IT Days is one of the most complex IT events in our country, having become a tradition for Cluj-Napoca each November. I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 event which spanned over 2 days. The presentations were spread across three streams, for each day, covering various topics in IT: Software Development, Products & Leadership, Big Data & Machine Learning, Testing, Business & Management, Startups & Entrepreneurship, Software Architecture, Hands-on Lab and Research .
In the same context, in an open discussion panel whose invited guest were Maria Metz, Roxana Rugină and Șerban Țîr, the development of IT in Romania was also tackled.
The presentation which opened the Products&Innovation stream discussed the technology trends available in the coming years: Blockchain Security (Bitcoin), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Computing or Mobile Live Video Streaming. It is estimated that in the next couple of years 75% of the data will be live streaming data. The products that fall in the Wearable Technology category will grow in popularity in the near future and there will even be tattoos in this category.
It is estimated that by 2020 there will be approximately 50-60 million devices connected via IoT, and that by 2030 all the buildings in Dubai will be built using 3D printing technology. Michael O'Farrell suggests the following workflow for creating an innovative product which will transform developers into a market leaders. The 10-step process consists of:
Defining the business scope
Identifying business opportunities
Understanding the market
Evaluating resources and skills
Identifying the competitive challenge
Making difficult, strategic decisions
Planning critical relations
Finalizing a decisive strategy
Understanding ROI dynamics
Ovidiu Mățan presented the evolution of Today Software Magazine which is launched in Cluj-Napoca monthly and in other cities periodically. Ovidiu also discussed the challenges this ecosystem is faced with. Ovidiu had a surprise guest, Romulus Pașca, with a 14-year long career in development both in Romania, and in the USA. Romulus shared his experience in various contexts and believes that a truly good developer has at least 20 years' worth of experience in the field.
George Platon caught the attention of the audience with BuddyGuard, a house security system based on 4 G LTE cameras. The system analyzes images, sounds, unusual objects or activities in the respective environment to detect dangerous situations which will trigger an alarm. The system requires training sessions in order to learn the facial expressions and the different looks (glasses, beard, haircut) of the persons living in a house. This ensures that the alarm will not be triggered if not necessary. Moreover, the system runs algorithms to differentiate between the noise of a TV which is on and the noise made by a robbery.
Daniel Sârbe talked about the evolution of the Machine Learning platform built by SDL to improve learning time. The changes that lowered the time spent on learning for a translation platform which processes 2 billion words a month (the amount of time is 2-3 times lower than Google's) were:
Eliminating any redundant flow
Using virtual machines
Alexandra Nagy delivered a presentation on automated testing which entails careful planning and projection, as well as maintaining a good ecosystem by taking into account:
System analysis and requirements analysis
Test Management Systems
The practices recommended by Alexandra Nagy for the code used in automated testing are:
Structure of the TDD and BDD components
Decrease in test data
Ongoing code revision
Dan Suciu's interesting presentation introduced the "inverted U curve" concept or the Yerkes-Dodson law which seems to apply in all walks of life: extremes are harmful.
The inverted U curve theory refers to the fact that once the motivation to perform an activity increases, the performance in that respective activity also increases up to a point. Beyond that threshold, an overload will incur, which will actually diminish performance.
The inverted U curve theory also applies in the Agile field, for example in the planning and estimation meetings, so that too much time spent on estimates will not lead to more accurate estimates, but to larger than necessary estimates. Moreover, a wider experience of those doing the estimates will not lead to more accurate estimates. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the ones who have a wider practical experience have encountered more difficult situations throughout time, realities which will not usually apply in the new estimated requirements, despite the fact that the developers' previous experience will influence the estimates.
Valentin Deac helps us focus our professional efforts so as to find the path which may lead us to the best career benefits. Professional development is only 10% grounded in formal education, approximately 20% stemming from interactions with others (via feedback, via special interest group communities, via mentors and meditation - "Your performance is in the eyes of the others"), and approximately 70% grounded on practical, job-related experience. Valentin Deac's suggestion is to apply business management strategies to our own career path.
People's attention span is 8 seconds, one second less than the attention span of the goldfish. In this context, to raise interest and encourage participation in various fields of activity the Gamification concept has lately been employed.
