Category Archives: Computer Technology

Zulu Creative Launches Redesigned Website For MAX’s Wine Dive

Zulu Creative is proud to announce the launch of a new website for MAX’s Wine Dive, the award-winning, rockin’ restaurant concept from Houston-based Lasco Enterprises that combines gourmet comfort food with retail wine sales and features unlikely pairings such as fried chicken and champagne. The new website is mobile-friendly for diners on-the-go and contains unique content for five MAX’s locations in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, plus corporate-specific content. The MAX’s website is the second of three that Zulu Creative is designing for Lasco. A new website for Boiler House, Lasco’s Texas grill and wine garden concept located at the historic Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, was completed in fall 2012. A complete redesign of The Tasting Room site is forthcoming.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130723/MN51688)

Taking its design cue from current branding, the new MAX’s site features a black and white color palette with red accents and bold typographical elements. Zulu Creative recommended key website enhancements to better convey MAX’s funky, eclectic brand vibe online. The website reflects each location’s unique ambience and personality through witty slogans on each page, graphical jukebox-inspired elements that evoke the restaurant’s dive-bar feel, and location-specific featured images.

Site visitors can easily make online reservations and access key information such as each location’s address, hours, contact information and menus. In addition, visitors can view each location’s calendar of events, read chef and wine manager bios, see private event/catering options, purchase gift cards online, sign up for MAX’s newsletter and easily connect with MAX’s through their social media channels. Press+Awards pages tout each location’s accolades, while a corporate Employment page lists all job openings by location and serves as a useful recruiting tool.

Designed and built on a content management system (CMS) platform with multisite functionality, the website is scalable, making it easy to manage multiple websites through a single interface and add new sites as Lasco opens new MAX’s locations.

“We are extremely excited about the new website for MAX’s Wine Dive created by the talented team at Zulu Creative,” said Jonathan Horowitz, Chief Brand Officer of Lasco Enterprises. “Throughout the entire creative process, the Zulu team exercised intense attention to detail and introduced a new site that is easy for our guests to navigate, as well as met our goal to produce a product which mimics the energy, look and feel of the MAX’s Wine Dive concept.”

“Designing sites for three award-winning Lasco brands is an exciting opportunity and huge honor,” says Tina Zulu, Founder and Creative Chieftess of Zulu Creative. “Our experience creating websites for other successful restaurants and bars made the Boiler House, MAX’s Wine Dive and The Tasting Room projects a perfect fit for us, and our teams work extremely well together. We couldn’t be more thrilled and congratulate Lasco on their continued success and growth. Cheers!”

About Zulu Creative
Fun! And smart! Zulu Creative is a boutique agency in Midtown Houston, Texas, specializing in marketing and brand development for lifestyle businesses that serve consumer niche markets. The Zulu crew is a dynamic team of intelligent professionals who are energetic, innovative, passionate and reliable. Clients who choose Zulu Creative get a big bang for their buck, benefit from a diverse team of experience and talent, and enjoy a smashing, cutting-edge image in the Houston community, nationally and globally. Whether a brand needs a kick-start, upgrade or extreme makeover, Zulu Creative is known for creating memorable experiences and making an impact. It’s all about positioning brands at the top of the target audience’s mind. Zulu Creative accomplishes it through innovative, integrated marketing. For more information, visit www.zulucreative.com

About Lasco Enterprises
Established by Jerry and Laura Lasco in Houston in 2003, Lasco Enterprises, LLC is the parent company for MAX’s Wine Dive (Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Ft. Worth), The Tasting Room Wine Cafés, Lasco Events & Catering, Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden (San Antonio), and The Black Door online wine community, and now has more than 500 employees in five cities. In 2010, Inc. 5000 named Lasco Enterprises one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. In 2011 and 2012, Lasco was named as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in Texas” by the Best Companies Group. The Houston Business Journal named Lasco Enterprises to its Fast 100 list of fastest-growing private companies in Houston in 2009, 2010, 2011 and in 2012. In 2009 and in 2012, the publication awarded Lasco the Houston Business Journal’s “Enterprise Champion” award for the company’s commitment to its employees, the communities in which it operates, and for its contributions to its industry. For more information, visitwww.lascoenterprises.com

Q&A: Microsoft Talks Changes to SkyDrive in Windows 8.1

When was the last time you had to delete a bunch of photos or apps on your mobile device to clear out space? With the massive amount of data generated every day, it’s easy to exhaust all the available storage on your phone or tablet.

