Posts Tagged ‘Shoes’

Once upon a time, there was a project that was supposed to be done at the end of the month. There was a full Product Backlog, some of which was well defined into twelve Stories, and an enthusiastic Team ready to tackle the four week-long Sprints it was expected to take to finish the project. Confidence was high, and the predicted due date seemed to be no problem. Flip the hourglass with the sands of time; enter: Reality.

Once upon another time, a college student was given a credit card. Charge all you want and pay it off at the end of the month and it was like getting an instant, interest-free loan. Payday is the 30th (read: end of the month), so let’s get some shoes.Again, enter Reality.

Both of these scenarios, when adding the cosmic constant called Reality, are the beginning of accruing debt. In Scrum terms, technological debt is that work that is NOT done when trying to hit a predicted due date once reality enters the picture and starts to pump chaos into the well-sculpted predictions made at the beginning of the project. Another way to look at technological debt is to think of it as credit card interest. If the Team can hit the predicted deadline dead on (pun intended), no debt accrues. But any deviation beyond the due date creates a situation where, when normal business pressures come to bear, compound interest starts to make things interesting.

Let’s expand my first example. Sprint week one: an Impediment arises that chews up four hours of productive time during the Sprint, causing the third of three Stories to not be completed properly. Planning Scrum for week two: this issue bubbles up to the surface and is taken into account by using the second week Sprint to finish the work not completed on the first week’s third story. This causes the Team to lose Velocity and only complete two stories in the second week. The Team now completes the second Sprint, and has a total of five Stories complete in a quality manner — code is solid, all testing is done, and the work is up to par. Now, halfway through the project, this is noted, but optimism is still high, and somewhere in the next two Sprints, this extra Story needs to get done on top of the remaining six . This is not yet technological debt, but it should be cause for concern for the Product Owner, the ScrumMaster, and the Team. Interest is looming.

As the two final Sprints are planned and executed, somebody comes up with a fabulous idea of a shortcut to keep the project on track to be delivered on the predicted date. These ideas are usually along the lines of not completing due diligence on testing, outputting hacked code, skipping code reviews or full QA, or otherwise not doing high quality work. Project is delivered, client and Product Owner look like heroes, and everyone is happy, right? Wrong.

Technological debt — or interest — exists in the product itself. The entire Team — Product Owner, ScrumMaster, and Team Members, all know that within the delivery lurks something that was not up to par, and may come back to haunt them later. Extrapolating my second example — including the introduction of reality — at the end of the month, it is more important to pay all of your rent and only part of the credit card bill, so your $300 pair of shoes only gets $250 dumped on the bill. Waiting until the end of the next month to pay for your new clogs will actually cost you $75 more, not the $50 that it would have taken had you paid the whole thing promptly before the interest rate started getting that rear-naked choke hooked in. Technological debt works the same way. Your shoes just cost you $325. Next month, as the compounding really gets rolling, they will be a $350 pair of shoes, all the while losing value while you are wearing them to your Scrums every day.

Back to example one: client is so happy with the delivered product, they want it installed on all three of their websites, and expects that it should be an easy chore. We delivered them a quality, scalable, perfectly-factored product, right? Unless the technological debt is addressed immediately in the new estimates — probably a whole week’s worth of Sprint on top of this new client request — the problem is not just going to sit there and be a static problem value; it is going to gain interest. As the product is scaled, built upon, sold as-is to other clients, this debt is accruing interest. As long as this debt is ignored, it will continue to compound and cause problems in the future, especially in terms of codebase. Technological debt really gets good when the programmer who put the hack into code in the first place either is no longer with the Team or doesn’t remember what was done to create the problem in the first place. Time is the factor that is compounding — in this case, to find the problem and fix it. The sharpest pain in the process of catching up on technological debt is that there is nothing that can be sold to the client as an upgrade or a new feature; this was supposed to be done in the name of Quality last month…or six months ago,,,or whoever the dude was that built this code in the first place.

One of the central concepts of Scrum is honesty. Honesty within the Team is crucial, and in the case of this example of technological debt should have been clear communication to the Product Owner that due to the Impediment, the project needed another week to be delivered with the quality that the client deserved. If the client could not wait one more week for a quality product, then the Team has to get a Business Owner involved — usually to OK overtime, working lunches, and otherwise reducing other responsibilities in order to retrieve the additional time to do it once and do it right. In the case of the shoes, you would have saved your money and purchased them the 15th of the next month when you could drop $300 in cash and not absorbed any debt in the first place.

For a good graph-and-chart-laced article on the issue of tech debt, check out Technical Debt and Design Death by Kane Mar.

I am the sole member
of the The Blessed Heart Sacred Moon Wanderlust Spelunking Club
and I lead myself through the Scottish bogs
under a sky liberally sprinkled
with the Milky Way galaxy.

Wet shoes and grey spirits,
feather boa fog tendrils bathing my sock-tops,
no compass points me to my Holy Grail.

Two kittens accompany me
getting in my way and making me laugh aloud:
an unheard of sound in these waterlogged fens.

