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gcloud-node - a Google Cloud Platform Client Library for Node.js

Google Code Blog - 7 hours 18 min ago
This post originally appeared on the Google Cloud Platform blog 

Today we are announcing a new category of client libraries that has been built specifically for Google Cloud Platform. The very first library, gcloud-node, is idiomatic and intuitive for Node.js developers. With today’s release, you can begin integrating Cloud Datastore and Cloud Storage into your Node.js applications, with more Cloud Platform APIs and programming languages planned. The easiest way to get started is by installing the gcloud package using npm:
$ npm install gcloud
With gcloud installed, your Node.js code is simpler to write, easier to read, and cleaner to integrate with your existing Node.js codebase. Take a look at the code required to retrieve entities from Datastore:
var gcloud = require('gcloud');

var dataset = new gcloud.datastore.Dataset({
projectId: 'my-project',
keyFilename: '/path/to/keyfile.json' // Details at
//https://github.com/googlecloudplatform/gcloud-node#README
});

dataset.get(dataset.key('Product', 123), function(err, entity) {
console.log(err, entity);
});
gcloud is open-sourced on Github; check out the code, file issues and contribute a PR - contributors are welcome. Got questions? Post them on StackOverflow with the [gcloud-node] tag. Learn more about the Client Library for Node.js at http://googlecloudplatform.github.io/gcloud-node/ and try gcloud-node today.

Posted by JJ Geewax, Software Engineer

Node.js is a trademark of Joyent, Inc. and npm is a trademark of npm, Inc.
Categories: Programming

Messaging on Android Wear

Android Developers Blog - 9 hours 50 min ago

By Timothy Jordan, Developer Advocate

Sending messages on Android Wear feels as easy as it was to pass notes back in school. Remember when your friends always felt nearby? That feeling is why I love staying in touch with friends and family using my wearable.

Your messaging app likely already works on Android Wear. With just a few more lines of code you can unlock simple but powerful features that let your users communicate even more effortlessly.

Message notifications for free

If your Android app uses notifications to let the user know about new messages, these will work automatically on their wearable. That is, when you build notifications with the NotificationCompat.Builder class, the system takes care of displaying them properly, whether they appear on a handheld or wearable. Also, an "Open on phone" action will be added so it's easy for the user to reply via the app on their handheld.

Google+ Hangouts message.

Reply like a champ

Messages on Wear get really exciting when you can reply directly from the watch with your voice. In addition to being super convenient, this always gives me a Dick Tracy thrill… but maybe that's just me. =]

To add this functionality, it's as simple as adding an action to the notification via WearableExtender that includes a RemoteInput to your notification. After the user replies, you'll just grab their voice input as a string from the RemoteInput included in the Intent. You can even include text responses the user can easily select from a list by passing an array of them to the setChoices method of the RemoteInput. More details and code can be found here.

WhatsApp message with the reply by voice action.

See who is texting

Messages are more meaningful when you are connected to the sender. That's why we recommend you include the photo of the sender as the background of the notification. As soon as the user taps into the message, they also see who it's from, which will make it matter more (or maybe that other thing, depending on who it is).

You should add a photo with a resolution of at least 400x400, but we recommend 640x400. With the larger size, the background will be given parallax scrolling. If the background is to be included in the apk, place it in the res/drawable-nodpi directory. Then call setBackground() on your WearableExtender and add it to your notification. More details and code can be found here.

Path Talk message with a clear picture of the sender.

Custom actions

Basic notifications with reply by voice and a good background image are the most important parts to get done right away. But why stop there? It's easy to extend the unique parts of your service to the wearable. A simple first step is adding in a custom action the way Omlet does. These are just actions defined with the WearableExtender that raise an intent on the handheld.

Omlet includes two extra actions with every message: Like and Check-In. Check-In sends along the user's current location.

Custom Layouts

Custom interaction on the wearable, like the following example from TextMe, is straightforward to implement. They have what appears to be a simple notification with an action that allows the user to select an emoticon. However, to show this emoticon picker, they are actually issuing a notification from the wearable. The round trip looks something like this:

  1. The handheld gets a new message, issues a notification setLocalOnly(True), and sends a message to the wearable using the Data Layer API
  2. The wearable receives that message using the WearableListenerService and issues a custom notification with a PendingIntent to launch an activity when the user views the notification
  3. That activity has a custom layout defined with the Wearable UI Library
  4. Once the user selects an emoticon, the wearable sends a message back to the handheld
  5. The handheld receives that message and sends it along to the server

Custom layouts are documented in more depth here.

TextMe allows users to reply with a quick emoticon.

