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Front End Developer Technologies to learn and explore this year

Izunna Okpala

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technology advancement

Front End Development is now becoming a house hold name amongst Developers and its important for us to explore the Technologies that are useful for this year..

FlexBox

flexboxIf you haven’t used Flexbox yet, you should plan on implementing it into a project this coming year. Flexbox is a much simpler way to handle layout with CSS. As long as you’re willing to ignore IE9 (currently less than 1% of browsers), then Flexbox is ready to use in your production sites. Because it requires different syntaxes in some situations, it means that you’ll want to use a tool like PostCSS with the AutoPrefixer plugin to take care of some of the discrepancies. Laying out things with Flexbox is so much simpler than the old float model that once you learn it, you won’t want to go back.


PostCSS

PostCSS Sample Site Because you’ll want to work with Flexbox in 2016, you’re going to want to learn about it’s parent …PostCSS. It’s a tool for converting CSS and it’s more than just a way to take care of Flexbox. It’s also an engine that allows you to use a variety of plugins, including a Sass-like language called PreCSS, A code minifier called CSSNano or even a plugin called cssNext that lets you use next generation CSS features in today’s browsers. I have a couple of courses on PostCSS coming out on Lynda.com real soon. Bookmark my list of courses and take a look at this Demo site or the course Github project for more information.


AngularJS 2

AngularJS2 This year is going to be a second breakout year for Angular JS with a new version that uses a revamped structure. AngularJS popularized app development with features like two way data binding, routing, animations and super simple form validation. The next version of Angular changes the paradigm of how the applications should be built by using an architecture that is focused on components. It’s definitely different than what you’re used to with Angular 1. On the plus side, it simplifies the way you work with the framework, but is going to require some additional learning (See ES6/TypeScript below). I’ll be preparing updates to all of my AngularJS courses, which include Up and Running with AngularJS, Adding Registration to your Application and Building a Data Driven App with AngularJS soon. Building components is a lot like creating custom directives and working with traditional web components, but Angular simplifies the syntax and makes it easier to build and focuses on making sure your apps will be fast and ready for mobile performance.


ES6/ES2015

2016 will also be the year that you’ll need to check out the sixth version of JavaScript known officially as ES2015 and often as ES6. You’ll need a transpiler like Babel, plus a task runner like GulpJS to take care of this, but this is the year that you’ll see lots of examples popping up all over the web, especially when it comes to AngularJS 2. Although technically, the new version of Angular doesn’t require you to program in ES6, the examples on that website as well as in others will default to ES6, so you’ll want to spend some time learning some of the features including: Arrow Functions, Classes, Template Strings and more. Some of these features are already creeping into other frameworks like AngularJS2, so it’s important to learn them so that you’ll be able to understand examples and be ready for the future of the web.


React

PostCSS Sample Site2015’s breakout framework was definitely React, so if you’ve been holding out, 2016 is the time to give it a chance. React is not a replacement for Angular or other popular frameworks, but specifically focused on building user interface components. There’s a lot of things to learn here including the JSX language, state and stateless functional components. . This is also something I want to build a project based course on, so keep an eye our for more on that from me in the future.


TypeScript

TypeScript If you’re going to be using AngularJS2, you are going to want to learn about TypeScript. TypeScript is a language that is a superset of JavaScript that can be compiled through a transpiler to JavaScript that will work with most browsers. AngularJS2 was built using this language from Microsoft. As I mentioned, technically, you can use ES5 or ES6 or event Dart to program in AngularJS2, but at least as of now, the examples for that are tough to find and I forsee a 2016 in which most of the examples will be written with TypeScript in mind. One of my favorite books on AngularJS ng-book is already using TypeScript for examples.