Hiding in the ferns, one black/white, one silver-grey,
amber eyes watching my pen dance in this damp campsite,
a smoky fire beating quiet drums
to wrestle back the velvet curtains of darkness.

I’m waking all night to watch over the dreams of Dawn;
her restfulness insures the beauty of the coming day.

For Dawn

Posted: November 24, 1993 in Poetry
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I know I could live
without you here,
but it wouldn’t be something
I’d choose.
My bed is empty;
I’m tired and lonely,
my blankets worn
like the soles of shoes.
I miss you madly,
your cotton kisses,
your blushing smile,
and sea-blue eyes.
Only when you
return to love me
will I enjoy these blue skies.

Playing Hardball

Posted: November 14, 1993 in Poetry
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The tears come hard and fast
mimicking the sound
of the sheets of rain
blowing over the cab of my truck.
They pool in my lap
and get cold running down
my legs, in my shoes,
cheeks caked with salt
from the crying,
wind chasing tears
from the corners of my
eyesockets.
And all I can do
is keep my head in my hands
and ask: why?
why?
why?

Shoebox

Posted: May 8, 1993 in Poetry
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I have it all tucked away in a shoebox
for casual reminiscing
when this is all over.
Bury it with me like food for the afterlife.

check this out:
I keep on moving don’t stop the clock
I can’t keep on without the tick-tock so I
I walk on, rock on, keeping my shoes on
I hear you sigh and sing the blues on the corner
by the storefront windows. I stop and I listen.
I remember us doing some kissin’
but I cannot live as I was doing:
chasing you around, forgiving, boo-hooing.
roads are there to walk and choices abound
I know I’ll see you around town because
I still love you just as much as ever
I miss your clear eyes and your stormy weather.
a piano reminds me of a lonely day song
that I played for all the times that I know I’ve been wrong,
but I change my tune to keep you grooving,
and like Soul II Soul I gotta keep on moving.

Untitled Poem #-17

Posted: March 6, 1992 in Poetry
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light is spilling through the clouds,
and the whippoorwill wind is getting louder;
a storm is coming.
I can see the line of rainfall
blurring the trees across the way.
the dark is rising,
and my shoes are untied.

I, Ape

Posted: July 16, 1991 in Poetry
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I, ape, eat mushrooms
in a forest of multicolored furniture
all from the room of a girl
I knew.
the carpety grass is foaming upwards.
shoes play hide and seek when I
sneak around in the closet.
they shut it always behind them.
find them cavorting and wagging their tongues.
I live in the closet.
I read old travel books and sigh.
funny little bugs comb my hair for me.
the shoes galumph like tiny dragons.
my rat escaped.

I, ape, drink cappuccino
alone under the pillars of marbled ice cream,
whittling leaves to stick to their sides with thumbtacks.
sorry.
I sit quietly under a quilt made
of Stars by Mom long long ago that is too small.
it’s fun to push around
on the tiled floors
on my butt, pretending to have no legs.
the leaves turn purple with the sunset paintset.
everything is quiet and
you can see your reflection in everything.

I, ape, peer through the closet door slats
but can only see the carpet that changes color.
sometimes I can’t fly my kite for the roof.
then,
I move the stuffed animals
and make them nod and wave.
there was a lake, big and pretty and I was scared
to throw rocks into it.
there’s a story behind all these shelves.
I wish I had some pudding.
just to sit and eat pudding;
lick the back of the spoon
in this forest
of chairs.

I, ape, wear a green felt hat for no reason,
puzzled by the paintings in the empty museum.
I search all the video games for quarters.
nobody’s home.
dusting the lampshades is fun;
it makes me sneeze and then I dance in the mucous-mist.
I sing myself to sleep in the queer half-light
of the green stone moon
poking my head in holes in the ground.
I play a silly flute
on the sand left by the retreating tide,
sometimes dragging a stick for miles,
then falling asleep
on the carpet.

I, ape, remember all this,
dreamed before I was built of gristle
and hair, wound with a turnkey and set on the linoleum
to live.
my nest in the rocks was burnt
when I returned with some candy I’d found,
so I ate it in the wet soot.
I’ve smoke in my eyes.
I’ve loved you for so long;
now I can fly
and I leave all this hair and skin
and my shoes
behind.

Ronald McDonald

Posted: April 3, 1991 in Poetry
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my shoes
look like
Ronald McDonald’s
and sometimes,
wearing them,
I wonder what
it would be like
to be bolted
to a playground’s
cement slab
in front of that
fast food franchise
and then be stolen
by some high
school seniors.

Shoe Salvage Speech

Posted: January 9, 1991 in Poetry
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Who says shoes can’t last forever?
When all purpose duct tape replaced the leather
The canvas decaying, the smooth rubber sole
What fun are big puddles when your shoes are whole?
Don’t give up on your footwear when they get thrashed
Salvage your sneakers from the maw of the trash.
Even when the laces can’t thread through the eyes
And even when the tread has reduced greatly in size
Remember your shoes are the greatest of friends
So do what you can to extend the end.