All posts by Ian Roseman

As a space ranger, member of Star Command, I protect the universe from Evil Emperor Zurg. I also like SciFi, Tech, Philosophy, and Sociology.

Great Tips for DevOps Teams Running on Kanban

Highlight WIP Bottlenecks

If the team is constantly dealing with production issues, the Kanban board should reflect both new functionality, User Stories and Production issues side by side. Add a “Production Priority” Swim Lane on top of your Kanban board. Visualizing high-priority production issues may have the team reconsider the priority of issues in contrast to new user stories.

Derive Effort Estimations for Input to WIP Prioritization

Team members should use effort estimations to help them prioritize their “Committed” work items. One of the work items, e.g. User Stories, may “cost” disproportionate to the value add, ROI. Focus team member efforts to provide maximum value proportionate to the time spent on work items.

Customizing States for Broad Granularity

New, In Progress, and Closed may not suffice to express work item states. “New” may represent the backlog of items, a queue not yet committed to by a member of the implementation team. Once a team member commits to implementing a user story, “In Progress” may be too wide a meaning, so adding the following states may keep the team in sync with their business process:

  • Committed – team member commits to implementing work item, E.g. User Story, or Task
  • Triage – deeper dive into the committed body of work to confirm crisp “Acceptance Criteria” and perform relative, effort estimations
  • Dev Complete – could indicate code complete, and dev testing conplete
  • Accepted – a “Closed” status indicating the Product Owner has verified the functionality is implemented in line with expectations, I.e. met Acceptance Criteria

Multicolored Cards Enable Teams to Classify at a Glance

Using different colors for Kanban Board cards allows the implementation team to prioritize work; e.g. Infra Task; E.g. User Interface or API stories. On many implementation teams, members might have areas of expertise such as UI or DB. Those members may hone in on items that are more relevant to them.

Tag, Your IT

Applying tags to Kanban board cards is another level of collectively classifying work items on the board, similar to the multicolored card approach but more diverse, not enough stark color contrast to classify.

Apple iOS Opportunity for Streaming Applications

It’s Like “Fast Cash” from an ATM

What seems to be low-hanging fruit for video streaming applications has not widely been adapted. If a user of the iPhone presses and holds down the App icon a “Shortcut Menu” for the app will appear. Adding a shortcut menu item called “My List” of movies and TVs would allow the application user to jump to their items of interest.

It’s a great way to skip the application menu navigation from within the app and jump to any point in the application that may be of frequent interest. Many of the stream services do not have this capability.

First Prize – Best in Breed – Amazon Prime

2nd Prize Goes to Paramount Plus

Tied for Last Place – Really??

Major streaming services, including Apple TV do not take advantage of this usability feature,

Twitter’s New Tip Jar for Charity Funraising

I’m excited to enable the new Tip Jar feature for fundraising for charities. Twitter users should be able to create a campaign to raise money for a charity boasted with Tweets related to the charity.

The Twitter Tip Jar should allow users to raise money, goal oriented with a tweatable bar chart that indicates progress, current money raised, and target goals.

Twitter Tip Chart should allow multiple fundraising initiatives in parallel, and tweet tags indicate which charity donation.

Twitter Advertising should allow tweet goal oriented tip jar fundraising, and extend the Twitter Advertising model to pause funding tweets based on daily fundraising goals.

Delineation of Work Items, Segregated by Tech Stack

Building any multitiered solution is not just creating a User Interface to render the data, there is most likely a service tier that fetches data from a database, and serves that data up to the UI to then be rendered. How do you derive work items in your product backlog? One User Story, and multiple child tasks, one task per tech stack tier, UI, service tier, and database? Or three user stories, one per tech stack tier?

User Stories Defined, Per Tech Stack Tier

There are clear advantages of representing most work items with User Stories such as deriving story points, determining team average velocity, and a more accurate burndown chart depicting a downward trending scope and implementation of user stories.

Using child Tasks of user stories may obfuscate the total work required to implementation of the solution unless baked into the parent story points. Tasks are typically tracked in terms of hours, and separately user story points are calculated/derived from a collective, relative effort estimation, e.g. Fibonacci sequence; 1,3,5,8,13,20…, and many teams may overlay this scale to fit their sprint duration.

