This Week in Modern Software logoWelcome to This Week in Modern Software, or TWiMS, our weekly roundup of the most important things happening in the world of software analytics, cloud computing, application monitoring, development methodologies, programming languages, and related topics.

This week, our top story concerns the failure of Google+ to make its mark on the social scene.


TWiMS Top Story:
Inside the Failure of Google+, a Very Expensive Attempt to Unseat Facebook—Mashable

What it’s about: Google announced recently that it would no longer require people to use a Google+ profile to sign into YouTube and, eventually, other company products. The Internet, as is its wont, read the tea leaves: Google is slowly marching its largest, costliest (but definitely not its first) attempt at social media success to the gallows. The move also spawned a new round of conflicting speculation that Google may acquire Twitter, which is generally seen to have struggled as a public company. Mashable’s inside look at the rise and fall of Google+ presents the entire software community with an important reminder that even the best-funded, highest-profile projects can often go awry.

Why you should care: Google is hardly suffering these days, but the Google+ story does offer a clear lesson that even the biggest software companies pay a dear price when they chase features for incorrect or incomplete reasons. When you’re choosing what apps and features to build, you need a better rationale than “The competition is doing it.” In an oversimplified nutshell, that was pretty much the genesis of Google+, according to the Mashable report: Google+ was born out of fear that the much smaller Facebook was going to significantly harm its business. It’s a compelling read about, in Mashable’s own words, “how a large technology company tries and often fails to innovate when it feels threatened.”

Further reading:


A New Breed of Software EngineerAutomotive News

What it’s about: Longstanding industry stalwart Automotive News serves up a look at how automakers—and especially the manufacturers in the automobile supply chain—are in a “gold rush” for software engineering talent that’s changing the way they do business.

car made from computer code: this week in modern softwareWhy you should care: Software’s eating the auto industry, too, from the connected car to self-driving vehicles to, well, just about every car being made today. Among the story’s interesting insights: Software now accounts for anywhere from $350 to $1,050 of the cost of a car, while the on-board electronics hardware on which it runs can add as much as $6,000 to the final price tag. As these electronics grow increasingly advanced, so does the need for the people who make them work: software developers. Smart employers are turning up much needed talent from unlikely venues. That’s the case at Visteon Corp., which hired games developer and visual effects programmer Kyle Entsminger for its advanced product design team. In turn, Entsminger has recruited engineering talent from nontraditional backgrounds, such as Aaron Forsman, a self-taught games programmer and former professional poker player.

“Somebody like Aaron would have been completely overlooked had he applied for a job through normal channels,” Entsminger tells Automotive News. “‘Do you have a degree? No?’ Aaron wouldn’t have gotten an interview. The computer would have kicked out his resume.”


Enterprise Guide to Windows 10Network World

What it’s about: Windows 10 is out and the early reviews are generally quite positive, even if they point out the inevitable bugs. (Fear not, bug-hunters: Microsoft is already fulfilling on Windows 10’s promise of regular updates with its first major update.) Much of the coverage understandably focuses on individual users rather than corporations, but Network World researcher Tom Henderson is here to help the enterprise crowd dig into the new version of the venerable OS.

Why you should care: When it comes to upgrades, consumers have it easy. (And many consumers will get their Windows 10 upgrade for free, at least during the first year.) Enterprises have a bit more evaluation and planning to do; migrating thousands of end points isn’t for the meek. Henderson starts with an important point: the full-blown enterprise version of Windows 10 won’t actually be available until later this year. (He also recommends the Enterprise edition over the other tiers of Professional and Education versions.) But he advises companies to prep longer-term migration plans by beginning pilot projects right away. (Microsoft offers 90-day evaluations for IT pros via its TechNet Evaluation Center.)

Henderson runs through plenty of good news (expect fewer complaints from your user community) and technical upgrades (business-oriented security and data encryption, easier updating VMs regardless of platform, and plenty more.) He also notes that Windows 10 helps enterprise IT departments deliver customized app stores to their internal users, including self-provisioning. Just don’t skip over all of the licensing, compliance, and technical details before opening the store’s doors for business.

Further reading: 


7 Things Your Boss Doesn’t Understand About Software DevelopmentSimple Programmer

What it’s about: If you’ve ever been dumbfounded by management’s decisions (or in some cases indecision), this one’s for you. Simple Programmer’s John Sonmez doesn’t mince words in laying out his seven picks for what your boss doesn’t get and what you do. Fair warning to business analysts and project managers: You may need a thick skin for this one.

man with question marks above head: this week in modern softwareWhy you should care: Two items in particular threaten to hamper even the best software development managers: First, technical debt is a killer, and second, fear of new technologies is often misplaced and unproductive. If your boss doesn’t see the mountains of technical debt your team is accruing, Sonmez recommends approaching them with the terms of the “production versus production capability” balance in Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a canonical work in the corporate management world. Managers who still think it’s 1980, meanwhile, need to realize that in the modern era it may be riskier to stick with old software and tools than it is to deploy new applications and platforms, especially given how frequently software should be updated today.

Further reading:


Developer Economics: State of the Developer Nation Q3 2015VisionMobile

What it’s about: VisionMobile’s newest quarterly State of the Developer Nation report includes a wide array of recent and evolving trends, including the dramatic gender imbalance in developer nation, promising interest in Windows 10, cloud’s connection to app revenues, and plenty more.

Why you should care: The report, which counted 13,000 respondents in the latest quarter, is chock-full of insights for the software community and well worth a weekend read. Here are a few especially timely items that jumped out at us:

  1. The newest data further confirms that mobile has become a two-platform game ruled by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Microsoft, meanwhile, “seems to have finally thrown in the towel” with Windows Phone, and that’s reflected in declining developer interest in the platform. There’s good news for the broader Windows ecosystem, though: 44% of mobile developers included in the report indicated plans to adopt Windows 10, a much higher rate compared with Windows 8 at the same point in the OS’s lifecycle.
  1. Mobile development, like the technology industry at large, suffers from a massive gender gap: Just 6% of respondents in the Developer Economics report were women.
  1. For a while now, this report has indicated that many developers make little or no money from their apps. The latest edition says devs who build cloud services stand a better chance of earning revenues from their apps than do their counterparts in mobile and other categories.

Further reading:


A Conversation With Michael Lopp, Pinterest’s Head of EngineeringTechCrunch

What it’s about: Michael Lopp, Pinterest’s top engineering exec, (better known on Twitter as @Rands, and who also presented at the recent Cultivate event at OSCON), sat down for a Q&A with TechCrunch. Lopp, who recently passed the one-year mark with the company after prior posts at Palantir and Apple, talks measurement, hiring, diversity, and why he wants to delegate himself out of a job.

Why you should care: Lopp offers an interesting twist on a term that tech companies are fond of using: “Velocity.” In Lopp’s world, the term doesn’t refer to the number or frequency of code pushes, which he thinks drives engineers batty. Rather, he uses the term to describe stability: “The health of the system. How are we doing, how are we growing.” And he says his primary job is making his engineering team happy and productive. “I’m aggressively pushing things I think I could be really good at and should actually maybe own to someone else who’s gonna get a B at it, but they’re gonna get the opportunity to go do that.” Lopp also expanded on his idea that, “Busy is a bug, not a feature: There’s this thing about busy that feels nice. But that’s actually your ego messing with you, and you’re probably failing in something. Whenever I feel that, I think, why is this here, can I delegate it.”

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Code car and confused businessman images courtesy of

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a wide variety of publications and companies. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his InformationWeek story, “Are You Too Old for IT?” He’s also a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards. View posts by .

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