Pay it Forward. Random Act of Kindness. Volunteer. Pick your phrase. There are many ways to help our fellow citizens, colleagues, competitors, friends and strangers. Here at SYDCON, we believe helping others is every persons responsibility. If we all do our part the world will be a better place. This is a message we instill in our kids, so we aim to practice what we preach!
One way SYDCON tries to help is with “Random Acts of Kindess” to websites in distress. Since Dave & I are both active on Twitter, we often see desperate calls for help. From Wordpress sites that were hacked, to crashed servers, etc. Many times the suffering individual is a small business, who works hard to try to maintain their own website and through no fault of their own find themselves with an out of commission website. We have all seen the tweets “My sites down, trying to figure it out. Stay Tuned.” and the like. Well, when we see this we wish we could help. We realize we can’t help everyone. But we do always feel sorry for everyone. So, what we have decided to do is perform random acts of kindness to help websites in need, for the greater good of the internet, one website at a time. Now, we will not giving away thousands of dollars in free upgrades, etc. Just assisting struggling sites with fixes to get the sites back up and running, etc. We realize that for many businesses their website is the main component of their business and if its down, the business is crippled. Being a small business we understand that could be detrimental. So, we are going to try our best to help our fellow business owners.
So, how do we plan to do this? Well, as I said we are both active on Twitter, so we will be on the look out for “SOS” calls or white flags of surrender. I am trying to think of a hashtag, maybe #websos, #webhelp or something like that…suggestions are welcome. We are wanting to offer a hand to someone who stumbles, carry a bag of groceries for a elderly person, reach something off the top shelf, etc. Acts of kindness! We are open to word of mouth suggestions if you know someone who is struggling…let us know and we will see what we can do. Ideally my hope is that the business we will help, will in turn try to find a way to help another business, and so on.
What do you think? We all have to do our part to help grow businesses in this economy. We cant keep turning our backs on people in need. We are proud to Pay it Forward! Will you join us? Spread the word.
SYDCON, Inc. is a family owned/operated custom development shop. We specialize in custom development of websites, applications, software, system integrations, e-commerce and more. Learn more about us by visiting our About Us page.
Many of our followers know that Jennifer and I are parents to 3 kids that have quite a few activities. What that means for Jennifer and I, is that we get to sit around quite a bit while our kids are at dance lessons, baseball practice, etc. So we decided that we would upgrade our dish network tv boxes so we could watch tv from our iPads while we are not running errands when our kids are at their activities.
Now for the record, we already have Netflix and Hulu plus. So you are probably thinking “Why do they need more stuff to watch?” Well, I consider myself a semi-news junkie and it would be nice to flip on MSNBC or the local news to watch that I can’t get on Netflix or Hulu. And I can only get away with so many Family Guy episodes before someone says “Can you put on something else?” Another positive for us with Slingbox is we can now watch Blackhawks and Cubs games on our devices. Even if we had the NHL or MLB packages we are not able to view them outside of the home due to blackout restrictions.
Well our Slingbox adapter arrived yesterday and was uber easy to hook up. Step one is plug it in to the box and boom…you’re done. Step two is install the Dish anywhere iOS app and login with your dish network account. Seriously, that’s it.
The app took a few minutes of learning by navigating around. But all in all it’s fairly user friendly. I figured out how to launch a “remote control” and change the channel in a couple minutes.
The app allows you to change the quality of the video you are watching. Standard Quality (SQ) and High Quality (HQ). The HQ picture was definitely nicer, but would stop and start too often for me and it was frustrating. I switched over to SQ and the stop/start issues went away, but the picture quality was obviously not as good. So I put the Cubs game on and watched 6 or 7 innings of the game yesterday. They lost, but it was great. It was like I was sitting at home in front of a non HD tv watching the game. This will really pass the time when we are sitting and waiting.
My final thoughts on this is that technology is awesome. I can watch tv (legally) virtually anywhere I am. I am a iOS developer myself, so when I say this I really mean it. The programmers who developed this technology are phenomenal. Job well done!
Today’s post was written by Dave Devitt. Dave is the President and Founder of SYDCON, Inc. He is a web and app developer and dad of 3. He loves new gadgets (like slingbox) sports and family. Follow him on Twitter or read about him on our About Us page.
