photo by: Markus Spiske

A developer’s life is mostly a permanent learning curve.

First you learn the basic skills of software development at school. After that, at your first job, you acquire some knowledge of (good, hopefully) enterprise practices. Then you will have to learn new technologies and tools, almost every day, to keep up with an IT sector that moves faster than the light.

Who wants to code Turbo Pascal or GW-Basic as of today ?
And also, who would hire you to program those dinosaurs things ?

123123123

 

So, as a Developer, you will have to challenge yourself constantly,  during your whole career, to keep up to date with the market.

Therefore, It is very important to manage your career wisely, and make sure that learning and evolution are occupying a big place in it. Of course, you could always learn by yourself during evenings and weekends, but that’s not enough, and you need to get a private life too.
So, You should definitely acquire new skills at work.

As for latest technologies, best practices, architecture, unit testing, behavior driven development, DevOPS,…. And other cool stuffs, everyone always knows everything about it….
Yes, yes, blablabla!!!

When you ask who is really implementing it on real life projects, in professional applications…

Nobody, radio silence… sic!

3213321

 

You should evaluate your employer!

You should definitely evaluate any potential employer before applying for a position, to avoid being hired by a company that uses practices of last century, or one that will squeeze you like a lemon on doomed projects without any training program.

But how to evaluate a company? Some advanced tests and methodologies exist, but are quite complex and barely usable in this case. Here comes the Joel test.

 

The Joel test

From the author, Joel on Software:

The Joel test is a highly irresponsible, sloppy test to rate the quality of a software team

 

The joel test is a survey of 12 simple questions to roughly evaluate a software development company in 3 minutes. There are lots of discussions about this test on the Internet.

Of course, this is neither an exact science nor a precise rating system,

but, in my opinion, the score truly reflects the company’s culture and investment in modern software development practices.

See the details here.

Any software company should rank at least 10…
while most companies are getting … a horrible 2 or 3!

Do make the test right now!! How does your current employer rank??

  • Do you use source control?
  • Can you make a build in one step?
  • Do you make daily builds?
  • Do you have a bug database?
  • Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
  • Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
  • Do you have spec?
  • Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
  • Do you use the best tools money can buy?
  • Do you have testers?
  • Do candidates write code during their interviews?
  • Do you have hallway usability testing?

 

 

How does Vox Teneo rank?

At Vox Teneo, we are no exception, we started very low on the scale…

But with the good will and efforts of the whole company: management and developers, we improved a lot, and we are now proudly advertising a score of

 

 

 

Wait, there’s more, we have a 13th item in our Vox Test!

Our devs are also well… a little on the geek side sometimes, so we decided to add an extra item for them in the Joel test.

  • Are developers allowed to practice Nerf skills at the office?

 

What is a nerf ?

 

A nerf is a stress relieving, eye blinding, foam dart shooting toy

 

112233

More info here.

Credits: nerf.hasbro.com

 The Vox Teneo Nerf team

Live by the code, die by the nerf

 IMG_20160630_163457

 

This is what happen when a Project Manager asks the devs to deploy a production release on a Friday afternoon.

Deploy on Friday

A little more about Vox Teneo

Vox Teneo’s core business is the development and integration of web applications, for corporate clients and the public sector, featuring a lot of big names.

Our main value is “human”.
We wish to see happy people at the office, so we try to provide the best working conditions and interesting career evolution paths.

http://www.voxteneo.com/team/

We operate a strong permanent training program (the Vox Academy),  that allows everyone to master the needed skills to fulfill his/her position, and also to acquire new competences.

We do also invest a lot in new technologies (lately we are quite hot on Xamarin) to propose efficient, modern solutions to the clients, and entertain our guys.

At production level, we make no compromise, and strive for best practices and architecture.
Test Driven Development is mandatory here, and we push it one step further with Business Driven Development, using automated functional testing.
We feature a full DevOPS department, to ensure Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment for all applications and technologies.

 

Wanna check if the grass is really greener @Vox ?

Check the open positions http://www.voxteneo.com/jobs/

Feel free to contact and visit us anytime:  http://www.voxteneo.com/contact

The internationalization of Vox Teneo started in 2009 with the first company registered outside of Belgium. Today we are present in five countries, two continents and have clients from all around the globe. Like many other companies in the tech industry we are taking advantage of all the online tools available, that make it possible for development teams to collaborate, but we are also facing all the challenges of remote teams management.

 

We Do Write, Read and Speak. One language.

 

Well, as somebody once said – “this is common sense, but sense is not common”, that is why this common sense statement comes to the top. People forget to share what they plan to do, what they have done, but most often they forget to read what needs to be done and to ask about the things they did not understand. There are people slobbery to the language they leave in the chatrooms, comments and documentation that annoys other people, who stop reading. And this is where things break. Communication should be deeply rooted in the company culture  if you are planning to form international collaboration. Communication should be nourished, stimulated and rewarded.

 

We Meet Live

 

Remote is not Agile.

 

Like most of the contemporary software development companies, we are working Agile. The focus is on the working software and the developers, on the business value of the features and on the ability to change. Clean code, continuous integration, DevOps and communication is how we get there. According to the Agile Manifesto nothing replaces the face to face interaction, and having offices in two more destination makes it challenging to be “Agile”.

 

We travel a lot. When it comes to generating ideas, solving problems and organizing the schedule, written communication cracks. Video conference tools make it better, but still… Nothing replaces the physical presence.

 

That is why, to be really Agile and productive we make sure to plan sufficient travelling budgets. The impact only one meeting can have on the direction and flow of the project is in most cases is enough to justify an airplane ticket and apartment for a few nights.

 

Knowing your peers personally makes the whole process a whole lot easier too.

 

We Are Like A Coworking Space

The nature of coworking spaces is to inspire collaboration between individuals and teams who can function by themselves. This is what we are trying to achieve in Vox Teneo. We “modular” approach, where small teams are part of one big whole, but are not totally dependant on each other.

 

We use a web based project management application – Target Process. Everyone has access and everyone can see what is in the pipeline. It is there where people are assigned to teams. We have autonomous entities within the company. .NET, C&S, PHP, Java, WordPRESS, Drupal, Communication, HR, Administration Teams… One team is in the same office, so you know your peers and usually work with them. Being part of smaller groups makes the company culture pleasant to work in, but also easier to work in.

 

Having guests in the three countries from another office is almost a permanent status.

 

We are totally in line with the culture of Atlassian, the software development company that developed great remote team communication tools, check out their thoughts on Remote Teams.

 

We Look for Partners, not Human Resources

It’s been long time now, since the people in organizations do matter. The name “Human Resources” is outdated. If we look at the Factories and Enterprises from the past century, control was the method used to keep efficiency high. Today, rarely a highly educated Millennial developer would tolerate a Big Brother attitude from the behalf of his Manager. That is why in Vox Teneo we have a flat structure, where no one is really on top of the other. We have different roles with different responsibilities, corresponding to the professional maturity and talents of the employees.

 

Now imagine, that you have a flat structure AND remote teams. Achieving efficiency starts to sound like a dream, but there is a way. And the way is to have a company of responsible and self-managed people that match with the culture and high quality standards. Those people are more partners than employees or “resources”. People who are together in what they do and do it for themselves. This very same type of people who wouldn’t like their freedom to be sacrificed for less responsibilities.

 

Having a clear assessment process and clearly defined responsibilities together with a tight recruitment procedure makes an efficient company with flat structure possible.

 

We Are Honest, Not Politically Correct (well… try to be kind)

Many speak about the “cultural differences” that international companies working with remote teams face. Obeying the rules of political correctness, and being afraid that you might hurt somebody’s tender feelings may trigger bigger problems though. Open communication always suffer if things are left untold and this is the reason problems stay unsolved. The truth is that fluent communication requires honesty and this is what we are trying to inspire in people. Openly share their opinion, no matter if positive or negative. Check three short stories about miscommunication caused by cultural differences here.

Xamarin! It’s an amazing technology that is getting off the charts because of the endless possibilities it provides regarding mobile development. It’s sole purpose is to bring three opposing markets in one place: iOS, Android and Windows Phone. And we must say, it does a great job at it!

Xamarin is able to produce code that is reusable between three completely different platforms, together with the option of publishing your Xamarin developed app on Play Store, App Store or Windows Store. Bringing C#/.NET at the doors of mobile development, it also includes integration with Visual Studio, which makes the transition to mobile development smooth and easy. It produces fully compliant .NET Portable Class Libraries, which are reusable between 3 completely different platforms. That saves up on development time, increases the  productivity and opens 3 different markets, while allowing the “ordinary” user to have access to the application on a operating system based on his own personal preferences.

Well, if you are reading until now, you can definitely feel our excitement regarding Xamarin.

It was some time ago, when we decided to get on the “Xamarin train wagon” and we did our math budget wise, the time needed for R&D, the topics on that we would touch on first. On paper it looked pretty amazing, since we had developers that were experienced in  C#/.Net, we had the time and most important we had a team that was extra motivated to “dive into” all that Xamarin as a technology brings, meanwhile taking into consideration not only the benefits, but also the challenges that would arise from starting our brand new mobile department.

Even though we have hit some obstacles on our way, we managed to get to a point of time when our mobile development goes as smooth as it can be.

We have defined the guidelines for architecture, optimization, the tools that we are using. We are able to make estimation of the time needed to develop, as much as we are able to estimate the R&D time. Yes, we still need R&D time, Xamarin has a bit of a learning curve, and not only that, but we do try use the Xamarin benefits to the maximum in order to provide the best features we can for our clients. Not only that, but we try to “dig in” into the Xamarin universe as deep as we can, so we can come on top with even better solutions for them and cool new add-ons that are compliant with their vision.

Until now, we have touched on Xamarin.Android, Xamarin.IOS and of course the infamous Xamarin.Forms. Xamarin.Forms is perfect for “basic” features and it allows the developers to produce code for the 3 platforms at a rate of 90% re-usability. And don’t let the “basic” part of our sentence fool you, Xamarin. Forms is damn well powerful devil. Still, when you really need to go into the native features of Android or iOS you have to go on a little bit of a different route using “pure” Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS. And still even in this case, the percent of the code that we are able to reuse between the platforms goes very far depending on the requirements.

 

The Xamarin learning curve

We would recommend Xamarin for teams that are familiar with the .NET technologies. It is very easy to transition from .NET/C# development to Xamarin development. The syntax is completely same, so if you have developed in C#, the only thing that differs from the “usual” development for you is going to be the phone components that you need to add. But even for this, you can find thousands of “recipes” online and furthermore, you can check out the solutions made for the native platforms(Android, iOS) and just “translate” them to fit into the Xamarin world.

The thing that nobody wants to talk about

One of the main issues when working with Xamarin is the front-end development. The back end part was quite easy for us and as we mentioned previously,  the “switch” between C# development and Xamarin, back-end wise is quite easy and simple. But when you come to front-end, if you had front-end devs that have never worked in mobile development it gets quite tricky. Here, the learning curve is different since, unless you are using a web view(or the pandan to this in iOS a UIWebView) where you would render html code with css/javascript, you would have to start from ground zero. You have to keep in mind that your screens have to look perfect on all devices with different sizes, and the rendering has to be perfect on different phone brands and OS versions. Also, not only that but the design process is very specific also. It’s a different world for design in the web world and the mobile world!

How does Xamarin fits into my architecture? Think ahead!

