Rusty Divine

Live, Love, Learn, Teach

Backyard Baking Soda & Vinegar Co2 Rockets

We found a great way to pass an afternoon by combining a little vinegar and baking soda to make rockets. You can also make grenades by shaking and throwing the container after snapping the lid on.

Baking Soda & Vinegar Rockets

How To Make Gourmet Burgers

Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies. I love tweaking recipes to try new flavors and learning about different combinations that go well together. It’s one reason I love Cook’s Illustrated because they teach you by telling you all the things they tried while perfecting their recipe.

I also love burgers, and there’s a few places in Lincoln, NE that really are doing great things with burgers:

  1. Honest Abe’s
  2. Gretta’s Gourmet
  3. HF Crave

There’s a burger at Honest Abe’s that a friend of mine orders every time (the 1809 burger). I told him that my summer project is to develop a burger that he would order instead of that burger – one that surpasses its savory excellence. I’ve taken the first step towards that goal by creating a repository to version my recipe until it is perfected, and a video to teach you how to make a gourmet burger in your backyard. Enjoy!

Making Gourmet Burgers

Paul Boyer Museum of Animated Carvings

It’s been almost 6 years since I visited Paul’s museum in Belleville, KS. I can’t wait to take my son there to see the amazing animated carvings Paul created!

Paul Boyer’s Museum of Animated Carvings

Geocaching with a Three-Year Old

My son loves to find treasure. He is outside right now playing his latest favorite game where he rides his trike around the patio a few times, then the “mail man” hands him a padded envelope with one of his little toys in it – a bouncy ball, a hot wheels, a sticker, etc. – and he opens it up and either takes the toy or gives it back saying “Return to sender.”

We just got back from a geocaching trip where we hiked through a wooded park named Wilderness Park that is near our house looking for a peanut butter jar that has been wrapped in camouflage tape and stuck into the head of a decapitated statue. He only likes the geocaches that are big enough to hold toys – some are just a log book, and others may be just a puzzle or marker.

We didn’t find that cache today, likely because we took the wrong fork in the path, but we did see a lot of amazing things we wouldn’t have if we had stayed home.

Not long after we parked and started walking on a grassy trail, we found a painted turtle. We picked him up and felt his claws and his shell and talked about how he can hide in his shell when he wants to, then let him go on his way.

Soon, we crossed over a creek on a bridge made of cement blocks from some torn up street or building. We saw some trees that had fallen into the creek to make a dam.

Farther up the trail we noticed a doe watching us. She stood perfectly still even as I picked Rowan up and we pointed at her.

Then we found a muddy puddle with lots of tracks. He wanted to know what left the mountain bike tracks and the goose tracks and the dog tracks.

We followed the compass on my phone until we realized we had passed the cache and it didn’t look like our trail was going to turn the right direction, so we turned around. On the way back, we walked to the edge of an embankment and looked down at a creek that had flooded recently and washed several dead trees into a pile in an elbow of the creek.

Just before we got back to the boulder bridge, we noticed some deep purple mulberries within reach from the path and enjoyed a few while talking about coming back tomorrow with a couple of buckets so that we could make some mulberry syrup.

On our way to another cache, we stopped on the gravel road to see a flock of wild turkeys. We parked and walked toward them and were impressed at how well those big birds can fly!

After we traded a little monster toy that lit up from the inside for a couple of google-eyes, we talked on the way home about wanting to make the world a better place by leaving toys that were better than the ones we took in contrast with some of the pieces of garbage we find in geocaches sometimes.

Our adventure was under two hours, but we really packed it in! Not every excursion is this successful, but its nights like these that make such great memories and are worth sharing with you.

We Scrubbed our QA/Prod Move

It was quarter-after eleven Friday morning and I noticed my teammate’s brow was furrowed. It was her turn this iteration to coordinate the move to QA and Production, which involved enough steps that we have created several process documents and an iteration calendar to help keep the move on track.

The seven of us were in the basement for our weekly team technical training meeting – two hours set aside to explore new technologies and discuss how to improve our code base. It’s a time we look forward to each week as a fun way to start a Friday and a time to talk openly about our ideas and interests.

Two of the team were discussing or debating something while the rest of us worked through a tutorial on SignalR on our Azure VMs.

I asked the developer in charge of the QA move how it was going and she told me there was a problem.

“Could you open the QA website and check the obligation transaction page? We are getting a work phase not found error,” she said.

I checked and found the same error. It was strange and took a minute to process what could be going on to cause this error message. Neither our developers nor our very thorough QA tester had encountered this in our development branch during the iteration.

