Monday, 12 May 2008

What Is Virtual Scrum and How Is It Applied?

Virtual scrum is an education tool used to help teach the scrum methodology to undergraduate students in the field of software engineering. Because this has become such a widely used agile practice in the software industry, it's important that students get a feel for this experience in a hands-on manner. The ISISTAN-CONICET Research Institute located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has developed a virtual scrum program and conducted a case study to evaluate its effectiveness.

This study provided an educational and hands-on approach to scrum methodology. This virtual training tool allowed students to familiarize themselves with programs and elements of scrum like blackboards, web browsers, document viewers, charts and calendars. This study followed 45 students using this program to complete their capstone project, as well as those not following the virtual scrum methodology. The results of the study confirmed that virtual tool is an excellent and efficient way to teach students the fundamentals and navigation of the scrum methodology.

Agile Software Development and the Scrum Methodology

Annual surveys have found that agile methods like scrum have been increasing every year. The 2007 State of Agile Development Survey found that 37 percent of respondents use scrum. And today more than 50 percent of surveyed companies have adopted scrum as their main agile methodology. This methodology is a dependable, collective approach to software development that can be implemented in any office. This also leverages communication and team work to successfully manage product development.

So while this study has established the importance of virtual scrum, it is important to understand how virtual scrum can be applied in your individual or workplace life. This study was established to help users understand the framework and capabilities involved in the scrum methodology. Virtual scrum allows users to get a 3D experience inside the world of scrum development. This program helps users become involved in the scrum process by taking members through an incremental life cycle or sprints. These users are also able to become avatars with specific roles including: Product Owner, Scrum Master and Scrum team.

It's important to familiarize oneself with the basics of this methodology before experiencing the virtual scrum world. This secondary tool, used to help people understand the process and actions involved during the scrum methodology, helps illustrate first-hand the benefits of this methodology. While reading and writing about the scrum methodology is a good way to learn, it's especially helpful to get real exposure to the scrum process.

Virtual scrum not only allows users to take on important roles inside the scrum process, but it also helps people experience other aspects of scrum development including organizing and creating user stories, planning the sprint backlog, monitoring sprint work and finishing the sprint. All of these key steps to the process can be understood through virtual scrum. This teaching tool is extremely valuable to the software engineering world and many great companies are searching for engineers well-versed in this area. For those looking to get a better understanding of scrum and its processes, using the virtual scrum program is an excellent option. The simulated scrum environment may be the next major trend in scrum education.

David Easterling has been leading software development companies for more than 15 years. Starting his technology career as a partner with Everest Technologies, David decided to open his own company named Prosoft in 2003. Prosoft quickly became a leading software development and IT staffing firm in Louisville, Kentucky. Recognizing a need to offer more efficient and affordable custom software, agile programming, and web design solutions to growing businesses, David founded Prosoft Nearshore in 2008, with offices in Louisville, KY, and San Jose, Costa Rica. He holds a degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. David is a Certified Scrum Master and is an active member of the Scrum and Agile User Group. He is also a member of the National Vistage CEO Leadership Group.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Increasing Security With 2 Factor Authentication Solutions

The Advantage Of 2 Factor Authentication Solutions

The two-factor authentication or 2FA process is used to identify all users in the most unambiguous way. There are two components used which should be known to the user, possessed by the user or inherent to the user. Presently multiple factors are used in this authentication system. Biometric data of the user is the recent addition to the existing two-way authentication system. Two Factor Authentication is the best way for an Enterprise Security Solution to secure and protection to your data.

The success of the system

Company data cannot be fully protected by passwords only when there are billions of users who can access any data while being online. Some of the many benefits provided by an ideal system are:

• The software is either managed by a solution provider or is present on the premises of the organization.

• The phone or the mobile device is sufficient for authentication.

• The experience of logging on is very easy.

• Deployment is done automatically with the help of the membership identification provided by LDAP groups.

• Deployment of more than 100,000 users is possible within an hour.

• Each user is charged annually with no hidden costs.

• The user can move seamlessly from one device to another and can have full control.

• A significant reduction in the cost of using hardware tokens is possible.

• Re-use of the AD (LDAP) is possible.

• The types of token-less operation are quite wide.

• The integration with web, Cloud and VPN providers is very easy.

Solution implementation considerations

There are some considerations that every organization should keep in mind when it tries to implement the system with the help from a 2 Factor Authentication Solutions providers:

• "Turning on" a two-factor authentication may not be easy - The implementation of this system needs user participation for a successful implementation.