Next steps

Make your messaging service awesome by providing rich functionality on the user's wearable. It's easy to get started and easy to go further. It all starts at developer.android.com/wear.


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Categories: Programming

Allowing end users to install your app from Google Apps Marketplace

Google Code Blog - 11 hours 4 min ago
by Chris Han, Product Manager Google Apps Marketplace
The Google Apps Marketplace brings together hundreds of third-party applications that integrate and enhance Google Apps for Work. Previously, only administrators were able to install these applications directly for people at work. Now, any Google Apps user can install these applications by logging into Google Apps, clicking the app launcher icon , clicking More, and then clicking More from Apps Marketplace. By default, any Google Apps user can install apps from the Google Apps Marketplace—excluding K-12 EDU domains that are defaulted off. For more information, please see our Help Center
If you have an app in the Google Apps Marketplace utilizing oAuth 2.0, you can follow the simple steps below to enable individual end users to install your app. If you’re not yet using oAuth 2.0, instructions to migrate are here.
1. Navigate to your Google Developer Console.

2. Select your Google Apps Marketplace project.3. Click APIs under the APIs & auth section.4. Click the gear icon next to Google Apps Marketplace SDK.5. Check Allow Individual Install.
6. Click Save changes.
Categories: Programming

The FireBox Warehouse Scale Computer in 2020 Will Have 1K Sockets, 100K Cores, 100PB NV RAM, and a 4Pb/s Network

That's the eye popping prediction from Krste Asanović, University of California, Berkeley, in a presentation he gave at FAST '14 titled: FireBox: A Hardware Building Block for 2020 Warehouse-Scale Computers (pdf).

FireFox looks system like this:

Trends in Warehouse Scale Computers (WSC)s:
Categories: Architecture

Project Success: Third Place – On-budget

 

Are budgets always a bit askew?

Are budgets always a bit askew?

I recently asked a selection of the Software Process and Measurement Podcast listeners and blog readers which of the classic three factors; on-time, on-budget or on-scope, define project success. While overall the results are not surprising I expected that being on-budget have had more mentions than the results showed. Of the respondents only one person put on-budget at the top of their list. On the other hand, another respondent took the time to explicitly point out why budget could not be on the top of their list. These are two very different takes on the impact of  being “on-budget” has on determining whether a project is successful.

The first comment was, “From the perspective of the sponsor(s), budget is clearly the thing.  This drives a tremendous amount of organizational behavior.” Budget performance is often tied very closely into managers’ performance objectives, and therefore is tied closely to how they are paid or bonused. In order to maximize their individual pay, the budget is often managed by constraining what is delivered or how work is done (ranging from the processes used to where the work is sourced). I have observed the outcome of budget management in projects over the years, which is why I would have through being on-budget would be higher on the list. Budget management can be a blunt instrument, and improper budget management can cause managers to cut the scope to meet the budget, lower quality due to the constraint of testing as the budget runs out, or even logging time to other projects with available budget. In the Software Process and Measurement Cast 306, Luis Gonçalves suggested that many poor organizational behaviors can be traced back to performance objectives and misuse of goals and objectives.

The second comment was, “No project is ever completely on budget.” This comment reflects a certain fatalism toward budgets (and the budgeting process). As we are all aware, budgets are typically developed and set before the organization truly knows what is being asked for and how it will be delivered. Therefore, unless stated as a range based on probability of budgetary outcomes, cannot be correct. Most budgets are not given or recorded as ranges, but rather as a specific number. The false precision based on imperfect information makes the budget a poor goal with little motivational power on its own.

Being on-budget has impact. Organizations allocate funds for work with the expectation of a return. This simple statement is just as true for software maintenance as it is for new product development. Variance in between what was planned and what was spent will have ramifications. Development personnel for the most part can’t impact the budget directly (with the possible exception of product owners), therefore being teams spend less time thinking about whether they are on-budget than on the attributes they can directly influence.


Categories: Process Management

Statistical Significance

Herding Cats - Glen Alleman - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 23:58

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 4.33.40 PMThe term statistical significance is critical to most every discussion about spending other peoples money with some new and innovative process.

When we here I know a CEO that uses my approach, we need to ask several critical questions both getting too excited about this idea that is being suggested. Especially is this new idea violates some core business processes, like Microeconomics, let alone FASB 86, GAAP cost and revenue recognition.

  1. Is that CEO the CEO of a publically traded firm, subject to governance processes? If so, some outside the developer communbity gets to say if the new and innovative idea hasn't violated the business rules.
  2. Does that CEO's company live a domain where what they do is like what other people do? You know a Reference Class that can be used outside the ancedote.
  3. Does that CEO have to report cash obliogations to his line or credit or banker for some planning horizon in the future? Those pesky bankers do like know the cash call demands from your firm for that LOC.

