Altabel Group's Blog

Archive for March 2012

Now that the initial iPad furor has died down a bit, it’s time to speculate about what comes next from Apple. Here is a round-up of the latest rumors and educated guesses about upcoming Apple tech products. No matter how many splashy product announcements Apple makes, there’s always the promise of something new and game-changing around the corner. Below there are a few of the latest whispers and speculation about pending versions of products and even brand new products.

MacBook Air
Rumors are flying about Apple finally releasing a 15″ MacBook Air (currently, 11.6″ and 13.3″ models are available). If true, then it might change the plans of those planning to buy a new 15″ MacBook Pro. There have also been rumors, off and on, about an even larger 17” model. Most of this speculation is fueled by “anonymous sources” that are affiliated with companies making Apple components. It’s pretty likely that we will see a 15″ Air as early as April.

MacBook Pro
Most of the speculation surrounding the Pro line is the probable plan to merge with Air at some point in the future. Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics whether the anticipated 15″ MacBook Air is, in fact, just a “slimmed down” Pro that loses its optical drive, but technically retains the “Pro” label. The picture is pretty blurry right now, and we may not know until the official announcement from Apple actually occurs this spring, but both lines are due for refreshes.

iPhone 5
The latest thing here is the speculation that the new iPhone will have a 4.6″ Retina Display (up from 3.5″) that will allow more room to update chips.

iWallet
The iWallet is pretty interesting — an e-commerce solution that would provide real-time authorization of transactions by the cardholder. There are also figures illustrating an iTunes MobilePay interface. Here is the description: Apple’s invention covers an electronic device that will be able to deliver real-time authorization of cardholder-not-present transactions. The electronic device may be a handheld device, such as an iPhone or iPod touch, or it may be a computer such as an iMac or MacBook Pro. Regardless of the form the electronic device takes, the device may run an application enabling a cardholder to approve or decline cardholder-not-present transactions in real time, near real-time, or after the transaction is initially authorized or settled. That is, in addition to a card transaction being sent to an issuing bank for approval, details of the transaction may be sent to the cardholder for approval before the transaction is authorized. If the cardholder doesn’t recognize the transaction, it may be declined immediately, thereby preventing the cardholder and the merchant from becoming victims of identity theft.

Have your heard something about Apple’s plans? Please, share below.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The real entrepreneur is usually viewed as “someone with a big vision, and a stubborn determination to charge straight ahead through any obstacle and make it happen”. Is that so in reality? The vision part looks fine, but stubbornness is of a specific kind. Mature and successful entrepreneurs know that due to the extreme uncertainty of a new product/service usually many corrections are required in the course of the project. The challenge “when to change your direction and when to persevere” is reiterated. Actually the start up runway is not money but how many pivots the start up can still make. Pivoting in the right direction as early as possible is what makes the product and project lean. Pivots come in many different flavors, each designed to test the viability of a different hypothesis about the product, customer, technology, business model and engine of growth. Here are the summary of top-10 pivots to take (by Eric Ries (c)):
– Zoom-in pivot: what previously was considered a single feature in a product becomes the whole product.

- Zoom-out pivot: sometimes a single feature is insufficient to support a customer set, and what was considered the whole product becomes a single feature of a much larger product.

- Customer segment pivot: the product attracts real customers, but not the ones originally supposed to. So repositioning and optimizing for a more appreciative segment are needed.

- Customer need pivot: the customer feedback indicates that the problem solved is not very important, or money isn’t available to buy. This requires repositioning, or a completely new product, to find a problem worth solving.

- Application-to-platform or vice versa pivot: many founders envision their solution as a platform for future products, but don’t have a single killer application yet. Most customers buy solutions, not platforms.

- Business architecture pivot: two major business architectures are: high margin, low volume (complex systems model), or low margin, high volume (volume operations model). Both can’t be operated at the same time.

- Value capture pivot: changes to the way a startup captures value (i.e. monetization or revenue model) can have far-reaching consequences for business, product, and marketing strategies. The “free” model doesn’t capture much value.

