Made in USA: Enterprise Application Services

Blog - Page 16 of 26 - Ayoka - Made in USA Enterprise Application Services

IMS For Your Optimized Business Model

August 12, 2014
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Information Management Services (IMS) represents the models implemented by a company to effectively monitor intellectual capital distributed across various file systems, servers and relational databases throughout the enterprise. The objective of IMS is to provide the optimal technical foundation to maximize your businesses’ value based on the management of the intellectual data you have.

The best technical foundation for your business that promotes secure data-sharing between your business managers, your clients or customers, and your partners in B2B relations involve a process that determines what the newest and most-utilized trends are for usability. By assessing your existing business models and strategizing to optimize them for the next iteration, you can easily simplify and improve your data’s values by optimizing its structure, procedures and processes to control information quality. Ayoka can lend a hand in the strategic planning process to meet your businesses’ unique goals.

Planning your deployment for IMS implementation of your new, optimized, models, will take time and a deep understanding of current processes so that integration can be implemented with the least amount of interruption. As a result of these deployments, you will see your company’s processes become more and more navigable. This could make the business data more easily navigable for your end-users, and can be done with an implemented Content Management System (CMS) that sends data to the right place in real-time and allows for asset management on the fly.

Making plans to implement and manage you businesses’ information assets with the ability to accommodate future needs and emerging technologies will project your business data’s usability far into the future, preserving the business legacy models and applications and building them with accessibility and scalability in mind.

UGV: When No Man Should Go

July 31, 2014
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Back before 1990, the Department of Defense initiated plans for the planning and deployment of robotic vehicle platforms in the battlefield and a goal to standardize its interfaces and architecture. Robotics industry leaders say that advances in military, transportation, medical, and other non-manufacturing robotics applications, its research and its development investments are justified by dramatic potential benefits, and will provide the technologies to advance future generations of robots for application in manufacturing. Torco Robotics and other groups like Oshkosh Defense have combined forces with the US Marines and the US Armed Forces to give autonomous vehicles the chance to lead or follow Warfighters.

University of Texas at Arlington - UGV

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) can be controlled remotely through teleoperation and its functionalities have even been in the works at our local University of Texas at Arlington. They’re equipped with sensors, cameras, and attachments that enable sampling while offering the ability to have information displayed to the operator. These machines can operate in GPS-denied environments and are equipped with machine learning techniques that can be applied to motion planning and perception which prove perfect for clearing obstructions, or performing perimeter security to ultimately protect a human Warfighter from potential danger while improving safety and situational awareness. “Having completed several initial tests of automated transport vehicles at Fort Hood, Texas, and elsewhere, the service expects to have a finished requirements document ready by fall in order to advance a “leader-follower” semi-automated technology, where several unmanned vehicles in a convoy follow a manned lead vehicle”

These practices, however, conflict with International humanitarian laws. “One of the things that holds us back from barbarism in contexts of war is this distinction between combatants and civilians,” said David Mepham, the United Kingdom director of Human Rights Watch. “We are worried about a robotic weapon of the future not being able to tell the difference between a child holding out an ice cream and someone holding a weapon.”

The UGVs will be operated remotely and monitored, to reduce the risk of a situation that would conflict with humanitarian laws. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) asserts that “Reducing manning or eliminating it altogether in logistics supply convoys would save American lives in the future,” and no matter what the mission goals are, these unmanned vehicles can still interact with harmful substances and objects, clear ground, and provide security.

Health Interoperability Met With Investigation

July 29, 2014
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As Federal Health IT professionals take interoperability as a priority in an attempt to promote health information exchange, they were met with what may be misappropriation from doctors and other IT professionals and found themselves in an investigation on what entities are behind what’s being called the “information backing problem.”

healthcare and IT

The Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT, or ONC, stated that they “should take steps to decertify products that proactively block the sharing of information because those practices frustrate congressional intent, devalue taxpayer investments in [certified EHR technology], and make [the technology] less valuable and more burdensome for eligible hospitals and eligible providers to use.” A series of questions have been submitted related to ONC’s budget and its intent to collect millions of dollars in fees from health IT vendors.

Studied physician and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) states that “it may be time for us to look closer at the activities of vendors in the space, given the possibility that fraud is being perpetrated on the American people.” The Appropriations Committee has requested a detailed report of the extent of information blocking and solutions to combat and end the problem in question. Four members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce have the following four questions for ONC chief Karen DeSalvo:

  • When the authorization for the Medicare and Medicaid Inceantive program expires, under what statutory authority does ONC believe it is able to regulate Health IT and electronic health records, particularly in (but not limited to) non-Meaningful Use areas?
  • The FDA is provided with the authority to regulate medical devices by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. What similar authority does ONC point to, going forward, to participate in regulatory activities in coordination with the FDA and the FCC?
  • To what extent does ONC’s NPRM on 2015 Edition EHR Certification represent a broader shift in focus from coordinating and promoting efforts related to interoperability, privacy and security, and quality reporting criteria, to the regulation of data collection, functionality requirements, and other areas where market forces are more likely to promote innovation and efficiency?
  • What role does ONC plan to play moving forward on issues including, but not limited to, Health IT safety and EHR certification requirements? How will the recommendations of ONC’s Federal Advisory Committees guide these plans? Will ONC’s role be limited to the scope of these recommendations?

