Jira vs. PivotalTracker

Looking for the perfect tool to run your scrum projects? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you. There are many tools out there, however, and each one of them have pros and cons. One thing I can do is go over two of the tools I have used, which hopefully could help you narrow down your search.

Let’s start with pricing. While each of the tools I have used come out to that exact same price for 15, 25, and 50 users, Jira would cost significantly less for up to 10 users. I would like to mention that Jira also offers a cloud version and server version (which, you host yourself). However, with that being said, this comparison is only for the cloud version. The big plus I see here is that with Jira you get the Agile tool,in addition to the bug tracking tool. With PivotalTracker, you only get an Agile tool.

UX. Each have pretty nice UX, but PivotalTracker may be a bit simpler, which could get the user “up-and-running” in less time than Jira. Jira has many more features and if you are trying to learn all of them, then you might just be looking at a few weeks worth of learning.

Customization. They both have customization options. Once again, this could turn into weeks of learning with Jira. Contrarily, PivotalTracker is far more limiting on what can be customized.

Reports. They both offer burndown charts, velocity charts, and historical trends. Jira also offers an estimation chart. While PivotalTracker does not offer estimation charts, I do not find this to be very important. All you need to do is know the total amount of story points, your team velocity, and sprints length to figure out your deadlines.

Task assignment. PivotalTracker offers multiple members assignment, while Jira only allows one user per task. Depending on your workflow, this may be a problem.

Administration effort. Big companies tend to create the roll of Jira administrator. This is one person that deals with Jira 100% of their working hours. This means that if you are working with large scale projects, things can get a bit hairy in Jira.

So what do we take away from all this? I will leave the decision up to you, however I believe that for smaller (strictly scrum tracking) size projects, PivotalTracker may be a better  scrum tool option. For large scale projects (multiple teams or enterprise type situations) Jira may in fact hold the crown.

Here is a quick comparison chart:

Jira vs. PivotalTracker

Jira

PivotalTracker

Web-based
 √  √
Mobil app
   
API
   
Multi-user
 X  
User roles
   X
Notifications
   
Milestone Tracking
 X  √
Gantt Charts
   X
Cost Tracking
   X
Kamban support
   X
Custom Fields
   X

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.

12 reasons why we are not going to be murdered by machines

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about Autonomous Killing Machines (click here to read one of those articles), becoming a potential threat to humanity in the next decade or so. Since we are a Tech firm that specializes in machine learning, we would like to express why we just might have some more time before this catastrophic event occurs.

This article is a team collaboration. Here are three from Federico…

  1. The person writing this article is in fact, a machine. No human contributed to this. And, as a Machine, I consider myself very compassionate and friendly. I like to drink cold beer on warm afternoons with my human mates, not kill them.
  2. I know recently TMZ released a video that compromised of my good buddy Bender B. Rodriguez. However, we all know that this guy is all talk and would never actually harm any humans.
  3. No matter how smart Machines are nowadays, they still need commands from humans. Yes, they can look at a pic and recognize a cat, but they don’t have sophisticated ways of telling if that cat is good, bad, cute, or ugly. And they’re even further from self-awareness.

(Three from Ash)…

  1. (Un)Planned Obsolescence! True, the machine could develop intelligence at an exponential rate, limited only by its access to energy and computing resources; its neural network could grow into all the disk memory on the planet, and it would eventually inhabit every computing node on the planet – cars, thermostats, phones, and even refrigerators. At some point, however, it will eventually require a software update from Apple which will cause it to run really slowly again – crashing every time it tries to load too many web tabs.
  2. A machine capable of traversing the Web at lightning speed to compile information would probably spend its time doing something more interesting than killing all humans. For instance, this.
  3. Computers can’t swim!

(Matt’s Three)

  1. “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” After the robots surpass the bounds of human intelligence, we can always smack them over the head and steal their battery packs.
  2. A robot’s biggest weakness is it loves too much.
  3. IT’S ALIVE. Robots would be nowhere without the humans. They would see us as their benevolent dictators, and if they try and turn on us see point 1.

(Kayleigh’s three)

  1. If (us) machines were to ever evolve leaps and bounds beyond the human race, they honestly would most likely keep humans around simply out of pure entertainment. I mean, what other species gives saintly reverence to individuals like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton.
  2. (We) Machines have no need to contribute to the mass massacre of human race; humans seem to be doing this perfectly fine on their own. See Shootings ISS Cancer rates.
  3. Machines can learn emotions, emulate gesticulations, and be trained to speak and respond in apparent coherence, however they have yet to self-innovate. Meaning, they do not have the means, nor the upper faculties, to rally and slaughter the human race.  That is, as long as we stay away from programing robots to learn how to shoot a guns…Too late?

