Recently, Q was tasked with enabling authentication into a government agency’s Sitecore CMS using a U.S. Government issued Common Access Card (CAC). I know it sounds scary; but don’t worry, we’re professionals.
The first question that you may ask is: “what is a CAC card?” It, as with many great things in this world, is a simple entity with a complex purpose; specifically, to identify an individual using two-factor authentication. Similar to your ATM card, you’re able to be identified because you have the two requisite items: you have the card in your possession and you know the PIN associated with the card.
You’ve probably heard that mobile devices are overtaking PC’s among consumers in terms of purchase preference and Internet use, but how does that translate into advertising spend?
Takeaways: The opening line says it all, “Mobile advertising has reached critical mass and will double this year to reach a total of approximately $1.2 billion.” But what does that mean for your business? If you think it means you should jump on the mobile advertising bandwagon, not so fast. The platform is growing and chances are, your audience is definitely there. However, as the article states, smaller screen real estate, creative limitations, the need for consistent formats and ROI metrics present challenges for mobile advertisers that can’t be ignored. Additionally, ad revenue for mobile advertising is consistently lower than traditional Internet advertising. None of these factors should serve as deterrents from pursuing mobile advertising altogether, but rather than rushing to allocate resources toward mobile advertising, be smart about it and make sure that it is part of a more high-level, multichannel marketing strategy.
Social media is no longer the new kid on the block when it comes to marketing, but for many organizations it remains among the most difficult to understand. This checklist offers a very helpful road map for companies new to social media and offers social media veterans the opportunity to make sure that their existing social media marketing programs are moving in the right direction.
Takeaway: Did you notice how far down tactics and tools appear on the list? I’m not sure if that was intentional, but the tendency to get stuck worrying about tools is one of the primary reasons that so many businesses struggle with social media. If you look at this list, you can quickly see that effective social media marketing is about so much more than platforms and numbers (followers, likes, etc.). Like every other marketing tool, a successful social media marketing strategy requires a plan – specific goals (beyond having a high number of followers), a solid strategy, an understanding of your audience and a game plan for measurement.
Adrian Sud, Web Developer
I am primarily a Java developer. Like many Java developers, when I think about .NET, I’m inclined to think of it as Microsoft’s rip-off of Java; that Java is pretty much exactly the same, but more readily cross-platform. While that may have been true of at its inception, I’ve been working with C# recently and have noticed several pieces of syntactic sugar that are, well, just nice. Here are a few of the things that I have already grown to love, and that I wish were back in Java.
Null Logic and the Null Coalescing Operator
In C#, the primitive types can, with the annotation of a question mark, be wrapped in a Nullable type, to allow for the object to be null. It’s similar to using Object wrappers in Java with automatic unboxing, until you add Null to Boolean logic. The Nullable Types allow for this by effectively treating a Null value as “Maybe”, so that “null || true” returns true, and “null && true” returns null. While such cases can easily be programmed around, the concept is powerful, and allows you to think more clearly about what you’re code is modeling. If a method is asked a yes or no question, and it says “I don’t know”, we have learned something wholly new about the state of the program.
Just to complete their thorough treatment of “null” as a legitimate value, C# provides the Null Coalescing Operator, “??”. This is really just shorthand for a terniary form, selecting the left-hand value if it is non-null, or else the right-hand value. Still, it is an extremely common pattern, and produces complex assignments and tests without sacrificing conciseness or readability. Not a game changer, but it is a useful time-saver.
Adrian Sud, Web Developer
For most web projects, building an external or internal API is the last thing that happens, if it happens at all. You envision the user interface, and design the data model required to produce that experience. You start building the interface, wiring it to the model as you go. Eventually, someone might think of setting up a public API, be it before launch or some time later. So you quickly provide accessors to whatever functions just happened to be available.
This is how we end up with APIs that can be more convoluted and difficult to use than the web application they were built for, or that are missing functionality to protect the system from bypassed business logic. This kind of “afterthought API” forces your whole system to become bloated, more complex, and more difficult to maintain, when in actuality an API should be the guiding principle toward making our applications as streamlined as possible.