Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Element

I completed reading the wonderful book by Sir Ken Robinson The Element. I loved the insights presented in this book and wanted to record them before the experience goes far into my memory database. I quickly pulled out few statements and thoughts from the book and have listed them down below.

  • Being in element doesn't consume energy, instead generates it. This is the perfect attribute to identify the element for a person.
  • The education system was designed by industries, so we have a school day defined within fixed time periods. The learning through cannot be confined into predefined periods, it is quite free flowing.  
  • Questioning ourselves, our abilities, questioning for granted beliefs is a key thing to discover your element.  
  • Our body has many more senses other than common five - sense of balance, temperature, kinesthetic, ... 
  • Intelligence is much more than just IQ - linguistic, musical, mathematical, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal, knowledge of self, some are dormant and others dominant.  
  • If you don't embrace the fact that you think about the world on diverse ways, you severely limit your chances of finding the person that you were meant to be.  
  • Three main attributes of intelligence: it is diverse, dynamic and distinct.  
  • Discovering your element is all about allowing yourself access to all of the ways in which you experience the world and discovering where your own true strengths lie. 
  • Intelligence and creativity are very tightly coupled. You can't be creative without being intelligent.  
  • Imagination. Through imagination we not only bring to mind things that we have experienced but things that we have never experienced. We have something else of profound and unique significance - we can create.  
  • Creativity : the process of having original ideas that have value. To be creative you actually need to do something.  
  • Your tribe: being with people with same interests or likings enhances your tribe.  
  • Book: organizing genius: the secrets of creative collaboration warren benis 
  • Being is your tribe and being in a crowd are two very similar experiences but very different.  
  • Fear is the most common obstacle to finding your element.  
  • Doing something for your own good is rarely for your own good if it causes you to be less than who you really are.  
  • We put such a premium on being approved of, we become reluctant to take risks.  
  • It's not what happens to us that makes the difference in our lives, what makes the difference is our attitude toward what happens.  
  • Mastering a combination of attitudes and behavior leads to opportunities and give confidence to take them.  
  • Meditation is a way to boost our intuitive abilities. 
  • Mentors roles:
    • 1. Recognition
    • 2. Encouragement
    • 3. Facilitating
    • 4. Stretching
  • Book: self reliance - Ralph Waldo
  • Book: feel the fear and do it anyway - Susan Jeffers
  • It may not be necessary to be in your element and earn your living or earn your living thru your element. You may be doing it off your primary work areas as an amateur.
  • Public education puts tremendous pressure on students to confirm to certain predefined things.
  • The fundamental theme of this book is that we urgently need to make fuller use of our own natural resources.
There are a few book reviews also, which I loved and want to save them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unlimited Sensory Capabilities!

I was reading the book by Sir Ken Robinson "The Element" and realized we have so so many senses beyond the basic five and the list goes on and on. Our body is an amazing work of art.

The sense of pain
The sense of time
The sense of movement
The sense of where you are in the world
The sense of where your body is compared to itself
The sense of temperature
The sense of pressure
The sense of itchiness
The sense of hunger and thirst
The sense of when you have to go to the bathroom.

and more...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to be humble

Thank Others

Make sure you take every opportunity you have to thank others for what they do and what they help you with. People don’t accomplish anything on their own and it always takes help from others. Thank them for this help. Whether its your boss, spouse, friends, or stranger, thank others for whatever you can. Being humble in other’s eyes means you don’t claim your own accomplishments, and instead, thank others for how they helped, what they did, how they encouraged or supported you, etc. There are always things to thank others for. Find someone each day and thank them for something. That said, I want to thank each of YOU for reading and supporting this site, it wouldn’t exist without you!

Redirect Praise

Redirecting praise is useful to be more humble and modest. If you don’t accept praise outright and instead, redirect it to others who helped you, trained you or even allowed you to do something, you pass on that praise to others without taking the credit directly. Accepting praise doesn’t really make a person less humble, but down playing your significance or importance on something certainly makes you more humble. Knowing and sharing the fact that you were not the reason for some accomplishment goes a long ways in the eyes of others. This is especially important in work groups and it drastically reduces the risk of anyone thinking you take all the credit. If you deflect or redirect all praise and credit given you to others involved and truly believe the fact that you weren’t that significant, you further develop a humble attitude.

You Don’t Have to Be Right

A humble person never tries to out do someone else and make themselves look better or smarter. This includes having to be right. When you try to prove you are right, or even when you say something simple like "I know", you are showing dominance over the other person. Instead of wanting to be right, even if you know something already, simple say, "Interesting, thanks for that." A humble person knows only one thing, that they are NOT always right! If you have an idea to present or a solution to offer, don’t try to convince others that its the right solution. Say something like, "I have an suggestion, although I’m not sure its the right thing to do, since I’m often wrong, which is to [blah blah]…" Make an effort to being humble using these types of suggestions so you don’t come across to others as always having to be right.

