5 Podcasts Every Software Developer Should Check Out

August 27, 2020 / in Software Development, / by Number8

Podcasts have dramatically increased in output and popularity in recent years. They have gone from providing an interesting educational background track for your commute, workout, or house chores to addressing niche topics in an engaging and accessible manner. Luckily, the influx of new podcasts means that there’s something for everyone. There are a number of great Software Development podcasts for professional developers, students, and laypeople alike. In this post, we will provide an overview of some top picks.

Syntax

Web developers Wes Bos and Scott Tolinski have created this long running podcast for other web developers. In 2019, Overcast listed it as a top 20 technology podcast. In the podcast, they delve into CSS, Javascript, Wordpress, and Software Design/Methodologies. They also share tips on work/life balance, self-improvement, mental health, and how to build a small business. Often comical, this podcast breaks down complex information into useful nuggets of information, or “tasty treats” as they call it. Therefore, Syntax is a must-listen for any developers who want to expand their skills while listening to entertaining conversations.

Developer Tea

With over 13 million downloads, Developer Tea is another smash-hit podcast. Run by Jonathan Cutrell, co-founder of Spec and developer at Clearbit, it is designed to fit into the duration of a tea break. According to its website, it “exists to help driven developers connect to their ultimate purpose and excel at their work”. In short, this podcast is great for those with a busy schedule seeking relevant insight beyond just technical issues.

Coding Blocks

Another highly-rated podcast is Coding Blocks. Professional programmers Allen Underwood, Michael Outlaw, and Joe Zack host the show. This podcast is unique in that it provides a number of alternative resources for listeners. For instance, they include videos, informative articles, episode summaries, a newsletter, and links to tips and tricks referenced in the podcast. As a result, these alternative tools can be great for developers-in-training or visual learners. Also, the amount of dedication and passion put into this podcast is obvious and refreshing.

Software Engineering Daily

Run by software engineer Jeff Meyerson, this daily podcast is especially focused on addressing new trends and cutting-edge technologies. Meyerson has also interviewed a diverse group of relevant business leaders, such as Facebook Execs and Cryptocurrency investors. Overall, this podcast is a must listen for anyone seeking to keep up with the front-lines of technology and software development.

Cloudcast

Founded in 2011, Cloudcast is one of the oldest and most reputable software engineering podcasts. According to their website, “Co-hosts Aaron Delp and Brian Gracely have interviewed technology and business leaders that are shaping the future of computing. Topics will include Cloud Computing, Open Source, AWS, Azure, GCP, Serverless, DevOps, Big Data, ML, AI, Security, Kubernetes, AppDev, SaaS, PaaS, CaaS, IoT.” Cloudcast has continually remained at the front lines of technology podcasts. Intimidated? Fortunately, you can look through years of content on their website’s comprehensive archive. Podcast statistics suggest that nearly one third of the U.S. population listens to a podcast once a month and just under a quarter listen weekly. So, with over 850K active podcasts currently available and new ones entering the market all the time, we'll be adding new recommendations to this list in the months ahead. We are an information technology company with years of experience. We have helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

Safely Reopening the Office: James Ludwig’s TED Talk Insights

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the structure of businesses all over the world. Companies have scrambled to create temporary fixes, from work-from-home options to layoffs to total shutdowns. With no end in sight, uncertainty pervades the workplace. Recorded June 16th, this new TED talk could not be more relevant. James Ludwig, vice president of global design and product engineering at the office supply company Steelcase, engages in conversation with TED curator Chee Pearlman about the long term future of organizations. Here are some notable insights into the talk and James' perspective on the future and potential reopening.

3 Insights About The Workplace Illuminated By The COVID-19 Pandemic

1. This is a massive technological shift and generation-defining moment

Ludwig proposes the idea that there is “now, the near, and the far” for companies. We are only just beginning to understand and approach the “now”, which is to remain safe within the pandemic. The near is how companies will return to the physical workplace, if ever. The far, long-lasting impacts of this crisis are not yet conceptualized. Ludwig refers to this time as an “experiment” for companies, and in a sense, it is. It is a test of resiliency at all levels, from employees to CEOs. But, it is also an opportunity for change.

