Archive for September, 2008

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Getting Real – Chapter 7

September 29, 2008

Many companies nowadays have employees who are specialized in a certain field of work. Everybody have their own little world. In creating applications, the author emphasizes that

“As much as possible, integrate your team so there’s a healthy back-and-forth dialogue throughout the process. Set up a system of checks and balances. Don’t let things get lost in translation. Have copywriters work with designers. Make sure support queries are seen by developers.

Even better, hire people with multiple talents who can wear different hats during development. The end result will be a more harmonious product.”

It is more commendable to create healthy relationship with everyone involve in your work. A diverse community would probably work effectively that those who are not. Different people needs different people to interact as well. They must learn how to adapt others, just like how others would adapt you.

In communication, it is important not to waste too much time in meet-ups. Everything should be on fast paced. Not only that you are conserving time and effort for meetings, you also stay focused as possible. Lengthy discussions would sometimes hides the real deal. Time management must be done to avoid ‘productivity-killing interruptions’.

Lastly, it is important that you are kept motivated on your work. Without that motivation, that passion of working with your application – what’s the use making the in the first place? You must love what you’re doing. Stop being pretentious and act as normal. Be a professional. Being motivated gives you the way with the right direction.

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Getting Real – Chapter 6

September 25, 2008

Here’s the summary of what Chapter 6 is all about:

Race to Running Software – Get something real up and running quickly

Rinse and Repeat – Work in iterations

From Idea to Implementation – Go from brainstorm to sketches to HTML to coding

Avoid Preferences – Decide the little details so your customers don’t have to

“Done!” – Decisions are temporary so make the call and move on

Test in the Wild – Test your app via real world usage

Shrink Your Time – Break it down

The author explained that your software must operational – your first priority. Omit features that isn’t your main concern. The more accurate your application, the better. It is the finest way to complete your task in hand, avoiding any issues within clients, thus creating a good relationship with them.

Making the ‘real’ thing avoids different people from confusion. This will help you dictate what the software is and is for.

It is essential to create application that is feasible and functioning – and it must be done as soon as possible. This enables developer to collaborate work effectively and efficiently. In addition, this practice facilitates them to focus on what should be done in the first place.

Don’t expect

to get it right

the first time.

Let the app grow

and speak to you.

Let it morph

and

evolve.

With web-based software

there’s no

need

to ship

perfection.

Design screens,

use them,

analyze them,

and then

start over

again.

-37signals

This is a fact: Mistakes and risks will definitely come out. No matter how good you plan on something – such as creating application – it will not stay 100% of your expectations. You just have to let go on your mistakes and continue working on it. Let your works grow and speak to you. What you are facing is all part is all part of our best experience. Take a step out of time.

Your clients should not think too detailed work. In this way, you are focused on doing the real thing to be done. No burdens. No strings attached. In addition, this will help you to be more decisive when it comes to choosing the right plans for your projects. It is your obligation to know your role and meet the requirements. Decision-making can’t be passed to someone else. It must be you who should do it.

You should also remember that you cannot please everyone else. You are not made into perfection. We are made with weaknesses and strengths. That’s why we learn – to improve.

This chapter also illustrates on how we should consider things in creating a website. The authors discussed parts that would help us enhance our website strategies – and how we should set our goals in each process.

In creating web application, it is important to include important details or features, first. Inch by inch you add a little spice on your application. Ideas must be passed – one by one. Not only it would help you to become more efficient in creating them, you learn to be contented first, on what is really needed in the first place.

Don’t create applications that just can be created in only one iteration. Continuous maintenance and improvements must come along the way. You must be smart on doing things – not making them too complicated.

The chapter mainly explains on techniques to be used in making your application more constructive. By disseminating proper information, this would lessen your time and cost. You must already have the picture how the application should look like. A prototype. A skeleton of how the application will came to be. In this way, you do not have to think too much on building and assembling your application.

People who will be probably become your clients should already have the taste of using your application. A feeling. An appetizer – if you know what I mean. That’s why the author suggest you to create application that can be deployed in the Web, such as html pages. This would help them be familiar with what are you trying to build. It is alright that they can view it as ‘under maintenance’, but make sure that they already have the idea of what are you trying to build.

In this way, violent reactions or other concerns will be lessening out because as they give their feedbacks, this would eventually help your application grow more. Making your application grow more meets the expectations of their user experience.

