May dedicated to design dedicated to design<p>​​We dedicated all of the Wednesdays in May and the first one in June were to graphics and design. The QUB creative department prepared a five-part course in graphic design for children. The lessons were set up as five one-hour online sessions and we were thrilled with what the 11 little designers aged 7-12 managed to accomplish during the course. Incidentally, you may have <a href="/en/blog/Pages/graphics-for-children.aspx" target="_blank">read the article by twelve-year-old Viky​</a>.</p><p>We started with the basics - we explained the basics of colour theory, went through some interesting facts about creation of pigments and finished the first lesson with the creation of a colour palette, which is essential for the start of any design project.</p><p>During the second meeting we touched lightly on history. From pictograms, hieroglyphs and cave paintings we made it all the way through to division of typography into expressive and functional and the children learned, among other things, to distinguish between serif and sans serif fonts. Be prepared for your little designers at home being able to amaze you with interesting facts about font construction and correctly state that some characters have bellies, tails and eyes and that a pin needn’t necessarily be the one you use in bowling! We finished the lesson by practising the correct way to adjust spacing between letters.</p><p>At the third meeting, we discovered together that the style of comic book heroes with black outlines originated in Japanese traditional woodcut and Art Nouveau posters. We shared a few tips on how to add dynamics to a story, work with bubbles, and made it clear that a comic should have a hero, a plot, a setting, and a consistent graphic style. Together we created a short comic strip on the theme of Surprise.</p><p>In the fourth lesson, we delved into packaging design, practised the skills we had acquired relating to colours and typography and put the little designers up against a difficult task - designing the packaging for a bag of sweets. Again, we followed the same procedure as we would in normal practice, starting with research and noting details and differences between, for example, fruit and chocolate sweet designs. The children showed a tremendous amount of creativity and, apart from designing the packaging, they also came up with ideas for the names of the new sweets - would you buy Chicken Beaks if you saw them on the shelves?</p><p>In the first four lessons, we deliberately avoided the computer and worked with designs on paper (again, the same as is the case in practice when creating designs). In the fifth and final lesson we tried to make our way to a graphic editor and introduced the children to <a href="">Figma</a>. We tried to transfer the design for our bag of sweets into a computer. The children passed this last test, almost a trial by fire, and we are currently collecting all of their creations. </p><p><em>On behalf of <a href="" target="_blank">QUB Digital</a> Ivana Stránská, Michal Hořava and Jan Čermák​</em></p>
Graphics for children through the eyes of Viky for children through the eyes of Viky<p>​​Twelve-year-old Viky wrote a great authentic report from a Cleverlance graphic design course for children</p><h3>1st lesson</h3><p>At the very beginning of the 1st lesson we introduced ourselves to the others as we do in other courses, but we also said what we wanted to learn. Once we had introduced ourselves, the lesson could begin. First they told us the colour of the year (which is called Very Peri) and how important it is for the designer. Actually, the designer uses the colour of the year almost everywhere. We also talked about the colour wheel, where you can see the contrast of colours beautifully. Then we learnt about the history of colours. It is very interesting that they were already using white paint in prehistoric times, because white is difficult to get and you even need the help of some chemicals to get it. And the Romans,for example, liked different shades of brown, so it was a romantic sort of style. Another topic was pigment. Depending on the binder you put in the pigment, different colours are produced. In the past, honey, oil or egg was used as a binder. For example, if you put honey in the pigment as a binder, you get watercolours or the same thing but with an egg, you get poster paints. The last topic was which different stones are used to make different colours. For example, yellow is made from volcanic stone or interestingly, white is made from black stone, although there is some chemical treatment, but that’s beside the point. At the end of the lesson, we were given “homework” to come up with our own colour palette for the next week. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to more graphic design lessons.<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/viki1.