The Evolution of IoT—and Where It Should Be Heading

LA Startups - The Evolution of IoT—and Where It Should Be Heading

Do you have the right idea about IoT (Internet of Things)? It may not mean what you think it means!

If you’ve been monitoring news about the Internet and modern technology, it’s a fair guess that you have encountered the phrase Internet of Things. Usually, people just call it IoT. While it does seem to represent an exciting new stage in high tech, there’s a problem: what the heck is it?

What we have with IoT is something nebulous, like the concept of justice. It seems like people have different ideas in what it means. Never mind how people disagree on which direction it should take. Like politics, you can’t get everyone to agree on how technology should evolve in the future. But the problem with IoT is that people can’t even agree on what it means now.

It’s probably understandable. It’s called the “Internet of Things”. Sure, people do have the same basic idea of what the Internet is. It’s just that people tend to disagree on exactly what those “things” are.

Origins

It’s only recently that the phrase became a hyped-up byword in tech articles in mainstream publications. Some people even believe that it’s a new concept. But the reality is that it’s actually an old idea. Tech entrepreneur Peter Lewis coined the phrase “Internet of Things” way back in 1985 when he gave a speech in D.C. That was a long time ago, and the Internet wasn’t even a true reality yet.

Lewis defined IoT as “the integration of people, processes and technology with connectable devices and sensors to enable remote monitoring, status, manipulation, and evaluation of trends of such devices.”

IoT and Home Automation

Over the years, people seem to believe that the “things” in the Internet of Things refers to the interconnected gadgets we use. Admittedly, it’s easy enough to understand why so much media attention has been focused on these gadgets. These devices are evolving at a rapid rate, and they keep on improving and developing. As each year passes, they become more sophisticated.

One simple illustration of what the public sees as IoT is the use of the smart bulb. In the old days, you need to manually flick a switch to turn on the light. Now that’s no longer the case.

Instead of walking to the wall switch to turn on the light, you can use your smartphone instead. A smart light bulb has tech features that allow it to connect to your Wi-Fi so it’s also connected to the Internet. Your smartphone also connects to the Internet through Wi-Fi. This setup allows you to control your smart light bulb through an app.

Now with this setup, you have more sophisticated means of turning off the light. You can use your smartphone as a TV remote, and turn the light on or off with the smartphone. You don’t have to be there in the room either. The app can tell you if the light bulb is on while you’re in the office, and you can turn the light off from there. The app can give you a virtual switch and you can use it to turn off the light.

In fact, with the app, you can even program the light bulb to turn on and off at programmed times. You can do this to keep the light turning on and off to make it seem like you’re at home. You can even connect the light bulb to a sensor or a security camera, and have it turn automatically on when the sensors detect someone’s presence.

So now we have a smart light bulb, a smartphone, and an app, your Wi-Fi, and maybe even your security camera interconnected through Wi-Fi. You have lots of gadgets working together.

But is this the Internet of Things? Are the gadgets and the “things” the same thing? People seem to think so, but that may not be the best interpretation.

User POV

When you have a light bulb and a switch, it’s easy enough to understand how to operate the light bulb. You can flick the switch to a certain direction, and it can turn on. Flick the switch the other way, and it turns off. It’s so simple. You don’t have to read a manual or watch YouTube videos online for you to understand how it works.

The same thing goes with a good smart light bulb and an app in a smartphone. As the user, you don’t even have to understand the details on how it works. You don’t need to know the science on how your app and your smart light bulb work and how they transmit data through the Wi-Fi. You just need to use the app properly and then you can activate or program the smart light bulb to turn on and off whenever you want.

Developer POV

The developer needs to understand the user’s perspective. That means they have to acknowledge that the user has no real need to understand the complex science required for the smart light bulb or an app.

Instead, the developer has to keep things simple. Using the app must be as intuitive and easy to understand as the wall switch of a regular light bulb.

This is the usability factor, and it’s crucial for the light bulb and the app to gain mainstream success. People will tend to reject gadgets and features that they don’t understand. It doesn’t matter if the people understand how it works. They just have to understand what to do to make it work. That’s the crucial difference.

Changing Your Mindset

Basically, you have a light bulb and a smart version of it, and they’re the same thing. You have a wall switch, and now you have an app. They’re the same thing too, as they both work as the switch.

Thus, the Internet of Things isn’t really about interconnected gadgets. They’re about interconnected concepts.  That’s how people and developers need to see IoT for it to become more prevalent.

You can’t focus on the advancement of technology. These advances must be out of sight. For users, it’s about how easy things are to use. Focusing on easy UX is also how developers must see IoT. So even while IoT devices keep on getting more sophisticated, the real challenge is to keep it simple!

Also, check out these 9 Biggest Trends in the tech at this moment

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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

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PledgeLA to Boost Diversity and Inclusion in The Los Angeles Tech Community

PledgeLA to Boost Diversity and Inclusion in The Los Angeles Tech Community

As the tech sector in LA grows due to the saturation of the tech industry in the San Francisco area, the same problems in Silicon Valley are now coming up. There’s a growing tension between the upstarts of the tech industry and the regular folks in the community surrounding this IT boom.

