Sign up to save a life.

A bit of a different topic for my first blog post in a long while!

As I sit chilling out I am reminded of the significance of today’s date.

Exactly this time last month I was being wheeled up to a hospital ward having just donated bone marrow to potentially help save the life of a young child with Cancer. Everyone has it in them to save a life and hopefully after reading this you will consider signing up as it is such a worthwhile thing to do and can change the lives of so many.

Around 10 years previously my cousin Elaine was fighting her own battle with Cancer and it so happened that there was a drive by Anthony Nolan to find a match for a local child who was in need of a bone marrow or Stem Cell match.  After speaking with Elaine we decided (I say we as I like to think that I had some input in the matter :D) that I would go to the event and register as a donor.

Registering was really easy, a quick form to fill in along with a swab in the mouth and we were done. “You will probably never hear anything from us as a small minority are ever picked” I was told and off I went.

For 10 years this was the case until my phone and my wife’s phone got text messages at the same time along with 2 seperate emails.  The texts informed me that I was a potential match for someone on the Anthony Nolan register and if I would be prepared to donate. Things just got real!

With Elaine being very ill all those years ago I remember wishing there was something or someone who could help make her better but unfortunately that was not the case. I knew how the other family would be feeling and could relate to their position so there was little chance of me backing out from donating.  Having my own child too added more emphasis for me.  If it was possible, I would have donated that day.

Anthony Nolan were excellent in sending out all of the information regarding the operation and what was to be expected along with what would happen on the patients side. They organised everything from transport to accommodation for both my medical and my donation.

The medical that Anthony Nolan give prior to donation is very thorough.  It consists of blood checks, chest scan, ECG tests and general wellness checks.  Which I am glad to say I passed with flying colours which gave me great peace of mind, not only that I was OK but there were no risks to the recipient either.  After the all clear I was given a date for donation.

The donation date came around really quickly and I was soon off to London to the University of London Hospital.  I had never had an operation before so I was trying my best to think of anything but the operation.  Being scared of needles was playing on my mind but I really had to “man up” :D.  I had watched a YouTube video previously (I know … I know) as I was curious as to what the procedure was but even this didn’t put any fear into me so I knew that I was ready!    The staff at the hospital were all fantastic and helped out my mind at ease also.

In the morning I was taken down to theatre and put under general anaesthetic.  I remember waking up a short time later none the wiser as to what had happened.  It was like magic!

The medical team had taken over 1.5 litres of bone marrow from 2 areas in my lower back (pelvic bone) by the time I had woken up the bone marrow was already being whisked to its recipient to start the process of giving them a second chance.  It was an amazing feeling!

There is a lot of misconceptions about bone marrow donation in that people think it is very sore.  Actually.. you don’t feel a thing.  Yes, there is slight discomfort afterwards for a little while but in the grand scheme of things it is a little pain for a lot of gain.  I was up and walking around a couple of hours later that day.

You are potentially giving someone and their family and friends the chance of a lifetime and I for one feel privileged to be able to donate.  I also kept the promise to my Cousin that I would help someone if I could.

So today, I sit here fully recovered and thinking of the recipient, wishing them all the best and hoping that they are on the road to recovery.

You can register to donate at the following sites and they would be thrilled to have your help.   Things have progressed a lot since I registered and they can even post out kits to your home in order for you to register.  All it takes is a spit and you could save someone’s life.

There are people out there at the moment needing stem cell and bone marrow transplants, you never know, maybe you can give them the chance that they need.

16-30 year olds via @AnthonyNolan

18-55 year olds via @DKMS_uk


Blog update!

