Improving Travel In Our National Parks: The Transportation Scholars Program

As the population of the United States continues to increase, so do transportation issues in our national parks. In the past three decades, park visitation has jumped more than 83 percent; almost all of these additional visitors have traveled to and through the parks in privately owned vehicles. Roads and parking facilities that were once adequate are now overwhelmed, especially during peak travel seasons.

The resulting congestion both degrades visitor experiences and imperils the natural and cultural resources the National Park Service (NPS) is committed to protecting. The result is further strain on an agency already stretched by small budgets and over-worked staff.

In 2001, in an attempt to help the NPS find innovative solutions to this problem, the National Park Foundation (NPF), the Ford Motor Company Fund, and Eno Transportation Foundation teamed up with the NPS to establish the National Park Transportation Scholars Program. Today the program continues under the guidance of the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration, the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks and Technical Assistance Center, and the Eno Transportation Foundation.

The Transportation Scholars Program provides parks with transportation professionals who assist in developing transportation systems to help parks reduce traffic, congestion, and pollution while improving park visitor experiences. The Scholars Program pairs transportation professionals and graduate students with NPS staff seeking expert assistance with projects involving transportation planning and analysis, public outreach, intergovernmental coordination, environmental impact assessment, and other transportation-related tasks. Assignments generally begin in early summer and last either six or twelve months.

The Transportation Scholars Program provides the Park Service with much-needed transportation expertise at a fraction of the cost of hiring consultants or bringing on full-time staff. The Parks derive significant advantages from having Transportation Scholars located on-site versus using off-site assistance, and Scholars benefit parks by serving as single points of contact on transportation matters for consultants, contractors, and local communities. Scholars also bring a fresh perspective to the Park Service, while taking away valuable personal and professional experiences.

Jacqueline Lowey, Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) from 1996 to 1997, and Deputy Director of the NPS from 1997-2001, conceived the idea for the Transportation Scholars Program. “I think that transportation is absolutely key to protecting park resources,” said Lowey. “Transportation is the nexus of how you preserve parks while enabling visitors to experience the parks’ incredible natural and historical treasures now and in the future.”

To be eligible for consideration, parks must have a specific transportation-related project ready to begin or already underway. A committee made up of representatives from the NPS, the NPF, and the Eno Foundation reviews park applications that meet these basic requirements; final park selections are made by the NPF’s Board of Directors.

Parks with projects connected to well-developed, long-term transportation plans and involving innovative approaches to addressing park transportation issues are given priority. Examples of such innovative approaches include projects incorporating alternative transportation systems, community involvement, sustainable transportation, transportation master planning, multi-modal access, and non-motorized transportation. The scholar selection process is administered by the Eno Foundation, which assembles a selection panel with representatives from the NPS, the USDOT-Federal Lands Highway, and other organizations with a transportation focus. The panel reviews the project proposals of parks selected by the National Park Foundation, and matches the best qualified candidate with each project.

Transportation Scholars have come from a diverse range of educational and professional backgrounds; several have been working professionals in transportation-related fields. Others have been graduate students pursuing PhD or masters degrees in civil engineering, landscape architecture, urban planning, public policy, and business administration. Most Scholars are given assignments of between 3 months and 1 year, though some have worked for the same park for multiple years.

At the end of their term, the scholars are required to submit a report to the NPF detailing their accomplishments, providing guidance to NPS decision makers, and describing the significance of their findings for other park units and the larger transportation community.

6 Things To Consider Before Choosing An Auto Transport Company

In my previous article of this series I discussed some things you should know before you decide to transport your car across the country. In this installment I am going to give you some additional advice to follow before actually deciding on a particular transporter or method of transport. And I will also give you a few general tips that you should follow to make your move as painless as possible.

Check for Adequate Insurance

Prior to entrusting your vehicle to an auto transporting company, be sure that the company is correctly accredited, and insured. Cars can occasionally get damaged in the course of a move; therefore you need to ensure that your service provider has adequate insurance to cover any damage your car may receive while in transport. Be sure you know what the transport company’s insurance policies cover and the amount of insurance deductible you would need to pay out in case there is an insurance claim. You should also check with your own insurance carrier to see what they will cover in the unlikely event that your car in damaged during transport.

Have your Vehicle Inspected

Before giving your vehicle to the transport company for inspection, take it in for a complete servicing. This is to make certain that it is in good working condition with no mechanical, electrical or other problems. Regarding the inspection of your motor vehicle, always keep in mind that it is for your benefit as well as for the benefit of the transport company to have your car or truck inspected prior to having it loaded onto the transport carrier.

To make the vehicle easier to inspect, you should ensure that the vehicle is thoroughly clean. The outside should have no dirt on it, and the inside should be neat and uncluttered, making it easy to inspect for any signs of damage or general wear and tear. Document any dents, dings, or any minute scratches on your vehicle together with the company so there will be absolutely no possibility of a later misunderstanding once your vehicle is returned to you. Another inspection will likely be administered at the drop off location.

