The term Design Thinking (DT) encompasses practical and cognitive approaches to creative problem solving, whilst adopting a particular mind-set. The practical approaches are human-centred and experiential; they rely on early prototyping and visualization methods. They are collaborative and multidisciplinary, calling for contributions from teams of diverse individuals working together.

The underlying methodology is based on iterative cycles of divergent ideation, followed by convergent evaluation. This is sometimes referred to as the double-diamond method: it describes the shape made by the expanding number of solutions, followed by the selection of a favoured solution, often followed by a further iteration calling for further idea generation and subsequent evaluation. When applied to software design some of these ideas have immediate application. For me, the most important aspects of DT are the emphasis on the adoption of a human-centred approach to ensure usability, early prototyping using visualisations and simulations to test concepts, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. Some may recognise this later sentiment as is was Apples core motto for many years and some business commentators have argued that this approach was a key part of why the company became so successful.

The cognitive approach calls for the reframing of problems, a willingness to accept a certain degree of ambiguity whilst adopting a holistic view of issues and the ability to integrate ideas from diverse sources. The DT mind-set is experimental, optimistic and future focused. It combines both analytical thinking and creative thinking.

The argument put forward by the advocates of DT is that it can be applied by anyone to any situation. For example, DT can be used to help bring about innovation within organisations by encouraging a more holistic approach, whilst focusing on the needs of the end-user. All of which sounds eminently sensible but often turns out to be harder to achieve from within an organisation than from outside. Design consultants who adopt a DT approach have a distinct advantage over a hard-pressed executive working within the usual hierarchical company structure. The external perspective of the Design consultant makes it much easier to ignore some of the standard issues that inhibit original thinking when within an organisation.  Others have also made the point that even mild levels of stress can inhibit creative thinking as our brain chemistry causes the wrong neurotransmitters to be released in the brain, which actually inhibit a person’s ability to think creatively. Being put under pressure to come up with a world leading new concept by lunchtime rarely brings good results. Of course there are some individuals that actually thrive on in pending deadlines. Douglas Adams the author of the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ was notorious for missing deadlines but this may not have been anything to do with his creative ability but more to do with the act of writing itself.

A considerable amount has been written on the topic of Design Thinking, not all of it favourable. Some say it is merely an other term for creative thinking and there is no real set of tried and tested methods that can be taught and applied. However, there are plenty of people who would dispute this point of view. Design Thinking is not just about adopting a set of design methods for creative problem solving or idea generation. It requires the adoption of a mind-set that encourages an individual to look at the world differently. The starting point for tackling any problem is to challenge existing assumptions. This is harder than one might think, as first one has to recognise what assumptions have already been made.

One of the last century’s greatest design thinkers was Genrich Altshuller (1926 – 1998), who was the inventor of the Russian problem solving system called TRIZ. The TRIZ methodology depends on the practitioner of the approach being able to reframe the initial problem in the form of an inherent contradiction. Many of the examples provided by Altschuller refer to engineering problems. Despite this many of the forty basic principles he identified as leading to an inventive solution can be applied to very different contexts and situations other than engineering. One of the key steps in the TRIZ methodology is the reframing of the initial question or problem. This requires a mind-set that is open to the challenge of questioning existing assumptions. It is very easy to inhibit the generation of new ideas simply by phrasing a question using existing solutions. Altschuller suggests substituting the term ‘thingy’ for any word suggesting an existing solution when constructing a problem statement. The apocryphal story of NASA spending thousands of dollars on the development of a pen that would right upside down in space, while the Russians simply used a pencil, stands as a useful reminder of this principle.

Getting back to the point of this blog post, which is to talk about how adopting a Design Thinking approach might lead to more innovative useful software We must begin by challenging any assumptions we may have regarding what people want or how they currently carryout tasks. To do this we must spend some time observing what people actually do and how they behave when undertaking everyday tasks. This involves observing how they use their natural inventive abilities to find ways around problems. This approach has led to the relatively new discipline of design ethnography.

There are two essential ways in which DT can help when it comes to the development of new software applications. First it can help us identify new opportunities or problems that can be address with the aid of computers and secondly it can help to generate a large number of potential solutions, which can then be evaluated to find the best solution.

