C5 Labs: YouCaring + Carbon Five

By on in C5 Labs

Empathy is at the core of Carbon Five’s design process. We use it every day to design and develop software that can help solve real problems that affect real people. We are always looking to partner with companies and organizations who also value empathy. That is why we were excited to collaborate with YouCaring, a free fundraising and crowdfunding website.

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C5 Labs: Vrogger

By on in C5 Labs, C5 Labs, Culture

 

For the last two weeks a few of us here at Carbon Five Santa Monica explored our latest love, Virtual Reality, by creating a game from scratch. We had a hard time limit of two weeks and our team was small. Just Bhavna, Sidney, Nicole, and Rudy working on a full game experience, with levels, sound and design.

This was completely an exercise in prioritization and exploration of a platform that only half the team had any experience with.

So, after just 10 working days, we present a variation of an 80’s classic and favorite: VRogger!

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DIY Pokemon Go: Our Experience Building an Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunt

By on in C5 Labs, Development, Everything Else

 

Thanks to PokemonGO, the streets are filled with people racing around cities, stopping to interact with virtual characters they could see through their phone camera. The experience is familiar to us at Carbon Five; 6 months ago we were doing the same thing on the streets of San Francisco playing our own augmented reality game. A game our tiny, three person team conceived, built and delivered in under a month, in and around our regular client workload!

This was no simple feat. In addition to the tight timeline, most of our day to day work focuses on mobile and web applications. Working in 3D was something only some of us have tried, with little practical experience.

So how did we do it?

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The 10 Practices of Healthy Engineering Teams – Part 2

By on in Culture, Development, Process, Startups

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced a high-performing engineering team at SuperStartupCorp that had automated repetitive tasks, codified its engineering practices, and adopted a learning mindset, resulting in happy engineers and happy stakeholders. Read on to learn more traits and practices that make this team so successful, and how they keep their bus factor high. (If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can head on over to Part 3).

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Dr. Smarty or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bot?

By on in Culture, Development, Everything Else

 

Twice a year, all of the Carbon Five offices congregate for our company-wide Summit. One of the funnest parts of these all company trips is the Codeo, which we have been running for the last few years and they have become an integral part of our DNA.

For those that don’t know, our Codeo (short for “Code Rodeo”) is a 2-day internal hackathon. The goal of the Codeo is to have fun creating a product with people you haven’t had a chance to work with in a while (or maybe ever).

The teams are made up of mixture of office locations and cross-functional groups so that everyone has a different role to play (developers, designers, product manager, and operations). The focus of this Codeo was “Slackbots” with the overall goal to create something that helps out our co-workers and/or Carbon Five as a whole. The only rule was to use an existing internal Slack channel as inspiration for the project.

Here is a snapshot of each team’s Slackbot, as told by the team. Continue reading …


The 10 Practices of Healthy Engineering Teams – Part 1

By on in Culture, Development, Process, Startups

Behold the engineering team at SuperStartupCorp: their steady delivery of features, humble reception of feedback and crafting of well-architected software systems earn them praise up and down the company. The team greatly enjoys working together, and consistently leaves the office feeling accomplished, empowered, and happy.

happy_engineers

How is this team able to consistently deliver features for the business, while maintaining morale in a changing sea of fluctuating product requirements, leadership changes, and unplanned site emergencies? It wasn’t always this way.

Read on to learn the first three steps to this team’s journey towards engineering happiness. And don’t forget to read on to Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

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It’s a Mobile App Life (in China)

By on in Culture, Everything Else, Mobile

This week I returned from a 2-week trip through 4 cities in China. I was born there, spent a fair amount of time there growing up, and I also lived there for a year on a Fulbright fellowship after college. Today, I work as in San Francisco at Carbon Five as a product manager, helping startups and tech companies turn their ideas into software.

Although the purpose of this trip was family-based, and though I’ve been there before, seeing China’s adoption of mobile technology completely blew my mind. The growing differences between U.S. and China mobile applications made my stay pretty difficult in ways I hadn’t experienced or expected. While I missed my American apps, the sophistication of extremely powerful Chinese apps also took me by surprise, with just a handful of many-featured, multi-purpose apps dominating my usage.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

Blocked Apps

Some of the apps that – straight up –  will not work:

  • Facebook (blocked by the government for not censoring content and providing access to user data after the 2009 Xinjiang riots)
  • Instagram
  • All things Google (including web browsing, gmail, drive and google maps)

What do I mean by not working? It’s not like you’ll see a notification like this:

Notification

It’ll look more like this:

slack_loading

Never have I ever upgraded so many Apple native apps out of my Appleware folder as I had to in China. But let’s move on to the good. Continue reading …


Establishing Culture? Get Outta Town!

By on in Culture, Everything Else

As Carbon Five grows, we experiment with different ways to define, elaborate, and communicate our company culture. One thing we do is organize semi-annual retreats, we call them summits, that rotate between our two main offices in San Francisco and Santa Monica.

These events are, first and foremost, about people. They are a way for our employees to establish a more personal connection with each other even though our offices are geographically separated.

The summits aim to be fun, light hearted, and not take themselves too seriously. We aren’t looking to hand down a set of values, guidelines, and rules that Carbon Five employees must follow. Instead we encourage people to discover and define our shared values by talking with each other: What is going on in the different offices? What is emerging across our design, development, and product management practices? What are the things that make coming into work every day enjoyable and inspiring?

We’ve been organizing company retreats for three years now. We thought it was time to share what what’s worked and what we’ve learned.

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Creating the Dream Team: Transform Your Engineering Organization to Attract New Talent

By on in Culture, Process, Startups

The organization you've wanted to work for

It’s a common scenario for tech companies: Your hiring pipeline is dry and you can’t seem to attract new talent. You notice companies touting long lists of superficial benefits. Instead of improving your internal team, you find yourself worrying about getting a pro-grade ping pong table for the break room.

You don’t need helicopter rides or Massage Mondays to bring people into the fold. Instead, focus your energy on making lasting changes to your company’s DNA. It won’t be easy, but the results will keep your existing team happy, which translates to positive conversation about your organization. Here are a few strategies to get you moving in the right direction.

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