Archive for the ‘IT’ Category

Digital in 2018 for dummies (and others).

January 25, 2018

This blogpost describes a list of Digital subjects which I think will become important and visible in 2018. It contains an overview of various IT and Digital related trends I see coming to the surface in 2018 and which will for sure change our life in the coming years.

The below list is based on elements I read, discovered and discussed over the last weeks and months with impacts on private people and businesses.  It is no way a full list – I highlight some of the most obvious.

Becoming “Digital” is not an option anymore: it is there and it is mandatory. To get there, and to involve everyone, that’s a different story. That is why I do not use the words ‘Digital Transformation’, ‘Digital Revolution’ etcetera, as they indicate to me the path to get to be more Digital. Not always easy, I know, but it is not a target in itself.

So what are the elements which may come to your eyes these days, and where will you see this? It has become a longer list than I originally thought, but Ok, let’s start. By the way, I refer often to Wikipedia explanations and hyperlinks are included for further  reading.

Generic topics

  • Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information. You will use it to add or delete real things and replace them by digital representations of your choice.
    • The list of possible applications is long: think of architecture, design, medical, military or tourism. Several hundreds of “apps” are available already.
    • Latest examples are Ikea (showing your furniture) and some very exciting games.
    • Many exciting things to come in 2018/2019.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI), is intelligence displayed by machines, in contrast with the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans (or animals). Intelligence can be described here as a device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximise its chance of success at some goals.
    • In fact, machines are learning based on their actions and tasks, so often we also speak in this matter on ‘Machine Learning’.
    • AI is not new, but it becomes more and more visible: the latest examples could be seen in January 2018 at the yearly Computer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with more and more autonomous driving cars.
    • Further elements can be expected in HealthCare, Finance or in your House (intelligent fridges for example).
  • Machine learning is a field of computer science that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. This is closely linked to AI.
    • The latest example I saw this month is that Google is opening its Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine. Companies and Business can use Google Power to create models for analysing and predicting all sorts of data, such as predicting weather, credit scores, or other. 
    • IBM has created an interesting document on ‘Machine Learning for dummies‘. You must register to download the e-book.
  • A blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically. It is in fact a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.
    • Blockchains are secure by design and are examples of distributed computing systems with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralised consensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain.
    • One of the most known is off course the Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency (a cryptocurrency  is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions).
    • Another well know cryptocurrency is Ether, with its own blockchain called Ethereum. Ethereum was proposed in late 2013, and the Ethereum ‘language’ is now being included in several other software solutions.
    • Various courses to train you into BitCoin or Ethereum exist. I followed a first introduction lately given by Sebastien Arbogast from ChainSkills, and distributed online via their Udemy Online Courses.
    • The blockchain is first of all a technical solution to deliver to everyone the same view, ensuring that nothing could be modified, without a 3rd part acting as a trusted partner. As an example: today we all use notaries to ensure that he property of our house is well noted, and that someone can not sell his/her house twice. With blockchain, everyone can check the technical validity of such transactions.
    • Blockchain technology is much more complicated than that, so please have a look to other websites for details, such as smart contracts. Banks, consulting firms, insurances and governments are all looking into this technology.  Real world higher visibility, outside bitcoin, can be expected in 2018 and 2019.
  • The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data.
    • This is not new. IoT is a buzzword for several years now, and it still has to kick off on a large scale for public usage.
    • For 2018, the most interesting thing I see happening is the rollout of SigFox. This is a French company founded in 2009 that builds wireless networks to connect low-energy objects such as electricity meters, smartwatches, and washing machines, which need to be continuously on and emitting small amounts of data. They partnered with many local an international companies (in Belgium with Engie for example) and covered already a large part of Europe and rolling out the US and other continents. I am confident that this will become a big thing in 2018 or 2019.

