Mob Programming (Pair Squared)

I came across the idea of mob programming on an Elixir podcast, Elixir Fountain. Its pair programming on steroids, where you sit together and work on one problem together. There’s still just one driver at a time, though it rotates. There’s already a web site and a conference based on it.

I like the concept, but I’m not sure how effective it would be as a constant practice. I’ve done exercises like mob programming in small doses on particularly hard problems that involve architecture choices and occasionally as an exercise at user group meet ups. Anecdotally I don’t see doing it most of the time, but it is possible it works as a regular practice. It’s different enough that it might need some further experiments.

Development Podcasts

Here’s my current podcast development list:

Ruby Rogues is the default Ruby weekly Ruby podcast, plus they cover some non-Ruby topics here and there. It’s going on 4+ years now and still maintains a good degree of relevance.

This is the oldest of the Thoughtbot podcasts. It covers a host of topics including some software management.

The Hanselminutes Podcast

Hanselminutes is my concession to keeping up with the .NET world and perspective. Hansel is very good about not diving deep on MS specific topics too often. And I just love his nearly dead podcast This Developer’s Life.

This has been along forever associated with IEEE. I get the sense as the topics are tending towards less enterprisey that IEEE is finally catching up with the post Agile/Lean software world.

This is a great little technical podcast with two Thoughbotters. They go deep on Rails, but swing into other technologies they’re playing with.

Charles Lowell is a really old podcaster from the Drunk and Retired podcast. His company does a lot of Ember currently, but the often wander off into all sorts of technical topics.

Turing Incomplete is a little gem I found a few months ago. It’s four developers from Philly who talk about what they’re learning each week, recent conference talks, or even cool keyboards.

Rails Envy Podcast


It’s like Java Posse for Rails Developers only shorter, funnier, and tightly scripted.

The Rails Envy guys, Gregg and Jason, have put together a great podcast on current Rails news, packed it into 10 minute episodes and spiced it up with humor. You probably already know them from their parodies of the Mac PC ads with Rails versus Java, .NET, Coldfusion, etc. If you haven’t added the podcast to your feed and you keep any track of the Rails community it’s worth adding to your weekly podcast menu.

Dropping the Daily Scrum

In a recent Agile Toolkit podcast interview with Alistair Cockburn he mentions a time where he was helping a team through a retrospective and he brought up a provocative idea:

<b>I was like, how do you like your daily standups.  There's shuffling of feet and everyone's looking down.  I asked how often do you do your standups?</b>  

Three times a week.  

<b>Well, how do you feel about that?</b>

More shuffling, well, it's OK.  Finally one guy, a programmer goes "I don't like'em."  Turns out more people don't like them.

<b>Well, you oughta stop doing it.</b>  

But it's a cornerstone of Scrum, you can't not do daily standups.  You'll get kicked out of the community.

<b>I' don't get a royalty on every daily standup, you want to take it out go ahead.</b>

There weren’t any more details on how that played out, but the team apparently did just try removing the standup. I’ve had this conversation with several developers about standups. On some teams they seem like far too much of a chore and too stuck around reporting hours on tasks on a spreadsheet.

I did have one team where we took out the standup on Mondays and people were going to email their statuses around. That turned out to work pretty poorly as for the most part no one remembered to send the emails. Still if a team really wanted to experiment with no standups it’s their call. My guess is the better thing is to fix the reasons behind the dysfunctional standup. Jason Yip has a good recent post on standup patterns and ways to adjust standups that have the wrong vibe.