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Agile Actually Does Not Have Low Hanging Fruit…

Are you “doing” Agile? Scrum or Kanban? Doesn’t matter. Probably some of you aren’t actually implementing or running with Agile. Even if you believe you are.

Sorry to disappoint you but this boils down to realizing that Agile does in fact have no low hanging fruit.

Agile Low Hanging Fruit - Tree and Chicken

What Does That Even Mean?

Low hanging fruit, the easily reached, easily attainable target. Ever been up in a cherry picker? That sense as the hydraulics lift you into the air in that small metal basket. As the basket vibrates and you hold on and then … yep, you look down and realize just how fast you got that high up. Agile is like that. Implementing Scrum or Kanban the first time feels like that, especially for the matrix, CMMI and waterfall crowd. Where’s my safety net? Ironically, Agile is meta. The more iterations you do, the more confident you get.

Unless you fall prey to the illusion that certain activities within Agile are easy and you can cherry pick those and ignore the tough stuff. It becomes about performing ritual or kata for its own sake instead of a deeper understanding of why and how to do things, and do them right.

Kata is mindful and any martial artist will explain the benefits of understanding their purpose. Like many others, I’ve applied the kata concept to testing in the past.

Don’t do these. No really, don’t.

There is one more arguably, having tools that don’t integrate, communicate or display actionable information. Allowing technical debt to fester.

If any or all of these are happening with your Agile team then you fell into the illusory trap of low hanging fruit.

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The Warptest POV

At this point you may be thinking all is lost or getting a bit annoyed. None of this is irreversible and the solution lies in the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto. If you have never read this and or don’t review it with your team, then this is the first change to make. Heck make this the default page in your team browsers, print it big for each work-space and read it aloud together.

See the photo above, I didn’t choose it just for the tree but also for the chicken below. I was sorry to see the chicken and pig analogy dropped (albeit for some evident reasons). The allegory has benefit but is loaded with negative connotation. Find another story that works for you.

Invest in your people. Train them and give them the knowledge and skills to succeed. We can’t just say to a team member, “Hey mate, you’re Scrum Master from now on.” They need to know what a Scrum Master does, how to do it and they will need guidance and help. A Certified Scrum Master course wouldn’t hurt either.

Make the changes that need making and do so fearlessly but not aggressively. Use honey, not vinegar.

Why is all this important? If you leave things as they are, stuck in some bastardized version of Agile then you are plotting your own failure. It won’t work and management will consider Agile a failure. This is a disservice to your efforts, your product and Agile itself.

The point of all this is to drive success. Some of the things you shouldn’t do are the end of a path taken that gives you short term, warm and fuzzy self-gratification instead of keeping your eye on strategic success.

This always makes me think of the scene in Arnold’s Conan the Barbarian where he and his companions are asked,

What is best in life?

Conan knows the answer and so should you. In the case of your team and product it’s adhering to a concrete definition of success. For me that is happy customers who come back for more of our product.

What’s your definition of success?

I had my first cup of coffee when I was 25 and that was it.

It was a cold rainy day, early morning, in the desert. I was on a training exercise with the Army and we had stopped our jeep for a break. One of the guys fished out a small gas stove, a tin pot and made Turkish Coffee with cardamom. He offered me a small glass full of coffee and a heaped spoon of sugar and I took my first sip. The rest as they say, is history.

As a Manchester boy, I grew up in a house where a nice hot cuppa tea was the staple. Usually PG Tips. Coffee in the 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s in England was Nescafe if you were lucky, and had no attraction at all.

After tasting my first strong, black, rich Turkish coffee I knew I needed to try more real coffee, and nothing with foam, frothed milk, syrups, flavourings; just shots of the good stuff. I tried espresso and I was totally hooked. Suddenly I was in a meaningful relationship with ground, brewed beans.

Luckily I lived in Israel, a country which takes its coffee seriously. This maybe one of the few issues the whole Middle East can agree on.

Over the last few months I’ve graduated from grinding store-bought coffee beans to getting interested in home roasting.

