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Speaking at Houston Tech Fest on Saturday, September 12

I’ll be speaking at the virtual Houston Tech Fest this Saturday, September 12. You can register for free here. After registered, you’ll get information with the schedule so you can registered for the sessions you’re interested in (there are 30 sessions to choose from!!)

Here are my talks. I hope you get to attend to any or all of them!

All times shown in Central Time.

  • 10:10-11:10am – Beyond the Daily Stand-up: An Intro to Scrum
  • 1:40-2:40pm – Navigating and Refactoring Code, and other Productivity Tips
  • 4-5pm – Preparing and Giving Sprint Reviews (and Demos)

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15 Year Anniversary!

Wow. It has been 15 years since I started this blog!

It’s kind of cool seeing the areas that stick out:

Productivity, Testing, Evernote… that sounds about right.

Fun Facts

  • Most popular post: A Good Example of Liskov Substitution Principle (Nov/2010). It’s such an old post, but it still gets many views. The 2nd most popular post doesn’t have even 1/3rd of the views .
  • Total Posts: 426
  • Average Words Per Post: 342
  • Year with the most posts: 2007, with 75. This is post #51 this year, should I look into setting a new record?
  • I can think of at least two occasions when I googled something and ended up finding the answer on my blog, having totally forgotten I had already run into the same problem and written about it.
  • While I don’t get lots of comments left on the blog itself, countless times somebody mentions one of my posts in conversations. My point: people are “listening”, and that’s why I write and post, regardless as to whether I’m generating tons of views and a buzz or not.
  • I still look at zero-based arrays and think “what the heck?”. 🙂

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Who do I know that can help me with this?

When I shared my thoughts on “Fake until you make/become it”, I summed it as follows:

Instead of being a “fake”, I rather make it clear where I want to get to, get help, and give help on my way there!

At a recent update to my Now page a few weeks ago, I’ve included the following:

“I am studying Angular (version 9, at this point). For the last 2 and a half years, I had been mostly using React on the front-end. I had some previous experience with the old AngularJS and decided to take a look at the current version of Angular to see where it stands. In the process of learning, I’m building a little sample inspired by “Your Life in Weeks”. I’m also building a small proof-of-concept for a feature that can be very valuable to my current client. So far, I’m enjoying this version of Angular.”

Not 5 minutes go by and I receive the following message on Facebook, from an old buddy with whom I hadn’t spoken to in 5 years!

Not only was I made aware of a good old friend who’s willing to help with something that’s currently important to me, but also had the chance to catch up. Double win!

While I’m at it, let me share one of my favorite TED Talks: Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking.

So, after asking yourself “What Can/Will I do about it?”, move on to the next question:

Who do I know that can help me with this? – James Clear

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What have you been up to?

I had seen Derek Sivers’ “Now” page a while ago (this is what that’s all about), and I finally decided to create my own Now page. So, now whenever anybody send me an email or text asking me “so, what have you been up to?”, I’ll point them to that page. Check it out:

I’m not sure yet how often I’ll update the page. At a very minimum, at least when I do my monthly review, at which point I check my current plans, which are derived from my previous year’s Annual Review. That’ll be a good way to make sure I’m still on track, and/or reflect upon course correction throughout the year.

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Houston Agile Shift 2020: Registration is Open!

Registration for the Houston Agile Shift 2020 is now open!

After its successful debut in 2019, the conference is back in 2020, bigger and better. I enjoyed presenting there last year, had great interactions with the attendees, and stayed in touch with them even months after the conference was over.

This year I’ll be even more involved with the conference and can’t wait to see attendees learning and networking, speakers sharing their experiences, and a vibrant community coming together!

If you’d like to speak, the Call for Speakers is open for only a short period of time, so hurry up and submit your session proposals.

If you’d like to be a sponsor, this is also a good time to reach out.

If you’d like to attend, grab your tickets!

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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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One Full Year of Daily Meditation!

I’ve finally done it: a streak of 365 days of meditation!

Let me tell you why this is a big deal to me…

It’s NOT about the achievements!!

Over the last 4 years or so, I’ve blogged about (or mentioned) meditation. I’ve been consistently meditating daily for the last 365 days. However, it wasn’t always like this.

The app I use for guided meditation, Headspace, like many others, award you with badges based on your streak of days meditating: 1 day, 3 days, 10 days, 15 days, 30 days, etc. Getting up to 30 days was relatively easy for me: come on, 10 minutes a day shouldn’t be that hard! However, the next badge after that is for 90 days.

In order to hit that next mark, at some point I started cheating: there were days where I was too busy with everything else, so I’d start the guided meditation on the app, and proceed with doing whatever else I was doing. Yeah, just so I could earn my super badge. Really?!

Fortunately, my blog tagline’s got to me: “Why do we do this again…?”. Oh, the shame.

With that realization, I got back on track, now decided that I’d never cheat like that again; if I had to miss a day because I couldn’t honestly afford 10 minutes to meditate, I’d simply start over from day 1.

