claudiolassala

Claudio is a Principal Consultant at Improving Houston. He has been developing software for 25+ years. When not building software, consulting with clients, doing presentations, delivering training, or hanging out with his family, he can probably be found working on his music.

Homepage: https://claudiolassala.wordpress.com

2019: Annual Review

As per my 2018 Annual Review, these were the things I mentioned I was working toward:

Continue growing Beyond the Track: the monthly meetups happened all year (except for November), more riders stepped up to do talks for the group, the website http://www.beyondthetrack.net/ has been up and running since early in the year with many important features for logistics, planning, goals and debriefing. A great community of track riders is forming, with folks who help each other out both on and off track.

SportBike Track Riding: I did put together plans and goals for my track riding, worked on those goals, and pretty much crossed off all of them! I have faced setbacks, but came back even stronger, and am now writing up my goals riding goals for 2020.

 

New Opportunities at Improving: while focusing on doing my job as good as I could and helping out my co-workers on any opportunity I had, I was rewarded with brand new opportunities at Improving, which I readily embraced. More on this under the “what went well” section below.

What went well in 2019?

New Original Song: I’ve put out one new song, title Still I’m Dreaming. This being a big passion of mine, getting to put out new music is always an celebrated accomplishment for me.

Riding Goals: Even though I couldn’t ride on the track for 3 months due to injury, I was still able to cross off all of the main goals I had for the year, one of them being getting my racer license. I celebrate this one because it isn’t only about riding; a lot goes into planning, improving my mental toughness, overcoming adversities, etc. The footage below is my favorite one ever, as it was captured by one of my coaches following me on the track, not too long after I came back from my injury, and I feel it’s the best I’ve ever ridden.

Promotion at Improving: halfway through the year I got offered the opportunity to get promoted to a Technical Director role at Improving. This is HUGE for me. On one hand, I get to do more of what I naturally do (helping others grow); on the other hand, it pushes me outside my comfort zone as I get involved with responsibilities I didn’t have before (which in turn, pushes me to keep growing). As part of that, I’ve jumped in to start and lead two important initiatives (directly related to two of my main passions in this industry) within the company, which are going to keep me very busy in 2020. I’ve also participated in a 3-month internal training program that was excellent, as it has both validated many things I’ve learned over the last several years, as well as it has taught me important things I didn’t know before.

Meditation: I’ve finally reached a solid streak of One Full Year of Meditation in August. It didn’t stop there, as I continue having meditation as part of my morning routine. Why? I know this practice has helped me a lot to get through adversities I’ve faced.

 

Language Learning: my Duolingo streak is up to 526 hundred days as of Dec 31, 2019! That’s the number of days I’ve spent at least 10 minutes learning a language. After spending a lot of time on Italian and German (no, I’m not fluent in either, as that hasn’t been my goal), I’ve gone back to Spanish. Besides Duolingo, I also watch YouTube videos in the languages I’m learning, so I can also get that kind of exposure to it.

Gratitude:
As I’ve wished at the beginning of the year, my Jar of Awesome is full of notes of my gratitude! I’m empty it to start filling it up again. I’ll also be reading a few of those notes daily until I’ve read them all and relive the feeling at those moments of gratitude (and reach out to people who may have caused or participated in those moments).

What didn’t go so well?

Crashing: People say this about crashing on a motorcycle – “It’s not a question of *if*, but just *when*”. For the first time in 29 years I ended up getting hurt riding a motorcycle. That has not prevented me from plowing through life, getting things done, and coming back stronger than before, so I’ve done my best to face adversity, learn from it, and value life even more.

Didn’t make more music: I came close to putting out another new song later in the year, but couldn’t get it done (computer issues and such). The new song is ready to be recorded, though, and I’m very excited about it, as I think it sounds great!

What am I working toward?

Continue Growing Beyond the Track: this is an on-going effort through 2020 (and probably further). As I see things now, this is part of a long-term goal I have for me. For 2020, I want to keep adding features to the website, as well as keep growing the community.

SportBike Track Riding: much like in 2019, I’ll be putting down track riding goals for 2020. It’ll include even more focus on getting more coaching, as this is also part of longer-term goals I currently have.

Solid initiatives at Improving: I’m very excited about the two initiatives I’m leading at Improving, and a lot of my work-related activities are going towards these initiatives. You’ll learn more about what those are when time’s right.

Get better at Spanish: I am going to learn and practice more Spanish. It’s a language that a lot of people speak, so knowing it opens up doors. I have very specific ideas as to what I want to accomplish and how I’ll work my way there.

Conclusion

“When I was 42… it was a very good year” (I hear that in my head with the voice of the late Warrel Dane). Yes, 2019 was a very good year. There are many other things I could have listed in this post, but I didn’t want this to be longer than it already is. I’m proud of myself for how I came out of adversities, making an effort to clear my mind and see through it, finding opportunities, learning from it, and getting better. Could this year have been even better? Of course! What am I going to do about it? Well, taking the time to put together my thoughts and writing up this post is already one step taken towards an even better year in 2020!

