Andreas, or @HerbAndri (as most of you know him) is a dedicated Smule user. He is German but he was born and raised in Spain. Andreas has been on Smule since 2016 and Smule has become a big part of his life. He actively uses Smule every day and Smule is his number one hobby. He especially loves the Smule community.
“Community is what makes Smule special,” commented Andi.
Andreas and the Smule community
Andreas has traveled around the world, visiting Australia, America and New Zealand, where he met the people part of the Smule community members.
We are all here for the same reason: we share a passion for music. We are connecting with people around the globe on Smule through music – and we can make these connections even more meaningful in person. Meet Ups are happening all over the world – Spain, Brazil, US, Indonesia, Germany – in small and big groups alike. And, we want to celebrate these connections!
November 7th, 2015 will be our first ever Smule Local Meet Up celebration and you are invited! Celebrate making music together, wherever you are! We encourage YOU to find friends, singers and Smulers nearby and share your passion for music! It doesn’t matter if your Meet Up is a couple of people or 100! Let us know where your Meet Up will take place, and how many people will be attending.
Share your Meet Up experience! As part of the event, we ask that you to upload your photos with the #SmuleLocal and your location (e.g. #SmuleLocal #SanFrancisco). Uploads these tagged photos to social media sites: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
And stay tuned for a celebration on a bigger scale when we host Smule Global Meet Up Day next summer – get ready to get together all over the the globe on the same day for the same purpose!
Start planning your Local Meet Up!
Gather a group and record tee-shirt sizes
Find a Meet Up venue, whether it’s your local karaoke bar or your living room!
Boy, does time fly… My three year anniversary at Smule is quickly approaching! I started at Smule right after college, and both Smule and I have grown a lot since then. From 3 years ago to today; 18 team members grew to 60+; we now develop for iOS and Android; switched from SVN to git; from waterfall to Scrum; from Lighthouse to Pivotal to JIRA; grew from a team relying on scant documentation to one utilizing a comprehensive wiki. Overall, Smule and I have become better and a tad bit smarter at what we do. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and even picked up a controversial opinion or two! Here is a selection of observations, thoughts, and opinions I picked up growing alongside Smule.
Avoid writing sloppy code – a.k.a. hacking or “getting shit done” – because you actually think shit will get done faster. Yes, you can copy-and-paste that chunk of code that does what you want from one class to another. But extracting that functionality into a superclass or creating a helper class might be better, and it won’t take a significant amount of time, especially if you use a decent IDE. When this code is revisited, the time you invested doing things in a better way will pay dividends. This isn’t school anymore as you’re never really “done” with any piece of code. I’m definitely not advocating over-engineering: just responsible coding and kindness to your fellow developers.
You need some release engineering – the more, the better. We used to compile our app store builds on our product lead’s laptop. We used to have QA compile code on their machines. So much pain (iOS provisioning madness) can be avoided as soon as you set up a machine that can create the builds you need, and notify developers ASAP when they push code that breaks the build. Yes, you could spend that time “getting shit done,” but remember that release engineering is the gift that keeps on giving!
Document stuff! Yes, the code you just designed, wrote, and debugged makes complete and total sense to you. But writing a comment here and there doesn’t take that much time, and will help anyone who may come in to understand your code.
Avoid overreacting, especially if you’re flying blind. After releases, we used to monitor app store reviews for any negative feedback. We still do, but we no longer go to DEFCON 2 (e.g. a Cuban Missile Crisis) when a review complains about an issue. We’ve integrated frameworks (in our case, Crittercism) that lets us monitor issues affecting our customers. We then use this data to plan fixes for future releases. Our products have gotten more stable – you can see the crash rate fall from release to release – and we can make much smarter decisions on whether an issue deserves a hot-fix or can be deferred to the next scheduled release.
Back up! This is advice for anyone who uses a computer. It’s a matter of time before some tragedy renders your computer unusable. Even if code is hosted on a remote repository or all your important files are in the cloud, setting up a new machine to your liking still takes time. On Macs, it’s incredibly easy to back up (and recover) with Time Machine. Everyone at Smule is regularly reminded to stay backed up.