Although damage is unusual, it can unfortunately occur. Therefore it is critical that you document any damages to your vehicle on the bill of lading, as soon as your car comes off the truck, and before you drive it away. The transport company will not take responsibility for any damage that you report to them after you have already taken possession of your vehicle.

Minimum Requirements for Non-Working Vehicles

If your vehicle is not working it can still be hauled. Although it is certainly possible to haul an inoperable vehicle, your car at the very minimum should be able to be rolled, steered, and braked. Otherwise a forklift will need to be used at both the pickup and delivery locations, which will add to the complexity and cost of your move. Keep in mind that your inoperable vehicle must be located in an adequate sized lot for the truck and forklift to have access to it if necessary.

Should You Use A Broker?

Brokers act as intermediaries between you, the client, and the transporter or motor carrier, and are in fact the primary source of freight for the majority of motor carriers in the industry. The majority of brokerages are non-asset based, meaning that they do not actually own any trucks but rather work on behalf of their clients to get their car moved quickly and at a reasonable price using their large network of pre qualified motor carriers. Since brokers typically don’t own any trucks they do not have to burden of having idle trucks just sitting around that need to be on the road, but instead can focus on locating the best auto shipper to transport your vehicle.

Brokers frequently weed out the trucking companies with poor customer service or lots of complaints as they do not want to utilize a transportation company that doesn’t deliver top quality services. They utilize tools that you simply do not have access to that enables them to track the transport company’s safety record, driver history, insurance coverage, or fraudulent activity (if any). This is priceless information you simply cannot obtain just by searching the Internet, so using a broker to facilitate your vehicle move can save you a lot of time and headache. You basically make a single phone call to the broker and they’ll help you get a list of available, reputable companies to work with.

The best vehicle transport brokers will make sure that their customers be given a variety of transport options to enable them to make a suitable choice based on their budget as well as their particular transport requirements for his or her motor vehicle.

Vehicle transportation brokers provide transport services across the United States and in many cases internationally as well. Utilizing vast databases of carriers, they are able to easily locate a carrier which offers car or truck transport services within your general location and arrange pickup inside of 2 or 3 days. Brokers offer transport solutions for virtually any type of motor vehicle, and though they don’t ship the vehicle themselves with regards to motor vehicle transport, this is your best option.

How Much Will It Cost?

Your rate will likely be determined by the method of transportation you choose and will differ based upon the transport company and your pickup location relative to your desired drop off destination. In general, the more accessible the location and the destination the more affordable the transport conversely out of the way regions will be far more costly to transport your vehicle to.

Typically the most cost-effective way to transport a motor vehicle is on an open car carrier. This is the type of large, multilevel, truck that we so often see on the road. An open car carrier can hold as much as 15 automobiles simultaneously depending on the situation. Typically car manufacturers and dealerships use commercial transporters such as these for getting their cars and trucks from one location to another. Open car carriers are quite dependable, however they aren’t appropriate for every situation (I will discuss this further in the upcoming article).

The transport process may take roughly 2-10 days for the mover to pick up your motor vehicle. The timing is determined by a number of factors such as the region of the country that the automobile will be picked-up from, and the distance that it must travel to get to its final destination. Keep in mind that lengthier distance moves usually takes more time to coordinate., and that after your car or truck is picked up for transport, it may take as much as 21 days to deliver your vehicle to the specified drop off location. However the actual amount of time it takes will really depend upon your pickup and drop locations.

If you need your vehicle picked up and delivered ASAP most transporters will offer you an expedited service for an additional cost. In general the faster you want your vehicle delivered the more it’s going to cost you. You can get a wide range of prices from a number of transport companies simply by searching on the Internet, and this is a good place to start when you begin shopping around, however do not let price be your only criteria for choosing a company. Look for a company that provides quality service even if they are more expensive, you will be happy that you did.

Overall, if this is your first car moving experience it is probably best to go with an experienced auto transport broker who will save you a lot of time and headache. They have the knowledge, the connections, and the negotiating power to get you through this as painlessly as possible.

General Tips

If access to your home is limited because of a narrow street, trees with low hanging branches, speed bumps or very tight turns, the driver may ask you to meet the truck at a different destination or we will arrange a convenient location, like a shopping center or major street crossing, to pick up or deliver your vehicle for Car Move.

Remember when relocating to a cooler climate make certain you check all antifreeze and fluids in your car or truck prior to transport. This will guarantee that no part of the engine will be damaged during cold starts in frigid temperatures. The Automobile Transporter will not take responsibility for any problem with your car that they didn’t directly cause.

Also keep in mind that if your house is restricted by narrow roadways, low-hanging trees and shrubs, speed bumps or tight turns, the driver might request you to meet him at a different location like a shopping mall or major street crossing, to either pick up or deliver your motor vehicle to you.

Lastly, it’s never a good idea to store personal items in your vehicle during transport. Any personal items left in the car or truck is not going to be covered if it gets lost or stolen. Remove any valuable items before your car gets picked up.