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Chapter 5 – Getting Real

September 24, 2008

This is the summary of Chapter 5 of ‘Getting Real’.

  • Half, Not Half-Assed – Build half a product, not a half-ass product
  • It Just Doesn’t Matter – Essentials only
  • Start With No – Make features work hard to be implemented
  • Hidden Costs – Expose the price of new features
  • Can You Handle It? -Build something you can manage
  • Human Solutions – Build software for general concepts and encourage people to create their own solutions
  • Forget Feature Requests – Let your customers remind you what’s important
  • Hold the Mayo – Ask people what they don’t want

Here’s what I’ve learned so far in the chapter.

Don’t add to much ideas in creating an application. Better stick with the original plan and focus more on it. Don’t just add and add. Learn to think and better yet, analyze first before you add something.

Stick to what’s truly essential.

-37sginals

Learn to prioritize parts that can be doable in time being. Then later, finished those ‘hard’ ones after the settled goal is accomplished.

We must manage ourselves in keeping milestones intact. It may serve as a basis for our decision making and for our future reference. Start to build a not just a good foundation, but a better one. Once built, you could eventually spice up some features or applications for your system.

Sometimes we’re are too aggressive in giving out the best feature for our clients. But the question is – is it really important. We tend to impress other people with our works yet we cannot appreciated it the most. Sophisticated and dynamic pictures – does it really matter?

The author taught me valuable lesson – don’t waste my time don’t things that just don’t matter. What is important is how productive and effective you are in building applications for your customers. Work smart – not harder. We must keep that in mind.

It is essential in a project to include what you call hidden costs. It will serve you as a basis while doing your projects. Letting your clients know your real costs would make your work at ease – without worrying that you’ll be spending a lot of money, but sooner will be returned to you making a break even.

Knowing hidden costs would also lessen loss on your part, especially when it comes to profit.

It is also important to consider your capability to do something. Remember, pushing yourself too far may kill. What you should do is learn to control yourself – create something that is feasible enough and doable enough. You must also consider four things, mainly: Time, Cost, Scope and Quality.

Don’t do things that can be handle by your bare hands. Create something that people will try to experiment on – let them explore on different things. They would eventually find a way to solve their issues among themselves. Let them to be productive and independent – too much reliance of a customer fails in making good solution. Let them learn.

Customers want everything under the sun.

-37signals

This is definitely true. People continue demanding on what they want – they requests for improvements, additional features, and remove something from the system. But we should remember to remind them what IS really important.

[Innovation] comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.

—Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple (from The Seed of Apple’s Innovation)

Sometimes, I is better to just say no. This preserves yourself in focusing on the vision of creating your product for your customers.

I would like to share something – a movie that will come out this Christmas.

Will you say NO or will you say YES? Think about it.

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Random Thoughts

September 24, 2008

Just arrived from Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City.

I have to rush down homeworks for this day’s class.

Talk about 3 days – 3 days after my grandfather died.

Good thing – he died while he was sleeping.

No signs of struggle.

I haven’t sleep enough.

I still need some time to rest – a lot.

Another bad thing.

No Internet for me.

For 3 days.

And still need to catch up with my requirements.

Blogs. Reaction papers. Book Reviews. Research materials. Presentations.

Oooh. The feeling. I’m so stressed at this very moment.

Sorry for the random thoughts – I just can’t think too much for today.

Maybe a cup of coffee will work? Nah. I don’t think so.

….

Better get ready for the class later.

So help me God.

Rest in peace, Col. Federico Paule Limpin Sr.

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Getting Real – Chapter 4

September 18, 2008

In this chapter, 37signals started by informing us that in every application that we will be building or developing, we must look for the big picture.

“What does your app stand for? What’s it really all about? Before you start designing or coding anything you need to know the purpose of your product — the vision. Think big. Why does it exist? What makes it different than other similar products? “

– 37signals.

What the author wants to pin-point here is that we should learn to create vision among ourselves. This vision will direct your decisions, which will also and keep you remain on a certain goal.

“Are we staying true to the vision?”

– 37sginals

We should also remember that functionality is the more concern when it comes in creating an application/software.

I remember one experience of mine during my second year college. Yeah. I remember that experience, or should I say, that err- disaster.

It was our IMPROG3, a programming course, when we were tasked to make a particular system along with the database features for our final project. Shannon Angto and Evan Severino were my group mates during that time. We started to make a Human Resource Management system.

