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Have you heard of the RetroPod? What about the Ultimate Water Gun? If you guess “rock bands” you’d be wrong. They’re actually the creations of John Young. Fellow Atlassians introduced me to John and his work. Here’s an in-depth entry on how JIRA helps manage tasks around the RetroPod, Ultimate Water Gun, and more.
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Here’s an Ultimate Water Gun

  • What do you use JIRA for?
    I use two instances of JIRA to try to achieve productivity guru David Allen’s “Mind Like Water” state: write it all down, then worry about only what you want to worry about when you want to worry about it; the rest of the time, you can forget all about it, knowing that it’s not going to fall through the cracks.
    In my day-job as a technologist at Digitas, I’ve got the standard list of tasks (“complete connectivity audit on campaign pages”, “investigate problems with DOCTYPE”, “run billability report”), then I’ve got my own instance of JIRA with my freelance stuff (“Implement new celebrity interview tool”), my home stuff (“Paint the front door, already!!”) and my hobby stuff (“Finish sticking illegally-powerful AM transmitter in an ammo can.”) When it’s all running well, it allows me to simulate someone who can actually multitask.

  • What’s the best feature of JIRA?
    My favorite three side-effects of JIRA that you don’t find on the standard features list:

    1. Don’t worry about what you don’t have to worry about when you don’t have to worry about it. If it’s in JIRA, it’s not going to fall through the cracks. If it’s in JIRA, I don’t have to designate 1% of my brain to remembering not to forget about something.
    2. Don’t fill up your inbox with crap. If it’s in JIRA, I don’t need to curate long email trails for months. I don’t have to designate 10% of my inbox to lengthy, disorganized email trails that MIGHT turn into something that I should have saved. I read the message and delete it — it’s one search away in JIRA if I need it later.
    3. Don’t spend hours dredging up old info. JIRA routinely saves me 20 minutes when someone asks me a question about something I did six months ago. Or about how long something took. I search JIRA, and there’s both the statement of the problem and the eventual resolution right there. Whether it was a bug, or the process of getting a vendor certified for use by a client — it’s almost like version control for my day-to-day activities, I swear.
  • How many issues are you currently tracking for all these projects?
    There are 46 users (including my wife, so she can enter “schedule the house painter”), and 761 issues in 10 projects. Favorite issue: “Schedule Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter for Ultimate Water Gun Photo Shoot.” Now, sadly, closed.
  • How many JIRA tasks involve the Ultimate Water Gun?
    I used JIRA on three of my silly hobby projects:

    1. Ultimate Water Gun (http://www.ultimatewatergun.com): It takes some doing to organize three showgirls, a motorcycle, and a helicopter, you know.
    2. Retropod (http://www.retropod.com): An iPod case made from old Sony Sports Walkmans. Mostly done as a joke, but then Sony issued a cease-and-desist (“ZOMG, people will think we’re moving away from miniaturization!”) and made me Internet famous for 15 minutes.
    3. Guerilla Drive In (http://www.guerilladrivein.com): Impromptu showings of 16MM classics at secret locations around my hometown of West Chester, PA, projected from my 1977 BMW sidecar rig.

By the way, thanks for the interview, John!
To learn more about John, visit his blog TIKARO.
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Yes, that’s John Young

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