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h3>2nd lesson</h3><p>In in the 2nd lesson we talked about typography. First we discussed the history of writing. The very first writing was hieroglyphics, which were invented in Egypt.This kind of writing was time-consuming. Imagine if you had to draw a duck just to write a single word. Another type of lettering was invented by the Phoenicians and it was the first syllabic script, and from it came the Roman alphabet which we still write with today. One of the second to last topics was explaining what serif and sans serif fonts are and I am writing with sans serif at the moment. Also what uppercase and lowercase letters are. And the second to last thing we did was that they explained poster fonts and the ones they use in newspapers and so on. Poster fonts are meant to catch the eye and make an impression, but sometimes they are almost illegible. On the other hand, journalistic fonts must be easy to read. The last thing we did was that they sent us a link to a website chat room. We were able to practice placement of letters in headings and so on there. Like last time, we were given “homework” but this time we had to draw or paint our name (see picture in the header of the article). Again, like last time, I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the next one.</p><h3>3rd lesson</h3><p>In the 3rd lesson we were dealt with comics. The very first topic we discussed was those sort of panels and we said that these panels can be arranged in different ways to keep the reader interested. Then there is that sort of shading in black and white comics, where for example the 1st panel is grey, the 2nd and 3rd panel is white and so on. Sometime around the middle of the lesson, we tried to draw our own comics, but just a strip. That means a comic with two or three panels. As soon as we had finished our “comic” the lesson was over. I enjoyed it a lot and look forward to the next one.<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/viki2.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h3>4Th lesson</h3><p>In the 4th lesson we painted and invented our own bag of sweets. First we had to come up with a name, I came up with “Japonky”. Then the font style and when the pencil sketch was ready, we came up with a colour palette. Once we had coloured the name, we did a design like an image of the flavour: watermelon, marshmallows, etc. with leaves around it or something else. We also had to put how much it weighs and what flavour it is (just in case). While we were doing this, Michal and Ivana told us about contrast and the golden ratio. We showed them our bags of sweets at the end of the lesson. They complimented us and told us to make an interesting background and take a picture of it for them. Like each and every graphic design class, I enjoyed it, plus we got to practice typography and choosing colours which go together in this one.<br></p><p>In the 5th lesson we worked with Figma. We redid the bag of sweets we did last time on a computer. First we set the paper format and set the colour. Then we did the headline and edited it. We also put in different shapes there and we found different vector images on a website. We were supposed to have it finished and sent by next week. The person who had the nicest one gets a bag of sweets. All of the graphic design lessons were great and I probably enjoyed the 3rd lesson the most. If there were more, I would definitely join in.​<br></p><p>Stay tuned for graphic designs created by the other people who took part in the course in the near future - because who wouldn’t want to see the best-looking bag of sweets!​<br></p>
5 cognitive biases, their impact on software development, and how to avoid them cognitive biases, their impact on software development, and how to avoid them<p>​​Cognitive biases refer to the rules of perception and behavior we have learned. Basically, they’re mental shortcuts that we automatically use during our lives. These hidden prejudices can sometimes surprise us in unpleasant ways during our work, and so it’s important to know how they work and consciously try to avoid them. In this article, we’ll have a look at the 5 main biases and useful techniques which can be used to minimize them.<br></p><div><h2>Optimistic ​bias </h2><p>Optimistic bias is a tendency to be overly optimistic about encountered events. In the world of software it mainly affects estimates of how demanding certain tasks are, where one could have a tendency to overestimate one’s abilities.<br></p><p>As an example, during a meeting a colleague might claim that they can take care of some task easily and that it won’t take almost any time. And yet, they know almost nothing about what the task entails and they’re just basing their claim on excessive optimism. As you have quite probably seen, in the world of software these optimistic estimates can often turn out to be very far from the truth. And the cherry on top is so-called easy-difficult bias, which refers to when people assess difficult task too optimistically while viewing easy tasks with too much pessimism.<br></p><p>One method to avoid this kind of cognitive bias is to ask the following direct questions:​<br></p><div><ul><li><p>Do you see something about the task that could cause problems?</p></li><li><p>Do you see any reason why your solution might be incorrect?</p></li><li><p>Did you ever think about the dependencies that could be affected by changing this code? </p></li></ul></div><h2>Confirmation bias </h2><p>Confirmation bias is another well-known form of bias. It means that we have a tendency to pay increased attention to the information which confirms our existing beliefs and opinions while suppressing information that goes against these. Basically, it’s like having one’s head in the clouds and running from reality. This form of bias does not have any kind of positive impact on our mental capabilities – quite the opposite, in fact.