Using the Esc key to close mail messages in Outlook on Mac

Being a Windows native as well as a legacy Outlook user, I have always struggled on how to get the Esc key to work to close Outlook messages just like on Windows. Here’s how:

  • Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts> App Shortcuts
  • Click +
  • Application: Microsoft
  • Menu Title: Close
  • Click: fn + ESC


Agile Alliance Elects 2017 Board of Directors (and I am one of them!)

Agile AllianceI was honoured to be elected to the Agile Alliance Board of Directors at the recent Agile 2016 conference in Atlanta. My term commences in January 2017. I have always been a supporter of the many initiatives that are run by the Agile Alliance and I am looking forward to continuing the great work of building the Agile community.

This is the press release from the Agile Alliance:

Slate overwhelmingly approved at annual member meeting during Agile2016 conference

Portland, Ore, August 4, 2016 — Agile Alliance, a global nonprofit organization committed to advancing Agile development principles and practices, today announced that it has overwhelmingly approved the slate of candidates put forth for the 2017 Board of Directors. The board — comprised of Agile thought leaders from a variety of backgrounds — shares its passion to deliver software better every day with Agile professionals around the world.

Results for the 2017 election were reported to the Agile Alliance membership by Board Secretary Shane Hastie at the annual membership meeting held July 27 at Agile2016, the organization’s annual North American conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Agile Alliance membership elected three members to two-year terms on the Board of Directors – Juan Banda (Bolivia) was re-elected, and Ellen Grove (Canada) and Craig Smith (Australia) were newly-elected. All three will assume their board seats on January 1, 2017.

  • Juan Banda founded Percella, an Agile consulting and training company headquartered in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He is passionate about serving his team, clients and community by building beautifully crafted software. Banda has served on the board since 2013.
  • Ellen Grove hails from Canada. She is an Agile coach and trainer at Agile Partnership in Montreal where she helps teams to do better work by coaching them to create the circumstance in which they can work most productively and effectively.
  • Craig Smith is an Agile coach and director at Unbound DNA, a consulting company in Brisbane, Australia. An Agile practitioner for more than ten years, he is one of his country’s heaviest contributors to the local Agile community. Craig was on the program team for last year’s Agile Alliance Technical Conference.


Other 2017 board members include Rebecca Parsons (Chair, USA), Linda Cook (Treasurer, USA), Declan Whelan (Canada), Stephanie Davis (USA), Victor Hugo Germano (Brazil), Paul Hammond (England), and Phil Brock (Managing Director, USA). The board wishes to thank outgoing members Ola Ellnestam (Sweden) and Shane Hastie (Secretary, New Zealand) for their years of service in furthering Agile Alliance’s goals.

About Agile Alliance

Agile Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the concepts of Agile software development as outlined in the Agile Manifesto. With nearly 33,000 members and subscribers around the globe, Agile Alliance is driven by the principles of Agile methodologies and the value delivered to developers, organizations and end users. Agile Alliance organizes the annual North American Agile20xx Conference, the industry’s premier event that attracts practitioners, academia, business and vendor-partner community members worldwide.

Media Contact

Pam Dyer
Marketing Chief, Agile Alliance

This was my candidate statement for the slate:

Craig Smith (Australia)

I have been active in the IT industry for over 20 years covering many roles within software development and testing lifecycle. I have been an Agile practitioner for over 10 years as an Agile Coach and accredited trainer. I am an organiser of the Agile Brisbane Meetup Group, a long-term advisor to the Agile Australia conference, director of the YOW! development conference in Australia, co-host of the Agile Revolution podcast and an Agile Editor for InfoQ, I have contributed to a large number international conferences as both a speaker as well as behind the scenes in numerous program committee roles. I have spent many years contributing to the growth of the Agile community in Australia with a primary aim of helping teams deliver quality outcomes.

