Mobile Technology

Is Android the Future of Mobile Computing?

Devices like Apple’s iPhone and the various versions of Blackberry smartphones are revolutionizing computing. Phones and phone-like devices are increasingly blurring the lines between notebook computers, netbooks and phones. The mobile computing revolution is on!

One platform, however, truly stands out as a potential game changer. That platform is the Android platform from Google. Is Android the future of mobile computing? There is certainly a strong potential for Android to shape the future of mobile computing.

Android’s strength comes from its openness. The Android SDK is open source and the license governing Android itself allows any handset manufacturer to use and modify it. This allows Android to shape the future of mobile computing by making it available to any hardware manufacturer that wants to use it. This means that Android is likely to be the OS of choice for future mobile computing hardware like tablet PCs or e-book readers.

Android’s openness also applies to the selection of mobile carrier. This is one area where many users have been unhappy with Apple’s iPhone. Android is widely available which means that most wireless carriers have an Android handset available. Customers want choice. By giving them choice, Android positions itself as the future of mobile computing.

Android’s greatest strength, however, is its development kit. In the history of computing, the platforms that supported the application developers best became the clear winners. Failure to support application developers with robust tools killed the really Apple platform and IBM’s OS2. This is a mistake that Apple seems to be willing to repeat with the iPhone. The iPhone development tools are difficult to use and the application approval process seems terribly subjective at times. This makes iPhone application development unprofitable for many developers. In contrast, the Android development tools use Java and even C/C++. This allows developers to write applications for Android using languages they already know and use. Additionally, it allows them to use the tools they are already using such as Eclipse. The Android SDK also provides a very robust emulator so that application developers can test their Android applications without relying on physical hardware to do so. The future of mobile computing will largely be determined by the availability of the applications that end users want and need. In this regard, Android is a clear winner.

The biggest danger to Android’s dominance over the future of mobile computing is fragmentation. The ability of hardware vendors to extend Android without contributing their changes back to the Android project could lead to various incompatible versions of Android. To some extent, this has already happened as developers have had to struggle some to make their applications to support different hardware capabilities. This fragmentation of Android would make it harder for application developers to write code for Android. Since the support of application developers is crucial to the success of any computing platform, fragmentation could be a serious threat to Android as the future of mobile computing.

Is Android the future of mobile computing? I think the answer is that it certainly could be. Android’s open nature makes it possible for hardware developers to use it for whatever new devices they can imagine. Its SDK makes it easy for application developers to create the applications users want and need. Both factors make Android a strong contender for the shape of the future of mobile computing. However, there is a danger that hardware vendors will customize Android to the extent that the platform becomes fragmented. If this happens, it will be harder for application developers to write for Android and this could endanger its lead position as the future of mobile computing.

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Software Services, Supply Chain Management

The Management Components of SCM

The SCM components are the third element of the four-square circulation framework. The level of integration and management of a business process link is a function of the number and level, ranging from low to high, of components added to the link. Consequently, adding more management components or increasing the level of each component can increase the level of integration of the business process link. The literature on business process reengineering, buyer-supplier relationships and SCM suggests various possible components that must receive managerial attention when managing supply relationships. Lambert and Cooper identified the following components which are:

  1. Planning and control
  2. Work structure
  3. Organization structure
  4. Product flow facility structure
  5. Information flow facility structure
  6. Management methods
  7. Power and leadership structure
  8. Risk and reward structure
  9. Culture and attitude

However, a more careful examination of the existing literature will lead us to a more comprehensive structure of what should be the key critical supply chain components, the “branches” of the previous identified supply chain business processes, that is, what kind of relationship the components may have that are related with suppliers and customers accordingly. Bowersox and Closs states that the emphasis on cooperation represents the synergism leading to the highest level of joint achievement. A primary level channel participant is a business that is willing to participate in the inventory ownership responsibility or assume other aspects of financial risk, thus including primary level components.  A secondary level participant, is a business that participates in channel relationships by performing essential services for primary participants, thus including secondary level components, which are in support of primary participants. Third level channel participants and components that will support the primary level channel participants, and which are the fundamental branches of the secondary level components, may also be included.

Consequently, Lambert and Cooper’s framework of supply chain components does not lead us to the conclusion about what are the primary or secondary (specialized) level supply chain components. That is, what supply chain components should be viewed as primary or secondary, how these components should be structured in order to have a more comprehensive supply chain structure, and to examine the supply chain as an integrative one.