- Engine of growth pivot: the most popular primary growth engines are: the viral, sticky, and paid growth models. The right model picked can dramatically affect the speed and profitability of growth.

- Distribution channel pivot: these pivots usually require unique pricing, feature, and competitive positioning adjustments.

- Technology pivot: a way to achieve the same solution by using a completely different technology. This is most relevant if the new technology can provide superior price and/or performance to improve competitive posture.

Also, an interesting observation: “Ask most entrepreneurs who have decided to pivot and they will tell you that they wish they had made the decision sooner.” So the valuable guideline of thinking and acting for all the start-ups is to design a product with the smallest set of features to please a customer base, move it into the marketplace quickly, test and measure the reaction, detect the pivot spot and iterate on this basis.

What’s your interesting experience in making pivots? You are welcome to share your stories here.

Kind regards,
Helen Boyarchuk – Business Development Manager (LI page)
Helen.Boyarchuk@altabel.com | Skype ID: helen_boyarchuk
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Often the development of the iPhone and the iPad are in many ways intertwined. Mostly new features for Apple’s mobile products usually appear in the iPhone before they make it to the iPad, but that’s not the case with this latest release of the tablet.Support for LTE mobile phone networks and a new processor, the A5X, are two features found solely in the new iPad. That’s why some analysts believe they’re certainly headed for the next iPhone, expected to be released this summer. What new advances in the latest iPad will we see in the next version of Apple’s Smartphone?

Maintaining Battery Life
Battery life may have been an issue influencing Apple’s decision to introduce LTE in the iPad before it did it with the iPhone. It allows Apple to get better battery performance out of its LTE implementation. The iPad is a larger device so it can accommodate a larger battery, which helps with battery life. Battery life has been a bane for LTE. The fact that the new iPad has a nine-hour battery life with LTE enabled bodes well for the next iPhone. It shows they’re resolving the power drain issue with LTE. That suggests the next iPhone will support LTE without any battery life tradeoffs.

Keeping a Trim Figure
While the battery in the new iPad has the chops to support LTE, it does it without significantly increasing the device’s thickness, also good news for an LTE-enabled iPhone. It shows companies no longer have to forfeit thickness or industrial design in order to accommodate LTE.
Early introduction of LTE into the Apple ecosystem through the new iPad could also be designed to show the technology on an optimal device. LTE is the best cellular network technology for the kinds of media-rich activities that consumers are more likely to do on an iPad, like watching movies and Web surfing.

Dialing Down the A5X
Another innovation in the new iPad that may pop up in the next iPhone is the A5X processor. However, Apple may decide to reduce the clock speed of that chip, which has two processing cores and four graphic cores, if it does move it to the next iPhone. They might do what they did with the iPhone 4S. They’ll take the A5X and throttle it down so it works at 800MHz. The new iPhone won’t need all the horsepower that the tablet does. The iPad, for example, needs to power a much larger display than the iPhone and at a greater pixel density, 326 pixels per inch compared to 264 ppi.

Goodbye Numbers
Although it’s not a technological change, the iPad introduction also revealed a change in Apple’s naming conventions. The third generation iPad is just “the new iPad,” and when the next generation iPhone arrives, it will be “the new iPhone.” Apple has products like the MacBook and the iPod that don’t have numbers. They want to get away from the expectation that it has to have a number on the end to know if it’s a really big refresh or just a little refresh.

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Almost the first word coming to one’s mind in relation to “start up” notion is risk. The sad reality is that very few products are successful, despite of all the perseverance, hard work and creativity of their producers. At the same time, some start-ups’ stories sound like modern-time rags-to-riches stories. What’s the formula for success then?

Many say: “They have been in the right place at the right time”. In this way it sounds like a pure good luck or a ready-made excuse for those who haven’t succeeded. Mature entrepreneurs reject this line of thinking. They say: “ Success can be engineered by following the right process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.” Here “process” doesn’t mean a blueprint to follow but thinking in the right way.

