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Showing posts from April, 2013

Two DIY half-day walking tours of Sydney

Last year Melissa and I visited Sydney and had a wander around for a couple of days. Very pretty city - we didn't have much time, but managed to get a couple of very nice - and relatively inexpensive - DIY walking tours in.

[A manhole cover that I liked and photographed with my shoe - near Sydney Central Train Station]

Both tours start and end at Circular Quay (CQ) - so theoretically say, if you were in Sydney on stop-over for 12 hours, you could catch the train from the airport to CQ and start from there.

So, here they are:
Balmain and Harbour Bridge -  Synopsis - this tour takes you on a ferry ride from CQ, under the harbour bridge and around a couple of beautiful old suburbs. Start early/mid afternoon so that you walk back across the bridge about dusk – take in the view of the city at sunset from the walkway across the bridge.
(1) Start a Circular Quay – get a return ticket on Balmain Ferry (about $12):…

Agile as an Antidepressant

Ever-soaring anti-depressant usage seems to rapidly be becoming one of the hallmarks of western civilization – at least among the OECD nations. The following chart shows how much antidepressant use has increased across a range of OECD nations in the 10 years 2000-to-2009 (the defined daily dose – DDD – is “the assumed average maintenance dose per day for a drug used for its main indication in adults):

At the same time there is growing evidence that once a certain level of comfort is achieved by a country – as measured by GDP-per-capita (admittedly a coarse and arguably fallible metric) – the level of “life satisfaction” reported by a nation’s people levels off. Currently, according to “The Economist”, the level of income required to reach that point is about $15K (USD) per head.

The blog post associated with the link that I’ve extracted the above ch…

Book Reviews: Agile, Programming and Refactoring

This blog post started as being a review of 12 books, then I cut it back to 7, then 5, now 3. Hey, it's late on a Saturday night and I am now knackered. In any case - here we go, three good-uns:


Agile Estimation and Planning (Mike Cohn - this book took me from being a person who knew how to setup an Agile team and practice Agile development, to - as the cover says - being someone who can plan and estimate relatively large software development projects using Agile methods. I've used the approach Mike lays out "in anger"; it works - superbly.

Mike has published an accompanying book on User Stories, which I have not read, but I imagine would compliment this book nicely.

Basically, if you want to understand how to successfully extend your Agile practice from being a way to manage programming on a day-to-day (or Sprint-to-Sprint) basis - and to develop the maturity of your Agile approach …

Human Behaviour and "The Cat In The Hat"

I love these books. I have been reading them to my daughters on-and-off for the past few nights; my wife picked some of them up from the school fair the other day. My daughters love them also - it is one of the only ways currently, that I can get them to stop their (admittedly, delightful) chatterbox-ing!

What I find fascinating about the books is how they are, seemingly, a metaphorical study of human behaviour - or, of my own behaviour, at least!

The Cat In The Hat and his cohorts ("Thing 1", "Thing 2", etc) represent a preposterous and apparently overwhelming challenge, introduced into the lives of Nick, Sally and The Fish, who are otherwise working hard and/or bored. The Cat in The Hat is the proverbial "spanner in the works" - that we so often find has been thrown into our otherwise apparently peaceful (mundane?) existence. Sometimes, we seem to introduce The Cat In The Hat ourselves, sometimes he seems to be introduced by others - or by nature. In k…