Open Source, the Web, Technology, a Drupal Focus

The Life of an Agile Timebox @Examiner

Submitted by matthew on Mon, 2011-12-05 23:22

An Introduction to the Next 15 Work Days
I've been writing a lot about process lately. Examiner.com is one of the largest Drupal sites in the wild. It was migrated from Cold Fusion to Drupal - a process that began about two years ago.

The Examiner development experience has moved through a wide variety of styles, tools, and methodologies over the last two years. Through blog posts and presentations, a fair bit of information is being shared about how we operate. When I was in Austin presenting, a fairly significant number of folks asked specific questions about our "Generic Timebox". I wanted to answer all the questions, but ran out of time that afternoon.

For this timebox we are using a compressed time-line. Our normal interval is 20 days - in this case we are shaving off a week and making it 15 days because of the holidays. Still, all the elements that are in our normal period are reflected in this series of days making it pretty much perfect to (hopefully) answer the questions I was being asked.

Examiner.com, Drupalcon Denver, and a Project Management Session

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2011-11-29 22:57

TWO YEARS AT EXAMINER?!
In just a couple of days I will have hit my two year anniversary with Examiner.com. It is amazing to think I've been working on a single site for that long. I've seen amazing changes on the site in that time. When I started it was Cold Fusion and I was hired to shepherd the its march to Drupal. It was a giant migration project with a full redesign of the site in tow. Drupal 7 seemed barely a twinkle and yet that was what we were building in with a database I had no practical experience with. I was working with a brand new team of developers - a just stunning crew of Drupalers. I had also started a new Drupal company with great friends. Everything was in flux. Everything was changing. So was Examiner. An adventure had begun.

Drupalcamp Austin - My Wrapup

Submitted by matthew on Sun, 2011-11-20 23:28

Thanks Austin Drupalistas!
The folks at the Austin Camp do a great job. I enjoyed this year just as much as last year. I didn't go to many sessions, but a big part of that had to do with putting last minute additions on my presentation today. Conversations last night had me swapping around a few slides and adjusting my presentation a little bit. If you want, you can look at my slides, though I think that without the context of the dialogue, they will make less sense. Thank you to the Drupalcamp Austin organizing team for inviting me to come and speak. It really was a pleasure.

Getting Ready to Present
I've been preparing for the last few weeks for today's keynote. It really started coming together over the last week. To make sure I wasn't going to have a "train wreck" in front of 300 people I used Screen Flow to record my session over and over and over again and then enjoy the pain of watching myself mess up and add additional notes to the presentation. I was pleased to give my perspectives on how the Examiner.com process has changed, grown, and shifted in such positive ways. Hopefully others can learn from our lessons.

Social Media, Tweets, Posts, and Photos
Thanks to everyone who sent supportive tweets and Facebook posts. I really appreciated hearing from you. Tweets during the session all seemed positive with Matt Kleve (vordude) asking a really nice question:

Drupalcon Denver - TOOLS, TIPS, & TECHNIQUES - PROJECT MANAGEMENT USING HYBRID AGILE DEVELOPMENT

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2011-11-08 13:10

Voting has opened for Drupalcon Denver with hundreds of submitted session proposals. The choices are wide and varied.

There are those trying to buy votes. Folks like Morten are trying to advocate change to how sessions are chosen.

StaceyH (my project management partner at Examiner.com) and I want to talk about what we've learned in the process sphere in the last 18 months.

Over the last 15 years or so, I've spent time in a variety of different shops building software. The last five have been in Drupal shops using the framework to create cool sites for clients and over the last two, I've been working with Examiner.com building one of the largest Drupal sites out there using technologies there are now becoming more mainstream. I have worked with distributed teams and with local teams - in agencies and internally for large and small companies. My work as a stage manager and technical theatre practitioner all colour my views on managing a project from ideation to delivery.

What Drives You Insane?

Submitted by matthew on Sat, 2011-11-05 21:29

This is a challenge.

We all have pet peeves. We have our "favourite" client or clients that have done things that baffle us. We've all had employers that have been problems or employees that just weren't right. We have funny stories, sad stories, maddening stories about how a project has gone spectacularly wrong. We've had situations that have seemed like they were going to be a complete disaster but then have turned around. We've had disagreements with our colleagues and/or competitors.

