Open Source Stories: Ball Aerospace, AT&T

I love seeing a trend of large companies embracing open source projects, both from the business angle and understanding that open standards help everyone.

An Aerospace Coder Drags a Stodgy Industry Toward Open Source (via Wired) — see projects on GitHub.

Opening up Cosmos wasn’t an easy swallow for the aerospace industry. It’s historically closed-off: Big companies sell big-bucks programs, and people either shell out or cobble together their own kludgy systems. But a freely available, edit-able, enhance-able program has been a boon to researchers and businesses—anyone that can benefit from a robust system to point satellites and display their data.

AT&T Releasing Its Network Playbook into Open Source (via The Economist) — see projects on GitHub.

This is a big decision and getting it right is crucial… We want to build a community – where people contribute to the code base and advance the platform. And, we want this to help align the global industry.

Design Success Ladder: Meaningful Products

Via design.org: The UX Design Success Ladder: Achieving Meaningful Product Design.

Design-Success-Ladder-The-Key-to-Achieving-Meaningful-Product-Design-1.png

Product success envisioned as rungs of a ladder, that you climb up from the bottom: functional, usable, comfortable, delightful, meaningful.

I first heard this concept last year at WordCamp Phoenix in a presentation by Ward Andrews; the article showcase examples of products or services at each level.

Takeaway message: don’t stop at functional and usable. Set the bar higher.

Reboot Heroku as Last Step After Pushing

A computing tip from my friend and WordPress web engineer extraordinaire Chris Marslender.

When pushing code to a Heroku app, make the last step be an action to reboot the app, with something like Hubot. So any time code changes, the server restarts. So if someone is offline and the server isn’t running, you can push a change to get it working again without pinging them.

The Bias of the Absent Visitor

If your software product’s user interface doesn’t support _____, or support them well — your data won’t include _____ in your access logs. You could think they don’t visit often enough to include them in your team’s decisions about the interface. Instead, you can focus on segments of the population based on device, browser, OS, language and location, or any other criteria you feel are important and worthy of attention. It’s simple: make it work for the majority.

This is a blind spot. I call it the bias of the absent visitor. Since they’ve never come by, you can easily fall into assuming they don’t want to or need to use your interface. You might think you can just ignore them safely.

The reality is that they might have stopped by once or many times, had a terrible and unwelcome first experience, and have never come back. They could have seen a blank, white page instead of your carefully crafted design and content. Might have even told their friends not to bother.

This is one of my biggest blind spots. I hope that writing it down will motivate me to remember that the absent visitor is just as valuable as the typical one.

Be a Yardstick of Quality

Inspiration from Steve Jobs, in 1987. This is my milepost for 2017.

People judge you by your performance, so focus on the outcome. Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.

From I, Steve edited by George Beahm (2011).

 

Smarter, Faster, Better

A few findings from reading Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (Goodreads).

On self-motivation: Ask yourself, why am I doing what I’m doing? If you are doing something you think is stupid and meaningless, you’re not going to care.

Envisioning the day: Make a habit of picturing how things will go, what goals you have from meetings or tasks—it can make you much more productive.

Distractions: We can trick our brain to ignore things by spending time visualizing what we want to occur, like going to the store for only lasagna and ignoring the special display of holiday cookies.

Tests, finances, decisions: Slow down to make better choices, called “disfluency.” Also helps with overload of data; it’s easy to let your eye slide over it without absorbing anything. Fight it by slowing the information down, make it stickier.

Internalize new ideas: Tell someone about it, interact with the idea, and it’ll stick with you better. For example, telling a colleague about a book you’re reading, not to educate them, but to lock in the ideas.

Financial life: Force yourself to interact with the data, even if it seems inefficient. Sit down regularly and see what you spent money on—is it expected? Do you need to change habits? Not only look, but write it down.

Editorial note: I published this with the WordPress desktop app, a superbly focused and native experience to write posts and manage your blog settings.