Where are the mobile app experts?

Building a mobile app can be a difficult pursuit for rookies. There are many online mobile app resources to teach and help construct the infrastructure for one’s first mobile application. However, although individuals newer to the mobile app business might need tools such as online app builders to get started, it would be surprising to discover that technology companies who claim to specialize in app building services, have never built a fully functional app of their own. Yet this does seem to be the case. A recent study carried out by Telerik State of Mobile Development conducted a survey on 3,000 IT professionals, discovering 57% of developers had never truly gotten their hands dirty to build an actual app. Albeit considered “professionals”, the issues of constantly changing technology have prevented many from mastering the trade.

Although this could be a product of the fast-paced evolution of technology, other constraints may also play a role. Many of the newer start-ups are run by young professionals in their early 20s. Given the infancy stages of these developers’ careers, many have not been in the field long enough to build up the dexterity to aptly acclimate to new technology.

While the discovery of this deficiency in mobile app specialization might highlight a lucrative market that has yet to be fully exploited (i.e. app building tools for professionals), there is some caution in expanding this business. The more online mobile app builders, the more likely we will see less original, more ubiquitous user designs. Albeit efficiency, the artistry of the development and originality that gives each application it’s unique, slick look and user-tailored interface could potentially become extinct. Similar to what has been seen to the art of website design as Weebly, WordPress, and Wix’s build-it-yourself website model has infiltrated the World Wide Web in the most recent years.

But, alas, there is hope as there are still highly skilled mobile app developers who do in fact know a thing or two about a thing or two (or three, or four). To stand out from the masses and maintain your app’s competitive edge among the sea of apps that consumers are inundated with on the daily, look for a mobile app professional with a hearty portfolio, years of experience and wisdom in the field. This will generally verify they have not only perfected their craft, but most likely have been able to constantly stay one step ahead of these every changing, ever ephemeral development tools.

Don’t just look for a professional, find yourself a veteran in the field. Check out all that Rückbau has to offer in mobile and web development.

More and More coding careers, less of…..everything else

As students graduate from college with heavy-weighted degrees in the “Liberal Arts”, what they are finding is that in order to make a six figure income, what is becoming increasingly essential, outside of degrees and life experience, is the ability to code. The discouraging factor is that to acquire enough knowledge and experience in coding to land a well paying job, the time commitment and cost are both far less than a four-year degree. Within three months, and $10,000 later, a $100,000 salary can be as close as a stones throw away.

So I pose both an ethical, philosophical, and what seems to be almost a rhetorical question of whether or not it is even considered valuable to go to school for a 4-year degree anymore? To be an academic or scholar, then perhaps yes. However, in that case, you are most likely not in any rush to land a well paying career anytime soon. On the other hand, if college is simply a means to an end to land a decent paying job, perhaps it is time to reconsider.

Don’t get me wrong, not everyone can walk into a coding bootcamp course and come out as a genius engineer. The main trait one has to have before getting into any of this is intelligence. One needs to have a sharp, critical thinking, analytical mind, which college generally provides resources that can help fine-tune this much needed asset. Additionally, apart from simply accomplishing a coding course and receiving a certificate, one also needs to chart a significant amount of hours in front of a computer, geeking out over the artistry and poetic nature of code, if you will.

However, it is undeniable that the tech industry is booming, and their seems to be no end in sight at the moment. It is for this reason that graduates, among others from entirely different fields, are leaving everything they once knew in exchange for the plethora of high salaried paying positions with companies desperate for employees. Although these companies have little quality control, many are not concerned, especially newer start-ups who are backed by wealthy funders encouraging them to hire fast and fire fast if need be. Given the long line of people willing and ready to take the next available position, there is no shortage of competitive candidates. Whether or not this business model is sustainable in the long run, time will only tell.

Nonetheless, with all speculation aside, the tech industry is hands down a lucrative business for many people, all the people, willing and able minded and ready to compute.

How The Cloud Has Transformed My Job

Managing two coworking spaces I need to be 100% on top of customer service at all times, no exceptions. Mind you, this is not only limited to customer service, but also includes building management, billing, sales and marketing, as well as, keeping an eye on my remote team, all while moving back and forth between offices. There are a lot of moving parts, which as you can imagine, can get exhausting at times.

The biggest saviors to my sanity and productivity for this job has been basic cloud service programs that are tried and true: TabCloud, Google Drive and Boomerang.