After set of meetings, I was tasked to make a layout of what will the systems looks like. So I made it – from buttons, forms, etc. I was proud of myself that I was able to make a layout that may look compelling for the users who will actually use it.

Here’s some screen shot of what I actually spent a lot time working out:

Talk about being nostalgic! Yay! Stop reminiscing ~X(

Now here’s come the sad part. It almost took me a week to make the user interface. It’s almost the deadline when I haven’t started to fix it’s functionality. Aarrgh. Sleepless nights!

We sooner found that the ones were actually building is almost a full-blown HR management system. Our only task was to make an attendance tracker, plus, a system that will create, edit, and delete employee information.

Here comes the more sadder part. We weren’t able to run the system completely, we were still lacking a LOT of validations, and we were still experiencing error problems along the way. We end up making the UI more likely to be 110%, while functionality – 40% to 50%.

Because I did focus too much in designing the user interface, the group ended up cramming – even on that last day of submission of projects. I have I also remember that time when we stay the whole afternoon in the class to fix a lot of bugs. Aarrgh. I can still remember that time when I haven’t eaten my breakfast – even my lunch.

What the chapter wanted to say is that we should learn to prioritize ourselves in building application that should be needed in the first place. One thing I’ve learned in that experience is that I should stay focus on what is the scope is all about. I was focusing too much on improving the system more, rather than focusing myself on what was really needed to do. I admit it – I was poor in scope management that time. I didn’t realize that we were actually gone too far.

Do things smarter – not harder. I will always remember that. You should learn to appreciate first in making smaller projects than focusing too much for bigger ones. Once you have done your part in making that small project, you could start improving it and later, face yourself for more challenging task.

Don’t waste on time figuring out a certain problem that isn’t existing yet. It is better to stick first on what was really happening. Once you resolve these problems, learn to respond on other problems that you’ll be encountering, one by one.

The chapter also explains that we should learn to choose our customers – people who will put an interest of using the system. I know that we cannot please everyone. Choosing the right people is the next step of developing your character and your systems as well, to be on greater heights. I learned that you should be doing things because you just want others to please your work. You do things because you will benefit on it. You work on things because it represents you.

Overall, there is one thing what the author want us to understand – seeing the big picture maintains our focus in setting our goals and decisions directly on one side. We keep on the usual phase that we are doing – no distractions or whatsoever. Everything is on track.

Set your priorities first. Before anything else, you should learn to set things which comes first and which comes last. Take one step out of time. Never skip on things that are important. You must follow on a certain steps so that everything is in order.

Abram. Will you stop it already? Haha.

Thanks for reading. God bless you all.

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Getting Real – Chapter 3

September 16, 2008

It is almost midnight and I haven’t posted this blog entry.

It was a 5-hour delay blog post due to some technical reasons. Sorry for that.

Now I wonder, why does my entry doesn’t show up?

Yeah. I posted it in a page not in a blog entry. Stupid thinking.

Sorry Sir David for the delay. Hope you still read this one.

Anyways, I here to talk about something what I’ve learned in the past readings.

After reading the Chapter 3 of Getting Real, I was able to grasp the idea of knowing how to construct an appropriate software features which allows user to use them efficiently and effectively. Building a software is a commitment, you should learn to adapt on what is required and what is only needed by people.

The tendency of having a large scope in building a software, you will never be finish on time. Plus, it would definitely cost you a lot. Remember the triple constraints – Scope, Time and Cost. Without proper management, any project would eventually become a failure. I almost forgot. We should also add Quality as part of the criteria.

In a changing environment, stakeholders become more demanding. It would be an advantage, specially for programmers to lessen their features, or should I say, start with a minimal feature. So that if there would come a time that the software really need that expansion or the development, developers or programmers could able to adjust depending on the demands of their clienteles.

Keep it short and simple. K-I-S-S. It was always been in my head for a very long time. However, I still tend to violate this simple rule. I do things way out of the scope. I have to admit, I’m not really good in pointing out good scope – I usually do things that are outside the boundaries.

In Getting real, they wanted things to be K-I-S-S.

Less mass also applies on having a small team. Based on what I had read, it is better to start in a small team because you can communicate well about the project. Also, the team members will be forced to work hard on the project to finish and deliver it on time. A small team can only be effective and efficient if the team members are competent enough to do the job.

