I support Uber in Victoria! An open letter to the Victorian Minister of Transport

29. Januar 2015 von Markus Giesen

For those of you who don’t know it yet: Taxi service in Melbourne is atrocious. Many drivers are inexperienced, misogynistic, have mental issues and are outright dangerous. The State of Victoria has not yet found a way to deal with this, but they have their own Wikipedia page on the issue, which is worth calling out..

However, whenever a problem exists for long enough, someone will eventually have a fix for it..
This is where Uber comes in. Uber has operated in Melbourne for over 4 years now and is making transport in Melbourne, safer, better and cheaper.
Which is why the Victorian Taxi Association is trying to ban uber them down, by using their political influence on the government.

Here is my letter to Jacinta Allan, Minister for Public Transport in Victoria:

Dear Jacinta,

I choose Uber and am showing my support for Uber in Victoria.

In the last 5 years the taxi industry in Victoria has continuously declined in quality of service, adequate pricing and most of all safety.

I lodged several complaints with the VTD (now the Taxi Services Commission) about abusive taxi drivers, one of them verbally abusing me and my girlfriend, another driving off whilst I had one foot out of the cab, almost causing severe injury.
I have encountered victorian taxi drivers who were on drugs and freely admitted to it whilst driving, drivers who threatened me because I didn’t have cash and refused to take payment by card and I have seen more than hundred drivers who locked the doors, ask where I wanted to go and drove off, refusing the fare, because it either “Wasn’t going in their direction”, “Is too short a fare”, “Or they already had a booking”. These were broad daylight encounters and more the norm, than the exception.

At least two of my female friends refuse to get into taxis alone or don’t use Victorian taxis at all. One of them has been sexually assaulted, beaten and was left a bloody mess on the side of the road. The driver has never been found and is probably still in your service. This is not a single case as a quick Google search reveals. This is a serious issue and you haven’t found a way to address passenger and taxi driver safety to prevent these incidents.

None of my formal inquiries and complaints with the VTD have lead anywhere, like many other Victorians I feel powerless, abused and unsafe when stepping into a Victorian taxi. The system is broken and the taxi industry inquiry announced by the state of Victoria in 2011 and its alleged following changes have not shown any visible effect for taxi customers in Victoria.
The State of Victoria has no working way of ensuring passengers safety and quality of service, there is no functioning feedback loop for the State of Victoria between drivers, passengers and the system that connects them.
There is no way to identify drivers who endanger passengers and other drivers, as well as there is no way to identify potentially dangerous passengers to protect your taxi drivers.

Uber has found a way to restore the faith for me and many of my friends, that there is a better way of dealing with this. Bending to the nonsensical approach of banning Uber, rather than fixing the core of the problem at hand is not the right way to go.
Please focus on fixing the real problem here, make Victorian taxis safer, commercially viable and for customer desirable to use as a service. Don’t shut down a much stronger competitor by force of political power, this will not fix the issue and only increase the multitude of problems you have yet to solve.

Kind Regards,
Markus Giesen

The Minister needs to hear the same feedback we do every day. Things like…

» Email Minister Jacinta and let her know.

  • I use uberX because…
  • Ubers are always reliable and pick me up faster
  • I have had friendly rides with fantastic service
  • I can rate the driver & I feel safe in an Uber
  • My Uber is 20-30% cheaper than a taxi

…what Uber experience will you share?

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Continuous Discovery whilst getting things done? Have you tried “Dual Track Scrum” yet?

9. Oktober 2014 von Markus Giesen

On my recent project ventures I was wondering how a traditional scrum team can keep delivering whilst having an ongoing stream of real customer insights and discovery. I stumbled across Dual Track Scrum, let me know what you think!

Dual Track Scrum is an emerging concept to improve the velocity of actual value delivered. Basically it’s performing both product discovery and product delivery within the same team.

The term Dual-Track Scrum, invented by Jeff Patton, independent Agile Coach from AgileProductDesign.com, represents an approach to software development that assumes that there are two key tracks for agile product development: Discovery and Delivery, as shown in the diagram below.