According to critics, what will follow in LA will be what happened in San Francisco if there’s nothing done about it. Regular people and longtime residents will feel alienated and looked down upon. They will feel like they’re being forced out by the higher rents and costs of homes as well as the prices of regular consumer goods.

That’s why more than 80 entrepreneurs and tech investors are joining Mayor Eric Garcetti and the non-profit Annenberg Foundation to launch PledgeLA. This is the LA tech community initiative that seeks to avoid what happened in San Francisco and to the people there who felt disenfranchised by the growing tech boom.

PledgeLA Features

Features of the initiative include the following:

  • More opportunities will be provided for everyone, regardless of race, background, or gender. So even non-white women who grew up poor should have the same opportunities as the white guys who grew up rich.
  • Those who signed to the PledgeLA agreement will track civic participation and diversity data each year. That data will be made public so that people will know if a tech company is made up of exclusively white males from the Ivy Leagues and other top schools.
  • Startups and funds will report on the composition of their workforce noting various factors. This won’t be just noting age, gender, and race. It will also note socioeconomic origin, educational attainment, and even sexual orientation to see if there’s bias against hiring members of the LGBT community. Other factors will include the status in regards to disabilities, immigration, and military service veteran. Even the tenure at a firm will be noted.
  • The signatories also will come up with a proper code of conduct centered on diversity and inclusion, and diversity will be practiced in corporate hiring.

Good Business Sense

While many who signed PledgeLA did so out of a sense of moral and ethical rightness, it also makes good business sense to emphasize diversity on corporate hiring practices. A Diverse workgroup brings different points of views when it comes to making decisions. It helps with networking for sources of talent, and the diverse work group can help build a diverse consumer base as well.

LA has now become one of the top 5 US destinations for technology investment and it’s now one of the top tech hubs in the country. The top 100 tech companies in LA and Orange County has reported a 24% increase in employment within the last year.

There are a still a few notable holdouts to PledgeLA, however. Tesla and SpaceX have not yet signed on, and nor has Snap. But LA is an inherently diverse area, and such a diversity must be maintained in the tech workplace as well.

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

Appz, a Smart Personal Assistant for Your Instagram

What is Appz and why should you use it?

If you have an Instagram account you know that managing and handling it can be quite the nuisance. You need to spend a lot of time writing comments, replying and talking with customers. That’s why you need every helping hand you can get. And it’s a good idea to try Appz if possible.

This is a really nice Instagram assistance that allows you to do the right amount of maintenance while also automating the processes that eat up so much of your time. What you will like the most about Appz is that it’s a personalized, brand-building assistant.

Once you install Appz, you can automate just about any Instagram process you can think of. It works great for auto-commenting, auto-following, and auto-liking as well. It works great if you want to acquire new followers too because it will like content created by people that have similar interests to you.

How can you use Appz?

The way Appz works is simple, you just need to add the desired hashtag and then it will do the rest for you. Appz will find people that share and access similar content and then you can engage with those persons in no time.

Not only that, but you can also monitor what Appz does via a dashboard. You can see things like engagement stats, activity statistics and so on. Every detail matters and with Appz you really get to have all the info you need in a comprehensive package. The interface is very easy to use and you can easily get a good idea of what people you need to reach, how to approach them and so on.

Appz does a very good job at optimizing your content since it works non-stop to find similar hashtags to the ones you are using and it also creates the best way for you to reach more people on Instagram. It’s nothing forced, everything is natural and it works exactly the way you want.

Why should you use Appz?

You should get the Appz Instagram Assistant: Lifetime Subscription because it makes it easier for you to find followers and generate more leads for your business. You also get to figure out what triggers the engagement, where you can find new followers and how you can promote your business even more. Plus, you can even drive up your likes, increase your reach and affiliate with influencers.

If you want to improve your Instagram presence and acquire more leads or customers, Appz is here to assist. It delivers great value and efficiency, and you will be amazed at how many followers you can get this way. Plus, Appz can be fully automated and it works non-stop for you in the background. Avail this great opportunity and check it out today!

Also, check out these 15 Hacks to Get More Instagram Followers

Author Details
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
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Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

The cost of software development kills innovation by limiting resources available to solve problems

THE PRODUCTIVITY DILEMMA

Let’s face it – software development is expensive.  Really expensive.  It’s not hard to understand why – software development is a complicated and still-maturing industry, and as the sector grows, it actually gets more complicated, not less, because of the acceleration of changes in technologies, programming languages, and toolsets.

As a technology consultant, one who is paid to help build expensive, complex systems, I should be happier than a fanboy on a Fortnite bender about this trend, right?  Wrong – it frustrates me a great deal.  My job is to solve problems and build things that people need, and that gets harder when funding becomes a challenge for our clients.

So here’s the question I’ve been grappling with – how can we make software development more productive to reduce costs?