Home roasted coffee - software tester 1

Software Testing and Coffee Roasting?

As a software tester I approach new projects with research; online and word of mouth. I discovered that for the “hobbyist” the best start is to either use a pan on the gas or better a popcorn popper. As I’ve written in the past, testing is improved when it becomes like kata.

Of course, the beans are everything. I planned the following: –

Keep a note of all tests and test results: I used Microsoft Office for this (see the table below)

 

  1. Make a list of available green (unroasted beans)
  2. Test the quantity of beans in the popcorn popper that produce optimum results
  3. Make sure all beans are bought equally fresh (as much as you can) and stored the same way. Fresh = flavor.
  4. Define optimum results: evenly roasted, the coffee bean oil still present on the beans, no burnt taste. All beans ground for 11 seconds in the same Bosch coffee grinder.

The popcorn popper has a functional constraint, after 3 minutes or if overloaded it would overheat and shut down until it cooled off.

Bean

2:00 min

75 grams

2:30 min

75 grams

3:00 min

75 grams

2:00 min

150 grams

2:30 min

150 grams

3:00 min

150 grams

Kenya AA

Sumatra

Costa Rica

Colombia

Brazil

Ethiopia

Why do I mention these constraints? The last time I roasted I was in a hurry and overloaded the popcorn popper. It subsequently shut off to cool down at 1:45 min. The beans were under roasted so I siphoned off half into my cast iron skillet, turned on the gas and roasted half in the skillet for another minute and the rest in the popcorn popper when it cooled down and would restart.

The Warptest POV

If the popper is science, using the skillet is an art. You are roasting the curve of the bean against the flat skillet. It heats up to a higher heat and roasts quicker. You need to keep the beans moving and flip them over to get an even roast.

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By comparison, using the skillet gave better results. You can see exactly what’s happening in the skillet whereas the popcorn popper has a translucent, orange cover.

As for the beans, I got a better espresso from the Kenya AA but, that’s always been my favorite. Family and friends have been treated to espressos, cappuccinos, iced coffees and the ubiquitous Israeli Hafuch when visiting.

My plan is to finish the Sumatra and order Puerto Rican or Colombian green beans next and keep on testing. One thing, home roasting is seductive in its own way. I’ve found myself on Amazon and specialty coffee sites absentmindedly pondering 5kg bean roasters and bulk coffee grinders.

When I find my perfect roast I’ll be sure to let you know.

Windows 10 Is Celebrating…

On August 2nd Windows 10 will roll out its anniversary upgrade. It’s big.

First, for all of you who fear the Windows Update, don’t. Do be prepared. From August 2nd until you get the Anniversary Upgrade check Windows Update to ensure it runs when it’s convenient for you.

Otherwise you can expect to see the “Don’t turn off your computer” screen as updates are applied, just when you are getting ready to leave work.

Windows 10 - Ned Stark

What Is This Anniversary Update Of Which You Speak?

Many of us remember Service Packs. Today Microsoft is deploying the major update to Windows 10 thru an Anniversary Update. This is 1 year from the official launch of Windows 10. The success of the Operating System is largely due to Microsoft building an incredible crowdsourced solution of invested consumers who chose to install Fast Ring or Slow Ring updates. (Fast having been through low level testing and Slow having been exposed to more in-depth testing before release to these Insiders.)

Those who chose Fast Ring were opting for early adoption of new features but possible instability with it. This is the next step after the end of the free upgrade to Windows 10 that Microsoft offered all year.

The Windows Insider program was for Windows 10 for Desktop / Tablets and Windows 10 Mobile. For those of you wary of installing the update here are three facts courtesy of Microsoft: –

  • Insiders have submitted over 8.6 million pieces of feedback.
  • Insiders spent over 443 million hours on Windows 10.
  • The Insider Program is now available in 30 languages.

The Warptest POV

I’m not going to get into all the details of what new features and fixes we are going to get. Reviewing an Operating System is lengthy, thirsty work. Once we all get the Windows 10 Anniversary Update I’ll deep dive the changes. Some of these changes were alluded to at BUILD2016.