Ionic 2

Ionic 2 Of all the Angular related projects I love, Ionic is by far my favorite. It makes it dead simple to develop mobile applications, so although this project is still in early development, I’m really looking forward to playing with the new version that’s currently in Alpha. If you haven’t had a chance to play with Ionic, make a bookmark to play with it next year. I’ll be working on an update to my courses, so keep an eye out for that as well. Here’s the current course:


BPG

BPG The web needs a new graphic format, and I’m not talking about SVG. Yes, SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics is amazing for vectors and interactivity. But we need something that’s going to do a better job with photo images and video. So although this is a bit of wishful thinking, I’m hoping that 2016 is the year that we see BPG considered as the successor to JPG. It has a high compression ratio like JPG with much better quality, it’s not just an image format, but can handle videos and animation (goodbye animated GIFs) and it even supports an alpha channel like PNG. It’s essentially a better version of JPG with everything you love about PNG plus animation…what’s not to love. You can implement it on your sites today with the addition of a simple javascript file.


Bootstrap 4

Bootstrap 4 Alpha There’s a new version of Bootstrap that will be released later in the year, so that’s another thing to put in the list of things to learn. The changes are going to affect you if you plan to update to the new version of the framework. The biggest change is the move from Less to a Sass core, but that’s not really something to be too concerned about since both versions are similar. Changes that will be critical for migration are the addition of a new grid tier at 480px, which is inserted within the previous tiers, so that means that your layouts will need to take that into account. Glyphicons are gone, as well as the Affix plugin, so if you’ve been using those, you’ll need to find an alternative. Overall, there are fewer classes, so the framework will be easier to use. It drops IE8 support and now uses ems and rems as the official unit of measure. This one won’t take you too long to pick up and don’t worry, I’ll have you covered with new versions of Bootstrap Essential Training, as well as new project based courses.


Webpack

Webpack Module Manager This is another interesting technology I’ve been following. Webpack is a module bundler that makes it easier to manage your project dependencies. So it can take care of loading the necessary scripts that you’ll need and combine them into a single file. It can work with other tools like Gulp.js or by itself to provide a simpler way to package not just scripts, but other resources as well. So, it’s a bit like what you would do with Browserify, but it promises to be simpler. Unfortunately, I don’t think the documentation for this project is as good as it should be, but it definitely looks like it’s gaining momentum in terms of acceptance.


WordPress

wordpress2The latest version of WordPress includes a super interesting REST API. WordPress is of course the world’s most popular blogging platform and within its engine has a real powerful content management system. With the addition of a REST API, WordPress can be the battle tested, rock solid content management system for any web application. This has the potential of bringing lots of interest in scripting back onto the platform. The future of WordPress is no longer PHP, but JavaScript. 2016 is a great time to rediscover what you can create with this platform.


Electron

Atom's Electron

This is in the ‘time permitting’ category for me, but it’s one of those things I’m really interested in getting a chance to play with next year. Electron is the technology behind Atom, my favorite text editor and allows you to build cross-platform desktop apps using web technologies. Of course, like Atom, it’s made by Github so there’s a really good group of people behind it with an impressive list of projects like the Slack Application, Visual Studio and others that use the platform.

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IoT to fuel the next Green Revolution in the farming industry

Izunna Okpala

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iot farming

With pressure on land and food resources set to increase, the Internet of Things (IoT) will play an increasingly important role in helping the agriculture sector become more efficient, productive and sustainable. This is according to new independent research commissioned by global mobile satellite company Inmarsat (ISAT.L) which found that spend on, and interest in, IoT is set to rocket over the next five years within agritech.


Market research specialist Vanson Bourne interviewed respondents from 100 large agritech companies across the globe for Inmarsat’s ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise – 2017’ report, and found that the sector is rapidly taking to IoT technologies. 62 per cent had already fully or partially deployed IoT-based solutions, far outweighing the adoption levels seen in the mining, transport and energy sectors, and a further 27 per cent had plans to do so within the next six months.

Moreover, the spend on IoT-based solutions is set to increase dramatically over the next few years. Today, about five per cent of agritech businesses’ IT budgets are spent on the technology; a figure that is expected to more than double to around 12 per cent by 2022, indicating how important IoT will be for the sector going forward.

