News

Maybe your voice assistant needn’t do it all Permalink

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I love my Echo Spot, but there’s only a few things I regularly do with it via voice commands. It mostly boils down to controlling my smart lamps, playing music, and adding stuff to my shopping lists. Super convenient for these things, but with others I struggle to remember what I’m supposed to say to make something happen or if I even have a skill that does something.

There’s a huge rush to push things onto voice assistants since Amazon makes it particularly easy to do. I think it’s much like having a splash page on a website, just because you can do it does it mean you should?

Currently, services arenas are rushing to jump on the VUI bandwagon — from education to healthcare to banks. But can and should everything be supported by voice?

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Procrastination is an emotional problem Permalink

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As someone who battles “procrastination” I can get behind this. There can be a lot of moral judgement from others around proctrastination. Most offered solutions seem to be about willpower, time management or task management. Most of these solutions aren’t solutions at all, particularly when others see you as someone who gets things a lot of stuff done, but deep down you really know about all the stuff you’re putting off.

One small pilot study found very low procrastination scores among experienced meditators, suggesting that doing absolutely nothing might be the best way to get everything done.

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The Difference Between Leaders And Managers Permalink

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I’ve run across a lot of these articles lately, but it never hurts to get these great ideas reinforced again :)

Regardless of your title, you should strive to build connections with your employees and help them develop and grow. Take an active role in leading your team and don’t manage from the corner office. Help them out when a deadline is looming to show them that you’re invested in their success.

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If You’re Too Busy for These 7 Things, You Need to Change the Way You Lead Permalink

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The opening couple of sentences nail it. There’s a lot to getting things done, but one of the most powerful items is realizing that that project you’re working on doesn’t magically get finished by your own sheer will or direction. There’s opinions to measure, feedback to listen to and people to mentor.

If you’ve been told you’re “leadership material,” it may be due to these seven leadership practices. However, more often than not, people in positions of authority don’t value the people-side of the business.

Frankly, they often defer “leadership development” to the lower ranks because they’re too busy to care about raising their own capacity to transform the workplace and serve the needs of their employees.

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How to attract good luck: 4 secrets backed by research Permalink

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I read a study long ago that had a similar outcome, people who were seen as “lucky” were mostly just open to seeing opportunities and positive outcomes.

And that optimism gives lucky people more “grit.” When you think things will work out, you persevere. And when you’re resilient, you give possibilities more time to work out in your favor.

Skeptics might be shaking their heads right now: But we all know people who aren’t just optimistic — they’re utterly deluded. Are you saying we should lie to ourselves?

Um… kinda. Turns out that while pessimists do see the world more accurately, optimists are more likely to be lucky because those delusions push them toward opportunities.

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How to Teach Yourself to Do Hard Things Permalink

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I’ll be picking up the book this article sources, “Fully General System For Learning To Do Hard Things” by David MacIver. To a small degree I’ve always done this as I learn and try new things. I really like the idea of finding an analog to the hard thing that you already do and slowly changing it, mastering it and iterating on it until you’ve mastered that hard thing.

So it’s not a guarantee but rather a structured plan to follow if you’re not sure how to start mastering the hard. He offers two approaches—one process if you already know what success looks like and one process if the definition of “success” is more subjective. In both cases, you’ll follow these steps:

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DIY smart mirror Permalink

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I’ve been looking to build one of these as a project. I love the idea of it… there’s a ton of potential in the concept for an awesome product.

Smart mirrors have been around awhile, and the most prominent version comes from Michael Teeuw. The idea is pretty simple; you’ll build a frame and box. Inside the box, you’ll place one-way glass (often seen on TV in police dramas), a monitor, a Raspberry Pi, and the cables necessary to power your setup. Michael and other contributors have created an open-source Magic Mirror platform you can install. Once installed, you can customize it to show your calendar, weather, news, and more. Installing the software is easy—it requires just one line of code.

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The one page BASIC SID Benchmark. Permalink

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Stumbled across this one as I was looking at some old speech synthesis stuff. Might come in very handy as I work my way through a pile of semi working commodore 64s.

How do you make sure the SIDs that are in the old C64 in your dad’s basement works before attempting a MIDIBox SID, sammichSID or other similar project? (Or midway through the project your dodgy soldering skills makes you wonder if you just blew out your 50$ SID?)

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Commodore 64 developer of Altered Beast, Rampage, Atomic Robokid releases source code after 30+ years! Permalink

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It’s always great to see how someone approaches their craft. We expect to see code in this day of easy to view, public repos, but it’s even cooler that old source is being made available. Wonderful to see techniques used in these very memory and CPU constrained devices.

Last Sunday, the Commodore 64/128 Programming Facebook group was carrying on its business as usual when received an invaluable gift from Michael Archer – the source code of many Commodore 64 games he programmed between 1986-1992.

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What Tokyo’s metro taught me about progressive disclosure Permalink

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I always find it fascinating how great UX is an interplay of layers from the seemingly obvious to the subtle. All of this takes it’s shape by taking the user centric view and understanding what that users will need from moment to moment and context to context.

