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Think of your technology systems as a car: a tool that your company’s leaders use to get to their destination.

When designing and building this car, critical elements must receive sufficient focus. Here is my Top 5 list.

  1. The engine and the drivetrain: The operating platform must be reliable and adaptive so we can drive on highways, city roads and suburb trails. Cloud native is definitely the prominent trend here.
  2. Speedometer and brakes: To be able to drive fast without going out of control, we need to have good sensors and control systems. …

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Tradeoffs can be agonizing when you don’t have easy access to good data

If you drive in North America or Europe, you often have to face this simple tradeoff: Time Savings vs. Toll Charges. The decision is actually not an easy one. Time Saving is dependent on traffic conditions on two different routes; even the toll charge is not straightforward because it varies based on time of day and/or day of the week.

So we have little choice but to take an educated guess, every single time.

My colleague Dinesh inspired me to tackle this. Upon searching for existing solution, I was quite surprised none of the navigation apps offer useful info. …

I was curious to find out. Is upstart Mapbox just as good or better? Has Apple Maps improved sufficiently? What about the MapQuest which I haven’t explored in a while?

Fortunately, all of them offer their routing engines as APIs. So, it’s possible to build a comparison tool to visualize those routes on the same base map.

I brought all these 8 engines together and created SuperRoute.

Just enter your source and destination of your daily commute or weekend trips, you will be able to see the routes shown in different colors.

  1. 🟦 Google Maps — Directions API
  2. Apple…

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For seniors, smartphones can be a source of headaches. The text are tiny (even on large screen models), its touch interface requires a lot of dexterity and typing on the soft keyboard can be difficult.

It gets harder if your first language is not English.

As a result, paying bills online or looking up the opening hours of a nearby restaurant, is not as easy as it is for our elders.

Thankfully, this can be improved if we acknowledge their needs. Our population is growing older quickly. By 2030, seniors will make up 23% of the Canadian population.

Developers and testers depend on a lot of infrastructure (from Active Directory, VPN, stable/secure/compliant environments) to do their magic. There are a few small, but not-so-obvious things that infrastructure teams can do to make their dev/test teams daily work easier.

  • Overview diagrams and description of add-ons we use on top of vanilla OS, why they are there and what they do (e.g. management policies, malware protection, inbound/outbound firewall rules, etc.). Troubleshooting is much easier when developers/testers have a big picture view into the operating environment the application lives in.
  • Availability of “isolated sandboxes” where experienced developers/testers can validate their hypothesis…

There are a few simple things you can do before that final commit to make your code more friendly to everyone.

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a) Your fellow engineers (and successors who you may never meet) will read the source, digest the change history, fix bugs and delete chunks of it gingerly in the years to come.

b) Your colleagues on the Release team will read your code to figure out why the build stops working on a Friday afternoon. Is it the code, the tests, the toolchain upgrade or an underlying OS patches that broke it?

c) The infrastructure team, who may be…

I am particularly encouraged by tech giants like Microsoft (who has 3500+ open-source repos on Github) and Google who continue to embrace the open source ideals and give back to the community as they invent their next big things.

Did a little giveback myself and open-sourced a Trip Simulator to make life easier for developers who create location-based iOS apps.

At the same time, I took the opportunity to dig deeper into Swift, macOS native app development and gained some first-hand perspectives into the upcoming Apple Silicon Macs.

Here are the top 3 learnings from my journey to Mac…

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Over time, I have learned that the promises of most new and shiny platforms are legitimate, but the downsides are rarely as well understood until you roll up your sleeves to build something with it.

I gained some first hand perspectives recently after building cloud functions for two new Sidekick features.

  1. When was I here? — Sidekick now allows you to turn back the clock and see when you last visited a particular restaurant or landmarks. E.g. you can ask Sidekick: when was the last time I visited CN Tower? If you have location history enabled in Google, you can…

One stop shop?

If you are aiming at making a best-in-class mobile app, offline capabilities is a must-have. Apps like Google Photos, Spotify, Flipboard and Waze would not have been as successful if they require continuous access to the Internet.

From an architecture viewpoint, this means you need to choose an on-device datastore.

I have been a fan of Google’s Firebase suite and therefore Firestore is my default mobile database of choice.

In 2020, MongoDB has merged with its core engine and brought the best of both worlds together. I have found the new MongoDB Realm platform increasingly appealing. The Firebase suite…

First things first. Let’s start with Why?

Why? During shelter-at-home, I have found it too easy to turn a 20-minute trip into a 1-hr wandering in Wal*Mart because my brain is starting to crave away time. So, I made this tool to help ourselves better manage time.

How? Once installed, it automatically starts a timer as you leave your home wifi network (you don’t need to manually launch the app or press any buttons).

What? Every 15 minutes*, it will remind you using a notification with an unique beep. …

Billy Lo

I enjoy learning, creative engineering & reading.,,,,

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