Chief science and medical officer of the West Health Institute, Joe Smith, stated that “Interoperability is essential to the more automated, connected and coordinated health care delivery system we all want and deserve, and it is an absolute requirement to make the ‘meaningful use’ program meaningfully useful.”

Myo is Changing Motion

July 24, 2014
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Thalmic Labs, fronted by mechatronics engineers Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey, and Aaron Grant, is building upon the future of human-computer interaction. They aspire to use wearable technology to connect the real and digital worlds, and they’re not alone. Their team includes researchers, designers, and other engineers that share the same passions, with financial backing from Spark Capital, Intel Capital, Formation 8, First Round Capital and FundersClub, along with other individual investors.

By preordering a kit for only $150, you can receive your own Myo armband and the chance to become a developer before they’re released in the fall for consumers. The kit will come complete with the hardware, Software Development Kit (SDK) and all the necessary software!

The Myo band works by “using our proprietary EMG sensors…measures the electrical activity from your muscles to detect what gesture your hand is making. It also senses all of the motions and rotations of your hand and forearm through the 9-axis IMU.” It’s compatible with Windows, iOS, Android operating systems connected by a low-energy 4.0 Bluetooth connection. It can be configured to work with an array of devices independently, although functionality has not yet been implemented for a Myo armband to work with multiple devices consecutively. What’s cool is that one can develop applications that utilize two Myo armbands!

Thalmic Labs is really changing the game with their new armbands, they’re sure to be well received by both consumers and the enterprise, as wearable tech is a great way to bridge the gap between a user and their devices.
Feel free to email Thalmic Labs at support@thalmic.com with any inquiries you may have!

M7 Tech Partners Investing in Future Tech

July 22, 2014
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carmelo anthony defense

M7 Tech Partners, LLC is the brainchild of the combined minds of Carmelo Anthony and Stuart Goldfarb. Goldfarb attributes their investment prowess in digital media, consumer internet and technology ventures on their “complementary strengths and a very close, 50/50 partnership…‘Melo has incredible business instincts and a great record when it comes to product design, social media and business development,” he said.

carmelo anthony entrepreneurIf you didn’t know, Carmelo Anthony is a two time Gold medalist in the Olympic Games and currently plays small forward for the New York Knicks. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in technology…I particularly have my eye on companies that are involved with wearable technology and connected devices — these will be huge areas for the future,” Anthony said in a statement. Stuart Goldfarb isn’t out of place in the tech startup scene, he has been on the social commerce company Beachmint’s board of directors since 2010.

Carmelo Anthony became a venture capitalist when he familiarized himself with wearable tech his teammates were wearing to quantify their performance. He and Goldfarb talked together about the accessibility of wearable tech to consumers and its marketability as a lifestyle choice. Having already invested in Hullabaloo, Inc., the New York-based startup that creates children’s story applications for iPad founded by Suzanne Xie, M7 Tech Partners “are actively looking for ventures with strong leaders creating breakthrough products that resonate with consumers.”

Mr. Goldfarb says M7 Tech Partners’ fund will invest in seed-stage deals, typically on a convertible note basis, and will occasionally be “more operationally involved” with helping entrepreneurs develop their brands, products and business models. M7 Tech will not take a lead position in any of their portfolio companies. Hearing funders like M7 Tech is really reassuring that tech is moving in the right direction, with a hand from consumer-centric investors!

IBM and Apple, Match Made for Enterprise

July 17, 2014
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Apple and IBM have officially teamed up to develop enterprise-specific applications, combining user-friendliness and familiarity with big data tech by utilizing IBM’s ability to offer security, analytics, and device management along with Apple’s already popular iPads and iPhone, they will together begin offering new services to businesses in hopes of transforming Enterprise Mobility.

apple 1984 runnerWe are well aware of what each company has done for the technology industry since their inception, and since then, both companies have gone to great lengths to make acquisitions of other companies that will cater to their strengths and are currently working on over 100 end-to-end mobile solutions that will be ready for enterprise use! Their partnership will “redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change” as they plan on building a new class of native applications and offering services optimized for iOS and offering the ability to allow employees to manage their own devices. With IBM’s experienced consultants and developers coupled with Apple’s consumer experience, we will see the most widely accepted mobile devices in the world optimize their services for the enterprise that is shifting toward mobility.

“Mobility—combined with the phenomena of data and cloud—is transforming business and our industry in historic ways, allowing people to re-imagine work, industries and professions,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO. “This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM’s leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services. We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can’t imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform.”

