Made in USA: Enterprise Application Services

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Chromecast + Why I Want Google in The Cable Game in 2014

May 27, 2014

With the unveiling of the DirecTv/AT&T and the Comcast/Time Warner Cable mergers and their attempts to captivate the consumers of television and Internet here in the US, Google is taking this time to refine their existing services.

Google’s Chromecast compliments their existing GoogleTv service by providing a router to watch online content on their TV without a new TV, new remotes or interfaces. Chromecast is already available through Google Play and authorized Google Chromecast retailers in North America and Europe, it’s rolling out through Asia-Pacific with Japan as its latest endeavor. Combining your devices with your television or desktop/laptop to create a special multi-screen experience, I believe, is what a typical consumer would willingly integrate into their daily life. While content is playing on a TV, a user can multitask on their device without interrupting the video playback. For example, a user can search for a video on their phone’s YouTube application and then send the video to their TV via a Google Cast device. The user can play, pause, seek, and control volume using their phone, they can search for other videos to watch, and even check their email while the content keeps playing on the TV. Chromecast is compatible on Andriod and iOS mobile platforms along with Chrome, Apple, and Windows operating systems. With wi-fi access, you can also play Chromecast away from home and you also have the ability for multiple users to connect to the Chromecast just by using Chromecast-supported apps and being a part of your wifi network!

What’s more is that Google is open to suggestions and comments about its services, and is even offering a Developer’s Guide in hopes of developers taking the reins and ‘casting’ their applications through the service! They offer components relevant to the platform they wish to develop in, as well as instructions on how to get set up for development. I think that this plus the growing Google Fiber excitement will definitely give the cable companies a run for their money!

Is A Fallout 4 Release Imminent or What!?!

May 22, 2014

If you’re like me, you’ve been aching through the hoaxes and heartache in anticipation of a Fallout 4 announcement by privately-owned Bethesda Softworks. After the awesome, lengthy, hoax of and Bethesda’s nonchalant gloss over the Fallout topic at the last E3, there may be a real ray of hope in the light of employment…

thesurvivor229 code

If you’ll remember the hoax from last year, a site popped up on November 14,, that appeared to be hosted by ZeniMax Media and had a cryptic message in code that, when deciphered, read “THE INSTITUTE IS SEALED. THEY WON’T HELP US I’M HEADING TO BLACK ROW. -TBNLS 5120-.” Redditors and the whole gaming community were put on on the edge of their seats as the clock on the site continued to countdown and new coded messages popped up in the meantime, seemingly dropping hints of the environment that the next Fallout would be set in. I followed Yong Yea’s YouTube posts religiously, as I wanted it to be true! It was only a matter of time before an announcement of either the hoax or the confirmed development of Fallout 4 was to surface-and it was the admission of a hoax by the creator of survivor2299. We weren’t even mad about finding out it was a hoax, as it was a great gift to satiate our growing boredom with Fallout 3, which won Game of the Year back in the late 2000s!

game development flowchart

Last November, at the same time as the hoaxy madness had everyone in an uproar, Bethesda had open positions for User Interface Designer, Future Generation Console Programmer, Concept Artist, Game Programmer, Quest Designer, Level Designer, Senior World Artist and Character Artist. I can’t help but direct my attention back to the (hopefully in-progress) development of the new Fallout game, and the fact that Bethesda, as of May of this year, has open positions for game-play testers in Dallas after the release of Elder Scrolls Online, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and The Evil Within, all games talked about at last year’s E3. Hopefully the fact that they’re asking for game-play testers could mean that Fallout 4 is in the final stages of production!

Pete Hines, VP of Bethesda and PR guru, has not exactly denied its development-but also hasn’t satiated our want for any morsel of information about Fallout 4. Meanwhile, in a fit of angst directed toward Bethesda, a petition to end Bethesda’s silence has surfaced on Change.Org while vague articles are trying to pull meaning about the development of the game from anywhere they possibly canTwitter is a buzz with allegedly ‘leaked’ photos, and memos have surfaced (like anyone sends printed memos anymore) that dictate that there is to be no mention of Fallout by Bethesda at the E3 conference next month, leading me to side with Fred Nelson when he says that somebody at Bethesda is risking life and limb just to tell us something we probably already knew – We are not going to hear anything from Todd [Howard] and his team any time soon and that a formal Fallout announcement could happen eventually, but I hope sooner rather than later.