I can expound on the copious amounts of times that all three of these have provided the mental effort that I was too exhausted to conjure up on my own, however, I will spare you on those tedious narratives and specifically speak to how TabCloud  has saved my sanity. I can almost recall the day I discovered it– what I was wearing and where I was — it was a revolutionary time in my life. It is difficult not to wax poetic about a resource that has been transformational to the way I operate. TabCloud has enabled me to separate the many facets of my business life in a clean and concise manner. I log into no less than eight programs (I like to call them “friends”) to start my day; billing software, Trello, calendars and reservation software. I have 17 sites that I use on a daily basis. They forever keep me company.

TabCloud enables me to pivot from backend information to front facing apps without a moment of lag. If a member has a question about billing, printing, etc. I’m able to go through the program step-by-step with them, while switching to my admin view to be sure all information is syncing correctly. It has also helped me change my mindset when going from “accounting” to the more fun ”marketing” component. I’m truly am able to be more effective in each task with the help of TabCloud.

The remote access is the biggest salvation. I’m able to go to any of our offices, login to the work computer with all my daily “friends”, and within a flash they are up and ready to work – even when I’m not! Now those are quality friends. I no longer even need to be at work to do work (hooray????).

Technology is wonderful, but it isn’t useful if it’s not easily accessible. Being able to organize my sites and have them all available at the click of a single button is tremendously helpful. I remember my mother saying “if only there were two of me I could get everything done.” It is through these cloud-based services that I’ve been able to duplicate my brain space to bear less of the burden.

By

Jenny Ferrando 

Community Curator  @ The Port Workspaces

Top 10 reasons to live in SF

In the last year or so, long-term SF residents have been complaining about how the Tech industry killed SF. While some of these points are valid, I would like to provide a reminder for why this still remains one of the best city to inhabit!

1- Teary geography. My eyes tend to get a bit teary whenever I think about the beautiful SF geography. I can’t help but to feel extremely happy when I stand on a hill and I see the beautiful city by the sea.

2- Lots of cool people. No matter what the tech industry drags to the city, you will still meet tons of awesome people.

3- Home to some of the coolest Tech in the world. Most of the cool gadgets and software that is used these days, are conceived and designed right here!

4- Outdoor activities. What better place than SF’s backyard to play? There are countless outdoor activities.

5- Mild weather. As much as I like to drink a beer on a hot summer night, the standard weather of the bay is almost near to perfect.

6- Open conversations. You can always count on good conversation with open minded people.

7- There is a crew for everything. Whatever you may be into, you will always find people to do it with.

8- Bay to Breakers (my personal favorite activity in SF). If you’ve never done this, here is your excuse to move to SF.

9- Be who you want to be. No judgements here folks. Simply be the person you always dreamt to be.

10- Can’t find better burritos anywhere else. True story guys. And if burritos are not your thing, there are plenty of other awesome food options out here.

If none of these things appeal to you, I bet you are voting for Donald Trump.

8 Gadgets from the Near Future That I NEED Now!

Once again, we were tricked to believe that the future we were promised, was here now. This time Lexus presented us with a “Hover-board” video (more like a smart way to do advertising). Therefore, in response, I have made a list of 10 things I wish were actually out right now.

  1. The freaking Hover-board. Come’on guys, enough with the teasers already, let’s all get to work to come up with the real deal.
  2. Jet packs. Although this is much closer to being a reality, they still are not there yet. I’m very jealous of these 2 guys.
  3. Self-driving cars. Once again, close, but no cigar. I’m not sure how the alcohol industry hasn’t pushed harder for this one! Google, BMW, and some other brands are very close to this, but I think we still have 10 more years in the making before this is an actual reality.
  4. VR games. I’m getting very inpatient here people. We have Oculus and the Xbox kinect. How come no awesome VR games are out there for these two things?
  5. Robots. I want my own personal Bender. Well, maybe not a drunk robot, but one that will clean and cook for me.
  6. Teleportation. Only that one guy that turned into a fly cracked it. Unfortunately, he turned into a fly. So it seems like long airplane rides will continue to rule for the next 50 years to come.
  7. Underwater breathing. I’ve seen some buzz about products that require no tanks to breath underwater, but nothing solid yet.
  8. Nanobots. This one may just be the solution to the last 7 points. The only thing we will have to do is buy a billion of them, upload our memories and consciousness, and BAM! Shape yourself to whatever you want.

Google Joins The Circus

Some say that the bay area culture is going to “hell in a handbag” as the city becomes more and more inundated with technocrats and plutocrats. Others, like a bay area local who I recently had the pleasure to engage in a lengthy conversation with outside one of the only affordable consignment shops left in San Francisco, said the culture in this area had packed up and left long over a decade ago. He later smirked and said I’d be fooling myself to think the city still retained any thread of it’s original character. Although this might sound pessimistic on paper, he said this with a cheek-to-cheek grin and little-to-no weight in his upper brow. It was as though he was only stating the facts, plain and simple.

