Radar

New technologies are emerging every day. Here’s what you should know about them.

Snaps and Pokémon: are you down with AR?

August 18, 2016

The world is changing – right in front of our eyes.

Snapchat’s not my most-used app, but it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends. Lately it’s been good for some laughs, too, with its awesome facial recognition filters that can change you into a championship swimmer, an animal, or even swap your face with a friend’s.

snapchat-filters

And if you’re reading this post in 2016, there’s probably a good chance you’ve at least experimented with Pokémon GO. (No shame.) Whether you’re at a park, a museum, or in the comfort of your own home, it’s now completely normal to see imaginary creatures a few feet in front of you (…at least if you’re playing Pokémon GO).

What do Snapchat filters and Pokémon have in common? They’ve both introduced the masses to a field of tech called augmented reality. AR takes elements of the physical world and adds (augments) those objects with digital enhancements. It’s one of those technologies that’s been out in the wild for a long time, but before now it hadn’t really made it to the mainstream.

We see this cycle happen a lot in the tech world:

  1. A science fiction writer comes up with a concept (1950).
  2. Someone invents a way to make a version of it happen in real life (1968).
  3. Some movie uses the technology and everyone talks about it (2002).
  4. There’s usually a TED talk (2012).
  5. Some mainstream technology uses it (2016).
  6. It’s everywhere.

Part of the fun of technology is trying to predict what will happen next – or how a current technology can be used in new ways. I can already tell it will be really amazing to see how AR is used in the coming years and decades!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He’s interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

Keep ’em Interested… Add a Little Fun!

June 9, 2016

I admit, this isn’t a great way to start a blog post, but a lot of what we make isn’t very fun. I spend a lot of my time at Sephone making time tracking applications, inventory systems, schedulers… stuff that is pretty universally regarded as blah by those who have to deal with them. read more

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He’s interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

iBeacons: the Possibilities!

May 14, 2015

We get really excited when new technologies do new things and interact in new ways. Our latest obsession is something about half of the size of a deck of cards: iBeacons.

iBeacons are small devices that can communicate with mobile apps. When a person who’s installed your app comes within the range of an iBeacon, they can receive a notification tailored to their location or can perform another action.

waterfront-ibeaconWe just added iBeacon support to our iOS and Android app for Waterfront Concerts. With an easy management tool, the WFC team can set notifications to send to anyone with the app who enters the concert venue. They can also schedule notifications so people at a concert can automatically stay up to date.

iBeacons are great way to effectively target marketing to your customers. Because you can specify a location for the notifications, you can deliver information specifically to people who are in a specific place.

Of course, building iBeacon support into the concert app has made us think about all of the other possibilities available with these little devices:

  • While a customer is in a store, they could see information about the items closest to them or locate themselves on a store map.
  • Museum-goers could pull up information on their phone about the piece of art in front of them.
  • Conservation organizations could give easy access to a trail map when a hiker passed a trailhead.
  • Community groups could create a scavenger hunt and reveal clues when someone visits a certain location.

There really is something for everyone with iBeacons. We’re really excited to see other ways we’re able to incorporate them into our apps in the future!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He’s interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

Backup Service Phishing Scam

April 17, 2015

Recently we have had several clients call to ask about a bill they received from a backup service called WebsiteBackup.  This is not something that Sephone has sent to you.  This “bill” is a phishing scam to try and get you to pay for services through another company, and we do not recommend paying it.  Sephone does daily and weekly backups of all of our servers (where the most recent backup overrides the previous), so we always have a copy of your site if something happens.

One of the clients that received this bill was kind enough to provide a copy of it for this post.  You can see the example below.  Their information has been removed, but all of the instances we have been made aware of seem to be similar.

website-backup-page1  website-backup-page2

In addition to the backup services that we provide, in most cases you can also find a snapshot of your website on the Wayback Machine.  While this is not a 100% reliable resource for website backups, it does help in some cases if you need something in a pinch.

If you’d like to discuss options for additional backup services from Sephone, please give us a call or send us an email.

 

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Brady is the voice on the other end of the phone line when you call Sephone. He graduated from the New England School of Communications in 2009 and assists Sephone in building and maintaining our sites.

Two-Step and Apple Pay: the Future of Online Security

October 16, 2014

Apple PayWith the launch of Apple Pay, Apple’s new contactless payment method on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, I’ve heard a lot of people asking: what’s wrong with the payment process we have now? It doesn’t take that much time to pull out a credit card.

