“Pre-Production” is the new “Post-Production”

There is a singular, terrifying truth that every software developer, application architect, product designer, and stake-holder must eventually embrace. Even if you build the coolest, most useful product in the world, there is a good chance that nobody will use it.

This simple truth evokes dark feelings of inadequacy within the souls of executives and and renders project managers, marketers, and developers useless. It doesn’t matter if your application is robust, scalable, or beautifully designed, you won’t know whether your audience will embrace it until you’ve actually presented it to them.

The problem here is a “known unknown” related to design. Although developers can load test an application to ensure it scales and performs, there hasn’t really been an easy way to test design except in a production environment. Focus groups are about as accurate as licking your thumb and searching for wind direction, and UI/UX consultants can give you beauty, but they can’t guarantee success. So how do you test your user experience before actually presenting your app to users? One of our colleagues wondered the same thing and came up with a pretty nifty solution.

Introducing Apptourage, an easy, cheap way to optimize usability in pre-production. Instead of spending four months developing the perfect app/ERP/CRM/tool, spending tons of cash marketing your new product, and then waiting for useability data to come in, you can upload the user experience and have it tested either by your team or Apptourage’s US-based testers. Easy peasy – Needless to say, we’re big fans of their new tool and recommend it to all of our clients. Check it out here.

Disclaimer: Yes, we have become friendly with the Apptourage crew; but, it’s mostly because we earnestly believe in the product they’ve created.

 

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?

 

 

 

How to Increase your Business’s Online Presence

You can choose one of two things; either maximize your profit through engaging in online marketing opportunities, or lose out on a more lucrative future by not participating in boosting your online presence. It is a reality, whether you want to comply or not, that resourcing and utilizing the virtual environment for business marketing has everything to gain. Not only can you enhance your online presence with media and other marketing tools, the internet also plays a vital role in the health of your current, and potential, customer relationships. Here at Rückbau  we acknowledge the importance of a business’s online health. Therefore, we have created a list of top 5 techniques to boost any business’s online presence.

It is all about SEO

All healthy, thriving businesses need an understanding of how to successfully achieve higher rankings through different search engines (i.e. Google, Yahoo). If your website does not show up on the first page of a search when a customer is surfing the web for services that your business excels in, it doesn’t matter how superior your skills are, your services are less likely to be considered, or even found for that matter. Therefore, understanding SEO techniques to contribute to your “search-ability” can play a significant role in bringing traffic to your site.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

Paying for advertisement gives a business more control over who they would like to market their services to, as well as when and where the advertisements are seen. Unlike free online ad options, PPC places a business’s ad in a higher position in sections that are sponsored within a consumer’s search. Pay-per-click is generally more of a temporary solution for marketing to initially increase the SEO value. Having a quality, rockstar landing page, more often then not, will give potential customers more incentive to engage with the business’s website.

Blog and article marketing

By writing articles or blogs that are pertinent to potential customer’s needs, you are able to inform the online community what you do and how your business executes. These articles help to demonstrate the company’s internal voice and how the business operates in their specific area of expertise. To increase this form of media communication with potential audiences, it is best for writers to understand and know the key words that a potential client might use within a search engine when googling services your business offers.

Social Media

Although we all know about social media, not everyone, and every business, are actually taking advantage of them. They are affordable, popular, and can generate a message fast, to an extremely broad audience. More specifically, social media outlets – such as Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon – all have huge networks of different target audiences that are excellent for business-to-customer relations. These sites can help a business network more personably, as well as offer a chance to circulate any articles that have been written to be shared with a larger pool of users. Ideally, these articles and other items that are shared, will funnel people back to your website, boosting traffic and helping with the SEO.

More Pages

To increase traffic to your website, it helps to have multiple popular pages that are indexed by Google and additional search engines. Multiple landing pages pertaining to different services a business offers can be helpful, as well as more convenient, for customers who are only seeking a specific service a company offers, rather than needing to scan through the entire site.

Need help with your SEO? Not sure where to start? Contact us at Rückbau for a free one-hour consultation to discuss where you are currently at, and where you would like to see your business go in the future.

Top 5 Coolest Technologies of 2015

In just a year, technology has brought us an extraordinary amount of advancement. Below are our top 5 picks of the most recently released, important tech gadgets of 2015.

Microsoft HoloLens

Described as a first of it’s kinds – an “untethered, see-through holographic computer” – Microsoft has distanced itself from labels such as “virtual reality” by identifying the Microsoft glasses as an “experience mixed reality”. It is a combination of holograms mixed with reality, advertised to be used to expand creativity, communication, work and play. Have an idea? Perhaps Microsoft’s HoloLens can help in your decision making process by going slightly beyond the 2D screen in bringing your idea to life in effort to more intimately understand your concept. The future is here and it involves a more personable, natural interaction with content.