There are lots of things our industry has done over the preceding decades to tackle this problem:

  • Developed working methodologies to build repeatable practices – Waterfall, Unified Process, Agile, XP, etc.
  • Created design patterns to solve common problems – MVC, SOLID, GoF, and many others
  • Leveraged lower cost resources through offshoring

None of these have been a panacea.  Look at any enterprise and you’ll find competing for SDLC methodologies, loose adherence to design practices, and the common efficiency roadblocks due to offshoring.  While these efforts have been helpful in managing cost, it is very difficult to measure the effect they have really had.

MEASURING PRODUCTIVITY

What to do, then?  More than anything, the focus of productivity has to start with the most human element of all – the individual developer herself.  The focus has to be on how to increase the speed that a developer can turn a designed solution into working code with as few errors as possible.

Anyone who has been in the software industry knows there are broad ranges in developers’ productivity.   It depends on the individual’s ability to understand programming theory, their educational background, years of experience, a personal situation at the time, how much Fortnite they play, etc.

Why is this important?  Quite simply, time is money.  The longer it takes a developer to code a solution, the more it costs.  In today’s environment of nearly full employment, demand for software developers has never been higher, which brings a lot of varied talent into the picture to meet the demand.  Anyone who has hired a developer knows the productivity gap I’m talking about – hiring is an expensive proposition and no matter how much interviewing you do, and you’re never sure what sort of productivity you’ll get until that person gets to work.

Why is measuring productivity so hard?  Because a good measurement involves an apples-to-apples comparison between developers, yet they will almost never complete the same task to produce the same set of code.  Since every development task is different, we cannot establish a baseline for how long it SHOULD take to perform a task versus how long it WILL take a specific developer.  Throw in each person’s differing levels of experience, education, and general abilities with the discipline, and…you get the picture.

Does that mean we’re stuck with technical interviews, coding tests, and answered prayers to create a team of highly productive software engineers?  Not quite.  Agile practices give us an opportunity to solve the biggest challenge in measuring developer productivity – creating a baseline to measure the variance between the estimated and actual time to perform a coding task.

HOW IT WORKS

Every ALM tool – Jira, or otherwise – allows a Scrum team to create story sub-tasks during their planning sessions.  Usually, a developer assigned to a sub-task has an opportunity to estimate the time it should take to complete that task, measured in hours.  During the sprint, developers can then track the actual hours spent so the team can evaluate the variance between estimated and actual hours.

This variance isn’t particularly helpful as a productivity metric because the individual developer may be much faster or slower than the average, and their estimations likely reflect this bias.

The solution to this problem is to have all the developers on the Scrum team estimate each subtask duration, creating a proxy baseline and a more reasonable expectation of the task’s duration.  Then, once a task is assigned to the individual developer, the variance calculations can start to have some meaning.

What meaning are we to glean from this variance? When looking at large sets of variances (hundreds or thousands of tasks over multiple projects), we can observe patterns in individual developers’ productivity.  If they consistently take longer to complete a task than the established baseline, we can look more deeply at the data to find root causes and potential remediations.  Is there a skills mismatch, allocation mismatch, or something else?  Does the developer need more pair programming or training in specific areas?

If a developer consistently performs tasks in less time than the estimations, we have hard metrics to reward that individual and encourage continued productivity.  We can also look at the data to see how we might have other developers emulate good behaviors from these high performers.

IMPLICATIONS

I know I know – I can hear the complaints now.  A small group of 2-4 developers on a Scrum team estimating a task cannot be used as a valid baseline, you say.  It’s a fair point, but any leftover estimation bias from a small sample size of developers would be offset by the volume of variance data we would collect.  As a manager, I care more about the variance trends and less about the exactness of anyone variance calculation.

But wait, you say.  All of this supposes a developer will be truthful in reporting their actual duration on a task.  People lie to themselves and others all the time (just read “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz) – if a developer knows they’ll be measured on variance, they’ll manipulate their actuals to improve their perceived productivity.

Again, fair point, but there is a self-policing solution to this problem.  An employee is generally expected to work 8 hours a day.  If a developer consistently under-reports their actual durations on a task, it would appear they were consistently working less than they should be.

Say a developer is assigned two 4-hour tasks, and he takes 1 day to complete both but only reports 2 hours of actual duration for each task.  We would see a report that shows him only working 4 hours that day.  With enough data points, we could easily spot a trend of under-reporting and take corrective action.

CONCLUSION

Why is all of this important?  As individuals, not just employees, we should all strive to improve ourselves every day.  That’s how society is supposed to work – we do things, we make mistakes, we learn from them and we grow in the process.  But we can’t improve what we can’t measure.  The method I describe is very easy to implement, as long as your team is following the Scrum ceremonies.  With simple metrics and trend analysis, maybe we can finally solve a difficult problem and leave ourselves more time to knock a few more things of that ever-growing to-do list.

Chad Hahn
Author Details
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.
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Chad Hahn
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.