Tim’s Weblog Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, managing software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

How To Solve “Not Enough Time”

Gojko Adzic – How To Solve “Not Enough Time”:

“Teams track velocity as story points, number of items implemented. Instead, we should be tracking value delivered. That is the real velocity. That is the real outcome. Any improvement to the software delivery process should speed up the rate with which we deliver value, not effort.”

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 07:45:49 +0000

The three essentials of any agile process

Matthias Marschall (in 2011) – The three essentials of any agile process:

“By making progress (and bottlenecks) visible, helping people focus, and pulling together as a team, everyone starts to be proud of what they’re doing. Suddenly, they want to be responsible for the whole story (not just an implementation detail). They start to take pride in delivering perfectly working features. Congratulations, you’ve reached the ultimate goal of agile: Your team takes ownership!”

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 07:43:15 +0000

Sweep the Sleaze

Sweep the Sleaze:

“Don’t worry. These buttons will vanish. The previous wave of buttons for Delicious and Digg and Co. vanished, Facebook and Twitter and G+ might vanish or they might survive, but the buttons will vanish for sure. Or do you seriously think that in ten years we will still have those buttons on every page? No, right? Why, because you already know as a user that they’re not that great. So why not get rid of them now?”

(Via Marco Arment.)

Thu, 31 May 2012 08:56:05 +0000

Semantic markup for “You can license this image”

Searching the web for images you can actually (legally) use, for commercial or non-commercial purposes, is almost impossible: Google or Bing will show you millions of images, but have no clue under which terms you’re allowed to use them. Lots of “information silos” let professionals search for, and license, rights cleared images, from iStockphoto to Getty Images. If you want your photos to be found there, you’ll have to copy them into one (or more) of these sites (see the Flickr / Getty Images cooperation), which means more work for the photographer. And the user or buyer has to search through multiple silos. Since a lot of these silos exist, most searches will miss out on most of the photos out there.

While curated image collections are fine and can offer consistent, high quality, spam-free content, I think there should also be usable image search engines with much greater coverage. With more and more images being put on the web, it would be great if image search engines could index the most important information directly off the referencing HTML page: Title, description, date created, whether the image is free for non-commercial or commercial use, whether and where I can buy a license.

To the user, it should be a simple list of options in, say, Google image search: “Only images which are free for non-commercial use”, “Only images that are free or can be licensed”. (And if Google doesn’t implement this, others can roll their own image search engines.)

The Semantic Web is trending again and offers great options for marking up metadata within HTML, but unfortunately there’s no “one true way”. What exactly should the HTML markup look like? Would one use WhatWG microdata, schema.org microdata, schema.org RDFa Lite? (As far as I know, PLUS and RightsML cannot be embedded in HTML.)

I have created a separate page with four examples of different ways to mark up an image license. Warning: Since I’m a Semantic Web newbie, they may be wrong or suboptimal…

Example #1: To refer to a Creative Commons license in HTML, you can use “RDFa and the rel=license microformat”, according to this Stack Overflow page on “Semantic HTML markup for a copyright notice”

Example #2: The WhatWG HTML microdata proposal contains a section on “Licensing works”, with a nice example of an image available under both a Creative Commons and the MIT license – using the microdata format with itemprop=license. 

Example #3: The schema.org CreativeWork type has the properties copyrightHolder and copyrightYear, but no license property. IPTC rNews extends schema.org, adding copyrightNotice and usageTerms. The latter sounds like it could refer to a license URL: “xsd:string | xsd:anyURI | owl:thing. A human or machine-readable statement about the usage terms pertaining to the NewsItem.”

Example #4: Same as above, but (instead of microdata) in RDFa Lite format (which in the future can maybe also be used for schema.org markup).

The Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool recognizes only #2 and #3. It likes example #3 best (schema.org in microdata format), but complains about the rNews extension: “Warning: Page contains property "usageterms" which is not part of the schema.”