The metrics above tell you one thing, this has been vigorously tested, reported on and had changes recommended not just by Microsoft employees but people just like you who work with Windows 10 every day in a variety of locales, jobs and languages.

We can expect big things from Cortana, the already awesome Edge browser is getting superpowers and if you have a Surface, from the pen and inking. Microsoft are not going to stop with this update though. Expect more greatness.

Windows 10 - Anniversary Ninja Catnniversary Update – Ninja Cat – courtesy of Windows Insider Program

If you take one thing away from this post, this is a big update in terms of size, install duration and impact. Don’t try to run this during prime work time or just before you leave the office.

You’ve been cautioned now get ready to be wowed.

Are You Officing In Office 365 Correctly?

This Officing tale may be a one you are familiar with yourself. Names have been changed to protect the less productive.

Tom had begun work a while back at a Tech based company. He had been hired to improve work practises and it was needed. People were working hard, but they weren’t working well together.

People were still using their computers like it was the 1990s; Tom knew that it wasn’t a question of just instituting change, he had to show managers like Lucy, Dick & Harry and their team members that there was a better way. Changing habits like this was not going to be easy…

Officing The GlenGarry Glen Ross Way

Office 365 is the cloud-centric productivity and collaboration suite. It comes with cloud storage in OneDrive or OneDrive Business (depending on account type).

OneDrive can be accessed in the browser, Windows File Explorer or thru the OneDrive app.

Don’t share files as attachments unless necessary; especially to multiple recipients. This is bad Officing.

Enable track changes, agree on using comments in the Office document and share a link to the document you are collaborating on.

Don’t save Office documents to Network Shares and then have multiple users all work on this file at once. This is bad Officing.

ABC - Officing

Office 365 is fully cross-platform. You can be productive and collaborative on the go.

Files and folders in OneDrive can be shared with other users either by sending them a link or an invitation.

Default permission of a share like this is “edit” but you can change this by user to “view” only.

Office 365 Business also allows structured wiki-like file storage in the same Cloud infrastructure thru SharePoint.

Users can define mail notifications for when a file is changed or updated in SharePoint.

All the Office 365 tools you use daily are available to use in the browser too.

There are several tools you may not be familiar with in the Office 365 Business accounts: especially Delve, Sway & Planner.

Sway and Planner are useful but Delve is an incredibly valuable service for personal collaboration analytics and actionable intelligence.

Facebook just decided they need to use Office 365 across their workplace. For its strong collaborative and productivity ecosystem.

Outlook in the browser is divided into Mail, Calendar & People: Mail has a “Like” button for when you want someone to know you agree but don’t want to get into pointless mails of “thanks” > “you’re welcome” > etc.

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Microsoft introduced Office 365 Connectors several months ago allowing Office 365 applications to communicate with 50 (and rising) different 3rd party apps we all use in the workplace.

If you have Office 365 at home, you have a personal One Drive, Outlook.com email, Office in the web and these apps have built in Skype integration (some).

Got Windows 10? If Cortana is enabled for your locale / language & your workplace then you can use the virtual assistant in concert with Office 365.

Cortana is also available on Windows 10 Mobile, Android (Beta) & iOS … and there’s more. (Yammer, Gigjam (Beta), Skype / Skype for Business…)

The Warptest POV

We all use smartphones and rely on Apps for so much. Most of what we are doing is in the cloud. So why when it comes to productivity is it so hard to break our bad officing habits?

It boils down to two things: being aware that Office 365 has this vast potential and a collective willingness to but into this change in the workplace. Facebook are embracing this change with their adoption of Office 365 as their main productivity tool set in the workplace.

Are you ready to work smarter not harder? Get Officing folks.

 

Office 365 Delve Is Vital For Facebook Workers…

Office 365 Delve (formerly known as Project Oslo) is a center-piece for Office 365 in the workplace. This service is built atop the Office Graph. Office Graph provides actionable intelligence on workers connections, the shared meetings, mails and documents. The content discovery is presented through Delve. If you have Office 365 in the workplace then you should have Delve.

