Spines: an awesome journey has started

"After more than a year, I can't believe we are doing this"

This is a very recurring thought I'm having these days. I started a company and we are building software to deal with a very important topic for me, learning. I've always been very curious and luckily enough I had the opportunity to attend many different classes such as biology and other basic sciences, computer science, philosophy, psychology, design, economics, and music. Now you can do this any weekend on the Internet, but not many years ago you could only get this by attending a University. It was a great time, and coming from a little town in Patagonia, it revolutionized me. All those lectures, seminars, laboratories, girls, a real library, concerts, and more girls. I loved attending any class when possible, just for the fun of it. Some years later my opinion on education changed. I was disappointed with formal education, the way examination worked, and struggling through a huge economic crisis, I dropped everything and traveled to Spain. Since then, I've never quit studying on my own. I've taught myself many things, but specially I learned fundamentals of programming, and I've been working as a web developer for a decade or so.

I think learning is the most important activity of a person, and this is because of several reasons. In its most fundamental form, learning is what determines the adaptation of biological organisms to a dynamic environment (with high uncertainty). That is to say, we survive because we learn. Moreover learning changes you, not only physically through neurons connections but also changes the representation that you have of yourself. But most commonly I think about learning like fuel of life, it's very often compared with an adventure, and I certainly feel it this way. It requires effort, dedication, discipline, but it can be a lot of fun.

I love learning new things, and it's a great time for that. There is so much knowledge out there, all kind of information, documents, videos, audios. That's amazing, only it's not true. There are loads of information, but that is not knowledge. It's great that we can access all that information easier and easier each time, but for this information to change us, and allow us to create new things and new ideas, we need to digest this information. I don't say we need to remember everything, though memory is very important, learning is not the same as memorizing.

Don't you feel that you consume (read, watch and listen) more valuable information but you learn less? I do, and I found that many people feel this way. I think it's a great problem to solve, so I spent last year with my partner Enrique Echenique, creating this company. Thanks to him we get the funding we had calculated for the project. We called the company LihuenHub, which means "light, or dawn - hub"(mapuche). We built a great team, and we finally started working on the project. I'll talk about all of this soon, specially about the team and how we are working.

I'm very happy with our progress, and we have a great opportunity in front of us. I know we will do something worthy.

If you are interested in this topic and want to help us build it, please visit spines.me and subscribe to our newsletter.

You can follow us @spinesme

Zaragoza Ruby Meeting Win

I'm very happy that last wednesday the local Ruby group started again #win. It was one of my personal goals this year and I hope that we manage to keep it going.

I gave a short talk about RSpec and how I started testing and how I do it now, well... it was supposed to be short but my Argentinian origin and lack of programming jargon in spanish made it a little longer. Here is a link to the presentation slides

I want to thank everybody who came and specially to Félix and his team ;) for their hospitality and the awesome dinner. I live you some pictures and invite you all to come to our next meeting to learn/share your interest in Ruby.

AOS 2012: Kaizen vs. Kaikaku

Una cosa es procrastinar y otra es esto. Publicar un vídeo un año después de un evento. Espero que esto te haga sentir mejor amigo lector, si es que hay alguien ahí, tú creías que eras el mejor, pues no. Podría haber disfrazado el post con un título como "Abriendo boca para el AOS 2013" que se lleva mucho, por cierto, felicitaciones a la gente de @AgileCanarias por la organización del evento y por agotar las entradas dos meses antes:

Además me he enterado de que Ariel Ber @berariel y José Ramón Díaz @joserra_diaz darán un curso en Barcelona el día 29 de Abril Agile Coaching.

Y por eso me he decidido a publicar este vídeo que tengo del AOS 2012 de Zaragoza, sobre "Kaizen y Kaikaku" cuyos facilitadores son Ariel y Joserra. A disfrutar:

PD: si la disposición del vídeo te produce insomnio o gastroenteritis, te remito a este comentario.

London 2013 experience. Part I. Impact mapping with Gojko Adzic

Recently I've spent a week and a half in England, mostly London, but also went to Brighton for a day. When you spend most of your days working in the same room, without moving too much, or talking (in person) to anybody, this is a big deal. I went there to attend to two conferences, Responsive Day Out and QconLondon but also to visit my sister and friends. I learned a lot and met many people, also got time to know a lot better two people I don't get to see very often @jaumejornet and @david_bonilla, thank you guys!

