Can you change your team?

Yes you can!

The words may have gotten a bit old by now. I still say: you won’t know until you have tried and succeeded.

Are you working in one of those teams, that I described in my last article? It can be hard to imagine, that you are able to facilitate any change regardless of your role in the team.  Are you the team leader and everybody thinks you should be the one to change everything? Or are you a team member and you think you do not have the power to change anything? You all have your excuses for not even trying: Continue reading

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Why every team needs a development process

Imagine a typical software development team. There are 2 types of such teams: those that are based around a single project or those around a single system. People tend to want to differentiate between those types only to find out in the end that they are remarkably similar if you zoom out far enough. Since my experience is with the latter I’ll talk about that. If something does not apply to your team on first glance it just might on second glance. The similarities are enough that I think I can generalize and make my point.

What then do I want to talk about? Three attributes most IT projects share are

  • the complexity is always greater than anticipated
  • projects tend to grow over time
  • they are difficult to manage

Nothing new here probably.  There are solutions that help getting a grasp on the complexity and make some parts of IT projects not easy but easier. Those things are called ” development processes” and I have a favorite in that department which you will find out soon if you don’t know already. Continue reading

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The Android Dropdown: Spinner

I am currently working on the next release of RpgTracker and I thought I might do another tutorial since I haven’t written one in quite a while.

In Android the dropdown selection widget is called Spinner. Dropdowns are used to select one of a fixed set of values. They are quite helpful to improve usability of apps to make sure only the right values can be chosen.

In this short tutorial you will find two examples with different applications for a spinner:

  • a spinner used as part of an activity
  • a spinner in a dialogue

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Becoming an entrepreneur in Germany

I want to work for myself which is not quite as simple as “getting started”. Most likely you also know that I live in Germany that this is a little more complicated. I am getting closer to start working for myself officially: Day X is just one more month away.

For those of you that don’t speak German and probably also those of you who are not Germans the following article will not be of much help because I want to describe the proceedings while they are still fresh in my mind. Everything is happening just now! So I’ll switch to German. Those still interested: please continue. The rest: thanks for reading this far. Next time will be back to English, I promise!

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11 apps I actually use

I have had my smartphone for about 3 months now. In that time I downloaded a lot of apps and deleted most of them again. Some I even downloaded twice and some of those I deleted a second time. Also everyone has to publish a list of their favorite apps sooner or later. So here’s a short list of apps I won’t be deleting anytime soon:

11 Favorite Apps:

  1. Barcode Scanner: scans 2D barcodes also called QR-Codes that encode links to quickly open them on the phone.
  2. Birthday: a widget that displays your contacts’ birthdays on the homescreen – very useful. It also creates reminders on the day, so if your phone isn’t just lying in the corner without power you cannot miss any birthdays anymore!
  3. Tower Raiders Gold 1+2: my one and only favorite android game (there are free versions for trying it first)
  4. DroidWeight (+ RpgTracker) I only write apps that I want to use myself
  5. Imdb App: great info on movies, in the UK we even tested checking showtimes. What I am missing with this one is the ability to rate movies.
  6. KVV: paying for bus tickets with the phone just rocks
  7. Öffi: looking up public transportation timetables and finding out which train to take  is even better
  8. Twitter: I use twitter and it was made for phones originally
  9. Wallet: storing important information for you … I’ve used it on my last trip to remember the pin for my credit card (I never needed it before)
  10. Skype: just tested and it works really well while near WiFi of course 🙂 Any other voip client should do as well. However sipgate currently has no numbers available.
  11. Advanced Task Killer: because sometimes I just want to kill everything with one click

There are a few more that I use regularly, but they either do not work so well or I am still looking for another app that does the same thing better. Here are the runners-up:

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App Timeline: Effort and Reward

It’s been a little over a month that I published my first app DroidWeight on the android market. It’s time to look back and see how it worked out for me.


  • 3 weeks to first beta (of that I spent the majority of the time learning android, 2-3 days on graphics, icons and a couple of days writing articles on the blog)
  • 2 days of beta test (thanks again to my awesome testers!)
  • 3 days fixing bugs and implementing the feedback I got from the testers
  • 2 days preparation of the actual upload (presentation, more graphics design etc.)
  • 1 day of extreme reload clicking on the android market developer’s console only to find out statistics are only updated every other day (I already wrote about the initial launch here).
  • 2 weeks to 1.1 release with a couple of new features and major refactoring
  • 2 bugfix releases that each took a couple hours to debug and release

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Communication Anywhere

It is quite fitting that I am continuing my series on the cloud while working on a laptop not my own. Today I managed to lock myself out of the apartment: no key and not even a cellphone. Luckily the neighbors let me use their phone and I knew at least one phone number by heart (how many phone numbers do you know by heart? how many cell phone numbers?) and so managed to get my brother-in-law to pick me up so I could spend the rest of the afternoon at his place.

Now I am sitting at his laptop writing this, proving that I can work from anywhere. Of course blogging is easy: wordpress is a web-based application. However I can also access most of my other data if I need it.

Yesterday I talked about the value of cloud-based services (just sounds fancier then web-based) in general. My topic for today is communication – the social stuff. How can we manage our communications in such a way that we can easily set up away from home or even away from our own computer? Continue reading

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The cloud and us

Within the last week both my husband’s and my sisters’s computers had hard drive failures. My husband is running a raid system and my sisters’s data is in the process of being recovered. Neither of them is suffering data loss – they were lucky. Do you trust your luck?

I am going on a short trip next week. It is hard enough to choose what to pack for clothing. Working for myself I cannot afford to not at least take the work along. I don’t want to worry if my laptop has all my latest work accessible.

Two topics one solution:
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Experience of an Android App Launch

This is my long overdue post on the launch of Droid Weight last Thursday. I had been looking forward to publishing my first app very much because I was incredibly curious what would happen.

Before continuing with that story however, I would like to take the time to thank my awesome friendly users (aka testers). Thanks so much for helping me avoid the worst of launch troubles: an app full of minor annoyances and major bugs! Your help was very much appreciated.

In a way the first app was a learning experience and an experiment. I’ve been asked “So what happend? How many downloads do you get? Are you adding more features now?”

Let me try and answer all these questions. Continue reading

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So you wanna be an Android Developer?

I have talked to quite a few people lately about my plans. While many express a certain kind of doubt about the steps I am currently taking (most often quoting that dilbert comic), many others are curious about android and talk about programming some android “stuff” themselves. If you already know java, getting started is so easy, I thought I’d share the first few steps with you and give you some links to make it even easier!

So don’t just talk about programming android apps, do it! Follow these steps: I promise it takes less than an hour (unless you have a really slow internet connection!) and you’ll have hello world running on your device (or emulator) in no time! Continue reading

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