Blog Post: Announce Your Refresh with Gusto

Releasing updates can be a pain sometimes. In the mobile space, it usually includes asking the user to download something again as well as refreshing their credentials in some way. Luke Wroblewski — who writes some tremendous material on mobile development — mentions in this post how you can announce your refresh with some panache and reward your users for continuing to use your product with some Easter eggs.

Don’t make the update a pain. It might mean some additional work will need to be done to include the artwork or new graphics. The UX team might need to rethink some of the work they thought was done. 

Regardless, it’s important to the process and allows users to enjoy and share in the hard work you are doing!

Blog Post: Announce Your Refresh with Gusto

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Blog Post: View Your Mobile Product Properly

I have no idea how old Jonathan Libov — one of the creators of the mobile app Snapix — is, or where he is from, but there is a lot of maturity from this young man’s post on Whoo.ps. It’s hard to see the forest from the trees with products you have had a hand in creating, even harder to understand when to make tough decisions.

The post talks about the genesis of his software, the reasons for creating it and how it rose in popularity very quickly. As with many apps in the mobile space, though, there reached a time when traffic slowed to a crawl. He argues it was because it was only a side project for the creators and as such it’s tough to keep the fires stoked part-time. 

As the community knows, mobile is tough to maintain momentum because of all the offerings and the rapid use cycle. If an app keeps a solid user base after only six months, it has accomplished something.

Re-read that last sentence and think about what that says for creators.

After much deliberation, they decided not to slowly watch their creation die in the wilderness and sunset the app. While it must have been tough to do, I think it shows maturity in the product development cycle. It also probably informed them for whatever they build next and can only make them better creators.

Many don’t even get the initial spike that Snapix enjoyed. Many fizzle before there was any shock and awe. Either way, if you are going to work in this space, you have to realistically know how your product is doing in the marketplace and prepare for the inevitable: your software will lose all it’s users eventually to something newer and shinier.

This also inspires someone like me to look at my own work and take an honest look at how it’s doing. Maybe there is something that needs a fresh coat of paint on it, or sent out to pasture. That idea in the back of my mind might need to be ushered to the front of the class for some attention. 

Don’t be afraid to look at the feedback on your product honestly. If there’s no feedback, that’s just the same (or worse) as bad feedback. You might need to ask for some more, or start asking yourself the tough questions. It can only lead to better offerings to the marketplace.

It will definitely lead to better creations.

Blog Post: View Your Mobile Product Properly

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Blog Post: A Mobile Workforce Isn’t Bad

I think the headline of this Ars Technica piece on the mobile workforce can be a bit misleading. When you read the nuts and bolts of the piece, a different message is sent. Compared to this headline, it’s clear an agenda was meant:

“How Mobile Technology Created A Workforce That Never Stops Working.”

Some vision-casting for the future of our workforce is necessary, and what better way to think of them than with a mobile device or two in their hands. It does beg the question of how connected we should be, though. 

As someone who can’t put their phone down, or manage to let it out of my sight, I see the conundrum  We should be able to disconnect and allow ourselves some space from everything that’s going on. There’s also some physiological issues that can stem from needing to be available at all times.

Instead of looking at it that way, I would like to focus on how being connected can help us manage our workdays a little better. 

For many of us, work used to be a time where you put your head down and cranked out as much as you could so that you could be home in time for dinner. There was no ability to take work home once. If you could, there was no way to collaborate or manage workflows correctly. As a result, our time in office was very stressful.

Now, I can go throughout my day knowing that work will get done by the talented people I collaborate with every day. If that means I respond to an email before bed or over the breakfast table, it means my time in the office can be used for tasks that are more important. Face-to-face interaction, building each other up, making the best products possible, and more. 

Instead of getting bogged down by all the electronic communication requirements we have, get them out of the way during off-peak hours and focus on enjoying the day with some great people. That’s how people build great things together.

The next time you feel bad for checking your email in bed, or answer a text from a colleague during your morning run, consider it one step further towards sanity from 9-5 (or whenever you work). Don’t overload yourself, but use the right boundaries for work and home.