The role of the Agile Alliance is to support those who explore and apply Agile principles and practices to make the software industry productive, humane, and sustainable. I believe that we need to continue to encourage new and innovative ways to help the worldwide Agile community grow whilst helping spread the values, principles and practices to other disciplines that wish to learn and adapt approaches to agility in their respective domains.

Agile has continuous improvement at its heart and a core challenge for the Agile Alliance is to bring the combination of process and technical practices closer together whilst looking further left and right to the upstream business and downstream users. As a board member, I hope to represent the thoughts and direction of the worldwide Agile community in all of its forms and continue to ensure that the original values and principals are upheld.

Social Good and Flying Robots

YOW-Nights_Logo_stackedAt the recent YOW! Night in Melbourne (as well and Sydney and Brisbane), Daryl Wilding-McBride (the CTO of DiUS) presented “What I Learned while Teaching Kids at Flying Robot School”. It was an interesting story on the importance of social good for those of us in the technical space.

  • Waking hours capacity – families, hobbies, paid work, unpaid work
  • Not all work has equal social impact – pays the bills > interesting > impactful > worthwhile
  • Worthwhile work creates a legacy and passes the BBQ test (something you are proud to convey and recognised as value by the other person)
  • – the average hours you have from university to retirement, help you decide how to spend that time and be effective
  • William MacAskill “Doing Good Better” – how do you know your social impact is not being wasted – doing good, lean
  • Dimensions for measuring social impact – scale, neglectedness, tractability, personal fit
  • A lot of untapped potential in rural areas
  • Interest in science and maths drops considerably between year 6 and year 9
  • Number of girls continuing with maths after year 10 – 21% drop out, and for boys and girls the percentage has tripled over the last 10 years
  • Flying Robot School – started 2014, overcome barriers for rural schools, free program to lower barrier of entry, blend of technologists and teachers
  • Drones are not only fun but are a self contained package that cuts across science, maths and technology
  • Had lofty goals on topics to teach, but had to prioritise to mix theory and practice
  • Other social outlets – Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), Code Club, FIRST Robotics, NodeBots, Robogals
  • We have an obligation as technologists to make things better

Repairing a Corrupted Mac OSX ExFAT Partition

ExFATI run a MacBook Pro Retina (late 2013) and on my 512GB hard drive I have 3 partitions

  • 150GB Mac OSX partition (currently running Mavericks)
  • 150GB Windows 8.1 partition (via Bootcamp)
  • 200GB data parition (formatted with ExFAT)

I chose an ExFAT partition so I could read and write to the data partition from either the OSX or the Windows partition as I use each operating system a similar amount. I had planned to install VMWare fusion at some point to avoid the dual boot, but haven’t sone so due to some licencing issues with some software on my Windows partition that I uncovered in the trial.

Recently I was travelling and was doing some editing for my podcast on the plane. I also inadvertantly moved and deleted some files. The next morning I woke up to deliver a workshop to find that my data partition was missing. Windows reported that the drive needed to be formatted and Mac OSX reported that the drive was corrupt. On either operating system, the relevant disk utilities were unable to fix the issue.

It appears that ExFAT partitions are not well supported in OSX, particularly if you delete files. Unfortunately due to Windows and Mac not playing nicely from a read/write perspective, neither HFS or NTFS are an option for this drive either.

A bunch of articles seemed to indicate that CHKDSK /F on the volume should fix it, but given the fact that Windows was reporting the partition needed to be formatted, this fix was not valid in this circumstance. After searching the web for numerous reports and fixes (and tearing my hair out with worry in the process), I finally stumbled on an article that led to a simple solution of a terminal command:

sudo fsck_exfat -d disk0s4

where diskos4 is your ExFAT partition.

It then asks:

Main boot region needs to be updated. Yes/No?

to which you reply Yes. You can then run repair in the OSX Disk Utility and the partition should be restored!

Easy fix, but baffles me why ExFAT and NTFS support is so bad on Mac OSX.