Think of the mobile(Xamarin) part of your application as just the top layer from your application. When you start developing look at the bigger picture. If you are doing a web site for your client, go Web API all the way! Why? Xamarin applications should be “dum”. They should not have crazy logic nested inside them, so you need to use our favorite programming approach ever, that has the most romantic acronym ever, KISS(keep it simple, stupid!). You don’t want to kill the phone battery, and loose on performance when writing an app in Xamarin. So the “dumber” you make the app, the better! So, where does the web API fits into this story? If you are starting a web site for your client, and you plug a web api, that is the same api you can consume in the following Xamarin app. The BLL is the same, the DAL will be the same in most cases, so you will be able to reuse the same architecture you have previously created, and just “plug in” your Xamarin app on top of it!

Testing my app, how and what are we working on at the moment

Go out buy all the phones on market and get the biggest QA department ever! We scared you with the previous sentence didn’t we? Take a deep breath, there are better solutions for this don’t worry. First and foremost, you will have problems with different versions of OS(especially in the Android domain) and different brands of phones. That’s okay and it is expected. One way to cover this is to use the Xamarin Test Cloud. This will allow you to test on remote real devices and you can test on different versions, sizes and  brands of phones. And this is what we are working on at the moment. Manually deploying your app on the test cloud is not good enough for us. For every department we have implemented automated deployment and this will be the case for the mobile apps also! We are currently working to have an automatic deploy on the test cloud on every “push” of the new version of our app. As you have seen until now, we are all about time saving!

So to sum things up in the end.. We do strongly recommend Xamarin for mobile development. It is the way to go from simple apps, to more complex apps, since you have the option to go “native” with Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS. We urge you to give it a chance if you have a team that has been working in .NET and you want to go mobile, use Xamarin if you want to dive into multi platform mobile development and use Xamarin if you want to save up on time. And if you are seeing this from the other side(the “client side”, as in you want to hire somebody to develop a mobile app or a web site for you), we recommend think ahead! If you want to have a web site, ask the team to use a web api! We can easily plug a Xamarin app on top of it. If you want only a mobile app, keep in mind that the architecture from developing the Xamarin app can be used to develop a web site, an admin site so that you can manage the users better and expand your app into something bigger.

Although Xamarin itself has a lot of room for improvement, we  do believe in the benefits of using them and the capability of our team.

Thank you for reading and hopefully we managed to clear some of the doubts you had about mobile development with Xamarin. Have a nice day!

Xamarin-logo.svg

photo by: DesignCue

Are you self driven?

If you happen to be a developer, working on your own startup idea and you believe in it so strong that you did not apply for an investment, than we are looking for you. And we don’t want to ask a share in your idea, but to offer you a job. Part time. A part time job that will help you cover your living costs while working on your prototype, MVP, or whatever your dream project looks like.

 

Why would we be interested in entrepreneurs?

People with ideas.

[Edit] Self driven people with *good* ideas and talent are rare.

 

And precious. Nowadays this type of people cannot be bought. The free and open world we live in gives too many opportunities for you to be captured by a house loan in a 35 year dull job. That’s why us, employers should be flexible with offers in order to attract the talented.

 

Why would you be interested in working for us?

It is very often a non sense for software developers to be working for somebody else. Why investing your time working for clients, while you can be creating “the next Instagram”, going to the beach, or dance, or sleep. The other side of the coin is that knowledge, inspiration and ideas are carried primarily by people. So working alone or with one or two people you already know so good is often not the best formula for self improvement. Environment is important.

 

What do we have to offer?

While freelancers usually end up working on “Home, About us, Contact us” pages, we work on projects that do actually challenge your mind and involve a more complex logic. The agile methodology applied in Vox Teneo and the best practices applied reflect the professional development of our employees.

 

We offer flexible working hours. And flexible amount of hours per week. Jumping on board with us will give you the freedom to continue working on your own project, ideas, bucket list or whatever you are involved with that makes you happy.

 

If you are interested, apply here: inform@voxteneo.com

 

The problem

We have :

  • A SQL table with records corresponding to files
  • The files stored in a folder of the filesystem

The table contains information about the files like :

  • Language
  • Validity
  • Dates
  • Title

To search in the files, the system needs to use the information stored in the table and the files content. The system returns only the files containing the keyword searched for but the files are also filtered depending of the information stored in the table. (Only the valid documents in a selected language).

Old solution

In the past, for multiple customers, index server (after renamed indexing service) was used to index the file contents.

In MSSQL server, it’s possible to query the index server in a SQL query with those concepts :

  • Linked servers (to create a link between SQL server and Index server)
  • Openquery (to query the index server catalog)

All the search are done using stored procedures combining all those elements.

New solution

I propose to work with the Full text search functionality proposed by SQL server. A constraint of this system is that all the files must be stored in the database. But in the last versions of SQL server, it’s possible to store only a link to the file stored in the filesystem. This solution avoids a too big database.

How to put this solution in place?

  1. Activate the Full text search
  2. Enabling FILESTREAM on an existing instance
  3. Enabling FILESTREAM on an existing database
  4. For each table:
    1. Enabling FILESTREAM on an existing table
    2. Creating a full text index on the new column
    3. Populating the new columns
  5. Updating the SP

Earlyer this month our very first Seattle based client, Milkana Brace an entrepreneur, angel investor and start-up adviser payed a visit to our Macedonian office. It was great pleasure having her here for almost two full weeks and collaborate on the exciting education technology project, she is working on.

Seattle based enterpreneur

The importance of empathetic leadership

One could feel Milkana’s significant experience in the tech industry and management of teams through the working process. The fact that she has become Senior Director twice in her career already speaks for itself.

Staying thoroughly empathetic, understanding the problems the development team encounters and helping us progress with ideas and flexibility made her a priceless consultant. The team was totally inspired working with a knowledgeable leader that not only requires, but also gives. The results are on their way.

The old school approach of sending the requirements and fixing the deadlines simply doesn’t work when creative work has to be done. Work where the value is not the quantity, but the quality.

Choosing the right technology

Those of you, involved with software development for sure know what “an obsolete technology” means for the performance of the platforms and motivation of the teams.

The project is a Xamarin mobile application. It is a technology we started investing in since the beginning of this year, because we believe that it is going to become the byword for mobile development in the coming years. Obviously we are not the only company that believes in the technology, since in February 2016 Microsoft acquired them.

Live communication in times of virtual reality

Another thing that was done right: we have met and worked together live.

The internet tools we all use today: documents with shared editing rights, chat platforms, design sharing platforms, facilitate the distant collaboration and this is unbelievable, making us location and time free. At this very moment I am collaborating with people in the office in a few tabs of my browser open. It happens that I work all day with somebody, here in the office and not to meet her at all. It would have been hardly possible to be in Skopje and work on a project in Seattle if the state of global communication was not at this level.

For the past 10 years, I have been constantly seeing titles like “How to avoid unproductive meetings” written from people annoyed by the corporate culture and structures and “live spam”. It was so cool to hate meetings that it became a trend (at least in my business environment). One could easily slip and start to hate meetings in general.

The truth is, online you would never benefit of the energy exchange when people meet and share ideas live. The non-verbal stream of communication carries so much information that cannot be transmitted digitally. One look, one smile, one sigh can totally change the direction of the thoughts and ideas. The small talks in the kitchen and at lunch also do impact the direction taken, and I am sure in a positive manner. The sterility of online communication keeps things clear when in pure production mode, but if inventing and shaping the idea itself it is better to go live.

To sum up, the value added at the price of the travel cost is definitely a good investment.

 

Here are Milkana’s impressions from her visit in Macedonia.

 

We at Voxteneo as a web development company follow the agile software development paradigm and what better way to obtain cross-functionality and flexibility than committing to the S.O.L.I.D principles. In software development the best way to the finish line is rarely a straightforward sprint. In most cases a careful pace, consisted of steps composed of additional principles and implementation goals, is required. What these principles provide is moving towards a loosely coupled code that operates cohesively and encapsulates the needed business logic.

 

“What does S.O.L.I.D stand for?”

 

The Single responsibility principle regards the creation of classes during the design phases of an application and identifying the correct responsibilities of each class requires a great deal of understanding of the application’s business logic. Designing the architecture in this manner will ensure that when changes need to be made regarding certain business rules, they won’t break the code in different places.

The Open-Closed Principle indicates how a system can be extended by modifying the behavior of individual classes, without having to modify the class itself. As the principle dictates, software entities should be open for extension, but closed for modification. This helps you create well-encapsulated, highly cohesive systems. There is a funny analogy regarding this principle, it states “Open chest surgery is not required when putting on a coat.” Meaning, we as programmers should not risk altering core functionality to add a simple feature and potentially compromise data integrity.

Liskov Substitution Principle states that objects in a program should be replaceable with instances of their subtypes without altering the correctness of the program. This principle says that you should not violate the intent or semantics of the abstraction that you are inheriting from or implementing. That is why you model your classes based on behaviors not on properties and model your data based on properties and not on behaviors. With this knowledge in hand, evaluating LSP adherence can be a great tool in determining when composition is the more appropriate mechanism for extending existing functionality, rather than inheritance.

The Interface Segregation Principle helps to make your system easy to understand and use. It says that you should not force a client to depend on an interface that the client does not need. Many client-specific interfaces are better than one general-purpose interface. In other words, you should not have to implement methods that you don’t use. Enforcing ISP gives you low coupling, and high cohesion.

“The Dependency Inversion Principle helps you to understand how to correctly bind your system together. It tells you to have your implementation detail depend on the higher-level policy abstractions, and not the other way around.”  This principle could be rephrased as, use the same level of abstraction at a given level. When this principle is applied it means the high level classes are not working directly with low level classes, they are using interfaces as an abstract layer. As one analogy goes “Would you solder a lamp directly to the electrical wiring in a wall?”, that is a solution of course, but a rather impractical one, a better approach is to use a socket as an “interface” that is considered a contract for connecting appliances to the grid.

 

“Test, test, test!”

One might wonder, what is the ultimate benefit of following these principles?

Given there are a few benefits, but the most prominent one is testability.

In Agile development there is simply no way around it, practicing Test Driven Development is a must and there is no better way to obtain testable code than to follow these 5 principles. Highly cohesive, loosely coupled designs are testable. When dependencies can be replaced or stubbed out, you can test classes and methods in isolation from one another. The Single Responsibility and Interface Segregation principles enable this. Being able to mock or stub a dependency is a powerful and important technique, and it ultimately requires the Liskov Substitution principle and to a lesser extent, the Dependency Inversion principle.

 

“use composition over inheritance”

The lesson to be learnt here is that the road to stable development, that is prone to dynamic change in the business logic, is paved with “solid” blocks of tested quality and consistency. There are subtleties in the approach, but a general recommendation would be to most often use composition over inheritance. Bare in mind though that composition is not a panacea and a deeper analysis is required to decide whether it is to be used over inheritance. Composition over inheritance, however clichéd it has been as of lately in the web development community, it might just end up making our lives easier in the long run.

 

 

This WordPress presents products linked to water treatment. In addition to the different activities presented on the homepage, the website has a job section and a news section. A map shows their offices on the Contact page. The content can easily be managed through the administration – in two languages.

 

eurodynamics

 

Visit the website

We are proud to announce that we have launched the intranet of AG Real Estate, a subsidiary of AG Insurance – the leading player on the Belgian insurance market. It is a social platform with custom developed features. Users can like content, share it, comment on it, post new content. There is also an internal e-commerce section.

The intranet is the default tool for employees’ intercommunication and content exchange. With the implementation of Single Sign-On (SSO) with Active Directory Federation Service (ADFS) we provided a secure connection for sharing of identity information between trusted business partners.

