Thoughts 2

published 2016-12-07

On Call

Alice Goldfuss started a debate about having developers on call. I am firmly in the camp of those who think it is a good thing, probably because I was a sysadmin before being a software engineer. But this means those developers must have the power to refuse to ship broken code that may make the pager go off as well.

In fact, it is all about fostering the sense of ownership, which is the N.1 trait I look for in developers. And this won't be the first time I have quoted great people saying similar things!

The value of metrics

Here is something people who haven't worked in B2B software companies may not understand: sometimes knowing your product's metrics, how its users behave and the market it is operating in can be more valuable than the product itself. Small B2B2C software vendors often end up knowing things about their (huge) customers' clients that the customers themselves don't.

What that means is: if you provide third-party software to your users, ask the third-party vendor what data points they collect, what they can do with them, and if they can feed them back to you. And if you are the third-party vendor, consider the value of that data, and maybe find clever ways to turn it into a competitive advantage.

Why did the robot do that?

Explaining why AI makes decisions is going to be very important in the years to come. Trusting algorithms is hard for humans. This slows down adoption and progress the most in areas that really matter. So we need a way to let concerned people "feel" why machines do things the way they do it. Because writing papers is nice, but we all know simply telling people to trust experts is never going to work. This means those topics are now also UX problems.

Can't you just...?

Someone made a nice web page to answer a question we hear pretty often. :)

Applications and Data

Here is something I have been believing in for a long time: there is no good technical reason why most Web-based application vendors force you to store your data on their servers. It should be possible to use, say, a presentation application from Google to edit slides stored on Microsoft's servers.

Sadly, for reasons that probably have a lot to do with business models, things like remoteStorage did not really take off. But I hope someone will revisit that idea someday, and find a way to make it take off.