Digital transformation. Disruptive technology. IT innovation. How can you tap into the ever-evolving nature of technology to fuel your career? As counter intuitive as it may appear, sometimes you have to go back to the basics in order to move forward. In the world of technology, programming is at the heart of transformation, disruption, and innovation.
The need for qualified software developers will grow at a rapid pace—an amazing 24%--over the next eight years, according to US Dept. of Labor Statistics. “Think of new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, big data, visualization, or smart solutions,” says Pramod Mirji, Technical Director of Mindteck Academy, the IT workforce training solutions entity of global technology company Mindteck, Inc. “All of these require software applications which means there is high demand for qualified programmers. There is a scarcity of resources to fill that demand.”
Today’s developers are well-served by a polyglot approach. The ability to master multiple languages – say adding Java and Python to your skill set increases your value in today’s developer marketplace. According to Information Week, the top 10 programming languages are (in no particular order):
C# PHP Swift Go R
Java is one of the most in-demand programming languages, in part because it is open-source and serves as the platform for billions of devices including Android phones, Smart TVs and Smart home solutions. “Java is a great starting point. A lot of Fortune 500 companies, as well as startups, use Java as their programming language to build their enterprise application solutions.” says Mirji.
Another programming language which is on the TOP 5 list and widely used to build solutions in AI, Machine Learning (ML) and data analytics is Python. The reason behind the rise of Python as a programing language is: Python is simple, open source, easy to learn and increases developer productivity. There is also a large community of Python developers, with built-in libraries for Data Analytics, ML, AI and many other emerging technologies. This reduces development time and makes life easy for developers.
In addition to AI, migration to the cloud, continuous delivery using DevOps, even legacy financial systems all demand highly skilled programmers. “I think now is a very exciting time to be a software developer or programmer,” Mirji states emphatically. If you have an interest in coding, have tried animation, or enjoy design, adding programming skills to your skill set can unlock job opportunities and increase your long-term earning potential.
--- Pramod Mirji is Technical Director and instructor for Mindteck Academy, the IT workforce training entity of MIndteck, for corporate clientele and aspiring IT professionals. Classes are starting soon, so apply today.
So you’re thinking of developing a mobile app, huh? Where to start? Android? iOS? Windows? BlackBerry? I think it’s safe to assume that most developers will forego the latter and focus on Android and iOS, especially if they are interested in generating revenue. So how to decide between starting with Android or iOS? Really, the decision is easy – for as plethora of reasons.
Let’s start with money. The best place to make a profit is on iOS. Generally speaking, Apple is usually viewed by start-ups as the ideal platform to design for due to its larger and more affluent customer base. Even though Android has a commanding lead in market share (84.7% compared to 11.7% for iOS) and downloads that are 60% higher than iOS, revenue is still 60% higher on the iTunes App Store! Maybe you’re scratching your head, asking “how can this be?” Well, allow me to explain. There are three main reasons for this “fuzzy math.” First, iOS devices are generally more expensive and appeal to higher income consumers – those more likely to spend more money on apps and in-app purchases. Secondly, iOS doesn’t have much market share in developing countries like Android does – and Android has been slow to adopt carrier billing, which means users can’t even purchase apps if they wanted to! Furthermore, while Apple forces users to put in their credit card information, it is merely an option for Android users. Lastly, iOS is a “closed” system, making it much harder to pirate apps, which is, unfortunately, pretty common with Android apps, thereby creating a negative revenue stream. Take a look at this chart for easy reference:
So, money is important, but it’s not everything, right? There are other reasons why one might choose iOS over Android. For example, Apple iOS developers spend most of their time coding. Android developers? They use the bulk of their time testing and debugging their code, according to an Evans Data report. Why? It’s due to Android fragmentation, which forces developers to spend more time testing disparate hardware, a problem no other mobile platform has. Given that there are over 1,600 devices in the Android SDK, it's not surprising Android developers must spend an inordinate amount of time testing and debugging. Even though Apple does have higher standards when it comes to app design, iOS is in fact considerably easier to develop for. Conversely, Android’s current development tool is currently an unwieldy piece of software named Eclipse.
