Lessons from the boat

Last week, I started working on my part-time contract with LeanDog. In the 3 days there, I’ve been privileged to work with a great team (Mike Lutton, Tim Conner, Bill Holmes, Huey Petersen, and Doc Norton). These are just some of the things I’ve observed so far.

Team Collaboration

As I mentioned above, I’m working with an awesome team. We have different backgrounds and can feed off of each other’s past experiences and strengths. It was great to feel a good chemistry with the team early on. But we’re not the only team on the boat. They have other teams for other projects, and it’s great to see those teams working together and bouncing off ideas as well. Yes, even though there are language differences (Python vs. Ruby vs. .NET vs. Java vs. others), we can still learn quite a bit from each other. Working on a boat surrounded by such diverse talent and collaborating with the groups – it’s been a great experience so far!

Pair {Anything}

This past week, I’ve been exposed to all sorts of experiences that weren’t afforded to me in other jobs. Since I’m still learning the ropes of the project and still the new kid, I’ve been able to pair with one of the guys in trying to work with some stuff. We’ve had pair testing, pair troubleshooting, and have decided that you can probably pair on any task.

But wait… our team knows no limits. While pairing works, sometimes, you need to solve a problem or learn a technology as a team effort. This is when Tim Conner’s “quinting” comes into play – 5 of us, 1 codebase, all figuring out the joys of Gherkin and SpecFlow.

New agile technique: quinting. Great Gherkin/Specflow session yesterday with @hueypetersen, @mlutton, @sadukie and @wch42 @leandog.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

And now a pic of quinting (thanks to Mike Lutton!)…

Understanding TDD

In my past job, they talked of TDD as a goal, but never something that was really well-explained. Thankfully, most of my friends have been exposed to TDD, and I’ve actually listened to them, even at times when I would ask “Why should I write more code?”. If I’m asking “why”, I’m either not convinced of something or really am curious to know why to use something and will “why” my way to an explanation that makes sense. All of the things they’ve told me really made sense this week when I saw unit tests. Everything just clicked and made sense. There were even times when I looked at a test and realized “That shouldn’t be behaving like that.” Having been nervous about TDD and then just dropping into that environment – I’m very happy in this setting.

Feeling at Home

It’s nice to go into a place and feel at home, even as a contractor. In many places, I’ve seen contractors treated as outsiders, locked with more restrictions than the average employee. I’ve seen companies treat contractors as second-class citizens at times. And those are the companies I remember… so that I never contract with them. While working on board, I don’t feel like an outsider… I truly feel like a LeanDogger, and that helps me take pride in working for them even more.

Going Forward

I’ve known many of the guys at LeanDog for awhile, as they are well-known in Cleveland’s tech community. LeanDog hosts many user groups and is involved in a variety of the tech events here – including Ignite Cleveland and Cleveland GiveCamp. I’m looking forward to helping these guys and their clients out where I can. It’s good to finally be working alongside these guys!

Cleveland GiveCamp 2011 – Sadukie’s Tales, Part 3 – This One Time At GiveCamp…

This past weekend, I saw how my project managing skills would fare at Cleveland GiveCamp.  First of all, if you aren’t familiar with GiveCamp, check out GiveCamp.org for a basic explanation.  Now for a basic overview of Cleveland GiveCamp, check out this post from Bob at Simplex-IT or even this video made by my favorite IT guy (my husband!):

As I mentioned, I had to manage 2 projects this year – a new website for ASL Advocates and a revamped website for the American Indian Education Center.  In both cases, our clients wanted sites that were easy to maintain.

I have to give a shoutout to my teams – they were awesome.  I got my team assignments on Friday night, and after giving them the notecards I made based on my discussions with the non-profits, I found them to be strong, self-organizing teams.  I walked away for the first standup, and when I got back, I found out that one team had relocated and the other was fine where they were.

Team ASL Advocates included Aoirthoir an Broc, Dave Shah, and Matthew Fousek.  Team American Indian Education Center included Kevin Solorio, Dan Schultz, Marco F Sanchez Chaires, and Gabe Keith.  Both of these teams were great to look after, as I really didn’t have a lot of heavy lifting for either team.  This allowed me to help Team AHRC with their Dreamhost DNS issues and Team Cleveland Rape Crisis Center with their SQL Server issues.  I also got to meet Adam Ryder, one of the GravityWorks guys who really enjoys GiveCamps.  He came in from Lansing, and this was his third GiveCamp this year.

I am very proud of my teams and their work.  Dave and Matt went out to take pictures of A-S-L being signed.  Matt’s hands really brought some life to the ASL Advocates logo on their page.  Gabe really rocked out his designer skills on the AIEC page and even had his daughter – a mini-designer – follow him out one day.  It was great to have a designer on at least one of the teams.

So without further ado, here are my teams’ pages:

ASL Advocates: http://asladvocates.org

American Indian Education Center: http://americanindianeducationcenter.org

I have to also give a shoutout to Kate Hawk and Pat Wolansky at Cinecraft.  They wanted to get involved with GiveCamp and help somehow.  They donated their video talents to one non-profit this year, and ASL Advocates happened to be the beneficiary of that.  They worked on a super short timeline… talked with ASL on Thursday, met at their offices Friday, shot the segment Saturday, and then video edited and had a video ready for us by early Sunday afternoon.  In the GiveCamps I’ve been to in the past, I’ve never seen a donation as awesome as this.  Kate and Pat were a pleasure to work with, and I would highly recommend doing business with them in the future.  You can see their promotional video here:

And to Sherrie Z. of Kiddie City Euclid – one of our 2010 Cleveland GiveCamp projects – thank you for coming out to help in the kitchen and help with snacks.  It’s always good to see when our non-profits come back to help.  This is truly what a community is about – offering our skills to help each other succeed and make it in the world.  Thank you!

Words can’t explain how awesome Cleveland’s community is for stepping up to help 22 non-profits over the weekend.  From organizers to sponsors to staff and volunteers, this event couldn’t have happened without everyone’s involvement.  This year’s Cleveland GiveCamp is yet another reason why Cleveland rocks!

Special thanks to the places that gave us a home this weekend – LeanDog and Burke Lakefront Airport!  Without you guys, we wouldn’t have such great “home”s during Cleveland GiveCamp.  And what other GiveCamp can make the claim of taking place both on a boat and at an airport?  None other than Cleveland!  Again… more reasons why Cleveland rocks!

This one time, at GiveCamp, I really had a lot of fun meeting new friends and seeing old friends.  I am overwhelmed by how supportive Cleveland is of its non-profit community and just who made an impact.