Reconciling in Koku 2.5

22 April 2013

okayhollywood

We have gotten a lot of emails regarding the removal of our previous reconciliation functionality within Koku. We found that most users requested that we provide a heartier method to this approach, so we are taking the opportunity to reevaluate how we could provide reconciliation in the future.

For now we would recommend this fast and easy approach to for those who use this functionality within Koku to utilizing the blue “unseen/seen” indicators as well as the ability to lock transactions.

Blue "Unseen/Seen" Indicator

Blue dots appear when you import transactions from a file or when your bank provides new transactions on the server and they are downloaded into Koku. The blue dots are referring to transactions that have not been “seen” yet.

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If you click on a transaction to edit the note or add tags, you’ll notice that the blue dot is no longer visible. You can reset the blue dot by right clicking the transaction and choosing  > Mark as Unseen. These blue dots can be a great reference to those transactions that still need your attention.

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(Hint - you can use the keyboard shortcut ⌘K to quickly mark transactions as unseen or seen.)

Locking your Transactions

Once all of your transactions have been cleared and tagged, there is functionality within Koku to lock these transactions. You can lock transactions by right clicking the transaction and choosing > Mark As Locked.

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Locked transactions will turn grey and cannot be edited until you unlock them. This can help you to distinguish alongside the blue dots of new transactions what still needs to be cleared.

(Hint - to unlock a transaction right click the transaction and choose > Mark as Unlocked or use keyboard shortcut ⌘ L)

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If you have any questions about this functionality please do not hesitate to contact our support team at support@fadingred.com.

Diversity in Technology

29 March 2013

wbyoung

I’ve been a software developer for quite a long time now. Over the years I’ve worked with people from different backgrounds who have varying beliefs. The field of technology is full of eccentric people, but to say it is diverse is far from true. US companies that employ programmers constantly face diversity challenges. One of the most obvious challenges is getting women and other minorities involved in our field.

I’m fortunate to work with five other really smart people at FadingRed, but our programming force is still skewed. Out of our 4 developers, Brittany Tarvin, who co-founded our company, is the only woman (though our designer is learning to program). Not satisfied with the status quo, she’s been taking small steps to raise awareness and interest for women in technology.

This month CocoaConf, a conference for Mac, iPhone, and iPad developers came to Chicago. This conference featured speakers who talked about the nitty-gritty technical details of development. Brittany and I were both invited to speak at the conference, and Brittany was asked to give a keynote presentation on women in technology. Her courage to stand up in front of a room full of ninety percent men and tell her story inspired great hallway conversations from the attendees of the conference. I’ve learned from my past experiences with men in technology that some understand that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and others don’t. Occasionally, I’ve had a hard time conveying the importance of focusing on diversity with other men. But after Brittany’s keynote, everyone at the conference was convinced. People were talking about how diversity affects small companies, getting kids involved in programming at a younger age, among other topics. The discussions were nothing but positive and very uplifting. I’ve been left with a lot of hope about where things could be in a few years.

Shortly after the conference, I attended the launch party for Girl Develop It in Chicago. Girl Develop It is an organization that focuses on teaching women how to program, and it is a very inclusive organization that accepts anyone as students, teachers, or mentors. Chicago has been increasingly becoming a technology hub, and the turnout of nearly 100 women (and approximately 7 men) interested in technology and learning to write code excited me. I had the opportunity to talk to women who were learning different programming languages and some who hadn’t started yet, but were looking for advice on where to start. Every woman I talked to was extremely excited about learning more about technology. If you’re in the Chicago area and interested in learning to program, check out Girl Develop It.

This month has been full of positive experiences for me, and I’m excited about the future as our community continues to work together toward increasing diversity.

Thoughts on How Some Companies Hire Software Developers

28 February 2013

rguequierre-deactivated20131116

A year and a half ago I was in the market for a new job as a software developer. I already had a stable job at the time, and although I was working remotely and felt rather isolated, I wasn’t outright desperate to find something different. That is to say, I wasn’t prepared to jump ship for just any new position. Now after 18 months at FadingRed I can say without reservation that I made a good decision. However, I do have an observation from the job hunting process that I’ve continued to mull over for some time.

