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What is Scrum? How is it used to manage projects and teams? November 25, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Definitions, Management, Project Management, Software.
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As I continue to move in the Boston software development / high tech job market and talk to more and more people in the area, I not only come across the term “Scrum” in many job descriptions, but it is a word that is frequently bandied about by both recruiters and hiring managers. It is clear that there is alot of confusion in the Boston area about what “Scrum” really is, and how it relates to Agile.

There is no substitute for the experience of running Scrum daily for years, as I have done. My heartfelt advice to anyone looking to adopt Scrum in their organization is to be flexible, take it easy on the cutsey names, and keep the daily meetings very brief. If you are the “ScrumMaster”, stay organized and lead the conversation around the room, notating all limiting factors, as that becomes your to-do list. Drop me a line with your own insights or comments on Scrum!

Scrum, as some people already know, is a project managemnt methodology named after a contentious point in a rugby match. The Scrum project management method enables self-organizing teams by encouraging verbal communication across all team members and project stakeholders. At its foundation, Scrum’s primary principle is that traditional problem definition solution approaches do not always work, and that a formalized discovery process is sometimes needed.

Scrum’s major project artifact is a dynamic list of prioritized work to be done. Completion of a largely fixed set of backlogged items occurs in a series of short (many of 30 days duration) iterations, or “sprints”.

Every day a brief meeting or “Scrum” is held in which project progress is explained, upcoming work is described, and impediments are raised. A brief planning session occurs at the start of each sprint to define the backlog items to be completed. A brief postmortem or heartbeat retrospective occurs at the end of each sprint.

A “ScrumMaster” (my advice is to never call yourself this in actual human life in an office of programmers and IT personnel…but know the job well and do it well nevertheless if you are the individual who finds themselves in this role) removes obstacles or impediments to each sprint. The ScrumMaster is not the leader of the team, as they are self-organizing, but rather acts as a productivity buffer between the team and any destabilizing influences.

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I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

Waltham’s TheNextRound, private equity software startup, acquired by Windsor, CT -based SS&C Technologies November 25, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Acquisitions, Software, Venture Capital.
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TheNextRound, a Waltham, MA-based startup that makes software for private equity and alternative investors, has been acquired by Windsor, CT-based SS&C Technologies for an undisclosed amount, according to an SS&C announcement recently. SS&C makes financial management software for insurance companies, hedge funds, banks and credit unions, real estate companies, and other institutions.

Burlington based Nuxeo names Open Text veteran Cheryl McKinnon Chief Marketing Officer November 24, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Software, Staffing & Recruiting, Venture Capital.
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Burlington based Nuxeo, a developer of open source enterprise content management software, has named Cheryl McKinnon Chief Marketing Officer. Cheryl was formerly Director of Program Management at Enterprise 2.0 – Open Text

Lowell based Kadient, on demand sales apps maker, names Authoria Inc. veteran Elizabeth Ricci Senior VP of Products November 23, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Cloud Computing, Software, Staffing & Recruiting.
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Lowell, MA -based Kadient, a maker of on demand sales enablement applications, has named Authoria Inc. veteran Elizabeth Ricci Senior VP of Products. Elizabeth was formerly Senior Vice President of Products at Authoria.

Waltham’s Skellig Pub hosts the Boston Postmortem Video Game Developers Meeting on Video Game AI Programming November 19, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in events, Software, Video Gaming Video Games.
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Wednesday night in Waltham was the November monthly Boston Postmortem networking event, held at the Skellig Pub on Waltham’s Moody Street, next to the Charles River.

As regular readers of The Hub Tech Insider will doubtless already know, I attend this event regularly and blog about it on these pages. It is a super event I highly recommend. In addition, Boston Postmortem is one of my favorite Boston tech networking groups because the crowd is unpretentious, the topics are interesting and the presenters and presentations are well prepared and excellent, and you can sit at the bar in the huge back room where the event is held at the Skellig Pub on Moody Street in Waltham, and order bangers and mash or fish and chips or a bacon cheeseburger while you drink beers and schmooze.

The Boston Postmortem Networking Group is for Video Game Developers, Animators, Designers, Digital Artists of all kinds, and people interested in Video Games and Video Game Development. Admission is Free.

The talk on Wednesday was about Artificial intelligence (AI) programming in video games.