<br></p><p>As an example, let’s say that a programmer in the team firmly believes that heritability was always a foundation of <a href="">OOP</a>. Another colleague then presents an argument for why this is not true. Heritability was not accepted immediately, and is still a source of debate. The first programmer, aiming to show that they’re right, might google something like “inheritance as a foundation of OOP” and the very first hit reconfirms their belief. However, in reality their colleague was right. Not even Alan Key, one of the founders of OOP, wanted to implement inheritance in the first version of the Smalltalk language.​<br></p><p>Luckily, there are ways to avoid confirmation bias<br></p><div><ul><li><p>Try to search for problems which could occur, instead of focusing only on positive cases. So, in the example above, try also searching for the opposite opinion.</p></li><li><p>Searching for a logical basis for each bias or prejudice (and ideally identifying these as prejudices) and also searching for cases in which they could be logically invalid.​</p></li></ul></div><h2>Anchoring </h2><p>Anchoring refers to the natural human tendency to make decisions based on a single piece of information or fact, and have this then form as a basis for further decisions. However, the initial piece of information might often not be relevant at all and may negatively impact our assessments.<br></p><p>To give an example of this kind of bias, consider the following situation. While trying to assess how much work a certain task will require, the scrum master asks their team: “How long will this task take? 2 weeks?”. Because of anchoring, most of the team could agree that the task would indeed take 2 weeks regardless of how difficult the task actually is. They were influenced by the first piece of information they got. The same technique is also used during interviews, where it is crucial for the applicant to be the first to propose their salary.​<br></p><p>So, how do we suppress anchoring?<br></p><div><ul><li><p>Instead of asking about the estimate, ask about the task itself: “How much will you manage to do in 2 weeks?”</p></li><li><p><a href="">Planning poker​</a> – all opinions are provided anonymously and simultaneously. It’s a great technique for scrum estimates!​</p></li></ul></div><h2>Bandwagon effect </h2><p>The bandwagon effect is a phenomenon which pressures individuals to go with the crowd and accept opinions they see in others. It can also be seen in the context of fashion trends – just consider today’s instragram culture of characterless people. If an idea is shared by most of the population, it becomes more credible regardless of whether it is true or not. Social networks such as Twitter and Reddit are also very prone to facilitating this bias. On Twitter this is further reinforced by the character limit, which indirectly helps spread superficial opinions and ideas.<br></p><p><br></p><p>In the context of software development, let’s consider another example from a hypothetical meeting. A charismatic team leader is giving arguments why the whole team should switch from REST API to GraphQL. In her presentation, she’s demonstrating the technical advantages of the new technology for the whole company. Colleagues also seem interested in switching to the new technology. But unfortunately it’s just the bandwagon effect. In reality, the team leader only caused a commotion around a new technology, but did not justify the value of her idea. Will it interest customers? Will there be any difference when using the technology? Will it bring more time, customers or money to the company? As far as new technologies go, of course these are exciting.​<br></p><p>But how can we get rid of this cognitive bias? By asking the following questions:​<br></p><div><ul><li><p>We develop software primarily to support a company. There’s no reason to use a new, fresh technology if it doesn’t bring any added value?<br></p></li><li><p>What’s the added value of this idea?</p></li><li><p>How will it lead to new customers, saved time or other advantages?</p></li><li><p>Do its benefits outweigh the cost of implementation?</p></li></ul></div><h2>Attribution error <br></h2><p>Attribution error refers to a bias of the attribution process. It manifests by having a tendency to place, when explaining the behavior of another person, too much emphasis on their character while underestimating their situation or environmental influences.<br></p><p>To give an example of the last kind of bias covered in this article, we’ll leave the board room and go back to our work. However, when programming we notice an ugly block of code. We then use git blame to find out who wrote it. It’s Lukáš. Well, of course it’s him. Lukáš is unreliable, impulsive and careless. He doesn’t think about what he’s doing. You would never make the same mistake!<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/cognitive_biases.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px;" />Then you calm down and continue implementing your feature. After a while, you find another block of terrible code. Clearly, another of Lukáš’ “masterpieces”! But this time <em>git blame</em> tells a different story – the author is none other than you. At that point your mind is flooded by a barrage of questions. Am I a bad developer? Am I like Lukáš? But you quickly push these doubts out of your mind, and start coming up with excuses. Of course I’m not a bad developer, we had a deadline and there wasn’t enough time, I had a cold, and my dog was at the vet. That’s what attribution error is all about – underestimating the context of other people’s lives when assessing their actions.