One pattern I noticed was that some companies would effectively state in their developer job postings that the ideal candidate would live and breathe the technology in question. The expectation seemed to be that it would be her one motivation in life. Immediately upon returning home from work, she would fire up her own computer and do more of exactly the same work. There would simply be no stopping her. If the job posting would mention any kind of breadth, it was often simply a matter of more of the same: familiarity with slightly different programming languages, slightly different application libraries, slightly different platforms.

On the one hand, I can see that the intention might be to find someone who is actually serious about the work being offered, which is not an unreasonable goal. However, it comes across as a search for someone whose drive and motivation can be easily exploited. The thinking appears to be that, hey, the candidate would do this work on his own even if he weren’t being paid, so not only can we probably get him for cheap, but he also might just be willing to work eighty hours a week without complaint.

There are numerous problems with this mindset. The very first is that even if a company does manage to find a developer fitting that criteria, he will very likely burn out in short order. Thereafter, all the productivity the company dreamed he would provide with his manic zeal will simply plummet, or else he will just end up looking for a new job. At that point, every single penny invested in hiring him and building up his knowledge to be a productive member of the company will be lost. Furthermore, whatever work he did end up completing during his tenure will then need to be maintained by someone else, someone who will need to spend many hours trying to read and understand his code without being able to ask him for clarification about how this or that part of it was intended to work.

Another problem is perhaps more insidious but more difficult to quantify. A job candidate that is so deeply focused on one small area of technology has an increased risk of missing the forest for the trees or of staying the course and being left behind when the industry moves on to new things. Wikipedia has a nice rewording of a somewhat overused and thus trite, albeit relevant, proverb: If a person is familiar with a certain, single subject, they may have a confirmation bias to believe that it is the answer to everything.1

I find it odd that in technology circles I rarely hear of what appears to be a common idea in design fields, which is that of the T-shaped designer. This is someone who has deep knowledge of and expertise in at least one area of her field (represented by the vertical stroke of the T), but also a very broad, general understanding of many other topics beyond that area of expertise (the horizontal stroke). The expertise allows her to accomplish real work. Meanwhile, having broad knowledge helps her to discover new paths to accomplishing tasks for which the traditional or well known methods might for some reason not be optimal or appropriate.

I’m hardly the first to say it, but it bears repeating since I don’t believe it to be fully accepted or understood within many companies: software development is primarily a creative or design process. It is quite distinct from production work, on which much of management teaching seems to have been focused for most of the last century.2 Production in the software world is nothing more than a file copy or download. At the most antiquated, it’s another pressing of a CD or DVD.

Indeed a great deal of software development work involves doing something new and different, each and every time. It might be slightly different or entirely different. If it were exactly the same, then one need but reuse verbatim the very same code written the last time it was required. Doing so would effectively be nothing more than selling or distributing one more copy of the most recently released product, and if that were sufficient then there would no longer be any need to hire or retain software developers. Instead the developer finds herself in situations where she must constantly generate new and different work, which requires continual decision making and weighing of the advantages and disadvantages of any given approach. Again, having broad experience allows for insights that help her better navigate that decision making process, which will ultimately lead to higher quality products which more strongly benefit the company.

Ultimately I believe that job postings that show a preference for single minded developers with narrow interests show little respect for the candidates being sought, as well as a lack of understanding of what will actually be beneficial for the company itself. Such postings are painfully indicative of the type of organization that is doing the hiring and of what it might be like to work for them. A healthy company must have respect for its employees, and I do mean all employees even though my focus has been on software developers. This respect can then be reciprocated by the employee through motivation, enthusiasm and productive, high quality work, which is absolutely in the company’s very best interest.

1. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/if_all_you_have_is_a_hammer,_everything_looks_like_a_nail

2. See Chapter 2 of Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister.

Tis the season!

22 December 2012

brittanytarvin

With the Apple review team out for the holidays, and the FadingRed team visiting with their families, it’s a great time to reflect on the importance of finding balance. We have a unique freedom at FadingRed which allows us to take unlimited, untracked, vacation time during the year and every holiday season I am reminded how important that is to personal happiness. As much as we love our jobs, it’s so important to take a step back, enjoy the people around us, clear our minds, and just enjoy the moment!

It’s not just about vacation days though, it’s about having the ability to shut your work mind down like you do your office computer, and appreciate everything else in your life. It’s also a great time of year to reflect on everything we are thankful for. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to work on making exceptional software for our phenomenal clients and customers all year long. Thank you to everyone who has supported this team, our products, and our people.

We wish everyone a happy holiday season with work email disabled!

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