Everyone is responsible for product quality – so if you see something, say something! QA is primarily responsible for ensuring our products meet a standard of quality. That said, we have encouraged the entire team to speak up if they see anything odd. It’s not the Smule engineering team putting out our apps: it’s the entire Smule team. We all want to deliver the best experience to our customers, so we’re all doing our best to strive for that goal.
Develop, test, and play with a proxy. If you’re not using Charles or some other proxy while working with an app: get it, learn it, and use it. Sometimes issues that involve a client-server interaction become a finger-pointing contest between the two teams. With a proxy, you know exactly what the client is requesting and what the server is sending you, which helps debugging issues immensely. Power users can use Charles to throttle their connections to slow speeds, intermittently drop packets, and even overwrite data being sent back from the server.
Stay out of your comfort zone. Don’t stop learning. Around my two year anniversary at Smule, I needed some change. I had been doing iOS for two years, most of it on Magic Piano, and felt like I wasn’t really growing and learning as much as I’d like to. Different people prefer different things; some people don’t mind more of the same, but I become frustrated when I felt like I was stagnating. Instead of sulking, I asked if there was any room to shuffle me around. My reinvigorating shift to the Android team gave me an entirely new mobile platform to learn and explore. Instead of siding with iOS in the iOS vs. Android battle, I can now comfortably tell you what I like and dislike about both platforms! I’m now hoping we have our Windows Mobile team set up by summer 2014 so I can make another switch! Then, followed by a Blackberry team. 😉
Be kind. At my baccalaureate service, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, said something very poignant: “One day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever. Cleverness is a gift; kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy – they’re given after all. Choices can be hard.” I have the occasional bad day, and I sometimes hear and see things I completely disagree with. During those moments, Bezos’ words ring absolutely true: it is harder to be kind, but it’s certainly the right thing to do.
A happy team is a productive team. Like most startups, Smule has pretty awesome perks – including tons of food, awesome workshops, StarCraft 2 Day, and great work hours including work-from-home days. While we’ve grown a lot and added some common-sense planning and release processes to eliminate some of that startup chaos, the perks and flexibility have not changed. If you have to pick up your furry friends from the vet, drive your brother for the third time to the DMV because he can’t pass his road test, or you pulled your back doing deadlifts (all real examples), no one is going to be hunting you down. Flexibility has kept our team happy and productive, and we’re all getting awesome things done in and out of the office.
Smule and I have come a long way together: we’re full steam ahead on our mission to bring the world together with the power of music, and I’m excited to see where our wild journey goes. If I said something that stirred emotions within you, please feel free to send feedback in 140 characters!
Check out Smule on Twitter and Facebook for more awesomeness. Smule was recently listed as a top 10 publisher on iOS (excluding games), in the company of big names like Google, Apple, and Facebook!
At Smule, we organize a brown bag lunch/seminar every month to enrich and enhance our collective awesomeness. Sometimes we have team members share their unique talents and other times we have guests visit. Since October 2012 we have had a tea ceremony, a photoshop tutorial, a seminar on all things bicycles, a ukulele workshop (turns out I’m a terrible ukulele player), a juggling workshop, a professional cycling workshop led by Matt Johnson (President of the pro cycling team Garmin/Sharp) and an epic keyboard workshop with Jordan Rudess of the progressive metal band Dream Theater. This past Friday, we had an Earth Conscious Workshop led by Heidi from Recology who led an awesome presentation about the importance of recycling.
Heidi gave us the low-down on everything recycling/composting/landfills and held a Q&A after her presentation. The amount of interesting information shared during her visit was mind-blowing. Here are some highlights I took away from the workshop:
Diversion rate is a measure of how much material is diverted from landfill disposal to recycling/composting, expressed as a percentage of the material diverted from the landfill. It wasn’t surprising that San Francisco boasts the highest diversion rate of major US cities – diverting roughly 80% of its waste, and on track to become a zero-waste city (i.e. 100% diversion rate) by 2020! Compared to NYC, another big city with a ridiculous real estate market, this PDF shows the diversion rate in October 2012 was a meager 12.1%! By 2020, when San Francisco hopes to be a zero-waste city, NYC hopes to hit a 25% diversion rate.
