Sunday, March 8, 2009

Immediate Ideas from JPR09

My 28 seconds of fame has arrived. If you're not already a Java Posse podcast listener, let episode 233 be your introduction to this excellent resource, and your chance to hear my radio voice as the Java Posse Roundup 2009 attendees all take a chance with the mic.

I'm trying to recall the best ideas I learned at the roundup last week, for prompt use at my workplace, Marketing Technology Solutions. Some of the ideas about how to help get back developer time were interesting, especially the focus on automating more processes. I look forward to reviewing more of the audio sessions in future weeks and months to extract more ideas.

However, there are three ideas that made my eyes light up when I heard them, and they're relatively simple to get started at work almost immediately after selling them to the team.

1. Project Retrospectives

After each code release, allow a full regular day to fix any surprising production issues. Then on the next day, run through a 1 to 3 hour code review and functionality retrospective. During this meeting each team member who completed anything interesting can show the primary changes they made to the code base and the improved functionality they created. This can help other team members learn how areas of the code are evolving that they haven't seen recently, and it can help us learn from each other's challenges and the solutions we found.

2. Regular Discussions with Employees

Spend 30-60 minutes each week with each employee to find out privately if there are any ideas or problems that deserve some attention from the employee's perspective. This should preferably be done far away from the office building to encourage unchecked speech about office troubles. It's reasonable to use a full or partial lunch break for the meeting if the employee wants, or just go for a walk during work hours.

3. Lightning Talks

Once a month our team can have an hour-long lunch-and-learn session of 5 minute lightning talks on any technical or non-technical subjects. Keeping things educational and entertaining helps promote free thinking and creativity, so non-technical talks are just as valuable as technical ones, as long as they're interesting or funny. This is especially helpful for team members who are not yet comfortable speaking in front of a group, which is an increasingly important skill for a developer. To get things started I'll need to prepare a few short talks on technical and non-technical subjects, with and without slides. This can help others see the flexibility of the format so they feel free to present whatever and however they prefer.

The lightning talks at the Java Posse Roundup 2009 were very successful. They went as follows:

"Fair Allocation" Algorithm
Selenium Intro
How I Became 3/4 of the Man I Was
The Art of the Photo
High Gear Media and GWT
Loop Quantum Gravity
Animation Inside JavaFX
Racing 101
Awesome Productivity with GMail
ScalaCheck Automated Tests
Simple Twitter Client in Scala
Your Eyes Suck at Blue

Why Are There 12? or The Other Staircase
DB Migration in Java
Dynamic Web Skinning
Centerline Soccer
Java User Groups: How to Start One?
Sophisticated Data Access with JPA and Spring
F1 KERS System (2009)
Scala + Wicket
Slide Rules for Fun and Profit
Call 811
Repository Management

jFlubber, FlexFlubber, FXFlubber
The Smallest Plugin System
Hacking Hardware
Helmet Cam Footage
Zombies: Are You Prepared?
JavaScript Shell
Recovering a Stolen Laptop with Flex
Doctor Who
Sexier Software with Flex
Solar Power for Your House
Scala and JavaRebel
Groovy SwingBuilder, Google Maps, YQL Mashup

The JPR09 lightning talks are gradually getting released by Carl Quinn on


Søren Bjerregaard Vrist said...

Regarding your 2):

Ive been listening to manager tools podcast and especially their "basics" department.

They say that "one-on-ones" which sounds like the scheduled, notetakeing, edtion of your pt2 is essentially the one thing you must not miss!

Im pretty certain that if your 3 points is "take-home" from jpr09 the ticket has paid it self :)

(Wish I could have been there)

Ståle Undheim said...

Very good summary off some good issues from the JPR. I am just going through some of the blogs that the JPR attendees are writing when I got to yours.

Also thanks for letting me borrow your power cable on day 0 :).