It defines “a flexible, holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal”, challenges assumptions of the “traditional, sequential approach” to product development, and enables teams to self-organize by encouraging physical co-location or close online collaboration of all team members, as well as daily face-to-face communication among all team members and disciplines in the project.

The term “Dual-Track Scrum” better captures the parallel nature of Discovery and Delivery.

The Discovery track is all about quickly generating validated product backlog items, and the Delivery track is all about generating releasable software.

Dual-Track Scrum collaborative – the product manager, designer and lead engineer are working together, side-by-side, to create and validate backlog items.

So if your product team is frustrated by the amount of waste and the slow pace in achieving actual business results, consider trying out Dual-Track Scrum. See if this can inspire a level of collaboration, rapid iteration and validation that results in much better work.

Underlying all of this is the hard-learned lessons of product teams that many of the ideas won’t actually work as we hope, and those that could work will typically take several iterations to get to the point where they move the needle enough to be considered a business success.








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Stepping up and “Letting Go” or how to approach a new leadership role - Kerri Rusnak, #LASTConf 2014

7. August 2014 von Markus Giesen

Kerri Rusnak LASTConf2014 “Letting Go”
This is a mind doodle about the amazing talk, which @kerrirusnak gave in July 2014 at the LASTConf conference about stepping in to a new (leadership) role, accepting and overcoming initial obstacles and gathering the courage to just do it.

Here’s the transcript of the image mixed with commentary and a few take aways:


Kerri changed from being an agile business analyst / iteration manager to the role of Head of technology at REA.
It was about the attitude of ‘I CAN’, ‘I WILL’, ‘(this is) MORE ABOUT PEOPLE (than tech)’


Take a leap, if you don’t do it now when will you ever? You’re never ready, if you were it wouldn’t be a leap.

When you first start a new role you aren’t qualified to do 100% of your job on day 1.

Your role is built over time, and it is not just you who builds it, you build it with your team and their guidance.

If it was easy, you wouldn’t be there to do it. Accept the struggle and embrace it. There is no “fly-by-wire” with a new role, things will change a lot and often.

Accept that you can’t do it all by yourself and trust your team to work with you. Also make sure to have a #2 that you can work with and share and sense check ideas with.

“Stay cool”, no one knows what your job entails yet, expectations will become clearer over time and you form them, too.
+ no one cares about what you do on day 1, the expectations are most likely that you are new and that is ok.

Guess what, you already have the job, so stop stressing about fitting the bill right away. If you weren’t the right candidate you wouldn’t be there. The role and its responsibilities will reveal itself.

Be confident - Play your own game of what the job means to you.

If you just started, show some bravado, it’s not always about delivery on day 1.
Share your vision and ideas, be bold but respectful and if you have to, then “fake it till you make it”.
Some smoke and mirrors are okay as long as you deliver in the long run.

Just ask questions, lots of them. Observe and respect the teams wisdom and knowledge. They know more about your job on day 1 than you do, so listen to them. Small decisions early on can have a big impact.

If you know who you are, you can be authentic. Use this knowledge to be inspiring.

Don’t ever aim to be perfect or plan for perfect, plan to make things better than they are and do it continuously.

Overall, this was one of the most empowering talks I’ve seen and brought back to my team and colleagues this year and if you are about to step into a new leadership role, I recommend reaching out to Kerri and catch up for a coffee and a chat.

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Kickass Retrospectives (Ryan McKergow #LASTconf 2014 doodle)

29. Juli 2014 von Markus Giesen

Ryan McKergow LASTconf Retrospectives
Ryan McKergow LASTconf Retrospectives

Another doodle from the #LASTconf 2014 in Melbourne, this is the second one in this series, read more about it here.

In the doodle linked above you can see a few selected retrospectives from Ryan McKergows presentation, which I personally thought was a great enabler if you’re looking for new retrospectives. Below is a transcript, I’ll write more about it over time I hope..

