Scrum – A Quick Review of the Concepts

Introduction

The goal of this article is not to reiterate what a bunch of other professional Agile Management coaches have already said, but rather to put all of the pieces onto one page.  Should you want to know more about these concepts, please feel free to Google them further, and you will find a plethora of information regarding each one and the arguments over the idiosyncrasies of the interpretation of each definition.  I’ll leave that to you to discuss further on forums and chats.  However, this should provide most folks with a quick ramp-up on Agile methodologies. Please use this as more of a reference

A Quick Video

If you’ve never done any Scrum work before, I suggest you watch this 10 minute video to get a quick overview.

Roles

There are many different types of people involved in the Scrum process, and this is the main way that you should think of them as how they relate to the Scrum process as a whole. Continue reading

Secrets of Google Email

OK, it’s actually kinda hard to find this on the internet, even though it was public knowledge a while back

Feature #1: Periods in Emails

You can create an email crazy.dave@gmail.com and if you send an email to crazydave@gmail.com, it goes to the same user.  Usernames ignore periods.  Similarly, you can add extra periods, for example c.r.a.z.y.d.a.v.e@gmail.com will still go to that same user.

Also to prove this, try and create a new Google account , type 5 letters and a dot (e.g. “cra.da”) – and it will say ” Please use between 6 and 30 characters.”

Why This is Cool: Give it away Twice!

By being able to vary your email address “crazy.dave@gmail.com” vs “cra.zyda.ve@gmail.com”, you can sign up for emails twice on bargain sites.

Feature #2: Plus in Emails

You can add a plus at the end of your email, for example “crazy.dave@gmail.com” can add additional info that will be ignored.  For example, you could send an email to “crazy.dave+1234@gmail.com” and “+1234” will be dropped off and it will be sent to “crazy.dave@gmail.com”

Why This is Cool:  Sorting!

Because of this feature, you can create sorting rules so that “crazy.dave+newsletters@gmail.com” goes to one folder and “crazy.dave+shopping@gmail.com” goes to another.

Gmail’s Advanced Searching

While Gmail’s basic search works well enough, there are really fun advanced options that can help you find exactly what you are looking for.

For example, entering has:attachment filename:pdf will show you a list of e-mails with pdf files attached or after: 12/06/2014 before: 14/06/2014 will offer up a list of messages from that specific time period.

You can view the major search operators over at the Gmail support site — it’s well worth memorizing a few.

Why it’s Cool: Seriously?

OK, if you can’t figure out why this one is cool, I can’t help you.

Sad That This is All I Have?

It’s all I need, but if you want to become a Gmail Ninja, feel free to go here.

Why I’ll never use crowdfunding again, and why I suggest you don’t either.

How it is portrayed

Crowd funding sites are these fun sites.  They show a possible future.  They show all of these possible products that you could use.  If you just give $20-50, you get to make sure that this product gets made and you get something in return, right?

The Fine Print – You aren’t an investor.  You are donating.
The biggest problem with this beautiful vision is that you are giving money to a company that gives you nothing in return. There are the perks, but I’ll get to that later, since there are issues with that too. So essentially, you are donating money to someone who, a lot of the time, doesn’t need the money or does, but you would never give them that money if you were to meet them in real life.

If you were to compare it to the stock market, where if I were to invest $200 in a single company, i own $200 worth of a company. If the company is valued highly, this is not a large percentage, but for this example, let’s say it is 0.005% of the total company. If the company grows in value, you still own that much of the company and it worth more. If it shrinks in value, you still own that much of the company and it is worth less. Either way, you always own that much of the company.

In crowd funding, however, you don’t own any percentage of the company. For example, if you were to invest in a movie company, for every movie that makes money, so do you! In crowd funding world, this happened as well, but you know who got the profits? The projects themselves.

Point in reference, was the Veronica Mars movie. This isn’t the only movie out there, it’s just a really good example. This was put together as an idea to make another movie where there was a solid fan base. Sure, they couldn’t get studio funding, but maybe they could have tried elsewhere.  But, in the end they wanted to test out this crowd funding phenom.  After raising nearly $6 million to make the movie, the movie was made and eventually came out and grossed about $2 million – the first weekend!  If you were a Hollywood producer of some other film where you had invested $6 million, you’d be pretty happy, because you are going to make your money back in a matter of weeks, and then the rest is profit.  For the producers of this film… the fans donated the money.  So it’s ALL profit.  Yes, the people who put this project together made $2 million in profit the first weekend.

