Most of us are relying more on our smartphones and tablets every day. These indispensible pieces of technology can help us communicate, keep us organized, wake us up in the morning, and even help us find the keys we dropped somewhere in the car at night. But can your iPhone or iPad help you boost your brain function and make you more productive?
Not surprisingly, the answer is yes. Here are five apps for iOS that can help you work smarter and more efficiently — either directly or indirectly.
What does a memory game have to do with making your job easier? According to several studies, memory games can make you smarter in the short term, improve overall brain function, and even help to prevent dementia. Brainbean gives you eight free games that exercise your mind and improve memory, pattern recognition, and imagination:
- Letter List gives you a letter, and asks you to come up with as many words as possible that start with the letter
- Incomplete Drawing gives you part of a drawing and asks you to complete it with the power of your imagination
- Word Scramble gives you a bunch of letter tiles, and has you make as many four-letter words as possible from those letters
- Pipe Builder has you rearrange six tiles containing pipe segments to form a complete pipeline
Brainbean also includes Mosaic Drawing, Pattern Tiles, Block Builder, and Remote Association.
Learning a new language is another proven way to boost brain function, but actually doing this is harder as you get older. Babbel provides an easy, interactive tool to help you learn a second language, or a third and fourth. Game-like activities are used to help you master words and phrases, and simple listen-and-repeat actions allow you to master pronunciation. There are 14 languages to choose from, including German, Spanish, French, and Italian.
Babbel is free for the first few levels. Advanced lessons are available for a monthly subscription fee.
Adobe Photoshop Sketch
This free-form sketching app from the biggest name in digital illustration lets you draw and sketch on photos or backgrounds that are imported from your camera, device storage, or the Adobe Creative Cloud. You can also sketch on a blank page. It includes five pens and a full color palette, as well as a ruler tool to easily draw straight lines. Adobe Photoshop Sketch is free, and makes a great tool for meetings and presentations.
Adobe Photoshop Mix
Another Adobe product that uses the Creative Cloud, this simplified version of Adobe’s flagship software lets you perform photo editing on your iPhone or iPad. Features include image mixing, enhancing, effects, cut-outs, and crops. And with connectivity to the Creative Cloud, you can access more advanced image editing tools such as content-aware fills and shake reduction.
Adobe Photoshop Mix is a free app, and can be extremely useful in meetings and presentations, especially on larger iPad screens.
While not as versatile or free-form functional as the Adobe apps listed here, Skitch is an excellent on-the-go annotation tool. The app allows you to quickly and easily annotate web pages, PDF files, images and photos, and maps pulled from Apple Maps, allowing for more streamlined communication on the fly.
Skitch is free to download, but it costs $1.99 to get PDF markup capabilities (all other markup features are free). You can also connect the app to Evernote Premium for $4.99.
For more information on how to make your job easier, or to find a job that suits you better, contact the employment experts at The Armada Group. We help place candidates in top positions across the nation – and world.
Most IT departments are, by nature, results-driven. And because IT loves numbers and formulas, you’ll find myriad combinations of analytics and KPIs and data charts designed to measure success — usually in terms of output or dollars. But how good are these measurements in gauging the success of your career on a day-to-day basis?
If you’re an IT pro, and you want raises and promotions and accolades (and who doesn’t?), all those analytics won’t help you much in the way of personal advancement. There are better ways to track your progress that can alleviate the daily stresses of your job and help you become more satisfied, productive, and promotable.
Here are three of them, relating to the most common issues IT professionals face in the workplace: prioritizing, communicating, and building relationships.
Prioritize: Measuring where all your time really goes
For an IT pro, there are never enough hours in the day. Your workload always seems to exceed the amount of time you have to spend on it, and every week you feel further behind. But the good news is, you’re probably spending a lot of time on tasks you don’t need to worry about — and you can focus your efforts to increase productivity and decrease stress.
Take the time each day to write down your top three-to-five priorities. Then keep track of what you do all day, and how long you do it. Once you have these lists, figure out what percentage of time you’re spending on your priorities versus everything else, and prune out the clutter. If your workload is actually too heavy to accomplish your core tasks, you can show this data to your boss and ask to have non-essential activities reassigned.