Another fundamental reason of implementing the AG Real Estate intranet was to reduce the number of emails exchanged between the employees, thus introducing the custom made notification system integrated in the intranet. The users also have an agenda for internal and external events.

AG social media photo

 

Employees are hired by their skills, but are fired by their attitude

 

In this world, there are two kinds of people. First one is the Proactive, and second one is the Reactive.

How do we know if we are Proactive or Reactive? Simply by looking at our daily words.

 

REACTIVE PROACTIVE
Maybe i will try… I will do it!
I can’t change! I am me! I can be a better person
I can do nothing Let’s find out the possibilities
I am forced I choose it!
I can not Must be a way
You destroy my day, my mood My mood is my responsibility
I behave like this because of you My behavior is my responsibility
I was not promoted because my boss I will work harder and smarter to be promoted

 

Reactive people are controlled from outside. Reactive people always blame others i.e.: environment, family, education or race for their failures in life. They are always the victim. Their failure happens because of some situation, their boss, or even God. They can’t control their mood, they can’t control their behavior, thus they can’t control their future. Reactive people are easily offended, easily angered, first to complain and they always wait for something to happen to them. They change only if it is really needed.

Proactive people focus more on their ability to adapt, to change and to make adjustments who focus on the opportunities and possibilities. They can control their feelings, mood and behavior, and as a result they usually get what they want. If they don’t, they will control their feelings and try using different approach of the given situation. It is not common for them to get easily offended and think wisely before acting, which makes them quite responsible for their choices. It is easy for them to quickly recover from most bad situations and they always seek ways to make everything happen, focusing on things they can change.

Proactive people are controlled from inside.

 

Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.

 

In my experience, it has been hard to deal with reactive people. So, here are some ideas on how to be more proactive:

 

Focus on the things you can change.

Many people focus on the things they can’t change or affect. They worry about the rain instead of preparing an umbrella and worry for what people say about them, instead of controlling their behavior. They worry about the future, instead of preparing for it.

If we keep focusing on the things we can’t change, we will be worried, stressed and weak.

So, learn to focus on what you can do, what you can change and what the solutions is. Some aspects we can control are: our emotions, our attitude, our choices and our response.

 

Whiteboard Vox Teneo

 

Change our Paradigm

Paradigm is the way we think, the way we perceive anything. Two people can see the same picture, but have two different perceptions.

Many times, our paradigms are not complete. For example, a student doesn’t like a math teacher because he gets angry easily. One day he is scolded because he doesn’t understand algebra. That leads him to think that he is bad at math and that he has poor logic. So, it was not the point that he is bad at math, it was just because he was being scolded by the teacher he hated, so it was hard for him to understand the algebra.

Even worse, our paradigm can determine our destiny. So, if you have any nonconstructive paradigm about your self, about others and about situations, you should change them to the constructive one. Try questioning any aspects you thought you are weak at. Find a way to improve in the area you want to be good at.

 

Realize that we can choose our RESPONSE

Do you realize that if we have any habit, we don’t even think when we do that. For example, you start learning how to drive a car. You must think which pedals to press. You learn to see the rear mirrors if you want to turn left or right. Once you master driving, you can press the brakes immediately if something suddenly appears in your way, even without thinking how to stop the car. You automatically drive to your office while you think about your daily plans.

It’s the same case with your response. Most of the time you respond without thinking. Remember that you still have free choice before responding. Here’s the picture:

Choice

By mastering these 3 points you will start to be proactive. Remember that your life is your responsibility. You have the power to control yourself!

Photo by: Helloquence

There is an ongoing debate in the IT world of what is better: a client that has experience in IT or not; client who knows what he wants or client that leaves everything to the IT team. Here are a some thoughts on the different scenarios.

1. Client with NO technical or software development background that is NOT interested in being involved in the process of development.

Pros:

Everyone does what they do best. There was this famous quote by Steve Jobs “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do, we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”.

Cons:

Lack of communication. People speaking different languages might end up enriching each other, but might also end up lost in translation.

Advises:

Make him participate. Provide as clear communication as possible, that will make it easy for the client to process the information and be involved.

Focus on the requirements. In this case you should gather as much information from the client as you can, foreseeing as many scenarios he didn’t think of as you can.even if he is not interested in that and It is crucial to analyze the business case and prepare a functional analysis prepare good business analysis that would be presented to him and let him decide he will decide what business value do the proposed feature have for her business. is in the system that you are proposing to him.

Work agile. Involve the client throughout the process, communicate on small milestones to make sure whether this is what the client really wants and confirm the business value of the features you deliver. Even it the features list is confirmed after the functional analysis, put the priority on what is good for the application and not on what was agreed. “Human interaction is more important than documentation. Arriving at the end of the project and figuring out that the whole logic of the application is wrong is definitely not what neither the development team nor the client wants.

2. Client with NO technical or software development background that IS interested in being involved in the process of development.

Pros:

He is your partner, helping you analyze the business and find together the most suitable functional solutions.

Cons:

The non technical client being involved in the process might interfere in the technical work and led to poor technical decisions.

Advice:

Be strong. Being non technical doesn’t mean without opinion. You might get in a situation where the client insists on a technical solution (obsolete or not suitable technology for example), and obeying the rule “the client is always right” might lead to poor decisions.

3. Client who has experience in software development but does NOT get involved in the process of development (Lacks free time…).

Pros:

This kind of client knows what you are talking about and understands the solutions offered to him.

Cons:

Having the critical thinking of somebody who is knowledgeable, but not involved might make the decision making process tough and therefore lead to lower productivity and motivation.

Advice:

Agree on everybody’s role and responsibilities before the project starts to avoid potential problems in the future.

4. Client who HAS experience in software development and IS  involved in the project.

Pros:

A partner, who knows what you are talking about. This is actually the dream client of every developer.

Cons:

Your ego might suffer 😉

Advice:

Do not keep secrets and talk about any kind of a problem connected with the project, trust them because they are the crucial part of your team.

If you ask me about my personal favorite type of client, I will for sure choose option 4.. You have additional member in the team for no cost who loves the project and knows perfectly the expected outcomes from the application. With day to day actions he, she or they will easily solve possible ongoing problems and at the end will know perfectly how to use the new tool that is delivered. I was happy to meet my dream client in the recent past and be currently involved in the development of her project.

Prior to lending my first “office job” i had experience in multiple job positions and most of them involved some kind of physical activity. Getting from a “physical” job to desk in an office can be a big shock for someone, and I had that happen to me. Being used to almost always being on foot, and involved in communication with a lot of people, sitting behind a desk in a quiet office was a completely new experience for me. I was also one of those people that thought office jobs can’t be as demanding as physical jobs but at times i found myself going home from the office exhausted.

So I decided I have to take action and make some small changes in my working routine in order to better my working experience. So here are few of my tips that i used myself, to feel more comfortable and be more productive while at work.

(disclaimer: only use this if your office allows it)

  1. Personalize your working environment.

Sure you were given a desk and the needed equipment when you started your new job, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it sterile and boring. Changing a simple thing like your desktop background can bring you small joy, but why stop there? Don’t be afraid to go further in the customization of your working environment. Bring your favorite small toy to work and keep it on your desk. Get a small plant and nurture it right there in your office. Go as far as you can with the customization of your personal working space, so every time you come to work and see that cool desk of yours, it will make you smile and make you get by your day with ease.

 

SmallCar

 

  1. Have something to challenge your mind other than your work.

You will often find yourself stuck on something and it seems like you can’t find the solution no matter what you try. In this situation I recommend getting your mind on something challenging but in a different way. I personally mostly like the Rubic’s cube, but whatever floats your boat is just fine. Do a puzzle, a crossword, play a mini-game, you can do literally anything that will get your focus on for a short while on another thing aside from your work, helping you reset your thoughts and continue with work with fresh thoughts. This “technique” has helped me on many occasions just block out everything for 5-10 minutes and starting over again.

Rubic's cube office desk

 

  1. Listen to music

There is nothing that relaxes me more than a good tune. Put on your headset and isolate yourself from the surroundings. With my job in particular being more creative work and writing, you can easily get distracted and taken away from your element. Don’t limit yourself to listening just one genre of music, experiment till you find what soothes you the most in the moment and for the job you have.

 

Headphones office desk

 

  1. Take short breaks

Don’t be afraid to the get out of your chair and take a breather. No one can sit in one place for 8 hours at a time and stare at a screen. Whenever you feel the need to get up and take a small break, feel free to do so. As previously mentioned, office work can be tiring and exhausting so take some time for yourself. It will surely increase your productivity and make you feel more relaxed.

 

Marjan's Mug office desk

 

  1. Set goals and reward yourself

You just finished a big task that you spend countless hours on? Reward yourself! Set a goal that you want to achieve on a daily basis and reward yourself for completion. But be strict with yourself! No rewards until the job is done, and if you feel adventurous you can even set punishments for yourself. No coffee, no cigarette, no break until the goal you set is met.

 

To Do List office desk

 

These five simple things have helped me a lot in adjusting in my new working environment. Relief yourself from stress and make your working space cosier and cooler. You will have no trouble getting through your work day with ease.

At the end of July, I had the opportunity to visit and work in our office in Macedonia for a week. This journey had few purposes. The most important one was to meet the developers I’ve worked with for almost 2 years, the second one was to work together with the QA team in Skopje in order and come back with a list of results, and the last objective was to discover a country and a culture.

 

Arriving in Macedonia, the first surprise was of course, the weather! I left the Belgian rain and I arrived to find a beautiful blue sky and a shining sun.

After a nice lunch with Slavica (The Local HR Manager) and Zoran (The QA Engineer in Skopje), I finally arrived at the office. It’s a such lovely place, settled in a big house, close to the city center . I was so excited to meet all my colleagues! As a guest of course I brought something to represent the place I come from, and what other way to represent Belgium other than sweet Belgian chocolate? (of course!)  It was at this point that I found out that Macedonians love sweets and food in general, (conclusion that later turned out to be really true :) )because they were all really happy and grateful for the gift.

 

My first day at work in Macedonia was dedicated to communication. It was a completely different experience to discuss about our work and Vox Teneo’s projects with the people in person, instead of from behind a computer screen.

 

With all the contemporary communication tools remote teams work is totally possible, but face to face communication has it’s undeniable advantages.

I had only a week in Macedonia, so I wanted to make most of it. I wanted to learn as much as possible about the culture, the food, and the folklore. And believe me, one week is not enough to learn a lot about Macedonia. So my colleagues gave me a crash course of the Macedonian lifestyle.

 

First off I have to say that Macedonians are very warm and welcoming people. From arrival to departure, they made sure I feel comfortable there and wanted to give me the best experience possible. I noted that I quickly took my habit in our office, and I know why; my colleagues are so benevolent and friendly. I have not met all Macedonian people but I’m pretty sure that we are lucky to work with them.  From going to “Kafana”, to just hanging out after work in the office yard, I had a really nice stay.

 

Now let’s go to the food. Well, Macedonian people obviously love cheese, bread and of course Rakjia! As i said before, they love their food and they eat a LOT! I had the opportunity to taste a lot of traditional dishes likes Tavce Gravce, Kebapi, Nafora and a lot more. All their meals are huge, diverse and most importantly, delicious! It’s very different from Belgian food.

 

Of course, I’m from Belgium so we have to talk about the beer! Well, they have some good beers like Skopsko and  Zlaten Dab, and although I really liked them, nothing compares to a good Belgian beer.  However, they definitely beat us with Rakija (a traditional alcoholic drink). Personally, I’m not a big fan, but I had to taste it (homemade, please!).

