Being Inquisitive

The best way to get answers is to ask questions.

Where Am I In This Picture?

2 weeks ago I attended a very interesting 4 day seminar near Hamburg. The topic was about Participatory Leadership based on the Art of Hosting. I do enjoy going to events and un-conferences that are not in the center of what I’m busy with at the moment since a couple of years now. However, these events always were somehow related to my current activities. For this event I wasn’t 100% sure in advance if it’s close enough to my current fields of activities… and sometimes I already felt that I’m in enough communities already.

My doubts where completely without a reason. I started to plot my current fields of thinking and acting in the following coordinate system. This way I realized that the topic of this seminar and the community I joined fits perfectly to the journey I’m in since a couple of years. Even more, it was a missing link.

So far I tried to facilitate and organize open-spaces, world cafes and fishbowls being a self-educator. I saw the methods and techniques at agile and developer conferences I’ve attended, read some web and book material and applied what I learned that way as good as I could. That was an appropriate way to do it, but digging deeper about the why and how of facilitation techniques was an important experience.

And as I should see during this weekend, it was just the surface.


While knowing the methods and techniques is important it was impressive to see how much the little things when doing check-in/check-out, when having conversations etc. can make a big difference. It may take a long time of practice to come to this level. With every day I stepped deeper into the Art of Hosting I realized that this is a huge field to play in! Too much for a small SW dev guy! But my newly created coordinate system helped me to find clarity: It’s not my duty to be 100% in all of these playing fields, I need to find my personal blend out of these. And what became clear to me when speaking to a senior participant was that having multiple playing fields gives you the freedom to vary this blend over time – gives me an idea what could happen during my next decades…

I’m thankful for having the chance to meet with a group of passionate crazy-ones who all want to change their little world – being it a Swiss party, the education system in the Netherlands, the university of Hamburg or a media company. I came out stronger after these days. Stronger because I’ve learned something on the crafting level and stronger because I feel in good company with these people. We may not meet again, but I now feel connected to them.

After the seminar I was playing in the other fields again – I attended a Design Thinking talk, I joined an open-space of the SW craftsmenship community and listened to a talk of the .NET user group. Since a couple of days I’m in the planning phase for a department event together with a colleague, hoping to be able to apply some aspects of what I’ve learned from Art of Hosting. And I have some crazy ideas how to start in the field of organizational development – may need some more training but I’m looking forward to extend my playing field and find my very own blend.

Filed under: aoh, community, events

What the Hell is PowerShell?

Had a very good week doing another PowerShell talk at .NET user groups in Mannheim, Bern and Luzern. Many thanks to Kai Simons, René Leupold and Daniel Marbach for inviting me to their user groups.

Giving talks at .NET user groups I experienced again that this is a very vivid community with a lot of smart people. I’m thankful to be a part of it since a couple of years.

Doing PowerShell talks in 2012 is specifically interesting. People obviously are more interested than before in PowerShell topics, I had a decent audience at all events. But very few do use PowerShell on a daily basis and not a hand full do write scripts/modules themselves.

Anyway, here are the slides and scripts I’ve used. I did not cover everything in the sessions, use them to learn and recap.

Filed under: community, events, powershell

Stepping out of the Comfort Zone?

So far I attended a couple of unconferences that were somehow related to the technology stack I’m currently working in. This year I had the idea to step a bit out of my comfort zone. So I thought Socrates was an ideal chance to do that. But I must say – it wasn’t.

For a weekend I joined a very vivid community with like minded people where I felt comfortable from the very first moment. I focused a bit on topics that were more related towards the communication/collaboration aspects of our craft. I really enjoyed the sessions with Pierluigi Pugliese – got a lot out of it.

During the conference there were multiple talks about how to bootstrap a community around Software Craftsmenship. I think it should be a kind of bridging community across existing technology stack/practices communities. I wish we would do the following:

  • Do coding dojos, retreats together to get to know other languages/frameworks/toolsets and how they support common practices (CCD, SOLID etc.)
  • exchange community speakers across the groups to become more open minded in the existing groups.
  • Do joint sessions of multiple groups for common interest topics, listening to ‘well known’ speakers.

For a SW developer this was the best end summer event you can think of to get the needed motivation for coming fall project season. Thanks everyone!

Ah, I almost forgot: I also was a speaker at Socrates, speaking about the ‘forgotten customer’.

Filed under: events, practices, swengineering

.NET Open Space Karlsruhe was a Real Motivator

So far I attended 2 .NET Open Spaces in Leipzig and the 1 in Ulm. I did also attend multiple community conferences. And I must say: Again I got a full package of experience, motivation and a couple of ‘navigation helpers’ where to look into (technically). These kind of un-conferences really work exceptionally well!