Guess what? I did find time to meditate!

I remember reading or hearing somewhere: “If you don’t have time to meditate 10 minutes, you should meditate 20 minutes”. There’s a lot of truth in that. Over time I started meditating 15 minutes, and then got to 20 minutes (I have pulled back to 15 minutes a few months ago after adding a couple minutes to the evening, too, but I’ll likely go up in my morning session again soon).

But the streak was broken again… and again…

I got my for the 90-day streak. And then for 180 days. But then, one weekend in mid 2017, I camped at a racing track and thought: “yikes, how am I going to meditate here?”. And I skipped two days of meditation. I then convinced myself there’s absolutely no reason to meditate wherever I am, and ever since, I have meditated inside of my camping tent, inside of my car, at hotels, at work… I don’t care.

After that, how would I get to the next (and last) badge, for 365 days? Well, that one couldn’t be easy.

At one moment, I passed 200+ days, but then I had one bad day when the sun didn’t want to smile at me and the streak was broken. I started over.

Then, I passed 300+ days. And then again, a mix of a bad day and a timezone change for a trip to Europe have caused that streak to be broken again. Man, so close…

…and finally, 365!!

I’ve really earned this badge:

If there’s a day that’s, let’s say, complicated, I will NOT skip meditation. I may have a short session (the minimum I did was 3 minutes), but I’ll still sit down, put myself together, meditate, and then carry on.

Now I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, collecting the benefits of living a mindful life, and eventually, I’ll get to 2 thousand meditation sessions completed. 🙂


Improving Houston is Hiring!

Improving Houston is hiring. We have a TON of positions available!

  • Senior and Principal level Java consultants
  • Consultant, Senior, and Principal .NET consultants
  • Senior and Principal UI/UX consultants
  • Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters

If you’re interested, or know somebody who’d be, contact me at claudio.lassala AT

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Got the Golden Owl for Italian in Duolingo!

As I’ve mentioned in my 2017 Annual Review, I was very close to finishing the Italian course on Duolingo. I finally did it last Sunday!

I got there after a 158-day streak. In the first month I was reviewing the Spanish lessons, while going back to the first lessons of Italian, which I had started on a few years ago, but had dropped in favor of finishing off Spanish (the two had too many similarities that were throwing me off). After that, I was solely dedicated to Italian, so it took me about 4 months go finish the lest lesson and earn the Golden Owl. 🙂

So, can I speak Italian now? Well, not really.

My initial focus has been learning words and building vocabulary. Now I can recognize way more words than I could five months ago. I can also understand some simple sentences, and write a couple of simple sentences. I also understand some basic grammar. I can listen to some spoken Italian and pick out words and context of the conversation. Not nearly enough to have a conversation on my own.

On one hand, Italian shares a lot of similarities with Portuguese and Spanish. On the other hand, it has some nuances that keep throwing me off. For example, there are words that sound and mean exactly the same things across the three languages. Then, there are words that sound and look the same in all three languages, yet, they mean things completely different.

The singular and plurals also throw me off. For example, in Portuguese, Spanish and English, we can easily recognize plural words when we see an “s” at the end (“boy, boys”, “menino, meninos”, “nino, ninos”). In Italian, that’s not the case (“ragazzo, ragazzi”, for “boy, boys”, and “ragazza, ragazze” for “girl, girs”, respectively). That, and verb tenses, are the main things I’m currently struggling with.

My plans moving forward:

  • Continue practicing it on Duolingo for a while (maybe a month or two);
  • Read articles and at least a book in Italian. Since I’m enjoying sportbike riding at the track, I’ll be reading about and following news on Valentino Rossi.
  • Watch videos in Italian. Again, I’ll probably watch videos related to sportbike riding (such as this one), as that’s a topic a really enjoy.
  • Watch an Italian movie I’ve seen before: Cinema Paradiso. I’ve watched this movie several years ago and enjoyed it, so now I’ll watch it again, with the original audio and subtitles in Italian.

Once I’m done with those things, I may venture into practicing some conversation, but we’ll see when I get there.

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Creating a TODO template in Resharper

It’s been a while since I created a template in Resharper. I wanted to create one yesterday, and it took me longer than I thought it would, so I figured I should write a post I can refer back to. I probably got spoiled by how awesome CodeRush is when it comes to creating templates and was expecting similar experience in R#. Anyway…

The template I want to create is one where I type todo to expand the template, and then I can type whatever comment I want to attach to my todo:

Here’s how we do that. Go to Resharper -> Tools -> Template Explorer…

Select C# and new on the New Template button:

Type in the template:

For shortcut, I typed todo.

Notice I’ve included $date$. Anything within $ indicates we want to create a parameter. On the righthand side we can select from a list of macros that get evaluated for the parameter:

I’ve picked “Current date…” and set the specific format I want (yyyy-MM-dd):

Now when I type todo in the code editor…

I get the result I want and can type in whatever else…

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