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Feb 11, 2016
Career Paths for Programmers
I recently interviewed for a Business Analyst position with the CIO of a large multi-national software development firm. This man was in charge of the company's worldwide IT operations, including offshore development projects, for which he was searching for qualified Business Analysts. The interview quickly became a casual conversation about current trends within the IT service sector, how the company was planning to take advantage of those trends, and, most importantly, how I could fit into those plans. It was during his evaluation of my skills that I asked how I fit and whether it was technical or business skills that were most valuable to his projects. The CIO summed up his advice about my career path with one small sentence: "Stay on the business side."
Business skills, in this CIO's view, were most important to his future projects and the industry as a whole. His reasoning was that he could train anyone in the technical skills he needed for a project, but finding those people with the necessary business skills to guide an IT project to success was something that could not easily be obtained. He went on to say that he found it difficult to find people who could communicate on even the most basic of levels. I asked if my background as a developer would help in getting a business analyst job, and he conceded that although it's not a requirement, it certainly would help matters as long as I could prove that I wasn't "too technical."
His comments are consistent with the trend that all US-based programmers have observed since the late 1990's: global salary competition amongst programmers, and a growing view in big business of programming as a commodity skill. It's hard to compete with a developer in Russia or India who can work for a fraction of what I make minus benefits. The CIO managed to reaffirm the subtle, but major, shift from technical skills to business-technical skills in today's labor market. I gave weight to his viewpoint since the people in his position are the trendsetters of the technology industry. They are the ones who set the directives for a company's IT needs, and often, the requirements desired for the higher-paying positions.
I did a little research and found that the US Bureau of Labor StatisticsOccupational Outlook Handbook predicts that computer systems analysts are expected to be among the fastest growing occupations through 2012. The Handbook describes a systems analyst as someone who may plan and develop new computer systems or devise ways to apply existing systems' resources to additional operations. It describes a computer programmeras someone who writes programs according to the specifications determined by systems analysts. (The book does not separately listbusiness analyst as an occupation.)
According to the Handbook, in the US systems analysts held an astounding 487,000 positions in 2004 (up from 468,000 positions in 2002) compared with 455,000 jobs in 2004 for computer programmers (down from 499,000 in 2002). The Handbook also states that employment for computer programmers is "expected to grow much more slowly than that for other computer specialists." And recent estimates by the Economic Policy Institute have put the number of jobs being offshored at approximately 330,000 to 500,000 jobs. About 100,000 of those were full-time computer programming jobs.
The key to maintaining a good employment outlook in IT, it seems, is to move out of programming and up into more business-oriented IT positions such as systems analyst, business analyst, project manager, or systems architect. However, a computer programmer can't just decide to become a systems analyst or project manager overnight. The journey takes time and requires the right amount of experience and learning to be successful.
Making the Shift
So you've seen the statistics and watched as the jobs in your market slowly disappear. You want to move more to the "business side," but you don't quite know how to do it. As I'll describe next, making the shift can be done on-the-job by gaining more responsibility, polishing up your problem-solving skills, and using creativity in your work.
I began my journey into systems analysis and design by accepting more responsibilities throughout the project I was on when things proved too overwhelming for my superiors. I gradually accepted more of the project management and business analysis responsibilities when the opportunity presented itself. For example, I would walk to Suzy in accounting and work out a new enhancement with her one-on-one rather than wait for my manager to do so. Over time, as my manager's confidence in my abilities grew, these responsibilities became a part of my job. It wasn't long before I became the Programmer Analyst, and ultimately the Project Manager, as new positions were created to fulfill demand for our work.
When the need arises, I recommend walking to the end user yourself and working with her one-on-one. Your manager will be relieved when he discovers that you are capable of communicating with his end-users, identifying their issues, and resolving those issues before they are brought up in the weekly manager's meeting. Even the best IT managers need a subordinate who is visible to the users who they can trust to get the job done. If a manager is slowly factoring himself away from the day-to-day workings of the project, welcome it. The higher visibility that you are obtaining can be translated into higher value—and that can result in a promotion. Over time, your increased interactions with more business-oriented people will make you more sensitive to business concerns.
A good subordinate has to be open-minded and creative. When solving problems, one has to always believe that there is a way to accomplish something, even if it's never been done before. Sometimes, just listening to the user will produce an idea. A lot of issues may come down to the business process that the system is attempting to replicate. I have had users actually solve a business problem for me just by listening to what they had to say!
Whether you're open-minded and creative or not, you can still work towards more business-oriented positions. After all, business systems analysts and project managers are only a small subset of the many positions opening up each year to address the issues of complexity through simplicity. If you love programming, you don't have to necessarily give it up.
Jobs To Pursue
Senior Technical Positions
Developers will often find that they may have to work side-by-side with the users to iron out difficult bugs. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to fix these problems when both parties can't communicate effectively. There was always a time in most of my work situations when the developer had to talk with the users or other developers directly to fix difficult issues. This is the programmer's chance to show management that he or she is someone who can communicate and utilize analysis methodologies—otherwise known as a "programmer analyst." A programmer analyst is also usually someone who has some years of technical experience, and a certain depth of technical knowledge.
Programmers who seek advanced technical skills without too much end-user interaction may find themselves gravitating toward the design & architecture side of the business. Although these types of positions are still relatively technical, they often involve making key decisions to address how the new system will fit into the organization's overall IT plans. In order to be successful, the architect needs to understand and control the elements associated with the utility, cost, and risk factors of the proposed solution.
System architects must make very educated decisions about how to decompose and isolate the different components that will be required, how to fit these components into the existing infrastructure, and in what order to implement each component. It can be a disaster to implement an online ordering system that isn't compatible with the organization's current accounting packages. The architect must identify these types of issues and present them to non-technical management in words they can understand.
Business and Systems Analysts
My job searches have suggested that business and systems analysts with a good programming background and a high-level of "business savvy" are becoming the next hot ticket. More and more organizations are finally hiring business analysts to explore, record, and recommend systems that fit the business—as opposed to the other way around.
The business analyst must often work with project managers, systems architects, and systems analysts, all of which are growing occupations that can make the difference between success and failure. In some cases the business analyst's responsibilities are being combined with that of the systems analyst or the project manager under the guise of "business analyst" or "business systems analyst." A quick search on Dice.com will reveal that many business analyst jobs have hidden deep within their job descriptions requirements to develop technical specifications or to guide and manage projects. My first business analyst job required both project management and systems analyst skills. These positions are sure to become more common as organizations struggle to reduce project failure and development time.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Handbook, employers prefer project managers who possess advanced technical skills that have been acquired through work experience. The project manager is often responsible for hiring the staff, setting the schedule, and keeping track of the progress through every phase of development. This person is also responsible for assigning the work, dealing with everyday problems affecting that work, and making sure each analyst or programmer is carrying his own weight. The project manager can best carry out this function if he truly understands the work he is managing.
The project manager must also be a "people person" as well as a "technical person" in order to succeed. This individual must work with technical and non-technical staff at every level of the organization in order to succeed in his goals. Additionally, the project manager has to manage his team effectively to produce the desired product on time.
The ultimate assignment for many IT professionals looking to move up the IT food chain is to become the manager. The Occupational Handbookexplains that "employment of computer and information systems managers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014." These job opportunities are best suited for applicants with computer-related work experience and often require an advanced degree, such as an MBA. And of course, strong communication skills are a requirement for any management job in IT.
Skills To Develop
Okay, so you've heard all about what's required and where IT is going, but how can you capitalize on this new information?
My interview with the CIO and my experience in the field have shown me that companies want IT professionals who can understand what their business is and how to apply technology to make it better. Being able to follow directions is important, but being able to take some initiative and make your own judgments without handholding is equally important. The solution is to differentiate yourself from the traditional developer.
We have already discussed two ways of building up your current skills—acquiring business knowledge and advanced technical knowledge—but two other areas are important as well: communication and leadership.
Whether that CIO I interviewed with believed that communication skills could be learned or not is irrelevant. Everyone can learn to be a better communicator with practice. The difference is that communication skills take much longer to develop. Communication takes the right mix of experience and training to become effective. I have worked on this since my college days and have had great success in my career as a result.
I learned to communicate more effectively by dealing with those who couldn't. Many software users can't understand the technical side enough to describe any of their requirements in any type of detail regardless of their background. On the other hand, many technical people don't understand the intricacies of the business processes they are implementing because they can't openly communicate with the users. Learning to communicate, and having the patience to gain knowledge from the user, is an essential skill that many of my former and current coworkers don't have.
To add to your problem solving skills, instead of asking your superior or a more experienced programmer to help with a problem, take it upon yourself to find the answer to that complex problem. Before too long, you can be the one who others consult when there is a problem to fix or a new project to complete. Gaining problem-solving experience not only improves communication, it also improves your chances of moving into analyst and management positions. Eventually, you can do as I did and get your own project to manage.