  • Topic Release Management: We had a session to share the Dos and Don’ts when doing product versions an patches. People in the session are facing similar issues as we see them in our company: Too less tool support, no common sense practices, too less attention on the whole topic. @lennybacon is doing some work in that area to bridge the gap that VC-systems, build servers etc. still keep open, I do really welcome that!

    Beside the tool aspect I could imagine that a Wiki sharing approaches and practices, listing Pros and Cons could help to come to a higher professionalism level in Release Management. There is a lot of noise and cloudy ads on the net, but do you know a resource that really helps to guide with the most basic things in Software Business?

  • A lot of small talks and sessions were about the non technical aspects of doing software development – communication topics, project management topics and the psychological aspects of working together in a team. I got a lot out of it to use it in my daily life as an enterprise developer and as a (wannabe) change agent. It’s astonishing how open, experienced and inquisitive a group of nerds discusses these ‘meta’ topics, a group that is seen as ‘autistic’ sometimes. For the project management topic: I’m surprised again and again on developer conferences, how deep developers are in the field of agile methods, scrum and the like. Sometimes I would wish that I could say the same about the project manager group.
  • @sforkmann gave an inspiring talk about CQRS using F#. Ok, I think F# will not be a topic for my project work for the foreseeable future. But each time I hear about CQRS I feel I understand a bit better, what it is, what it’s good for and – that I do it (partially wrong) since some time now. I really learned a lot in this session.
  • One last note about the community topic here: I really like to see a lot of known faces again on conferences like this, known from the net or personally. On the other hand: Could it be that it’s becoming a more and more closed club of 150..200 people hanging around together again and again? Could it be that topics like Ruby, node.js, monads (arbitrary terms here) keeps some people away? I wish these conferences could provide everything – a market place for advanced ideas, a place to attract new people and a place to build and grow the community.

    Filed under: .net, events

See#Party 2010 – PowerShell for Developers – Material

I really enjoyed my session PowerShell for Developers at last weekend’s SeeSharpParty in Konstanz/Kreuzlingen. I did even more enjoy all the other sessions I attended during the day plus the talks with a lot of smart people.

Find the session material here.

Thanks again to all the helping hands and the .NET user group Konstanz-Kreuzlingen for making this party happen.

Filed under: .net, events, powershell

.NET Open Space Sued 2009 – the Spaceship took off

First of all: Excellent organization of the event – big THANK YOU to Thomas and Alex. Even vegetarian meals were covered ;-) ! Lot’s of interesting session discussions, floor discussions and evening discussions. Was really a pleasure (but exertive) to have that for a complete weekend with many competent peers.

Multiple sessions – “Schema-less DBs” and “ORM” – touched the relationship between .NET/OO/Client developers and database developers. I do observe that the data store is seen as a necessary evil when developing applications. My understanding is that it is more than a data tomb to dump some data in in a canonical manner. Multiple challenges we’re currently seeing in mainstream languages/environments – rich metadata, higher declarative tools to solve problems, resource management (CPU, Memory, IO), scalability, distributed topologies, parallelism, dealing with data in a set oriented manner – are solved in these database dinosaurs since decades. All in all a discussion that I would like to continue. It’s too important to use the right tool for the right job – even if 2 types of developers are involved. Finally: Did you know that database people (these inflexible guys with strange ideas…) do also discuss about topics like Agility and Refactoring?

A small session with 3, later 5 people was about “Getting things done“. A good part of the session the discussion circled around how to manage email traffic. Interesting enough as IMHO reading/writing emails is not the core competence of a software developer. We also touched Microblogging in the enterprise which triggered me to put that topic on the table again. How to manage blog reading etc. was another interesting part of the discussion. All in all a topic that could be continued in detail in a future Open Space as we all have to deal with information overload, information filtering and knowledge aggregation.

Some of my proposed topics “Administrative Toolsets”, The administrator as an additional further user” didn’t find enough interest to be discussed. I must admit that ‘client’ developers still don’t have these topics in their focus. But being able to provide manageable applications will be a key differentiator in the foreseeing future. Maybe these topics get a higher priority in future Open Spaces. I should be better prepared to talk about experiences I made, to come up with best practices, to propose the usage of frameworks and tools.