 

During the weekend, Zoran, Vlatko and Tina (members of the QA and .NET Team) took me to Matka. It’s a canyon and one of the best tourist spots in the country. It’s around 1 hour from Skopje  and it’s just beautiful. There is a river and a big dam with a lake where a lot of people come to walk, canoe, climb rocks or just relax and have a nice meal.

 

It’s such a peaceful place, because of it’s remoteness and the surrounding nature. I would highly recommend visiting it!

We also took a cable cart and spent some time to admire the view from the top of the Vodno Mountain near Skopje.

 

I would like to say a special thanks to Zoko who took me everywhere and taught me a lot about Macedonian culture (Koze koze koze).

 

I hope I will have the opportunity to go back to Macedonia, I really enjoyed my journey there. Especially meeting the lovely people. Finally, I suggest everyone to go and visit Macedonia.You won’t reagret it!

 

 

Every company has its own path to the success. For some, success is only reaching the financial goals without considering the feelings and needs of their employees, and in this world full of monotonous routines, people very often forget about their dreams. Being scared to take risks, they just try to “fit in” in the society, so they don’t fight for what they want and they slowly but surely become prisoners and robots in that kind of companies. But fortunately not all the companies are like that. Some of them really believe that having happy employees is the path for long term success.

 

Luckily, we are part of that kind of IT company. In my opinion Vox Teneo is one of the rarest companies that despite the profits looks after their employes’ dreams and needs. It offers high quality knowledge not only to experienced people, but also to potential young talents (including me in this second group). Working for this company you get the chance to work on enormous projects, gather knowledge from experienced developers, learn best practices for the technology you are interested…. All you need is just to be ambitious, talented and interested in learning to be part of the team. They will guide you all the way after. They spend and invest time for training the employees, which is really important, especially if you are a beginner like me. In three months as an intern and three months as an employee I learned here more about mobile and web application development than I ever did during my studies, so i am really thankful for that.

 

And the good things do not stop with the trainings and providing knowledge to their employees. When they see that you are willing to collaborate and that you work hard, they will try to motivate you even more. Me and two of my colleagues got a chance to visit the office in Belgium. It was for work of course, but who does not like travelling? And it’s never forbidden to mix the work with pleasure (after working hours of course :P), is it?. Isn’t the feeling that someone is valuing your progress and work great? We got to meet people that we haven’t met before. All those Skype voices and pictures from previous Skype meetings and HipChat conversations finally got a real projection. Wanted or not the cultural differences make us different in some ways, but that’s a really good thing. We were given a chance to share knowledge, the different point of views, different habits, way of work etc. It was an amazing opportunity for us to upgrade our skills, our personality, to see diversity in the way of living. Yeah we learned a lot of things, shared a lot of things, but enough about that. Let’s get to the fun part of the trip.

 

“The stories that the people there are cold and not welcoming disappeared the moment we started getting to know each other.”

Thanks to the company we got the chance to work in the office in Belgium. And when someone gives you the chance to visit a country which is more evolved than your own, to see different traditions, to taste varieties of food  you never stop exploring. Some of my colleagues were there for the first time, so they were even more excited. We even made a list of places we wanted to see in our three week visit there and of course we were already planning how to try as many types of beer as we can. So we packed our bags and on the second of August we were already there. I am not really a morning person, so the fact that the flight was super early in the morning was not something I was looking forward to. The moment we made a step on that airport we were making plans how to uncheck all the places from our list. On the first day we met everyone in the office. The stories that the people there are cold and not welcoming disappeared the moment we started getting to know each other. After two hours flight and one hour getting the baggage and passing all the control at the airport the only thing we needed was food. So we were so happy when we saw that our Belgian colleagues bought some food for us. We rested a little bit and went down to start the working day. That day, despite all the wish to start unchecking the places from our list, the tiredness defeat us. One thing I really liked about the apartment was that it was in the same building as the offices. Who does not want to get up only 15 minutes before the working hours and still be on time for work?

 

“You can’t say you were in Belgium if you don’t try as many kinds of beer as you can, can you?”

The first couple of days our colleagues showed us around. They helped us find the nearest shops, suggested nice places to eat and drink etc. After few days getting used to the new environment we were ready for exploring. And what better way to start exploring than with the famous Belgian beers? You can’t say you were in Belgium if you don’t try as many kinds of beer as you can, can you? So we immediately started working on it. We never ordered the same beer twice, so within our stay of three weeks I can say we tried maybe not all of the beers, but we got most of them.. I was really surprised how many different kinds of beer they have. From blonde to dark, from light and fruity to strong and bitter –  there is a beer for every taste.

 

Another thing that was really different than Macedonia was the architecture. There was not a single bad looking building. Even the smallest ones had that special Belgian character. They were all charming small and most of them with brick facade. We were surprised that in some cities there are even rules how to build the houses, what materials to use etc. That was the case with the first city we visited, that was not on our list. It was a suggestion from our colleagues. It was a small student city named Louvain-la-Neuve. With it’s charm and the location (near our apartment) it was our choice to spend not only that night there, but several more. All the buildings had that orangey bricks and walls. On the other hand there is Brussels with more modern buildings and monuments. Our colleagues were showing us the beauty of Brussels: the cathedrals, monuments, the palace, the bars etc. The only thing we hate about Brussels are the annoying traffic jams. Too many people in little space. For me being hopeless romantic as I am, my favourite city there was Brugge. It is very similar to Venice with its water channels and boat tours. The amazing cathedrals, the good restaurants made me like the city even more. What is surprising there were more tourists than locals on the streets. My colleagues did not agree on this one with me, they prefered Gent. The architecture of the buildings, the nice people was the main reason why that city is their favourite one. Since it was summer why not visit the seaside? We were in a city called Knokke. That was a different city than the others we went to. The buildings were more modern, it was more crowded. The beaches and beach bars were amazing, but the water was too cold for us, because we as Macedonians are used to hot weather, so we didn’t dare to swim there.

 

The food is something that is very different as well. I’ve never tried that many different kinds of sauces(If there is meat, there is some special sauce, usually made with alcohol.), cheese and chocolate as I did there. Another thing that I never imagined that i would try is raw meat. Yeah you read right. Raw meat.. And on my surprise I really liked it. We tried the belgian waffles as well. And i found the secret ingredient which makes them that special – pearl sugar was the secret key guys. Tried to make them and I nailed it. 😀 It is true when they say, Belgium has the best chocolate in the world. I think they can make chocolate with flavours of everything that is eatable.

 

“History has made a great impact on the country”.

They speak different languages in different parts of the country, like we do in Macedonia as well.

 

We should not underestimate the party life as well. They know how to have fun. The pubs and bars are more than enough to have a good night out. The people may look a little bit cold at first sight, but when you start talking with someone that immediately changes.

 

Overall it was an amazing experience and we are really grateful that we got the chance to go there. We restored our batteries and are ready for new challenges and trips in future. Keeping the employees motivated is something very important for the overall progress and success of any company. And Vox Teneo in my opinion is on the right path to success. Who would not like to have a job and be able to travel and upgrade himself/herself and progress in the same time? If that’s what you are looking for it is really easy: check out our open job positions and be a step closer to joining the team and the new adventures.

 

 

The main production points for Vox Teneo are located in three different countries : Belgium, Indonesia and Macedonia. Very often, the employees of Vox Teneo travel in between these three countries in order to share the knowledge acquired while working on different types of projects, to synchronize the working process for the three locations and of course, to keep the human factor in our company, since it’s always easier to work with somebody after meeting them live, rather than working with a person on the other side of the world that you know only by his/hers profile picture on Skype or Hipchat.

 

So, a few weeks ago, I was very happy to find out that I am going to be part of the team that will visit Vox Teneo in Indonesia! Me and my team are located in Macedonia and as a matter a fact, just a couple of days ago before my departure for Indonesia, we got a “joined” project with the Indonesian team and it was interesting to synchronize with them and get to a point  where things were moving along smooth and easy.

 

Still our communication comes down to Skype calls with(at this point) people I have not met ever in my life.

So there I was, packing my bags and off we went! I honestly didn’t know what to expect there because of the culture difference we have, the language barrier and the fact that this was going to be the first time that I would meet the Indonesian team live.

 

To my great content when we arrived we had the warmest welcome ever from the team there! Everybody were super nice to us, we met the IT team, the development team, the marketing department, and everywhere we were welcomed with big smiles, and this was just the beginning. I have never in my life met people that were so eager to help and assist you, since keep in mind, we did come in a country we did not know, in a big city(Bandung) where at least, I was for the first time. As amazing meeting the team was and spending time with them, the important part was yet to come, and by that I mean, we did have a crazy schedule and a long list of things that we wanted to achieve  professionally during our stay there.

 

So, the very next day we came we started with the trainings that we needed to hold there. The team there was super motivated, the guys at the training came with nice questions. The part I liked most was the discussion we had because of the different approaches that we have taken when working on the projects and finding a common ground for both of the teams on how to continue unified, while taking the best of both worlds.

 

In fact, it was very interesting to work more on the synchronization between the teams in the three countries.

We managed to work on and extend on the existing guidelines for development, best practises for the development process and sync between the existing development teams. We managed to hold all the trainings with the teams and the teams were participating, open to new things, improving the old ways and coming with suggestions for the improvement in general.

 

And as interesting and professionally fulfilling it was to be a part of all of those things, the part I liked the most was the creative process of these whole trip. Sometimes we manage to get into this vicious cycle when we see things just from one side with the same people every day. And while in somebody’s eyes from the outside it might look like having such distinct cultures at one place would be difficult to handle, I think that Vox Teneo is a sole example that the case is exactly the opposite. It IS the fact that we have so many different cultures in house that makes us stronger in the sense that we are always open to suggestion, we as a company are capable to adjust to different environments easy and quick, we learn to be more respectful towards other people and every day we learn more and more about our cultures and personalities in the most positive way possible.

Being able to have such a huge culture diversity inside our company is one of our biggest strengths, since we are dealing with all kinds of cultures in house, it is very easy for us to work with clients from ANY part of the world and accommodate to their needs without any problems.

Location, location, location…

As I have noticed so far, when Vox Teneo chooses the locations for their sister companies, there are multiple parameters are taken into consideration. Choosing the place where with the most resources, that would fit the financial targets, that would be most convenient for the employees and for the clients. So lucky for the team that went to Indonesia, there was one non-working day while our stay in Indonesia was in progress. So, with help from our colleagues in the Indonesia office we managed to sneak off to Bali for the weekend. This is just one example of the many,  many advantages that our employees get while working in Vox Teneo.

 

So, in the end… I am happy to say that I think we are a  great example of how a mix of many cultures is able to function together, employee wise and client wise at the same time. The presence of so many different cultures, allows us to be even more creative, even more dynamic and even more adjustable.
Our family keeps on growing all the time, and we are happy to open our doors for you! Check out our open job positions!

Here are three short stories to illustrate what miscommunication caused by cultural differences might look like:

There is no “No” in Asia

Imagine that you are a project manager from the Western World, working with a remote JAVA development team in the far East. You are dealing perfectly well with your client and happily sending the tasks to your peers, that gladly accept them on the other end of the world. One day, you find out that one of your tasks was not completed, then another one, then one more, than at once you figure out you have 36 hours left to complete 1076 more tasks and you are on the verge of a breakdown, but simply cannot leave your client alone now, because there is an event planned, that requires your web application to be online at that particular hour. Not believing what is going on, after everything was perfect and you got all the “yes, no problem” messages on HipChat.

