Boston, New York, Prague

As the Pulsar Squad in Prague, we recently started working on personalized recommendations that are displayed on Vistaprint web site. Up until now, this domain was owned by squads in our Waltham (Boston) office.

When we started working on the project, we scheduled meetings with the stakeholders and the developers who are familiar with the domain. We wanted to find the best way to have the knowledge transfer and start to build a roadmap.

After a couple of brainstorming sessions, it was clear that a visit to Waltham office would be the best step to take. This way we could meet all stakeholders face-to-face, schedule mob-programming sessions with the developers in the US and visit the famous Samuel Adams brewery in Boston.

Boston Skyline

The day we arrived was a public holiday in the States. It was a beautiful sunny summer day. We used this opportunity to see Boston.

Boston is a beautiful city with a rich history. It has lots of cultural landmarks and museums. It has MIT and Harvard, thus loads of students around. It’s next to the ocean and is famous for its seafood. Around lunchtime, we found ourselves in a seafood restaurant eating oysters.

What we didn’t know at this point was that we would continue eating oysters the whole week. People in Boston love them.

After lunch, we went to the enormous aquarium near the port, had a tour of MIT and at the end of the day, tasted Samuel Adams beer. Coming from Prague, the bar to like a beer is quite high, but most of us enjoyed their seasonal ale.

Vistaprint Office in Waltham

On Tuesday we were in the Vistaprint office in Waltham. To get as much as we can from the visit, we filled our calendars with meetings from 9am to 5pm, the whole week. It was exhausting, but everyone in the squad admitted that the sessions were beneficial.

We did a mob programming session with the developers from the Pyro squad. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, we (8 developers) all sat down in the same room, connected a laptop to a huge screen, opened Visual Studio and by rotating the keyboard every 5 minutes we worked on the same piece of code. It’s a common practice in Vistaprint and an excellent way of knowledge sharing.

We had some training and presentations about the Customer Experience related domains. They were useful, and we’re planning to repeat some in our Prague office.

Boston architecture

In the evenings, our colleagues in Waltham office were really kind to take us out to very nice restaurants in Lexington-Waltham area. Delicious food. Tasty beers. And oysters.

Moreover, one of our Agile Coaches Kamal, lived in Prague last spring for 3 months. He’s a graduate from Harvard University.

He was thrilled to see us. On our last evening, he took us to the Harvard Campus. We had a free tour of the campus from him, had a chance to see all the essential buildings and had our dinner in a seafood restaurant. (As you can guess at this point, we had oysters there as well.)

Mark Zuckerberg

The above photo shows that lots of people come to the Harvard Campus looking for the locations they saw in the movie The Social Network and the regulars of this pub are not happy with the situation.

On Friday it was time to say goodbye to Boston, but not to the US. Me and two other squad members had bought our return tickets from New York to Prague so we can spend our weekend in Manhattan.

We flew from Logan Airport in Boston to JFK airport in New York

Manhattan Bridge as seen from Dumbo Brooklyn

We spent two days in New York. In Manhattan, one feels like an ant among giants. The photo above was taken on Dumbo street, and some of you may remember it from the movie Once Upon a Time in America.

The street was full of people taking selfies. It can be the most famous location in the world for selfies, and I’m not exaggerating. This is a car-road with lights on every corner. Whenever the lights turn red and cars stop, over a hundred people jump to the street to take their “I didn’t know they were shooting” pose. There was even a professional crew, with lights, soft-boxes, and reflectors; with 2 professional models, they were shooting an ad each time the lights turn red.

Luckily in New York, there were no more oysters, and we had delicious Hot Dogs.

Rainy New York road

On our last day, it was raining in New York. The above shot was taken in High Lane, which was a former railroad but now serves as a greenway. Our walk on High Lane ended up at the Chelsea Market; we had our lunch, bought a big packet of American chocolates for our colleagues in Prague and took a taxi to the airport.

I wish the sentence above were the last words in this post, but the taxi driver was straight from a Luc Besson movie. We had 40 minutes of an adrenaline rush. I think this was the way this colorful country said goodbye to us.