Companies and Business topics

  • DevOps (“development” and “operations”) is a software engineering culture and practice that aims at unifying software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops).
    • The main characteristic of the DevOps movement is to strongly advocate automation and monitoring at all steps of software construction, from integration, testing, releasing to deployment and infrastructure management.
    • DevOps aims at shorter development cycles, increased deployment frequency, more dependable releases, in close alignment with business objectives. Cooperation “Business-IT” is key. This is particularly important in the current world with regularly updated “Apps”.
    • IBM has created an interesting document “DevOps for dummies“. You must register to download the e-book.
  • Continuous delivery (CD) is an increasing visible software engineering approach in which teams produce software in short cycles, ensuring that the software can be reliably released at any time.
    • This is often related to a structured DevOps organisation, but DevOps is much broader.
    • Continuous delivery is different than continuous deployment. Continuous deployment means that every change is automatically deployed to production. Continuous delivery means that the team ensures every change can be deployed to production but may choose not to do it, usually due to business reasons.
    • Specific tools (such as IBM) are on the market to support this operational mode.
  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).
    • GDPR is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. The starting date for GDPR is May 25, 2018.
    • From this date onward, every institution must be able to confirm to any person  how and why his personal data is processed. Ane every institution means here any organisation, from a profit-seeking company to a charity or government.
    • Especially in the world of increased digitalisation where data is stored everywhere and becomes the source of all information, this new rule is highly important to implement.
  • The Payment Services Directive (PSD, 2007/64/EC) is an EU Directive, administered by the European Commission (Directorate General Internal Market) to regulate payment services and payment service providers throughout the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA).
    • On October 8, 2015, the European Parliament adopted the European Commission proposal to create safer and more innovative European payments (PSD2). The new rules aim to better protect consumers when they pay online, promote the development and use of innovative online and mobile payments such as through open banking, and make cross-border European payment services safer.
    • PSD2 will break down the banks monopoly on their user’s data. It will allow ‘merchants’, businesses like Amazon, to retrieve your account data from your bank – with your permission. That means when you buy something they can make a payment for you, without having to redirect you to another service (like PayPal or Visa).
    • For consumers who hold more than one bank account, the changes would also allow businesses, known in the legislation as Account Information Service Providers, to display all their account information in one place for them. Attention however to data ownership (see also GDPR).
    • Banks are currently still struggling to find the business model. I expect to see a lot happening from mid 2018 onwards, and impacting many customers in the way that manage their digital bank relationships.

For some of us

  • Smart speakers and personal assistants are coming to us in full speed. Next to the existing Google Home and Amazon Echo products (both companies showed further products at the CES), also Apple will launch its own new product, called Apple HomePod, in a few days (Feb 9 in some countries).
    • At Apple, it starts with Music and the Siri assistant, but this will grow to further integration in your home in the coming future. Important in 2018 !
    • Prices vary from 50 EUR at Amazon to 350 EUR at Apple, depending on size,  functionalities and quality.
  • What3words is a geocoding system for the communication of locations with a resolution of three metres. What3words encodes geographic coordinates into three dictionary words. For example, the torch of the Statue of Liberty is located at “toned.melt.ship”. This differs from most other location encoding systems in that it displays three words rather than long strings of numbers or letters.
    • It is developed by What3Words, and an announcement was made last week that Mercedes Benz is not just integrating this into their cars, but also invest in this company.
    • I am pretty sure we will see much more of this company and solution in 2018.

I trust you better understand that many things are happening around “Digital” and you are slightly more knowledgeable now.

If you are young or old, a simple handcrafting company or a highly industrialised company, or whatever you are or do on planet Earth, you must step into the Digital World now. It is our future.

Take care,

Bas

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Sensing the Tech future

October 22, 2017

Hello to all,

As you may know, my interest for new, interesting and useful technology is large. I had the chance to get a further look into the technology (‘tech’) future the last 2 weeks. As part of my work, I was able to meet earlier this month the future of tech companies in France (via Station F) and a get a glimpse of what is actually happening in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

As you may know, start-up companies are hot since many years. Several of this companies made it into the top players of their sector, and every day new players enter into this ‘world’.

Station F in Paris

In France, the initiative was taken by Xavier Niel (one of the richest people in France, and the big boss of Free – a large French telecom provider) to launch the biggest startup campus in the world, called Station F. Station F occupies a building designed by French engineer Eugène Freyssinet, originally  opened in 1929 as a rail depot, located in Paris 13th district.

