BC Tech Industry: What To Expect In 2018

geo-fence cities

BC Technology Sector

 

 

The British Columbian tech sector is a hotbed for tech talent and economic growth. Over the past decade, BC tech has been the fastest growing industry in the province and currently accounts for 26 billion in annual revenue. Just a few months ago, Amazon committed to expanding its Vancouver office by adding over 1,000 jobs in the next 10 years.

 

 

BC’s rapid tech expansion, in combination with the political landscape in the United States, could mean more job openings and opportunities to come. With over 90,000 employees, the tech industry already employs more people than oil and gas, forest and mining industries combined. For years politicians and high-level executives have been pushing for a more efficient process to obtain new talent abroad. Companies are finding new ways to lure talent to the beautiful west coast, with desirable working conditions and quality of life.

 

Slack’s Vancouver office: Photo via Betakit https://betakit.com/an-inside-look-at-slacks-renovated-vancouver-office/

 

What does all of this mean heading into 2018? As demand for corporate expansion increases and the need for high-quality workers grows, we could see increased government intervention to aid the process. The average salary for a BC tech employee is 75% higher than BC’s provincial average; earning an average weekly salary of $1,590. Will demand outweigh supply? Will wages rise even more? Will the BC NDP party take action to match the rapid growth?

 

Plugged In Podcast

14 Oranges CEO and founder, Sylvain Marcotte, has been in the BC tech sector for a number of years. Sylvain shares some of the challenges small businesses face in BC and what to expect for the future. Check it out below in the latest edition of BCIT’s Plugged In Podcast.

 

 

Michael Porter and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

There’s a new look for the Board of Trade here in Vancouver, and with the new look a renewed mandate for regional inclusiveness. 14 Oranges joined the Vancouver Board of Trade this year and I attended a great event yesterday at the Vancouver Convention Center put on by the Board of Trade showcasing a presentation by one of the world’s foremost experts on competitive strategy in business and politics, Michael Porter. I will discuss his presentation in detail further on. The preamble to Michael’s presentation involved the unveiling of the name change, slight shift in mandate and new logo of the Board of Trade.

 

Established in 1887, the Vancouver Board of Trade has a long history of helping business grow and succeed in Vancouver not to mention influencing policy and infrastructure decisions in government. The board of directors recently voted unanimously to rebrand the organization to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, after realizing that businesses are thinking regionally and so should they. The new logo was revealed to much applause. We look forward to our continued involvement with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade in the coming year.

Brand new logo for Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

Brand new logo for Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

Michael Porter spoke for about an hour on a variety of topics related to a distinct and present competitive advantage that we have in North America. He was referring to the relatively inexpensive oil and gas we have access to, with modern techniques and of particular interest to me was his reference to BC’s liquid natural gas reserves. Many of the commonly asked questions were addressed by Mr. Porter in a way I hadn’t heard before. For example when addressing the idea that using fossil fuels is environmentally bad and that renewable energy is the way of the future, he agreed but made this point. LNG (liquid natural gas) is far cleaner and more environmentally friendly than coal, no one would dispute this, so let’s sell our LNG to China, Germany and other nations that are currently generating at least some of their electricity in highly polluting coal burning plants. I will paraphrase Michael’s summary, Canada literally has the power to lower the world’s carbon footprint.

And guess what, we would create jobs and pump money into our economy. This leads me to another point Michael made when discussing some of his previous work regarding the Porter Hypothesis which suggests that forcing a company to become greener does not make it less profitable but in fact does the opposite. Porter used the example of water recovery in fracking. Fracking is a method of extracting oil and gas by injecting water into the ground cracking the rock allowing the oil or gas to flow more freely. Fracking is controversial to say the least but it was the example used so bare with me. If a company is forced by environmental rules to recover at least 30% of the water for reuse, it is an initial burden on the company to have to find a solution to recover this water. But once the solution is found there is a 30% decrease in the cost of getting that water to the site forever. This is an easy example of course and there could be lots of discussion on it but that’s for another post.

 

The second topic that I found particularly interesting stemmed from an audience question. As a side note, the conference used a technology I had not seen before called Pigeon Hole Live. We were all shown a link right at the point in the introduction where they ask you to ensure your phones are on silent, and asked to visit it and login. Once there you were able to post a question to the organizers digitally and also see/vote on the questions other had posed. The question that was quickly voted to the top was, “Can Donald Trump negatively impact the progress that has been made on clean energy?”  To be honest the question could have been shortened to Trump? but it was on everyone’s mind, what does the clearly intelligent speaker think of what is happening in his country right now.

Porter’s answer was quite long but he tied it back to some points he had made in his presentation so well. One of the first slides in the presentation showed the median income in the US for the past 20 years. He summarized it with a bit of an I told you so where he showed the nine recommendations he made in 1990 that would have to be undertaken for the US to stay competitive in the world. Not a single one of those nine things have been put in place and the shrinking US median income is a result of the US not being competitive anymore. He pointed out to our primarily Canadian audience that in Canada we actually have many of the things on his list. He applauded our immigration policy and banking regulations to name a few.

He tied this all together by pointing out that Americans are leaning towards Trump simply because they have given the Republicans and the Democrats a shot and they just aren’t getting it done. This frustration is leading the people to lash out in response and side with a loud-mouthed narcissist (my words not his).

Michael Porter simply pointed out that if you have polarization like they do in the US right now, you cannot accomplish anything in politics and the same is true in business. Environmental factors MUST be part of the energy business these days but it cannot be the only side of the argument. Companies MUST stay competitive and profitable but not at the expense of mother earth. As we move towards renewable energy, the best way to do that is encourage the American/Canadian spirit of innovation by creating well paying jobs in a stable environment with a constant push towards being greener.