And this problem is only getting worse. Industry trends suggest that device storage capacities are growing at 25 percent per year, but the amount of data being produced is increasing even faster — by around 50 percent a year, according to Microsoft. The software giant is looking to address this problem with SkyDrive, which will be updated in Windows 8.1 with the goal of giving you access to your files at all times, without taking up all your available storage or Internet bandwidth.

The updated service utilizes what Microsoft refers to as “placeholder files,” which look and feel like normal folders and files with one major change — you don’t download the full file until you access it. The placeholder file contains just a thumbnail image and some basic properties, making it significantly smaller than its actual size. This means that 100GB of files in SkyDrive will use up less than 5GB of storage on the hard drive of your Windows 8.1 device, Mona Akmal.

“I have a Pictures folder in SkyDrive that’s 5.6GB in size but it’s only taking up 185MB on the local disk,” Akmal wrote.

Another major change to SkyDrive in Windows 8.1 deals with offline access to files. With the SkyDrive app, you’ll now be able to mark any folders or files you want remain available when you lose Internet connectivity.

Any edits you make to a file while offline will automatically be synced back up to SkyDrive when you regain a connection. For added convenience, all the files you open or edit on your device will automatically be marked for offline access.

As a reminder, new SkyDrive users get 7GB of storage for free. After that, an additional 20GB costs $10 per year, while 50GB will set you back $25 a year, and 100GB costs $50 a year.

We sat down with Angus Logan, group product marketing manager for SkyDrive (pictured below), last week to get the scoop on the most important changes to the online storage service in Windows 8.1.

Four Techniques Local Businesses Should Use for Search Engine Optimization with WordPress

Hands down, a WordPress website is one of the best investments that can be made in a local company’s online lead generation efforts. Admittedly, it can also be one of the biggest investments. My Local Leads, a Maine based marketing firm, works on design and development as well as continued maintenance of affordable WordPress websites for local businesses across the US. There are undoubtedly some decisions that go into the initial planning and development stages that can greatly impact marketing effectiveness of the site. Then, there are things that require continued and near constant observation and work. These few techniques are important to helping make a WordPress website part of a successful local search marketing campaign.

Choosing the right domain name can be pivotal in helping increase a websites reach, especially in the early stages. It was popular to stuff a domain with keywords, but recent search engine algorithm updates have lessened the value of such a practice. Branding is important for the domain name. It needs to be simple enough for people to remember. If a keyword fits naturally, sure it can and should be added. If it ends up making it too weird, too long, or too hard to remember, it is most likely not worth it.

It is also important to remember to turn on WordPress’s built in SEO tools when putting up a site for a local business. There is a setting under privacy of a WordPress site that will automatically hide the site from search engines, and this certainly is not what anyone attempting to build a site for search engine optimization wants to have set. At the same time, the WordPress website should have the permalinks set to be friendly URLs, which will help with the site ranking.

There are important add-ons that any WordPress website should have including sitemap and SEO tools. The meta titles and descriptions can be easily added with warnings and suggestions through using a tool like Yoast. The sitemap is a factor in overall page ranking and can be done automatically through a plugin whenever new pages or posts are added.

Another factor that business owners will want to keep an eye on with their WordPress site is the actual functionality. The site should load quickly, have no dead links, and have clean code. Ugly and broken code can harm the rankings as well as user experience. Slow sites or sites that go down frequently can also be detrimental to both customer experience and search engine rankings.

Leap Motion Controller, Great Hardware in Search of Great Software

By now, we all know what the future will be like; movies and TV shows have described it in detail. We know about the flying cars (thank you, “Blade Runner”), holograms (thank you, “Star Trek”) and robot butlers (thank you, “Jetsons”).

The Leap Motion Controller is a solution in search of a problem: its hardware is simple, but it needs a killer app.

So when will we really get those technologies? Probably on the 11th of “Don’t hold your breath.”

There is, however, one exception. As of this week, you can buy your own little piece of “Minority Report” and “Iron Man”: controlling your computer by making hand motions in the air.

The Internet has been buzzing about the much-delayed Leap Motion Controller ($80) since its first public demonstrations over a year ago. Imagine controlling on-screen objects just by reaching into empty space, just like Tom Cruise! Imagine gesture recognition just like Microsoft’s Kinect game controller, but on a much smaller, more precise scale! Imagine the future, plugged into a USB jack on the Mac or Windows PC you own today!

