Using Zoom polls for planning poker in Agile teams

Planning poker cards
Planning Poker cards from Mountain Goat Software

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about using planning poker in Agile teams, for estimating user story size. But that was when we were all sitting in the same room and not shielding from Covid-19.

Things have changed now. Here are a few options that I’ve tried.

Continue reading Using Zoom polls for planning poker in Agile teams

What rules do you have for meetings at work?

A meeting room at work that I haven’t sat in now for over a year

Hands up if you love meetings… nobody?

It’s one of the most common complaints I hear from development teams: “Urgh! We have far too many meetings.” It’s not often true but that is their perception because the meetings felt boring and wasteful.

Meetings don’t have to be like that. I’ve just started reading a book called Meeting Design: For Managers, Makers and Everyone by Kevin M Hoffman (Two Waves Books, 2018) which I’m hoping will help me plan more productive, more meaningful gatherings in the future.

In this post, I offer a few simple rules to help meeting feel more manageable.

Continue reading What rules do you have for meetings at work?

Create dungeon maps with Dungeon Scrawl

I created this simple dungeon map in just a few minutes

I have long been a fan of maps. As a teenager, my bedroom ceiling was completely covered with maps from National Geographic magazines. I often rearranged the furniture in my room but for the most time I slept beneath France.

Dungeon Scrawl is a free, online resource for quickly creating old school dungeon crawler maps for RPG games (or just for fun!). It features:

  • A variety of map styles, brushes, tools and fonts
  • Support for layers
  • Isometric edit mode
  • Multi-page PDF export
  • Easy VTT compatibility
  • Import generated dungeons
  • Import images of assets

Three guitars that made me go “Wow!”

Over the years there have been only a few guitar designs that I have found quite beautiful and made me stop in my tracks and simply say, “Wow!”

Brian May Red Special

The first is, obviously, Brian May’s handmade Red Special. The original was built by Brian and his father from various materials including a hundred-year-old mantelpiece and a knitting needle. The model below is the Super, made by Brian May Guitars, available for £2,950.

This is the perfect electric guitar, as far as I am concerned.

The BMG Super

Parker Fly

First produced in 1993, I first saw the Parker Fly in the pages of Guitar World magazine. Designed by Ken Parker and Larry Fishman and sold by Parker Guitars, the Parker Fly is made from various tone woods with a carbon fibre exoskeleton and a combination of both traditional magnetic and piezoelectric pickups.

There is still something that I find quite beautiful about this instrument.

Parker Fly

Fender Acoustamatic Jazzmaster

And then this week, I first saw the new Fender Acoustamatic Jazzmaster. Versatile, combining rich acoustic tones and overdriven electric sounds, and quite beautiful.

Wow!

Fender Acoustasonic® Jazzmaster®

Unsubscribing from emails

Photo by ÉMILE SÉGUIN 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

Over the last few years, I have been slowly embracing a more minimalist approach to life. For me, minimalism isn’t about ditching everything and living a stoic lifestyle with nothing on my countertops and empty rooms—it’s about living with purpose and only keeping those things that bring value to my life.

Something that I identified that does not bring much value is the tens of email newsletters that I found myself receiving daily. I found them distracting. I found them time-consuming, going through each and needing to decide what to do with it… win it or bin it? Mostly, I’d bin in. What a waste of electricity!

A few weeks ago, I took delivery of Cal Newport’s latest book A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Overload. As I began to read it, I was immediately inspired to begin to reduce the amount of email I receive.

I opened a Trello ticket on my current projects board called “Unsubscribe from email newsletters” and created a list to capture everything that I unsubscribe from; that way, if I realise later that I did get value from it, I knew where to go to resubscribe.

I had one simple rule: does this email newsletter give me value? If the answer was either no or I’m not sure, I unsubscribed from it and recorded that in my list.

I have been running this experiment for a little over one month now and I have unsubscribed from 67 email newsletters.

My inbox is now much clearer.

It takes me only a few minutes each day (rather than maybe one hour) to deal with emails.

I can immediately see messages of value—emails from friends and strangers, emails requiring action, and the newsletters that I do want to read and from which I get a lot of value, for example the curious journal and weekly offerings from Documentally).

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the volume of email, I thoroughly recommend it.