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10 Agile Project Management Terms You Should Know

Whether you’re planning on managing a project the agile way, or just want to stay up to date on the latest developments in the field, here are 10 agile project management terms you should know:

1. Agile Manifesto

The agile manifesto is a great starting point for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the agile methodology. The manifesto outlines the 4 values and 12 principles of agile software development and was actually created by a group of software developers in an effort to provide a clear and alternative set of processes for developing software. The agile way of doing things prioritizes individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a plan. 

2. Scrum

A scrum is a daily stand up meeting with the sole focus being to review each team member’s progress on any given project. Scrums help to keep everyone accountable and on the same page, ensuring no one falls too behind or gets too far ahead in the development of a project.

3. Scrum Master

A scrum master oversees the development process and acts as a problem solver for the team; preventing roadblocks and enforcing the agile way of doing things.

4. Stakeholder

A stakeholder refers to anyone with a vested interest in the product. This can be the client, the end user, sales people, legal representatives etc. Stakeholders have an informative role in the development phase, and are critical in defining the project’s requirements.

5. Backlog

The backlog is the ever changing list of the software’s requirements. It’s not to be seen as a to do list so much as a prioritized list of desired features of the product provided by the stakeholders.

6. Story

The story tells the software system’s requirements from the consumer’s point of view. For example, as “a <type of user>, I want to <perform some task> so I can <achieve some goal.>”

7. Burndown & Burnup Charts

A burndown chart visually measures the progress of a project over time (the vertical axis is made up of the backlog while the horizontal axis represents time). A burnup chart displays completed work (the vertical axis shows the amount done over the horizontal axis, time). These charts are essential to inspiring the team as they work and help provide a realistic time frame for the project’s completion as well as a working scale of the project.

8. Feature Creep

While changes are expected, and certainly embraced in the agile way of doing things, the phrase “feature creep” refers to features that are added after development has begun. Adding too many features during the development phase can result in feature creep and software that is too complicated or difficult to use.

9. Timeboxing

Timeboxing is kind of like time blocking in that it assigns a specific time frame to accomplish a goal. The definitive feature of timeboxing however, is that the work stops at the end of the timebox, instead of when the work is complete. This is extremely helpful in terms of productivity, and controlling the scale of a project.

10. Sprint

A sprint is a short development phase usually lasting anywhere from 1 week to a month. Sprints help prevent projects from feeling overwhelming and allows feedback to be given at appropriate junctures.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. 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!

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…

 

The Secret Hollywood History Behind WiFi

WiFi has become essential to our professional and personal lives. It has changed the way we communicate and altered the way many of our devices work (thanks to the Internet of Things). While it’s now nearly effortless for us to install, connect to and use, how did it come to be?

While WiFi wasn’t accessible to consumers until 1997, it has a long history dating back to the 1940’s. At it’s core, WiFi uses wireless transmitters and radio signals to exchange information and connect to the internet. In the 1940’s, Hollywood starlet Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed the radio frequency hopping technology that would become the foundation for the wireless communication we all enjoy today.

The History of Radio Frequency Hopping

According to a recent documentary, ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,’ the popular actress Hedy Lamarr often ran experiments in her trailer between takes. Upon meeting Antheil, who famously synchronized pianos to hop from one note to another, the pair came up with a plan that incorporated radio signals. At the time of their work together, World War 2 was in full swing and the U.S. Navy needed a way to protect their underwater missiles form Nazis detection.

Together, Lamarr and Antheil joined the war effort by inventing the concept of radio frequency hopping. Their invention used perforated rolls of paper, much like the ones in pianos, to change frequencies from one point to another via the holes in the roll. This discovery helped guide radio-controlled missiles underwater without risking enemy exposure in that both the radio transmitter and the receiver could simultaneously change from frequency to frequency.

Modern Wireless Communication Methods

Fast forward to 1985, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allowed several bands of wireless spectrum to be used without a government licence, and communication via radio frequency energy became revolutionized. In order to operate on these bands, devices were required to steer around interference from other equipment. They did so using the frequency hopping technology developed by Lamarr and Antheil.

While the duo were granted US Patent No. 2,292,387  in 1942, they signed it over to the Navy during the war. It wasn’t until 1997 that they were recognized for their frequency hopping technology by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It is no doubt that WiFi’s many applications, including gps and bluetooth wouldn’t be possible without Lamarr’s and Antheil’s invention. As the technological wonder continues to evolve and become faster and more reliable, we can take more than our fair share of inspiration from it’s unlikely source..

5 Must Read Career Books

We all face challenges in our careers at some point or another, and the truth is, we spend most of our lives at work. So why not make the most of it? Whether you’re feeling stuck in your current position and need a boost or are transitioning to a new role, we are firm believers that even in this age of technology, some of the best answers can be found in a book!

