Tech Inspiration

We often find projects that put the web and mobile to use in new ways. We’d like to share them.

New Year! New Tech! A Quick Two Pick of CES 2017

January 13, 2017

CES 2017 just recently took place in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It has different keynote speakers, tech marketplaces and a lot of new tech innovations.  One of the items that I was most interested in was the laptop that now has three monitors produced by Razer.  They are currently calling the laptop Project Valerie.  Even though we are still waiting for a launch date and price.  I see maybe owning this laptop. Development work will be easier as I will not have to carry a monitor or two around for a multiple monitor set up with my laptop.

read more

avatar

Alex is a developer at Sephone, helping to build apps and websites. He is also working on his Master's degree in Computer Science.

There MUST be a Better Way !

October 10, 2014

If you’re a business owner, there probably isn’t a day that goes by that there are work tasks that need doing that you wonder if there wasn’t a better way of doing them. Perhaps this is an accounting function that is mundane or piled up with trouble tickets, order forms, delivery or job schedules.  Because your business is established there have been many changes but your process has become a monster.

You Are A Slave 

When we are busy, being overwhelmed is easy, but it is also an exciting time in your business – you are growing.  Things are going well.  You like helping your customers, but you are swamped.  You don’t have time to stop what you are doing to make changes.  In the meantime, the phone keeps ringing, errors are made, customers aren’t being served the way you want them to be *groan.*

Integration

You have manual processes and computer processes at your business.  You may have a couple different computer programs that you use.  Wouldn’t it be great if they would JUST talk to each other and you wouldn’t have to enter it in two places?  Integration sounds like a complicated thing but the purpose of integration is to make things more accurate, more efficient, easier.

Maybe you would like to access some information from outside or get at information from the outside the company? How about from your smartphone? Perhaps a service tech or delivery driver needs to be dispatched and time needs to be charged?  Inventory used out of their truck charged to the customer that needs it?

2014

This and many more things can be done and applications or programs can be built for your business by a local company.  A company that sits with you, maps out the process and makes it happen.  And in no time at all, you are working better, saving time and money.

At Sephone, we on solving problems like this every day. For small businesses just like yours. Call us.  We are people too.  207-262-5040.

 

avatar

Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

Lessons in User Interface from a Toddler

June 27, 2014

Libby robbing somebody, looking for their phone.I have the good pleasure of being the dad of a vibrant 21 month old toddler. My daughter Libby has taught me many things about life from the mundane to the monumental stuff. In this blog post, we are going to talk about how she has educated me on user experience.

A Developers Goal

One of the things that web developers strive to achieve is a clean user interface with a consistent user experience. Simply put, we want users to be able to use our software. We make buttons that have a common look and placement and have certain important elements that are every page in the same spot, among other things. The goal is so the end user can quickly do their work, stress-free.

Bedtime Routine

Back to my daughter, Libby occasionally uses a kindle fire. Actually, almost everyday, before bed for about 10 minutes. She is very demanding of user interface of both the kindle itself and the apps installed. Here are a few examples. One day, while flipping through photos, she came to a picture of a fire and started backing up saying “hot”, like she has been taught with a real fire. Another time, she saw a picture of a dozen roses in my facebook feed and brought the kindle to her nose to smell them.

I have a great affinity for the outdoors and that was rubbed off on my little girl via way of animal calls. While looking at my facebook feed again, there was a picture of a moose, taken quickly with a cell phone. It was a little blurry and a little too far away.  She started laying down a mean cow moose call while expecting the moose to come closer in the photo.

Lessons Learned

While some of the stories above may be slightly entertaining, I have observed a few constant things from Libby. Of the things that I have learned from her, none are new to me. All are things I have known for quite some time, but now feel as though I understand them better.

So here is my list, most important user experience considerations, according to a toddler:

  • Speed, ability to do stuff before Dad sees.
  • Immediate feedback on actions, to know if it’s working or not
  • Lots of buttons and/or actions will just provoke a user to use them all in vain
  • The most commonly used feature on the screen should be the easiest to engage with

Another benefit of thinking of user interface design from a toddler’s point of view, young kids can’t read. Adults can, but seldom will while navigating through the interface of an application. They want it to work easily and quickly.

Keeping it simple, is not only what a toddler expects out a user experience is actually inline with what an average user expects.

avatar

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

YouTube

February 14, 2014

I think there is a social media platform that people often forget, and that is YouTube.

How I use YouTube

I am subscribed to a bunch of channels and watch a lot of videos. Most of the channels that I am subscribed to are about bush-craft, camping, survival or other outdoor like channels. It works like most any other social media site, like Facebook or Twitter. People make updates and their friends see them and can like or comment on them. The difference is that the updates are always videos.