What Does AT&T + DirecTV Mean?

May 20, 2014

Sunday, AT&T announced its official agreement for the acquisition of satellite tv company, DirecTv, for $45 billion, but what does that mean for us, the consumers?!

AT&T and DirecTv

If you remember, AT&T already has a digital tv service, AT&T U-verse, bundled with its Internet and Voices services, and it has about 6million consumers-but they aren’t all happy. Consumer Affairs lists AT&T’s top Customer Reviews and Complaints, most of them about the Internet connection, digital tv service, or the phone service-and most often ravings about its poor customer service. Consumer Affairs also details DirecTv’s reviews and complaints and they are a lot more understandable, by comparison, detailing instances of poor reception during bad weather-or any weather. So, aside from the anticipated cost savings by banding together, there may be something else that these two companies can gain from each other in this merger…

With an anticipated 26 million total paying viewers after the completion of the merger with DirecTv, AT&T definitely has something up its sleeve. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said: “This is a unique opportunity that will redefine the video entertainment industry and create a company able to offer new bundles and deliver content to consumers across multiple screens – mobile devices, TVs, laptops, cars and even airplanes. At the same time, it creates immediate and long-term value for our shareholders..together we’ll be able to enhance innovation and provide customers new competitive choices for what they want in mobile, video and broadband services. We look forward to welcoming DirecTV’s talented people to the AT&T family.” Now it seems that DirecTv has finally found its reliable streaming outlet, and AT&T may have found its common ground with the average television viewer.

Are YOU Getting All You Deserve Out of Salesforce?

May 15, 2014
| is the head honcho of cloud computing, offering a slew of services for your company to utilize-but are you using Salesforce to its full power?!

salesforce crm bpm saas

From Software as a Service (SaaS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to their renowned Sales Force and B2B Marketing Automation solutions, they have everything you need to boost sales productivity, manage contacts, communicate and sell as a team-all quantifiable with real-time Business Process Management (BPM) software and the ability to sync with Microsoft Outlook with ease! Since Salesforce’s debut in 1999, they have made great effort to stay up-to-date and relevant for their clients-with their wide array of services, it’s no wonder they were named Forbes’ World’s Most Innovative Company for 2011-2013! SFA and BPM are two areas of experience under Ayoka’s larger umbrella of business process management software development services that allow businesses of all types to integrate automated data management through custom software development solutions.

The people who work at Salesforce also take client pains to heart, making sure their solutions are best-suited for whatever industry you are representing online, we hear they also throw great company parties and were named one of the 100 Best Places to Work For in Fortune Magazine for six consecutive years and counting! If you didn’t know, Ayoka is an official Partner, offering professional services that compliment the #1 Software as a Service CRM solution. So what are you waiting for, Contact Ayoka to learn more about the custom Sales Force Automation Software Development, Enterprise Resource Planning Software Development and Business Process Management Software Development solutions provided by Ayoka. You may contact us using the contact form provided or by calling (817) 210-4042.

5 Highly-Anticipated Web Design Trends of 2014!

May 13, 2014

With the new year rolling through its second quarter, web design trends that were predicted last year may finally be popping up-with the promising notion that our browsers will finally be supporting them!

1. CSS3 Shapes

Flowing content around into and around any shape was implemented by Adobe. Once browser support take these new CSS3 implementations in as the year goes on, expect to see more instances of CSS Shapes popping up in your document window!

2. Video Backgrounds

HTML5s ability to play video in the document window allows users to create engaging spaces while still allowing a large degree of minimalism. They are not well-suited for mobile yet, and cross-browser/mobile compatibility is still in the works.

3. Flat Design

Flat is back, and not in the static-seeming way it was implemented with front end development back in the 90s. Big companies, like Apple and Microsoft, have definitely been noticed rolling out fresh-feeling environments without glossy buttons and content shadows-trading them in for flat and sleek aesthetics.