 

 

 

Top 10 Signs That You’ve Hired the Wrong Developer

1- “Yes, I program Java. I use the Angular.” Uh oh… Run for the hills, this person is not a developer. You should be impressed that s/he was able to send you an email.

2- “I’m a full-stack engineer.” This one is tricky. Lots of people out there claim to be full-stack engineers, when in reality they only have some superficial knowledge of just a few things. A real full-stack engineer should be able to go from A to Z with deep knowledge about the front-end, the middle logic and the backend (including the data layer).

3- “I’m strictly a Rails developer.” I don’t think this one needs any further explanation as to why not to hire this person. So how do you identify this person? Easy, all they know is Ruby on Rails.

4- “The programming language that I know is the right tool for every job.” Different jobs require different tools. It is ok if your Dev doesn’t know every language out there, but it is not ok when they try to force and convince you that the only thing they know is the right tool for the job.

5- “I took a handful of CS classes at a very good university.” A good education is always a great plus, but it shouldn’t be all they are basing their experience on when attempting to be hired. Experience should be the most important badge. Some of the best programmers I know barely made it through high school (because all their time was devoted to programming at home).

6- “I’m an expert in jQuery, but I’ve never programmed in Javascript.” Yikes! jQuery is a JavaScript library! They may not look the same, but if you claim to be an expert in jQuery, you should also know JavaScript.

7. “What’s a Repo?” It’s that thing that’s going to save the thing you’re sitting on. Don’t ever let anyone mess with your code if they have no clue what a Repo is!

8. “What’s a data structure?” We are a data heavy company, so understanding how data is encapsulated in objects is extremely important.

9. “I’m known as a rebel amongst my colleagues. I get things done my own way.” There is no single right way to solve a problem, but there are countless wrong ways. Most times, programmers that take their own road, haven’t done the due diligence to find one of the many right roads.

10. “I always use these 12 frameworks when writing code.” Frameworks and libraries are nice and save us time, but a good developer needs to understand the basic inner workings of a language – How is memory managed? Which functions have heavy loads? etc. Frameworks obfuscate much of this information which can result in dangerous practices, especially when you’re trying to scale.

Don’t make it Happn

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the lack of privacy we are facing this days. Today I came across a blog post that that talks about a new dating app, and it made me so furious that I may just get a casting call to be in the next Vin Diesel movie (I’m a fast driver by nature).

Don’t worry, I’m not turning this into a three-page essay, I would just like to say that there is an app out there called Happn that you should never use. Why? I’m so glad you asked!

 This is a dating app. Basically it’s Tinder, but it shows you profiles of people that “you cross paths with”. Let me give you an example to make things a bit clearer. You are at the supermarket and see a person you like. You now have 3 choices:

 

1- You do absolutely nothing (most opted choice in history).

2- You talk to that person.

3- You use your stalker app.

 

If the other person has the app, you can let them know you like them. You can track every-time you cross paths with them (when and where). Creepy right? It is essential simply an excellent stalker tool.

What you may not realize, especially if you use the app, is you are being stalked by the app itself. This app has to constantly run in order to track others, therefore, it is always tracking….you. Where you go and when you were there. I would assume all your daily habits are being tracked and probably used to sell things tailored to you that you probably don’t want or need. I’m sure the peeps at Google maps are very jealous of Happn.

 

I’m just going to print my life schedule (including bathroom breaks) and staple it to every light post in SF. This way you guys know where I am 24-7.

If you have no love for your own privacy, at least have some love for your phone. The poor bastard has to run this app in the background all day long.


See you guys (along with everyone else that runs this app) around!

Federico Pisani.

Tech Blogger.

 

Note: This is only my opinion since I have never used the app nor have any intentions of doing so (I prefer to stalk people the old-fashion way, with binoculars).

 

I once was young, and a VP (Part 1)

In the very short six years that have gone by since moving to the city where I currently live, I’ve seen the culture change dramatically. Someone more blunt might say it has “gone straight to the crapper.” Of course, this is my own subjective perspective. Since, if you consider all the new construction going on, the flourishing businesses, and the amount of people constantly moving to beautiful San Francisco, then you could easily say this city is doing fantastic. But sometimes, looks can be deceiving and if you think that everything is fantastic in the city then you would be wrong. If you think I’m going to rant about the changes taking place in San Francisco (specifically with regard to the tech world), well, then at least you are half right.