Baziotopoulos reviewed the literature to identify supply chain components. Based on this study, Baziotopoulos suggests the following supply chain components:

  1. For customer service management: Includes the primary level component of customer relationship management, and secondary level components such as benchmarking and order fulfillment.
  2. For product development and commercialization: Includes the primary level component of Product Data Management (PDM), and secondary level components such as market share, customer satisfaction, profit margins, and returns to stakeholders.
  3. For physical distribution, manufacturing support and procurement: Includes the primary level component of enterprise resource planning (ERP), with secondary level components such as warehouse management, material management, manufacturing planning, personnel management, and postponement (order management).
  4. For performance measurement: Includes the primary level component of logistics performance measurement, which is correlated with the information flow facility structure within the organization. Secondary level components may include four types of measurement such as: variation, direction, decision and policy measurements. More specifically, in accordance with these secondary level components, total cost analysis (TCA), customer profitability analysis (CPA), and asset management could be concerned as well.
  5. For outsourcing: Includes the primary level component of management methods, and the strategic objectives for particular initiatives in key areas of information technology, operations, manufacturing capabilities, and logistics (secondary level components).
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Web 2.0

How Web 2.0 Technology Worsens the Problem

Unfortunately, the technologies that make Web 2.0 interactive are also responsible for the spread of more viruses and malware. The more multimedia the web experience becomes, the more familiar we all become with installing browser plug-ins and toolbars, drivers, widgets, and applets. “To view this content requires the latest version of Flash.” Or Shockwave, or any of the slew of other audio and video players out there. Using cool Web 2.0 applications like MMOGs often require you to install drivers and utilities. Many users are getting increasingly blasé about installing add-on applications—but we need to be more vigilant than ever about the source of such applications.

User-created content can pose risks to you, the site owner. It can also pose privacy and identity-theft risks to your users. Many shopping sites allow visitors to search for others’ wish lists by name or email address.

Unless sites take security precautions, scammers can bombard a wish-list search with known or manufactured email addresses, harvest a bunch of wish lists, and send personalized phishing scam emails promoting wished-for items.

Could your webcam be spying on you? In a blackmail scam, a man in Spain was arrested for unleashing a virus capable of taking over infected computers and cams to do just that.

It used to be (in the Web 1.0 world) that you were as safe as long as you didn’t launch any dubious executables or open any suspicious attachments.

But nowadays, malicious code can install itself in the background when you simply visit the wrong web page.

Here are a few Web 2.0 vulnerabilities:

  • Malware web pages.
  • Viruses spread among web-enabled cell phones.
  • Hacking wireless networks and Bluetooth conversations.

What to Do?

My best advice for marketers and businesspeople is to be aware that Web 2.0 is afflicted with many of the “Wild West” qualities of Web 1.0—and they’re fancier and more interactive than ever.

Internet security is unlikely to be the direct responsibility of readers of this book. Governments, security software and antivirus companies, spam filter technologies, and IT departments everywhere have been battling these kinds of threats for over a decade, and their white hat efforts will continue.

The credit card companies introduced a stringent Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI for short) that will make things tougher for hackers. The PCI standard mandates firewall and antivirus software, and regularly updated virus definitions. It requires companies to strongly encrypt data, to restrict which of your employees have access to customer credit card data, and to assign a unique identifying number to employees with that access. In addition, it governs monitoring of who views and downloads data, and periodic security system checks.

Security experts predict increasing attacks on Mac hardware, thanks largely to the spread of iPods and iPhones. For now, though, most of these ills principally afflict PCs running Microsoft operating systems and applications. But it is prudent to consider that any new foray into wireless devices, mobile, and PDA will face some novel cybercrime angles of their own.

Here are just a few priorities to bear in mind:

  • Comply with PCI standards.
  • Engage with leading security firms like VeriSign and HackerSafe to ensure your website, its server, and database are protected from known vulnerabilities.
  • If your website supports user-generated content, widgets, forums, etc., be certain that it accepts only text or very basic HTML—and refuses JavaScript and other executable code.
  • Ensure credit cards authorize and settle before shipping any products. Investigate all credit card fraud, including the referring URL.
  • Scrutinize how and where your affiliate partners appear. Carefully review their traffic, sales, and commissions. If sudden, large sales from a new partner seem too good to be true, they probably are.
  • If you distribute your text ads across a content network, review your stats for large traffic flows that didn’t result in any sales. It could be click-fraud designed to line the pocket of a site owner.
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Software Services, Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Business Process Integration

Successful SCM requires a change from managing individual functions to integrating activities into key supply chain processes. An example scenario: the purchasing department places orders as requirements become appropriate. Marketing, responding to customer demand, communicates with several distributors and retailers, and attempts to satisfy this demand. Shared information between supply chain partners can only be fully leveraged through process integration.

