Building sand castles on a rising tide

Grabbing a handful of wet, saturated sand, I let it dribble through my finger tips.  I watch each drop pile on top of the previous, draining away the water and leaving a new building block of solid sand.  Too much water and the previous drip will be washed away.  Too little and the sand cracks and refuses to hold together.  I watch the sand grow, getting into a rhythm that ensures just the right amount of water, without thought.

My thoughts are not on the mechanics of building a drip castle with sand.  Instead, I’m thinking of the spire that I’m building.  Can I build these two spires toward each other and form an arch?  Can I make this slender spire taller?

Frequently I fail and a part of the castle slides down, becoming part of the landscape again.  Or becoming a foundation for a new part of the castle.  No matter.  It’s the building of the castle that brings me joy–not the owning of it.  For I will never own it.  The sea soon comes and takes it away.

Last weekend, I drove six hours down to Floyd, Virginia for a Code Retreat organized by Gustin Prudner and led by Corey Haines.  There, I joined thirty-some people working in pairs and threes on Conway’s Game of Life for forty-five minutes at a time.  Then, Corey would call time, and we would wash away all traces of what we’d built.

Does that sound like a waste of time?


Projecting into the Future

In my recent posting on estimation precision, I briefly mentioned how you can estimate when certain features will be done, or estimate what features will be done by a given date, using a burn-up chart.  Some people don’t find this an obvious and easy thing to do.  Let me explain in more detail.

I’ll start with the assumption that you have a list of features you want to add to an application.  Some of the things you want to add may not be properly called features–they might be bug fixes, for example.  And the application might be brand-new, with zero functionality so far.  That’s OK, we can handle cases like that.  Let’s walk through how I do this… (Continued)

The Importance of Precise Estimates

We’ve got a rather old bathroom scale.Borg-Ericson scale, circa 1950 I’ve found advertisements for this model ranging from 1949 to 1954.  My wife inherited it from her mother.  When we first got it, we set the “zero” weight to three pounds to give the “correct” weight.  Now it’s set closer to five pounds when nothing is on it.

The readings it gives are a little inconsistent.  When you bounce lightly up and down, you may get a different reading.  (I tend to take the smallest number I can get.) (Continued)

Some of the smartest people I know…

Some of the smartest people I know are ranting that certification doesn’t prove the person is worthy.  Well, of course it doesn’t.  No certification does that.

It only says you’ve met the requirements for the certificate.

Of course, they really know that.  So I don’t know why they’re making such a fuss.

A number of them have made public statements that they discriminate against people who hold certifications.  That really saddens me. (Continued)

Of course it’s a misnomer

On Twitter, my good friend Mike Sutton said, “CSD is a misnomer. The value of existing Certifications needs to be justified before new ones are released.”

Many of the terms we use are misnomers.  For example, “acceptance testing” is a misnomer because it doesn’t indicate acceptance if the tests pasts–it indicates lack of acceptance if the tests fail.

What is the misnomer in the phrase “certified scrum developer?”  (Continued)