The Leap Motion sensor is beautiful, tiny and self-contained. If Wrigley’s ever comes out with a Juicy Fruit Designer Pack, it might look like this: a sleek, glass-and-aluminum slab (1.2 by 3 by 0.5 inches), with nonskid rubber on the bottom. A single USB cable (both a long one and a short one come in the box) stretches away to your computer; a light comes on when it’s working.

(Please note that Leap Motion has nothing to do with Leap Pad, the children’s toy. That gadget is educational in a completely different way.)

If you have a desktop computer, you put the sensor between your screen and keyboard. If it’s a laptop, you park it on the desk just in front of the keyboard. Soon, Leap says, you’ll be able to buy a PC from H.P. or Asus that has the sensor built right in.You download the Leap software, and presto: a somewhat buggy tutorial instructs you to insert your hands into the space — an invisible two-foot cube — that’s monitored by the Leap’s cameras and infrared sensors.

This device is like the Kinect in that it recognizes body parts in space. But not only is the Leap far smaller and less expensive, it’s also far more precise. According to the company, it can detect the precise positions of all 10 of your fingers simultaneously, with a spatial accuracy to a 100th of a millimeter — 200 times as accurate as the Kinect.

And remember, the Leap adds gesture recognition not to your TV, but to your computer. A machine that can run millions of different programs for all different purposes. Games, sure, but also office work. Creative work. Communication. Entertainment. Surely this little wonder is a very big deal.

Unfortunately, it’s not. The Leap’s hardware may be simple, attractive and coherent — but its software is scattershot, inconsistent and frustrating.

The first crushing disappointment is that no software recognizes your hand motions unless it’s been specially written, or adapted, for use by the Leap.

There are 75 such apps already on the Leap’s app store, Airspace; some are free, some cost a few dollars. Not all work on both Mac and Windows.

Most are games. In the best of them, you control the action in 3-D space, just as with the Kinect but without having to stand up. For example, Boom Ball ($5) is the classic Breakout game, where you try to knock out bricks by bouncing a ball against them — but your paddle is attached to your finger in vertical space.

In Disney’s clever Sugar Rush ($2), a spin off from the “Wreck-It Ralph” movie, you bake yourself a racing car shaped like a wedge of cake, and then steer it by holding both sides of an invisible steering wheel. When you play Dropchord ($3), you hold two index fingers out in space; you’re defining a line between them that you use to slice dots and avoid X’s. Cut the Rope is here, too (free).

There are some interesting music-making programs, which makes sense, since hand motions are generally associated with playing instruments. Air Harp ($1) is just what it sounds like. Chordion Conductor is a sweet-sounding arpeggiator (generates music from chords you select).

A few simple educational apps are available, like Molecules (rotate molecules on the screen; free), Cyber Science 3D (pull apart a skull; free) and Frog Dissection (you guessed it; $4).

3 Reasons to Sell Your Intel Stock

Although Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) stock may look cheap compared to theS&P 500, there’s good reason for the low price tag. Between a faltering PC market, anemic revenue growth, and profitability concerns, Intel investors have a lot of things to worry about. Together, these factors certainly beg the question: Should you sell your Intel stock today?

PC sales still top dog
As exciting as it is for Intel to develop cutting-edge technology that threatens ARM Holdings‘ mobile computing stronghold, the company remains deeply entrenched in the PC market. Intelreported its second-quarter earnings results last week, showing that more than 63% of the company’s revenue came from its PC client group segment. With worldwide PC shipments as bad as they’ve been, it’s not surprising that investor enthusiasm would be muted toward the company’s mobile computing ambitions. Simply put, it’s going to take a considerably large tail to wag this dog.

Anemic revenue growth
Without revenue growth, a company’s earnings growth potential is dampened because there’s only so far cost-cutting can take profitability to new heights. Intel lowered its full-year forecast, now expecting revenue to be flat year over year, which doesn’t bode well for profit growth. Analysts expect Intel to post a 12.2% decline in earnings this year and grow by 5.9% in full-year 2014, driven by a 3.9% increase in revenue. For the long-term investor, profitability growth remains a fundamental driver of shareholder returns. Will a 5.9% growth in earnings from a weak comparable be enough to drive Intel stock higher?

