Keeping the Programmers Out

When an implementation project for a standard system like SAP or Oracle E-Business Suite runs completely off the rails, it’s because the programmers have been allowed into the project.

Programmers are very accommodating people and they don’t like to say no. And true enough, given enough time and money, they  can build anything.

The problem is that the business case for a standard system rests on the word “standard”. Not “almost-standard-with-a-little-bit-of-code”. By all means use (more...)

Why you’re not getting hired

If you’re applying for permanent positions and not getting hired even though you have the skills the organizations asks for, consider whether you are proving your ability to learn new things.

I’m often talking to people who believe their 20 years of experience with technology X or Y should make them shoo-ins for a job. However, they are not getting hired.

The reason is that a modern organization can’t depend on the same skill being (more...)

Cool or useful?

This is the dashboard of a Tesla S:

tesla dashboard

With a large touchscreen and very few physical buttons. A lot of design time went into building this. Very cool-looking.

This is the steering wheel of a Formula One racecar (which is incidentially the whole user interface of the car):

formula1 steering wheel

A small screen and a lot of physical buttons. A lot of usability engineering went into building this. Very useful.

If you are going to be handling (more...)

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The above phase means “who will guard the guards themselves?” and is relevant in many security contexts.

Here in Denmark, we are currently having our own “News of the World” affair. In our case, a contractor at the payment processor handling almost all Danish credit cards was able to automatically send a tip to a journalist whenever a celebrity used his or her credit card. That makes it hard to take an incognito honeymoon (more...)

Can you keep up? Nike couldn’t

Nike have been producing the Nike FuelBand for a couple of years, but have recently thrown in the towel. I own a Nike FuelBand and have enjoyed the fact that it’s pretty unobtrusive (just a matte black rubber wristband until you press the button).

fuelband

I’ve found that the gamification aspect – you are this close to your daily goal, shown with little colored lights – worked well for me. There is a sync feature with (more...)

Hacker-proof key

At my hotel in London this week, I received a physical key, not a key card. In a time where millions of hotel door locks can be opened by any half-competent hacker with an Arduino microprocessor, it was reassuring to receive a security service that is actually hard to break.

Are you using appropriate technology? Remember that your fancy computer systems are sometimes much more vulnerable than the systems they replace.

DIY Disasters

When people take on home renovation “Do-It-Yourself” projects beyond their skills, disaster ensues. Apparently, this is so common that you can base a whole TV series on this theme – where professionals rescue the disastrous DIY project for the grateful and clueless amateur handyman.

I’ve seen the same thing happen in many IT projects. The people in the organization overestimate their own skills and are unable or unwilling to pay the cost of professional external (more...)

Unfocused Learning

The manager was proudly showing off his new IT classroom.

“Where is the projector?” I asked.

“Oh, we don’t need a projector. The instructor can just take over everybody’s screens.”

I have been teaching in environments like this, and it does not work well. When I have a piece of information or a computer screen projected in large format in front of everybody, the class has a common focus on the task. If (more...)

IT Defence in Depth

The Heartbleed bug has shown that security vulnerabilities can pop up everywhere. Unfortunately, many IT organizations depend on a single security layer to secure their network – and as the ineffectiveness of the Maginot Line proved, that is a risky strategy. You need multiple security layers – what soldiers call Defence in Depth.Security LayersThis illustration is from my weekly Technology That Fits newsletter – sign up here.

Good IT hygiene

Everybody knows they need good dental hygiene – daily brushing and flossing, regular checkups at the dentist. But many IT professionals don’t realize they need good IT hygiene as well – regular maintenance, security patches, etc.

If you don’t practice good IT hygiene, you will experience pain down the line. I’d like to help you avoid that – get in touch.

Toolmaking

My carpenter has been putting in a new floor in a room in my house, and I noticed that he makes some of his tools as he goes along.

It’s not that he doesn’t have a hammer and a cordless electric screwdriver. But every once in a while, he needs to move, align or support something in a way that his standard tools do not support. So he immediately builds an ad-hoc tool out of (more...)

Information Evaporation

Have you noticed that knowledge about IT systems seems to evaporate over time? I’ve seen quite a few systems where the only knowledge left was a few pages of yellowed paper in a dusty binder.

Information EvaporationHowever, in some application systems, this does not happen. Why is that? Because the information about what the system does is stored in the code.

Keep system documentation inside your code to prevent information evaporation.

Dutch Cars – Technology That Fits

I was just in Amsterdam last week, and they have the smallest cars I have ever seen:

small_carAt first, it looks counter-intuitive, given that the average Dutchman seems to be several meters tall. But really small cars is actually a very obvious solution for a crowded city like Amsterdam with many canals, narrow roads and very limited parking. These mini-cars are actually parked on the pavement, probably avoiding the 5 Euro per hour parking fee (more...)

Thinking it Through – Nest Smoke Alarm Fail

The company Nest, recently acquired by Google for the usual billions, makes smart thermostats and smoke detectors. Unfortunately, they did not think through the user experience of their Nest smoke and CO detector.

In principle, it’s great that you can turn off your smoke detector by waving your hand at it – like in “oh, cut it out, I just overcooked my microwave popcorn a bit.”

Less great is that if people experience an (more...)

Don’t Automate Half-Way

I watched in horror as the updated application was deployed to the test server. The application was fine, having been subjected to the first test by the developers, but the deployment process was bad. There were various home-built utilities to run with very specific parameters in order to build the deployment package that would then be semi-automatically installed on the test server. It took a new developer a whole day and 20-30 attempts to build (more...)

Come back when we’re open

I subscribe to Microsoft Office 365 and had a payment stuck on an expired credit card. Even though there was a new card, the billing system kept trying the old one.

In a modern cloud service, I would open a service request and expect things to be handled for me. But this is Microsoft. And with the arrogance of the monopolist they used to be, they require you to please show up when they feel (more...)

ADF Book Bundle – get one free!

Packt Publishing has a “buy one, get two” offer that runs until Wednesday. If you don’t have my ADF books, this would be a great opportunity to buy my new book Oracle ADF Enterprise Application Development – Made Simple: Second Edition and get a free copy of Developing Web Applications with Oracle ADF Essentials (or the other way around ;-)

Good User Experience at Low Cost

The business wants IT to deliver a good user experience at low cost. Many people in IT considers these two goals to be conflicting, but they are not. The secret to good user experience at low cost is to use existing best practice, codified in User Experience Design Patterns.
UX patternsSo where do you get these magic, cost-saving design patterns? A good starting point is the very comprehensive library of UX design patterns that Oracle is (more...)

The Future of User Experience

I’m off to the Netherlands for the first and finest Oracle User Experience Event in Europe, arranged by Oracle Platinum Partner AMIS Services BV at their offices in Nieuwegein.

AMIS and Oracle are pulling out all the stops – Oracle is flying in their top UX talent to speak, AMIS has lined up some of their experienced consultants, and they’ve even invited a few outside experts (like me).

I’ll be co-presenting with Killian Evers (more...)

The Cost of Coding

When implementing a standard system, too many organizations allow the programmers to reach for the programming toolbox right away. It might initially seem faster than using the customization features of the application, but over time, the cost of custom coding just keeps adding up.

The Cost of ExtensionsThe most crucial decision when implementing a standard system is how much custom coding you allow. Do not underestimate the cost of coding.

The graphs comes from my weekly “Technology That (more...)