Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Know your hammer from your screwdriver: The right tool for the job

As software developers, we at Naked Element, are skilled and experienced in a number of different programming languages and aware of many, many more. Choosing the right programming language for a piece of software is as important as choosing a hammer to knock in a nail, a flat headed screw driver for a flat headed screw and a cross headed screwdriver for cross headed screw. However with software it’s far more complicated as there isn’t always just one tool for the job.

It’s also important to consider the skills you have at hand. For example, you wouldn’t usually ask a plumber to fix your electrics or an electrician to fix your plumbing. However, given enough time most plumbers could learn to do electrics and vice versa. Generally people with a talent for practical things can easily pick up other practical skills. It’s the same with software developers, but you have to consider whether the investment in new skills will return sufficient results in an acceptable time frame, or whether to risk compromising your margins by bringing in already experienced outside help. It’s not an easy decision!

Software developers (the good ones at least) love learning new things - programming languages in particular - but there are divisions of course. Some software developers are only interested in writing software for Microsoft Windows, for example, or for Open Source platforms such as Linux and the tools they use are quite different. It’s even more pronounced with Android developers and iPhone developers! You don’t often get developers who like a bit of everything, but it does happen, and those are the sorts of developers we have at Naked Element.

It’s true that we’d happily write Java (a general purpose programming language aimed at open source software development) all day long, but that wouldn’t allow us to develop complete pieces of software. We regularly use various combinations of Java, Ruby on Rails and JavaScript in order to get the best result. We’ve turned our hand to Python and, more recently, Microsoft core languages such as C# and VB.net too. It depends what our clients need and our assessment of the right tool for the job. Sometimes it’s not even about choosing a programming language. Sometimes it’s about choosing pre-built software, such as Wordpress, and customising it to our client’s needs. We wouldn’t use Wordpress for anything more complicated than a simple e-commerce system, but for websites, including ours, it’s the right tool for the job.

So when you’re choosing your software development partner, consider whether they’re using the right tools for your project or whether they’re just using the hammer they’re familiar with to knock in your screw.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Sign on the Dotted Line – Why Contracts are Important

Contracts might seem like something only big business needs, and many small companies work without them, but if your work is important to you, it is vital to have a contract in place. A well put together contract can make a business relationship stronger and more successful, so it is worth investing some time and effort in getting a contract just right.

When people think of contracts, they often seem daunting, filled with complicated language only solicitors understand, fine print made to confuse the signatory and seemingly endless clauses that only apply in the most unique of circumstances. Documents like this are off putting, and occasionally detrimental to the business process, especially at the beginning of a new working relationship. Contracts don’t need to be pages and pages long, or contain lots of legal jargon or penalties, the most important thing is that all parties understand the content of the contract and all are in agreement as to their own responsibilities. It is very important to make clear what is expected of each party and what will happen if either side fails to keep up their end of the agreement. Being clear on cost is essential too - what is included in the charge and, very importantly, what is not included. A good contract should only contain information relevant to that particular piece of work and should be written in simple, understandable language where possible. Having someone sign something they don’t understand is not a good way to begin!

For general terms of business, applicable to every piece of work, a Master Service Agreement can prove useful to accompany each specific work contract and Naked Element agrees and signs an MSA with every client. This MSA does not oblige either party to work with each other, it merely details the quality of the service or product, each party’s availability throughout the business relationship and the responsibilities they have to each other. Only once a schedule is signed, does it become a binding contract. The MSA defines the confidentiality clauses, copyright details, intellectual property rights, payment terms and the scope of charges as well as liability from each party. These key details are indispensable for any business, whether the project is worth £500 or £5,000,000 as they are crucial if something were to go wrong.

Contracts also shouldn’t be designed to catch someone out, or tie them down unnecessarily, they should be an agreement, put together for the benefit of all parties. Where possible, a clever business person should be open to discussing and amending a proposed contract before it is signed if the other party wishes to make changes. It is also often beneficial to include a clause allowing either party to revisit a contract for adjustment after a set period of time. Being flexible and open to future issues in this way increases trust between parties, making a successful business relationship more likely.

A good contract should -

  • Only include relevant information
  • Use simple language
  • Outline benefits of the contract to both parties
  • Be negotiable
  • Be adjustable where appropriate

With a proper contract the client will feel they can depend on the product or service they are paying for and can rely on the contract to ensure they will not be out of pocket if something goes awry. By the same token, the service provider is protected by the contract if a client should renege on something that was previously mutually agreed upon. A good contract, that has everyone's  interests covered equally, makes a business seem more trustworthy, as well as more professional, and if everything goes well, more likely to do business again.

Words by Lauren.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Kings of Leon

Sheffield is in the North and things, well people, are very different in the North. They’re friendlier than other places. They apologise in a friendly way when they knock into you and several people run after your ticket when it blows away in the wind after you’ve been through security.

Given the recent events in Manchester security was tight at Sheffield Arena. There were plenty of police, some of them visibly armed. You weren’t allowed to take in a bag any bigger than A4 and everyone was searched before they could enter the arena foyer. Having said that, we had no problems parking (getting out of the car park was a different matter) and were through the security check in no time. Everyone there, including the security, was friendly! Even the armed police were posing for selfies and chatting at the end of the night.

I’m not a fan of the Kings of Leon. They’ve got a few good songs, I mean who doesn’t like having their sex on fire? I find them bland, monotonous and a bit boring. Live it’s a different story. They’ve still only got one sound, but it’s much more palatable and they’re very good at it. The lead guitarist can play, but is nothing special, the bass player looks like Billy Idol on a good day and the drummer spent most of the show chewing gum and blowing bubbles, but the singer, his range and the effortless delivery were incredible. He just needs to work on his interaction and eye contact with the crowd.


What was also quite cool was, about halfway through, a complete stage rearrange, the moving of the drum riser and the introduction of a third guitarist and a keyboard player all performed behind a curtain with sometimes just the front man and sometimes all of the main band playing out the front. It was fun, exciting and interesting to see.

They played most of the hits, as far as I could tell and didn’t do an encore, which always makes things easier and means you get more music and less messing around.



Monday, 5 June 2017

NorDevMag: Call for submissions

After receiving such a positive response to the nor(DEV):con magazines at each conference, we’ve decided to release a magazine outside of the conference too!

Each issue will contain tech articles, local features, news and interviews as well as tech events in Norfolk and further afield, but most importantly it will be free to download! But we need your help to make this a success.

We’re asking for your suggestions and contributions for our first issue due for release in September. This first issue will be focused around different aspects of A.I.

Contributions

We need

  • News – are you beginning or completing a project? Expanding into a new area? Taking on new staff/premises/tech? Have you won an award or achieved something noteworthy you want to tell people about?
  • Events – are you planning or hosting an event between September 2017 and the end of January 2018? Are you attending an event over the summer you think we should review or take photos at?
  • Articles – do you have something tech related you would like to talk about or share with the community? Can you write an engaging and interesting piece for our pages?
  • Columns – do you have something to say others would like to hear? An experience or opinion about something in the tech community or industry that others would enjoy reading?
Suggestions and comments for other articles or features are also welcome! What do you like about the past conference magazines? What don’t you like? What would you like to see more of? Less of?

Advertisers

  • Would you like to reach the tech community?
  • Do you have a service or product you think we should know about?
  • Are you holding an event that would benefit from being in front of the tech people of Norfolk
We want to hear from YOU! This is a magazine for Norfolk’s tech community, so please help us to make it what you want it be.

Contact us at: mag@norfolkdevelopers.com