My thanks to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Michael Porter for helping me look at a few of the world’s problems through a different set of eyes.  Having studied strategy in university it was an absolute pleasure to hear his strategy for a competitive North America and how that relates to what we do every day. With all the bad press about LNG, and fracking these days, I am encouraged after hearing this presentation that it might be the way of the future … promoting a more sustainable world through strategic thinking.  Sunny ways indeed!

 

My Techy Valentine: Mobile Apps to Survive Cupid’s Arrow

 

Remember Valentine’s Day in elementary school, when it was a beautifully simple time because we were all in it together?

Those days are gone.

For adults, Valentine’s Day has turned into a minefield because if you’re not careful, you’ll get a limb blown off. Valentine’s is a lose lose day- if you’re single, you’re immediately pitied and if you’re in a relationship, you’re panicking about your game plan. Since Valentine’s is difficult enough, I have selected and reviewed some mobile apps that will make you laugh, get you drunk, meet bearded men, and escape awkward social situations. For some people that’s university in a nutshell, but for others, these mobile apps will help you have the Valentine’s Day that you want.

Precisely

Precisely

Drink Advisor for iOS

Let’s start with the obvious must-have app for Valentine’s Day- sweet, glorious booze! Drink Advisor works in the ‘biggest cities in the world’ so I was surprised Vancouver was included. The categories were everything from cocktail lounges to nightclubs so there’s certainly something for everyone. I would suggest adding a ‘drinking alone’ option as V-Day approaches. This app was well designed, simple to use and had relevant information like hours of operation included. I could see someone pulling up the app and deciding on a bar in a matter of seconds. Compared to some other bar mobile apps I tried, Drink Advisor (shockingly) didn’t have any ads. I liked that this app showed customer reviews so you could read honest feedback about places. I suspect this app will get an increasing amount of usage as Valentine’s Day looms closer.

Bars for everyone!

Bars for everyone!

Love Quotes for iOS

Why did I do this to myself? Oh right, in an attempt to present a well rounded selection of Valentine’s mobile apps. After rolling my eyes, my first thought is that this app would be perfect for teenagers and girls who love posting inspirational quotes on Instagram. For the small price of nothing (except your dignity), you can download this mobile app and have access to seemingly endless posts about love. The quotes range from a light eye roll to major guffawing so there’s definitely something for everyone. The app is really easy to use and doesn’t have any ads which is much appreciated but it will only appeal to a certain percentage of the population.

BLERGH

BLERGH

Bristlr Dating App for iOS or Android

Vancouver seems to be in a secret contest to compete with the guys on Vikings for facial hair, which means that Bristlr is the perfect mobile dating app for Valentine’s Day. The app claims to be “light-hearted and fun,” and “really just to talk to people with beards” so it will be less pressure for everyone as Valentine’s approaches. Canadians love lumberjacks so this app will make a lot of people in the city very happy. One hilarious part of the app is that it notifies you when someone recycles the same message to other people. Points for creativity! The app is free so give it a whirl and see what bearded guys are out there. If it goes horribly wrong, you’ll have a good story for the bartender when you’ve found a pub using Drink Advisor.

bristlr

Ha! This girl was notified about the uncreative bearded guy

Red Stamp for iOS

Much to my horror, I actually loved this mobile app. I was ready to hate/mock it like ‘Love Quotes’ but it won me over immediately. It’s a classier (and more expensive looking) version of the Valentine’s cards we used to send each other as kids. These cards include photos, personalized messages, custom patterns and colours and so much more. I emailed a card as a test, and I immediately got a reply saying that the card was really pretty and much appreciated (the recipient is a graphic designer so her compliment on design carries more weight). The free options in the mobile app seem endless but there are also some fancy in-app purchases for those who need to make more of an impression (or might be in trouble).

Invite me to your party!

Invite me to your party!

The card categories are logical which makes finding what you want really easy. The UI/UX design is fantastic because the app is seamless and a joy to use. This would explain why it’s been featured in everything from InStyle magazine to the New York Times. However, the most endearing part of the Red Stamp mobile app is that it has an entire section of Galentine’s Day cards for all the Leslie Knope fans!

leslie

Love Card- Double Picture Frames for Valentine’s Day for iOS

In an effort to remain unbiased, I forced myself to download the Valentine Love Card mobile app. There are lots of free photo options like face montages, birthday cards, and of course love cards. The photo options are SUPER cheesy but in a hilarious 80’s way. This mobile app reminds me of the glamour shots from Napoleon Dynamite so maybe that’s the reason I find it more entertaining than the Love Quotes. There’s an endearing quality to this app because it’s not trying to be anything it’s not. The design and graphics are terrible but that doesn’t matter because you’re having too much fun sending dumb photos of yourself to people. I’m looking after a chinchilla for a few weeks so I figured the 542 photos I took of him would be perfect for a Valentine glamour shot. I was definitely not wrong.

*Note: No chinchillas were harmed in the making of this Valentine card.

Image (1)

Totoro is not amused with my card (BUT I AM)

Honourable Mention

Chelsea Handler: Gotta Go! for iOS

The only reason this mobile app got an honourable mention is because it’s not available in Canada yet. Apparently Chelsea doesn’t think Canadians need to escape uncomfortable social situations. As someone who has pretended to be deaf in one ear (yes, just like that Seinfeld episode) to avoid an awkward elevator ride, I would say that we desperately need the app. In fact, Canadians need the app more than most because we’re too polite to just leave, we need a bulletproof escape plan! Chelsea’s mobile app has fantastic, yet believable excuses which can be programmed to come as a text from someone in your phone so it appears legit. I tested another mobile app that was an excuse generator and they were so terrible you’d be better off saying you got hit by a car or just cutting off the friendship forever.