Everyone has there opinions, and as broad-stroke and blanket-statement sounding that the above comment might appear, there are common themes found in most of the discussions that dominate conversation here in the Bay Area – high rent prices, homelessness, and the demise of culture. The word culture is arbitrary when used in conjunction to value. Culture is ever changing and for this reason, in my own opinion, I believe there is ignorance when using conclusive statements regarding culture’s directionality. Rather than value judgements, we can only truly say that a culture is “changing”, and even that comes from the subjectivity based on the relationship one has, or doesn’t have, with the city. All-in-all, however, it is true – The Grateful Dead and and Jefferson Airplane types are long gone, either by mass exodus, adopting more conventional lifestyles, or are now buried 10 feet under. The only remnants of that era that still remain can be found in the Haight-Ashbury district, which has since been over commodified and commercialized to cater to tourists. Even though on the surface this small microcosm of the city may appear to have stayed the same, culture does not exist in trinkets and Mala Beads alone, but rather, is woven into the vocalization of love, freedom, and sovereignty that use to be proclaimed in the street, which, I am disheartened to say, would be difficult to find as conspicuously nowadays.

However, there is culture. The culture is, dare I say, Google, Twitter, Apple, Facebook – to name just a few that have built and inhabited the proliferating infrastructure of the high rise. And yes, perhaps this newer cultural sect domesticating the city is more homogenous in their personal preferences and clothing attire than the city has ever seen before, nonetheless, culture in itself, undeniable prevailes.

So how does this newer, ever growing, ever expanding culture retain the weird and all it’s vibrancy that most likely drew this type of crowd in the first place? Why, by hiring the circus to entertain them at their extravagant events, of course.

Every large and medium sized tech business in the Bay Area with a hefty budget throws opulent, decadent parties. In fact, I have come to think that it might be written somewhere in the contract that each party has to be more impressive than the “boy’s next door”. It has become an extension of fraternity dynamics. And what is any party without some circus freaks showing desk-loitering-corporate-employees how to have a good time and utilize their bodies again, after too many hours a day neglecting nothing but their brain and wrists. Therefore, with their grotesquely dense budget being used for entertainment, you can’t say these companies don’t put it to a good cause. In all honesty, if it weren’t for these obsessively extravagant corporate events that hire working local artists contracted from all over the city, most of the circus would have been long gone by now. But they remain because at least, as they are becoming more and more marginalized, they can simultaneously financially benefit from the corporate tech apocalypse.

So keep employing the circus Google, it is the least you can do after you and your compatriots have taken over nearly every square inch of the city. Thank you for throwing some of your pocket change to those that are able to right some wrongs and reinvest your small penance into events that spread social justice awareness and radical change. Good job Google, good job.

Be disciplined

Success and discipline often seem to go hand-in-hand. The general rule of thumb is that through discipline, the road to success will be smoother and more gratifying. Practice and do-diligence are the main ingredients for expertise and an awarding talent; talent generally believed to be a gateway to open up doors to opportunities for a successful, robust career.

Discipline is easy when we are younger, not because we are more capable of moderating ourself, because heaven known that was most likely not the case, but rather because we had someone – be it a parent or a guardian – laying down the law, instilling rules of expectations and providing examples of what it looks like to be dedicated. This teaching was likely provided at a time in our lives when we were predisposed to our parent’s lifestyle choices and dynamics, not given full responsibility, nor consideration, to develop our own schedule or timetable. Not being obligated to enforce discipline on ourselves, we may have been unable to fully grasp how difficult this personality trait can be to cultivate, especially as an adult. As we get older and move into more demanding lifestyles and professions, we loose the luxury of parental stability and structure. Nowadays, you are likely the one enforcing all the discipline, not only on yourself but perhaps too, on an army of other coworkers. Given that professional environments often demand discipline, there is a tendency to objectify the rules of discipline to a point where the very notion of discipline itself no longer retains meaning, damaging willpower and motivation. Although abandoning a discipline practice can be practical for a short period of time in order to return to it with a fresh pair on eyes in the future, loosing it forever can be detrimental.

Maintaining a healthy dose of discipline is the key to a nourishing amount of productivity. Staying interested, engaged, and exploring methods to help become your own personal moderator can prevent stagnancy and inertia in your own self-growth.