Facebook wants Office 365 and specifically Delve, and today they announced they are getting it.

All apps - Office 365 Delve

Why Does Facebook Need Office 365?

According to Tim Campos, CIO of Facebook the decision to make this leap is multi-faceted: –

  • Facebook works 100% online.
  • Facebook has multiple offices in multiple locations worldwide. Employees need the ability to collaborate in real-time on shared projects.
  • Facebook facilitates cross-platform for employees to maximize effectiveness.
  • several other reasons

Office 365 delivers all this and more. However, Office 365 Delve delivers actionable insights into how and with whom Facebook employees are collaborating.

Delve and behind it the Office Graph, deliver “personal analytics” but also a powerful social network for the workplace.

Facebook - Office 365 DelveWhilst Facebook clearly needs a productivity / collaboration solution the choice and focus on Office 365 Delve as a crucial service leaves major questions.

What are the ramifications for Facebook At Work? Facebook has invested in building version of their social network with a separate work login and a closed ecosystem for your company, using Facebook and its associated tools.

office 365 Delve - Facebook for WorkFurthermore, Facebook has both iOS and Android apps in each store to support this. Are there no Facebook Insights or Facebook Graph API adding the same kind of intelligence and personal analytics that Office 365 Delve does?

The Warptest POV

Facebook has made progress with Facebook At Work and it is in use in-house (allegedly this is how Mark Zuckerberg makes company-wide announcements). This is not the mature, versatile ecosystem that Office 365 is.

I’ve used the phrase force multiplier recently but none deliver this as much as Office 365 Delve. Facebook have wisely chosen to bet on mature, evolving applications that are only improving and adding more apps and versatility as time goes on. In past posts, I’ve shared an alternate vision for Google+ that would have taken it into the productivity sphere for companies instead of where it is today.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook integrate with Office 365. Perhaps this is the future for Facebook at Work.

Now throw into the mix that Microsoft is firmly embedded in Facebook and owns LinkedIn. Food for thought.

What do you think?

Twitter Do This Now

Twitter has enough problems with user retention, competing as a textual platform against the rise of Live video (something they are investing in themselves with Periscope) and general app improvement malaise.

One of Twitter’s power features are the lists. Anyone who uses 3rd party tabular apps like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Tweeten will love the ability to create logical groupings of Tweeps you follow and then have them displayed in filtered, tabular format. Even better, Tweeps are notified when added to a list, making it a nice opt-in feature.

Twitter - Mission Statement

 Lists Are Cool, So What

The other day I had written a blog post I felt was interesting to one of the Lists I maintain and wanted to share with the people there. You can’t just @<List_Name> and then share with all the members of that list. You have to use your time listing each person. To be fair, the name of the list is probably already somebody’s Twitter name. Still, there should be an easy way to do this. Forget about the repetitive strain or the years of Twitter including names in the 140 characters. This is a powerful, useful feature and it fits Twitter’s mission statement in the image above:

To give everyone the power to create and share ideas

and information instantly, without barriers.

The Warptest POV

The use case here is pretty neat and enhances the power of the List feature in Twitter. Think “mailing list”. This is one more channel for easy content distribution and apps like Buffer or Start-A-Fire could piggyback on it. Heck, Mailchimp might even decide this is something they want to buy into.

 Twitter, if you are reading this, realize that features that are one-click or force multipliers increase user retention and new user adoption. In the war for users, you need to bring you’re A-game. Just one caveat, make this a feature that can’t be abused and you’ll really be on to a winner. One thing is for certain, this will change the way we build, maintain and use our lists.

 Does this feature help you? What other feature would you like to see?

Snapchat, you know who they are, right?

What the hell Snapchat? GSMArena threw the world of Windows Phone all a tizzy this morning with the announcement that in a dramatic reversal, Snapchat are working closely with Microsoft to build an app for Windows Phone. To be fair, by the end of the post GSMArena mention in passing these are the unconfirmed comments of a member of Lumia Support in Spain.

