12 October 2013

CodeCopTour Weeks 4 and 5

Today The day I started writing this post was the first day since more than five weeks that I did not schedule any pairing session. Somehow the day stayed blank in my calendar. Still it was a busy day. I spent more than four hours on emails, preparing stuff for our upcoming Eclipse DemoCamp and in the evening I attended an user group meeting. There was just enough time to squeeze in a blog post about the last two weeks, the fourth and fifth week of my CodeCopTour. Both weeks I visited a larger IT service provider. As I tweeted earlier this company wanted to stay anonymous for reasons I will explain later, so lets just name it Reynholm Industries. When planning my tour I had aimed for sessions of two or three days with each host but the management of Reynholm had invited me for two full weeks to visit several teams and pair with different people. I agreed and they had prepared for my visit three months in advance, at least that was what I thought.

Legal Issues
Obviously Reynholm was large enough to employ one or more legal advisers and they were afraid. I would work for Reynholm for two weeks and would not get any money. Nobody would believe that, so Reynholm might be accused of employing me without paying taxes. Austria has mandatory social insurance and its institution is lacking money and tracking down all possible cases of black market work to collect their share of the salary. In the morning after I arrived I was brought to the legal adviser and he told me that we had to cancel my visit. After preparing my visit for three months he had started his work one day before the deadline, my arrival. I was not amused and in no mood to drive back two hours with my business here unfinished. It took us half a day to work something out. In the end I signed a contract, accepting the responsibility to pay taxes for my income as necessary and I paid for the hotel and food myself. The fee of the contract was exactly the amount of money Reynholm had planned for my expenses, which was pretty accurate. I hope that in the end I will get back all the money I spent. Working on a contract and spending all income on expenses also does not sound reasonable, and I hope I will not get in trouble with the tax office.

First Code Retreat in Graz
Being in the area of Graz I used the opportunity to meet with my friend Wolfgang Kaufmann. Before I arrived I had talked to him about running a Code Retreat in Graz and he immediately agreed. He brought in some of his colleagues to help us organize and even talked his employer INFONOVA into sponsoring the coffee and lunch during the event. The local university FH Campus02 let us use one of its lecture rooms and we were ready to get started.

Code Retreat Graz, Session in ProgressAfter morning coffee I introduced the participants to the idea of Code Retreat and we started practising TDD, pair programming and object orientation.

Code Retreat Graz, Buffet by INFONOVADuring the first session almost all teams used arrays of integers or boolean flags so I chose No Naked Primitives as constraint for the second session. During that session only one pair worked on the business rules and all others created only infrastructure, so I proposed to focus on the domain in the next session. Lunch was great, we had wine and beer, several main dishes, even cheese and sweets. It was luxuriant - thank you INFONOVA. (I know I already mentioned them, but the lunch was really awesome, so one extra link will not hurt. Did I mention that they are looking for all kind of developers, just check out their web site ;-)

After lunch we had a session of Ping Pong Mute, which was really fun. One participant complained that he could not go for a design he wanted to try because his pair would not understand it without long explanations. I liked the idea of measuring a design by its simplicity - by its ability to be understood without much discussion. Probably his idea did not follow the KISS principle. After another round I asked the audience what they would like to work on in their last session and Wolfgang proposed No Conditionals. Although this is one of the more difficult exercises they came up with great solutions using nested maps or state machines.

Code Retreat Graz, Closing RoundIt was a very nice Code Retreat. The 15 participants were a good mixture of junior and senior developers, Scrum Masters and even one Product Owner who wanted to know what "his" developers do in their personal time ;-) People learned a lot, many of them had their first contact with TDD and pair programming in practice. Several decided to give TDD a try in their daily work. Thanks to our awesome sponsors INFONOVA and Campus02 we had everything we needed and the attending developers used the opportunity and made it a great event. Thank you all!

Second Week
In the second week I continued my journey through different teams at Reynholm and paired with different people for a day. All developers I met were friendly and open and I had a lot of interesting discussions. I already knew many people from the previous week and kept meeting known faces in the hallways and during lunch. At the end of the second week I felt like I had been with Reynholm for a long time and I even felt a bit sad I had to go away now because the people were so awesome. Thank you Alexander, Andreas, Andreas, Bernhard, Harald, Karl, Martin, Peter, Robert, Sabine, Stefan, Tom and Wolfgang. I will miss you.

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