Driving Change: Make an Impact with Critical Success Factors

Driving Change: Make an Impact with Critical Success Factors As a general rule, human beings dislike change, preferring the sense of security and comfort that stems from consistency. However, sometimes, change is the best course of action. When we began the process of developing a new approach to project management, we knew that we would have to face the challenge of introducing significant change in an environment built on years of learned behaviour. In order to foster the adoption of our new approach, we would need a means of driving internal change that would be both repeatable and measurable. [...]

By |January 29th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Harnessing the Hybrid

Harnessing the Hybrid As outlined in the previous article, having identified several shortcomings in our approach to project management, we sought to develop and implement a series of improvements. With our diverse business environment, we looked into the possibility of adopting best practices from the agile approach, whilst retaining the critical elements of the more traditional waterfall approach. The Appearance of a New Approach - Utilising the Best of Both Worlds At the start of a project's lifecycle, our approach follows a more traditional path. A Gantt chart is produced as part of the quotation [...]

By |January 16th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Zircon’s Project Management Challenge

Zircon's Project Management Challenge Here at Zircon, we have adopted the concept of continuous improvement across all aspects of the business. Having identified shortcomings in our approach to project management, we undertook the challenge of developing and implementing an improvement plan. Historically we have decided against adopting a singular approach to project management, allowing our client's situation to dictate the process for their project. Our supposed need for flexibility predominantly stemmed from the business environment we found ourselves a part of. We could find ourselves working on any type of development projects, some suiting one approach and others another. [...]

By |January 9th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

The Other Side of Facial Recognition

The Other Side of Facial Recognition Run the term facial recognition through a search engine, and you will find yourself faced with two different results. Firstly, you get the educational texts and tutorials that introduce you to the concept, inform you of what it means and break down how it works. Secondly, you get the news articles, all detailing its stalker-like potential and how we will never be able to escape the ever-watchful eye. With so much focus on the negative, it is hardly surprising that such a powerful technology has gained itself quite the reputation. As a break [...]

By |December 18th, 2019|Blog Posts|

The Battle for Automation – Exposed by a Software Engineer

The Battle for Automation - Exposed by a Software Engineer Automation in Software Integration Integrating multiple elements of a large system always requires accuracy. It is a very sophisticated engineering process that often demands more time than the development of two or more components in isolation. The whole process can get quite confusing and understanding the full scope can take a long time, so it is worth considering solutions that accomplish tasks without direct interference from the user. Automation is especially useful in cases where there are multiple engineers involved in the project and the degree of knowledge [...]

By |December 11th, 2019|Blog Posts|

Anatomy of an Embedded Engineer – The Key Skills

Anatomy of an Embedded Engineer - The Key Skills In last weeks post, we claimed that the everyday engineer is more than capable of writing software for an embedded device or system. Though we still stand by this statement, there are some key skills that, if not understood correctly, could cause a few issues. The most important skill for any embedded engineer is an understanding of hardware. You need to understand and recognise how the code you write will interact with each different piece of hardware that makes up your device or system, so that should things go [...]

By |December 6th, 2019|Articles, Blog Posts|

Embedded Development – The Software Side

Embedded Development - The Software Side A couple of weeks ago, we kicked off our new blog series with a quick introduction to embedded systems. As foretold in the final lines, this week we will be shifting our attention onto the software side of things. Compared to software juggernauts such as Cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence, Embedded development always feels just a little more niche. Sitting outside of the skill set of the everyday programmer. However, this needn't be the case. While there are certainly some key differences, which we shall get onto in a minute, for the [...]

By |November 25th, 2019|Articles, Blog Posts|

What is an Embedded System?

What is an Embedded System? As with most things in the world of software, should you foolishly ask the question 'what is an embedded system?' you will quickly find yourself at the epicentre of quite the heated discussion. In the red corner, you have the bare metal believers, opting for no OS and low power processors. In the blue corner, the followers of what are effectively PC equivalents running Linux and everything in between. If you filter out all the toing and froing, an embedded system can simply be defined as a controller that provides one, or very [...]

