As a Unix geek-turned-iOS developer, Damian Esteban can trace his fascination with technology all the way back to the IBM PC Jr. As Damian watched his father set up the family’s first home computer, he was entranced by the way the whole machine seemed to come to life– and now Damian develops apps to bring life to new, innovative ideas.
A need for competent programmers and computing jobs of all stripes has revealed that there is a major skill gap between careers and people to fill them. The universal desire for businesses across all industries to create solid apps and web materials has exploded in the last several years, providing ample opportunities for computer science graduates but leaving many companies understaffed.
However, a traditional computer science degree is not necessarily what is needed to secure one of these careers. Online bootcamps for coders can supplement a CS education or, in some cases, even replace it.
That’s not to say that a CS degree is useless or ineffectual; most employers are more likely to hire someone with an actual degree, perceiving these candidates are having a better depth of knowledge than those with an online certification. Still, coding bootcamps can instill students with many of the skills necessary to excel in the workplace—and many programs offer assistance in securing graduates jobs.
These bootcamps can often be more convenient for students, offering around 15-week courses that usually center around the study of a single programming language as well as the processes involved with becoming a developer. The comparison to military bootcamps is apt; training is intensive and condensed into a relatively short period of time. Though many of these programs accept online enrollment, they often have physical campuses for students to learn at. Unsurprisingly, Silicon Valley has several high-end options for aspiring coders to learn.
It is true, to an extent, that a 4-year computer science degree outclasses bootcamp training. A more comprehensive approach to programming and common processes means that graduates can often adapt to new languages with more alacrity than someone that has focused on a single language. That said, a background in a STEM field and a good program can allow a bootcamp grad to land a solid job and perform well, with some exceeding the salaries earned by CS graduates.
As such, these courses are often better suited to those that have the foundational skills necessary to learn quickly and expand the knowledge they already have. Even if they have the talent, a degree is still considered a gold standard, making it important even if it is not directly related to programming.
For bootcamp grads looking to break into the industry, passion for technology is a big part of what may get them hired. Coding projects beyond those completed in camp are sure to impress interviewers, particularly any freelance projects that a graduate may have completed. As with any other career, a portfolio of work goes a long way toward proving that a candidate has the field experience to perform a job well.
The existence of coding bootcamps has changed the dynamic of hiring programmers, with yearly graduates now almost half the number of computer science graduates. Sure, the two are not interchangeable, but when there’s such a need for new talent, does it really matter?
Regardless of training, competency and a willingness to learn are important. With a good work ethic and a strong foundation, bootcamp graduates can find employment on par with their computer science peers.
Last month’s release of the iPhone X predictably caused no shortage of hype, criticism, and speculation from a variety of camps. However, over a month later, the lines have died down with the buzz and we’re left with a group of people that have used the device for about a month and now have a pretty good idea of its capabilities, features, and downsides.
Previous iPhones have proved consistently worth examining, as they have often set the pace for smartphone development in the coming years. Plus, some of the X’s features may hint at trends that are currently just out of reach. We’ve got a while until the advent of the next iPhone, so let’s look ahead at what the X might mean for the future!
So let’s start with the latest in a series of measures intended to boost security: face recognition. Despite concerns that giving your phone access to a record of your face might hurt privacy, reception to this new feature has been fairly positive. This is likely due to its seamlessness; users have praised face recognition for working even in low-light areas. The feature can be used to unlock a phone and add an additional layer of security when making purchases. Face ID has completely replaced touch ID, a staple of other recent iPhones, though it is speculated that Apple may integrate a mix of the two. Other phones have adopted touch solutions that work on any part of the screen—something that Apple might adopt due to their phone screens becoming more expansive.
This desire to create a bezel-less display has also driven Apple to remove the home button, which has been a central feature of all of their past devices. In its place is a gesture interface that, despite being fairly intuitive, has taken some time for users to get accustomed to. As a result, its reception has been mixed, leading for some to suggest that a happy medium exists in the form of a virtual home button. With all of the extra real estate freed up and existing haptic feedback, it would make sense for a virtual catch-all button to conform to existing mental models without hampering the interface.
