Monthly Archives: August 2013

Book Review: Present Yourself

Present Yourself book coverI have a speaking gig coming up, and wanted to pick up tips on making a better presentations.  Also, I wanted to learn how I can more effectively share these presentations on the web and my blog. These goals led me to Present Yourself: Using SlideShare to Grow Your Business by Kit Seeborg and Andrea Meyer.

The book description seemed perfect for my needs: “This practical book demonstrates how you can use this visual language to make the story of your organization, brand, or initiative effective and entertaining—and how social sharing networks like SlideShare, Prezi, and Scribd can present your story to a worldwide audience.”

Did the actual book meet these expectations? The results were mixed for me.  I found the chapter on creating and delivering presentations to be pretty light on practical advice. The concept of “Generation C” was thought provoking, but the book didn’t provide many examples or strategies to deal with multi-taskers in the audience.

Chapter 2, Getting Started with SlideShare, felt like a waste. The chapter was largely composed of screenshots for the sign-up workflow of This could have been streamlined with a pointer to SlideShare and a checklist of suggestions for setup.

Enough complaining, the rest of the book was pretty valuable to me. These chapters showed how to use SlideShare to get your message out to a wide audience, whether the audience is an industry trade show, internet marketing, research, or careers (job hunting & recruiting). Especially valuable was the section on social networks and the value of content curation.

Overall, I’m glad that I read the book. At first glance, it appeared scattered and I was put off by all of the screenshots, but after the first read, I learned a lot from chapter 3 onwards.

Note, I received a free copy of this book for review. I will not receive any other benefit or compensation.


Quality Hierarchy: Relating Agile Testing with Customer-Driven Practices

Emily Bache has an excellent post describing a Maslow-like hierarchy for quality, inspired by Gojko Adzic. She relates the quality hierarchy with Lean Startup test concepts. I found the integration of these two models to be a very useful way to think about an overall quality strategy, combining agile practices with customer-driven practices.

Emily Bache's diagram relating Quality Hierarchy with Agile Testing Quadrants & Lean Startup Testing Concepts

Emily Bache’s diagram relating Quality Hierarchy with Agile Testing Quadrants & Lean Startup Testing Concepts

The Quality Hierarchy was developed, and explained well, on Gojko’s blog.  The Quality Hierarchy relates quality attributes to the Maslow Hierarchy of needs. In this model, attributes like deployability are equivalent to Maslow’s Physiological needs (such as breathing, food/water). The higher level needs, like successful products equate to self-actualization.   In this model, if you can’t build you software, there is no need to worry about how many stars your app earned in the app store.

Emily extended this model by relating testing practices from the Agile Testing Quadrants and testing practices derived from Lean Startup concepts.

Agile Testing Quadrants

Agile Testing Quadrants

Recently, I’ve been writing about practices for engaging with customers, and found Emily’s post to be a great way to integrate this customer-driven thinking with all of the other things we do in software development to ensure high quality. I’ll be using these ideas to build (and communicate) the context for our quality strategies.

Girly Code: She++ Documentary

Today, I saw a great, and inspiring, documentary on women in software engineering. It’s called She++.  The documentary focuses on the need for more software engineers in the near future, the lop-sided distribution between men and women in the field, and several societal constraints that women feel before going into computer science.



she++: The Documentary from Ellora Israni on Vimeo.


Book Review: Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal

I recently read Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal. I chose this book to brush up on my skills for interviewing customers. I develop software for a living, and feel strongly that learning directly from customers is vital for building the best product for them, and this book did not disappoint. Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights (Author: Steve Portigal, Publisher: Rosenfeld Media, Released: May 2013)

Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal

Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal


Steve Portigal is a user researcher, sharing his framework, and experience in this eBook, for conducting interviews as part of an overall user research program.

The core of the eBook is chapter 2, which presents the framework for conducting a user interview: preparation, actually conducting the interview, recording information gathered, analyzing and decomposing the information into insights, finally presenting the findings.

He covers the context for each topic, why that topic is important and how it relates to the bigger picture of user research. He also shares many examples and stories that happened in real interviews. I also got a lot of value from Steve’s tips and tricks, which he obviously learned through experience.

Additional good things about this eBook:

  • I felt like I actually learned from his experience. I felt like I was conversing with Mr. Portigal, with him teaching me how to interview customers. His many stories and tips made this book feel conversational.
  • Companion websites: all of the photos from the book are available on, which make it easy to incorporate those in any subsequent presentation that I would like to make. The photos are copyrighted.
  • The companion website has links to videos for more in-depth learning, and templates to use. (Look for the resources link, after wading through the sea of links that are advertising the book itself). The companion sites will help me actually apply these lessons back in my profession.
  • Right up front, the eBook contains a FAQ section. Each question/answer has a couple of paragraphs and a link to the most relevant chapter associated with that question.

I received a free copy of this eBook in order to review it. If I had purchased it at the eBook price, I think it would have been a good value. I was able to read this in an afternoon, and gain from Mr. Portigal’s experience.  As a software engineer, not a professional user researcher, I would have been disappointed though, at the value had I paid full price for the physical book. However, it’s a great eBook value.

Besides the free review copy, I will not receive any additional compensation from this review.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program