As long as you know, in this case, that you just donated to rich people, then you understand. Continue reading

Another Microsoft Product Bites the Dust – At Least for Me

To anyone who has received an obvious hacked account email from me, sorry.  I am finally moving to GMail.  The reason – a better 2 factor authentication.

Such a simple thing that they could have implemented and I would have been happy for them to index my data, purchasing habits, and connections all day long.  I had never moved over to GMail (though I had an account) because (a) I don’t want to give Google everything.  They have to work for it a bit, (b) I actually like the interface, especially when they moved to outlook.com, and (c) they were the incumbent.  I had a hotmail account before hotmail was bought up by Microsoft and I didn’t mind it.

But now that I’ve been hacked twice in 2 months, I’ve learned my lesson.  After the first attack, I moved all of my contacts out of hotmail.  They used the contact list to email everyone.  I figured if I could just keep that separated, there would be less problems.  I use an Android phone at home anyways, so most of my contacts were in Google already anyways, so I just left it there and would reference it occasionally.  After the first attack, though, I changed the password to something that would never be hacked.  I use a password generator that creates extremely hard to remember and use passwords.  After I got hacked the second time, I checked how secure my password really was.  It was pretty solid.  The password, based on this webapp would take approximately a century for a standard computer to crack.  That seems reasonable, right?  Apparently it’s not enough.

Truthfully, if you were to throw Amazon EC2 instances at it, I could see it taking a matter of hours to crack it instead of days, but that’s a lot of money for my insignificant emails.  But after the second one, I noticed something interesting – they weren’t originating from my server.  Someone had hacked into Microsoft’s system – somewhere in the middle.  Looking at the IP addresses that were sent from previous emails and the IP addresses that was used sending the bad emails, it looks like there is a disconnect somewhere in the Microsoft network.

Now, I could totally be wrong and they could be doing something totally different.  But you know what?  My 16 character password was hard enough to remember. Microsoft has finally implemented 2 factor authentication, but is it too little, too late?  Also, you can’t control it very well yet in their system, so it looks like if you want to revoke privileges, it is for every device you have or none at all.  Seems like something they should work on.

I implemented it anyways, just so I could feel safe about forward along to my Gmail account.  It was mostly me, but at least partially you.  Well, Microsoft… so long, and thanks for all the fish.

The hope that the Cable Company Regime might Die (Google Fiber, Aereo, and Senator McCain)

In some ways, law and politics is a game. Most of the time the big bullies push around everyone, but these days, things are changing.

I shared this with friends, but thought it merited sharing with the world. It’s funny because it’s true.

Google Fiber

Google Fiber not long ago announced that it is releasing another couple of zones. After a successful attempt with Kansas City (in both Kansas and Missouri), it is expanding. Lucky bastards in Austin.

For those who haven’t been paying attention to the Google Fiber thing, it’s interesting stuff. For $300, you get internet for 7 years at current cable provider speeds. Or, for the same overpriced amount you pay your cable provider for cable television and internet (~$120), you get the same cable package, plus internet that ranges from anywhere from 200 to 1,000 times faster (depending on your current internet speeds).

Yup, you read that right. 1,000 times faster.

It’s insane. It’s groundbreaking. And it’s going to happen, whether the cable providers want you to do it or not.

Aereo

From a cable spokesman, they “expect that you don’t want faster speeds because you haven’t asked for it.” Except in my area, where FIOS exists and people buy homes in the right areas just so they can get the Fiber Optic speeds, which are far below that of the Google Fiber project.

I would love to be able to buy HBO or TNT, but don’t want to buy ESPN. I support one product and not the other. But, since the cable companies and cable content providers are working in collusion and the cable companies are operating within state supported oligopolies, we are forced to take what they give us. What they give us is packages so that they can maximize their profits and advertisements.

Things like this give us options that are legal. Technically, the current regime is the one that is breaking the laws (spelled “Legal Monopoly”) with congressional support.