By |November 14th, 2019|Articles, Blog Posts|

Artificial, Artificial Intelligence

Artificial, Artificial Intelligence In the last entry to this Machine Learning blog series, we discussed Supervised Learning and its use of labelled training data to deduce the correct outcome. However, we didn't really point out that, in order to achieve decent levels of accuracy, these models rely heavily on access to large quantities of labelled training data. Getting your hands on suitable data of this magnitude is often quite the task in and of itself. If you get lucky you may be able to source some off-the-shelf data sets that can be moulded to suit your purpose, but [...]

By |November 11th, 2019|Blog Posts|

Looking Behind the Curtain of Machine Learning

Looking Behind the Curtain of Machine Learning In our last article, we attempted to define Machine Learning while also debunking some of the myths that have managed to pop up over time. We also made a promise to take a look at the different methods and techniques available for Machine Learning development. So, as promised, here we present the Zircon guide on approaches to Machine Learning. Anyone who has so much as dipped a toe into the realm of Machine Learning will know that Supervised and Unsupervised learning are the two most widely adopted methods. Knowing which method will [...]

By |October 24th, 2019|Articles, Blog Posts|

What is Machine Learning?

What is Machine Learning? The introduction of Machine Learning has been a critical step forward in the development of Artifical Intelligence (AI) systems.  As a result, it has received a lot of attention from researchers, hoping to test its full potential.  Unfortunately, it has also become a popular topic for the press, which has resulted in some miscommunication and confusion as to what Machine Learning actually is.  Today we hope to alleviate some of this confusion, as well as clarify some common misconceptions. Machine Learning is ... At its most basic level, Machine Learning is a concept [...]

By |October 21st, 2019|Articles, Blog Posts|

51 Months Later … Back in the Life?

51 Months Later … Back in the Life? Hello, my name is Juan and I am a software engineer at Zircon Software. The title of this post is related to my previous blog post for Zircon (Ten Months in the Life …, available on the company website). As one might expect, a lot has changed in that time, not least my academic progression from undergraduate to graduate and making my way back to Zircon. The focus of this post will be to compare my perspective from back then with the one I hold now. As a placement student at Zircon, [...]

By |October 14th, 2019|Blog Posts|

The Steady Decline of Computing Education in the UK

The Steady Decline of Computing Education in the UK As you may recall from our previous article discussing the UK's distinct lack of engineers, there is a growing concern regarding the growing gap in vital technical skills.  Of course, an obvious step in finding a solution is to focus on the training of the next generation of engineers, yet it seems that the UK isn't fairing too well on that front either. Where Have All The Teachers Gone? With the number of students entering into education on the rise, the need for skilled teaching [...]

By |September 30th, 2019|Blog Posts|

How to Scale Engineers on a project – Zircon’s Top 5

How to Scale Engineers on a project - Zircon's Top 5 In my previous blog I examined how, like Cloud computing, working with Zircon allows for scalability.  Now, as promised, here is our Top 5 on the subject. Our retrospectives (regular team feedback sessions) have a section specially designed to answer this question: “How would we improve the information and resources available to the project such that a new team member would be able to hit the ground running?”  While this is continually evolving for our teams, we’ve learned key lessons. Here are the current [...]

By |September 20th, 2019|Blog Posts|

It’s Project Induction, but with Scalability as it’s Kernel.

It's Project Induction, but with Scalability as it's Kernel.  In a recent conversation with a client they told me, "Zircon is like Cloud computing, we can scale up and down with you as and when needed.  In our case, we needed several months help getting our product to market and Zircon was able to provide the help we needed. If we'd have gone in house it would have meant hiring and training a specialised team for a period of less than a year and that wasn't on the cards for us." I responded to say that project induction is [...]

By |August 23rd, 2019|Blog Posts|