Speech Recognition and Synthesis in the Browser

With the recent upsurge of Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, speech recognition and synthesis have become an increasingly important tool in the developer’s toolbox. Working with speech data can not only improve the accessibility of your application. It can also increase conversion in your webshop, especially when customers shop on their mobile phones. Native apps have a large advantage in this space, as Apple’s SiriKit and Google’s Assistant SDK can get you up and running in a few minutes to hours.

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Thermometer sessions – Gaining insight in your team

Looking for inspiration on how to gain a shared insight in the current state of your team? And curious how to find actions for your team to improve? Read below about the ‘thermometer session’, a workshop that we designed to improve our own business unit. The goal of these sessions is to get an insight in the current & desired state of the unit. In other words: how does the team feel currently about the unit and how do they think it should be. Based on these insights we take action to further improve our unit, which results in a happier working environment for everybody.

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Improving a Team’s Collective Intelligence. Feedback Please!

It seems all over nowadays. Teams do it, peers do it, managers do it. Feedback here, feedback there, feedback everywhere. Feedback seems here to stay. Why? Because it makes people stronger. They learn how they behave and how their behaviour affects others. This transparency enables individuals to change and start experimenting with more effective behaviour. Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply a feedback instrument to the whole team? Improving team feedback!

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Building an AR app in a day

Recently we did a Techrally day at one of our clients, Intergamma. The client provided a couple of subjects of their interest, from voice search to automated classification. With a team of 4, we decided to build an augmented reality mobile app which shows DIY assembly instructions to help a customer ‘on the spot’. Did we succeed? Read on…

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Kubernetes-native continuous delivery pipelines with Brigade

In my quest for the ultimate tool for continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines on a Kubernetes cluster, I’ve previously looked at well-known options such as Gitlab and Jenkins. These tools may have integrations with Kubernetes, but are usually anything but lightweight. If you just want to get your code from point A (git) to point B (a production Kubernetes cluster), you may be interested in a new tool named “Brigade“.

Brigade was introduced by Microsoft late last year. It’s an event-driven scripting tool for Kubernetes which aims to make CI/CD pipelines on a cluster easier. Contrary to many other tools, it tells developers to “leave your YAML at home”, instead opting for JavaScript.

In this blog, I’d like to walk you through the steps of setting up your first basic CI/CD pipeline with Brigade.

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Migrating your front-end to React, step by step.

Around you, small companies and startups are using React. Taking advantage of React’s composable architecture and modern tooling, they put out new features at a speed you could only dream of. You’d like to start using React as well, or perhaps you already introduced it for some small components. But you simply can’t afford to rewrite your entire front-end! Your customers are using your front-end daily, and they expect maintenance and new features! Luckily, you don’t have to rewrite, and you shouldn’t, really! You can migrate to React one small piece at a time.

In this article, I’ll demonstrate how you can wrap your existing code in a React component, untangle your application’s states and their representation, and open up the potential for further refactoring, without breaking your current application.

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Behavioural science, a way to influence human behaviour

We as humans make numerous decisions every day without even realising it. Even when making decisions which have a relative big impact on our lives, we often do this rather irrationally. How else for example could it be that a majority of people under-save for retirement? This is not based on a careful evaluation of cost and benefit.

So you see, even when it comes down to economic decisions-making, we see that this is most often based on something other than rational thinking. Our decisions are often susceptible to systematic biases in which our brain responds to impulses and external triggers in a predictably irrational manner.

Insights drawn from fundamental research in behavioural science make it possible to influence human behaviour and to be able to make predictions in how humans will respond to certain triggers. As a UX Designer, Marketeer or entrepreneur you are looking for ways to apply principles that influence customers and which lead to significant measurable results.

To which triggers does our human brain respond and in which way? How can we steer human behaviour and how can we apply design principles? These and other questions were answered, during the hands-on workshop at the Multichannel Conference Utrecht on April 19th 2018, by Eva Hörner and Harm Jan Luth, both UX Lead at Xebia.

Kubernetes in the cloud: the 6 best options

The container wars are over. Kubernetes has won. The fact that Docker even integrates it in it’s desktop version says enough. But creating and maintaining a K8S cluster is still hard. You need to know a lot of the internals of Kubernetes, like etcd, overlay networking and more. And you need to be an expert in all the components: ingress, configmaps, pods and so on. So think twice before creating and managing your own cluster. Instead, choose one of the managed Kubernetes services.

Running Kubernetes in the cloud

Until a few months ago, your best (and probably only) option to run a cluster in the cloud was GKE. But things have changed. There are a lot of viable alternatives. So I decided to write a blog about these alternatives. In my blog I cover Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Tectonic by CoreOs, Azure Container Service (AKS), Openshift by Red Hat and Rancher 2.0. All of  them are fully managed and take care of upgrading, scaling and monitoring your cluster. And if you reall want to run your own Kubernetes, take a look at the various tools that exist to spin up a cluster. These tools are maturing pretty quickly. Just keep in mind: managing a cluster is harder than just creating one!

Read more on the blogpost on Instruqt

Learning by doing

If you want to try out Kubernetes yourself, learn more about it on Instruqt. It offers online courses and tracks for DevOps tools and Cloud services. By solving challenges, you will learn new stuff by doing, instead of watching video’s or following boring tutorials. Try it out for yourself and create an account on Instruqt. And please let us know what you think, we love to get your feedback. And if you are interested in using Instruqt in your company, let’s get a coffee!

Kubernetes on Instruqt

A screenshot of the online course for Kubernetes


Is Scrum Agile and is Agile Scrum?

2 minutes read

drawing by Alexander Koffeman

(drawing by Alexander)


The short version: yes and no! Scrum is Agile but Agile is not (only) Scrum.


Future Fit Organizations

Organizations want to become flexible and Agile or as we like to call it at Xebia: Future Fit. Just like when you go to the gym and want to become fitter. Yes, there are more ways to achieve that.

You can see Agile as a container for multiple ways of working. In case of the gym there are many sport activities you can do. Scrum is one of the frameworks that could help you to become more Agile. Besides Scrum there are more sport programs (Kanban, DSDM, XP) that supports the organization to become Agile.

That`s just the basic explanation, but Agile is a lot more than just a container. Agile is about mindset, the way you think, the values that you live by. You can read more about Agile in the Agile Manifesto.

Experiential Learning

Scrum is simple to understand and difficult to master. In practice this means that it will take time to really understand why each component within the framework serves a specific purpose and is essential to Scrum’s success and usage. With Scrum you work in short iterations named “Sprints”. At the end of every Sprint you deliver a potentially releasable product increment. The core of Scrum is based on empiricism. That means that you will decide on actual experiential learnings what you will do next. This will show in Scrum on the following three pillars: transparency, inspect and adapt. Everything within Scrum is interwoven with these aspects. For example the Sprint Retrospective is the moment for the Scrum team to look back at the Sprint (inspect) to see if they can improve (adapt). You can read more details about Scrum in the Scrum Guide.

In my next blogpost you can read more about Scrum. Hope that this helps you to explain the difference between Agile and Scrum!

Please let me know if this helps you and drop a comment below!

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