Station F

Station F in Paris

The building contains 3,000 desk spaces,  private meeting facilities, a 370-seat auditorium and dining facilities open to the public. Big companies, such as MicroSoft and FaceBook, are also having office here to make connections with startup companies easily possible.

Even L’Oreal, a large French cosmetics group, will be present to link real customers with the digital world, such as new apps and Augmented Reality (a hot topic for the coming years), thus opening new opportunities and new markets.

BNP Paribas, a large French Bank, is also strongly present via their partnership with Plug and Play, a global innovation platform supporting startups around the world. BNP Paribas, as a reliable partner to startups, with its own strong innovation culture, will lend its banking expertise to the InsurTechs and FinTech companies.

BNP Paribas at Station F

BNP Paribas at Station F

As part of an innovate project within the BNP Paribas Group, I had the chance to spend this month some time in this vibrating world with many enthusiastic people, from various international startups and BNP Paribas teams, delivering new solutions (such  as artificial intelligence or machine learning) for the Bank’s private and corporate customers. I found it difficult not to get excited when walking around in the building and ‘to sense the future‘.

Around the world, several incubation and innovation centres exist. Almost every country has its own centre, while the largest countries do have several or multiple accelerator centres. In almost every case, these centres bring together small companies, offer them ways to meet other companies, and to get funding for growth.

San Francisco and Silicon Valley

These incubation centres exist even more in Silicon Valley, with examples like Y-Combinator, Matter or 500 startups. But there are much more solutions, often founded by people coming themselves from startups with money gained from their previous companies (existing, or sold for a good price).

Last week, I had the chance to spend a few days in Silicon Valley and in San Francisco to see and sense the latest evolutions in the tech world, on both startups and the big companies. I noted down some of my observations.

San Francisco view from Mission Dolores Park

San Francisco view from Mission Dolores Park

San Francisco: a lot has been written on this town. Of course, everybody knows the many touristic elements of the city, such as the Golden Gate bridge, or the well-known cable cars. But San Francisco is also housing many important big companies in the CRM, Health, Search, Financial and Solutions world, and takes part in many tech evolutions.

When taking a coffee in the morning in one of the many StarBucks around town, in my eyes San Francisco is still very hot (as the coffee).

Coffee at StarBucks

Coffee at StarBucks

As an example, on an early Sunday morning, at a table next to me, in one of these Starbucks, a young person was explaining in detail his technical solution and business plans to a business angel (a private investor). Interesting conversation (even when I tried very much not to listen :-)).

Even with the competition on startups around the world, the city is still highly involved in the traditional business (Banking as an example) and New Businesses (especially the Tech Industries, both hardware and software). Also for example Automattic, the maker of WordPress in which this blog is written in, is located in San Francisco.

San Francisco is also very expensive, especially due to many expats, and due to many people who made fortune in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley

At 1 hour by car or train from San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountainview or Cupertino are well-known cities. Even when Silicon Valley is already ‘old’, opportunities and ideas are still everywhere, from the university campuses (Stanford for example) to the campuses of the big companies like Google, Facebook or Apple.

The mentioned cities were home to many IT companies, such as Hewlett-Packard and Apple for example. Also Borland, the creator of my so much used Delphi program, was located here. Also Stripe, a very promising and high growing payment solution provider, founded by 2 Irish brothers, is located here.

The Stanford University was, and still is, home to many startup companies. The strong links between the university and the companies helps to create a vibrating environment. Many other universities, with examples like Harvard in the US, or Leuven in Belgium, create and maintain these links as this is a ‘win-win’ situation. Money flows in to study more, and the results of the studies flow back to the companies.

Uber car is coming

Uber car is coming

Getting around these days in the Valley is done either by driving with a Tesla, or just using Uber or Lyft. I personally used Uber last week to go the various HQ’s and campuses. I was again impressed by the ease of use of Uber: flexible and without any hassle of payments, so much simpler than renting a car.

