The basics you should know about GDPR for your next app

Next year the European Union’s new privacy guidelines GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will roll out and cover the handling of personal data. So these are the items to consider for your backlog.

Please note that most areas are already covered in the EU data protection directive. The GDPR adds a little bit on top of that and clarifies details.

  1. The consent for the use of private data.The GDPR rules consent as specific, informed and unambiguous. You could identify that as explicit opt-in.
  2. Control over personal dataSometimes coined as the right to be forgotten, the control over personal data is to an extent that the user must be able to delete the data about his person.
  3. Information on personal dataIndividuals have the right to be informed on how the collected data is used and also which persons have access to their data.

The GDPR mentions and encourages the following techniques as possibilities.

  • Encryption
  • Anonymisation
  • Pseudonymisation (for example through the use of tokens)

How does this influence app developers?

The importance of the GDPR goes far beyond the checkbox for consent. You have to consider it for analytics, APIs for accessing or exporting data and user hierarchies.

Setting the groundwork for GDPR compliance is not an option. May 2018 will show how the law will be executed.

digital marketing

My 5 1/2 reasons for taking the nanodegree in digital marketing

Behind the seven doors and seven screens I spent my life with digital marketing the last years. I have seen media channels come and go. And then the wonderful world of online courses, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and learning platforms entered my life.

Recently I started a nanodegree in digital marketing and here are the reasons, why I did something which does not make sense for some people.

Reason 1: I am a continuous learner.

The more you learn, the easier it gets. The more you know, the more – and the faster – new stuff makes sense. This is dangerous when you are a curious person. You ask why? Congratulations, you are one step closer to curiousity heaven.

Reason 2: Leading companies helped creating the content.

Digital Marketing is a fragmented landscape of tool stacks but some channels have their leading companies. A course which has a best of breed makes more sense than anything else.

Reason 3: This is a good chance to get the big picture.

Most of the blogs and tutorials give you just a small glimpse on a detail. We all consumed our fair share of those tips and tricks. But here is the opportunity of a big picture and everything what the creators of the tools deem to be most important. There could also be revelations of weaknesses I am not aware of.

Reason 4: The effort and time is doable.

10 hours a week: Believe it or not it is more than possible to this in addition to a fulltime job. Just carve out the time in the morning or evening. Add a bigger section for Friday evenings and in 3 months everything is done. You just have to organize the time the rest is done by Udacity.

Reason 5: I get a proof that I learned something.

I also like to add a proof that I learned something to my CV from time to time. And here I get a certificate and good quality. This is a cosmetic reason. I admit that. It is an investment in myself. A course can either be the beginning or a milestone of a journey in a topic.

Reason 5 1/2: I like the platform

This is not the first course I do at and it will also not be the last. Actually I am kind of getting into the mood for more and for something new.

As you see my reasons are not what you might have expected. Never turn down a learning opportunity. It could be a starter for something else. Can you add some reasons?


Latest editions to my unsplash collection

I have been quite quiet lately, so here is something from my unsplash portfolio of public domain pictures. I stayed in Augsburg (Germany) last weekend and this detail on the dome caught my eye.



Some of you will say: Wait, that picture is not centered! This is because I needed it that way. Feel free to crop to your liking.

Find more pictures to use freely on my unsplash portfolio.



A walk in the park – my pictures are still waiting to be approved at

Meanwhile you can use them from here. Follow the links behind the picture and use at your own risk (all pictures are cc0).


Can services keep pace with development?

To make one thing clear: I work in IT and I know that I might be biased and see the world with different – digital – eyes. I have been travelling back from the West coast of the US in the last few hours. Enough time to reflect on some things, because – let’s be honest – watching movies for 9 hours makes you feel like a vegetable…    …not only because of the quality of the movies.

Some of the things I discovered in the past 7 days and put it down sleep deprived:

  • There are airports where you have to receive an email to get access to wifi. Especially friendly for people from abroad – which can be seldom found on airports.
  • Quite modern airplanes without any power plugs or USB ports.
  • Uber – if you do not know it: some kind of a social taxi system (which is also facing a lot of criticism) – works and there are taxi drivers who do not complain but they participate.

These are simple examples where I always ask myself if the pace of some developments will be too much for services. Let’s face it: Facebook releases a new version two times a day. They are continuously rolling out software. This software is tested and deployed!

Awesome reflections with the lighting and the black plastic sheet underneath..
Awesome reflections with the lighting and the black plastic sheet underneath..

Imagine an internet of things – this is hardware. There are not many who could deploy new hardware twice a day. Unless the upgrading of firmware is not very convenient this could lead to a fragmented landscape of versions. Think Android.

What about healthcare services? They are heavily dependent on people. At the moment we are reaching a point where it gets harder and harder for specialist to keep up with the pace in their field – new methods and tools are getting developed every day. And the process is speeding up.

So how do you think services can keep up?

This is the age of DevOps and I am passionate about testing.


Please fix this one thing on your social media dashboard!

I had a look on plenty of marketing dashboards in the last few days. And there is one thing which is always there: The number of followers (or whatever it is called in the various streams: circles, friends,…).

