BlueFletch Named Atlanta’s Best & Brightest Companies to Work For

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Atlanta, GA – May 15, 2017  BlueFletch, award-winning leader in innovative mobile technology solutions is proud to announce it has been selected as 2017’s Atlanta’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. Atlanta’s Best & Brightest is awarded by the National Association of Business Resources (NABR).

The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® competition identifies and honors organizations that display a commitment to excellence in their human resource practices and employee enrichment. Organizations are assessed based on categories such as communication, work-life balance, employee education, diversity, recognition, retention and more.

At BlueFletch, we’re thrilled to be named one of Atlanta’s Best and Brightest for the third year in a row. It’s a testament to our leadership, our amazing team and our commitment to keeping innovative HR initiatives as a touchstone of our corporate culture. BlueFletch’s dedication to employee excellence includes flexible work hours and the ability to work at home, a commitment to continuing education and team outings organized for maximum fun and team bonding. Communication is king at BlueFletch and the secret to our success. We’re proud to know that listening to and learning from our team members is the reason we’ve been awarded this honor.

BlueFletch will be honored at the Best & Brightest Awards Gala will be held June 28th at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

 

About the National Association of Business Services

Established in 1996, the National Association of Business Services (NABR) fosters a collaborative environment in which companies and leaders learn best practices, trends and vital information benefiting the company and its employees well beyond the finances. Through the Best and Brightest programs, the National Association for Business Resources provides specialized business services, education and resources for businesses throughout the United States.

5 Essential React Native Libraries

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React Native is an increasingly popular framework for building cross-platform mobile apps. Unlike other cross-platform development frameworks, React Native compiles down to true native instead of running Javascript inside web views. On its own, React Native is powerful, and with the introduction of a few great libraries it becomes even more valuable.

React Native Maps
1. React Native Maps

In many apps it is helpful to have a map component that shows location pins, user location, tooltips, etc. React Native Maps removes the complications of dealing with both Apple and Google maps in cross-platform applications. With just one simple <MapView> tag, you have a flexible, customizable map that can be zoomed and panned with markers that can capture touches to show callouts, navigate to detail views, or even link out to the user’s native map system. The maps rendered by this library feel native, smooth, and highly performant.

React Navigation2. React Navigation

React Navigation allows developers to quickly and easily configure the navigation scheme for the entire application all from the main app file. Stack Navigators, Drawer Navigators, and Tab Navigators can be nested and combined to accommodate both horizontal and vertical navigation structures. For example, a Material Design compliant bottom tab bar can be combined with a stack to allow for master-detail flows inside the tabs. This centralized navigation control keeps your component files clean and prevents you from directly manipulating state to navigate through the app. Additional bells and whistles of this library include built-in transition animations, flexible header components, and Redux integration capabilities.

react Native vector icons3. React Native Vector Icons

This library is a streamlined way to include icon fonts in React Native applications. It come pre-bundled with over 3,000 icons, including some of the most popular icon libraries like Font Awesome and Google’s Material Icons. Need custom icons from a design or unique logos? No problem. React Native Vector Icons supports Fontello (http://fontello.com/) configs so all you need is an svg file. With this library, a simple, one-line import statement gives you access to style-able Icon and Icon.Button components to polish and brand your app.

react native communication4. React Native Communications

One of the pain points in creating React Native apps is integrating with the native systems (phone calls, push notifications, etc.). React Native Communications relieves some of that stress by providing a cross-platform solution for placing phone calls, sending text messages, opening web URLs, and composing emails directly from your app. Once a few dependencies are linked in Xcode and Android Studio, your app is just 1 line away from communication functionality.

React, react native material kit5. React Native Material Kit

React Native Material Kit is an awesome time-saver for Material Design themed apps. The library provides components for buttons, cards, loading indicators, floating label text fields, sliders, and toggles, each with configurable themes and options. You can use the included Material-inspired color palette or use all custom colors to style each component. Additionally, there are multiple ways to construct each component: choose either the constructor or JSX technique to best fit the structure of your project. This library is sure to save a ton of time and styling effort for any developer with app designs rooted in Material guidelines.