To help give you a leg up, we’ve compiled a list of must read career books chalked full of advice and tools to help you tackle everything and anything.

1. Master Your Next Move by Michael Watkins

Experiencing a lot of change in your career? Master Your Next Move offers insight into some of the most important transitions that occur within our careers. From overseas assignments and on-boarding at a new company, to getting promoted and having to lead former peers, sometimes even a good career move can be challenging. In his latest book, Michael Watkins lends a helping hand to those in leadership positions looking to excel as they climb the ladder.

2. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

Looking for more fulfillment at work or in general? Designing Your Life suggests that in order to live a life of fulfillment, one should apply the concepts of design to both their personal life and career. After all, every design begins by solving a problem. If you want to rework your career, start by rethinking your approach.

3. Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness by Kerry Hannon

Hate your job? According to a recent Gallup Poll, 85% of people do. Kerry Hannon’s Love Your Job explains how you can make the most of your current position by changing your perspective. Hannon offers tips on developing positive thought patters and habits that will reinvigorate you and give you a new found purpose at work no matter what stage of your career you are in.

4. Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? by Seth Godin

We all know that in this new age of the workforce, innovation is key to staying relevant. Seth Godin’s Linchpin paves the way for anyone looking to make a lasting impact. The book begins by posing the following questions, “Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Made a connection with someone others couldn’t reach? Even once? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable.”

5. The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle

Anyone who has ever been in business, knows about failure. For those who have recently experienced a set back at work, Megan McArdle’s The Up Side of Down is an inspirational guide to reinventing yourself in the face of failure by learning from the experience instead of allowing it to debilitate you.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. 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!

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”.

Preparing for the Remote Work Culture

If you’re making the transition to remote work after working in an office from 9-5, 5 days a week, you’ll quickly learn a notable difference in the work culture. Whether you’re looking to work from home or are an employer wanting to outsource tasks, getting familiar with the customs of those who work remotely will help you know what to expect.

Here are 3 unwritten rules of remote work:

1. Everything starts on time.

Because you’re not sitting in traffic during your morning commute, there’s really no excuse for being late. In the remote world, meetings start on time down to the minute. One of the biggest benefits of working from home is that it allows you to better manage every minute of your day. Couple that with the fact that you could be collaborating with someone in a different time zone, and every minute really starts to count. To make sure you don’t experience a technical delay, get used to checking your equipment early each morning.

2. Communication is key.

Sure, communication is key in any work situation. But when you’re communicating with someone who isn’t sitting in the next cubicle, it becomes even more prudent. In fact, 90% of how we communicate is nonverbal, so if you’re working remotely online, it can be easy for a few things to get lost in translation. Expect to over communicate by being prompt in your responses and utilizing the many tools available to you. Remember that the tone of online communication tends to be straightforward and casual. When it applies, provide links or visual examples for full transparency. Shared calendars and collaborative applications can help to keep everyone on the same page, whether it be project deadlines, tasks or vacation days. 

3. Nurture workplace relationships.

Yes, workplace relationships are still a thing when you work from home. While they can be hard to cultivate because of language barriers and time zones, a good workplace dynamic is an invaluable asset and can help ensure a project’s success. Taking the time to build camaraderie through friendly correspondence can go a long way. When possible, opt for an in person meeting, video or phone call, and consider using a chat app for water cooler talk.

As an employer, think about implementing a remote work policy to help establish standards and keep everyone accountable. A company mission can help communicate your vision and values, and as a result keep remote employees motivated.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. 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!

What to Look For In a Nearshore Development Partnership

More and more throughout the United States, development work for web-based companies is moving out of the country. The reason that a company decides to look for offshore or nearshore developers is different from situation to situation. Some reasons for looking into nearshore outsourcing can include budget restrictions preventing the company from expanding in-house or office spacing being too limited to hire additional in-house developers. Regardless of the reason that a company decides to enter a nearshore development partnership, there are things to look for in the hired team.

Location

One of the main motivators behind web-based companies using nearshore outsourcing for development work is the fact that nearshore developers are usually in the same time zone as the company. If they aren’t in the same time zone, they are in a time zone with operating hours more similar to the company’s. This has a lot of benefits in regards to communication than working an outsourcing company located in India or another country on the opposite side of the world. Nearshore development partnerships are often established for this reason.

By operating in the same, or similar, business hours companies enjoy the benefit of being able to discuss problems in real time with their development counterparts. Being able to quickly address and resolve development issues results in faster turnaround times and happier clientele. When looking for a nearshore development partnership, consider the time zone potential teams are in and how that will affect your business.

