Culture exchange and its effect on productivity

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It all started some years ago, particularly in 2014, while I was in behavioural economics session. I heard a quote from my teacher, that I could not first believe. He said that “Culture eats strategy for the breakfast”. This phrase originated by Peter Drucker. Honestly, I did not care about it, and I thought it was just word of mouth, but after all of these years, I just figured out he was two plus two correct, and I totally agree with him. This is the absolute reality, and any company disconnecting culture from strategy are putting their success at significant risk. So you need to define your strategy and ensure that your culture supports it.

Due to globalization, people from various cultures and countries increasing conduct business with each other. Technology may be a temporary solution to enable people to easily connect with people around the world in a moment’s notice, but there are some cultural facts, which technology may not be able to solve.

Let us take our last travel to Macedonia as an example and check its results on tickets time-saving (expected time – time actually spent in the tickets) during a certain sprint and compare it with the time saving of the last sprint and considering the other variables constant not to have a decision about the real productive effect of culture exchange. For the past two sprints, the time saving was ranging between 1% to 1.5%, but currently, it exceeds 4%. This increase in efficiency reflects the rise of communication among workers in Switzerland, Germany, and Macedonia. Needless to say that there may be other factors affecting this increase in productivity, but as mentioned above, we are considering these factors as constant.

Apart from the productivity issue, I kept asking myself a question of why I was so touched by these Macedonian people and their country? Was it the typical smile that covered up the office, I didn’t know yet? The only way to find out is to start communicating with these people to learn more about their world, because their culture, including the way they behave and interact, is so different from ours.

Apart from the people, I really like Macedonian food, as a matter of fact, I gained 2 KG in this short visit. Now you can imagine how tasty the food was, thanks to our Macedonian colleagues for such fantastic hospitality.

It was really a great pleasure to meet friends from afar. In a nutshell, just to finish off our company has 3 different cultures inside it (Swiss, German and Macedonian), and they are all very different in certain aspects, but what our company is trying to do on a daily basis, it tries to take the best of all three and try to merge them into one culture. This is not about crossing the borders… it’s about extending them around us to create a global mindset.

Experiences of FrontendConnect 2019 conference Warsaw, Poland

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INTRODUCTION

Everybody has an open lifetime book full of blank pages, waiting to be filled. We write the story as we go, so back in November 2019, I have started the chapter ‘Frontend conferences’ by attending the FrontendConnect2019 in Warsaw, Poland, thanks to my company N47.

My motivation to choose this conference was the fact that I will gain new knowledge, and exchange practical ways of using frontend frameworks. Despite this, given the fact that there were great speakers from the IT world, I had no doubt choosing this tech event. Duration of the event was three days, one workshop day and two speaking conference days.

WHICH WORKSHOP DID I ATTEND TO?

As I was experienced with Vue.js, I wanted to upgrade the knowledge with Nuxt as their workshop description was “It may take it to the next level, thanks to its convention over configuration approach.” I got a certificate of attendance and completion of “My first Nuxt.js application” by the Vue.js Core Team member Darek ‘Gusto’ Wędrychowski. Coding under the eye of ‘Gusto’ and having a wonderful panorama view of Warsaw in my horizon, was definitely a day well spent.

WHICH PRESENTATION DID I ATTEND TO?

Rich agenda with scheduled talks, thoughts about which ones to choose, moreover similar questions were going through my mind. I attended the ones that caught my eye and were mostly within my interests.

At the beginning of each day, there was a high valued speaker opening the day with their talks. The first day I had to meet and listen to the very appreciated, Douglas Crockford with his JSON Saga.

The second day, there was Minko Gechev, a Google engineer working on the Angular framework with the talk ‘The Future of Front-End Frameworks’.

Some other topics that I attended to were about the state management in a world of hooks, some optimizations of the modern JavaScript applications and loading them instantly, as well as Angular and Vue.js 3.0 topics.

WHAT CAUGHT MY MIND?

Two of my favourite talks were ‘The JSON Saga’ – Douglas Crockford and ‘Vue 3.0 for Library Authors’ – Damian Dulisz.

