Category Archives: 7. Opinion

Impressions from Installing and Configuring Devolo Home Automation Control Center

As a first step, I had installed remote con­trolled (Z-Wave) ther­mostats for my radi­a­tors. In addi­tion, I installed Devolo’s Con­trol Cen­ter and reg­is­tered on its web­site for access to the con­trol cen­ter. I had thought, from a pri­or email exchange with Devolo’s sup­port, that it would not be nec­es­sary to use their web ser­vice. How­ev­er, I was not able to iden­ti­fy (or find doc­u­men­ta­tion) about a web server or some oth­er man­age­ment UI on the con­trol cen­ter, so I decid­ed to go through their web­site. I resent this, as I didn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly want them to have data on my home con­fig­u­ra­tion, but it was the fastest way to a work­ing set-up.

The first step was still a hard­ware instal­la­tion step. I need­ed to plug-in the con­trol cen­ter box and con­nect it to the Inter­net. My cur­rent solu­tion below uti­lizes a Fritz! pro­duct, Eth­er­net over power-line. The Devolo Con­trol Cen­ter comes with its own built-in Eth­er­net over power-line sup­port and is sup­posed to be plug com­pat­i­ble with the Fritz solu­tion, alas, this did not work out of the box. It is the one remain­ing prob­lem to solve for me, lat­er.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Unwrapping and Experiences with Installing Devolo Home Automation Thermostats

As my first (rather small) home automa­tion project I decid­ed to install remote con­trolled radi­a­tor ther­mostats. (This is also known as a cen­tral ther­mostat and comes with most mod­ern apart­ments, but then my new Berlin apart­ment is rather old and charm­ing. It has no cen­tral ther­mostat, mak­ing me run around the apart­ment every morn­ing to man­u­al­ly adjust the sev­en radi­a­tors.)

I chose Devolo’s “Home Con­trol” ther­mostats and con­trol cen­ter. This is an afford­able entry-level pro­duct into the space of home automa­tion, though the total of sev­en ther­mostats and one (pro­pri­etary) con­trol cen­ter set me back about EUR 600. 

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Making Introductions for Job Interviews

(Cross-posting from

As a human being, as a pro­fes­sion­al, and more recent­ly as a pro­fes­sor, I’m hap­py to help peo­ple find jobs (time per­mit­ting). In fact, as a pro­fes­sor we have tagged HR pro­fes­sion­als in our CRM data­base so that we can reach out eas­i­ly to them. Still, intro­duc­tions for job inter­views require prepa­ra­tion on the side of the job seek­er. There are a cou­ple of things to con­sid­er.

The most com­mon mis­take that job seek­ers make is to ask me: Help me find a job in soft­ware engi­neer­ing or pro­duct man­age­ment or some­thing else. Even if accom­pa­nied by a resume, what am I sup­posed to make of this? Pass on the resume to every com­pa­ny in the world?

The job of job seek­ing starts with the job seek­er. They must find out where they want to go.

If they can’t, they should at least deter­mine some com­pa­nies of inter­est to them and provide them to me so that I can decide whether I can actu­al­ly be of help.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Platforms but no Platform Organizations

One result of our recent case study research on inner source is that companies may not always need platform organizations to get to a platform of shared reusable assets. They will certainly need platforms, but they won't need a dedicated organizational unit to develop and maintain this platform.

You don't have to read the research paper to come this conclusion; common sense is just fine: Through the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), for example, companies like IBM, Oracle, and SAP are able to collaboratively develop the infrastructure of the Internet. The ASF has almost no employees; all work is done by the participating companies (and a few individuals). If companies like these, who fight each other to the death in front of a customer, can join hands to develop competitively non-differentiating software, why can't organizational units inside software companies do this?

This is the idea of inner source: You don't always have to have a dedicated organizational unit to work on a particular component. If the component is of broad enough interest within the company, users of this component might as well chip in and collaboratively develop the component. In the extreme case, and perhaps this is also the best case, no dedicated organizational unit is needed any longer for the development of shared reusable components.

The idea of doing away with a platform organization flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Given that textbooks tell you that product line engineering requires a dedicated platform organization, and leading companies are typically set-up this way, doing away with the platform organization may indeed prove to be too disruptive in the short-term. For this reason, we have developed several solutions that let companies keep their platform organizations.

Read more in the paper or contact us through my group's homepage for research or my company's homepage for commercial consulting.

Challenges to making software engineering research relevant to industry

I just attend­ed FSE 2016, a lead­ing aca­d­e­mic con­fer­ence on soft­ware engi­neer­ing research. As is en vogue, it had a ses­sion on why so much soft­ware engi­neer­ing research seems so removed from real­i­ty. One obser­va­tion was that aca­d­e­mics toil in areas of lit­tle inter­est to prac­tice, pub­lish­ing one incre­men­tal paper of lit­tle rel­e­vance after anoth­er. Anoth­er obser­va­tion was that as empir­i­cal meth­ods have tak­en hold, much research has become as rig­or­ous as it has become irrel­e­vant.

My answer to why so much soft­ware engi­neer­ing research is irrel­e­vant to prac­tice is as straight­for­ward as it is hard to change. The prob­lem rests in the inter­lock­ing of three main forces that con­spire to keep aca­d­e­mics away from doing inter­est­ing and ulti­mate­ly impact­ful research. The­se forces are:

  • Aca­d­e­mic incen­tive sys­tem
  • Access to rel­e­vant data
  • Research meth­ods com­pe­tence

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Putting on their #Gearface (no Google Daydream)

With all the hoopla on Google Day­dream com­ing up, I thought I’d share two pho­tos of peo­ple high on Samsung’s Gear VR. I think Sam­sung chose a bet­ter name for their pro­duct. The sec­ond pho­to clear­ly shows a per­son with a gear­face. Can’t imag­ing call­ing this a day­dream­face. The future is so bright, you’ll have to wear a mobile.

Lost over Call for Open Access for all Scientific Papers

I’m at a loss over the recent reports on the require­ment for all research pub­li­ca­tions to be open access by 2020. Open access means that the research papers are acces­si­ble open­ly with­out a fee. There are plen­ty of con­fus­ing if not out­right wrong state­ments in the press, but I’m not so much con­cerned with poor jour­nal­ism than with the actu­al pro­posed poli­cies.

Sad­ly, I couldn’t find more than this one sen­tence on page 12 of the report linked to from the meet­ings web­site:

Del­e­ga­tions com­mit­ted to open access to sci­en­tific pub­li­ca­tions as the option by default by 2020.

I’d like to under­stand what this means and then how this is sup­posed work. Specif­i­cal­ly, I’d like to know how this is not going to either break free enter­prise or make preda­to­ry pub­lish­ers like Else­vier laugh all the way to the bank.

Con­tin­ue read­ing