Falling prices
Assuming Intel is successful as it gears up to enter the ultra-mobile space with its upcomingBay Trail processor, it’ll likely have a negative impact on the company’s average processor selling price. In order for Bay Trail to gain market share against the ARM competition, I’m expecting its average selling price to be somewhere in neighborhood of Qualcomm‘s, which is about $22 — roughly one-fifth of Intel’s estimated average selling price of $107. Additionally, the mobile computing revolution continues to put negative pressure on the price of PCs, further compounding Intel’s average selling price pressures.

The hope is that any future decline in processor average selling price can be offset with an increase in unit volume, but that’s not guaranteed, nor does it mean total dollar profits will remain stable. Even if Bay Trail can maintain profit margins in line with the rest of Intel’s processors, a $22 or even $30 processor simply doesn’t have as much available profit as a $107 chip.

Ultimately, Intel’s profitability prospects will be driven by a number of variables, including how the overall PC market fares, if average selling prices decline due to consumers shifting to products like Bay Trail, and if Intel can make up any shortfalls with sufficient unit growth. It’s not exactly clear-cut.

No catalyst in sight
We may get a better sense of Intel’s future prospects during its investor meeting in November, but it likely won’t be until its 2014 earnings results that investors begin to get the scoop how these headwinds are actually influencing results. At that time, Intel’s Haswell and Bay Trail processors will have made their run, investors will know if the PC market has begun to stabilize, and we’ll know if ultra-mobile products are hurting Intel’s total profitability thanks to declining prices.

If you’re an Intel shareholder, the question you should ask yourself is if it’s worth waiting around for the clouds of uncertainty to potentially clear up. Being a longtime Intel stock owner myself, I’m seriously considering taking my own advice and selling my shares in the coming weeks. There are plenty of compelling opportunities where the path to long-term shareholder success is much clearer.

Software for Smooth Action Plow Car Found

New York – Hacking a car is not a new field, but the secret of ‘success’ steal grounded sophisticated control of the car during the closed meeting. recently, two peratas successfully decode software commonly used among others by car thieves to disable siatem safety and escape easily incarannya car.

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, the two hackers, said they would publish details of engineering blueprint to attack the security system in the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape. This 100-page findings compiled after several months of research they conducted with a grant from the U.S. government Sserikat.

Two “white hats” – the nickname for hackers who try to uncover software vulnerabilities before criminals can exploit them – also will release software that they built for hacking a car in a hacker convention in Las Vegas this week.

They say they found a way to force Toyota Prius brake suddenly at a speed of 80 miles per hour, determine the direction of the steering wheel, to speed up the machine. They also say that they can disable the brakes of the Ford Escape at very slow speeds, so the car continued to move no matter how hard the driver depresses the pedal.

Both men said they hope the data they publish will encourage other white hat hackers to uncover security flaws more advanced automotive products that can be fixed.

“I believe the 100 eyes of security researchers more powerful than the eyes that are in Ford and Toyota,” said Miller, a well-known security expert who was formerly known Twitter reveals burglary of Apple Inc. App Store.

Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman John Hanson said the company is reviewing its security systems car after referring to their findings. He said the automaker to invest in electronic security, although they acknowledge hackers continue to find loopholes.

“It is impossible to do,” said Hanson, referring to the newly exposed hacking. “Certainly we take it seriously.”

Being a spokesman for Ford Motor Co., Craig Daitch, said the company considers the vehicle electronic security seriously. But he guarantees that the product is now in the hands of consumers is equipped with adequate safeguards.

Google Maps Can Detect Traffic Accidents

Jakarta – Google has just updated the Google Maps application with new features. This feature comes reports of traffic accidents and the number of ways to access the various facilities.
Google Maps with accident information can be used on Android and iOS based devices. Overall, this application displays maps and their reliable navigation and traffic information.
Warning about the accident will appear on the map showing traffic flow and road construction. This information is also recommended that these options are not stuck in traffic around the accident site.
Last June, Google bought Waze, the creator of popular apps that inform traffic flow. But Google has not confirmed whether Waze’s data associated with this application or not.
The new application also allows users to find out if the place you want to target viable or not. Features »Explore” display greeting cards enjoy a meal and good night.
Through these features, users can be helped with a variety of information about the place in detail. There is also a rating system that allows users to find somewhere assessment.
Google Maps with navigation devices had previously been released for the Android and iOS platform. Product Manager for Google Maps, Nobuhiro Makida, said the superior feature of this application is the My Location, search, and referrals.
“Through My Location, users can know of its existence through the map, even if the device does not have GPS,” said Makida.
Next is a local search to find a business category. While referrals are the best route to a destination, even if the user is driving, walking, or taking public transportation.
Features can indicate the distance and direction of travel time to get to the destination. The Google Maps Navigation can be run via voice commands.