Money Making Platform

There are a few ways to make money on YouTube, but we will focus on the partner program. Basically, you have to allow a video ad and/or a sidebar ad on your video and you will receive a bit of money for views. The going rate is roughly 5 dollars per thousand views. It’s a variable though based on likes and channel subscribers.

How about an example. My favorite YouTube channel is Dave Canterbury. His videos have had 37 million views over the 6-ish years he has had it. So he has more than likely around $185,000 from YouTube over 6 years. Of course he puts some time and money into his videos and most channels receive less views.

How you can use it

If you produce videos, it’s a great platform to be on, I have found it a very active community with likes and comments. Though most of YouTube is silly, there are serious businesses using the service.

avatar

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

Spring Bling Cleaning

April 16, 2013

As everyone knows- When you set your clocks back is when you are supposed to check the batteries in your smoke detectors.  This is to make sure that periodically homeowners pay attention to the little detail of fresh batteries to ensure that when you NEED the smoke detector to work- it will.

Every spring I would like to propose that in addition to changing the batteries in your smoke detectors- to also take the time to check your online assets.  Specifically your revenue generating assets.  For those that have them, that is!

If you still aren’t following, here we go-Payment_Gateway_Integration

If you have an e-commerce website- a site that collects or processes payment information for your business, then this tip is for you.

This applies for sites, services, apps, or portals where you have your banking info recorded, or collect payment info for products or services you offer your customers.  Payment gateways like PowerPay, Authorize.Net, PayPal, TransFirst….. yadda yadda- there are many!

At a minimum we suggest that you:

  1. Change your Passwords to the login areas just because you cannot be too careful
  2. Verify that you are accepting the credit and debit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex, etc) that you wish to accept
  3. Review your processor settings for AVS (Address Verification).  AVS is a Visa service to combat fraudulent activity for non-face-to-face transactions by cross-referencing the cardholder’s address information with the card issuer’s records.Because AVS only verifies the numeric portion of the address, certain anomalies like apartment numbers can cause false declines; however, it is reported to be a rare occurrence.AVS verifies the numeric portions of a cardholder’s billing address. For example, if the address is 101 Main Street, Highland, CA 92346, in the United States, AVS will check 101 and 92346. Sometimes AVS checks additional digits such as an apartment number, other times it does not. Cardholders may receive false negatives, or partial declines for AVS from e-commerce verification systems, which may require manual overrides, voice authorization, or reprogramming of the AVS entries by the card issuing bank.For more info on AVS, check with your specific Payment service provider or visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Address_Verification_System

Just by performing these 3 simple and painless checks you will:

  • Be more secure
  • Provide a better service to your customers
  • Reduce potential fraudulent transactions of your products and services

That way, the revenue you earn, is money to buy some bling! Or re-invest in your business, hire more staff or enhance your website.  But that is another blog post.

Happy Spring!

 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

References

http://www.superwebzone.com/payment-gateway-integration.html – Merchant Processing graphic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Address_Verification_System  – What is AVS

avatar

In addition to being a partner at Sephone, a Bangor, Maine-based web solutions provider, Joe is a father of two and active in little league, soccer, hockey and gymnastics. By being active is meant 'a proud supporter'. Skiing, reading and movies are his hobbies.

App of the Week: Penultimate

February 23, 2011

I spend most of my time at Sephone writing the code behind the sites we create. It’s a good thing, too; when I try to do design – graphic design, at least – people usually end up running for the hills.

Even though I don’t do a lot of graphics work, I do a pretty hefty amount of sketching in the course of my job. Sometimes I’ll draw a quick outline of how I think a page should look before I build it. Sometimes I’ll show someone a couple of ideas for styles of a button. Over the past few months, I’ve turned to Penultimate on my iPad to do them.

Penultimate’s a well-designed sketching app for the iPad. You can group your sketches into notebooks about a certain topic, and you can choose if you’d like blank, lined, or graph paper for your work. (I have a Penultimate notebook for each project or site I sketch.) The image at right is one of my rough Penultimate sketches for an upcoming project of ours.

Penultimate is even great for doing notes, flowcharts, visual lists, or, if you have more artistic talent than I do, full drawings. The app, in a lot of ways, feels like a digital version of the Moleskine notebooks I always used in the past.

Check out Penultimate on the App Store. It’s only $1.99, and it’s worth every digital penny. I’ve found that drawing with your finger works well, but you may find a stylus helps if you’re doing more precise sketching.

avatar

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.