October 19, 2011

14 Days Later: Sprinting through Zombieland

Pop quiz, hotshot: You've got a major release due, you're under the gun to get it out on time...and suddenly the developer in the next cubical turns into a brain-eating ghoul. What do you do? What do you do? There's no shortage of survival guides for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Heck, even the CDC has tips. Sure, you can pick up Max Brooks' The Zombie Survival Guide—and we recommend you do—but what happens if the brains hit the fan while you're at the office? Fear not, stalwart code monkey! We've got your back. Seapine’s Zombie Preparedness Team has put together an easy-to-use flowchart that will keep you and your project alive when the dead start walking. Seapine Software Zombie Flowchart In addition, here are a few best practices to help you survive iteration after iteration—sorry, wave after wave—of the undead horde.
  • There’s no "I" in "team." Everyone on the team is responsible for killing the dead.
  • Don't be a hero. Don't sign up for dispatching more zombies than you can safely slaughter in a single sprint to the parking lot.
  • Maintain a zero "live" zombie count. Too large a zombie debt will limit the team's agility.
  • Don't get red on you. Protect your task boards with a layer of clear plastic, just in case this isn't the end of the world.
  • Calculate your sprint velocity. A team is only as fast as its slowest member. Know how fast you can run when the time comes.
  • Conduct daily stand-ups. If a team member has trouble standing up, he or she might be infected.
  • There is no % done. There is only dead and undead.
  • Adjust your task estimates. Be realistic about the amount of work, meetings, and zombie kills you can accomplish in a day.
  • Don't forget to look back. A retrospective lets you share your newfound zombie combat techniques with the rest of the team. Also, seriously, always look behind you.
  • Hold postmortems. Retrospective sessions also give you a chance to talk about what's been working well, what isn't, and what you'll do differently in the next attack. Just be sure your postmortems don't become "unmortems."
  • Be prepared! Have a zombie attack plan in place beforehand, and train yourself in undead combat. (We recommend Dead Island, an excellent training "zimulator" developed by Techland and Deep Silver, distributed by Seapine customer Square Enix.)
There may come a time when you just have to get that application done no matter what, so print and post a copy of Seapine's Iteration of the Living Dead: How to Meet a Deadline during an Undead Nightmare. What zombie survival tips do you have for your fellow software professionals? Leave them in the comments section. And remember: Remove the head or destroy the brain!