The notion of an anecdote is always interesting in conversation I knew a guy once who .... But can we make policy decisions based on anecdotes? Hopefully not. 

We can make policy decisions based on statistically sound observation - 8 out 10 dentist recommend Pepsident Toothpaste was a popular advertisement in the 1970's.

This leads us back to How To Lie With Statistics and the self-selected sample space. 

  • Let me ask all the people I ride with in our cycling club what they think of the local brewery where we leave from on Tuesday evenings, what they think of the Nitro Milk Stout that is served for free. We like it.

Without a statistical sound sample space, a statistically sounds sampling processes, any conclusion are just ancedote. This is the core issue with things like the Standish report and other surveys suggesting the sky is falling on IT projects. 

The same goes for thosie suggesting their favorite apporoach to spending other peoples can be done in the absence of knowing hwo much money, when that money will produce value, and what kinds of value will be produced.

Ask for data. No data, then as they say "Data Talks, BS walks"

† The carton above is from Hugh MacLoed, gapingvoid art, 1521 Alton Road, Suite #518, Miami Beach, FL 33139. I've been following him since day one. You shold do the same and buy his book

Related articles Another Nonsense Statistical Survey The Failure of Open Loop Thinking How to "Lie" with Statistics FASB Issues 2015 GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy for Public Review How Not To Make Decisions Using Bad Estimates Can Agile Be Integrated with Governance Based Development Processes? How To Fix Martin Fowler's Estimating Problem in 3 Easy Steps What Software Domain Do You Work In? All Project Work is Probabilistic Work
Categories: Project Management

Google Play Services 6.1

Android Developers Blog - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 22:45
gps

Today, we’re excited to introduce the latest version of Google Play services to help you easily build on the newest features from Google and optimize your apps.

Google Play services 6.1 adds Enhanced Ecommerce analytics support from Google Tag Manager and offers new improvements to the Google Drive Android API. With the latest release, we’re also including a refresh of the Google Fit developer preview, so that you can test your fitness apps on any Android device.

Analytics

Launched in Google Play services 5.0, Enhanced Ecommerce is an analytics extension designed to provide richer insights into pre-purchase shopping behavior and into product performance. It’s a great way to gain visibility into the full customer journey, helping you understand how different user acquisition campaigns are performing at a granular level. By including support for Enhanced Ecommerce in Google Tag Manager with the latest release of Google Play services, we are supercharging your ability to regularly update and manage tags on mobile apps more easily, so that you can consistently measure product impressions, shopping funnel events, and more.

Drive

To make it easier to use Drive, we added enhancements to the Google Drive Android API. With the new Completion Events feature, you can see when actions are committed to the server and improve the response time to conflicts. Material design elements have been incorporated into the File Picker UI, along with the addition of Recent and Starred views. A new setParents() method enables you to organize files and folders, while the previous Contents class has been replaced with a simpler DriveContents class.

Google Fit

Initially introduced in August, the Google Fit Developer Preview has been refreshed to enable you to test your new fitness apps on any Android device. We expect to make additional changes to the APIs, so please check back with us on new developments.

Stay tuned!

We will be rolling out Google Play services 6.1 over the next few days, after which we will publish the documentation and make the SDK available.

To learn more about Google Play services and the APIs available to you through it, visit the Google Services section on the Android Developers site.


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Categories: Programming

Google Play Services 5.0

Android Developers Blog - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 22:45
gps

Google Play services 5.0 is now rolled out to devices worldwide, and it includes a number of features you can use to improve your apps. This release introduces Android wearable services APIs, Dynamic Security Provider and App Indexing, whilst also including updates to the Google Play game services, Cast, Drive, Wallet, Analytics, and Mobile Ads.

Android wearable services

Google Play services 5.0 introduces a set of APIs that make it easier to communicate with your apps running on Android wearables. The APIs provide an automatically synchronized, persistent data store and a low-latency messaging interface that let you sync data, exchange control messages, and transfer assets.

Dynamic security provider

Provides an API that apps can use to easily install a dynamic security provider. The dynamic security provider includes a replacement for the platform's secure networking APIs, which can be updated frequently for rapid delivery of security patches. The current version includes fixes for recent issues identified in OpenSSL.

