Real-time Collaboration: Building a Collaborative Community Within an Organization Print E-mail
Written by Jeromy Hall   
Tuesday, 13 October 2009

I work on a fairly large portfolio team within the Information and Communications Systems department—approximately ninety people who are organized into five or six project teams, each focused on delivering products for the Missionary and Public Affairs departments of the Church.

But we have a problem: the project teams have become siloed. This is because we do not have an effective means of cross-portfolio collaboration in real-time.

This problem manifests itself in a number of ways, including the following:

  1. When a technical problem is discovered by a team, a cultural boundary causes the team to feel that they’re on their own to solve it.
  2. We have no discoverable history of successes and failures, and consequently project teams either re-invent the wheel or repeat the mistakes of other teams.
  3. The perception of bureaucracy causes us to be inefficient while we wait for meetings and use the organizational hierarchy to disseminate lessons learned and best practices discovered by project teams.
  4. We think and behave in ways that prevent synergy and cause miscommunication, both of which lead us to false thinking. For example, we tend to promote false assumptions such as the following:
    • “My problems are unique.”
    • “Everyone sees my problems.”
    • “Everyone would see the same solutions as I do.”
    • “If I can’t solve it, nobody can.”

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Mormons in Technology pt. 2 Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Thursday, 08 October 2009
University of Utah (Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library)

The hearing aid, audiometer, artificial larynx, and stereophonic recording: Harvey Fletcher

This installment of Mormons in Technology discusses some of the contributions of Harvey Fletcher to society and technology. Fletcher is known as the father of stereophonic sound and devoted much of his career to studying the production, transmission, and recording of sound.

Born in 1884 in Provo, Utah, Fletcher graduated from Brigham Young University in 1907. Fletcher then moved his young family to Chicago to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Chicago. There, Fletcher worked with Dr. Robert Millikan on the famous oil-drop experiments as part of his dissertation work. Millikan won a Nobel Prize for being the first to accurately measure the charge of the electron in these experiments.

After graduating from the University of Chicago in 1911 with a PhD, Fletcher returned to BYU to teach for five years. In 1916, he accepted a job offer from the Western Electric Company, which became Bell Laboratories.

After retirement from Bell Laboratories, Fletcher taught at Columbia University and then returned to BYU to do research. In 1953, Fletcher established the Department of Engineering, which eventually became the College of Physical and Engineering Sciences. Fletcher continued to do research, especially in musical tones, and teach at BYU until his death.

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The Mormon Channel Project Print E-mail
Written by Tom Johnson   
Tuesday, 06 October 2009

The Mormon Channel iPhone application is the first software release from the LDSTech community. Not only does it stream the Mormon Channel on the iPhone, it also plays recordings of general conference talks, Church magazine articles, and scriptures. The application was given a four-star rating in iTunes and has been downloaded more than 55,000 times in more than 53 countries.

Views of the Mormon Channel iPhone application while streaming the Mormon Channel, browsing magazine content, and listening to magazine articles

The Mormon Channel Project will create version 2.0 of the iPhone application and also create applications to stream the Mormon Channel on Windows Mobile, Palm Pre, Android, and BlackBerry devices.

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Master Monkey Management Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ellison   
Friday, 02 October 2009

While serving a mission in South Africa, three missionaries in my district and I decided to go for a scenic bike ride on P-Day. The plan was to visit Cape Point—where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet—and enjoy the natural beauty of the countryside along the way. The isolated road we followed was carved into a steep mountainside that ascended from the ocean below. It was lush and full of trees, vines, and bushes.

While we were riding leisurely, the trees and bushes above the road started to shake and rustle. Loud noises and what sounded like screams came from the dark undergrowth. Almost immediately baboons were running onto the road beside us. Adrenalin kicked in and away we went.

Baboons have long fangs and do not have cute and cuddly dispositions. They can be very dangerous and cause serious injuries.

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Making it Easier Print E-mail
Written by Christopher Cieslinski   
Tuesday, 29 September 2009

In the day-to-day life of a developer there are always new projects to finish, new deadlines to meet, and new challenges to overcome. Sometimes the problems we face are new to us, and sometimes they are similar to ones we’ve solved before. Perhaps someone else has already solved a particular problem, or has a well thought-out approach to solving the same type of problem. We may “spin our wheels” unnecessarily on a particular challenge for days because we didn’t have those already-existing solutions or processes at our fingertips.