Unfortunately, there are no recycling standards so the exact specifics vary among cities, but the general rule for recycling vs composting vs landfill: plastics, glass, metals (includes aluminum-based stuff like cans/foil) and paper go to recycling; food and anything formerly living go to composting; and the rest goes to the landfill. If you have something that is a mixture of different materials, like a can of Pringles (paper on the outside, metal lining on the inside) or a packaging envelope from Amazon (paper on the outside, plastic bubble wrap on the inside), these need to be thrown in the waste bin because separating out the components is too difficult.
Although items made of multiple materials are not recyclable, what about something like paper lined with plastic wax that you normally get at a deli? The general rule of thumb for recycling paper is the rip test – if you can rip a paper item easily and no plastic film is visible along the tear, it can be composted!!
At Smule, we have disposable utensils that are made from plants and biodegradable. One would think that this means it should go in the compost bin since it was made from formerly living things – plants. Unfortunately, made from plants and biodegradable can mean only a percentage of the utensil is actually made from plants/biodegradable, which means that these utensils can actually not be composted. Even worse, since they may be a combination of living material and plastic, recycling them is also not recommended (mixture of different materials) so these seemingly environmentally-friendly biodegradable utensils need to go in the landfill bin! Only utensils marked as compostable are actually compostable!
The “formerly living” description for items that should be composted invited questions about dead pets…and dead bodies. During the compost process, compostable material is heated to temperatures high enough to destroy any pathogens, but Heidi recommended you just throw dead pets in the waste bin with no comment on dead bodies, so we assume that means they are compostable! 😉
When recycling plastics, most people look for the triangular chasing arrow symbol. This triangle contains a number in the center that ranges from 1 to 7, but in San Francisco, you can ignore the number and just recycle all rigid plastics. Rigid plastics are plastic items that can maintain their form. For example, a container with your takeout food might be a bit flimsy but it will hopefully not break its form when you press on it, whereas a non-rigid plastic bag or saran wrap changes its form easily under pressure. Non-rigid plastics that are mistakenly recycled can actually cause issues at recycling plants! Non-rigid plastics cause jams in the machinery sorting recycled materials causing the entire processing line to be shut down, requiring manually removing the offending items! For items like plastic bags, you should reuse them locally instead of just throwing them into the landfill bin. Try reusing them when going grocery shopping or use them to collect pet waste. Some grocery stores also collect plastic bags and bundle them up for separate recycling.
Paper and plastic items are recycled in the same containers in San Francisco (single-stream recycling). Plastic containers that are dirty should be recycled, but items should as clean as possible because if organic matter gets on paper, mold can form and that mold breaks down the fibers in paper reducing the quality of the paper being recycled! There is a little paper recycling tip that does help here – paper items that are not very thick like napkins and paper plates don’t need to be recycled because the fibers in these items are already so thin. Given paper comes from a living thing and what is on your plate or napkin is also compostable, you can conveniently just put these items in a compost bin!
If dirty plastic containers can ruin recycled paper, why doesn’t San Francisco ditch single-stream recycling – where all recyclable items are put in one container by residents and sorted at recycling facilities – and just go for multi-stream recycling where items are sorted by residents? Recology tried this, but found that less people were recycling because of the increased effort required for multi-stream recycling.
Everyone really enjoyed Heidi’s presentation and the impact of her visit was seen immediately. As we packed up for the weekend, marketing extraordinaire Turner Kirk snapped this photo and noted our recycling bin was overflowing, the compost bin was nearly full, and there was very little in the landfill bin.
An empty landfill bin is a happy landfill bin!
Up next in our workshop series is a beer-tasting workshop led by our very own beer connoisseurs Ryan and Nick! Check out Smule on Twitter and Facebook for more awesomeness. If you have any questions about Smule, our workshop series, or my newfound appreciation for recycling feel free to send me a tweet!