Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Technical Skills

Tips, resources and courses for IT professionals to improve their technical skills and become more competitive in the Canadian technology job market.

Free Webinar to Help You Ensure Client Security While Working from Home

The new normal of physical distancing is expected to be in place for a while yet, meaning working from your home office on a more permanent basis is now a reality. Fortunately, the nature of IT contracting allows for this fairly easily and there are few complications in serving clients and completing projects.

While clients are thrilled that work can still be completed and productivity can remain high, there are security concerns. More remote workers mean that more information may be stored offsite and clients put their trust in IT contractors to keep their systems secured. That means that on top of being productive for your client, you also need to be vigilant in security to protect their information.

Last Summer, we shared a post written by NPC, an organization that specializes in secure mobile solutions. As the article states, clients depend on you to protect their business interests and “The impact on a contractor from a lost, stolen or compromised device while in a contract can be devastating.” Their service is an as-a-service model that provides secure managed devices with back-up completed each day into a secure data centre.

Free Webinar: Office 365 Basics for Secure Work from Home

Free Webinar to Help You Ensure Client Security While Working from HomeOn top of working on a secure device, you want to know that you’re using the software as securely as possible. One of the most common suites of software is Office 365. NPC is hosting two webinars in the coming week with practical insights regarding Office 365 to ensure your productivity and security during this time of challenge.

This webinar is for anyone that would like to know what Office 365 can do for them to work remotely, or current remote users who would like to be sure they are working securely but may need some clarity on key features. Staying connected to your team is important, doing it securely is critical. In this free 60-minute webinar NPC will walk you through the minimums of what you will need to effectively work from home using Office 365, and how you can be productive using key applications like SharePoint and Teams.

The webinar is open to everyone and will cover topics including: The Importance of Secure Computing from Home at this Time, Specific Cyber Threats, The Essentials for Secure Computing in Your WFH Environment, Connecting to Your Data with SharePoint, and Connecting to People with Teams.

Use either of these links to sign-up for the webinars:

Practical Ways for IT Contractors to Use Free Time

Practical Ways for IT Contractors to Use Free Time

The COVID-19 outbreak is locking the world down inside their homes and many of us are already going stir-crazy. Evening extra-curricular activities have been cancelled, live sports are taking a hiatus, and we’re discouraged from going out unless it’s absolutely necessary. Even telecommuting, as convenient as it is, gives you an hour or two more at home… inside the house… bored.

As we noted in last week’s post, it becomes easy to create an unhealthy routine of rolling out of bed, doing your work, then watching Netflix, all while eating junk food throughout the day. That behaviour is acceptable over the Christmas holidays, but is not ideal. Instead, use your extra time to better yourself and plan some of these tasks into your daily routines:

Professional Development

How many times in the past couple years have you missed out on a gig or higher rate because you were lacking some specific training or certification. Did you tell yourself you’re going to get on it but life is too busy? Now is the time! There are plenty of ways you can expand your skills and learn right from your home. We recently updated this post that contains over 50 different online resources for building skills and earning certifications. Included in that list is ICTC’s newly launched ICTC Ditital Pulse Channel. It will include live virtual events via video conference and available on their Vimeo page.

Perhaps you just need to use some existing skills and develop tangible experience. In that case, try creating  a few made-up projects, similar to this video of Python projects that look good on a resume. Or, you can offer to help a friend or past client with a project at no charge, with the understanding that you are learning a new skill.

Update Your Resume

We see thousands of resumes. Few of them are perfect. Can yours use some polishing? Here’s a checklist of things worth reviewing:

  1. Experience: Review it and ensure you list all technologies and skills you used, in each project description. If you know you will be responding to public sector bids in the future, check out this past post about building a resume for a government matrix. Remember, when you’re in a crunch to get a resume to a recruiter, it will be easier to cut information out of a detailed resume than to write new information to put into it.
  2. Wording: You have the meat, now make sure you’re selling yourself! Check out this post that helps you write the perfect profile summary. It will hook a recruiter into wanting to read more of your resume, then you can sell them on your experience. This infographic contains powerful action verbs to incorporate into project descriptions.
  3. Formatting: It’s amazing how many great resumes are destroyed because the formatting is awful. The biggest letdown is when a candidate gets too fancy and designs a beautiful resume that staffing agencies’ Applicant Tracking Systems can’t read. Then all that work becomes pointless. Even when it gets through the system, some IT contractors still fail to catch a recruiter’s attention. A few years ago, we asked recruiters what IT contractors can do better when formatting their resume, here’s their responses. Does your resume have any of these mishaps? If you’re spicing up your resume, also check out the video series we did a few years ago that gives tips for formatting your resume in MS Word.
  4. Match it to LinkedIn: It is no secret that all recruiters leverage LinkedIn to build their network. You need to have an updated profile to be found by the industry’s top recruiters. You also need to confirm it matches your resume which is one of the top things recruiters look for in a great LinkedIn profile. Use your downtime to update your LinkedIn profile, complete with a great profile photo.