If you need to have your vehicle transported, or you would like to get more information about various vehicle transportation options, our vehicle logistics experts will be glad to advise you.

What Are the Different Types of Computers?

These days, computers are described using many different terms. In most cases, simply the capability, the expected use or the size of the computer is implied. However, what most of us do not know is that there are actually different types of computers.

Types of Computers

1. PC

A computer designed to be used by a single person is defined as a personal computer (PC). While a Mac is a personal computer, systems running the Windows OS are considered PCs by most people. Initially, personal computers were referred to as microcomputers because they were complete computers with a smaller size. The Apple iPad is a perfect example of a modern PC.

2. Desktop

A desktop computer is a personal computer that is not designed to be portable. Generally, desktop computers are set up in permanent locations. In comparison to portable computers, more versatility, storage and power is offered by most desktop computers for a lesser price.

3. Laptop

Laptops, also known as notebooks, are small-sized portable computers can be placed on the lap and used there. The display, hard drive, keyboard, memory, processor, and a trackball or point device are integrated in a battery-operated package.

4. Netbook

Netbooks are also portable computers but they are much smaller than typical laptops. In comparison to brand-new laptops that can be found at retail outlets, netbooks are much cheaper, usually starting from $300 to $500. However, the internal components of netbooks are not as powerful as those in most laptops.

5. PDA

PDAs or Personal Digital Assistants are integrated computers that do not use a hard drive but instead, use flash memory for storage. These are touchscreen devices and do not have keyboards. Typically, PDAs are very lightweight, smaller than a paperback novel and have a decent battery life. The handheld computer is a slightly heavier and larger version of the PDA.

6. Workstation

A workstation is another type of computer. A workstation is just a desktop computer with additional memory, a more powerful processor, and enhanced capabilities to perform a special group of task, like game development, or 3D graphics.

7. Server

Servers are computers that have been optimized to provide services over a network to other computers. Usually, servers have large hard drives, lots of memory and powerful processors.

8. Mainframe

At one time, mainframes used to be computers that were so huge they would fill a whole room or even an entire floor. As the power of computers has increased while their size has decreased, mainframe computers are now referred to as enterprise servers.

9. Supercomputer

The price of a supercomputer can be anywhere from hundreds or thousands to millions of dollars. Majority of supercomputers comprise of multiple high-performance computers that work in parallel as one single system. Cray Supercomputers have built the well-known supercomputers.

10. Wearable Computer

Wearable computers are a latest computing trend. Today, typical computer applications, like calendar/scheduler, database, e-mail and multimedia have been integrated into cell phones, clothing, visors and watches.

You might have heard of some of these computers, and you might even be one or some of these types in your home. Then again, you also might not have heard of some types of computers mentioned here.

How to Keep Your Computer Cool

When your computer is on, nearly all of its components become hot. Constant exposure to high temperature can cause serious damage to your computer.

Here is a list of ways in keeping your PC cool.

Check if your fans are running.

This is the first step when you find your computer overheating. Open the case, and then check if all fans are still working. If at least one is not working anymore, consider doing repairs or getting a replacement.

Regularly clean your computer.

It is essential to regularly clean your computer, especially the cooling fans. The fans attached inside the computer case is used for active cooling of the computer. Over time, dust and dirt can accumulate in these fans. The accumulate dirt can slow down or, in worse, stop fans from working. If fans fail in expelling the hot air fast enough, some internal parts will eventually overheat.

To clean your cooling fan:

1. Shut down your PC.

2. Open the computer case.

3. If there is excessive dirt inside the computer case, take out the computer fan.

4. You can use compressed air, small electronic vacuum or duster, or damp cloth in cleaning the fan.

5. If you use moisten cloth, make sure that the cooling fan is dry or there is no remaining moisture before connecting it again.

Clean other computer parts as well such as the monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

Before cleaning any hardware component, make sure that your machine is turned off. Otherwise, your computer is susceptible to electrostatic discharge that can damage its parts and you are also prone to grounding yourself.

Before applying any cleaning procedures to hardware, make sure to check its manufacturer’s manual if they have provided you with the recommended instructions in cleaning or maintaining it.

Do not spray or spill any liquid directly in computer parts.

Do not limit the air flow around your computer.

Place your computer in a room that can provide sufficient air flow. Make sure that it is not sitting right next into other objects that prevent air circulation, like walls or other computers. There should be at least two to three inches of space on both sides. Since most of the hot air comes out from the air vent at the back end of the computer case, this part should be completely clear and open.

Move your computer to a cooler and cleaner environment.

Move your PC in a place with proper ventilation. It is important that the physical location will not contribute further heat to the computer. Make sure that your PC is not placed near a furnace, refrigerator, cooking appliances, and other things that can blow hot air or can transfer heat into your computer system.

To prevent your PC from overheating, it is advised to place it in an air-conditioned room.

Note: be careful when moving your computer in order to avoid damage on sensitive components inside it like the CPU, graphics card, hard drive, and motherboard.

Use your computer with case closed.

