My Selections for the Manual

logo_m4cFor me, the Manual of Civilization could be one of the most important projects of our time. The idea is to collect the most important 3000 books required to rebuild civilization from the ground up. It is an idea that resonates with me in particular; as it aligns with the Foundation’s library project, as well as, with my own personal priorities which include the preservation of knowledge, primarily technical knowledge. To use a metaphor, if Adam and Eve started off on a new planet and only had 3000 books to rebuild civilization, what would those 3000 books be? These are the books that should be codified, and persevered for all time and eternity, or as close to as possible. Continue reading

Episode 5: Good UX Design, Return on Investment (ROI) and Plugging the Interwebs into the back of my head…

ms retail software kiosk

Microsoft Retail Store Software Kiosk

In this episode I talk about the Return on Investment or ROI of good UX design and I dive a little bit into what how UX design can solve problems and improve human machine interfaces.  A couple of things I touch on include good practices with UX , user centered design and how to easily apply it to mobile application development and additionally how it solved some R & D with visual over lay systems such as glass’s and potentially cybernetic implants… all in good fun =)

And the Cloud Matter’s Because?

WARNING: This article is talking specifically to Technology Professionals about other Technology Professionals and is making deep assumptions that the reader knows a lot about the ‘Cloud’ and the industry at large.

I was asked a question recently: “How the ‘Cloud’ impacts tech industry professionals and why this trend is important to them and how they can benefit” which is a complex question.  Let’s look at the first part of the question, “How the ‘Cloud’ impacts… …professional’s…” which I think can be broken out in two parts.  Certainly the ‘Cloud’ impacts them in the same way it does consumers; in scenarios like OneNote for example, where I do stuff and magically it is on all my devices using a ‘Cloud’ service like sky drive.  Industry professionals, however, understand and appreciate this and that gets to the other element of that first question. That the impact really has been to give developers a greater way of using the power of distributed systems (i.e. the ‘Cloud’) than ever before.

The second part of the first question, “…why this trend is important…” has a very long and complex answer.  Especially for someone like me, that tends to be a bit of a futurist.  The ‘Cloud’ trend is part of the larger trend towards technological ubiquity. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and other firms have provided additional infrastructure to use the power of the ‘Cloud’; that has really been a big driving force behind adoption.  The desire to use the power of the ‘Cloud’, I would argue, has always been there. What has changed, or is changing, is the friction against using it. I no longer have to rebuild the universe to get the ‘‘Cloud’’ helping me to do x, y or z task.  Additionally, this also feeds into the trend around ubiquitous computing that has spawned the phrase: “There Is An App For That”.  That being the case, it is important to understand that this has caused the emergence of an additional developer demographic I call the ‘Mobile App Developer’. These developers build mobile apps for devices on their own or as their only job.  The reason I differentiate this from a corporate professional engineer or from a hobbyist is that their mentality is different, their approach is different and you can’t say they are hobbyists while some may be working full time doing this.

This new segment that has emerged is eager to use any of the tools that are provided but have a higher level of friction towards anything ‘Cloud’ that costs money.  Azure, for example, is prohibitively expensive for the average “app” developer; where as for the professional developer, it’s a god send because there isn’t all the jumping around to get stuff set up. From a business standpoint you can lower cost, time to deliver and time to market is cut down.  The apps developer segment has a rich set of free, community based tools. They use these resources and actively avoid using anything like Azure that costs more than free.

Lastly, the final element: ‘How they can benefit’…

Well, all the buzz is about hosting costs and synchronization between devices and the ‘Cloud’ and all that and, for the technology professional type, this is true. The problem I’m seeing now is that things like Azure put off the emerging apps developer unless they are really corporate developers and this will continue to slow adoption of the ‘‘Cloud’’ in the form of services like Azure for some time.  That being said this segment continues to implement ‘Cloud’ based features using non pay related technologies (i.e. “open source” ) and services, and will continue to do so increasingly, so as to be able to compete in the apps marketplace.

In summary let me bullet a few things out… How the ‘Cloud’ impacts technology professionals:

  • Of course consumer impact around their usage
  • Increased pressure for apps to use the ‘Cloud’ through their behavior
  • Provides infrastructure for a more connected experience
  • For Individual Developers Provides additional cost to building and supporting applications
  • For companies it lowers time to market, hosting and infrastructure costs
  • Improves ROI of ‘Cloud’ based systems vs. other systems previously used prior to the onset of wide spread ‘Cloud’ systems
  • Requiring more training to keep up with additional technologies

Why this trend is important:

  • Part of the larger trend towards ubiquitous computing technology
  • Improving customer experience or user experience
  • Affects technology professionals ability to get and maintain jobs and thus adds additional training that may cost money but also time

How they benefit:

  • Many apps developers only see the benefit if there is no cost… this is bad for companies like Microsoft.
  • Can provide a competitive edge
  • To companies it can provide hosting and infrastructure cost savings.
  • Improved time to market
  • Improved reliability

Lastly, if nothing else, it matters; so pay attention.

Some related links:

http://www.Azure.com/

http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/

http://www.dropbox.com/

http://www.skydrive.com/