Alpha Software is focused on enabling developers to create robust, data-driven business applications that run on any PC, Tablet or Smartphone in the fastest, most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Alpha Five meets all eWeek standards

eWeek just published an exciting piece in which Alpha Five developers played a key role. In his article, Armed and Ready, writer Frank Ohlhorst featured several Alpha Five developers, including Keven Thibeault, Mike Thomson, Tom Simon, and Graeme Smith.

Ohlhorst lays out seven criteria for choosing an enterprise development tool, including commonality, speed of development, performance, ease of use, versatility, integrity, and functionality. Alpha Five meets them all.

Give the print version of eWeek a gander to get the full frontal,or check out the story online. We're in the process of getting reprint rights from eWeek for those of you who might not subscribe to the magazine.

Monday, September 29, 2008

All's calm on the IT front

I recently shared what I thought the financial crisis means for IT. And on a day like today, as the stock market crumbles before our eyes, it's good to keep that in mind.

Need a little more reassurance? Late last week, Digg Inc., the popular social networking site whose users vote on their favorite news stories, announced a major expansion fueled by a $28.7 million in Series C funding.

Our retirement savings might temporarily be swirling down the toilet, but innovation isn't a commodity that's bought and sold. Great ideas will still find great funding. And great developers and apps will still find customers in need.

And the financial markets? They'll bounce back.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Encryption: protecting the data that travels outside your network

Last week I told you about the Ziff Davis webinar I participated in. My presentation, Encryption: Protecting the Data that Travels Outside Your Network, was all about where and why companies should be using encryption in their every day business.

For those who missed it, I decided to post the Power Point slide show here on the Alpha blog. It's a quick read, and hopefully an informative one. Enjoy!

Meet Alpha Software's newest (and cutest) Alpha Dog

About a month ago, Richard told you about the loss of my beloved dog, Hurley. Actually, dog doesn't even begin to describe what Hurley was to me. You can read more about him on my blog.

After living in a home so filled with love and personality, suddenly every room was breathtakingly empty. So my boyfriend and I decided the best way to begin moving past our grieving for Hurley would be to provide a good home to another dog in need. And that's when we found Rooney.

Rooney and his brothers and sisters were found with their mom on the side of the road in Georgia. He had been shuffled around a bit in the weeks since then, and he finally found a permanent home with us.

At 3 1/2 months, he is bursting with personality and energy -- the perfect match for all the guys and gals at Alpha Software. Now, he's officially the newest Alpha dog.

Every so often I'll let you know how he's doing, and share some Rooney stories as we make our way through the puppy years. So be sure to come back for more. How could you resist that face?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jeff Kalwerisky chats security and cloud computing with Dr. Dobb's

Our chief security evangelist Jeff Kalwerisky chatted with Jonathan Erickson of Dr. Dobb's Portal to discuss the security issues around enterprise cloud computing. The article was published today, so take a look to see what Jeff suggests for best security practices.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

If you missed it, you can still join me for a free Ziff Davis webinar on encryption

Yesterday I told you about the Ziff Davis Virtual Tradeshow Webinar that I was participating in. Well, the webinar seemed to go really well. I heard there were over 1,000 folks who registered. WOW! I'm not sure how many actually tuned in, but 98 percent of the attendees stayed until the Q&A session.

If you registered, but missed the webinar, you can still log back into the show at anytime over the next six months for on-demand viewing.

The format was excellent -- exactly like an offline trade show -- and it worked flawlessly. In retrospect, the 12 minutes I had to give my presentation wasn't sufficient to come to grips with any subject, let alone something as unknown (to most folks) as encryption. But I did get some pretty good feedback from people who listened in.

It did get me thinking, though, that it might be worth the time and effort to set up an online seminar on security. What do you think? Is that something you might be interested in? Let me know.

Why bad times mean good times for IT

By now I'm sure you've heard the news about the federal government bailing out the financial markets. OY. But while it's making headlines, what’s happening now in the economy is contained within the mortgage banking and real estate industries. Infotech has, so far, defied the current trend.

Forrester, however, projects that 2009 IT budgets are about to get whacked. But I think Forrester still can't see the forest for the trees. The economic problems extend only so far as they impact the ability of non-RE (real estate) and non-banking businesses to borrow.

With the exception of the dot-com era, which was all about IT and an IT investment bubble, infotech typically weathers downturns. That's because investment in software, hardware, data centers, security, application development, etc., fuels increased efficiency and business competitiveness. In other words, sound investments in the IT infrastructure can, typically, save money and boost revenue.

Also, remember this aspect of IT: People gotta’ upgrade. They will need larger disk space, more memory, better graphics, higher bandwidth, apps that better align to their business workflow and strategy, etc. Management and users alike need and want more mobile e-mail, more Blackberrys, more mobile line-of-business apps, more wireless access, etc.

To cut operational costs and reduce capital investments, many companies will ditch locally hosted e-mail and apps and go with managed services and SaaS instead. Same with VoIP, video conferencing over IP, unified communications, etc.