At the very least, this app could save you from a horrible date with a bearded man.

chelsea handler

Round Up

These mobile apps will all but guarantee you the Valentine’s Day that you want. If you want to be a hermit, there’s an app for that. You want to avoid your couple friends, there’s also an app for that! Mobile apps have allowed us the freedom to be struck by Cupid’s bow or completely ignore it. However, I hope that elementary school kids won’t transition to digital cards and lose the joy of delivering little paper Valentines.

Robots!

He’s ready for his close up

The X-Files Revival: Mulder and Scully Are Still Technophobes

As a kid my unhealthy obsession with the X-Files resulted in a lot of Scully Halloween costumes (Go ahead, yuk it up. Thankfully there are no photos) and scaring myself so much I couldn’t sleep. To this day I’m suspicious of vents because of an X-Files episode I saw in 1993. It was a magical time! The X-Files was a cultural touchpoint and pushed the boundaries of the TV landscape which has forever left its mark in our minds and hearts. As such, when the X-Files reboot was announced the internet lit up with excitement. Mulder and Scully were back for another round of investigating paranormal occurrences and fighting the government!

If seeing the X-Files opening credits in primetime again didn’t send a shiver down your spine, you’re dead inside.

Chills, chills, chills

Chills, chills, chills

**There are some spoilers ahead (duh)

Musings from Episode One “My Struggle”

Holy smokes Joel McHale is irritating! From the moment his beat-me face is shown on the TV, I cringed. Even his character’s name, Tad O’Malley, which sounds like a dive bar by a university campus, is horrible. He’s not a terrible actor, this role was just completely wrong for him. The idea of someone being more paranoid and crazy than Mulder is really exciting, but just no. However, I can’t blame him for hitting on Scully though, she’s a national treasure.

Go away, Tad

Go away, Tad

Mulder’s voiceover in the beginning to catch people up to speed was awesome because it showed old photos and monsters (Eugene Tooms will forever be one of the most terrifying villains) but it was strangely executed. Basically, just old set photos were recycled but clearly no one would have been able to take a photo of Mulder and Scully in the freaking forest. Fine, I’ll shut up about that, I know there are creative freedoms required for TV.

One highlight of the first episode was Sveta’s car getting zapped by the alien craft. Throwback to some of the best old X-Files episodes! I enjoyed the throwback to the Roswell crash but it didn’t really go anywhere. However, I did enjoy the government agent gunning down the alien that was trying to crawl away. Let him live! The overarching conspiracy of the first episode didn’t pay off but I appreciate Chris Carter’s attempt. It was cool to see the X-Files set in real time with reference to 9/11 and with Obama laughing about aliens but that wasn’t enough to save it. It was a disappointing first episode that is making me question the entire reboot. Has Chris Carter lost the magic that made the show such a hit?

ICBC probably won't cover that

ICBC probably won’t cover that

Musings from Episode Two “Founder’s Mutation”

Ok, this is exactly what I wanted- there was a cold open and a monster of the week! First off, I need to mention (brag) that the cold open was filmed at the 14 Oranges office at the BCIT Aerospace building! I’ve been missing meeting/seeing Gillian and David for exactly 20 years now so it’s no surprise I missed them again. Sigh. The X-Files have always had fantastic openers in iconic episodes like “Bad Blood”, “Home”, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and the “Post-Modern Prometheus” to name a few. I’m glad that “Founder’s Mutation” stayed true to the winning format because it made the show start to feel back in the swing of things after the dismal first episode.

It's our office!

It’s our office!

Founder’s Mutation has the sci-fi goodness that we’ve come to expect and love from the X-Files. I loved that Mulder and Scully were back in the FBI without a hitch. There was no ‘should we, shouldn’t we’ nonsense, it was pure back in the saddle, grab your flashlight goodness. Also, the guy jamming a letter opener into his brain was a throwback to the gory imagery that we so adored 20 years ago. Good work, Chris Carter, you’ve redeemed yourself!

Technology

Mulder and Scully have smartphones! That seems very anti-Mulder because I would imagine a smartphone would be easier for the government to trace but I’ll ignore that. Scully was also using the internet and made a crack about knowing things because she’s “pre-Google” which gave me a chuckle. One thing that was true to the original old school style, but still confuses me is why they continually use flashlights when they could simply turn the actual light on. I’m counting that plot detail in the technology section because today everyone would just use the flashlight on their smartphone.

Just turn the lights on

Just turn the lights on

I enjoyed the plot detail that Mulder was using Uber which was a nice nod to the modern world of car sharing and transportation technology. By extension this means that Mulder knows how to use a mobile app! I’ll be bitterly disappointed if his Uber username is not Spooky.

With several mentions of hard drives and data centers, this episode showed that Mulder and Scully are still not very comfortable using technology.  Instead of hacking the hard drive or stealing it (please bring the Lone Gunmen back for some hacking!), Mulder instead chose to just take the dead guy’s iPhone. They didn’t rely on their phones for directions or information the way that everyone on earth does today.

Overall X-Files Vibe

Mulder and Scully’s first meeting is clearly outside Terminal City Club in Vancouver so right away it felt like home. Vancouver is the perfect setting because every old X-Files episode starts with ominous music and someone getting chased in a forest while it poured rain. It was perfection! After the ‘meh’ of the first episode, the second episode really hit its stride because the old Vancouver feeling was back. It was like being in a time machine watching and picking out the locations around town like when Scully drove through an alley that was clearly Blood Alley in Gastown.