Communicate: Measuring the effectiveness of what others are hearing
Good communication is essential in the workplace. As an IT pro, you need to communicate not only with the rest of your team, but also with your supervisors, management, people in other departments, or even customers. And the most common barrier to communication is that not everyone you need to convey information to speaks the same language.
When you’re communicating something, the tendency is to think only about what you have to say. But the key to effective communication is to understand how the other person needs to hear it. If you’re speaking to a non-tech person, you can’t use jargon or complex terms. If your style is straightforward and to the point, a less direct person may find you abrasive or intimidating — and therefore will only hear your tone, not the words you’re saying.
Consider the communication issues you’ve experienced in light of your audience. Is it possible they could have misunderstood you because of their listening style? To measure your effectiveness in communicating, pay attention to nonverbal cues that suggest they’re confused by the terms you’re using, or tuning out your words in favor of your tone. You can adjust the way you convey information to make sure everyone’s clear, resulting in smoother daily operations all around.
Relate: Measuring your workplace relationships
Relationships make the working world go ‘round. When you have strong relationships in the workplace, your career will flourish — but weak relationships can hamper or cripple your progress. You may get along great with like-minded people, but what about those from different generations, different cultures, or even different departments?
Improving your workplace relationships will help you get ahead, and make for a more harmonious environment for everyone. It only takes a few minutes at a time to build rapport — you can choose a day to sit with a different group at lunch, or invite a co-worker you don’t know well for a cup of coffee. Make it a point to offer authentic compliments on other people’s work, especially those in different departments, and send a quick thank-you when another person does something that positively affects your work.
Charts and analytics are great for measuring the technical ROI of your work, but these real-world measurements can help you achieve personal satisfaction and advancement. Speak to the experts at The Armada Group today to find out how to take a better measure of your IT success, and enjoy lowered stress and higher productivity.
Technology may change in the blink of an eye, but the basic job of a developer or software engineer remains the same: to produce code. Writing code is the heart of every developer task, from debugging and maintenance to creating brand new software.
However, many of the tools, resources, and skills developers use to crank out code have evolved along with technology, particularly with the emergence of the cloud. Here are some examples of the ways modern cloud developers differ from software engineers before them — and a few things that haven’t changed.
Source code control systems
This type of system isn’t new — in fact, developers have used them for decades to store and track codes, versions, and revisions. All source code control systems have the same basic components:
- A repository where code is stored
- Revision control tools to manage copies of the master code
- A version system that keeps track of releases
For the modern developer, the difference in source code control systems is awareness and mastery of adaption. Working with these systems in the cloud requires the ability to manipulate code for a widely dispersed workforce. The distributed git system, made popular by the collaborative developer website GitHub, is the most widely used, but centrally controlled systems like Microsoft Team Foundation Server and Apache Subversion are also commonly used in cloud development.
Agile development methods
There is increasing pressure on modern developers and software engineers to push products to market faster. This has led to the creation and practice of smaller, faster, and more flexible methods for producing code — and speed increases are often achieved through collaboration over a git system, with developers who may be located in diverse geographic areas.
For example, one method many developers employ is called a “sprint.” Sprints are periods of time, usually a week or two, when a team of developers does nothing but produce working software.
Platform as a Service
A lot of end users are familiar with the cloud term Software as a Service (SaaS), a time-saving and cost-effective method for using programs and applications that are hosted on the cloud rather than on workstations or servers, and accessed with an Internet connection.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is similar in that it delivers large, expensive components developers use on a hosted platform, without hefty overhead or upfront investment. PaaS is a cloud computing layer that provides infrastructure build, integration testing, and software deployment — removing overhead for the developer and allowing coding to happen faster.
For a long time, developers could build a career by becoming proficient in a single programming language. Today’s cloud developers need greater linguistic capabilities — as least in the languages they use to talk to computers. Most programming languages are decades old, but modern developers are combining them in new ways in order to work with all the domain-specific languages that can go into a single software product.