An individual developer within an organization can solve many problems alone and learn a lot. A team of developers can work with each other and become even better. To become first-class, though, an organization must enable all developers and teams to take advantage of collective knowledge and solutions already in existence. To be most effective, organizations should spend time, money, and effort creating and collecting those solutions and then disseminating the information.

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Test Automation with Free Tools Print E-mail
Written by Ronald Jenkins   
Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Since the mid ‘90s, test automation has grown from a handful of crude macro-recording tools and custom-built one-off applications to a suite of high-priced, high-powered frameworks. While the frameworks tend to perform as advertised, the pricing typically leaves small software shops out in the cold and mid-size test teams struggling to justify the budget. The framework itself can also have some limitations imposed by the limited flexibility of the scripting language behind it.

In the last few years, the open source movement has produced a series of tools that the enterprising tester can combine into a free framework with all the power and flexibility of full-fledged programming languages. One combination that I’ve used to test various Web-based applications consists of nUnit and WatiN.

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LDSTech Talk 2009: Follow Up Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Thursday, 17 September 2009

We would like to thank everyone who watched the LDSTech Talk this evening. We are excited to continue the LDSTech Talks and to increase community collaboration.

The entire 2009 LDSTech Talk session will be available for download here as soon as it becomes available.

In the meantime, read about the recipients of the 2009 LDSTech Awards.

We would love to hear what you thought about the event. Submit any feedback to the LDSTech Forum.

 
Quality and Truth Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Crow   
Wednesday, 09 September 2009

The job of a quality assurance engineer is to constantly be looking for ways to improve quality, including setting targets for metrics or setting criteria that must be met before we consider it a quality product.

At a recent gathering of Church quality assurance employees we discussed the idea of how truth affects the quality of our work processes and lives.

We may be really good at setting goals and envisioning the future. However, our ability to achieve those goals depends on having a true understanding of our current state of being — how we’re doing right now. This is the point: often we are not truthful with ourselves about the reality of what our current state actually is. We think (or believe) we know where we are, but in reality we may be far off.

Why is being truthful about our current state so important? An example that was shared by a former mission president was eye-opening. While serving as a mission president, he would regularly look at how the mission could improve in different aspects of missionary work. One area was the knowledge the missionaries had of the discussions and basic gospel doctrines. While he felt that the missionaries were doing well, he believed that there was always room for improvement. He devised a quiz that tested knowledge of basic doctrines, the commitment pattern, and other basic missionary information. It was a simple quiz and he believed that the average scores would be in the 80s and 90s. When the results were tallied, the average score was approximately 30 percent!

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Mormons in Technology pt. 1 Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Thursday, 03 September 2009

The Roadometer: William Clayton

Technology has grown at an exponential rate since the restoration of the gospel. Every day we are blessed by the contributions of those who are working to advance technology. Many of us think of the computer on our desk when we think of technology. But technology is more than that; it is defined as the practical application of science to commerce or industry.

Latter-day Saints have been active participants in science and technology. Learning about those who have worked so hard to get technology to where it is today can inspire us to keep innovating.  Many of the innovations that we enjoy were either invented or influenced by Latter-day Saints. Mormons in Technology is a short series of articles that will be posted once a month and will discuss some of the technical innovations made by Latter-day Saints since the restoration of the gospel. Use the RSS feed, e-mail subscription, or LDSTech Twitter updates to stay up to date on LDSTech posts.

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Rich Web Applications and the Google Web Toolkit Print E-mail
Written by Aaron LuBean   
Tuesday, 01 September 2009

There is little question that the Web browser has become the platform for most software applications. The rich Web applications of today push the envelope of Web browser standards (such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS). Consequently, software developers are finding it necessary to become browser experts. Fortunately, new technologies are being created to help developers bring rich Web apps to market more efficiently. One such technology is the Google Web Toolkit (GWT).

Evolution in Web Application Development

Web development is moving away from the request/response paradigm of older generation applications. In older apps, the application server generated the “View” in the Model-View-Controller pattern. This led to lots of chattiness between client and server, and consequently poorly performing applications and frustrating user experiences. This has been helped with the advent and use of AJAX, which reduces full-page reloading and promotes richer, thicker clients with less control of the View on the server. Many modern Web apps are stateful clients comprised of HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and AJAX calls to a stateless server which performs CRUD (create, read, update, and delete) operations on the database. GWT is a perfect candidate for developing these types of apps.

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