 

You take a deep breath, try to fight back the frustration and start investigating what caused all the problems. At once you realize most of the requirements you’ve sent were unclear and some of them misleading. You gave requirements that were unacceptable, but you got a “Yes…” on the other side of the line for a reason you would most probably never understand… And now it is too late, there is nothing you can do. The project has failed. You wild depressed in your chair. It is 6pm and you don’t even have the energy to go home….

And than you receive a message from the other side, yes, this same side you are mad at. Somebody wants to help. Than you receive one more message, and one more from a different person. At once you have a development team of 12 people at 12 am their time willing to stay with you until the end and YES, to help you. Your mood slowly changes, and you can feel motivation fleeing through your body. You jump back on the mouse and keyboard and start revising the requirements. After one sleepless night and a half, 46 coffees and thousands lines of code, you cannot believe it, but you have the project ready to be deployed on the production server…

Now you know, there is no “No”.

We are not yelling, this is how we speak in Macedonia

Imagine that you are a Software Engineer with more than 15 years of experience and a whole lot to share with the younger developers in your company. You are about to visit the newly opened office in Skopje, Macedonia and meet the newly formed Drupal Development team. All very young and enthusiastic about their new job.

You have meticulously prepared training materials to share for the kickstart of this new Drupal project. At 08:54 am you enter the tiny but cozy conference room and clean the whiteboard, while you are waiting for the team that comes at 9:04am. You share your screen and open your presentation, open your mouth to start speaking and right before a sound comes out of your month you have already received our first question “Are we going to develop it in  Drupal 7?”.

This was just how a session of 4 exhausting hours began. You can not even tell in a linear story what exactly happened, you just know that you have a headache and that you had to fight back the intensive downpour of questions, comments and ideas for four hours not being sure at the end that you finished the presentation you had initially prepared.

 

 

After the working day is finally over, you have to drink a few Rakia-s to loosen a bit, and are finally able to render what has happened during the ideas chaos in that room. At once you realize that the implication you got from the team would actually greatly impact the quality of the project and smile…

😉 doesn’t mean she’s flirting in Belgium

Imagine you have just started working in a new company. You get immediately involved in a project and the project manager puts you in a chat room with the designer, who’s profile picture is so hot. (Excuse my French). Staying alone with her even in a virtual room is a bit intimidating.

You start discussing the design she created. On top of the cool profile picture she has, the girl seems to be talented as well. You start working on the Front End development. The next day you deploy the first version of the homepage. Having in mind your passion for the detail, you have put this twisted roll over animation on the icons that was not required. You share the link and receive back “I like the rollover effect ;)” . And that was it. You blush and your heart rate intensifies and you feel like jumping from the window. Wellah, the office is on the ground floor.

 

A few days later, while already feeling in a relationship with the designer, you speak to the (male) project manager online and you receive “The client would like to use the rollover effect on all the pages ;)”. Oh my. The “;)” again. Questions start popping up in your head. What is that supposed to mean?! You take your pack of cigarettes and passing behind the monitor of your colleague you see another “;)”. And now you know… With heart a little broken, you get out for your cigarette break and think on the importance and meaning of the emoticons.

Here is an illustration on the amount of meaning emoticon bring to the words:

Nooo :)

Nooo :(

Nooo 😛

Nooo 😉

Nooo 😀

Nooo X-)

Here is a link for the most curious of you – Scott Fahlman, The inventor of the smiley faces :)

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~sef/

Vox Teneo started working with Drupal 6 at the beginning of the decade. At start learning Drupal was a bit of a challenge because of the different development concept than other popular CMSs at the time like WordPress and Joomla. With time we made Drupal our main CMS choice for the upcoming projects. The type of the projects went from Corporative websites to Intranet with a lot of content, users, and every one of them multilingual. Currently we are preparing for the first big Drupal 8 project, and to put all the greatness of the CMS in action.

Few weeks back we held an in house training on “How to install Drupal 8”. For the purpose of the training we have prepared a few simple custom modules we would like to share with you, so you can create a small project to test “the 8” yourself. The trainer on this event was Martin Taleski, a Drupal developer and a member of the Drupal community for over two years. Martin held a presentation for his Drupal 8 website, and a workshop on how to build a small and basic Drupal 8 website. We put Martin’s presentation “on paper” so if you are interested in building a Drupal 8 website, this is a good start for you.

If you have never installed Drupal 8 before, here is a 10 minute video tutorial.

https://www.ostraining.com/blog/drupal/install-drupal-8/

After the installation of the test site locally, create a custom theme, or just download it from this link: https://github.com/taleskimartin/drupal8test/tree/master/themes/vox_custom

Put the “vox_custom” folder in the “themes” folder in your project.

ScrShot_1

This structure would do for what we want to achieve:

folders:

  • css
  • fonts
  • images
  • js
  • lib
  • sass
  • templates – all twig files

files:

  • screenshot.png
  • vox_custom.info.yml
  • vox_custom.libraries.yml
  • vox_custom.theme

Quick overview of the files:

In “vox_custom.libraries.yml” are defined the css/js libraries that you will use in the project. You will include a jQuery library because Drupal is not loading anything out of the box.

“vox_custom.theme” will be empty for this project, you will not use any preprocess functions for the twig files.

In “vox_custom.info.yml” goes all the info: name description and also very useful “thing” for me,

“stylesheets-remove”. You should remove all the core css that comes automatically from Drupal core, because you are doing custom theming. In “vox_custom.info.yml” you should add theme “regions”.

Quick overview of the folders:

css , fonts , images , js and sass folders are straightforward.

In “templates” folder we have all twig files organized in subfolders like layout, node, views.

Disabling the cache

In the browser logged as admin go to “yoursite”/admin/config/development/performance you should disable everything

ScrShot_2

so when you are in development you get the latest changes not some cached data.

Also on “yoursite”/admin/config/development/logging make sure you get messages so you can easily find the problem if there is some.

And you are not done yet with disabling the cache :). Go to the Drupal root folder and in “sites” folder edit “development.services.yml” and add this code at the end

parameters:

twig.config:

debug : false

auto_reload: false

cache: false

`ScrShot_3

We will add additional “settings” file just for local usage, “settings.local.php”, you can download it here
https://github.com/taleskimartin/drupal8test/blob/master/settings.local.php

You need to put it in “sites/default”. In the same directory you will need to edit “settings.php” and add this code at the end

if (file_exists(__DIR__.’/settings.local.php’)) {

include __DIR__.’/settings.local.php’;

}

After this you will need to clear cache in the admin area, on the same link from above  “yoursite”/admin/config/development/performance, and we are done with the cache, we can continue with development.

Next you need to enable our theme in the “Appearance” section in the admin area,

ScrShot_4

“yoursite”/admin/appearance, then you can play with the twig files in the theme and try to edit them.

After enabling the theme the homepage need to look like this

ScrShot_5

Now we will play a little with the modules…

There are 2 custom modules here:
https://github.com/taleskimartin/drupal8test/tree/master/modules

The first one that we will play with is “vox_custom” and it is generating jquery tabs for all the articles in the site.

Create 3 Articles, in “yoursite”/node/add we add “Article” and the first one name it “Article 1”, there needs to be some text in the body field, so we will use lorem ipsum generated text, and some dummy image for the image field. Repeat this 3 times.

After finishing with the articles create one Basic Page and l list all the articles. You need to add URL alias, it needs to be “/all-articles”, and this will be used for the block.

ScrShot_6

So, now there are 3 articles and 1 basic page, what you need to do right now is to add the block that is generated from the “vox_custom” module in some region. You have to “Block layout” on “yoursite”/admin/structure/block and use “Content” region to place our block. When you add the block, please put it at the bottom of the blocks in the “Content” region, it looks better that way :). At the end you need to have same as the picture below

ScrShot_7

After you press “Save” (otherwise you will lose the block) go to the “Configure” and in the “Visibility” section chose “Pages” and enter the url path from the basic page that you have just created, so the block will show only on this particular page:

ScrShot_8

Don’t forget to hit “Save” here.
If everything is OK go on “yoursite”/all-articles and you should get something like this
ScrShot_9

Also you can move “Main navigation” block from “Header” region to “Navigation” region in the “Block layout” and then you can use the menu nav at the top left corner.

The second module is generated via terminal and is called “Tralala” . The module is generating custom route in the MVC approach, so if you have some base knowledge you can play with it also, it just prints the string that you will put on this url “yoursite”/tralala/hello/voxteneo or “yoursite”/tralala/hello/anyOtherString
ScrShot_10

This is the end of the tutorial, now you are on your own, you can try everything, break something, fix it and learn from it.

Drupal 8 is the most massive open-source CMS ever build, still there is a lot of things that need to be done in the system, but looking in the complexity of it, the current status is super good.

With almost always having open job positions, we get a lot of emails and CVs from people for each of our offices. The quantity doesn’t outweigh the quality in Software Development, though. We are living in times and market where the employees choose the employers and not vice versa. Finding and getting the right candidates to join the team is a long and tough process. We wanted to know how we can further improve ourselves and be better employers for the developers. We conducted a short survey on what developers want from an employer. And ended up with five most popular answers.

We happen to be (not so modestly) covering all 5 criteria, that’s why the article.

1. Room to improve and progress

Most developers want challenging project. They want to test their knowledge and skills with interesting projects that will help them improve and advance their craft. This would hardly happen with a simple presentational page, that most of the freelance developers end up doing. We have complex systems in the house, that require creativity and knowledge.

We invest in trainings, because we know that this way we invest in the company. Remember the internet meme:

CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”

CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

~Peter Baeklund

 

2. Freedom

Freedom comes with Responsibility. Once you prove you’re eligible, you will be treated like a king in our company. Letting people use their imagination and creativity and not limiting them to work in the same, often obsolete pattern, adopting new technologies and methodologies gets you motivated and driven employees ready to take any project.

Apart from the freedom of thought, flexible working hours are also a huge advantage. You can keep both the early birds and night owls happy.

 

Startup Stock Photos

3. Focus on one project at a time.

It often happens in companies to have one developer on more than one project at a time. No matter how small the task is, switching between projects can get confusing and take a lot of precious time trying to get one’s focus back. We are working very hard on minimizing the “hijacking” of developers by the project managers, so everyone has a clear view on what he or she will be assigned on for a longer period of time.

 

4. Feedback on the work

Giving feedback is one of the most important things. It feels good to know that you did a good job on something or getting a critical opinion on your work because it gives you the room to fix your mistakes and improve for next time. Feedback with no evaluation criteria is useless though. Having a concrete behavioral and technical matrix helps a lot for the improvement of one’s weak points. We have an evaluation process where developers can get a clear view on their performance and choose to strengthen more their strong points or work on improving their weaknesses.

 

5. Fair and open communication

Keeping things fair and keeping an open communication is one of the keys of being a good employer. Letting the people know what’s going on in the company, rewarding them for their good performance or letting them know what they did wrong is the key for success of everyone.

 

Startup Stock Photos

 

These are the top five answers we got., that we feel are the most important, that we got from the developers. However there are also many other things that are not mandatory but will make someone happy. The things that might even look irrelevant to someone, may be really important to other people. Having a parking space in front of the office or pool table where you can just relax for a bit and “let off steam”, some consider a really important asset of a working environment.

Keep these in mind when thinking of ways to better your working place. We are already working on the hard on our improvement, hope this will help you improve yourself.

What is User Experience Design (UX)

Digital media Interactivity has grown significantly in the last few years, especially for web and mobile applications. It makes the companies have to considered it as the effective and efficient media to communicate with their target/consumer. Based on that, design has to expand its many roles, not only to by making the product beautiful but by making it usable and useful as well..