All factors considered, speed is the primary difference between previous generations of software engineers and the new breed of agile cloud developers. What once represented a year’s worth of output can now be created in a matter of days, and the process can be repeated week after week.
But at the end of the day, developers deal with code. And that will never change.
The Armada Group knows what modern skills developers need to cultivate and maintain in order to be at the forefront of their industry. To speak with one of our recruiting specialists, or to find a top IT candidate, contact our team today.
In the tech world, jargon is inescapable. These sneaky buzzwords and phrases creep into our lexicon almost unnoticed, and suddenly we’re spouting off terms like “synergy” and “paradigm” while our peers nod along — as if they know what we mean, any more than we do.
The thing about jargon is that it’s nearly universal among IT professionals. It’s attractive because it’s almost like a secret code, the way school kids use Pig Latin so their other friends won’t know they’re talking about them. But just because we use it, doesn’t mean we have to like it — because let’s face it, jargon (and Pig Latin) can get annoying.
Here are 10 popular IT buzzwords and phrases we can’t stand — and can’t stop saying.
What it’s supposed to mean: This nebulous term refers to the vast collection of data, programs, and infrastructures that are stored in and run from third-party data warehouses, and accessed through individual devices with Internet connections.
What it sounds like: Data heaven, where all the good little programs wait to bestow themselves on people with magic devices. The problem with “the cloud” is that everyone uses it, but most non-tech people don’t understand what it really means. Everything on the Internet is not in the cloud.
What it’s supposed to mean: The process of bringing a new employee on board and up to speed with the company.
What it sounds like: The process of bringing a new employee on board…a pirate ship. At sword point. And making them galley slaves.
What it’s supposed to mean: Using elements of game playing at work to make things seem more fun and drive a competitive spirit.
What it sounds like: Your bosses have just been replaced by Mr. Rogers and Dr. Seuss. Everybody have fun…or else!
What it’s supposed to mean: A computer programmer, especially when referring to an inexperienced or unskilled programmer.
What it sounds like: All that training and experience you have doesn’t matter, because a monkey could do your job. In fact, we’re thinking of hiring monkeys and firing you.
Coding Ninjas / Rockstars
What it’s supposed to mean: This term is most often used in job descriptions to entice brilliant programmers and developers to work for a company. Flattery will get you everywhere.
What it sounds like: We get to show up at work in ninja outfits, carrying electric guitars, and sneak around the office blasting wicked riffs at unsuspecting co-workers. Surely, everyone will take us seriously then.
What it’s supposed to mean: The entire process of installing new software or hardware, testing it, fixing it, testing it again, fixing it some more, and finally getting it all up and running 30 days after the deadline. Or just installing, configuring, and smoothly launching software or hardware.
What it sounds like: Ready to install that new software? We’ll send five black vans full of IT people in full S.W.A.T. gear to your workplace, who will launch tear gas canisters through your windows before going in to attack your infrastructure. Don’t worry — we’ll keep the casualties as minimal as possible.
What it’s supposed to mean: [verb] To design and configure in the capacity of a software architect; to build a software architecture.
What it sounds like: Pretentious. Just say “build.”
What it’s supposed to mean: In software programming and development, an iteration is a phase at which improvements are made — in short, a do-over.
What it sounds like: We don’t want to seem really anal about changing the background for this app to gray instead of blue, so we’ll just take the “re” off the fancy word for do-over and pretend it’s all part of the process.
What it’s supposed to mean: The process of analyzing and sorting large amounts of data in order to extract useful business applications.
What it sounds like: Meet your new IT team: Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, and Doc. Don’t worry about those pickaxes — they’re highly trained professionals.
What it’s supposed to mean: To take something you’re already doing at work, and turn a profit from it.
What it sounds like: Our jobs involve magically spinning code into cash. Note how we’re all retired billionaires living on yachts in the Caribbean.
If you’re tired of people speaking jargon at you, and looking for people with real industry knowledge, contact The Armada Group. We hire highly trained IT individuals for some of the top companies across America, and place impeccable candidates with their dream jobs.