The JSON Saga

Douglas was retelling the story about how he discovered JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). He explained how he did not invent, but found it in the early 2000s, named it and described its usefulness. JSON is a format for storing data and establishing communication between the servers. He explained how some companies complained and did not want to accept JSON because they were used to XML, and could not consider anything else, at that moment. He mentioned that some of the people denied its usage because of it not being a standard. So, what he did next was buying JSON.org, a website which after a few years spread among the users. After a while, JSON got the support of all languages. He announced that there will be no more changes to JSON because for him there is no feature more important than the stability of JSON.

Vue 3.0 for Library Authors

Getting more in details about this topic and Vue 3.0-alpha version will be covered in my next blog.

THE CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT IN THE CONFERENCE

Frontend Connect was happening in the theatre of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland where the history and modern world meet at the same time. It is one of the symbolic icons of Warsaw and the place of the city`s rebirth. There were people from all over the world, and the atmosphere was really friendly. Everybody was discussing the topics and shared their work ethics.

CONCLUSION

Visiting conferences is a really good way to meet new friendly people that you have a lot in common with, as well as having an opportunity to reach out to the speaker if you enjoyed the talk, and discuss what you found interesting. We should always strive for more experiences like this and face new challenges within modern technologies. With that being said, we need to nurture our idea to reach our full potential, in order to make a bigger impact in the IT world.

N47 Meetup #19 in Macedonia

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In the beginning of July we organised our first N47 Meetup in Macedonia. We spent 3 full days together eating, drinking and exploring (especially Lake Ohrid 🏊‍♂️☀️) this lovely country! Besides that, we also had to celebrate our newly built office in the city center of Skopje 🎉🥳 with a nice office warming party!

Impressions from UIKonf Berlin 2019

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With little doubts in the beginning, big uncertainty and the questions in my head “Is this the right conference?”, “Should I’ve chosen another conference?”… But it happened and I’m satisfied at the end of the day with my choice. Some of my colleagues were surprised of my choice (Berlin), but yes, I can definetly say “It was not a mistake”.

So how was it?

Day 1: Social events

I’ve chosen to be with the walking tour group. There were possibilities to be in different groups like Bicycle group, Boat trip group… But this was my choice. We were split into two groups by 12 people and a local tour guide. We visited different spots, like the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the popular Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin French Cathedral, the Brandenburg Gate, etc…

The day finished in a big restaurant where we received our conference badges and promo materials of the conference. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and new chance to meet and introduce yourself to new developers. Some of the participants were professionally oriented and immediately started to talk about iOS topics. Some were on their way to the bar ordering german beers and the popular “wursts”. There also was a small group that played some kind of table tennis game. I’ve attended in all of these social activities.

Day 2: Opening day of the UIKonf 2019

After the opening words and the short introduction, the conference officially started. The first day consisted of 9 presentations. The strongest impression of the day was the presentation of Ellie Shin about Mock Generator for Swift and how they at Uber solved the problem of mocking. They optimized the app to build the mocks in around 10 seconds instead of the previous time needed; it was more than 1 hour.

One of the best presentations of the day was from the lovely Julietta Yaunches. She talked about consistency principles in programming, how to keep the coding style consistent and not make big changes every day, how to decide when to introduce something new in your code, etc.

It were good presentations from Kristina Fox about Internationalization of the iOS applications, and the opening presentation from Kaya Tomas about Accessibility and Inclusion in the apps. A topic I wasn’t aware before this conference.

I also have to mention the presentation of Glenna Buford about how to organize the network stack of your iOS application.

The day finished with a social event named Ambassador’s dinner. The local participants of the conference had the task to show the other participants (foreigners, including me) the typical restaurants and bars in Berlin. I was in a group that visited Hofbrau Munich Restaurant in Berlin. We had some good discussions with colleagues from all over the World. Throughout the evening we enojyed some tasty good german beer and pork meat.

Day 3: 2nd day of UIKonf 2019

The second day had 9 new presentations and 9 new speakers.