Google Play game services

Quests are a new set of APIs to run time-based goals for players, and reward them without needing to update the game. To do this, you can send game activity data to the Quests service whenever a player successfully wins a level, kills an alien, or saves a rare black sheep, for example. This tells Quests what’s going on in the game, and you can use that game activity to create new Quests. By running Quests on a regular basis, you can create an unlimited number of new player experiences to drive re-engagement and retention.

Saved games lets you store a player's game progress to the cloud for use across many screen, using a new saved game snapshot API. Along with game progress, you can store a cover image, description and time-played. Players never play level 1 again when they have their progress stored with Google, and they can see where they left off when you attach a cover image and description. Adding cover images and descriptions provides additional context on the player’s progress and helps drive re-engagement through the Play Games app.

App Indexing API

The App Indexing API provides a way for you to notify Google about deep links in your native mobile applications and drive additional user engagement. Integrating with the App Indexing API allows the Google Search app to serve up your app’s history to users as instant Search suggestions, providing fast and easy access to inner pages in your app. The deep links reported using the App Indexing API are also used by Google to index your app’s content and surface them as deep links to Google search result.

Google Cast

The Google Cast SDK now includes media tracks that introduce closed caption support for Chromecast.

Drive

The Google Drive API adds the ability to sort query results, create folders offline, and select any mime type in the file picker by default.

Wallet

Wallet objects from Google take physical objects (like loyalty cards, offers) from your wallet and store them in the cloud. In this release, Wallet adds "Save to Wallet" button support for offers. When a user clicks "Save to Wallet" the offer gets saved and shows up in the user's Google Wallet app. Geo-fenced in-store notifications prompt the user to show and scan digital cards at point-of-sale, driving higher redemption. This also frees the user from having to carry around offers and loyalty cards.

Users can also now use their Google Wallet Balance to pay for Instant Buy transactions by providing split tender support. With split tender, if your Wallet Balance is not sufficient, the payment is split between your Wallet Balance and a credit/debit card in your Google Wallet.

Analytics

Enhanced Ecommerce provides visibility into the full customer journey, adding the ability to measure product impressions, product clicks, viewing product details, adding a product to a shopping cart, initiating the checkout process, internal promotions, transactions, and refunds. Together they help users gain deeper insights into the performance of their business, including how far users progress through the shopping funnel and where they are abandoning in the purchase process. Enhanced Ecommerce also allows users to analyze the effectiveness of their marketing and merchandising efforts, including the impact of internal promotions, coupons, and affiliate marketing programs.

Mobile Ads

Google Mobile Ads are a great way to monetise your apps and you now have access to better in-app purchase ads. We've now added a default implementation for consumable purchases using the Google Play In-app Billing service.

And that’s another release of Google Play services. The updated Google Play services SDK is now available through the Android SDK manager. For details on the APIs, please see New Features in Google Play services 5.0.




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Categories: Programming

An important announcement for iOS developers using the GooglePlus SDK

Google Code Blog - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 21:10
Last week, Apple updated their app submission policy requiring that resource bundles not include binaries. In order for your apps to meet these new requirements, you must either replace your existing Google+ iOS SDK with the updated 1.7.1 Google+ iOS SDK that has the files removed or remove the following files from the GooglePlus bundle:

  • GooglePlus.bundle/GPPSignIn3PResources
  • GooglePlus.bundle/GPPCommonSharedResources.bundle/GPPCommonSharedResources
  • GooglePlus.bundle/GPPShareboxSharedResources.bundle/GPPShareboxSharedResources 

Please update your app immediately, or your app will be rejected by Apple. Because the files were only used for versioning, the change will have no impact on your app's functionality.

Posted by Mohamed Zoweil, Software Engineer, Google
Categories: Programming

Android One: Bringing Your Apps to the Next Five Billion

Android Developers Blog - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 18:35
Posted by Rich Hyndman, Developer Advocate

With the launch of Android One, more people across the world will have access to high-quality and affordable smartphones, packed with plenty of processing power and running the latest version of Android. These devices are available now in India and soon in Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Asia, so now is a good time to make sure your apps are ready for these new markets. This post highlights a few areas to consider.

These days, we often talk about smooth, 60fps transitions and keeping apps jank-free, and rightly so — performance is a critical metric for app quality. But in the user experience hierarchy of needs, an app should first and foremost do its job reliably and consistently.

If your app has search functionality, will user requests time out entirely? Do you think it is more important that a result is returned in a timely manner, or that the result is returned at all? If you're trying to build a robust app to reach the next five billion, it might be less about returning a result immediately, and more about returning a result at all. To address this challenge, why not include an option to users to “notify me with the results” when a search query is running on a slow network? Your app can then take as long as it needs to successfully retrieve the data in the background and show a notification when complete. The difference in user experience between an app that times out on a slower network and one that caters to user-specific needs will be very impactful for driving mobile app adoption.