Spending some time at Facebook HQ, it was impressive to see the number of young people discussing between them, using all kind of smartphones, tablets and portable PC’s to develop ideas. The number of people walking and driving around was incredible. So much activity.

Facebook HQ Like Sign

Facebook HQ Like Sign

At Google, it feels more Android than ever. However, as there are so many Google campuses around, it is almost impossible to see what is really going on. On the photo you see little bikes, because everyone was (really !) cycling around between the buildings. It is however difficult to get into the buildings: secrecy is key.

Google HeadQuarters - Googleplex

Google HeadQuarters – Googleplex

At Apple, I spent some time at their ‘old’ HQ at 1, Infinite Loop in Cupertino. Same feelings again as with Google and Facebook: busy, young people everywhere, vibrating. Many ideas, and high quality. And good marketing of course :-).

I also visited the special Apple Store ‘next door’, where I was given specialised support for my own little company (GPI). Service was really good, including App Store support, showing real interest in what the company was about, my views, and taking my picture :-).

I was just ‘too early’ to see a glimpse of the upcoming iPhone X, which will be commercialised in a few days. Would have been nice.

Apple HQ at 1, Infinite Loop, Cupertino

Apple HQ at 1, Infinite Loop, Cupertino

I also hoped to visit at the inside their new Apple Park: the incredibly newly designed Apple HQ in the form of a spaceship. The cost of the new HQ is more than 4 billion USD, however it creates an impressive message of sustainability, cooperation and continuous evolution. And that is also important.

I was able to see a glimpse of the new HQ outside, and even that was already impressive. Landscaping is still in progress, and finalisation of roads and pavements is ongoing. It will open probably still fully in 2017. Meetings in the new building were, to my regret, not yet possible.

Apple Future HQ at Apple Park

Apple Future HQ at Apple Park

Back in San Francisco later that week, tourists and business people continued to occupy together a large part of the city. On every corner though, I felt the vibes and the future of technology coming. With Tech HQ’s of Twitter, Uber and others in the same streets, combined with the Californian values such sea and surfing, and start-ups and new ideas everywhere, makes this city always feeling special.

Sensing the Tech future in Belgium

Back at home in Belgium, and after such strong impressions on sensing the Tech future the last 2 weeks, the difference between the status of start-ups, business innovations, incubators in Belgium compared to France and the US feels big.

The country, and especially Brussels, Leuven and Gent, do have some incubators, but not yet at sizes seen in the other countries. Banks, investors and Belgian government must be able to put their hands together to offer greater opportunities to our local start-ups.

belgian-tech-day_def

Some universities have taken initiatives already, and a further innovative Belgian Tech Day is announced for this week in Antwerp. But so much more needs to happen if Belgium wants to be a real part of the Tech future. The environment is ready, and we do have some really good start-ups, so let’s go for it !

Thanks for reading, and take care,

Bas

October 22, 2017

Octyx 2017

June 3, 2017

Hello to all,

A new blog. It has been a while, but I was a bit busy …

We released today our fully new Octyx 2017 products, both on Windows and on the iPhone. The 2017 versions do have many new functionalities which are useful to all our customers (and we have already more than 100.000 downloads).

Octyx on Windows can be found here, while Octyx for the iPhone can be found here. Several other languages do exist as well. Please check it out.

We are also very proud on our new company website which went live today, which can be reached here.

More details on our Octyx Products and our Website can be found below.

Octyx on Windows

intro_002

Our team has done a great job in delivering many new functionalities to the Octyx PC and the Octyx iOS mobile applications:

Octyx Cloud : we added components, wines, stamps and your collection. We added also Documents and Passwords, and last but not least, we added Contacts.

All Octyx Cloud functionalities are now available in the fully updated Octyx iOS mobile version, which you can download in the iOS App Store.

The Octyx iOS mobile application (version 3.0) is completely renewed with many new functionalities. We mention for example scanning functionalities for your books, calling contacts directly from the Octyx application, new parameters, copying and pasting passwords, encrypted passwords, and much more.