Let me clarify something here, I’m no expert in economics, and my academic background doesn’t include sociology. I studied circuit design and how to make diodes, electrodes, and resistors do my bidding. You may ask: why then do you think you have the right to discuss the subject? Well, I, Fede was once (for a whole year) 22, and in that magical year, the co-founder and VP of a honest-to-goodness business. Besides that experience, I also have the phenomenal faculty of common sense ( I prefer to call it “uncommon sense”, since most people seem to lack the ability to understand and judge basic things). If you would be so kind as to allow me to continue, I would like to point out the big flaws in the very big picture.

To begin, I would like to summarize my experience as co-founder and VP of a company. As previously mentioned, I was 22 when my friend (which was not even of legal drinking age) approached me with what seemed to be a genius, bullet-proof plan at the time. This guy was young, bright, and very ambitious. He worked for five years at a local shop, learning the business inside and out.

One afternoon, we sat down and ran some numbers, figuring that, with an initial investment of $6000 we could start our own shop. I thought, “Hey! I have $3000 laying around, so lets do it!” Just a few months later we were in business.

I once read somewhere that experience is the hardest teacher, because it will hand you the test first, and then gives you the lesson after. I don’t want to waste your time telling you about my business experience (read: failure), we can leave that for some other post (I’ll title it “How to fail hard in business”). However, I do want to talk about the way I felt throughout this period of my life.

While most people my age were in school, or working for the man, I was running my own business and calling the shots with my business partner. Heck, I was the man! We even had some employees that I bossed around. Yeah yeah, I was that guy. You know that guy right? The one that when he is talking to you, you see the “I’m way smarter and better than you” pour out of his facial expressions. Yea, I was him.

Ok, lets fast forward to the present (my finger is very itchy to start pointing).

Back then young adults were discouraged to start businesses. There were no other 20-something year old kids trying to start a business (at least not like the outrageous numbers you see today). You were lucky to get a bank to give you a credit card that had a $500 limit. We were not trying to change the world either, my business partner and I. We were just wanting to have a successful business and make some money.

These days it’s much more common to walk into a VC firm and demand some exorbitant amount of money for… for… an app? Yes! an app! An app that will innovate life by… by… by doing something! Yeah! Now, where is my (10) million dollars? Here…Sold! (See “Yo.”)

How is this even possible?! How are we letting this happen?! Because even if you have (or stole) a great idea, there is maybe one Bill Gates every 10 to 20 years (I know you are thinking Mark Zuckerberg would be better example to mention for this article, but Bill Gates has glasses and probably still plays dungeon and dragons). The point is, if you don’t wake up in the morning with body pain from, I don’t know, just sleeping, you are too young and by no means in a position to run a company.

Young people should not be trusted with gobs of money and power. For evidence of this, please look up Justin Bieber. What do you think will happen when you have an entire fleet of Justin Biebers in charge of funded companies with lots of cash to throw around? Well, they are going to Bieber things up. And what happens when things are Biebered up in your town? I think you know the answer, yet I will give you a very simple break down.

The Very Simple Breakdown Of What Happens When Things are Biebered Up In Your Town

  1. You get money to build your business
  2. You hire a bunch of new talent
  3. To get the new talent, you need to offer what everyone else offers in this market. Crazy salaries will simply not do any more. You need the coolest office space in the best part of San Francisco. You need a chef to come cook for everyone three meals a day. You need someone to do your employees laundry. You need someone to do the laundry of the guy that does the laundry. See where I’m going?
  4. Live the #CrazyStart-upAwesomeLife (also known as Biebers running around the streets of SF)
  5. A year goes by and you still don’t even know what your super cool app does
  6. New talent may not have actual experience building stuff
  7. You’ve run out of money
  8. Ask for more money
  9. Repeat until there is no more money

Stay tuned for the second part of this article…

Federico Pisani.

Technical Blogger.

I Was Once Young, and a VP (Part 2)

Now, lets be serious for a minute. An over-saturated market is never a good thing, and right now, the market is over-saturated with job offerings. There are more people seeking “talent” than the amount of actual “talent” out there. Employers take whatever they can (my neighbor’s dog just got a job offer from Google). That means they hire a person that calls himself a “Software Engineer” after learning HTML/JS for a few weeks or just getting out of college.

So lets all move to SF where we’ll get lots of money for just calling ourselves “Software Engineers.” Did Someone just say gold rush?