Wrong thinking produces wrong acting. Based on entrepreneurs experience stories let’s try to define these wrong beliefs and fears having place while releasing the first product version:

Belief # 1. Brilliant business plan. The first questions to answer before starting building the product are: what should we build and for whom? Usually a thorough business plan is created answering these questions but not limited. After weeks /months of implementation and ardent arguments about bugs and features the first version goes live and… Nothing happens – the fears were unfounded because nobody even tried it.
Lesson to be learned: The idea is only then brilliant when customers say it’s so: not a well-known domain guru or results of whiteboard exercises performed by the marketing dept. Resort to talking to customers as early as possible.

Belief # 2. Low quality sucks. Entrepreneurs care about reputation so much. This originates the fear of releasing a low quality product which would tarnish the reputation as an engineer: “People would think I didn’t know how to build a quality product.”
Lesson to be learned: Mistakes are almost inevitable, they are in the very nature of start ups as in a start-up who the customer is and what the customer might find valuable are often unknown. So the tip is: fail often but fail quietly. Build a minimum viable product and test it empirically on a small fraction of potential customers. Even if your first product sucks, at least not too many people will know about it.

Belief # 3. Hurry to become big. Entrepreneurs tend to think big – it seems if the product is complex and has heaps of features it will definitely win customers’ hearts. As the result, thousands of lines of the code, endless arguments about which bugs to fix and which to tolerate, which features to cut and which to cram in, for the first product version which may mean just waste for customers.
Lesson to be learned: Don’t be in a rush to get big, be in a rush to have a great product. When you launch development try to firstly figure out how “minimal viable product” for your customers should function and look like; what you need to build in order to test your product idea assumptions.

The thing is that the first version is the best time to make mistakes. Each version serves as a basis to learning and then making a vital pivot in order to adopt some part of the vision to reality. The whole process looks like “build-measure-learn” loop (Eric Ries (c)). Going throughout this cycle reputedly implies another threat:

Belief # 4. Preconception towards some “build-measure-learn” element. It means thinking of this or that element of the cycle to be more important. For engineers it’s learning to build things as efficiently as possible. Plenty of entrepreneurs obsess over data and metrics. The guts speak…
Lesson to be learned: None of these activities by itself is of paramount importance. The aim should be to minimize the total time through this loop as the core sense of Lean Startup method is to recognize asap that it’s time to pivot.

That’s pretty much it. Think big, start small, pivot fast, scale actively :)

Kind regards,
Helen Boyarchuk – Business Development Manager (LI page)
Helen.Boyarchuk@altabel.com | Skype ID: helen_boyarchuk
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

We all use cloud services in one way or another. When you access your Gmail, use Facebook and store photos online, you are actually leveraging cloud services. For small businesses, saving money, increasing productivity and enhancing uptime are some of the major reasons why a move toward the cloud computing platforms available today should be given priority. Regardless of what industry you are in, there are enough cloud computing tools to help you run your company in the cloud.

1. Harvest
Harvest is a time-tracking and online invoicing cloud service. It offers users the ability to see a distributed visual report of a company’s resources. With Harvest, you can create online invoices, bill clients, get paid online and view employee and contractor timesheets. Harvest also offers detailed data reports that can be filtered by project, staff and in other ways. You can then determine how time is being spent, which easily helps to manage projects. The time-tracking feature is especially handy when working on time-sensitive projects or projects that are paid on an hourly basis. Time tracking using Harvest can be done anytime and anywhere. You can even track time via your mobile device, widgets, Twitter or Gmail.

2. Carbonite
If you deal with large amounts of data that need to be backed up frequently, then Carbonite is a handy cloud platform to easily manage your backups. It works for multiple computers within a small organization and keeps track of each computer that is running the application. Once installed, Carbonite does all the backing up in the background for each computer every time it detects an Internet connection. Restoring backed up files is as easy as backing them up. With a few mouse clicks, files are restored to their original computers or to another designated drive. A browser-based dashboard lets you monitor the backup status of each computer in your organization.