Nowadays, design was demanded to create a positive perceptions from  the user’s perspective. These perceptions include effectiveness, efficiency, emotional satisfaction and the quality of the relationship with the designer who created the product. So how can it be reached? It can be reached by doing User Experience Design. User Experience Design encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

How Does It works?

Pic

(source: uxindo.com)

The concept of User Experience Design is to create interaction based on what are the users needs (user centered). By doing these method, we can define and manage the strategy how to build user awareness, how to make the user consider, how to makes the user sign up, how to make the user keep and continue using the apps and also how to make the user be a brand advocates. (accommodate business goals) So at the end, it can create the positive perceptions in the user perspective and build the quality of relationship with the companies.

Piiccc

(source: usabilia.com)

User Experience Design has more responsibility than User Interface Design. User Experience Design, starts by doing research of the target market / target user, then it will be implemented into User Interface Design. Yup, User Interface Design is a part of User Experience Design and also only the result of it. By doing User Experience Design at the beginning of the development, we make the User Interface more effective and efficient. The Content, Visual Design, Typography, User Interface, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Functionality and also the Usability should be fitted to the user mindset. So it will help the user to accomplish their needs with ease. Once, the users needs are met and they  feel satisfied with the apps, it means that the apps has a good User Experience

Why Invest in User Experience Design?

1. Good UX = Good Business

User Experience will help the business to manage the best practices and the best strategy to achieve the goals and it will be delivered to be fitted to the user mindset and experience. Better  User Experience will ensure that the user to met their needs with ease. So the satisfied user more likely continues using your product and recommends it to their friends and family. According to research done by Forrester. Companies that has invested every dollar in User Experience Design brings 10.000 dollars in return.

2. Saving Time, Money and Resources.

User Experience Design make the product more effective, efficient. If you apply it into the project at the beginning of development, at least you don’t need to spend your money on a redesign, because redesign is expensive and takes much time. And also automatically, you will have the product that has an easy-to-learn design. So it will reduce the cost of ownership and support. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for documentation anymore.

The comfortable office is the one thing that gives good facility to the employees.

It’s not just facility like desks and chairs that makes the job easier, but also make every activity easier to do and improve the employee’s performance.

If an office is just a serious place to work, then the people will feel under pressure, which can lead to unhealthy ambiance for work and the under performance of each person. The comfortable office is not just a place to work, but also give support to the people to be better and healthier. How? Doing sports together of course. Could be gymnastic? Badminton? Boxing? Could be anything.

And us, in Vox Teneo Asia also think about this kind of activity. So we chose to play futsal.

IMG_7036

Why futsal?

Because it’s a kind of sport that builds and improves teamwork, and since most of the people that work in Vox Teneo Asia are men, we had enough to divided them into two teams. (five people each).

The team sports grow the spirit of teamwork. The main goal is “team building”. How? As we know, in futsal there’s a keeper, there’s a striker, and defend. And all that positions have important roles. There’s nobody higher or lower, they all have to do the best they can to be the winning team.

If we see further, the winning team usually is not the team with the best players, but the team that has a good teamwork. Beside that, in this sport, scoring a “goal” is the main purpose of the game. If they score, the team gets excited and gets energy and spirit boost, and we can see the spirits are different between the two teams.

IMG_7021

Overall, this sport is not just healthy, but also has other advantages for the people for the internal teamwork between them. That’s why all the people are very excited about this positive activity. This activity is really to build the teamwork.

 

They start to organize it themselves. They book the soccer field in the after hours. Because they finish at 6pm, they go to futsal from 7pm to 8pm. Is one hour enough? Well, it is.

They go for futsal regularly every Monday at 7pm, in a soccer field in Bandung. They choose this place because it’s quite close to the office, so everybody can go there easily.

So far, it’s been going on for a month, and everybody loves it.

And it’s proved, after we started doing this activity, the people became closer, and the work performance is increasing. Hope that we can keep it going, for better Vox Teneo.

after

The Head of Software Development of Vox Teneo, Luc Debliquis, made the decision to move to Macedonia in 2014 . We asked him a couple of questions to see what led him to that decision and how does he like his new working and living environment.

 

Early Life

Luc originally comes from the beautiful town of Tournai, Belgium, but he lived most of his life in and around Brussels in the Walloon Brabant region (French area of Belgium). He studied at  “Université libre de Bruxelles” to become a Physical Education teacher, but decided to take an entirely different career path. The most interesting thing about him is that for the most part he is a self-taught developer. His learning was fueled by his love of technologies and the Internet, especially by the benefits those things could bring to people. He got his first job in IT back in 1998 as a Web Developer.  He had multiple jobs, many of those simultaneously over the course of 14 years. Along the way always improving his skills as he climbed higher and higher in his career.
_20160524_140600

Starting with Vox Teneo

In December 2012 he started with Vox Teneo, for a “temporary” freelance mission, as a Senior .NET Developer and Application Architect. He was immediately engaged with his Vox Teneo coworkers, company values, and the crazy interesting projects and challenges. So the mission was prolongated on a common agreement.  Within less than a year, his skills and knowledge took him to the lead of the .NET team. Not long after, in July 2014 he was awarded a promotion to the Head of Software Development.

 

Moving to Macedonia

Luc’s first visit to Macedonia was in July 2014, shortly after the opening of our office in Skopje. At the time, Vox Teneo Macedonia was just at the beginning of it’s growth and rising. Coming from the depressing rains of Belgium, Luc fell in love with Skopje right away. He fell for the sun of course, but mostly with the people, not just the colleagues but Macedonians in general. Two more visits came in 2014, and it was enough for him to make the decision to move to Macedonia for good. The move to Skopje came in November 2014 and we can in all honesty say that he is one of the main reasons for the success of Vox Teneo Macedonia.

PhotoGrid_1427446682298

At first, Luc needed some time adjusting to the Macedonian lifestyle. Everything in Skopje was LOUD! Not being used to all the noise and the volume of the people in Macedonia, he was the guy everyone in the office feared.  It was very often that he would get mad and say “This is not a bazar!” With time, he slowly learned to tolerate the noise and even adjust his way of talking to blend with his new environment.  Now Belgian people are asking him to stop yelling when he speaks!

DSC_0372

As time has passed in Skopje, Luc fell in love with the life more and more. He found activities to fill his spare time, such as hiking in Mavrovo, crossfit, skiing and playing Ice hockey with Skopje – Metalurg. Not long ago he got his Macedonian Drivers licence as well.  Leading him to buy a few new bikes which he loves riding. He also fell for the macedonian boza, skara, wine and of course rakija.

1620706_800659536635745_4146228649457275568_n

With time, people in the office got to know him more deeply.  To understand that he is a really nice guy. A guy with an amazing sense of style who is always looking sharp. A guy with a soft spot for all animals, especially cats.

 

Future plans

For now, Luc has no intentions of moving away from Skopje. He became used to the lifestyle and the sunny weather. He can’t imagine living under the Belgian rain anymore.

 

DSC_0025

 

Cedric Pierrejean is running our Bandung office in Indonesia. He has started at Vox Teneo in 2015 and he hit the ground running. He is an experienced Project Manager but also skilled developer,valuable part of the team. Like every french, Cedric enjoys the good food and wine, and he loves traveling. He has fallen in love with Indonesia the first time he visited.  Here is his story: .

 

Early life

Cedric is originally from Toulouse, France, but throughout his lifetime he relocated and lived in a lot of different places. His work and his pursuit of new experiences got him from different cities in France, to living in the US for 7 years, and 1 and a half years in Hong Kong, China. He has a degree from IUP Miage in IT methodology applied to enterprise management. His adventurous spirit couldn’t allow him to stop looking for new challenges and opportunities, so he moved from city to city and from job to job, finally ending up in Indonesia.

384680_10150977006614071_1697869212_n

Moving to Indonesia

While living and working in Hong Kong, Cedric traveled to Indonesia for his work and spent a lot of time there, slowly falling in love with the country. He was lucky enough to be given a great opportunity to live and work in Indonesia so he couldn’t miss the chance. Fearless and ready for a new adventure, Cedric decided to stay for a long term. He didn’t encounter almost any problems moving, it was just adjustments that he had to make because of the different culture and religion, that he quickly overcame and blended in immediately. He also met and married his wife in Indonesia so it was a big plus in his decision to settle there.

20160227_153445(0)

Getting to Vox Teneo

While working in Hong Kong, and traveling to Indonesia, Cedric made many connections and met a lot of people, including our co-founder Mr. Patrick Loge. He took the opportunity as soon as he could. Dedicated himself fully to his work and to Vox Teneo. He was accepted in the team quickly and believes in the people and their skills and devotion. Cedric is working hard to help Vox Teneo Indonesia grow and build something great.

 

Future plans

We cannot say that Indonesia tamed him but Cedric is determined to stay to live and work there. Settled and building a family in Indonesia, he is now looking to feed his adventurous spirit with the business opportunities that come along the way of Vox Teneo. He wants to continue building his family there as well as be successful in Vox Teneo. He is determined to make Vox Teneo a recognized and top notch company in Indonesia and develop the local market.

IMG-20140625-WA0004

The problem : Your server crashed and you recover only the frm and idb files. If you have only the idb files, it works also but you need the SQL scripts with the DB structure.

Copying those files directly in the data directory of a new mysql server will not work. The process is a little bit more complex.

The resolution: It is good to know that table structures are store in .frm files, so the resolution of this problem is to recover those structures, to find the lost data or just recreate the tables. The concept of recovery the structure from a .frm file is really handful because in some cases the MySQL server is not necessary.

Process for recovering one table using .frm files

There are two different ways of recovering corrupted table

  • Spawning a new MySQL instance and run structure recovery (Usage of the following switches is neede –server or –basedir along with –port)
  • Recovery of a table without requirement of a MySQL instance (Usage of –diagnostic which reads the .frm files byte-by-byte and tries to recover all the information possible)

First way: Spawning a new MySQL instance and run structure recovery

Step 1: Recreate the structure from the frm files

To recreate the table structure, you can use the tool “mysqlfrm” provided with MySQL Utilities This tool extracts the structure and create a “Create table” script.

mysqlfrm –server=root:mypassword@localhost –port=3311 “<source/path>/mytable.frm” > “<destination/path>/recovered_mytable.sql”

The port instruction is any available port, it’s not the port of the mysql server. The end of the script is to redirect the output in a file.

Step 2: Recreate the table in a new database

In a new database, create the new table with the script generated at the step 1. This script will create 2 files in the database data folder :

  • mytable.frm
  • mytable.idb

Step 3: Remove the new idb file

To remove the new idb file, execute the sql command :

ALTER TABLE mytable DISCARD TABLESPACE;

This command removes the link between the table and the tablespace, and removes the idb file.

Step 4: Copy the old idb file

The idb file recovered from the old server must be copied in place of the idb file deleted at the step 3.

Step 5: Reactivate the table

The link broken at the step 3 is restored with the command :

ALTER TABLE mytable IMPORT TABLESPACE;

No worry about the warnings you will receive.

That’s it !

 

Second way: Recovery of a table without requirement of a MySQL instance

mysqlfrm –diagnostic “<source/path>/mytable.frm” > “<destination/path/recovered_mytable.sql>”

After the execution of the command finishes, all the recovered information for the table will be inside the “recovered_mytable.sql” file.

Steps 2, 3, 4 and 5 from above needs to be repeated in order to idb file be recreated.

 

Restoring mysql database table from .idb files only

If you have only the idb file from a table, you need the sql script to recreate the tables or at least the corrupted or broken table schema. Skip the step 1 and use the script in the step 2.