Outside the Terminal City Club in Vancouver

Outside the Terminal City Club in Vancouver

Mulder and Scully

Mulder needs a nap because he looked very tired. I’m not sure if that’s part of his schtick or if David Duchovny is just tired. Scully continues to be flawless and this time she gets a better wardrobe. Their dynamic was great because it picked up right where they left off. They were comfortable with each other, the banter was returning and they were still a dynamic team. I also noticed that Scully did all the driving!

Other Notable Highlights

  • Skinner is on Mulder and Scully’s side this time
  • The Cigarette Smoking Man is back and appears to be badly burned and could get some extra cash by telling kids not to smoke by enjoying a cigarette through his neck hole
  • The original opening credits were used which made me laugh because it seemed lazy and perfect at the same time. It’s iconic!
  • I think I own Scully’s burgundy pencil skirt
  • The weird old man who has never appeared in the show and then won’t tell Mulder anything doesn’t serve much purpose in general and can go away
That's my skirt!

That’s my skirt!

Inspired by my love of the X-Files, I decided I would add another dimension to my X-perience: mobile games! There isn’t an official X-Files mobile game so I had to make due with what was available.

X-Files Mobile Games

Signs and Wonders- The X-Files Version for iOS

First off, I tried to make Scully my avatar and it wanted to charge me $11.99 for that privilege! Outrageous indeed, so I was stuck with Mulder as my second choice. The in-app purchases basically destroyed this game because you couldn’t get into it without having to pay. One basic level is not enough to make me shell out $11.99 for more. The whole game was Mulder jumping through hoops while a non-threatening UFO with a cow in its beam of light hovered nearby. Also, this app had so many ads that it ruined any enjoyment of the game. Every level completion or milestone resulted in an app. Ick.

Someone save that cow

Someone save that cow

Sunshine Days- X-Files Version for iOS

Since the first game was so dismal I decided to try this one. For this game I was also unable to be Scully either! The premise of this game was to jump on platforms while there was a UFO in the background. When you fall off the platform you have to pay points to get another life. Yes, it was that boring. Very disappointing game and graphics that there was no way I would pay a dime to play more.

Love the eyebrows

Love the eyebrows

Telepathy Zero- Test Your Psychic and Telepathic Abilities and Third Eye for iOS

Ok, this is technically not an X-Files game, but I was desperate for something that didn’t elicit rage. There were mercifully no in-app purchases but the game itself was exactly what was promised. I guess I was expecting more, but it’s just guessing what the next shape will be. There was a cool robot named Lisa in the intro that made me think of Sigourney Weaver but it had nothing to do with the game. Turns out, probably to the surprise of no one, that I’m not at all psychic or telepathic. At this point, my iPod is more telepathic than I am because sometimes I’ll be thinking about a song and it’ll play next. That probably explains why I haven’t won the lotto yet.

The high point of the game

The high point of the game

I would recommend powering through the first episode because it’s mainly a set up for what’s next. According to my internet research, episode three is when things get really good. Go forth, watch it, and let me know what you think!

Will the truth be revealed?

Will the truth be revealed?

9 Mobile Apps to Help You (Realistically) Survive the Post-Holiday Slump

Whoever came up with the idea to pick a resolution for the coming year while you’re drunk on champagne at a party is either an idiot or an huge optimist. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions when I was a teenager (there were easier ways to fail at life) but I’m constantly amazed by the amount of people who continue to do so. January is a horrible wasteland because everyone is broke, hungover/sober, tired and cold. No one wants to go out or do anything that requires effort or money (I will spare you the woes of a January birthday). As such, my mobile app January survival guide includes things the real you will actually do, not the New Year’s resolution version of you. Let the sloth and TV binge watching begin!

Dust off the Snuggie and the Remote

Since in December we spent all our money on merriment and gifts for others (mostly ourselves), everyone will be staying home. Coincidentally, January is when all the new TV shows start up! It’s almost like they planned it… TV Guide Mobile and Netflix iOS or Android will become your new best friends. If you want to be able to tell people you don’t watch TV, I suggest Goodreads iOS or Android for storing your books and seeing friend’s book recommendations. Goodreads has finally fixed a bunch of bugs and design flaws so if you were like me and hated the old app, this one will be way less rage inducing. You may actually enjoy it.

Slice, Slice Baby

The holidays have ended but we still have to eat and drink. Instead of counting pennies or going to McDonald’s (again), bust out the Epicurious app. I tried a new crock pot recipe this week and it was a failure so I welcomed testing this new mobile app. This app is actually better than the desktop site because you don’t need to sign up to browse recipes. There’s a huge selection of food and I picked the ‘Tonnarelli a Cacio e Pepe’ because of the simplicity and delicious looking photo (true story: friend of a friend’s wife had a baby and he told me they named it Pepe to which I replied that my car is named Pepe. The dude hasn’t spoken to me since). The pasta turned out better than that social interaction. Plus, cooking at home will satisfy your empty wallet and desire to wear pajamas while eating.

Everyone says they’ll stop drinking after the holidays but let’s be real- the post holiday misery slump is the reason TO drink. With the Vivino app, you can find the perfect intersection of super cheap but not vinegar. Think of the possibilities to look snooty while at a restaurant! This app is very simple to use and has stopped me from standing around the liquor store inspecting labels trying to remember what I got last time.

Wine is win with an e

Wine is win with an e

Do You Even Lift, Bro?