Snapchat - Snapchat

Their CEO, Evan Spiegel has been notorious in his disdain for the platform in the past, and became the object of dislike amongst Windows Phone users for blocking 3rd party apps. Snapchat had cited security concerns as the reason for the ban, after their user database of 4.6 million users was hacked at the start of 2014. Many felt this was a convenient excuse and wondered why, when so many companies were capable of releasing secure APIs allowing 3rd party development, Snapchat couldn’t.

Snapchat - Evan Spiegel on Windows Phone

 Recently Snapchat have released an API that seems limited to their earth-shaking foray into the world of advertising. Why the possible reversal on Windows Phone now?

Satya Hit Snooze On Windows Phone…

Windows Phone has allegedly died more times than Kenny in South Park or Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow combined. Still the platform has clearly evolved from Windows Phone, the Lumia handsets (and OEMs) to Windows 10 Mobile. With Microsoft’s shift in focus to the OS and Universal Apps one might think they are all but out of the handset business.

With the rumors of the Surface or Panay phone coming, Microsoft are hard pressed to choose between marketing the absolutely fabulous Lumia 950 / 950XL. Especially as these may be the last of the Lumia brand. The Surface phone is expected to be a radical reimagining of Microsoft’s mobile hardware strategy, combining incredible design, the evolution of features like Continuum, Hello & Cortana. Most important the Surface Phone is expected to be a PC in your pocket. A handset capable of running 32 (possibly 64) bit applications.

With the announcement of advances in Universal Apps and a 32 Bit Desktop to Universal App converter tool at BUILD 2016, we saw how this strategy ties together.

The Warptest POV

No one is expecting the arrival of Snapchat alone on Windows 10 Mobile to suddenly cause drastic changes in market share. However, since apps like WhatsApp, Vine, Facebook (Beta), Facebook Messenger and many more are going full force into Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile with Universal Apps (WhatsApp is not Universal) perhaps, Snapchat woke up and smelt the coffee.

The market share being fought over here (or ignored until now) are the 300 million+ and growing, Windows 10 devices of all types.

Snapchat is huge, Hillel Fuld has told us this, Gary Vaynerchuk has told us this. So is it too weird or fantastical to speculate that Satya might want to buy Snapchat and this is how Windows 10 Mobile is getting Snapchat?

After all, Microsoft just bought LinkedIn and that blew our minds.

For similar reasons, to gain access to the customer database and then to resolve some of the issues Snapchat still has like user search, limited API, analytics (where the <redacted> are the analytics?) doesn’t it suddenly make some weird kind of sense? Microsoft could do all this… Still this is just speculation.

If Windows 10 Mobile gets a universal Snapchat app, many Windows Phone owners will be happy. Then the only major social apps missing will be Periscope and a personal favorite, ZCast.

So do you think we’ll see a Universal Snapchat app?

Trello Just Launched Their App For Slack

Yes, Trello uncrowned king of the Agile task management apps are jumping into Slack, the must-have, killer collaborative app.

Trello App For Slack - Obi Wan

This integration means that users can just stop jumping between apps and be productive on the fly within their work chats.

Let’s face it, having to switch between apps; either desktop windows or different browser tabs gets old fast. Being able to make task allocation, management and tracking part of the conversation means a more dynamic and natural process.

Anyone wanting to view the changes in the Agile post-it chart style still can, allowing for an overview for managers, Scrum Masters and the like.

You Got Your Chocolate In My Peanut Butter

If ever there was an obvious and called for integration, it’s Trello and Slack. Both are full-blown cross-platform tools, both are independent, strong companies who have carved a substantial market share in their fields.

The work productivity market is booming and competition is strong. No one wants to use a tool that doesn’t seamlessly communicate with their other tools. The world of isolated work applications is dying even for the Open Source / Bootstrap Startup ecosystem.

The Trello app integration allows users to use the /trello command to create, allocate and more from within the Slack conversation with your group or team.

The Warptest POV

Whilst many people clearly were asking for this, there were also external push factors. Microsoft have made huge inroads into collaborative work productivity in Office 365 with the launch of new apps like Planner (Redmond’s Trello-killer) and Gigjam built atop Office Groups and Graph.