4. Side-Scrolling Websites

Horizontal scrolling may not catch on like wildfire, but it’s a great way to captivate your audience! There is horizontal scrolling, column-based scrolling, infinite scrolling and far more bizarre concepts aside from this showcased side-scrolling capability. While it may not be very usable by an array of industries, it definitely looks awesome and engaging!

5. 3D CSS and CSS3 Animation

Interactive 3D models have been accepted into the CSS3 family with the help of _. Imagine a realtime web environment with the ability to give you a 360 view of a product that you’ve got your eye on! CSS3 Animation is shamelessly closing the growing gap between static web pages and dynamic web applications by utilizing newly implemented UI components that will make for visually seamless transitions.

Why Do Development Projects Fail?

May 8, 2014

Development projects fail too often. They get out of scope, out of time, and out of budget.
why do development projects fail
Admit it, as a client, you’re ready to see your goal actualized. You want to get your brand off the ground, and you have high expectations. Some companies gladly bite off more than they can chew in hopes of gaining experience, portfolio exposure and expansion, and the check at the end of the long project ahead. Development groups need to understand and work with the competence they have allowed themselves through their employees, instead of professing to be the ‘diamonds in the rough.’ But how many companies can truly pick and choose which company projects to take on to save face? Usually only large companies can exercise that kind of discretion, and those companies my have a large price tag, and/or not very customizable bundles that don’t meet your company’s needs and goals.

What the nation saw when made its launch was a conglomerate of issues that shed light on the development and testing processes that were improperly executed. Cutting corners with Agile Methodologies, the team cut sprints short and testing took a back seat in lieu of a mandatory and imminent launch date. Unanswered questions from developers that went unnoticed by the client didn’t help to execute the site either. One devleoper/tester, Ben Simo, noted many security flaws in the code that would easily compromise the personal information of any user that signed up on the site, but it was overlooked by the majority. Just like that, a concise goal grew from a simple model into a unmanageable beast, ready to go live for America to utilize on a very large scale.

At Ayoka, we run our projects like a military operation and accomplish the mission, but take intense care, consideration, and pride into our work as a service to you. Our development services emphasize local, hands-on interaction with team members that visit your organization, meet in person, and talk to your end-users. This level of customer service is the foundation of Ayoka’s custom application development services. Incremental testing is imperative and an understanding of the scope of the project from start to finish really helps to take a project from an idea to a completed product that everyone can be proud of.

Web Apps vs Websites – Dynamic vs Static!

May 6, 2014

The internet has become a conglomerate of web presences of individuals, companies, groups, and the like. The internet has 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.
Both websites and web applications utilize front-end web development code like HTML5, CSS3 and event handling with JavaScript or JQuery, but applications take these languages and push their boundaries further with programming languages like Java and Ajax. These, combined with frameworks like the Google Web Toolkit (GWT), Ruby on Rails (RoR), .NET (C#, C, ASP), and SQL Server Integration Service (SSIS), all come together to handle user-generated content and other relevant data to keep an up-to-date application that sets it apart from static websites.

Custom web application development using the open source frameworks combined with insight between you and Ayoka’s development team ensures that your goals and needs are properly met in a timely manner! The precision that is guaranteed with utilizing frameworks coupled with custom code makes it easy to create error-proof and secure applications. Now that you’re aware of the difference between what makes a website a billboard and what brings a web presence its shine with the engaging aesthetic of a web application, Ayoka is ready to help you to the goals you have made for yourself!

Tactus Technology Tackles Touchscreen Troubles!

May 1, 2014

We know, you love your smartphone. The touch screens are getting better and better for tablets and the like, but do you really love the DPI (dots per inch) that you have to deal with on your smartphone surface? Remember when the iPhone had the terrible propensity of not selecting what your fingers were adamantly touching-did you blame the phone capabilities, or your fingers-and what do you do now? Do you accept the newest smartphone models, embracing and commodifying them for their cutting edge usability? I’m sure you do, and you’re not the only one-in fact, you’re one of a billion users.
The folks at Tactus Technology know how you really feel. They recognize what’s lost in the translation between user and interface on the touch screens we say we love so much that really ends up leaving  a lot to be desired from the typical user-while excluding the blind, the visually impaired, the elderly, and the people without the mandatory fine motor skills it takes to operate a touch screen.

