dwarfed the presenters which also led to some funny tweets all the while 😉 But really: THAT is the way to show slides!
One thing that kind of sucked about the cinema was that the foyer definitely isn’t meant as a place for hosting 1500 people at once. It is normally just an area that you pass through on your way out or your way in. Grabbing something to eat and talking to people was sometimes a bit packed. But I’d take that if I can have the big screen any day of the week 😉

IMG_1893

Orga
Tarek mentioned that they had Sarah, a professional event manager, working on the conference preparation for quite some time. This showed in many details, big and small. You found lots of people to ask questions about org-stuff and using cinemaxx staff for food and drinks was also brilliant. The coat check was also a nice detail and the overall organisation went smoothly. Kudos for all that small stuff which can really make the conference a pain if it doesn’t work.

IMG_1923

Food
The food was A-MA-ZING! Be it the nachos and popcorn at the cinemaxx or all of the food at the social event – it was nothing I expected, quite frankly. Some of my foodie highlights were the sea-salmon burgers, the currywurst wagon and the ready-prepared salad bar. Knowing three speakers (and their special treatment regarding beer coupons), there were always enough coupons to get drinks that night. The Hühnerposten was a very nice location as well and it needed some discipline to end the evening and return to the hotel to be fresh again for the next day.

IMG_1950

Now to some of my favourite sessions
The elasticsearch. talks ([1], [2]) were all very well prepared and had some nice uses-cases and demos to make you immediately want to try out some of the features, new and old. Also, it is always nice to compare that to the Google Search Appliance stuff that we are also very fond of at twt.de. Competition keeps you honest, I guess 😉
I also really liked the Neo4j talk. I am looking forward to version 2.0 now as some of the features will really drive the product forward. And who knows, maybe there are projects on the horizon someday. Graph-databases will definitely be relevant in the future and Neo4j does have some compelling features there.
I was a bit irked about the Zend Framework 2 session, but that might stem from the fact, that most of the best-practices seem like common sense to me and that I keep up with ZF2 use-cases for our projects anyway. Some nuggets of wisdom were to be found nonetheless, albeit very small ones 😉
Being a CMS guy, my motivation to see Marios React talk was more informative and it was interesting to see the Javascript XML stuff used in React.
And two more „meta“ kind of talks were also really entertaining: Judiths „Retrospektiven“ and Dr. Johannes Mainuschs „be nerd„, full of crazy ideas and pencil drawings with a big dose of real life bullshit bingo.

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Three is Company
Last but not least it was great to see all the friends and colleagues and talk about the sessions. It’s always good to discuss matters further and go deeper with the subject at hand. Being able to do that in a constructive setting is best. And although it was an exhausting trip, I never regretted taking it with Lars and Jaume 😉

DevCon and TYPO3Camp RR

DevCon2013

Next week it’s travel time again. First, I am going to visit Hamburg again and have a look at what the Developer Conference has to offer. I am really looking forward to the event and I am thankful, that TWT has again made it possible for me to participate in the event. That’ll be November 7th and 8th for DevCon.

TYPO3Camp Rhein Ruhe 2013

As if that wouldn’t keep me busy enough, I’ll also be participating in the TYPO3Camp Rhein Ruhr in the Unperfekthaus in my hometown, Essen. It’s the first time for me on a CMS specific conference, but maybe they’re also interested in my general git-flow talk there. I’ll throw my hat in the ring and we’ll see what comes of it. The TYPO3Camp will be held on November 9th and 10th.

I’ll post updates regarding the talks and workshops I see here on the blog so stay tuned.