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Atiba Kids Series — Learning to Code: Day 1

Our blog series Atiba Kids features tech musings from a few of our team’s kids…  

This post is from Isaac Chomsky.   A brilliant rising high school sophomore on his first day teaching himself how to code.   Enjoy! 

Learning to Code Python:  Day 1 — by Isaac Chomsky

In our modern world, technology has become increasingly useful for everyday practices.

Because of this, it is important that we all learn how to properly utilize technology for these methods. In order to do that, I’ve recently decided to enhance my Python coding capabilities by working on a program that will notify me whenever a homework assignment is almost due.

This program is most likely something that has already been created, but it is still an excellent way of learning how to use Python in conventional ways. First, I had to figure out exactly how this program could work. One idea that I came up with was to create a calendar where the user could input their school assignments into the dates that they are due and, one day before the due date, the program would email the user to remind them of the assignment. This initial idea seemed plausible, so I decided to work on making the idea a reality.

The first step of this idea was learning how to create a program that can send automated messages. Through some short research, I learned how to use SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, to properly encrypt my messages, making the message harder to be accessed by individuals other than myself and the person receiving the email. I also decided to implement “getpass” into my program, which allows the user to enter their password without it being displayed on the screen. (Basically, “getpass” is whenever you see this for passwords: *******).

This process of implementing both SSL and “getpass” proved to be sort of tricky, as the script of the program had to be exactly right or else nothing would work.

This is typical amongst programs, at least I believe so, but what made the process even more difficult was that when there was an error, the command console I was using for the program would immediately close, which prevented me from seeing any error code that could guide me towards finding the issue. However, through some manual review of my script and some trial and error, I was able to find the problem (finally!) and successfully complete the first step of this project.

Day 1 appears to have been a success!

What is technical debt?

“Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.” — Benjamin Franklin 

The thought of debt can be a scary one that conjures up images of credit cards, mortgages, car payments, and sleepless nights.  To most of us, it’s simple to define:  an amount of money you owe someone else. 

But, the concept of debt is not always related to dollars and cents.   

This was weighing heavily on my mind last week as I was looking at my end-of-year-calendar. 

In the IT field, the term “technical debt” is often used to describe the habit of taking technical shortcuts that, over time, accumulate and cause more work down the road.  Because it’s hard to quantify and often hidden from management until it’s out of control, the buildup of technical debt on a project is sometimes even more dangerous to a company than money owed on a balance sheet. 

Delaying IT infrastructure upgrades to save money, not testing software thoroughly because of a tight deadline, blowing off doing a disaster recovery plan—these are common examples of shortcuts that build up technical debts that will always come back to bite you if not paid off at some point. 

There are other types of debt as well.    

Some of us (me) eat too much and build up an “exercise debt” that we must pay off at some point if we want to maintain a healthy weight.   Some work too much, building up a “sleep debt.” Others play too much and amass a “work debt.”    

These non-financial “soft” debts are more difficult to measure than what we traditionally think of as debt, but they have real costs nonetheless.  And just like money debt, if you’re not careful, you can spend all your time and resources paying the interest instead of paying down the principal. 

Proactively managing different types of debt is an often overlooked but critical skill that determines the long-term viability of every business.  Soft debts should be tracked and managed in much the same way that financial debts are. 

In tech, we call it a “backlog.”  It’s simply a list of any tech-related shortcuts, band-aids or items we skimp on because of deadline or budget constraints, along with estimates of how much work (debt) it will take us to fix them down the road.  Some technical debts are intentional – a conscious choice to save time or money. Others are accidental, discovered in the form of bugs.   

As the backlog list grows, the key is to treat each item as a debt owed, the same way you would as if you were making payments on a bank loan.   This involves planning your “savings” (in the form of time) so that you can eventually make your “payments” (in the form of future work).    We basically mark off time on our calendars for every project to pay off our backlog debts. 

