Using Story Points in Agile

There are two possible ways to use story points in Agile. One is toxic, demoralizing, and will probably drive your developers to look for employment elsewhere, while the other is mildly helpful, which is about all you can hope for from story points in Agile.

Can you tell which is which?

Approach 1

“This [story / issue / ticket / whatever] was estimated as only 2 points (about one day’s worth of work) but it took a whole week to complete!

“Why did it take so long?!”

Approach 2

“We estimated this [story / issue / ticket / whatever] as being 2 points (about one day’s worth of work) but it ended up taking an entire week.

“What did we miss in estimating that could have told us that this task was more than 2 points worth of work? How can we improve our process?”

Responding to “Beware of ‘service objects’ in Rails”

I recently stumbled across Jason Swett’s “Beware of ‘service objects’ in Rails” blog post. While I appreciate the perspective, I think it gets a number of things wrong. I replied to this post in a comment, but wanted to post my thoughts here as well in the hopes of encouraging more dialog about this important topic.

If so inclined, please feel free to comment below with your take on this subject.

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Understanding unless in Ruby

I don’t know about you, but Ruby’s unless has always been kind of hard for me to grok, but I’m realizing that’s because I’ve never seen a great use of it, esp. one that made me go, “Oh wow – yeah I’d definitely use unless there vs. an if statement or something else.”

However, the deeper I’ve gotten into Ruby the more I’ve noticed one place where unless really shines – guard statements. Consider the following:

def update_book_title(book, title)
  return unless book.present?
 
  book.update(title: title)
end

Now there’s a place I would definitely use unless over other control flow constructs. It’s succinct, easy to understand, and honestly a pleasure to both write and read.

Nice job Ruby! 🔴💎

No Longer For Me?

Today’s (2021-09-14) WWDC announcements have got me wondering: Are Apple’s devices no longer for me? Every year, Apple unveils an even spiffier, more-powerful version of its flagship phone and every year I find myself cringing a little more as they rattle off a slew of new features and capabilities they want to put in our pockets.

Today however, it became apparent to me why I’ve increasingly cringed each year since the iPhone 7 was released and why it’s time for me to move on: My values when it comes to technology are very different from Apple’s.

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Apple’s Proposed CSAM Scanning is a Mistake

If you’re unfamiliar with it, you can brush up on Apple’s CSAM proposal here (scroll down to the “CSAM detection” heading): https://www.apple.com/child-safety/

As an iPhone user since 2009, this move by Apple is very concerning. I can’t say it any better than the good folks here have already: https://appleprivacyletter.com

But Apple Already Scans Photos Uploaded to iCloud…

Yes, they do. And they have every right to scan their servers for illegal and/or abusive content. But this is a new technology we’re talking about, one that moves scanning to users’ devices, so it deserves its own discussion.

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Best Practice: Use Long-Format Flags in Shell Scripts

When working on the command line, it’s perfectly fine to use short-format flags. For example:

$ ls -al

This is memorable, easy to type, and helps you focus on accomplishing the task at hand.

However, when writing shell scripts that will be used over and over, it’s tempting to write in the same, comfortable short-flag style. However, compare the following:

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Dear Remote Workers: Stand Together Against Location-Based Pay

Workers should be paid based on the value they provide to their companies and its customers, not their home address.

Dear Remote Workers:

Your value as a worker is independent of where you live. If you provide $50k/year worth of value to your employer, all else being equal, that value should neither rise nor fall based on where you live.

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Make Yesterday Today’s Friend

Lay out your workout clothes the night before.

Clean the coffee maker while doing the dinner dishes so that it’s ready to brew first thing the following morning.

Set up automatic monthly transfers, no matter how small, from your checking account to your savings account.

In short, do the things you’re going to end up having to do anyway as far back “in the past” as possible.

As you time travel into the future, you probably won’t even recall that little bit of extra effort you put in yesterday, but, come today, you’ll bask in the little productivity boost you gave yourself.