Some thoughts on Agile/Scrum…

I’ve just ended a project where I was working in an Agile/Scrum based environment, with sprints, stories, and deadlines. I kinda liked it, because you collaborate closely with your colleagues, and you pick your own tasks. Things can move potentially very fast, but there are some very glaring downsides. I’ll list them below:

The burndown.

The holy and sacred burndown. People care way too much about getting a Sprint completely burned down. It sometimes makes Agile feel more like a panic room, than a flexible way of working. Especially when you have to wait for third parties. Other squads can really shit in your cereal by letting you wait days for a request to be fulfilled and things get blocked.

Yes, you should make your best effort to finish your burndown, but it really isn’t the end of the world if you don’t make it.


Refinements and retrospectives

Basically meetings without an agenda.

I thought I would have fewer meetings with an Agile workflow, but you get interrupted by refinements and retrospectives. It’s understandable that people want as many eyeballs as possible to refine something, but for crying out loud, let people work uninterrupted!

Many a timeĀ I sat a refinement, wondering what the hell I was doing there except for filling up a chair. Where I worked, the entire squad would be expected to sit in, while just a couple of people that are working in the problem domain would have sufficed.

And then there are the Agile coaches. They sit in on some of the standups, refinements and the retrospectives, but I wonder if that’s absolutely useful. Yes, they give some input on agile workflow and sometimes play moderator. But they don’t really contribute to the product. I don’t have anything against Agile coaches personally, but I would consider them overhead, akin to project managers.


I specifically left out the standup in the former part, because, well, that’s the only ‘meeting’ that I personally need. Basically just outline the stories you are working on, what is blocking you and what you will pick up next. That’s it. Also, frequently standups take too long because some people treat it like a full-blown goddamn meeting. Yeah, I get standing up is healthy, but the whole point of standing up is to add a physical constraint to ensure meetings don’t take too long.

Next Agile project I work at I will just introduce a damn egg timer. You get three minutes. That’s it.

Access, or the lack thereof.

Granted, this is not really related to Agile workflow, but it is a source of impediments. Yes, I get security is important. Yes, there must be due diligence and least access, but ideally, it shouldn’t get in the way of your work and be as transparent as possible.

The last project I worked at, they had a monstrosity of an Excel spreadsheet to outline all the rights and access a user or application has. It was a nightmare. Typical old-world holdover. Such information you should pull from the systems or from an automatically updated single point of truth (SPOT) that reflects reality in real time. It saves a lot of time and hassle. You can just look up what someone/something can do and limit/grant accordingly.

The other way around is also possible (and I’ve been in such an environment). Just give everyone full access, even on production. Let people own their mistakes and security incidents (you break it, you figure out how to fix it and who can help you, no blame shifting), implement strict code review (e.g. Gerrit), and pentest the crap out of everything. Funnily enough, it worked fine. People were careful, but mistakes weren’t punished. The environment was fluid enough to just redeploy a known working state and to sequester broken things for post mortem.


Agile is an interesting way of working, but it becomes awful when there are too many rigid processes attached (think of ITSM/ITIL or Prince2) and if people are too set in their ways. The whole point of Agile is to try lots of new things in rapid succession and to fail/learn a lot so you have a fast turnaround. You don’t want many extra things attached. Sure, include parts of ITIL that make sense (Incident/Problem tickets, continuous improvement, the Deming cycle), but don’t try to bolt on Agile onto something rigid. It won’t work well.

The whole point of Agile is to try lots of new things in rapid succession and to fail/learn a lot so you have a fast turnaround. You don’t want many extra things attached. Sure, include parts of ITIL that make sense (Incident/Problem tickets, continuous improvement, the Deming cycle), but don’t introduce Agile into your company as an afterthought. It won’t work well.

If you want to do Agile well, reorganize everything to facilitate it, don’t try to fit Agile in afterward. It’s like trying forcing a square peg into a round hole. It can be done through force, but it won’t be pretty, or useful.

I got even more head!

The lovely people at Bax Shop (great store if you’re in the Netherlands), where besides Thomann I buy most of my gear, finally sent me my Bugera back. Even though the Blackstar is no slouch (as witnessed by my latest release):

The Bugera just rips it’s head (haha, pun) clean off in raw power. It’s supposed to, it has 20 watts more and it’s a tube amp, while the Blackstar is a solid state one (and a very nice one at that). So I have a mallot for the brutal stuff, and a ball peen hammer for the finesse.

I like it.

The difference between belief and religion

First, let’s get this out of the way: I’m an atheist at my core. There’s stuff stacked on top of my atheism to facilitate esoteric reasoning, but there is always reasoning, according to some sort of logic. Having never been indoctrinated with any religion when I grew up, I have no learned concepts for fear of gods or an afterlife. The concepts are alien to me.

I understand that people believe things. I’m no exception. There are things that seem true to me for which I have no evidence. There are things I can’t explain. The difference between a religious person and me is that I don’t mind admitting that I don’t know. I have perfect solace in not knowing, if I don’t need to know to live a fulfilling live (for which my needs are modest and mundane) then I don’t care to.

What does supposing to know what the meaning of life do for me? Nothing, other than occupying my mind for a bit. I don’t need to have all the answers. But a person trapped into a religion might disagree.