The best of the day in my opinion was the presentation of Kate Castellano. She talked about applications with backend driven UI.

Among the better presentations was of Neha Kulkarni about Advanced Colors in Swift.

I will also mention Erica Sadun. She talked about Swift Strings. In her presentation she showed best practices about using strings in Swift, interpolation of strings, etc.

Also there was a choice to visit 2 workshops on MyTaxi boat stage near the conference hall. I visited this stage and it was about the management process, recruiting and organizing the teams in MyTaxi company. The 2nd presentation was about Tips and Tricks they are using for testing their apps.

The day finished with a big party in a local restaurant near the river Spree. It was another good party. A lot of talks with colleagues, a lot of drinks, good atmosphere. All finished at 1:00 am.

Recap

I can freely say it was a good conference, perfectly organized… I didn’t regret in any moment that I’ve chosen this one in a bunch of other conferences. First of all, I’ve learned a lot of new things, I’ve heard about topics I wasn’t aware before, I saw how it would be to talk infront of 500 people.

Maybe in these events the most important thing is the social component. New faces, positive people, talks, sharing experiences, enlarge your professional contact list.

All 18 speakers

I’m not sure what was the intention of the organizers to have only women speakers. 18 speakers – 18 women. It was not explained, but we cannot complain because the speakers dealt with the challenge perfectly.

Worth the money, worth spending my time at UIKonf in Berlin. I have a feeling I will visit it for sure again in the future.

Entrepreneurship: in touch with Saygin Yalcin.

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Who is Saygin Yalcin?

Saygin Yalcin was born in simple conditions in Bremen 🇩🇪 and after his studies, he moved to Dubai 🇦🇪 with a single backpack 🎒 but with a goal a vision to become a successful entrepreneur. 🤔 And he reached his goal! 💪🏻With sellanycar.com and a big deal (souq.com) he opened the door to become a successful entrepreneur. 🤵🏼 Now he is awarded as the smartest and most influential man in UAE and still going on with his success. Even in social media, he became a brand and influencer.

What do we get out of the conference?

In 2019 we established a new unit in our company called LABS. 🧪 Because as a digital agency 💻 we ♥️ technology and we want to use our Labs as a playground 🤼‍♂️ for upcoming technologies and a platform for developing new products. We are not looking just for business solutions also for mainstream solutions. With the talk of Saygin, we want to check-out his thoughts, this though roadmap 🛣 and how he reached the top and motivate our employees to bring also to our company the next big thing.

What are our expectations?

Our expectation is to have also the view outside the daily B2B. To motivate our teammates to go for the next thing and to show that as a digital agency we are ready to change the world. To make simple manual processes automized and to have a bigger vision than just implementing tickets. Technologies are a tool to create awesome solutions and we want to create awesome solutions for businesses but also for people.

Travel Details:

When: 📅 Sa. 11. May 2019 19:00 – 23:00 MESZ
Where: 🏢 Hugenottenhalle, 63263 Neu-Isenburg
Travel: Drive to Frankfurt by car 🚗 – not a big deal
Price: 99 EUR 💵 per ticket

Want to meet there? Just contact us.

My expectations from UIKonf Berlin 2019

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After more than 6 years this will be my first conference. This time as a guest. I remember well the moments of my presentation in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2013. Stressful experience, a lot of sweat, with my suit that was one number larger than it should be. That was 2013 and the topics were economics and management. Now I’m an experienced iOS developer and going to Berlin for a conference that should give me new ideas for personal development, but also to give me directions how to think for the future challenges.

Conference generalities

The venue of the UIKonf is RADIALSYSTEM V in Berlin.

From 26-29 May 2019 in Berlin, some serious iOS developers will come from big companies that will present their experiences in the iOS World.

The motto of the conference is simple:

“UIKonf is an independent conference for serious iOS developers”

Speakers

For this conference, the organizers decided to have only female speakers. All will come from big companies and with big experiences. We have female iOS developers who work or worked for Uber, Slack, LinkedIn…

Part of the speakers

Costs

The travel expenses are the cheapest for this conference viewing from my perspective. Fortunately, we Macedonians have direct flight connection to Berlin. The cost is around 150€.