The Octyx PC application has new functionalities for ISBN checking, and we added end dates for Medications.

We updated the Search functions, and we optimized the Messages overviews. This was also done for the Octyx iOS mobile application.

Capture1Octyx is now much faster as we optimized many elements. The Octyx color scheme has been slightly impoved, and the colors of the logos have been adapted.

We have corrected some errors and improved several detailed functionalities. Many improvements throughout Octyx and many improvements in all languages.

Octyx development has been updated to work even better on Windows 10, and still continue to work on Windows 8 and 7. You can now also start Octyx from the Start menu in ‘full’ color.

Octyx on the iPhone

This is the latest up-to-date version of Mobile Octyx with a huge number of new functionalities. This version is dated June 3, 2017.

It includes a full connectivity with the collections from your Octyx Windows solution. Now with full coverage of:

  • Books (view on- and offline your book collection including images)
  • Music (view on- and offline your music collection including images)
  • Films (view on- and offline your film collection including images)
  • Components (view on- and offline your component collection including images)
  • Wines (view on- and offline your wine collection including images)
  • Stamps (view on- and offline your stamp collection including imOverviewages)
  • Your collection (view on- and offline your personal collection (more than 60 categories available) including images

  • Contacts (view on- and offline all your contacts including images, write emails, call them)
  • Documents (view on- and offline all your documents, check expiry dates, and check login information)
  • Passwords (view on- and offline all your passwords, fully secured, and use them everywhere in iOS)
  • To-do items (view on- and offline all your to-do items, check expiry dates)
  • Medications (be informed on- and offline on the medications you used and on the exact time you need to take your medications)

Other improvements:

0x0ss2

  • Increased speed throughout the Octyx Mobile solution: loading and searching have been dramatically improved by new Web Service ‘REST’ techniques.
  • Many new functionalities in the Octyx Mobile Data menu on detailed level : copy and paste data, links with other iOS elements, and other improvements.
  • Many new functionalities in the Octyx Mobile Messages menu : new sorting, more information, faster lookup, and other improvements.
  • Many new functionalities in the Octyx Mobile Search menu : new detailed search functionalities with filters, and we included a new option to scan the barcode of your books for faster search.
  • Many new functionalities in the Octyx Mobile Information menu : direct links with your iPhone settings, new parameters, new menus, and many other improvements.
  • This version has a default setting, which can be modified, to hide your data when Octyx Mobile is not the active App on your iPhone. This hides sensitive data for third parties.

Our website and other information

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 21.05.03Our company, Gallieni Productions International, has also a new website. This was made via wix. A modern website with responsive design, so very good visible on iPad, iPhone, Mac and PC.

In the near future, we foresee to update also our Octyx website to this new design, and to bring Octyx also to the iPad. Next to these developments, we continue to serve our corporate customers with our well-known and pro-active consultancy and management.

Finally, we are currently working on a new breakthrough mobile application, built again with the Embarcadero Delphi and TMS Software products.

Let’s see also what the new announcements from Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which starts on June 5th, will bring to us.

Thanks again for reading, and wishing everyone a good weekend.

Bas Eshuis

Belgium

Octyx 2016/2 launched

October 23, 2016

Hello to all,

As you may know, one of my hobbies is to maintain a software program, called Octyx, since 2004. Octyx is, by storing data on your local PC, capable of supporting you in managing and organizing your daily life.

You can enter your book collection, disc or film collections, as well as several other collections. Next to that, you can manage your daily medications, your to-do’s, and even your documents, passwords and your various bank accounts.

All this in a secure way, and since April 2016, also available on your iPhone to have your data with you, all the time. I wrote several pages about the previous release, end of April. See here for the April overview.

Today I released the latest update, Octyx version 2016/2, which you can download for free from www.octyx.com. If you decide to keep using it after 30 days, you just pay 10 Euro, and that only once to use it forever. Almost for free, you will say. At indeed it is.

intro_002

This latest update brings again several new functionalities, and mainly to see more data on the iPhone. Added are todo’s, books, music and films. Stored images on your PC can be transferred as well. All available via a secure cloud environment and the updated iOS Octyx App (see Octyx 2.0.2 on the Apple Appstore for more information).