​<br></p><p>How to avoid attribution error?<br></p><div><ul><li><p>Well, blaming the author won’t help. Try to find out what led to the bad block of code.</p></li><li><p>Maybe Lukáš doesn’t have enough experience in this area of the project or this part of the programming language?</p></li><li><p>Was he stressed? Was there a looming deadline? Was he overworked? Maybe there was a weekend crunch?</p></li></ul></div><h2>Let the devil’s advocate in<br></h2><div><p>And that’s it – the 5 main cognitive biases. What did we learn? Cognitive biases affect each and every one of us. What we can do to avoid them is to learn to identify and suppress them. The most frequently occurring biases in software development are optimistic bias, confirmation bias and anchoring. But the bandwagon effect and attribution error are also very common. These can have catastrophic impacts on software projects. The main way to avoid them is to always give the problem a proper thought and play the devil’s advocate when analyzing it: try to focus not only on positive cases, but also on negative ones and counterexamples. For more information about cognitive biases in software development, I recommend taking a look at <a href="">this study​</a> which I used as the source for this article.  I hope you liked it, and until next time!<br></p></div></div>
How to take care of your health when you have a sedentary job to take care of your health when you have a sedentary job<p>​​It's been two years since I started exercising on a daily basis in Cleverlance with <a href="">Office Fitness​</a>. The lessons are a great help for sedentary jobs at a computer. The exercise doesn’t take more than 5 minutes and the stretches can be done for example during a break between meetings. You don’t have to go anywhere, which saves a lot of time. All you need to do is click with your mouse and the five-minute exercise lesson is ready for you.<br></p><p>You can choose from a wide range of exercises and lessons, ranging from how to properly set up your workplace, to back stretches, eye exercises, face yoga, breathing exercises to get rid of stress, as well as lessons for drivers. Yoga with Iris is very popular. A bit of stretching in the morning can do wonders for your entire day.<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/office_fitness_1.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />We can testify that when exercising regularly, it becomes a pleasant habit. You might have heard that such habits take at least 21 days to create, but the estimates in Office Fitness are even longer. It is absolutely worth it, though!<br></p><p>Last year, in addition to exercising, colleagues could also take part in a few competitions. One of the prizes was for example a practical screen stand, hand-made by coach Jiří Zadina from Office Fitness. Others could go to a prolonged weekend stays in the mountains or spas or enjoyed live online lessons of face yoga with an instructor. This year we’re preparing another competition: this time, the prizes will be Cleverlance hoodies. The rules will be announced soon and we plan to involve our fans on social media in the voting for the winners.​<br></p><p><strong>We discussed the advantages of exercising with Martin Paták, who has been exercising with Office Fitness since 2020.</strong><br></p><p><em><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/office_fitness_2.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />How often do you exercise with Office Fitnesss?</em></p><p>Recently not as much, but last year almost regularly. I exercised the most during lockdowns when I was always looking forward to the few minutes of exercise between online meetings.<br></p><p><em>Do you have a special ritual you’d like to mention?</em></p><p>Coffee or tea in the morning.<br></p><p><em>Have you noticed changes in your body while exercising?</em></p><p>My back pain from sitting incorrectly are gone, though I still have my neck pains from time to time... I must be doing something wrong.<br></p><p><em>Which lessons stuck with you the most?</em><br></p><p>Probably how to set up my chair properly. It’s not really related to exercising but I remember it, probably because it’s from a completely different environment.<br></p><p><em>Which exercises are your favourite?</em><br></p><p>All neck stretching exercises ... “tilt your head to your shoulder.. And look down...”.<br></p><p><em>What are the benefits of regularly exercising at work or in home office?</em><br></p><p>At home, it means I make a break and stretch. We all know what it’s like when working from home office, just sitting on one spot the entire day. ...At least in the office you go from one floor to another, go get lunch...<br></p><p><em>What is your message to your colleagues who don’t exercise or at least not regularly?</em><br></p><p>If you work from home, it’s a must. In the office it’s more complicated to find a moment of quiet and, most importantly, place to exercise. But we’re working on this problem already. <br></p><p>Whereas last year, colleagues had to registered themselves into the program to take part, at the beginning of this year we made the exercises available to everyone at Cleverlance. Everyone can try Office Fitness and find the right lessons for them. <br></p><p>Are you interested in exercising? Give it a try. Your five minute break is ready – enjoy it!<br></p>