IBM’s MobileFirst platform for iOS will provide an enterprise-class cloud solution for building and deploying elegant, integrated applications. Apple Care for Enterprise will build upon those solutions and offer what popularized Apple for its consumer relatability-their consumer support through telephone and Internet along with its onsite repair and replacement services. IBM’s MobileFirst Supply and Management for device supply, activation, and management will also be offered with leasing options available to businesses.

All of these new applications and services rolled directly to enterprises will definitely be a game changer now that it’s being brought to us by the two most renowned and well-received companies!

Google Promotes Smartphone-Optimized Sites in Searches

July 15, 2014
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Google has become the go-to search engine for most all Internet users across all devices, and they’re anticipating mobile searches to surpass desktop searches through this year. Acknowledging the browser technologies incompatible with the browsing device, a common annoyance we all endure when searching on mobile, Google has implemented algorithms that will actively detect pages and alert a smartphone user that they are not supported by the browsing device.

mobile browsing statistics

An example posted by the Google Webmasters shows a Flash site annotated for a mobile browsing user:

 

flash alert

This example shows what smartphone users will see when they attempt to access your site, even when the redirect option is to a mobile-optimized url:

search result redirect

Faulty redirects occur when a desktop-optimized site has a redirect set up for their smartphone-optimized site, although it may not be directly relevant to the smartphone user’s initial query for information from the desktop-optimized site. These redirects are implemented by professionals who care about the experience of the smartphone user, but can often put a user off and offers the incentive to navigate away from this redirecting site feeling frustrated. These awkward browsing avenues that a user takes in an attempt to access the site with the information that they are looking for also skews Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms.

Luckily, making websites responsive across devices isn’t hard with HTML5 as it is supported on most all devices. A few test searches and browsing on your own devices can also help to optimize the viewing experience of your typical smartphone user. If you’re running into trouble with cross-platform optimization or your current website solutions are not optimized for your enterprise, contact Ayoka today!

Sonos Supports Soundcloud!

July 10, 2014
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It’s official, a Beta version of Soundcloud for Sonos is available for public use!

Soundcloud, the Berlin-based music sharing conglomerate, has paired with Sonos, the Santa Barbara-based home theater company. This gives Soundcloud the opportunity to literally be heard across even more platforms! Sonos already supports a number of services via its mobile application, but will now cater to Soundcloud’s 200 million registered users with its speaker systems-wirelessly, of course.

sonos and soundcloud

Before Soundcloud released their official Sonos service, a developer named Rahim had software running through Sonos application and sound system for Soundcloud and has since shut down his own service that had been running since 2012. He was doing it for free, as development and management of APIs is his hobby and he offered a great service to Sonos users everywhere!

When asked why he built the software, he answered:
“A few reasons. One, a ton of people have been wanting to listen to SoundCloud on their Sonos systems, and there hasn’t been a good way of doing that so far. Two, the Sonos systems are deeply interesting to me. Earlier this year, I explored how Sonos speakers talk to each other, this seemed like a natural next step. And lastly, I was recently contacted by a potential client asking if I could create a Sonos application for their popular music service. I figured, what better way to show them I’m up for the job than to write a Sonos application for another popular music service?”

Sonos’ hifi sound systems will surely get more ears for Soundcloud’s sounds, making new music more accessible than ever, and as each minute passes, more than 10 hours of music are uploaded to Soundcloud!

Can We Truly Take A Moment For Ourselves?

July 8, 2014
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Last week, NPR posted an article about researchers at Harvard and the University of Virginia who asked people to sit in a room equipped with only a 9-volt battery as a shocking device and simply enough, just sit and think; have a few moments to themselves alone. Oddly, the majority of participants found themselves apt to subjecting themselves to the shock treatment.

It’s not surprising, really, that so many people would subject themselves to shock treatment when left alone without any other distractions. It’s becoming less and less common for humans to take time away from technology, or anything, and simply take time to think unto themselves. Do you have a smartphone or tablet? How often do you find yourself needlessly reaching for it? Phantom ringing, or phantom vibration syndrome, is the false sense of your phone vibrating or ringing when it is not doing so at all. In 2012, it was reported that about 90% of college students find themselves susceptible to phantom ringing.

smartphone use

79% of smartphone users have their phone on or near them for all but two hours of their waking day; 63% keep it with them for all but one hour. A full quarter of respondents couldn’t recall a single time of the day when their phone wasn’t in the same room as them. It may be funny to look at the numbers, but to me, it’s discouraging, I am on my laptop working and trying to be productive, between school and work, for over 10 hours a day during the week-I do not feel tethered by my phone, then again, I don’t have a smartphone by choice. My friends and I will choose to go out and their faces end up illuminated by their phone’s light. I am happy to put my laptop to sleep and walk away from it, but it’s not so easy with smartphones.

I read comments in response to the aforementioned NPR article and found that many users felt bogged down by their smartphones, particularly full-time workers who confided in the fact that they cannot hide from emails from their bosses and colleagues, and that they feel expected to respond to emails received on their oh-so-accessible devices. One comment was by a gentleman who recalled a girl he liked in high school. He got the courage to talk with her at length and he asked her what she thought about, she replied that she didn’t think too often because it hurt. That stuck with me; when I take time to myself without distraction, I calmly parse through my responsibilities, through my goals and necessities, to a place where I can simply be in my mind enjoying my random thoughts. Do some really experience pain on the way to, or in, this meditative state?