There are also ways to test app performance without flying around the globe. The Android Emulator has network speed and network delay emulation settings, which can become an integral part of your testing strategy. If you’re testing on physical hardware, try turning off WiFi and switching the network to 2G only; how well does your app perform? Do search pages load? Does data refresh? These issues can often be fixed with relatively minor changes to your app logic or by leveraging a SyncAdapter. Check out our blog post on sync in the Google I/O app for more ideas.

Another key area for you to be aware of is app memory utilization. As part of the KitKat launch, we added new tools to the SDK for analyzing memory use and new APIs like isLowRamDevice(). We also just added a Memory Monitor to Android Studio 0.8.10 (currently in Canary). Much of this is documented in our Best Practices for Performance guide.

Moving forward, the Android L release has a strong focus on battery usage and analysis. Project Volta introduces new tools, such as Battery Historian and new APIs like JobScheduler, that can really help optimize battery use of your app.

By ensuring your app works well on slower networks, uses minimal memory, minimizes battery usage and doesn’t have a larger-than-necessary APK, you will help the next five billion discover, use and love your app.

Categories: Programming

R: ggplot – Plotting multiple variables on a line chart

Mark Needham - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 17:59

In my continued playing around with meetup data I wanted to plot the number of members who join the Neo4j group over time.

I started off with the variable ‘byWeek’ which shows how many members joined the group each week:

> head(byWeek)
Source: local data frame [6 x 2]
 
        week n
1 2011-06-02 8
2 2011-06-09 4
3 2011-06-30 2
4 2011-07-14 1
5 2011-07-21 1
6 2011-08-18 1

I wanted to plot the actual count alongside a rolling average for which I created the following data frame:

library(zoo)
joinsByWeek = data.frame(actual = byWeek$n, 
                         week = byWeek$week,
                         rolling = rollmean(byWeek$n, 4, fill = NA, align=c("right")))
> head(joinsByWeek, 10)
   actual       week rolling
1       8 2011-06-02      NA
2       4 2011-06-09      NA
3       2 2011-06-30      NA
4       1 2011-07-14    3.75
5       1 2011-07-21    2.00
6       1 2011-08-18    1.25
7       1 2011-10-13    1.00
8       2 2011-11-24    1.25
9       1 2012-01-05    1.25
10      3 2012-01-12    1.75

The next step was to work out how to plot both ‘rolling’ and ‘actual’ on the same line chart. The easiest way is to make two calls to ‘geom_line’, like so:

ggplot(joinsByWeek, aes(x = week)) + 
  geom_line(aes(y = rolling), colour="blue") + 
  geom_line(aes(y = actual), colour = "grey") + 
  ylab(label="Number of new members") + 
  xlab("Week")
2014 09 16 21 57 14

Alternatively we can make use of the ‘melt’ function from the reshape library…

library(reshape)
meltedJoinsByWeek = melt(joinsByWeek, id = 'week')
> head(meltedJoinsByWeek, 20)
   week variable value
1     1   actual     8
2     2   actual     4
3     3   actual     2
4     4   actual     1
5     5   actual     1
6     6   actual     1
7     7   actual     1
8     8   actual     2
9     9   actual     1
10   10   actual     3
11   11   actual     1
12   12   actual     2
13   13   actual     4
14   14   actual     2
15   15   actual     3
16   16   actual     5
17   17   actual     1
18   18   actual     2
19   19   actual     1
20   20   actual     2

…which then means we can plot the chart with a single call to geom_line:

ggplot(meltedJoinsByWeek, aes(x = week, y = value, colour = variable)) + 
  geom_line() + 
  ylab(label="Number of new members") + 
  xlab("Week Number") + 
  scale_colour_manual(values=c("grey", "blue"))

2014 09 16 22 17 40

Categories: Programming

How To Think Like a Microsoft Executive

One of the things I do, as a patterns and practices kind of guy, is research and share success patterns. 

One of my more interesting bodies of work is my set of patterns and practices for successful executive thinking.

A while back, I interviewed several Microsoft executives to get their take on how to think like an effective executive.

While the styles vary, what I enjoyed is the different mindset that each executive uses as they approach the challenge of how to change the world in a meaningful way.

5 Key Questions to Share Proven Practices for Executive Thinking

My approach was pretty simple.   I tried to think of a simple way to capture and distill the essence. I originally went the path of identifying key thinking scenarios (changing perspective, creating ideas, evaluating ideas, making decisions, making meaning, prioritizing ideas, and solving problems) ... and the path of identifying key thinking techniques (blue ocean/strategic profile, PMI, Six Thinking Hats, PQ/PA, BusinessThink, Five Whys, ... etc.) -- but I think just a simple set of 5 key questions was more effective.