Earlier this year we began to explore this simple backlog approach to managing other areas of debt in our company.   As expected, just like tech, the constraints of time and budget created a backlog in everything from HR to marketing.  Things like updating our employee handbook and standardizing our email signatures made it to our backlog.  And just like tech debt, we have marked our calendars for our end of year payments to clear out the backlogs. 

Thinking of debt as something that is beyond a purely a financial metric has changed the way we operate.  It’s forced us to justify any shortcuts we take company-wide, because we are now tracking them as real costs rather than forgotten to-do lists that will inevitably come back to haunt us. Sleep well. 

JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba.  A Nashville IT consulting and custom software development firm.  Visit www.atiba.com or www.atibanetworkservices.com for more info. 

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Nashville Angular Developer

A Day in the Life of an Atiba Nashville Angular Developer

Sharing what we do Atiba so both clients and potential employees can see the behind the scenes of what’s it like being a coder in Nashville is part of our culture.  AngularJS / Angular coding along with ReactJS has been some of the main coding we have been working on for our clients the past few years.

Here’s a peak at a day the life of an Atiba Nashville Angular developer:

  • We did our stand-up meetings with clients and/or internal development teams first thing every morning at 8 am each day.
  • From there, I usually connect into Jira to look at the user stories I will be working on for the day
  • I started in Angular but now I have been focusing in Angular 2.x development.   I have 2 main projects I am working on.  One is working on the front-end of an intranet site and the other is for a large public website we developed and support called Guitars.com.
  • Lunch! We usually pickup lunch (we have a Microsoft Teams Channel we use to coordinate lunch plans.  Sometimes we all go out / depends on the day.
  • After lunch I either keep the Angular coding going — or depending on deadlines I will use some of my learning time that Atiba builds into the week to study new tech (currently working on learning PHP Laravel)
  • Wind down ~5 pm or so, some days stay later others done a bit sooner.

I have been working at Atiba for 7 years.  I started as a C# coder and still work on some .Net but have enjoyed mixing it up a bit!

Atiba has some of Nashville’s best front-end developers with a crew of JavaScript gurus doing Angular, React, JQuery and more.   Let us know if we can can ever help you with you project!

 

 

Drupal Basics from Nashville’s Drupal Developers

A quick Drupal overview from Nashville’s Drupal Developers…

Drupal is free software, written in PHP, which has a wide and active community of users and developers who collaborate together in its improvement and expansion. Drupal is designed to be the perfect content management solution for non-technical users who need both simplicity and flexibility. This is achieved with a modular approach to site construction.  Unlike other CMSs, Drupal is not a prefabricated toy truck, but rather a collection of wheels, windshields, axles, frames, etc., that a toy manufacturer can easily assemble.

Drupal can be described both as a content management system and as a content management environment: a unified system that strives to have the advantages of both, without its shortcomings. In this way, if someone is looking to create a news site, an online store, social networks, blog, wiki, or something totally different, it is all about finding the right combination of modules.

This extension is possible because it is a modular system with a very consistent architecture, which allows modules created by any developer to interact with the core of the system and modules created by other members of the community. With Drupal, it is possible to implement a wide variety of websites: a personal or professional blog, a corporate portal, a virtual store, a social network or virtual community, etc … Directed to those people, with technical training or not, who want to start in the creation of Web Portals with Drupal. It is also very useful for companies or professionals who want to create their professional or personal web portal without external dependencies.

Drupal is an open source program, with GNU / GPL license, written in PHP, developed and maintained by an active community of users. It stands out for the quality of its code and the pages generated the respect of web standards, and a special emphasis on the usability and consistency of the entire system. Online help: A robust online help system and help pages for the ‘core’ modules, both for users and administrators.

Open source: The Drupal source code is freely available under the terms of the GNU / GPL license. Unlike other systems of ‘blogs’ or proprietary content management, it is possible to extend or adapt Drupal according to the needs.