Commenting on the findings, Ayan Jobse-Alkemade, Director of Sector Development Agriculture, Inmarsat Enterprise, said: “With the planet estimated to reach a population of 10 billion people by 2050, humanity will face challenges with sustainable water sources, food production, and the best use of land to get the maximum yield from crops. Additionally, using the most efficient method to deliver the resources will increasingly feature on the global agenda. In short, farmers, with the help of the agritech sector, need to get smarter, leaner and faster from field to fork.

“The only way to really do this is with the clever application of new technologies like IoT, and our research demonstrates how quickly agritech businesses are embracing this technology. IoT will fuel a revolution in the farming sector and bring gains that completely eclipse those made in the first Green Revolution in the 1970s, continued Ayan Jobse-Alkemade” 

Working with its partners, Inmarsat is at the forefront of this movement, delivering effective solutions for agritech businesses globally. By combining its heritage in critical connectivity with LoRaWAN technology and data analytics platforms that allow for the free-flow of data across organisations, Inmarsat are helping to ensure agritech businesses get ahead of the competition and meet the food production needs of tomorrow.

Many of the locations that would benefit most from IoT technologies are remote and are situated where terrestrial networks do not reach, or do not work well, all of the time. Inmarsat’s L-band network provides global satellite connectivity with up to 99.9% uptime, allowing IoT projects to thrive, even in the most remote and hostile environments.

To view and download the full report – ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise – 2017’ – visit: http://research.inmarsat.com/

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Not Everyone is an Entrepreneur

Izunna Okpala

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entrepreneur

There is a difference between an entrepreneur and small-business owner.

We have gotten a bit carried away with the “entrepreneur” label. Stop it. So many business people are now considered entrepreneurs that it is now easier to figure out who’s who if we just have the non-entrepreneurs raise their hands.

These fundamental definitions and an understanding of their roles will shape the future economy with more force than we may realize.

The entrepreneurs I know…

The fruit of an entrepreneur’s labor is the insatiable need for more, more and more. We can’t stop, and we’re not being hyperbolic when we say that.

Despite the purveying assumption, entrepreneurs are far from fearless. In fact, entrepreneurs are less driven by some moral authority or economic reward and more by the paralyzing fear of failure and the fear of missed opportunity. The true fear is not living up to what the entrepreneur truly believes is the maximized opportunity. This fear of perceived failure is worse than failure itself. Silicon Valley types don’t celebrate failure, because they’re full of themselves; they celebrate it because it’s too hard to look at themselves in the mirror when they fail. The concept of “failing forward” or “you aren’t pushing hard enough if you aren’t failing” are all mantras that make some entrepreneurs too happy to just continue to rinse and repeat the venture life-cycle.

Nonetheless, VC funding pours in, and the population of “entrepreneurs” continues to grow. There’s no shortage of incubators accelerators and free infrastructure (increasing at an average of 50% each year between 2008 and 2014) to support our efforts and feed our endeavors.

X  (previously Google X) says that “instead of a mere 10 percent gain, a moonshot aims for a 10x improvement over what currently exists. The combination of a huge problem, a radical solution to that problem, and the breakthrough technology that just might make that solution possible, is the essence of a moonshot.” What’s missing here is the fact that it takes an entrepreneur’s Draconian thirst to add 10x the ambition with no predefined path, a healthy amount of someone else’s money, and the ability to convince others to join them on the crazy journey.

Those are the entrepreneurs I know. And if nothing else, that description is more accurate than what we’ve been hearing for the past decade. Entrepreneurs don’t dare to be different, they are different.

You might be a small-business owner if…

Small-business owners, on the contrary, build businesses incrementally, bit by bit. They often solve smaller, localized problems with their business and are not looking to radically move the needle. They’re the broad base of employment in America for this reason — they cover a lot of surface area, but aren’t disrupting the status quo, creating entire new fields, or accelerating an entire market forward.

Small-business owners seek lower risk — if it’s a moonshot, it’s by accident. It all tracks back to a timeline that maps far beyond that of entrepreneurs. Small businesses are created with the goal of sustaining a living for the owners and their employees. There’s nothing special or serial about them. These are the people you should ask about work-life balance in an interview.