Review: Seagate Wireless Plus

The storage capacity is relatively limited tablet often makes us have to be smart to choose which content you want to keep in it. Not realizing it, remove and insert the digital content such as music video and it turns out that quite a lot of time consuming.
Well, one of the more clever solution is to use an external hard disk as Wi-Fi. Seagate Wireless Plus (SWP) is the replacement for the Seagate GoFlex Wireless (SGW) which appeared in 2011. There are some improvements that are owned SWP as larger capacity, longer battery life, as well as support for streaming 8 connections at once. The size is also smaller than SGW, and attractive, the price is not much different from SGW.
To fill the data into SWP, you just connect it to a PC via a fast USB 3.0 connection. If desired, you can replace with Thunderbolt or Firewire connector (sold separately). SWP is very easy to operate. You simply press the on / off button is there, then set your device to connect via Wi-Fi access point to the SWP. While connected to the SWP, you can still connect to the Internet by connecting the device to a Wi-Fi hotspot through SeagateMedia application available free on Play Store and AppStore.
Review: Seagate Wireless Plus review gadget mobile gadget accessories Review: Seagate Wireless Plus review gadget mobile gadget accessories Review: Seagate Wireless Plus review gadget mobile gadget accessories
Wireless Plus has been arranged with several standard folders such as Videos, Music, Photos, and Documents. But you can create your own folders if desired. SeagateMedia application quite well, but does not support all video formats. To music, more fully supported formats. As for the documents, Seagate will ask what application you want to use to open the document. I tried it on the Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Apple iPad 3. The results are quite varied and SWP proved more smoothly used in the Android platform, especially for video playback.
seagate wireless plus 1 Review: Seagate Wireless Plus review gadget mobile gadget accessories
Review: Seagate Wireless Plus
Full HD video in a streaming format. MP4 can be done smoothly, while for the format. Above 1GB MKV, a little choked up. This is not a problem in the SWP, but more to the software problem. Fortunately
You can use other applications to play the video. SWP battery is claimed to last up to 10 hours. But if you continue to take streaming video, then the battery will be filled after 6-7 hours. If it varies, then the battery will be able to last up to 9-10 hours.
Seagate Wireless Plus is an easy to use, very handy, and will remain relevant for longer than a new gadget you bought. The price is quite high, but the ability is quite worth it.

Intel Aims to “Re-Architect” Datacenters to Meet Demand for New Services

  • Reveals new details of the forthcoming 22nm Intel® Atom™ processors C2000 product family, enabling the company to target a larger portion of the datacenter market.
  • Unveils future roadmap of 14nm datacenter products including a system-on-chip (SoC) that for the first time will incorporate Intel’s next-generation Broadwell architecture to address an even broader range of workloads.
  • Rackspace Hosting* announces that it will deploy a new generation of rack designs as part of its hybrid cloud solutions aligned with Intel’s Rack Scale Architecture vision.

As the massive growth of information technology services places increasing demand on the datacenter, Intel Corporation today outlined its strategy to re-architect the underlying infrastructure, allowing companies and end-users to benefit from an increasingly services-oriented, mobile world.

The company also announced additional details about its next-generation Intel® Atom™ processor C2000 product family (codenamed “Avoton” and “Rangeley”), as well as outlined its roadmap of next-generation 14nm products for 2014 and beyond. This robust pipeline of current and future products and technologies will allow Intel to expand into new segments of the datacenter that look to transition from proprietary designs to more open, standards-based compute models.

“Datacenters are entering a new era of rapid service delivery,” said Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of the Datacenter and Connected Systems Group at Intel. “Across network, storage and servers we continue to see significant opportunities for growth. In many cases, it requires a new approach to deliver the scale and efficiency required, and today we are unveiling the near and long-term actions to enable this transformation.”