Women in technology make up just over 10 percent. Studies show that the interest simply isn’t there, as very few women going into college pursue a computer science degree. It will take an industry-wide effort to generate more female enthusiasm, and results won’t follow overnight. However, here are seven tips you can use to make your company appeal to women:
1. Hire women. This seems almost too obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Women who walk in to an all-male IT operation are less likely to feel comfortable working there.
2. Involve the community. Find local groups who focus on empowering women in the workplace. Once your company establishes an effective relationship, most groups will go to great lengths to help you.
3. Contact Sororities. Because most sororities include a GPA stipulation, they will tend to have a higher quality education – or, at the very least, prove to have the more earnest students. Forming relationships with sororities extends a branch from your company to women interested in technology.
4. Increase flexibility. Women, statistically, are much more prone to accepting offers from jobs that are willing to adjust for family planning. Flexible hours and work from home jobs will open a number of opportunities.
5. Have a female recruiter. At least one female recruiter on your team will drastically increase the odds of appealing to other women. This also remains true for women in management or administration, even if they’re not directly involved in IT.
6. Have an intern program. If you have multiple internships, reserve a proportion of slots exclusively for female participants – while making an effort to bring in more than one.
7. Bring in outside help. Consider bringing in a female consultant to find small changes to your workplace that could help to build a more gender neutral atmosphere.
Increasing the number of female candidates is a long-term goal for most IT workplaces, as females bring in a different perspective that can positively affect the outcome. These seven tips can help your company become a more female-friendly environment.
At The Armada Group, we’re dedicated to female talent, as well as elite talent from both genders. We have some of the best and brightest in candidates and serve the fastest growing companies in America. Contact us to see how we can help you!
Java remains one of the most popular computing platforms around, and Java developers are in fairly high demand.
In general, a Java developer is responsible for designing, developing, and implementing Web-based Java applications according to the requirements of a business. However, organizations are increasingly seeking Java developers with both hard and soft skills — those who can create great Java apps, and explain them in non-technical language to investors, executives, and end users.
Salaries for Java developers vary depending on a number of factors, from the complexity of the job duties to the location of the business. In general, the range of Java developer salaries in Santa Cruz is higher than the national average range.
Salary ranges for Java developers in Santa Cruz
According to Salary.com, Santa Cruz Java developers earn from under $67,254 to over $118,621. Here’s a breakdown of the range:
- The median salary is $96,935
- 10% make $67,254 or less; 10% make $118,621 or more
- 15% earn from $67,254 to $81,399
- 25% earn from $81,399 to the median
- 25% earn from the median to $108,286
- 15% earn from $108,286 to $118,621
By comparison, the national average salary range for Java developers is from under $58,330 to over $102,880, and the national median salary is $84,072.
Factors that affect Java developer salaries in Santa Cruz
Several areas can impact the total salary for Java developers, including your education and training, experience, job scope, and the geographic location of your employer. Here’s a look at these various factors, and how they might increase or decrease your salary:
- Education and training: Most Java developer positions require a minimum education of a bachelor’s degree in your area of specialty. Obtaining certifications in Java, such as Oracle Certified Associate (OCA), Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) or Sun Certified Java Developer (SCJD) may allow you to command a higher salary than a degree alone.
- Experience: As with nearly any industry, the more experience you have as a Java developer, the higher the salary you can expect. Experience with developing high-profile projects may be worth more, salary-wise.
- Job scope: Different companies and organizations will have different requirements for Java developer positions. In general, more complex job descriptions will offer higher salaries. Here, the size of the company is also typically a factor — larger companies can often pay more for Java developers.
- Geographic location: Organizations within large cities such as Santa Cruz will often pay higher salaries than those in suburban or rural locations. In addition, geographic locations within the country affect salary — for example, East Coast and West Coast locations often have higher average salaries than the middle regions of the country.
On the whole, Java developers in Santa Cruz can expect to earn a good to excellent living that is competitive with or higher than the national average.