Another useful method, sometimes referred to as the ‘naive user’ approach, can be an effective way of challenging current solutions. This approach involves viewing a situation as if it is completely new and something that no one has come across before. This is especially useful when evaluating software. The naive user approach soon helps identify the logical inconsistencies or the counter-intuitive steps needed to carry out a task. For example, someone using a PC for the first time might be puzzled to find out that they need to use the ‘Start’ menu to shut down the computer or someone using an Apple Mac as a naive user would not understand why they would drag a file to the trash symbol to eject a memory stick. Designing software that is truly intuitive demands that a naive user will instinctively understand how to carry out a task with out having to think about it.

Most so called new software is just a remix of existing pieces of software code or the introduction of incremental changes to existing algorithms most of which may not even be noticeable by the average user. How often have you downloaded the last update from Apple only to find nothing appears to have changed? Google are notorious for updating their search algorithms but how many of us recognise the difference. However, these changes can lead to very significant changes in the results obtained from a search query.

Developing some thing genuinely new usually requires a lot more resources and commitment than producing minor changes to existing applications. It also requires a much greater leap of imagination to go beyond existing conventions. Lets take an example. I was involved some years ago in the development of a Virtual Learning Environment or VLE. In fact the term VLE had not yet been coined so what we developed was a communication system for tutors and students to share content and exchange information. Exciting times as we tried to develop a system that semi automated the development of content link to several databases. We had an idea of what we wanted to achieve but not quite enough resources or experience to bring it off successfully. Now considering the same problem from a more distant perspective I can begin to see how our thinking was very constrained by a lot of assumptions we had made mainly when thinking about the way in which people acquire understanding. We were aware of the importance of experiential learning, that is learning through doing but we had no idea how to translate this into an online learning environment.  In the intervening years things have moved on in the world of VLEs but teaching models have not really change that much. Maybe it is time to challenge some of the inherent assumptions that have constrained software development in this field over the past twenty years.

By way of an example, most of us think of knowledge as a series of known facts or certainties that can be written down and passed onto someone else. However, if we think of knowledge as something that is constantly evolving and that is context specific we can start to see alternative structures for the way we use and exchange information. This intern may lead to a change in the nature of virtual learning environments and the way they work. The development of immersive virtual reality devices and augmented reality systems are just beginning to present some fascinating new possibilities for developing entirely new forms of learning environments. In the not so distant future we can look forward to fully immersive, 3-D experiences that engage all our senses.

The team at Inntuito are keeping a close eye on these developments with the aim of developing new applications that will take full advantage of these new and emerging technologies. We will apply Design Thinking to the problem of developing truly user-friendly applications that address a human need.

Julian Malins – May 2016 

The days of getting on a plane, switching off your phone and your laptop, and checking out for a few hours could soon be over.
Who needs an in-flight entertainment system when you can log into Netflix on your iPad?
Every aeroplane in the world will be able to offer high-speed in-flight broadband within five years, allowing passengers to browse the web, send emails, and stream music and films at 30,000 feet.

The forecast has been made by Don Buchman, vice president of commercial mobility at broadband satellite operator ViaSat.

He claims that high-capacity satellites will beam internet connectivity over large areas of the planet, allowing planes to pick up a signal wherever they are.

Wait, can't you already get WiFi on planes?

Around 60% to 70% of aircraft in the US – and 10% to 20% of aircraft in the rest of the world – already offer access to some sort of in-flight WiFi.

But the speed and quality of these connections is typically equivalent a dial-up modem connection, and nowhere near what people would consider “real” broadband.
High-speed WiFi means you could stream your favourite films and TV shows on the plane
“They can’t do the things they normally would like to do, like sending emails, downloading files, watching videos, streaming videos, listening to audio – all those sort of things,” said Buchman.

“So if you’re not connected to a high-quality network, we say you’re really not connected – because just doing text messaging is probably not what anyone would consider broadband WiFi.”

How is this any better?

The reason that current in-flight broadband is so rubbish is because it relies on satellites with around 1Gbps of capacity.

The satellite operated by ViaSat has 140Gbps of capacity, offering connection speeds and bandwidth similar to what passengers receive at home.
Rendering of ViaSat's satellite in space
We didn’t think that just being connected was OK. We really thought being connected at a high-quality connection was what really was important,” said Buchman.