2013 WordPress Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Next Chapter

YOW! AustraliaI had hinted on Twitter and Facebook that it was time for the next chapter in my career. After almost 18 years with Suncorp and a myriad of roles in that time from software development, technical leadership and Agile coaching, it was time for a change.

Dave Thomas has always been a leader in the software development arena that I have always respected. We met in 2008 through a presentation and he gave at QUT and Suncorp and then through the international Agile conferences and the Brisbane JAOO / YOW! conferences.

When the opportunity came to work with Dave on YOW! Australia, it was an opportunity too good to pass up. So now I have put my contractor shoes on and will be working with YOW! Australia as their Director of Conferences and Workshops.

As for Agile Coaching, it is still very much my passion to help teams deliver great products, so I will be continuing to work in the Agile community as well.

Here is the post from the YOW! blog on my appointment.

We are very pleased to announce Craig Smith has joined the YOW! Team as its Director of Conferences and Workshops. Craig’s experience as a speaker, instructor, developer, workshop and conference organizer makes him the ideal person to work with the YOW! community, user groups and the technical community. Craig will be working closely with Dave, the YOW! Planning Committee and the global speaker network to ensure YOW! brings the right speakers to Australia. Craig will be at our final YOW! Night of 2012 with Greg Young, so please say hello. See you at YOW! 2012!

Dave Thomas

(This post was designed to come out in mid-November, but the workload in pulling off a conference like YOW! delayed it a little!)

CDS43: 2010 Review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 37 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 71 posts. There were 4 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 406kb.

The busiest day of the year was September 2nd with 114 views. The most popular post that day was Agile 2010 Day 2 Review.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for aaftt, alec sharp, apple application development training, ubuntu set java_home, and aa-ftt.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Agile 2010 Day 2 Review August 2010
1 comment


Apple iPhone Management & Web Application Development Training July 2010
1 comment


Atlassian Summit 2010 Day 1 Wrapup June 2010


AAFTT Workshop 2010 (Orlando) August 2010


Agile Australia 2010 Day 1 Review September 2010
3 comments and 1 Like on,

Barcamp Brisbane IV Wrapup

Barcamp BrisbaneLast weekend I got along to Barcamp Brisbane IV (held at the East Brisbane Bowls Club), and once again it was a worthwhile meetup of locals willing to share their skills with others.

From the lightning talks that I attended:

Speed Networking

One minute to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Worked well, although I knew more people this time around (after last BarCamp and other meetups).

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Michael Smale led this discussion on SEO (unfortunately it started a little late and lost a bunch of attendees, including myself, at the end due to a Google Wave presentation following it!). My notes from the session:

  • SEO is optimising for Google (& Yahoo!)
  • 9 out of 10 people search for content, very few click the sponsored search
  • keywords – on page (to help Google index) and off page
  • stem analysis – trunk and branches (eg. golf and balls, clubs, shoes) then leaves (buy golf shoes and Brisbane) – before SEO, find out what target audience is looking for
  • tools to analyse keywords – Google Adwords Keyword Tool (slightly out of date, monthly), worldwide but narrowed down to regions
  • to know backlinks, etc – Traffic Travis, Market Samurai (free and paid version)
  • not your trunk and branches, but for your leaves you may want to buy keywords, you can optimise different landing pages (separate URL but not a duplicate of pages as Google will drop prioritisation)
  • car rental very competitive for SEO
  • Google Trends for search – can see if things are trending up and down or compare
  • on page optimisation – Firebug for Firefox – drill down and inspect code, JavaScript debugger
  • YSlow – tell you how page is loaded and report on how to optimise page loading
  • each page needs to be optimised with its own title – what’s in the title is what the link on Google says
  • meta description after link is the blurb on Google – not visible to users on site, Firebug will help you see competitors meta tags are, but will not get you up in the ranking
  • meta keywords – does not mean anything anymore
  • care about content on site using LSI (Latent Semantic Index)
  • link text important, add href no follow so Google will ignore

Google Wave

Paul O’Keeffe and Steve Dalton led a live demonstration of Google Wave.