For more information on Salary Data, or for help finding an excellent Java Developer or Java Development position, contact the experts at The Armada Group today. We specialize in placing highly qualified candidates in their perfect IT positions.
Learning a new programming language is a great strategy for any career-minded developer. But with so many to choose from, ranging from programming staples to ultra-niche, which one should you learn?
Here are six of the most promising new languages that show potential for high demand in the near future.
Opa: A unified, secure web app developer
Traditional web app creation involves three database components — browser-side, server-side, and backend — that are usually written in three different languages, and then connected together. Opa streamlines this process by allowing you to write the entire application within the Opa framework. A compiler automates client and server code creation, and also builds the communication structure to bridge them.
Scala: High flexibility for existing environments
While it’s not especially “new,” since it was introduced in 2003, business interest in Scala is currently on the rise. Scala is short for “scalable language,” and the platform is designed for easy use with any size project, from tiny programs to large-scale enterprise applications.
Developers enjoy using Scala because of its flexibility, ease of use, and high concurrency, while organizations are keen on its inter-operational capacities. Scala is compatible with Java and JVMs, as well as the Android platform. It also works with popular integrated development environments (IDEs) like NetBeans, Eclipse, and IntelliJ, as well as frameworks like Hibernate and Spring.
Erlang: Streamlining concurrency
Similar to Scala in that it’s not particularly new (the language was released in 1986 and open sourced in 1998), but it’s experiencing a rise in interest, Erlang is primarily designed to build large-scale applications with high availability. Some of the desirable features of this language include concurrency with popular platforms and environments, language-level features that help simplify concurrent programming, and hot swapping that enables code modification or updating without shutdown.
Two of the biggest names in technology analytics and research — Mark Driver of Gartner and Jeffrey Hammond of Forrester — have suggested that Erlang is likely to proliferate rapidly in the near future.
Go: The language of the cloud
This language, also known as Golang, has a fairly influential backer: Google. An open source, traditional language that’s similar to C, Go was written expressly for use in the cloud and includes built-in features like concurrency and garbage collection. It’s also a fast language, able to compile large applications on a single computer in just a few seconds.
As a programming language, Go has a steep learning curve. But it’s already been used to write well-known projects like Docker and Force.com, and interest in developers who can use Go is fairly high and increasing.
Ceylon: The modular Java
While Ceylon is based on Java, it was designed to kill the popular programming language. Ceylon was developed specifically to enable teams to write large programs, so one of its key features is modularity. The language organizes code into modules and packages, and then compiles it to module archives, which are published in a central repository.
At The Armada Group, we recruit elite talent for some of the most innovative tech giants in the world, and we’re experts at placing the perfect candidate with their dream placements. Contact us today to see how we can help you!
When it comes to hiring the right person, the hard skills and certifications are primary qualifiers. Certifications are the key identifiers on a resume, but it’s the business culture and soft skills that ensure long term employer/employee relationships yield long-term results. Having the ideal match, rather than someone who simply has the hard skills, will greatly produce long-term benefits. Here are three reasons to hire for cultural fit:
1. Increased productivity.
A candidate with a similar mindset of the business will have a more synergistic approach, and hence, a similar mindset on projects small and large. This will allow a worker to yield results that both require fewer edits and are more closely in line with business expectations.
2. Decreased friction.
Having a cultural fit decreases the amount of friction between employer and employee, and enables the business relationship to function more smoothly. A smoother relationship increases long-term job satisfaction, reducing turnover and lowering training costs. Furthermore, the strategic and long-term goals will coincide more directly with employers who share cultural similarities, eliminating potential hostilities.
3. Versatility and mobility.
Having an outstanding software developer who doesn’t share the company’s cultural fit can still develop software – but moving up or over is simply not an option. In order to maintain a company’s culture, leaders must hire and train within that culture. Any other mindset will diminish the cultural values, which can cause enormous amounts of tension and personality clashes among leadership – a sure way to inadvertently nullify a business’s strategic plan.
Technical skills are an important function of IT to get a job done, but the cultural fit gets the job done right. Hiring for cultural reasons increases the amount of productivity, reduces turnover and training costs, and pays long-term dividends due to the ability to grow with the company.