The Apple Car: What We Know(ingly) Assume

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While Apple hasn’t officially confirmed the existence of a research and development project for an automobile, I’ve heard a lot of rumors and rumblings out of Cupertino. To be dubbed the “Apple Car”, it in fact has more in common with the iPhone than a traditional car.

First, Apple Car’s body will be fully made of Gorilla glass and will withstand 80% of collisions at 5.9 mph or less. The increased weight and fragility over traditional steel cars is completely ignored to prioritize aesthetics. Sure, the body looks great and will resist finger prints, but are you be brave enough to drive without additional protection or a cover?

AppleIn an effort to reduce the number of physical buttons on board, the gas and brake pedals will be replaced with capacitive sensors. This will allow infinitely variable throttle and braking, as long as you are barefoot. All other buttons and toggles will be controlled by shouting commands at Siri. Charging the Car battery at existing public charging stations will require an additional adapter to interface between the plug and the Car. This included $9 adapter allows Car to be backwards compatible while also putting pressure on charging stations to adopt proprietary technology.

Innovation isn’t always easy to swallow!

AppleAll this technology was developed to provide the purest driving experience ever created. The interface simplifies driving so much that even a child can hop in Car and intuitively take off down the road.

AppleAnd for the first time ever, Siri can pilot you to a destination using Apple Maps’ default, convoluted routing. We’re keeping fingers crossed that support for Google Maps will be available on release day. Should you prefer hands-on manual steering then simply swipe left and right on the steering wheel. No moving parts = nothing to break!

Apple, siriPre-orders for Car are set to begin Early 2018, and will ship in 5-6 years. The base model will start in the low $100,000s while the Plus model is much too expensive for anyone reading this.

As for the range, Car will come off the lot capable of travelling 400 miles on a single charge. Initial testing of the battery has shown that range will decrease with regular use within the first year. Apple is also struggling with battery life after upgrades to Car’s firmware. Each major software release is said to greatly impact performance and battery life on all prior year models.

Disclaimer: All this intel was obtained when an engineer from Apple left his prototype Car at a bar after a night of drinking. He chose to take an Uber home rather than trust Siri auto-pilot.

Working in a Learning Environment – and a Shout Out to Spinal Tap

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Finding the right workplace setting for yourself is entirely subjective. There’s no doubt that certain career paths are better than others, but if you’re not personally in a position to capitalize on what is before you, then opportunity is wasted.

What have I found that works for me?

David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel may have put it best – “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”

While this might not sound applicable to the world of company culture, all of us have worked in situations where the knife’s edge of this line is traveled repeatedly.

At various times in my past I’ve worked at organizations where the leaders had a 3-strike policy on typos, claimed (in all seriousness) that they could outbox Mike Tyson in his prime, and staged impromptu spelling bees during work hours.

I’d like to think the intention behind all of these actions came from a good place – attention to detail, encouragement, self-discipline and fun. But it was never really made clear. Guiding principles and core purpose can’t be derived from spelling or eating donuts for cash (something I’ve also witnessed).

The manner in which these policies or statements manifested themselves in culture didn’t really do much to foster a culture of substance or put a unified direction on an approach to how its employees should strive to improve or work the greater good of the organization.

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Company Culture in View and in Practice

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At BlueFletch, we’re proud of our company culture. We’re inclusive, we encourage collaboration and, most importantly, have a great time. Whether lending a hand in the community or staying late and playing board games – we like to spend time together and fun is of the upmost importance! Here are just a few of the recent activities we’ve enjoyed together this month –

March Madness

BlueFletch employees, clients and special guests let loose for an afternoon of hoops & games at our headquarters located on North Avenue. The March Madness event had three rooms with a total of five tv’s airing the basketball games simultaneously.

The madness continued with a variety of food. The buffet had a total of 23 pizzas, 150 wings, & a large salad from Mellow Mushroom. Unfortunately, several people were left in food coma for the rest of the evening.

Some St. Patrick’s Day party favors, mustache stickers & Irish pins made for a colorful Friday full of celebration as well.

Squares became a competitive topic & stakes were high during the games. Two Square games reached a pot total of over 100 dollars. Micheal Milord walked away with a cup full of bills, only to bet more. While Gino Emanuel came in with a big win at the end of the night.

Jim Wilson remains in first place with his “Roundball Bracket.” But with two weeks of March Madness remaining, it is hard to predict who will score the win  the bracket.

march madness

march madness

 

Bowl Baby Bowl

All smiles at BlueFletch’s quarterly team outing at Midtown Bowl!

BlueFletcher’s were competitive with their fellow colleagues for a night of food, brews, & laughs. No rookies were spotted on the lanes.

David Newman bowling with his signature curve ball for a night of success. Jim Wilson was knocking down pin for pin, leaving the bowling alley with a high score. But Nicole Gatlin picked up on Wilson’s spin technique early in the game, giving him a run for his money. Rick Makerson finished the night bowling a turkey.

Fletcher’s also took on Midtown’s famous appetizer, “The Big Nasty” a
concoction of french fries, tater tots & homemade potato chips topped with chili, cheese & jalapeño poppers. No word on how it affected our bowling skills.

DSC00908DSC00902

 

Pi-hole: The Antimatter of Advertisements

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Internet advertisements have become very obtrusive and more apparent over the last several years. Users conducting research from various sources on the web are often met with a vexatious experience full of distractions. Children watching YouTube videos that have inappropriate advertisement content embedded in the videos are also becoming a concern for many parents. Normally users will install ad-blocking software and extensions on their operating systems and web browsers. Most of the software installed for ad-blocking purposes ends up not being updated and extensions for web browsers often stop working when the web browser itself has been updated.

A more efficient solution is now available thanks to single board computing.  The Raspberry Pi being the most readily available single board computer. For a mere $16 anyone can have a multi-platform, network-wide ad blocker on their local network. This software plays very nice in both office and home networks. Pi-hole offers a wonderful dashboard with real time analytics if you’re someone who loves numbers.

Below is an example of a Raspberry Pi, with Pi-hole installed showing real time stats via an LCD installed on the Raspberry Pi:

Raspberry Pi Pi HoleSo what is needed to get this project going?

After you have purchased these components it’s very simple to install Pi-hole.

You can install an Operating System image on your Raspberry Pi. Step-by-step directions are provided and the entire process takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

Installing Pi-hole:

  1. Install Pi-hole on the Raspberry Pi. The program can be downloaded here or via the install “curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash|”” command.
  2. Configure your router DHCP settings to force clients in using your PI-hole as their DNS server. You can also manually configure each device but that takes much more time than blocking ads on the whole network at once. This step sounds more difficult than it actually is. The only thing that you have to change are some ports and DNS settings on your router. Most routers have this setting displaying on the main page and it can be changed within a matter of a few seconds. A straightforward guide is provided on Pi-Holes official site.
  3. Completion! Your Pi-hole blocks all advertisements at a DNS level. This means your whole network is protected and any device connected will automatically block online commercials even inside Apps and programs. You have freed your laptop, iPhone, Nexus tablet and desktop PC from all online commercials! Enjoy faster loading times on all your favorite websites and apps.

If you’d like to pull up Pi-holes nifty dashboard and see how many advertisements were blocked from your entire network you’ll see a clean interface exactly like the one below :

PiHoleFun Facts About Pi-hole :

– The code is completely open, and you are able to modify it in any way you’d like. (Yay for open-source!)
– Pi-hole is very lightweight as it only handles DNS queries and returns a blank HTML file so it doesn’t need much processing power. (Yay for efficiency!)
– Pi-hole will run on most Debian-based distros and is the preferred platform for it.(Yay for compatibility!)

BlueFletch + Community

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BlueFletch and YEGA: Project IdeAction

More than 20 Grady High School students gathered at BlueFletch on Thursday, March 2, 2017 to present final projects for the BlueFletch challenge. BlueFletch teamed up with Youth Entrepreneurs Georgia to give students a glimpse into the world of application design & development. YEGA seeks to give students hands-on learning experiences, inspiring them to create a business idea & develop a real-world plan.

The challenge BlueFletch posed to students was a response to the real need for a proactive approach to preventing food borne illness. The problem: Every year in the United States 48 million people get sick, causing 3,000 deaths & costs almost 16 billion dollars.