The key to moving up the ladder at any company is to let them know what you know. Answer those questions, solve those problems, accept those new projects, and don't be too shy to share a better solution. It could mean the difference between being "just another programmer" or being the top candidate for a promotion
Feb 11, 2016
SIMPLE SKETCHES FOR DIAGRAMMING YOUR SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE
If you're working in an agile software development team at the moment, take a look around at your environment. Whether it's physical or virtual, there's likely to be a story wall or Kanban board visualising the work yet to be started, in progress and done. Visualising your software development process is a fantastic way to introduce transparency because anybody can see, at a glance, a high-level snapshot of the current progress. As an industry, we've become pretty adept at visualising our software development process over the past few years although it seems we've forgotten how to visualise the actual software that we're building. I'm not just referring to post-project documentation, this also includes communication during the software development process. Agile approaches talk about moving fast, and this requires good communication, but it's surprising that many teams struggle to effectively communicate the design of their software.
Prescribed methods, process frameworks and formal notations
If you look back a few years, structured processes and formal notations provided a reference point for both the software design process and how to communicate the resulting designs. Examples include the Rational Unified Process (RUP), Structured Systems Analysis And Design Method (SSADM), the Unified Modelling Language (UML) and so on. Although the software development industry has progressed in many ways, we seem to have forgotten some of the good things that these older approaches gave us. In today's world of agile delivery and lean start-ups, some software teams have lost the ability to communicate what it is they are building and it's no surprise that these teams often seem to lack technical leadership, direction and consistency. If you want to ensure that everybody is contributing to the same end-goal, you need to be able to effectively communicate the vision of what it is you're building. And if you want agility and the ability to move fast, you need to be able to communicate that vision efficiently too.
As an industry, we do have the Unified Modelling Language (UML), which is a formal standardised notation for communicating the design of software systems. I do use UML myself, but I only tend to use it sparingly for sketching out any important low-level design aspects of a software system. I don't find that UML works well for describing the software architecture of a software system. While it's possible to debate this, it's often irrelevant because many teams have already thrown out UML or simply don't know it. Such teams typically favour informal "boxes and lines" style sketches instead but often these diagrams don't make much sense unless they are accompanied by a detailed narrative, which ultimately slows the team down. Next time somebody presents a software design to you focussed around one or more informal sketches, ask yourself whether they are presenting what's on the sketches or whether they are presenting what's still in their head.
Abandoning UML is all very well but, in the race for agility, many software development teams have lost the ability to communicate visually too. The example software architecture sketches (above) illustrate a number of typical approaches to communicating software architecture and they suffer from the following types of problems:
• Colour-coding is usually not explained or is often inconsistent.
• The purpose of diagram elements (i.e. different styles of boxes and lines) is often not explained.
• Key relationships between diagram elements are sometimes missing or ambiguous.
• Generic terms such as "business logic" are often used.
• Technology choices (or options) are usually omitted.
• Levels of abstraction are often mixed.
• Diagrams often try to show too much detail.
• Diagrams often lack context or a logical starting point.
Some simple abstractions
Informal boxes and lines sketches can work very well, but there are many pitfalls associated with communicating software designs in this way. My approach is to use a small collection of simple diagrams that each shows a different part of the same overall story. In order to do this though, you need to agree on a simple way to think about the software system that you're building. Assuming an object oriented programming language, the way that I like to think about a software system is as follows: a software system is made up of a number of containers, which themselves are made up of a number of components, which in turn are implemented by one or more classes. It's a simple hierarchy of logical technical building blocks that can be used to illustrate the static structure of most of the software systems I’ve ever encountered. Some diagrams will help to explain this further.
A context diagram can be a useful starting point for diagramming and documenting a software system, allowing you to step back and look at the big picture. Draw a simple block diagram showing your system as a box in the centre, surrounded by its users and the other systems that it interfaces with.
Let’s look at an example. The techtribes.je website provides a way to find people, tribes (businesses, communities, interest groups, etc) and content related to the tech, IT and digital sector in Jersey and Guernsey, the two largest of the Channel Islands. At the most basic level, it's a content aggregator for local tweets, news, blog posts, events, talks, jobs and more. Here's a context diagram that provides a visual summary of this.
Detail isn't important here as this is your zoomed out view showing a big picture of the system landscape. The focus should be on people (actors, roles, personas, etc) and software systems rather than technologies, protocols and other low-level details. It's the sort of diagram that you could show to non-technical people.
Once you understand how your system fits in to the overall IT environment with a context diagram, a really useful next step can be to illustrate the high-level technology choices with a containers diagram. By "container" I mean something like a web server, application server, desktop application, mobile app, database, file system, etc. Essentially, what I call a container is anything that can host code or data. The following diagram shows the logical containers that make up the techtribes.je website.
Put simply, techtribes.je is made up of an Apache Tomcat web server that provides users with information, and that information is kept up to date by a standalone content updater process. All data is stored either in a MySQL database, a MongoDB database or the file system. It's worth pointing out that this diagram says nothing about the number of physical instances of each container. For example, there could be a farm of web servers running against a MongoDB cluster, but this diagram doesn't show that level of information. Instead, I show physical instances, failover, clustering, etc on a separate deployment diagram. The containers diagram shows the high-level shape of the software architecture and how responsibilities are distributed across it. It also shows the major technology choices and how the containers communicate with one another. It's a simple, high-level technology focussed diagram that is useful for software developers and support/operations staff alike.
Following on from a containers diagram showing the high-level technology decisions, I'll then start to zoom in and decompose each container further. However you decompose your system is up to you, but I tend to identify the major logical components and their interactions. This is about partitioning the functionality implemented by a software system into a number of distinct components, services, subsystems, layers, workflows, etc.
As illustrated by the containers diagram, techtribes.je includes a standalone process that pulls in content from Twitter, GitHub and blogs. The following diagram shows the high-level internal structure of the content updater in terms of components.
In addition to a number of core components, the content updater is made up of four components: a Scheduled Content Updater, a Twitter Connector, a GitHub Connector and a News Feed Connector. This diagram shows how the content updater is divided into components, what each of those components are, their responsibilities and the technology/implementation details.
This is an optional level of detail and I will typically draw a small number of high-level UML class diagrams if I want to explain how a particular pattern or component will be (or has been) implemented. The factors that prompt me to draw class diagrams for parts of the software system include the complexity of the software plus the size and experience of the team. Any UML diagrams that I do draw tend to be sketches rather than comprehensive models.
Think about the audience
There seems to be a common misconception that "architecture diagrams" must only present a high-level conceptual view of the world, so it's not surprising that software developers often regard them as pointless. In the same way that software architecture should be about coding, coaching and collaboration rather than ivory towers, software architecture diagrams should be grounded in reality too. Including technology choices (or options) is a usually a step in the right direction and will help prevent diagrams looking like an ivory tower architecture where a bunch of conceptual components magically collaborate to form an end-to-end software system.
A single diagram can quickly become cluttered and confused, but a collection of simple diagrams allows you to easily present the software from a number of different levels of abstraction. And this is an important point because it's not just software developers within the team that need information about the software. There are other stakeholders and consumers too; ranging from non-technical domain experts, testers and management through to technical staff in operations and support functions. For example, a diagram showing the containers is particularly useful for people like operations and support staff that want some technical information about your software system, but don't necessarily need to know anything about the inner workings.
Common abstractions over a common notation
This simple sketching approach works for me and many of the software teams that I work with, but it’s about providing some organisational ideas and guidelines rather than creating a prescriptive standard. The goal here is to help teams communicate their software designs in an effective and efficient way rather than creating another comprehensive modelling notation.
UML provides both a common set of abstractions and a common notation to describe them, but I rarely find teams that are using either effectively. I’d rather see teams able to discuss their software systems with a common set of abstractions in mind rather than struggling to understand what the various notational elements are trying to show. For me, a common set of abstractions is more important than a common notation. Most maps are a great example of this principle in action. They all tend to show roads, rivers, lakes, forests, towns, churches, etc but they often use different notation in terms of colour-coding, line styles, iconography, etc. The key to understanding them is exactly that - a key/legend tucked away in a corner somewhere. We can do the same with our software architecture diagrams.
It’s worth reiterating that informal boxes and lines sketches provide flexibility at the expense of diagram consistency because you’re creating your own notation rather than using a standard like UML. My advice here is to be conscious of colour-coding, line style, shapes, etc and let a set of consistent notations evolve naturally within your team. Including a simple key/legend on each diagram to explain the notation will help. Oh, and if naming really is the hardest thing in software development, try to avoid a diagram that is simply a collection of labelled boxes. Annotating those boxes with responsibilities helps to avoid ambiguity while providing a nice "at a glance" view.
