Thursday, October 13, 2005

One Week in China

This moment exactly one week ago, I checked in the Great Wall Sheraton Hotel in Beijing, and began my life as a consultant traveling oversea.

One week is not a long time, but it has already been a blast. The ThoughtWorkers in China get along very well (not that the ones in US didn't) and there is always constant conversation during the day as we cranking off the story cards. Because of this tight relationship (the other four guys actually live together in two apartments of the same complex), conversations are very open. For example, the CruiseControl server is in the same room, on a Windows machine, so the guys set it up so that every time there is a broken build, it will play a 20 second clip saying in Chinese something like
"What the !@#$% are you doing that for... Would you ever stop? I have already told you that I cannot handle it anymore, but you keep on doing it, doing it, doing it. You just don't care if I can stand it or not. If you do it one more time I probably will have to stab you..."
The original text can be found here and it is definitely much funnier to hear it in person. Because it is long and loud, it easily gets annoying, and with the good team relationship whoever broke the build definitely gets a lot peer pressure to fix the build.

There is also a bonus for me on this project. That is I get to get involved in a lot of project management stuff. With the client speaking Chinese, I am helping the manager whenever we need to talk to the client or whenever they need to talk to us about project plan and arrangement. The current crucial task is the story list. Because there is not a full-time BA, and that we are only developing one part of the system, and because that the time is limited, we are trying to finalize the story list, so that we can track the project progress with higher accuracy. So I am also going to play the role of BA for a little bit whenever there is a translation needed.

On Monday, we had a kick-off meeting. Because this is the first time that the customers were involved in iteration planning, and that this is the second time that they were presented with Agile Software Development, we decided to give them a second presentation of agile software development, focusing on the benefit, role and responsibility of the customers, and we were able to invite the deputy director. I believe the presentation was well received, because the deputy directory got excited and spoke at the end that we should receive the full support from their side. The full-time customers that have been assigned to us also turned out to be good natured and knowledgeable to the domain.

One more reason that I love this team is also because that the guys are very comfortable with me adding the Dvorak keymap to each laptop that I touched. We set Alt+Shift+8 for QWERT and Alt+Shift+9 for Dvorak and it works out pretty good. Someone even showed interest in learning Dvorak. Hehee... Maybe sometime we can finally say bye-bye to QWERT in the China office.

It is also interesting to learn the Chines meaning of the terminologies that I have been working with for the last 6 years. The following is a list that is on top of my mind:
  • Development: 开发
  • Iteration: 迭带
  • Document: 文档
  • Release: 发布
  • Deployment: 部署
  • Class: 类型
  • Method: 方法
  • Agile Development: 敏捷开发
  • Project Management: 项目管理
  • Test: 测试
  • Run Test: 跑测试
  • Constructor: 构造函数
And learning Wubi (五笔), a Chinese input method, is fun as well.
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