Archives For Inspiration station

The “Inspiration Station” contains various stuff that we find around us, online of offline that somehow tickles your brain.

Not sure what it is, or why, but somehow minimal living spaces really click with me. Especially the ones that are (ridiculously) cleverly designed. Maybe it is because they are custom made and designed, satisfying the maker in me. Or maybe it has to do with “lean everything”. Less baggage = more happiness?

That is exactly what the LifeEdited project is about. Treehugger.com‘s founder Graham Hill gave this riveting TED Talk on how less stuff, means more happiness. Those who like camping know exactly what he means: you have almost nothing with you, but you enjoy your life the most! With that in mind, he started to figure out a way to turn a 40 square meter (420 sq. ft.) New York apartment into a “full size” house. Check out his 5 minute TED Talk here.

In May 2012 the (wrecked) apartment he shows in the talk, had been transformed into this gorgeous house with a home cinema, living room, office, guest room, kitchen and bathroom:

 

 

 

Groningen Mini Maker Faire

Groningen Mini Maker Faire

For several years Make Magazine’s Maker Faire has been a growing hit in America. First in San Francisco’s Bay Area, later also on the east coast in New York. And more recently the Mini Maker Faire is becoming a phenomenon, which takes the Maker Faire outside of the US as well.

Since this site is ran by a few dutch makers, we are especially delighted to see the first one in the Netherlands! On friday october 20th, Open Lab Ebbinge and Theater De Machinefabriek will host the first annual Groningen Mini Makerfaire (in dutch here) where many makers will show their creations, teach you how to make your own projects and get in touch with fellow makers from the area. There will also be 30+ free Maker Talks and workshops for visitors to attend.

So, if you are a maker, want to be a maker, or want to see what makers are all about, go have a look in Groningen next friday, between 12:00 and 18:00.

Groningen Mini Maker Faire

DIY Dubstep

September 22, 2012

Dubstep is all the rage these days, and I personally quite like the large, heavy, screaming amounts of noise. So, I quite liked seeing some dubstep video’s on the Make Magazine blog tonight. Apart from the video above, make sure you also check this video below of a device that uses a laser to scan everyday objects and turn them into sounds to use in a dubstep track:

Warning Dubstep!

Warning Dubstep!

Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards

Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards

[Update] Let’s dedicate this post and picture to Merthe Weusthuis, the girl how forgot to tag her “Sweet Sixteen” party as private, so now there are a few thousand people crashing the village of Haren in Holland. There are fireworks, alcohol, police, lots of media (even CNN), and the whole thing is even livestreamed using a UAV drone (no stream online anymore).

This fake queen of Holland tweet summarizes pretty the sentiment a lot of people in Holland seem to have right now:

Translated: What a situation. “What is bad for the country is good for the papers”.

 

Adam Savage (@donttrythis) is co-host of the popular Mythbusters show. And a large part of that show consists of the Mythbusters making all kinds of devices and contraptions in order to test the myths. So it probably comes as no surprise that Adam Savage considers himself to be a maker, and not just on camera, also in his spare time.

This video was recorded at the 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire  and shows Adam Savage exploring and explaining why we make. It is an inspiring talk which rang true on many levels with me. I think he is able to put in words the feeling and emotion that many makers have when they make something. And maybe those are similar reasons why travellers have to travel, why you really love that hobby you do.

What do you think, can you identify with this?

You probably know the game Pong, or at least you have heard of it, or if not, you have seen it: it is one of the first video games ever; as a player you bounce back a “ball” with your paddle.

As shown in this video, somewhere in Germany this game was installed on a pedestrian traffic light. It contains a touchscreen on which you can play pong while you wait for your light to turn green. You play against the person on the other side of the street you want to cross. Pretty cool, right?

I wonder if this is the only place where this is installed in Germany, or is actually commonly found in cities? This would make for a cool diy project too: stack a microcontroller like an Arduino, an Xbee radio and this touchscreen shield for Arduino by Adafruit for each “terminal”. Make two of those and make the Xbee’s talk to each other!

Or better yet, turn it into a psychedelic pong experience with this RGB LED matrix and a “spinner” knob. And no, I am not affiliated or sponsored by Adafruit, I just really like what they’re doing!

Ran into this video today when catching up on articles on tested.com. Although my math teacher was ok, he was not nearly as capable in making math cool as the female voice in this video. Almost makes me want to take out a note pad and start doodling myself.

The Lean Startup

July 31, 2012

This time a post I posted in dutch on our company intranet a few weeks ago about a book I read and liked a lot: The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries.

In march this year I attended a conference where Lee Copeland was one of the presenters. In a presentation on Innovations in Testing, he mentioned the book and the fact that a tester recommends a book that, judging by the title, is about startups and enterpreneurship, got me interested in reading it.