Microsoft are driving hard for an all-encompassing cloud ecosystem that companies of all scales can pay one subscription and get all the tools they need. Tools that know how to talk to each other which work with automated workflows and the new Bot Framework. Like Trello and Slack, Microsoft are offering cross-platform / cross-device apps.

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Trello and Slack had no choice but to sprint forward with this or be left behind. Their biggest competitive advantage is twofold: –

  1. Each company’s clear subscription model. This is something that Microsoft repeatedly hear regarding Office 365.
  2. There are people who will choose the unicorn cred of Slack and anyone who integrates with them over Microsoft.

For Microsoft to crush their competition they need to continue to evangelize the reimagined, reinvented company that is delivering on Satya Nadella’s vision.

Meanwhile if you are a Trello user not using Slack or vice versa, I’d be seriously checking out the benefits of using both in concert. Repeat the phrase force multiplier.

If you are undecided about what your work productivity tools need to be then I’d be comparing Trello and Slack to Office 365 as described above.

What other apps would you like to see working with Slack?

Barbie Are Celebrating The 50th Birthday of Star Trek…

… by boldly going where no Barbie has gone before. You can check out and purchase (should you desire) the special Lt. Uhura, Spock and Kirk dolls from here.

Barbie - Star Trek

As you can see from the screengrab Bones, Scotty, Sulu & Chekov are sadly missing but there are other pop culture collections too. Of course none have the cachet of TOS.

Warning: do not surf to the above page with children lurking around your computer screen 😉

Lt Uhura. So What?

Whilst many will either see this as just another merchandising venture, for Star Trek to reach 50 years and still be rebooting movies, spinning off new TV series and more is an incredible testament to what Gene Roddenberry created.

 

All this aside, Lt Uhura and the show as a whole, broke social and futurist ground 50 years ago with a female Communications Officer aboard the USS Enterprise. Lt Uhura was basically the mother of the bluetooth headset and smashed racial barriers on primetime TV with her and Captain Kirk’s onscreen kiss.

Barbie - Star Trek - Lt Uhura

The Warptest POV

All the lead characters of Star Trek TOS and subsequent shows have had a huge impact on individuals and how we conceptualize tech and innovate. Flip phones, space exploration and more owe a huge hat-tip to Star Trek and no doubt this will continue to be so.

Should you consider all the Star Trek 50 years collectibles an investment? I’m not sure but if you do buy all these from Barbie, make sure you hide them away in pristine, boxed condition from your kids.

Live long and prosper.

WWDC 2016 Is Here…

I’m about as excited by WWDC 2016 as I was by their March 18th Product Launch. If Apple launches something innovative or ground breaking, it will be despite the management of Tim Cook. Not because of it.

WWDC 2016 - case in point

Everyone and their brother in the blogosphere are making predictions about what we can expect to see from Apple.

Don’t get me wrong, I want Apple to deliver radical, inspiring products. I want them to yell from the rooftops,

“Game on Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon.”

What’s Your Vision, Apple?

Tim Cook has not delivered a clear vision for Apple the company. Not the way Satya Nadella has at Microsoft.

  • Are we expecting new feature laden versions or sweeping bug fixes for iOS / OS X?
  • Can we expect better development tools? Will they be subscription or not?
  • Will there be thinner or bigger devices launched or a total reimagining of MacBook?
  • Will Apple finally get their thumb out and compete for the colossal Cloud computing market against Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure?
  • Are Apple going to jump into the Bot revolution like just about everyone else and come on Apple, Augmented and Virtual Reality?
  • Most important, which apps will Apple shamelessly have copied in time for WWDC?

Apple seems to tease us with rationed tastings of their vision but no overall mission statement, why?

As Apple announces beta versions of various software, developers will go thru their annual 7 stages of coping:

  1. An Apple engineer leaves a new (unreleased) iPhone in a bar.
  2. WWDC 2016 announces the new betas: try to download and site is overloaded by requests.
  3. Downloads start working but lag is awful.
  4. Downloads of OS / Development tools / other software in beta installed to work devices and users begin reporting all the bugs.
  5. Apple reminds people these are beta versions.
  6. Remembering that this is just like last year.
  7. Guilt, anger, recrimination, despair and multiple conversations in Twitter and Facebook over how to roll back.