It seems logical to let the case open while the computer is running to keep it cooler. This is true. However, dirt and dust will accumulate and clog the computer fans faster when the case is opened. This can cause the fans to slow down or fail at cooling your computer.

Upgrade your CPU fan.

The CPU is the most important component inside the computer. When you are running demanding applications, the CPU and graphics card induce more heat. It can get so hot that it can be cooked.

Consider purchasing a high-quality and larger CPU fan that can keep the CPU temperature lower than the pre-built CPU fan in your computer could.

Consider installing a component-specific fan.

If you have observed that the other components are overheating, install a component-specific fan to cool them down.

Consider installing a case fan.

This small fan can be attached to either the front or back of the computer case. There are two types of case fan: one that can draw cooler air into the case, and one that can expel warm air from the case. Installing both is a great way to cool your computer.

Turn off your computer when not in use.

A computer continues to produce heat as long as it running, even if you aren’t using it. If you will only have a few minutes of inactivity, at least set your computer to hibernation. Basically, it will also turn off your computer but the opened files and programs are stored in your hard disk.

Importance of Software Testing in the IT Industry

Software development companies dedicate a substantial amount of resources and manpower for the development of applications according to requirements specified by enterprises or individuals. However, subsequent to development of such applications/software, companies are required to ensure that such software/applications perform in accordance with the client’s requirements. To ensure that any and all bugs in the software are identified prior to the deployment, various testing procedures are implemented by the IT industry. The importance of this is directly related to the ability of software to measure up to its potential. If the new software is unable to perform the task it was designed for, the client might face severe losses due to stoppage of work and also adversely affect the business of the software development company. The scope of these procedures is to facilitate identification of a problem in the software, fixing of such problems is not within in the scope of software testing. Some of the leading methodologies implemented by companies in the IT industry include General, Load, Functional and Regression Testing.

General Testing

This refers to the general tests carried out on software/applications to ensure the functionality of newly developed software. Some of the common tests included as part of standard Quality Assurance procedures are web performance and usability testing. The web performance testing procedure is mostly engaged in evaluating the online performance of a web-based software application or a website. Usability testing is a mainly subjective approach, which ensures that the software is capable of being utilized effectively in a given set of circumstances. The purpose is to identify the general operating capability of the software/application being tested and to help developers determine some of the areas of improvement for the software. A software development company usually performs general testing of software/applications along with other more advanced methods to ensure that the software conforms to the pre-defined operational capabilities specified by the client/user group.

Load Testing

The load testing procedure simulates operating conditions of the software/application during periods of higher/normal load to gauge the effect of such changes on the functioning of the software/application. This is not the same as stress testing, because load testing checks the operational capabilities in case of both normal load and high load conditions, while stress testing attempts to induce errors in normal operations by using increased system load. This is considered to be a type of non-functional testing, which is undertaken by software development companies to gauge the multi-user support capabilities of the application.

As a commonly employed practice in the software industry, its specific goals are widely disputed and the term is often utilized in conjunctions with volume, reliability, software performance and concurrency testing. By using load testing, developers can attempt to determine the reason for slow performance of software. The common reasons for such slow response commonly include load balancing between multiple servers, client-side processing, network congestion/latency, available database service and/or bugs in the application server(s) or software. The use of load testing is recommended for software/applications, which are subjected to SLA (service level agreement) for ensuring that the software is capable of supporting multiple users. As the procedure simulates an increase in system load by using multiple virtual users, various software are currently available to carry out load testing. Some of the leading load-testing tools used by developers globally are IBM Rational Performance Tester, Apache JMeter, LoadRunner etc. Additionally, a load testing tool commonly favored by software testing companies in India is available as part of the Visual Studio Ultimate Edition of Microsoft.

Functional Testing

This type of testing is a type of black-box testing based on the specifications of the software components being tested. The functions of specific components of the software are feeding inputs and checking the output thus obtained. In functional testing, the internal structure of the program is seldom considered hence, it is classified as a type of black-box testing. The key steps involved in functional testing include identification of functions, which the software is expected to perform, creation of input data according to specifications of the identified functions, determining output based on the specifications of those functions, executing the test scenario followed by comparison of the obtained output vs. the expected output. Functional testing is not the same as system testing as system testing involves validation of a program in comparison to the published system or user requirements, whereas, functional testing is carried out by checking a program with respect to established specifications and available design documents for the software/applications.

Regression Testing

The regression testing refers to any type of software testing, which attempts to identify bugs, which are present in either the functional or the non-functional areas of a system subsequent to making modifications such as configuration and patch changes. The key function of regression testing is to ensure that the use of a patch or upgrade does not lead to the introduction of a new bug into the existing system. Additionally, regression testing helps ensure that the changes in one section of the software do not induce changes in another part of the software’s code. Some of the commonly applied regression testing methods include the use of earlier tests to check for alterations in program operation and the search of any previously fixed bugs, which had re-emerged subsequent to introduction of the new code. Fixed bugs in software often re-emerge and regression testing is one of the leading methods to ensure that such re-emergence is identified and easily controlled before any lasting damage occurs. Software development companies repeatedly perform regression testing of software/applications after any change in coding such as use of patches etc. to ensure that the functionality of the application is unimpaired. Such repetitive testing is usually automated by using an external tool such as Bamboo, TeamCity, Jenkins, Hudson, Tinderbox or BuildBot. This type of testing is generally performed by the QA team in case of leading software development companies, however, smaller companies are often engaged in outsourcing such services to companies specializing in the field of software QA and testing.