"Just enough" up front design
As a final point, Grady Booch has a great explanation of the difference between architecture and design. He says that architecture represents the "significant decisions", where significance is measured by cost of change. The context, containers and components diagrams show what I consider to be the significant structural elements of a software system. Therefore, in addition to helping teams with effective and efficient communication, adopting this approach to diagramming can also help software teams that struggle with either doing too much or too little up front design. Starting with a blank sheet of paper, many software systems can be designed and illustrated down to high-level components in a number of hours or days rather than weeks or months.
Illustrating the design of your software can be a quick and easy task that, when done well, can really help to introduce technical leadership and instil a sense of a shared technical vision that the whole team can buy into. Sketching should be a skill in every software developer's toolbox. It's a great way to visualise a solution and communicate it quickly plus it paves the way for collaborative design and collective code ownership.
Feb 1, 2016
FAXES FROM THE FAR SIDE
On the 10th of January 1956—about a decade into the Cold War and about a year into the Space Race—the United States Air Force launched the first vehicle in its top secret Genetrix program. The vehicle was a balloon—an enormous, 200-foot-tall, 100-foot-wide helium balloon—the first of hundreds that the US would ultimately launch from sites in Scotland, Norway, Germany, and Turkey. Upon release, each balloon ascended into the stratosphere, where the winter jet stream was perfectly situated to carry it over and across the interior of the USSR. A coffin-sized gondola dangled from the bottom of each balloon, housing a set of downward-facing high-resolution cameras. Whenever an onboard photocell detected that the surface below was illuminated by daylight, these cameras snapped periodic photographs. The Genetrix balloons were some of the original high-altitude spy cameras—precursors to spy planes and satellites.
Whenever a balloon cleared Soviet airspace, the US Air Force sent an encoded radio signal that would detonate a small explosive charge on the gondola’s attachment line. If all went according to plan, a specially equipped C-119 airplane would be loitering in the nearby airspace, ready to snag the parachuting payload of photographic film in mid-air. Once retrieved, the film was sent back to the states to be developed and analyzed.
The Genetrix balloons were designed to be practically invisible to radar, using very thin balloon film and a gondola much smaller than a typical aircraft. And this might have worked were it not for the fact that one of the steel rods in the balloon rigging was 91 centimeters long. US Air Force engineers didn’t realize it at the time, but 91 centimeters happened to correspond to one of the frequencies used by Soviet early-warning radar. This caused the otherwise inconsequential rod to resonate and glint like a mirror on Soviet radar screens.
Soviet leaders were understandably annoyed when their military pilots reported back regarding the nature of these radar reflections. US officials replied that these were innocuous weather balloons for the study of cloud formations, a claim which was roundly ridiculed. During the day, there was little the Soviets could do about it apart from political posturing—the balloons cruised at 55,000 feet, which was higher than Soviet weapons could reach. But MiG fighter pilots soon discovered they could shoot the balloons out of the sky at sunrise. The chill of the night robbed the balloons of some of their buoyancy, and they dipped down into weapons range.
The Genetrix program lasted only 27 days. It had originally been planned to continue indefinitely, but president Eisenhower cancelled any further spy balloon launches due to the Soviets’ strenuous diplomatic protests. Of the 500 or so spy balloons that were launched, only about 50 camera gondolas were successfully recovered by the US Air Force. These provided over 10,000 reconnaissance photos of inland Soviet Union and China, including first peeks at nuclear and radar facilities.
The Soviets recovered a number of the gondolas themselves, and engineers began to dissect them, seeking useful information. To their surprise, they found something inside that happened to solve a little problem they had been having with one of their upcoming space missions: temperature-resistant and radiation-hardened photographic film.
The specialized film had been necessary in the Genetrix balloons due to the high altitudes involved—up to 100,000 feet. Soviet engineers still didn’t know how the Americans made the film, but that didn’t stop them from repurposing it for their own spacecraft. On the 4th of October 1959, forty frames of this film were nestled inside a space probe nestled atop a rocket at the Soviet Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan. This space probe—or Automatic Interplanetary Station—would later come to be known as Lunik 3. It was two years to the day since the Soviets had launched Sputnik 1, history’s first artificial satellite. And less than a month prior, the Soviets had celebrated the first spacecraft to actually come into contact with the moon. That spacecraft, Lunik 2, had deliberately crashed into the moon, peppering the crash site with patriotic Soviet pennants. It would be another decade before any human set foot on the moon.
The modified SS-6 Sapwood rocket carried its payload up and over the Earth’s north pole. It flung Lunik 3 on a trajectory intended to intercept the moon in two days. The probe was a small cylinder about four feet (1.22 meters) long and wide, bristling with antennae and laminated with solar panels. It was designed to be directly radio-controlled from Soviet stations on Earth. There were no rocket motors for acceleration or major course corrections, just a few small gas jets for attitude control.
As Lunik 3 crossed the expanse of space to meet the moon, ground operators struggled to establish reliable communications with the probe. It was not responding to commands, and its telemetry data was garbled, preventing scientists from verifying the spacecraft was on the correct course. Radio specialists were rushed out to the remote communications sites to identify the problem. After some troubleshooting they discovered that the operators at separate sites were unknowingly sending conflicting commands. Overseers successfully installed some cooperation, and the probe returned a burst of solid telemetry indicating a good flight path and speed toward the moon’s southern pole. On the 6th of October, Lunik 3 dipped under the pole, blocking all of its communications with Earth and leaving the probe to its automatic systems.
Billions of years ago, the moon rotated around its axis faster than it does today. But early in the moon’s history, the drag of Earth’s gravity caused the moon’s rotation to slow to what appears to be a halt from an Earth perspective. One hemisphere of the moon always faces the Earth, and the other always faces away, with Earth’s gravity acting as a tether. In other words, the moon revolves once around the Earth in the same time it takes to rotate on its own axis—a phenomenon known as tidal locking. Because of this, in 1959, although humankind had been staring up at the moon for our entire existence, we had only ever seen about half of the moon’s surface. Owing to various view angles from different parts of the Earth and a slight wobble in the moon’s orbit, the most ambitious jet-setting astronomer could have seen a maximum of 59 percent of the surface of our planetary companion. The other 41 percent was a complete mystery, hence the phrase “the dark side of the moon.”
Isolated in the radio shadow on the opposite side of the moon, Lunik 3 began to operate on its simple automatic systems as the moon’s gravity bent the probe’s trajectory northward. Back on Earth, only a sliver of moon was visible, which meant the far side of the moon would be in almost full daylight. When a photocell onboard Lunik 3 detected that the moon’s illuminated surface was in the line of sight, a pair of hinged camera doors opened like eyelids, and this primitive Soviet space robot became the first Earthling to glimpse the far side of the moon.
Lunik 3 began snapping an automatic sequence of photos with its wide-angle and zoom lenses, advancing the strip of film from its lead-lined cartridge. The camera was fixed to the spacecraft, so in order to capture images from various angles, Lunik 3 rotated itself up and down and side to side between photos using small gas jets. This went on for 40 minutes, exposing 29 squares of Genetrix film, and imaging 70 percent of the far side of the moon.
Unfortunately, unlike the Genetrix balloons from which the special film had been salvaged, the Soviets had not yet discovered a means to physically return the exposures from space to a development lab on Earth. Their solution was to process film in the same chemical-bath-and-dry method used on Earth, but inside a miniature, automatic, zero-gravity darkroom. Inside its pressurized hull, Lunik 3’s Yenisey photographic system slid the strip of exposed film between two rubber seals into a reservoir of thick, single-stage developing fluid, then out another sealed slit into the film dryer. Considering the quality of the cameras and film, the resulting black-and-white photographs must have been spectacular.
Just as the Soviet engineers had planned, the moon’s gravity curved Lunik 3’s path such that it emerged from behind the moon’s north pole heading back in the direction of Earth. This trajectory had been necessary to ensure that the probe would return to within radio range of the Soviet Union’s territory in the northern hemisphere. Calculating this trajectory had required the then-considerable computing power of the new Strela-1 electric computer at the Steklov Institute of Mathematics. The trajectory the mathematicians designed was the first applied use of a gravity assist maneuver, the most complex space maneuver ever attempted at that time.
Lunik 3 reestablished communication with Soviet operators on the 8th of October on its way back toward Earth. The operator on Earth directed Lunik 3 to send its first image. The probe’s internal mechanisms oriented the first frame of film in front of a bright bulb inside, projecting a small portion of the image onto a photomultiplier, a light-sensitive vacuum tube. Lunik 3 then transmitted the lightness and darkness information line-by-line via frequency-modulated analog signal—in essence, a fax sent over radio. This enabled Soviet scientists to retrieve one photographic frame every 30 minutes or so. Due to the distance and weak signal, the first images received contained nothing but static. In subsequent attempts in the following few days, an indistinct, blotchy white disc began to resolve on the thermal paper printouts at Soviet listening stations.