3. ZenDesk
ZenDesk is a customer help cloud platform that lets you centralize your customer conversations making it easy to offer support services. It offers ticket management, reporting and analytics tools, self service, branding & integration services and tools to make the customer experience quick, efficient and more manageable. Ticket management is especially critical to a business since it helps to quickly identify high-priority issues and respond to them, automate certain responses and collaborate with others. ZenDesk allows a user to monitor support trends, ticket volume metrics and analyze customer satisfaction ratings to better provide support to clients. ZenDesk also integrates with other products to provide a seamless experience across your organization.

In addition to the above platforms, Google and Microsoft have created their own cloud tools and services, and integrated them with their already existing services. When selecting a cloud computing platform, determine your industry, customers and employees and choose a platform that will result into a smooth seamless transition and that will most effectively serve the needs of all three.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

A good PHP framework should improve security, make websites easier to upgrade and should also dramatically reduce the time it takes you to build websites and web applications. The question that now quite a number of developers and beginners ask is : “What is the best PHP framework?”

I`ve asked this question (what is the best framework) to several our developers and made in the end our list of best PHP frameworks. Perhaps our thoughts will help the developers to come to the best decision in which PHP framework to use.

5th Place : CakePHP
CakePHP is a rapid development framework for PHP which uses commonly known design patterns like ActiveRecord, Association Data Mapping, Front Controller and MVC. If you look at the statistics, CakePHP is one of the slowest PHP frameworks out there. It’s also rather difficult to learn. The thing why CakePHP is in the top five is massive and vibrant Community. CakePHP community is ahead of all other frameworks. They you can find a great deal of CakePHP gurus that can help you with everything.
PROS: Massive community; a lot of free downloadable sample code and applications
CONS: Slow page loads; difficult to learn

4th Place : Kohana
Kohana resembles in some way Codeigniter. The developers have taken all of the cool aspects of CodeIgniter, made them better and removed most of the suck from the lesser aspects. It is fast and it is rather easy to learn . However Kohana has one major drawback which is virtually the opposite scenario that we see with CakePHP. Kohana’s community is small, elite and somewhat non contributing.What is more there is no manual for the Kohana framework. There is merely a partial manual which nobody from the community seems to be willing or able to finish.
PROS: Fast page loads; modular; similar to Codeigniter (which is considered to be one of the easiest frameworks to learn)
CONS: No manual; lack of support; small, non vocal community

3rd Place : Zend
Zend Framework could be number one framework in terms of employment opportunities. The demand for Zend developers is great and knowing how to use Zend guarantees that you’ll never be out of work.
Built by the makers of PHP, Zend is currently the PHP framework of choice for big business. Like CakePHP, it comes packed with tonnes of advanced features, plugins and free optional downloads. Zend has almost everything you could hope to find in a good PHP framework. It’s powerful, fast and scalable. One of the biggest advantages of Zend is that users of Zend can enjoy all sorts of auto complete functionality (with software packages like Eclipse).
Unfortunately Zend has a couple of drawbacks. One of which is if you want to take advantage of the best that Zend has to offer then you’d better have deep pockets, I mean…you have to pay. What is more, and that is strange enough for such a framework, is that Zend community is rather passive and inactive. On Youtube you will find few tutorials on the subject of Zend
PROS: Zend is the PHP framework of choice for business; it offers outstanding employment opportunities
CONS: Zends users need to purchase (very!) expensive add ons to get the best from Zend; severe lack of community generated tutorials

2nd Place : Codeigniter
It’s relatively easy to learn, delivers lightning fast page loads, has tonnes of advanced features and has a very large and active community. The community counts about 20,000 members of the Codeigniter discussion forum. What is more Codeigner has the best documentation of all the php frameworks. Codeigniter is indeed a 100% free and open source framework with no catches at all and (unlike Zend) no pre-packaged upsell schemes as standard.
However as we think Codeigniter has some weaknesses which prevent it from making the top spot. Firstly, it lacks some of the very powerful functionality of Yii, which slows down development time and makes mistakes more likely. Secondly, to make Codeigniter do some things you need to download and install addons which have been produced by volunteers from the community. Also, to get it using PHP’s native session functionality you should download an addon for that too.
PROS: Fast page loads; brilliant documentation; relatively easy to learn; large community;
CONS: Not as many features as Yii; you need to download third party addons to get the best out of it; non-strict structural requirements make Codeigniter a coding free-for-all