Gamification is not just a tool which yields good results by the application of captivating practices in professional or social activities. It can also function as educational support. Simona Bonghez applies it in teaching in an optional course, where, even if the attendance rate was meant to be lower than in compulsory courses, it proved to be 100%. By the aid of gamification, at Simona's course there was no homework, but engaging missions whose fulfilment led to points or rewards. The attractive part of this concept is that the missions vary depending on the player types, so that in each game stage there are suitable missions and rewards for each player type. This grips the attention of the entire community which takes part in the activities. Missions change from one level to the other, the activities are interactive and entertaining, and the success of gamification is inevitable.
PM Galaxy is a board game for 3-5 persons, created by Colors in Projects, Simona Bonghez's team, which helps players assimilate project management practices as easily as possible. The game is used as such or as educational support in management training sessions.
Other examples of Gamification which are applicable in IT are the GETKANBAN or SCRUMBLE games which help participants familiarize themselves with the concepts and obstacles in Agile methodologies, from the perspective of the different available roles.
GETKANBAN is a game for 4-6 players, within which each team has a Kanban board, a set of cards which are the tasks to be performed and the obstacles which will trigger a more careful analysis of the decisions related to planning and prioritizing the tasks. The teams will seek to maximize the task volume which can be completed in a fixed period of time.
In China, a controversial Gamification tool is the Sesame Credit video game, a tool which allows Chinese citizens to reach a "citizenship" level, which reflects and encourages people's civic spirit and obedience, the participants being awarded or withdrawn points based on the information they post on social media. The game is created by Tencent and Alibaba retailers which have partnered with the Chinese government, so that, in this game, the two retailers hold information regarding the value and origin of the expenses of each player, which influences the Sesame Credit score. The rewards which trigger the active participation in Sesame Credit are real, for example getting a loan or travel documents. The controversies are linked to the fact that, in the future, there will be penalties for those who have a low score: a decrease in Internet speed or a ban on work offers. The possibility to quit the game will no longer be an option after 2020 when the game will become compulsory. Because it is a social game, the score of a Sesame Credit player can increase or decrease depending on the score of the other players you are connected to on social media networks.
After the security breaches of the following websites: Yahoo, MySpace, LinkedIn, Fling, VK.com, DropBox, Tumblr, FriendFinder, and made public this year, Tudor Damian's conclusions are the following:
It takes months to spot breaches.
All the companies are attacked even if they don't know it.
There is a worldwide crisis in the number of available security experts.
The current security issues are either unknown, or known but ignored.
50-80% of web applications have serious security issues.
The investments made in security matters are scarce.
Adrian Șuteu focused on the core principles which he applies in DevOps to gain more benefits. The presentation included examples from DevOps challenges and some solutions to these problems. The features of the Lean method which Adrian applies successfully are:
Providing fast delivery
Ensuring built-in quality
Some of the daily issues that may arise in a Product Team are:
Poor optimisation of code and budget
An obsessive desire to use certain technologies
Ciprian Sorlea grouped the problems that can occur in a Product Team under various categories which can be correlated with the usual human sins: pride, envy, greed, anger, laziness and so on. Therefore solving the problems of a Product Team can get down to educating a state of spirit, by identifying the behaviour the problem stems from.
The presentation that closed the Development stream, during the second day of the event, was a hands-on session in which Radu Vunvulea had demos run on Docker on Windows. The base commands to run Docker are:
Docker build (to create an image),
Docker run (to run a container/repository),
Docker inspect (to display the information about a container/repository),
Docker rmi (to delete an image),
The event consisted of more than 30 presentations. Cluj IT Days has grown in every possible way because it offers presentations on topics that are a source of inspiration and learning for the participants. Impact Hub created a friendly atmosphere where the 500 participants could socialize during coffee breaks.
Ovidiu Mățan, congratulations for this year's edition! I believe that the ideas shared at IT Days can influence the development of the IT field in Cluj-Napoca. We hope these events will contribute to an increase in the number of products created and developed in Cluj.
by Cassian Lup
by Oana Călugar
by Mircea Vădan