On the 18th of October—eleven days after the photos were taken—the noisy image returned from Lunik 3 finally revealed some details and contours of the far side of the moon. Operators instructed Lunik 3 to shuffle through the developed images and send each one. The probe successfully scanned and faxed either 12 or 17 (reports vary) wide angle and close-up photos before Lunik 3 stopped responding on the 22nd of October.
These first images, though grainy, revealed some surprises. It had been generally assumed that the far side of the moon would be quite similar to the near side—with relatively bright highlands mixed with the darker regions known as “maria” or “seas,” so named by early astronomers who presumed that they were actual seas. Later astronomers realized that the maria are plains of basalt rock caused by ancient lava flows. Contrary to expectations, the Lunik 3 images revealed that very little of the far side of the moon is covered in the darker maria—just one percent compared to the near side’s 31 percent—meaning that the phrase “the dark side of the moon” was completely at odds with reality. It didn’t even look like the same moon. The photos also showed that the far side has a much greater number of impact craters, mostly because there were so few maria to erase older impact craters.
This inconsistency of maria coverage on the two hemispheres—known to astrophysicists as the Lunar Farside Highlands Problem—is still a subject of scientific debate. One thing we do know is that the difference is not due to the pull of Earth’s gravity. As the moon spins around the Earth, its far side experiences the exact same amount of outward acceleration due to centrifugal force (and, before the science nerds jump in and claim there’s no such thing as “centrifugal force,” the force does exist in a rotating reference frame). Subsequent surveys of the moon using orbiting gamma-ray spectrometers found that there is a higher concentration of heat-producing elements on the hemisphere closer to Earth, but this suggestion cannot fully account for the differences. Another proposed explanation is that Earth once had a second, smaller moon, and that the two collided a few million years after their formation. The merged moon would have had a thicker crust around the impact point, reducing the likelihood of maria-producing volcanoes from reaching the surface in those areas.
More recent research points to an idea which hinges on the most likely explanation for the moon’s origin—theGiant Impact Hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, shortly after the solar system began to form, while the planets were still young, malleable, molten globes, Earth shared its orbit with a Mars-sized planet dubbed Theia. Theia would have been about 60 degrees ahead of or behind Earth in its orbit around the sun, in one of Earth’s gravitationally-friendly Lagrange Points. Over time, the gravity of planetary neighbors nudged the smaller Theia from the stability of the Lagrange point, and set the planet on a collision course with Earth.
About four and a half billion years ago, Theia crashed into the Earth with a glancing blow at about four kilometers per second, vaporizing rock and splashing magma from both planets out into orbit. As gravity crushed the two planets into one, it also gradually assembled the orbiting debris into what would become the moon. The moon became tidally locked with the Earth almost immediately, and began to cool. But the Earth remained extremely hot—more than 2,500 degrees Celsius—due to its much larger size. This tremendous heat radiated out into space, broiling the exposed side of the moon for millions of years.
The photos from Lunik 3 also hinted at an enormous crater near the south pole on the far side of the moon, one which later surveys confirmed. This crater is now known as the South Pole–Aitken basin, one of the largest impact craters in the solar system. It is 2,600 kilometers (1,616 miles) wide, covering an area equivalent to over half the size of the United States. It is twice as deep as Mount Everest is tall, and it is the only place on the moon where the lower crust lies exposed.
Moscow shared the photos of the far side with the world on Monday, the 26th of October 1959, throwing yet more fuel on the increasingly lively space race.
In 1960 the Soviet Academy of Sciences published the first-ever atlas of the far side of the moon, outlining the major features they had discovered. It would not be for another eight years—on the Apollo 8 mission in 1968—that human eyes would look upon the far side of the moon directly.
Even after losing contact with Lunik 3, the probe continued to wander the Earth-Moon system under the combined gravitational influences of both bodies. Sometime in the early 1960s—no one is certain of the exact date—the probe entered Earth’s atmosphere and burned up as a falling star.
Astrophysicists today look at the far side of the moon as an excellent future location for radio telescopes to explore the cosmos. This is due to the one sense where the far side of the moon can be accurately described as the “dark” side: in the radio spectrum. Since the far side of the moon always points away from the Earth, the moon provides natural, ready-made shade from the glare of Earth’s radio transmissions. Furthermore, many of the plentiful, small, bowl-shaped craters would make natural, ready-made dishes to build stationary telescopes similar to the massive Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico.
Its excellence as a radio telescope site notwithstanding, humans are unlikely to be installing any facilities on the far side of the moon anytime soon. In the history of space travel we have sent just twelve men to the moon to inspect it in person. And of those missions, every landing was on the near side of the moon. So although we have photographs of the far side, and we’ve seen it from far above, it remains a strange, vast place where no human being has ever set foot.
Jan 30, 2016
Suddenly having a slow Internet connection on OS X? Disable Boom 2 Remote
I am a heavy user of Boom 2 for Mac, which is an awesome virtual amplifier and equalizer for OS X. With version 1.2, a new feature called Boom Remote lets you control Boom from an ios device. I am not using this feature, but I guess that it is very welcomed by ios users.
Unfortunately, at least in my case (2015 Macbook Pro 13″, OS X 10.10.3) Boom Remotehalves my Internet connection speed. It took me quite some time to understand what was causing this issue, as all my other devices were working well and you would not really look at a sound app for connection issues. The only way to fix this for me was to disable Boom Remote completely.
First, you will see a speed test with Boom Remote turned off. The download speed at this point is 13.59 Mbps. However, when repeating the speed test with an activated Boom Remote, the download speed goes down to 6.92 Mbps! To further show the issue, a third speed test is run with Boom Remote turned on, then suddenly off. The connection speed increases rapidly right after the feature is turned off.
I let Global delight know about the issue. In my case, I can live without Boom Remote. Hopefully, they will fix it soon for other users.
Jan 22, 2015
"Blue Whale Solutions" Fraud company
Dear colleagues and candidates,
I am sending this information’s to all new fresh colleagues and candidates about this "Blue Whale Solutions" Fraud company
They are called Walkin interview in Chennai 20th to 26th January 2015, Qualification MCA,ME, M.Tech, BE, MSc. Etc..
Offering salary is below
Deposit in the company -10,000 RS (never get this deposit)
3 month no salary
After 3 month salary 6,000 RS ( this salary also not get as per other complaint)
originally this company name is "Openwire Solutions", a software firm at Velachery, Chennai. new name is "Blue Whale Solutions"
please find below old HR manager letter from the web about this company.
I'm Suba Anandhan, former HR of Openwire Solutions, a software firm at Velachery, Chennai. I'm writing this on behalf of my colleagues and candidates who got an offer from Openwire and willing to join them. This is not a company at all, this is just a 3 bedroom flat with 9-10 computers. No proper management, no salary, no delivery, nothing!! They get payments from the Client and deliver nothing. Please google "Openwire Solutions Complaints" and you can see lot more reviews about this firm.
Since I was in the HR department, I know very well about this firm. I know them in & out. Damn poor management. The owner of this firm doesn't know anything about software development and he speaks all bull shit!! They have 3-4 US numbers starting with (703), it's a magic jack number. Clients, before awarding the project, ask them whether you can visit their office at Virginia, US and their answers will be NO because they don't have an office there. They might use other tackling techniques.
Please don't engage this company for your projects. You will lose money, time and energy.
To Clients(who blindly believing openwire solutions and offering them Projects)
--- I pity you! That’s your innocence offering projects to openwire solutions. You will never get your project done on time. First of all, they never tell you project timeline..you’ll not get what you really expects from openwire solutions once your projects been offered to them. Not only me…victims of this company are many.. who lost their money trusting them offered project. They will ask you to pay for 1st phase of project without even finishing what you really expects to be finished..and then they make you believe showing you some clickable stuffs telling half of your project has been finished successfully and ask you to pay for next phase. Actually you are losing it..you never get your projects delivered. If you ask for timeline/updates..you’ll get too many evasive answers from them telling your project is undergone for Unit Testing or Quality Assurance team.. but fact is, there’s no such team to do it.. as far as I enquired about openwire solutions, What they have on their official website and what they have on elance, guru, .. portfolio is utterly fake. Everything in portfolio has been trickily stolen from other sites and source. FAKE FAKE FAKE…!