The author emphasize on how less mass, or less feature, applies on smaller teams. It is a good start for people to build a small group rather than focusing on building larger ones. Just like in reality, smaller groups would let each members do their share. No slack offs. No worries. And because everybody do their share, a project will be accomplished on time. And the good thing about smaller groups – that is, quality. Because of minimal number of team mates, should I say, they are ‘force’ to do things, thus, squeezing out their brain cells to think more – to do things more.

In every project we do, we must learn to determine what are the constraints or hindrances along the project. It is important that we must learn to react things before a risk or problem would probably happen. Always remember the Murphy’s Law. Anything can happen – and it would even become your worst-case scenario.

One thing the article pointed is what is the difference between smaller companies to bigger companies. The advantage for small companies – less features. The good thing about less features of an application is that they can able to response to their clients quickly. Once they deliver it to them, the clients are satisfied – so are they. But the thing is. Nothing can be fixed forever – we need to adapt what really the world need. We soon improve our products, our services. And because markets are conversations, we were influenced by different factors – political, historical, social, and others. This innovation would eventually grow if communication between two people will be existing. Communication is good way people could share ideas and information to develop and to improve the way of life.

Thanks for reading. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

God bless.

Good night.

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Getting R-E-A-L

September 11, 2008

Time check. 10:32 AM

I was about to cram myself up posting this blog.

It was almost 11 AM when I finally read the first two chapters of ‘Getting Real’ by 37signals.

Alas! After reading and comprehending them, I’ve decided to make a so-called reaction paper for this.

After clicks of browsing several web pages, I suddenly remember something.

Something about

User

Experience

Let me share you something on what I’ve learned from Microsoft few months back.

The term User experience, often-abbreviated as UX, is used to illustrate the overall experience and satisfaction a user has when using a product or system.

It most usually refers to a mixture of software and business procedures, such as selling over the web, software usability, etc., but it applies to any result of interactive design.

To understand better we have here a simple metaphor on displayed below:

If you are the one to open the can what will you choose between the knife and the mechanical can opener?

Definitely you’ll choose the can opener because you’ll consider which is faster, easier, and more reliable to use.

This implies the quote, saying,

If something is

hard to use,

you’ll just

use

it less.

Most software designers and developers of today are focusing on the goal of creating an application that will create desire for the user to discover and learn to use the system efficiently and effectively.


The user has four resources to expend in discovering, learning, using, and hopefully becoming efficient in your application.

The more of these the user must spend to learn and operate your app, they less they have to apply to their actual goals.

More than being user friendly, your application should be people ready!

The

experience

is everything

because everything is part of

the experience.

Just like Microsoft, this is how a privately-held Chicago-based company is committed to building the best web-based software products possible for their users.

This is 37signals.

37signals made a book called Getting Real – a book which describes their business, their design, their programming, and their marketing philosophies.

Getting Real is like a strategy. A technique. A practice in making applications based on the customer needs, ideas and how they will able to utilize it. It is how UX should be experienced.

Good thing about 37signals is that they were able to come up with set of applications that allows users to handle them effortlessly. And I must say that having this kind of applications is a BIG ADVANTAGE for them, productive-wise and efficient-wise.

Getting real gives you that EDGE of doing things in fast phase – doing things at the same time. Users usually make use of application which has the capability of easy-access or should I say, the capability of navigating different functions of the application.

In every project you do, you must determine different constraints, such us the TIME, COST and SCOPE. I personally experienced them. Good project management should be able to help you in handling them. You should learn to prioritize in small things first before handling big ones. You must think of an achievable goal. Something that is doable. Something that is possible.

Expect things that everything will happen, negatively and positively. With these, you learn more. You became more mature.

Doing projects is like a game. In everything you do, you may actually make a risk out of it.

Competition is also a key to improvement. With this, you could actually improve your applications by comparing the similarities of your product and of your competitor’s.

When you solve your own problem, you create a tool that you’re passionate about. And passion is key. Passion means you’ll truly use it and care about it. And that’s the best way to get others to feel passionate about it too.

37signals

I totally agree with this one. If you’re really up to something, let others know about it too. Later, these things that you feel passionate about will be appreciated by other people as well. It is something that represent yourself – you whole being.

It is almost 12.30 PM. (I’m still thinking of adding some stuffs here later.)

Though I’m still at the first few chapters of this book, I would recommend this for everyone, especially for people who wish to create compelling web applications without having difficulty of understanding and applying concepts in constructing applications. It would also change their thinking on how to build applications.

Thanks for reading.

Comments and suggestions are much appreciated.

Have a nice day.