Tactus utilizes the efforts of physics, chemistry, and biology through microfluidics to harness the surface tension of the physical layer that is trademarked, and patented, by Tactus themselves as the first deformable tactile surface. In less than one second, buttons rise out of the Tactus panel, allowing for near seamless implementation into the user interface as the need arises, and even offers a toggle to turn its tactile features on and off. It can be easily integrated with touch screens on the market today, replacing the once coveted touch screen of your smartphone with a Tactus panel, sensor, and controller. The developer can instantiate an array of button interfaces with this technology, including sliders (similar to analog) for gaming, impressed buttons, even vertical and horizontal finger guides for simple assistance.

This innovative technology offered by Tactus will change user interfaces as we know it! I imagine it will open new avenues for the tech markets while improving the speed, efficiency, and enthusiasm of users.

Programming-er-Processing With an Artful Eye!

April 29, 2014

If you’ve heard of or gotten into any Arduino or Wiring projects, then you have been acquainted with some great open-source languages and programming environments for writing your own code for hardware. If you ever wondered where they spawned from, well, Processing is their father!

Started by MIT graduates Ben Fry and Casey Reas back in 2001, Processing is based on coding languages like BASIC, and the MIT-based duo went on to create Arduino and Wiring! Processing was designed for easy understanding and digestibility-but directed towards visual and interactive media arts. It’s been utilized by both the programming and the art worlds and has been showcased at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, as well as in London, and in Paris, just to name a few! It’s been embraced by these communities and has taken a hand in the creation of posters and printed magazines, images and visualizations for music videos and films, and lends a helping hand in art installations! Check out this video by Phantogram, featuring Processing in action:

Hand-in-hand with visual arts is data visualization and infographics! Developers and data analysts in research labs love how easy it is to create relevant and eye-catching environments to be displayed and expounded upon easily. Processing also does wonders with development of new interfaces and services and has been implemented by tech giants Google and Intel. Below, Jer Thorp wonderfully compiled data from Twitter and MetaCarta and used Processing to visualize his findings, titled Just Landed:


To bridge Processing back to its development circle, Processing.js was implemented by JQuery’s John Reisig and has sparked the development of Processing versions that incorporate popular programming languages like Ruby, Python, and Scala! Processing is very fun and easy to learn, just go to, create a profile, and start playing in the sandbox! Go learn in online classrooms, browse through the books they offer, and click through data collections uploaded by your peers!

Google vs. Facebook, Pioneers of the Future!

April 24, 2014

We’re well aware that Google has taken the initiative to popularizing and bringing us consumers the most relevant and state-of-the art technologies-including robotics and artificial intelligence. Google bought DeepMind, the UK company with the goal of making computers that think more humanistically, for $500 million. Now they have acquired Titan Aerospace and plan to utilize its products and services to shower the world in Internet access with high-altitude flying drones. During the acquisition of Titan Aerospace, Google ran into another company that has also been buying up technologies, like Oculus Rift, and has been making plans to implement their newly acquired products and services to further interpersonal relations-that company is Facebook.

So in the left corner, we have Google – and in the right corner, Facebook. These pioneers of the future have kept an ear to the ground for new start-ups and products that will fit their needs – and buying them up! Google just took a big step by buying Nest for $3.2 billion, the company that furthers the idea of the “Connected Home” by giving the user complete control of appliances like the thermostats and smoke detectors remotely, which is now available in stores. Meanwhile Facebook has been acquiring applications like WhatsApp (for $19 billion) and Instagram (meager, in comparison to WhatsApp, for $1 billion) to keep up with the applications that will bring users-and revenue.
Who will win the title of “Pioneer in Tech” and other commendations that link the company to changing the world!? Let’s keep reading and watching-and don’t forget that what you do as a consumer really matters in the long run!