• The vulnerability of the system - The two-factor authentication system is not totally perfect.

• Implementation problem - Presently only one device is sufficient to implement the system.

• The similarity of various systems - Present day two-factor systems are more sophisticated than earlier ones that depended on tokens and OTPs.

• The benefit of the system - This system is a required not only for compliance but also to reduce fraud.

No worthwhile alternative

This system is the best alternative available to organizations to prevent, fraud, sip hackers from stealing vital information and preventing unauthorized access. All organizations should ask a 2 Factor Authentication Solutions provider to incorporate the solution in the existing systems if they are to sleep peacefully at night. Though this solution may not the only one for tackling various problems, it is the best one available till a better one arrives.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

10 Secrets to a Healthy Computer and a Happier You

There comes a time in a person's life where no matter how much you fight it time takes its toll and we begin to slow down in how we perform our daily activities. However, in order to extend our youthful glow and energy levels it is important to eat right, exercise, and keep a positive outlook on life.

Now you may ask what has any of that got to do with "Secrets To A Healthy Computer?"

Well, in a way we're all just like a computer. If you neglect to take care of yourself you soon will cease to function properly and the many tasks that once were easy to do now take twice as long to accomplish and often require you to rest or "reboot" after a malfunction.

I can't tell you what foods to eat or what exercises to perform because I am not a nutritionist. Although, with my experiences in the personal computer field I can share with you some tips of how to keep that rectangle box of circuitry that sits within sights range functioning at maximum performance as long as time will allow.

Some important steps to follow are....

Make certain that your computer is located in a well ventilated area and that all air vents are unobstructed to prevent overheating and premature failure to any internal components.

Clean out the dust build-up at least every 6 months from the inside of the computer case including case vents, power supply vents, and all visible circuitry with a few cans of compressed air that can be purchased from any major computer store or electronics outlet. This will help reduce the chances of overheating and circuitry damage.

Before cleaning just be certain to always unplug the computer from the wall outlet and never physically contact the circuitry inside the computer case to prevent damage.

Be prepared for an unsuspected failure by always making backups of any important data that you do not and can not afford to lose.

I personally keep updated backups of my website and even store the disks at a remote location away from my every day use computers just in case a disaster were to occur and my main computers were destroyed resulting in the need for those lost files.

Purchase and install a well known anti-virus program that can be regularly updated with the latest virus definitions and ran during boot-up to help protect your computer from being the victim of an unwanted infestation.

Every few months or so run your computer's "Scandisk" program followed by the "Defragmenter" program to maximize the efficiency of your hard drive.

If you are not certain of how to use these utilities and being that the steps to execute these programs varies slightly from one operating system to the other it would be easiest to simply use the "Help" option that can be found by clicking on the START button found on your computers desktop.

The START menu will open up a drop-down-box that should display the "Help" option. By going here you can enter the keywords that deal with the answers to the subject you are searching for.

Run your computers "Disk Cleanup" utility every other week or so. If set the "Disk Cleanup" utility will automatically empty the recycling bin and recover some wasted disk space by removing the internet temporary files that seem to always accumulate.

Again, use the "Help" option if you are uncertain of how to perform this task.

Never smoke near a computer because the cooling fans will pull the smoke into the case where it can coat the inside parts of the computer with a residue which in turn can damage sensitive components.

Place the computer case in an area where it will not be accidentally kicked or bumped to prevent the loosening of cables and damage to internal parts.

Invest in a high quality surge protector to provide your computer and monitor against voltage spikes or "surges" that can dramatically shorten the life of your system. Just like most items in a store, "You get what you pay for". So don't skimp out on this important device!

Its also not a bad idea to invest in a surge protector that includes what is called a "Data Line Protector" which allows you to connect your telephone lines to and serves the same purpose for the telephone line to your modem just like the surge protector does for the electrical household current lines.

Finally, if you plan on being away from home for more that a few days at a time or if there is a thunderstorm brewing in your area it is a very wise decision to always unplug all electrical lines and modem telephone lines from your system. Even with a surge protector installed it is possible that such a large voltage spike such as one caused by a lightening strike could prove fatal to any computer system.

