Tag Archives: lessons learned

ŽVPL 3.0 or how to “f* up” a web site relaunch [wwwh notes]

Here are my rough notes from lecture by Gregor Zalaznik and Davorin Pavlica, founders for ŽVPL at @wwwh with original Slovenian title of Spletne urice #100: ŽVPL 3.0 – kako “zaj***ti” projekt (ali ?esa ne narediti pri procesu prenove).

ŽVPL redesign took 3 years+. Here’s what they learned:

  • the project began and ran on beer. [presenters buy beer for whole audience]
    Booze
    Image by Drunken Monkey via Flickr

short history of ŽVPL

  • lots of drinking around Ljubljana until they’ve figured out that there could be a project from these drinkings
  • firstly it was ran on hand coded HTML each time. Frames and all that
  • then they’ve figured out some database stuff until it crashed whole thing once again and page went offline for next 3 years

how not to run a project

  • project manager should be one person only. Shared responsibility is totally foo.
  • prepare documentation in digital form. They’ve prepared most of the documentation around beer in different bars. Bartender arranged for a notes paper and pen and that was most of the the documentation.
  • pick a framework: CMS, framework, custom? Just choose one and stop wandering around.
  • decide roles and deadlines. It’s good to know this from the beginning so everyone knows what they should take care of.

production – or you can’t live from fame and fortune

  • release soon and release often. They didn’t follow it and they’ve been doing it for a long time and then the whole project quickly gets outdated.
  • they’ve changed 5 programmers in the lifetime
  • the project was pro bono and you easily lose team members
  • ideas without implementation are not worth anything
  • time is an issue
  • technology goes on very fast and unless you release soon and often, it runs you over and you keep reworking

Q & A

Tokyo Dome beer girl
Image by Mikael Dalkvist via Flickr
  • What project management software did you use? They’ve used Basecamp from 37 Signals.
  • iPhone version? It’s on the TODO. No deadlines.
  • How do you recruit people? We don’t. If someone is interested they will find you.
  • What does ŽVPL run on? On Union.
  • What was positive side of things? You learn and meet lots of people. It was nice to have a release out the doors and say that you’ve finished something. Secondly, you learn not to cancel too early and that it’s good to talk to like-minded people as they encourage you to finish the project.
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What I learned in my 2nd month of running

It’s the last day of November, outside temperature is about 1 degrees Celsius and it’s raining something that looks like half-frozen rain. There’s also a lot of snow on sidewalks, even though most of the roads and sidewalks are clean enough to support running. This means that I have no excuse not to go out and do my daily workout.

November 2008 running
November 2008 running

That’s probably the greatest lesson of this month, here in Ljubljana, there’s almost no weather condition that would prevent you from running. Sure, it’s not 18C where you can run in t-shirt, but on the other hand, there is no real excuse for not adding another layer of clothes and go running. It’s a bit terrifying at first, running in rain, after dark or even in snow, but you quickly learn that it’s not much different from run on a warm day. It’s still just you and the road and the poetic feeling of freedom and good kind of tiredness that comes afterward.

Some statistics

As you can see in the embedded image, I didn’t miss a single running day, make it a total of 22 runs, over 11 and half hours and 113 kilometers. This is twice the amout of kilometers over previous month.

Overall, I’m happy with results of running as I managed to upgrade my runs from 3-4km in the beginning to about 5km per run in the end.

I’ve also started running to top of Rožnik on weekends, which has about 150m of altitude difference. The basic idea to upgrade the mid-week runs on flat terrain.

Other random observation

  • I probably have most of equipment now and the whole exercise is pretty cheap. I just bought extra running pants for winter, otherwise I don’t feel any special need for winter equipment yet.
  • Rain is no problem for my current running shoes, you just have to watch a bit where you run. No need for special ones here also.
  • Running is now fully part of my daily routine. I just budget time for it on dedicated days and go for a run.
  • I’ve discovered a  smoothie half an hour before run gives you lots of great energy.
  • Running in pair is not that bad actually, but it requires almost too much coordination.
  • I feel incredibly good. It’s like getting a bit fit totally changed my attitude towards everything.
  • I’m slowly growing enough confidence that I’d be willing to try a group run with a larger group of more experience runners.
  • Snow running is pretty fun. I’d consider getting better running shoes and make it a dedicated day for a bit more intensive exercise.

Overall, running is really fun and I’m happy that I decided to stick with it.

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NaBloPoMo – one month later

With just two posts left to finish “National Blog Posting Month”, campaign to encourage bloggers to blog once a day, I’m going to use one post to share what I’ve learned about “so intense” blogging this month.

It’s a lot of work

Day 126/365 : Poesia di una domenica mattina
Image by ~jjjohn~ via Flickr

I usually blog in bulk. I take off most of Sunday and I write blog posts for most of the upcoming week. This works great if you have to write 3-4 posts (I used to blog 5 times a week), but with 6 it’s a bit harder. The problem is not lack ideas, just that it takes almost twice the time and I’m often lacking focus.

Overall I say it takes me about 20 min to prepare an easy blog post and if I’m really involved it can be also a few hours. In the end, it adds up to quite some time.

It helps with traffic

Regular blogging has an interesting side effect, lots of traffic. I’m still running a small blog in range of about 150 visitors/day, but it’s slowly growing. It’s almost like I get a reader for each time I post 🙂

On the other hand, I’m getting increased number of (non-spam) comments. I’ve discovered that I appreciate a single comment many times more than anonymous readers. Overall, I’m happy with audience growth in last month.

Quality of postings

One of the things I’ve learned is that each blog gets readers that it deserves. If I’m writing about technical or abstract things, not many people will have attention span to actually read it, but the ones that will are the ones I’m trying to write for. Otherwise I should really re-think my content 🙂

The future

Bir Olmak
Image by Veyis Polat via Flickr

In December, I’ll move back to my five posts a week schedule. I also decided not to feel bad if I miss a day, if that means that posts and ideas I’ll be producing on other days will be so much better because of it.

Overall, writing is really easy once you sit down and decide to start typing. It just takes time.

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