In this post, I'll share the experience which impressed me the most, and that is Gojko Adzic and Russell Miles's workshop "Impact Mapping - How to Make a Big Impact by building Valuable Software Products and Projects"

Impact Mapping

Agile methodologies are great for getting feedback soon in order to build the right thing. This is: developers taking a set of user stories which non-developers can give feedback on. But how are this user stories created and prioritized? This is usually a process in which people involved in the project bring their own set of assumptions. Each discipline has different sets of assumptions.

revolution practices

The impact mapping technique focuses on making explicit these assumptions by visually showing the WHY, WHO, HOW and WHAT of the problem we are trying to solve. The technique combines some old ideas and a bunch of pretty new ones, into a coherent process, that modifies how decisions are made in your project. So that instead of ending with a tunnel-like roadmap, you end up with a truly multiple choice roadmap with a lot of possibilities to choose from, test, learn and decide over it.

To draw an impact map you need to address this four questions:

  • Why? This is the main reason of all these. Why are we doing this? It's important and not always clear, to state the business objectives behind what we build. Do we want an affiliations feature on our e-commerce, or do we want to reach 10.000 more customers?
  • Who? Who will be impacted by what we are building? Who will produce the desire effect?
  • How? It answers the question: How should actors' behavior change? This level is the most difficult to address, at least it was for me during the workshop, because as builders we tend to skip this question and think in terms of technical solutions.
  • What? And finally we can think of features. What do we do?

The idea is to go up and down the different levels and hopefully come up with multiple possibilities for every level, building some kind of tree for the goal or why-level.

Impact mapping

I'm already implementing this technique with my team in a project, reading about it and trying to engage with people who are also experimenting. I'll talk about our results in a future post, and maybe more details about this topic. I recommend you to read the book and I live you with some links for more information:

Retrospective

Last year I followed the Bonilla-Latorre meme and wrote a simple post recounting the positives and negatives facts of the year and setting some goals for 2012. This year I'll use this habit as an excuse to launch this new blog.

I will start with the painful part, analysing my 2012 goals:

Commercialize our product

We didn't do this, nonetheless I think it was a good call. We didn't have neither the time nor the resources to make it. Instead we focused on our clients projects and we postponed this.

Help my Cachirulo Valley mates deliver a great event

Fail. We dismissed this idea pretty early last year due to lack of time, or interest maybe. I'm happy that we didn't do it also. Because I think we should focus on connecting people and encourage business networking and cachirulo talks, and less in big events or technical stuff.

Help Agile Aragón group with AOS2012

Win. It was great to have the spanish agile family in Zaragoza. Although it wasn't perfect, in the end, most of the people were very happy.

Resume the Ruby users group

Fail again. I won't regret this too much because I will try again this year.

Assist to an important international event.

Win. It wasn't in a distant exotic country, but it was awesome. I met a lot of people and learned a lot at Baruco: Barcelona Ruby Conference Most sure I repeat this year.

Travel to Argentina

Fail. 10 years. No more comments.

Improve my french and italian

Win. I didn't study that much but I went on vacations with my girlfriend to France and Italy, and it was nice to test my self with real people.

Optimize my time to enjoy of more of my family and friends

I did it much better than before but I have to keep on working on this.

Play more my guitar and find a band

I did played guitar a lot, but I didn't find a band. Yesterday I talked about it with my girlfriend, because it was great to play for 6 hours on new year party.

Beside this I did a lot more, and I feel this was a very productive year. I'm pretty proud of my team, we worked very hard in many projects. Sad part, we almost abandoned the blog. I traveled a lot, specially to different parts of Pirineos. I met a lot of people in many events, one of my favorites was Unutopia

Finally I will set some goals for this year, I'll keep it simple because I am an expert on finding new things:

  1. Create a new product and get it to market (work less in others projects)
  2. Continue running and participate in at least one competition
  3. Deliver a great TEDxZaragoza
  4. Keep this blog healthy
  5. Work with my friends Dani Latorre, Fernando Val and Mamen Pradel

And the copy + paste

  1. Resume Ruby users Group
  2. Keep optimizing time to be happier
  3. Make a rock band

Thank you for reading. I wish you enjoy working in your goals.