If you follow these simple steps the outcome is a healthy computer that will stay by your side and treat you well which also results in a happier you.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Protecting Data in Today's Fast-Paced & Uncertain Environment

Protecting Data in Today's Fast-Paced & Uncertain Environment 
Online server data backup and recovery takes hold 
By Bud Stoddard, President & CEO, AmeriVault Corp. 
Data, Foundation of Today's Business 
Data is not only the foundation of businesses in all industries but remains a vital irreplaceable strategic asset.  But, this asset is threatened today more than ever, given the increasing threat of disaster resulting from the impending war and recent and potential future terrorist activities.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 93% of companies who experience a significant data loss will be out of business within 5 years. 
As a result, data protection has become a critical component in an organization's disaster recovery and business continuity plans.  Today's disaster planning professionals are responsible for ensuring uninterrupted operation and immediate recovery of data.  Faced with increasingly narrow recovery windows and "zero tolerance" for disruption they will have no choice but to look outside the box for recovery solutions.  The ability of traditional disaster recovery and business solutions to fulfill corporate objectives in the overall business continuity scheme should be evaluated and a new methodology introduced.  
With its ability to most quickly and efficiently perform backup and recovery, online backup is responding to the demands of today's businesses in these uncertain times.  Its no wonder a technology that used to be seen as unconventional and experimental, is quickly becoming mainstream.  IDC estimates that through 2006, rapid growth will continue in the area of remote backup. 
Lawyer's Weekly, the nation's top source of legal information for practicing attorneys, has used online backup for years to protect their data.  "My feeling is that you're only as good as your last backup. Our company has many remote locations without systems administrators. As a result, we really have come to depend on online backup as a means of assuring that our backups are done on a daily basis at these sites," said Tom Bannister, Systems Manager, Lawyer's Weekly.

Data Management Evolves 
Remarkable changes in the way businesses work, are being fueled by online and other electronic processes going on 24 hours a day.  Business processes are becoming more compressed, and business activities that took days now happen within hours or minutes globally. Companies without a strong foothold in technology will be disadvantaged when facing the evolutionary trend of business changes.  Disaster recovery and business continuity planning must change to coincide with the fast-paced and highly competitive business environment and offer protection against uncontrollable looming disasters. Continuity Planners must turn to solutions that are internet-based. 
The recent SQL Slammer virus was a prime example of why contingency planning must change to keep up with technology-dependent businesses.  Although SQL Slammer's effect could have carried a more damaging payload, it brought down 13,000 ATM machines at Bank of America, making it impossible for customers to withdraw cash for an entire weekend and reportedly caused widespread damage at HP and even Microsoft itself.  The disaster recovery and business continuity planning industry was forced to take notice. 
Myths About Online Backup 
Whenever an innovative idea threatens to replace current solutions in day-to-day business practices, myths begin to sprout like weeds spotting your favorite golfing green. The uncomfortable reality is that many businesses today suffer from insufficient backup plans.  Data backup is critical for every company. Remember the last time you didn't suffer from backup headaches? You can't. 
A new solution entered the market in the mid 80's but didn't launch until the World Wide Web phenomenon took off.  Only then did it catch the attention of IT professionals responsible for safeguarding mission-critical data.  Online backup or electronic vaulting, no matter the coined term, eliminates many typical backup headaches.  The ability to automate your backup and remove the data off-site to a secure vault with a click of a mouse button is now a reality. Online backup is the most innovative, cost-effective and reliable solution out there today. But dispelling the myths about online backup continues to be a challenge for companies offering this technology.  
Myth One:  Online backup is too expensive. 
Initially it may appear that way. Compare a tape scenario for instance. Hardware, software licenses, tapes, personnel -- and let us not forget basic human error, add to the cost of traditional back up procedures.  Additional costs accrue with traditional off-site courier service and tape solutions have large up-front and sometimes unexpected costs, while online backup costs are declining.  AmeriVault Corp.(TM) predicts a double-digit annual decrease in cost due to bandwidth and storage hardware pricing declines.  A small ten gigabyte user with daily backup would pay approximately $460.00 for traditional albeit partial service; while the same user would pay approximately $294.00 for complete, automated service. In addition, online backup technology utilizes a company's existing telecom lines.  A company can better justify the 24 x 7 cost of its dedicated Internet connection.  Online backup eliminates all these traditional cost factors. With total automation, local backup and off-site protection occur simultaneously. 
Myth Two: Data is not secure on the Internet. 
Online backup utilizes the same technology the U.S. Government uses for its security.  Encrypted, fragmented data is sent over telecom lines -- pieces of a puzzle in gibberish language.  Online backup vendors can offers clients a highly secure VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection.  This higher level of security ensures that all communication between the client and the vault is encrypted.  Online backup is actually more secure than storing unencrypted data tapes in a remote vault. 
Myth Three: Online Backup can't handle a fortune 500 company's data. 
Handling large amounts of data over relatively small bandwidth is a popular feature of online backup.  An initial backup or "seed" of the server's data is extracted.  The Delta Processing technology then seeks out updated portions of changed files.  Only the fragmented change of data is sent to the vault.  Large-volume and highly redundant disk storage systems store the data online.  Online backup providers service businesses with a responsibility to ensure that storage space is always available, no matter what the size.  To further data integrity, reliability and recovery, the massive amounts of data online are backed up to tape on a daily basis, and shipped to an underground vault for safekeeping. 
An Inevitable Evolution 
Despite the current myths surrounding online backup, unavoidably it is fast becoming the standard in the business of data backup storage.  Online backup has proven itself to be a fundamental component of disaster recovery and business continuity plans.  Traditional recovery solutions must be retailored to accommodate the new recovery and continuity alternatives available to businesses in this fast-paced and uncertain climate.  No longer can businesses rely on protecting their most important asset with inefficient methods. 
Loss of data and disasters are inevitable, and so is online backup. The Internet has radically altered the global economy, and with it, the management of securing and restoring data.  Companies who wait until disaster strikes to implement more efficient means of backing up their valuable data, will become extinct like the dinosaurs who once roamed our planet. 

