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illumisoft
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Have you converted to the cloud yet?

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Here are the top 6 reasons to use the cloud:

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Here's a refresher on how to transfer files between computers: https://youtu.be/l2EmJAJ5-a4

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If you happen to be without a smartphone or your phone battery has died, did you know you can make a free phone call from your computer inside of Gmail?

This is of course assuming you have an internet connection. There are a number of ways to do this, using different apps and websites, but if you have a Gmail account, the process is pretty straightforward.

It’s easier than you might think. And, it’s completely free, too.

First, log into your Gmail account. On the lower left boxed area, there is a call phone link. Click on that. This brings up a dial pad which you can either click on with your mouse or type in using the number keys. Your call will be connected shortly afterwards. Of course you need a microphone and speakers for this to work, but most modern computers are equipped this way.

Here’s a quick video tutorial in case you need some visuals:

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We had the chance to talk to Coolio Xu, President of Unidoor, recently about his experience working with us. His company, Unidoor, is experiencing rapid growth in the eCommerce fulfillment space.

That wasn’t always the case, though, because when Coolio first began to visualize his dreams of building his revolutionary eCommerce fulfillment company, he had chosen a team that was unable to create the right solution. Coolio recounts his rocky journey:

“I had many problems that needed to be solved with software in the beginning. I began working with a different software engineering team and they were supposed to create solutions for me and my company. 8 months later, I got nothing. The software was supposed to transfer messages between systems and it wasn’t working. Nothing was working at all. It was very frustrating. It was at this point that I began looking desperately for an expert in the field of software development so I could make my company’s vision come into reality. I asked my friends if they knew anyone and Dan Prince’s name came up.

I explained to Dan that the system I had invested in wasn’t working. Dan’s team at illumisoft began working to rescue my business project. Within 4 months, they got the software built and this time it worked. It still works. It’s a success. Dan moved from being a software expert to a key player in deciding how my vision and business operates.” –Coolio Xu of Unidoor

We built Coolio eCommerce fulfillment and labeling systems that make his business more competitive. We also created a cross-border bulk shipping solution that makes shipping from China a lot more affordable and efficient for all parties. This means that Unidoor can consolidate large or small orders from anywhere in China and parts of Asia to come together in one container. Instead of sending each item, one at a time, say from China to the USA, we built a system that is able to ship in bulk, thereby saving a huge amount of money and time.
His company can do a lot more than we even have touched upon here, but it’s clear that having the vision for a business is only the first step. You must select the right people who will ask the right questions.

When we worked with Coolio to create solutions to make his vision a reality, we asked questions, lots of tough questions to ensure that the vision he had was based in practical and doable models. The results speak for themselves.

We built two systems for Unidoor which you can visit here: https://ufs.unidoor.com/#/login
https://c2u.unidoor.com/#/login
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At illumisoft, I decided to create a better alternative to the fixed contract model and I’ll illustrate why such a change is helpful. I’m not alone in this arena. Many experts and CEOs of software engineering companies are doing the same thing. I decided to create a two-week “trial” period in place of fixed contracts. Why would I do this? Below you’ll find a brief exploration of the problems associated with software development contracts.

The Contract Becomes The Relationship

Contracts restrict the focus of the relationship to the narrow confines of the fixed contract. This restriction harms the flow of good, beneficial work because it doesn’t allow the project to transform organically into the best possible outcome. During healthy development projects, what happens is that as the software project progresses, details become known that couldn’t be know at the start of the project. That information gives the client a better vision of the final solution and as this happens, the software project must change to meet the changed needs of the client. However, in a contractual agreement, the client feels an obligation to both follow the contract’s directive and seek the optimal solution. So, the client ends up either with a subpar result based on the original contract or renegotiates for additional features. Renegotiating feels like starting over. The normal response is to pretend that the original contract implies things it did not imply on signing. The developer will push back on this and also point to the contract as proof of his stance. This is the problem. The contract becomes the central focal point for both parties which results in neither party being satisfied with the end product. The contract becomes the problem.

The Contract Can’t Transform

The contract is a fixed instrument and is a burden to the evolution of the optimal solution. Software development is such an organic process and because fixed contracts don’t embody this organic nature, they are actually incapable of producing optimal results. When you break it down, it’s simply that a contract is static and software development requires continual adaptation. They are not compatible at the most fundamental level.

Contracts Pose Risks

There is a significant amount of risk involved when investing time, money and resources into a new software solution. When you execute a contract it binds you in a way that is restrictive. Contracts do not allow for easy modifications to the agreement. There are plenty of things that can go wrong with a software project. However, most of those require a change and do not inhibit the result. However, problems that can kill a project usually stem from one of the parties using a contract sideways of its intent.

For these reasons and others, I decided to create a two-week reduced risk trial as an alternative to fixed contract agreements. The main reason I did this new model is to help reduce the risk for our clients. We decided to take on the risk instead of the client taking it on.

An Alternative To Contracts: The Two-Week Trial

So, how does the two-week trial period work at illumisoft?
We will work for you for two weeks. We’ll bring in our team to do an analysis of your business needs, gather the requirements and perform work during a two-week iteration. We will put our efforts toward the functionality of software as requested. At the end of the iteration, we will present the results for you to review. If you like our work, then you pay us for it. If you don’t, you don’t pay anything. We don’t want to take your money unless you are delighted with the quality of our work.

If you do like our work, we will continue with the project. Every two weeks we will meet with you and give you the opportunity to review our progress. In this way, you get to be a vital part of the development process. This method produces superior results and reduces risk.

My name is Dan Prince and I’m the founder of illumisoft. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about our free trial period. We also offer a free 30 minute consultation. Learn more here. You can reach me via email at dan.prince@illumisoft.com or my cell phone at 816.564.9595.
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SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT CYCLE, WHAT IS IT?

