Competitive Analysis Software
I mentioned earlier that I was writing a Chrome plugin to help us analyze competitor presence on the web. I finished it on Friday. I ran into more issues with the complete solution I wanted to have. Unfortunately, I kept running up against API difficulties. To successfully complete the project in the way that I wanted to, I would have had to circumvent Google’s security restrictions (very difficult) or written a lot of complicated logic to analyze source code and run different code in a different order (not as hard as circumventing Chrome’s security, but still a lot of work). We decided that my ideal solution wasn’t worth the effort, so I reworked my program to run a simpler algorithm with a success rate, that will not perfect, would work for our purposes.
Effective engineering teams need effective communication in order to develop new technologies at breakneck speeds. For this reason, the Browser team, as well as most other teams at New Relic has three types of meetings on a regular basis: planning meetings, standups, and weekly reviews.
As you might think, these meetings are to plan for upcoming events. More specifically, we meet every Monday from 11 am until 12 pm to discuss the goals for the next week. The meetings start with Sam’s musings on the state of the Browser team. Sam is the project manager (on the right), giving his thoughts on the current state of our project. Each person gives an update on what they plan to do over the next week.
We have a “standup” every single day (except Monday and Friday) at 1:15 pm. During standup meetings, we each talk about the individual tasks we have worked on during the day. Standups are much more important for the engineering members, because standups have allowed us to update each other on major errors facing clients, support tickets for bugs, new features, and using new technologies in the Browser product. Nathan, having a primarily non-engineering role, tends to miss some of these.
Every Friday at 1:15 pm, the Browser team meets in Smurf Village, a screen setup like the one in the first photo, to have our weekly review. Each person talks about what they accomplished in the week, relating it back to the planning meeting on Monday. If there is anything demonstration-worthy, such as my finished Competitive Analysis plugin, the person/people who made it can demonstrate it to the rest of the team.
You may have noticed that there are people on computers calling in via Skype or Google Hangouts. Jose currently works at the New Relic headquarters in San Francisco. Since before I’ve been here, he’s been Skyping into meetings for his role on the team. However, he’s moving up to Portland soon. Jonah, on the left, works from Seattle for 2-3 days each week.
This week was special in that the Browser team had completed development on a feature last week, and is now dividing into two sub-teams to work on two new, major features in the product. On Monday, we met as a sub-group to discuss one such feature. The brainstorming process mirrored some of how we made decisions in the robotics lab. We began to define what we wanted the endproduct to do, and from that, created an initial goal for the feature.
I can’t believe there’s only one week left for Senior Projects. This experience has been so great!