This might lead you to ask, “Why bother developing on Android at all??” It’s fragmented, involves a more difficult platform, requires a lot of debugging and doesn’t make all that much money. One reason might be that Android apps can be downloaded from a number of different stores such as Google Play, the Amazon App Store, or any number of independent app stores. Having multiple places to download Android apps can be great for the consumer because they have a choice. The downside? It creates inconsistency between rankings and reviews, the number one thing customers look at when they go to download an app.
With all that being said, with Android’s massive user base and its rapid adoption in developing countries, it can be a great start, especially for a beginner or amateur – it’s much easier to get your apps published on Android than with iOS because Android’s review process is much less stringent than Apple’s.
So what’s the bottom line? If you’re just getting started and/or not looking to make a profit from your awesome apps, I would recommend trying both and drawing your own conclusions – in fact, please post your comments here! For those who are more experienced and are looking to turn your tech savvy skills into a monthly paycheck, it seem iOS is the way to go.
Back in September 2014, I published a blog titled “Hardware, Software, Anywhere, Everywhere?”, which discussed the ever-increasing abilities of consumer technology to track our every move. Likening our modern-day “trackableness” to the tenets of the infamous novels “1984” and “Brave New World”, I posed the question: When does it become too much?
Now, it seems that almost daily, my inbox is flooded with white papers, case studies, and Webinar invitations that address the non-stop security threats that we all face every day – individuals and companies alike. So how do we address them? According to the experts, even more “tracking” than already exists.
For Joe Consumer, the threats involve stolen social security numbers, passwords and credit cards (thank goodness one of my credit card companies in now using the EMV “chip” technology – the U.S. is finally catching up to our friends ‘across the pond’!) Approximately 120 million Americans have already received an EMV chip card and that number is projected to reach nearly 600 million by the end of 2015, according to Smart Card Alliance estimates.
But for corporations (large or small), the security threats are quite complex. It’s not just outside cybersecurity hackers anymore – it’s “insider threat”: the new guy you just hired in HR, or the disgruntled contractor, or the veteran employee in accounting who consistently comes into the building on the weekends, or even the HVAC technician coming to take a look at your air conditioning! Why the HVAC guy? Visual Hacking - All he needs is a camera phone to take a picture of a computer screen with login credentials and he can take control. According to an experiment published by CSO Online, low tech visual hacking was successful nine out of ten times when they spent up to two hours in 43 different offices, wandering around, taking pictures of computer screens, and picking up documents marked "confidential" and putting them in their bags -- all deliberately within full view of the regular employees.
In a paper published by Quantum Secure, a Physical Identity and Access Management platform, it is asserted that the way companies hire employees has changed drastically, thereby impacting the enterprise’s security - they are more likely to have contractors, part-time workers or even virtual employees, and as a result, the chances are greater that unfamiliar people may be onsite or offsite and still accessing data. Quantum Secure suggests that HR data should be monitored closely to look for “red flags” and “high risk” individuals. For instance, someone who got a bad performance review may be a “high risk” employee. Someone who recently got divorced or had a baby may be “flagged” because this life status change could indicate a chance in their financial status. If either of these two hypothetical individuals were also accessing the physical building after hours, using the printer too much, or had access to sensitive data, they might be placed on the “watch list!” Have we gotten to a point in society and in the corporate world where every single, solitary movement is tracked and analyzed? Why does this remind me of the “terror watch list”? Here is an excerpt from the paper that goes into more detail:
Understanding whom to track among permanent and temporary employees, and how to track them, is only the beginning. Enterprises need to adhere to several best practices to become highly efficient at identifying potential insider threats before they become a reality. What’s the best approach?
First, as noted, enterprises need a system that connects each of the appropriate data sources: human resources databases, physical security systems and IT logs. The system must be highly flexible, easily integrated and unfailingly accurate.
Next, they need to set up a monitoring system to look at information aggregated from those sources: issues that change infrequently, such as job titles; triggering events, such as performance reviews; and behavioral changes. By establishing a baseline of behavior, enterprises can create profiles and risk scores associated with all levels of employees: permanent, part-time, contractor, virtual.