Modules: The Drupal community has contributed many modules that provide features such as ‘category page’, private messages, bookmarks, etc.

Personalization: A robust personalization environment is implemented in the core of Drupal. Both the content and the presentation can be individualized according to the preferences defined by the user.

Friendly URLs: Drupal uses the mod_rewrite of Apache to create URLs that are manageable by users and search engines

Five Key Attributes To Look For In A Custom Software Development Company

There are a variety of reasons people seek out a custom software solution for their business, and it is sometimes the biggest decision a business might make. The most common reason is that there is no software solution that solves the problem(s) they are trying to solve. It could be that there are software solutions, but they have poor functionality or just don’t fit exactly what they’re trying to do. It could be that there is a solution out there that is prohibitively expensive with many features the company would never use. If you find yourself starting on the journey to find a software development company, here are five thoughts to keep in mind as you get started.

1) Communication Is Key

Rare is a software development project that doesn’t require consultation and advice along the way. Look for a software development company that has been around a while and has the battle scars to prove it. And make sure they are good communicators so that if you request something they have tried in the past and found doesn’t work, they will not hesitate to communicate that experience to you. They should also be able to  recommend ways to solve your specific requirements. If you lay out your vision and come away thinking, “I have no idea what they are talking about, I guess I’ll just have to trust them,” you’re setting yourself up for possible trouble down the road.

2) Experience Counts

hands typing on a laptop keyboardIf you’re looking for a custom software solution, you’ve probably reached your last nerve trying to deal with all the available product that don’t quite solve your problem. That means you need software that will do exactly what it is you want it to do. This is where experience is an advantage for a software development firm. A company with leadership who have solved a variety of problems over the years bring institutional knowledge and wisdom to the table that greatly increase the chances that your new software will be successful. They don’t necessarily have to have already built exactly what you want for someone else, but they may have experience with some of the components and processes you are requesting. Plus, if they’ve been around, it shows that they’ve encountered plenty of problems and been able to come up with solutions.

3) Look For A Strong User Experience Development History

A user-friendly interface is vital to your new software’s success. The backend can function beautifully, but if users can’t figure out how to use it, the software is useless. Make sure the software development company you choose places an emphasis on user experience (UX), which includes rigorous quality assurance (QA) all along the development cycle.

4) They Have A Clear Support Policy

You’re getting a software solution that is being built from scratch, so you need to expect some bugs and quirks upon deployment. Make sure the company you choose gives you a clear picture of what support is included, and how much support that is not included is going to cost.

5) Check Their Work

A good indicator of future success is a rich history of past success. Take time to have them show you custom software development projects they’ve done in the past, explain the process and problems they went through, and, if possible, show you the end result. Not only is this an important step in your due diligence, it will give you peace of mind moving forward that your project is in the right hands.

Your email is an easy target for hackers — here’s how to secure it…

In this week’s USA Today / Tennessean column, Atiba founder JJ Rosen provides tips on how to secure your email.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/tech/2017/05/15/email-easy-target-hackers-dont-make-easier-them/319953001/

Contact info@atiba.com as needed for your security needs.

Atiba is looking for an Office Manager / Executive Assistant

We are looking for a new member of our team who is dedicated to making sure our day-to-day administrative tasks in our back-office are taken care of efficiently and smoothly.

Here’s the type of person we are are on the lookout for:

  • Likes working in small office environment
  • Is 100% reliable on getting things done.
  • Can take on a variety of tasks / wear multiple hats
  • Will suggest ways we can improve and become more efficient
  • Has fun keeping things organized and helping others
  • Is nice and assertive (at the same time!)

If you were working in the role at Atiba – here’s some examples of types of things you would have done in the past month:

  • Coordinated a training class for Atiba clients
  • Sent thank you notes to customers
  • Answered phone calls from clients needing help
  • Checked time sheets to be sure all was accurate
  • On-boarded a new employee
  • Paid some bills
  • Cleaned up our CRM
  • and much much more…

We offer a flexible schedules, benefits, and fun crew to work with.  If you are organized and energized by looking for ways to make a back office run more efficiently contact us today!