What’s Next?

As new technologies emerge, more testing procedures are being developed and implemented by organizations all over the world to ensure that new software perform according to their requirements and specifications even when stress or when additional functionality is introduced into the software. The emerging testing solutions, which are powered by new technology, are designed to reduce the time and resources required for testing in order to streamline the quality control / quality assurance services associated with software development. Some additional types of testing, which are currently used in the software industry are white box testing, system testing, non-functional testing, acceptance testing and integration testing. Each of these testing was developed to identify and resolve application/software limitations in a specific set of conditions; hence they are useful for software testing carried out in case of specific quality assurance and testing procedures.

Why A Mobile App Is Necessary For Your Business

Willing to develop a mobile app for your business but aren’t aware of its exact benefits? By this post, you will come to know about the mobile apps precisely.

Fundamentals of Mobile Application

As we all are aware of the age of smartphones. We cannot imagine a life without a smartphone as it has become an inseparable part of our lives. They come with the pre-loaded features that you can access anytime and anywhere. These are music, games, videos, internet and so on.

With the advancement of the technology, smartphones are also getting smarter day by day. The most important reason why all the features are accessed on a smartphone is it is portable than the PCs and laptops.

It has become an indispensable part of human life, not only limited to define a status symbol but has become a necessity of the time. It has influenced various aspects of human life and businesses are one of them.

As the main goal of a business is to reach to the maximum number of people for attaining a consistent growth by serving them all. Mobile applications are the latest forms to connect with the customers.

Mobile apps are the combination of self-contained programs designed to enhance the functionality of a mobile device.

Due to their advanced functionality and easy accessibility, they are very helpful for the businesses in their growth.

Types of Mobile Apps

Technically, there are two types of mobile apps, that are listed below:

• Native apps

• Hybrid apps

Native apps

These are the apps developed specifically for use on a particular platform. This is a mobile application which is coded in a specific programming language such as Java and Objective-C for android and iOS mobile operating systems respectively.

These apps have fast performance and a high degree of reliability. These can also access the other features of the phones such as Camera, GPS, Contact list and so on. The examples of these apps are Android, iOS, Windows, Symbian, etc.

Hybrid apps

These apps are like native apps and their programs are coded in the container of native apps. Like native apps, they also use the features of the mobile device such as Camera, Contact list and Phone storage, etc.

They also allow cross-platform development such as the same components of a program can be reused on different mobile operating systems.

By the following points, you will come to know how mobile app development service is beneficial for your business:

1. Keeps your Brand Ahead in this Techno-Race

As I have stated above that it is an age of technology and smartphones.

It is the necessity of a business to reach to the maximum number of clients. Therefore, a mobile application will assist a business to reach to its targeted customers in a better and convenient manner.

So, avail the mobile app development service and an assistance of technology to grow your business at its best without putting any extra potential in it.

2. Promotes your Business Indirectly

A mobile app is very helpful in the promotion of a business as it can be easily downloaded and operated as well. If a person finds something interesting and new then he’ll also share it with others. Thus, if your mobile app is user-friendly then the user will surely suggest it to the others.

Hence, your business is getting benefit from the users and it will be an external advertisement of your brand without any charge.

Another reason is, people always prefer the new methods and technologies; these are the newest in the market, thus their chances of preference are more than any other conventional methods.

3. Provides a Better Platform to Reach a Large Chunk of Customers

The number of mobile phone users is more than PC users, therefore if you wish to target them then you must have a mobile application so that they can access your services/products on their mobiles. So, it is a better platform for your business to grow by increasing the number of

customers.

4. Convenient for a Business and its Beneficiaries

Mobile apps not only reduce the effort of customers but also tend them to perform smart work by saving their time as well.

Neither the customer not the business needs to interact with each other and a customer can avail the products/services of a company by ordering it through the mobile app of the same company.

5. Helps in the Improvement of your Business

It is very important to add a feedback form about your services in your business mobile app. By which, the customers can provide their valuable feedback and hence you will come to know about your business drawbacks. Thus, you can improve your services by knowing them. The customers’ feedbacks will help you in improving your business.

Where can you get the quality mobile application development service from?

For getting a quality mobile app development, you will have to hire an expert mobile application development company that can develop a mobile application as per your business requirement.

Take the help of internet and find the top five mobile app development companies nearby you. Contact them and tell them your requirement and ask them whether they can develop a mobile application as per your requirement at an affordable cost or not? If yes, you can go with the same and get a mobile

application for your business betterment.

