Lumbersexual Fashion Trend Sweeps The Nerdery

We were recently called out in Gear Junkie’s article on the Lumbersexual fashion trend and we embraced it. We asked the Nerds to sport their best lumberjack gear and they showed up in droves. I’d bet that everyone had what they wore in their own closet – no shopping required.

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Filed under Nerdery Culture

Why is Website Development So Darn Expensive?


We hear the question, “Why is website development so darn expensive?” a lot. So we rummaged around The Nerdery for three different perspectives (from a Software Developer, a Project Manager and a Solutions Engineer) on the true value of developing software and why you ultimately get what you pay for.

“Getting everyone on the same page is important to create an accurate estimate, scope and timeline.”

-Kurt Schmidt, Director of Project Management

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Filed under Articles

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Outsourced Web Development


The question that all organizations face when building a new website is especially challenging to small businesses on a tight budget – “who can we trust to create our website?” And while a small business, nonprofit or startup may have limited resources, their users have real needs to address.

Outsourcing is a great option when you don’t have the technical skills required internally, though it’s hard to know which kind of outsourcing is right: offshore, freelance, an agency or even your friend’s tech-wiz nephew.

I’ve had to make these tough calls before myself when co-founding startups and have learned that the right answer depends on a combination of your knowledge-level and what you’re willing to risk.

Cheap Has Its Price

It’s easy for someone to promise you that with the budget or constraints you have, you can get exactly what you’re asking for. They want your money, and will say “yes” if that’s what it takes to get it. Then when you get your finished product, surprise! You don’t get what you want after all.

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Core Values Week 2014 – day-by-day diaries

Here are excerpts of some of the messages and stories shared by Nerdery leadership throughout 2014 Core Values Week, starting with a Friday-before preview:

Friday, Oct 17 from Tom O’Neill, President:

My fellow Nerds – I am writing from the Inc. 5000 conference where we are being honored for the amazing growth you all have contributed to. As I packed up to leave for the airport I got a text from Mike Derheim asking to me to grab a book from his office. I didn’t recognize the book but there was an impressive list of leaders on the cover. As I skimmed the list my internal voice read “Ken Blanchard, Warren Buffet, Ira Flatow, Mike Derheim, Bill Gates… wait… what the, MIKE DERHEIM?” I quickly texted Mike back with some thoughts on how I felt about him not sharing this tiny little detail with me yet.

Always humble, Mike thought it was not important to share that he contributed to a book of essays along with some of the world’s most influential leaders. As I read his passage I went from shocked to moved pretty darn quickly. In Mike’s essay, he wrote a personal story about having faith in decisions that are grounded in core values. Now I want to share this edited-down excerpt with Mike’s permission from Marcia McMullen’s new book, “Because You Believed in Me, Vol 2; Contemporary Mentoring Stories”:

“Everyone should be so fortunate to have someone walk into their life and change it forever – someone who challenges them to see things differently. To think big but stay humble. Lucky for me I met Luke Bucklin. Luke believed in empowering people – and in our case, Nerds. He always said if you do the right thing, trust people and spread the leadership, the right things would happen. I could spend hours explaining things Luke taught me. I’ll always come back to one word, one which I believe defined Luke. That word is ‘faith.’ Echoing in my memory’s ear, I hear Luke saying things like, ‘Mike, don’t worry so much. We did the right thing.’ It took me a long time to realize what he meant and how revolutionary an idea it is to just believe – blindly, completely, totally – in your decisions and core values. I could’ve easily spent all my energy trying to figure out what the worst case scenario was, and how to avoid it. Luke dismissed the worst case immediately because he knew whatever we did was based on what we felt was right. That Luke could so gracefully navigate complex times by following relatively simple ideas – and faith – well, it gives me peace and always will.” - Mike Derheim

I love Mike’s reference to “relatively simple ideas” in his essay. Our core values are relatively simple ideas. Ultimately we all want to do the best we can to serve our customers and make this place great. We are more effective as a team when we all agree on what “the right thing” is. For us it is:

  • Integrity in All Circumstances
  • Solve Problems Pragmatically
  • Win by Empowering People
  • Be Humble
  • Constantly Push Boundaries

I am very proud of how far we have come and incredibly excited about the next few years of our journey. We have a long, tough, exhilarating road ahead – many roads, really. Audacious goals. Lots more changes. Awesome challenges. We’ll confront challenges we don’t yet know exist and may not see coming, but on we go, armed with a vision we know by heart, and guided by core values that point a true direction. I for one, have faith that we all will do our best to do the right thing. Enjoy your weekend ladies and gentlemen, more to come.

