Saturday, December 28, 2013

Phone app review

In this article we will look at some iphone apps and provide comments about these. These comments will be in the light of the book "Design of Everyday Things" which I happened to read recently. Also did watch the related course on Udacity.

Plan to keep on adding to the list of apps reviewed. Note that these comments are my personal opinion only. And these comments will take a systems view of the phone apps where we consider not only the apps but also the experience associated with them.
  • Highlight is an app to targeted to help you learn about the people around you. So you see all information that is publicly shared of a person close to you who is sharing highlight. The app is running in the background. I downloaded this app only on my Android phone.
    • Comments: 
      • The app is not very clear for a person who downloads it. You see a bunch of photos of people 
      • On selecting a photo, I see the same photo again, a map probably with the location where the person was a while ago and a bunch more information.  What do I do with this information?
      • There is a button that takes me to my profile but then how do I edit my information. Probably I cannot but I do not know the model in the mind of the creator of the app.
      • There is also a camera (signifier in the language of "design of everyday things") on the main screen. I clicked on that, it took pictures and then I have no idea what happened to the photographs. Talk about "gulf of evaluation". 
      • And of course "running in the background" all the time probably thereby sucking the battery of my phone. 
      • Not to speak of notifications about strangers I do not care about on my home screen popping up. 
      • Well I "deleted" the app. No sense wasting space on my cell phone, battery life as well as "wasted cycles" deleting notifications about strangers I don't care about. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Systems approach to business analysis

A systems approach to analyzing the business of a company is indeed very important. A good example of one such analysis is here for zulily. The author of this article does a good job of looking at all aspects of the system that is Zulily. I found it an interesting read.

Friday, December 20, 2013

daily task tracker

I like to track progress regularly (daily?). This to help figure out the cause of inefficiencies if any in order to address it. So obviously interested in a startup such as idonethis.

They send a daily reminder email. The replies from each person on the team is then summarized in a digest emailed to all the next morning. They do charge approx USD 5/person/month for this service. Might be okay for small teams but for larger teams it might be cheaper to build something in house.

Salary information

Here in the US we treat salaries as information that should be closely guarded. However, breaking this trend is a startup Buffer.

They have published the salaries of their employees on their blog. An interesting experiment no doubt. Still I am not bought into this given the issues we can run into when the team grows.  Issues such as the different constraints of different employees (some want more vacation over more salary or vice versa), different maturity levels of employees, impact on the social circle etc.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Containers in 5 min?

We hear a lot of buzz about containers these days. This article provides a very nice introduction to this concept. And not long to read too.

To quote
Containers virtualize an OS; the applications running in each container believe that they have full, unshared access to their very own copy of that OS. This is analogous to what VMs do when they virtualize at a lower level, the hardware. In the case of containers, it’s the OS that does the virtualization and maintains the illusion.
 Containers require low overhead to create and manage. These are more appropriate for the cloud workloads. PaaS being the main driver for containers these days although the concept itself has been around for a long time.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Lately I have been looking at Node.js. This seems like a very good tool for programmers. It leverages the concept of Event driven programming.

So why should you use Node. Instead of providing my explanation, I will quote excerpts from this article. Of course, the article is dated for those of you who read that.
  • One reason is efficiency. In a web application, your main response time cost is usually the sum of time it takes to execute all your database queries. With node, you can execute all your queries at once, reducing the response time to the duration it takes to execute the slowest query.
  • Another reason is JavaScript. You can use node to share code between the browser and your backend. JavaScript is also on its way to become a really universal language.
  • And the last reason is raw speed. V8 is constantly pushing the boundaries in being one of the fastest dynamic language interpreters on the planet. 
  • In addition to that, node's I/O facilities are really light weight, bringing you as close to fully utilizing your system's full I/O capacities as possible.