2. People need to physically collaborate and connect to sustain most workplaces

Ludwig makes the claim that it’s simply unsustainable for most companies to stay remote forever. He emphasizes that being together as a team shapes the culture of brands. Competitive advantage is formed through this culture, through interpersonal connection and cultivation. For many businesses, Zoom meetings and emails can’t recreate the ecosystem of a good team. Connecting as individuals, pushing each other and learning from each other, sharing food and humor, growing and adapting together—this is what makes a good workplace.

3. Now is the time to see what is truly essential for offices when reopening

Taking a step away from the cookie-cutter workplace allows the opportunity for tremendous positive change. We can delve into individual-focused design that supports employee wellbeing both physically and mentally. Companies have the chance to be creative and strip away redundancies that hinder productivity and safety. Additionally, how businesses respond to future crises is contingent on how workplaces are shaped right now. To follow up with this point, Ludwig lays out what is essential to the generations of now and the future. He sees a technologically-rich, human-centric environment with strong values that connect individuals as key. Ludwig claims that after the pandemic is over, people will continue to lean into what is authentic and fulfilling in the workplace. After spending months in lockdown working from your couch, you get a better grasp of what is really necessary to be productive and what you sincerely miss about your office. A high-walled cubicle or private office may now seem constrictive. So, looking for the insights during this unusual time seems to be a good strategy for organizations. While quarantines and forced remote work scenarios have challenged many, this time also presents unique learning opportunities.

Questions to Consider

Here are just a few questions to think about as you work to gain greater insight into the impact COVID-19 has had on you and your work. What redundancies can you identify in your work processes that may slow down productivity? Also, are there things you miss about working in an office environment that you previously took for granted? What components of your work flow are most important to keep you productive, organized and happy? Are there long term changes would you like to see implemented at your company or on your team, that were inspired by this pandemic? Plus, what does a thriving office culture look like after reopening? Asking these questions will help ensure a strong organization, and safe reopening if and when the time is right. We are an information technology company with years of experience. We have helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

Microsoft Edge: What to Know About Microsoft’s New Browser

July 23, 2020 / in IT Trends, / by Number8

Known for cutting edge technological innovation, Microsoft is always coming up with something new. In January 2020 the company released its new Edge browser. This is a spin off of Chromium, which is an open-source program. Microsoft Edge is very much like the predecessor, Chrome, and in fact supports the Chrome browser extension and has the same rendering engine.

Microsoft Edge Rollout

The next step is for automatic updates of Windows 10 with the new product, Edge. Similar to the updates for Chrome, Edge will be updated every six weeks. If you don’t want to wait for the update, you can download Edge from Microsoft’s website. The old Edge, now named Legacy, will still be in the system. The logo for the new version of Edge is a blue and green swirl as opposed to the Legacy blue E. What if you don’t want Edge? If this is the case, you need to go to the Microsoft website and download the Chromium Edge update blocker toolkit. However, Windows 10 users will automatically get this new browser that promises an open-source rendering engine, more frequent updates, and better support from websites. Bing is also encouraging Chrome users to use Edge. Further, Microsoft is initiating a campaign proposing Edge rather than Mozilla’s Firefox.

Edge vs. Chrome

History sync and extension sync are not implemented but promised for a later release. You’ll still find favorites, settings, passwords, and so on. New features include Collections which will let you gather images and material but prevent tracking. In addition, new Edge will support 4K Netflix with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, all of which is an improvement over Chrome. Edge also includes three different blocking levels with the default blocking trackers from sites you have not yet loaded. More track blockers could also result in failure to load all or a part of some sites you want to see. Microsoft is banking on the fact that most users will prefer the privacy of the blocks while still remaining web compatible. These differences, plus some other features, have a lot of people looking to Edge as a viable Chrome alternative.

