Ask these Questions when Applying Machine Learning to People

The field of machine learning matured with applications like spam filtering, targeted advertising, self-driving cars, and weather predictions. As machine learning techniques are increasingly used to make predictions about people, there are a few machine learning ethics questions we need to be asking ourselves.
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Developing Accessible Software: Better Navigation with Skip Links

We’ve talked about how to start following the principles of accessibility. Now we’re going to dig into the nuts and bolts with a real-life example of one of the simplest ways to save time and tedium for users working with assistive technologies. Today, we’re talking about skip links.
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Designing Accessible Software – Breaking Down WCAG 2.0

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) offer a short list of focal areas for website design that can also be applied to software design in general. Here, I’ll break down the four categories of guidelines in WCAG 2.0 and offer some suggestions on how to plan for and evaluate them when designing software.
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Building Accessible Software – a Primer

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a computer user with a disability. You might have impaired vision or hearing, or limited motor control. How do you go about using your computer? How would the way that you use technology be affected if you didn’t see your laptop screen, or didn’t hear notification sounds? Read more on Building Accessible Software – a Primer…

Why FIRST Robotics is My New Favorite Sport

There are five seconds left on the clock, and the Blue Alliance is down by two points. Machine 3536 picks up a ball and speeds toward the opponent’s castle. This is the Blue team’s only hope of surviving the battle. The clock winds down, and the final shot is fired. The crowd is silent. The ball breaches the castle, and the arena erupts in cheers—the Blue team is victorious!
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Volunteering at Hour of Code

Photo by Junfu Han of MLive

On December 10th, 2015, Jeanette and I joined Estabrook Elementary School’s Hour of Code event as coaches. Our job was to encourage and guide students through what was, for many of them, their first formal introduction to computer science. For us, it was an introduction to people who, in 20 years’ time, might work with us. I was especially glad to be there because I live across the street from Estabrook, and some of the kids who go there are my neighbors. Read more on Volunteering at Hour of Code…

Why Software Craftsmanship Needs to be Financially Viable

In 1957, Robert Noyce and the “Traitorous Eight” left Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory to form a little company you might have heard of: Intel. In doing so, they disrupted the employment model of their day. It wasn’t so much that they all left at the same time. It was that they left at all. The expectation at the time was that intelligent, successful people stayed with one employer for most, if not all, of their employment careers. Read more on Why Software Craftsmanship Needs to be Financially Viable…

Six Months with an Apple Watch

When Tim Cook announced the Apple Watch earlier this year, he pitched it as: “a watch, a new way to connect with each other, and a comprehensive health and fitness companion.”

As a software designer who’s been using this watch for six months, I’ve formed some opinions about how successfully these claims have been met and how immense the potential is for this device to set a new paradigm in our lives and work. Read more on Six Months with an Apple Watch…

Does Empathy for Users Blind Us?

For years, the professional software community has agreed that empathy is a good thing. If you can be empathetic, you stand a better chance of creating the sort of software that your users will use and value. After all, once we’re in the head of our users, we should automatically understand exactly what it is that they need.

If only that were true. Read more on Does Empathy for Users Blind Us?…