Supply chain business process integration involves collaborative work between buyers and suppliers, joint product development, common systems and shared information. According to Lambert and Cooper operating an integrated supply chain requires continuous information flows, which in turn assist to achieve the best product flows. However, in many companies, management has reached the conclusion that optimizing the product flows cannot be accomplished without implementing a process approach to the business. The key supply chain processes stated by Lambert are:

  • Customer relationship management
  • Customer service management
  • Demand management
  • Order fulfillment
  • Manufacturing flow management
  • Supplier relationship management
  • Product development and commercialization
  • Returns management

Other key critical supply business processes combining these processes stated by Lambert such as:

  1. Customer service management
  2. Procurement
  3. Product development and commercialization
  4. Manufacturing flow management/support
  5. Physical distribution
  6. Outsourcing/partnerships
  7. Performance measurement

1. Customer service management process:

Service Management is integrated into Supply Chain Management as the joint between the actual sales and the customer. The aim of high performance Service Management is to optimize the service-intensive supply chains, which are usually more complex than the typical finished-goods supply chain. Most service-intensive supply chains require larger inventories and tighter integration with field service and third parties. They also must accommodate inconsistent and uncertain demand by establishing more advanced information and product flows. Moreover, all processes must be coordinated across numerous service locations with large numbers of parts and multiple levels in the supply chain.

Customer Relationship Management concerns the relationship between the organization and its customers.Customer service provides the source of customer information. It also provides the customer with real-time information on promising dates and product availability through interfaces with the company’s production and distribution operations. Successful organizations use following steps to build customer relationships:

  • Determine mutually satisfying goals between organization and customers
  • Establish and maintain customer rapport
  • Produce positive feelings in the organization and the customers

2. Procurement process:

Strategic plans are developed with suppliers to support the manufacturing flow management process and development of new products. In firms where operations extend globally, sourcing should be managed on a global basis. The desired outcome is a win-win relationship, where both parties benefit, and reduction times in the design cycle and product development are achieved. Also, the purchasing function develops rapid communication systems, such as electronic data interchange (EDI) and Internet linkages to transfer possible requirements more rapidly. Activities related to obtaining products and materials from outside suppliers requires performing resource planning, supply sourcing, negotiation, order placement, inbound transportation, storage, handling and quality assurance, many of which include the responsibility to coordinate with suppliers in scheduling, supply continuity, hedging, and research into new sources or programmes.

3. Product development and commercialization:

Here, customers and suppliers must be united into the product development process, thus to reduce time to market. As product life cycles shorten, the appropriate products must be developed and successfully launched in ever shorter time-schedules to remain competitive. According to Lambert and Cooper, managers of the product development and commercialization process must:

  • Coordinate with customer relationship management to identify customer-articulated needs;
  • Select materials and suppliers in conjunction with procurement, and
  • Develop production technology in manufacturing flow to manufacture and integrate into the best supply chain flow for the product/market combination.

 

4. Manufacturing flow management process

The manufacturing process is produced and supplies products to the distribution channels based on past forecasts. Manufacturing processes must be flexible to respond to market changes, and must accommodate mass customization. Orders are processes operating on a just-in-time (JIT) basis in minimum lot sizes. Also, changes in the manufacturing flow process lead to shorter cycle times, meaning improved responsiveness and efficiency of demand to customers. Activities related to planning, scheduling and supporting manufacturing operations, such as work-in-process storage, handling, transportation, and time phasing of components, inventory at manufacturing sites and maximum flexibility in the coordination of geographic and final assemblies postponement of physical distribution operations.

5. Physical distribution

This concerns movement of a finished product/service to customers. In physical distribution, the customer is the final destination of a marketing channel, and the availability of the product/service is a vital part of each channel participant’s marketing effort. It is also through the physical distribution process that the time and space of customer service become an integral part of marketing, thus it links a marketing channel with its customers (e.g. links manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers).

