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Preview: Joel From Canada

Joel From Canada

Joel Semeniuk's Blog


T-4 Days Until …

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 19:20:14 GMT

I leave to go to India (Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, and Delhi) then on to Nepal (Kathmandu and the Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang) .. I don’t get back until May 9th. 

You can read more about the Nepal trip here:

I’ll also try to use my SPOT device to track where I am every day.

If I can figure out how to use SPOT – you should be able to track me here:

There is a risk that the device just won’t work in such a remote place of the earth.

If you are interested to know more about the region.. check out the following:

Managing Debt

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 20:42:07 GMT

Do you ever find yourself too busy “fighting fires” to do things “the right way”? Do you know that there are better ways of managing your project, but you find that you just need to get things done and can’t be bothered to fix underlying problems because it may slow you down? Ever find yourself wondering if you will ever have time to go back to a feature you released a year ago to make it better and move valuable to your users?

If so, you may be in debt.

Read more here:

Let me know what you think..

Predictions for 2011

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 20:41:05 GMT

Last year I made 14 predictions on what I thought might transpire in the world of technology in 2010.

So, what do I think is in store for us in 2011? Here is goes…

I’d love to hear some of your predictions.. if you make some, post back so we can keep track of one another.

New Car Experience

Fri, 15 Jan 2010 00:11:53 GMT

Hmm… my predictions coming true already?

Predictions for 2010

Fri, 08 Jan 2010 04:05:47 GMT

Last year I made 11 predictions, some of which (in my opinion) came true in 2009.  Here are my predictions for 2010 1.  Tablet/Slate Form Factors will Finally Stick:  Apple’s tablet, combined with the Microsoft Courier, will mark 2010 as the year that the slate stuck.  I think one of the biggest reasons this will finally become reality is the fact that I think the industry has finally realized you can’t simply run Windows or OSx natively on a slate computer without completely revamping the user experience, embracing the fact we’ll be using fingers, not mice, to navigate.  Apple will be the primary catalyst behind this. 2.  Lean Software Engineering will become a first class citizen.  I actually think that Kanban will become the catalyst for this.  While the software community learns more about Kanban they will learn more of Lean in general through osmosis and realize “damn, why haven’t we been thinking this way from the start?”  The economic realities of the 09’s will also resonate through 2010 – and core Lean concepts such as “reduce waste” will resonate and promote Lean the same way it did during the 70’s economic crisis. 3.  User Experience Abounding:  After spending the last year working on pushing the way users interact with Internet based software, I believe this trend will increase dramatically.  Silverlight 4 is a huge step and I believe that businesses will now be considering it, rather than perhaps more traditional ASP.NET pages, to deliver a rich user experience both inside and outside of the organization. 4.  Windows Mobile will merge with XBox and Zune to better embrace the consumer market.  I used to be a die hard Windows Mobile user until the iPhone changed the way I use my phone.  I’m looking forward to using the new Google phone as well, and I expect that Microsoft will come out with guns blazing with their own phone that will have just a big an impact. 5.  AppStores Everywhere:  We have all realized that it is rarely a good idea to develop web solutions for mobile devices.  The solution, of course, are custom developed apps on each platform.  For example, for Facebook I can install an app for the iPhone and Android that best matches the form factor of the device.  The AppStore concept will spread from mobile devices, but to traditional hardware platforms as well. 6.  Travel Headaches will spark further collaboration technology:  Face it.. travelling sucks these days.  No carryons, full body scans, aggressive personal body searches, arriving 3 hours before your 2 hour flight.  Baggage claim nightmares.  AHHH.  From a business perspective, I know that I’ll be looking for a better way to collaborate with customers and teams without needing to fly.  LiveMeeting, GotoMeeting, Oovoo, Messenger, etc.. we’re not where we need to be yet, however, I believe in 2010 there will emerge a much more natural way to collaborate beyond what we have today (perhaps this is a want more than a prediction) 7.  SharePoint 2010 will have explosive adoption.  There are many reasons for this, however, primarily I think economic realities will drive most of the adoption.  From a platform perspective, 2010 is a healthy leap compared to 2007.  Organizations will look to this platform to build more and more line of business solutions – using the newer and more expressive views and methods of capturing and rendering data in 2010.  Instead of spending months developing .NET software, organizations will spend weeks producing similar solutions.  SharePoint 2010 will also drag adoption of Office 2010, simply due to the SharePoint Offline Client (about time!!) 8.  There will be a SharePoint AppSt[...]

Files for Estimation Madness

Mon, 14 Dec 2009 10:49:02 GMT

Here are some sample estimation spreadsheets that I discuss in my Estimation Madness talk. 