Self-driving cars

A self-driving car? Rewind a little less than 50 years ago, the idea would have been considered preposterous, even ludicrous, reserved only for that of a science fiction novel. Now, the concept of a vehicle being able to navigate and function without the efforts of a human is now a near reality. Fast forward to 2015 – if you live in Mountain View, California, where Google’s headquarters resides, you might happen to see a peculiar little, egg-like bugger of a car, with it’s driver being completely hands-off the wheel. Welcome to the era of the autonomous vehicle, or better yet, the era of the ever pervasive “internet of things” where the only responsibility the user has is to push a button and the rest is simply taken care of from there. And it’s not just Google that has jumped onto the self-driving bandwagon. Nissan has recently announced the company has scheduled to release it’s self-driving car for 2020. Tesla also took a big leap toward self-driving electronic cars. Although initially made to only be a not-so-affordable-yet-extremely-efficient electronic vehicle, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, now reported that a software update will be installed in a matter of months for the Model S to have an automatic steering feature installed. These are now being tested on the road from Seattle to San Francisco.

Automated Action Camera Drones

This year has been the big release for many Robotics companies across the nation of the autonomous action camera drone. In 2014, there was plenty of anticipation leading up to the technology, a first of its kind. Gone are the days of wearing detachable action cameras such as GoPros. Robotics companies have solved the problem of eliminating any extra bulk by allocating the responsibility of filming to a drone. It is acknowledged by some as the perfect marriage between drone technology and cameras. Capture every moment without the hassle of needing to be responsible for getting it all on film yourself. It is like having your own paparazzi on demand.

Apple Watch

It was in the early 1980s that computers were about the size of one’s room, just 30 years later, they are now optimized and customized to the size of one’s wrist. Gone are the extraneous machines and the large bulky parts. Today we have efficiency and practicality in the palms of our hands – literally. Not only is the apple watch a wearable device, but it is also sleek and fashionable. After three years in development, the Apple watch was finally released in April 2015. Users can communicate with friends, measure metrics such as steps taken, calories burned, and pulse, as well as use GPS, email, weather, music, and the oh-so-needed Siri application. The Apple watch is distinct from other Apple products with how it senses the pressure of one’s touch to mean different signals from it’s user. Next up – the Apple ring.

Wearable Medical Devices

The wearable medical device industry is booming at an unprecedented rate. Such devices are considered to be transforming the medical field beyond what could have ever been imagined even just 10 years ago. Health monitoring is becoming more and more personable, allowing the patient to take health care into their own hands. From monitoring post-hospitalization to chronic disease, researchers are expecting some very important data from such devices. Currently, the ever growing number of medical devices includes glucose monitoring, ECG monitors, pulse oximeters and blood pressure monitors.

By 2016 the wearable technology market is expected to exceed $2.9 billion. Some of this wearable health and fitness technology includes Preventice’s BodyGuarian’s Remote Monitoring System, Avery Demisa’s Metric Wearable tech, 9Solutions IPCS, BodyTel, AiQ Smart Clothing, Danfoss PolyPower AIS, among many more. Most of these devices are compatible with iPhones and Bluetooth, enabling patients to send measured body information directly back to their doctors. Convenient and empowering.

Top 5 Developer Websites

Upon an in-house discussion at the office, I began to realize that there are very few “Top (enter number here) Lists” for developers. As the “Top 10” blog becomes more and more ubiquitous throughout every site on the interweb, we are hard-pressed to find those that cater directly to the people who make the global platform for sharing, discussing and opinionating survive. I nearly fell off my yellow plastic office chair out of pure shock to discover that although there is a “Top 10 List” for every ridiculous thing out there now-a days (See: http://www.totallytop10.com/), there are still limited amounts for those of which the very backbone of the internet existence rests upon. How can we be enjoying something so prolific, so fundamental, so essential and not pay our pence to the developers, engineers and coders behind the machine. Therefore, this my friends, is an attempt to give back to all those souls who have slaved away to provide us with the single-click freedom to peruse the world over for the best LOL cat. Below is a list of my top 5 choices of websites for developers with a brief, albeit hearty description, of my affinity for each. Enjoy! And if you disagree with any of the sites I have chosen, please connect.

  1. Stackoverflow.com  I think most developers would agree that stackoverflow.com is one of the most popular sites for programmers. It is easy, free and tends to be pretty darn reliable. Have a question about programming and you either a) don’t have any co-workers to ask because you work remotely or b) don’t have any co-workers to ask because no one has time for your questions because you ask too many? No sweat, post your question up on Stackoverflow and get answers fast. Or you might be in luck and already have had the question asked and answered by someone else. Simple and to the point, perfect for developers.
  2. Dzone.com  This site is catering to the tech professional. While they might sound a little arrogant at first, it would be difficult to find a tech pro who’s not. And they have good reason to be. It is one of the largest communities of technology professionals on the web. They have been providing resources before many of the current developers even began to drive and their members are just plain smart. These guys know what they are talking about, making them an invaluable resource for any developer.
  3. Github.com  Not sure if your code is as clean as you would like? Github provides fantastic code review and code management for both open source and private projects, on the cheap! This is an excellent site for those who are looking to make software development more collaborative. Here you can get quality feedback from other developers on your code. You never have to do it alone again.
  4. Oracle’s Java Documentation  It is safe to say that whether you are a novice or an connoisseur, you will most likely discover something worthy of your precious time on here. Ranging from Java tutorials, trainings, forums to reference tool guides, if your question is java related, this is where you want to find yourself.
  5. Leetcode.com  An excellent social platform for preparing IT technical interviews. Similar to Github.com, Leetcode can also check code, with its online judge. Their platform supports 9 coding languages, making it difficult to not find a solution here.