To Fresher/experienced developers(who wants to join in openwire solutions)
----Oh gosh! have u been called for position of Business analyst or Senior software developer? Well.. I personally plead you not to join in ows(OpenWireSolutions) if you really concern about your career growth. This is real piece of shit, so is your career. I’m certain, you never get an exposure working here as what other good IT company might have.. This is not a company at all, it’s just a tiny 3BHK rental apartment named openwire solutions. Inside, there will be some 9 - 15 pc in which many are not working properly..messy environment, no ac, disgusting loo, you will not get your salary ever, no benefits.. if you ask your rights to HR..you’ll be fired out of company.. still you wanna join here? Then can’t help you! Your life is under jeopardy if you join in openwire solutions. You’ll learn nothing here.. Unprofessionalism is a mantra of openwire solutions.. damn..cheater! BEWARE..BEWARE..BEWARE..!
These are some of their reviews on the Internet. Please visit these URL's before awarding the projects to them.
This company is total scam and fit for nothing.
Clients: Don't engage this firm for your projects and regret. They deliver nothing and you will lose your MONEY & TIME!!
Candidates: Never ever join this firm. It's better you sit at home but don't make a mistake of joining this firm. They won't pay you salary and you won't learn anything here. Project manager whose name is Karthikeyan doesn't know anything and he won't encourage you. He knows only to yell at you and use all cheap techniques to throw you out saying your performance was bad.
Dec 29, 2014
BEWARE!!! FRAUD COMPANY BLUEWHALE doing FAKE CAMPUS RECRUITMENT
Blue whale solutions is a fake company who invites the candidates as a software company and demands money. Now they are involving in another fraud. Our college got a mail from this company from the person as Mahesh Kumar, HR-Manager (8695272033) (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) requesting for a campus drive. They will be asking to book flight ticket as if they are son of Bill Gates and showcasing that their company is like Google. DONT BELIEVE IN BLUE WHALE SOLUTIONS IT IS FAKE. http://www.bluewhalesolutions.com/
They will recruit candidates for the software development position. Once after recruiting the students they will take them to their office in Chennai and tell them that your technical is weak you need to train and demand money from them.
In reality it is only a engineering project doing company for students, a training institute. They are not even worth for that. This companies original name what OpenWire Solutions. They have already done so many fraud in this name. Thats why they have changed it to BlueWhale Solutions.
ALL STUDENTS AND PLACEMENT OFFICERS PLEASE BEWARE OF THIS FAKE COMPANY BLUEWHALE SOLUTIONS
Dec 23, 2014
A New Blog, a New Adventure
December 14, 2011 By Antonio Cangiano 9 Comments
As many of my friends, colleagues, and followers know, I’ve been working on the book Technical Blogging: Turn Your Expertise into a Remarkable Online Presence for the past few months.
I wrapped up writing a couple of weeks ago and the book is now headed into production phase, where any additional intervention on my part will be limited and the heavy lifting will be left to the fine folks at The Pragmatic Bookshelf.
Over two hundred and fifty pages is a lot of writing on any subject, no matter how much you love it, and I’m currently enjoy a bit of rest from this recent large scale project. This small break from writing has given me the opportunity to think about what I’d like to do next.
Despite being a very passionate programmer, a few years ago I caught the internet marketing bug. I’m thankful I did, as it has brought me plenty of satisfaction and many economical rewards as a web entrepreneur.
This is to say that I’m the rare breed of programmer who doesn’t despise or belittle marketing. Quite the opposite actually; I love it.
As such I realized that I’m not quite done talking about blogging and internet marketing; I’ve only began to delve into it. Therefore I’m launching this new blog, aptly named after my book, for the following three reasons:
I want to share my knowledge about technical blogging with an as large audience as possible. While the book is admittedly selling extremely well even before it’s gone to print (it’s in beta as of December 2011), I’d like to reach an even larger group of people. Blogging is the best way I know of to achieve this goal.
I’m a fan of eating my own dog food. Within the book I outlined a great plan to transform virtually anyone into a successful blogger. I have done it before, but I intend to follow my own plan and advice to the letter with this blog and showcase how things turn out.
I’m a business man. There is plenty of money to be made by sharing your knowledge online through a blog. As I help other people do what I’m already doing with my technical blogs, I’ll also get to increase my influence and income through this blog as well.
The third point is self-serving, but there is nothing wrong with that. When you work hard at something, it’s totally fine for those who find value in what you do to end up rewarding you economically for all your diligent effort.
That’s the very spirit of entrepreneurship and much of what makes modern society a comfortable place to live.
Periodically I’ll detail the progress of this blog, in terms of statistics and perhaps earnings as well (as I touched on in the book regarding some of the other blogs I own).
For the time being, I encourage you to subscribe to this site via email or RSS feed, for free, insightful, no-fluff tips on how to become a successful blogger.
If you are not convinced, check out the about section where I outline my mission, what’s in store for you here, and who my target readers are.
Don’t Count on Ads
December 17, 2014 By Antonio Cangiano Leave a Comment
ABPDr. Dobbs is an iconic publication for programmers. Yesterday they announced that they’d be shutting down after 38 years of operation. Despite its growing audience, the site has failed to monetize those eyeballs to a degree that satisfies their parent company.
Sadness aside, what’s remarkable here is that their number of page views grew while revenue went down. That means that their RPM (Revenue Per Mille, so per thousand impressions) has gone down.
In fact, here is the motivation behind their decision:
Why would a well-known site, dearly loved by its readers and coming off a year of record page views, be sunset by its owner?
In one word, revenue. Four years ago, when I came to Dr. Dobb’s, we had healthy profits and revenue, almost all of it from advertising. Despite our excellent growth on the editorial side, our revenue declined such that today it’s barely 30% of what it was when I started. […] This is because in the last 18 months, there has been a marked shift in how vendors value website advertising. They’ve come to realize that website ads tend to be less effective than they once were. Given that I’ve never bought a single item by clicking on an ad on a website, this conclusion seems correct in the small.
What does this mean for much smaller online publications like bloggers? Ads have historically been the easiest way for bloggers to earn some income from their blogs. You’d embed some code obtained from a network like Google Adsense, and collect royalties at the end of the month. 
Google doesn’t allow disclosure of specific numbers about their program’s RPM so that’s not a conversation we can have. Nevertheless, if you Google it (boy have we come to depend on them) you’ll find that it’s not uncommon for blogs to sit somewhere between $1–4 per impression, depending on subject matter, ad position, ad network, etc. 
In general you’re allowed up to three ad placements on a page, so you could in theory have an RPM per page between $3 and $12. That means that a blog achieving 100,000 page views per month could be earning between $300-$1,200 solely from a single ad network.
Now, 100,000 page views per month are far from easy, but entirely possible after a while. And $300-$1,200 is a nice amount of extra pocket change for the occasional or even dedicated blogger. That’s not however the case if blogging is your day job or if you are a larger company with staff and writers to support.
Ads are not dead as far as bloggers are concerned, but those interested in maximizing their revenue must realize that advertising on the web has its limits. They are part of a healthy meal, but not the whole meal.
The reason for that was explained by the Dr. Dobb’s quote above. Advertisers have found web ads to not be as lucrative as other options. Ask anyone who’s tried their hand at Google Adwords and they will all tell you how easy it is to lose your shirt if you are not extremely careful, and how hard it is to make a profit.
People have learned to ignore ads. Banner blindness is as real as it ever was. For technical audiences, AdBlock plugins are also something to contend with.  The truth is that what’s good for advertisers is good for publishers, and ads have not been serving advertisers too well. 
Your blog revenue strategy shouldn’t count on ads alone. Sponsorship, directly negotiated with the right companies, are already more rewarding. However, I contend that affiliate marketing, done through genuine reviews, recommendations, and mentions is far superior both in terms of revenue and service offered to advertisers. Furthermore, if the recommendations are authentic and not done just for a quick buck, they serve your audience as well. It’s a win-win-win situation all around.
You’ll also want to consider being your own advertiser. Selling your own products and services through your blog can be extremely lucrative and doesn’t generally come across as disgraceful to your audience in the way that excessive advertisement can.
Finally, remember that a lot of value can be extracted from your blog in ways that are not directly translated into a dollar figure. As I stress in my book, blogging can open the door to new job opportunities, partnerships, the ability to promote your own projects or startup, increase your authority within your field, and many other indirect benefits.
That is if Google didn’t randomly decide to accuse you of some form of fraudulent clicking and lock your account without paying you what you’ve already earned. ↩
People who create sites and blogs specifically made for Adsense, will often have much higher RPM because they target the most rewarding keywords and niches on purpose. For example, they may launch sites about insurance and law firms. ↩
While AdBlock cannot be blamed for Dr. Dobb’s demise, it surely didn’t help that the audience of programmers, as a whole, has a large percentage of AdBlock users. ↩
To fight against banner blindness, unscrupulous advertisers and publishers have created increasingly obnoxious or misleading ads, such as the common “One trick to a…” campaigns with hand drawn graphics. They are hand drawn because it makes them look less like ads (this won’t last forever). Likewise, some site’s templates have begun embedding ads that look like related articles at the bottom of the page, thus tricking you into believing that an ad is genuine content.
