LP11 – Web and Software Development

For this post, I really didn’t have any takeaways because the information discussed in class was review for me.  In this blog, I will discuss three interesting things that I have found out a while back that I think you might find interesting as well.

19 Year Old Who Builds Prosthetic Robotics Starting at $350

http://garbimba.com/2015/02/19-year-old-who-built-a-350-robotic-arm-teaches-you-how-to-build-it-free/

I think this article is super intriguing.  This 19 year old kid, Easton LaChappelle, builds a functioning prosthetic limb starting at $350.  He uses a combination of programming, electronics and hardware to accomplish this at a small cost compared to big prosthetic manufacturers which charges an average of $60,000 for one prosthetic limb.  The best thing about this kid is that he releases all his designs and work as an “open source”.  “Open source” simply means that it’s free to anyone to be able to modify and improve upon it but in return, with their accomplishments, anyone else can access their work.  I think he made the right choice to make it open source because it allows a community of supporters to help improve his designs for free and for other people to donate money for his cause.  His first model was build from Legos using a glove with sensors.  Some of his newer versions involve a mind reading device that transfers the person’s brain wave thoughts to control the prosthetic limb.  That is next generation thinking!  On his website, he shows people how to build his robotics from scratch with a 3D printer and miscellaneous hardware.

Here is his company website in case you wanted to check it out.  http://theroboarm.com/

Responsive Designs can Improve Sales

http://www.purveya.com/blog/how-a-responsive-ecommerce-site-increases-sales/

The article listed above discusses how responsive designs can improve ecommerce sales.  With smart tablets and phones becoming more readily affordable and available, there is an increased need for responsive designs.  They state that soon mobile responsive designs will become a requirement for businesses.  If a business’s website responsive, it can easily turn away a potential client or consumer.  My honest opinion is that if I come across a site that isn’t responsive and I’m on a smart device, I will give it around 30 secs for me to figure it out or try using it.  If it’s too difficult to navigate, I will leave the site.  It comes back down to usability.  A design of a website will vary depending what device the end user is viewing it on.  How does the website know how to automatically adjust to fit the screen sizes?  This gets a little more technical and there are a couple ways to accomplish this but I can briefly explain one way.  In CSS, a web browser coding language, a developer can set up a set of rules for the program to follow.  With the correct programming grammar, for example, when the computer reads that the user is on an iPhone 6 Plus, the website will automatically adjust to that screen resolution.  It can get complex because there are so many different mobile tablets, phones and desktop screen resolutions.  The only good thing is that some of these screen sizes don’t differ too drastically so it may be minor changes that need to be made when a developer needs to write code for other screen resolutions.

Bad Software Implementation at Work

I don’t have an article for this “takeaway” because it’s a current situation at my work place.  They are trying to transition to paperless documentation of daily production injection molded products.  Computers are hooked up to a molding press which allows an operator to document any kind of down time of the machine and scrap that it produces.  One the main problems is that when they implemented this new software program, there was no formal training.  They set it up and said “Use this.”.  People were confused and afraid to touch the system.  Every time people wanted to input information, they would come ask me to help them out.  I was frustrated with this because I saw so many things that they could have done right to avoid all of this confusion.  The program has all this unnecessary information for the operator to see and is hard to navigate.  Switching from production runs to scrap input was hard to find.  Their navigation toolbar is located on the bottom of the page and there’s even a button that ISN’T labeled.  Wow… I’m was astonished when I saw that.  They didn’t even ask for feedback from the end users nor did they consider who the end users were.  Most of the operators on the production floor are people in their 40-60’s that don’t even own a computer at home nor know how to use smart devices.  These people still have flip phones.  I talked to a few of the IT guys installing the software and even they agreed that the program was set up horribly.

Yesterday, they put up a sheet for additional training for the new software program because people don’t know how to input information into it and they aren’t get the statistical analysis information that they were expecting.  I seriously don’t know what they were expecting from that though.  Here are some of my ideas that I think can clear up a lot of confusion.  First off, they could have used a beta software to conduct usability tests from random operators.  The program should have two user modes, operators and advanced.  Operator mode should be super basic and only display the necessary things that they need to know to input information.  Advanced mode would be for managers and technicians.  Next, they should move the navigation to the top of the screen because it follows webpage conventions.  With these adjustments, my work place should start to see the results that they are looking for.

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