The topic of professional equality of sexes is frequently discussed. We decided to give away the statistic of our IT SME for those of you curious to know if  IT is a “men’s world”

We remember times when professions were separated in mens and womens. Now  it  is really uncommon to find a job that is done strictly by one gender. Equality between the sexes has been a great issue for many people since we can remember, so we wanted to look at the facts, and see what the numbers say, at least in our offices.  So, is there such a thing as a “guys job” or a “girl’s job”? Let’s see what the numbers say.

Vox Teneo right now has about 95 employees and the rate of M/F is about 70% to 30%.

Pie_Chart_Template

This is just the rough chart that shows that there are a lot of female employees in our company but to go further down and see if there really is a thing like a “man’s job” we broke down the numbers of the employees by departments. Here is a table that will give you a rough idea of the numbers in % by departments.

Department-chart

The good news here is that we have at least one girl in every department, which is here to say the non ot the activities is a “man’s job”.

Would you share the statistics of your IT company?

One of the newest recruits is our first American born employee – Benjamin Reinhardt. He started in Vox Teneo in early 2016 as a Project Manager and he fitted in right away. Being the only US citizen in our company and not one of many that live in Belgium we wanted to see how does he like his new way of living and his new job.

 

Early life

Benjamin was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania. He lived there for the most part of his life and then moved to North Carolina for a short while, before moving to Belgium. He got a bachelor degree in Computer science from the university of Delaware but his life led him to a completely different career in one of the biggest French pharmaceutical companies where he met his now-wife. His biggest passions aside from his job were two main things: photography and racing cars which unfortunately he had to leave as a hobby when he moved to Belgium.

12615383_10102708681113244_189449040531432625_o

Moving to Belgium

Moving to Europe from the US Ben didn’t encounter many problems, except for couple things that came as a cultural shock for him… One is that shops close earlier and don’t work on Sundays in Brussels, and that Europeans do a really strange thing when it comes to food… They put mayonnaise on their french fries! Being used to a faster life back in the US, he took his time adjusting to his new environment, and the more slow-pace live in Belgium. However, his main concern was the language barrier. Only at a beginner level with French he was shy to speak publicly and often ran into problems in communication with people.

12493523_10102684188262114_7542999119745030374_o

Getting in Vox Teneo

After a while in Brussels, Ben decided he was staying there so he started looking for a job and soon found Vox Teneo. Being a free spirited and open minded person he loves communication with people and solving problems so he applied for a Project Manager in our company. Of course his previous knowledge of Software engineering helped him a lot here. Now a really valuable member of the company and being a native English speaker he is always the go-to-guy when problems in communications occur.

289049_10100186643561714_8101811_o

Future Plans

Ben has been with us since early 2016 and he loves his new job and life in Belgium. In the past four months his French has significantly improved and now he has no trouble in communications with his colleagues and clients. He also just got married so he plans to stay in Brussels for a long run.

 

Vox Teneo is always on the look-out for new talents. Young and energetic people are always welcome to join our orders. We invest in our people and their advancement and training, so very often we hire juniors or trainees helping them learn and improve their skills.

We have new employees all the time but this one is special, being the first female candidate for the IT support position.

Aleksandra Toromanoska was just the right person to fit the profile we were looking for. Aleksandra is a young and energetic girl from Skopje. She has a passion for technologies and arts. She has very refined eye and talent for design and likes doing photography for fun in her spare time. A cool and relaxed person to hang out with, but very serious when it comes to work. She had the knowledge and the talent, she was only missing the experience so we decided to give her a chance. We provided her with the best “personal trainers”, our very own IT Support Team from Macedonia: Dragan, Ivan, Igor and Voislav. Aleksandra has still a lot to learn and prosper but so far she is doing amazingly good and she was quickly accepted by the whole team. She has brought new freshness and energy to our IT Support and she is now “one of the boys”.

 

We have launched a Facebook campaign in April 2016 that reached 35 000 people with 65,00 $ budget. This is not unusual for the platform. What was unusual is that not one single user reported us as spam…

What does creative concept means?

Internet has changed the game in advertising long time ago, but most of the brands still struggle to adjust. Emitting the message of the company is not the way to speak with people. Rarely somebody is interested in your monologue.

What we did is – we have opened ourselves to the audience. We have put the people in the lights of the projectors, because the people are our most important asset of Vox Teneo and chose to share the knowledge instead of hiding our know-how.

Ask_Kharisma

We are a global company and wanted to show our international face. Talented people from all the offices did participate in the campaign.

Ask_Ludivine

We wanted to show the different technologies we work with. That is why we have picked experts from different fields to be answering questions. Marjan from Macedonia, for example is a Drupal expert…

Ask_Marjan

Oppie is a Belgian with Indonesian background, perfectly matching our international company culture….

Ask_Oppie

Pierre was a difficult catch for our campaign. Like most project managers he is hard to reach, because of his tight and floating schedule of a problem solver operating on many fields.

Ask_Pierre

Whisnu is experienced with e-commerce and Prestashop in particular. He is employed in our office in Bandung, Indonesia.

Ask_Whisnu

Eva is keen on technology. Apart from her JAVA expertise, she was also one of the first in the office to adopt Elastic search.

Ask_Eva

photo by Alex Jones.

How you got there doesn’t matter.

With all my respect to higher education, a degree mentioned in one’s CV has often as much to do with the professional skills as one’s looks. There is most probably a link between your white collar and your management skills, but having a white collar doesn’t make you a good manager.

In IT the link between the diploma and actual skills is even more loose. Not only the first does not lead to the other, but having great programming or project management skills does not depend on having the degree at all. You might be a self-educated gem that did not follow the classical old scheme:

Degree – > Experience – > Skills

But instead the more real life inspired pattern:

Urge to do something – > Self-education – > Skills

Because of this hiring philosophy, we are putting in our job ads as a requirement: a Degree OR experience equivalent

The best hires we have ever had were from people, who have proved they can deeply understand the problem. Years of experience, diplomas and awards are all welcome, but not that important for us. Our efforts during an interview are focused on getting to know what you can actually get done. For example, knowing how to structure a database in theory is important, but not enough to make it happen.

Like many other development companies, we have a four hour “Practical Test” in our recruitment procedure, when candidates can prove what they can actually do.

 

Some thoughts on higher education, circa 2016

(provoked by the suggested Google searches)

Is a degree worth it?

Well, it is worth it…

When living in a world of abundant information, the hard part is fighting back the chaos and picking the right road. And this is the point where the now-trending skill-oriented tutorials on the internet are not enough. The broader understanding of the matters helps you progress and know what to look for. And this is where the “learn alone” practice cracks. When alone “in the dark” it is hard to see the big picture and draw a road ahead. University is the best place to start getting oriented in a certain field. It is a magical place, gathering people with common interests and professors with all the time dedicated to tutor you. The priceless senior people in the companies would never have that much time for the younger employees.

…but learn to unlearn

Education can definitely help, but it is very likely that “education” will form thinking patterns you might need to unlearn after, because the environment transforms dynamically, because the education programs are often obsolete and mismatch with reality is probable. The first step towards unlearning is getting to know it is an option at all… “Question everything!”. And it is not about ceasing to use a certain tool for example, the problem might be much, much broader. Only deep understanding of the concepts you operate with will help you alter your thinking/working pattern.

There are no rules

The only rule is to get quality stuff done. What road brought you to the skills arsenal needed to be a .NET developer or Project Manager should be of no importance to the employers.

 

 

 

This Sunday Vox Teneo was attending the 20km of Brussels marathon. We are proud to say that all the members from our team managed to finish the race.

run1

The 20 km of Brussels is a marathon with a tradition of over 30 years and is held every year on the last Sunday of the month of May. This is not the first time that a team from Vox Teneo ran this marathon and it is also not the last. We want to make it our tradition and support this event for the years to come.

IMG_8698

We are already starting our preparations for next year and we want to invite everyone to join in on the fun. See you next year at 20km of Brussels.

IMG_8706

If you have never heard about Resonate, you can’t call yourself a geek. Resonate is conference/festival held every year in the beautiful Belgrade, Serbia. It provides an insight into the current developments in the fields of digital culture visual arts and music and it was THE place to be from the 12th to the 16th of April. This year Resonate was celebrating their fifth anniversary and we wanted in on the fun. Four brave soldiers from our ranks were sent to Resonate to steal the knowledge of the incredible lecturers and performers that were a part of Resonate. Our team was consisted of Stavros – Tech Lead Fron End Developer; Ljupco – Front End Developer; Ratko – PHP Developer and Jane – Communications Coordinator.

We can honestly say that we had a blast in Belgrade! From the inspiring lectures to the amazing performances to the beautiful sights of the city it was well spent four days. So for those of you who weren’t there, here is a short review of the things that happened on Resonate 2016.

 

IMG_20160414_171745

 

Our day one started with Screenings in the beautiful big cinema in Kinoteka. The screenings were consisted of short videos including: Mapping videos, product presentations, short tips and tricks videos after which we moved to the Main Hall in Kolarac were we watched more extraordinary music videos.

 

DSC06571

 

The first lecture we attended was by Bethany Koby. She is as mom, CEO designer, educator and art director interested in creating brands, businesses and experiences that help imagine a more positive and collaborative future. Her presentation was named “Technology will save us”. She spoke about involving kids with technologies, aiming to spark their creativity with different DIY kits and games.

 

DSC06517

 

Next up was Sakchin Bessette from Moment Factory. He presented an amazing new project. An interactive forest. Moment Factory is a media and entertainment studio specializing in the conception and production of multimedia environments combining video, lighting, architecture, sound and special effect to create remarkable experiences. Since its inception in 2001, Moment Factory has created more than 300 events, shows and installations. Their latest project is placed in a forest where the creative use of lights and sounds makes for an incredible experience for the visitors. You can see more about this project Here.

We finished day one with the performance of Omar Souleyman. An Amazing artist and DJ who combines oriental sounds with amazing techno music which makes for a perfect combination!

Day two started with one of our personal favorite lecturers on this years festival. His name is Dan Hatt. Creative technologist, visual artist and VJ from Manchester (UK). While working as a research technologist for the BBC’s Research and Development UX group. His first lecture was on Object Oriented Video Broadcasting. Basically what they do is live stream events but it’s not really live. With the help of Primer (the software they use) they can broadcast live events with a small, almost not noticeable delay which helps a lot with having a perfect stream with no errors, because they can rewind bits, censor, change cameras without even being present at the event and the people at home not noticing anything strange.

 

DSC06563

 

After Dan we attended a Pannel Discussion about Digital Art Festivals. On this discussion there were representatives of a couple of well known Digital Art festivals from across Europe. This included Marie du Chastel (KIKK), Jean-Emmanuel Rosten (Mirage), Jarl Schulp (FIBER). The representatives talked about their festival, presented photos and videos, explained their plans for the future of the festivals .

 

DSC06593

 

Next up was Patricio Gonzalez Vivo. He is and artist and engineer who uses code and light to turn data into stunning landscapes. His landscapes address the problem of scale and the development of technology to perceive beyond the world in front of us. Patricio’s landscapes are compositions of time and perception.

 

DSC06604

 

Day two finished with an incredible performance from Atau Tanaka. An amazing artist, performer, and has been Artistic Ambassador for Apple France, and was the first artist to become researcher at Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paris. He performed using hand bands which react on muscle movement. This reactions are transferred to his lap top via wi-fi or Bluetooth (he wouldn’t tell) and converted to sound. After his performance we met him “backstage” and saw that he is and amazing and inspiring person.

