Specification Reviews, Kitchens, and Comments (are finally enabled)

Today I got ready for my first specification (spec) review. There are two types of specs that I've come across so far, PM & Dev. I worked on the Dev spec today.

The Product Manager spec is geared towards answering the why -- What scenarios will users use the tool; How will it be used; Which features are the most important. The PM generally works closely with the people that are asking for the solution.

The Dev spec answers the how -- Which tools will be used; What is the architecture; How is the database structured; Where are potential pain points.

So, I filled out the the sections that I was working on (updated the database descriptions and diagram, as well as wrote the entries for the web site design). It was all pretty high-level still, since I've only been working on the tool itself for about a week. This afternoon I attended two reviews, one for the Bill of Materials editor (BoM), and one for the content submission tool.

The BoM review went well. One person commented "I feel like I've been riding cross-country with a donkey, and now I'm getting on a jet!" It really is a dramatic change to what they've been working on... going from manually editing thousands of records stored in dozens of tables to a full-blown transactional Windows GUI.

The content submission tool (which feeds the BoM) review went pretty well too. This is the outside-facing tool, so it'll help alleviate pressure from external groups needed to get things done. No donkey-to-jet comments, though. :)

Oh, and I found out that I'll be getting some help! Yingzi is on loan from another manager to write the bug-filing & emailing module, and James just got back from Paternity leave (yet another perk: new parents can currently get 4 weeks paid, and 8 weeks unpaid). He'll be working on the source-code-control module (submissions are checked into a SCC system). James was working on the submission tool before he took the time off, so I hope we're cool.

Speaking of perks, I make use of one all the time and keep forgetting to mention it: Kitchens. There are usually two to each floor, and they all contain the free soda you hear about. I just discovered the floor above me has an additional treat... a frozen vending machine in addition to the standard non-chilled version.

Here's what floor 3 has:

Free Drinks Free Stuff Vending Machines
Tea-12 types 1st Aid Station (antacid & tylenol a must :) Ice cream sandwitches
Caffeinated & Decaf coffee Plates/bowls/utensils Hagen Dazs
Spiced Cider packets Fridge Burritos
Hot Chocolate packets Microwave Lean Gourmet
Talking Rain - 6 types Kitchen Sink (of course) Pizzas
Pepsi Aluminum & Polystyrene recycling bins Chips
Diet Pepsi Reverse-Osmosis purified water (hot&cold) Jerky
Caffein Free Pepsi Popcorn Popper (see below) Trail Mix
Mountain Dew Gum
Diet Mountain Dew Cookies
Tropicana Twister Pop Tarts
Mug Candy Bars
Diet Mug Take 5's (mmm)
Dr. Pepper And lots more.
Diet Dr. Pepper
Vanilla Coke
Diet Coke
Diet Caffeine Free Coke
Ginger Ale
Cherry Coke
Diet Cherry Coke
Diet Sprite
Apple Juice
Cranberry Juice
Grapefruit Juice
Grape Juice
Orange Juice

People are encouraged to bring in things like authentic movie-theater-style popcorn poppers. I'll have to cover these items later.

This is the kind of thing I was hoping to post about... the neat stuff you don't hear about all the time.

Comments Are Enabled
Finally, a reader (Hi Harsh!) pointed out that they were unable to enter comments. I looked into it, and found that when I disabled anonymous comments setting up the blog, this inadvertantly prevented any non-Microsoft visitors from commenting (since you have to be with MS to get an account). I'll ride-herd on any spam, but feel free to post questions or comments about any topic (past or current).