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The Warptest POV

Apple is THE frontrunner with consumer mobile devices. That said, Apple today is not Apple under Steve Jobs.

Meanwhile, Microsoft are planning a party for developers after WWDC and to truly rain on Apple’s parade, announced their acquisition of LinkedIn today.

Am I annoyed at Apple for not bringing their A Game? Yes. Challenge the market, push your competitors to compete and don’t fall back on the same old successes.

Forget “Game on Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon.”… “Game on APPLE, bring it.”

LinkedIn and Microsoft, That’s Right.

LinkedIn just accepted a hefty $26.2 Billion from Microsoft for their acquisition. This has left techies, bloggers and astounded and scrambling to understand what just happened.

How much?!??

;

What Is LinkedIn?

All you have to do is jump over to LinkedIn’s About page:

LinkedIn - About Page

Nutshell, Microsoft just acquired “the world’s largest professional network with more than 433 million members in 200 countries.”

Start from the data, connections and analytics available. Now think about your connections. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the value of this kind of big data set. Do the math, how much Microsoft paid against the number of users…

What will Microsoft do with LinkedIn? We can expect UX refinements in iterations but not a sudden drastic change. Will LinkedIn end up with New Windows UI? Probably down the line.

LinkedIn is all about connections, networking and building relationships within the network. It’s about professional development for workers and sourcing for the employer. LinkedIn lets us build better profiles, in some ways replacing the conventional resume and references but more than that, it allows discovery. Discovery of potential job prospects and potential recruitment candidates.

Many people have faulted LinkedIn for their UI / UX choice but there are a few other big issues: –

  1. Discovery and ranking: how does LinkedIn actually improve your chances of discovery? There are different things you need to do to ensure a complete profile. In addition, you cannot neglect your profile nor fail to interact.
  2. Job suggestions: the algorithm behind this doesn’t learn from choices and often offers many false positives.
  3. Interaction: LinkedIn sends a slew of emails, and the more groups etc you participate in, the more email you have to wade thru.
  4. Groups: LinkedIn groups should be incredible but the groups are the successor to online forums and have not solved the problem of recurring discussions instead of a continued thread.

The Warptest POV

Satya Nadella has a vision, a mission statement for Microsoft. To empower each person… to do more. Microsoft is about productivity and collaboration and they have gone full-bore into cross-platform and open source.

Microsoft BUILD 2016 was where we saw much of this vision come together and it is not hard to see how this will be applied to LinkedIn:

  1. Metro New Windows UI: LinkedIn will iterate to a flat UI like the rest of Microsoft. Not overnight.
  2. Office 365: this is a no-brainer. Business Insider shows Satya Nadella’s letter regarding the LinkedIn acquisition and he makes clear reference to tighter productivity integration. Will we see “build a Word resume from your LinkedIn profile and save to OneDrive”? This, in-app use of templates and more Office 365 goodness can be expected.
  3. Cortana: as Cortana continues to evolve, acquire an increased skillset and integrate with more apps, we can expect to see Cortana integrate with LinkedIn.
  4. Bots: Microsoft launched their Bot Framework and this may offer a better solution to job suggestions, discovery and excess emails.
  5. Bing: Microsoft has integrated Bing with several other external platforms including Siri & Facebook (in the past). Logical and somewhat obvious.
  6. Office Graph: Office Graph and Delve make intelligent discovery seamless within Office 365. This will amp up job and candidate discovery.

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This doesn’t even factor in Microsoft location or ad services.

So Microsoft has the biggest dataset of professional connections in the world, new companies, who is looking for work, who wants to source the best candidates and the trending discussions in groups of different high profile jobs. This is all actionable intelligence for the biggest company selling Enterprise and Consumer IT solutions.
 