The next step is to establish a high-risk score and identify employees that fall into that range. Establishing this score gives enterprises the ability to focus on only the highest-risk roles; after all, enterprises can’t track everyone who uses the printers or the photocopiers. Anyone in those roles—or applying for those roles— should be subject to initial as well as periodic background checks. Identifying high-risk employees enables enterprises to focus their efforts on only the most likely roles and helps them take proactive steps to review access, segregate roles to eliminate conflict or schedule more-frequent (or more-detailed) audits and reviews.
The overarching point here is to embark on these efforts armed with context. Relying solely on data points such as printer usage or evening access represents an incomplete approach to insider threats. This data is useless without the context of other events, behaviors or attributes. Enterprises that rely on simple patterns run the risk of diminishing morale and creating an unnecessary culture of suspicion.
But bringing these data points together enables enterprises to create the equivalent of a “watch list” that can be used for permanent employees as well as other categories. For instance, the system may track contractors’ employees for safety and security violations. If they decrease, no harm done. If they increase, the enterprise can engage in remediation such as retraining, limiting access, requiring an escort or reporting the violations to a manager.
Now, I never expect to be one of these “watch list” folks, but it does make me uncomfortable to think that it exists - that my ‘life status change’ could potentially trigger something in the “system” that automatically makes me suspect!
I understand the need for physical and cyber security. I really do. But I also insist on my privacy. I hope that as more and more companies understand and proactively implement additional security measures, they do so with full disclosure to their current and future employees…Forewarning is fair warning.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, today (April 21st), marks a game changing day in ‘SEO Land.’ As you’ve probably heard, Google has released major changes to its mobile search algorithms, which has the potential to disrupt a lot of companies who lack mobile-friendly search engines. Although Google made the announcement back in February to give webmasters plenty of time to make necessary changes, it’s likely to impact a lot of smaller businesses, who either don’t know about the changes, or simply don’t have the bandwidth and resources to deal with it right now. All the Search Engine Optimization in the world won’t help a company’s ranking on Google if the consumer is searching from a mobile phone (tablets are NOT included). Given that a whopping 60% of online traffic comes from mobile devices, this change aptly deserves the “apocalyptic” status it has been given.
By conducting a little primary research, I found that big retail stores like Macy’s, JCPenney, Staples and Pizza Hut all had Mobile Friendly sites; (in fact it looked like Macy’s was very new, perhaps just coming in under the wire?) However, searching for some local salons and coffee shops in the town where I live produced nothing but “regular” Web sites being forced to reside on a small iPhone 6 screen. That’s bad news for them.
There are really two main methods to creating a mobile site. One way is to design a completely separate mobile site that requires its own maintenance. The other is by using “responsive design,” which essentially takes a standard website and instructs the mobile device on how to display it properly. Responsive websites can handle any resolution with changes in CSS files, which affect how the elements on Web pages are presented. Computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets will all display the website in the best way possible. While "Mobile-only" designs are relatively simple to build and generally economical in development cost, responsive websites are more complicated to build; having a higher upfront cost. One important consideration is the "lifetime" cost. Responsive Web design is Google’s recommended configuration.
Are you a small business wondering how you can comply with Google’s new rules? Not sure what “responsive design” is all about? Google was even kind enough to provide a list of recommended vendors that can help you optimize your business’s website for seamless functionality across all devices. These vendors include GoDaddy, duda, Mobify, weebly (my personal favorite!) and wix.com, to name a few. You can check out the complete list here: https://www.google.com/think/multiscreen/vendors.html
Maybe you are thinking your site is mobile-friendly, but perhaps there’s a lingering doubt - use the free test on this site to see how Google would rate your website (You'll want to see the words "Awesome!" show up in your results).
Google says a site is "mobile-friendly" if it meets the following criteria (as detected by Googlebot):
It is with great relief that I can confirm that Mindteck Academy’s Web site is, indeed, mobile-friendly! Go ahead – try it! With the use of weebly, our site is managed in one location and all maintenance/changes/updates are automatically made to both the website and the mobile site. Images and all content are automatically resized and repositioned for mobile optimization. It’s so easy!
