Agile at a Large Enterprise

dosequismemeI’ve spent the last few years consulting at a large enterprise retailer that has traditionally managed IT projects using a waterfall methodology.  It made sense—being so large, the company is very silo’d with separate IT departments for different functions and a strong business operations team that constantly gets feedback from the field. A structured requirements and design process with very specific scope was a necessity, as budget was allocated to “projects” at the beginning of each year.

But a few months ago, some of the IT leadership started to push for projects in the new year to be managed with an agile methodology (which included the teams that we were working with). I had a lot of doubts as to whether this would work or not, mainly due to the size of the organization and because only a portion of IT was to use agile.

Some of our team members have had experience with agile in smaller organizations, usually startups, but this is a different beast. As one of my friends often jokes: “Agile is just waterfall without requirements and design.” I thought that’s what it was going to be, but a couple of months in, our progress has exceeded my expectations. Read more ›

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Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

One of the benefits of working for BlueFletch is that everyone is urged to take training and go to conferences for things that interest them. A couple of months ago some of my peers chose to go to the Robots Conference (and, quite frankly, I was pretty jealous – building awesome Robots…I WANT TO DO THAT!). I made the decision a few months ago to attend the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston.

sloansportsanalyticsconference

For those of you that aren’t familiar, the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (SSAC) is a yearly event coordinated by MIT and sponsored by ESPN to get together all of the analytical minds in the sports business.  Nine years ago, it started out as a very small event on MIT’s campus, but has since grown into a 3000+ attendee conference.

My main goals going into the conference were:

  1. Learn about new and emerging technologies that are being used in the sports landscape, especially as they relate to mobile
  2. Gain more insight into the sports I love to follow
  3. Relate any sports management and sports team experiences to my role as a technology leader

Read more ›

Posted in Conferences & Meet Ups Tagged with: ,

August Smart Lock

A few months ago I saw the announcement that August Smart Lock was going to be sold in Apple Stores.  This told me they were ready for prime time.

AugustLogoSmall

I’ve always been interested in the “Internet of Things” and smart house improvements, but hadn’t really pulled the trigger on buying anything. But the August Smart Lock was intriguing to me. I could control the lock from my phone and it could automatically detect when I was entering/leaving (via Bluetooth) so I wouldn’t need to even use my phone? Sign me up!

So I did a little more research, found a lot of positive reviews (and a handful of negative ones), and ended up buying it for $250. The only disappointing thing was that it was going to take ~3 months to arrive. Bummer.

A few months later, around the time I had completely forgotten that I had ordered the smart lock, it arrived in the mail.

Read more ›

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Getting Your Life Organized with Trello

A few months ago Jeff told me about a cool app that he was using to manage workflow: Trello

Trello LogoI tried it out at work for managing my day-to-day tasks, but it didn’t catch on.  It just didn’t fit into the way I worked.

But then I started to use it at home.  At first it was just for things that I needed to remember to do for myself:

  • Clean the office
  • Buy plane tickets for wedding
  • Upload camera pictures and organize

Then the real power came when I got my wife to use the app too – now we could organize our lives together! Read more ›

Posted in Get Things Done Tagged with: , , , ,

My Mac Tools

Previously I wrote about My Windows Tools, but now that I’ve had my Mac for about 8 months I think it’s time to dive into the best tools I’ve found for being productive on OSX.

Full Applications

Skitch (Free)

skitch_icon

I use Skitch at least a few times every day for grabbing and marking up screenshots. As crappy as the Evernote application is (I’ll get to that later), the Evernote team did a good job with Skitch, creating a simple to use application that doesn’t try to do too much.

skitch_example Read more ›

Posted in Get Things Done Tagged with: , , , ,

The Benefits of Being A Technical Project Manager

Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of other IT project managers that never really understand the technical side of their project or product.  Most didn’t even have a desire to do so!  Coming from both a business and technical background, I’ve found that being a technical PM is a huge advantage, not only to me, but also to the greater project and the other members of my team.

In most organizations, a project manager is responsible for:

  • Creating and maintaining a project plan with tasks and estimates
  • Communicating with both IT and business stakeholders
  • Risk management and escalation
  • Managing scope

Yet how can a good project manager…

…verify whether a developer’s estimates are correct for a given task?

…create effective and meaningful status updates without knowing what’s going on with development and QA, and what are the major issues the development team is running into?