Now bring AI, bots frameworks, analytics and search-discovery to bear along with the most powerful productivity suite in the world.
Get ready for a better LinkedIn. I know I am.

Google Made The News This Weekend…

*** Google Chrome Extension Story UPDATE *** Gizmodo posted a follow-up to this story indicating those behind this plugin have wider plans than just the Chrome extension. They have a GitHub page (currently down and hopefully due to GitHub banning them). which when up has the code for a Firefox plugin and or sideloading the extension. Worse still is that this GitHub page had a list of all the echo tagged Jews. ***

Google may have pulled a Chrome Extension designed to identify and target Jews by allowing online racists to tag the names of journalists, bloggers (etc) they believe to be Jewish. This was done using (((alleged Jewish Name))) around the name, this became known as the echo. Once Google became aware of this, the extension called Coincidence Detector was pulled. There are bigger questions that need addressing: –

1) Are Google working with Law Enforcement to ensure the company and developers responsible for this face justice?

2) Are Google working to improve their review process for their Extension and App submission process to ensure hate-apps do not even get approved?

Approximately 8800 people were identified by this extension allowing anti-Semites to harass and threaten them and have no doubt, this would have escalated. It’s time for Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others to aggressively police themselves, their app stores and social networks they manage.

Make no mistake this “hate-app” may have been caught but others will be out there and the unpoliced hate-speech should be cause for concern for us all.

Fear Lead to Hate, Hate Leads to Anger & Hate-apps Lead to Violence…

This would not be the first time technology was exploited by anti-Semites to target Jews. The Nazis exploited the German subsidiary of IBM to access their technology. This enabled them to tabulate and collate lists of Jews and other minorities for extermination during the Holocaust.

Just last week we read that Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft agreed to apply EU rules to a code of conduct regarding online hate-speech. One of the contributory causes to this decision between the EU and these tech giants has been the increase in hate-speech online, recent terrorist events across Europe and the unquestionable increase in online recruitment by terror groups. However, the Verge’s post on this leaves one with a feeling that this is not an improvement. I strongly recommend you read that post carefully. Why are these companies not adopting a worldwide stance that goes beyond the letter of local laws?

The Warptest POV

For us to entrust these companies with our personal and commercial data we need to be sure that these companies can be trusted to do what is right and just. There is no question that anyone who would develop technology to target any specific group for harassment or threat will escalate to physical violence.

Many of these companies have not done enough in the past to handle their acting as a funnel for this kind of hate and the spread to apps and extensions is both logical and foreseeable.

google - stop hate-apps

If so, why is the approval process not designed to catch this? To be fair, a smart developer will do everything to obfuscate the intentions of such a hate-app. This doesn’t mean that these companies shouldn’t be doing more. Nor does it mean that governments or law enforcement should be ceding the fight to private corporations.

These corporations are currently fighting to allow access to their customer and user data. Law enforcement needs to demonstrate a responsible attitude not the greedy “give us all your data” and we’ll find the criminals stance. The NSA with PRISM and the FBI with their petition to decrypt the San Bernadino terrorist’s iPhone demonstrate the balancing act needed here.

Ultimately, the public needs protection from these new threats to their safety. Do we sacrifice freedom of speech or privacy for this? Tough questions and ethical dilemmas abound but ultimately this is about peoples safety. This means at the very least, the debate should be a burning issue right now.

There are others out there who will undoubtedly be working to actively locate and identify those behind this new threat. I expect we will know the names of the developers behind this particular Chrome Extension within short time.

One ray of hope and a tinge of humor was an article on Tablet Magazine explaining how astute journalist Yair Rosenberg used twitter to crowd-source an appropriation of the echo tag (((alleged Jewish Name))). Well played Yair for showing that Twitter is still relevant and is a valuable tool in combatting this kind of hate.

In a nutshell, there needs to be a zero tolerance standard adopted by these companies. A standard that acts to prevent these threats from going live online. A standard that publicly outs these provocateurs of hate and racism. A standard that willingly supplies the identities of these people to Law Enforcement. Not cleaning up after the fact.

Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others: this is your call to action.