In the Editor’s Summary of Just think: the challenges of the disengaged mind, Timothy Wilson, professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, validated that man’s story of his old crush by saying that leaving people alone with their own thoughts “appears to be an unpleasant experience. In fact, many of the people studied, particularly the men, chose to give themselves a mild electric shock rather than be deprived of external sensory stimuli.” A lot of people confess that they find their minds wandering when they are doing seemingly arbitrary physical activities, like driving or cleaning. Are these physical stimuli necessary for the mind to feel like it can wander?

Wilson and his colleagues wondered why people were willing to shock themselves-the most common answers were out of boredom and/or curiosity. When left to their own devices and making the decision to put down their smartphones and tablets in their own homes, Wilson says “they couldn’t even go for six to 12 minutes,” those results suggest that the attraction to our devices could be found in their availability, offering a window of escape when our brains lack a satiating physical stimulus.

In another NPR article, Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, says “it really has to do with practice. The reality — especially for young people — is that online time is ‘crowding out’ the time that might otherwise be spent in prolonged, focused concentration…Carr acknowledges that prolonged, solitary thought is not the natural human state, but rather ‘an aberration in the great sweep of intellectual history that really just emerged with [the] technology of the printed page.’

I hope that our curious and naturally innovative propensities do not become completely unmoved by the things that occur in nature, and within ourselves, that we can only observe; and that our current drives toward integration of technology into our daily lives ultimately bring us closer to ourselves without compromise, but that will take time to tell.

4th of July Weekend in DFW!

July 3, 2014
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Make this long weekend special by going out and seeing some fireworks, getting some food, and enjoying tomorrow off!

Tonight, Light Up Arlington will be at Levitt Pavilion offering food, free music, and fireworks all starting at 6pm!! In Southlake, Stars and Stripes will be offering festivities at Frank Cornish Park, Rustin Pavilion, and McPherson Park before they set their fireworks off at 9:30! Frisco will be hosting their evening 5K run for Hotter ‘N Firecrackers at the Simpson Plaza, along with Dachshund Races! If you’re looking for some overnight fun for the family, The Ballpark in Arlington is hosting a sleepover in the outfield! Complete with food, drinks, and fireworks!

Tomorrow, Highland Park is starting early with their Rotary Club of Park Cities Parade and the Firecracker 5K Fun Run! Dallas’ own Fair Park will be hosting their own 7K or 4K race starting outside of the Band Shell, followed by their annual Fair Park Fourth.

There’s lots more going on in the DFW! Lots of cookouts and pool parties to part-take in! Have a happy 4th and be safe!!

National Archives Making Wikipedia A Top Priority!

July 1, 2014
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“Over the next two years we will work to increase the number of National Archives records available on Wikimedia Commons, continue our work to engage local communities of volunteer Wikipedians with on-site events, and collaborate on the development of the GLAM-Wiki U.S. Consortium.” A quote from this year’s Open Government Plan by the National Archives and Records Administration in hopes to “Make Access Happen.”

NARA is making a priority to participate in public engagement and has been active on 15 social media platforms that include GitHub, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, iTunes U, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. NARA-hosted transcriptions, edit-a-thons, and scan-a-thons are tweeted publicly to increase public engagement while improving accessibility to their records! NARA hopes to keep the population enthused about the National Archives while offering easy-access and guidance to help patrons find the records they are looking for, especially through the Wikipedia community.

The utilization of existing and development of new crowdsourcing tools will act to strengthen “our ability to make records available on external platforms like Wikipedia.” In 2012, about 100,000 digital images were shared from NARA’s holdings with Wikimedia Commons, enabling digital copies of their records to be integrated into Wikimedia projects and articles. “The 4,000 Wikipedia articles featuring our records received more than one billion page views in Fiscal Year 2013.”

According to Wikipedia-who can truly offer the best explaination-The GLAM-Wiki U.S. Consortium members are committed to Wikimedia’s foundation pledge to “empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.” Their main goal is to “to become a welcoming and safe place for cultural institutions and professionals, while cultural institutions and professionals should be full, participating members of the Wikipedia online community” and enthusiastically include Cultural Professionals, Organizations and their Affiliates, Wikimedians, and their Chapters, through sharing of resources.

Google’s Material Design and Its 6 Core Values

June 26, 2014
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Yesterday, Google unveiled their new language that takes visual aesthetic as priority, it’s called Material Design, and it utilizes tactile actions and propensities, optimizes based on device size, and magnifies the basic intentions of design while giving meaning to motion.

Material Design

1. Google’s idea of Animation is both minimized and maximized to a simplistic and user-intuitive level. Prioritization of mass and weight aim to emulate physics’ definition of velocity right in the document window and accentuate the principal of Authentic Motion.