“One of the things we did with our satellites was we invested in technology that provided the highest capacity at the best economics – so it's available at a cost that is reasonable for people to use it.”

Who will pay?

There are several different possible business models, and it's really up to the airline to decide whether to charge passengers, or absorb the cost of providing in-flight WiFi themselves.

Passengers could either be charged on an opt-in basis, or by incorporating the cost of the service into the price of their tickets.

However, Buchman claims that some third parties may be willing to “sponsor” the service on some airlines, in order to get their products in front of new customers.

Netflix and Amazon already sponsor in-flight WiFi on some airlines in the United States, in the hope that it “surprise and delight” existing customers and help to attract new ones.

Is it just about in-flight entertainment?

Video streaming is just the beginning. ViaSat claims that in-flight WiFi will also transform the duty free experience, allowing passengers to order from their phones and tablets and arrange for items to be delivered straight their homes.

They could also place orders for snacks and refreshments and specify when they want to receive them, rather than having to wait for a trolley to come around the cabin.

Passengers could even make last-minute travel arrangements, such as booking a flight at the last second, arranging an Uber collection, reading TripAdvisor articles and even crowdsourcing other tourists to meet up with en route to their destination.
It's not just about in-flight entertainment. WiFi opens up a whole range of possibilities

When will I be able to get it?

The ViaSat 1 satellite only covers continental United States and parts of Canada, so the service is currently limited to these areas.

ViaSat has a roaming agreement with French-based satellite operator EutelSat, which means it can also theoretically offer its service in Europe, and parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Later this year, Israeli airline El Al is launching a broadband service using Eutelsat's satellite, so WiFi will be available on flights from Tel Aviv to various major cities in Europe.

ViaSat has plans to launch ViaSat 2 next year. This will cover large parts of North America and – crucially – the flight paths between the US and Europe.

ViaSat 3, which is actually three satellites, will launch in 2019. Buchman claims that, by 2021, the company will have the entire “visible earth footprint” covered, (everywhere except the North and South poles).
Graphic showing the coverage of ViaSat's different satellites
However, ViaSat isn't the only company in the broadband space race, so we could get high-speed in-flight broadband even sooner.

But flying is my chance to switch off...

Many people regard flying as their “last refuge” away from the world, offering a legitimate excuse to switch off and ignore work emails for a while. So why would you want to spoil that?

Buchman admits there is part of the population that doesn’t want to be connected on aeroplanes, but believes there are also a lot of people who get really anxious about being disconnected.

“Before you had to turn your phone off for take-off and landing, and as soon as that little 'ding ding' went off when the plane landed, everyone would reach in their pocket, grab their device, turn in on and start interacting with it,” he said.

“So it tells you people want to be connected, they were just limited in their ability to do it – either in the lack of a connection, or the cost of the connection, or the quality of the connection. So our mission is to remove those three barriers and then we’ll let the actual demand take hold.”

He added that planes may end up like trains – with some “quiet” areas and other areas where you can use your devices and talk on the phone.

original aricle

With 650 million sports fans, Facebook is the world’s largest stadium. People already turn to Facebook to celebrate, commiserate, and talk trash with their friends and other fans.

Now we’ve built a place devoted to sports so you can get the feeling you’re watching the game with your friends even when you aren’t together.

With Facebook Sports Stadium, all the content on Facebook related to the game is in one place, and it comes in real time and appears chronologically. You can see:

Posts from your friends, and their comments on plays
Posts and commentary from experts, like teams, leagues and journalists, with easy access to their Pages
Live scores, stats and a play-by-play
Game info, like where to find the game on TV

ou can follow the action as the game unfolds with a live play-by-play, and even like, comment on, and share individual plays. You can also get up to speed quickly with live scores and the most discussed plays. It’s a second-screen experience that we hope makes watching the broadcast even better.

You can get to Facebook Sports Stadium by searching for the game, and we’ll surface new ways to get there as the product evolves.

Sports is a global interest that connects people around the world. This product makes connecting over sports more fun and engaging, and we will continue listening to feedback to make it even better.

