Design matters a great deal. There are a number of articles on how awesome the Model S is for EV car. Most notably the 0-60mph in just a few seconds gets all the press.
Yes, it is quite safe. Looks cool. etc etc. However, there are many overlooked design features that make the Model S truly a work of art.
To make a car where an overwhelming favorite for customers who “love” their Tesla means they did almost everything right. Most importantly they designed the user experience right.
Tesla Model S Awesomeness
Let me count the ways. In no particular order.
They key fob looks like a mini-Tesla. Nice design touch. To open the trunk double click the trunk on the key fob. Front trunk do the same. Rather than fumbling around trying to remember which button is which, it matches the car shape. Simple.
Each key fob is connected to a user profile. I walk up to the car with my key fob and everything adjusts to my settings as I am getting in. So driver seat automatically moves into my position. Only the rearview mirror doesn’t move. Lame.
Door handles hide away when not need and are presented when unlocked. This doesn’t seem important but it changes the look of the car when parked. A nice aesthetic touch.
Same goes for the side rearview mirror. They fold in when parked. This is an option also. You can turn this feature off along with auto-present handle. But why would you? It looks cool.
The steering wheel rattles slightly if you change lanes without giving your turn signal. I’ll admit this seemed like a bug but a technician told me this is a feature. Can’t tell if he was bullshitting me or not. Regardless, it is a gentle reminder to use your turn signals.
Over the air software updates. Seriously this is the best feature. New features are pushed to the Tesla fleets. You are constantly getting new features. You don’t get that “I’m stuck with this same car” feeling.
Cute things like turning your Tesla icon on the dashboard into Santa Claus. Kids loved that. In that mode, when you use the turn signals jiggle bells play out instead of usual sounds.
All glass roof. This is different feature. Really cool at night. Gets a little hot on those hot summer days.
The frunk. No engine so you get an extra space in the front. I use the frunk for things takeout food. I’m not smelling up my Tesla with pizza. It also provides added protection in an accident by giving a larger crumple zone. Safe.
Virtually no maintenance. No oil change. No timing belt. No tire rotation. Thank god. Never liked going to the mechanic. They jacking people.
Regenerative braking. This is an optional feature. My personal favorite. Normally when you let you foot off the gas the car keep rolling. In this mode, the motor actually reverses and provides a more braking feel. This means when I roll up into a stop light I often don’t hit the brakes until I am almost completely stopped. Which means you use your brakes less. Which means you don’t have to change them very often. Genius. Takes some getting use to but well worth it and safer.
Tesla Model S Issues
USB ports are basically useless. Only the 12V can really power your phone with an adaptor. Not sure what the other ones are for.
Streaming music leaves a lot to be desired. Wish they integrated Spotify or something else than TuneIn.
Voice activation is a bit sketchy. Never can get it to understand anything. Maybe I can’t speak clearly.
For me personally, I have always been fascinated by technology and finance. The Dotcom boom and bust was a wild ride. From the rubble came a wave of new tech companies. Namely Google, Facebook, and many others. Tremendous investments were made to build out the foundation of the internet.
Wireless communication and the growth of LTE, Wifi, and Bluetooth have completely changed our lives. Mobile communication and the upcoming launch of 5G is going to be really cool.
The financial crisis and housing crash was an interesting experiment that seems to be repeating itself. Banking is primed for a major technology overhaul.
Every now and then we encounter seismic shifts in how technology will shape our future. Currently, that new technology is the Blockchain. You have probably heard of it by now. Bitcoin and Ethereum are examples of applications built on the blockchain.
There is so much to digest. It can be difficult to filter through the noise as most conversations right now are very technical. This is generally a good thing as we need really smart people to build out the infrastructure of what will blockchain do for everyone.
Although I have been following this technology for some time now. I am just recently focusing more attention to learn more about possible beneficial applications of the blockchain.
A blockchain is a digital ledger of records or transactions arranged in data blocks. Blocks are linked together through a cryptographic validation known as a hashing function. Follow the link if you want to nerd out for a bit or have trouble sleeping.
Linking the blocks together forms a blockchain.
What makes blockchain and this type of data structure so hot is applications can be decentralized. Records are not stored in any single location, are accessible by everyone, and are immutable. Meaning it is nearly impossible to hack.