Software Testing: How Important It Is

A flawed software application can have a huge impact on the developer’s revenue, credibility and reputation in the longer run. So before delivering the software to the client, each company needs to ensure that it is working flawlessly and meeting all requirements or specification of the client. There are many instances when minor flaws in software have resulted in both human and monetary loss. That is why; software testing has already becomes an integral and significant part of the software development life cycle (SDLC).

The agile software development principles further do not consider software development and software testing as two separate processes. The agile methodology emphasizes on the programmers and testers working as a single team, and work together to improve the quality of the software. As an integral part of SDLC, software testing process aims to assess the completeness, correctness and quality of the software before its delivery. At the same time, the test results help businesses to check if the software meets all requirements or specifications of the client.

Why Software Testing is Important for Modern Businesses?

A number of studies have indicated that the cost of fixing bugs in the software increases, if they are not identified and fixed early. When the defects or bugs in the software are detected early, it becomes easier for programmers to eliminate them. That is why; most companies nowadays introduce testing in early phases of SDLC. They further deploy independent QA professionals to assess the software during various stages of development.

Nowadays, IT companies to develop custom and mission-critical software applications. A minor bug in the mission-critical software application can result in both financial and human losses. For instance, a minor flaw in the software used by an aircraft can result in irreparable losses. That is why; the IT company must perform a variety of tests to identify and eliminate all defects, bugs or flaws in the application before it is delivered to the client.

Each modern user has option to choose from thousands of identical software applications. So to keep the users interested and engaged, each enterprise must deliver high quality software. When the software is tested thoroughly and repeatedly, its quality can be assesses more effectively. Based on the test result, the company can launch a high quality product that will stay in the market in the longer run.

Software testing further becomes essential for businesses due to the differences between the development and production environments. While developing the product, programmers focus mainly on its features and functionality. But the features and functionality will have different effect on individual users. When the application is assessed in the testing environment, it becomes easier for QA professionals to assess the user experience accurately. As testing environment and production environment are identical, the performance of the software can be assessed more accurately.

Often clients require developers to include new features in the software during different phases of development. Each time a new feature or functionality is added to the application, the code needs to be tested thoroughly. The QA professionals perform regression testing to ensure that both legacy and new features are working flawlessly. The tests will further help the business to assess the quality of the updated product before it goes live.

The modern websites and web applications must be compatible with multiple operating systems, devices and web browsers. So the enterprises must assess the web application’s performance on various devices, platforms and browsers. The seasoned testers use advanced tools to assess the website’s compatibility across multiple platforms and devices. The test results further help developers to make changes to the code to enhance the website’s compatibility and accessibility.

Many businesses deploy independent QA professionals to protect their goodwill in the competitive market. The online forums and social networks have made it easier for modern users to highlight the defects or flaws in a particular software application. So the enterprise needs to ensure that the end user detects no bugs of flaws. When the software is tested thoroughly, the chances of bugs detected by users are eliminated. Thus, software testing will help developers to impress users and stay in the business over a longer period of time.

How the Internet Is Structured

The term Internet is a contraction of ‘interconnected networks’ and, indeed, the Internet is a gigantic global collection of linked networks. The networks that make up the Internet can range in size from tiny (just two or three connected computers) to massive (thousands of interlinked machines).

An Internet service provider (ISP) is a telecommunications business that delivers Internet-related services such as access to the Internet, domain name registration, website hosting, and so on. ISPs enable you to connect to the Internet.

When you use your computer to access the Internet from your home you most likely connect to an ISP via a modem and a local telephone number or through a dedicated high-speed line. When you connect to your ISP you become part of their network, which allows you to access the Internet.

The computers in the office where you work are likely to be connected together into a network known as a local area network (LAN). This enables the computers in the office to communicate with each other. The LAN is most likely connected to an ISP and this connection enables you to access the Internet from your office computer.

Either way, your home PC or your office LAN becomes part of the ISP’s network. The ISP will link in turn to a larger network to become part of that network. That network will be connected to other larger networks to create a communications system that spans the entire globe.

Thus the Internet is nothing more than a network of networks. These networks connect computers using a wide variety of technologies, including conventional and high-speed telephone lines, fibre-optic cables, microwave links, wireless technologies and satellite communications.

Routers

The networks are connected using routers. A router is a specialised computer that directs traffic on the Internet. As the Internet consists of hundreds of thousands of smaller networks linked together, the use of routers is absolutely necessary.

When you want to visit a particular website, you type the address of the site into your web browser. The address goes to the nearest router and the router decides where that site is on the Internet.

The router also determines the most efficient path through all the networks to reach this destination. This determination is based on the traffic in different parts of the Internet and the available connections.

Higher-level networks

The networks in a particular region may be grouped together into a mid-level network. Or they may be linked in a wide-area network (WAN). A WAN covers a larger geographical area than a mid-level network. If the website you are looking for is within the same regional network or WAN, the router will send it directly to its destination.

However, if the website you are looking for is in another part of the Internet, the router will send your request to a network access point (NAP). NAPs connect high-level networks, ie they allow access to Internet backbones.