Instead of high capital outlays for servers, software, and network infrastructure (not to mention payroll costs for the care and feeding of that aspect of the data center and help desk), they have a low monthly operational expense -- and, often, just one neck to choke.

Likewise, companies will consolidate data centers using virtualization, blade technology, and more modern 6-core CPUs in an effort to cut energy costs and save on rent (by reducing the data center's square footage). ROI trumps again. And don’t forget the “forced upgrades” that IT vendors can often push on their base (anyone for VB.Net?).

Then there's security and, by extension, privacy. Companies MUST invest to harden their systems when holes are discovered or to comply with new legislation that comes down the pike. And for pure Web plays, when the economy tanks, Internet advertising becomes an even more cost-effective, and thus attractive, option for advertisers over television, radio, and print.

Moreover, with consumers and businesses pinching pennies, e-commerce services will certainly enjoy greater traffic as people shop for bargains online. E-commerce players will have to ensure their data centers are up to snuff, while brick+mortar retailers that are not online will be under intense pressure to go there.

And here's an interesting question to ponder: what was one of the principal reasons why the big investment banks started dabbling in risky subprime mortgage instruments? Because Internet investment services ate their core business: trading. Now anyone can trade online, without paying or using a human broker. Who needs Lehman Brothers when there's E-Trade?

Just some counter points to the projection/perception that a down economy means bad times ahead for IT. My guess is that IT marches on and even sees some impressive gains as companies cut back in other areas, and turn to IT to achieve increased efficiencies.

For more on the topic, here's some timely supporting views:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thinking independently about Independent Street

The Wall Street Journal covered PC World's story on the Top 25 Software Tools and Services for Small Businesses. I found it fascinating that there wasn't a single mention of a database. But don't worry. I weighted in to piint that out. Take a look at the comments. ;)

Tune in to the Ziff Davis Virtual Tradeshow Webinar today

I'll be giving a Ziff Davis webinar tonight on one of my specialties: encryption. In the webinar, which I've titled Encryption: Protecting the Data that Travels Outside Your Network, I'll be talking about both hard drive encryption and e-mail encryption.

In many situations, sensitive notebook-borne data has to travel outside your perimeter. Hard drive encryption offers companies a way to keep this data secure in case of notebook loss or theft.

E-mail is also a popular conduit through which often sensitive information flows between a company and its partners, remote employees, and customers.

What factors should you consider when deploying either of these technologies, and what are your encryption options? To find out, join me tonight from 5 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. ET. Registration is open now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You can find me at eMetrics

I've got some pretty exciting news regarding speakers at this year's eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington, D.C.. Have you heard who will be speaking there? Me!

Janet Park and I will be giving a presentation we've titled How to Discover the Faces Behind Your Clicks. Janet is the President of Marketing Frontiers and long-time Alpha developer. You might also remember her from her post here on the Alpha blog.

In our presentation, we'll be explaining that your business's success isn't necessarily based on how many people are visiting your site, but rather who. And we'll show you some pretty cool ways to find out exactly who is doing the clicking.

The eMetrics Summit takes place Oct. 20 - 23 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Va. Stay tuned for more information on the conference and our presentation.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Alpha Five helps save the wild cats

We've spent a bit of time writing about dogs here on the Alpha blog. Well, cats have finally made their way into the discussion.

Every day we get testimonials and rants from customers. I could fill this blog with our customer stories -- and I would if our blog editors would let me (they tell me it's crass marketing fluff, and you readers would be repulsed).

But this e-mail came through the other day, and I can't resist sharing it.

It reads:

My Gosh,

I've had Alpha 5 V9 Standard only one day and what an easy to use and powerful application. I now realize with Access 2007 and Filemaker Pro I've been trying to shove a wet noodle up a wild cat's butt. I'll listen to the 6 hour training session on the 24th and get moving on something I've been trying to do for years. I see light at the end of the tunnel now AlphaSoftware! Thanks so much. I can even put it on the web without a hastle. "I see," said the blind man!!! [sic]

What do you think? Should we change our tagline to Alpha Five: Easier than shoving a wet noodle up a wild cat's butt?

Our art department has just informed me that we have, in fact, been aware for some time now that using Alpha Five is easier than shoving a wet noodle up a cat's butt. In fact, this symbol has apparently been stamped on the bottom of our boxes for years.

OK, the logo is a gag that one of the guys here whipped up after that e-mail made its way around the office. But I assure you the e-mail, and the sentiment it embodies, are genuine.

Maybe we should get T-shirts and mugs made with the logo? Thoughts?

(My apologies if this post offends anyone, but again, it's absolutely true.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Alpha Software: Coming soon to a campus near you

Campus Technology picked up the story about how Minnesota State University is using Alpha Five to help students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Technology learn the critical databasing skills and tools they'll need in the real world.