How does blockchain help us?
Let’s look at the most popular application of blockchain technology. Bitcoin is a digital currency that is built on the blockchain. There is no physical paper, like a US dollar. It is all digital.
The challenge with making this purely digital is you could copy it for example. Also, how do I know your Bitcoin is legit and you didn’t counterfeit it.
This is where blockchain technology enables us to use Bitcoins to buy and sell goods online with the confidence.
Wait a minute. We can already buy and sell goods online. What’s wrong with PayPal and the current checkout system?
Well, for one thing, these transactions are controlled by just a few companies. We pay a ton in fees just to transfer money. Have you ever sent money overseas? It transfers from bank to bank adding fees upon fees and days to the process.
There is no central company or person controlling Bitcoin. Bitcoin technology does not recognize a person or entity for validation. Completely decentralized. There are blockchain applications which are hybrids though. So it is not all or nothing.
Blockchain hopes to make this more efficient by minimizing the middleman and enabling direct peer-to-peer transactions.
A few more reasons to implement blockchain
No single authority in control
No concentration of power
Secure (uses a push mechanism rather than pull). The network only sends what is needed where banks pull information from your account with credit cards for example.
Continuous innovation since it is an open network
No prior authorization needed to use the blockchain
Consumer protection allowing users direct control of their information
My focus here is to summarize my thoughts around Blockchain and related applications. Specifically around how to apply this exponential technology to everyday businesses. The intention is not to be too technical because Ill get lost myself.
How will blockchain effect banks?
How will blockchain effect supply chains?
How will blockchain be regulated?
How will blockchain affect my parents?
I hope to answer with future discussions. I cannot predict if Bitcoin will hit $20,000 or die out. However, one thing I know for sure is blockchain technology is not going away.
Peer-to-peer networking and cloud technologies are fascinating when you start to think about how information is moved.
Particularly with financial institutions that are prone to aggressive and constant cyber attacks.
A key aspect about blockchain is it is a decentralized network. There is no central control. This is important for security to not have a central point for attackers to focus on.
This is different from a distributed network. Even though Amazon may have various cloud services with servers distributed across the globe, it is still controlled by Amazon. An issue arises with Amazon and your data could be in danger.
I am personally not so concerned that Amazon controls the servers. It seems to be working well and thousands of businesses are built on AWS. They must be doing something right.
However, the future with blockchain technology promises a decentralized environment where no one company holds all the data.
A few years ago I am four floors underground walking to catch a train in Seoul I hear a loud “pop”! The 60 pound case I was wheeling around a foreign country decided it was time to break a hinge holding the wheel. The case now felt like dragging a house.
It was a crowded subway. I stopped right in the middle like a rock protruding in a stream. The stream of people kept going around me without any hesitation.
I managed to drag the case out of the way to the side. I notice the train is a few minutes away. After letting out a few expletives I think, “What I am going to do”?
We all have these moments where we are faced with a decision. Seemingly simple but what you choose and why you choose it makes all the difference.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “There are two guarantees in life, death and taxes”. It makes sense. These are two strong driving forces in our lives. However, for me something was missing.
I kicked and kicked the wheel hinge until I jammed it back in place. I tried to Macgyver a brace that would hold until my meeting was over. Now all I had to do was survive for a few more days while also dragging the case back to the Bay Area. How did I do on that trip? Did pretty good. I think.
“Seemingly simple but what you choose and why you choose it makes all the difference. ”
What motivated me to man up that day in the train station was bigger than death and taxes.
I believe there is a third guarantee in life. More subtle. Invisible. Nuanced. The third guarantee is “higher expectations”.
There is always more expected.
Ask any sales person. What have you done for me lately? Every year our quota goes up. Bank on it. Every year more revenue is expected. Cost of living keeps rising. Better products required. More features. Faster. Cheaper. Push the boundaries.
It is human nature to expect more. Venti mocha two-pump triple shot light ice frappuccino with whip, please.
What got me going that day was thinking about my family. They expect more from me. I expect to do more for them. I am constantly pushing myself to keep going.
Started from the bottom…
There is no amount of money or fame to pick you up from the bottom. You have to have to turn to something bigger. For me it was family. For you, it may be someone else or an important cause.