Thursday, 20 April 2006

How to Securely Erase Your Devices

It is not uncommon for most of us to switch out our cell phones every 2 years and the rest of our electronic devices as soon as newer models are available. Having the newest and best on the market is a way to stay up to date with the current trends and to have the fastest functioning device. However, when we trade in or sell our old devices it is imperative to make sure they are fully wiped. Wiping involves securely erasing everything on the electronic so that the new owner will not be able to access any of your personal and private information. While doing this may sound common sense it is a step that often gets overlooked in the excitement of procuring our new gadget. Wiping the drives can be easier and quicker than you think.

Wiping an External Drive on Windows

Wiping an external drive on Windows is fairly simple. The easiest and quickest option is to select one of the many free drive-wiping tools available. You can choose to use one of the many free drive-wiping tools that are available. All you'll have to do is insert your USB drive, or plug in any other external hard drive you may have and then follow the program.

Wiping a Laptop, Desktop, or other Internal Hard Drive

When it comes to wiping a computer, it's important to remember that it only needs to be done if you have mechanical or hybrid hard drives. On solid-state drives whenever you delete a file it is automatically removed from the drive so you don't need to be concerned with wiping.

If you do happen to be using a mechanical or hybrid drive then you can use these tricks. On Windows 8 and 8.1 all you have to do is select the "reset your PC" feature and then indicate that you want to securely erase the drive contents. To be on the safe side it is suggested to select the "fully clean the drive" option to make sure that nothing can be recovered later.

On Windows 7, Linux, or any other operating system use a tool like DBAN. This tool will boot up and erase the hard drives and will overwrite them with random pointless data. Keep in mind that in using these tools the next user will need to reinstall the operating system before the computer will be functional.

Wiping Smartphones and Tablets

Smartphones and tablets change hands faster than any other devices so it is important to properly wipe them. The good news is that iPhones and iPads all use encryption which means all that is necessary is to reset the device with the "erase all contents and settings" option.

For an Android phone or tablet a factory reset will not be helpful since they do not encrypt by default. To wipe an Android device you'll need to enter the settings options and select to encrypt the storage. After you done that step you can safely erase the device and then restore the original factory settings.

It has always been our top priority to review some useful and interesting gadget. Feel free to visit our Website for some cool gadget and have fun.

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

The History of Printer Ink Cartridges

With the introduction of the inkjet printer and printer ink cartridge in 1984, the task of printing your documents and changing printer ink cartridges became more convenient, reliable and cleaner than the previous methods of changing ribbons or inserting a toner cartridge.

Prior to 1984, the ink delivery systems were not as dependable as they are now. The inkjet system replaced the old dot matrix method, which required changing a ribbon. It wasn't long before the printer industry began conceptualizing a new ink delivery technique, including the drop on demand method. Several companies were the driving forces behind developing the inkjet technology, and by 1990 the method was widely accepted. Today it is the method of choice for printing requirements, and will print both black and white documents as well as color graphics and photos.

