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A day in the life of Guest Blogger @ruby_gem

Esendex Offices
Esendex Offices

Esendex Offices

I thought it’s be really interesting to share with you what I actually get up to at work. My job is cool. Amazingly so. Also it’ll probably show you that Software Developers and Engineers are probably a lot more exciting and creative than you possibly thought.

At 9:15am everyday we ┬áStand Up. This is a quick meeting for the development team to briefly recap what they did yesterday, what they’re going to do today and who they’re going to do it with. It’s called a Stand Up as it’s only supposed to take a few minutes and you shouldn’t even have chance to sit down. We do this around our “board” (Kanban board showing progress of cards).┬áLast one to the stand up brews up. Usually me.

Stand Up

Stand Up

At Esendex we practice Pair Programming. We assign pairs during the stand up to work on a “card” (index card detailing a small chunk of work) together. We both sit at the computer together. One person “drives” by using the keyboard and mouse, the other person navigates. There are many advantages to pairing, the main one is that each of you are using different parts of your brain. The driver is entirely submerged in the code, the navigator is concentrating more on the bigger picture and generally sees things the driver does not. Collaboration happens, knowledge is shared, problems are solved, driver and navigator organically swap. Pairing requires a lot more lip service, I’m sure I’ll get round to it on my blog one day.

Recently we’ve tried the Pomodoro technique. This means working in 25 minute chunks. Assign yourself a task to perform in 25 minutes (for me it’s writing a specific piece of code) and you work purely on that thing for 25 minutes. No interruptions. No brewing up. No distracting conversation. No checking email or twitter. Then after 25 minutes you have a 5 minute break to defuel, refuel and check your phone. You have to be VERY disciplined. It’s difficult when you’ve not *quite* finished your task and you have to drag yourself away. I carry on with the task in my next Pomodoro and it only take a few seconds to get my head back into where I was. So far it’s two days in and it’s working really well for me. Especially with the current distraction of barcamp. I find I can manage my time better.

Now pairs go on lunch at the same time, sometimes together. Myself and Mr Andrew have even been known to go “Pairdressing” to the salon on a lunch hour. It’s intense, but completely worth it. I tried to get a photo of us pairing, but we were too busy.

I get to work on making the existing system BETTER and also creating new and cool functionality for Esendex, working on stuff like the Web SMS application Echo. I get to write beautiful code and learn. We perform Coding Dojos (solving a simple, small problem but focussing on a particular programming technique), have “Cheese and Wine” (occasionally on a friday afternoon we get to present cool new tech stuff, eat cheese and drink wine) and even get sent to conferences (I went to XP2011 in madrid earlier this year).

Every week we have a Retrospective where we reflect on what we’ve done in the last week, what has made us mad, sad or glad and how we can improve. This is an opportunity to identify what is and isn’t working for the team. I’m very lucky that I get to work with very brilliant, passionate people who are also constantly striving for improvement.

We get fresh fruit, fine tea and amazing coffee and best of all on a friday around 5pm it’s WINE O CLOCK!