 

IMG_20160415_185608

 

 

Our last day at Resonate was as amazing as the first two. On our way to Kinoteka we caught up with the Belgrade City Marathon, and a midday party on Brankov Most. But we couldn’t stay since we had lectures to attend to. The first lecture of the day was by Travis Kirton. Travis is the original author of C4, a creative coding-framework for animation, media and interaction on iOS. He has been producing costume software, installations, and has explored the merging of hardware and software systems in the context of cultural and spatial experience. He spoke about his beginnings and the birth of C4, how they decided to go with iOS only, and plans for the future of his work.

 

DSC06708

 

We finished our Resonate experience with Dan Hett once again. This time he spoke about his “other side”. The research technologist by day, Dan crates and performs large scale improvised live visuals and exhibitions, concerts and festivals by night. Dan performs with a really cool technique, “Livecoding”. He uses code to make crazy visual effects and he lets people see his code and as he says: “Livecoding is the truth” and “Livecoding kills posers”. Dan loves improvisations and almost never goes prepared to perform. He doesn’t keep any of his used materials and lets anybody use what he made. He goes with the “Do what  you want with it licence”.

 

IMG_20160416_145204

 

In conclusion our overall stay in Belgrade was wonderful. From the hostel we staid in to the venues for the conference we saw amazing places and met wonderful people. Resonate was an inspiring experience for all of us. We learned about the newest technologies and projects that are yet to hit the global markets. It was fun, but it had to come to and end. See you again Resonate, see you again Belgrade.

 

DSC06781

The organization Olivia Hendrickx Research Fund encourages innovative cancer research and organizes a Gala Concert on Monday the 1st of February 2016 at Brussels’ Palais des Beaux-Arts for its 15th anniversary.

The musical program will be performed by laureates Queen Elizabeth international competition accompanied by the Romanian Youth Orchestra, in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium. All revenues and gifts will entirely benefit their innovative cancer research projects.

Vox Teneo will attend the Gala and supports Olivia Funds, notably with the creation of their new website: http://olivia.be.

 

bandeau-galaconcert-2016-v2

After developing CompanyWriters website and intranet in 2013, Vox Teneo now created a brand new design, more modern – and fully responsive!

companywriters

This job search website assemble workers and companies – but also private people for little jobs. A private mail system allows a first contact before any job interview. Additionally, employers have an ad space allowing them to diffuse more information about their company. Realized in Drupal, this website possess a design both corporate and trendy !

 

winningjobs

Belnuc’s website is centered on its members and their information. They can subscribe, pay their fee online and are reminded if they aren’t in order. Moreover, they have access to different zones depending on their category – and they also see different search results! They can also manage their own documents.

In the back-end, the website is synchronizes with a FilemakerDB. It also generates barcodes automatically depending on the INAMI number, and generates IDs.

On the public part of the website, you can find an agenda, news feeds, a forum and videos online!

And because Vox Teneo always proposes the best, it is entirely responsive.

 

belnuc

icones-news-websiteVox Teneo has been using Drupal for its projects for a long time, developing platforms going from WAPES’ website to EFPIA’s full back-end platform. Now, our teams seek to invest even more on Drupal.

Indeed, since July, two intrepid developers from our PHP team are contributing to developing of the official core of Drupal 8 & Drupal Commerce!

The mission started on July the 6th, with a 3 days’ workshop leaded by Bojan, the main developer of the Drupal Commerce suite. During one month, both developers worked full time on the Durpal 8 core development and commerce modules, then switched to half-time for four months still ongoing.

This investment will allow our Drupal Team to have an even better understanding of the CMS. As always, Vox Teneo strives to be at the cutting edge of technology.

facebook-post-vox-drupal-8

The family company wished to open a windows on their delicious artisanal products. Their WordPress is now online, presenting their products by category as well as a few recipes, to everyone’s pleasure!

User-friendly, this CMS allows them to keep their content up to date without any technical knowledge. And the website is accessible on mobile as well as on desktop!

Go and see for yourself!

 

top-quality

icones-news2

The OVH World Tour of Bruxelles was a success. Lots of exchanges, lots of meetings, and a very interesting presentation by Vox Teneo about the OTAKeys project.

 

The scope of this recent, revolutionary project is to make disappear our car keys from our pockets – and to ease the vehicles sharing.

Indeed, OTAKeys developed a box connecting to the car’s OBD bus: the Keyzeebox. Through a smartphone app, the users has a virtual key. Which allows him to book, open, start, stop the car, then give it back.

The companies hence can give access to all their cars to all their collaborators!

 

Vox Teneo sometimes helped OTAKey’s developerse but mostly takes care of the hosting and infrastructure outsourcing, in OVH.

Such a project has pretty specific needs:

  • High availability (critical application)
  • Peak load resistance (300k cars managed within 2 years)
  • Secure infrastructure (pirating the system would give access to the cars!)

Vox Teneo put in place solutions meeting those needs.

 

ovh-owt-bruxelles-DSC_0558-062

 

In addition to this project’s presentation, Vox Teneo could present its activities on a dedicated stand. A true success!

More feedback on OVH website.

devops-news

DevOps in general and hosting in particular is one of Vox Teneo’s main concern. To provide our client with security, a stable environment and 24/7 monitoring.

This concern was noted, as we were chosen by OVH among all their partners to be part of the OVH World Tour! More specifically, we will be part of the event organized in Brussels the 22th of May, and present one of our realizations: Otakeys.

The World Tour itself started in February and will keep going until December in most of Europe and North America. In each country, OVH chooses a partner to accompany them in their specific organization in the country. As OVH puts it: “Our experts join forces to talk to you about your projects and introduce you to technical solutions which meet your needs. Professionals in all industries can benefit from feedback and talking to others about their business issues. The world tour is a special occasion for dialogue between OVH and its communities.

More information about the event can be found on the OVH website.

 

vox-ovh-website

This website, which also includes UFHJ’s intranet, is tailor-made to fit UFHJ’s needs. We choose together to use WordPress because of its user-friendliness: this CMS is easy to use even without any technical knowledge.

The content itself has been thought to make it easy to share information, especially on the intranet. The private area allows to centralize specific documentation for their business and conversation on precise topics through the forum. If a member is available for a job, he can even publish his CV online!

Moreover, as pointed out recently, it is important for a website to be available on any device. We hence made sure UFHJ would be easily browsable on computer and on mobile.

 

 

ufhj

mobile

Yesterday, Google changed its algorithm – and, for once, the main update has been announced officially: mobile-friendly websites will be favored if you do your research on a mobile device.

Google algorithm?

This algorithm is how Google decides the order of his results when someone types a research. Depending on the content of your website, its structure, etc., it will be considered more or less relevant.

And usually, it is secret. Google wants its result to reflect reality. They protect the information for the webmaster not to trick the system into increasing artificially the relevance of his website (the very essence of SEO).

Mobile results for mobile devices

This time, however, Google let people know that mobile-friendly devices would be showing up first when one makes a research on a mobile device. The point being to direct the user to websites which he will be able to browse on the device he is currently using.

Then again, mobile devices usage has been increasing exponentially those last few years. In the US, it even exceeded PC usage!

Vox Teneo goes mobile

Proposing to its clients a mobile version of their website or a responsive design was already part of Vox Teneo’s goals in 2014. The shift is visible: the vast majority of the website accessible to public produced by Vox Teneo are mobile-friendly.

You want your website to become mobile? We would be glad to help. Don’t hesitate to ask for a quote!

birthday

 

We can wish a happy birthday to Vox Teneo Macedonia, which just hit its first year of life today. The team evolved quite a lot since it started – for the best!

Starting at 5 people, VTM now includes 23 employees. Involved in about 30 projects for the past year, VTM focused on building specific skills. Those were declined into 5 teams that can basically fulfill any clients’ wish: PHP, C&S, .NET, Python and Infrastructure.

In PHP, VTM specifically focused on Drupal, creating not only a team but starting a Drupal Community in Macedonia!

With all those fact after only one year, we can be sure VTM will keep growing, always bringing new skills and technologies into Vox Teneo Group.

 

workingweb

time

Because our clients’ websites are visited everywhere in the world, they must be available at any hour. Our Belgian, Macedonian and Indonesian teams take turns for us to propose a permanent service. Someone is always there to provide solutions.

This isn’t the only service proposed by our DevOps team. Like all our solutions, your infrastructure is tailor-made to fit your needs: SLA, security management, monitoring…

We manage the technique so you can focus on your business.

Spring makes people cheerful and boosted. And it shows: lots of projects emerged! There is something for everyone…

TCR – this corporate-designed Prestashop E-commerce synchronizes with TCR’s ERP through a tailor-made solution

IDAY – a flexible WordPress CMS allows this associative organization to present its activities

Arsia – this Django platform interconnects with several databases in a complex synchronization system

Fields of Knowledge Biopharma – a tailor made events and trainings calendar with a world map and a precise filtering system. The image, the logo and all prints were done by Vox Teneo.

Ewon – based on Drupal CMS, this very trendy website presents their cutting-edge products and their success stories

Afreximbank – this import-export African bank asked for an intranet solution as well as a modern, user friendly website. They adopted WordPress with much satisfaction

 

website  intranet  graphisme  e_commerce  brand_activation

spring

One year ago, Vox Teneo Belgium moved in its new offices: a lovely manor in Limal, Brabant Wallon. However, there was still a lot of work to do…

Ever since, we invest quite some time in order to personalize, to give the place its specific “Vox” touch – and, for all intended purposes, this is a success.

Vox offices offer a private parking, lots of green, a quiet place for everyone to focus on work. But also some fantasy, with touches of Vox orange in most rooms.

With its original wooden panel and parquet floor, the place mixes new technologies with simplicity, efficiency, fitting Vox’s values.

This is Vox Teneo.

 

vox_manoir

Gazelle Awards – Vox teneo is in for the Brabant Wallon and appears in 5th position in the “small companies” category.

The word “Gazelle” comes from Persian and means elegant and quick!

For the positioning, 3 criteria were taken into account: sales revenue, cash-flow, employment.

The classification was done by summing the company’s position in each category (in absolute and relative values both). The winning company is then the one with the smallest score -or the highest rating.

This classification of the most performant companies in each province also puts forward our client Ewon: this company wins the gazelle for medium enterprises. We share this good news and send our contragulations! Thank you to Trends magazine for this initiative.

 

2015-03-06_15h14_41

wishcard-final

Vox Teneo developed a WordPress website for this Belgian inventor who received Eureka award of innovation in 2006. His invention? An easy and intelligent way to reinforce houses against earthquakes. And it’s all duty free! Everything is on the website…

 

2014-07-16_12h23_38

The new Adessa WordPress is online since this very afternoon! This SAP company’s website has now a professional, optimistic design. News are available as well as a social networks’ links in the footer. The whole content is of course manageable through the administration panel, since WordPress CMS has been adapted to make Adessa fully independent!

 

adessa

Belgian Cuberdon eshop just opened yesterday, and you really should take a look: it’s  classy design puts forward quite well the sweetness of this Belgian specialty. As for features, the Prestashop is multilingual and responsive, and its homepage slider is touch sensitive!

 

belgiancuberdons01

Step one of MoveZone’s new website is now online: a frontend website much more dynamic than their old one! MoveZone is a Brussels’ gym near Ixelles’ cemetary, and they wanted to redynamize their design as well as transform their old website into a CMS in order to be able to update its content themselves.

On those points, it’s a success!

2014-05-30_09h53_06

Step two, in a few weeks, will be to integrate the online booking for their badminton fields.

wp_reset_query();