Additional Features

Speaking of compatibility, Edge for Windows 7 is also planned for release. Windows 7 is generally out of the support range, but Microsoft has committed its support for another year or so. Edge will work on Windows 8.1 and macOS, Android and iOS. Future plans include a version of Linux. Another nice feature offered by Edge is vertical tabs. If you have a tendency to open lots and lots of tabs, it becomes difficult to read and easy to close the wrong one(s). Vertical tabs promise to be simpler to manage with only a single click. Smart Copy will allow you to retain the format from the original material as you copy and paste it into your personal document. This will include images and links. So if you are prone to quote web text, you will enjoy this feature. Password Monitor is designed to help prevent password theft. It will alert you to any attempt to gain access to your autofilled usernames and passwords. Edge will search for matches to your data and notify you of any potential problems. You can then proactively make the appropriate changes before problems occur and have more confidence in your usage. Finally, the Immersive Reader feature is notable. This will be helpful for individuals with reading and learning differences. It will allow the user to adjust the text for easier readability and have the material read aloud. More updates on this feature are planned. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

Web Accessibility: An Overview

Web accessibility is an important concept that every company should use to inform practice. Making sure your digital presence is accessible is an important part of doing social good, improving business outcomes, and engaging more deeply with a wider audience. Here’s a brief overview.

What is web accessibility?

The Web Accessibility Initiative states that ‘Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.’ The web, in many ways, is a fundamentally accessible idea. The benefits of this accessibility positively impact the experiences of people with disabilities. They also help people with situational limitations (like bright lighting or a lack of audio capability), people using mobile devices, people with slower internet, and more. This is important to think about in the context of disability as a social construction in the physical world. We know that there are structural barriers that exist in the world which prevent equal access to institutions and experiences for some people. The decisions we make about what is worth designing around are fundamentally biased. These decisions inform the environments we construct in the world, and the ways we exclude or include people with different abilities. As a virtual space, the web has the incredible potential to remove barriers to interaction and access that exist in the physical world. This means a lot of potential for a positive social impact. However, any web design must carefully take accessibility into account for this goal to be achieved.

The why

Motivating factors for web accessibility are numerous and include legal, business, and ethical reasons. Some laws have minimum requirements for government websites and educational institutions’ websites. Additionally, some industries or individual organizations have existing guidelines for best practice beyond legal minimum requirements. These types of motivating factors often drive organizations to compliance-level accessibility. Organizations that deem the negative impacts of non-compliance too great a risk often invest in compliance. Some organizations want to pursue web accessibility because of its business benefits. More usable and appealing web tools and content often mean more engaged customers and stakeholders, an increased market reach, and brand enhancement. The why for some groups is also informed by what they think is right for social good. Organizations that see web accessibility as a way to make the world a more equitable place often want to invest their time and capital.

How to become accessible on the web

There are several levels of design and development where accessibility is important. These include development, content creation, SEO, project management, and more. Your organization's approach will also depend on your immediate context; incorporating accessible design from the beginning of a project is much different than retrofitting a design as an interim measure. Additionally, you may need to build skills and expertise in your team to implement web accessibility. Fortunately, there are a lot of great resources to guide you as you strive for greater accessibility. Here’s a list of a few resources to start with: As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Integration

Leveraging the cloud for various computing needs of an organization such as memory, data storage, and processing offers numerous benefits to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Cloud-based integration adds flexibility, scalability, and efficiency to any company’s day to day business workings while reducing cost and risk.

At its core, the cloud integration process centers on configuring multiple application programs to share data in the cloud and connect. In a correctly integrated cloud set up, various cloud-based and on-site applications can communicate effectively either via third-party software or directly.