The real issue Apple Pay solves is security, not convenience. And it’s one member of a new generation of technologies to keep your personal information safe.

read more

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He’s interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

There’s a New Watch in Town – But Nothing’s Changed

September 9, 2014

It finally happened. For those of us who keep an eye on new tech, the Apple Watch has been a long time coming (rumors have been around for almost two years). Geeks – and what seems like the entire world now – are ogling over new styles, specs, and news for Apple’s watch.

But for us, nothing’s changed.

Yes, we’re excited that we’ll soon be able to develop apps for companies that can use the new tech, just like we develop apps for phones and tablets now. And yes, we’re excited to see what other people do to push the new technology forward.

But we don’t look at pieces of technology first when we’re developing solutions for a company. We talk about the goals and desired outcomes of a project with every client, and we build what we agree will work best to reach them.

Mobile solutions are a great pre-watch example. We’ve had a number of companies come to us asking to have an app in the iOS App Store and Google Play. Yes, we can develop those apps – but they’re not always the best solution for a company. Maybe a mobile website works better based on their audience, goals, and budget. We want to build something that will be successful, not just trendy. (Wondering about the differences between a native app and a mobile-friendly website? We have you covered.)

You bet we’ll be developing apps for the Apple Watch soon. But ask yourself: what’s right for your needs? That’s what we’ve been helping companies decide for over a decade.

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He’s interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

About the Canada Anti-Spam Law

July 2, 2014

July 1, 2014:  The Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL) went into affect. If you run any type of newsletter or email list, hopefully you have heard about already, if not, here is a primer on it.

To Whom Does CASL Apply?

CASL, first of all, is a Canadian law, which means that we are talking about Canadian citizens, computers, mobile phones and tablets. Mostly, it’s about email, but also includes text messages and some social media items (like direct messages). Also it’s only applicable to messages that are about commerce, marketing and promotion, but not personal communications.

Given that Canada is our friendly neighbor to the North, chances are,  you have a Canadian somewhere in your subscriber list. Unless you know for sure that you have no Canadian subscribers, assume that you do. It’s super hard to tell if an email address is Canadian and virtually impossible to via email domain alone, unless it ends in “.ca” of course.  But many Canadian companies have .com addresses.

Getting Consent

You need to get consent to email to people/devices covered by CASL. “Consent,” by definition in CASL, is as follows:

  • You need to state the reason you are asking for their information and provide a description of the content that they will be receiving.
  • Your full contact information needs to be on the page, as well as your promise that they can unsubscribe at any time.
  • A record of this consent needs to be recorded. Also, all forms on your website need to have a positive action to subscribe somebody. Meaning things like checkboxes can’t be pre-checked.

Here are the times that you don’t need to get consent or it’s considered implied consent:

  • Messages to an employee, consultant, or people associated with your business
  • Responses to a current customer, or someone who has inquired of in the last six months
  • Messages from a charity or political organization for soliciting contributions
  • Messages that provide warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a purchase by the recipient
  • Messages that provide information about a purchase, subscription, service or other ongoing relationship
  • A single message to a recipient without an existing relationship on the basis of a referral with the full name of the referring person in the message
  • A recipient has purchased a product, service contract, or membership with your organization in the past 24 months
  • You are a registered charity or political organization, and the recipient has made a donation or gift, has volunteered or attended a function
  • A professional message is sent to someone whose email address was given to you, or is conspicuously published, and who hasn’t published or told you that they don’t want unsolicited messages

More Requirements

In addition to getting and recording consent, there are few more requirements to be in full compliance. You need to put your name and contact information (such as mailing address, website and/or phone) in all of your communications. All messages sent must also include an unsubscribe mechanism/link.

This post is just a brief introduction, if you need more information, you can read the Canadian law directly or see their FAQ.

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Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.

Browser Updates

January 14, 2013

Recently there has been news about browser security, notably Java and IE updates.

Java

The U.S. government (Department of Homeland Security) issued a warning late last week asking users to temporarily disable Java on their machines. There was a large flaw discovered in a recent version.

Follow this link to disable Java on your machine and keep it safe from this vulnerability. Once a fix is supplied by Oracle, you should update your Java install, and then you can re-enable Java.

Internet Explorer

The zero-day flaw in IE6, 7, and 8 has surfaced again. Make sure that you install the latest version of Internet Explorer that your operating system supports. If version 8 is the latest version of IE you can install, make sure you apply the Windows Update Microsoft is releasing today and then reboot.

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Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.