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Don’t Choose – Combine Your Practices

Thu, 16 Jul 2009 13:22:21 GMT

I have been “preaching” about why you should combine software engineering management practices for a long time (almost all of my presentations end with this as a call to action).  A lot of people get stuck in the religion of their current practice (or the practice that they see in the industry that holds the most promise).  Today Scrum is hot.  Kanban techniques are also gaining traction – especially in the blog/twitter spheres.  I’ve been a big proponent of Feature Driven Development in the past – and there are a barrage of other techniques stemming from eXtreme Programming, Test Driven Development, Behavior Driven Development … the list goes on.

These days, I have to admit I’m very happy to see more emphasis on Lean techniques, such as Kanban systems, in the management of software engineering teams.  Don’t get trapped in the Kanban religion though…it’s too easy.  I’m also a big fan of something I’ve called “Feature Driven Scrumban Development” – which demonstrates the merging of a few different mindsets.  I actually used to call it “eXtremely Lead Feature Driven Scrum Based Development” – however, that was just too much of a mouthful ;-)  I made it up to prove a point – what we need to be “without form” – similar to the end goal of a practitioner of martial arts – when it comes to applicability of team and project management techniques.

If you’re interested in some of these concepts go out and read this book:

Scrumban - Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development

The book is easier to read if you are already familiar with Scrum and FDD and even a lot of Lean concepts…

TechEd 09 – Agile an Excuse or a Process?

Wed, 13 May 2009 21:01:40 GMT

One of the panels I was on at TechEd in LA this year has been posted -


Check it out…

Steve and Joel’s Daily Scrum

Fri, 08 May 2009 13:55:47 GMT

Watch Stephen Forte and I jabber about Scrum at the Microsoft Enterprise Developer and Solutions Conference in New York.

Lots of other GREAT sessions and partner videos on this site…


Justinmind Protyper Looks Promising

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 21:33:17 GMT

I’m just about to give a try – I’m always on the lookout for these types of tools.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Visual Studio Team Test Quick Reference Guide Now Available

Wed, 01 Apr 2009 14:37:03 GMT

What’s included:


Want to Monitor Your Team Foundation Server?

Sun, 01 Mar 2009 20:19:29 GMT

This is a bit easier with the TFS Performance Report Pack – check it out:


Interesting – Steve Ballmer at Mobile World Congress

Mon, 16 Feb 2009 23:46:58 GMT

I was expecting a lot more… watch for yourself….

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Work Item Check-in Policy for BA’s, PM’s, and Testers?

Sun, 01 Feb 2009 04:30:55 GMT

Team System today provides developers with the ability to associate their code with work assigned to them in the form of Team System work items.  This is done via the work item check-in policy that you can enable on your project. There is a lot of benefits of using check-in policies.  First of all, this particular check-in policy gives us traceability between my work item and my code.  This means that I can go to a work item that we associated with a check-in and drill down into the details of the changeset. You also get some great additional information when you use Team Build – giving you a report of the associated work items for the code that was changed in the latest build – essentially, a “what is new with this build” report automatically.  Another benefit is workflow – as you can trigger workflow progress (for example marking a task as resolved) when you associate the code with that task (note:  this will all depend on the workflow definition of the work items in your team project). It takes quite a bit of discipline for developers to adhere to the process of associating a check-in with one or more work items. Wouldn’t it be great if we could expect the same thing from those on our team who produce documents and not code as project artifacts?  Today, the default advice is to use a Team Project’s associated Windows SharePoint site to store all document artifacts.  There is a bit of a disconnect with this method it seems, since SharePoint doesn’t version documents like we version code, and it makes it very difficult to get traceability between work items and the resulting documents. Wouldn’t it be great if Business Analysts, Manual Testers, Project Managers (etc – essentially those who produce document artifacts in some form) get to play by the same rules as developers?  Well, if you get the latest Team System Power Tools from Microsoft you can get just that!  One of the features that the Power Tools installs (not by default by the way, you need to do a custom install of the tools during setup) is the Windows Shell Extensions for Team Foundation Server.  What this means is that you can use your Windows Explorer to work with TFS source control.  After you install the TFS Power Tools (again, make sure you do the custom install as Shell Extensions aren’t installed by default) – all you need to do is ensure your BA’s have a workspace mapped appropriately and Bob’s Your Uncle! Once the workspace is mapped, simply navigate to the local path  and you will see the Shell Extensions come alive.  For example, in the TicTacToe project I created a folder called “Documents” using my Windows Explorer under c:\Dev\TicTacToe (that’s where the workspace maps that project to on my local drive).  I then right clicked on the folder to see the Shell Extension in action … I then click “Add” from the Team Foundation Server menu to tell Source Control that I want to add this to my project.  Then I can right click again, and this time choose “Check In…” from the Team Foundation Server menu to bring up our handy dandy check-in window (use the exact same process for documents as well).  Once you see the check-in window you will see that all of the check-in policies are enforces, and if you have the work item check-in policy enabled – you will be forced to associate the document with a work item. I think this is a great idea for a few reasons.  First, it keeps everything together – not spread across a bunch of different storage mediums.  Second, it allow[...]