Emotional Timeline

Good Events
Problematic Events
significant events

Anonymous Votes

Matches Events to Emotions
Frim Freq/Impact

Write Answers
+ Discuss Q’s
Compare Q’s

Past+ Words

Race Car

Past +


Ryan McKergow


Past Future


Outcome: Action items on how to get …..here

Keep doing
more of
Start doing
Stop doing
Less of

Dot Vote
To pro


1. Fuels that move us up
2. Ropes that hold us back

The Slideshare presentation is embedded here:

Retrospectives Strike Back! LAST Conferenece - 11_07_14 from Ryan McKergow

And what I believe to be a previous iteration of the same or a similar talk:

How to Jazz up your Retros - Agile BA Meetup - Melbourne - 08/04/14 from Ryan McKergow

Thanks again Ryan, this was kickass!

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Agile coaching - The team as a system (#LASTconf 2014 doodle)

21. Juli 2014 von Markus Giesen

Agile Coaching - Caoilte DunneHere’s a doodle from the #LASTconf 2014 in Melbourne, I plan to share more of these here over time.

The idea is to add and refresh the entries. In the long run the #LASTconf conference information and learnings from 2014 have a lasting impact for me (and maybe for others).

Rather than a BigBang approach and a once off drop, I hope that this will lead to a more iterative and repetitive approach to help refresh the memory and what was learned. Below is a transcription of words, feel free to comment if you find typos or the wording doesn’t seem right.

Doodle notes by Michael Scoote of the presentation on













The presentation on slideshare

LAST Conference 2014 | Agile Coaching: The team as a system by Caoilte Dunne from DiUS

Please note: This is a work in progress, the above transcript might look like chaos and that’s a good thing.

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It’s not a “showcase” it is a “review” - (ad)ventures in scrum

8. Juli 2014 von Markus Giesen

Recently I got involved in a new Agile project. And when I say “recently” I mean last year, and when I say “involved” I mean whoah! what a journey so far!
The point of this little interlude is, that words can me a thousand things, words are important.

Scrumming along
We are running a scrum project and I’d like to think that we adhere to the scrum framework closely.
The scrum framework isn’t hard, it’s a few types of meetings (five) each sprint, a common way of tracking work (agile wall) and the biggest hurdle: changing a culture of silo based roles and waterfall driven enterprise overlords.

Bloody “showcases”
We have “showcases” in our sprints. And when we talk about what we do in them we say we will “present” and we will “demo”. This means to most people, we will make damn sure that everything looks beautiful. We only demo things that work and make everyone look good, pat each other on the back and move on.
What we certainly don’t do is ask the tough questions:
* What’s not working yet?
* What are the known bugs, issues and defects?
* Have we done everything that sits in our definition of done?

Better view with “Reviews”
I would like to advocate and encourage the word “Review meeting”, “Feedback session” instead. Or “Completion check” even. Making it a “showcase” will lead to everyon focusing only on what is working and then move on.
Reviewing a user story and all associated outstanding issues, ideally with a checklist with a few questions like the one’s above will drive quality and make sure you have a meaningful feedback session.

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An item name cannot contain any of the following characters: \/:?”<>|[]- (controlled by the setting InvalidItemNameChars)

17. Oktober 2012 von Markus Giesen


How I started my first (well, third if you’re particular about it) Sitecore CMS project..

I just tried installing Web Forms for Marketers. You know, another form builder. That one thing that every CMS has on offer (or should have) to quickly patch together a basic form.

The plan is to evaluate this module to see if it can be used for a client.
But before I can use it I need to install it first.

I tried this using the usual way of installing a package.
Sitecore » Development Tools » Installation Wizard » Upload package » Install package » Done (..you wish!)

Apparently a common issue popping up when installing modules is this error message:

An item name cannot contain any of the following characters: \/:?”<>|[]- (controlled by the setting InvalidItemNameChars)

Well, that’s crap. How do I fix this? After a quick chat with James I changed the InvalidItemNameChars setting in the Web.config to “” and tried it again.


Thanks James and now off to more Sitecore adventures.
Note: If you have run the installer before you probably have to overwrite a few items during the next install run.