Integrated Cloud Computing Functionality

Properly integrating a robust cloud model into your specific business structure involves significant planning, proficiency and preparedness around the various options and functions available to enterprises. Before looking at the benefits of these platforms, let's understand how they differ from your standard APIs or connectors:

  • Integrated cloud platforms are far more easily programmable than regular connectors. The latter is more like plug-and-play integration that is compatible only with specific applications.

  • While the former includes pre-built connectors, they can also be used to create customized integrations for various in-house applications.

  • These platforms are incredibly useful if you have multiple apps that you need to connect to the cloud or vice-versa.

  • A typical customer utilizes cloud-integrated platforms to connect a minimum of 10 SaaS applications to the existing system.

  • Beyond standard integration, a cloud integration platform will enable you to create an integration process. It means you can build a unique process that outlines an entire series of tasks and activities based on conditions or rules.

  • Cloud integration platforms prove to be value propositions because they are straightforward to use, from development to deployment.

  • With widespread adoption, cloud integration technology is now becoming increasingly affordable, and this has boosted the trend of using it.

Before the current day cloud integration solutions came into existence, organizations that wanted to migrate to the cloud needed to follow a complicated and lengthy process. These issues caused several variations in a company's daily workings affecting their efficiency and productivity. What resulted was a chaotic and highly compartmentalized cloud solution that created chasms between various loosely coupled applications.

Benefits of Cloud Integration Platforms

Today, integration has altered the cloud computing game, and businesses everywhere are taking advantage of it. Some of the notable benefits of modern-day cloud integration in the real world compared to traditional and outdated migration techniques are:

  • Individual users can easily access crucial personal data from various devices in real-time.

  • Users can access all of their data without the need for an Internet connection from any place.

  • Users can use a single login for multiple integrated application programs, which is a very convenient way to access needed information.

  • Individual users can also easily merge their personal data from external applications such as calendars and contacts.

  • An integrated cloud platform shares control and administrative messages among multiple applications.

  • Data conflict and redundancy are avoided.

  • Data security and integrity are maintained very well due to the avoidance of data silos.

  • Cloud-based integration gives you flexibility and you can expand it to accommodate future growth.

Hire Professionals For Cloud-Based Integration Systems

While companies can create in-house systems, functionality and scalability are often not on par with those from third-party providers. If you are considering adopting this technology, it’s advisable to contact professionals with experience in delivering cloud-based integration services.

Professionals can help you design and deploy a scalable and agile cloud platform that effectively supports complex application architectures. These providers will design a solution that allows disparate applications to effectively communicate with fully-integrated custom cloud solutions.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

How To Increase Your Tech Team’s Off-Site Productivity

Many IT companies have started to allow employees to telecommute on a part-time or full-time basis. People can work from home, cafes, or even parks instead of commuting to work every day. While this has several advantages, it can also hamper a team’s productivity if it isn’t handled correctly. There are several ways to help teams be more productive when they are working off-site. Here are some tips that can help:

1. Invest in Technology

Technological challenges can hamper a team’s productivity and make working from off-site locations a frustrating experience. It is important to make things easier for employees by providing them with tools to keep things organized. Use efficient conferencing or messaging applications like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts to ensure everyone can communicate without interruptions. Additionally, there are several project management and tracking applications available online, including Asana, Airtable, Trello and Todoist. These tools can help managers, teams, and temporary staff remain connected.

2. Implement Regular Check-Ins

Check-in with your team on a regular basis to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This doesn't have to be a long or drawn-out process, but it can help people remain connected with team members. It can also help people switch to work-mode when they are at home and navigating household distractions. A simple call or a video conference that discusses daily priorities, tasks, goals, and targets will help people start on the right track. It is easier to maintain productivity when team members have a clear agenda at the start of the day.

3. Track Work

Several applications allow managers to track just how much time employees spend working on a particular project. These applications give a very board view of an employee's working routine and help managers identify people who are falling back. For example, some employees work better during evenings or nights and may put in more hours during this time than during regular office time. If you track work, it is easy to see such a pattern and adjust their schedule accordingly. Off-site work can be very flexible and convenient if handled correctly.