Since I’m on the lookout for the slightest reason to skip the gym, my most relevant excuse is that it’s too crowded with all the new year’s resolution folks hogging the machines. However, there has been an exciting new addition to the clueless gym attendees- the Instagram generation! These gym goers dress up in sparkly, hilarious outfits and stand in front of the mirror taking pictures of themselves for their social media profiles. Naturally, I ‘accidentally’ stand in their frame or mock them internally (it burns calories) trying to bet on the exact day they’ll stop showing up. So, in two weeks, when everyone stops going to the gym, I’ve got the solution. There are some great apps that you can use at home for when you don’t feel like seeing your butt in stretchy pants or working out next to some guy flexing in the mirror. There’s the Daily Workouts app which lets you pick what area you want to work on and set the increment (5, 8 or 10 minutes). I like to do a few 5 minute rotations so when I’m done I can congratulate myself on how hard I worked out (4 sets! I’m a hero!). I downloaded the app to review it but I got sucked in and enjoyed it way too much. I’ve even kept it on my phone which is high praise for a new mobile app about exercise. You can even watch horrible TV while you do your workouts (not that I know from personal experience).

Leaving on a Jetplane

For us Vancouverites, we are pretty used to the rain, but by mid to late February we start looking to flee to warmer climates. If you’re lucky like me, as soon as you book something, the price drops. With the Hopper mobile app, this won’t be me anymore! You can put a date range and destination in the app if you want it to ‘watch’ for the cheapest flight so it’ll notify you. If you aren’t sure, you can just put a date range in and look at the map to see the price fluctuations. Hopper removes the need to go check flights everyday and it saves you money. If that wasn’t enough for you, Apple voted Hopper the best travel app of 2015!

Honorable Mentions:

Be My Tinderella

Were you Bridget Jonesing it this holiday season? Are all your old high school ‘friends’ that you secretly creep on Facebook married with a baby on the way? If this matters to you, then it’s time to try online dating- it’s not just for perverts anymore, everyone is doing it! January is a great time to give online dating a try because it’s a solid amount of time before the forced ‘what are we?’ awkwardness of Valentine’s Day, plus it’s a good excuse to participate in Dine Out Vancouver (and skip a workout).

The newest online dating app that has everyone buzzing is Hinge because it’s supposedly like having a ‘good host’ introduce people at a cocktail party. There are cards with questions that you answer then it matches you up. It doesn’t sound terribly original but it’ll keep you away from the cesspool of Tinder. I particularly enjoyed the list of things most people are likely to bond and not bond over and one question included asking if you’d ever been to Burning Man. I laughed about that one because these days it’s like asking a hipster if he or she owns vinyl records (sidenote to Hinge: I’d suggest adding a timeframe when Burning Man was truly underground and kids weren’t being dropped off in their parent’s BMWs). You’ve got nothing to lose except your grandma’s disapproving stare, so give it a whirl from the comfort of your couch.

New matches in the new year

New matches in the new year

Let It Snow

OnTheSnow Ski and Snow Report app is highly rated by the interwebs and perfect for snow bunnies. It shows detailed weather conditions for ski resorts around the world. The information is pulled from weather stations and first hand ski reports. I love that it’s essentially the Yelp of skiing.

A new year brings new apps to your phone. With these mobile apps, you’ll be ready to hunker down and ride out the horror of January with food, good TV, questionable wine and meeting people online. The best shows I’ve seen over the holiday are Making a Murderer and the Seven Five which were shocking, exciting and alarming. Give them a whirl while doing your exercises and then reward yourself with wine. The snow on the Vancouver mountains has been great this season so when you can’t scream at the TV anymore, check the conditions and head on up the mountain!

Robots Riding Hoverboards While Flying a Drone: Grandiose Technology Predictions for 2016

Rose Gold Is the New Black

2015 has been an action packed technology year. We’ve seen hacks, drones and a lot of hoverboards in flames. Aaron Sorkin couldn’t even get people excited about a Steve Jobs movie (too soon guys, give it a decade) and self driving cars have quickly taking over roads in California for testing. New Apple products made rose gold a thing (but still not fetch), Google became Alphabet in a strange and unnecessary creation of a umbrella corporation which will hopefully make more sense in 2016.  Since the end of the year is a wonderful time to make grandiose predictions for the coming year, here goes!

Drones

Duh, right? They have gotten a lot of press with the recent ruling about mandatory FAA registration and people crashing the drones they got from Santa. These unmanned aircrafts have taken off (ha!) and in 2016 they will really continue to dominate the skies and our fascination. Amazon has been promising parcel delivery by drone for some time now and I have a sneaking suspicion that it will hit critical mass in 2016. I can’t wait for the time that an Amazon drone will appear at my balcony with whatever I’ve impulsively bought because their one click purchase is the devil. There’s even a “No Drone Zone” sign on the Arthur Laing bridge heading to the Vancouver airport. How glamorous of us!

*Ranking of my excitement: 9/10

Artificial Intelligence

Nothing scares people more than the idea of an evil robot taking over and killing or enslaving the human race. Evil robots have been a pop culture fixture for decades and that theme won’t end anytime soon. The uncanny valley is one major hurdle keeping AI from breaking into the mainstream the way it should have by now. Ex-Machina came out in 2015 which I have mentioned MANY times in previous posts but I shall beat that dead horse again.  That film was the best AI movie I’ve ever seen because the robots didn’t have an uncanny valley problem, and  it quietly illustrated how utterly terrifying AI can/will be due to our hubris. Terminator is unrealistic while Ex-Machina seems like something that we’ll be hearing about next year. Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak has spoken out against AI but their warnings will be ignored. Apple, Google, Facebook and Elon Musk have open sourced all their AI technology so next year we’ll really start to see AI gain momentum.