6. Outsourcing/partnerships

This is not just outsourcing the procurement of materials and components, but also outsourcing of services that traditionally have been provided in-house. The logic of this trend is that the company will increasingly focus on those activities in the value chain where it has a distinctive advantage and everything else it will outsource. This movement has been particularly evident in logistics where the provision of transport, warehousing and inventory control is increasingly subcontracted to specialists or logistics partners. Also, to manage and control this network of partners and suppliers requires a blend of both central and local involvement. Hence, strategic decisions need to be taken centrally with the monitoring and control of supplier performance and day-to-day liaison with logistics partners being best managed at a local level.

7. Performance measurement

Experts found a strong relationship from the largest arcs of supplier and customer integration to market share and profitability. By taking advantage of supplier capabilities and emphasizing a long-term supply chain perspective in customer relationships can be both correlated with firm performance. As logistics competency becomes a more critical factor in creating and maintaining competitive advantage, logistics measurement becomes increasingly important because the difference between profitable and unprofitable operations becomes more narrow. A.T. Kearney Consultants noted that firms engaging in comprehensive performance measurement realized improvements in overall productivity. According to experts internal measures are generally collected and analyzed by the firm including

  • Cost
  • Customer Service
  • Productivity measures
  • Asset measurement, and
  • Quality

External performance measurement is examined through customer perception measures and “best practice” benchmarking, and includes

  • Customer perception measurement, and
  • Best practice benchmarking
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Software Services, Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management

 
Supply Chain Management (SCM) is the process of planning, implementing and controlling the operations of the supply chain as efficiently as possible. Supply Chain Management spans all movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption.

Supply Chain Management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing, procurement, conversion, and logistics management activities. Importantly, it also includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners, which can be suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers, and customers. In essence, Supply Chain Management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies. More recently, the loosely coupled, self-organizing network of businesses that cooperates to provide product and service offerings has been called the Extended Enterprise.

Some experts distinguish Supply Chain Management and logistics, while others consider the terms to be interchangeable. Supply Chain Management can also refer to Supply chain management software which are tools or modules used in executing supply chain transactions, managing supplier relationships and controlling associated business processes. Supply chain event management (abbreviated as SCEM) is a consideration of all possible occurring events and factors that can cause a disruption in a supply chain. With SCEM possible scenarios can be created and solutions can be planned.

A supply chain is a network of facilities and distribution options that performs the functions of procurement of materials, transformation of these materials into intermediate and finished products, and the distribution of these finished products to customers. Supply chains exist in both service and manufacturing organizations, although the complexity of the chain may vary greatly from industry to industry and firm to firm.

Supply chain management is typically viewed to lie between fully vertically integrated firms, where the entire material flow is owned by a single firm and those where each channel member operates independently. Therefore coordination between the various players in the chain is key in its effective management. Cooper and Ellram compare supply chain management to a well-balanced and well-practiced relay team. Such a team is more competitive when each player knows how to be positioned for the hand-off. The relationships are the strongest between players who directly pass the baton, but the entire team needs to make a coordinated effort to win the race.

SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT PROBLEM

Supply chain management must address the following problems:

  • Distribution Network Configuration: Number, location and network missions of suppliers, production facilities, distribution centers, warehouses, cross-docks and customers.
  • Distribution Strategy: Including questions of operating control (centralized, decentralized or shared); delivery scheme (e.g., direct shipment, pool point shipping, Cross docking, DSD (direct store delivery), closed loop shipping); mode of transportation (e.g., motor carrier, including truckload, LTL, parcel; railroad; intermodal, including TOFC and COFC; ocean freight; airfreight); replenishment strategy (e.g., pull, push or hybrid); and transportation control (e.g., owner-operated, private carrier, common carrier, contract carrier, or 3PL).
  • Information: Integration of and other processes through the supply chain to share valuable information, including demand signals, forecasts, inventory, transportation, and potential collaboration etc.
  • Inventory Management: Quantity and location of inventory including raw materials, work-in-process and finished goods.
  • Cash-Flow: Arranging the payment terms and the methodologies for exchanging funds across entities within the supply chain.
  • Supply chain execution is managing and coordinating the movement of materials, information and funds across the supply chain. The flow is bi-directional.