Top 10 Technology Websites

If you are someone like me, a professional tech blogger and an aspiring technology brat, then you too may be on the constant insatiable hunt for the top-shelf, most substantially sound technology site. And let’s face it, it is sometimes difficult to truly sort through the subpar from the extraordinaire with how saturated the market is with the prolific amount of the run-of-the mill, overly ordinary blogs currently flooding the internet. Therefore, I took it upon myself (your welcome) to sift through all the rot, mundane material to find the “cream of the crop” of tech websites. Mainly, I did this selfishly to have better sources to draw my research from in the long-run. However, I’m also interested in supporting my global community with quality reading material. So stop wasting your precious reading hours on mindless web surfing for salient source material and start actually… reading! Below are the top 10 (truly) best technology websites you’ll find.

 

LifeHacker

A simple, no frills, direct technology website. The content is well written and original, which is hard to come by. Apart from tech news, it has an extensive array of subjects ranging from gadgets, business tips, product deals and consumer tidbits, as well as productivity techniques. There are some articles peppered throughout the site one would expect to see in a “Psychology Today” magazine such Patrick Allan’s write up on “How to control your temper before you loose it“. In brief, you won’t be let down.

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://www.topsite.com/best/technology

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

 

CNET.com

Sophisticated and sleek are the first words that come to mind when entering CNET.com. Definitely catering to the high-brow, business oriented readers. CNET has a flashy (not to be confused with flash) website that retains a subtle form of competence, order and class. Excellent source for users wanting to learn, as it offers a “How To” drop down menu for it’s readers.

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/<

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/gadget-websites

 

Engadget

What I enjoy about Engadget is the sense of authenticity. Their articles are not recycled from other sites. When reading any one of their copious write-ups, it seems as though the writers are really doing the foot work. When it comes to sampling and reviewing products, these guys put the time in. Great place to go for gadgets and reviews.

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/gadget-websites

 

Ars Technica

Something I really appreciate about this blog is the simplicity in the navigation bar. Often times with many tech sites it seems they have so much to say and share they will bombard the reader with anything and everything all at once. However, with Ars Technica all their articles are neatly compartmentalized into clear, concise categories. Whether it be information technology, business, gaming, hacking or reviews, this site is bound to satiate your proclivity for hard earned amusement.

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.topsite.com/best/technology

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

 

Gizmodo

While the blog layout might seem a bit disorganized, the voice behind the writing is poignant and savvy. The best part about the content on this blog is the witty humor. If you are a tech geek who is looking for some more textured, personalized content, where you can actually hear the voice behind the written word, Gizmodo might just meet your fancy!

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/gadget-websites

 

All Things Digital

All Things Digital is a Wall Street Journal technology blog. Well organized and the go-to for more information-hungry tech nerds. Articles are written by reputable sources the educated reader can trust. Writing is extensive and thought provoking with excellent opinions and commentary pieces. One of my favorite features on this blog is how it offers a “Companies” section, allowing the reader to find specific coverage on any major tech company.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

 

Boy Genius Report

More of a blog than a developed website, the Boy Genius Report makes it’s content accessible to both the everyday internet troll as well as the hardwired tech nerd. Their topics run the gamut of business, cars, ebooks, gaming, hardware, opinions and celebrities. The review section encompasses a wide array of products, with a particular focus on Samsung and Apple.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

 

Download Squad

A Huffington Post technology blog that provides up-to-date news coverage on big news in technology. Great source for those who are already admirers of The Huffington Post. While it provides pointed news in tech, it also publishes a handful of more eclectic articles that one wouldn’t expect to run into on a tech website/blog. One of its most admirable attributes is it’s reviews on downloadable applications of Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile devices.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

 

Electronista

Advertises itself as a source that covers “gadgets for geeks”. Provides news, reviews, forums and services in a very basic and clear delivery. A bit of a “no bullshit” website. Not for the pop-culture techies – no glitter or frills are found here.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

 

Wired

A little quirky, but without a doubt interesting, Wired is full of eccentrics and variety. You never know what you might come across in any of their featured sections. Whether it be a review of an iphone design or a design of a ziplock bag, Wired will most likely have it covered. This site draws interest from the rationalist, to the innovator, to the obscure tech rule breaker.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/gadget-websites

 

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).