After a few minutes of conferencing about it, we realized one of the stories we sent to QA was failing because the table it was expecting to update did not have any data loaded yet, and would not until we turned on this multiple-iteration release in production, converted the data, and took over the functionality we were replacing in the main frame system.

Our application is complicated by having some parts that are used in production, and some parts that are technically in production but are turned off and hidden until we can complete the entire set of features and turn them off in the current main frame system. This particular feature bridged both worlds, which is why it caused a problem when we got to QA – in demo, we have data loaded from production, but QA matches production exactly and does not have that data loaded.

What to do. We could scrub moving to QA and Prod this iteration, roll back the problem feature, and do a normal QA/Prod move next iteration. We could populate the empty tables with production data so that our cross-over feature would work, but the data would become stale as soon as someone used the main frame system, so that was out. We decided our best option was to scrub the move because there was only one minor feature that would have been visible in production.

The QA mover and I went upstairs to talk to the product owner. We explained the situation and she agreed, the minor feature wasn’t important enough to do an emergency fix for and we should just scrub the move.

To me, this issue and how our process handled it so smoothly was awesome. Sometimes its easy to overlook something like this that appears trivial – it was no more than 20 minutes between the time we realized the issue to when we decided to scrub the move. We didn’t need to debate or discuss, it was clear from our process what we should do – and that included both developers and the product owner.

Days like this make me so happy to be working with an agile team!

The Penny Hunter (Part 2)

The man is one of the first hunters; he bought an early model of metal detectors and has upgraded five times in the ensuing decades. He watches American Digger, but would rather not have the competition it has created. Every park and public gathering place has been hunted so thoroughly that he says the only good spots left are around old houses and church yards – especially abandoned church yards.

He is originally from Illinois and tells me the hunting was much better back east. He’s found silver dimes, big pennies, coins from the 1800’s, and a few rings and jewelry. He doesn’t make a sales job out of it; he doesn’t allude he is comfortably retired on his hunting, and that’s why I know he’s the real deal. He’s happy finding pennies, nickels, and dimes. He probably has found just enough to pay for his equipment, if that.

Rowan stops by to reconnect and tell me a story of the game they are playing. He wants me to listen to him while the man keeps talking, but I can only hear one of them at a time. Right now, I’m more interested in the man’s story and nod to Rowan and tell him things like, “That sounds fun” so that he can see that I’m still here but not interested in playing with him at the moment. They run off together to the fire truck for their next adventure.

Chowders. Have I ever heard of them? No, I haven’t. Churches out east host social events called chowders – church suppers featuring loads of fish on Sunday evenings – and the congregation attendees must have holes in their pockets because if you want to find a minefield of dropped coins, there’s no better place than an abandoned chowder grounds. Silver dimes? You got them by the bucket load. If you can find a chowder ground with good soil, you’ll have a eight-inch thick cake of coins you can pluck like plums from hot pudding.

The man tells me about his favorite pry bar, a formerly flat-head screw driver about eight inches deep that is so worn it is more like a pick. It won’t poke a hole through half-rotted coins, and is long enough to reach the bottom of what the detector can isolate.

The parks around here are barren, but there was a good find out by Capital Beach where he got in behind a house where he was on the landowner’s property. He found a dozen iron water main covers buried under grass – I wonder about teenage hijinks in years past. He spoke to the occupant who didn’t know how the discs got there, and he took them to the metal scrap yard and got a few bucks from them. He’d like to go back there some day soon to find some more, if they’d let him.

He’s found more coins on rental houses and old yards than the parks around town. He knows there are some rental properties across the street from his house that he could hunt and he doesn’t think anyone would mind, but he would at least ask first. I wonder if I should invite him over to my house to search the yard. It might be interesting to see what he finds.

The boys are milling about as the sun sets and its time for everyone to head home. I wish the man happy hunting as he and Noah make their way back to their car talking about Noah’s imaginary adventures on the way. Rowan wants to stay and play, but within minutes realizes he is ready to go home and eat and drink and get ready for bed.

I think about the stories the man told me and wonder at how people find happiness in their hobbies. There were no disillusionments of getting rich by the man, he was at peace with finding pennies and it was enough for him. He didn’t try to sell me on the idea of hunting, he just shared his passion with me. I don’t want to go out and buy myself a detector, but I do want to scatter a few coins in public parks so that hunters like him can come across some buried treasure and wonder about who dropped it and why. Maybe my Lincoln penny will someday be found and treasured by Noah or Rowan’s grandchildren.