 ACTIVITIES/FUNCTIONS

Supply chain management is a cross-functional approach to managing the movement of raw materials into an organization, certain aspects of the internal processing of materials into finished goods, and then the movement of finished goods out of the organization toward the end-consumer. As organizations strive to focus on core competencies and becoming more flexible, they have reduced their ownership of raw materials sources and distribution channels. These functions are increasingly being outsourced to other entities that can perform the activities better or more cost effectively. The effect is to increase the number of organizations involved in satisfying customer demand, while reducing management control of daily logistics operations. Less control and more supply chain partners led to the creation of supply chain management concepts. The purpose of supply chain management is to improve trust and collaboration among supply chain partners, thus improving inventory visibility and improving inventory velocity.

Several models have been proposed for understanding the activities required to manage material movements across organizational and functional boundaries. SCOR is a supply chain management model promoted by the Supply Chain Management Council. Another model is the SCM Model proposed by the Global Supply Chain Forum (GSCF). Supply chain activities can be grouped into strategic, tactical, and operational levels of activities.

Strategic:

  • Strategic network optimization, including the number, location, and size of warehouses, distribution centers and facilities.
  • Strategic partnership with suppliers, distributors, and customers, creating communication channels for critical information and operational improvements such as cross docking, direct shipping, and third-party logistics.
  • Product design coordination, so that new and existing products can be optimally integrated into the supply chain, load management
  • Information Technology infrastructure, to support supply chain operations.
  • Where-to-make and what-to-make-or-buy decisions
  • Aligning overall organizational strategy with supply strategy.

 Tactical:

  • Sourcing contracts and other purchasing decisions.
  • Production decisions, including contracting, locations, scheduling, and planning process definition.
  • Inventory decisions, including quantity, location, and quality of inventory.
  • Transportation strategy, including frequency, routes, and contracting.
  • Benchmarking of all operations against competitors and implementation of best practices throughout the enterprise.
  • Milestone payments

 Operational:

  • Daily production and distribution planning, including all nodes in the supply chain.
  • Production scheduling for each manufacturing facility in the supply chain (minute by minute).
  • Demand planning and forecasting, coordinating the demand forecast of all customers and sharing the forecast with all suppliers.
  • Sourcing planning, including current inventory and forecast demand, in collaboration with all suppliers.
  • Inbound operations, including transportation from suppliers and receiving inventory.
  • Production operations, including the consumption of materials and flow of finished goods.
  • Outbound operations, including all fulfillment activities and transportation to customers.
  • Order promising, accounting for all constraints in the supply chain, including all suppliers, manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, and other customers.
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Rich Internet Applications

Reasons to Love Flex

Flex was designed in order to give Flash Developers an edge when developing Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). Although RIAs can be built from within Flash, there are various limitations, especially when it comes to a developer’s time.
One of the major reasons why Flex is becoming more and more popular is because it utilizes ActionScript 3.0. One important thing to note is that the Flex environment does not use a Timeline. This does not mean that it is limited. Rather, Flex has been developed more for programmers and less for designers.

Let’s take a look at the reasons to love to develop RIAs (Rich Internet Applications) in Flex.