4. Provide Emotional Support

Employees that work remotely are prone to occasional feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially if they don't maintain a proper work-life balance. That can lead to depression, burn-out, and a serious dip in productivity. Managers must help remote teams remain connected and offer some form of emotional support. In-office workers socialize, engage in conversations over coffee, joke around when there's no work to be done, and blow off steam. This helps them maintain emotional equilibrium and stay productive. Home, libraries and coffee shops don't offer this kind of social stimulation, which can take its toll over time. Encourage casual conversations and schedule video conferences dedicated solely for team members to reconnect with their coworkers.

5. Reward Good Work

Reward good work with positive feedback and praise. People working remotely can’t feel the general air of triumph that most on-site teams feel when a project is completed. That’s why it is important to reward good work with verbal praise regularly as it helps team members feel accomplished. A simple text or email with a few encouraging words about meeting targets and completing tasks on schedule can help.

6. Encourage Proper Work-Life Balance

Keep an eye on how much time team members spend on work. It is easy for work to take over life if there’s no separation between the job and personal life. It is important to establish a good work/life separation early on. Make sure your team works for a specific number of hours every day and limit all communications for specific times. Don’t call or message after hours unless there’s an emergency.

Teams that strike the right balance between flexibility and maintaining a proper schedule are most successful at off-site work scenarios, while maintaining high levels of productivity.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

Ransomware Attacks In The Healthcare Industry

May 28, 2020 / in Cybersecurity, IT Trends, / by Number8

Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years. Individuals involved attack healthcare systems and other installations that contain critical private information to get data that is valuable to their targets. According to recent reports, damages caused by ransomware attacks are increasing, totaling billions of dollars every year. For example, a Boardman, Ohio-based Urology practice paid thousands of dollars to hackers during a ransomware attack in order to get their data unlocked, as reported by Ciso Mag. These attacks take over established systems and only release them when the ransom is paid. Doctors and medical staff are locked out and can't access important patient files, which can place people at serious risk.

Why is Ransomware so Challenging?

Ransomware attacks are challenging because they are very difficult to prevent. Hackers constantly change and improve their strategies and many have resources at their disposal to invade poorly secured systems. The healthcare infrastructure is particularly vulnerable because it doesn't have the best cybersecurity. Ransomware attacks may happen when employees accidentally download malicious code into a hospital's systems. For example, something as simple as opening an attachment from an unknown source can create a dangerous hole in your security. Employees receive hundreds of emails every day so it is easier to miss warning signs, which enables malicious code to enter into the IT infrastructure. While firewalls and internet security systems can stop some of these attacks, they can’t fully prevent them. That’s one of the reasons why these attacks have become so common and can even happen to systems with relatively strong security measures in place. Attackers used to target small and less secure IT systems in the past but they have changed their strategy and have become bolder. It is important to take aggressive steps that will help keep these invasions at bay.

How to Secure Your Systems Against an Attack

Stopping these attacks will require strategy and a careful approach. Companies need to come up with a multifaceted response policy that involves employee training, prevention, early detection, planned response to an attack, and strategies for dealing with a locked-down system. Here are some suggestions that can help:

1. Secure Your Systems

The first step to prevent a ransomware attack is to secure the IT infrastructure as much as possible. Install internet-facing security software like antivirus, firewalls, and other such programs. They will act as the first layer of security to block most malicious codes. Make sure essential programs on all devices accessing the company’s network are up-to-date. Software developers release upgrades with protections against the latest threats regularly. Outdated software programs have more security holes than new programs.

2. Control Access

Controlling access is a very efficient way to ensure your systems are more secure. Create multiple levels of access based on an employee’s level of authority in the organization. Make sure people can’t get into sections that aren’t relevant to their responsibilities. For example, a nurse from the cardiology department has no reason to get into the oncology department’s servers. Restricting access as much as possible can help keep vital information secure. Set up privileges for different departments and different levels of employees.