This is exactly what I experienced in Tokyo, by receiving each information at the right moment, I managed to reach my final destination without any worries. Everything went smoothly without even noticing how much I was guided.

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Using E-Paper Displays for an Electronic Etch-A-Sketch Permalink

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One of the most fun parts of attending the ISCA (International Society of Caricaturist Artists) convention 2018 was watching the last part of their art fight where two caricature artists had to do a timed caricature of the other using an etch-a-sketch. Amazing what they did. Of course, me being me I had to take a look at what could be done with technology.

Even if you don’t want to duplicate the toy, the comparison of the displays is worth watching. We were really hoping he’d included an accelerometer to erase it by shaking, but you’ll have to add that feature yourself.

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Banks should let ancient programming language COBOL die Permalink

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My company uses COBOL. While it’s easy to write a click bait headline like the one above, it’s much harder to actually replace or even replicate a lot of what COBOL and the systems that rely on it.

The third option, however, is the cheapest and probably easiest. Instead of trying to completely revamp the entire system, Döderlein suggests that banks take a closer look at the current consumer problems.

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DevOps: Where it’s going and how to make the most of it Permalink

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Just a great quote form a good article. I see a lot of teams getting bogged down in trying to boil the ocean to solve problems, when a few smart moves can make a big difference.

There’s a difference between being on the bleeding edge and being a successful follower. You don’t have to keep inventing new things, but you do have to react quickly.

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Using Slack To Monitor Your App Permalink

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We’ve been using slack integrations with our git repos, Jenkins, Jira and are looking at integrations with AppDynamics and some extreme feedback items. We found it incredibly helpful for our team members on support to create some custom Hubot scripts. These tell support things like what time it is on the ship, what version of the application is deployed, how much memory and how many processes things like apache, mysql, and nodejs have.

As my curiosity grew with each ding, I began to wonder things like, What if there was a failure to create a new user? What if a user registered, logged in but didn’t complete the onboarding process? What is the result of our scheduled tasks? Now that the groundwork was in place, answering these questions was a piece of cake.

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Glitch wants to take you back to the first website you ever made Permalink

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Big trip back in time. I’ve got some pages I built from the mid ninties sitting around on my hard drive as well as the copy of “The Complete Idiots Guide to Javascript” which I learned some basics on back in 1997. I think my biggest memory of this time period was doing an extremely complex site layout in tables and when modifications came into the layout spending a good hour or two reworking how the table was all set up.

Aspirant developers are told they have to learn HAML, LESS, CoffeeScript, React and whatever else fly-by-night bullshit Hacker News is spruiking. Honestly, I don’t care. I’ve tuned out at this point, and I’m not alone.

Which is why I love Glitch, from Fog Creek. We’ve written about this site before. Essentially, it’s a playground where you can remix other people’s code in a safe and self-contained environment.

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Experimenting Your Way to Bolder Innovation Permalink

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A lot of people practicing Agile or Lean forget that what it primarily boils down to is a way to more quickly get value in front of customers, test their reactions and pivot accordingly.

Most organizations don’t test their innovation ideas with quick experiments to generate real-world evidence. Instead, they rely on in-house opinions, or conversations with lead customers to vet ideas. When data-driven experiments are run (like market surveys), they often take too long, cost too much or deliver little new insight to develop the idea.

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Will Princess Cruises’ Future Medallion Tech Change the Face of Travel? Permalink

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Nice overview of the OCEAN project. The platform my team has created makes a great segue into OCEAN.

Princess is the perfect choice to first receive the technology as it really is a natural evolution of its award-winning Princess@Sea mobile app, which continues to be offered fleet-wide as the new rollout will surely eventually supersede it. After Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess will be next to feature Ocean Medallion in early 2018.

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Princess@Sea App is Now an Acquia Engage Award Winner Permalink

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Very proud of what my team has been able to accomplish with the platform that we rolled out across the princess fleet over the past couple years. More great things to come!

After first demoing the app and speaking directly with Nate Craddock, project lead for guest experience applications, it’s a treat to see that Princess Cruises’ ace Princess@Sea mobile app has recently won a well deserved 2016 Acquia Engage Award.

Also liked this bit quite a bit as it is exactly what we have been working toward.

From my own personal experience using the app, I can attest that it is indeed user-friendly and marks one of the best cruise line endeavors for digitizing and bettering the guest experience, one that is a model that more should mimic.

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Sail away with high tech on the high seas Permalink

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Short write up on all the initiatives going on in seagoing hospitality. Of course I’m adding a quote from myself :-D

But Wi-Fi isn’t the only way to get online. Princess Cruise Lines has recently deployed an app to its entire fleet of 17 ships so passengers can communicate with each other on board for free—a boon on a ship that is a thousand feet long. The Princess app includes menus, an option for rating on-board restaurants, and real-time information updates on excursions and events on the ship, said Nate Craddock, project lead for guest experience applications for Princess Cruise Lines.

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Apollo 11 sourcecode on Github Permalink

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Pretty great to look through the git repo. Take a look at the code through the lens of today’s conventions. Working in a constrained environment myself (though nothing like these guys) is a great motivator for finding interesting ways of doing things, while still injecting some fun.