Dec 23, 2014
Why Every Professional Should Consider Blogging
January 28, 2012 By Antonio Cangiano 43 Comments
I often argue that professionals should share their knowledge online via blogging.
The catch is that virtually anything worthwhile in life takes time and effort, and blogging is not an exception to this statement. So before committing your energy to such an endeavor, you may rightfully stop and wonder what’s in it for you. Is blogging really worth it?
In this article, I briefly illustrate some of the main benefits that directly derive from running a technical blog.
1. Blogging can improve your communication skills
Communication and writing, much like programming, are skills honed through countless hours of practice. As you work hard at articulating your thoughts into words, you’ll find that the process ends up improving your ability to express yourself. And communication is key, almost regardless of your profession.
Over time, you’ll become a faster and better technical writer, who’s able to come up with an insightful essay or tutorial in just an hour or two.
Even better, you’ll be able to concisely formulate confusing or undefined thoughts into exact words. Vague thoughts that you considered in your head will either prove to be valid and gain strength throughout the process of formalizing them into words, or quickly fall apart as flawed ideas once you see them on the screen.
This habit will make you not only a better communicator, but also a better, clearer thinker.
2. Blogging can improve your technical skills
One of the most successful learning technique I know is to try to teach what you’re currently learning yourself to other people.
The process of explaining something to others quickly solidifies your knowledge and outlines its shortcomings, exposing your own doubts about the material you’re studying. This is why writing down and paraphrasing a book, something bright student often do, is a powerful technique that helps retain and clarify your understanding of the information you’re gathering.
As a blogger, you are likely to improve your technical skills because you are forced to research further topics in order to properly share them with the public. You might be corrected by commenters who know more about the subject than you do, and learn a lot from them in the process. As well you may learn more as others expand on what you had to say within their blogs, or perhaps force you to answer more questions about the topic than you thought about in the first place.
As I mentioned in my book, blogging is just as much as teaching as it is about starting a conversation. These conversations will often help increase your expertise and well-roundedness.
The collaborative power of blogging was truly highlighted and pushed to the limit by the Fields medalist Professor Timothy Gowers with his Polymath Project, in which his blog and commenting section was used to figure out unsolved mathematical problems collaboratively.
3. Blogging can provide you with a repository for your knowledge
Some people like to use personal wikis for this purpose, but blogging can be an excellent way to keep track of information you intend to retrieve at a later stage. For example many programmers use their own old posts to find particular snippets of code, the exact steps to configure a server, or a given URL for a useful service they blogged about.
At times you’ll find that googling for a given problem will bring up an article from your own blog that you may very well have forgotten about. (And if that post doesn’t solve your problem, you can curse your past self for not providing more details back when you wrote it.)
Looking back at your old posts is also a great way to keep track of progress, and have access to a timeline of what you were dealing with, thinking, and doing at a given moment in the past. It’s fun to look back once in a while and introspect about how far you’ve come. This can often provide you with glimpses of insight about where your career and professional interests are headed.
4. Blogging can help make powerful connections
Technical blogging injects you into an online community of fellow professionals who are passionate about the topic they are writing about. If you are contributing valuable information and insight, and link to others, you’ll likely end up on the radar of these people, and ultimately connect with other world class players in your field.
Blogging is certainly cheaper than flying across the world non-stop to meet all these folks at expensive conferences (though blogging is not a substitute for in-person human interaction).
Society functions through people interacting, connecting, and networking. How you use this opportunity is up to you, but it can definitely be a boost for your career, business, or even life in general to be in touch with other experts in the field of your choice.
5. Blogging can help you make friends
Even better than powerful acquaintances are friends. As a prominent blogger you’ll get to meet and interact with a wealth of people online. If you’re social and available to others, you’ll end up making friends (influential and less influential ones alike) online.
I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve come to know thanks to my technical blogs.
Sometimes it’s a case of someone who comments often and you get to know them better through this route. Other times it is a fellow blogger. Often, it’s someone who noticed you through your blog and gets in touch via email. If you are fairly popular in your field, you may even get the occasional ego boosting, “Oh, I follow your blog” when introducing yourself at meetups or trade conferences.
6. Blogging can provide you with a second income
Most bloggers live under the false assumption that you can’t make serious money from running a blog on the side. They understand that if you dedicate yourself full-time, there is money to be made, but they severely underestimate how much revenue you can generate with just a couple of hours of your time per week. They’ve tried or heard horror stories from people making mere pennies with AdSense, and assume that they can’t monetize their own blog unless they’re really famous.
A few hundred dollars a month from your blog is absolutely within the reach of any professional out there. If you do everything right, and put in the work required, your blog can even make you thousands of dollars, both directly and indirectly.
My technical blogs make me a few thousand dollars every month, and I often end up not touching them for weeks at the time. Blogging is not passive income, but if you know what you are doing, all the content you produce compounds and ends up providing you with a substantial income – even when you neglect the blog for a few weeks or months at a time.
Blogging can provide you with some serious extra income that you can then use to finance your hobby, buy gadgets, pay off debt, or do whatever else you desire. It’s a really nice feeling to receive a few extra checks each month, and it will further motivate you to continue blogging.
In my book I cover in great detail how I go about monetizing my blogs, but I’ll also talk more about this subject on this site (subscribe via feed or email if you’d like to be notified of such future articles).
7. Blogging can score you freebies
Publishers and PR firms have become aware of the influence bloggers have on targeted audiences. Even as a mildly successful blogger, you can expect to be contacted by a multitude of people offering you freebies. Depending on your niche and field, these offers will typically be for books, but it’s not uncommon to receive offers for other items, including tickets for conferences, gadgets, software, etc.
As long as you disclose your affiliation (in a way that makes the FTC happy), it’s actually very nice to routinely receive freebies of this kind. If you like what you receive, you can then blog about that product and review it for your readers.
Often, if you establish good relationships with publishers and PR firms, you can even organize giveaway contests which benefit your readers, not just yourself.
8. Blogging can advance your career
A few of the previous benefits I mentioned have already revealed how blogging can have a positive impact in your career. However, I’d like to stress just how much blogging can open certain doors for you. Every post you make is a new opportunity to get people to notice you on a professional level.
Because of my blogs, but primarily my programming one, I’ve received countless job offers over the years, including some from a selection of the largest and most sought after companies in the world. Some offered me generous relocation packages to the US, and a few went so far as to offer me the job, no questions asked (e.g., they didn’t even require a formal interview, they had sized me up enough through my blog writing).
I got my job at IBM in Canada mainly thanks to my blog (at the time I was still in Europe).
Whether blogging allows you to find a new job, customers, partners, investors, publishers who are interested in having you authoring a book, or something else entirely, it is certainly a great career booster.
In fact, my number one piece of advice for new professionals who are interested in building their careers is to start blogging today.
9. Blogging can make you popular in your field
Most professionals work hard because they want to be successful and gain recogniztion in their field. Blogging aides with that and can make small celebrities out of regular professionals. For those in the tech world, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Names like Joel Spolsky, Derek Sivers, Steve Yegge, and Scott Hanselman come to mind.
I’m reminded of Joey Roth’s “Charlatan, Martyr, Hustler” poster. If you do incredible work but nobody knows about it you are a martyr. If you accomplish nothing and do no work, but talk a sweet talk, you are a charlatan. If you can walk the walk, and talk the talk, then you are a hustler.
Blogging helps you ensure that you can talk the talk and reach the right audience, once you have walked the walk.
10. Blogging can help you reach and teach a wide audience
The number one reason to blog for many people, is the desire to share their knowledge and teach others.
For some, even in the technical realm, it’s a matter of politics. For example, an Agile development professional may actually want to influence the community and advocate his theories and ideas about the process of developing software, so that they (potentially) become widespread.
Others, may use this teaching tool to promote their technical projects. An example, also from the software development world, is blogging to help people become aware, loyal, and eventually proficient in an open source tool that you created.
As you can imagine, these are just some of the many benefits of blogging. As you begin creating your own blog posts, you’ll likely find that some of them fall into place organically, whereas you need to work at others. All however, stand to enrich your career and life, and help inspire you to keep blogging for years to come.
Dec 23, 2014
Google Killed the RSS Feed
November 12, 2014 By Antonio Cangiano Leave a Comment
The RSS feed is in a coma. Google put it in that state and, boy, have they ever dropped the ball on this one.
Video Killed the Radio Star
It all started with Google’s attempt to steer their huge ship towards the mythical land of all things Social. You see, Facebook’s success really took a few giant tech companies by surprise. Google in particular. Surely, they thought to themselves, we must be able to compete.