Blog Post: A Mobile Workforce Isn’t Bad

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Blog Post: Twitter and Your TV

There have been rumblings of this coming for some time, but Twitter is making a major play to be the must-use companion of television watching. In this TechCrunch article, it is stated how the social media platform is “betting big” on television. I would argue there is no reason to state that television is a “bet” at this point, and it is even more clear when you look at the details of the new feature coming from Twitter.

The Silicon Valley giant is currently testing out a new trending aggregator for just television watching. Based on current traffic — mostly hashtags I would guess, but there could be other factors as well — it will list cards of popular shows complete with more information about the particular episode.

Genius of this feature is it can be used on live broadcasts, DVR, and streaming media systems. Regardless of your feelings on cord-cutting, you can have an impact on what is trending in TV on Twitter.

Can you imagine a world where Twitter could replace Nielsen in terms of how shows are rated? It’s coming. Maybe not from Twitter, but the data around what is popular to active, engaged viewers is available for the taking. I would take that over a journal sent to a few hundred thousand four times a year.

This also has mobile implications, because developers are already utilizing devices as “second screens” in unique ways. If the trending data from Twitter is made available, networks could integrate it into their apps for even more engagement with their entrenched fans.

Keep your eye on this, because this is how TV viewing will be changed for the next decade (along with some broadcasters finally sticking it to cable providers). 

Blog Post: Twitter and Your TV

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Blog Post: The Many Facets of BYOD Policies

How interesting it is to see Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies already set for 60 percent of the workplace. Even more interesting is by next year, the number will jump to over 90 percent. What strikes me are the success metrics many are quoting. It can lead to a set of myths or ideas that I think may lead decision makers down a wrong path.

According to this article by TMC Net, the extremely rapid rise of BYOD has led to increased employee satisfaction, productivity and creativity. While those factors are most likely true, I don’t think it’s the main driving force. 

It’s money. Pure and simple.

Employees that are more engaged and happy with what they are doing should be important to companies, but do they really think that bringing your iPhone to work will result in that? The same article states another survey where employees that can work from wherever they want, whenever they want can produce five to ten more hours of work a week. You can do that with or without BYOD policies.

Another stat states that three out of every five employees said they don’t need an office to be productive. Again, I could do that with a company issued laptop.

Many companies, once upon a time, issued secure company phones for employees that needed them. Not everyone got a phone, and afterwards many didn’t want one either. Allowing employees access to networks and company email was merely a small price to pay to get access to their phone numbers so they could be put on the clock whenever.

Having been in that position many times, I don’t mind being asked to do critical work at off hours. The great work I have been a part of never rests sometimes. As a result, being able to have access to my necessary information via mobile device allowed me to have just one device with me at all times.

My laptop isn’t viewed as a luxury anymore. It’s a burden. I don’t take it with me to meetings because it’s annoying to see me looking at it instead of the presenter. Instead, I can access email and IM through my phone and keep it out of sight. Once considered the expensive item not many needed, the laptop is now the device I only pull out every so often when I need to do some heavy writing.

Don’t let your employer fool you: they need you to want to bring your device with you to work. They want you to connect at all times so you can help get your project across the finish line sooner. Customers want access to support whenever they need. Managers need to put the monkey on their back somewhere else. 

I remember when mobile phones were forbidden in my office. Now, it’s a requirement that is vital to companies regardless of whether they want them there or not. 

Blog Post: The Many Facets of BYOD Policies

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Blog Post: Get Your iPhone Jabs In Now

It’s still about a month away from the rumored iPhone (and other Apple product releases) announcement on September 10, and people are already ramping up their negative comments about it. We’re at the point where no matter what is announced, it won’t be good enough.

This article form The Next Web does it’s best to keep from spilling any condescension all over the story, although I’m sure a separate opinion piece by an expert will do so.