The developments on Octyx are not yet finished. Still to do is to make the other data available on the iPhone in a secure way, and to develop also the same info on the iPad. But that is for the year 2017.

Take care, and have a nice day,

Bas

 

The Octyx 2016 story – 5 – The languages in Octyx

April 30, 2016

firebrickred - 64-64 roundedHello, this blog is part 5 of the series ‘The Octyx 2016 Story’. See for the overview (part 1), full background and a list all related blogs the link here.

This specific blog describes in more detail the languages I use in Octyx, and what is needed to build them.

Octyx is available in 11 languages: in English, French (Français), Dutch (Nederlands), German (Deutsch),  Hungarian (Magyar), Polish (Polski), Czech (Český), Italian (Italiano), Spanish (Español), Portuguese (Português) and in Romanian (Românesc). Real-time change of the language is included in the package.

The languages are made with help of many people. You can see this below. I owe many thanks to all these people.

Capture

The Romanian language is new in Octyx 2016, and Simona Sandu from Romania helped me realising this new language. So what had to be done :

  • Adding all texts which are used in Octyx and Octyx Mobile : these are almost 3000 different records which had to be created
  • Next to these detailed texts, all help texts had to be created also. You have to think on more than 10 different pages, including the screen with new elements.
  • And finally, the Octyx system had to be prepared to be able to receive the 11th language. Due to the architecture, this was a quite straightforward task to change a screen, and to open the language to be available.
  • The user can define or change his language whenever needed. On the mobile version, the language used is the langage chosen in the Windows Octyx version.

Capture121

The website is currently available in 3 languages: English, French and Dutch. Including all help texts.

Enjoy the Octyx blogs, and take care. Go back here to the overview. Octyx manages your life!

Bas Eshuis, Belgium.

April 30, 2016

The Octyx 2016 story – 11 – What does it cost ?

April 30, 2016

firebrickred - 64-64 roundedHello, this blog is part 11 of the series ‘The Octyx 2016 Story’. See for the overview (part 1), full background and a list all related blogs the link here.

This specific blog describes in more detail how much it all costs to build the Octyx applications.

As you may know, I only ask 10 Euro as a cost for Octyx (way to cheap, but private people are not used anymore to pay for software). At this moment, it clearly does not cover all my main direct costs, and where my own time is free of charge:

  • Cost to buy Delphi ‘one-off costs’
  • Yearly subscription cost for Delphi
  • TMS Software modules
  • Code-signing (every year)
  • WebPlus X8 for development
  • Installshield – cost to buy, and to maintain
  • Apple yearly developer costs
  • Mac and PC costs

So what does this all together cost on a yearly basis ? After having calculated all fees, and amortised over the years (hardware – 5 years, software e- 3 years, subscription – yearly), the result is about 3000 EUR a year.

I sell the Octyx program at 10 EUR, of which a part goes to ShareIt (as a seller). My net result per license sold is about 7 EUR. As a license is valid for 3 years at least, I need to sell about 425 Octyx licenses every year to start making some profit.

It would be very nice to sell so many licenses. The reality is, until now, somewhat different. I did sell some licenses of course, but not as much as over 400 a year. Which leads to the simple conclusion that Octyx is an interesting hobby, like for other people golfing, travelling,  fishing, or any other personal hobby you may have.

But I like to see how Octyx develops, and how users react. That is my main driver. And if cost more than it will bring in return, that’s the price of having a hobby.

Enjoy the Octyx blogs, and take care. Go back here to the overview. Octyx manages your life!

Bas Eshuis, Belgium.

April 30, 2016

The Octyx 2016 story – 2 – Why I work on Octyx

April 30, 2016

firebrickred - 64-64 roundedHello, this blog is part 2 of the series ‘The Octyx 2016 Story’. See for the overview (part 1), full background and a list all related blogs the link here.

This specific blog describes in more detail why I work on Octyx since 2004. It started as ‘Avignon Concept’, but I changed the name some years ago to Octyx (as I had 8 different options for my customers to offer).

