Zen and the Art of Working with Internal Teams

Zen and the Art of Working with Internal Teams

I’ve had the pleasure of working with many internal development teams in my career in software development. For our company, working in partnership with internal development teams is, in fact, a common project type. Clients call on our particular services for any number of reasons but the most common are to a) increase development traction or b) supplement core internal skills with outside development expertise.

We’ve worked with internal teams comprised of a single developer as well as internal development teams for vast, multinational tech companies with internal departments that dwarf our entire company. (more…)

Digital Disruption and the Menswear Renaissance

Digital Disruption and the Menswear Renaissance

Disruption has been the buzzword in tech for the last half a decade or so, and I thought it might be interesting to detail how disruption has personally changed my life as it simultaneously changed the fashion industry.

First, let’s define a few terms:

    1. Ready to wear (RTW) – These are clothes sold “off the rack” in standardized sizes. You can have these clothes altered to fit you more precisely, but all clothes in one size are made to the same standard from the same pattern. You can go to Dillards and be wearing the suit you purchase within a week (assuming you have it altered). The price range is generally somewhere between $300 and $1,500, excluding outliers.

(more…)

Music and AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Music and AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Prior to the release of The Jazz Singer in 1927, live musicians accompanied motion pictures in movie theaters. After the integration of synchronized sound, live musicians were no longer necessary. Protesting this technological advancement that took away their jobs, the Music Defense League spent $500,000 (quite a sum of money in the 1930s!) on an ad campaign featuring a maniacal robot. (more…)

Maintaining Your Application — It’s Like Owning A Cat

Maintaining Your Application — It’s Like Owning A Cat

I may live to regret this analogy.

But let’s consider this a PSA for the purpose of maintaining your software application . . . perhaps co-sponsored by your local ASPCA or Animal Rescue.

I frequently find that clients think of their applications like a very heavy piece of furniture — one of those uber-plushy, leather recliners. You buy it, you stick it in the corner, and, there it sits, comfy and dependable, aging gracefully in place for years until a spouse puts a foot down and insists that it be updated for a newer model. The chair is dragged to the corner or sold at a yard sale or hauled to the transfer station. (more…)

iOS 11: The Culling

iOS 11: The Culling

Amid the OS updates rolled out last week, one of the iOS updates may have passed by the casual observer or novice application developer with little notice.

iOS 11 no longer supports 32-bit applications. Technically, there’s no reason to not support 32-bit applications. There’s no real magic in 64-bit applications. But since Apple has been pushing for 64-bit applications for about 3 years and any developer seasoned in iOS development has adopted this standard for any new applications and updated any maintained applications, this is effectively Apple’s way of culling from the glutted AppStore all the abandoned and crusty applications in one fell swoop. Once someone updates their iOS device to iOS 11, your application, if it’s not 64-bit, simply will cease to work. (more…)

Azure Load Balancing: How to Scale Out VMs

Azure Load Balancing: How to Scale Out VMs

Part 2 of the Blog Series: Cloudy with a Chance of VMs: Scaling Up & Out with Azure explains how to configure an Azure Load Balancer and compares Manual VM scaling to Auto-Scaling via Azure Scale Sets.

Backend Pool configuration

Cloud Computing shines in a cost-benefit analysis; virtually unlimited resources are available at a moment’s notice, and resources must only be paid for if and when they are needed. Unlike dedicated servers, Cloud-based resources scale quickly & automatically to respond to peak loads. They can also provide fault tolerance via replication both within and between data centers. (more…)

Long in the Tooth: What to Do with Aging Software

Long in the Tooth: What to Do with Aging Software

It’s happening more and more lately.

    Me: . . . Okay, so I understand a little bit about your project goals and how they fit in with your business needs. . . Can you tell me, if you know, what technologies your current application was built with?

    Client: Um. . . I’ve heard some of the folks say “PHP”. . . does that make sense?

    Me: Sure does. Any idea what version of PHP and which framework it might be leveraging?

    Client: Oooh, I don’t know. . . I can get that for you though. . .