It Wasn’t You Who Got You Here

People are constantly striving for success and they often feel very proud of themselves for getting to where they are at. Humble people are not proud and know that they didn’t get themselves here. They know that others helped them, encouraged them and assisted them to get to where they are now. If you recognize this and always see how others help you out, you can be more humble by sharing that fact and not taking credit yourself. This is similar to the first one on the list, where its important to thank others.

Don’t Be First

First is not necessarily a bad thing, however being first can come across as competitive, self promoting or demoting of others. None of those things are common for a humble person. In a group or workplace, if you don’t be first to speak, participate or get involved, you give others a chance to be first. This can be very humbling for several reasons. You may see that others have better or smarter ideas than you had in the first place, you’re not the only one capable of the task or message and that you aren’t necessarily needed as much as you would like to think you are. These are very humbling realizations so if want to learn to be more humble, next time you have a chance to be first, don’t!

Appreciate Everything

So many things around us are not our doing, we often forget to see our own insignificance since we get so focused on our own lives and accomplishments. Well to be humble, its importance to recognize and appreciate all the wonderful things around us. Appreciate the place you live, the health, wealth and happiness you experience or have opportunity for. Appreciating things adds greatly to a person’s humility and knowing that we have so much to be thankful for builds on many of the other items in this list. Look around in nature and at the beauty of life sometime and just take it in for a few moments. Think of the world and the awesome creation that God has provided you, and its impossible NOT to be humbled. Show this appreciation in your life and spirit and it will certainly help you be more humble.

Listen More Than You Speak

Similar to the item above, "Don’t Be First" it applies to listening in a more broad sense. Listening more than you speak can be very powerful and if you use this you can learn many things about others and practice humility in how you respond. It gives you time to think and provides time for others to share their own opinions. Listening more can be very respectful to others, and you can learn a lot more by listening to others than you can by speaking.

Don’t Judge Others

Last but not least, a very important aspect of being humble is to not judge others. Judgment is a dangerous thing and you can’t stay open minded, receptive to ideas, empathetic or appreciative of others if you are judging them or their ideas. Everyone is different and have different ideas and when you judge those, you are really showing that you have some overseeing significance or power to make a judgment call, which you certainly don’t if you want to be a humble person. So, to be more humble, practice leaving others to show themselves over time and to let their ideas play out without judgment. Definitely, make an effort not to express judgment and don’t talk about people behind their backs. This is just another form of judgment and shows dominance, so don’t judge others, and you will be more humble.
Better is a person of humble standing who nevertheless has a servant, than one who pretends to be somebody important yet has no food. Proverbs 12:9
I hope this list is helpful and that each of you can take some of these steps to being more humble. I know that writing and researching this has been a bit humbling for myself, since I know I don’t do all of these things. I obviously have my work cut out for me. My next and last article in this series is going to look at Being Humble: Why Bother?. I hope you will come back and read why I think being humble is important and what it is useful for. I’d love to hear any other tips and ideas you may have for this list of action steps to be more humble, if so, please comment them below!

Saved from a wonderful write up !


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Agile QA Tester Attributes

  • Experience writing black box and GUI test cases, designing tests to mitigate risks, and helping business experts define requirements
  • Experience writing simple SQL queries and insert/update statements and basic grasp of Oracle or another relational database
  • At least one year of experience with some scripting or programming language and/or open source test tools
  • Ability to use basic Unix commands
  • Experience collaborating with programmers and business experts
  • Experience in context-based, exploratory, or scenario testing a plus
  • Ability to work as part of a self-organizing team in which you determine your tasks on a daily basis in coordination with coworkers rather than waiting for work to be assigned to you

Monday, July 30, 2012

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS...XaaS

I attended a wonderful DevOps meetup last week. And I liked it so much that I can't resist recording few of its ideas and details. It was delivered by Andy Croll who is the single developer (Ops/Web designer/BA/QA/DBA...) army behind the website at the link below. I wish I could rewind the time and video record the session.

The primary idea matches with the lean mean startup. The Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service and ... so many services available and huge number of people people involved in maintaining them, a smarter way is to to deliver is to utilize them and be more efficient and effective at the same time.

