5 Things You May Not Know About Jeff Bezos

Amazon is the leader of e-commerce as we know it, and no doubt a household name. It’s CEO and founder Jeff Bezos however, has just recently begun to make headlines.

The richest person in the world, Bezos is said to have a net worth of 112 billion. After graduating from Princeton with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, he worked for an investment bank. In 1994 he launched Amazon out of his garage. What would become a multi-national tech company began as a virtual bookstore. Bezos sold his first book in 1995, a copy of Douglas Hofstadter’s Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.

Amazon has since grown to develop and offer many products and services ranging from the Kindle, movies and television shows under Amazon Studios, as well as the cloud-computing service known as Amazon Web Services. As a result, Amazon has catapulted Bezos into the spotlight. For those interested in learning more about the serial entrepreneur, here are 5 things you may not know about Jeff Bezos:

1. He originally wanted to name Amazon “Cadabra.”

As in “abracadabra.” Bezos wanted to convey something magical about the convenience of shopping online. However, his advisers convinced him otherwise. Bezos instead chose the name Amazon because it began with the first letter of the alphabet. It also represented the earth’s largest river and he was aiming for opening the world’s largest bookstore.

2. Bezos owns The Washington Post.

The tech savvy entrepreneur purchased the newspaper in October of 2013 for $250 million after being approached by publisher Donald Graham. Under Bezos’s leadership the paper has adapted to the digital age. After reinventing itself as a media company, it has doubled it’s web traffic and even turned a profit. No small feat in today’s world of online journalism.

3. He owns a private space company.

In 2000, Bezos founded the aerospace company Blue Origin. The space flight operator is supposedly launching a crewed space tourism flight before the end of this year. Bezos’s long-term goal is to eventually aid in the colonization of space. The company is the first to invent reusable rockets. No other rocket in the history of spacecraft has been used twice. The ability to successfully launch and land a rocket multiple times will help to significantly lower the cost of access to space.

4. He’s a huge Star Trek Fan.

Bezos has reportably admitted that both the smart speaker Amazon Echo and it’s virtual assistant Alexa were inspired from the Star Trek computer. In 2016, he begged Paramount to let him have a cameo in the movie Star Trek Beyond. While his scene only lasted 8 seconds, he did have a speaking part.

5. Bezos makes $2,489 per second.

According to Business Insider, “Bezos makes more than twice what the median US worker makes in one week. That’s $149,353 per minute.” He is also “nearly 38% richer than the British monarchy.” And to think he once was a McDonald’s fry cook…

 

Six Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Bill Gates

Bill Gates is a household name. This is especially true to the households that spent their formative years in the late 80s and early 90s when Gates worked to make computers a staple in the family home. Most people know that he’s the founder of Microsoft, one of the most popular operating systems in the world. Most people also know that he dominated the Forbes list of richest people in the world since 1993. In 2017, he was bested by Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, but still holds the number 2 spot today. Another commonly known fact about Bill Gates is that he gave a laughable deposition testimony during the 1998 Supreme Court case United States v. Microsoft over antitrust litigation. And that Microsoft ended up being charged with monopolization, tying, and blocking competition.

For the most part, Gates’ life has been in the public eye over the last twenty years. If you’ve seen a documentary on the life of Bill Gates and the rise of Microsoft, the details mentioned above are all covered. However, there are a plethora of things that most people don’t know about Bill Gates. From his personal life to his dedication to philanthropy, you probably didn’t know these six things about Bill Gates.

The first computer program Bill Gates wrote was a tic-tac-toe game.

After his prep school raised enough money to buy a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal and time on a General Electric (GE) computer, Gates’ interest in programming grew. His teacher’s noticed and excused him from class to continue working on his ever-growing interest. The Teletype model was the first machine he wrote a complete computer program on. The program allowed computer users to play tic-tac-toe against the computer. The ability to get a computer to perform a specific task fascinated Gates and he spent the rest of his time in school creating computer programs for his alma mater and other local-area businesses.

He almost got a perfect SAT score but did not graduate from college.

At the age of 18, Gates was named a National Merit Scholar. Later that same year, he scored a 1590/1600 on his SAT and was accepted to Harvard. Throughout his two years at the Ivy League school, he never decided on a plan of study and spent most of his time with the school’s computers. Despite his intelligence, he did not graduate from Harvard. Instead, he took a leave of absence for an unspecified amount of time to work on Microsoft. As the company rose to success, he never returned but stated multiple times that he “could always go back to school” if Microsoft failed for some reason.

