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Profile for Ian Brockbank > Reviews

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Ian Brockbank (Edinburgh, Scotland)

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JnDee™ Fully Waterproof Low Voltage Fairy Net Lights 3M X 2M (10X7 ft) 320 LED Multi Colours Changing Lights, for Outdoor Christmas Tree Wedding Parties Decoration (Multi Colours)
JnDee™ Fully Waterproof Low Voltage Fairy Net Lights 3M X 2M (10X7 ft) 320 LED Multi Colours Changing Lights, for Outdoor Christmas Tree Wedding Parties Decoration (Multi Colours)
Offered by JnDeeLighting

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No control over flashing, 20 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The colours of the lights are nice, and I like the fact that each light changes colour, but there is no control over pattern - they will ALWAYS flash, and I was wanting static lights.

It does mention this in the description, but I missed it, particularly after reviewing so many different ones.

Still in Love with You
Still in Love with You
Price: £0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great song which deserved to do better, 24 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I think this is a great song. Lively, cheerful, musical. Reminiscent of Caro Emerald, which is also in its favour. I can't understand why it did so badly at Eurovision.

Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS Running Watch with Colour Display and Heart Rate Monitor - Black/Red
Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS Running Watch with Colour Display and Heart Rate Monitor - Black/Red

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It just works, and gives me so much insight into my training, 7 Mar. 2015
Wow - what a difference. I now know just how unfit I've become...

Caveat: I've just received my 220+HRM, and tried it out running to and from work on one day, so these are first impressions. I got it set up to connect to my phone via Bluetooth the night before. When I set out the next day, it found the GPS, the HRM and the phone within seconds, giving a buzz so I could tell.

To start with, I tracked my speed - it showed me my pace in minutes/mile, which is exactly how I think of it, and it seemed to update pretty quickly. Occasionally it seemed off for a few seconds, particularly just after I started running after (e.g.) waiting for traffic, but it soon readjusted. I then tried the heart-rate mode, which made me realise how often I was pushing myself too hard for an easy run, and just how slow I had to go to get my heart rate down into the aerobic range.

It also buzzes and shows details every mile, which is really useful, and it has a good summary afterwards. I found it easy to navigate between the screens - there's a lot of different functionality, but the menu system makes it pretty simple to find things.

This is going to really put my training on another level - I will have a much better idea of what and how I'm doing. And when it comes to the marathon, getting a notification every mile, and knowing my pace all the time will be really useful. I have previously found that knowing my pace only every mile doesn't allow me to manage it well enough,(assuming I spot the mile marker, which isn't itself always easy), so this should make a big difference.

14 in 1 Educational Solar Robot Kit
14 in 1 Educational Solar Robot Kit
Offered by CuteBitz Limited
Price: £15.31

21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea, but not well built., 15 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sounds a great idea in theory - and it should be. Having watched my scientific 12-year-old daughter at work with it, though, I would doubt the "4 and up" tag unless you as a parent are expecting to do the assembly yourself - she found it challenging enough.

Unfortunately, however, once she had assembled the gear box and solar cell, it just didn't work. Although there was current coming from the solar cell (I checked with a voltmeter), the gears just wouldn't move, and when I disassembled the gear mechanism to check it had been assembled correctly, one of the wires (which was glued on rather than soldered on) fell out. Having checked with a battery and careful holding that the motor itself works, I'm now going to have to find someone with a soldering iron to repair it before there is any chance of it working.

The Human Side of Agile - How to Help Your Team Deliver
The Human Side of Agile - How to Help Your Team Deliver
by Gil Broza
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.75

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on helping your team deliver, 7 Sept. 2012
So you've studied all the Agile texts. You've read everything Tom and Mary Poppendieck have written about Lean Software. You're estimating story points, working in iterations, standing up every day with pigs and chickens, continuously integrating...and yet you still don't seem to be delivering value. You get to the end of the iteration and the team have several unfinished stories because they have each been working their own. They're not pulling together as a team.

What's gone wrong? More to the point, how do you turn the situation round?

Most Agile texts cover techniques and practices, and avoid the thorny problem of motivating the people and bringing them together into a super-functioning team. I've recently been a reviewer on a new book by Gil Broza which tries to redress the balance. The Human Side of Agile is written for the Agile Team Leader and has sections on:

Designing your role for outstanding value: work out how to be an agile team leader, what it means, how it fits within your organisation and skillset, and how to add value.

Growing a solid team: building a team, bringing the people together and giving them the practices and encouragement to become a super-functioning team rather than just a collection of individuals.

Engaging people in powerful conversations: structuring your communications and meetings so they make a difference.

Being the agile leader: leading and championing your team through the changes needed, working through resistance to become truly agile.

Sustaining your team for the long haul: making sure the excellent behaviours continue and become habits, so that the team continues to deliver value.

If you're new to the role of team leader, this will help guide you through the morass. If you've been an agile team leader for a while, it will provide useful techniques and reminders.

It's now on my must-have list of software development books.

Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit
Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit
by Mary Poppendieck
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.19

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for software professionals, 26 Feb. 2004
If you only buy one software development book this year, buy this one. It will change the way you think about your work.
Lean development was started by Toyota in the 50s when Ford was selling more cars in a day than they were in a decade. They looked at all their development activities to see how they could develop quicker and cheaper and get closer to what the customer wanted. They were so successful that now all car manufacturers have to follow the principles they developed just to remain competitive.
The Poppendiecks' book shows how to apply these lean principles to software development. The first chapter gives an overview, including listing the seven principles. They then take a chapter per principle, showing how to apply this principle to software development. The final chapter is a "warranty" and guidelines for applying the principles usefully (basically think about them, don't apply them blind).
The seven lean principles are:
1. Eliminate waste - anything which doesn't add value to the end product
2. Increase feedback - iterate so you can get early feedback
3. Delay commitment - so you can decide with the best knowledge
4. Deliver fast - so you can afford to delay commitment
5. Empower the team - they're the ones closest to the information
6. Build integrity in - have an integrated product team, use refactoring to keep the code clean, and use test-driven development to make sure it's all tested and you have a reason for doing everything.
7. See the whole - measure UP not DOWN - measuring details encourages micro-optimisation which tends to give overall suboptimisation. If you measure at a level higher you get global optimisations.
I found this book compulsive reading and difficult to put down. So much of it fitted with my experience running projects - they recommend the things I found worked, and avoid the things I found didn't. And the rest of it provided useful extra techniques. Buy it. You won't regret it. But don't expect silver bullets - you will have to work at it to get the benefits.
Now to carry on trying to implement these in my day-to-day work...

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