Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great

Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very practical book with good structure and varying selection of activities to use when leading a retrospective for a software development team. The book is not excessively long: it does not contain a lot of all-too-obvious contemplations on why it is important to do retrospectives - but goes straight to the point, and does it very well. I especially liked the chapter on how to do a proper preparation for a retrospective - something which is too often overlooked from my own experience.

I wish there could be more relevant examples of a short retrospective, done within 1-2 hours when the time is limited. The book could also touch upon the usage of metaphors which from my experience can be a very powerful tool to enhance creativity in a group. Some activities described there felt too childish - but that is up to a facilitator to decide which ones to use.

Overall, an easy and practical read for anyone practising the role of a scrum master / an agile coach or similar.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Systems Engineering Principles and Practice

Systems Engineering Principles and Practice Systems Engineering Principles and Practice by Alexander Kossiakoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a textbook by university professors on the subject of hardware/software systems' conceptualisation, design, planning, construction, testing and maintenance.

I liked the fact that it covered the whole life cycle of a system's life. Of particular interest for me were the chapters on difference between software-intensive and hardware-intensive systems engineering, functional analysis (including functional block diagrams), basics of UML and SysML, models of decision making (including trade-off analysis).

However, I did not find useful the so-called "Systems Engineering method" which was being presented throughout the book. In essence, it meant the same activities for every stage of systems development - and thus, felt repetitive and confusing. The amount of sentences including phrases like "this requires a thorough planning", "the best strategy to avoid problems is to plan ahead", "planning is the cornerstone of risk management" was also overwhelming at times. The examples were not too many - and those present were mainly either from defence or from air traffic.

All in all, this book was informative, at times enlightening, very systematic, but somewhat... too systematic and dry to my taste.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: Идиот

Идиот Идиот by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

В центре внимания книги симатичный и вызывающий сожаление князь Мышкин. Достоевский искусно описывает и князя Мышкина, и других рельефных персонажей. Мне особенно понравился персонаж Аглаи, которая (как и Мыщкин) порой проявляет необычайную силу духа, а порой - искреннюю человеческую слабость. Очень красивый русский язык. Но в целом в романе слишком много драматизированности на мой вкус. Излишняя театральность и поведение персонажей на грани помешательства в их изъяснении чувств не делают из этого романа одно из моих любимых произведений.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Review: The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century

The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century
The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century by Stephen Denning

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The author took the Agile principles from software development and packaged them into what he calls a radical management. The ideas themselves are very righteous and I cannot agree more with them. I especially liked the chapters on Delighting Clients (you need to have your clients in mind above anything else) and on Radical Transparency (honesty, authenticity, accepting failures).

However, the book itself provides relatively little novelty compared to any other publication on Agile principles - and I felt that the narrative was being chewed and re-chewed again and again). The whole chapter about open narratives felt like promotion for author's previous books. Overall, it is quite a stereotypical American-style self-help book: "I did it once, I've heard others having done it too, I call it "The New Big Thing" and now I preach it to everyone else".

It can be interesting for people from outside software development who have never heard of Agile principles of (project) management though.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Review: Maailma otsas. Pildikesi heade inimeste elust

Maailma otsas. Pildikesi heade inimeste elust
Maailma otsas. Pildikesi heade inimeste elust by Andrus Kivirähk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Minu meelest on see väga ainulaadne raamat: ei suudagi kohe meenutada teist selliset raamatut, kus absoluutselt kõik tegelased (ja neid on raamatus päris mitmeid!) on positiivsed. Raamatu puhul meeldiski kõige rohkem see, et see on üdini positiivne. See on heaks tõestuseks, et saab kirjutada põnevalt ka siis kui raamatus on vähe otsest dramaatikat. Lihtsuses peitub ilu... ja võlu.

Opening bicycle season soon...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Review: Islam ja diktatuurid, Venemaa ja Kesk-Aasia

Islam ja diktatuurid, Venemaa ja Kesk-Aasia
Islam ja diktatuurid, Venemaa ja Kesk-Aasia by Olev Remsu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hästi, harivalt ja lõbusalt kirja pandud reisikirjad. Meeldis mõnus segu hetkemuljetest, ajaloost, isiklikest mälestustest Nõukogude ajast, huvitavatest dialoogidest ja autori poliitilistest ning ühiskondlikest mõtisklustest. Selles regioonis elanuna tekkisid mõni kord toredad samastumismomendid. Samuti on huvitav läbi terve raamatu jooksev islami teema, mis ei muutu samas liiga pealetükkivaks.

Samas on ülekohtune autori poolt nimetada Venemaad, Kasahstani ja Kirgiisiat diktatuurideks - need on pigem autoritaarse juhtimisstruktuuriga riigid. Natuke pealiskaudseks on jäänud just see poliitiline pool - kõiki riike paneb autor natuke ühte patta, nimetades kõiki Kesk-Aasia presidente türannideks. Samuti tundusid Koraanist ja Piiblist tsitaadid peatükkide alguses veidi kunstlikena.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Review: A Christmas Carol


A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A great story to read during the Christmas holiday, reminding a very potential meaning of Christmas. This novel highlights good deeds versus ignorance and greed, importance of family and children versus drive for financial gains. The idea and the plot can be seen as a lead and inspiration for numerous Christmas related books and films having been made in decades after this book was published.

Once again, I enjoyed the writing style of Dickens.
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