KAIST Brings Us One Step Closer to Wireless Power

April 22, 2014

On April 17 of this year, The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, Korea announced that they were able to achieve sourcing power from a prototype Dipole Coil Resonant System (DCRS) to charge few fans, a cell phone, and even a television from as many as five meters away between its transmitter and receiver coils! Isn’t this the pinnacle of wireless transfer-especially since we’re used to working wireless with Internet and cell phones!? It makes sense that wireless sourcing power itself for our energy-hungry devices would come next.
So this DCRS system has two coils, the transmitter and the receiver. The primary coil of the two creates the magnetic field necessary for the electricity to be honed from, and the secondary coil receives this electric power. Before DCRS, Chun T. Rim, the professor of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering at KAIST, and his group, found inspiration from MIT’s introduction of the Coupled Magnetic Resonance System (CMRS), which also provided and utilized a magnetic field for harnessing electric power, that was presented in 2007.
The results that KAIST have shown are awesome! In the video below, you can see the DCRS at work, but their goal is to achieve a new remote power delivery system at will go longer distances! This is a great start! Professor Rim explains in their release that, “Just like we see Wi-Fi zones everywhere today, we will eventually have many Wi-Power zones at such places as restaurants and streets that provide electric power wirelessly to electronic devices. We will use all the devices anywhere without tangled wires attached and anytime without worrying about charging their batteries.”

Real Time Web with SignalR and Comet

April 17, 2014

SignalR provides API for building real time web functionality in the ASP.NET applications. Real Time web functionality is the ability to have server side code push content to the connected clients as it happens in real time.

The most common examples of real time web applications are Facebook’s news feed and Twitter, or features like chat and search, where the user gets the notification in the browser’s document window as the event happens in the form of a message, alert, update, or link to an article with decreased server load time.

signalr, websocket

To do this, SignalR must take advantage of HTML5s API that includes WebSocket, which takes an advantage of several packet transports by automatically selecting the best available transport given the client and server’s best available transport. When the technology isn’t available, it will gracefully fall back to other techniques, making sure the application code remains the same. SignalR will use HTML5 to transport WebSockets, utilizing its bi-directional communication line between the client and the server with server-to-client RPC (Remote Procedure Call). The RPC allows an inter-process communication line to be opened and lets the code call a subroutine to be executed from a different client remotely without the developer having to execute the subroutine from a specific location or compromise load time. Unfortunately for the outdated client, WebSocket is only available in later versions of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Firefox, with partial implementation ability on Safari and Opera. SignalR provides this RPC that call the JavaScript functions from .NET code on the client side. It also provides an API for connection management for grouping connections or connect and disconnect events. It starts out first as an HTTP, and is then promoted to a WebSocket if the bandwidth is available. WebSocket is the best use of (the small amount of) memory that will be allocated.

In comparison, the Comet web application model will support an HTTP request that is held open for a long period of time during which time the server can send data to the client without the client knowing it may need to request it. For Internet Explorer, the Forever Frame, which creates a hidden iFrame that opens a connection that acts as a one-way connection from the server to the client. To get back the other way, from client back to server, a standard HTML request is posted and a new connection must be created per data packet to be sent. For other browsers, Ajax is implemented to poll the server with a request that stays open until the server responds and closes the connection, instantiating a request to open another connection.

Monitoring how your packets are transported can positively or negatively impact your code reception by users accessing and using your real-time web environments through browsers. The most successful real-time web environments were able to adeptly anticipate and implement their users’ propensities and seamlessly integrate those practices to create a true real-time web environment that can be accessed from anywhere with any device.

How Has Heartbleed Hurt You?

April 15, 2014

If you’ve gotten an email requesting that you change your password from your Pinterest, Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Dropbox, or even your domain registrar, GoDaddy, then you’ve probably already heard of the OpenSSL’s Heartbleed bug. OpenSSL is the go-to open source cryptographic library and protects email servers, chat servers, and even Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

The Heartbleed bug got its name from the implementation of OpenSSL’s cryptographic security extension, called Heartbeat. Since it turned out that Heartbeat exposes serious vulnerability in the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) of the Applications Layer in the Internet Protocol Suite, which is the designated protocol for providing and maintaining security on the Internet from the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP) to HTTPS (the ‘S’ stands for secure), the bug was called Heartbleed. OpenSSL’s found vulnerability means that encryption keys, security certificates, user names, passwords, and other sensitive information on your favorite social media site, your company’s commerce site, sites you download software from, and even government registered sites are susceptible to their data being compromised. The most interesting part is that there is no trace logged when a breach was made from a malicious attack since the primary and secondary keys (the aforementioned encryption keys and other top-tier security information) were compromised, allowing the attacker to impersonate the compromised service. Not even certificate authentication can reduce the chance of a user being notified of the site being compromised. There is debate on whether or not the NSA has known of and exploited these vulnerabilities to collect account information on patrons of the affected sites, totaling as many as two-thirds of the websites on the Internet.

