Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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    The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
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Paul Tevis

Entries in things i do (25)


It's A Mouthful

At Starbucks yesterday, someone one asked me, “What do you do?”

In the last week at work I have:

  • Written Python code for our testing framework, pairing with another engineer and using Test-Driven Development.
  • Coached one of my fellow team members on how to offer effective feedback to a third team member.
  • Met with all three of my direct reports to make sure they’re getting the support the need to do their jobs.
  • Facilitated my Scrum team’s retrospective, helping to distill specific actions to help us collaborate better.
  • Worked with our Director of Engineering and a new engineer to rough out a plan for supporting a new set of tools on a product line I haven’t touched for two years.
  • Got buy-in from one of our Program Managers that some of the corrective actions the team decided on were appropriate and that he didn’t need to intervene.
  • Drafted a test plan for our upcoming release to help justify pulling additional people onto the project to fill out under-represented skill sets.
  • Mediated between several sets of people who normally don’t get along well, resulting in a working agreement and a phone call that all sides described as productive.

If anyone knows what job title clearly communicates all that, let me know.

Fitness: None
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 261 words, 335 seven-day average, 261 average, 29484 total, 516 to go for the week


It's About Connections

I have fallen in love with TiddlyWiki.

I’ve long been a fan of wikis. I was active on the very first wiki, the Portland Pattern Repository, back before Wikipedia was started. I’m a synthetic thinker, so its no surprise that the hyper-connected nature of wikis appeals to me. They allow me to de-linearize information in a way that just works for me.

I didn’t get TiddlyWiki at first. I knew I wanted a personal wiki to keep track of information for Dying Kingdoms. A few searches mentioned it, so I decided to give it a try. At first, its sheer simplicity confused me. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. And then it clicked: It’s a multi-dimensional notepad. It’s an entire wiki stored in a single file that I can edit from any web browser. And when I keep a copy of it in my Dropbox, it becomes magic.

I started out using it for Dying Kingdoms. By dropping in information from the various documents I had and creating links between them, I started to draw connections between setting elements. Patterns that hadn’t been obvious in separate linear documents suddenly jumped out at me. I started to think how useful it would be to keep track of materials for games that I ran. And then I realized what else I needed to use it for.

So now when I sit down to work on the novel, I set my timer for one Pomodoro. If I hit my 250 word mark before the timer goes off — which I usually do — I open up my magic notepad in a web browser and spend the remaining time following links and filling in holes. Gone are the piles of text documents I was using to try to organize my thoughts. In their place is a whole other brain devoted to this book.


Fitness: None
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 262 words, 262 seven-day average, 264 average, 18506 total

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

On Monday, I made up stories with no preparation.

Actually, I helped make up stories, along with four other people, but that’s not as strong a lead. Five of us from my improv troupe are experimenting with some long-form work. On Monday, we did a Harold that ran for about forty-five minutes. We started with nothing, and I like to think that we put together something interesting.

On Friday I’ll be making up stories with about two months preparation.

Again, that’s not quite true, as I’ll be working with about thirty other people to make it happen. Friday is the next Dying Kingdoms LARP; the last one was Easter weekend, and the one before that was in February. Because there are only six games a year (of which I will probably miss two), there’s a strong tendency to “get ready” for them. I’ve only got a few hours every few months to accomplish my character’s goals, so I want to be prepared. This weekend, for example, I spent several hours pulling together the background material I have about the world to see if there was something I had missed that I could use. (The answer was yes, several things.) The amount of time I spend preparing is minuscule compared to some of the other players and staff.

My Monday and my Friday are a study in contrasts. And I enjoy them both.


Fitness: Ran 3.5 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 273 words, 263 seven-day average, 264 average, 18244 total


Cycling season is upon us, also known as the part of the year when I don’t have free time in the evenings. This week we’ve got daily coverage of the Tour of California. It’s only a week long, however, so it’s only a warm-up. The real time-sink comes when we hit the Tour de France in July, with its three weeks of multiple hours per day of coverage. Gwen at least has hobbies she can do while watching cycling: knitting, spinning, etc. I suppose I can iron the laundry. That’s about it, which is why my productivity during July plummets. I love watching the Tour, obviously, but it’s a commitment.

I’d love to write more, but I hear the TV warming up.


Fitness: Ran 2.25 miles
Writing: 310 words, 265 average

Emeritus in Several Ways

Rob Donoghue asks:

Are you listening to any podcasts these days? If so, what? if not, why not? And based on that answer, would you encourage someone with an interest to start a podcast today?

I am still listening to podcasts. They are, however, completely different in content and format than what I used to listen to. My listened habits have changed drastically in the last few years.

Every day, I listen to three National Public Radio podcasts: the 7 AM EST News Summary, the Story of the Day, and the World Story of the Day. Combined, these range from ten to twenty minutes, which is about how much time I spent in the car each day. I usually listen to one on the way to work and two on the way home or vice versa. I also listen to NPR’s weekly It’s All Politics podcast, often on my drive down to Ventura for improv workshop on Thursdays. I’ve recently picked up the Harvard Business Review Ideacast, though we’ll see how long that lasts.

I also listen to Radiolab religiously; it’s the only podcast longer than twenty minutes I subscribe to, and thankfully it doesn’t come out very often. When I’m going on a long drive, I’ll load up with the audio versions of TED Talks. I gleefully consume the memory palace whenever a new one happens to show up. And that’s pretty much it.

I used to have a lot of time to listen to long shows; I don’t anymore. I’m rarely in the car for more than ten minutes at a time, and when I work out I’d rather give myself the time to think. I’m definitely not in the target market for gaming podcasts anymore.

That said, there’s no reason why someone with an interest in podcasting shouldn’t start. I’m one guy. Even if there are millions of people like me, there are also billions who aren’t. Podcasting can afford to appeal to niche audience. Years ago, before I became a Podcaster Emeritus, I was quoted in Tricks of the Podcasting Masters:

“Do your research. Know what you’re talking about. Act professionally. Find your niche.”

That’s as true now as it was then.


Fitness: 30 minute workout
Writing: 0 words, 264 average