As more mobile devices connect to the Internet, cloud-based software and applications get smarter by learning from the billions of people and machines using it, thus resulting in a new era of context-rich experiences and services. It also results in a massive amount of network connections and a continuous stream of real-time, unstructured data. New challenges for networks, computing and storage are emerging as the growing volume of data is transported, collected, aggregated and analyzed in datacenters. As a result, datacenters must be more agile and service-driven than ever before, and easier to manage and operate.

The role of information technology has evolved from being a way to reduce costs and increase corporate productivity to becoming the means to deliver new services to businesses and consumers. For example, Disney* recently started providing visitors with wirelessly connected-wristbands to enhance customers’ in-park experience through real-time data analytics. Additionally, a smart traffic safety program from Bocom* in China seeks to identify traffic patterns in a city of ten million people and intelligently offers better routing options for vehicles on the road.

‘Re-Architecting’ Network, Storage and Servers

To help companies prepare for the next generation of datacenters, Intel revealed its plans to virtualize the network, enable smart storage solutions and invest in innovative rack optimized architectures.

Bryant highlighted Intel’s Rack Scale Architecture (RSA), an advanced design that promises to dramatically increase the utilization and flexibility of the datacenter to deliver new services. Rackspace Hosting*, an open cloud company, today announced the deployment of new server racks that is a step toward reaching Intel’s RSA vision, powered by Intel® Xeon® processors and Intel Ethernet controllers with storage accelerated by Intel Solid State Drives. The Rackspace design is the first commercial rack scale implementation.

The networking industry is on the verge of a transition similar to what the server segment experienced years ago. Equipping the network with open, general purpose processing capabilities provides a way to maximize network bandwidth, significantly reduce cost and provide the flexibility to offer new services. For example, with a virtualized software defined network, the time to provision a new service can be reduced to just minutes from two to three weeks with traditional networks. Intel introduced Open Network Platform reference designs to help OEMs build and deploy this new generation of networks.

Data growth is a challenge to all datacenters and transferring this large volume of data for processing within a traditional, rigid storage architecture is costly and time consuming. By implementing intelligent storage technologies and tools, Intel is helping to reduce the amount of data that needs to be stored, and is improving how data is used for new services.

Traditional servers are also evolving. To meet the diverse needs of datacenter operators who deploy everything from compute intensive database applications to consumer facing Web services that benefit from smaller, more energy-efficient processing, Intel outlined its plan to optimize workloads, including customized CPU and SoC configurations.

As part of its strategy, Intel revealed new details for the forthcoming Intel® Atom™ processors C2000 product family aimed for low-energy, high-density microservers and storage (codenamed “Avoton”), and network devices (codenamed “Rangeley”). This second generation of Intel’s 64-bit SoCs is expected to become available later this year and will be based on the company’s 22nm process technology and the innovative Silvermont microarchitecture. It will feature up to eight cores with integrated Ethernet and support for up to 64GB of memory.

The new products are expected to deliver up to four times1,3 the energy efficiency and up to seven times1,2 more performance than the first generation Intel Atom processor-based server SoCs introduced in December last year. Intel has been sampling the new Intel Atom processor server product family to customers since April and has already more than doubled the number of system designs compared to the previous generation.

Roadmap for Expansion

The move to services-oriented datacenters presents considerable opportunities for Intel to expand into new segments. To help bolster the underlying technologies that power much of the next generation of datacenters, Intel outlined its roadmap of next-generation products based on its forthcoming 14nm process technology scheduled for 2014 and beyond. These products are aimed at microservers, storage and network devices and will offer an even broader set of low-power, high-density solutions for their Web-scale applications and services.

The future products include the next generation of Intel Xeon processors E3 family (codenamed “Broadwell”) built for processor and graphic-centric workloads such as online gaming and media transcoding. It also includes the next generation of Intel Atom processor SoCs (codenamed “Denverton”) that will enable even higher density deployments for datacenter operators. Intel also disclosed an addition to its future roadmap – a new SoC designed from the ground up for the datacenter based on Intel’s next-generation Broadwell microarchitecture that follows today’s industry leading Haswell microarchitecture. This SoC will offer higher levels of performance in high density, extreme energy efficient systems that datacenter operators will expect in this increasingly services-oriented, mobile world.

Seven signs of dysfunctional engineering teams

I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Heart of Darkness this week, read by Kenneth Branagh. It’s fantastic. It also reminds me of some jobs I’ve had in the past.