Still, the general consensus is that the interface looks great. The OLED screen delivers a level of image quality never before seen in an iPhone. The screen is nearly unbroken, save for the controversial “notch” that contains the phone’s forward-facing camera. However, criticism of the notch has dried up in the weeks following the phone’s release, as users become used to the interface, only disruptive when watching something full-screen.
Apple has also embraced the role of AR, with the TrueDepth camera allowing for better facemapping. While this is something of a novelty, it also allows developers to further push the envelope of what is possible in AR. Apple has displayed a noted interest in this technology in the past, and the iPhone X’s new camera is likely a harbinger of more improvements to come.
Other features of the iPhone X include more of an emphasis on wireless, from the removal of the headphone jack to new charging options. This is perhaps one of the least surprising developments of the X, and also the most likely to be adopted en masse as the technology becomes easier for consumers to afford.
Apple has always strived to be at the forefront of mobile technology, and the iPhone X is a cavalcade of technological innovations on display. With a significant shift in hardware, changes in interface, and adjustments in design, the X will likely be a baseline for the next decade of iPhones.
In this age of rampant startups, ever-expanding technology, and readily accessed information, it’s important to remember, at the end of everything, who benefits from a product or service.
Hint: it’s not robots. At least, not for the most part.
Humans, the “users” in such buzzphrases as “user experience” and “user interface” play a significant role in the direction of innovation. It may sound obvious, but a surprising number of companies have made blunders by making decisions that they think their customers will appreciate—without actually consulting any of them. This coupled with the rise of machine algorithms designed to make decisions such as content delivery based on a personal profile further distances some companies from the people they serve.
Human-Centered Design (HCD), is a new name for an old concept. It describes the process of finding the intersection between desirability, feasibility, and viability to create something that caters to the needs of a certain group of people. It can be as advanced as designing conversation patterns for a voice assistant, or as simple as creating new paths in a park based on where people walk. We live in an age where we have the technological capacity to meet human needs, and this capacity is overwhelming for many. Instead of considering what people may want to use, we often try to stretch the limits of technology as much as possible to stay on the cutting edge.
However, the good news is that technology also gives us the tools necessary to better understand human behavior and why certain products may be desired over others. For all of the rhetoric on, say, proper app design, consideration should be paid to an app’s audience and how it will be used among them. And it’s not just about data such as response times and navigation patterns; it’s about recognizing the context of a particular technology and working to mold an experience that conforms to a user’s thoughts and feelings. For instance, the navigation app Waze became popular for warning its users about hazards on the road and police activity, allowing drivers to adjust their behavior accordingly.
Among companies that produce technology, there’s a common drive to make products that are attractive to look at. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; part of Apple’s appeal are its minimalistic designs and smooth UI. However, HCD is about recognizing that good design is only part of what makes a product great. Great visuals that fail to provide streamlined paths toward preferred user behaviors fail to do their job regardless.
And again, another part of HCD is including customers in decision-making processes. Far from surveys about a product, encouraging them to actively participate in its creation helps fine-tune it to the reality of its use. Of course, this isn’t a once-and-done process. Feedback should be routinely solicited, as usage patterns and sensibilities change. We can observe that companies that update their products on a consistent basis are more successful than those that do not.
From hardware to software to web design, we have increasingly found that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In the face of increasing automation, we can turn to HCD to provide answers about behavior and establish a level of empathy between creators and users. Getting users involved in design won’t just make for better products—it’ll make for an environment in which people’s needs are adequately met.
About Damian Esteban
Damian was most recently the lead developer at Spare Change, Inc. where he focused on FinTech in mobile and web applications. He is a strong leader who believes that tight-knit teams can accomplish truly amazing things. Damian graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and McGill University in 2003 with a Master’s Degree in Islamic Studies. He attended the New York Code and Design Academy in 2013.
- Unix Server Administration
- RESTful API Design
- Reactive Programming