  • collaborative tool, still in preview, crashes, interface still weak
  • proliferated from developers in Google sandpit, only give 8 invites to each user
  • a wave is a single collaboration / conversation
  • has Gmail feel, add and save searches, folders, etc…
  • have a wave inbox
  • with:public – see any waves that are public
  • search with:public gardening
  • new wave by default is not public, add
  • to start, drag contact in, give wave a name
  • drag and drop seems to depend on Google Gears, works out of box with Chrome
  • bots and plugins eg. pirate speak or add a Google Map / Twitter in
  • open source version of Chrome – Chromium
  • Sweepy bot – remove the empty conversations
  • can mute conversation and replay, has version control so you can see how it was and then fork it off

Business Structures

Malcolm Burrows from Rostron Caryle gave this presentation. I hope the slides are made available, as this was a large topic for a 20 minute slot. These are my notes but should not be relied upon an advice or for accuracy!

  • sole trader – liable for own debts, etc, house on the line, no protection freom risks, okay if you have little risk
  • partnership – not sure why anybody would do this now, agreement and governed by those terms, in Queensland partners are liable for acts of the other, everything has to be tailored, risks
  • company structure Pty Ltd – level of risk reduction such as corporate veil, shareholders only liable for the capital put in as long as you don’t do stupid stuff like trading insolvent, as directors do not profit from position of power, need to disclose, 12/20 rule can’t make more than 20 offers in 12 month period, no more than 50 shareholders, replaceable rules (eg. regulate by ASIC or regulate yourself in your constitution)
  • company structures – Limited – Public – all of baggage of public company without the good stuff, horrible!
  • trust – discretionary and unit
  • joint ventures – used a lot in mining, in IT where people agree to do stuff, like a trust is a feature of contract, rights of joint ventures can get very long
  • income distribution structure and IP protection structures
  • options for IP – spin out trading company, spin out company owned by trusts, spin out company licences another

Smile! Say Cheese!

DJ Paine from Studio Promise dropped by, and offered attendees a free portrait, which I certainly took advantage of. Just wished I had of known, and I would have had a shave and worn a nicer shirt!

All of the shots from the day are here and if you need professional photography, support those that support BarCamp!

Symphony – Open Source Content Management

Allen Chang and Alisair Kearney led this session on Symphony:

  • originally called TypeWorks
  • 2.0.6 out now, 2.1 on the way
  • uses XML as data format, output format standards compliant
  • Drupal and Joomla! cores are huge, they wanted a small footprint and control over data structure
  • use XSLT to transform XML to any format you like (eg. HTML, CSV, JSON, etc..)
  • native intergration REST API for Twitter, RSS, etc…)
  • uses open standard templating language, as per all CMS systems
  • a number of data sources for which you can apply rules
  • around 8,000 members, 10% of these contribute
  • users include Australian Museum of Democracy, Heineken and City of Westminster (London) amongst many others
  • ensemble – fully functional website package, Symphony itself is an ensemble

Agile Overview – The Three T’s

It occurred to me in the speed networking session that a number of attendees did not know what this agile hype was about, so I decided to on short notice to propose the talk I gave at Agile Australia 2009 to try and give that overview. Not sure if I succeeded, but got some questions afterwards nonetheless.

Had to laugh at one of the tweets from @funkygorilla (Simon Griffiths): “Agile web development in a 10 min presentation. That’s agile!”

Overview of Agile 2009 / Agile Australia 2009 / AAFTT Workshop

A couple of people decided they wanted to chat about some of the learnings and trends from the conferences I had recently, so a couple of us sat around and chatted about agile testing mainly.

New Hotness

Greg Luck led this discussion as he mentioned to me he came to Barcamp to hear about the new hotness. He has written the notes, but here were the notes I was taking at the discussion:


Paul and Steve reminded everybody about the Queensland Legion of Tech and Greg Luck announced the inaugural Brisbane Jelly (adhoc working together at a location)