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Communication in Agile environment

open-space

Agile teams usually works in the Open Spaces. This makes communication easier, but it also introduces a problem: it is easier to interrupt your coworker. We all know what interruption means for programmer:

programmer-interrupted

Some people (e.g., DHH or Joel Spolsky) argue that working in Open Space is not good idea at all. They even wrote about that in their books:

DHH - Remote

Smart and Gets Things Done - Joel Spolsky's Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent

Here are three tips that can help you to fix this issue:

  1. When you want to ask somebody about something, send an email, or instant message instead of talking to him (even, and especially, when he sits next to you).
  2. Keep headphones on all the time when you working. Even if you are not listening to anything. This will make others to hesitate more before talking to you.
  3. Convince everybody from your team to apply tip 1 and 2.

I recommend you to check Michal Sliwon’s blog entry: Asynchronous communication at work, where you can find even more tips. It is also worth to read books Remote, and Smart and Gets Things Done (you can find them on my favorite books list). Both are against working in Open Spaces. First – is favoring working remotely. Second – private offices. Nevertheless, it is surprising how many ideas from these books – applied in remote work, and private office environments – can also works in Open Spaces.

Are you working in Open Space? What are you doing to be productive?


Windows 10 on VirtualBox – resolution problem

If you are running Windows 10 on VirtualBox you may experience limited resolutions availability.

To solve this problem, you can add CustomVideoMode (VirtualBox has to be closed at this time):

.\VBoxManage.exe setextradata "VM-Name" CustomVideoMode1 1600x900x32

To confirm it is set, use getextradata command:

.\VBoxManage.exe getextradata "Win10" CustomVideoMode1

Or list all settings:

.\VBoxManage.exe getextradata "Win10" enumerate

VirtualBox commands

Remember that VirtualBox has to be closed at the time when you execute these commands. If everything went smoothly, you should see new resolution after Virtual Machine restart:

Windows 10 resolutions on VirtualBox

 

* This might be also an issue with other versions of Windows.


Installing Mac OS X in VMWare Workstation on Windows 8

I created Mac OS X Virtual Machine on VMWare. It wasn’t simple process, so I decided to share this experience. I was following this article. Here is an outline:

  1. Download and install VMWare Workstation. But to do that, you need to disable Hyper-V first.
  2. Download VMWare unlocker and run windows/install.cmd script. It allows to choose Mac OS X system during VM creation later on.
  3. Convert Mac OS X image (Mountain Lion in my case) from .dmg to .iso (using dmg2img).
  4. Create VM for Mac OS X and choose created Mac OS X .iso file in new VM settings -> hardware -> CD/DVD (SATA) -> Use ISO image file
  5. Run Virtual Machine and install Mac OS X (described in mentioned article).
  6. Install VMWare tools (also described in mentioned article).

Once Mac OS X is installed and running I updated Mountain Lion to Mavericks. That was easy and went smoothly. Additionally I recommend to do following:

  1. Enable shared folders (they are located in /Volumes/VMWare Shared Folders/NAME_OF_FOLDER)
  2. Install TotalFinder
  3. Install iTerm 2
  4. Install Witch
  5. Install SublimeText 3
  6. Install Xcode (not only for iOS development, it contains e.g. gcc compiler)

Linux (Ubuntu) installation is much easier. You just download Ubuntu iso and create VM on VMWare workstation using downloaded .iso file. That’s it.


Applying Pomodoro Technique

Pomidoro

Piotr Rabiniak asked question about Pomodoro Technique at .NET Developers Poland facebook group. Lot of people replied, that they are using it. So do I. Usually using my Pomidoro Windows 8 app. I don’t use Pomodoro Technique everyday, but there are two main scenarios, when I find it extremely useful:

  1. At work, when I have many interesting things to check out (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc.). After first Pomodoro, I am in the flow, focused on work. Then I continue and after 4-6 pomodoros lot of things are done.
  2. At home (after work), when I want to play with some new technology or do some programming. There is also a lot of distractions, but this time it is worse. After I check all tweets, facebook, news, recent developers conferences, it is 10pm. Then I work till midnight or 1am, and do not have time to rest before the next day. For that, I created a rule: I can spend 4 pomodoros after work. No more, no less. It helps a lot! I come back home, eat dinner, start 4 pomodoros around 8pm, and at 10pm I am done. Additionally, even if it wasn’t enough to accomplish everything I wanted, my excitement level for next day is higher.

For me, Pomodoro Technique is not a way for living, but sometimes is extremely helpful. The magic happens, because it is only 25 minutes. It is not a lot, but it is enough to get into the flow. And after that you can have a 5 minutes break. In my case, the hardest thing is start working. After I dive in…everything is easy 🙂

There are many Pomodoro apps. I use one on my iPhone and my Pomidoro app for Windows 8.


Polish Coffee Hour

Yesterday (September 20, 2013) I had presentation about Poland at Kansas State University. It was part of “Coffee Hour” program (student’s presentations about their home countries). Thank you for everybody who helped me to prepare this presentation and food (placki ziemniaczane, pierogi, bigos). I hope that everyone who came enjoyed it 🙂

I recorded the presentation:

Slides are available online: Poland-CoffeHour4x3.pptx (~600MB).

It’s big (over 600MB) because it contains background music and movies. I spent a lot of time preparing it (collecting materials, making it short and rich in the same time, and appropriate for international audience). I share it with you, because maybe some day you will need to prepare something similar. Then feel free to use mine:)

EDIT: There are wrong dates of 1st World War. It supposed to be 1914-1918 (instead of 1814-1818). It’s already corrected in the Power Point presentation (but not in the video).