  1. Flash is everywhere — The Adobe Flash 9 Player has about 98% market penetration across browsers. This means that when you launch an application on the Web, you are virtually guaranteed that anyone will be able to use it. Compared to the distribution statistics of other RIA runtimes, there is simply no contest.
    Flash is cross-OS, or “platform-agnostic”: it runs in Windows, Mac and Linux. It is also installed in every type of browser, making it the only RIA technology that can truly claim to be a “write once, run everywhere” platform.
  2. Flex = Flash on steroids — Flex is Flash and Flash is ActionScript 3.0 (or more specifically, Flex runs on the Flash Player, and the Flash Player’s language is ActionScript 3.0.)
    In ActionScript 3.0 you have all the aspects of a mature, robust programming language: strong runtime typing, class inheritance, interfaces, error handling, a built-in event model, sealed classes, method closures, custom namespace accessors, regular expressions, E4X. The Flash Player incorporates the Tamarin ActionScript 3.0 Virtual Machine with the power of a Just in Time (JIT) compiler, which interprets SWF application bytecode into machine-level instructions so that your code runs as fast as the processor can handle. Warp speed, Scotty!
    And since Flex is built on top of Flash, you have the full power of the Flash APIs to draw in real time with lines, gradients and fills and manipulate and animate vectors, bitmap data, and visual assets, complete with matrix transformations, programmatic Photoshop-like filters, and blends. Flash allows communication using a dizzying array of data formats, but if you don’t find the format that suits your needs, create your own using a binary socket and custom interpreter! You also get high-definition, full-screen, hardware-accelerated video capabilities, supported by enterprise-capable video encoding and streaming server products.
    Flex 3 adds another layer of power onto the Flash runtime: a visual markup language called MXML, and a full-featured compiler that includes compiler metadata and data binding. The Flex framework adds class libraries for natively managing HTTP requests, RPC services, and Web Services, a dizzying array of visual UI components, a deep linking framework for browser integration, an API for AIR applications that can interact natively with the desktop, logging and unit testing frameworks, and much much more, all of which will be covered in this book. Not to mention an IDE based on Eclipse, and a whole suite of server tools for your application to communicate with the backend using native ActionScript class objects.
  3. Flex is open source — The Flex Software Development Kit (SDK), which comprises the compiler, the component framework, and several other tools, is a free, open-source development platform. Although Flex Builder is neither free nor open source, it is built upon Eclipse, and can be installed standalone (with Eclipse built in) or as an Eclipse plug-in alongside other Eclipse development environments. In fact, Adobe Flex Builder has been voted Best Open Source Developer Tool for RIAs by InfoWorld’s Best of Open Source Software Awards.
  4. Interoperability — ActionScript 3 has XML baked into it as a native format with E4X parsing capability, facilitating JSON and XML data transfer. The Flash Player is able to interface directly with JavaScript in the browser through a native JavaScript communications API, and is able to recognize SWF filename query name-value pairs. Two great examples of Flash-AJAX interoperability are Google Finance and Yahoo! Maps Canada, both of which combine the versatility of an enhanced hypertext application with the interactive power of the Flash runtime.
    The Flash Player also includes XML and binary sockets capability, including traditional GET and POST HTTP requests.
    The Flash Player natively supports image file formats GIF, JPG, PNG, media file formats MP3, FLV, F4P, F4A, and F4V, including the AAC, MP4, M4V, M4A, 3GP, and MOV multimedia container formats, encoded in Sorenson Spark, On2VP6, H.264, MPEG-4, MP3, or AAC.
    The Flash Platform also enables some unique RIA communications protocols. Connected to the Flash Media Server, the Flash Player is also able to stream video and audio using the RTMP protocol, and its rights-encrypted cousin RTMPE, as well as the new RTMFP format in Flash 10. Using the Adobe AMF protocol, the Flash Player is able to communicate complex ActionScript objects directly with data services applications on the server. Adobe LiveCycle Data Services and its open-source cousin BlazeDS enable bidirectional ActionScript-to-Java object transfer, and the ColdFusion server allows for ActionScript-to-CFC object transfer. Third-party data service implementations such as WebOrb, AMFphp, and Zend enable native ActionScript object communication with the.NET and PHP server languages. Other third-party data services solutions exist for languages such as Ruby and Python.
    The Flex framework contains APIs that allow very easy deployment for HTTP requests, Web Services, and RPC services data transfers. So needless to say, a Flex application can communicate a wide variety of web technologies, allowing for a plethora of server integration options with an impressive array of interoperability with many data formats, languages, and protocols.
  5. The community — Conceived with the same spirit as the Flash community, the Flex community is passionate, generous, and vibrant, always coming up with new ways to alert each other of the latest quirks, share their discoveries, their tips, their components, and their experiments, helping Adobe make a better product. And Adobe does an incredible job of feeding that fire: it actually listens to the community, and rewards them with changes to product development that directly reflect what designers and developers has been asking for, going so far as to organize events and surveys that elicit feedback for the sole purpose of making Flash and Flex better and better. One has only to look at all the new features in Flash Player 10 and those planned for Flex 4 to know that Adobe has listened to and cares about its community. Many Flash and Flex designers and developers, including the writers of this book, really enjoy what they do for a living, and thrive on that energy. And this level of passion and commitment to each other and to the evolution of the platform shows through in every Flash and Flex conference, every technical blog, every community forum and list this author has ever visited.
  6. Creative Suite integration — When Adobe purchased Macromedia in 2005, it brought to the Flash and Flex development scene the possibility of the full force of its Creative Suite of applications. As of Creative Suite 3, we can now experience the fruits of that promise, as we now have seamless integration between Flash and Illustrator, Fireworks and After Effects. This opens up a vast sea of creative possibilities for Flex development, enabling even “richer media” applications than ever before. See Chapters 26 and 29, which cover Flash and Flex workflow integration in greater detail.
  7. Flex enables modular, rapid application development (RAD) — Flex natively encourages a Model-View-Controller (MVC) separation of application parts through the use of MXML, which is an XML-based visual layout markup language that facilitates rapid prototyping and development (see Listing 1-1 for details). In the simplest Flex MVC pattern, the View or interface layout is typically coded in CSS and MXML, and the Controller or application logic is typically coded in ActionScript, though one is not constrained to these norms. This will be covered in greater detail in Chapter 60, “MVC Frameworks.” Flex Builder also has a Design View, which allows for the visualization of MXML layouts, and a Properties View, which allows for the setting of inspectable component properties directly in the IDE (see Chapter 5, “Introduction to Flex Builder 3,” for details).
    Flex also enables a variety of modular compilation and deployment methods. You can pre-compile application modules or class libraries to increase compilation efficiency, code distribution, or asset management. By compiling all your fonts into one module, and all your skins into another module, for example, you cut down overall application compilation time and increase asset management efficiency. You can compile SWFs to be compiled in the main application as embedded assets, which can be easier to use than Flex modules, or you can opt to load SWF application subcomponents at runtime, decreasing the initial application filesize.
    The application footprint can also be mitigated by the use of persistent framework caching, where you can compile your application sans the Flex framework, allowing the Flash Player runtime to preload and cache the framework as a separate class library on the client. This means that after the Flex framework has been downloaded once, it is cached on the client, and your application will load much quicker for the user. See Chapter 66, “Modular Application Development,” for details.
  8. Adobe AIR — AIR brings the power of Flash and Flex to a whole other level. With AIR, AJAX applications can be deployed to the desktop, or a Flash/Flex application can be deployed to the desktop, in either the PC, Mac or Linux OSs, with access to system windowing and local file system interactivity. Or even more powerfully, both AJAX and Flash can be leveraged together in the same application, in ways that could never be done in a conventional browser environment. You can apply Flash bitmap filters and tweens directly onto an HTML object, or have a JavaScript object communicate directly with an ActionScript object without the intermediary of a communications format. This enables the development of flexible, “sometimes connected,” desktop solutions that have not previously been possible in the realm of RIAs.
  9. Seeing is believing — But don’t take our word for it. Check out some Flex and AIR applications yourself. Have a look at some of the showcased applications, and you’ll see exactly what we mean:
    www.flex.org/showcase 
    http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplatformruntimes/gallery/
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Web 2.0