– Tom O’Neill, President

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Digital PM Summit preview w/speakers Megan Wilker and Kurt Schmidt

This podcast is a conversation about digital project management with two leaders in the field: Clockwork COO Megan Wilker and Kurt Schmidt, Director of Project Management here at The Nerdery – both invited to speak at today’s Digital PM Summit in Austin, Texas – no spoilers in this preview. Kurt also talks with Megan about the growing community-of-peers she founded called the Twin Cities Interactive Project Management Meetup.



Filed under Uncategorized

How big data can help your business, big or small


In recent years, you’ve probably heard a lot about “big data” or Apache Hadoop but little of it  has been enlightening or inspiring (maybe a bit mysterious like a good twist to a movie). Big data is really just a buzz  word for now, but it’s what we use when we’re talking about a collection of large and complex data sets that are analyzed to reveal patterns. Some say it’s solving big problems for big businesses like Google, US Bank, and other large enterprises out there. Some say it’s too complicated for “an ordinary developer” to do. We’ll try to answer some of these questions, dispel some of these myths, and most importantly, show you how you and your business can use big data to solve your problems… big or small.

“Try turning what you used to see as a trash can into real money for your business.”

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Why most thoughts of emerging tech are wrong – a MindSurf Conference preview

bell curve with adoption gap right after the early adopters and before mass adoptionWhen most people think of emerging technology they either thinking of flashy tech demos powered by smoke-and-mirrors or a rough pre-production prototype not quite ready for primetime. But emerging technology is past the prototype stage and at the tail end of the early adopter curve. The reason why we don’t see it everywhere is because it’s sitting on the edge of what analysts call the adoption gap.

My favorite example of emerging technology is Lasik corrective eye surgery and how for many years I heard people say, “Sure, I know it’s safe – but I’ll let some other people get lasers shot into their eyes for a few more years… because, well… lasers in the eye!” Even though it had over a decade of medical research, FDA approval, and a lot of success stories, it took years before Lasik crossed the adoption gap into being a mainstream procedure.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 10.01.10 AMYou can catch my presentation about emerging technology at the upcoming MindSurf Conference on October 9th at the Benchmark Learning Center.

I’ve given variations of this talk a few times – my presentation about looking forward to the emerging technology of tomorrow always opens peoples’ eyes once we start talking about current-day applications. Thinking about technology that we have access to today and giving people a chance to dream about possibilities is my favorite part. We’re moving into a world driven by contextual-awareness, and new technologies at our disposal can help create new meaningful experiences.


Filed under Events

Quality Assurance Pro Tips – Learn from Apple’s recent HealthKit bug


Many of you already know the buzz going on with iOS 8 and some critical issues which occurred with Apple’s first iOS 8.0.1 software update on Wednesday, September 24th. A major bug with the HealthKit feature was discovered prior to the iOS 8.0 release, which resulted in Apple pulling all HealthKit enabled apps from the App Store ahead of the public release, leaving 3rd-party devs uncertain as to the fate of their Apps.

iOS Health app

The major issue that was reported is unknown, but Apple promised a quick fix for the major bug. One week after the iOS 8.0 release, iOS 8.0.1 was released to the public to fix the HealthKit issue and allow related apps back into the App Store. One hour and 15 minutes after the release, iOS 8.0.1 was taken down after critical issues were discovered with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners. This resulted in users losing cellular service and malfunctions with the Touch ID feature.