The ticket to attend the conference costs 539€.

They are also offering free tickets to members of underrepresented groups in tech (this includes disabled people and generally people who are unable to attend without financial assistance).

The accommodation is something that is not completed from my side. The hotels near the conference building costs around 100€ per day.

Schedule

This conference has an excellent organization.

The first day 26 May is the day for social meetings, time for visiting places in Berlin, acknowledge the other attendants and will finish with a kick-off party where the people will take their badges.

Next two days 27 and 28 May are the days when the speakers will expose their presentations. 30 minutes per presentation with question and answers part of the end of each presentation.

29 May is the last day. This is unofficial part of the conference and the people can meet with the sponsors, dissect code problems in lab sessions with experienced experts, signup for a workshop or just hang out and code with new friends.

Expectations

I have big expectations. The names of the speakers, their experience, the companies they worked for are guarantees for something big and something good.

I’m going by myself and expect to meet new people, make new friendships, share experiences.

Berlin as a city is something new for me. I had heard very good things of Berlin. Good parties, restaurants, parks, two different sides of the city. I have friends that live/lived there.

With the correct size of my suit this time – it should be a good experience in my life.

Our conference roadmap 2019

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As we have already mentioned on our culture page we have planned a budget 💰 this year for all of our employees for further education purposes. Therefore everybody can go to a conference, workshop or the like. On our blog you will find posts from our employees about the individual events, what the expectations are, what the reality on the event is, maybe some surrounding information why it is worth to visit a conference at a specific city, maybe what is not recommendable and at the end what was the key learning.

So let’s conquer Europe … 9 metropolises, 12 different events:

The opening event started this week – Jeremy and Shady are in Bucharest 🇷🇴 to visit the Voxxed Days. Maybe you have already read the corresponding blog post and their expectations about the trip or you have already seen some pics on twitter. If not – you can find the post here. We are curious about their updates during/after their visit, especially about their culinary impressions 🥙 about Romania 😉.

To see all other scheduled events you can have a look at our conference plan 📆:

Date Event City / Country Who joins
March, 20-22 VOXXED DAYS Bucharest, Romania Jeremy, Shady
April, 3-5 FRONTCON Riga, Latvia Stephan
April, 5-6 JPoint 2019 Moscow, Russia Miodrag, Boris
May, 5 SAYGIN YALCIN Frankfurt, Germany Fatih
May, 16-17 SPRING I/O Barcelona, Spain Antonie, Amit
May, 26-29 UIKonf Berlin, Germany Dimitar
June, 1-2 JSConf EU Berlin, Germany Marijan
June, 6-7 WAD World Congress Berlin, Germany Lukasz
June, 24-26 DEVOXX POLAND Krakow, Poland Stefan
Sept, 2-4 adaptTo() Berlin, Germany Amit
Nov, 1-2 DEVOXX UKRAINE Kiev, Ukraine Jeremy, Shady
Dec, 5-6dotJSParis, FranceYoussef

Now you know where to meet us and maybe you got some ideas if you are also looking for an interesting event this year. If you have questions to an event, want to meet us somewhere or you have some insights for a specific conference or city please use the comment box below or get in touch with us directly – we are looking forward to your feedback – or to meet you at a conference ✌️!

FrontCon 2019 in Riga, Latvia

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Only a few weeks left until I go to my first tech conference this year. Travelling means for me learning something new. And I like learning. Especially the immersion in a foreign culture and the contact to people of other countries makes me happy.

It’s always time to grow beyond yourself. 🤓

BUT why visit Riga just for a conference? Riga is a beautiful city on the Baltic Sea and the capital of Latvia. Latvia is a small country with the neighbours: Russia, Lithuania, Estonia and the sea. AND it’s a childhood dream of me to get to know this city. 😍

The dream was created by an old computer game named “The Patrician”. It’s a historical trading simulation computer game and my brothers and I loved it. We lost a lot of hours to play it instead of finding a way to hack it. 😅
For this dream, I will take some extra private days to visit Riga and the Country as well. 😇

Preparation

The most important preparation such as flight, hotel, workshop and conference are completed.