Don’t wait folks…it won’t be long before PCs and laptops become synonymous with tube TVs and boom boxes. And maybe this new algorithm only applies to phones right now, but something tells me this is just phase one and tablets and other types of mobile devices (watches anyone?) are next in line!
What is a good training program like Mindteck Academy without an amazing trainer? Absolutely nothing! The knowledge imparted on our trainees in Wisconsin this winter by our amazing Java guru, Pramod Mirji, was nothing short of spectacular. Pramod’s business aptitude and hands-on approach allowed the group to focus on what they “really needed” and to place extra emphasis on those skills and competencies that would make them successful on day one.
Pramod spent seven weeks in a hotel room in Wisconsin in order to change the lives of a group of very special young men – he took a handful of young, aspiring programmers with a wide range of education and experience, and turned them into technically and professionally sound software developers ready to hit the ground running! “Staying at the hotel was difficult,” he said, “but Madison was a really nice place to stay. The town is fun and the people are good.” Pramod passed away much of his time on the weekends watching the Cricket World Cup; unfortunately his team (India) didn’t win, but he enjoyed watching Australia win it all. Ultimately, Pramod was very happy with the outcome of the training. “Working with these kids and ‘making’ their careers was incredibly rewarding and memorable.” I know that the trainees feel the same way, as Pramod was much more than just a trainer to them! In fact, when one of his students parked his car the wrong way on the street on the first day of class, Pramod paid his ticket for him. This particular young man had just driven cross-country from California and the last thing he needed was a parking ticket!
Pramod’s advice to others trying to become software developers? “It’s not for everyone. Figure out if it’s really what you want and then start learning on your own – pick any technology you choose. You don’t need to be a programming ‘master’ to be good – just keep practicing.” Pramod believes that having a solid education behind you such as an associate or bachelor degree is also important, as a college education teaches you a lot about business and the arts, which is just as important as the technology. Furthermore, so many companies require it as part of their hiring criteria.
Pramod’s distinguished background includes a Bachelor is computer Science from Karnataka University in Dharwar, Karnataka, India as well as many years’ professional experience as a technical consultant for such world-renown companies like Wells Fargo, Lenovo, Oracle, Mentorware and NIIT. Interestingly, he shares his birthday with Winston Churchill and Indira Ghandi, both of whom were Prime Ministers! Maybe Pramod will go from leading software projects to leading a nation? Only time will tell.
This is the sixth edition of a multi-issue Blog introducing and celebrating the successes of Mindteck Academy's current Java "Bootcamp" Trainees in Madison, Wisconsin.
Meet Nick B.
Mindteck Academy Java Trainee
Out of all of the trainees in the Mindteck Academy Java class in Madison, Wisconsin, Nick B. is probably the most non-traditional student we’ve ever seen. Instead of coming to us with a degree in computer science, engineering or math, he brings a different perspective to how the world works. With his Bachelor’s in economics, he only recently discovered his passion for programming and is hopeful that the opportunity granted by Mindteck Academy is the boost he needs to kick start his career.
Before choosing economics as his college major, Nick admits to once dreaming of being an anesthesiologist because he saw that “it paid a lot of money.” While saying this and laughing at the same time, it demonstrates Nick’s willingness to shoot for the top, no matter what it takes.
Nick’s family relocated to Madison from Rockford, Illinois when he was in second grade after his father landed an accounting job with EPIC Systems. While completing his education at University of Wisconsin, Nick earned his keep as a tennis instructor, a food service staff member and a survey research interviewer, which no doubt cultivated his people and customer service abilities -- a skill that comes in handy with any profession!
With limited formal education and experience in programming, Nick stated that he was attracted to Mindteck Academy because “it was the perfect opportunity for training. Learning on your own can be daunting and this is really focused on real-world applications.” When asked how he is enjoying it all, he said “It is what I expected – a lot is thrown out at you, but it’s been awesome!” One of the most interesting things Nick has enjoyed about the training class is the diversity of the group. He has had the chance to learn about other cultures from his classmates. He encourages anyone trying to break into the programming field to just “dive in…go find an opportunity like Mindteck Academy.”