1st Place : Yii
Yii is a component-based high-performance PHP framework for developing large-scale Web applications.
Statistically speaking, Yii at the moment is without doubt the best framework on the market. It gives lightning fast page loads and has more features than you could shake a stick at. The main thing that sends Yii straight to the top spot is the sense that Yii represents the next generation of frameworks. With Yii we have an attempt to improve and change the way people use PHP frameworks.
From the moment you install Yii, you get a perfectly functional and rather impressive website up and running – all automatically. Yii also comes with a range of wizards for common tasks like CRUDing (creating, reading, updating and deleting) which will leave you wondering “Why didn’t any of the other framework makers think of this?” It is well supported and new modules are constantly being released.
Critics of Yii can mention that it’s difficult to learn and too strict. However this obstacle can be easily overcome. There is a fantastic series of articles written by Larry Ullman (one of the best PHP writers) which are all very clear and easy to follow. Unfortunately there is, never the less, a shortage of books and documentation on the subject of Yii. However, that may change in the future.
If you are starting from scratch, you’d better choose Yii before any other framework. it is well supported and new modules are constantly being released.
PROS: the fastest loading of all the major frameworks; automatic generation of base code;
CONS: Being a relatively new framework means lack of books and tutorials; less employment opportunities than other leading frameworks

And which framework is your framework of choice?

Kind regards,
Anna Kozik – Business Development Manager (LI page)
Anna.Kozik@altabel.com
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

We are now living in the age of the Smartphone, and as Google has recently proved, there are millions of people getting new phones every single week (over 500,000 Android devices are activated every day!). As the number of users increases, so will the security risks that Smartphones bring to us.

Even though Android and the iPhone are pretty secure, they definitely can be broken and used to spy on people, steal data from the device and for other malicious purposes. The recent Carrier IQ scandal has shown that you don’t even need to know about an app on your phone or approve it for it to be running and transmitting every keystroke to a remote server.

With that in mind, below you may find LI members’ advices that help you keep your Smartphone safe and secure:

«Trusting any individual app for security is questionable. If you have a knowledgeable programmer pal (in mobile, network security) and the source code is available then you can tell with certainty that your Smartphone is secure with an app. You can use that in tandem with a trusted Smartphone antivirus, anti malware, anti root kit software. At least you need to use this if you don’t have source unencrypted code at disposal. If you download from market you may not have source code. Most market operators check for security violations. Despite that
some apps send identifiable customer data for marketing purpose.»
Vinodh Sen Ethirajulu
Technical Lead,ING Institutional Plan Services

«I use the mobile security product from the company that makes the phone and I also have my phone locked using a pattern.»
Tim Tymchyshyn
Senior Sales Representative

«I and all my techy friends, have standard phone securities such as passwords and pins, we have a home record of IMEI numbers and sim references.
As for Apps we all use Preyproject. They have a free version which can secure 3 devices, it can allow SMS or Online activation, which sends reports to your email every 10 minutes with GPS location and WIFI tracking, it can also secure you laptop, if it has a camera, will also email you a picture of the next person using it!! Genius!»
Daniel Rose
Systems Administrator at MWL Systems

«I do not own a Smartphone because there is no such thing as security with that particular device.»
Kenneth Larson
MicroMentor Volunteer and Founder “Smalltofeds”

«I always prefer to use security product or protection system provided by the mobile company itself as its always doubtful to trust the various security based mobile applications.»
Shivam Agarwal
Business Analyst at Algoworks

The security risks that a Smartphone brings with it will only grow in number in the following years, and if you have any sensitive data on your phone (especially if you’re using Google Wallet or some sort of credit card number storage app) or don’t want to fall victim to any scam, you should start getting acquainted with the various security apps and tools available for your handset right now.

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


%d bloggers like this: