Articles

Catawba Riverkeeper launches new water quality app with Shiny Creek

Brett

(Charlotte, N.C.) The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation has released its Water Watcher app, now available for free in both the Apple and Google Play stores.

Focusing on exploring and protecting the waters of the Catawba-Wateree River basin, this first version of the app has eight tools: pollution reporter; trash logger; basin explorer map; Catawba Riverkeeper website; enforcement authority contact information; Catawba Riverkeeper social media; lake levels; and dam release and flow arrival times.

“We have a unique asset in our vast network of trained volunteers and concerned citizens, the majority of whom now have smartphones. The Water Watcher app helps people explore and fall in love with this river as well as make it easier and more efficient to get pollution documented and reported,” said Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins. “This app ensures that we receive critical information, such as location details, while making it convenient for the user to submit the report and...

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Can Investing in Technology Help Achieve Your Nonprofit’s Mission?

Adam Reaves

At Shiny Creek, we have the technical know-how and capacity to build just about anything. After years of developing enterprise software for large companies, we're experts at solving core business problems through technology. What interests us most is finding projects where our expertise can have a positive impact on the world. 

I and another member of our leadership team spent nearly a decade each in the nonprofit sector. We know how much of a difference an effective tool can make towards engagement and advancing the mission. We're here to help nonprofits think about how to empower their organization through technology, and ultimately, we here to build it.

Asking the right questions

Nonprofits attract deeply passionate and thoughtful people. There's not lack of imagination or desire for innovative tools, but not every organization has a structured process to ask how technology can address key problems. At the core of any such process,...

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Shiny Creek partners with MountainTrue to launch clean water app

Brett

Shiny Creek has designed and developed a new web and mobile application, in partnership with the nonprofit organization MountainTrue, to allow for nationwide reporting of illegal muddy water runoff and sources of sediment pollution. This new application allows for distributed control, with an overall national management feature, and regional control by individual riverkeeper groups. Individual citizens can use the application to report violations, and the violations are automatically routed to the appropriate governmental agency. 

The location-aware application stores images of the violation, allows for descriptions and tagging of issues, and provides map-based views of incidents nationwide and by geographic region.

The application uses a Rails back-end on Amazon's EC2, leveraging PostgreSQL. Mobile applications were delivered for both Android and iOS.

The contents of the press release are below.

New Smartphone App Makes Anyone a Muddy Water Cop

Muddy Water...

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Why offshore software development fails

Brett

I just returned from visiting our offshore development team in India. On the plane back I was thinking about why some offshore development projects fail. It's well-known in the software industry that many offshore development projects fail, even though there is still a great deal of debate on how often failures occur. At Shiny Creek we have been using offshore development for years, and before that I was personally part of several offshore development efforts at other companies - with mixed results. I also know personally of several high-profile efforts that were deemed to be failures: projects that were late, over-budget, did not deliver the right functionality, and any combination of these results.

What leads to these failures?

1. Bad development process. By far the biggest cause of offshore development failures is also the cause of many on-shore or in-house development failures: not having an effective development process. The development process should govern...

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Top-rated technology stacks of 2015

Brett

Stackshare is the site developers use to share what technologies they are using to create new web and mobile applications. This year's top list is a great read and give some insight into what developers at the top web sites trust for their technology. As a Ruby/Rails shop, we were particularly interested to see how our favorite tools fared. Some things we saw:

  • The number one stack voted by developers was Airbnb, including Ruby, Rails, nginx, Sass and EC2.
  • Rails was #10 on the list of Top 10 Open Source Tools of 2015, and #13 on the Top 50 Developer Tools & Services of 2015.
  • Slack was #3, and Trello was #4 on the Top 10 Hosted Services - showing that collaborative tools to work with developers and customers are really ingrained now. I will assume that a great deal of that is supporting Agile development processes.
  • Bootstrap was #1 on several list of the Top tools of 2015, proving that no one wants to reinvent the UX wheel if they don't have to.

A few...

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Why DevOps is a hot buzzword

Brett

What do security, scalability, reliability, longevity, and quality have in common when it comes to web-based applications or websites?
All of these things are directly affected by something few business people think about - DevOps. You may have seen it mentioned since it is getting more attention recently, in part due to the large number of web applications and functional web sites and the business-critical nature of these applications.

DevOps stands for "Developer Operations" and it encompasses all the things your developers do (or should do) that don't relate to writing code and building features.

Some simple examples of DevOps would be:

  • Keeping the servers up and running
  • Monitoring downtime of servers
  • Ensuring that deploying new features is painless, but can also be undone quickly if necessary
  • Automatically monitoring for end-user errors

Why do managers need to understand DevOps? Put simply, DevOps covers all the processes that keep your application running and...

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