Looking for an Alternative to Microsoft LiveMeeting?

Sat, 10 Jan 2009 22:57:54 GMT

Check these out:

Both free

DimDim has a professional version that comes with $$

YuuGuu requiring a download

YuuGuu can tie into Live Messenger.. but then screws up multi-location sign in (that’s silly)

Overall, DimDim seems more mature

In addition, there is also Microsoft SharedView – I’ve had good luck with this, however, lots of people don’t like it for some reason.  Scott Hanselman talks more about it here:


Here is a list of a few more brought to my attention by Jeremy Wiebe

Predictions for 2009

Wed, 31 Dec 2008 03:55:53 GMT

Every year I ask everyone I know to try to make some predictions for the following year.  Truthfully, I’ve never gone back and compared my predictions with reality (that would spoil the fun I think).  Well, here are my predictions for 2009. Deep / Long Recession:  2009 will be a year of change in the IT industry, sparked, of course, by the recession that started in 2008.  With every recession we face there will be challenges, but there will also be opportunities.  I predict that there will be a “weeding” out of IT organizations, those who will survive will be the ones who have adapted their practices even before the recession took hold.  Spark of Innovation:  Recessions always get us to think about doing more with less – and I think that this will further spark new ideas on how we can add value to business and industry as a whole.  Head in the Cloud:  Doing more with less, being nimble, cutting operational costs, reducing risks – these are all great reasons why I think cloud services will become much more mainstream. Too Many Damn Social Network and Social Network Aggregators:  2008 truly birthed social networking (I remember, this was something I did predict).  Social networking has proliferated throughout our societies entire online life – from our computers, to our mobile devices, and of course into the world of online gaming.  Facebook has proven to be a catalyst for them all – Twitter has truly taken hold – and there are dozens of others such as that can be used to help broadcast our lives out into the ether like never before.  These types of communities will reach a turning point this year. SharePoint 2010 will be announced:  (I’m speculating here folks) SharePoint will go through another revolutionary change – just as it has done with every release.  SharePoint will bring not only advances in document management but it will begin to truly leverage Silverlight from a user experience perspective.  I predict that Microsoft will also announce much of what we see in the new online Live services down into the SharePoint space – allowing organizations to have Micro-social networks much easier than we can today with the product.  I also believe that SharePoint will be “meshafied” – meaning, we should be able to experience SharePoint leveraging offline/synchronization functionality that mesh and the synchronization framework have.  Microsoft Groove will morph:… into the “meshafied” version of SharePoint.  We will have offline content of virtually all aspects of SharePoint – from the social network experience to document and list management.  Azurameshafication: Microsoft Azure offers cloud solutions, and many organizations will start to provide services using these core services.  That’s a given, however, I also predict that Microsoft Mesh will play a much larger role and savvy organizations will think long and hard about coupling a fantastic online experience with a P2P/Offline experience. 100 Gb of Online Storage for the World:  Today SkyDrive gives us 25gigs of free online space.  I predict that throughout the year, as the demand for cloud services increases, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon will jump frog each other providing more and more free online storage until each of us can get up to 100 GB of storage for free. Explosion of User Experience:  Silverlight 2.0 now makes it more realistic to build business applications outside of the tradition[...]

VSTS Team – Winning Hearts and Minds

Thu, 23 Oct 2008 18:27:01 GMT

A few years ago, I remember speaking to the VSTS team about community.  It was a formal presentation arranged by one of the old team members – where I was to talk about the importance of community support and how to win the hearts and minds of developers – and ultimately customers.  I’m actually not claiming that I had anything to do with this – but embracing community is exactly what the VSTS team have been doing.

Over the years blogging has become an important tool for communication and education.  In fact, I used to blog a LOT regarding VSTS but decided to stop after I saw that my blog was, in fact, second hand, to the blogs maintained by the VSTS team. 

I was expecting this a bit sooner – better late than never – however, you can now follow the VSTS team on Twitter (my new social addiction it seems).  Personally, I’m at the point where I need a better Twitter aggregator.  Any suggestions?