Advertising and Brand Building with Social Networks

Social media encompass communication possible throughout all of the forms of social communities online. Social-media communities include forums, virtual worlds, social news organizations, social opinion sharing sites, and social networks. Social networks are built around site platforms that enable members to develop identity profiles, interact with other members, and participate in various site activities. Social networks are 2D environments with identity representation limited to one’s profile rather than by visually detailed avatars common to virtual worlds.

Although interactions with others can seemingly approximate synchronous real-time communication, the messaging structure is static rather than dynamic. Networks can be thought of as utility-based tools. They are an elegant but fun way to organize content, socialize, and promote one’s self-identity. Despite this, social networks have grown in popularity from their ability to provide a platform for information sharing, communication, and relationship development and maintenance. In a world where individuals may have reduced physical contact and heightened time spent interacting with electronic devices, social networks have evolved to provide an online platform for personal, intimate, informal neighborhood and office chatter. They offer a sense of ‘‘contact comfort’’ in a society where many of us spend less time with actual people than we do with machines.

Contact comfort helps to meet individual needs for affiliation and socialization. Social networks meet our need for contact comfort while also providing entertainment and information sharing.

Social networks are above all else communication hubs. While they all offer the core product of networking capabilities, networks do find ways to differentiate themselves. MySpace and FaceBook support relationship building and maintenance. YouTube offers a venue for sharing and promoting videos and related opinions. Flickr enables photo sharing and reviewing. LinkedIn provides a form of self-promotion and career networking.

There are niche sites as well focused on any number of hobbies and personal interests. Catster, for example, offers tips and information on caring for one’s feline companion with the added benefit of being able to talk with others who define themselves in part by the pets they love.