…take effective and meaningful meeting notes without understanding what is being talked about?

The benefits of being a technical project manager extend beyond the typical PM responsibilities and create a more well-rounded individual that can help a project in many different ways. Read more ›

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Fitbit Force Idea: Meeting Reminders

When news came out earlier this month that the Fitbit Force would be getting caller ID sometime soon (next month?), I got really excited about the future of this little gadget. Caller ID would be pretty great: I can imagine a bunch of times where my phone is in my pocket while I’m in a meeting, it buzzes, and I quickly glance at my watch without anyone noticing to see whether I need to pick it up.

fitbit force

But then I started to think bigger – what would be really helpful?

What if the Fitbit app could hook into my calendar and remind me a few minutes before it’s time to go to a meeting with a short buzz? Then it scrolls the subject of the meeting and the location (e.g. Conf Room D5). As a project manager who attends about 5-10 meetings a day, this would be awesome. I’d never miss another meeting by accident and I wouldn’t have to constantly pull out my laptop or open an app on my phone to figure out what room my next meeting is in.

The only question is whether Fitbit will enable apps to tap into these “notifications”. Fingers crossed!

Finally, I want to mention an awesome app that my (formerly non-developer) co-worker Jeff Steinke created for the Pebble watch: the Pebble Golf App. I don’t have a Pebble watch and I don’t really play golf, but this seems really useful for tracking your individual strokes per hole while also keeping a running total. Go check it out!

Posted in Gadgets Tagged with:

My Windows Tools

I know that I just got a Macbook, but I still have a lot of use for most of these Windows Tools. (I also started working on this before I bought the Macbook and wasn’t going to let it go to waste)

Utility Tools

  • AutoHotKey: A must-have whenever I install a new version of Windows.
  • Launchy: Launcher for Windows.
  • Notepad++: Best text editor I’ve used with tabs and syntax highlighting for various languages among other features.
  • Paint.net: Best alternative to Photoshop (and, in my opinion, better than Gimp).
  • KeePass: Some people like LastPass or 1Password, but I prefer KeePass since it’s local and gives me a little more piece of mind that it’s secure. I can also get my passwords anywhere by syncing it through dropbox.
  • PureText: Ever wanted to just paste text without formatting? All the time! Me too, which is why this tool written by Steve Miller is so great.
  • f.lux: Working at night is so much better on my eyes after installing f.lux. I barely notice the difference while working, but afterwards my eyes don’t hurt.
  • 7-Zip: Can’t beat this compression utility.
  • StrokeIt: Mouse gestures for minimize all, browser back, closing an application, etc.
  • Bulk Rename Utility: Powerful tool that makes renaming files a breeze (though it is a little overwhelming at first). Mostly use this for organizing my music and pictures.
  • Virtual CloneDrive: Free tool to mount .iso files.
  • Foxit PDF Reader: Because Adobe software updates every few days is the most annoying thing ever! This lightweight PDF reader is a great alternative to Adobe Reader.
  • VLC: Opens any media file and takes the pain out of finding the right codecs.
  • TeraCopy: Faster file copying.

Read more ›

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Setting up Node on Amazon EC2

There’s a lot of articles out there about setting up Node on Amazon EC2 – the one I found most useful was probably this one: http://iconof.com/blog/how-to-install-setup-node-js-on-amazon-aws-ec2-complete-guide/
Having gone through this process twice, here’s my quick steps on how to setup the git structure, setup port forwarding, and setup a post-update hook for git.

Git Structure on EC2

The following actions will create a bare git repository and then clone that repository in a different directory.

mkdir example.git
cd example.git
git init --bare
cd ~
git clone example.git
cd ~
mkdir logs
cd logs
mkdir example

Once this is completed you’ll have two directories in your root:

  • ~/example.git – which contains the bare git repository
  • ~/example – which contains all of the files

Read more ›

Posted in Code Snippets Tagged with: , ,

When Technology Fails: Lost Baggage

This past weekend I flew on a 6pm flight from Atlanta (ATL) to Orlando (MCO) and checked one bag. We arrived around 7:30pm, but the checked bag did not. Over the course of the next 18 hours, I realized that I had more knowledge about where my bag was than Delta (and Delta was pretty incompetent).

Delta Android App - Lost Baggage

Read more ›

Posted in My Stories Tagged with: ,