Happiness is a test suite.

March 9, 2011

Today I am grateful for my test suite. I had to install my handiwork on a production box for the first time today, and the test suite made short work of identifying and fixing problems. It’s astonishing what testing for the seemingly obvious will catch.

A test suite is a courtesy to the next sap charged with the task, as well. Why make them hate you and your mass of bugs any more than strictly necessary?

Will SWAG for food

March 2, 2011

Why is it that when I am asked to estimate a project, I switch into abused-dog mode? My first instinct is to dive under the desk and whimper, which I promptly suppress in favor of other, hopefully more productive approaches.

So the last time I was asked, I stewed about it for 24 hours, talked with management-experienced friends, then finally did the sensible thing: I went to a colleague and ‘fessed up. “I’m not that good at this. And not only am I not good at this, I can’t calm myself enough to make myself good at this. May I get some help?” Why certainly. So yesterday we started to break down my project into finer detail. I drew up a spreadsheet with tasks, estimated each on a story point scale, added it up, and multiplied by 3 to account for the fact that I’m not Donald Knuth. I added a column for actual time, and hopefully, over time I will get an idea of the value of my own personal human coefficient, which I suspect will be rather high.

I reviewed Andy Lester’s Preventing Crisis talk, and asked my former colleague Buddy Burden for the story point scale in use at Rent.

Story Points The Buddy Scale The Dave Scale
dink “We’ve already spent more time talking about it than it would take to just do it.” An issue added that is quick to implement i.e., < 1 hour, equivalent to .25 story points
1 “Pfft. That’s nothing.” hours
2 “That’s not too bad …” hours to a day (or two)
3 “Not too awful, but non-trivial.” a few days

5 “This is some real work.” days to a week (or two)
8 “This is surprisingly difficult.” a few weeks
13 “This really sucks.” weeks to months
21 “There’s no way one person could do this by themselves.” weeks to months for multiple people
40 “This is a major project.” months for multiple people
100 “If they truly understood how heinous this was, they wouldn’t want to do it any more.” months for a lot of people