Ranking of my excitement: 7/10 (I’m cringing imaging how humans will ruin this)

Hacking

A very clever teenager hacked a CIA Director’s AOL email account, Ashley Madison user data was exposed, Jeeps got hacked on the highway and countless more people got screwed over. Vigilante hacking has also risen to prominence by attacking racist websites, threatening to expose evidence that Making a Murderer’s Steven Avery is innocent and even going after ISIS along with many others. The Sony hack in 2014 opened the floodgates for 2015 and I am very confident that next year will have even more hacks and cyber security breaches. Even Hello Kitty user data was hacked, so apparently kids aren’t even safe. Hacking is coming to the forefront of pop culture again so there will be even more high profile cases than 2015- it offers fame and in some cases, money.

Ranking of my excitement: 8/10

Hoverboards

There’s nothing more rewarding than being proven correct in your baseless predictions of technology trends! My hatred of hoverboards is well documented and now everyday online I see articles about hoverboards catching on fire. So, so, so many articles. Hoverboards should be sold with fire extinguishers (please forward me all royalty cheques for that brilliant idea) but they continue to sell and I continue to see people rolling down the street on them. Even though becoming a human torch is very likely, I still expect hoverboards to have a knockout year in 2016. Hey, even Russell Crowe and a priest (doesn’t that sound like the punchline to a horrible joke?) got in on the hoverboard action. There’s no stopping these silly devices from rolling into our everyday lives once the battery issues get resolved. They need to all catch on fire and rest in the depths of their fiery hell, but the opposite will happen.

Ranking of my excitement: 2/10

The Descent of Apple

I remember when the coloured iMac G3s were first announced in 1998 and desperately wanting one. When the first iPod was released in 2001, the tech world had clearly changed forever. Apple was dominating the industry with their innovative, simple designs and the charismatic Steve Jobs at the helm. I wasn’t interested in technology (shhh, don’t tell 14 Oranges) but I was captivated by Apple’s ability to predict and deliver on consumer trends before we knew we wanted colourful computers and to never use a Sony Discman again. They made non-techies able to appreciate and enjoy technology, which was once the exclusive domain of IT folks.

For years Apple was untouchable and the aspirational dream of most tech people. However, I haven’t been excited about anything Apple has announced in years. YEARS! That’s an eternity in technology time (for those who don’t know, tech time is like dog years). Their keynotes and product reveals don’t hold the same surprise and delight that they once did. I don’t watch the livestream anymore or get excited the way I used to. It kills me to have say this, but I predict 2016 won’t be a glorious year for Apple unless there is a dramatic announcement. I’m not saying they’ll be going broke anytime soon, but their stronghold of the consumer tech arena is loosening and next year will be when we really start to notice.  

Ranking of my excitement: 1/10

At one point the iPod was the pinnacle of sophistication

At one point the iPod was the pinnacle of sophistication

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is an exciting possibility that humans haven’t gotten correct yet. It helps that LeBron James is training in VR, Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR were released and people are becoming more open and curious about the technology. What was once a frontier of weirdness has become more accepted into pop culture as athletes and newspapers are jumping onto the VR bandwagon. Video games and movies are going to be a huge market for VR in 2016 as partnerships between Oculus and 20th Century Fox and some others have been announced. Moviegoers would love to watch a movie in VR because it the possibilities are endless! I can’t wait to experience the excitement of sailing on the Titanic, the terror of huddling in a trench in World War I and watching a gladiator fight (are you not entertained?) in the Roman Coliseum. I think that in 2016, the VR technology will be so much further ahead than it is today that what we have right now will look primitive.  

Ranking of my excitement: 10/10

Wearables

My love/hate relationship with wearables has also been well documented, but I still think 2016 will be the year for smartwatches. The Apple Watch flopped because the first gen model did nothing but subsequent updates have made it more useful. Since the Apple Watch came out, I have not seen anyone wearing it on the streets. Not seeing everyone with the latest Apple offering is strange but given how ‘meh’ the watch was, it’s not surprising. Wearables still have a long way to go in order to hit critical mass, however, I think smartwatches will become more common in 2016. Other wearables like Google Glass most likely will flop again, but FitBits and the health side of wearables will continue to grow.

Ranking of my excitement: 4/10

*My excitement ranking is based on if I’m looking forward to the occurrence and how much I think it will affect my life (it’s all science).

The Final Frontier

If I never see another hoverboard again, it will be too soon. Those things are moronic and fire hazards- good riddance. The endless possibilities of drones is thrilling for my retail and instant gratification purposes- bring on the drones! Artificial intelligence will rise up murder us all (maybe while riding hoverboards) in the future but in the meantime I wouldn’t say no to a robot butler. If I had any talent with a computer I might consider a career as a professional hacker, however, I am not. Hackers will be the new rock stars but instead of comparing top 40 hits, they’ll be comparing hacks. Virtual reality will be really exciting in the coming year and I can’t wait to get to explore places in VR. VR will be a sort of time travel experience that I think a lot of people are excited for (plus, it won’t murder us). Wearables have a lot of necessary improvements but when they get to a Star Trek level of usefulness then they’ll be on everyone and we won’t look back.

4 Underrated Mobile Apps That Will Improve Your Everyday Life

Uncrate iOS or Android

Have you ever found yourself wanting some shoelaces that could start a fire or an underwater drill? Well, look no further because Uncrate has those and plenty of other things that I desperately need in my life. The website is great but the app is even better.  The app is clean, easy to use and has the greatest collection of random stuff you never knew you wanted.  The categories of stuff range from technology, to an umbrella that fold backwards and fancy aged bourbon. There really is something for everyone at Uncrate and you can easily fall into a blackhole of time just scrolling through their offerings and marvelling at the randomness and brilliance.  With Christmas coming I can imagine this app will be getting lots of use.