Like many people, you may be familiar with some aspects of software development but you may not know what the entire software development life cycle is. The following explanation was designed for maximum simplicity so that anyone can easily grasp all the stages.

Stage 1: Planning
The planning stage is the most important one of the cycle. Objectives and goals of the project are identified. Many people are involved in this stage, including the senior staff, engineers, client, marketing specialists and others who are consulted to come up with a basic approach to the project. Risks are identified and technical roadmaps and goals are laid out. The requirements of the project are also identified at this stage.

Stage 2: Defining
After the requirements are discussed, then they are clearly defined and documented. The goals are broken down into functions and operations of the project. The requirements of the project will then need to be approved by the client or market analyst. A lot of analysis goes on in this stage to accurately define the different aspects of the project.

Stage 3: Designing
Based on the requirements, usually more than one design approach is created for the project. These various designs are reviewed by all the stakeholders and the best design is selected. At this point the details of the design should be pretty fleshed out.

Stage 4: Building
At this stage, the building of the product begins and programming code is generated. The type of programming language is chosen depending upon the type of software product being created. Debugging and other tools are used to create stability in the code.

Stage 5: Testing
This stage brings all the elements together into a testing environment. The software product is tested wherein defects are reported, tracked, fixed and retested, until the product reaches the quality standards set by the team.

Stage 6: Deployment And Maintenance
At this stage the software product is released to be used by customers. Some companies release a Beta version which can be tested out and improved upon by the users who provide feedback. Beta testing is valuable as it enables the software to become improved with real users. After Beta testing feedback is collected, improvements can be made to the design or functionality. The maintenance part comes into play next. It is an important one because it ensures that the system does not become obsolete. It also ensures that bugs are fixed and users are protected. Maintenance ensures that the system’s performance is evaluated and improved on a regular basis.
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Do you have a shiny new idea for a software development project?
Have you come up with a solution that solves a lot of your customers’ pain points? Does your idea feel like it will revolutionize your business processes?

Great! This is a good start. You’ll need to hold onto that enthusiasm throughout the stages of software development. The idea stage of planning a software project is exciting, no doubt. There are, however, some crucial things to consider before a new project is started.

Here are some things to consider before starting your new software project:

Selecting The Right Development Team

If you rush into a great project with the wrong partners, the results will be both costly and frustrating. The way to select the right team is to be completely honest and transparent about your goals, vision, philosophy and methods from the get go. In the initial stages of getting to know developers, honesty will guide you to the right fit. As you ask questions of the developers, gauge their response and pay attention to your gut instincts. Ask lots of questions, and more importantly, ask the developers to explain their philosophy of doing business. You’ll be able to compare their answers with your own and find the right fit.

Communication of Essentials: Time And Money

Of course you will have some constraints with regard to time and money. If you don’t communicate these constraints to the development team early on, there will be a lot of confusion on both sides. Be detailed about your monetary budget and time constraints. By being honest, you allow the development team to give you an honest assessment. Holding back information will only cause frustration and could be very costly, too. But remember, with software development, a strict timeline scenario isn’t ideal. Software development is an organic process that requires flexibility.

Focus On Goal

It will be easy to become distracted by other things as a software project begins to take shape. Oftentimes, clients tend to focus on things that do not include the original goal of creating a solution. Instead, people get focused on completion dates, budget and timelines, and these distractions actually compromise the integrity of the software solution. If you’re mind is veering off track, remind yourself of the original problem that the software solution is trying to solve. If the project is cut short, the solution won’t be very good.

Be Realistic

Let’s face it. Problems will arise. That’s the nature of creating solutions with people. Everyone is different and has a different idea of how to create a solution. When problems arise, it’s essential that you trust those with whom you are working. That’s why this part of the process is wholly dependent upon the people whom you’ve chosen. If you skipped over the first part, Selecting The Right Development Team, then this section won’t make a lot of sense. Trust arises when two parties share similar philosophies, both in life and in business. When you trust someone, having disagreements is a little uncomfortable, but eventually a mutual solution can arise. Conversely, if you don’t trust someone, a disagreement can instantly sever the relationship. Choose wisely.

When you’re ready to turn your bright idea into a software development reality, contact me to find out more: dan.prince@illumisoft.com
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I have my own virtual personal assistant named Amy Ingram and acquiring her didn’t cost me anything.

Eight or nine months ago, I signed up for free beta access to a virtual assistant at x.ai. The virtual assistant schedules meeting for me and so far, it’s been really helpful and saved some significant time. I just checked today and the free status is still in effect. This means you can still put in your email address to get access to the free beta version, too. I don’t know what this company has in mind for pricing in the future, though. X.ai is a NYC-based startup that has received significant funding from many blue chip investors.

I use Amy to schedule meetings and appointments with people.
Interestingly, Amy can also be named Andrew if you choose. The VA can work with Google and Office 365 calendars, as well as Outlook.com. Amy is only used within the email environment. Their goal was to create a virtual assistant that’s really good at one thing: setting up meetings via email.

Here’s the basics of how to use the x.ai virtual assistant, Amy, to schedule meetings via email:

1: Send an email to the person you want to have a meeting with, let’s call this person George.
2: Add Amy in the CC portion of this email to George.
3: Amy will then send an email to George with the details of the available times and locations.
4: George will respond to Amy’s email saying which day and times work/don’t work for him.
5: Amy and George will send emails back and forth until they arrive at a mutually good time to meet.
6: After the date and time has been agreed upon, Amy sends out invites with this information to you and your guest.
If you’re wanting some more details on the specifics of how Amy works, go here: https://x.ai/how-it-works/
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