Richard Makerson Selected to Join Leadership Atlanta Class of 2020

By | Ideas For Your Business

ATLANTA – (May 1, 2019) – Leadership Atlanta, one of the oldest sustained community leadership programs in the nation, today announced BlueFletch CEO & Managing Partner, Richard Makerson, will join the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2020.

The Leadership Atlanta Class of 2020 program includes 84 established leaders from areas such as education, law, nonprofit, technology, media, healthcare, politics and government and are chosen to participate in a nine-month, executive-level series. Through retreats, full-day seminars, service projects, discussion groups and community tours, members explore critical community issues, examine themselves as leaders and build relationships of trust and mutual understanding.  The year’s class program is created and executed by a dedicated team of hundreds of Leadership Atlanta alumni volunteers, under the direction of the organization’s staff.  Each of these volunteers donates his/her time, experience, and expertise in order to create the best possible experience for class members.

“We are thrilled to welcome our 50th Class,” said Pat Upshaw-Monteith, Leadership Atlanta president and CEO, in a news release. “We are proud to continue Leadership Atlanta’s tradition of bringing together the region’s most influential, engaged, and creative leaders dedicated to working together for the greater good.”

This year’s Leadership Atlanta class consists of 84 individuals selected from more than 400 applicants across a variety of businesses and backgrounds around Atlanta. See the entire 2020 class here.

About BlueFletch
BlueFletch is team of mobile development experts dedicated to helping our enterprise clients solve business problems using mobility. Clients come to us to build mobile solutions when their IT teams lack bandwidth or available skills. Our team of 40+ experienced consultants, all based out of Atlanta, Georgia, help our clients move fast and deliver results for mobility projects that are critical to the business.

About Leadership Atlanta
A group of concerned citizens at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce formed Leadership Atlanta as a formal initiative to address the growing need for a well-informed cadre of committed leaders. The first class was selected in the summer of 1969. It is the mission of Leadership Atlanta to build a better community for everyone in the Atlanta region through education about the key issues facing the region and inspiring members and others to take on and exercise real leadership committed to serving the common good. Since 1969, a diverse group of over 3,000 men and women from metro Atlanta counties has completed this program.

The Intern Experience

By | Ideas For Your Business

Ryan Miles – Android Developer

My summer internship at Bluefletch gave me the opportunity to work on real products and gain firsthand experience in how teams communicate and function. My work focused around Android development for Bluefletch’s Enterprise Mobility Services. I developed a new platform to increase supported devices, built a theming library to allow for instant demos, and researched and prototyped various future features. Each project I worked on came with new challenges that I was able to learn from.

Android for Work Devices    

During my summer, my focus was on developing a new platform to support Android for Work Devices. This platform allowed Bluefletch’s Enterprise Mobility Services to communicate with non-rugged devices if a company already had a supply of Android devices. I was able to get first-hand experience in proper application architecture and using background services. I attended weekly code reviews and received feedback on how to improve the function and style of my code from the senior developers. Toward the end of my project, I started learning how to test and use dependency injection methods like Dagger 2 properly. Learning to test inspired me to practice using other tools such as Espresso and Robolectric along with developing software using Test-Driven Development.

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The Intern Experience – Joshua Hall

By | Ideas For Your Business

Joshua Hall – Marketing

During my work experience at BlueFletch, I was fortunate enough to have experienced first-hand the many different stages of what goes into a marketing project. I learned the general process of how a project is initially planned, developed, and completed and how much work and detail goes into every stage. Another valuable lesson I have learned during these 9 weeks, is that a Marketing Associate is not limited to just one job function. The responsibilities that they have can vary from project to project. This has provided me with more insight into the different types of roles and responsibilities that I could perform in the future.

A Day in the Life

Reflecting back to my first day at BlueFletch, it was one of the most memorable days of my time at work. My first day was a Friday and every Friday a company-wide status update is held to promote unity among the workers.  Everyone stands in a large circle and recites what they worked on during the week and one thing that they learned during the week. When it was my turn to speak I introduced myself and told everyone about a Manhattan real estate trend I had learned about earlier in the week. When I was finished a few other people went until everyone in the circle had finished. I assumed that since everyone in the room had gone we would all promptly return to our desks and get back to work. I was wrong. After we finished up everyone headed to the kitchen where there was a catered breakfast waiting on us. I was very surprised because I wasn’t aware that every Friday breakfast (and sometimes lunch) was brought in for everyone to enjoy. During breakfast that day I began to really get to know my co-workers. They were from a wide range of backgrounds and education levels, but they were all very intelligent and kind. Everyone that I interacted with made me feel welcome and included. The individuals that work here are great. Read More