As an entrepreneur, seriously think about your business. Build up a good network of friends, family you can turn to, advisors, and mentors. I truly believe there has to be a human element in what we do to make it more meaningful. Our personal connections are what drives us to do better. You’ll be more successful in every way.
Eating healthy and exercising may help prolong death. Educating yourself on money may lower your taxes. Higher expectations are a guarantee.
Finding something bigger than yourself will help you better handle the higher expectations. You will need it to pull you through the abyss of entrepreneurship and sales.
Thoughtful, exceptional software begins with the end.
It takes clear definition of goals, understanding of business objectives, and alignment between software developers, clients, and users.
In this brief article, you’ll learn:
What is thoughtful software?
Why is thoughtful software important for every organization?
How to build software for a successful outcome?
Why an iterative, phased approach yields the best results?
Why personal values are important to build great software?
And why the creation and maintenance of quality software leads to long term success?
Work with partners who are genuine in understanding your goals.
WHY DO PROJECTS FAIL?
“Thoughtful software is better for the environment”
– Fahad Shoukat
Currently, it is estimated that over $3 trillion is wasted on software projects that never come to fruition. This translates to a staggering amount of value lost for both businesses and consumers. And it’s not just the private sector that struggles; for example, the Air Force spent $1 billion on a software project and had nothing to show for it.
Looking back on failed projects can help determine why the project failed. Unfortunately, the success or failure of a project is determined by a number of factors. Recent statistics show the most common reasons for project failure are:
The figures shown above only provide a small glimpse into the complexity of software projects and factors involved that ultimately determine success or failure. Additional studies demonstrate that software projects tend to run 66% over budget and 33% over time.
Most businesses are able to handle the additional costs in time and money; however, reports show that 17% of projects are so poorly executed that they threaten the very existence of the company.
BUILD THOUGHTFUL SOFTWARE
Prevent your projects from becoming part of these abysmal statistics.
Imagine and create thoughtful software.
Be committed to building, delivering, and maintaining software that is thoughtful, usable, and valuable.
Strive to build products that enhance user experience, provide value, and emphasize quality. But how do we define thoughtful software?
Thoughtful software is usable, unobtrusive, and is enjoyable to use.
It prioritizes the needs of users; rather than the needs of developers and designers. And for our clients, the creation of incredible, thoughtful software products leads to added value and tremendous opportunities for growth and sustainability.
Here we present how Skiplist builds software and what you should consider when building software and choosing a software development partner.
1. ASK WHY
“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge”
– Thomas Berger
Ask why and understand the journey that creates that pain point. Experts recognize always starting with WHY and completing a successful software project are inextricably linked.
This does not mean starting slow. However, an initial meeting or call should be to understand the problem we are trying to solve. Seems simple, right?
Often developers are so quick to take on a project, they forget to ask about business outcomes. These are important to establishing the engagement and vision of the project.
Is this feasible?
Why are we building something?
Who is the intended user?
Timing to complete the project?
What are the goals for you and your team?
Ultimately, these questions are not very helpful if not rooted by strong personal values of the people working together. After all it is people working together with people.
Alignment in values is important.
2. WE ARE DEFINED BY OUR CONVICTIONS
“A people that values its privileges above its principles, soon loses both.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower
Skiplist is a collection of talented individuals who came together to build thoughtful software.
We wanted to create a different experience for ourselves and our clients.
The software industry is full of bloat. Starting a project can be painful. Getting a master services agreement (MSA) signed? Forget about it.
Many projects never take flight due to legal teams going back and forth for months. Your project may be outdated by the time the MSA is finally signed.
Clients and vendors labor over writing a detailed scope of work (SOW) when in reality building great software happens outside the SOW. Through good communication and flexibility to make changes.
Corralling the relevant resources and managing a team in a rigid environment can be painfully challenging.
Relationships are more important than ever. Software is an iterative process.
There is a better way.
For that better experience, we stick to our 10 core values. We believe these should help you as well.
Simple over complex
Caring over apathy
Long term over short term
Candor over cowardice
Change over stagnation
Team over individual
Transparency over obfuscation
Relationships over money
Iterate over perfect
Learning over ignorance
In the end, our journey and experiences together are what matters. Let’s make them good ones.