Furthermore, I also plan to visit some of the famous Latvian palaces and the Medieval Castle of Riga. I also need some tips for the evenings: restaurants and sightseeings from you. Feel free to share them in the comments. 😊

Some facts about the conference

There are four workshops available on the first day:

  • Serverless apps development for frontend developers
  • Vue state management with vuex
  • From Zero to App: A React Workshop
  • Advanced React Workshop

I chose the workshop with VueJS of course 😏 and I’m really happy to see that I can visit most of the talks in the following days. There are some interesting speeches like “Building resilient frontend architecture”, “AAA 3D graphics” and secure talks and server-less frontend development. Click here for the full list of tracks.

My expectations

Above all, I’m open to events to learn new things. Therefore, I have no great expectations in advance. So I’m looking forward to the

  • VueJS & Reacts parts
  • Visit the speakers from Wix, N26 and SumUp

I’m particularly curious about the open spaces between the speeches. I will be glad to have some great talks with the guys. 🤩

For my private trips:

That’s all for now

to be continued…

It’s all about teamwork, creativity and cultural change

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People of different religions and cultures live side-by-side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us in very different groups.
We can love what we are, without hating what- and who we are not. We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings

Kofi Annan

Over the past few years, the field and management sector of major companies have a big problem of how to arrange the days of their employees, something that will give a bit of strong light and positivity, which will avoid monotony and on the other hand give a great impetus to their creativity and vision, much greater motivation and strong spirit in overcoming further obstacles and challenges. The problem is even greater if companies are stationed in several locations in different countries so that communication is interconnected constantly through technical apps, almost virtual, simply a voice, perhaps a shy picture or video call and of course mostly text and chat conversations.

N47 locations: Switzerland, Germany and Macedonia.

It is very often the case that the company hierarchy is a list of members of different cultures, nationalities so that it becomes an even more difficult task of organizing team buildings. But on the other hand, it is one of the reasons why that makes them special.

The differences are part of us, the differences are making us so special, and of course differences, we know well and we have become accustomed to it.

Differences – make us special and unique.

Team building, joint team events or hacking term in the IT industry are part of every company agenda, happens every year and they often happen a few times per year.

It’s a chemistry thing, it’s the time where you can share your points of view, your thoughts, your personality, your creativity, your vision, it’s the time when you are not representing just yourself, but also your culture, your country.

But, the idea of creating an event, that will bring together – Team Building and Hackathon event?  Yes, we did it and we arranged and created. Almost one week, gathering the team together. The Family!

24 hours of work, pure juice of 100% creativity, dedication and hard work.  Commitment always brings success, and YES some of the team after the deadline and voting for the best team and the best project made, they had a shootout with the Champs Titles and Presents. Absence Hub – Resource Guru and Absence.io connector TEAM did it, they collected the votes and drove all the way through like Real Madrid in Champions League.

Yes, it was worth it! Title goes to the winners!

The event was a success, the employees loved it. And all of them are sharing the same opinion, maybe some time and somewhere everything is not 100% perfect, but even the misses are part of that. People create, sometimes in the process of creating always is something missing, but in the end, the finish line and the title – that’s all that matters!

Final conclusion – 100% success and that’s what all IT companies need, at least once, but it’s good to be twice or even more per year.  It’s chemistry, it is fun, it is releasing the creativity inside all of the members of the company that doesn’t have a chance before to describe themselves with their own words.
It’s a fact that programmers find Hackathons the perfect venue to unleash their ideas, it’s often that these kinds of events produce ingenious products or ideas, or even they show the real potential, creativity, talents of employees. It’s an easy challenge, but the benefits of it can be great for the organization, company or network. And together with team building events, it’s double more fun and joy for the team.