So, Dave has been nagging me to try to spend more time on my iPad and less on my Mac. He has made the change almost completely in the evenings and on the weekends. I typically only use my iPad for reading or surfing on the web outside of the house. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just habit to sit with my laptop on the couch. I know Zamboni likes Dave’s idea of ditching the laptop, cause then he can sit in his throne (my lap) and not have a laptop for a pillow (see pic)!
This weekend, we had no kids activities so Dave challenged me to a laptop free weekend, he even made sure I had 100% battery on my iPad. Well, what wife walks away from a challenge from her husband? Not this one, so, Game On!
Well, I will say it’s Monday and I survived, but I am currently working off my laptop now. Here is how I fared. I had to fight the urge to reach over and grab my laptop, I had to fight the urge to use my mouse, I had to argue with Zamboni about sitting on my lap the entire weekend. I did have more freedom in my sitting positions, so that was a plus. I did spend a little less time plugged in as a result also, which is also a plus.
Some things that aggravated me were getting used to reading news apps versus the websites. They are laid out differently and I had to hunt for the sections that are my go to, and I felt like I was missing information. I am a long time HootSuite user, I like my little Owly dude in my Chrome toolbar on my Mac. I don’t have that on the iPad (and I am not entirely sure if it’s available or not) to just tweet a article with a owly link in a instant. I don’t like the process of pinning to Pinterest off my iPad either. I also like my little “Pin it” button on my toolbar that works from any site I am on (Ok, I am sure these two buttons might be available, but again, I havent figured it out yet!).
Some other things, we all know not every industry is up on tablet technology. I like to spend time surfing travel sites, dreaming of new destinations to try. Travel sites blow on the iPad. I also like to shop, and a lot of shopping sites are still flash ridden. I was on the Nordstrom app, looking for a cute new top….I couldnt sort by size! Are you kidding me?? There were 1600+, I had to sift thru, petite, plus & maternity…none of which I am! So, I gave up on that. A big part of the drawback of these types of issues to me is, it was the weekend and I spent it screaming in my head that we could help all these companies streamline their user experience and probably get more business. Technology is just lacking and it shouldn’t be! So, it’s the weekend and I am thinking about work. Admittedly, a lot of my frustrations here wouldn’t have been if business stopped fighting technology. I should not have to reacclimate to a site/brand I frequent just because I am on a iPad.
Another issue I had is, I don’t like the weight of my iPad. I have a iPad 2. As developers, we have several for testing and development. We have the mini, thats Dave’s, I think I would prefer that size, but I cant justify it yet for me. So for now, since the dog likes to sit on my lap when then laptop isnt there, he is the iPad prop. So far he hasnt complained, so we will make do with that.
I know all this is a matter of me getting used to different layouts, and functionality (as well as business getting on the tablet bandwagon and making tablet versions of their sites). It’s just breaking a habit. I mean after all I use my iPhone 5 for all these things, so why am I resisting the bigger screen of the iPad? Stubbornness, with no other excuse. Essentially the iPad can do all the things I use my Mac for, so I have no excuse, other than making new habits. My plan is to try to match Dave at least on nights and weekends. So, are you a iPad user? How often do you use it compared to your laptop/desktop/smartphone? Are there things you wish you could change to make the switch over easier?
Class of 2017, seems scary to think about, doesnt it? Try being the parent of a child who will be in the class of 2017!! Yeah, that’s me! Holy Cow, how did that happen?? Yes, my oldest will be a freshman next year. We went last night to “8th Grade/Explore Night”. We basically found out how she scored on her entrance exam (outstanding, thank you very much – Honors placements) as well as pick her classes for freshman year.
In the packet of paper they gave us to sort through was a list of “Graduation Requirements”. As we settled in the “Theater” for the presentation and to sort through her scores, options, etc we were appalled to see that to graduate in 2017 the only requirement for “computer education” or technology is only a 1/2 a year!!! What? Seriously in 2013 we are predicting that the class of 2017 would be ready for college or the world they will live in with a 1/2 year of computer education?? Thats the same requirement as driver’s education for Pete’s sake!!
