The Impact of UI: Employee Satisfaction

Modern enterprise understands both the business and economic advantage to happier employees. Where digitally defiant organizations may have placed all the focus on external growth, a bulletproof business strategy is one centered around secure mobility as a tool to increase employee satisfaction and productivity in an effort to achieve long-term goals.

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The Impact of UI: Rapid Results

K-I-S-S, as in the clever acronym for “keep it simple stupid”, (not the classic rock band) is never more relevant than when it comes to mobile technology. Think of the user interface (UI) on a mobile device as exposure therapy – the more you expose primary functions to users, the more engagement and overall usage. In an effort to reduce user confusion and achieve rapid results, obvious UI is often the best UI.

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The Impact of UI: User Centered Design

Implementing a mobile application as a solution can feel daunting at times, but why? For many, it comes down to the myriad chains of communication between end user and developer. Call us crazy, but we believe in hearing the needs of who the app is intended for from day one, and then building. With the end user being the target audience, our approach is to listen to what their issues are and solve them—simple.

Always Design For The End User And Their Needs

One of the easiest ways to get nowhere fast is to assume you know what the problem is instead of asking. Always ask your target audience for guidance on how you can help solve their biggest problems. What is preventing them from completing their task? You wouldn’t suggest Uber to someone who is looking for a music streaming platform. Same goes for design—Identify the end user’s problem first, then design based off of their needs.

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The Impact of UI: Enabling Action

After security, arguably the most important component of a mobile device is the user interface ("UI"). When implementing a mobile application as a solution, consider the following: Is it easy for the end user to operate? Can a task be completed from start to finish without difficulty? Is information presented in a way that incites action? All of those need to be answered with a resounding yes. The key differentiator between a good and a great UI is enablement – A great UI enables action, in turn creating rapid results that are achievable and repeatable. You didn’t need a user manual to use Facebook, Twitter, or Uber, why should your business apps be different? 

Mobile connectivity has reached a precipice in 2020 with Covid-19 showing that the future of mobility is now. There is no longer a question of if, but when the universal shift to cloud computing occurs. In the wake of Coronavirus, the world has come to a halt leaving government and the private-sector with only one option—adapt.

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Homes—our service members deserve better

Most are familiar with the ubiquitous slogans from our nation’s branches of service: "The Few, The Proud", "Born Ready", or "Aim High, Fly-Fight-Win." Television commercials do a great job marketing the resolve and steadfastness of service men and women working tirelessly at their craft—piloting Black Hawks, traversing mountains at the tactical edge, servicing F18s on aircraft carriers.    However, something is conveniently left out of that narrative—the staggering amount of service members subjected to horrendous base housing living conditions. By horrendous, think black mold climbing up and down walls causing chronic headaches debilitating service men and women from doing their respective jobs, think rat droppings falling from the ceiling.  Yes, the fine folks in charge of DoD marketing really were not, "Born Ready" or trying hard to "Aim High", by bringing light to what is now beyond a base housing crisis.   Homes are in disrepair, falling apart, plagued with mold, rodents, and the list goes on. Besides the endangerment of service members (which is inexcusable as is), it is their families who suffer the most. These are the folks relegated to the physical home in which their living conditions are causing more harm than not. This goes beyond being a housing crisis and a major health concern affecting thousands of our service members and their families. This issue impacts our nations readiness.

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What is my job, really?

Over the past decade, "follow your passion" has become a ubiquitous phrase that for many, induces nausea. With the rise of social media and Facebook, anyone and everyone is constantly bombarded with others’ so called "passions" through excessive and egregious photo sharing. So let’s assume you are not a traveling blogger on assignment in Machu Picchu assessing the best sherpa service - Does that mean your job lacks purpose? Not at all. On the contrary, following opportunities and developing skills can lead to passion for just about anything.

More than ever people are craving contribution, and by implying that to be happy and successful a passion must be followed, that information is as useful as the original food pyramid or suggesting a lobotomy. It’s just nonsense. So how does one go about being happy and finding real value with their on the job contributions? It starts with businesses truly defining their purpose - What is your reason for existing? Why is your software unique? What value are you providing your customers? A powerful purpose statement gives workers the chance to embrace the big picture vision, induces inspiration, and motivates them to go above and beyond what is required of their job duties.