I need this so badly. Uncrate, you can read my mind

I need this so badly. Uncrate, you can read my mind

Songza iOS or Android

For years I’ve told family and friends that if I suddenly get hit by a bus, the first thing to do is throw all my electronics into the ocean, forever keeping my shameful music taste a secret.  Luckily, because of Songza I can keep fewer playlists on my phone and use the streaming service instead.  Plus, I don’t need to download every horrible 90’s one hit wonder that comes into rotation on my favourite playlists.  The glory of Songza is being able to choose music based on your activity or mood.  For example, when I want people to think I’m sophisticated I bust out the “Instrumental Jazz Cocktail Hour” because it’s non intrusive and doesn’t have singing which I find distracting in jazz (feel free to yell at me in the comments).  When it’s just me, I’m more of a “Never-Ending 00’s Hits” kind of gal. One feature I LOVE about Songza is that it keeps track of your favourite playlists and songs so that you can easily pull them up and then download them later.  Also, Songza can be streamed online in addition to their Android and iOS apps.

I'm too ashamed to show you my own playlists so here's a generic one

I’m too ashamed to show you my own playlists so here’s a generic one

Waze iOS or Android

Waze keeps popping up in my daily life so I figured it was a sign.  It first appeared in a Fast Company article, then Aziz Ansari name dropped it on his new Netflix show Master of None (brilliant, I highly recommend it).  So, I bit the bullet and downloaded Waze to see what all the hype was about.  I was driving to North Vancouver from downtown on Saturday so I figured I’d test out the app for you, dear reader.  It was amazing!  It was all real time information regarding traffic jams, construction, and other goings on so I could stealthy maneuver myself to avoid the danger zones. Now, one feature I would love would include a heads up on speed traps.

I avoided that sewer like a pro

I avoided that sewer like a pro

Pinterest iOS or Android

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Pinterest is NOT underrated’ but hear me out before you laugh. Pinterest is synonymous with Bridezillas, hell bent on picking out decorations and mason jar designs that will express their individuality.  This misguided thinking is exactly what kept me off Pinterest for years and the only loser in this equation was me.  You can search ANYTHING on Pinterest and find it.  You can find food guides to Italy, stunning architecture, technology and so much more.  One of my favourite things to do on Pinterest is look at clothing because when it comes to matching outfits and pulling pieces together, I’m pretty hopeless.  After getting my leopard jacket, matching escalated to a new level so I knew it was time for Power Clashing.  Since I had no idea where to start so I consulted Pinterest.  Luckily, Pinterest was waiting for me with open arms and I can consult it like the Matrix’s Oracle.  

See? You can find anything on Pinterest

See? You can find anything on Pinterest

Honorable Mention

GasBuddy iOS or Android

Super simple idea but it’s brilliant and very useful.  I put my postal code in and check out the gas prices on a list or map format.  I don’t need to log in or create an account if I just want to look at prices without contributing anything.  It’s not the greatest UI but it’s functional and simple which I appreciate.  

Look at all that cheap gas!

Look at all that cheap gas!

Facebook’s fbStart Seminar: Couldn’t Get off the Ground

At 14 Oranges, we integrate Facebook with many of our client’s projects so when we heard that Facebook was making an appearance here in Vancouver, we were excited to check it out. fbStart is a new program Facebook is rolling out that encourages Startups and App developers to use their tools.

Facebook hosted an evening event last Tuesday at The Hive downtown to share some information about the latest and greatest of their offerings and how app developers and startups can benefit from taking part.

If you haven’t heard of the Hive before it is a collaborative workspace located next door to Lighthouse Labs. Facebook had arranged for catering including beer and wine so the event was way better than I expected (free wine is my catnip! – kirsten)

Facebook sent up around 7 Facebook employees from Seattle and the Bay Area which included a range of engineers and managers. One of the staffers asked me about my ‘little red flower’ (snerk – kirsten) as she noticed lots of people wearing them and since she’s not from Canada, had no idea what they were for (this makes me want to watch Saving Private Ryan – kirsten).

Matt from Facebook did most of the speaking starting off by welcoming us and giving us a bit of an overview about what they were going to cover. The presentation covered three topics:

  1. FbStart program

As mentioned above, fbStart is a program geared at startups and app developers. This program provides them with lots of free tools and direct support from Facebook engineers. Some more info on fbStart can be found here and here

  1. The Facebook SDK

Matt went on to discuss the Facebook SDK and specifically some of the newer features. These features include: a sharing dialog via the native FB app, a message dialog via native FB Messenger app and FB login plus its use in your apps.  

One of the more interesting parts to this topic were the ideas Matt presented on growing your app. Matt talked about deep linking back to your app from ads ensuring you target specific audiences to specific areas of the app.

Another topic that was definitely of interest to the startups in the room was advertising through Facebook. Matt recommended using using a video or a series of photos because they drive more conversions.  The room got excited when they mentioned FREE Facebook ad credits when you get accepted to the FbStart program.

Matt went on to discuss some more detail on Facebook Ads, specifically focusing on how advertisers can create custom audiences though very specific targeting of truly accurate demographics.

Matt handed the mic over to another Facebooker, this time an expert in the Facebook analytics platform.

  1. Facebook Analytics

One of the most interesting and slightly scary things I learned at this presentation was that if you have the Facebook app installed on your device, app developers can track user demographics (that’s normal – kirsten). The user data is anonymous to the developers but the very detailed demographics information available to the developers can allow them to create very targeted ads or content. Facebook advertisers can then create a custom lookalike audience using analytic statistics for testing purposes.

Most of the other analytic features seemed very similar to Google Analytics and aren’t really worth delving into.

Summary

Matt was back at the mike for the Q&A section which actually was one of the most enjoyable parts of the evening. During the mingling portion, there was an informal Q&A session as well, which gave us all a chance to ask some more detailed questions and schmooze with him.