Communication

When considering nearshore development companies to partner with, it is also important to consider if there will be a language barrier. While most nearshore development companies employ people who speak fluent English, some do not. Clear communication is a huge part of a successful partnership and a necessity for getting development work done quickly and correctly. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively will also affect how the business operates between the onshore employees and their counterparts. Without an open line of communication, it doesn’t really matter whether the nearshore development team is operating in the same hours as the onshore company or not. If the two teams cannot work together without a language barrier then the IT project will ultimately end up failing.

Quality

Companies searching for a nearshore development team to partner with should also assess the quality of the development team’s work. Does the team you’re considering partnering with have a portfolio of previous work they’ve done? Can they offer you statistics on how many projects they’ve successfully completed? It’s difficult to forge a successful partnership with so many miles between locations. Therefore, it is important that the team you choose for a nearshore development partnership is a strong one. Companies should trust their developers to complete projects on time and turn around workloads in a timely manner. There is nothing wrong with asking for statistics on project completions, turnaround times, and more. High quality work from a nearshore development team will be pertinent to your success as a company. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of the quality of a company’s work.

Turnover

In a recent study, the 7th Annual Conference on Information Science, Technology, and Management revealed that the turnover rate of software developers in India falls between 30 and 40 percent. In comparison, the turnover rate of Americans in the IT industry sits at 13.2%. By choosing to forge a nearshore development partnership, your entering into an IT sector with a substantially lower turnover rate. This, in turn, opens up opportunities to work with the same development team over multiple projects. Familiarity with how a team member communicates, delivers work, and executes tasks only improves project turnaround time. It also improves the business relationship, in general. Being able to establish a long-term business connection is one of the biggest benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

Deciding to enter a nearshore development partnership has its benefits and its risks. Thankfully, we feel like the benefits highly outweigh the risks. No matter how perfect a situation may seem, you will want to look at some specific metrics. If you are thinking about hiring nearshore developers to outsource some of the work at your company, be sure to ask these 12 questions before you hire anyone. For more information on outsourcing benefits, visit our blog archive to read countless articles on the benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

At Number8, we pair onshore businesses with a dynamic nearshore development team that will effectively get complete development work. Our entire team of nearshore software developers are based in  San Jose, Costa Rica. They are fully trained in agile product development and will produce the solutions your company needs to succeed. Interested in learning more? You can learn more about what we do on our website or call us at (502) 890-7665 today!

 

3 Things That Set Number8 Apart

With so many options for IT consulting and agile software development, why choose Number8?

1. We offer a blended model.

At Number8, we offer all the benefits of typical offshore tech support with nearshore capabilities. Our headquarters are based out of Louisville, Kentucky and we have technical professionals throughout the U.S. We also have more than 100 associates in a total of six countries including our offshore team in Latin America and nearshore office location in San Jose, Costa Rica. Whether the need is local or can be handled off-site, we are able to work with our U.S. clients in their timezone and language with the best possible mix of development assistance.

2. We treat our employees differently.

It’s our mission at Number8 to give our associates and IT contractors the opportunity to develop a rewarding and challenging career while enjoying the best possible work-life balance. We pride ourselves on our employee retention rate and value building long term partnerships with our clients as a result of it.

We also understand just how important family is and the ability to have a flexible work schedule is a major benefit of working remotely. For example, one of our Junior Developers John Lewis, who came onboard about a year ago, has recently decided to shared his story with the Number8 family. After the passing of his wife last April, he now lives in Costa Rica with his three children.

“N8 is an incredibly unique company and I think that comes from its foundations. The entire team as well as my clients have been incredibly supportive during what has been a depressive period for me. I couldn’t work for a month, and though I thought I would lose my job I didn’t. I can’t even count the number of times someone has asked me if I needed anything. Though Christmas was particularly hard for us, as it was my wife’s favorite holiday and our gifts from the U.S. were stuck in customs, Number8 surprised us again. Literally the only things under the tree were the gifts that Number8 gave to my children. I am so grateful to Number8 for all the resources that they’ve put at my disposal. I honestly cannot express it any more because it is so emotional for me. To everyone who has supported me, I can’t say thank you enough.”

3. We are experienced in a breadth of programming languages.

Having been in the custom software development business for several years, our professionals specialize in a full range of programming languages and skill sets including:

-Microsoft .Net     -ASP.Net     -Javascript     -LINQ Visual Studio

-C++/C#         -MySQL       -Oracle       -OO Development

-Microsoft SQL Server        -Ruby         -Agile Development and Scrum.

Additionally, we do a considerable amount of Java development, and a lot of front-end development using javascript MVC frameworks like Angular, Knockout, Ember and Backbone. We also have software development teams working in PHP (Aura, Yii, Zend, Laravel, Symfony, Phalcon, CodeIgniter, Cake).

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 give us a call at (502) 890-7665.