Ladies Made the Midtown Alliance Member App

By | Ideas For Your Business
In early 2017, an all-female project team from BlueFletch was sent out to make the Midtown Alliance mobile application. There was no specific plan to draft a team of only girls, but as the resources fell, so female the team was. I (Kira) did business analysis and project management, Nicole made a delightful design, Alli cranked out the React Native iOS and Android apps, and Wanita QA-ed the finished product until it hurt.
Midtown Alliance, WIT, Women in Tech
Midtown Alliance, WIT, Women in Tech
Midtown Alliance, mobile app dev, women in tech
Midtown Alliance, Women in Tech, WIT

The Midtown Alliance Member App allows MA members who live or work in Midtown to redeem deals at neighborhood businesses.

While there is nothing remarkable about any one of us doing the particular job that we were assigned to do, statistically, it was improbable that we would find ourselves as a group of all girls (At BlueFletch, there is currently a 3.13% chance that a random four-person project team would be all-female). The composition of our team was unique enough to be noticed and positively reflected on by our client, Midtown Alliance.
So what does a lady tech team look like?

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The Apple Car: What We Know(ingly) Assume

By | Ideas For Your Business

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.

Company Culture in View and in Practice

By | Ideas For Your Business

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

By | Ideas For Your Business

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!)

Net Neutrality

By | Ideas For Your Business

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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Working in Tech with an Art History Degree

By | Ideas For Your Business

Never in a million years did I think I would be working in tech. I saw myself as the antithesis of technology– devoting my education and early career to preserving the art and art-making techniques of the past. However, through a series of seemingly random events and a lot of hard work I find myself a User Experience and Interface Designer at a mobile development and consulting company. Six months in and loving it, I’m taking inventory of how I got here and what I’ve learned so far.

My first job out of school was working for one of the foremost book-binding supply shops in the nation (you probably didn’t even know that was a thing, did you?) Eventually I landed my first “big girl job” in Museum Education, feeling like I had “arrived.”  Have you ever heard of that woman who became a curator with just a Bachelor’s degree? You haven’t? Duh, because I made her up. Without an advanced degree or a desire to pursue one, I quickly realized I was stuck. Thankfully, I had been cultivating design and letterpress printing skills on the side and decided to dive headfirst into the freelance life, working as a wedding stationery designer. Three years, approximately five bridezillas and few dozen invitation suites later I was struggling to stay inspired. I had learned so much about myself and about running a business, but it was now time for a new adventure.

enterprise mobile app devThis is where my foray into tech began. Mostly out of curiosity, I began to take classes in User Experience, Sketch, basic web design, wireframing, and designing for the screen. I was hooked. I watched hundreds of YouTube videos on how to mask this or animate that, scanning forums for answers and googling like it was my job. I dogeared outdated books about “mobile first” and read articles about fighting for the user — anything I could get my hands on. Then, one wonderful summer day, I interviewed for a design position at BlueFletch and the rest is history.

At my new job I had to learn to swim by being thrown into the deep end. During the first couple of months I would make daily lists of all of the words and acronyms that I hadn’t understood that day to look up later, in secret. It took some time, but to my relief and surprise I didn’t drown. I began picking up more jargon everyday, building my understanding of this brave new world, piece by piece. This is the ever-progressing land of Marshmallow, Kit Kat, Lollipop, and Jelly Bean, of cookies, toasts, breadcrumbs, chips, wizards, trolls, portals, clouds, easter eggs, and bugs — it’s quite the place.

The constraints inherent to designing and developing apps drive creativity with a speed and ferocity that I have never before encountered. This kind of work has redefined my understanding of what it truly means to be creative. It is narrow-minded to suggest that creativity only courses through the veins of musicians, painters and photographers. Being creative is the posture of approaching a problem and endeavoring to solve it in a beautiful way, a goal shared by the right and left-brained alike.

The tech industry isn’t for everyone. If you are looking for a career to coast you into retirement, it’s probably not for you. The techsphere and the people who inhabit it will advance and swallow you up as they pass, leaving you and your skillset irrelevant. The tech industry is however, for the forever-learners, the self taught and the classically trained. It is for the computer scientists and the engineers and also for the lawyers, actors, musicians, teachers, and artists. It is for the people who planned on being here all along and the people who arrived here by happy accident. This industry is a melting pot of talent, enriched by the diverse collage of backgrounds brought to the table. Here my non-tech past experience isn’t a handicap, it’s an asset.