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What is NSA NIAP?

The mission statement and promise of Consumer Reports: Equip consumers with the "knowledge they need to make better and more informed choices." After testing and evaluating more than 3,000 products a year, the results of these impartial studies are then gathered, examined, and published to equip consumers with purchasing power for everyday items, big and small. But what about the cybersecurity marketplace? Where are the Amazon reviews for advanced cybersecurity needs?

Enter the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP). A U.S. Government initiative designed to meet the security testing, evaluation, and assessment needs of both information technology (IT) producers and consumers. NIAP is a collaboration between the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST) and the National Security Agency (NSA) with the intent to provide neutral third-party security testing of cybersecurity products for use in both the private and public sectors. NIAP’s long term goal is to increase the level of trust consumers have in their IT systems and networks through the use of cost-effective security testing, evaluation, and assessment programs.

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Tactical Edge with Snowball Edge

There have been a few tactical edge cloud computing devices appear over the past couple years, but because of Amazon Web Services dominance, the Snowball Edge "Cloud in a Box" is undeniably the market leader. With its storage capacity up to 100TB, 52 vCPU/GPU, and 208GB of memory, every Edge device can transport data at speeds faster than the internet, and for organizations that do work at the edge, this device has enough horse power to do virtually anything—you can build a cluster with 5+ SBE and maintain 99.999% data durability. But how does the Snowball Edge Work?

How the Snowball Edge Works

The SBE is ordered via the CLI (Command Line Interface) or the Web Console. Before you can order a SBE, you must (should) define at least one AMI to use with it. We generally choose Ubuntu because it has the most options available. Our typical distribution involves simply installing Docker CE to run containers within the SBE.

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CI/CD with AWS Lambda and GitLab

When we wanted to start blogging for Monkton and Mission Mobility - we could not settle on blogging software we liked. Medium has issues in preventing users from reading your posts. WordPress is a security disaster. Blogger is too expansive.

Our goal wasn't to write an heavy piece of blogging software, but something that was nimble and we could control.

More so, we wanted to leverage Amazon Web Service Lambda - AWS's Serverless Platform as a Service. Our bill for hosting this blog in Lambda, at the high end, will be a crazy $1.05 a month.

AWS Lambda

We have built our Blog leveraging .NET Core 2.1 and AWS Lambda. Lambda enables developers to deploy Serverless code without having to manage infrastructure. From scratch, the blog can deploy in a total of two minutes. Two minutes.

.NET Core has been Montkon's server language of choice since it was created - due to the fact that .NET Core can run within a Linux Docker container, on macOS, oh and Windows. Due to this, .NET Core can be deployed within AWS Lambda with little work.

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Migration to GitLab

We at Monkton began working closely with the GitLab federal team late in 2018. We chatted with their fantastic federal sales and SA teams and decided to “pull” (har har) GitLab into the Mission Mobility offering.

People many still get confused by GitLab… Everyone was probably more familiar with GitHub that got acquired by Microsoft earlier in 2018. But that is quickly changing.

We were big GitHub users, but with GitHub, you only get part of the equation. We had to string together Jenkins to perform several functions. It became a headache on some levels to manage it all.

GitLab for us, has become so much more. Besides source control, the continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) that GitLab offers integrated into its product are unmatched.

We are now even using GitLab to house our HR information, Board Meetings, the whole gamut.

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Monkton Blog is Serverless

This blog is to document Monkton engineering efforts, marketing efforts, DevSecOps efforts, and various other things.

This site is actually a custom built .NET Core project that we deploy with AWS Lambda. A million requests a month will cost a whole $1.05. It really can't be beat as far as pricing. This includes Lambda, API Gateway, Route 53, and S3.

We evaluated using Medium but disliked their model that prevents people from viewing posts freely, WordPress is a security disaster, Blogger was too heavy. So, the answer was to write a lightweight framework to do blogging. The software is simple, it just renders content in markdown files. Is this perfect? No, but it suits our needs, is lightweight, and helped us better understand CI/CD and Lambda/Serverless.

We will write more on how we built it, how we deploy it using GitLab's CI/CD pipeline, automatically to Lambda. Once we check in code to GitLab, the CI/CD pipe does all the work. There is nothing to configure or manage.