So instead of focusing on their core competency, they decided to start throwing Social everywhere. It showed up in their search results. It was pushed down your Gmail throat. You had to have a Google+ account to use Google’s services in any capacity. UI and accounts got more and more confusing. YouTubers weren’t spared either.
Oh, and they wanted your real name, like Facebook. If you are secretly transgender or wanted by the Iranian government, tough luck, kiddo. (The relative lack of Social success and massive protests have eventually led them to change their initial policy.)
So what does this circus has to do with the RSS feed? Well, when you’re wearing Social blinders, that’s all you can see. They discontinued most of their services that couldn’t be adopted to this narrow world view.
Google Reader, the first successful attempt at making RSS feeds somewhat mainstream, was shut down. Instead of this handy service that was already loved by millions around the world, they wanted you to share articles on their social network. Follow people, put them in circles, and generally pretend you were on Facebook. There, they figured, no need to properly follow a feed with the purpose of never missing a new article. Good stuff will bubble up to the surface. Hopefully.
To round things off, they also got rid of the RSS button in Chrome so that finding the feed for a site is now a decent first exercise in learning HTML programming for the general public.
These two simple steps by Google have pretty much mortally wounded the RSS feed. It won’t recover I’m afraid and it’s a damn shame. A minority of geeks will continue to use the technology via services like Feedly, but the mainstream dream is gone.
All for a social network that relatively few people use, let alone in any serious capacity (at least in part because Google stubbornly refuses to open their API to allow third-party apps, like Buffer and Hootsuite, to post on people’s own profiles).
If you think I’m just talking hypothetically, think again. I saw one of my blogs go from a healthy 16,000 RSS subscribers to less than 300 in the span of just a month or so after this change was made (many, including my wife, who is a popular blogger in her field, witnessed the same sort of abrupt, brutal nosedive with her RSS numbers as well).
From a blogger’s perspective, this irreversible change has some serious implications:
Email subscriptions have never been more important. Unlike Facebook subscribers or Twitter followers who will rarely see your updates, emails are still being read and given a certain importance by the subscriber (Google is trying to mess this up too, but that’s a whole other post). You need to capture people’s email as it’s the only guaranteed delivery method for your updates that you have. (On that note, you can subscribe here.)
Feel free to maximize your social media properties and efforts, engage and entertain users, but have an email subscription as your ultimate call to action.
For the sake of us geeks who are unwilling to give up the good fight, do be sure to prominently feature an RSS feed link/button on your blog or site.
If your audience is not technical, consider having a ‘How to follow this blog’ link with step-by-step instructions on using Feedly or Bloglovin (the latter of which is particularly popular among women).
It’s an unfortunate turn of events that has damaged blogging in an untold number of ways. Thankfully, it hasn’t killed things off entirely though, especially if we are willing to adapt.
Why Should I Care About Your Blog?
January 16, 2013 By Antonio Cangiano 4 Comments
When I visit a blog for the first time, I usually have one key question in the back of my mind, “Why should I care about this blog?”. There is no shortage of blogs and articles online, and in the face of such a huge volume of written content, why should I spend my limited time reading your blog?
Sure, if I Googled for a specific question and your blog came up on the first page of results, I might read what you have to say, but unless you can provide a compelling, convincing and satisfying answer to that lingering question before I close my browser tab, I’m likely gone forever.
This means your site needs to answer this key question within a few seconds or, at best, a couple of minutes. That’s a challenging task for sure. You can’t write an essay trying to convince someone that they should stick around, subscribe to your site, or take a keen interest in you, because chances are a given reader will leave before they’ve even read that post. Therefore, as is often the case in life, first impressions really do count.
I’m not claiming you need a gorgeous looking blog, though having one certainly doesn’t hurt either. What I’m talking about is answering the pressing question at hand by presenting an obvious answer. You’re aiming for an answer that can be inferred immediately upon visiting your blog.
The following are a few variables that can be used to answer the important question that this post’s title asks.
The most frequent interaction visitors will have with your blog is through a random post. If your content is good, readers may naturally assume you talk about that particular topic on an ongoing basis and appreciate the way you’ve covered it.
Providing value to the reader in each and every post, ensures — above all else — that the user will feel a rapid connection with your blog and a have justified reason to care about it.
Your blog title
Explicit is better than implicit. Your title should explain to the user what your blog is about. Obviously there are some popular exceptions of sites that have succeeded with seemingly meaningless titles, but you are unlikely to be a statistical outlier like those sites. As such, why not do yourself a favour and opt for a great name that really explains what your site is all about from the get-go?
Take any advantage you can get to convey the essence of your blog through your title. “John’s Personal Blog”, for example, doesn’t mean anything to me, the viewer. Why should I care, and what is the site actually about? “John’s Travel Adventures” is a better starting point (assuming I’m interested in travel).
Your blog’s tagline should sell your blog to the reader. You want it to not only continue to explain what your site is about, but to also introduce some form of benefit to your visitors. For this site, mine is:
Grow your audience and make money online by sharing your knowledge.
Assuming you are interested in gaining popularity through technical writing or in making extra cash by blogging, this should sound appealing to you, the reader, and succinctly provide you with an answer regarding why you should care about it.
In the example of John’s travel blog, a tagline like, “How I travel throughout the world on a shoestring budget” would narrow the focus of the site to a certain type of travel. If a visitor falls into this audience, they would likely care about John’s site because they also would enjoy traveling around the world on the cheap.
What’s in it for them? Your sidebar blurb (if any) and your About section should do a detailed job of explaining what your blog is about, what you cover within it, and what benefits it will bring to your readers. My About starts with the following two paragraphs:
Technical Blogging is a blog dedicated to relentlessly helping bloggers and entrepreneurs succeed online.
Our aim is to provide you with all the practical information you need to start and grow a successful technical blog (as opposed to a personal blog about your kids).
Note how this isn’t really about me. It’s about the reader and what I can help them with.
I then go on to include a Who is this for? section which explicitly tells the reader if they’re the right audience for the type of content I intend to unleash to the world. Finally, the page ends with a list of reasons why you might want to trust me on the topic of blogging.
Don’t forget to include a picture of yourself to connect at a more “primal” level with your visitors. Including a small picture of yourself within the sidebar is also a good idea (only a few people will check out your about page).
Your ‘start here’
A powerful way to guide the user towards a deeper understanding of why your blog is worth paying attention and subscribing to is provide them with more than just the specific article they landed on.
On some blogs you might have seen a link within posts that says something along the lines of, “If you’re new around here, check out our Start Here page”. From there the viewer will be sent through a rabbit hole of some of your best, and most organized, content that provides both the bigger picture and immediate value to the reader. (See this page for example.)
Get these fundamentals right to better answer the “Why should I care about this blog?” question your visitors will have. Then integrate opportune calls to action to subscribe via RSS, email, etc. You will grant yourself a higher degree of conversion from random viewers to regular readers. It really is as simple as that.
Dec 23, 2014
Is YouTube Worth Your Time as a Marketing Tool?
November 25, 2014 By Antonio Cangiano 2 Comments
Will it blend?A reader wrote to me with a question about whether YouTube was worth it as a marketing tool.
The shortest answer I could give is that today YouTube is as important as having a blog.
Here is why:
YouTube, which is owned by Google, is the most used search engine after Google itself.
When a quality video matches a query that someone searched for on Google, that video will be returned with the rest of the web results… at the top. I don’t have conversion statistics, but I can only assume a sizable percentage of viewers will click on the videos both due to their location in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) and the nature of the content (watching a video takes less effort than reading an article). In other words, YouTube is an easy SEO shortcut to the top.
Humans are highly visual animals. People are much more likely to watch a video than read an equivalent article.
YouTube goes out of its way to promote your channel and videos if they consider them to be interesting and engaging. This helps you reach a potentially large audience for free.
Playlists let you keep the viewer engaged with your content and message.
Unlike Facebook, which will only allow you to reach a subset of subscribers unless you pay for a broader audience, once you have a YouTube subscriber in place, you can easily reach them every time you post a new video.
Video can tell so much more about your product and the company behind it (even if there isn’t a product that’s being sold per se).
With more people canceling their Cable subscriptions in favor of smart TVs, media boxes like the Apple TV or Chromecast, or even tablets, expect to see far greater numbers of folks tuning in to watch video content on such devices.
Social media is very keen on video, as it works well for people who are in “surfing mode”. Videos also tend to be shared more often than textual content.
YouTube allows people to link to their external sites on their channel page, in video descriptions, and even within video annotations. So you can certainly send people to your YouTube channel via your blog, but you’ll also get a wider audience to learn about your blog through YouTube.
This blog audience can be broadly divided in the following categories, which at times can overlap:
Professionals interested in advancing their career via blogging.
Freelancers interested in finding clients via blogging.