Do you know of a better markup alternative? Does a license-/rights-aware image search engine already exist? I’m looking forward to your feedback!

Thu, 31 May 2012 09:11:24 +0000

This Is All Your App Is: a Collection of Tiny Details

Jeff Atwood – This Is All Your App Is: a Collection of Tiny Details:

“Getting the details right is the difference between something that delights, and something customers tolerate.

Your software, your product, is nothing more than a collection of tiny details. If you don't obsess over all those details, if you think it's OK to concentrate on the "important" parts and continue to ignore the other umpteen dozen tiny little ways your product annoys the people who use it on a daily basis – you're not creating great software. Someone else is. I hope for your sake they aren't your competitor.”

(Via James Turner at O’Reilly Radar.)

Mon, 14 May 2012 09:06:20 +0000

RIM's Failed Hail Mary

Dustin Curtis – RIM's Failed Hail Mary:

“Instead, they released something uninspiring, uninteresting, and unfinished. That no one at RIM had the guts and authority to recognize the seriousness of their situation–the company is literally dying!–and say, “Hey, maybe we should wait until BlackBerry 10 is awesome before we release it,” is an ultimate demonstration of how RIM's culture will lead to its now inevitable demise. This is what happens when the sales people are in charge.”

Tue, 08 May 2012 10:21:21 +0000

Dilbert comic strip for 05/07/2012: Every user we talked to was an idiot

Scott Adams – Dilbert comic strip for 05/07/2012:

“Every user we talked to was an idiot, and their dumb suggestions ruined our product.”

Mon, 07 May 2012 09:04:37 +0000

The Accountability Effect

Bassam Tarazi – The Accountability Effect [PDF]:

“We in the West live at an unprecedented time in human history. Our world is filled with mass consumption and physical comforts that would make someone from a previous century fall over with disbelief.

[…] The word “can’t” does not have the same clout it once did. You “can’t” or you “won’t”? There is a big difference.

[…] It is our duty to take that gift and live lives that are befitting of it.

[…] Rest is paramount in life, but laziness lies at the fringes of relaxation. Be careful of ceding ground to the creeping sloth.”

(Via Seth Godin.)



Mon, 07 May 2012 07:53:53 +0000

The Simplicity Thesis

Aaron Levie – The Simplicity Thesis:

“A fascinating trend is consuming Silicon Valley and beginning to eat away at rest of the world: the radical simplification of everything.

[…] Any service putting the burden on end users to string together multiple applications to produce the final working solution should consider its days numbered. Any product with an interface that slows people down is ripe for extinction.

[…] If you’re making the customer do any extra amount of work, no matter what industry you call home, you’re now a target for disruption.

[…] Focus on details. Simple is hard because it’s so easy to compromise; hire the best designers you can find, and always reduce clicks, messages, prompts, and alerts.”

Thu, 03 May 2012 19:35:19 +0000

Owning Your Words: Personal Clouds Build Professional Reputations

Jon Udell – Owning Your Words: Personal Clouds Build Professional Reputations:

“So now blogs do have forum-style comments which concentrate discussion but recreate the original problems: attenuation of identity, loss of ownership of data.

Could we have the best of both worlds? Here’s how it might work. I want to participate in a comment thread on your blog. So I write my comment, post it to my personal cloud, capture its URL, and post the URL to your comment thread. Your blog’s comment system syndicates the text of my comment into the thread, identifying my personal cloud as the source.”

Thu, 03 May 2012 19:49:31 +0000

Transform Your Employees into Passionate Advocates

Rob Markey at Harvard Business Review – Transform Your Employees into Passionate Advocates:

“When frontline employees and managers hear directly from customers — when they see how customers scored their experience, when they hear what went right and wrong in the customer's own words — the effect is dramatic. Applause in the form of positive feedback inspires them to keep up the good work. Criticism often inspires employees to improve their performance on their own or to seek additional coaching so they can do better next time.”

Thu, 03 May 2012 19:30:43 +0000