I started to have end of 2003 a large collection of books, and, that time at least, a lot of music CD’s. Besides, as I lived in several countries and travel a lot, I had to manage any documents with passwords and specific dates. An example: I had to change my passport three months before renewal, and I needed a tool to remember me on this.

In the years after, I had to manage many passwords for different internet or local systems, which, as you all know, have to be changed every 3 or 6 months. I was a heavy user of Microsoft Money since the 90’s to manage my bank accounts, but Microsoft decided to stop developing this solution. So I built one of my own.

And last year I decided to add for example medications as I had to take some medications on a regular basis, and I sometimes forgot to take them on time. This is now solved with Octyx 2016. See below for an overview of the main menu.

Capture2

Octyx is today available in 11 languages. Why ? For 2 reasons: one of them is that I wanted to understand how this could work (it is a hobby), and secondly because I wanted the solution to be available for more people. And I have to chance to speak quite well 4 languages, and to understand several others. Many people helped me with the translations, and I thank them a lot for their help.

I started with sharing the program first as ‘shareware’, and since 2009 I decided to take a step further to sell the program. Which, as you can read later, gave some extra complications as I had to create a small company.

Thus many evolutions in already more than 12 years. Most of this was done in weekends, evenings, nights and holidays. My wife, which I thank for her great support, had a lot of ‘competition’ the last 10 years.

So why do I do this ? My main driver is that I want to see, feel and check how many things can be done by one person in IT. Because I designed and developed the database, the screens, the security, the website, the integrations with Google, Apple and many other internet solutions, the testing, and so much more.

I learned that many things can be done if you want to. Thanks to Internet, forums, and other supporting people, I learn every day something new. And it is not finished yet.

As conclusion I use the phrase Apple used some years ago on their Apple TV: it is just a hobby, but clearly a very interesting hobby. It doesn’t make me rich (in money terms), but it definitely enriched my life.

Enjoy the Octyx blogs, and take care. Go back here to the overview. Octyx manages your life!

Bas Eshuis, Belgium.

April 30, 2016

 

The Octyx 2016 story – 7 – The preparation of the mobile application in my Windows application

April 30, 2016

firebrickred - 64-64 roundedHello, this blog is part 7 of the series ‘The Octyx 2016 Story’. See for the overview (part 1), full background and a list all related blogs the link here.

This specific blog describes in more detail the preparation of the Octyx Windows application, and Delphi, for my mobile application.

As said in the previous blog, I use now Kinvey as BAAS solution provider. This means I had to implement in my classic Delphi VCL environment all kind of BAAS functionalities to be able to communicate with REST and JSON (see also my previous blogs).

So how did I proceed:

  • I started with a ‘contract’ screen that every future mobile user has to agree upon (via settings, mobile cloud). On this screen the user has to agree on the Octyx Cloud conditions. The contract can be printed out if wished.
  • On the contract screen, the user has to indicate which information is allowed to be shared in the cloud. Next to that, the user has to indicate his user-id, password and some further details, such as his e-mail address.
  • After agreeing and saving, I built a fully automated procedure (see below) to transfer the agreed data to the Cloud. The user is informed by the usual Octyx information process.

The update procedure, but fully with standard Delphi controls, is checking via arrays all existing local data with the existing Cloud data. A second process then compares all data, and only updates the changed records. Logging is taking place automatically.

I use the standard Kinvey controls in Delphi 10 Seattle, and based myself for a large part on the various BAAS tutorials well-written by Sarina Dupont from Embarcadero. These tutorials helped me a lot to advance, and to implement some specific functions where the standard did not fit.

The overall implementation in the Windows application took me quite some weeks to define, and to ensure that all situations are handled. This could be a one-line change, a language change, dropping of the contract, or any other issue. The final outcome is that it works, and it is very fast.

On starting Octyx, the program automatically logs-in into Kinvey, based on saved credentials, and checks all kind of updates. Automatically, quiet and fast. At any time, the user can decide to stop using the mobile application, and all his data will then be deleted from Octyx Cloud at Kinvey.