“How could a fix for the HealthKit feature that tracks your calories burned, sleep duration, nutrition and other features, be the cause for users being unable to make or receive phone calls?”

iOS 8.0.2 was released the very next day and contained fixes for the critical issues that came with iOS 8.0.1, as well as the HealthKit issue and other minor bug fixes. So you may be asking yourself, “How could a fix for the HealthKit feature that tracks your calories burned, sleep duration, nutrition and other features, be the cause for users being unable to make or receive phone calls?” Well, the answer is, there’s no real way of knowing for sure how it happened. Just that, it happened.

Whenever new code is implemented for a fix, there’s always a possibility of that fix causing new bugs to occur, which can be in a related area of the software or in a seemingly unrelated area from the original issue. That is why after re-testing the fix that was implemented, it is always best practice to perform regression testing around the affected area, to ensure no other issues were caused by the change.

In this particular case where the issue is related to a major firmware/software update which will affect millions of consumers. The best practice in this case would be to not only re-test the fix and perform regression testing around the affected area of functionality, but to also fully test all major functionality of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (as well as all other devices that support the firmware/software update) before releasing the update to the public. Making/receiving phone calls, sending/receiving emails, sending/receiving text/video messages, taking photos/videos, keyboard functionality, the notification center/alerts, wifi, syncing with iTunes, the locked screen, Siri and all other major functionality the iPhones are capable of performing.

There are a couple things we can take away from this situation. First is that more testing will always be better than less testing. If the budget allows for it, perform as much testing as you possibly can if a major update is ready (code complete) before releasing to the general public as well as continuing testing post deployment.

Also be sure to perform a full test sweep of all functionality a device/website/application is capable of performing to ensure nothing was affected by the update and after deployment. Never rush through quality assurance (QA) and always take your time when performing your test sweep, ensuring all critical and major issues have been discovered. The general public will thank you for taking the time to thoroughly test your software so that they don’t have to.


Developing for Next Generation Touchscreen Computers


More than just Mobile Devices: Where touch detection breaks down

When you think of “touch,” mobile phones and tablets may immediately come to mind. Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to overlook the newest crop of touch-driven devices, such as Chromebook laptops that employ both a touchscreen and a trackpad, and Windows 8 machines paired with touchscreen monitors. In this article, you’ll learn how to conquer the interesting challenges presented by these “hybrid” devices that can employ both mouse and touch input. In the browser, the Document Object Model (DOM) started with one main interface to facilitate user pointer input: MouseEvent. Over the years, the methods of input have grown to include the pen/stylus, touch, and a plethora of others. Modern web browsers must continually stay on top of these new input devices by either converting to mouse events or adding an additional event interface. In recent years, however, it has become apparent that dividing these forms of input – as opposed to unifying and normalizing – is becoming problematic when hardware supports more than one method of input. Programmers are then forced to write entire libraries just to unify all the event interfaces (mouse, touch, pen, etc). So how did mouse and touch events come to be separate interfaces? Going forward, are all new forms of input going to need their own event interface? How do I unify mouse and touch now?

Is this article for me?

The solutions in this article are specific in nature – only applications that require heavy user interaction (games, HTML canvas application, drag & drop widgets, etc) fall within the target application of the solutions discussed. Click driven interactions (ie. regular websites) do not necessarily need to worry about user-input methods, as click events will be fired regardless of the user’s input method.

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Filed under Tech Tips, Technology

Overnight Web Challenge Founder Honored With Titans of Technology Award


This podcast was recorded just days before Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge founder Mark Hurlburt was to be honored by Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal as a Titans of Technology Award recipient in the Community Hero category.

Whether you’re a Web Challenge vet or you know very little about this 24-hour community service initiative, you’ll learn something from this podcast about the history and evolution of The Nerdery’s pro bono endeavor. Since 2008, Web Challenge volunteers have freely given more than $5 million in professional web development services to 144 nonprofits in the Twin Cities, Chicago and Kansas City.

Not (yet) included in this recording is a voiceover by James Earl Jones saying, “Mark Hurlburt. Technology Titan. Community Hero” (hopefully coming soon, budget permitting). But if I could be serious for a moment I’d say that it’s been the greatest among many pleasures of my Nerdery career to work with Mark on the Overnight Website Challenge from the humble beginnings of his idea. Congrats for this well-deserved honor.



Filed under NerdCast