Being knee deep in the computer industry and seeing daily the shortage of qualified programmers, make that qualified US, American programmers, not to mention women programmers, we found this astonishing!!! In the cafeteria were we should meet the “Department Heads” Dave noticed that there was not a department head available for “Computer/Tech” so he inquired and was told there was not one (not sure if at all or just not available last night)!! He said how can that be in 2013? He was informed that they are teaching them amazing things in the “Business” classes, like how to use Word or keyboard shortcuts?!?! Seriously?? Our 8 year old, 3rd grader can do that!
Its no wonder that places like Code.org exist, to help kids today get “excited” about programming or technology. Or that in this article “Microsoft Tries New Approach to Computer Programmer Shortage” by “The Institute” that Microsoft is trying new approaches to the “Computer Programmer Shortage”. Also take into account the gender gap in programming or technology. In this article by Forbes, “STEM Fields and the Gender Gap : Where are the Women“, this is a reason they cite “The problem starts as early as grade school. Young girls are rarely encouraged to pursue math and science, which is problematic considering studies show a lack of belief in intellectual growth can actually inhibit it.” Another organization of note is Girls Who Code. They note on their home page that “a 2011 US Department of Commerce report showed only 14% of engineers are Females”!
With all these programmer shortage articles, the abundance of open positions in US based companies for qualified programmers as well the conintually growing number of US college graduates whom are out of work. According to a Associated Press Report from April 2012 the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was 53%. Can you help but wonder if more had pursued a degree in computer science or technology and went into becoming a programmer that number would be far lower?
I think its important for States, High Schools and College’s to help shape the future of our children. Change the graduation requirements. And, I think we should all support Code.org and Girls Who Code in their efforts to make learning technology more fun or interesting so that more students will see the possibilities in a future in the tech industry.
The new SYDCON website is live!!! We are very excited to launch our new site, with a creative new design and fresh content. We have even updated our “About Us” section to incorporate other members of our staff who have eluded our bio page long enough!! Come over and “meet” Jeff Ward & Brad Jorgensen!
It is our hope that our new site better convey’s what SYDCON has to offer! So, we be honored to have you come over and take a look. And, no, we didn’t forget to spruce up the blog too. It’s coming, the programmers are busy with our clients (I can only monopolize so much of their time).
2013, a new year, new possibilites, a new look and a new name? Starting in 2013, we will be completing some rebranding and altering our name somewhat. In a effort to simplify our message and define what we do, we will be shortening our name to SYDCON, dropping the “web development”.
Our research has shown that prospective clients initial reaction to the name “SYDCON Web Development” is that we are a “web design firm”. While we do offer “web design” that is very far from our primary focus. In the very near future we will be launching a brand new site, with some awesome new content developed with the help of our friend Jason Konopinski.
Our goal for this “rebranding” process was to better define who we are, and what we do. SYDCON is a team of custom developers. To say we are “web designers” is putting us in a box and/or category which we do not belong. Day in and day out we are tasked with creating custom software solutions for our partners and their clients. We bring creative to life with custom coding behind the scenes. We create high level data driven applications on many platforms. We create complex system integrations and develop custom mobile, iPhone and iPad applications. So yeah, while we can create a website for you, whats our passion? Its the code.
So be on the look out for our launch of the new www.sydcon.com. Don’t worry, I will make sure to announce it here, on Twitter and on Facebook, so it will be near impossible to miss. In the mean time, what are you goals for 2013? Do you need a system integration, app developed? Think about it and give us a shout! Here’s to a successful 2013 for all!
It’s December, so it’s that time of year, right? Time for Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Hanukka and Kwanza. Time for family and friends, traditions, presents, Santa, cookies and maybe even The Grinch! Every year we do our annual Happy Holidays SYDCON blog and it’s become a tradition to share one of my favorite Christmas songs. “Jingle Bells” – but the Bare Naked Ladies version. If you havent yet (and how could that be, this is the third time I have shared it), go ahead and listen while you read. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
So, on the topic of our tradition of sharing my favorite Christmas song, I thought it would be fun to share some of our other traditions! In our family we have varying traditions, from what we eat, to what we watch, to how we do things. I’d like to share a few, and hope that you will honor us by sharing a few of yours with us. So, without further ado…
1. Look at the Black Friday sales ads but don’t dare got out & shop! (Although the teenager is begging so I may have to relent one of these days!).