The Penny Hunter (Part 1)

Alone with my son at the school playground just down the street. It’s nearly 8pm on Good Friday and we have the playground to ourselves. We’ve already accomplished grocery shopping and decided to drive to the park, even though it was just blocks away, because he says it takes too long to walk there. I’m the troll under the suspension bridge, then he’s the polar bear in the zoo; next we’re taking the sick polar bear to the hospital on the back of a fire truck sirens blazing, and then back home again. Another family arrives, a boy not much older than Rowan wearing glasses and a man who is his grandfather swishes a metal detector across the gravel of the playground.

First thoughts: ambivalence, curiosity, polite introvertive acceptance. The new boy seems accustomed to playing on his own. His name is Noah. Rowan watches Noah and wants me to help him overcome his shyness, take him by the hand, and walk over to where Noah is playing. The two boys start their orbital dance around each other until they are at some point actually playing together – it is impossible to say exactly when that transition occurs.

I watch the man with the metal detector. He’s on his knees with a screw driver in hand poking at the gravel. Soon he is near enough to me to enter the zone of conversation. He tells me that the kids that go to this school must not carry a lot of change because he’s only found a penny and a dime so far. His detector beeps again and the man wonders if it is a piece of trash or a deeply buried pipe. He tells me the detector has a display that predicts if the blip is a coin or jewelry. He kneels and pokes with his screw driver and finds nothing. Carefully he fills in his hole, stands up, and continues sweeping the playground underneath monkey bars and jungle gyms where upside down children may drop their left over lunch money.

I play with the boys for a time to leave the man to his hunt. Rowan follows Noah to the step-up bars and shows him how he can hang by his hands for several seconds while bending his knees to his chest and swinging back and forth. I’m alone again and the man is there and is talking about hunting. He has poked the ground a few more times carefully covering the hole back up each time but hasn’t found anything since I first spoke with him. He tells me he just had this detector rebuilt and hasn’t gotten it back into the flow.

The boys play chase – one a cop, the other a bad guy – and as the man sits on the geodesic dome that was the polar bear’s zoo home it becomes apparent he’d rather tell me some stories about hunting than continue to sweep for treasure. I’m all ears; I’m a sucker for stories.

Evaluation Results from my Presentation

I recently presented at Nebraska Code Camp for “An Agile Requirements Gathering Process to get to MVP” and my session evaluations are back!

Getting feed back is something I look forward to because I put a lot of work into what I do and I always am looking to improve.

An improvement I see based on talking with attendees and reviewing the evaluations is that I could have done a better job explaining some of the agile terminology and philosophies that I discussed during the presentation so that attendees less familiar with it would have had an easier time following along.

Based on 8 evaluations, out of I would estimate 30 attendees, here are my average scores on a scale of 1 = Terrible and 5 = Great:

  • Preparation: 4.63
  • Clarity: 4.75
  • Content: 4.5
  • Demos: 4.5
  • Use of Time: 4.75

Comments:

  • Liked effective real world use. Practical tips usable inf9
  • Overall, great, well prepared presentation. Consider slowing down a little. This did allow for a lot of well facilitated discussion time though!
  • Rusty provided a wonderfully clear process that can be multiplied across numerous organizations and projects. The presentation was easy to follow and understand, especially because of the example he provided. I really enjoyed this presentation!
  • Very useful want to do a user group on this topic
  • More concrete demos would be nice. Also maybe some agile introduction.

Thanks to everyone who came, to those who helped me prepare, and to the attendees who took the time to leave me some feedback.

Agile Requirements Gathering Process to Get to Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Here are the supporting materials for my talk at Nebraska Code Camp (#ncc4) this year:

  1. Slides (PPT)
  2. Assessment Documents
  3. Slides (PDF)

Thanks to everyone who came, and a special thanks to Adam Costenbader & Keil Wilson who helped develop the process and who helped shape this talk through several iterations of creating the outline and slides.

2014 WASP-B Trapshoot League Schedule

Here is the 2014 WASP-B schedule. You can come shoot at any one of these even if that’s the only shoot you decide to try.

April 6: Valley

May 4: Ashland

May 18: Lincoln T&S

June 1: Papillion

July 13: Bellevue

August 17: Nebraska City

September 14: Finals at Valley

All club shoots start at 8am and close at 3pm. Finals start at 8am and close at 2pm.

Here’s some more information about the WASP-B league from a previous post, and they have a website this year, I think for the first time: http://waspbleague.com/