Still struggling if I should attend the next .NET Open Space in Leipzig, think I should…

Filed under: .net, events,

Logitech Squeezebox Duet – First Impressions

The Concept

The Squeezebox receiver is a unflashy small device which gets some basic commands to stream audio from URLs, volume up/down etc. The value here comes from the audio decoder quality. It’s connected through LAN or WiFi.

The Squeezebox controller purpose is to act as a comfortable remote control. Technically it’s a device mainly running a customized browser. It’s connected through WiFi. To get the receiver running, you would not really need this device – you could control it with every ordinary web browser running on your desktop, netbook, mobile etc. But using the Squeezebox controller is definitely more comfortable.

The Squeezecenter is a required software component to run the Squeezebox hardware. You can use Internet radio, podcasts and the like without running your own Squeezecenter. Squeeznetwork is a customized public Squeezecenter instance. Furthermore it is used to bootstrap the process of bringing all mentioned components together. You have to have an account at Squeezenetwork and every player (software or hardware) has to be registered there.

Try It Yourself

Software player? Yes, you can test the whole setup of Squeezecenter, Squeezebox controller and player without any hardware required (Good before you buy!). The following steps are necessary:

  1. Create an account at Squeezenetwork.
  2. Download the Squeezecenter Audio Server.
  3. Start the Softsqueeze player which comes with Squeezecenter as Java Webstart application
  4. Register the player with Squeezenetwork.
  5. Connect server and player.
  6. Enjoy!

The Softsqueeze application does only mimic Squeezebox Classic and Transporter. To test Squeezebox Duet, use Squeezeplay which runs exactly the same user interface as the hardware controller. For me it worked on Windows only, I couldn’t get it to run on my Ubuntu box. Use the same registration procedure as described above.

Energy Efficiency Considerations

Keep in mind that the Squeezebox Duet setup includes 2 devices communicating over WiFi (the receiver optionally through LAN). Furthermore, to access your stored music library, you need to run a Squeezecenter instance somewhere. You can’t attach a passive USB disk to the receiver box. All in all a lot of additional energy consumption.

Although the Squeezebox receiver can be ‘switched off’ from the controller, it still keeps the WiFi (and the rest?) active to be able to get the command to ‘switch on’. I doubt it just switches of the front LED… A side effect of this is that my WiFi router, which is programmed to switch off WiFi at night, keeps it on because there is still a connected device – the Squeezebox receiver. I will install a Master Slave Adaptor and switch off the receiver with my amplifier in future.

The Squeezebox controller can be switched off and on with the Home button. The boot process takes 15..20 seconds which is acceptable. After some time not being used it switches to standby mode, disconnecting WiFi and switching off the display. The wakeup from standby takes 3..5 seconds. The worst thing is that it doesn’t disconnect from WiFi when in the loader, so I have to switch it off then.

Midterm the Squeezecenter will run on a NAS and not on my desktop PC. The NAS consumes a lot less energy than a common PC hardware. It’s also timed to switch off at night.


The Squeezebox concept is very flexible and open. Services like radio, Internet radio, podcasts, your music library etc. are melting together to a common music service. It’s the perfect gadget for a geek like me, not necessarily for the pure Audio enthusiast.


The Duet Controller reproducibly gets problems as soon as a second Squeezecenter server is added to the network (i.e. Desktop PC boot with Squeezecenter running) while the controller runs. After some strange effects (depends on what you’re actually doing) it mostly hangs. A reboot of the controller fixes it. This topic isn’t too big for me as I will setup Squeezecenter on my NAS sooner or later.

I tried the player sync option with the Squeezebox receiver and Softsqueeze. Although the sync basically worked, I had a 3..5 seconds time shift between both players – nice sound effects in my flat. Even after pausing and resuming the players the time shift was still there.

I had multiple cases in the last few days where the controller couldn’t connect to Squeezenetwork and/or to the player. I hope that this will get better if I run my own Squeezecenter on the NAS.


Nice gadget for a good price! A lot of plugins are available to extend the functionality (I will describe that in another post).

Filed under: gadgets, reviews


After spending a lot of effort and time on intranet blogging only, I thought it is a good idea to force myself to communicate with the outside blogging world again. My previous attempts to do that are aged meanwhile. Being a WordPress fan I decided to have this new blog on

Why the name of the blog? Well, I’m well-known for asking a lot of questions in conferences, meetings and presentations. It’s a part of my personality. And I’m still thinking I should keep it this way. Btw: When searching for a blog title I’ve found this nice little post about How to Be Inquisitive.

What will go into this blog? I’m not sure yet. My current thoughts: Whatever doesn’t fit into 140 characters. Whatever went onto my intranet blog but could go public. Time will tell.

Filed under: internal,


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