These are the five questions I ended up using:

  1. What frame do you mostly use to evaluate ideas? (for example, one frame is: who's the customer? what's the problem? what's the competition doing? what does success look like?)
  2. How do you think differently, than other people might, that helps you get a better perspective on the problem?
  3. How do you think differently, than other people might, that helps you make a better decision?
  4. What are the top 3 questions you ask yourself the most each day that make the most difference?
  5. How do you get in your best state of mind or frame of mind for your best thinking?

The insights and lessons learned could fill books, but I thought I would share three of the responses that I tend to use and draw from on a regular basis …

Microsoft Executive #1

1) The dominant framework I like to use for decisions is: how can we best help the customer? Prioritizing the customer is nearly always the right way to make good decisions for the long term. While one has to have awareness of the competition and the like, it usually fails to “follow taillights” excessively. The best lens through which to view the competition is, “how are they helping their customers, and is there anything we can learn from them about how to help our own customers?”

2) I don’t think that there is anything magical about executive thinking. The one thing we hopefully have is a greater breadth and depth of experience on key decisions. We use this experience to discern patterns, and those patterns often help us make good decisions on relatively little data.

3) Same answer as #2.

4) How can we help our customers more? Are we being realistic in our assessments of ourselves, our offerings and the needs of our customers? How can we best execute on delivering customer value?

5) It is key to keep some discretionary time for connecting with customers, studying the competition and the marketplace and “white space thinking.” It is too easy to get caught up on being reactionary to lots of short-term details and therefore lose the time to think about the long term.

Microsoft Executive #2

There are three things that I think about as it relates to leading organizations: Vision, People and Results. Some of the principles in each of these components will apply to any organization, whether the organization's goal is to make profit, achieve strategic objectives, or make non-profit social impact.

Vision

In setting the vision and top level objectives, it is very important to pick the right priorities. I like to focus on the big rocks instead of small rocks at the vision-setting stage. In today's world of information overload, it is really easy to get bombarded with too many things needing attention. This can dilute your focus across too many objectives. The negative effect of not having a clear concentrated focus multiplies rapidly across many people when you are running a large organization. So, you need to first ask yourself what are the few ultimate results that are the objectives of your organization and then stay disciplined to focus on those objectives. The ultimate goal might be a single objective or a few, but should not be a laundry list. It is alright to have multiple metrics that are aligned to drive each objective, but the overall objectives themselves should be crisp and focused.

People

The next step in running an organization is to make sure you have the right people in the right jobs. This starts with first identifying the needs of the business to achieve the vision set out above. Then, I try to figure out what types of roles are needed to meet those needs. What will the organization structure look like? What kind of competencies, that is, attributes, skills, and behaviors, are needed in those roles to meet expected results? If there is a mismatch between the role and the person, it can set up both the employee and the business for failure. So, this is a crucial step in making sure you've a well running organization.

Once you have the right people in the right jobs, I try to make sure that the work environment encourages people to do their best. Selfless leadership, where the leaders have a sense of humility and are committed to the success of the business over their own self, is essential. An inclusive environment where everyone is encouraged to contribute is also a must. People's experience with the organization is for the most part shaped by their interaction with their immediate manager. Therefore, it is very important that a lot of care goes into selecting, encouraging and rewarding people managers who can create a positive environment for their employees.

Results

Finally, the organization needs to produce results towards achieving the vision and the objectives you set out. Do not confuse results with actions. You need to make sure you reward people based on performance towards producing results instead of actions. When setting commitments for people, you need to be thoughtful about what metrics you choose so that you incent the right behavior. This again helps build an environment that encourages people to do their best. Producing results also requires that you've a compelling strategy for the organization. Thus, you need to stay on top of where the market and customers are. This will help you focus your organization's efforts on anticipating customer needs, and proactively taking steps to delight customers. This is necessary to ensure that organization's resources are prioritized towards those efforts that will produce the highest return on investment.