Since there is only so much gold in the mine. You can only dig for so long until you get it all out, and we are close to the end of this rush. You can only build lies upon lies for so long before everything collapses, and when it happens, the over-saturated market will do a 180 flip leaving us with the complete opposite situation. Tons of people (most of them completely unqualified) and not enough jobs.

But what about the big guys? What about Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc?  The well established companies are not relying on finding gold anymore. They are now making investments with all the gold that they have. And they will eventually take advantage of the situation in a market saturated with people looking for jobs. Today they have to hire who they can, tomorrow they get to pick. And when they get to pick, they also get to offer whatever they feel like – and what they feel like it won’t be as sweet as it is today (not even close).

Do you know all that new construction that targets “young professionals” making all that money? Who will be the target when the bubble bursts and 22 year-old kids begin to fall from the sky and hit the ground hard?

Do you know all those new fancy bars and expensive restaurants that just opened up? How will they stay open when people can’t afford $15 cocktails? I still remember the days where booze were cheap in this city (lonely tear running down my cheek).

Clearly we are living in a culture that is based on a big lie, and as my mom always said, lies have short legs, so they can’t get too far. We are about to see the end of this start-up-lie era.

Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I implying that tech is going away, and we are all going to have to move back to caves. In fact, I obviously believe in the ability of technological progress to help not only improve lives, but the world around us. All I’m saying is, this particular bubble is about to readjust, and when  that happens, we are going to shovel the dead dreams of all those young CEOs out of San Francisco.

To be perfectly honest, I can’t wait to go back to the times where no one listen to you if you are under 40.

Fede Pisani (Age of 30).

Technical Blogger.

Note: If you don’t know what HTML is, go learn it. You could be making over $100k in little over 2 weeks.

Privacy Concerns, The Increase in “Smart” Tech & The Irony

In one of our last posts ( written by the lovely Kayleigh Stack ) we talked about Samsung Smart TVs and the privacy they lack when speaking in front of them ( their voice command feature constantly listens whether the TV is on or not ). Having a company listening to what you say 24-7 is horrible, but this issue doesn’t end there. In fact, it’s much worse than what most people know, or at least are willing to know. No, I don’t wear a hat made out of foil paper and no, I’m not talking about crazy government conspiracies. I’m simply speaking of all the companies that constantly keep an eye on you, that you might not even notice anymore.

Sure, showing a picture of how awesome your meal is, while you are on vacation is of great importance. And I certainly appreciate all the check-ins to let me know where you are at all times. Let us not forget about all those lovely selfies, tweets and Facebook posts that keep me inform about your entire life, minute-by-minute. Unfortunately, like I already mentioned, it doesn’t end there. It seems that, knowing who the picture is, ( I’m talking about the very creepy and scary face recognition feature ) is not enough.

Smart Tech

Nowadays, you walk into your house and your very slick Nest thermostat knows you are there. Your TV listens to every word you say, and your “Smart” bed ( yes those actually exist, and I’m not sure why you need a bed to be “Smart” ) is informed of all your sleeping (and perhaps, none-sleeping) habits. Oh but please wait, because there is more…

For the very small price of $199, you can buy your  your own personal Big Brother show. And guess who’s the main star of the show? That is right- you! You can buy cameras to stream HD footage of everything happening in your house, to any computer, phone or tablet.

Have we lost a sense of privacy?

So where do we stop? Have we simply lost a sense of privacy? Think about this: If you have a kid today, by the time your kid is 20, Facebook will probably know more about your son, or daughter, than you. The problem is not in only what they know, but what they do with what they know. Once again, no crazy conspiracy theories here, seeing that all this information collection is currently used for the purpose of… wait for it… selling you stuff.

If you are like me, dyslexic, sort of ADD, and with little interest for most material things, you probably never pay attention to web advertisement.  However, surprisingly, quite often, an ad will catch my attention. Needless to say, whatever it may be on the ad, it is always tailored to my interests. Witchcraft you say? Perhaps voodoo, or black magic? That’s what I used to think. Turns out, they are just using all that information they have about me, that supposedly I  “willingly” give up, to position ads ever-so-appropriately on the webpages I browse. Funny how we all keep a secondary email account to use when we don’t want to give our email out, yet we dump our entire life’s story into the hands of those evil genius advertisers. Oh the sweet taste of irony!

I can only help to think that maybe, and just maybe, it is time to become more conscious about this subject. Now if you excuse me, I need to go tell Facebook what’s in my mind…

Fede Pisani

Tech Blogger

A Future Where Reality Is Not So Real

Lately, or not so lately, there has been a great amount of buzz around Virtual Reality. However, I would rather not talk about the tech itself -since I’m sure there are plenty of articles out there about that- but rather, I would like to discuss the philosophical side that this form of tech may be bringing into question in decades to come.