Making touch, voice, mouse, and keyboard top input methods allows Google’s Material Design to come to life through any degree of interaction, legitimizing the notion of Responsive Interaction and Meaningful Transitions.

I think this idea of Responsive Interaction is my favorite as it is very bright and potentially rewarding for the user, and I delved into the ink metaphor that Google drew inspiration from. I read a paper called The Constrained Ink Metaphor that was written by the Stockholm-based Deptartment of Numerical Analysis and Computer Science and presented at the 10th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction held in Crete, Greece back in 2003. It details the want to develop interactive computer programs for users young and old, magnifying the importance of the core of the phrase, ink metaphor-the ink! Listing potentially ink-based applications and exploring different types of interaction and responses they could build for the virtual environment proved to me to be very enlightening and was really a breath of fresh air into user intuition for devices in the home to be used between people.

Now, Google brings these principles into the development environment with their Material Design concepts, allowing all visual, audio, and touch related influences to construct a seamless experience that can be shared.

2. In Material Design, use of color as a visual aid and its true intent revealed through attributing action is greatly encouraged, along with a wholly minimalist aesthetic coupled with engaging typography, meaningful icons and imagery to validate and enhance the user experience regardless of what device.

3. Layout Principles takes consistency and structure, two fundamentals of print design, to keep the interface usable and recognizable across devices and development platforms.

Google goes further to take this concept past two dimensions as it details the importance of items’ position relative to the z-axis, prioritizing it dimensionally as needed and offering depth for perception.

4. Familiar parts of our lives like buttons, cards, dialogs, lists, chips, and tabs are conceptualized for the digital user interface and coined by Google as Components. These components come together as individuals to create the seamless and user-intuitive interface that Google is striving for!

5. Patterns are outlined in Material Design through Gestures, which are divided into two sub-categories, Touch Mechanics (what your fingers actually do on the screen) and Touch Activities (the results of what your fingers do on the screen), and Imagery Treatment, which takes load time and visual aesthetic into account in the forms of opacity, contrast, and saturation to make for a positive and ever-changing image experience.

6. Material Design’s concept of Usability is described in its Accessibility, taking potential users with disabilities as priority! Physical impairments that hinder a user from fully experiencing an application is a major and in-depth topic that isn’t commonly addressed by smartphone manufacturers, aside from groups trying to bridge the gap between the two. Google encourages developers and designers to keep the 650 million disabled users in mind, and have Resources for Developers available and compatible with Andriod, Chrome, and YouTube.

Navigability, Readability, and Feedback all come together in an attempt to create the right environment for an application to be accessible to anyone, which really brings user-centric applications full circle. Use of a keyboard in light of mouse-free navigation is suggested in Gestures, larger touch targets and spatial relationships between items for touch-screen users has taken priority, especially with the aforementioned Layout Principles, and offering guidance through truly meaningful icons outlined in Components all work together to build an environment that anyone can access and and enjoy.

These six core values that Material Design prioritizes is so beautiful and engaging to me that I can hardly believe that we’ve been building applications without these values working in tandem! I can’t wait to see what research and aesthetics will grow from Google’s new language, Material Design!

On Twitter, GIFs are VIFs and That’s Okay

June 24, 2014
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Last week, Twitter announced that they support GIFs and everyone rejoiced-seriously, everyone. Then we found out that Twitter’s GIFs are actually embedded MP4 videos implemented with HTML5, and that’s not bad.

We all know GIFs, they are familiar to us in conversation, we know their file size can get really big and that’s in direct correlation with load times, and they’re basically defined as images stitched together that loop forever in the instantiated document window until you navigate away.

Twitter’s idea of converting the GIFs to MP4 actually cuts down on those gargantuan file sizes by as much as 10 times! For mobile browsing in particular, those big GIFs are a pain to load and browse around a whole page of on, say, Tumblr, for instance. Sean Creeley at embed.ly gives a great rundown on viewing the difference between the VIF and the beloved GIF.

An HTML5 video can be paused, which means no endless looping and no telling your friends to, “wait-let it start before you look.” HTML5 videos offer the ability to pause, rewind, and restart-even slow down a VIF by harnessing HTML5s keyframes.

In short, sure Twitter tried to soothe you by inviting you to upload and see GIFs when you’re browsing, but these embedded VIFs will ultimately cut down on page load time and even give you the ability to pause, rewind, and slow down your favorite clips! You can even use the Recordit software that supports GIFs and is optimized for Twitter, so there’s no reason to be confused or saddened. Twitter is ahead of the game and it benefits us all.

5 Must-Have Apps For Your Summer Road Trip

June 19, 2014
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‘Tis the season…

Summer’s here and odds are there’s a road trip in your near future. If not, what are you doing? Get busy and throw something together. There are probably some really cool things just a few hours drive away. You can do that in a weekend. Then again, wouldn’t it be nice to at least take Friday off for your little excursion?
But I digress. This isn’t about IF you’re going or WHERE you’re going. This is about making sure your smartphone is up for the task before you get under way (after, of course, you turn around and go back 3 times for things you reminded your kids to get, but somehow still didn’t make it in the car/minivan/SUV)!