There’s a great passage in which Marlow requires rivets to repair a ship, but finds that none are available. This, in spite of the fact that the camp he left further upriver is drowning in them. That felt familiar. There’s also a famous passage involving a French warship that’s blindly firing its cannons into the jungles of Africa in hopes of hitting a native camp situated within. I’ve had that job as well. Hopefully I can help you avoid getting yourself into those situations.

There are several really good lists of common traits seen in well-functioning engineering organizations. Most recently, there’s Pamela Fox’s list of What to look for in a software engineering culture. More famous, but somewhat dated at this point, is Joel Spolsky’s Joel Test. I want to talk about signs of teams that you should avoid.

This list is partially inspired by Ralph Peters’ Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States. Of course, such a list is useless if you can’t apply it at the crucial point, when you’re interviewing. I’ve tried to include questions to ask and clues to look for that reveal dysfunction that is deeply baked into an engineering culture.

Preference for process over tools. As engineering teams grow, there are many approaches to coordinating people’s work. Most of them are some combination of process and tools. Git is a tool that enables multiple people to work on the same code base efficiently (most of the time). A team may also design a process around Git — avoiding the use of remote branches, only pushing code that’s ready to deploy to the master branch, or requiring people to use local branches for all of their development. Healthy teams generally try to address their scaling problems with tools, not additional process. Processes are hard to turn into habits, hard to teach to new team members, and often evolve too slowly to keep pace with changing circumstances. Ask your interviewers what their release cycle is like. Ask them how many standing meetings they attend. Look at the company’s job listings, are they hiring a scrum master?

Excessive deference to the leader or worse, founder. Does the group rely on one person to make all of the decisions? Are people afraid to change code the founder wrote? Has the company seen a lot of turnover among the engineering leader’s direct reports? Ask your interviewers how often the company’s coding conventions change. Ask them how much code in the code base has never been rewritten. Ask them what the process is for proposing a change to the technology stack. I have a friend who worked at a growing company where nobody was allowed to introduce coding conventions or libraries that the founding VP of Engineering didn’t understand, even though he hardly wrote any code any more.

Unwillingness to confront technical debt. Do you want to walk into a situation where the team struggles to make progress because they’re coding around all of the hacks they haven’t had time to address? Worse, does the team see you as the person who’s going to clean up all of the messes they’ve been leaving behind? You need to find out whether the team cares about building a sustainable code base. Ask the team how they manage their backlog of bugs. Ask them to tell you about something they’d love to automate if they had time. Is it something that any sensible person would have automated years ago? That’s a bad sign.

Not invented this week syndrome. We talk a lot about “not invented here” syndrome and how it affects the competitiveness of companies. I also worry about companies that lurch from one new technology to the next. Teams should make deliberate decisions about their stack, with an eye on the long term. More importantly, any such decisions should be made in a collaborative fashion, with both developer productivity and operability in mind. Finding out about this is easy. Everybody loves to talk about the latest thing they’re working with.

Disinterest in sustaining a Just Culture. What’s Just Culture? This post by my colleague John Allspaw on blameless post mortems describes it pretty well. Maybe you want to work at a company where people get fired on the spot for screwing up, or yelled at when things go wrong, but I don’t. How do you find out whether a company is like that? Ask about recent outages and gauge whether the person you ask is willing to talk about them openly. Do the people you talk to seem ashamed of their mistakes?

Monoculture. Diversity counts. Gender diversity is really important, but it’s not the only kind of diversity that matters. There’s ethnic diversity, there’s age diversity, and there’s simply the matter of people acting differently, or dressing differently. How homogenous is the group you’ve met? Do they all remind you of you? That’s almost certainly a serious danger sign. You may think it sounds like fun to work with a group of people who you’d happily have as roommates, but monocultures do a great job of masking other types of dysfunction.

Lack of a service-oriented mindset. The biggest professional mistakes I ever made were the result of failing to see that my job was ultimately to serve other people. I was obsessed with building what I thought was great software, and failed to see that what I should have been doing was paying attention to what other people needed from me in order to succeed in their jobs. You can almost never fail when you look for opportunities to be of service and avail yourself of them. Be on the lookout for companies where people get ahead by looking out for themselves. Don’t take those jobs.

There are a lot of ways that a team’s culture can be screwed up, but those are my top seven.