There was an august panel of subject matter experts who fielded questions from the audience:

Christian Baekkelund (moderator)
Christian Baekkelund has worked games-related jobs in the areas of design, programming, and QA, at Electronic Arts, for the British school system, briefly at Harmonix, and most recently at 38 Studios. Between various jobs, he attended MIT, studying computer science and Comparative Media Studies, focusing on games and AI. Christian has also spoken at the Game Developers Conference and written in the AI Programming Wisdom series of books about AI, learning methods, and game design.

John Abercrombie (panelist)
John Abercrombie was the AI Lead on BIOSHOCK and SWAT 4 and is now the Lead Programmer on 2K Boston’s unannounced title. He graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in Computer Science in 2000, and has worked at Irrational Games / 2K Boston ever since.

Damián Isla (panelist)
Damián Isla has been working on and writing about game technology for almost a decade. Recently, he helped found Moonshot Games, a studio dedicated to the creation of downloadable games with triple-A production values and technology. Before Moonshot, Damián was AI and Gameplay engineering lead at Bungie Studios, where he was responsible for the AI for the mega-hit first-person shooters Halo 2 and Halo 3.

An expert in the field of Artificial Intelligence for Games, Damián has spoken on games, AI and character technology at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), at the AI and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference (AIIDE), and at Siggraph, and is a frequent speaker at the Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Before joining the industry, Damián earned a Masters Degree at the M.I.T. Media Lab, where he did research on learning and behavior for synthetic characters. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science, also from M.I.T.

Jeff Orkin (panelist)
Jeff Orkin is a PhD candidate in the Cognitive Machines Group at the MIT Media Lab. Jeff’s research focuses on Artificial Intelligence for characters that learn to communicate and collaborate by observing humans playing online multiplayer games.

Prior to enrolling at the Media Lab, Jeff developed several generations of AI systems in the game industry. As a Senior Engineer at Monolith Productions, Jeff focused on goal-oriented autonomous character behavior and planning, while developing AI systems for the award winning titles No One Lives Forever 2 and F.E.A.R.

Jeff is a Contributing Author and Section Editor of the AI Game Programming Wisdom book series, has presented at the Game Developer’s Conference, the AI and Interactive Digital Entertainment conference (AIIDE), and the Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Sytems (AAMAS) conference, and holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Washington and Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Tufts University with a minor in Studio Art.

Needham MA based Chargify, recurring billing tools provider, has named Lance Walley CEO November 17, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Cloud Computing, Software, Staffing & Recruiting.
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Needham MA based Chargify, recurring billing tools provider, has named Lance Walley CEO. Lance was formerly CEO of Engine Yard, which he co-founded. Engine Yard provides Ruby-on-Rails applications hosting “In the cloud”.

Skyhook Wireless, based in Boston, makes chips that improve the performance of Google Maps on Nokia smartphones November 13, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Hardware, Microprocessors, Mobile Software Applications, Software, Telecommunications, Wireless Applications.
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Boston-based Skyhook Wireless is expected to announce next week that it’s releasing an application for Nokia smartphones that will give owners a far faster and more accurate fix on their locations. Skyhook’s $2.99 Maps Booster works on any Symbian S60 handset and will be available starting next week through Nokia’s new and much-heralded Ovi app store; it replaces the Symbian operating system’s built-in location-finding platform with Skyhook’s software, which then feeds location data directly to other location-aware apps such as Google Maps. The company says it created the program because Nokia phones are notorious for their slow performance in GPS mode. “With such high price tags, we think all features of Nokia smartphones should work perfectly,” Kate Imbach, Skyhook’s director of marketing and developer programs, said in a statement. “Maps Booster, finally, will make the location on any Nokia S60 device work just as well as location on the iPhone.”

Mzinga of Burlington MA raises $10 Million in new venture funding and consolidates its product portfolio October 29, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Software, Venture Capital.
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Mzinga of Burlington, MA, has raised $10 million in new capital this month, including a previously disclosed $6.1 million financing. New investors Acadia Woods Partners and BlueCrest Venture Finance Master Fund joined existing investors W Capital Partners and Shared Capital Partners in the subsequent rounds. Mzinga also has consolidated its human resources, social media marketing, and customer support platforms into a single product, called OmniSocial.

Marlborough, MA based server software company Egenera closes $3 million equity financing round October 28, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Software, Venture Capital.
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Marlborough, MA-based Egenera has raised $3 million in new equity financing, according to regulatory forms filed today. An executive for the company, which makes software for managing physical and virtual servers in corporate data centers, told Mass High Tech the funds came from existing investors, a group that includes Austin Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Kodiak Venture Partners, Pharos Capital Group, and Technology Crossover Ventures. Egenera raised $26 million in December 2007 and laid off 87 employees in November 2008.

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