“That will never work” – A book about Netflix

That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix by the first CEO and co-founder Marc Randolph : Randolph, Marc: Amazon.se: Böcker

Building a successful start-up seems like a really cool idea – from a distance. I’ve used to teach a course about enterpreneurship, start-up, business models and alike. Although it was nice, I always felt that I’m a person who knows absolutely nothing about this. At least not in practice…

In this book, the original founder of Netflix tells his story about how he took the idea and made it into a product. He tells the story about how the idea hatched, how he, and his team, created a data-driven model of understanding their customers. The book is also about the struggles of start-ups – about taking on investments from the beginning and then being pushed out of the company. It’s about being able to understand what’s best for the company and what’s best for the individual.

I like the way in which the authors describes the story, and also shows a bit of himself: how he felt, how he wanted to build the company and how he decided when to leave (with grace!). I also like his ending of the book – Nobody knows anything! which is a saying that you never really knows what will and will not work in the end.

I recommend this as a Sunday reading to get inspired.

Is software architecture and code the same?

BIld av Stefan Keller från Pixabay

Relationships between software architecture and source code in practice: An exploratory survey and interview – ScienceDirect

Software architecting is one of the crucial activities for a success of your product. There is a BAPO model, there B stands for Business and A for Architecture – and there is a good reason why it is on the second place. It should not dictate your business model, but it should support it.

Well, it is also good that the architecture comes before processes and organization. If software is your product, then it should dictate how you work and how you are organized.

But, how about the software code? For many software programmers and designers, the architecture is a set of diagrams which show logical blocks and software organization, but they are not the ACTUAL code, not the product itself. In one of our research project we study exactly that kind of problem – how to ensure that we keep both aligned, or more accurately, how we can use machine learning to keep the code and architecture synchronized.

Note that I use the word synchronized, not aligned or updated. This is to avoid one of many misconceptions about software architectures — that they are set once and for all. Such an assumption is true for architectures of buildings, but not software. We are, and should be, more flexible than that.

In one of the latest Information and Software Technology issues, I found this interesting study. It is about how architects and programmers perceive software architectures. It shows how architectures evolve and why they are often outdated. It is a survey and I really like where it’s going. Strongly recommend to read if you are into software architectures, programming and the technical side of software engineering….

Cybersecurity, security, and safety…

Image by Robinraj Premchand from Pixabay

During the spring semester, my students did great work looking into the security of a car’s electrical system. They managed to decode signals, understand high-level data, and managed to perform small changes in the car’s function.

It all sounds great as thesis project. Both the students and the company loved this project. It was challenging, it was new, it was useful. But I’m not writing this post about that. I want to write about what has happened, or not happened, after that.

In the months that came after the thesis, I decided to look into mechanisms for how to design and implement secure software. Being a programmer at the bottom, I turned to GitHub for help. I search for tools and libraries for secure software design. I know, I could have searched for something different, but let’s start there.

The results were :

Analysis frameworks:

There were more of these, but most of the same kind. I was a bit amazed by the fact that there is so little outside of web design. I also looked at some of the research in this area (no systematic review, I promised myself not to do one). There I found all kinds of work, but mostly theoretical. The areas of interest:

  • Cryptography: how to encode/decode information, keys, passwords.
  • Secure software design: mostly analysis of vulnerabilities
  • Secure systems: mostly about passwords and vulnerabilities.
  • Privacy: how to keep the private information hidden from third parties (kind of security, but mostly something else – I’m still waiting to understand what).
  • Legacy operations: how to make the software long-lived and provide it with secure infrastructure.
  • Infrastructure: security of the cloud environments, end-to-end security.

Since I worked with software safety, I thought that it would be very similar. However, it was not. The safety community discussed, mostly, standardization, hazards, risks. Very little about code analysis, finding unsafe code, etc. So, mostly something different.

I’ll keep digging and I will run a few experiments with some of my students to understand what the technology could be. However, I’m not as optimistic as I was at the beginning of my search.

Open or close – how we can leverage innovation through collaboration (book review)

Open: The Story of Human Progress : Norberg, Johan: Amazon.se: Böcker

Progress and innovation are very important for the development of our societies. Software engineers are focused on the progress in technology, software, frameworks, and the ways to develop software.

This book is about openness and closeness in modern society. It is a story showing how we benefit from being open and collaborative. I could not stop myself from making parallels to the original work about open software – “The Cathedral and The Bazaar” by Eric Raymond. Although a bit dated, the book opened my view on the open source movement.

We take for granted that we have Linux, GitHub, StackOverflow and all other tools for open collaboration, but it wasn’t always like that. The world used to be full of proprietary software and software engineers were people who turned requirements into products. It was the mighty business analysts who provided the requirements.

Well, we know that this does not work like that. Software engineers are often working on product – they take ownership of these products, they feel proud to create them. It turns out that the openness is the way to go here – when software engineers share code, they feel that they contribute to something bigger. When they keep the code to themselves, … well, I do not know what they feel. I like to create OSS products, docker containers and distribute them. Kind of feels better that way!