mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Happy 6th Birthday to mark.gg

Happy birthday to my good friend, Josh Wu, and happy birthday to the venerable mark.gg!

The past year has been a busy one. I got married! After eight years of Android and iOS development, I recently completed my first year as a Mobile Engineering Manager. I also got back into reading, focusing on leadership books in my Manager Reads series but also devoured the amazing Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy.

2020 here we come!

Combating macOS Planned Obsolescence

My 2012 MacBook Pro is still chugging along and can install the latest macOS Mojave but my primary computer at home, a 2008 Mac Pro, is stuck on the 2015 iteration of macOS: El Capitan.

The largest driver of obsolescence on Apple computers right now is the yearly macOS update cycle.

I felt the burn most recently trying to get 1Password 7 only to find it requires macOS Sierra or higher. Have no fear, Internet to the rescue! A true hero, dosdude1, built a tool that allows installing macOS High Sierra on unsupported Macs. This is similar to the Pikify App I used to install El Capitan on my cousin’s first generation Mac Pro.

A few hours later… Success!

With High Sierra now installed I’m confident this 2008 Mac Pro can carry me well into the 2020s. Take that Apple!

Manager Reads - The Meaning Revolution

This Manager Reads episode is still cooking. Check back soon!

Enjoyed this episode of Manager Reads? Check out more in the Manager Reads corner!

Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin

Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin is a mobile JRPG for Android and iOS devices. Serving as a prequel to the magnificent Valkyrie Profile on the PlayStation, it came out in 2016 in Japan and now finally made its way outside Japan.

While it’s a prequel to a fantastic game, sadly it’s a gacha game. Regardless of how great the game may be, it has been designed to squeeze money from players. In Valkyrie Anatomia players are expected to dole out the in-game currency or cold hard cash to get better weapons (like Final Fantasy Record Keeper) and new characters (like Fire Emblem: Heroes). You can obtain a bunch of characters by just playing the main quests and timed quests, but cool characters like Arngrim, Freya, and Alicia are behind paywalls. Lame.

The main quest features a series of vignettes that trace the story of each Einherjar as they meet their death and join your party. Once they’re in your party, additional quests open up that show interactions between members of your party. I have enjoyed this aspect of the game most so far. In the original Valkyrie Profile recruiting Einherjar was one of your main goals but that game added the extra dimension of requiring you to send Einherjar to Valhalla throughout the game to fight alongside the Aesir in preparation for Ragnarok.

Battling looks a lot like the original Valkyrie Profile but dungeon exploration is a shell of the 2d platforming glory of the original. In Valkyrie Anatomia you simply tap between different platforms and your character traverses to that point. With an auto-battle feature, you don’t even have to coordinate your characters’ attacks. The silver lining in battles is they use the amazing battle music from Valkyrie Profile and the main character uses the Nibelung Valesti limit break attack.

All in all, Valkyrie Anatomia does not do the series justice. While I’ve enjoyed recruiting and learning about the Einherjar and will likely do most of the main quests in this game, Valkyrie Anatomia is shell of a game that has only served to resurrect my yearnings for Valkyrie Profile 3.

Effective JIRA

Whether you love (few people) or hate (more people) JIRA, effectively using it can minimize the time you spend on it and maximize the value you get out of it. Ineffective JIRA looks like:

  • Browsing for issues from the Projects view - Good luck finding what you’re looking for!
  • Creating, curating, sharing a list of custom Filters - Good luck navigating between filters and getting people to start leveraging a new filter!
  • Creating a custom Dashboards - Good luck introducing any change when everyone has their own dashboard!
  • Manually reviewing things to keep issues in order - Good luck remembering to do this consistently and not lose your mind!

Effective JIRA gives you everything your team needs in one place. When issues are in a bad state, you don’t have to remember to clean them up, you get notified. How do you get here? Rich Filters and Subscriptions to Filters.

Rich Filters let you define a base filter (e.g. project = Android) and then add a variety of Static Filters (i.e. fixed JQL), Dynamic Filters (e.g. dynamic fields like Assignee), Smart Filters (e.g. converting Last Updated to distinct values using JQL). Creating a dashboard based on a Rich Filter allows you to present all these filters as buttons. My team has moved from using personal, custom dashboards to using a single Rich Filter powered dashboard. When we talk about anything in JIRA now, it’s all in one place and we’re all speaking the same language.

Buttons along the top filter everything else on the screen

Subscriptions to Filters leverages individual filters but don’t worry - you won’t be visting the filter much because the filter is only used to find issues and email you if any are found. For example, if an issue is marked as closed but doesn’t have a Fix Version, someone looking at it won’t immediately know what version of the app has the fix. To stay ahead of these situations, create filters for issues that aren’t compliant and then add a subscription that notifies you via email. You’ll get pinged closer to the time the issues fall into a bad state which makes cleaning them up much easier.

Let trouble come to you!

These two tools have made our team much more JIRA-effective. It won’t make people fall in love with JIRA but you’d be surprised how much less people dislike something if it starts being useful and easy to use.