At Drupalcamp Austin, I'll be talking about process. I'll speak a bit about tools and strategies. I might share a few scenarios that could make your hair stand straight up. I'll be talking about lessons I've learned across many years of managing projects in Drupal and in my life as a custom software architect and project/product manager.

So, here are 10 things that drive me nuts:

A Drupalcamp Austin Surprise

Submitted by matthew on Wed, 2011-10-26 15:06

I attended Drupalcamp Austin last year. The event was slick, friendly, professional. I enjoyed spending time with friends, networking, connecting, and reconnecting. The AT&T venue is fabulous - I was glad to hear that Austin is using it again this year.

The camps are a great reminder of how amazing the Drupal community is. Giving is good. Contributing is what makes the eco-system possible. Drupal has done a pretty amazing job of helping feed my family for nearly five years. As I'm not a coder or themer, my contributions continue to be writing, evangelizing, documenting, occasionally presenting, volunteering, and most recently participating on the local committee for Drupalcon Denver.

As a way of continuing my participation, it seemed appropriate that I should submit a session to the Denver conference. In Chicago I attended a couple of BOFs on Project Management tools. Then this past summer I facilitated a BOF on Project Management. I've also participated in several Drupalcon presentations in the past including:

The Netflix Debacle - Or "How I Killed The Customer"

Submitted by matthew on Mon, 2011-09-19 22:47

How do you lose 1 million customers in roughly 2.5 months and lose 50% of your stock value when you have a nearly rabid customer base?

Step 1 - announce that you are going roughly double the price of the service overnight.
Step 2 - ignore all your legacy customers and let them bear the brunt of your changed pricing model.
Step 3 - pretend like you are really doing your customers favour.

How do you make it EVEN worse?

Step 1 - have your CEO issue a public apology with no substance.
Step 2 - ignore the core problem - that's the best way to avoid fixing a problem.
Step 3 - dig in deep and make the process to use your product more complicated by breaking it into two services on two web sites. Oh, and send two bills!

Drupalcon Denver - A Personal Update

Submitted by matthew on Sun, 2011-09-18 15:01

183 days and counting. That seems like a big number but is, in fact, shockingly short. We have 183 days until the opening days of Drupalcon Denver. To be truthful, it is fewer days than that when you take into account preregistration and training days. That is roughly 26 weeks - or just about 6 months.

This post isn't just about the con - it is an illustration of contributions that make the community hum.

My friend Rick over at Monarch Digital in Colorado Springs wrote a blog post about his journey to being part of the local committee working on making this conference a success. I think his points on inclusion are really good. My early days as part of the community really were saturated with the idea that the most valued contributions were code. I've spent a fair bit of time writing and talking about alternative contributions in the Drupal community. In fact, as Drupal becomes an older and wiser platform, more folks from the Project, Product, and Business management world will be (are) needed to help the project move forward. These points are strongly made by the necessary contributions to organize a Con or a Camp. To be fair, at the end of the day, all contributions service the code we use in our hobbies and jobs.

Contributions and Drupal

Submitted by matthew on Thu, 2011-09-01 01:27

drupalcon londonIn November of 2006 I was figuring out what this Drupal thing was and started down a path of feeding my family with it. Four years 29 weeks ago I was motivated enough to sign up for an account on Drupal.org. Four years 2 weeks ago this blog's feed was admitted to the Planet. Less than two weeks ago I was attending Drupalcon London.

At first Drupal represented a small percentage of my job with the Western States Arts Federation and later it dominated my working life as I moved onto other opportunities. Now, to a certain extent, it represents a chunk of my social and "hobby" life. It encompasses my professional life. I've made good friends working in this CMS amongst an amazing community of generous people. It kind of boggles - all of this from a free cms/framework.

Why am I prefacing this post with this little history? Simply because it illustrates my strong motivation to give back to the Drupal community.

At work I was tasked with listing a few ways our overall team can contribute - This is an incomplete list, but gives a sense of the diverse ways people can get involved and certainly applies to our entire ecosystem.

What Does it Mean to Contribute?


The Free Dictionary says:

con·trib·ute (kn-trbyt)
v. con·trib·ut·ed, con·trib·ut·ing, con·trib·utes
v.tr.
1. To give or supply in common with others; give to a common fund or for a common purpose.


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