3. DOING GREAT WORK REQUIRES GREAT TEAMS AND ALIGNMENT
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
– Andrew Carnegie
We are all one team. Let’s do this!
When you have a team that is founded on 10 core values and a mission to build thoughtful software, quite a bit of good can happen.
Combined with enterprises who hold similar values, the possibilities are limitless.
One core aspect of great teams is specialization. To achieve the best outcomes, bring in talented people who excel in certain areas. For example, a user experience (UX) designer can be the difference between a successful or failed product.
Don’t just build an app for the sake of it. Carefully plan it out with experienced architects and designers who can help support the vision. Five star ratings correlate to a better brand image and increased revenue.
Leveraging data can be a competitive advantage if implemented properly. Data science isn’t just a buzzword and data scientists are very expensive.
It is more impactful to start with a proof of concept (POC) to test the idea. Then develop a roadmap to increase the probability of success.
97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project.
86% of employees and executive cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.
About 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”.
We understand the need for dynamic, flexible, and dependable teams to complete our projects and form lasting relationships with our clients.
Listening and executing on software projects quickly and within budget is crucial to success.
4. SOFTWARE IS AN ITERATIVE PROCESS
“Software is a great combination between artistry and engineering.”
– Bill Gates
We firmly believe that software development is an iterative process that requires a phased approach.
A phased approach is necessary and important because it allows for our developers and our clients to provide continuous feedback, make improvements, and manage changes to the project without disruption.
A phased approach consists of 3 phases:
Phase 1 — Discovery
Phase 2 — POC / MVP
Phase 3 — Expansion
PHASE 1 — DISCOVERY
The requirements gathering or discovery phase is an essential part of any project. Though often it is overlooked as we rush to save time and start the project.
Experienced project managers will agree if requirements are identified early on, the probability of a successful outcome dramatically increases.
In this phase we want to establish a few important aspects.
Purpose of your project
Domain you operate in
Your unique operation complexities
Produce alignment between teams
If you are working with experienced professionals, this process moves fairly quickly.
PHASE 2 — POC / MVP
In the proof of concept phase demonstrates that certain concepts or theories may have potential for real-world applications.
A prototype is a very useful tool to determine the feasibility of a product without the high cost and going too far into a project.
A POC may involve extensive research. It allows time to examine and test assumptions. Often wireframes and mockup designs are created to visualize what may be possible.
In this phase, we can also get a better idea of the estimated total cost of the project. Budget overruns are usually a result of poor upfront planning. Stuff happens and projects do get derailed. We understand.
However, we can make a conscious effort early to minimize these effects down the line.
The next step can be a minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP takes the POC a step further to build a functional beta product where users can actually use and play with something real.
This provides invaluable feedback of how users interact with a product. The next steps are to learn from our findings, iterate, and build a better product for a full launch.
Alignment and understanding are achieved
Identify and build
Learn and iterate
Prepare for launch
PHASE 3 — EXPANSION
The term “production ready” is often misunderstood. It depends on who you are talking to.
A programmer would say a “production ready” software is:
It meets the product requirements as defined in the discovery phase
Its design was well thought out in the POC phase
It is stable
It can be maintained
It can be scalable
It is documented
Management would say a “production ready” software is:
It turns a profit
This all depends on the purpose of the product which we define by asking questions at the beginning of the project. For example, some research projects may not need to be a scalable solution.
However, if there is a bigger vision for a particular project it would make sense to plan ahead. Designing the architecture upfront to allow for scalability should not be overlooked.
Additionally, during this phase new features may be introduced and implemented. Feedback from the POC phase is important to refining a “production ready” product.
5. PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”
– Paul J. Meyer
Planning ahead will save time and money. The challenge is always balancing being prepared with moving quickly to meet demand.
Experienced developers, designers, and architects know it is always better to understand the end goal. We may not always know how the end may look but we can guide the process with a vision of what we want to build.
When are you working with experienced professionals at Skiplist, we are able to move swiftly by following the steps outlined in this paper. We are also able to adapt and make changes to keep the project on schedule.
When we all have the vision in mind and are aligned in values. The future can be more predictable.
Now that you know what thoughtful software is, how there are different software partners in this noisy world, and what it takes to not be another statistic.
The question remains, will you be responsible for initiating an amazing, thriving software project?