Heartbleed was actually brought to the attention of OpenSSL back in late 2011, but after rigorously testing the patch for leaks (including OpenSSL attacking themselves!), the patch has been made available as of the 7th of this month. This means that, to stop the leaks, vendors need to implement the fix and alert their users, hence why you may have received an email notification with a short synopsis of what Heartbleed is and a suggestion to change your passwords. Service providers and users themselves need to install the fix as it becomes available to their operating systems and software they use.

Microsoft Finally Drops IE6, so What Browsers are Popular?

April 10, 2014

With cross-platform browsing becoming more and more relevant, Microsoft dropped support for IE6 after usage in the US dropped below 1%. This begs two questions: Who was using IE6 for so long, and what are browsers are being utilized now? Chrome is definitely on the up and up, being utilized by over 40% of users, and IE11 is declining as 2013 ends, which is coincidentally when users started to use Chrome and other browsers more often. Firefox use has been consistent, showing some decline through the end of 2013 and making a comeback in the first quarter of 2014. Safari is showing some growth at the last quarter of 2013 and continues to increase through the first quarter of 2014, although it’s not as significant as the other three browsers. The combined others, illustrated as the dotted line, are barely above the 0% mark, which is still above Opera usage. Opera seems to keep changing the use of its User Agent string, which names the browser the user is in, making it difficult to properly identify what browser is officially being used, slightly skewing the statistical results.


It seems like with the decline of Internet Explorer comes the burgeon of the other browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Other users are taking the initiative and choosing a browser more fitting to them rather than use the familiar IE. The desktop operating system usually dictates what browsers are utilized by the user. For instance, the Safari browsing application comes on all iOS desktops, laptops, and devices, while Internet Explorer is the default browsing application for Windows Operating System. Internet Explorer is fighting its own previous versions, like IE6-IE8, since a lot of desktop users are set in their (outdated) operating system, such as Windows XP, which ultimately impairs the growth of usage of their newer browsers.

Desktop internet usage is at 76%, bringing Mobile internet usage to account for the other 24%. Mobile internet usage is increasing and with different mobile browsing applications hitting the market as well as devices coming equipped with browsing applications themselves, the game will be changed for classic internet browsers altogether.


150x Faster than its Competitors, Google Fiber Zooms to Austin!

April 8, 2014

Austin, Texas is known as a creative hub of musicians, artists, and techies, and is home of the University of Texas. Its habitants are always on the move and eager to take on new experiences, like the food trucks or Pedi-cabs! It’s no wonder why Google named Austin as one of the first cities for implementation of its new fiber-optic Internet Service, Google Fiber.
google fiber austin texas speed
Google’s goal is to integrate home internet service with mobile cellular service as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that will span across the area giving public institutions like schools, libraries, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations selected by the city, up to a Gigabit (that is about 1000Mbps) of bandwidth for free and will be coined as a ‘Community Connection.’ Small businesses will have the opportunity to take advantage of the affordable high-speed service in 2014 before it will finally be released to Austin’s residents mid-2014.

What does this amount of bandwidth offered by Google Fiber mean for the existing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Time Warner Cable and AT&T that offer 15Mbps as a standard bandwidth? Well, they seem to be lowering their prices and upping their standard bandwidth in an attempt to retain their existing customers, as well as make a point to commit other Austin residents to their service before Google Fiber hits the local market.

Google Fiber is being laid down in Austin, unlike Provo (another chosen area for Google Fiber implementation), where they purchased an existing fiber-optic network that needed upgrading. Not only is Google’s implementation of such a high bandwidth in the community a kind of self-serving cause from a business standpoint, but it is also pushing growth and endorses the future of technology, ultimately benefiting us as a society. This carefully planned implementation of new Google Fiber in the Austin-area fills the residents with feelings of excitement and anticipation, leaving us in Dallas wondering when it will come our way!

In Development Nothing is Certain…Except Paper.

April 1, 2014

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin is credited with this line to a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789.