I would like to have local channels too, but don’t want to pay for the antenna or get up on a roof, even if that is able to happen. Plus, I don’t want to buy all of the equipment (slingbox, dvr, etc) to do this. I can, but I don’t want to. A fun new service called Aereo provides this service for you. They basically set up a an antenna, a dvr, and a slingbox, and give the control to you.

People and cable companies are up in arms over this. Everyone is screaming “Thief!” And when I say everyone, I mainly mean content providers and cable companies. Why? Because they have a nice little cash cow that they don’t want to see end. So what do they do? They take Aereo to court to sue the pants off of them. Turns out that Aereo was absolutely prepared for that. In a recent court case decision, they won the court case based on the fact that antenna, dvr, and slingbox are all legal for you and have been decided so in previous court cases. Plus one for the underdogs.

This is a valid service that they are providing. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it immoral or copyright infringement.

Senator McCain and the a-la-carte options

Even better yet, Senator John McCain, a man that I would not say that I align with politically, has a fabulous idea that he sent to the New York Times.  Basically, a-la-carte pricing has been requested for about 20 years by the government.  The FCC doesn’t want to step in and get involved in that, because that would be government putting limitations on businesses, which would be a political crap-storm.  However, he is willing to cut off the subsidies that they are getting from the government when they don’t do this.  BAMN!  Thank you Mr. McCain!  It’s about time.

The cable companies are putting pressure on companies that might take their business (Google, Microsoft), but they can only do so much. With the updates to the Home Theater PCs (by Dell, Boxee, Plex, XBMC, and even the new XBoxOne, for better or worse), it’s possible to connect your home in ways that were unheard of.  The only problem is that the content is still coming.  It’ll get there soon enough though.

Hope

With all of these different forces building, it might just be possible to losen the grip of some of the worst-liked companies in the US today.  Here’s for hoping, right?

Stupidest Google Groups Message I Have Ever Found

I understand that google groups has upped the number of permissions that people can tweak. That way, you have separate permissions to join, post, reply, etc. If you want to be a nazi in your group, they give you the power. However, I came across the most ludicrous message I have seen from any google application:

“You do not have permission to leave this forum.”

And just so that folks don’t think I’m just making it up, I took a screenshot.

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 2.29.44 PM

Now, I know that Google Groups isn’t the most feature rich forum software out there, nor is it the most feature rich newsgroup software. Unfortunately, I have now relegated this to “The place where the retard Google devs get to play.” This is because, whomever thought that this was an appropriate message or rule to make, falls into that category.

(PS – Sorry if I insulted any special needs kids. Just know that you can make fun of some of the Google developers now.)

Phone/Tablet wars heat up! But why?

So at this point, I’m just entertained by all of the big companies attempting to jump into the cell phone/tablet field. I assume they think there is some form of gold mine there. Not entirely sure why. Apple did a great job honing in on the future. I’m not an Apple fanboy, but they did hit the nail on the head with the iPhone and iPad. Several companies had tried and failed and they did a decent job of making these devices useful. Apple is making a bit of money from their App Store, but they make much more on hardware. Especially with the Ipads and Iphones. Google could care less about the OS. They just see that as overhead to make everyone use their other products, such as Maps (it works. We’re addicted). Everyone else is just trying to get on the bandwagon and they don’t know why.

Blackberry Re-Enters the Game

Blackberry is trying to make another version of their own OS. This is ultimately going to fail. Most of us don’t really need an analyst to tell us that (Here’s one anyways.) My opinion is that they should understand the market and know why users used Blackberry in the first place, which was because it was so well tied into their email. With a Blackberry server in a corporate environment, you were tied into EVERYTHING. Licensing was reasonable, especially when you consider how much Exchange costs. So, this allowed people to be able to crank through emails, even when on road trips. Now that phones have improved past the point of just handling emails, Blackberry wants in on all of that too. Common case of overreach. You should OWN the email market. Make sure that all Blackberry phones are based on Android, and make some apps. Make sure that everyone has those nice keyboards, cause it’s still supported in Android. And just make sure that your crap works. Then you can leverage both the email functionality that you’d created and the infrastructure will be how you make the profit. Plus, people can play whatever animal projectile games that they want without worrying about whether it’s compatible. But they probably won’t. They’ll probably keep driving forward on their new OS and the company will (figuratively) burn to the ground. Continue reading