One important element is that Kinvey requires all fields to be uploaded at any change, while Parse accepted only the changed fields. This was an important change I had to implement when changing from Parse to Kinvey.

For the 2016 version, currently only ‘medications’ are shared with Kinvey data in the cloud. Further Octyx elements, such as several collections, todo or documents, are scheduled for later in 2016 and 2017.

Enjoy the Octyx blogs, and take care. Go back here to the overview. Octyx manages your life!

Bas Eshuis, Belgium.

April 30, 2016

The Octyx 2016 story – 4 – The new medications solution in Octyx

April 30, 2016

firebrickred - 64-64 roundedHello, this blog is part 4 of the series ‘The Octyx 2016 Story’. See for the overview (part 1), full background and a list all related blogs the link here.

This specific blog describes in more detail the new functionality ‘Medications’ in Octyx 2016. This item was developed as I had to take at a certain time several medications, and I sometimes forgot to take them on time.

The solution available today in Octyx 2016 allows for entering your prescriptions, add all the details about the medications, and especially gives begin and end dates plus a flexible information and reminders when you have to take them.

In the Windows solution you will see a popup, while in the Apple iOS solution you will get notified, even if you not active in the solution. By the way, the target is also to get this working on the Apple Watch in the near future.

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Medications are to be entered via the prescription of your doctor. The application allows maximum 10 medications per subscription. The system keeps a history of past medications for faster entering.

You can add information on the doctor, on the medication, and how and when to take. Finally the system allows you to see on another screen all the history of your prescriptions and medications. Several reports are available as usual to indicate for how much time you need to take this medication.

After saving, you can review the entered data:

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You can see on another screen all the history of your prescriptions and medications. Several reports are available as usual.

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And finally you can see all medications for today and the next days, which can be filtered by user.

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The system keeps track of dates and notifies you. On Windows, a background service notifies you also when Octyx is not running. Medications are automatically moved to an archive after their respective end dates. The multiple available reports help you to find all actual, and historical, items easily.

A great solution for many people helping you everyday. And especially, since Octyx 2016, this is also available on your Apple iPhone. See for more details one of the other blogs in this series.

For the technical people: I added various new tables and indexes to the database. In total the database has now more than 120 tables. On top, I added several fields and texts for all 11 languages. Finally, I added several new reports to the solution which can be run, and exported to PDF, Excel and HTML.

Enjoy the Octyx blogs, and take care. Go back here to the overview. Octyx manages your life!

Bas Eshuis, Belgium.

April 30, 2016

The Octyx 2016 story – 10 – Signing my Octyx application

April 30, 2016

firebrickred - 64-64 roundedHello, this blog is part 10 of the series ‘The Octyx 2016 Story’. See for the overview (part 1), full background and a list all related blogs the link here.

This specific blog describes in more detail how I ‘code-sign’ my Octyx application.

What means ‘code-signing’ ? According to Wikipedia, signing, or code signing, is the process of digitally signing executables and scripts to confirm that my small company is indeed the correct software author. Besides it gives a guarantee that the code has not been changed since it was signed by me.

So how does this work ? First of all you have to get a certificate (like in the old world, someone who can confirm it is you asking for some document). There are various companies in the world who offer (meaning sell) such certificates. The best known are, between others, companies like VeriSign or DigiCert.

They check your company data and ensure that my company really exist. Then then will send a link to download a certificate which I had to install on my development PC’s. Such certificates have always a begin and end date. The more longer time you wish, the more expensive it is.

After having installed such certificates on your browser(s), I did an export to have this a specific file into a working directory.

With the ‘sign tool.exe’ file from Microsoft it is then easy to sign the various applications. After signing, when clicking right on properties, you should see the below information on the certificates..

digi0     digi1

I do the code signing for all my applications, including the official installation file to ensure that anti-virus tools accept the download in an easy way. And it gives an extra security to my Octyx users.

Enjoy the Octyx blogs, and take care. Go back here to the overview. Octyx manages your life!

Bas Eshuis, Belgium.

April 30, 2016