I’ve learned that in the world of software development we could create a similar phrase about bugs and printable forms. No matter how far removed our society attempts to move away from printing paper, organizations, companies and government entities hold on to the idea that having a physical piece of paper in hand, means more. What this means in to developers is finding a way to take whatever you create electronically and be able to print it in a nice, readable format; sometimes under very strict formatting guidelines.
paper to electronic form
When this happens, I have found that using a library that allows print to PDF an extremely helpful tool. Currently, my favorite is called iTextSharp, which can be found through nuGet or through a download at source forge.

iTextSharp gives you a vast array of options when creating your PDF and I have had projects where we’ve done all of it: building html from scratch (which is slightly difficult due to the lack of CSS control), building reports and charts while working with MS Chart Control, over writing background images and simply editing an editable PDF. The last one, for me has proven the most helpful, especially in those forms where those strict guidelines exist.

The use of Adobe Live Cycle Enterprise Suite alongside iTextSharp cuts what used to be a painstaking process in half. You can take any PDF into Live Cycle and draw each type of input field (text box, text area, check boxes, radio buttons, etc.), label them and then in your back end code you can recall all of those fields and map them to data with iTextSharp. The final product is the exact form, in the exact format the client needs without the need for recreation or the time and effort to plot coordinates on a background image to try and match where data should go. Of course, you or your client still have to dedicate the time to creating the editable PDF, but it’s a pittance compared to other options I’ve found.

iTextSharp is far from perfect, but it goes a long way in taking a difficult, and certain task (in the software world) and making it much more manageable.

The Battle for the Cloud!

March 27, 2014

In this corner we have Microsoft, in this corner we have Amazon, and in our final corner is Google. Yowza the big boys are at it again. And yes I know there are not 3 corners in a boxing match…work with me people!
Google Micrsoft Amazon Cloud Battle
Despite its hype, the cloud still accounts for just 4.8% of the overall enterprise IT spend. Gartner estimates the worldwide market for public cloud services for 2013 to be at $129billion, representing less than 5% of the total IT market of $2.7trillion in 2013. Now that is something to fight over!

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the incumbent, is losing traction as Google and Windows Azure convince large enterprise clients access to their private, public and hybrid cloud offerings. Google recently cut storage prices for the second time in a week. This only a day after Amazon cut its S3 storage prices by 25 percent. Hit’em in the pocket boys, just keep it above the belt!

Microsoft on the other hand has some work to do to keep up with the competition. They no longer can be stuck in Windows world. They are working feverishly to welcome non-Windows-oriented toolsets and languages. The rumored launch of Office for the iPad could help put to rest the Windows only mindset that Microsoft has embraced for decades. Way to come out of the box Microsft, hope it isn’t too late the fight started years ago!

So how will this battle pan out? Only time will tell. But isn’t it fun to watch these megalomaniacs fight to the bitter end!  Okay not the bitter end because let’s get real…they all win in the end!

Is the Smartwatch Really Smart or Just Dumb Fun?

March 20, 2014

According to Wikipedia a smartwatch, is a “computerized wristwatch with functionality that is enhanced beyond timekeeping, and is often comparable to a personal digital assistant (PDA) device.” Of course the almighty Google has its hands or should I say wrists all over the smartwatch revolution. Google has announced Android Wear, a version of its mobile operating system tailored for smartwatches and other wearable devices. Google is currently working with companies including Asus, HTC, LG, Samsung, Intel, Qualcomm, and Fossil Group to release Android Wear smart watches this year.

LG confirmed, after much speculation that they were were partnering with Google to design an Android smartwatch. The LG G Watch is expected to arrive in the second quarter of this year and will work with “a wide range of Android smartphones, this will be the key to the watch’s success.

Also on Tuesday Motorola, owned by Google, exhibited its upcoming smartwatch, the Moto 360, which also runs on Android Wear.  The buzz about the Moto 360 is intriguing based on the photos and description released on the 18th.  The watch not only keeps you on time, but also keeps you informed via subtle alerts and notifications allowing users to see who’s emailing or calling, the time of your next meeting is or a friend’s latest social post.  Moto 360 also responds to voice commands. Just saying “Ok Google” allows users to ask questions like who won a game or what time their flight leaves, etc.