Microsoft Executive #3
  1. Different situations call for different pivots.  That said, I most often start with the customer, as technology is just a tool; ultimately, people are trying to solve problems.  I should note, however, that “customer” does not always mean the person who licenses or uses our products and/or services.  While they may be the focus, my true “customer” is sometimes the business itself (and its management), a business group, or a government (addressing a policy issue).  Often, the problem presented has to be solved in a multi-disciplinary way (e.g., a mixture of policy changes, education, technological innovation, and business process refinements).  Think, for example, about protecting children on-line.  While technology may help, any comprehensive solution may also involve government laws, parental and child education, a change in website business practices, etc.
  2. As noted above, the key is thinking in a multi-disciplinary way. People gravitate to what they know; thus the old adage that “if you have a hammer, everything you see is a nail.” Think more broadly about an issue, and a more interesting solution to the customer’s problem may present itself. (Scenario focused engineering works this way too.)
  3. It is partially about thinking differently (as discussed above), but also about seeking the right counsel.  There is an interesting truth about hard Presidential decisions.  The more sensitive an issue, the fewer the number of people consulted (because of the sensitivity) and the less informed the decision.  Obtaining good counsel – while avoiding the pitfall of paralysis (either because you have yet to speak to everyone on the planet or because there was not universal consensus on what to do next) is the key.
  4. (1) What is the right thing to do? (This may be harder than it looks because the different customers described above may have different interests.  For example, a costly solution may be good for customers but bad for shareholders.  A regulatory solution might be convenient for governments but stifle technological innovation.)  (2) What unintended consequences might occur? (The best laid plans….).  (3) Will the solution be achievable?
  5. I need quiet time; time to think deeply.

The big things that really stand out for me are using the customer as the North Star, balancing with multi-disciplinary perspectives, evaluating multiple, cascading ramifications, and leading with vision.

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Categories: Architecture, Programming

How to form a team to develop your mobile app

Software Requirements Blog - Seilevel.com - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 17:00
If you’re a Product Manager, chances are you have lots of ideas, and your problem may be deciding on which one to execute against. If you’re interested in getting your name more out into the field and keeping your skillset relevant for today’s world, you may have considered making your own mobile app. Once you […]
Categories: Requirements

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Categories: Architecture

Docker images for Dart now available

Google Code Blog - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 16:25
By Søren Gjesse, Software Engineer on Dart

Developers increasingly want to use the same language and business logic on the client and the server to reduce risk and complexity. To help developers easily build and deploy end-to-end Dart apps, we are happy to announce ready-to-use Docker images for Dart. This expands our Docker usage further beyond the recently announced Docker support in Google App Engine. There are now three Dart-related images on hub.docker.com for you to use: dart, dart-runtime and dart-hello, which uses the same naming scheme as the corresponding Node, Python and Go images already offered.

The image google/dart adds the Dart SDK to google/debian Debian wheezy image. Running Dart in a container is now as simple as this:

  $ docker run -i -t google/dart /usr/bin/dart --version

The image google/dart-runtime inherits from google/dart, and provides a convenient way to run a Dart server application using a one line Dockerfile. To inherit from google/dart-runtime, your server application requires the following layout:

  • has a the pubspec.yaml and pubspec.lock files listing its dependencies.
  • has a file bin/server.dart as the entrypoint script.
  • listens on port 8080

With this layout and a Dockerfile with the following content:

FROM google/dart-runtime

You can run your app in a container as simple as this:

  $ docker build -t my-app .
  $ docker run -d -p 8080:8080 my-app

The last image google/dart-hello is a sample Dart server application, that inherits from dart/runtime. Here is an example of how to run the sample:

  $ docker run -d -p 8080:8080 google/dart-hello

Depending on your local Docker installation the address of the server differs. If you are using boot2docker with the default configuration you can talk to the Dart server in the docker container on http://192.168.59.103:8080:

  $ curl http://192.168.59.103:8080/version

You can choose specific version tags, such as 1.6.0 (recommended), or choose the ‘latest’ tag for the latest stable version. Here is an example of running Dart 1.6 with Docker:

  $ docker run -i -t google/dart:1.6.0 /usr/bin/dart --version

If you haven't already, go and install boot2docker and start building you Dart server application using Docker images. Pushing these images to you server will simplify deployment and ensure you are running the same code on your server as you have been testing locally.

Posted by Mano Marks, Google Developer Platform Team
Categories: Programming

Cuttable Scope

Early on in my Program Management career, I ran into challenges around cutting scope.

The schedule said the project was done by next week, but scope said the project would be done a few months from now.

On the Microsoft patterns & practices team, we optimized around “fix time, flex scope.”   This ensured we were on time, on budget.  This helped constrain risk.  Plus, as soon as you start chasing scope, you become a victim of scope creep, and create a runaway train.  It’s better to get smart people shipping on a cadence, and focus on creating incremental value.  If the trains leave the station on time, then if you miss a train, you know you can count on the next train.  Plus, this builds a reputation for shipping and execution excellence.