Bill Gates has stated that he is concerned for the future of superintelligence.

With most of his life focused around and driven by software, it’s no surprise Gates has thoughts on the future. Popular forum platform, Reddit, often hosts AMAs or “Ask Me Anything” sessions during which influential people invite Reddit users to do just that and ask them anything. One user asked what Gates’ thoughts on superintelligence were and his response was one of concern. He sides with Elon Musk, another influencer in the information technology sector, and stated that “first the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”

One of his biggest philanthropic missions to date is to eliminate polio.

Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, are both chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is the largest private charitable foundation in the entire world. The mission of the foundation is to improve global health while saving lives. The foundation has also partnered with Rotary International, an organization that brings together professional leaders with humanitarian efforts, to eliminate polio. The foundation also supports the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in worldwide agricultural development. Currently, in addition to their partnerships, the foundation is supporting the International Rice Research Institute’s efforts to develop a “golden rice” that will fight vitamin A deficiency.

The Gates’ family residence is a 66,000 square-foot mansion in Washington state.

Bill Gates, his wife Melinda, and their three children live in a 66,000 square foot property that overlooks Lake Washington. The property is an earth-sheltered mansion built into the side of a hill. It’s designed in the Pacific lodge style with classic features as well as technologically-forward features. The home has a private library with a dome roof and oculus but also features a 60-foot wide swimming pool with an underwater music system and a server system throughout the entire estate.

In addition, the home also boasts a 2,500 square foot gym and a 1,000 square foot dining room. Often referred to as Xanadu 2.0, a Citizen Kane reference, the home features 7 guest rooms, 24 bathrooms, a 23-car garage, and a beach made out of imported sand from the Caribbean. Want to see the inside of it? There are some ways to do just that if you can catch Gates when he’s auctioning off home tours. Some tours have been bought for as much as $35,000 a piece.

His dedication to philanthropy will outlast his lifetime, his wife’s lifetime, and his closest friend’s lifetime.

Bill Gates, his wife, Melinda, and his closest friend, Warren Buffett, are all very dedicated to philanthropy. In fact, they are so invested in giving back that together they signed a “Giving Pledge”. This pledge commits them to each donate at least half of their wealth to charity over the course of time. The campaign itself is available for anyone who is wealthy to commit to. As of 2019, the Giving Pledge had 191 signatures from individuals and couples across 22 countries. Their commitments total over $1,000 billion dollars.

The next time you hear the name Bill Gates, or he comes up in conversation, remember that he is more than the creator of Microsoft. Gates is also a well-known philanthropist, an advocate for slowing down on developing artificial intelligence, and much more. If you’re interested in learning more about Bill Gates, his website https://www.gatesnotes.com is a great place to start. On the blog, interested parties can find a lot of additional information on Gates’ philanthropic efforts, books he recommends, and people he considers his heroes. There is also a fascinating biography by Michael B. Becraft on gates, aptly titled “Bill Gates: A Biography”.

5 Benefits of Stakeholder Interviews

There’s no denying it, for developers and project managers alike, stakeholders can have a somewhat looming presence throughout the duration of a project. It’s only natural considering they are often deeply invested in the project’s outcome and can even greatly influence the development of it. However, simply taking the time early on to interview those who have a stake in the outcome of the project can have numerous benefits. Here are 5 reasons why you should carve out some time in the planning stages of your next project and chat with your stakeholders.

1. Craft a Cohesive Vision

Often there are a lot of key players involved in any given project. What better opportunity than the early stages to come to a common consensus on execution? Chances are there may be more than one stakeholder, so sitting down with each one and shedding light on their own unique perspective can help your team anticipate how they will each influence the process and enable you to drive alignment right from the start. 

2. Set the Right Goals & Priorities

Consider this part of the research stage. Stakeholders can provide much needed context for what the success of a project will look like as they are part of the user audience. Therefore, inquiring about each stakeholder’s goals, agenda, and purpose will provide immeasurable insight in terms of delivering a satisfactory end product.