When Nick isn’t working or studying these days, you might find him playing competitive “Ultimate Frisbee” with MUFA (Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association) or whacking balls around the tennis court (he still tries to play two times a week), or maybe even trying his hand at some golf. The most interesting thing about Nick? He is a competitive SCRABBLE player with a pretty good win/loss ratio! Nick’s flexibility in all things is surely what led him to this opportunity with Mindteck Academy…and will lead him to continued success as a soon-to-be software developer.
This is the fifth edition of a multi-issue Blog introducing and celebrating the successes of Mindteck Academy's current Java "Bootcamp" Trainees in Madison, Wisconsin
Meet Nathan Y.
Mindteck Academy Java Trainee
Calculus? No problem! With a bachelor’s degree in Math, Nathan will give you a run for your money any day. Not only does he “love math for what it is,” but he also served as a tutor for high school and college students. His favorite class? Analysis – because it really explains “why” calculus works. (Does your head hurt yet?) For Nathan, this is what he does best, and he admits that he really owes his educational pursuits to his Mom. “I really wasn’t overly concerned with my future when I graduated high school and she really pushed me in the right direction.”
Speaking of his family – they really miss him and were very worried that he would not be able to handle the brutally cold winters of Wisconsin, since he was born and raised in beautiful and temperate Los Angeles County. Other than leaving his new Madison apartment on the first day of class with no hat and gloves in below zero temperatures (ouch!), he is really adjusting to the Northern life well.
Nathan jumped at the chance to join Mindteck Academy’s Java training class because he recently discovered that he really loves programming and was having trouble breaking his way into the industry. “I learned that unless you want to teach, there’s not too many career opportunities for those with a math degree. I always enjoyed the programming I did while in school and wanted to find a way to pursue it.” As a child, Nathan always wanted to be an “inventor”, and while what he’s doing now isn’t exactly what he envisioned as a little boy, it’s pretty close! “Programming is allowing me to create and invent things from scratch.” Nathan went on to say that it is unbelievable to him how much he has learned through Mindteck Academy. “I never would have been able to learn all this on my own, and it’s so applicable to the real world.”
While in college, Nathan used the programming skills he had in MatLab and Mathematica to develop a comprehensive Rubik’s Cube program which generates a random scramble for the user, provides a timer to time the solve, stores each time, and then allows the user to display the list of stored times (either as a list or graphically); it also provides the best and average solve times over any desired amount of runs, and gives the user the option to clear the list of stored times and start anew. It’s no surprise that Nathan is very proud of his ability to actually solve the Rubik’s Cube in under 30 seconds. Talk about a fast learner!
In addition to his B.S. in Mathematics from California Polytechnic State University, Nathan is really known for his love of weightlifting and snowboarding, and recently taught himself how to play guitar! He also enjoys traveling and had the pleasure of making a grand tour of Europe, visiting countries such as Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and England. For an analytic math major, Nathan has really figured out how to round out the logic with the fun stuff in life.
This is the fourth edition of a multi-issue Blog introducing and celebrating the successes of Mindteck Academy's current Java "Bootcamp" Trainees in Madison, Wisconsin
Meet Kevin M.
Mindteck Academy Java Trainee
From his small town of Wisconsin Rapids to the busy city of Madison, Kevin has proven to be adaptable to any situation, and when it comes to facing challenges, Kevin is an ‘obstacle crusher’, letting nothing get in his way. Not only has he been a hard worker since his teenage years as a cook, waiter, camp counselor and file clerk, but even more impressive is his volunteer work through his church and with the Arts Council in his hometown. It’s no wonder that upon graduation from college, he was scooped right up by Renaissance Learning as a Quality Assurance Technician.
Although his Bachelor’s degree is in Technical Communications, he found his way down the QA trail and is now looking forward to a brand new turn on that path into software development. Even though he already has his degree, he’s currently back in school to earn an A.A.S. in Web Software Development so that he can achieve his dreams. Kevin was attracted to the Java training class with Mindteck Academy because he knew it could help fast track him to the programming world. “The Java training class with Mindteck Academy is truly a unique opportunity. It is teaching me the layers of the Software Development Lifecycle that I only understood at a high level. It’s giving me a real-world understanding of the different branches of the process.”