And so I would have to cut scope, and feel the pains of impact ripple across multiple dependencies.

Without a simple chunking mechanism, it was a game of trying to cut features and trying to figure out which requirements could be completed and still be useful within a given time frame.

This is where User Stories and System Stories helped.  

Stories created a simple way to chunk up value.   Stories help us put requirements into a context and a testable outcome, share what good looks like, and estimate our work.  So paring stories down is fine, and a good thing, as long as we can still achieve those basic goals.

Stories help us create Cuttable Scope.  

They make it easier to deliver value in incremental chunks.

A healthy project start includes a baseline set of stories that help define a Minimum Credible Release, and additional stories that would add additional, incremental value.

It helps create a lot of confidence in your project when there is a clear vision for what your solution will do, along with a healthy path of execution that includes a baseline release, along with a healthy pipeline of additional value, chunked up in the form of user stories that your stakeholders and user community can relate to.

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Categories: Architecture, Programming

Don’t Equate Story Points to Hours

Mike Cohn's Blog - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 15:00

I’ve been quite adamant lately that story points are about time, specifically effort. But that does not mean you should say something like, “One story point = eight hours.”

Doing this obviates the main reason to use story points in the first place. Story points are helpful because they allow team members who perform at different speeds to communicate and estimate collaboratively.

Two developers can start by estimating a given user story as one point even if their individual estimates of the actual time on task differ. Starting with that estimate, they can then agree to estimate something as two points if each agree it will take twice as long as the first story.

When story points equated to hours, team members can no longer do this. If someone instructs team members that one point equals eight (or any number of) hours, the benefits of estimating in an abstract but relatively meaningful unit like story points are lost.

When told to estimate this way, the team member will mentally estimate first in number of hours and then convert that estimate to points. Something the developer estimates to be 16 hours will be converted to 2 points.

Contrast this with a team member’s thought process when estimating in story points as they are truly intended. In this case, team members will consider how long each new story will take in comparison to other stories. You and I might agree this new story will take twice as long as a one-point story, and so we agree it’s a two.

However, you might be thinking that’s five hours of work, and I might be thinking it’s 10. In this way, story points are still about time (effort), but the amount of time per point is not pegged to the same amount for all team members.

If someone in your company wants to peg one point to some number of hours, just stop calling them points and use hours or days instead. Calling them points when they’re really just hours introduces needless complexity (and loses one of the main benefits of points).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote of the Month September 2014

From the Editor of Methods & Tools - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 13:36
The important thing is not your process, the important thing is the process for improving your process. Source: Henrik Kniberg, http://blog.crisp.se/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/20130820-What-is-Agile.pdf

Projects Where You Can’t Predict an End Date

Do you have projects where you can’t predict an end date? These tend to be a job search, a change project, and with a tip of the hat to Cesar Abeid, your life. I like to call these “emergent” projects.

You might prefer to call them “adaptable” projects, but to me, every project has to be adaptable. These projects are emergent. You need to plan, but not too much. You need to replan. You need to take advantage of serendipity.

My column this quarter for projectmanagement.com is Applying Agile to Emergent Projects. (Free registration required.)

Enjoy!

Categories: Project Management

Quote of the Day - Plan for the Future

Herding Cats - Glen Alleman - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 01:05

Before you begin a thing remind yourself that difficulties and delays quite impossible to foresee are ahead. You can only see one thing clearly, and that is your goal. Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin.
Kathleen Norris

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.58.10 PMAnd when they are impossible to see we need margin and reserve to protect our project from them. This margin is for the irreducible risks and the reserve is for buying down the reducible risks. Both irreducible (aleatory) and reducible (epistemic) uncertainties can be modeled for all projects. This is the role of risk management and project. To NOT model these uncertainties is to ignore them. To ignore them is to say to those providing the money that you're not following Tim Lister's advice...

Risk Management is how Adults manage projects

As well when you begin a thing remember another important quote...

Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.H. James Harrington

So if we're going to start a job and don't have an assessment - to some level of confidence - of how long it will take, how much it will cost, and what we will be capable of delivering when we get to the end of the money and the time - it is very likely that those paying for our work will be very disappointed in our efforts.

When we here that we can make decisions in the absence of knowing the probabilistic cost, schedule, and likelihood of producing the needed capabilities, think back to the two quotes above. And consider the conjectures below that requires us to ignore those quote and instead follow those statements in the absence of any evidence they are applicable outside of the Value at Risk being low enough that those providing the money don't really care if it's all a loss.

Workshop

† Orginal post from Mark Anderson's email from ExecuNet, 9/14/2014

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Categories: Project Management