The concept of BlueFletch working with its clientele in retail & prepared foods, is to ensure that food is stored & sold at the correct temperature. What devices & processes could be used to more easily monitor & prevent contaminated food reaching consumers. Distributers, like grocery stores relying on this app would be protecting its customers from harmful foods.

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What’s on the Menu: Automation

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Meet Gordon, your eye-catching new barista. He’s polished, intelligent, distinguished, and here’s his greatest feature: he can make 100-200 cups of coffee an hour. His least appealing qualities you ask? He’s severely lacking interpersonal skills and has zero game. Also, there is just ONE more thing to mention about him…he’s a robotic arm. In fact, Gordon is programmed to make the perfect cup of coffee using beans from local favorites like Peets, Verve Coffee Roasters, and AKA coffee. All of you lucky singles, cafe hipsters and dark roast gurus can meet this hunk of metal at Cafe X, which opened its figurative doors earlier this year in San Francisco in hopes of providing a more efficient experience for coffee aficionados. Though more like a fully enclosed kiosk than a traditional coffee shop, Cafe X still shares the same common goal as their competitors: provide customers with a cup of coffee consistently and conveniently.

automationThe setup is simple. Customers can order their drink in advance from the Cafe X mobile app, or at one of two iPads mounted outside on site. After the cashless order is placed, Gordon begins showing off by simultaneously operating a pair of standard professional coffee machines while serving premium drinks (1-4 per minute to be exact). Once the beverage is ready, customers use the iPads to type in a four-digit order number, which was sent to them via text message or displayed on the Cafe X mobile app for iOS or Android. The Mitsubishi-built, robotic arm identifies the customer’s drink from the waiting station and then delivers their fragrant, piping hot latte within seconds. Thanks to Gordon’s artificial-intelligence software, pre-orders are taken into consideration alongside walk-in orders to ensure no one is waiting too long. Read More

Lab Happenings vol. 5

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3D printing, also called  additive manufacturing, is the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. An object is created by laying down successive layers of material, usually molten plastic. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. The advent of 3D printing has lowered the barrier of entry for industrial printing. What used to require machines, tools, and skilled technicians can now be accomplished by anyone with a laptop. The possibilities are both fascinating and endless. From fashion to food to  medical prosthesis, the speed and affordability of 3D printers has opened up a world of possibilities across a spectrum of industries.

3D printingWhen we first opened the BlueFletch IoT Lab the 3D printer was our very first purchase. In the Lab we use the STL file format native to CAD software and the 3D modeling app SketchUp to create 3D model images. Creating the STL file takes an engineering mind – taking the measurements so they translate correctly is a detailed process that is easy to bungle. Read More

Net Neutrality

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President Donald Trump recently named Republican Ajit Varadaraj Pai the new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and it has many people talking about net neutrality. Chairman Pai is anti- net neutrality, and the previous Chairman of the FCC, Democrat Tom Wheeler (served November 5, 2013- January 20, 2016) is pro- net neutrality. In this article, I’ll explain what net neutrality is, a summary of both positions on the issue, how Chairman Pai plans to affect net neutrality rules in the US, and how to effectively influence members of the FCC or your legislators on this issue.

Net neutrality is the idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all lawful data and internet traffic that travels over their networks equally, without discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites, or services. This means no paid prioritization, no throttling, and no blocking. AT&T, for example, can’t prevent you from going to YouTube, or slow YouTube’s speeds, or force YouTube to pay for preferential treatment. The 2015 Open Internet Order (OIO), created by and enforced by the FCC under Wheeler, is the current standing rule in the US that upholds the ideas of net neutrality. The two precursors to OIO were shot down- the first after a lawsuit from Comcast in 2010, and the second after a lawsuit from Verizon in 2014- because the Federal Appeals Court deemed that the internet had to be considered a utility for the FCC to enforce rules keeping ISPs from prioritizing some traffic over others. OIO does precisely that, identifying broadband internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act, as well as stopping ISPs from using the methods listed above when dealing with data and internet traffic.

 

net neutrality

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