The Internet backbones are a collection of networks that link extremely powerful super-computers. The backbones are made up of fibre optic trunk lines (aka OC for optical carrier). The fastest OCs can transit 2.488 gigabits per second!

There are many high-capacity backbones around the world, all interconnected at various NAPs. They enable everyone, no matter where they are, to communicate freely with everyone else on the planet.

Repeaters

As you can see the Internet is a veritable jumble of interconnected networks. These networks are linked using a variety of communication technologies that vary from very slow to ultra-fast. And, given the way that routers decide the most efficient route, your data may circumnavigate the world before reaching its destination.

For example, a request from a surfer in Dublin to view a website hosted in London seldom travels directly from Dublin to London; it is likely to be sent via the Americas should this be the fastest route (as measured in milliseconds).

The problem is that the further data has to travel, the more it deteriorates or fades. Repeaters are pieces of hardware that amplify or refresh the stream of data. Boosting the data signals enables the data to circumnavigate the globe yet arrive intact at its final destination.

Linking networks

In order to connect the various lower order networks which make up the vastness of the Internet, various types of equipment are used. These include bridges, gateways and hubs.

Bridges connect LANs. They enable data from one local area network to pass through another LAN en route to yet another LAN.

Gateways are similar to bridges. However they also translate data from one type of LAN to another. For example, they can translate data from a UNIX system so that it is intelligible on an Intel-based system.

Hubs link groups of networks so that the computers in any of the networks can talk to all the other computers in the other networks.

Servers and clients

All the computers on the Internet are either servers or clients. Servers are machines that provide services to other machines (hence the name).

There are various kinds of servers, each with specific functions. For example, web servers host websites, while email servers send and receive emails. FTP servers (file transfer protocol servers) upload and download files. One server machine may contain software for several service functions.

Clients are computers that are used to connect to servers. For instance, you can connect to any website from your home or office computer. The computer you use is known as a client.

When your client machine connects to a server it will connect with specific server software running on the server. If you are sending an email, for example, your client machine will be talking to the email software on the server.

Free Apps & Software for Non-Profits

So, what is an open source software? You probably already use some of the most popular open source packages without even realizing it.

  • WordPress (blogging and website design)
  • Firefox (internet browser)
  • Android (mobile device operating system)

These are all open source software. OS software developers (aka the copyright holders) make the source code available to anyone to view or edit. The software or app is also free for anyone to use, copy, or give away. OS software is often developed in a public collaboration. For example, if you click on About Firefox in the browser’s Help menu, you will see that the Firefox internet browser “is designed by Mozilla, a global community working to keep the Web open, public and accessible to all.”The idea behind this way of creating software is the theory that programmers, who work for a for-profit business and the business itself, are focusing on protecting their ownership and profit in addition to, or instead of, making the software the highest quality it can be. OS advocates believe that a larger group of programmers, who rely on peers to find and eliminate problems in the code, will create a more useful and higher quality product for everyone.

The big advantage of open source software, of course, is that it’s free. The fact that the code is public means that hundreds or even thousands of programmers and users may test, evaluate, debug, and enhance the app you eventually use. Here are the top 5 reasons open source advocates give for the benefits of open source software, in addition to the zero-dollar price tag:

  • Security: the more people who can see and test a set of code, the more likely security flaws will be found and fixed.
  • Reliability: it’s peer reviewed, with bugs fixed immediately rather than in far-future versions.
  • Identity: it can be customized.
  • Low-resource intensity: open source software can frequently be run on the older computers common in non-profit offices.
  • Freedom of choice: No commitment until you are sure (try as many different packages as you want-they’re free!)

There are downsides, however. The most common, in my experience, is that there probably isn’t a help desk or tech support phone number for users to call. The help desk for an OS software system may be the same blog or website where programmers and testers download code and discuss bugs that they find.Below is a list of some OS apps and software, which many non-profit organizations will find useful. They are all widely used, award-winning packages. Just remember, that doesn’t mean they are all automatically right for YOUR non-profit. Consider who on your staff (whether in-office or consultants) will

  • install the software
  • maintain the software and any data
  • train new users
  • use the software on a regular basis

Consider also whether this software needs to “talk to” other software in your organization. Will the packages be compatible? If you have existing data that will need to be converted to the new package, who will do that?Now that we’ve cautioned you about the risks, here are our favorite open source software packages:

  • LibreOffice: office productivity suite including word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, database, etc. based on, and successor to OpenOffice. Awarded Best Free Office Suite by CNET Magazine
  • GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program photo and image editor. Works on GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows, and more. Named a Top Free Software Pick for 2013 by PC Magazine
  • Audacity: digital audio editor created by a professor and a student at Carnegie Mellon University. Chosen as one of PC World Magazine’s 100 Best Products of 2008
  • Shotcut: cross-platform video editor and encoder. Named a TechRadar Download of the Day
  • Thunderbird: email and chat client developed by Mozilla (maker of Firefox). PC World Magazine’s Best 100 Products in 2005 and 2008
  • KeePass: password manager. Recommended password manager by the German Federal Office for Information Security and the French Network and Information Security Agency. KeePass has the highest score in the password management grid of G2 Crowd
  • Rocket.Chat: multi-platform web chat, video conferencing, and team communications. InfoWorld Magazine BOSSIE 2016 Award

One of the biggest non-profit needs is for a constituent relationship management (CRM) system that allows the organization to keep track of donors, prospects, volunteers, and other constituents as well as communications with constituents. Here are the free and open source CRMs you might investigate when it’s time for a new CRM at your non-profit.

