A tutorial for installing OpenRazer and Polychromatic

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Photo by Emmanuel on Unsplash

I’ve been slowly building a Linux Mint desk set up in the basement, and this weekend I added an old Razer BlackWidow Lite keyboard and Naga Hex mouse to the mix. As expected, they were plug & play functional out of the box, but the keyboard didn’t have its backlighting enabled. This will not do.

Luckily, Razer has pretty good support for Linux with its OpenRazer project.

Installing is pretty simple, but lighting still wasn’t enabled. It took a few minutes of research to figure out that I also needed to install Polychromatic.

So it’s really a 3-step process but still very easy. …


The small backlog-management process change that made a big difference for my team

A man holds up a camera lens through which a beautiful landscape can be seen.
A man holds up a camera lens through which a beautiful landscape can be seen.
Photo by Ethan Sees from Pexels

Our backlog-management process wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either. Big bodies of work and roadmap items would be represented as epic. Epics would be broken down into features, like an outline, and each feature would then contain multiple user stories.

Pretty standard stuff, right?

We were doing several things poorly, though, and it was holding us back. By making one simple adjustment to where we focused our energy during backlog management, we were able to improve the team’s performance dramatically.

Understanding the Past

I think it’s important to have a little background about my team to understand the change we made and why it worked for us. The team is actually two teams, each with their own backlog. They pull from a shared planning backlog, though, so there’s overlap in terms of jurisdiction and ownership. …


A WebApp Manager tutorial

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Photo by Carlos Lindner on Unsplash

I’ve been using Linux Mint for just a couple of weeks, and I’ve been very impressed with it. One of my grumbles from previous forays into Linux has been, why is it so hard to add a shortcut to a website?

Like, look at this tutorial for How to Create Desktop Shortcuts on Ubuntu from 2019. The instructions have you installing applications, doing extra steps to customize the icon, and creating .desktop files. It’s a lot.

So, I was intrigued while reading about Linux Mint’s WebApp Manager. You can read the announcement on the Linux Mint blog or check out the WebApp Manager project page on Github, but the idea’s simple: run websites as if they were apps. …


Confessions of a consensus-seeker

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Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

I used to think my ability to get everybody to agree was a strength. I have strong opinions, I’m competitive, and it’s not enough to have my opponent concede when debating a topic. I need them to agree with me — to believe what I believe. This served me well early in my career, and my fiery conviction and the resulting success allowed me to rise into leadership positions.

Honestly, even as a team lead this approach worked pretty well. Looking back, I think the turning point was when I became the manager of two teams. That’s when I no longer had the capacity to be “in it” with the team on every assignment. …


When my Lenovo laptop came out of suspend mode in Linux Mint, the trackpad was disabled. Luckily, I’d solved the same problem earlier this year when I upgraded to Ubuntu…


I’m giving Linux Mint a try after abandoning Ubuntu earlier this year. Toward the end of last year, I recycled an old laptop into an Ubuntu machine to play around…


Having the wrong “first team” may be driving intergroup conflict throughout your company

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Photo by Thomas Evans on Unsplash

Regardless of your position in a company, you’re probably a part of multiple teams. You have an immediate team — the people you work with every day. There’s another team made up of everybody in your department, and you might also be on a team with peers from other departments. And within those teams, there might be even more virtual teams that you belong to.

The point is, you’ve got a lot of teams beyond the one you’re assigned to on the org chart.

But, all those teams have a common goal. They all want the company to grow and succeed and be an awesome place to work. If everybody and every team wants the same thing, what’s the problem? …


How to keep engaged with your team when you can’t stomach another #$@!ing conference call

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Photo by Siavash Ghanbari on Unsplash

It’s 2020. The offices are closed, and you’re working from home. It’s 8:59 am, and in 1 minute, your next day of conference calls begins. And you just don’t want to do it. <expletive>.

It’s okay. We’ve all been there, so much so that the idea of “no meeting days/weeks” is gaining in popularity. If you can get your team and boss to buy-in, that’s probably the best way to give everyone a much-needed break. That’s not always an option, though, and even if it is, it’s something that needs to be scheduled and coordinated with the team. …


Is your team greater than the sum of its parts?

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Photo by Michael Ankes on Unsplash

My team was in a bit of a rut. There was no trust and poor communication. People weren’t collaborating, and there was no transparency into anyone’s days. Updates in our daily standup meetings were vague and non-committal. Morale was low. Things just weren’t getting done.

I knew it wasn’t a people problem. I’d been with most of the team for years, and everybody was smart and talented. No — this was definitely a behaviors problem.

But, while I could feel the problems, I didn’t know how to articulate them. Before I could address the issues, I needed a better understanding of what they were, and I needed to establish a vocabulary with the team to facilitate a discussion. …


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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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With reduced options for things to do this summer, my family ended up buying and trying a lot of board games. Here’s a list of games that I enjoyed playing with my 5 year old son and 7 year old daughter. These all make great gifts or just a something-to-do on those long pandemic nights.

  1. Zombie Kidz Evolution
  2. Catan Junior
  3. Outfoxed!
  4. Ticket to Ride: First Journey
  5. Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters

Honorable mentions: Uno & Skip-Bo (bundle)

Zombie Kidz Evolution

About

Adam Prescott

software engineer & manager of people

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