2. Put up our Christmas decorations on Black Friday & order in Chinese for dinner.
3. Unpack our newly acquired annual Disney World ornaments and hope there is room on the tree!
4. Decide on our holiday photo cards.
5. Listen to holiday music from the classics to current; Bing Crosby to Bare Naked Ladies to Justin Bieber (don’t judge we have daughters!).
6. Hold Santa over misbehaving children’s heads! LOL!
7. Bake tons of cookies, homemade bread and candy.
8. Watch our favorites like: Home Alone, It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Frosty, Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Year Without a Santa Claus, The Santa Clause, Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Story and Arthur Christmas and more!
9. Bake something on Christmas Eve night and watch A Christmas Story on repeat.
10. Have cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.
So, there is a bit of a insight into our family holidays and things that we enjoy or that make us smile. Some other things are our clients and online community of friends. We always take some time at this time of the year to express our gratitude for you. We have come a long way thanks to our wonderful family of clients, our social media community, our dedicated staff, family and friends. We hope you will take a few minutes to share a tradition of yours with us! Happy Holidays to All!
In the world of the web everything is not relative. While names may be similar, there are distinct differences, and its important for businesses to understand these difference when looking to move their companies forward in technology. For example, when one sees “Web Design” they probably think its a firm that makes or creates standard issue websites. A web designer could be a graphic designer or a less likely a web developer. Web developers are programmers. Programmers bring a totally different facet to the web than designers. While web designers bring beauty, vision and ease of layout to all things web, developers make them function and function dynamically.
In the area of “Web Development”, the possibilities are endless and far exceed the category of websites. In web development, you could find software engineers, application developers, system architects, and more. Web Developers can do far more than program your website for you. Many firms might wonder why they need a web development firm for if they already have a website. Web development encompasses all facets of programming that function across the internet. These days firms can link many systems to function across the web to run their businesses more efficiently. Some examples might be:
1. Inventory management
2. Order entry
3. Price catalogs
4. B2B financial transactions
5. B2B e-commerce
6. Mobile applications
7. Native applications
8. Custom tablet programming for kiosk alternatives
9. Restaurants utilizing custom tablet development for menus, ordering or seating options
Institutions like banks, hospitals, doctors office and more utilize web based applications daily to streamline their business and link all their systems to one central location. Even the IRS requires online payments for quarterly business tax payments.
If you can dream of something you wish you could do on your computer, tablet or over the web so your staff on the road or in a satellite office can access it, it can be built. You just have to find a custom web developer to build it. In most cases, taking things digital and removing the paper saves a company time and money. So, what are you dreaming of for the next step for your business?
This is the third installment of this series. As many of you know, the name SYDCON is a combination of our two oldest children’s names, Sydney & Connor. No, we didn’t forget that we have three kids, our youngest, Shannon just hadn’t crashed our world yet when we named the company. So, our family joke is that Shannon is the Inc., in SYDCON Web Development, Inc. This post is for our little Inc., Happy 8th Birthday Shannon!
Shannon or as she is known at home “Banana” started out as the quietest baby on the planet but around the age of 9 months decided she wanted her presence known and has since been silly, loud, active, smart & sassy! When she was a toddler we used to apologize in advance when we arrived somewhere because inevitably she would cause a commotion, thankfully we dont have to do that anymore!
Shannon is a very active girl. For being a tiny girl, she is strong. When she played soccer she was the smallest on the team and a beast of a goalie, very little got past her! She decided though that dance was her thing and now is a ballerina that just also started taking Jazz. She can do 100 cartwheels a day (self-taught) and is dying to do gymnastics! In addition to being incredibly active she is extremely intelligent (and no I am not just saying that because I am her Mom), she started being pulled out for gifted classes last year in reading & math. Shannon reads for hours and is known to read to us via “Face-time” when stalling at bedtime!
In 8 years Shannon has brought lots of laughter, trying moments, proud moments and love to our family! She is just starting to figure out things that she is naturally talented in and what she would like to do. We can’t wait to see the path she chooses, and watch her continue to grow! Shannon was the best way to complete our family of 5! Happy Birthday Shannon!