His perfect job? One where his writing abilities can truly complement his programming skills and best benefit his team. Teamwork is a very important value to Kevin. Though an advocate for fitness and always trying to improve himself, he is not concerned with being better than anyone else. Now preparing for his third Tough Mudder race (if you don’t know what this is, you have to check it out!), I asked him if he was trying to beat his last time or if he had a goal to reach. His response? “I’m there for my team. I’m out there trying to compete with some much bigger guys. Just crushing the obstacles and finishing the course is enough.” He truly espouses the Tough Mudder Pledge:
· I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
· I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
· I do not whine.
· I help my fellow mudders complete the course.
· I overcome all fears.
After learning about Kevin’s love of physical fitness, it was no surprise (well, maybe it was a little surprising) that he wanted to be a professional stunt man as a kid. “I saw an interview on TV with Jackie Chan and thought that it would be a really cool thing to do. It seemed unorthodox and like a real adrenaline rush.” By now, you’re understanding how Kevin’s fearlessness has gotten him where he is today. What employer wouldn’t love his drive, enthusiasm and ambition?
When asked what advice he would give someone else trying to enter into the world of computer programming, he said “If you have a curiosity for it, talk to others who know about it; join clubs; do your research. Don’t be afraid.”
Kevin earned his Bachelor of Science in Technical Communications from the University of Wisconsin – Stout where he graduated Cum Laude and is currently enrolled at Madison Area Technical College pursing his A.A.S. in IT – Web Software Development. He received National Gold Certification from ACT (a career readiness organization) and was also a member of the National Champion Cheer/Stunt Team of Wisconsin Rapids. When Kevin is not working out, in training, in college, or learning on his own, he can be found relaxing with his friends online playing Xbox, as well as spending time with his girlfriend.
This is the third edition of a multi-issue Blog introducing and celebrating the successes of Mindteck Academy's current Java "Bootcamp" Trainees in Madison, Wisconsin
Meet Ethan G.
Mindteck Academy Java Trainee
“Go long or go home” – isn’t that what golfers say? Ethan surely is familiar with that phrase, as he seems to have the perfect swing right now. Although a bit of a late bloomer in deciding on his career path, his drive and dedication to becoming a software developer are well above par.
A native of Jefferson, Wisconsin, which is 45 minutes outside of Madison, Ethan fights the traffic every morning and evening in order to get to Mindteck Academy’s Java Training class. On snowy days, this commute can sometimes add up to over 2 ½ hours round trip! So why does he do this? “Mindteck Academy offered me the chance to further my skills with job-specific training. It’s definitely the bridge I needed to get from where I am to where I want to be.” He went on to say, “I’m also learning things that I didn’t know about before, such as Bootstrap”, which is the most popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive, mobile first projects on the web.”
Spending his adult life enjoying the great outdoors in the landscaping business where he has been involved with design, project management and customer service, Ethan knew this was not his life-long passion and wanted the opportunity to create something with his mind instead of his body. When asked how in the world he went from landscaping to programming, he said, “I’ve always liked to build things, and I knew I wanted to ‘build’ without my hands. While out golfing with a friend of mine, he talked to me about programming and that’s when I decided to pursue it.”
An avid sports fan (Go Packers!), Ethan would love to one day work in some sort of sports-related area – perhaps developing mobile apps or creating complex software programs for various sports programs such as Active or SwimMeet. He’s already created his own golf scorekeeping app, so who knows what’s next? What he really wanted to be growing up was a baseball player (he’s a left-handed pitcher if you know of any teams looking for that kind of talent!) While he may not get to fulfill that childhood dream, there’s certainly nothing stopping him from accomplishing his visions now!
What advice would he give to a young person trying to get into software development? “Be resilient. It can be frustrating, but be resourceful. There is always a solution to every problem. Don’t give up. Just like in the movie “Field of Dreams”, listen to your heart and make your dreams a reality. “
Ethan graduated from Madison College in 2014 with an A.A.S. Programmer/Analyst degree, where he achieved high honors and perfect honors repeatedly. He is actively looking into pursuing his bachelor’s degree next! When not on the golf course or programming, he might be found watching a good sitcom with his wife of eight years.