First, let’s talk about finding your way, not getting lost, and avoiding the inevitable traffic jams. For this, you’re going to want Waze. Waze is a great GPS app, but the real power is in the community updates. Other drivers are telling you real-time where accidents, traffic nightmares, and even speed-traps are.

Now, let’s not waste any money while filling up. GasBuddy will help you find the best gas prices near wherever you are. Once again, the peer-to-peer sharing is the key.

Wanna find some sweet stuff to check out along the way, try Roadtrippers. This will get you to some beautiful sites, some unique attractions, and if this is your style, some flat-out weird things!

OK, what’s a road trip without some GREAT food? TripAdvisor to the rescue! TripAdvisor gives ratings and reviews for flights, hotels, and attractions too; but for me it’s all about the restaurant reviews. Sure, there are lots of restaurant rating sites and apps out there. But Trip Advisor seems to have fewer morons leaving ridiculous reviews. (Yelp, did your ears perk up?)

Finally, it’s 2014. You HAVE to chronicle your adventure on social media!! Otherwise, how do you even know if it really happened? Instagram is the current undisputed king of this realm.

So, the links are all to the Google Play Store (because I’m biased and all) but every one of these apps is also available on the Apple App Store (because I’m also not a jerk).

What are you waiting for? Start downloading and hit the road, Jack!

Have fun, and safe travels…

FIFA Meets 2014 Tech

June 17, 2014
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FIFA was founded in Paris back in 1904, its foundation act was signed by the countries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, with the inclusion of the already active English Football Association and anticipation of going international. It was first televised in 1954 and has grown to be the world’s most widely viewed sporting event-exceeding even the Olympic Games and encompasses 1/9 of the world population.

FIFA 2014

This year’s FIFA is equipped with 21st century technology in the form of GoalControl’s implemented total of 14 goal line cameras that will, well, watch the goal lines for scores and blocks by the goalies. Although there is no way to reverse a referee’s decision, even after review of the play, the precise replays and coverage by sportscasters is widely accepted and anticipated by FIFA’s hundreds of millions of fans. FIFA.com’s live video stream is available in most all of the European countries, and many countries in Asia. On YouTube, there have already been over 1.6billion views of soccer content within the last 30 days! Here in the US, ESPN has taken seniority as they are showing the entire tournament via television, Internet, smartphone, and desktop/laptop. BBC has the iPlayer for online coverage of the games while both BBC and ITV are broadcasting for UK via television with online streaming on ITV encountering high streaming volumes and bandwidth-related complications.

Brazil is the most successful nation in FIFA history with a total of 5 titles! Attendance numbers from Brazil’s 1950 hosting of the FIFA World Cup grew in attendees to 1,045,246 from the past year’s attendance number of 375,700. Being anointed as the host country of FIFA is a big privilege as the chairs of all participating countries come together to choose one host, which receives a lot of attention as an insincere act laced with corruption. This year, 12 host cities around Brazil will host tournament matches and some of the fans in the stadium jeer at president Dilma Rousseff in the name of misappropriation of funds and displacement of Brazil’s residents. While brands like Adidas, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola sponsor and capitalize, bringing in over $11 billion dollars in revenue on the month-long tournament, citizens of Brazil call the World Cup a misappropriation of government funds. Strikes and protests note the stance of the citizens of Brazil, and their government responded with federal troops. Peaceful protesters mixed with masked individuals were confronted by police force that many say was too harsh. Many visitors believe that their protesting should have happened before FIFA broke ground on the seven new stadiums and remodeling of five existing ones. FIFA’s opening performance portrayed what people called a stereotypical depiction of the nation.

This year’s World Cup will not easily be forgotten. As it unfolds over the next few weeks, FIFA fans will have tuned in to online streaming through desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, while filling up sports bars and tuning in from home from over 200 countries and territories. The fan base will come together for support as we witness it broadcast live coupled with coverage by most all journalists in the world from one vantage point or another.

What Makes Good Software? 4 Characteristics to Look Out For

June 12, 2014
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Whether you plan on building a web application from scratch, or building on an existing site or application, putting out truly good software will take careful planning and communication guarantees a great application that is easy to maintain and expound upon.

good software feels good

1. Scalable & Dynamic – After requirements analysis has been performed and implementation begins, there are many hours that go by before software launches and goes live. Best-case scenario, the application is everything that you need and more, but what about the hurdles that the developers went through as the stakeholders requested new functionalities through the phases? Keeping code scalable makes for eager anticipation of implementation of new functionalities while lack of standardization and governance can adversely affect the performance and cost efficiency of your IT architecture. Working with code that’s been slapped on top of other code does not last, but with Ayoka, our code methodologies and high standards help the code itself to last and thrive long after it has been launched because our software is built with extensibility as a priority.