3. It Saves Time & Money

When you don’t have to rely on assumptions, you save your team from having to do time-consuming and costly rework. Having a conversation with stakeholders at the beginning, is proactive and will help to establish a realistic project plan and scope. 

4. Collaboration

Collaboration and communication is just good business. Having a rapport with your project’s stakeholders builds trust and credibility. The relationship with stakeholders should be viewed as more of a partnership in which each side feels validated and helps drive the project forward.

5. Proactive Problem Solving

Stakeholders are a valuable asset to any project not only through their monetary support, but their ability to voice concerns and identify challenges. Interviewing them from the start is a great way to see the constraints your team may be facing and bring things to the surface now rather than later. Structure the development process like a walk through, and allow them to aid in the decision making process. 

At Number8, our philosophy is to empower our clients to produce better software, faster. We are experts in augmenting scrum teams with senior consultants that can help increase team velocity immediately. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

My Xamarin Experience

xamarinDifferent Options

When developing software, whether it’s for a fun project or a formal business project, a requirement can be met by many different options and technologies. After a while of looking at many, it is natural to think which is the best option for the requirement.

Let us consider the options for building a mobile application.

Sometimes the best option is determined by the compatibility of the implications of the option and the technical strengths of the development team. (I’ll cover implications a little later)  The first option to consider when building a mobile application are native applications, but it immediately raises a warning – when the code for a platform is done, the code will need to be transcribed to another platform.  Second, every native technology has its own implications. So to have a successful mobile experience in all native platforms, a developer for each platform is needed.

Even if there was a developer for each platform, is it worthwhile to develop a native mobile application for each platform instead of modifying a web page so it can be viewed in any device?  This is an important question to consider so here is a comparison chart for key characteristics.

CharacteristicNative ApplicationWeb Page
InternetAfter downloading the app, it can work in offline or online modeOnly works with internet connectivity
PerformanceNative components are lightweight and fastPages tend to be heavy and work somewhat slower
Push NotificationsCan send push notificationsCan’t send push notifications
Hardware AccessAccess to camera, speaker, flash, etc.Does not have access to hardware
AccessibilityOpening the app with a clickOpening browse and typing URL
User ExperienceNatural feels and smoothUnnatural and, in some cases, slow

Based on this comparison, it appears that a native application offers a wider range for creativity and service options. If the development team handles all the implications for every platform then it might be a good idea to develop a mobile app natively for each platform, considering that native applications have the best performance and assuming the business is willing to pay a higher cost.

Let’s talk more about those “implications”.


Implications

When dealing with software frameworks and APIs, each framework works naturally with the programmer at least interacting with (in others mastering) certain technologies or programming languages. This comes naturally if the framework is an extension for another technology.

For example, consider Node.js, a JavaScript runtime. When using Node.js, being a JavaScript runtime, the code will naturally be programmed in JavaScript language. Therefore, working with Node.js framework implies the programmer knows, or can at least interact with, JavaScript language. We’ll call these framework dependency implications.

Following are some implications for some mobile application frameworks.

Mobile Application TechnologyImplications
Native Android Mobile App• Java
Native iOS Mobile App• Objective-C or Swift programming language
Xamarin• .Net (C# programming language) • Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML)
Appcelerator• JavaScript • Titanium SDK
Phonegap• Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) • JavaScript Language • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Language
Ionic• Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) • JavaScript Language • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Language • AngularJS
React Native• Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) • JavaScript Language (ES6 Syntax) • JavaScript XML (JSX) • Document Object Model (DOM)
Sencha Touch• Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) • JavaScript Language • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Language • Sencha SDK • MVC Architecture

There is another cost that is not visible at first glance.  Even though the different platform projects have the same core and logic, ultimately they are individual projects. Each project has a different language and application lifecycle and SDKs, so each project will also need its specialized maintenance. This can all add up.  If creating the application natively appears to be too expensive or the development team does not handle all the implications, another strategy can be used.

Using a cross-platform technology has become very popular as a hybrid solution for mobile development, so you can write one set of code that can be used on multiple platforms and can give the user a native experience. There are many cross-platform mobile app technologies, each with it’s own implications. The strategy is to pick technology that has an implication that the development team masters, plus another consideration. Since this is cross-platform, it is important to choose a solution that has a large percentage of transcribing code; the code that can be written once and run natively across the platforms.


xamarin developerMy Experience

When I decided I wanted to develop mobile apps, my first thought was “What native technologies do I know?”