Religion is an insidious thing. Especially organized religion. I get that people develop beliefs to make sense of the world around them. Some beliefs are grounded in fact, and some are not. But beliefs are always individual. This is where religion poisons the well. It strives to make beliefs held by a smaller group the beliefs of a larger one, so few control the beliefs of the many. To control the beliefs of an individual is to control the individual.

Religion doesn’t have to be mystical or esoteric. Examples of this are veganism, PETA, inter-sectional feminism and all related social justice lunacy.

They seek to control the beliefs of their adherents, poisoning their minds and seeding disdain for anything that doesn’t agree with them. For some, individual beliefs are sometimes stronger than the beliefs espoused by the religion, and in some cases, individuals inside a religion try to convince others of those beliefs. When people with authority inside a religion have differing beliefs, and depending on how much of an authority they are, reform happens with varying degrees of success.

It’s processes like these that changes a religion over time, usually with more secular slants, but the opposite is also possible (fundamentalism). But it’s still the few controlling the beliefs of many. And therein lie my problems with organized religion. I don’t care which religion it is. All of them are equal to me, and I regard the ideology of all of them dangerous.

But here comes the twist. I can fight, protest, and mock religion all I like, I can’t touch personal beliefs. Nor would I want to (although I will think of them what I want). I can effort to change them with evidence and reasoning, the final verdict is still in the eye of the beholder.

I don’t have disdain for people and their beliefs. They can believe whatever they like, but it’s the social poison called religion (and in a way, group think) that murks this marketplace of ideas, offering knockoff plastic copies of actual original thought.

More original thought, please. Think for yourself, and don’t be afraid to doubt.

Censorship through advertising

I have opinions that might rub people the wrong way (big list here). If you examine that list, you might pick up that I’m in favor of complete freedom of speech. This includes things I have disdain for or things I vehemently disagree with. Everyone should have a platform, no matter how disgusting the idea.

You might think: “where do you draw the line?”. It’s really simple. Physical violence or extreme psychological terror (which does not include offense). I also think people should be allowed to have violent speech. The crux is that if actual violence does happen, the person responsible for convincing others should be held responsible.

There is this website/blog in the Netherlands called Geenstijl. They are known for being right-wing-satiric and completely politically incorrect. They are course, crude, obnoxious and willfully abrasive, but they do have valid points every once in a while. The liberal “left” hates them. You could compare them to Breitbart, but that would be an incorrect comparison, because they don’t purport to be a news site.

Recently, some bleeding heart feminists decided to contact Geenstijl’s advertisers to get them to pull their ads, because of ‘reasons’. Most importantly because those feminists didn’t like what Geenstijl was doing, and Geenstijl does take on third wave inter-sectional feminists often. But instead of doing the reasonable thing, like asking people to not read Geenstijl anymore, they went after the income of the site. Of course Geenstijl didn’t like that and went on the defense. So did the people that like reading the site. Of course the readership of Geenstijl is even more course and obnoxious, and as happens when you disturb a hornet nest, they went on the attack.

Calling out to companies to stop their advertisement sets a dangerous precedent, in my opinion, and it yields a slippery slope. A good example is YouTube nowadays. Because some social marxists got their feefees twisted by a few people, companies withdrew their advertisements, hurting lots of small creators that had nothing to do with anything in the process. All for getting back at a few.

The bottom line is that advertisers shouldn’t care what they advertise on. Everyone knows that advertising is automatic and has no relation to the opinion expressed on the page which has the ad. Usually the product or service advertised is completely unrelated to the message posted anyway (and people know this). What’s really poignant is that people from the government are in support of this advertiser meddling. This is unacceptable.

By all means, boycott the site that you don’t like. Nobody forces you to go where you don’t want to go. Tell your friends not to go there. But don’t try to break a platform you don’t like. That’s ugly and totalitarian. The thing the SJWs supposedly are trying to fight.


Is the current left compatible with democracy?

It’s been a while since I penned something, but I was pondering something that I would like to run by you.

Disclaimer, I am basically left winged. You might not think it judging from my posts, but I actually am. I’m a classic liberalist and egalitarian when it comes to democracy, free speech and how the state should take care of the people. I’m of the school of thought of de Toqueville and his contemporaries. This also means that I personally think that the current “left” has little to do with being left. It seems that what has replaced the left nowadays are whiney antidemocratic socialists and communists. 

Okay, I’m drifting somewhat away from the point I’m trying to make, so let’s get back on track. Remember the brexit referendum? The election of Donald Trump? And lately, the election of Macron? Especially the last one has made me realise something when the streets in France were swarming with Antifa protesters to protest the election of Emmanuel Macron. I’ve been asking myself (and now you) the following question:

Is the current left (which translates to communism and socialism nowadays) even compatible with actual democracy? 

I’m personally leaning to “No”. 

  • When the people voted for Brexit, they wanted to overturn the decision. 
  • When the Dutch voted against the treaty with Ukraine, the left wanted to revert it. 
  • When Trump was elected, the left still grouses over that.
  • And even when the French voted for Macron, there are still riots in the streets… By the leftist Antifa. Not the right wing, which championed Let Pen. They accepted the choice of the people. Even Marine Le Pen herself graciously conceded defeat. 

So, it seems that the current “liberal” left will only accept a democratic decision when it goes their way. That’s not democracy, comrades. That’s totalitarianism, the thing you supposedly are fighting against. 

Let that sink in.