The description on amazon.com reads:

“Most new businesses fail. But most of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach to business that’s being adopted around the world. It is changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. The Lean Startup is about learning what your customers really want. It’s about testing your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it’s too late. Now is the time to think Lean.”

The book focusses largely around a concept called “Build, Measure, Learn”. The development of a (new) product is done based on “validated learning”, which is the engine in the “Build, Measure, Learn” cycle. Once a first (very basic) version of a product is built, it is released, used, observed and (very important) measured how it behaves. Based on those findings the chosen strategy (based on a hypothesis before development of the version was started) is examined and determined if it is still the right strategy based on the findings of the released product version. If the observations and measurements support the chosen strategy, continue the development according to strategy. If not, see how to change the strategy and start development based on the new strategy. This decision is called the “Pivot or Persevere” moment and is a clear moment in each development cycle. By keeping those cycles as short as possible, efficient product development is possible.

The value of “validated learning” cannot be overstated according to the book. Instead of hoping you built the right thing in a very big bang only to find out it’s not what your (potential) users want or care about, the reader of the book is challenged to think about the assumptions and expectations the founded the reason to start developing the product, specifically the growthpotentatial and valueproposition of your intended market. How many users are willing to pay for your product. How much revenue can be generated in the first month for example. By setting and measuring these expectations you can quickly get valuable feedback about your assumptions and expectations and whether or not the product you developed lives up to those expectations. If it does not live up to the expectations, you can quickly change course based on measurements instead of guesses and opinions.

The book contains many cases of both good and bad examples of developed products. It guides the reader to defining clear and useful datapoints along which to measure growth, development and succes.

While I was reading the book, I was part of a pilot scrumteam in my company. Scrum is both new to the company and (fairly new) to me and while working and reading I noticed several parallels: specifically the short cycles in which build-measure-learn happens, very similar to the sprints in a scrumteam. It allows you to quickly deliver, learn and adapt if necessary.

However, what I have not yet seen in scrum, but the book did mention is the measurement of your deliveries and the “pivot or persevere” decision. My scrum experience so far is mostly focussed around chopping up a large project into smaller bitesized bits, and less about the feedback of the delivery after each sprint and if changing the project-goal is necessary. There is of course the retrospective, but that focusses mainly on the scrum process and not the product.

A lot of the thoughts and practises in the book do apply to (software) testers: it constantly challenges the reader to look at a situation or product from different perspectives. Trying to find ways along which to measure the succes of a product that is being tested. What makes the product tested succesful? When built according to coding guidelines? If it indeed does what the specifications state? I am sure it all helps, but if your users do not need or want it, find it unintuitive, it is not succesful. Even if it was beautifully built. So, the role as a tester is not (only) to determine if the product does what it says it does, but also to test the assumptions. Test the implications. Test the developers and the testers. Test the context in which it is used, user experience, side effects, etc.

In short: this book is an interesting read for budding enterpreneurs (although I am really not a fan of the word “enterpreneur”), but it can also be a very valuable read for those (testers) interested in agile or lean-manufacturing methods. Recommended reading!

I test software for a living and some time ago I was engaged in a lively discussion with a fellow tester about the nonsense of prioritizing items. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to know what needs to be done first, but the traditional to-do-list or issues-list does not benefit from a “priority” column.

We all know what happens with such lists. Early on they show a reasonable amount of high, midium and low priority items but as time goes by and deadlines approach, more and more items have a tendency to creep into the “High Priority” area of the list. Before you know it, (almost) all items are high-priority, and the value of priorities goes out the window. One priority is no priority. The only thing such a list tells you is that you are about to miss your deadline, which should not be news to you by now.

When maintaining bugs and findings, such impact or severity ratings do serve a purpose, but that purpose is not to determine priority.

If it is really priorities you are after, there is only one system that works for me: a list. But a list without the “priority” column. The item at the top of the list is the most important item, more important than the second item on the list, and the third, etc.

The scrum method for software development uses a similar way of prioritizing items. The scrum team takes one or more backlog items to work on in a sprint and will finish one before commencing work on the other. The determination of priorities on the backlog is based on various aspects, but has been determined before commencing execution or implementation of that backlog item.

This is not rocket science, it is common sense, but it works like a charm!

I have posted here before on the subject of positive psychology and happiness. And this week I came across this video that I saw a few months ago, but forgot about. It tells the story about what motivates people at work and in life. It is beautifully animated to explain the concepts discussed, but the content is even more interesting and beautiful than the drawings.

It also touches on a subject that has regularly been discussed in coffeecorners in many companies: contrary to popular believe, money is not a great motivator for people to do and enjoy their work. At least not as much as “common sense” would expect.

If more money is not the way to intrinsically motivate you, then what is? This video can help answer that question; what is it that makes you tick?