Category Archives: 7.4 Industry 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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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.

Follow-up on the Discussions about Knowledge for Knowledge’s Sake

I’ve been enjoy­ing the dis­cus­sion around Patek’s recent video argu­ment for knowl­edge for knowledge’s sake in sev­er­al forums. I thought I’d sum­ma­rize my argu­ments here. To me it looks all pret­ty straight­for­ward.

From a prin­ci­pled stance, as to fund­ing research, it is the funder’s pre­rog­a­tive who to fund. Often, grant pro­pos­als (fund­ing requests) exceed avail­able funds, so the fun­der needs to rank-order the grant pro­pos­als and typ­i­cal­ly will fund those ranked high­est until the funds are exhaust­ed. A pri­vate fun­der may use what­ev­er cri­te­ria they deem appro­pri­ate. Pub­lic fund­ing, i.e. tax­pay­er mon­ey, is more tricky as this is typ­i­cal­ly the gov­ern­ment agen­cies set­ting poli­cies that some­how rank-order fund­ing pro­pos­als for a par­tic­u­lar fund. It seems rather obvi­ous to me that tax­pay­er mon­ey should be spent on some­thing that ben­e­fits soci­ety. Hence, a grant pro­pos­al must promise some of that ben­e­fit. How it does this, can vary. I see at least two dimen­sions along which to argue: Imme­di­a­cy (or risk) and impact. Some­thing that believ­ably pro­vides ben­e­fits soon­er is prefer­able to some­thing that pro­vides ben­e­fits lat­er. Some­thing that believ­ably promis­es a high­er impact is prefer­able to some­thing that pro­vides low­er impact.

Thus, research that promis­es to cure can­cer today is prefer­able over research that explains why teenage girls prefer blue over pink on Mon­days and are gen­er­al­ly unap­proach­able that day. Which is not to say that the teenage girl ques­tion might not get fund­ed: Fun­ders and fund­ing are broad and deep and for every­thing that pub­lic agen­cies won’t fund there is a pri­vate fun­der whose pet peeve would be solv­ing that ques­tion.

The val­ue of research is always rel­a­tive, nev­er absolute, and always to be viewed with­in a par­tic­u­lar eval­u­a­tion frame­work.

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An Alternative View of Funding for Innovation

My rant on what’s wrong with Indus­trie 4.0 argued that it focus­es too nar­row­ly on too incre­men­tal a domain.

The real tec­ton­ic change of the last 20–30 years in my opin­ion is the speed of inno­va­tion that soft­ware gives you over any oth­er tech­nol­o­gy domain. What­ev­er the gad­get or con­cept, if you can add soft­ware to it, you can speed up inno­va­tion by a major fac­tor. The rea­son for this is that soft­ware can be mod­i­fied and brought to mar­ket with­in sec­onds, rather than weeks or months. This is the result of the last ten years of devel­op­ment of “con­tin­u­ous deliv­ery”.

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