The full story ran yesterday, and you can read it here.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Damage from the inside

You might have already heard the story about the San Francisco network administrator, Terry Childs, who was charged with four counts of computer tampering, which allegedly caused millions in damages.

After reading Network World's Paul Venezia's take on the incident, I have a few thoughts of my own, starting with Childs' bosses. They should also be fired, and maybe even jailed, for criminal negligence.

But of course, as it's all on the San Francisco taxpayers’ payroll, the admin guy will be the fall guy and fired, and his bosses will get the usual promotion and bonuses for their tough stance.

In information technology, the buck doesn't stop in the bowels of the organization. It stops on the CIO's desk. At the end of the day, the responsibility for system security, employee vetting, data integrity, and user privacy rests with the top brass.

If they can't keep their people, processes, and processors humming along securely, it should be their heads (and butts) on the line. What Childs is accused of doing is wrong. But equally wrong is allowing the top brass to get away clean.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Alpha Five competitive grid updated

We just updated the competitive product grid to account for a missing FileMaker feature, as noted by a reader. Download it and see for yourself how Alpha Five Platinum stacks up to FileMaker Pro and Access.

New Carrollton Police Department puts Alpha Five on patrol

The best part of my job is hearing about the new and exciting ways our customers are using Alpha Five to make their jobs easier. I recently had the chance to talk to Lt. Richard Hartnett from the New Carrollton Police Department in New Carrollton, M.D., to see how he's used Alpha in the force. (I've always wanted to say that.)

Hartnett is the Director of IT for the NCPD, and he recently built a database that lets officers file electronic incident reports using the mobile computers in their squad cars, instead of having to fill out tedious and time consuming reports by hand.

Read on, or take a look at the full PDF version.

Customer Profile
The mission of the New Carrollton Police Department is to safeguard life and property, preserve the peace, prevent and detect crime, enforce the law, and protect the rights of all citizens.

New Carrollton, M.D.

Public safety

The New Carrollton Police Department needed a way to computerize their incident reports. Their paper forms were repetitive, tedious, time consuming, and at risk for errors or misfiling. Lieutenant Richard Hartnett, Director of IT at New Carrollton Police Department, wanted a database that would let officers write an electronic incident report using the mobile computers in their squad cars. He wanted the reports available to other officers in the field, at the station, and from other counties, all in real time. He also wanted to eliminate time wasted due to repetitive entries. Every time a person was involved in an incident, their information would have to be re-entered on a new paper form. Lt. Hartnett wanted officers to enter information once, then pull up the appropriate database record and update it as necessary. Lastly, computerized forms would solve the problem of space limitations that the current paper reports presented. Lt. Hartnett knew the answer was a Web-based database, but like most cops-turned-IT pro, he didn’t have the programming skills required to build it from scratch. Or so he thought.

Lt. Hartnett had some IT experience through his previous position at the Berwyn Heights Police Department. He had previously used OmniForm to computerize Berwyn Heights’ incident reports. But that old platform wasn’t Web-based, wasn’t programmable, and required information be batch transferred from officers’ vehicle computers to the station at the end of each shift. After experimenting with several tools without success, Lt. Hartnett discovered Alpha Five. He quickly got up to speed with Alpha Five’s visual approach to application development, and had an initial version of New Carrollton’s database operational in short order. By using Alpha Five’s Action Scripting, component builders, Genies, and built-in Web security framework, Lt. Hartnett didn’t have to write a lick of code. And because the application lived on the Web, he could deploy it once, and provide access anywhere there’s a secure IP connection. He didn’t have to install any software on individual PCs or in officers’ vehicles.

The result: a high-performance, intuitive Web database that is now addressing all of the requirements the department established for it. Its design lets officers enter an electronic report in the field, and have that report immediately accessible by other officers in the field or back at the station. And because it’s Web-based, no special software, hardware, or other components need to be installed in officers’ computers or cars. They simply fire up a Web browser, enter the URL of the database, key in their credentials, and get instant access to the entire incident records management system. Alpha Five’s powerful yet easy-to-use tools made it possible for Lt. Hartnett to achieve the lofty goals he established for the database, without having to learn a computer language or writing a single line of code. As a result, New Carrollton and five other municipal police departments are now tied into the system, giving hundreds of local officers access to critical incident information in real time. In fact, the system has been so successful with the six police departments, Lt. Hartnett hopes to expand that access to law enforcement agencies throughout Maryland and beyond.

For More Information
Alpha Software, Inc.

New Carrollton Police Department

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Minnesota State University Gives Alpha Five an A+

While the media's eyes are turned towards the Republican National Convention this week, we're giving them another reason to take a look at Minnesota. That's because Minnesota State University, Mankato recently implemented Alpha Five into their Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Technology to make life a bit easier for faculty and students.

Take a look at the press release, which hit the wire today.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Heralding the newest member of Alpha

No major news here, but I just wanted to point out that the Boston Herald mentioned Jeff joined us.

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