The NOT operator in Meteor.js (Spacebars, Handlebars)

Because a colleague praised Meteor.js I’m currently working through the tutorial and was stumped by trying to create an “if not” condition. Neither {{#if !myVar}} nor {{#if not myVar}} worked.

Maybe it’s just my inability to google, but I did not find the solution as quickly as I would have expected, so is there a NOT operator in Meteor? Can I negate an if condition?

The answer is “kind of”. You’re probably looking for:

{{#unless myVar}} ... {{/unless}}

unless is the opposite of if

I also learned that Meteor’s templating mechanism is called “Spacebars“, which is derived from “Handlebars.js”. Both know “unless”.

PS: The colleague was completely right about Meteor: It’s awesome! I love it! You should totally try it!

Newsletters are great motivational tools

For the one sending the newsletter, not necessarily the readers ;)

Last month, when newsletter-sendout-time was nigh, I realized that I had not done anything agile-y all month. Nada. Zip. Zilch. There’s nothing like the prospect of sending out an empty newsletter to make you sit down and do stuff, like finish the 1-pager that’s been in the work for ages or finally add the 100th activity to Retr-O-Mat.

Offering an alternative to RSS for updates and connecting to my audience are both worthy ends. But ass-kicking in the GTD department? I did not foresee the newsletter doing this. Hope, I’ll not come to rely on it though …

Do you have a newsletter or something similar? Does it spur your productivity?

100 Activities in Retromat!

Rejoice with me for Retromat now features 100 activities!

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.33.04 PM

It’s come a long way since its humble launch with 16 activities 3 years ago (May 2012). It started with activities from Diana Larsen and Esther Derby‘s “Agile Retrospectives” and in an attempt to come full circle activity #100 is by Diana Larsen again.

Huge thanks to everybody who made that happen: People who thought of activities, suggested them, translated, sent photos, supported the print version, spread the word, … All you of you: Thank you!

SMARTe Ziele auf deutsch

Hm, wie würdet ihr die SMARTen Ziele übersetzen? Für den deutschen Retromaten (um den sich ansonsten Patrick Zeisig hochverdient gemacht hat) habe ich es gerade folgendermaßen eingedeutscht:

  • specific = spezifisch
  • measurable = messbar
  • attainable = ausführbar
  • relevant = relevant
  • timely = mit Termin

3 davon sind ja sehr naheliegend. Auch “ausführbar” finde ich nah dran. Einzig “timely” finde ich kniffelig. “terminiert” und “Termin gebunden” fand ich beides weniger gut als “mit Termin” aber so ganz trifft es “timely” im Sinne von “zeitnah” nicht. Was meint ihr?


New 1-pagers on during February 2015:

Are you sometimes stuck as a PO or Scrum master? Geoff Watts created Coaching Cards with questions meant to “unstuck” you. Get a feeling for them here:

But that’s not all, here’s more:

Month of Decluttering

Disclaimer: Lately I’m getting into Tiny Houses and Minimalism. I’ll write about these topics at in German and reserve for work related musings. As I had already started the following post, I’ll publish it here anyway, just this one article.

To make space for the baby, my husband and I defragmented our flat prior to the birth. We’ve thrown away what feels like half our furniture (probably was about 1/6th). We could easily have outfitted at least one other household with all the stuff we got rid of. I was afraid the living room would look cold with so little furniture, but instead we love the new spacious feeling. Somehow, tidying up and getting rid of stuff is good for the mind and soul, too. At least my mind and soul ;)

This clean out gave way to an intense interest into Tiny Houses. This movement’s central question of “What do you really need?” ultimately led us to Dusseldorf’s 1st minimalism meetup. There we got introduced to the “Month of Decluttering” challenge: On the 1st day of the month throw away 1 thing. On the 2nd day 2 things, until on the 30th it’s Bye-bye for 30 things. We decided to start right away in February so that we only have to go up to 28 things.

