Web Controlled Short-Wave Radios..what’s not to enjoy?

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Time for something a little different – this time targeted to the 33s and Analysts out there.

Ever want to go back to the “Exciting” Days of yesteryear, and have access to a short-wave receiver?

Well, I found one you can control online – actually the first ever WebSDR (Web Software Defined Radio) from the University of Twente. http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/

Break out your Morse and enjoy.

[picture of the SDR hardware]

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Implementing Agile Practices In A Support Oriented World

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ACII was recently introduced to the Accredited Scaled Agile Practitioner (ASAP) from a colleague at work (thanks Justin).

At first glance, this seems similar to other Agile Certifications – with one interesting piece, applicants must write a “Thesis” pertaining to Agile Methodologies.

Just the thought of writing something on subject would weed out many, and although this would not unseat any of the PMI Certifications, I do think will help maintain the exclusivity.

So, as I began preparing for the – I put together this piece, and am placing here for peer-review.

Enjoy

Implementing Agile Practices In A Support Oriented World

Introduction

In today’s world, more and more organizations are making the transition to Agile software development, but can some of these same methodologies be applied to Support Structure?

It has been my experience that they can, and that this can make your teams more effective and efficient.

I present below, three Agile Practices that can be implemented into an organization that contains both Software Development and a Support Group.

The Daily Scrum

The first take-away from Agile practices, and the easiest to implement, is the Daily Scrum. In a development world, this is a daily 15-minute meeting where each participant highlights the previous days accomplishments, what is on their schedule for that day and is there anything impeding their progress.

In the Support World, this type of meeting is just as critical.
It allows team members to understand the workloads, problems and achievements of their peers. It brings clarity to the teams daily objectives and highlights any showstoppers or big picture issues that may arise, and it provides immediate insight to team leaders as to what is actually going on in their teams.

Efficient and Face-to-Face Communication

It is often said (rightly or wrongly) that software developers sit in an ivory tower and have little insight to the real-world applications of their product. Agile methodology strives to correct that by having Product Owners as customer facing advocates. I put forward, that having an additional voice in Planning and/or Scrum of Scrum meetings could be beneficial, and that voice would be from the Support Group.

The development teams will not only receive valuable feedback from customer facing teams as to how external perception of the application, but also how it is applied in unique environments, possibly giving unique perspective that can be re-applied or refactored into the product, especially as it is often the work of the Support Group that turns into User Stories as they escalate defects in the product.

Definition of Done

The Agile process that Support Groups should be included in, is that of Definition of Done.

As mentioned before in INCLUSSION, Support Groups have a unique insight in how Product X is being utilized in a customer/end-user’s environment. By including the Support Group in the Definition of Done, they continue to bring that insight to the table – possibly by validating the current increment against set customer facing scenarios or previously reported incidents.

Conclusion,

We utilized all of the examples in my previous position of Director of Technical Services, and this had an immediate and positive impact.

The Daily Scrum removed the ambiguity of workloads and impediments of the day-to-day workflow, and allowed management to better schedule and adjust as needed.

Efficient and Face-to-Face Communication allowed another voice into the collaborative environment of SCRUM, bringing a different and unique perspective as the Support Groups voice was heard throughout the organization.

By adding the Support Group to the Definition of Done, this helped expedite deliverable increments/releases as they assisted in QA Testing and verified fixes towards reported issues. This verification ensured that customer problems were being addressed in each increment, and increased customer satisfaction with a more reliable application release.

Ultimately, but implementing Agile practices in multi-team environments, you bring cohesion to an organization by unifying methodologies, terminology and practices. Teams then can perform cross-functioning tasks when applicable and overall efficiency dramatically increases.

CloudU–Education about The Cloud–In The Cloud

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I’ve been kicking around another Certification Post for some time now – and with the spate of Cloud related posts (and news articles) I thought now would be a great time to run it.

Therefore –    Welcome to CloudU

Well, officially Rackspace Cloud University, but everyone (including them) calls it CloudU. 

CloudU is a vendor neutral education and certification program developed by Rackspace – offering free certification and training utilizing MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course), videos and white papers, to those wishing to demonstrate their understanding of Cloud Computing in General.

One of CloudU’s founders Ben Kepes describes it as such –

(Students will) “come away with a solid basis of understanding about cloud – they will be able to ask pertinent and relevant questions of buyers and understand the best practices to adopt when moving to the cloud.” [1]

and I completely agree with him. 

There are currently 10 Classes, and everything culminates into an online exam

  1. Revolution Not Evolution – Lesson
  2. Cloudonomics – The Economics of Cloud Computing – Lesson
  3. Understanding – The Cloud Computing Stack SaaS, PaaS, IaaS – Lesson
  4. Say Goodbye to DIY Data Centers – Lesson
  5. Elephant in the Room – Lesson
  6. Planning a Move to the Cloud – Lesson
  7. Running a Business on the Cloud – Lesson
  8. Creative Configurations – Lesson
  9. Does Data Want to be Free – Lesson
  10. You Want to Put My Database Where – Lesson

In addition, there is growing content on the CloudU site, and I find this to be a great resource.  I will also go on record of saying – I joined CloudU BEFORE I saw this video from a Paul Brenner from the University of Notre Dame (before @JPlace says anything)

Overall, I found the training very well done, informative and a must have for any IT Department that is either thinking of going to the cloud, or to be used as continuing education for your IT (or even Sales) Teams.  Not only will it keep you on the continuously changing cutting edge of technology – but you can stretch your IT budget just a little bit further…..because its free.

I highly recommend this resource – and give it a two thumbs up.  Well Done Rackspace and CloudU.  Go Irish!

 photo CloudUCertificate_zps85fbdee4.jpg

http://cloudu.rackspace.com/diweb/start?f=VM5dZQR6*2BwqGFE*2BV4*2BGFuQJE0PWzYAjgeev2dsun*2BjITUQHkkb0h3IKtB*2Fm3O*2BG5

Microsoft continues with their push towards the Cloud.

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CloudJust the other day, I was having a conversation with someone at work, regarding the shift to cloud computing.

Now I read a pretty good article on Network World

Microsoft COO tells partners to get with the cloud program now

And it just reinforces what I forsee as a huge market trend.

Here are some highlights:

  • Microsoft channel partners need to urgently redefine and evolve their businesses so that they can resell the company’s cloud computing products, according to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner.
  • Right now, there aren’t enough partners on board. Microsoft has more than 600,000 partners worldwide, but only 53,000 are reselling cloud services.
  • While that number is up more than 100 percent from last year, Turner said he wants to bring it to about 150,000 in the next 12 months.
  • Microsoft is pushing ahead with its vision of having a single Windows API (application programming interface) for all types of devices, from small smartphones to massive displays, so that developers can write applications once, he said.
  • He said OEMs this year-end holiday season will release Windows devices in the sub-US$200 and sub-$100 price range, including an HP Stream laptop that will cost $199.

I highly recommend you read the rest of the article HERE, and I iterate to many of you – start brushing up on your EC2, Azure and Cloud Technologies…there is a change coming.

Enjoy.