So how smart is the smartwatch? Clearly not as smart as Google who partnered with all of the top technology companies by introducing Android Wear…but I digress! I was quite the skeptic of these smartwatches, especially since nobody wears a watch any more thanks to cellphones. However, I especially like the voice command…this feature makes me happy every time I use Google. But, I must admit that the watches look really sleek. So I guess the watches are pretty smart, but can we get some that look a bit more lady like…right sisters?

Are Electric Cars Passé?

March 13, 2014

I am a proud Prius driver and was shocked to hear that my little electric car is supposedly out of style…what the F#$%? This obviously needs a little more investigation!

At a renewable energy conference scheduled for this April, scientist Mehrdad Ehsani, from Texas A&M University will explain why the future is dim for electric vehicles. Dim…ugh! Ehsani is director of the Sustainable Energy and Vehicle engineering Program at A&M, leading the Power Electronics & Motor Drives Laboratory. He further speculates that Electric vehicles will never replace the internal combustion engine.
electronic vehicle
Prius electric vehicle

According to Davis Swan an important question to ask is whether or not internal combustion will replace powered vehicles or will they represent a “green” niche market for decades to come? The IEA, reports that over the past few years, electric vehicles (Evs) have seeped into public consciousness. Those endorsing Evs advertise them as essential for reducing dependence on oil and reducing the world’s CO2 emissions. But is that really the case? Or will they only play a small role in improving energy security and winning the battle against global warming?

The questions about Ev’s go far beyond the impact on the automobile manufacturing industry. BTW, the automobile manufacturing industry is one of the largest industrial concerns worldwide. However, there is an impact, both positive and negative, upon electricity utilization and the grid that will in many ways shape future decisions about generation and grid management.

The ultimate goal is to eliminate our use of hydro-carbons, including gasoline. This is only achieved by pure Evs, such as the Tesla. The Chevy Volt can travel approximately 45 miles on battery power alone under good conditions. The Plug-in Hybrid version of the Toyota Prius is rated at 14 miles. The Tesla on the other hand has its shortcomings. The struggle to provide charging stations across the country has this Ev parked.

So what is a girl to do…my Ev really may be a passing fad! Who wants to go up against the automobile industry? Much less the almighty oil industry! The odds may be stacked against Evs, but I will stick with my 14 miles of electric energy, thank you very much!

SXSW 2014 Tech Talk!

March 11, 2014

SXSW has hit the streets of Austin and everyone is swooning about the music, art and culture of this annual event. However, this development diva is primarily interested in the tech aspect if the gathering. Some of the hottest new ideas for wearable technologies were presented to a packed crowd at the South by Southwest Interactive festival on Saturday (Mar. 8), in a conference room at the Hilton Austin Downtown. From a device that could verify your identity based on your heart rhythm to a swanky handbag that can charge a smart phone, some of the hottest new ideas were on display.

sxsw interactive mobile, wifi, tracking device

The SXSW Accelerator competition has technology experts, members of the media and venture capitalists giving tech startups a chance to pitch their products to an audience. The competition will conclude on Sunday, when a winner is selected from among the eight finalists within the wearable technology category, and five other categories. So let’s dish about the competitors!

One of the interesting competitors was the Toronto-based company Bionym, which is developing the “Nymi,” a wristband that the company says will use the wearer’s unique cardiac rhythm to confirm identity, saving you the trouble of a password or pin number.

One company was a Staten Island-based startup developing a fashionable handbag that could charge your phone or tablet, and light up inside when opened. Another cool submission was San Francisco-based Fashion Discovery Labs that launched an app that could allow Google Glass wearers to take a picture of someone’s clothing and instantly shop for the item online. Toronto startup, Kiwi Wearable Technologies, showed off the “Kiwi Move,” an all-purpose tracking device that the company says will contain motion sensors, temperature and air pressure sensors, a microphone and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.

Wearable handbag that charges your phone.

So these are some of the front-runners at the SXSW Accelerator competition! I failed to mention the prices of some of these gadgets, but let’s just say they are out of most of our price ranges. Who cares right…it’s just fun to hear about these new technologies! Over time hopefully they will become available and affordable to us working folk 😉

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