Furthermore, their products and services often live in the realm of known and established offerings. They live and operate in their local community first and foremost. The local automotive store down the street who’s been there for 50 years? The one who just opened up who will be there for another 50? Those are both small-business owners, tokens of their community who’s definition of winning comes down to how confident they’ll be opening their doors tomorrow. Their broken definition of winning is really about surviving and relative thriving but not truly winning.

The VCs aren’t there to back them or their 15 percent growth models, their march to profitability is a steady cadence of tactical steps in a defined direction with low risk with even lower return. While that direction may change, it’s not at the whim of the market or investor pressure. There is also little pivoting or course correction because small-business owners aren’t looking to discover a new world, but instead just happy with walking the well-established path.

If entrepreneurs are our economy’s moonshots, small business owners are the gravity that keeps our system grounded.

Decoupling is the only way

While both entrepreneurs and small-business owners may have some similar entrepreneurial genes at their core, we can’t ignore the differences between the two that ultimately define their role in our economy. We shouldn’t be angry that everyone isn’t an entrepreneur, but celebrate it. The world and economy needs balance.

Entrepreneurs, at their core, are rare, transformative and risky. They are going to propel the society forward with big leaps of creative disruption. Small-business owners give us a stable base that de-risks the moonshots and protects us from the fallout of failures.

I’m not asking you to make a value judgement of one over the other, but consider this: we’ve been encouraging people to become entrepreneurs for decades and the startup failure rate has reached 90 percent.

We shouldn’t want everyone to be an entrepreneur. It’s not about separating the professionals from the amateurs, either. It’s about responsible approaches to economic growth and societal change.

Let the change agents do the change — real entrepreneurs are well-suited to shape the future. We need small-business owners to anchor our present, and too many of them are being lured away from that important work by an inauthentic, woefully misguided perception of what it means to be an entrepreneur.

We need to strike the right balance of the two, and that starts with vocabulary and perceptions. Imagine if all businesses had a 90 percent failure rate? What if no businesses made giant breakthroughs? When the balance between small business people and entrepreneurs gets out of whack, we can do remarkable harm.

The best way to prevent that is to stop pretending you’re something you’re not.

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Ways Smart Cities Can be used for Better / Safer Lives

Izunna Okpala

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smart city

The advanced communication and the digital technologies currently available to us today can be used to make the lives of city dwellers and home owners better and safer.

Cities are growing faster than the world population, Lagos Nigeria can be taken as a case study. It is increasingly challenging for large and fast growing cities to manage their operations. The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling ‘things’ (objects and devices) in our lives to exchange data in a common network. The IoT will play a major role in developing Smart Cities that help planners lligent Systems that help planners truly understand our everyday tasks. But how can Innovationn in the Tech world improve our lives?

By 2020, the IoT will connect more than 25 billion devices and almost anything – your connected car, your building – will communicate with other things. Innovations in IoT technology are helping private and public organizations gain insight into the needs of their communities. Cities will become smart by:

  • Developing strategies to plan for long-term growth
  • Creating more energy-efficient environments
  • Improving their infrastructure
  • Keeping citizens safe

IoT technology can help to accomplish many things from cities. It can help to lower energy consumption to streamline communications and achieve better efficiency than ever before. Cities using smart technology can track and locate assets that belong to the city such as machinery, buses, utility trucks and can even raise an alarm if there is a need to accomplish that.

IoT TECHNOLOGY offers better and more unique ways to ensure that we lower our consumption of energy and our greenhouse gas. In fact, in some cases, the actual trash receptacles are able to tell the city when they are full to allow for faster removal of garbage. Smart Cities permit us to better serve the people who are part of them by managing many services without any type of human interaction at all. Smart lighting can shut down street lights when there is no one in the vicinity and smart sensors in buildings can adjust temperature and humidity to keep the perfect environment.

The benefits helps to achieve social, environmental, economic and very human benefits. There are other up sides and perhaps even a down side or two.

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