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What I Learned From Working With a Big Team

Working on a team is different from going solo

Working on a team is different from going solo

I’ve been working very hard for the last few months on a project to integrate FileMaker with a corporate Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. Originally, the official decision was to work towards replacing the current FileMaker solution with the enterprise-level tool, but in the end it was much too expensive and inflexible to do so, and FileMaker won the day! (Phew.)

We just implemented into the live environment and everything seems to be going smoothly (so far!).

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Design Pattern and UCD resources

UI Sketch Navigation DiagramI’m speaking at CQDF in Montreal, on the topic of User Interface (UI) design, specifically about Design Patterns and User-Centered Design. My presentation is in French, which means I’ve been learning lots of new vocabulary! (These two sites have been helping me a lot: Le grand dictionnaire terminologique and Linguee)

In preparing my talk, I’ve been doing much research into the topic of UI design patterns, design and user-centered design principles in general, and in how people react to and interact with design in software and in their everyday lives. I love thinking about these kinds of things, so it’s been a very gratifying journey.

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How to Waste Time and Fail At Requirements: Ignore End Users

iStock_000005290011XSmallI have been in meetings recently where some consultants, tasked with building an enterprise software solution based on a FileMaker solution I built, keep asking, “What are the fields and data types the system is tracking?”. Various people involved ask me over and over for lists of fields and tables, and I dutifully give them lists of fields and tables. They ask me for sample data, I give them sample data. Invariably they keep calling me back to meetings. “We looked at the lists of fields and tables. We looked at the sample data. We looked at the requirements documents. So, what are we supposed to be doing?” (I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea.)

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Human vs Computer: Manage Database Records Using an Algorithm

Ordering records using an algorithmIn his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel prize-winning behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman points out, “Several studies have shown that human decision makers are inferior to a prediction formula even when they are given the score suggested by the formula!” He uses as an example an algorithm that predicts the future price of Bordeaux wines using three weather-related variables, which has an accuracy of .90!

It might seem surprising that a formula can make better predictions than a human expert. After all, we know that computers are not as “smart” as people are. They can’t learn the way we do, make associations, accommodate to changing rules, or get the concept of humour. They do, however, make mathematical calculations much faster than people can, more accurately, and over much larger sets. And they don’t second-guess themselves over the results.

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Wrapping Up FileMaker DevCon 2012 Miami

Every year FileMaker Inc. puts on a four-day Developer’s Conference in the US. Its purpose is to bring the FileMaker developer community together to explore new features, learn about an aspect of the program in-depth from an expert, find out what other people are doing, and generally share knowledge of all things FileMaker.

This year it was held at the spectacular hotel Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

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Hire a Professional or Do-It-Yourself?


FileMaker is famous for being easy to use. That reputation is well-deserved. You can certainly create your own applications to solve business problems, or use one of the Starter Solutions out of the box. If you can use Excel, you can use FileMaker too.

On the other hand, at some point you might find it useful to hire a professional developer or consultant to help build your solution.

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How to Fight Distractions and Win

American Red Squirrel

Is your mind running around like one of these little guys?

[clear]

 

How many times have you sat at your computer, intending to work on that project you’ve been putting off, but finding yourself distracted and unable to focus?

You’ve cleared your schedule, turned off the phone, and closed your office door. You sit down, intending to work. You try to get started, but, unbidden, you start wondering what your friends are doing on Facebook or Twitter. Or it occurs to you that you haven’t checked your email in at least ten minutes. Or you suddenly realize you have a pressing need to get up and talk to a colleague, right this second!

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The Future of Data: Go Mobile

iPad, iPhone

Integrate the iPad or iPhone with FileMaker Go

FileMaker Go is now free! Use FileMaker Go on the iPad and iPhone to create or extend your FileMaker solution and discover a world of mobile possibilities.

You might remember early mobile phones. They were as large and heavy as a brick. In fact, you probably could have used one as a weapon. One of the first mobile phones, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, retailed in 1983 for $3995.  Nowadays we have smartphones costing only hundreds of dollars, running apps which do a dazzling array of things besides make phone calls (which we don’t even want to do anymore, it seems).

Powerful, targeted and efficient

All this mobile computing power has opened up a major opportunity to use these devices in a way that’s more useful in business. As one of the most popular tablets, the iPad especially has the ability to collect and display information like never before.

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10 Keys to Communicating Effectively With Developers

Effective communication

Who's on first? Don't let a lack of good communication turn your project into an Abbott & Costello routine

Effective communication is arguably the most important aspect of a custom software development project. Good communication facilitates teamwork, while a lack thereof can stop a project dead in its tracks.

Getting information across and being understood in turn is key to a successful IT project implementation. The client communicates their needs to the developer, who must translate those needs into features that work with the chosen technology. Once underway, regular, two-way communication keeps a project moving along and allows you to discover issues earlier than you otherwise might.

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10 Ways to Plan for Success

Get your project off the ground

How to approach a custom development project

I’ve developed many custom solutions for clients over the years. Some big, some small, and many in between. Here are some of the things I’ve learned that help new projects go smoothly. I use FileMaker as my tool, but these things apply no matter what technology you’re using. If you’re considering a brand new custom development project, keep these things in mind to help make it a success:

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