P.S. I’m not leaving OpenText land yet. I keep track of other Content Management Solutions out there and after playing with TYPO3, Contao and Sitecore Express a few years back the Sitecore buzz finally has me exploring this CMS as the next one on my list. And since I like to document things from the start so others can learn from my experience, bear with my documentation style, as it may seem fairly noobish, either because I am or because I want others to be able follow..

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Depending on mobile - Vodafone outage in Perth, WA

11. Dezember 2010 von Markus Giesen

So I am sitting in Perth, it’s sunny and 32celsius/90fahrenheit outside and my mobile phone doesn’t work.
Actually, my phone works, just my mobile network carrier vodafone doesn’t get their act together.
Since almost 2 hours now.

And that is just days after users all across Australia where complaining about their network quality.

I just realised I need my phone - too much.
I need it too much! I can’t even tell the weather without it, well I could, but I like to know exactly how much iPhone degree it is…
I can’t organize to catch up with friends anymore, I always rely on being able to call and let them know I’ll be 5, 15 or 45 minutes late.. Now I have to go old school, meet you at the secret location X at the specific Y.
If you snooze you loose.

Ok, I am off to the beach, meet you there, the RedBull Kite Surfing Race is on in 5 minutes.
If you wanna catch up, I’m the guy with no phone.

How do you cope with the outage?

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Run Run Run - Would you like to sponsor me?

12. Oktober 2010 von Markus Giesen

Update 2010-10-15
Thanks to everyone who sponsored me:

  • Victor Tsen
  • Terry Mulkearns
  • Jonathan Raphael Schmid
  • Kath Willox
  • Russell Graham
  • Michael Scott
  • Paul Cooper
  • Damian Keeghan
  • Paul Jones
  • Doerte Botterill
  • Gajendran Somasundaram
  • Travis Brooks
  • Ilario Dichiera

Here’s a picture of the treadmills in Perth:
FOXTEL Lap Treadmills

Original post
Hey there,

I will be running at the 2010 Foxtel Lap fundraiser
in Perth this week’s Friday.

This run is a fundraiser for the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

Here is the link and your once in a lifetime chance to sponsor me!

I will be running for 30 minutes, approximately doing 50 laps.
You can either sponsor me per lap or as a fixed donation.

Every gold coin is appreciated! :) Thank you!


P.S. Feel free to share & forward this link with friends,
family and random strangers.

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DiBella Coffee - Excellent australian customer service

25. Januar 2010 von Markus Giesen

I love coffee, I crave it. A day in Melbourne without coffee for the average Melbournian is like a day without synchronizing swatches for Parker Lewis. I don’t talk about this bitter mish-mash that we drink in German offices everyday allover the country. THAT I have to tell you is gross compared what the coffee magicians here are able to craft! And I probably never would have woken up from this lucid mean bean dream if I haven’t made the step to Melbourne - Coffee Capital of Planet Terra..

After trying millions and billions of different coffee types here I eventually found my own brand: DiBella Premium.
And I ordered 1.5kg of fresh roasted beans from the east coast in Brisbane using their website (http://www.dibellacoffee.com.au/).

The package arrived a few days later and smelled awesome! The devastating reason for that was the broken coffee package inside the box. The coffee was evenly spread throughout the package and my former excitement had to give way to my fear of having to go without ‘the substance’ to keep up my RedDot developer stamina for the next couple of days …

I was certainly close to a nervous breakdown and only Jobs knows how I managed to write this complaint email with my fingers shaking where I explained what had happened to the caffeinated gold delivery. I didn’t expect much of a response. Based on my experience with the australian customer service I thought nothing would happen.

I was even more surprised when I got a phone call 2 hours later and a friendly guy from DiBella told me that he was very sorry that the delivery was broken and that he will get the whole order repacked and shipped to me again.

Brilliant! Splendid! Amazing! There are some coffee Jedis on the light side of Customer Service Wars in Australia.

I got the box delivered 4 days later via express shipment and my story has an happy end. Thanks to the folks @ Dibella, I highly recommend your products AND your service!

dibella-coffee-premium.jpgDiBella Coffee ‘Premium’ - The ultimate coffee experience
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