Please enjoy a few paraphrased highlights of the Q&A session.

Q “What percentage of the applicants to the fbStart program are accepted?”

A “Let’s put it this way, the most likely reason you wouldn’t be accepted would be you didn’t fill the form out correctly.” (this is true for life – kirsten)

Q “Is there a way to implement 2 factor authentication with” {something or other…}

A “Facebook Login implements 2 factor authentication. So use Facebook login and you are using 2 factor authentication”

Q “With the Lookalike audiences, are you able to see what info specifically is being used to create that audience.”

A “No” (well then..- kirsten)

Overall I feel like the fbStart program was a good idea and Facebook was on the right track taking it to the streets so to speak. That being said, the presentation itself just didn’t have the required substance or detail to make it the hugely successful event that it could have been. Facebook advertised Parse in its intro to this event but there was no mention of it and when a question was asked about Parse, they simply shrugged it off saying they didn’t have anyone from Parse there. Strange, because that’s part of the reason I attended.

I felt like I got a salad course with the promise of dessert, but someone forgot to include the steak and potatoes. Fingers crossed they improve the presentation for the next cities because there’s a lot of value in the content.

 

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started my Career as a Developer

14 Oranges is extremely passionate about creating a better community for developers in Vancouver.  We got together to brainstorm 10 things we wished we’d known before starting our careers as devs and presented it to the awesome students at Lighthouse Labs so they wouldn’t make the same mistakes the rest of us did!  Check out the video for:

  • Pros and cons of small and large companies
  • Tips and tricks for job hunting and interviews
  • Networking
  • Work-life balance and more!

*Start the video at 3:18 to see Shane and Sasan’s grad photos!

Nearshoring: The Best Alternative to Offshoring for North American Companies

The digital business environment is incredibly competitive, so organizations rely heavily on cost cutting measures to affect their bottom lines. With engineering costs of application development ever increasing, offshoring technical work can look like an attractive option for many corporations in Seattle and Portland.  However, offshoring presents many challenges such as language barriers, time zones and cultural differences that can easily cost a business more in the long run.  Instead of spending money offshore, companies in Portland and Seattle should be taking advantage of the nearshoring opportunities and knowledge capital just across the border in Vancouver, BC.  

Overall Cost Savings

The value of the Canadian Dollar is great news for American companies providing a real opportunity.  The talent pool north of the border is world class and currently deeply discounted at upwards of 25%. Analysts are predicting that the Canadian dollar will remain low for the rest of the year and into 2016.

Agility Through Proximity

For a company located in Seattle or Portland, nearshoring to Vancouver is a logical way to maximize value and efficiency.  Vancouver, BC shares the same time zone which allows for very easy collaboration and rapid response times.  For example, if there’s a bug, it’s easy to simply pick up the phone and call the Vancouver team instead of waiting for a response from a developer many time zones away in India or China.  

At first it may appear that the per hour rate for offshore developers is cheaper, but the turnover rates are incredibly high and quality issues stemming from miscommunication regularly push this hourly rate higher and higher.

Here’s what one of our clients had to say about nearshoring:

“We initially went overseas for our app development needs in order to save costs. The savings were quickly overshadowed with wasted time, missed meetings, buggy software, and lost code. After meeting face-to-face with 14 Oranges, we decided to make the switch and they were able to pick up where the previous developer left off without a hitch. They are highly responsive and have been able to mentor us throughout the app development project. It has been a pleasure working with 14 Oranges and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for app development projects.” 

WholeLife Holistic Nutrition

Also, if onsite work or collaboration is required, travel from Vancouver to Portland or Seattle is incredibly fast, simple and cost effective.  For example, our Seattle based client Arris scheduled an in-person meeting at their office.  Sylvain was able to drop his children off at school in the morning, drive to Seattle for the meeting and make it back home in time for dinner.  Proximity allows both parties to operate in real time and communicate face to face whenever it’s necessary.   

Cultural Identity

The cultural business landscape along the US-Canadian border is virtually identical; therefore, communication and understanding between organizations will not be impeded by language differences, learning curves or growing pains.  Speaking the same language may seem like an insignificant detail, but when phone and email are the primary methods of communication, language is critical. Existing expectations for how business is conducted will lead to better working relationships and a similar understanding of issues because Vancouver is aware of the political, cultural and social landscape of the West Coast. This understanding is intangible and cannot be taught to companies overseas because it is implicit.

Business Regulations

It bears reminding that with NAFTA, US companies nearshoring to Canada can rest easy knowing their intellectual property is respected and will remain private.  For some companies that have engaged in offshoring, once they have paid their bill, they had no idea the fate of their documents and proprietary information.  As such, nearshoring to Vancouver reduces risk and will save you money on legal fees and the hassle of determining where your intellectual property has ended up.  

In Summary

The allure of offshoring can be tempting to organizations looking for a quick fix to cost savings; however, it is a short term solution.  Offshoring saddles companies with long term risks and headaches which could be easily avoided by choosing nearshoring to Vancouver.  For a fraction of the price, American companies can take advantage of the incredible technical talent pool available in Vancouver.  Our talent understands the West Coast culture and professional expectations that will eliminate miscommunications and allow you to get down to business.  When it comes to technical work, proximity is key.  If business travel is required, Vancouver is just a one hour plane ride to Portland and the same time zone which makes conference calls and emails easy to execute in real time.  As the digital transformation continues, more and more American companies will nearshore development work to Vancouver to capitalize on the cost savings and operational efficiencies.  

Learn more about how nearshoring can help your business

Contact 14 Oranges now at 604-304-0020

Web: www.14oranges.com

Email: sales@14oranges.com