  • Suite CRM (formerly Sugar CRM) is one of the most popular, although it is not specific to non-profit
  • CiviCRM has been developed specifically for non-profit organizations

If you want to learn more, many non-profit and charitable organizations promote the open source software movement. Here are a few of the largest and longest-lived:

  • Apache Software Foundation: provides support for the community of Apache open-source software products
  • The Document Foundation: German charitable foundation created by a large group of free software advocates
  • The Eclipse Foundation: an independent non-profit funded by member dues to allow a vendor-neutral and open community to steward the IBM-created Eclipse Project
  • Free Software Foundation: works to ensure freedom for computer users worldwide, particularly by promoting the GNU free operating system
  • Linux Foundation: supports many open source projects, including the 25-year-old Linux operating system
  • OpenCourseWare Consortium: worldwide network of educational institutions, organizations, and people who promote openness in education, including collective development and use of open educational materials
  • OpenHatch: matches prospective open source software programmers with communities, tools, and education
  • OpenSourceMatters: offers financial, legal, and organizational support for the Joomla! content management system for websites
  • Open Source Initiative: represents the open source community, maintains the Open Source Definition, and creates open-source licenses

The label “open source” is said to have been coined at a strategy session held in 1998 shortly after the announcement of the release of the Netscape web browser source code. In the almost 20 years since then, the Free and Open Source Software market and products have matured. Non-profits can take advantage of the high-quality, free* software available for productivity, constituent management, and other essential tasks.

What Is a Software Development Life Cycle?

A set of instructions for the computer to read and understand to perform a specific task is called a Software. Software development is the process to use computer programming to develop a software. This is not new for many, but the topic under consideration will be new for many. SDLC or Software Development Life Cycle, is the process of developing a new software.

The process of developing a software is not difficult to understand. The procedure of SDLC goes like this:

  1. Gathering and then analyzing the requirements to develop a software
  2. Designing of the software
  3. Coding or programming
  4. Testing the software
  5. Deployment
  6. Maintaining the software

Gathering and Then Analyzing the Requirements to Develop a Software

This is the initial phase. Like starting any business, starting to work on a new software requires a plan. The planning phase will include the project managers, stakeholders and even some senior software developers. No matter how professional or for how long the software development company has been operating, the planning is not an easy phase to follow. Although, it would take less time for experts to plan a new project and then to start working on it but still there will be some questions that must always be answered before taking on any project. Following are some questions, which needs answers before taking on the project:

  • Who will be using the software?
  • How they will be using it?
  • What is the required data to input?
  • What will be the output of the input data?
  • What is the purpose?
  • What skills are required?Will there be a need to hire new personnel or the current staff have the right skills and the capacity to work on this new project?

Find their answers. Is the project worth it? A thorough analysis is required here. There will be more questions that need to be answered before taking on this new project. All the work is documented for future reference.

Designing of the Software

Now comes the second phase, the designing of the software. On the basis of the documentation and the results of the first phase, the system and the software is given a design. From this, the developers comes to know the requirements of the hardware and system required to complete their new project. This phase will also define the system architecture. The designing phase will set the requirements for the next phase.

Coding or Programming

Here comes the role of the software developers. The system design documents are now divided into modules and the developers now start their job. This is going to be the longest phase of all. Programming is done here and it’s known to all that programming isn’t an easy job. It needs plenty of time, expertise and patience. Once done, the software developer sends their work to the tester.

Testing the Software

When in the production business, the quality of the product is always monitored and tested. So is the case with a software development. When the coding is done, the software developer sends their work to the Software Quality Assurance department /personnel. They will overlook the work of the software developers. The software quality assurance or the SQA for short will look for bugs and test the software. The test will be made as per the requirements and the guidelines mentioned in the requirements document. Unit testing, integration testing, system testing, acceptance testing is done by the SQA and if found deviations or errors, it’s sent back to the software developer. The procedures will keeps on repeating themselves until the software is bugs free and ready to deploy.

Deployment of the Software

On successful completion of the software and the testing, it is sent to the concerned client or is available to the public.

Maintaining the Software

Only the non-serious professionals or the ones not willing to carry on their business will not look back to their software but the serious developers will. Every software needs updating and maintenance. Whenever the software encounters some troubles, the software developing company will be there to fix it.

SDLC follows a simple procedure and it doesn’t require you to be a businessperson to know all the phases of SDLC. Every software developer and software developing company knows it all. So when hiring a software developing company you can rest assure that the procedure will be done in a professional way and the best product will be delivered.