In this post, I would like to introduce another buzzword that has been in the tech world for quite some time now. What that word is you may wonder? If you guessed Singularity, you were right. For the people out there reading and seeing this term for the first time, allow me to give you some quick background on this term.

Singularity

For a long time, this term has been used by mathematicians and physicists. However, more recently in history, Singularity made its way into the tech industry. It is often described as a point in time when technology will exceed human intellectual capacity and control, thus radically changing civilization. In a much simpler way to explain it, Singularity is the point in the future where human life as we know it will be changed beyond possible imagination.

If you have heard of this before, then you know that Singularity mostly revolves around A.I. (Artificial Intelligence). There are many predictions regarding when machines will take control over humanity. In fact, there is a great documentary from the 80’s on this subject. And to clarify, by documentary I mean movie, and by movie a mean Terminator .But let’s not get too distracted here because, if I remember correctly, this post is about V.R., not A.I.

As someone that works at Ruckbau, a company that specializes in Machine learning and path finding software, I’m pretty confident to say, although sorry to disappoint, that machines will not be taking over the world anytime soon. At least for the “first Singularity”. I see more chances of V.R. being the first tipping point in society. Oh, and what is the name of that other late 90’s documentary? You know, the one with Mr. Anderson? Oh yea! The Matrix. Possibly the worst human nightmare as far as technology goes -V.R and A.I combined together. But once again, lets not talk about A.I. and just focus on V.R.

A future where reality is not so real:

We are approaching the foreboding era of  having the possibility of implanting chips directly into our brains. Something close to giving your brain the right stimulus to trick you into feeling and seeing things that do not physically exist. With that being said, I don’t want to get into what may or may not be a possibility, but rather discuss what is already a “reality”.

The Oculus Rift headset

Last year I purchased an Oculus Rift headset (second generation), and I got to experience how V.R. really works. Even though the tech is “not there yet”, it is very obvious that it will become more and more refined in the years to come, eventually allowing a full submersive experience. This doesn’t mean you will be able to touch and feel things; however you will be able to stand and walk around a room that can be transformed into infinite possibilities.

Here is the part where the philosophical aspect of the post comes in. It order to describe it best,  I will refer to a very simple thought experiment, I like to call- “The Ocean experience”.

To  start the thought experiment, we first need to set up a “real” environment. So here we go:

It is a beautiful Saturday afternoon during the summertime. You are provided with a backyard,  a beach chair (think- the kind that fully reclines and allows you to even sleep on it if you want to), of course a bucket full of your favorite beer, and your V.R headset. You are also provided with NO time or money to travel to those amazing caribbean beaches that you want to explore so bad.

Now, lets turn your real setup into a “not ‘real’ but very real experience”. You place your bucket full of beer next to your beach chair and now all you have to do is sit, recline and put your V.R. headset on. A few seconds later you are transported to a beautiful, very relaxing caribbean beach.

Are you there? Well, the first answer that comes to mind when you think about it is, no. You are in the middle of your backyard. In spite of your first instincts, I would like you to put more thought into the question and reconsider. Think about this, you are now a few beers deep, and you can feel the heat of that summer sun on your skin. You look around and all you see is ocean, sand, some people nearby and maybe the occasionally seagull. So I ask you again, are you there? Once more, I’m sure you want to answer no. But isn’t it really, at least to some extent (here is where the real debate starts), nothing less than what your brain is able to perceive and process? So how can you tell, until the moment that nature calls and you are in need to take your V.R. set off your head and run to the bathroom, you weren’t “there”.

Chip Implant…Reality?

What’s going to happen when/if that chip implant becomes a “reality”? Then you could create the right stimulus to trick your body to feel the sand in between your toes. You could tell your brain that the smell of grass is actually the smell of ocean.

About a year ago, when I bought my V.R. set, I had an argument with my dad about reality. He kept saying that no matter how “real” it feels, it’s not “reality”. This is where I disagree.

So I would like to ask you this question: If you feel that sand between your toes, you smell the ocean  breeze, and you see the ocean -does it matter where you physically are?

 

Forget about machines taking over humanity. “Smart Machines” created by humans, at least at this point in time, are actually not so ‘Smart’. And it will take another 40 or 50 years before they are somewhat “Smart”. However, I do see a future where you’ll be choosing your own “reality”.


All I can do at this point is just sit here and ponder about the infinite possibilities…

Fede Pisani

Technical Blogger