2. Testable & Debuggable – As described above, software goes through many phases and testing is a big one, but as stakeholders make requests for more functionality as the project goes along some valuable software documentation and testing are missing in an attempt to complete the requirements by launch date. How did that throw off the scope of the project and its cost to the stakeholders involved? Ayoka’s custom enterprise architecture and technology services utilize open source applications whenever possible to help contain costs and maximize flexibility. We employ proven, development disciplines that integrate with legacy infrastructures and provide scalability with emerging technologies.

3. Secure & Reliable– Was your application built with security as a priority?  Adding mobility by building mobile applications for your enterprise will empower your company with the tools and information that will enable you to ultimately be more accessible and successful. Maintaining database security and your user’s confidential information should be the highest priority and managed with levels of authentication and permissions.

4. Functional & Usable – After the launch of your new application, do your users understand how to utilize and get the most out of your software? How about your employees? The user interface of your application should be intuitive and catered to your user. Does your software need to be ready to be integrated with other software services? Application integration services will allow your enterprise to 1) update existing or legacy applications to “talk” to other applications, 2) integrate web-based features into older desktop applications and 3) collaborate with Ayoka’s application integration services team to synchronize your business processes with technology making your organization more competitive and responsive to change. Aside from that, your software should have the ability to do its job without fail. With the requirements documents as a valuable tool coupled with communication, developers and stakeholders can work together and stay on the same page from the beginning of production through launch.

Keeping these characteristics in mind will help your company’s web application to be trusted and embraced by users. At Ayoka, we offer diverse industry experience in custom application development, bringing ideas from different fields that can be tailored to your exact needs. We examine open source alternatives to lower your cost of ownership while offering scalability to accommodate growth and facilitate emerging technologies. Give us a call for a free quote today!

3. Security & Reliability – Was your application built with security as a priority?  Adding mobility by building mobile applications for your enterprise will empower your company with the tools and information that will enable you to ultimately be more accessible and successful. Maintaining database security and your user’s confidential information should be the highest priority and managed with levels of authentication and permissions.

Swift Taking the Front Seat in Mobile Development

June 10, 2014
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Apple Swift IconSince Swift’s unveiling last week at Apple’s WWDC, a plethora of learning information has been released by Apple along with other authors and developers. The Swift Programming Language is available with iBooks on the Mac or iOS device, and through iTunes.

If you missed the conference, Swift is a programming language optimized for mobile that builds on the fundamentals of C and the widely used Objective-C without what Apple described as ‘constraints’ of C compatibility. It’s the new language for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, the frameworks for building software on iOS and it’s readily compatible with existing Objective-C code. Swift takes the best parts of C and Objective-C, like flow control and operators, and takes object-oriented features like classes, to give developers the environment they need to program their best applications without needing to relearn a whole new language. Swift’s inferred types make code clean and easy to read while being less error-prone, memory is automatically managed, modules eliminate headers and even provide namespaces, one can even name emoticons as variables. You can see your program come to life in the interactive playground, or watch your loop progress with the timeline assistant.

Swift has been ready for implementation since its announcement and, again, is readily compatible with existing applications written in Objective-C. You can begin integration now and have applications ready for release with iOS8 and Apple’s new OS, Yosemite. Xcode6 is in beta and available for download for free, while tutorials for integration of Swift with Cocoa and Cocoa Touch are also available!

Adding Mobility to Your Web Application

June 5, 2014
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Smartphones have been embraced by the 21st century and utilized to satiate an array of indulgences-from socializing and networking, to prioritizing and itemizing deadlines, to locating products and services. This power can be harnessed in multiple ways, and today many application developers are looking for ways to take advantage of this mobile power either from a web application running on the mobile platform or through running a native mobile application.Mobile ApplicationsWhen smartphones and tablets came into the market, developers had to re-evaluate the way the approached the web. We accommodated and began to build web sites that were more agile and responsive by design. The Internet web site aesthetic quickly evolved from static websites that offer unchanging information to dynamic applications that cater to the user by utilizing information pulled from a database to create a customized user experience. In light of these new requisites, open-source frameworks have popped up to increase productivity where needed most. Java produced JQuery Mobile, and C# spawned Objective-C, in the name of mobile development. Ayoka Systems utilizes these frameworks, combined with database query languages like SQL Server Intergration Service (SSIS), to make for a seamless software integration that is much easier to manage and maintain than paper and pencil as tablet and smartphone go straight to the server-side databases.

Apple’s iOS and Android have passed milestones in user-friendliness, bringing touch screens into healthcare offices, museums, and logistics fields to capture and data into a database with mobile applications. Recent research on mobile applications in the manufacturing industry reveal that 7 out of 10 of your manufacturing peers are looking to use mobile and wireless solutions to streamline operations. In addition these same industry leaders report saving an average of 42 minutes per employee each day. Adding mobility by building mobile applications for your enterprise will empower your company with the tools and information that will enable you to ultimately be more accessible and successful. Ayoka is committed to your business’ success and we strive to create partnerships built on mutual trust and respect that will culminate as we help your business grow. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation on mobile application development for your enterprise.