One liner details about tools stack:

        [open language cloud application platform]
        [an open-source JavaScript library that helps you build the next generation of HTML5 and CSS3-powered websites]
        [tool you need to pinpoint and solve performance issues in your Ruby, Java, .NET, PHP and Python apps.]
        [Hosted continuous integration and deployment -- sets up in minutes and runs your tests up to 10x faster, with Selenium support]
        [The Heroku Process Manager, Managing your processes to add scalability and save you money]
        [keeps you up to date on the ruby gems that matter to you]
        [customer relationship management and messaging tool for web app]
        [record Heatmaps for your website pages]
        [makes it easy to attract new subscribers, send them beautiful email newsletters and see stunning reports on the results]
        [SMTP relay services to deliver transactional emails triggered by web apps]
        [simple, effective, agile project management tool that allows your team to collaborate around a shared backlog of stories]
        [is the easiest way to enable true HTML5 Video on your site]

The above set is described more precisely at following link, in Andy's words:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Job Satisfaction!

"Three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.  It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five.  It is whether our work fulfills us." "Work that fulfills those three criteria is meaningful.  Being a teacher is meaningful. Being a physician is meaningful. So is being an entrepreneur…" -Malcolm Gladwell “Outliers: The Story of Success”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

An evening with Martin Fowler!

Thanks to the Agile Singapore meetup, I became aware of the wonderful session organised by ThoughtWorks and NUS.
The first session by Vivek Prahlad was very well organised and gave a beautiful quick overview about the Agile way of working on software projects. For me most of the content of this session was Agile as usual except the below picture:

The above picture lists most of the practices followed by Agile projects and the relationships amongst them. If any one of the nodes is missing it impact on all the related practices. Just imagine the impact if you remove the Testing node or make it less effective or inefficient. It impacts the following:
  • Refactoring
  • Pair programming
  • Simple design
  • Small releases 
  • Continuous integration
  • Sustainable pace
  • Planning
  • Whole team 
I think this picture should be posted on the wall of  every Agile team, large poster size. 
Next session was by Martin Fowler. He spoke about three intriguing topics, 20 minutes each. 
Martin Fowler is a very well know Agilist in the software world and has written many books and influencing blogs. I was really looking forward to be in his talk and I can say that I found him more than I had expected. His talks were all very engaging. The format of three short 20 minute talks was also really cool and really helped the audience (me) not to start wandering. 

Out of all the three sessions I loved the concept about the strategic and utility software. The analogy of the utility software with sewage pipe from business perspective was quite surreal. Both utility and strategic software delivery teams follow different patterns of agile and have different benefits from it. I also realised that the project I am part of used to be stragic at some point in time, right now it is pure utility only. 
I also learnt that there is a very small percentage of IT projects are of strategic type, in the industry and ThoughtWorks primarily focuses on tapping them.
Overall it was another superb experience with lots of learning and meeting Agile friends.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CITCON - Cool Great Experience!

I was lucky enough to be at CITCON  2012 at Singapore (pronounced KITCON, because it is Kontinuous Integration and not Sontinuous Integration, nice one :)). When I came to know about it initially thru the Agile Singapore mailing list, it was already late, the registration website was showing a house full message. But luckily I knew a person belonging to one of the sponsoring company and he thankfully helped me secure a seat in.

Look in the center on this picture to find me!

The conference spanned across two days, a Friday evening and a full Saturday. Friday evening we got together and introduced ourselves and decided on the topics to be presented on the next day. The introduction included each individual talking a few words about why were they present and what was their intention to take out of the conference. Additional to that Paul and Jeffery introduced the Open Space concept and the process it will progress rest of the conference.

The list of topics was posted on a grid on a board.

I was able to attend the following sessions:
1. CI 101 - By Andy Marks from ThoughtWorks
2. Strategies for Scaling and Speeding Tests - Vivek from ThoughtWorks
3. TDD vs BDD - Abhay from New Context
4. CI in a lean startup - By Andy Marks from ThoughtWorks
5. Pair Programming Done Right - Paul Julius from Co-founder CITCON
6. Selling Change - Jeffrey Fredrick from Co-founder CITCON

Each session was amazing in itself and always ended up in high spirits. As the open space format defines the sessions are driven by the people attending it. So every session started with a speaker initiating it, followed by people sitting in circles or randomly and converting it into a discussion mode with lots of inputs from attendees.

The conference was well sufficed with food and snacks at regular intervals. I enjoyed a lot talking to new people from different companies and learning a lot about their work and processes.

Both the sessions by co-founders PJ and JF were really awesome. While PJ described beautiful ways to start doing pair programming and its benefits, JF led the groups thru wonderful walkthru's of ways to sell change to a group of people around you.

They also had a wonderful unique way of leading the introduction talk on day 1 by dropping the post it chits on the floor leaving us to imagine like a 3D slide show with slides falling on the floor and Zero text display.

The overall experience was super nice and I kept recollecting it all thru out my next day during my idle mind times and ofcourse images will last much longer. I'd love to join it again and next definitely contribute more than this time!!