Regardless of which technical skills – or business culture fit – you’re looking for, we can help. At The Armada Group, our primary objective is to find elite talent who shares a similar mindset to the hiring company. We thoroughly understand a business’s cultural aspects and vet candidates with a great deal of caution prior to matching them together. It’s what separates us from other technical recruiting agencies who simply fill vacancies. Contact us today to see how we can help you!
Between the release of Swift, Apple’s new programming language, “Yosemite,” and iOS 8, Apple has been a busy company as of late. (Not that they’ve ever been exactly “idle,” either.) In part because of their recent trends, companies are searching for more iOS developers. Here are 4 things to look for when hiring an iOS developer in Silicon Valley.
A strong developer will have an intuitive understanding of what can and cannot be done, what will and will not work. Additionally, small things that make big differences on the programming side – as well as what the end user will enjoy or find productive – is something that will set apart a strong developer from a mediocre one.
The tendency to continue doing what’s already been done, refining what’s already invented, and using template style approaches simply won’t bring forth anything fresh. Innovators bring something new to the table, and are often the growth engine for a company who relies on a strong developer.
Apple doesn’t offer an official certification the way that CompTIA, Cisco or Microsoft does, so experience is the best way to verify past performance. When ascertaining experience, ask for specific examples, scenarios, and if possible, check out their past developments or apps. If this isn’t possible (and frequently, it’s not) try a test run or a small project to have them develop first.
Having the skill level and experience to develop an app or program is fantastic, but unless the candidate is a good fit, it will likely be a fruitless project. Having the right business culture mindset in lockstep with the company is absolutely crucial for long-term success. Both developer and company (or any employee, for that matter) must be a mutual consensus about the vision for the employee and company.
When it comes to iOS developers, we can help. At The Armada Group, we pair elite IT talent with companies who value their expertise. We work with some of the fastest growing and most innovative companies in the world, and want to help you find the talent you need to optimize your team’s performance. Contact us today to see how we can help you!
Hiring an IT professional can be a difficult process, depending on critical business needs, complexity of information, and level of experience required. When bringing a new IT professional on board, there are two options: direct hire and contract hire.
From an employer’s perspective, both are good options, but for different reasons. A direct hire is generally ideal for very high level talent and for candidates which are a perfect fit in terms of skill, culture, and long-term goals. Direct hires are not as good of a fit for candidates who will be either part time, temporary (a year or less, generally), if the job is a new position and still lacks clarity, or if the candidate’s fit is still questionable.
Contract hires are not inferior from any perspective, and shouldn’t be treated as if they are. However, contract hires help businesses “test out” a candidate’s performance for a pre-determined amount of time. For some of the same reasons, contract hiring is ideal for temporary and part time work – for example, managing a database that doesn’t require very much maintenance, or running security patches on a less complex system a few nights a week.
Implementation of a new system, like EHRs, or training for a new platform are also good reasons to choose contract over direct hiring – in part because they’re generally a pre-determined amount of time, or, in some cases, an indefinite amount of time – but a lighter workload.
An employee, however, has a different perspective, although it’s not necessarily contradictory. In many cases, a contract hire is a good thing, as it guarantees work for an employee. Furthermore, having several contracts for different part time jobs helps to diversify your portfolio, resume, and skillsets, and experience new areas of growth. Contract to hire can also allow you an opportunity to build a relationship with a future employer, so when the time comes to fill a spot as a direct hire, your name comes up first.
A direct hire position, however, usually provides more stability and benefits as an employee. This generally means that an employer has a long term investment in you and your success, and while there are benefits to either, this is ideal for most candidates.
Regardless of the type of employment you’re seeking, we can help. At The Armada Group, we help both business and candidates by pairing together culture, skillsets, and viewpoint. We work with some of the fastest-growing businesses in the country, as well as the elite technical talent in the nation. Whether you’re looking for top talent or looking for the next step in your career, we can help. If you are looking for recruiting agencies in Santa Cruz, contact our team today.