I’ve heard it already in a podcast and two other Internet posts: it’s not going to be revolutionary, but an iteration. It’s predecessor wasn’t that great either so don’t get your hopes up. Even the camera hardware and software, which were once thought unparalleled in the market, is being trashed by recent competitors.

Frankly, I don’t have any skin in the game other than the fact that my whole family uses Apple products. I would sure love it if Cupertino shut everyone up, but it won’t upset my day if the event is a dud. I am invested in the ecosystem and I don’t have any reason to change at the moment.

Which, of course, is the only thing that matters right now to many customers. If we are in the market for a phone right now, chances are it’s not our first. We probably bought an Android or iOS device already, and don’t want to have to pay for the apps and songs again. So, we’ll keep buying whatever we have for now.

I think Apple product work together very well, and there isn’t a single Windows machine in my house. When a company that provides software or media services would be worth the shift, my wife and I won’t have a problem. It won’t come from Microsoft for sure at this rate, and the other products are in the same boat. 

When you read comments from these cynics, just remember that they change their mind all the time and anyone who writes about this stuff is wrong a lot. If you want a new Apple product, September 10 will be a great day. If not, the announcements coming a week earlier will probably be of interest.

I’ll just be patient and remember that my experience holding the device is what matters, not someone else telling me what does.

Blog Post: Get Your iPhone Jabs In Now

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Blog Post: In Agile, Don’t Focus on Fast

There’s a lot to approve of in this Agile post by Mario Moreira, saying that we shouldn’t confuse short iterations of shippable code with rushing to get something out just for release sake. You see posts like this a lot from evangelists of the framework, because you never want to swing the pendulum the other direction:

Building the wrong thing fast is like driving a dragster that races off the motorway when the road twists and turns as they often do.”

The same can be said for topics like documentation, planning, and communication. When some take a class on Scrum, Lean, XP or any other Agile framework, it’s not a far stretch to change your thinking towards all three. 

It’s just not practical to put out software with zero documentation and planning. You can’t over-communicate. Definitely can’t expect that slashing meetings will result in large projects out in a couple of sprints.

How do you find the balance?

It’s impossible to have a “one size fits all” answer for every company. Products without any legacy code or minimal support needs can get away with less documentation. Some teams get away without a grooming session, or a daily standup. There’s always customizations you can make to fit your needs. Wouldn’t be very agile without it.

When focusing on the speed of delivery, ask your stakeholders what’s more important: time, budget or scope. When that decision is made, you know how to write your go-to-market plan.

One last note: “fast” is always in the eye of the beholder. Just because your boss uses the word in a presentation, doesn’t mean his definition is the same as yours. “Fast” may mean a 3-month release cycle instead of six. It may mean a 6-month release instead of 12. Shippable code means it could be released, so don’t freak out when you hear it. 

Blog Post: In Agile, Don’t Focus on Fast

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Blog Post: The Internet of Cities

The last five years of technological innovation have now resulted in more mobile devices in existence than people to use them. It has allowed users to interact with the world around them and redefine the meaning of the word “connected”. It has also created a culture where we can’t stay focused at work without checking our Twitter feed every so often.

As devices change and further integrate into our lives, there will be more innovation. I’m afraid, however, that we are reaching our saturation level of people being connected. So what’s next?

Connecting our cities to devices.

The article details how a company named Libelium is using sensors in Santander, Spain to help drivers find a parking spot sooner and reduce air pollution by cars. Waste water overflows are being reduced by 23 percent in South Bend, Indiana thanks to sensors installed by IBM. South Korea is installing sensors in the road to not only help funnel drivers during high-traffic times, but sense seismic activity as an early warning.

These are just a few of the many opportunities municipalities are using connectivity to their advantage. The article also states that in many cases, the upgrades pay for themselves.

While I don’t doubt that the new watch, glasses or other wearable technology will change mobile just as mobile changed the Internet, it’s the companies that can gather data effectively and use it to help improve our lives. These sensors must be cheap, easy to install and accessible to city networks.

Once we do that, we will worry less about finding our keys with mobile devices and more on saving time and the environment.

Blog Post: The Internet of Cities

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