Social networks, like other online communities, are participatory, conversational, and fluid. Members produce, publish, control, critique, rank, and interact with online content. On FaceBook, for instance, the second most popular social network, members can build a profile that includes information about their education, habits, favorite movies and books, and other personality indicators. They can send and receive messages to members, ‘‘friend’’ people, and join groups and networks.

Profiles can be complemented with pictures, news feeds on member activities (e.g., Tracy just went shopping), and a variety of widgets. Widgets are small applications made up of code embedded on a Web site. FaceBook widgets enable members to virtually hug, wink, smile, and engage in a host of other behaviors. Most sites offer similar features, with messaging, profiling, and friending being the core functions of any network site. The interaction with others enhances the need to return to the site and continue the process of generating new content. The result is an online community of friends who may spend hours in the network each day.

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Web 2.0

Ten Things You Should Do to Make Your Business More Web 2.0

These ten ideas are meant to be practical, relatively easy steps that could benefit almost every website, whatever its mission (including nonprofit missions). Some ideas are more relevant to organizations that sell products or services, generate advertising revenue, or generate business leads. But whatever your model is, if you want to embrace some of the cultural and technical trends of Web 2.0, these are great places to start.

 

eCommerce merchants are in a touchy position when it comes to making Web 2.0 innovations, because they must weigh any hoped-for gain against both the cost of implementation and the potential cost of confusing or distracting visitors from the task of finding and buying products.

Probably that’s why the Web 2.0 features that are enjoying the fastest uptake on ecommerce sites are ones with clear connections to improving the purchase conversion rate:

·         Enhanced product images

·         Product reviews and ratings

·         Personalization

·         Live customer-service chat

Some Web 2.0 innovations seem promising, but aren’t for everyone— for instance, they may demand too much time from a typically brief user session. For social-media features to be successful, you must operate in a market that stirs people’s passions enough to get them interacting with their online social circle. For mobile applications to benefit you, your offerings must be a natural fit for on-the-go customers.

 

Before testing, you have to identify what “best” outcomes mean to you. If you’re selling products, you’ll look for increased sales conversion rates, or average order value (or both!). If your site is ad-supported, your goal may be to increase visits, page-views, and visit duration. Social-media features might be weighed in terms of repeat visits, and traffic coming from referrals to friends. And you’ll also want to track the numbers most directly associated with your Web 2.0 initiatives: How many people are posting and reading product reviews? How many are establishing profiles, what is the average number of friend links, how many forum postings, RSS subscriptions, visits to your .mobi site, signups for your mobile text messaging program, links into your site from the blogosphere? To spot trends, you should track some metrics not just in their raw numbers, but also as a portion of the total. For example, what portion of all customers are registered users? What percentage of business leads is coming from the mobile site?

 

Following are the 10 important ideas –

  • Idea 1. Participate in Your Relevant Online Community
  • Idea 2. Launch Customer Ratings and Reviews
  • Idea 3. Add Value for Customer Registration
  • Idea 4. Create Valuable Content and Set it Free
  • Idea 5. Enhance Your Branding and Security Messaging
  • Idea 6. Deploy Web Analytics and A/B Testing
  • Idea 7. Segment Your Loyalty eMail Program
  • Idea 8. Push Channel Integration
  • Idea 9. Position Yourself in Mobile Media
  • Idea 10. Design Your Personal “Killer App 
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Poems

Letting Go

 

To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring. It means I can’t do it for someone
else. To let go is not to cut myself off. It’s the realization that I
can’t control another. To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning
from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not
in my hands. To let go is not to try and change or blame another, I can
only change myself. To let go is not to care for, but to care about.

To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive. To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being. To let go is not to be in the
middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their
own outcomes. To let go is not to be protective, it is to permit another
to face reality

To let go is not to deny, but to accept. To let go is not to nag, scold, or
argue, but to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each
day as it comes and cherish the moment.

To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone, but to try to become
what I dream I can be. To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow
and live for the future. To let go is to fear less and love more

~Author Unknown

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Poems

Footprints

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking

along the beach with the God. Across the sky flashed scenes

from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in

the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the God.

 

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked

back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times

along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest

times in his life.

 

This really bothered him and he questioned the God about it.

“God, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk

with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most

troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why when I needed most you would leave

me.”

 

The God replied, “My son, I would never leave you. During

your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of

footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

 

 
Author: Mary Stevenson Parker 

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