Startup owners interested in promoting their startup via blogging.
Company owners or workers interested in promoting products via blogging.
Non-profit or open source developers, interested in promoting their non-profit projects and initiatives via blogging.
People interested in making extra money online by sharing their knowledge via blogging.
People interested in making a full-time income via blogging.
Replace “via blogging” with “via YouTube” and you’ll quickly see how applicable YouTube is to each one of these types of readers.
I would recommend that the same type of content you use for blogging also shows up in your YouTube channel. A freelancer for example, will need to showcase their expertise and offer solutions to problems that their customers might have. That’s as true on their blog as on YouTube. In fact, if available, calling your YouTube channel the same as your blog is definitely not a bad idea either.
You could then leverage the strengths of each type of media and opt for articles about particular problems and videos for others. A screencast is sometimes easier than trying to explain things in writing, for example.
Interestingly, while I have read and studied extensively this subject, I don’t have a personal YouTube channel for this or any of my other blogs. This, however, is something that I intend to fix soon.
On that note, one of the best courses I have ever come across on this subject is this one on Udemy, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to give YouTube a go or to take their channel to the next level.
How Often Should You Blog?
December 2, 2014 By Antonio Cangiano Leave a Comment
Calendar iconPeople who are new to blogging often wonder what the best posting pace to maximize the growth of their blog is. The ideal blog posting frequency will depend on several factors, including the type of audience and the subject at hand. Let’s narrow things down however to an acceptable range.
I wouldn’t consider a blog that posts less than once a month to be an active blog.  Conversely, a blog that isn’t powered by multiple authors and/or isn’t a professional news outlet or the like, probably shouldn’t post more than a couple of times a day at most. 
So we have a wide range here. From once a month to two or three posts per day. Which one is right for you?
My suggestion is to base the answer on a couple of factors.
First, your ability to produce valuable content plays a huge role. It is always, without a doubt, better to post great content less frequently than to post useless stuff for the sake of posting often. Based on the time you can dedicate to blogging and your speed in researching and producing posts, being completely honest with yourself, how many great posts can you comfortably push out each week?
For most people the answers is one or two a week at most. If you have to, it really is better to compromise quantity over quality.
The second factor is consistency. Are you able to deliver your set number of articles per week on a regular basis?  If you only write two articles per week on your good weeks, it’s far better to set your publishing schedule to one post per week and leverage good weeks to stock up in advance on scheduled posts. This will also save you from constantly feeling like you need to write everything at the last-minute.
Try to be somewhat consistent in establishing a certain posting frequency expectation among your readers. You want your audience to feel like your posts are a regular part of their week/month that they can look forward to and enjoy on a regular basis.
In the case of this blog, I’ve set an informal pace of one post per week. On my programming blog, I now post twice a week.
If you are already blogging with a certain regularity, how many posts per month or week do you publish?
This can be okay if you have multiple blogs, and some of these are on the back burner intentionally. I have some rarely updated blogs myself. ^
Exceptions do exist of course. Particularly if you are doing nano-publishing, where the content is mostly small quips and links to other resources. ^
If you are a long time follower of this blog or others of mine, you’ll know that I have failed at times to blog with consistency. There have been periods where blogging wasn’t a priority and my online properties weren’t updated as often as they should have as a result. I have recently recommitted to blogging on a regular basis on two of my blogs, Technical Blogging and Zen and the Art of Programming. ^
Dec 19, 2014
Stop your 420 and fraud works bluewhale solutions
Stop all your activities. Show all your hidden secrets. Human beings like me working there are believing you
Stop cheating and ruining students and freshers,employees life to fill money in your pocket. Please learn ethics first then start a business and do some good things to anyone..Be transparent to the employees during joining and explain them your situation first.First give valid experience certificate by registering your firm to income tax and our government. you ruined my one year and one month time in my life which was an important phase to start my career and to any one.
Please dont believe this good comments below dear students,freshers and employees. All are a trap for your life by blue whale solutions
Dec 19, 2014
Dont believe in good reviews guys. Its posted by SEO guys and thats a complete trap for all freshers.Very Worst company
For any freshers joining in any corporate or MNC company there will be training or trainer for each person or for a team atleast. Here nothing like that. Learn yourself first and prove yourself within 3 months then only we will conform your job and salary details.
Offer letter without salary details and proper contents. All points will be Its a damn cheating for freshers who think they are genuine. Honestly saying the word genuine or good or best or awesome is an unmatched tag for them. Fraud and cheat only suits you bluewhale solutions
If any freshers ask about salary or their basic needs when working there they will be thrown out in approximately two weeks and I saw it, also experienced it as developer when asked for salary there. They will make us to work like anything. when i say work mean working hours will be 15 hrs and that will be completely unsafe for women who is working there.
They are saying that they have offices in US and bangalore too but real thing after verifying we came to know that they have only one office in chennai with max 10 employees including me when I was working in that fraud's trap.They are calling candidates for interview and asking them to join for software development training after getting selected and we need to pay them 10000 INR. What the hell is this??.. no company has a thing or strategy like this
It seems that this fraud bluewhale solutions company is not registered and certified by government. I came to know this when I have attended and selected for another company with the experience certificate from this fraud and cheating company. Didnt believe it? then check it in ministry of corporate or company affairs Totally waste of time for working there for me.Only pain is left for me..they gave me mental and physical pain. They didnt give even single rupee as salary..You can notice that every year they will send out some employees and hire only freshers and get work from them without salary and cycle continues every year..I am warning existing employees that please be aware of management because anything will happen to your job at any time which depends on mood of high class cheaters.
It seems that there is no proper way or team to get and complete,support the projects ..so clients are frustrated.Many times this fraud company cheated clients by getting money and delivered improper projects..I saw one blog also when I worked there in january which stated all scams done by this company but I didnt believe it that time.Now i regret for it..that blog was deleted it seems by seo guys..Better avoid this company's trap and dont become a victim like me.Its a complete ruin to any one career..Try always reputed,registered and certified companies to start your career not a fraud one like this company..Its an alert for freshers, existing employees and i feel pity for you. frustrated.Many times this fraud company cheated
Dec 9, 2014
super growing company
BWS (Blue whale solution) is one of the best growing company. And they providing fantastic facilities to the employees, i like to work in here.................
Dec 8, 2014
Good place to work
It is a very good experience for me.Good platform to start carrier for freshers here. Very pleasant environment. Good for freshers to start your carrier...
Dec 8, 2014
Good Working Culture
I am working in blue whale solutions,Good place to start your carrier here.Good working culture and good exposure for the freshers.
Stable Growth and friendly teammates.
Dec 8, 2014
I am working in Blue Whale Solutions, Its a very good platform to start my carrier here.Good Infrastructure, you will get more opportunities to learn from the basics. Top Managements are moving very friendly.
Dec 8, 2014
can have a better career
i am an employee of bws. by working here i can assume myself a better career in future. bws offers its employees to work on role so that we are able to learn the entire things on our domain...
Dec 8, 2014
a nice atmosphere to work
"Lot of onsite opportunities after a certain experience, good work environment"
"Good work culture, good opportunities to work on new business domain
Dec 8, 2014
good pavement to learn
It is very good work experience in bws.I learnt lot of new things not only related to work but as to grow as good IT professional
Dec 8, 2014
blue whale solutions management is really good
for a start-up company, blue whale solutions management is really good. i personally feels that it provides a platform for freshers to learn. the company has overcome the initial hiccups and developed a lot
Dec 8, 2014
ITS A GOOD PLACE FOR FRESHERS TO LEARN
bws is a good place to learn for freshers. here by training, freshers can be able to get a bright career.
Dec 8, 2014
VERY GOOD COMPANY
I would say that this company is very good place for the freshers to learn. It will be a platform for all the employees to learn from basics.
Dec 7, 2014
OMg after redaing those review i came to an conclusion tat its totally waste who attend interview in this company >>>Thanks guys i got call for more then 2 times to come and attend d interview .i decided to go but atlast reading all reviews its not atal worth going der .
FOr the money sake dy r playing in our carrer.
Dec 6, 2014
good for our future
Hi my dear friends am pleasure to sharing this information with you blue whale solution is very good place for our career growth and this is a good company. Here have a very good infrastructure and excellent environment. And we are getting very good response from the employer side. I got my expected salary from existed date. And this company was located in near by railway station so easy to reach in here. And i got all facility in here, i feel very happy to work in this company. My kind advice you please try get the opportunity in here..... bye (All the best)
Dec 6, 2014
Good Platform for Freshers
Good Platform for Freshers
I am working in Blue Whale Solutions, Its a start up and developing company. Good platform for freshers to develop their knowledge and their skills. It has good Infrastructure smart and friendly colleagues. organisation can give importance for employees growth.
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