The code and its comments has lots of injokes: an injunction to the astronaut to “crank the silly thing around”; a file called “PINBALL_GAME_BUTTONS_AND_LIGHTS.s”; a subroutine called “BURN_BABY_BURN–MASTER_IGNITION_ROUTINE.agc” and a comment about “TRASHY LITTLE SUBROUTINES” – and, of course, some Shakespeare (“IT WILL BE PROVED TO THY FACE THAT THOU HAST MEN ABOUT THEE THAT/USUALLY TALK OF A NOUN AND A VERB, AND SUCH ABOMINABLE WORDS AS NO/CHRISTIAN EAR CAN ENDURE TO HEAR.”).

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Princess Passengers Cruise to a Digital Experience Permalink

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Nice overview of our project. I’ll always put quotes of myself:

“There has always been a need to deliver value to passengers, and this is a way to further enhance the experience,” Craddock says.

And my co project leads, Hillary:

The Drupal development platform was a key to building the system, says co-project lead Hillary Neaf. The company began using the open-source framework in 2007 to develop its corporate Internet framework. “It provides a high level of flexibility and the level of security we required,” she explains. “We have also benefited from the community support, and have used a lot of the Drupal forum and group input to develop the initiative.”

And Subbu

“Princess@Sea delivers digital transformation in a disconnected environment,” says co-project lead Subbu Hariharan. “It’s an exciting and challenging proposition.”

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Connected cruisers Permalink

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This was the specific reason we went to a web app rather than a native app, speed to market. e can update and deploy

One of the few lines to make its app available fleetwide is Princess Cruises, in part because Princess@Sea is a website accessible through a browser rather than a downloadable program. That approach made it easier to implement, and it is accessible on laptops, at terminals in the ship’s Internet cafe and for devices other than mobile phones and tablets.

There are other considerations when working with an environment like a cruise ship as well, particularly that we can deploy to the ships multiple times per week to add features and fix bugs. On a ship with limited internet bandwidth, we just couldn’t ask our passengers to download a new app every time we wanted to add something or fix something.

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Princess Cruises brings digital transformation to the seas Permalink

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Good overview of the platform that my team has built at Princess to drive our guest experience.

With a complex system for migrating data to and from ships causing new challenges every day, Princess Cruises sought support from digital experience firm Acquia to ensure the process of using Drupal to build its onboard digital platform went smoothly.

The open-source content management platform was chosen for its flexibility and ability to create customised content. Nine months later, the Princess@Sea app was fully developed and accessible on any device, from mobile phones to desktop computers.

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Princess@Sea Now Covers the Entire Fleet Permalink

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More quoting myself:

With other cruise lines, ones even within the Carnival Corporation family, offering mobile apps specifically for iOS and Android devices, it may at first seem peculiar that the Princess equivalent is not a native app, but Craddock explains, “I think one of the big differentiators for us, in thinking about that mobile experience, was that we really wanted to provide this foundation for the guest experience first and then look at the platform as something we then can use to expand how we do our offerings onboard.” That means it is also accessible from traditional internet cafe terminals, laptops and tablets and can be inexpensively updated more frequently.

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Mobile App is Smooth Sailing for Princess Cruises Permalink

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Some notes from a talk I gave recently at Acquia Engage 2015. Short talk, but a great group.

The Princess@Sea app first launched on one ship in 2013, the Royal Princess, and will be available on all 17 ships in the Princess fleet by the end of the year, said Nate Craddock, project lead and architect for Princess@Sea product team, speaking at Acquia Engage in Boston last week.

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DrupalCon Los Angeles 2015: Drupal at Sea with Princess Cruises

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I was fortunate to be able to host a session at DrupalCon Los Angeles. Great showcase for our product, but also a peak behind the curtain at how we’re able to make a platform like Princess@Sea on Drupal and how to rethink what you’re building and who your team is.

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Lingotek Helps Princess Cruises Manage “Translation at Sea” Permalink

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“Princess Cruises is a very forward-thinking company. Mario’s team is comprised of truly innovative and creative thinkers,” stated Rob Vandenberg, President and CEO of Lingotek. “Lingotek is proud to be a major part of the Princess Cruises ‘Translation at Sea’ solution and looks forward to working with them on continued projects.”

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Princess Cruises Releasing Free Messaging App Permalink

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Another benefit of having a web based platform - no need to download an app and not limited to a small selection of platforms.

Guest who do not download the app will still be able to send messages to other passengers using Princess@Sea, the award winning app that debuted on the Royal Princess. Princess@Sea allows guests to view the day’s events and activities, their stateroom account, restaurant menus, and other information about their cruise from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.

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DrupalEasy Podcast 130: No Karaoke Permalink

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Fun discussion about Content Management, what we’re doing at Princess with Drupal and so on. I also do sing karaoke…

Nate Craddock (nate_craddock) Subbu Hariharan (subru77), and Hillary Neaf (nektir) from Princess Cruises join Ted Bowman and Mike Anello to talk about Princess Cruises’ use of Drupal both on and off-shore. We also cover five stories, five picks of the week, and five questions!

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