[Update: Patrick wrote a few words about our week together. They’re quite nice.]

I’m on the train back from Erlangen, where I spent the week joining forces with MATHEMA and Redheads. Patrick Drechsler organized the visit to maximize my opportunities to get and give something of value. Each day, inspired by the format I learned from pair-coaching with Llewellyn Falco, I:

  • Visited two or three teams, joining them in their work and occasionally making myself useful
  • Ran a “learning hour”
  • Had lunch with whoever could join us

Patrick also arranged for an activity each evening (except tonight, where the activity is getting home to my family).


  • Embedded-sys boot loader (C)
  • Web app performance tuning (C# w/Entity Framework)
  • Joined an ISAQB (architecture cert exam) study group
  • Drank unglaublich quantities of coffee


  • Bootloader writes memory!
  • Met protothreads
  • Started a “new to me” list
  • Introduced Lean Coffee
  • Talked C#-and-C++ driver design (next: write examples in NUnit!)
  • Walked around Erlangen, ate Schäuferla, drank Weizen


Mobbing on Gilded Rose

  • Fascinating results giving mob a head start on Gilded Rose with Approval Tests
  • Intro to TDD with MSUnit, designing an API and debugging serial comms to pass
  • Walked around Nürnberg, ate Schweinebraten, watched Hrvatska
  • ”Bassd scho” (~= “passt schon”, the highest compliment Franconians can bring themselves to give)

Tim Bourguignon, MATHEMA’s Chief Learning Officer, was able to join us on Wednesday. Was great to get more time with him after a very enjoyable few days in London last week. We wound up challenging each other to take one of our experiences and make a thing. Maybe my experience on this tour will turn into a thing of some sort.


  • C#: test fixture needs tons of params, feel the pain
  • Python: non-programmers solved FizzBuzz!
  • C#: test-first the next serial-port write and read
  • Evening meetup (where I presented): Hackerkegeln


  • Fixed 2 paths in 4.5G SQL with iconv&sed
  • Played Strangle Your Legacy Code (won all 4 features)!
  • Tracked serial protocol bug to differing sizeof(double) on host and target
  • Recorded a brief video about the week
  • Boarded train

Here are all #CodingTour tweets from the week.


I got to work with a wide variety of new-to-me technologies. Any one of them would have made for a sufficiently interesting week. I feel lucky to have encountered this variety so early: it prompted me to start keeping a list. I expect it’ll be quite long when I share it at the end of the tour.

At Hackerkegeln

I got to meet a lively, active Softwerkskammer community in Nürnberg, including the host for my final tour stop the last week of August.

In MATHEMA and Redheads I perceived a non-doctrinaire practicality which I appreciated very much. At least one person made a point to offer appreciation for my doing the same while facilitating our Gilded Rose mob. Done poorly, Gilded Rose is no more than any other kata about refactoring. Done well, it’s a kata about prioritizing: we buy safety as cheaply as possible, gain understanding as quickly as possible, and deliver the feature as soon as possible. MATHEMA and Redheads did it well and creatively, with an expedient solution I’d never seen before.

Thomas (Chief Technical Officer) and Khaled (developer) joined me to share some of our highlights from the week. Have a look.