Stuck in Paris – Can’t whine – Day Nine

At this point, there’s no point in flying home as I was supposed to be back here anyway in a few days. I missed two weeks at home and Battle of the Bands in Toronto – which was supposed to be today. Missing family and friends. I took a drive to Beaune yesterday. Lot’s of great to wine to taste, but I didn’t have a drop – had to drive back to Paris. I could have stayed overnight but wasn’t feeling all that great. So decision was a simple one, get back to Paris and get a good night’s sleep.

Beaune is gorgeous. A small town but packed with visitors touring the wine shops and other sites. Here are a couple of pictures.

Tourists in Beaune

Just outside of Beaune, this beautiful Chateau


Stuck in Paris – Accept my Fate – Day Eight

Still here. The sun is out, and today is road-trip day. Heading out of town with a non-tearable Michelin map of France, my car, my Mac, and sunglasses. Destination, a secret. I’ll report with photos tomorrow. One thing though, it’s not too far out of Paris. And no, it’s not Euro-Disney. Bummer I can’t be in Toronto today for Battle of the Bands. I was so looking forward to pounding on drums for a few hours with my bandmates.

Ok. TIme to hit the road. See you later!

March 29 2010 – Dinner with Jeff Sutherland

Monday, March 29, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Jeff Sutherland and other RTP leaders. The dinner was a fundraiser for CITCON, which came to RTP in April. This was an opportunity for Agile practitioners and experts to have an informal chat about the challenges and opportunities of using Agile in the world of work.

I was interested in learning more about Systematic, a CMMI level 5 company that implemented Scrum across its entire business. One thing that sets Systematic apart from other companies is that it has really good data to prove that Scrum works, and it is a software company that can execute perfect waterfalls every time. Systematic created hyper-productive teams, and by Jeff’s definition, they are at least 4 times more productive than industry average. They cut TTM in half and the development costs by the same as well.

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Stuck in Paris – No Jet – Jour Sept

It’s sunny outside, and I am indoors. The hotel this morning in the breakfast room was full of American tourists looking forward to a day of sightseeing and other frivolities. I’m thinking about airplanes. Come Monday I will be starting my 4th week here. I ran out of clean clothes a week ago but I changed hotels last night and have access to laundry services so some of my clothing will get cleaned up, and I might look a little more professional at the office. The MET Weather Office in the UK has been publishing these cool simulations of the path of the volcanic ash. You can see it here. Looking much better.

I was at Gare de l’Est this week. Although busy, trains appeared to be moving and no serious bottlenecks. Except for trying to buy a ticket, which could take up to a half day in line, not too bad. Click on the photo for a better view.

Gare de l"Est - Busy but civilized

I have no confirmed flight, and the weekend is upon us. Iceland just closed two airports and British military suspended some flights as well. It’s not completely business as usual, but better. CNN Travel has an update here.

Stuck sipping wine and eating those crescent roll things they like so much here. I’m thinking seriously about getting out of dodge, but have not decided where I should go. Somewhere where I can drive because I am not ready to rely on trains or planes just yet. I’m open to suggestions!

Is Squelching an Opinion an Acceptable Thing to Do?

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. My mother would argue that only her opinion matters. Well, that’s my mother. I LOVE diverse opinions. When I hear an opinion that differs from mine, it forces me to think about my own assumptions and preconceived ideas. It opens up possibilities and creates an opportunity for dialogue and debate, the cornerstone of innovation.

I sometimes hear that we should control the public opinions of others. On some matters that’s justified. Avoiding panic in a life or death situation falls into this category. But debate about engineering practices and methods of work are fair game and diversity of opinion asks us to THINK. When a whole team is headed in one direction and that brave lone voice says, “you know, I don’t agree, we should go the other way.” Those are the moments when we start to question basic assumptions and attitudes. Lone voices and oddballs are what make great things happen. Howard Hughes is a good example of someone who listened to himself and made a dent in the world. Encourage this in your teams and in your organizations. Endless debate is wasteful, but healthy disagreement is what drives clarity in thinking.

Don’t judge, Don’t squelch. Explore and innovate instead!

Continous Integration and Testing Conference – by Jamie Longmuir

Field Report from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina – April 16th-17th, 2010 – (CitCon –

By:  Jamie Longmuir

Note from Raj: Jamie just returned from Citcon and he graciously agreed to share what he learned there with all of us. Thank you,  Jamie!

This conference was an excellent opportunity to hear from other designers, testers and release managers who had adopted agile, CI, TDD, and other practices.  While the attendees all brought different perspectives, they were all very passionate about improving their software development practices.

Note: The points raised in my notes below, are just that…my notes.  Feel free to discuss any points you disagree or have something to add to in the discussion page.

Interesting Quotes from the Conference…

“Gartner’s analysts (Thomas Murphy and David Norton) predict that by 2012 “agile development methods will be utilized in 80% of all software development projects”. –

“If you’re not doing TDD, you’re not doing professional development” – Paul Julius

Conference Format – Open Spaces

I found the open-spaces concept very effective for this type of conference.  When you have many people, from different backgrounds, looking to share their individual experiences this is a great format.  Unlike a traditional conference, where sessions are pre-scheduled and presenters lecture on a particular topic, open-space sessions are scheduled by the participants during the conference, and frequently turn into a round-table discussion, rather than a lecture.

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Paris – Frisky drivers and gridlock

Last Thursday I noticed a definite change in the driving behaviour here in Paris. Drivers were zipping in and out of lanes more than usual, cutting people off left and right. Motorcycles or “mouches” as I think they should be called, were buzzing violently between lanes.

It all came to a head on the drive back into Paris from Marcoussis. The A6 northbound came to a standstill and as we made it up Avenue du Maine, after negotiating Porte d’Orleans, complete gridlock at the intersection of Avenue du Maine and General Le Clerc. I had to fold in my side-view mirrors to squeeze through a pair of cars.  It took two hours to get back to the hotel. Traffic raged on for another two hours after that. People stopped, parked their cars wherever they could and took bicycles in some cases. The train strike didn’t help, putting more cars on the road than usual.

Every time I come to Paris there is always one day out of 10 where traffic is a complete nightmare. Sometimes more, but never less.