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Improv Techniques come in handy

I have been watching Improvisational Comedy videos for many years now and have been wanting to try it myself. I’ve watched this TED talk about it a few years ago and thought it’d be great to try something like that at Improving. We’ve finally had our first Improv workshop at the Houston office and it was a blast!

We brought in an Improv coach experienced in leading such workshop at companies and had 10 Improvers in attendance. Everybody loved it! It was a lot of fun, everybody got something out of it, and we all want more.

The interest in having such a workshop at Improving came out of reading Daniel H. Pink’s “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others”. Great book! At some point, the author mentions Improv techiniques, so we decided to hire an Improv coach to lead a workshop for us.

Besides just being such a fun activity to do with your colleagues, what was so great about it?

Well, I’ll just tell you the areas I see myself sticking Improv techniques in my daily life…

Scrum meetings: how often do teams get into that “status report” flow during daily scrum? How often do team members feel shy participating in retrospective meetings because their ideas get immediately shot down? Better listening skills can be a big help here.

Networking: I’m terrible at remembering people’s names and getting to know more about people I meet.

Working with new people: speeding up that period when a group of new people get to work together, helping them get to know each other and get comfortable with each other quickly.

Public speaking: whether people are talking to a big audience or to a small one (maybe it’s presenting an idea to a team of 5 people), learning techniques to do that better is very benefitial.

I’ll most likely be writing new posts on specifics experiments and learnings I have in this topic.

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Agile Shift 2020: Call for Speakers!

I’ve had a great time speaking at Agile Shift this year and am excited to know the conference will happen again in 2020; bigger this time! Check out the conference’s website for more info.

At this time, there’s a Call for Speakers. If you’d like to speak at a great conference, this is a sweet chance. You can also let your favorite speakers know about this opportunity!

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Improving Code: Designing and Publishing NPM Packages for Better Code Reusability

Have you heard of “clipboard inheritance” driven development? Yup, copy the code from one project, paste it into another. And yup… ouch!

My friend and co-worker Joseph Hart will share with us how to design and publish NPM packages to address this terrible thing! Come join us at the December’s Improving Code meetup, on Dec 4, at 6:30pm!

Designing and Publishing NPM Packages for Better Code Reusability

With over 1 million indexed packages and over 10 billion downloads a week, NPM is the most popular package manager in the world. But how many of our organizations make good use of private packages? In this Improving Code session, we’ll learn how to publish and maintain private NPM packages, look at ways to think more generically and see how we can refactor our JavaScript to extract more reusable modules out of our projects.

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Using Evernote Tabs and Tags

I have posted many times about my extensive usage of Evernote: I’ve just broken the 25k-note mark! I organize my notes by using a good mix of notebooks and tags. But going beyond that, I also organize certain notes based on when I need. For example, there are times when I need notes…

  • Today
  • This Week
  • This Month
  • This Year

When I’m doing my period review (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), I tag notes as per my temporal needs as listed above (i.e., “today”, “week”, “month”, “year”). I then use Evernote’s feature to have multiple tabs open:

On the Mac version of Evernote, I do the following:

  1. Open a new tab (Command+T)
  2. Filter on the given tag (Command+J to search for the tag)

For example, when I do my weekly review and planning for the upcoming week, I create one note for each meeting I have coming up, and then I tag those notes with “week”. That way, it’s easy for me to find those notes and drop in comments or any other information I’ll be needing in those meetings.

Another tip: depending on how I’m working on my notes at a given point in time, I also leverage the option to open a “new window” in Evernote. That way, I have one window with tabs for the different periods I’m organizing, and another window for anything else (sometimes with tabs for different projects, people, places, etc.).

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Speaking at the Houston Software QA User Group

I’m giving my current favorite talk at the Houston Software QA User Group next Tuesday, Nov 5, at 6pm.

The cool thing about this talk is that it appeals to people in many different roles: developers, QA, business analysts, and product owners. I’ve given this talk at conferences, user groups, and “lunch and learns” at several companies. I’m excited to be delivering it again!

Testing in Agile: from Afterthought to an Integral Part

Testing cannot be an afterthought; it has to be an integral part of software development. Is it something that QA teams do? Or is it part of a developer’s duties? Do business analysts play any role in it? What is test automation? Unit test, Integration test, Test-Driven Development, Behavior-Driven Development… what do those mean?!

This session addresses all of those questions, as we talk through the importance of tests, the collaboration among team members, the techniques, and practices around different kinds of automated testing.

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A New User Group for Those Who Like Improving Code

I’ve realized that, over several years, I’ve developed a passion for changing code until it becomes readable. Yes, I’m a Clean Code addict! 🙂

Whatever the programming language, library, framework, etc, I always look for ways to make the code more readable. It didn’t use to be like that; I used to look for obscure language features I could use in my code. What for? Clever code isn’t that great if most other developers can’t understand it quickly to be confident in changing it when needed.

With those thoughts in mind, I’ve decided to create a new user group for those who, like me, enjoy Improving Code.

I hope to see you at one of our meetings!

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