Feature and Story Planning – At a Glance

In order to organize each feature, and correlated user stories, teams may use a prefix in the title of the user stories, such as [UI] or [DB]. At a glance, a product owner, or the implementation team can see if all the required stories for a given feature have all the elements required to implement the feature. For example, if a new report needs to be created, multiple stories must contain [UI], [API], and [DB] stories.

Drawbacks – Accepting a User Story as Complete

If you segment your product backlog user stories based on tech stack, you may need to wait until all related stories, UI, API, and DB have been implemented. For example, If your API and DB stories are developed, and not the User Interface (UI), you’re QA/Testing may not start until the UI story has been deployed. Of course, your tester could test the API using testing tools like SoapUI.

Netflix Is Testing A Way To Limit Password Sharing

r Netflix is testing a way it can limit password sharing, in what could signal a notable shift of the streaming giant’s posture toward users.“Is this your account?” an on-screen notification asks some of those trying to log on with credentials from someone outside their household, according to users’ screenshots. “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.”Users can then enter their own information and create an account, which comes with a 30-day free trial in certain territories.“This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Source: Netflix Is Testing A Way To Limit Password Sharing – Deadline

Two Factor Authentication verse Location-Based 

This measure is an ineffective approach at best, and a hindrance, worst-case scenario to those valid Netflix users who travel often and take their streaming service on the road.  Many other Internet Services, beyond content streaming,  are now implementing a 2-Factor Authentication (2-FA) approach.  With 2-FA, a user will log into the Netflix app, and then is sent an email or text message with an authentication code.  The code is then used to complete the login of the Software as a Service (SaaS).  This approach could be extended to VOD  streaming services, and for each account “Profile”,  there is a defined mobile number and email address where the access code can be sent.   Only the default account profile can unlock the security details for profiles, allowing the assignment of mobile numbers and email addresses.

How Will Consumers React?

The initial pilot solution seems like a half measure at the moment. I’m not familiar with how they will implement the location-based, “Outside Your Household” solution because of a legitimate use case where some people who have subscriptions actively travel, for example. Surely, these people who travel will appear to be in various locations, according to network topology. On the other side, if you apply a multifactor authentication approach, that’s bound to be more successful in inhibiting the “password sharing” issue. Netflix defines/reevaluates a maximum number of user-profiles per account. Will this help generate more revenue for the “fledgling” streaming service, or anger their audience who may take flight to one of the many other services offered. It’s not the cheapest streaming service in town. Let’s see.

Get Funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs

ICON_PLACEHOLDEREstimated reading time: 2 minutes

SBIR and STTR Programs

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR and STTR enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation’s R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated, and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs.

Central to the STTR program is the partnership between small businesses and nonprofit research institutions. The STTR program requires the small business to formally collaborate with a research institution in Phase I and Phase II. STTR’s most important role is to bridge the gap between performance of basic science and commercialization of resulting innovations.

Leveraging America’s Seed Fund – excellent presentation for the neophytes first looking to work with the US Government.

As of today, there are 343 new/open projects for 2021. For the full list of open projects, go to the SPIR.gov site.

SBIR/STTR Phase I awards are generally $50,000 – $250,000 for 6 months (SBIR) or 1 year (STTR).

SBIR/STTR Phase II awards are generally $750,000 for 2 years.

List of SBIR/STTR Open Opportunities

If interested, I’m happy to partner up on one of these endeavors. Please note all of these opportunities close out on 2/18/2021

N211-002: Just-In-Time Medical Logistics Resupply System for Forward Medical ; Due Date: 02-18-2021

OBJECTIVE: Reduce the workload on medical personnel through the development of a system that can provide automated real-time supply ordering, tracking, and monitoring capabilities to integrate into existing USMC medical logistics systems

Supply Chain Management 101 on the surface. The integration into existing medical logistics systems may be a challenging task.