3. Training

Ransomware attacks happen because of ignorance. Many employees don’t know how to detect and avoid malicious code. They unknowingly download these codes onto company servers and create a vulnerable access point. Comprehensive training and regular seminars will help keep employees alert to ensure they remain vigilant.

4. Create a Response Plan

If ransomware code is already in your system, you need to trace it and try isolating it as quickly as possible. A fast response and strong emergency procedures will help protect your information and limit damages. It will also provide IT teams a clear guideline on how to handle the threat. Just paying the ransom isn't enough and it won't make your systems safe. Ransomware gangs maintain backdoor access to their victim's infrastructure for months and may attack at any time if you don't upgrade your security. It pays to stay vigilant and ensure your security is up-to-date as possible. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

A Deeper Dive into Natural Language Processing with number8 Senior Architect Alexis Alulema

May 19, 2020 / in Computer Science, / by Number8

Alexis Alulema - The first time someone hears about Natural Language Processing (NLP), they often don’t consider it to be overly complicated. After some additional consideration, though, they’ll realize how much the AI community has worked on the topic. The technology is even appearing in headlines like this one, as featured on sciencealert.com: Google’s AI has Learned to Become ‘Highly Aggressive’ in Stressful Situations.

As the above article suggests, this technology could become dangerous in the wrong hands or if managed incorrectly. However, I believe that if we get a better understanding of the nuts-and-bolts of NLP, we will conclude that there is nothing ‘magic’ under the hood. Rather, there is a growing, rigorous body of scientific work on creating better algorithms to process data and generate impressive solutions.

Neural Networks have started to become ubiquitous ever since Deep Learning experienced considerable growth with big data, cloud computing, and the appearance of Deep Learning frameworks like TensorFlow or PyTorch. These advancements are visible in areas like Computer Vision (CV), where predictions are incredibly precise and reach 95-98% accuracy. This precision is at the core of impressive advancements in face detection, artificial face generation, self-driving cars, and many other implementations.

Natural Language Processing

In comparison, NLP currently reaches accuracy rates of around 80%. At first glance, it may appear that NLP is not as good as CV. However, I don’t believe this is a fair evaluation, as language is ambiguous and context-bound. For example, a native speaker of a language can often use and understand regional slang and idiomatic expressions comfortably. In comparison, a non-native speaker may have trouble understanding these expressions and might express similar ideas in a different way. These and other factors create a massive task for prediction algorithms, which must attempt to understand idiomatic expressions and much more due to the complexity of language. The best-rated algorithms like GPT-2 require more than 150 GB of data to train the algorithm; for context, 150 GB of training data means days of training neural networks algorithms on super-computers.

I implore you to dive deeper into this topic by reviewing my recently published paper, Deep Learning Methods in Natural Language Processing. In the paper, I attempt to classify the most relevant NLP Deep Learning methods to understand how to use them and identify which situations are best suited for specific NLP methods.

Who would benefit from this content

This paper is a state-of-the-art document that will serve as a starting point for researchers or developers who want to become familiar with the broad spectrum of NLP techniques and how to optimally apply them in different scenarios.

Alexis Alulema
Senior Software Architect and Machine Learning Engineer

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alulema/
Twitter: @alulema
Personal Website: https://alexisalulema.com/

GET STARTED TODAY

We’d Love To Schedule A Time To Talk.

Provide your information to talk with a number8 Relationship Manager about your development needs today and feel what it’s like to be listened to before being sold a solution.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’re Everywhere

number8’s onshore office is located in Louisville, Kentucky where our Account and Relationship Managers work hard to provide all of our clients with exceptional customer service. We also have consultant offices located in Escazú, Costa Rica and San Pedro Sula, Honduras that give us a strong local presence allowing for top-level recruitment, technical training and low employee turnover.

Our Locations
orange_Pin-10Feb