Obama Takes Clean Air Act Forward

June 3, 2014
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Since the Clean Air Act’s induction in 1963 under President Johnson, it has been up to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to research, create, and enforce regulations that protect humans from harmful air pollutants. The Clean Air Act was also the first major law in the US to include a provision for citizen suits, which allows a citizen to enforce the statute to another citizen, to a corporation, or to a government body. The amendment in 1970 took the mandate further, naming both industrial and moving sources of pollution along with noise pollution. In 1990, the EPA went further to itemize the growing issue of ozone protection in light of detected depletion, air quality in light of toxic air pollution, and acid deposition control in light of growing instances of acid rain. This amendment also authorized a permit program that required businesses to address the pollutants they release into the air by quantifying how much they are releasing and create a plan of action that will minimize them, while reporting their progress.

Climate Change

Weather conditions have lately made a turn for the worst, making irreversible changes in the world’s composition and its accessibility to resources. 2012 broke high temperature records across the country, with about 1/3rd of the nation experiencing temperatures above 100º while droughts, wildfires, and floods have increased in frequency and has cost the nation more than $100 billion! These events are also unhealthy for the youth and the elderly in the population, through heat exposure, air pollution, and the diseases carried by food, water, and insects.

Obama's quote addressing correlation between natural disasters and climate change

Carbon pollution is the biggest driver of climate change, and the United States’ use of electricity and transportation, along with industry and commerce, make up 92% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Obama has taken another step forward with the Clean Air Act by directing the EPA to work with these industries, namely the power plants that did not have federal standards in place, to comply to his newly adopted standards, implementing renewable energy sources and making goals that will optimize energy efficiency. Obama and the EPA aim to fund clean energy technologies that will ultimately power millions of homes and create tens of thousands of jobs while reducing greenhouse gas pollutants, and to enforce the fuel economy standards for trucks, buses and vans that will reduce emissions by hundreds of millions of tons.

“Moving forward, the Obama Administration will help states, cities, and towns build stronger communities and infrastructure, protect the critical sectors of our economy as well as our natural resources, and use sound science to better understand and manage climate impacts.” A quote from the Climate Action Plan infographic that was posted on whitehouse.gov embodies the optimism that the Obama Administration has for our country’s part in minimizing Carbon pollution and its pollutants. They also hope to set an example in the world, encouraging the other economies in the world to address and take action in light of imminent climate change.

3 Best Future Phones!

May 29, 2014
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To be honest, I am not much of a smartphone aficionado. I am content with my Blackberry-esque Huawei and its QWERTY keyboard. I do anticipate the day when more user-friendly phones hit the market, namely phones with buttons, but until things like Tactus come to be widely used and loved, I’ve got both eyes on the growing progress of these prototypes.

1. Google’s Project Ara – Spawned by the call-to-action from Phonebloks, which introduced the promising concept of modularity for smartphones, the focus of growing electronic consumption-and waste.

Phoneblok’s first video went viral with over 1,000,000 views within its first 24 hours! Google stepped up to the plate to help end phone obsolesce and reduce waste caused by damaged (usually only parts of) cell phones, spawning Project Ara. They began building on the concept back in 2013 and say it should be ready for launch in 2015!

Project Ara Components


2. PaperFold – The screen-sharing, shapeable, ninja of a device that honors the ability to reconfigure its displays is in its prototype stages now, aiming to emulate a paper-like environment-namely its inky appearance and its flexible, foldable, qualities. The whitepaper dictates that “Each tile contains an IMU Board and a linear Hall Effect Sensor tethered to an Arduino. Magnets embedded in the bezel of the 3D printed substrate allow PaperFold panels to be arbitrarily combined in a variety of configurations.” You can read the white-paper in its entirety.

PaperFold Prototype

Using electrophoretics, the display will be easy on the eyes. C# will anticipate changes in orientation and will receive the touch input integrated into each tile, making it scalable as each screen has the ability to work independent of one another.

3. The Yota Phone – Available for purchase now, The Yota Phone boasts a dual-screen interface, one side is an electronic paper screen and the other is an LCD screen. The electronic paper screen is always on, allowing for the user to view and save information after the battery dies.

The Yota Phone

If you’ve ever tried to dodge a scheduled meeting or a phone call, or have you lamented over missing them? The Yota phone will keep your notifications on its paper screen queue until you remove them yourself. You can also personalize it to display your favorite images and quotes! The Yota phone seeks to interact with you by letting you know when its battery is dying, annotating your text message notifications with emoticons, asking you to smile for your photos, and bringing RSS feeds right to you!

All of these concepts take mobile phones to the next level through their motivations toward innovation. Some people think that smartphones will take over laptops and maybe even desktops in the future-while I don’t believe that, I do believe that these phones will help to segue us into the future of seamless integration of smartphones as more than communicating devices in our daily lives.

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