N211-023: Collaborative Workspace for Next-Generation Navy Mission Planning System; Due Date: 02-18-2021

OBJECTIVE: Develop a collaborative workspace to integrate the disparate locations where mission planning occurs, and to facilitate the mission planning process within the ready room while maintaining operational security.

Sounds like a customized Microsoft SharePoint site can do the trick.

N211-037: Electronic Warfare Operator Workload Organization and Sharing; Due Date: 02-18-2021

OBJECTIVE: Develop a methodology for effective and efficient electronic warfare workload organization and sharing that increases the performance of the Electronic Warfare Operator and Supervisor.

Yet another customized Microsoft SharePoint site to be created.

Please make sure you read the “Eligibility” on their About page. The same page also outlines the “Three Phases of SBIR/STTR”, and “Award Funding Amounts”

Agile Advisor Plugin for Microsoft Teams

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Advisory Role in Microsoft Team Communications

Agile Advisor Plugin for #Microsoft Teams is able to observe team interactions, such as conference calls within Microsoft Teams. The Advisor can derive “dialog intents” and provide recommendations for improvement. A retrospective on communications, such as Scrum ceremonies

Voice Recognition During Teams Meetings

Technology that leverages voice recognition, such as Interactive voice response (IVR) solutions are fraught with failed recognition. IVRs are used to answer calls in just about every company, which prompts for either a phrase from the user on what they want and the ability to enter a numeric value correlating to the desired intent. Challenge #1.

Dialog and Intent Identification

Beyond trying to identify the user’s intent from a phrase or sentence, a dialog, a series of interactions between two or more team members is even more complex. Current AI models that identify intent from a sentence or phrase have a mixed variable of accuracy, which is why these models must be tuned over time. A collective of interactions, a dialog between two or more team members, has a much higher level of complexity to identify intents. Challenge #2. Once a dialog intent(s) has an “N”% level of accuracy, rules may be fired with any number of outcomes, such as unintrusive logging of Agile suggestions for best practices, and next steps: e.g. a retrospective of the scrum ceremony.

Dynamically Identify Roles in Teams Meetings

Who participates in Microsoft Teams meetings and team chats can be associated with Microsoft Teams’ member profiles, such as Scrum Master, and Product Owners.

Enhance the Adherence to Agile Principles

12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto, and opportunities for rules to be trigger based on conversations, the interactive dialogs.

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Dialog Intent Rules for Agile Guidance

From the above agile principles, we can derive the following dialog intents and precise recommendations for improvement.

Barriers to Implementation

At the current level of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Digital Assistants, i.e. chatbots, even the “best in breed”, has “difficulty”, i.e. lower probability with intent recognition, with a single sentence or phrase. Multiply that by interpreting an interactive dialog with multiple sentences, multiple participants, and exchange of responses, feasibility is highly speculative.

And Still More Opportunity: Recognition of Facial Emotional Expressions 

Expressions of people may be able to be determined, and opportunities for suggestive posture can be advised. Even body posture folded arms as an example, can imply a guarded opinion, and not open to compromise.

Reference article – Emotion recognition using facial expressions

Caution and Opportunities

This plugin output could be used for annual employee evaluations.

Microsoft Raising the Bar on Image Recognition

Microsoft Bing has a feature that allows you to focus on one part of the image, and perform a more granular image search within a cropped portion of the image. The #Bing “Visual Search” feature will indicate within an image if the AI has identified one or more object matches within the selected image.

First, perform an image search in Microsoft Bing, and select one of the images. The below screen appears. Under the image, there is a button that says “Visual Search” as per highlighted by the red arrow. In some cases, there will be a numeric indicator next to the “Visual Search” text indicating possible, object matches within the “parent” image.

Bing Visual Search
Bing Visual Search

Next, select the “Visual Search” hyperlink WITH a numeric indicator next to the text as per above. Now the user may see a list of additional images that MAY appear similar to the “selected/cropped” object in the “Parent” image. The user may also change the cropped/selected section within the “Parent” image. It’s a brilliant idea. It may be of interest to roll back the curtains to see how in a sea of possible images, the feature selects the subset of images/objects.

Visual Search - After Selected
Visual Search – After Selected