The quality is excellent, thanks to the development of printer ink cartridges. It is possible to print on many different sizes and types of paper, fabric, film, etc. These printers are used in businesses, in schools and the homes of millions of people worldwide.

Each printer uses a specific printer ink cartridge, most often one each of black and color. Each cartridge is given an identifying number and lists the model number of each printer in which it can be used. While each printer manufacturer recommends its own brand of printer ink cartridge, it is possible to refill the cartridge yourself, or purchase a refilled, remanufactured or a compatible cartridge.

There are two types of refilled cartridges: You can do it yourself with a kit that allows you to refill your own cartridge. Refill kits are available at a very low price and are sometimes the choice of those who don't mind doing the filling in order to save money. The other alternative is to buy a refilled cartridge from a manufacturer. This method involves drilling, filling and sealing an empty cartridge.

A remanufactured cartridge is an original printer ink cartridge that has been taken apart and outfitted with ink and new parts if necessary. It is then inspected and tested before being placed in the marketplace to re-sell. The workmanship in these cartridges is usually guaranteed against defects during the life of the cartridge. The lifetime is generally the same as the original, they are safe to use in all printers, and the warranty on your printer will not be affected. The cost is lower than the original.

Another kind of cartridge that has evolved in recent years is the "compatible" cartridge. Simply put, it is a cartridge that is built to the same specifications as those of the original manufacturer and is generally cheaper than the original. It is also guaranteed against defects during its lifetime.

Inkjet printers using printer ink cartridges have a bright future ahead, thanks to their capability to produce high-quality printed material quickly and inexpensively. The manufacturer's printer ink cartridge is one option, and the use of alternative printer ink cartridges is another option. When shopping for printer ink cartridges, always buy from a reputable dealer. A huge inventory of hundreds of types of cartridges can also be found by shopping on the Internet, which is a convenient, safe and reliable method of finding the best deals on printer ink cartridges.

Sunday, 22 August 2004

Top Reasons You Should Hire a Managed IT Services Provider

Large and small businesses alike are constantly looking for ways to do more with less. Cross-training employees to handle multiple job duties, reductions in staffing and increased overtime have become the norm. Unfortunately, this can lead to dropped balls and a lack of attention on important issues.

One area of many businesses that tends to be overlooked is the IT department. Once the salary of a full-time IT person plus benefits and 401K contributions are factored into a business budget, it often becomes clear that a business can't withstand the financial burden of someone to watch after one of its most precious needs - IT management.

A common misconception of hiring a managed IT services provider is that a company will have to give up control of its assets to someone who isn't even in the company. Luckily this isn't the case. These management companies work seamlessly with your business to ensure all areas of your IT infrastructure stay running day and night.

So the question becomes... what does a managed IT services provider actually do?

Simply put, a managed IT services provider is a cost-effective alternative to staffing and managing your own IT department. They can monitor and support your entire business network, from servers and software to network administration or can supplement your overburdened IT staff with additional support 24/7.

Prices for managed IT services can vary but they typically they work off of a monthly or yearly contract that outlines services for a flat fee. Before any vendor will submit a contract to sign they will complete a network diagnostic to assess what services each company actually needs.

Five Benefits of Hiring a Managed IT Services Provider

1. Reduce Costs - For many businesses it may be cost-prohibitive to hire full or even part-time staff to manage the IT department. Once salary, benefits and 401k contributions are factored in, the concept of an in-house IT department simply isn't feasible.

2. Peace of Mind - With routine preventative maintenance and monthly system check-ups you can rest assured that your systems will be running at their best 24/7. Smoothly running systems means productivity which equals profits.

3. Stay Strategic - It isn't uncommon for many IT departments to spend the majority of the time solving last-minute problems that pop up or keeping up with the status quo. Hiring a third-party to assist with IT management will not only allow for some of the burden to be shifted but the in-house team can rely on the third-party to develop strategic plans that will keep the company and its IT department ahead of the competition.

4. Increased Security - Companies that outsource security monitoring and vulnerability scanning oftentimes stay ahead of attacks.

5. Additional Support - You will have someone to turn to when the unexpected happens. If something goes a little haywire or you just don't know what to do, you won't be alone. Most providers offer 24/7 support to help you get through the difficult issues.

Often times, businesses don't realize how much a managed IT services provider will actually benefit their company and free up resources to handle other internal issues. The first step to gaining IT peace of mind is to simply ask... how can a managed IT services provider help me?

Laurie Breese, President of TeamLogic IT Orland Park