How I accepted the cold and became healthier I accepted the cold and became healthier<p>​​​I used to be the type of person who was always dressed properly (i.e., in several thick layers), because I was always cold. Winters were always the same: cold feet, cold hands and feeling bummed there was no sun. My nose was often runny and I got the flu from time to time.<span style="color:#696158;font-size:14px;">​</span></p><div><p>To be honest, I was sick of having to do stuff myself with vitamins and I hated being always afraid and stressed that someone will sneeze their germs on me. Back then my partner had been practicing a more healthy lifestyle for a few months already and it had strengthened his immune system and improved his mental well-being. It's called the Wim Hof Method and I’ll tell you more about it later. He suggested that I join him and stop feeling cold all the time. All I need, he said, is the will to try it and a cold and safe environment. (You can imagine how I – a lover of everything warm – reacted when he told me that the cold can be my friend).<br></p><p>However, step by step I started with cold training and breathing exercises. The beginnings were rough; the cold water was like needles stabbing me everywhere and my body reacted with a scream. I could only last a few seconds in the shower. When I realized that the most important thing is to overcome the initial shock when you expose your body to the cold, I suddenly started to enjoy ice-cold showers more and more. And getting out of the shower and not wrapping yourself in the towel immediately felt amazing too. And let my body get warm on itself by breathing calmly and rocking from side to side while crouching slightly. In addition, I started practicing breathing exercises every day. The progress became obvious quite quickly. I was less tired after cold showers than I used to be after hot ones, it was easier to get out of the bed and in general I just felt more energized. Mentally I was doing better too, and I didn’t catch a cold as soon as the weather got colder. Gradually I managed to prolong my time spent in a cold shower from a few seconds to dozens of seconds in just a few weeks.​<br></p><p>I still take cold showers like this several times a week. I don’t count the seconds, I just enjoy the cold and keep myself happy and healthy.</p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/Wim_Hof.png" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px;" />My goal now is to attend a whole-day workshop held by a certified instructor.  My partner already attended it and even repeatedly dived into a pool with 250 kgs of ice (and one rubber ducky) for several minutes within the workshop. He told me it was an amazing experience.<br></p><h2>So what is the Wim Hof method?</h2><p>Basically it’s a way to positively impact the autonomous nervous system. That’s the system which cannot be controlled by your mind, which is why it is called autonomous. Secondarily, this affects other processes in the body, including autoimmunity. Basically, imagine an exercise that combines three basic pillars – breathing, cold and mind. By bringing all these three elements together, you will make your body accept the cold, it becomes more concentrated and the physical and mental perception of the surrounding situation increases.​<br></p><p><a href="">Studies</a> have shown the following positive effects of the Wim Hof method:<br></p><div><ul><li><p>Positive impact on the immunity by stimulating catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline),</p></li><li><p>Reduction of infection occurrence in the body,</p></li><li><p>Positive impact on the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis, arthrosis and other,</p></li><li><p>Stimulation and improving the metabolism.</p></li></ul></div><h2>Icy record-holder</h2><p>Th​e founder of the method, as you might have guessed, is Wim Hof from the Netherlands. He is a holder of over 20 Guinness world records. Here are some of them:​<br></p><div><ul><li><p>Climbing Mt. Everest without an oxygen mask, only wearing shorts and socks,</p></li><li><p>Running a marathon inside the Arctic Circle at temperatures of -20°C in summer clothes,</p></li><li><p>a world record for staying in a tank with ice for 1 hour, 52 minutes and 42 seconds without his body temperature decreasing significantly,</p></li><li><p>Running a half-marathon in the Namibia desert without a drop of water.</p></li></ul></div><h2>Do you want to give it a try?</h2><p>If you find this method interesting, I recommend downloading the Wim Hof Method mobile app, which contains videos, articles and instructions for breathing exercises read directly by Wim Hof, as well as a 30-day challenge for beginners.<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/Wim_Hof_uvod.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" /><br></p><p>If you want to learn more, I can recommend videos directly on Wim Hof’s channel that discuss the method in more detail.​<br><br>source: <a href=""></a><br></p></div><br><br><br>