I had used Objective-C for an iOS application.  If I wanted to make a native android or windows phone application, I’d have to learn about project structure and app lifecycle and hope I could program in the language they used. Since I only knew one native technology (iOS) I decided it was better to invest time learning a cross platform technology.

I then thought “Now if I’m going to use a cross platform technology, what implications can I handle the best?”.  Xamarin was a natural choice for me, thanks to the language and application structure.  C# is one of the languages I handle the best, plus the structure was intuitive. An .xml page with its back end code, the application lifecycle was also C-like. I managed to learn XAML and the app structure and lifecycle quickly.

Later, I discovered that Xamarin generated native apps that shared 95% of the common code. I also got to an acceptable level of understanding in android and iOS native applications. Then I decided to test Xamarin’s generated native projects. It seemed that the native applications were greatly structured and coded. I thought “Wow. In theory, it is possible for someone to develop a full native Android app without knowing Java or the android app structure or even having the Android Studio”. Another plus for cross-platform technologies comes from the abstraction layer.  When using Xamarin, the code handles mobile events (like Swipe) in Xamarin’s way.

I can code once and use these events without even knowing how to do it the native way.

I decided it was a good idea to take full advantage of these generated projects and tried making everything in Xamarin, because some things are not implemented on the framework. For example, Xamarin has no radio button tag for iOS applications. Instead of modifying the generated iOS application and using Apple’s radio button, I decided to implement my own radio button in Xamarin, which rendered natively in iOS. This seemed like a good choice that would become an advantage, but I also found a disadvantage, when making a minimum change on a Xamarin project, it must be recompiled to see the changes on the device. This can be time consuming if one wants to test various changes.


Conclusions

I decided to use Xamarin to build mobile apps because it was cross-platform. So most code would only have to be written once. And the projects generated by Xamarin were native. This is not the case on every cross-platform technology. The fact that the final projects are native is an advantage since mobile characteristics can be used.

Still, I studied native projects for Android and iOS to be able to modify the generated projects if something can’t really be done on Xamarin (I realized Xamarin does not support everything for every platform). Again, this can be done because Xamarin generates native projects.

In other words, I take advantage of Xamarin to reutilize code and generate fully native platforms to the extent it permits me, but I also know how to do it without Xamarin in case I really need to modify a native project. Xamarin’s implications are my strengths in programming. This is how I determined Xamarin was the best option for me when it comes to developing mobile applications.

It is important to note that the best option is a balance between the technical strengths of the development team and the implications of the technology. Xamarin with native platforms background was the best option for me, but I have a C# background.  Another developer could have worked faster with Ionic if, say, the developer is a master in AngularJS.

TED Talks to Remember – An Overview of 3 Favorites

Our favorite TED Talks best ted talks

When we’re bored, unmotivated, or just in need of a quick mental pick-me-up, watching TED Talks is a perfect way to reboot the mind get us back on track. The topics of these speeches performed the world’s most innovative speakers range from reading body language to teaching kids how to eat their vegetables, but our favorites are the ones that make us embrace what we perceive as “faults.” So much of our potential is wasted through self-doubt, but these particular TED Talks help a person move through it and come out the other side more confident and able to pursue their true purpose.

 

Adam Grant – 4 Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers


Wharton professor Adam Grant specializes in organizational psychology. His work involves researching and establishing principles that help solve problems in the workplace and improve the overall quality of life for people. His first TED Talk, Are you a giver or a taker?, is worth a watch as well, but we like the way this one helped us rethink our insecurities, our apprehensions, and even our tardiness. 

Through his observations of former students turn Warby Parker entrepreneurs, Grant explores how the future successful people don’t always seem so at first glance.

Watch it here:

Barry Schwartz – The paradox of choice


In the United States, people are spoiled with choices… but is that a good thing? Psychologist Barry Schwartz makes a very powerful argument here that it isn’t. His idea is that if a person is presented with too many choices, he will fail to make one because of his fear of choosing incorrectly. This “paralysis of choice” is something people deal with all the time whether it be at work, out shopping, or even in our personal lives.