We’re rolling this out today for American football games and will support other sports around the world like basketball, soccer, and more soon. The experience is available now on iPhone in the US, and will expand to other platforms in the coming weeks.


original article

The Open source movement is playing a remarkable role in pushing technology and making it available to all. The success of Linux is also an example how open source can translate into a successful business model. Open source is pretty much mainstream now and in the coming years, it could have a major footprint across cutting edge educational technology and aerospace (think DIY drones).

Open source projects need all the help they can get. If not with funding, then with volunteers contributing to open source programming and free tools they can brandish. Search engines tuned with algorithms to find source code for programming projects are among the tools for the kit bag. While reusing code is a much debated topic in higher circles, they could be of help to beginner programmers and those trying to work their way through a coding logjam by cross-referencing their code. Here are six:


 Ohloh Code says it is one of the largest and more comprehensive code search engines with more than 10+ billion lines of code indexed and updated FOSS software directories. We did give it a mention when Danny showed us how to enhance our coding skills by contributing to an Open source project. Ohloh is the upgraded face of and is also freely available and freely editable by its community. It indexes all text files for search and has syntax highlighting support for 43 programming languages. The search query syntax supported by the service gives you the flexibility to search for different code classes. The search engine presently does not support regular expressions.


Krugle is an open source search portal which taps into open source search repositories like Apache, JavaDocs, and SourceForge among others. You can search for code in C++, Java, Perl, Python, SQL, Ruby, XML, HTML etc.  It is powered by OpenSearch. Krugle also has an advanced search feature that can help you narrow down to the right APIs, libraries, sample code or documentation. From the results page, you can browse to the project developed with the code.


SearchCode sifts through 16 billion lines of open source code from code repositories like GitHub, BitBucket, CodePlex, SourceForge, Fedora and more. The code and documentation search engine is maintained by a single developer. You can use filters like file extensions, specific repo name and URL, regular expressions, and special characters. Specific examples and documentation search support is listed on the Examples page.

NerdyData is a spic ‘n span source code search engine that just had a limited launch. The site claims to have indexed over 140 million webpages for code. If you are a web developer, you will find it of interest because it searches for HTML markup, JavaScript code, or CSS style code snippets. But NerdyData aims to be more than a simple search engine for code as it also is trying to develop a whole list of features around the web development process.

You can also search for documentation; you can do a comparative search to visualize on how many domains a term appears; and you can do a competitor analysis by checking which websites have their code. NerdyData has a free basic plan which lets you do 200 credit searches. Each search feature has a credit score attached to it. You can check out the three pricing plans and try it out with the free features first.

Symbol Hound

Google and other search engines aren’t that good when it comes to searching with special symbols. Google for instance, strips away many punctuation marks and special symbols, if not all. Google does recognize some and here’s a list which you can refer to. So, searching with regular search engines might not return the desired output if you are searching for variable or error codes with special characters. Symbol Hound is an alternative search engine that can help here.


Merobase is a different kind of search engine that helps you search and locate software components. Merobase does search for source code, but it also – and more importantly – can search for software components which are the discrete building blocks of software. It is a module that packages a set of functions. Component-Based Development (CBD) involves the creation of software from pre-written components. Merobase can search for interfaces with simple text based queries. You can also search with function-based, object-oriented, name-based, and test-driven queries. This abstract search method is a highlight of this engine. Merobase searches for components written in Java, C++, and C Sharp.

Are these the only six search engines for seeking out open source code? Well, they do seem to be the best. But if I have missed a blinder somewhere, do let us know in the comments. Searching for reputable source code on the web is one way of learning how to program well. Strange as it may sound, source code references could also be a social handshake with the person who created the code in the first place. The open source community thrives on collaboration. Do you find these alternative search engines useful or would you search within a particular code repository like Google Code, GitHub, or any platform specific repository only?

original article
A few new apps have dropped today like snowflakes preceding an impending storm—of apps! Microsoft released a silly new alarm clock for Android, Dropbox has a new app just for Windows 10, and more in today’s roundup.

  • Facebook is trying to foster more live discussions around sporting events with a new section called Facebook Sports Stadium. It’ll feature live stats alongside your realtime discussions so you can argue with your friends more effectively. [Facebook Newsroom]

original aricle