    Me: That’s okay. How about this: How old is the application and when is the last time you did an update?

    Client: Well, we developed it in 2007 and we had a person who worked on it for just a couple years after that but they aren’t here anymore. . .

Software development has moved through several “ages” as both technical innovation and the cultural evolution driven by those technical innovations has moved from the early adopters through the late adopters and permeated our expectations of what technology is. (more…)

When a Fixed Price is a Reasonable Option

When a Fixed Price is a Reasonable Option

I still run into a lot of companies that have the expectation that software development can be done on a fixed-price basis. They’re either still used to waterfall management style, or dealing with goods vendors, or, maybe a few are still running into software developers willing to work on a fixed-price basis.

On this blog, we’ve talked about the dangers inherent in fixed-price development services. How companies willing to offer an FPB will triple their hourly rate for change requests in order to make up the margin they already know exists between what they think the project will cost, and what it actually will end up costing. How every project, no matter how well planned out, rarely looks the same at the finish as it did at the start. How the number of unknowns at the start of a development project could fill a dump truck. What we haven’t talked much about is when it is reasonable to ask for, or expect, a fixed price. (more…)

Net Neutrality Day of Action

Net Neutrality Day of Action

When Art & Logic started doing business in 1991, we were a fully remote company that pre-dated the availability of the consumer internet; by the time I joined up in 1997 that transition had happened. My initial internet connection when I started here saw me upgrade from a dialup connection to a local ISP over a 56Kb/s modem to a pair of bonded ISDN lines that gave me a screaming 128 Kb/s connection to the A&L servers and my co-workers.

As the consumer internet exploded, our project mix followed the same transition that the rest of the world did — we went from 100% of our projects being standalone desktop applications running natively on Windows or macOS, to a few web projects (including a ton of embedded web projects — in 2017 you expect to be able to configure networked hardware by pointing a web browser at it, but in the late 90s that was the New Frontier) to our current mix that’s largely web and mobile with some interesting desktop apps tagging along as well.

We, along with every one of the clients that we’ve developed projects for in that period, have depended on strong net neutrality to enable our innovation — once your service is on the internet, your traffic is on the same footing as everyone else’s. As Gertrude might say today, a bit is a bit is a bit.

Recently, the FCC has proposed rule changes that have the potential to turn this all upside down — here’s a bit of background from meta.stackeschange.com :

Back in 2014, the United States Federal Communication Commission, in response to numerous complaints and concerns, implemented a set of rules that prohibit Internet Service Providers from blocking specific content providers or charging them for access to their networks. Essentially, a set of rules that prevent an ISP from double-dipping on service they’re already being paid for, or blocking access to specific websites just for the hell of it.

In order to do this, they had to change how ISPs were classified, moving them from a “Title I” classification to “Title II” – more or less the same framework for regulation that’s been in place for phone companies for decades, establishing them as a so-called “common carrier” – that is to say, one which may not discriminate between customers. If you already assumed that this is how the Internet worked, you’re not alone; however, due to how they were classified previously the FCC had been unable to enforce rules that would ensure that traffic over the Internet would continue be allowed to work as, well, traffic over the Internet was expected to work.

(also scroll down for the answers on the rest of that page for more discussion and links on the topic than you probably have time for today).

The group Fight for the Future has declared today, 12 July 2017, as a day of action, for “regular friendly Internet users like you to submit your comments and concerns to the FCC about their plans to do away with net neutrality.”

If you’re in the US and would like to participate, you can:

Other links on the topic:

Looking Forward to ARKit and AR Apps in iOS 11

Looking Forward to ARKit and AR Apps in iOS 11

Image credit, Apple WWDC

At WWDC earlier this month Apple previewed ARKit – it’s initial foray into Augmented Reality or AR. Alongside the intro session at WWDC they published Understanding Augmented Reality which provides a nice overview of how ARKit works, best practices, and its limitations.

Following WWDC the development community has put together a number of great demos that highlight the possibilities and potential of ARKit and the Made with ARKit (@madewithARKit) site has been chronicling some of the best of these.

Here are a few of my favorites: