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Perth Agile Meetup Group begins to take shape

Posted in Agile Development, Industry Trends, Inside TFG, Lifestyle

At The Frontier Group, we have been hosting the Perth Ruby on Rails Meetup since August 2009. This meetup has brought together many individuals and businesses from the Perth Ruby on Rails community each month and has had great success in helping distribute knowledge through interesting presentations, as well as connecting developers to project work. It’s also a great social event if you’re even remotely interested in hearing about Ruby or Ruby on Rails.

After a few discussions with the Brisbane Agile Academy, we’ve decided to start a second meetup group. Our organisation has a strong focus on Agile methodologies and we’re really interested in sharing and developing this knowledge with the local community. You don’t even have to be a developer for this one! Agile techniques appeal to a range of professionals, companies and roles. If you’re interested we’re looking to run our first session in a few months time, once we’ve generated some noise.

Dwayne Read from Strategic Systems is the co-organiser for this group, an Agile coach with over 15 years applied Agile development experience (20 years software development experience). He will also facilitate our first meetup with the following interactive session:

Come to the inaugural Perth Agile Meetup to participate in an Agile ‘Release Planning’ session and two ‘Sprints’. You are the Customer/Product Owner (or one of anyway) and the project objective is to ‘discuss the agile techniques of interest’. We will run a JAD session to list the techniques/features, prioritise and then discuss/exemplify two Sprints worth (albeit timeboxed to 1 hr in total – now there’s a tight delivery schedule!).

Show your interest by signing up (for free) at the official Meetup page, and when the first date is announced, you’ll be notified and can RSVP. Head there now!

Of course you can always follow us on Twitter to find out any updates.

Want to learn more about Agile? Check out the Agile Academy website.

iPad: Overhyped Flop or a case of Great Design Thinking?

Posted in Industry Trends, Lifestyle

Lately I have been left feeling slightly bemused, possibly even despondent. What about you may ask? The reaction this week to the iPad for one.

The instant it was announced, the concept of jumping on the nearest spaceship and leaving this planet behind was not far from my mind. I mean, who doesn’t love a good argument on the Internet right? But the sheer magnitude of negativity and lack of foresight was astounding. I guess there was a lot of disappointed people who expected the iPad to be something that it was never intended to be, but are we really living in an “all about me” society? More importantly, is that where we want to be?

I would never expect everyone to like such a device and nearly everyone I talk to that doesn’t use an Apple product, hates Apple products. I used to be one of those people too. I grew up with MS-DOS, Windows 2, 3, 95, 98, 2000, XP, then shifted to Linux for the next few years. Maybe a solid Apple product came along at the right time for me, just as all the other competitors were struggling. They’ve since moved on and regained their following again, but I’ll most likely continue down the path which has seen me the most productive in business and life.

But back to my original point. I spent 10 minutes thinking about potential uses for the iPad that I hadn’t seen mentioned anywhere, and it wasn’t hard to come up with some amazing out of the box solutions. I contemplated writing a post, to join the other millions of bloggers out there but I held back for a while. Eventually Venessa Miemis wrote exactly what I was thinking, but she’s done the hard work citing resources and everything!

If you have a spare ten minutes it’s definitely worth a read, regardless of how you feel about the device. It may turn out to be a game-changer or it may disappear into insignificance 12 months after it launches. But if like me, people want to read some objectivity on a topic, then this is for you.

iPad: Overhyped Flop or a case of Great Design Thinking?

And then there was five…

Posted in Inside TFG, Lifestyle

Yesterday we had the honour of welcoming the company’s fifth employee to the team, Tony Issakov.

Tony’s worked on some projects with us in the past (so you might have already seen his handywork) and has been a good friend to each of us for some time now.

He shares our enthusiasm for web development and all things geeky. He’s best known for his amazing digital photography and mad JavaScript skills, and comes to us having spent many years developing Java applications as en employee of the state government. The move from Java to Ruby and PHP, as well as his shiny new MacBook Pro and having Epic Espresso just up the street are all things that he’s excited about, but I’ll let him elaborate on that. As they say, “watch this space.”

We’re looking forward to the new opportunities we’ll be able to undertake with the inclusion of Tony to our team.

Two reasons to rebrand

Posted in Lifestyle, Rebranding

I have recently seen two examples of product / image rebranding that have caught my attention. Both for completely different reasons.

The first one is Coca-Cola‘s “Mother“. About a year ago when the drink was first introduced, I decided to buy one and see what it was like. My taste buds rejected it immediately. And not in a “Oh that’s bad, but maybe in a few months I’ll forget how bad and try again” way. It was possibly one of the most horrid flavoured drinks this side of Sarsaparilla.

It got me wondering how on earth Coca-Cola let this slip through the taste-testing cracks. Given their massive customer base, well established other flavours and an already saturated energy drink market, I expected much better. I expected this drink to disappear from shelves as fast as it had appeared.

I was close. Not long after, a “new formula” was announced. Massive advertising and money spent to show that indeed their first attempt was a failure and now it’s much better. But for me, the damage was already done. After both literally and figuratively leaving a bad taste in my mouth, this is one cat who won’t be willing to give it a try again. I’m sure Coca-Cola have picked up plenty of “new recipe” Mother lovers, but I’m not going to be one of them. While you were out, I found Rockstar, and that’s where I will stay.

Note: If your sting loyal customers with a Z-grade product, you’ll probably lose them.

The second re-branding exercise I have witnessed is that of City Farmers. I remember their cringe-worthy song, their cheap looking ads and their country bumpkin image.

However this image proved successful. They are popular, and have found a great market over the last few years. I’ve become a loyal customer of theirs, and have no need to shop elsewhere for any pet related products. They are like Bunnings for pets.

However, It shocked me to drive past the massive warehouse for the second time that week, to see that it was no longer green. It was bright orange, with a brand-spanking new logo. And a much better one at that. I figured their web site would have been updated too, so I checked. It’s one of the better looking ones I’ve seen in a while.

City Farmers, you won me as a customer with your cheap and tacky image, and then you cemented me as a customer with your willingness to adapt and somehow completely change your image better than most companies ever do it. I’m not sure who has designed the web site, but they’ve certainly done well.

Note: Use the right professionals for the job and listen to their advice. Remember, they’re the ones with the expertise.

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