So here is what I think about this number: It does not matter as you think it does. Here is what that number tells you: It tells you the size of your potential connections with others. This number shows your end of the connections. That’s it. Move this number down in the dashboard hierarchy.

I know that this is an easy way to show that there is an upward movement in your reach. Forget easy numbers on your dashboard. You want to know what is hurting you.

Social media is about interaction and communication. The engagement rate would be a much better metric. If you prefer you can take impressions – completely different from the potential reach – and combine it with the number of likes, favorites, +1s, retweets, replies, comments and reposts.

This will give you the numbers that will be more brutal and honest than just a number of possible opportunities.


Human perception is reliable: One cannot not see 3D

I have no idea when I read Paul Watzlawick’s How Real Is Real? the first time. I was amazed by the theories buried deep within the book and read everything I could. One sentence is still sticking – and seems to be a paradigm of my thinking: One cannot not communicate.

I nearly forgot this sentence, when I raced through visualisation books for my master’s thesis some years ago. Human perception is reliable: One cannot not see 3D. Let this sentence sit. And then think about the modern flat design which is everywhere nowadays. Everybody is talking about this, but most of the people have no clue that their idea of flat means that it is not 3D. Which is actually wrong…

Here is why:

Let us make a small detour and think what seeing and perceiving 3D means. According to Colin Ware’s Information Visualization, Third Edition: Perception for Design (Interactive Technologies) there are plenty of hints for depth which all somehow rely on occlusion. Think of occlusion as one object in front of another and therefore blocking your view.

What are those hints?

  1. Stereo vision: basically meaning you use two eyes and their pictures overlap. Not everybody has this ability, but still can see in 3D! Flat design tries to omit these hints.
  2. Kinetic depth: By moving an object you see different parts of it. The widely used parallax effect (things in the background move slower than objects in the foreground) can also be seen in this category. Parallax effect tries to give back the order by depth in flat design.
  3. Vergence: This wonderful word means changing the way the eyes are positioned to focus on an object. Hold your finger close to your face, than look into the distance and back again. Your eyes changed angle. I have no idea why I have it in this list. It has no meaning for flat design.
  4. Perspective: Lines running toward a point are the obvious hints for perspective. In flat design this principle is omitted by using isometric models or 2D drawings.
  5. Texture gradient: You could call this gradient the perspective effect for areas. Because the perspective is omitted this hint is also.
  6. Shading: Flat design omits shading gradients, but you can find super subtle gradients in recent works. The gradient is due to lighting which would give that unwanted plasticity. I have to admit that I am in love with the subtle gradients…
  7. Shadow: If something is flat it has no shadow hence the absence of shadows. Often the shadow is reintroduced as a stylistic element – but always in the form of a hard shadow, not a soft or blurry shadow.
  8. Depth of field: Human perception is limited by optics – there is a zone where you can focus and you cannot do anything about it. In flat design you have no blurry background. But what you have are other depth of field effects: Objects which farther away have less detail or are of lighter hues – think of haze.
  9. Occlusion: Occlusion is the king of 3D. All the other hints are just additional clues which add up. It is also the simplest thing and works all the time. Even the black letters you read right now are nearer to you than the white background.

So there is no way to not see 3D, flat design is actually 3D and clean, because you human perception cannot change the way it works and light is everywhere. And we haven’t started talking about colors…

If you spin this idea into an extreme. Every 2D thing is 3D because you are hard wired. Now let’s throw in Watzlawick again and think of communication. Because there is definitely a person who wants to tell you something with their design. So when the 2D/3D fails the communication will fail.

Flat design was just an extreme after the era of opulent graphics. It was definitely paving the way for something else. What was it? Maybe it was the beginning of subtle effects. What do you think? Where will this road lead to?


So you want to create a short video…

I really liked the storytelling when I first heard it. And when the video went live on the company web site I thought: How can I share that on my blog? Well, maybe you are interested in the steps it took to make the video.

  • I recorded Gerd standing at a flipchart and telling the story.
  • I watched the story and made a first draft video.
  • Got some feedback on this video.
  • Made a second refined version. Got some updated graphics from Teisha.
  • Some of the feedback considered the “missing” audio. (I had not done any audio until then, because I wanted the video to work without any audio. So I tried to come up with a base story – I did that by recording something while watching the video. It took me three takes.
  • I took the audio and video to Chelsea and asked her to come up with the story she would tell.
  • I recorded Chelsea, cleaned the audio and merged everything.

The ToscaEffect from Tricentis GmbH on Vimeo.

More info on the product can be found on


Building something – a nanoblock time-lapse

There are some things which can be called an exercise for having patience. Building with nano blocks is one of these things. And here is a time-lapse of one of these exercises in patience:

Equipment used: iPhone 5s with iOS 8 and built in time lapse functionality, nano blocks Empire State Building Set.


Elsewhere: Advice from a Newbie Testers Future Self

I have been guest blogging on the company blog. If you are into software test, this might be interesting for you. If not it still might be interesting: What would you advise yourself as your own future self?