Even if a person does make a choice, the knowledge that there were so many other avenues to take causes him to wonder if there was a better way to go. It’s a classic “grass is always greener on the other side” feeling. Schwartz argues that when we have less to choose from, our expectations remain reasonable and we are more satisfied with our choices.

Watch it here:

 

Brené Brown – The power of vulnerability


Being vulnerable is frightening, but anything that can elicit such emotion must be powerful, right? Brené Brown thinks so. Through her studies of vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame, Brown tries to understand humans better. She studies how our relationships with others and, perhaps more importantly, ourselves, affect our quality of life.

As humans, we try and avoid vulnerability. It’s seen as a weakness, a flaw, and a way for the world to take advantage of you. Brown argues that without vulnerability, we will never get the things we want out of life. These things range from a healthy relationship to a fulfilling career, or just accomplishing whatever personal goals you have. Instead of numbing our vulnerability, Brown encourages people to embrace it, own up to it, and engage with it.

Watch it here:

 


At Number8, we encourage our employees to embrace their flaws and re-think them as strengths. This innovative way of self-perception enables us to come up with creative solutions while enjoying a better quality of life. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

5 Non-Tech Related Questions To Ask When Applying For A Tech Job

The tech interview process is perhaps the most nerve-wracking part of searching for a new job. It can be an especially intimidating interaction when it comes to the tech community considering the highly specific skills required for most positions. However, the process does not have to be such a stressful one. With a little bit of confidence and research, it can actually be an extremely constructive experience for both you and your potential employer.

During a tech interview, you may feel as though your focus must remain entirely on the technological aspects of the position, but it is important to know as much as possible about the type of company you’re applying for other than just what kind of work they do. While you may be focusedon asking technical questions related to your particular skillset and the demands of the position you are seeking, there are also some non tech questions you should ask during the interview. Follow along for some great suggestions from the Number8 IT team.

5 Non-Tech Questions to Ask During a Tech Interview

Here are a few simple, non-tech questions to ask during a tech interview to help you decide whether or not you are right for the company, and vice versa.

1. What are your company’s current priorities? How would I, as a new hire, assist with those goals?

Depending on the company, your interviewer may not be able to give you a detailed description of their business plans. They should, however, be able to offer a general idea of the direction in which they are headed. Before deciding your interest level in a job, you should first be able to orient yourself within the specific goals of the company in question. Will you be able to offer relevant services? Will you be engaged and questions to ask during a tech interviewinterested in the work? You should evaluate the level at which you are aligned with this company and its priorities.

2. What kind of training will the new hire go through?

Having an idea of what type of training process the company uses will be helpful in terms of planning ahead. Perhaps the training will be intensive and include seminars, or testing to ensure you are up to date with all the services your company provides. Or training could be more of a see-as-we-go approach where you are expected to just drop in and pick up techniques along the way. This can be a helpful bit of information depending on your learning style. If you are a person who needs a step-by-step guide to be able to work efficiently, then you may not fit with a company that has a more free form style of training.

3. Is there a particular dress code that the office follows?

You can probably pick up on the general environment of the office based on how your interviewer is dressed. However, you should still ask about dress code expectations because they may change. Within the tech world, dress etiquette fluctuates from jeans and tee shirts to full on suits and ties. It may seem like an irrelevant, or even superficial question to ask, but dressing appropriately is essential to success.

4. What does an average workday look like in terms of in-office hours, versus off-site work? How many hours is a new hire expected to work per week?

This is a technical question that many people often forget to ask because it is easy to assume that any kind of office job will follow the typical 9-5 schedule. But in tech jobs, where you may be interacting with clients across the globe and across time zones, you may need to follow an unorthodox schedule. That may carry over into working from home, or off-site in the case of visiting with clients. It may seem awkward to inquire about specific hours, but before you accept a position you should have a solid idea of what kind of time commitment is expected of you.

5. What do you like best about working for this company? What is the company culture like?

If you have been searching for a job for awhile, it can be easy to accept any offer that comes you way. But just because you have been offered a position, does not necessarily mean you should accept it. To determine whether or not you want the job, you should find out if the company will be enjoyable to work for. If you cannot find satisfaction or pleasure in your work environment then your work itself will suffer greatly.

Are you interested in working for an experienced tech company? We’re always open to hearing from potential Number8 employees. Please visit our career page for more information and give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!