Email jobs@atiba.com for more info…

Atiba Is the #105 Largest Global Managed Services Provider

Atiba is Among the World’s Top Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

We’re proud to announce that Atiba Network Services has ranked as #105 on Penton Technology’s eighth-annual “MSPmentor 501″ Global Edition, a distinguished list and report identifying the world’s top 501 managed service providers (MSPs).

Atiba has grown rapidly in the past several years by designing secure and scalable network infrastructures. From cloud architecture to cyber security and disaster recovery, Atiba integrates all layers of a network model.  The Managed Services team keeps our client’s IT infrastructure operating efficiently and reliably year-round.

“We’re delighted that our Network Services team has maintained a consistently high level of service for our growing client list,” said Whitney Blessington, SVP, Client Engagement.  “We are honored to be considered a reliable and integral part of our customers’ IT team and to be recognized as a leading MSP in the world.”

Interestingly, this year the top companies recorded higher recurring revenues than ever before. Combined, the total annual recurring revenues for all of “MSPmentor 501”  2015 companies reached a record high of $3.95 billion in 2014, up 26.5% year over year.

MSPmentor is the ultimate guide to managed services.  The complete 501 list is currently available on the MSPmentor.  MSPmentor features the industry’s top-ranked blog and research site and is the number one online media destination for managed service providers in the world.

Nashville: From ‘it’ town to “IT” town

Welcome to the new “IT” Town of Nashville, Tennessee!   

A few years ago, Nashville received a lot of national press about being the new ‘it’ town, growing leaps and bounds predominantly fueled by the healthcare and music industries.  But now, Information Technology is the new “IT” that everyone is buzzing about.

The reality is that technology services have been working away in the background for a few decades now.  As an IT consultant and programmer working here since 1992, opportunities to make a living, become a coder, learn new things, and collaborate with other techies have been virtually unlimited.

Back in the 80’s — healthcare and music kick-started the larger technology related projects centered around those two sectors.   With the 90’s came an explosion of startup activity that with it brought all kinds of new adventures for techies.  Fast forward to 2000 …. Nashville techies began thriving with every role from coder to CIO in high demand.

Now in 2015, the landscape has expanded to become a veritable buffet of forward-thinking IT strategies and projects.  In fact, a day in the life of a Nashville techie is a day filled with variety.  From a techie perspective, Nashville is not a one-platform town.   Linux and Microsoft and are both popular. Java, ,.Net, Python, Ruby on Rails,  PHP, Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server – you name it, all are in the mix across middle Tennessee.   The result is a workforce — from network techs, to developers and project managers — that has the ability choose and grow skillsets based upon individual interests.

Furthermore, Nashville is a friendly town that is known as an “easy” place to live.   The culture, creativity and hospitality has helped establish a techie sub-culture of people that support one another.   Stuck on a complex Ruby issue?   Need advice on a project?   Put the word out and techie peers are always glad to help.   For fellow techies looking for cool stuff to work on and cool people to work with – welcome to Nashville!

Atiba is hiring, so if you’re interested, please click here to submit your contact information.

 

 

Nashville IT Jobs: Atiba is hiring!

Put the word out!  Nashville IT jobs available…

Atiba has multiple IT job openings in our Nashville office for web developers, mobile app developers, Cisco engineers, and project managers.

Specific skills we are looking for include:

  • PHP
  • .Net (C#)
  • SQL Server
  • Oracle
  • SharePoint
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Cisco
  • SonicWall
  • Microsoft Windows Server
  • iOS and Android
  • JQuery

Contact us today to learn more!   We have been building cool software, working on interesting IT projects, and designing websites and mobile apps for years.  We have great group already and looking keep building our dream team of techies in Nashville.