Continue reading

Changing Lanes – Servant Leader to Developer

switching-lanes-194044-mIn a way I have come full circle: I started as a web developer in 1999 and I returned to being a web developer in January 2014. Intermediate steps: Studying Computer Science, creating e-learning content, usability & UX, scrum master, mashup of project manager & agile coach & product owner, and at good long last a Sabbatical.

During my Sabbatical in 2013, I figured out that supporting roles such as Scrum Master and Product Manager are not as satisfying to me as developing had been. I would have liked to thrive on serving others, but I don’t. Not yet anyway. I hope to get there one day. I’m good at it (better than I am as a dev) but not happy. Consequently I took a deep breath and switched back to being a web developer. The change of role brought along some funny changes in perspective:

Retro appreciation

I love retros. To me, they’re the most important of the agile rituals. When I was a scrum master I didn’t really get why developers were so often reluctant to attend. Now I totally get it: As a scrum master it is my job make sure retrospectives happen and result in change. When a retro tanked (no clear actions to take; talking about side issues, not the elephant in the room; …) I would look forward to the next one and plotting how to improve.

As a developer I’m a much harsher judge of whether it was a good use of my time. My main job is to create something useful for our customers, not meetings. So, I want each retro to improve us as a team and when the last one was meh, I now drag my heels as well. I could be coding in that time!
On a more abstract level, I still consider the retro incredibly important.

Obsessing over problems

Continue reading


There are a couple of new 1-pagers I created for

A Mini Design Studio is a short workshop to design single elements such as a graphical interface, short text, etc. It’s useful for product teams that jointly want to shape their product’s face.

Simplicity is 1 of 5 core values in eXtreme Programming, but what does “simple” mean exactly? Check out rules for simple code.

A good user story fulfills the INVEST criteria

A Sprint Goal allows the dev team to make good tradeoffs even if they can’t check back with the PO.

The Lean Household


My Kanban board on the outside (!) of the bedroom door

One of the joys (?) of adulthood is seeing the world through the lens of your job. Like my friend who used to be a dentist’s assistant and still scans the teeth of everyone she meets. Or me who turned her bedroom door into a huge personal kanban board and does quasi retros with her husband. And started to value streamline daily routines…

Bread spreads in the vegetable drawer

You see, in Germany the usual breakfast is sliced bread topped with something – cold meat, cheese, jam, Nutella :) , … You name it. Dinner is often the same.

breakfast-spread-drawerEvery single day you spend a few minutes going back and forth between your table and your fridge getting (or storing away) various bread spreads. That’s what I’ve done and seen others do all my life. Until one fateful (Exaggerating? Me? Never!) day a few years back: My in-laws where storing all the spreads in the fridge drawer. That drawer is intended for vegetables, but hey, if you store your bread spreads in there, you can get them in or out in one go instead of many! Mind blown! We’ve never looked back. What a time and stoop saver. I really should have called this post “Save 2h per month with this one weird trick” :D (Assuming 2 minutes saved per meal. 2 meals per day, 30 days per month = 30×4 = 120 minutes)

Everything on the table

Lately our lean mindset zoned in on other things as well. Once you start thinking about it, our kitchen layout really doesn’t make sense: Continue reading

What’s in a logo?

Last week I looked at this site and the logo jumped out at me. My side projects Wall-Skills and Mail-Skills have carefully crafted logos and my own blog was stuck with something I cobbled together one evening. :/


Old logo

Worse, I (co-)maintain 4 sites with 3 different logo styles. To my mind the sites are a family and the logo should reflect that. So here’s the new logo:


Shiny new logo

The colors of the 3 marbles in the brain reference Mail-Skills, Wall-Skills and Retr-O-Mat respectively. The latter one will keep its different style for the time being, but 3 out of 4 projects now show that they have something in common:logos-nebeneinanderThis is important to me because I’ve started to work on a book project that is kind of the love child of Mail-Skills and Wall-Skills. So far it’s great fun and I’ll be ready to share details soon :)