Here are 5 useful tips in staying disciplined

  1. Set goals and timelines. Know what the advantage of each of these goals is, and why they need to be completed in a certain timeframe. Understand your own restrictions. Make sure they are useful.
  2. Use both physical and mental effort, one is useless without the other.”Practice what you preach and preach what you practice.”
  3. Eliminate the multitasking and invest in one project/focus at a time. This allows all the necessary details to sink in. Getting curious and interested in just about anything will greatly enhance discipline, yielding more productivity.
  4. Monitor behavior – identify an area you would like to improve in your life, business, or self and then dissect what this means to you. Do a brainstorming session of why it needs work and what “excelling” would actually look like in your book.
  5. Have a positive attitude to failure. Don’t let inevitable misgiving and unavoidable hiccups in the “trial and error” phase erode your personal investment to yourself. Rather than just excepting the old adage “we can learn from our mistakes” truly take this into consideration. See what didn’t work and how you can use those errors as teachers for self-improvement tactics in the future. Discipline is inextricably linked with personal growth.

Discipline is about personal investment and self-worth. The value we often allocate to ourselves can say a lot about our discipline practice. This is not a linear, fixed equation, given that A+B doesn’t only = C (in that, value + discipline doesn’t just equal productivity). Instead A+B=C but C affects A, which also affects B. Therefore, it is protean, ever changing, since the value we give ourselves is forever changing. Keeping this in the back of our minds when working on discipline practices might just help relieve some self-induced pressure when there is a lull in our day.

Big Data. Small Budget. 3 Possible Solutions for an SMB

Big data has revolutionized the way we look at information. Unfortunately, access to the collective set of tools that define this craze is not always easy to come by. Below I lay out three possible ways an SMB can take advantage of the Big Data revolution.

Rent a Cluster
Resource Cost: Potentially High, Labour Cost: So-So, Nerd Props: So-So

If you’re very familiar with the scope of your data crunching project, trust in your team’s ability to write/deploy solid code, and don’t mind spending the extra money on occasion, then maybe a 3rd party computing cluster is for you. Services such as Amazon’s Elastic Map Reduce, Microsoft Azure’s HPC, or Qubole offer you an elastic, on-demand environment to run your code. The benefits are obvious: easy to manage infrastructure, ability to grow/shrink with your data set, ability to grow/shrink with the complexity of your code, and rock-solid performance. The problem with cloud-based computing clusters is that they can (very) easily become expensive. Just moving data around can cost you a few dollars, so make sure your team is able to produce quality code. With that said, we run big data clusters in an Amazon VPC running Spark, and it works very well for our needs.

You Don’t Need a Stinking Cluster
Resource Cost: Low, Labour Cost: Low, Nerd Props: Low

The fact of the matter is, big data is not for everyone. Properly mining data requires a talented team, patience, and a deep understanding of your data. Incomplete data analysis leads to incorrect conclusions. Fortunately, you don’t need access to expensive resources in order to take advantage of the big data revolution. A number of larger enterprises have already done the heavy lifting for you and the results of their analysis are all over the web to review. Websites like Google Trends offer you access to a plethora of information which has been mapped, reduced, analyzed, and made available in lovely chart/graph form. Want to learn more about your particular market segment? A simple Bing or Google search can be your gateway to a world of knowledge. Want to know more about user behavior on Facebook? Just search the web. Chances are, the best work has already been done by researchers at Universities, Think Tanks, and Global Corporations. Just because you’re not mining the data yourself, doesn’t mean it’s not relevant and valuable.

Setup Your Own Cluster
Resource Cost: Low, Labour Cost: High, Nerd Props: High

Modern, open source data crunching platforms are purpose-built to run on all sorts of hardware. Better yet, they’re easy to install and setup. Whereas 15 years ago, the majority of your time would be spent building the actual  computing cluster (i.e. a Beowulf cluster), now, you can focus your efforts on collecting and analyzing your data. Although we’re now a SparkDB shop, in the past, we have implemented Hadoop for crunching data. Both are easy(ish) to get setup. The problem: all distributed computing platforms are only as good as the resources that you throw at them. The name of the game here is “distribution,” so the more nodes (computers) you have, the better. Fortunately, most SMBs have access to a large pool of computing nodes right under their noses. With some basic hardware – gigabit switch, dedicated gigabit Ethernet card, and cables – your unused employee workstations can be run as hadoop nodes in the evening. We recently setup a Spark cluster on three machines and a good time was had by all. The one caveat here is that you will probably want to enable dual boot on these unused machines.