The last moments after the end of the event, the euphoria of the faces of all colleagues, but also a bit of grief over why it was all too short, everyone wants more time together. But that’s the idea and motivation for the next event. Where, how, when, what’s next? Give your thoughts and ideas, let’s take a look and decide together. Мaybe somewhere on the sea, fishing, hiking, or mountain and skiing? Or on some great concert with DJs or maybe Stones or U2?

Afterwards, travelling back to home town, sitting in the aeroplane and thinking about the past few days, wow it happened all so fast and the days flew like a fast cigarette break…

The A-team surrounded with lots of positive energy and good memories. And the question is what next, where to go next, what should we arrange next?

I think, whatever, just bring it on baby!

Hackdayz #18: SMS Forwarding Android App

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Team members

Youssef Idelhoussain, Senior Front-end Engineer
Shehab Eltobgy, Test Manager

Abstract

This is the real deal.. Prepare your battery, connect to a good network to get thousands of SMS. Whoever you are, maybe you come from a faraway land, maybe you don’t understand my language, maybe you are from a country that I never heard the name of…
One thing is for sure, you will get the SMS. So, whoever you are, wherever you are, our app has special skills which will make this world easier for you, starting with getting an SMS 📲🤩

Having such nice days during our Hackdayz did not prevent us from thinking into adding more practical benefit to our company by improving the current app. And after we had our lunch, we had the power to start working, nevertheless, my vegetarian lunch did not taste good at all.
Our aim was by the end of Hackdayz that the app should be released in PlayStore and the code should be made as open-source for further improvements!

Side Notes

The app should have:

  • Rules: number and where it should be posted
  • Environment: Slack, Email, and others…
  • Some new settings: such as the ability for the user to set a password… (we were so optimistic)

Agenda

  • What is the problem you want to solve?
  • Who experiences that problem?
  • How do you want to solve that problem?
  • Why is this a better solution?

Having such a funny combination of a team with a front-end developer and test manager trying to develop an android app included so much fun these days, as we were literally underdogs. But, just to get our spirit up, we went to the gym, and then to the sauna where I could not even see my hands, and finally to the swimming pool.

Working on the project 👨‍💻 at Hackdayz18 in St. Gallen

Although, we were so ambitious that we set our plan to create an app with an infinite number of environments, and with so flexible rules (such as amateur dreams). After some time as Thomas A. Edison stated “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”, we realized that we are not gonna create the app as it actually was planned 🤯. Nevertheless, the days were cool enough to make us laugh while we were failing for several times.

Youssef was really ambitious that he told me “I will never go to bed mad. I’m gonna stay up and fight!”. After 10 minutes, each of us went to his room to sleep 😴. Due to the effort, I spent during 3 hours in the gym, sauna, and swimming, I wanted to sleep because by looking at my hand I couldn’t recognize how many fingers I did have.

The next day, we started working again. I wanted to start now with my real work since when kings start the party 🎉, my first task was to find a beautiful design. I decided to choose a simple design due to the time pressure. Besides improvisation is too good to leave to chance.

GitLab Repository

And using the mentioned GitLab we were able to create the app.

https://gitlab.com/47northlabs/public/sms-to-slack

Results

We were somehow not so much satisfied with the results, actually shocked 😱😱😱!!!

  • The app has been developed with the ability to add up to 5 environments. Unlike what we have expected to reach an infinite number of environments.. such youth dreams 😅
  • The app could not set the email as one of the environment due to inability to find a library via which the app can send the message to the email while it is in the background…. experience is simply the name we gave our mistakes 😄

Conclusion and implication

The app has been created successfully and applied to one of our android devices using +41 76 75x xxxx.

Screenshot of our Slack and Slackbot channel

Future features and challenges would be…

1. Adding email as a new environment. Let us see how this gonna be manageable 🤔.
2. Adding a password for the app. We are still so optimistic 😁.
3. Adding the ability to add more (unlimited environments) with the recycle bin 🧹 to remove them when needed.

By the end of the day, I just was totally shocked f the difference between what has been planned and what actually has been achieved. But, it was just a funny and exhausting experience.