Hi everyone and welcome to my blog!  It has been just over 6 years since I have last used this blog.  I have given it a fresh lick of paint by moving to a wordpress setup which should make it easier for me to update.  In doing this I have imported all of my old blog posts which should make for interesting reading 🙂

I was commuting to work the other day and overheard 2 young people having a conversation about writing a blog.  The first thing that they said was “you need a catchy name and a good URL” before you even get started.  This started me off, as I remembered that I had the “thedailyscrum” URL that was currently pointing towards a lot of targeted Scrum links as it had remained untouched for quite some time.  I also had the”thedailyscrum” twitter name too that had been sitting gathering dust.  So I thought I would put both to good use again.  Unfortunately I was too busy thinking about blog themes and what to write about that I didn’t catch what the other areas of good blog writing were, so please forgive me 🙂

A lot has changed since I last wrote a blog post.  I have changed industries from Social Networking and Mobile Applications to working in Pensions and Investments.   It was a strange transition at first.  Even though the industries were polar opposites the technology and the Scrum fundamentals were the same.  It did take me a little while to get my head around this but once I was able to break things down and think about how things were done I quickly got my bearings.

The company have also given me time to grow in experience and as a professional, working on a vast array of projects of different sizes involving multiple areas of the business.  This has given me the chance to work with different people from all different backgrounds and coach our teams to improve using agile methods.  I have also been given the time to gain my Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) to add to my Certified Scrum Master (CSM) credentials.

Alongside this they have given me the chance to work with colocated teams as well as distributed teams using some of the latest technology on the market.  So hopefully I should have some interesting topics to write about but for now, my main task is to get my blog theme as pretty as possible.

Tips For First Time Scrum Masters

Tips For First Time Scrum Masters

I find this part of the article interesting.

Plan the demo and demo the plan

If you happen to be the ScrumMaster of a team that is ushering in agile to the organization, your sprint plannings, standups, reviews, and retrospectives could garner interest and attention from many quarters. You may even have distinguished members of the organization sit in such activities occasionally. This is definitely good news, an indication that the organization is taking this new approach seriously. At the same time, though, it puts a little extra pressure on you to have your meetings, and especially your demo, go smoothly.

Just as actors have rehearsals before a performance, your team may need to practice before the live demo. Planning and rehearsing the demo would also help to uncover problems before they happen in front of a live audience.

Clearly, a rehearsal would be nice, but you do not want to spend much of the team’s valuable time on just this activity. They are busy executing the tasks in the backlog, right? So, spend some of your own time chalking out a plan for the demo. You have the backlog items already. Arrange them in a sequence you thing fit. Help setup a demo machine yourself, if need be. Then let the team members for each backlog item decide who will demo that feature. Since the members of a backlog item know the feature the best, they would hardly need any more time to prepare for the demo. You need to keep control on the sequence of the demo, the setup and the support. We have found a short plan that shows the list to be demonstrated and a quick meeting the day before the demo makes the review session a reasonably smooth sail. Also, keep backup plans, in case something fails at the eleventh hour (the “demo effect”).

Yesterday I was busy working alongside the Product Owner and the team evaluating the stories for next iteration, that we forgot that we had a Sprint Review.  We were ill prepared because we had not planned anything.

I have now taken steps to factor in a “Rehersal” meeting that will allow us to prepare thoroughly for the Sprint Review so that this does not happen again

Incrimental Agile QA

An Article on how QA. Incremental QA is highly desirable in Scrum. Scrum does not distinguish between development and QA as in waterfall model. It expects that the product feature you are working on is designed, developed and tested by the end of a sprint – One sprint does it all.

This article touches on the background that all Development and QA should happen within the one sprint. I can relate to some of this article. I have found that by using scrum we in QA are involved in close communication with developers on how products are progressing through the Daily Scrum and being part of the team alongside the developers rather than being a separate entity as we were before. We communicate better with the developers, find out which areas of functionality are available for test and any areas require special attention.

By working as part of the team we are also able to start our automated tests earlier. We previously used QAWizard for this but we have progressed to selenium which is more efficient and better suits our needs.

 I would say that a lot of the good points that are highlighted within the article are evident in the way that we work as a team. See how much this relates to your team.

Incrimental Agile QA