Watergilebancrum

Like many organizations, mine is one that has adopted agile in name rather than in spirit. That is to say, agile terminology is liberally scattered around, but little of it refers to the true definition or traditional application.

Take sprints.

In a product-centric structure, agile (and sprints) makes a lot of sense. By focusing on a functional outcome at the end of every sprint, you get to truncate the feedback loop, and time necessitates focus on the truly important rather than the nice-to-have periphery.

But we are not product-centric: We are an enterprise-scale project delivery organization. Not unlike many others in fact. I have a number of delivery and governance functions, all of which cater to different technologies and demands.

So do I slice horizontally, with a backlog and sprint cadence for each project? Or slice vertically, with a backlog and cadence for each function? With the former, I have a challenge of assigning and managing human capacity across project sprints. With the latter I have to manage project demands and conflicts across functions. It’s a lose-lose situation manifested by long delivery times, serialization across functions, and systemic capacity management challenges.

I’m trialling a new cadence that aims to address these challenges. Of course we won’t put out a working product each sprint: we don’t make products. But the rest just might work.

Blockchain utopia

When people write articles on the subject of blockchain, they usually repeat the same explanations of how it could work rather than how it actually will work. A recent LinkedIn post with just such an article is a great example.

“It would require a cultural shift towards the adoption of new working practices, but if successful it could prove, for example, that money went on organic fertiliser instead of chemicals.”

https://techerati.com/features-hub/comment/erica-stanford-cuts-through-blockchain-bs/

This is the bit I don’t understand, and nobody has realistically explained.

15 years ago I worked on e-Conveyancing and one of the biggest challenges was network effects. A system that provides authenticated, instantaneous end-to-end transactional completion was effectively worthless as long as a single transaction existed outside of the network.

Similarly here, at some point money exits the supply chain into fiat so suppliers – ultimately people? – can buy things like food or other basic staples. They’re not doing so with integrated* digital currencies and likely never will. And at that point the value of the entire network collapses.

(*Integrated is a key theme. While blockchain is a gold-rush and there are many players there is little incentive to interoperate, and thus the network chain is even shorter before collapse. Ultimately things will coalesce into a small (single?) pool of chain suppliers, reducing the risk of collapse. But at this point the decentralized benefit of blockchain disappears and the solution is no different to an existing centralized transactional log, i.e. blockchain doesn’t need to exist anyway.)

As with e-Conveyancing the solution is an all-or-nothing adoption that is to all intents and purposes impossible to implement and enforce, particularly in a world that can’t politically agree on, well, anything!

In my view, this is why blockchain is so much hype over substance. I get the math and it sure works in theory, but it relies on a technologist’s utopian ambition that just doesn’t acknowledge the reality of the world.

I think Erica tries to hint at this at the very end, despite falling back on a banking paradigm that she herself criticizes of the mainstream media:

“But once people have access to “mainstream” wallets that allow anyone to send any amount of money, pay direct debits, interchange between crypto and fiat seamlessly and with insurance – many if not all will have no need for an ordinary, day-to-day bank account ever again.”

My point is that for the promised benefits to materialize it’s not “people”. It’s all people. And it’s not “access”. It’s use.

I’m yet to see a proposal to overcome this issue.

Finally, the serpent got me

I’ve never really understood the Apple/Windows or Apple/Android fanboy vitriol.

I mean, I’ve historically been a Windows guy because I’m geeky and in the early 90’s Apple machines were truly crap. Don’t get me wrong – Windows was fairly terrible too, but the abundance of cheap software and Linux for the proper jobs meant Apple never really got a look in. That doesn’t mean I don’t see the merit though. For the right dumb-user-and-don’t-care person it’s a great (if pricey and exploitative) option.

But when it comes to smartphones (or in fact anything), I abhor lock-in. Apple is a master of lock-in (iMessage being a great example), and they can go take a running jump as far as I’m concerned.

So, I’ve tried a myriad of Android and iPhones over the years, but – whilst the Apple hardware was just fine – they just made it too damn hard to use one without getting stuck in the quicksand, and I ended up throwing them at someone.

However, Android has pissed me off recently. Manufacturers seem to go out of their way to make a slick experience impossible: even on a new unlocked handset there’s an abundance of bloatware like Facebook or Samsung Cloud, Bixby, etc. bullshit; and the experience just isn’t as smooth and slick as it should be with a £600+ device. Blame shit apps, or the OS, or blame the data slurping telemetry workload, but the outcome is the same.

So, it was with some trepidation that I accepted a new iPhone XR as a work phone. But… (deep breath)… I have to say, Apple have finally swung me!

Through Signal, WhatsApp, Firefox, Google Photos, Outlook and OneDrive I have managed to avoid any kind of Apple lock-in. It’s annoying not be able to set Signal to be the default SMS app, but pure SMS is fairly rare these days; and it took a contacts sync app to replicate my contacts and still avoid lock-in – but hey ho!

It charges wirelessly, so I can re-use my existing chargers rather than have a snakes nest of crappy frayed Lightning cables.

I’ve deleted all the OOTB crap without complaint, and the few Apple apps I can’t remove are hidden away.

Above all though, the experience is as smooth and slick as it bloody well should be on a £750 device!

Would I spend my own money on one? No, probably not. A OP7 achieves much the same for less. But I don’t want to throw it at anybody, and that’s something.