Organize Your Business

Keeping your business running smoothly requires extra time to organize, and frankly, few IT contractors have time for that… until now! Here are a few past posts that will help:

Take Care of Yourself

If all else fails and you don’t want to think about work, use your time to take care of yourself.

  • Add Exercise into Your Daily Routine. It can be as simple as a few push-ups and crunches throughout the day, taking a walk around the block during your lunch break, or finding online workouts to follow along with. Many gyms are offering free live sessions to help cope with quarantines, you just need to search for them.
  • Practice Mindfulness. Especially during uncertain times where stress and anxiety are high, this is a good opportunity learn more about mindfulness. Explore and practice meditation in a quiet area to help focus your attention on the present moment and accept it without judgement. Some forms of yoga can have similar results, and also accomplish that exercise goal!
  • Enjoy Time with Others. Enjoy board games and activities with kids and spouses. Then, when fights inevitably break-out, call old friends and relatives who you’ve lost touch with.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging time for the world and it’s a test for all of us. How we react and move forward will determine who will come out on top when this is all over. These are just a few ways you can take advantage of your downtime to better yourself. What else are you doing to keep busy while stuck at home?

Plan Your Development Training with the 2020 HackerRank Developer Skills Report

Once again, HackerRank surveyed over 116,000 developers and students around the world to understand the professional development trends across the industry and which skills are in the highest demand, with the most pay. The complete details were released in the 2020 HackerRank Developer Skills Report and if you’re a developer or aspiring developer planning out your training and development, this document is pure gold!

When deciding which skills to advance, many developers will start by seeing where there are the most opportunities and which will have the better financial return. It’s no surprise that JavaScript, Python and Java are the top three programming languages sought after by hiring managers. Interestingly, though, a global average of 14% (20% in the Americas) say they are language agnostic. Salary-wise, Perl, Scala and Go are more likely to earn you more money compared to the average developer.

Top Language Skills Around the World - 2020 HackerRank Developer Survey

As far as frameworks go, AngularJS, React and Spring remain the best-known as they have been for the past three year. Notably, Django and Vue.js both rose in popularity this year. But still, it’s Backbone.js and Cocoa that are earning developers more money, followed by Ruby on Rails and Spark.

Top Frameworks Around the World - 2020 HackerRank Developer Survey

Which ever of these skills you decide to improve, there are plenty of ways to get started. HackerRank found that developers use a number of methods to learn new skills, and there are clear preferences based on generation. While still used by few developers, the report points out that Coding Bootcamps are being leveraged, primarily by younger generations, and hiring managers are recognizing them as a means to prepare developers for work.

Learning New Coding Skills - 2020 HackerRank Developer Survey

This is just a small selection of the many stats and facts discovered in the 2020 HackerRank Developer Survey. If you’d like to know more, you can download the complete report here.

Protect You and Your Clients from Ransomware (plus an invitation to a free webinar)

Protect You and Your Clients from Ransomware  (plus an invitation to a free webinar)

According to Cybersecurity Ventures’ 2019 Official Annual Cybercrime Report, cybercrime is expected to cost the world more than $6 trillion by 2021, $20 billion in damages due to Ransomware. Attacks are not limited to certain industries or stealing data either. This article from OHS Canada gives an example of an ethical hacker in Italy who successfully took over a tower crane’s radio frequency controller. That can be disastrous!

With these stats, combined with endless stories of the past few years, it’s safe to say that no organization is safe from ransomware and we all need to be diligent. Depending on your contract, some clients allow, and even require, you to provide your own computer to perform work. Others strictly prohibit it. Regardless, you always need to be aware of these threats to protect your client, whether you’re connected to their network or just storing some data on your own machine.

A recent article written by Jason Hardy of Racksquared Data Centers, and published on The Business Journals provides three tips to protect business from ransomware:

  1. Implement a 3-2-1 backup strategy. That includes having three copies of data, on two different types of media, and one of those copies are offsite.
  2. Stay current on security patches. This is one of the simplest, but can also be overlooked due to time or expenses when you don’t have a dedicated team to patches. You may consider outsourcing this to ensure it gets done.
  3. Educate employees on security best practices. As noted above, there are no limits to who and what can get hacked, so do what you can to spread best practices and keep everyone within your team informed about how to stay safe.

Free Webinar to Protect Your Business from Ransomware Attacks

If you’re interested in learning more about Ransomware and how you can protect yourself and your client, NPC is hosting a free webinar offering best practices and defence strategies. They’ll discuss what ransomware is, how it works and how it has evolved, followed by what you can do about it.

The webinar takes place Tuesday, March 10th at 1:00pm EST. You can get more details and register for the webinar here.

NPC provides secure managed laptops, desktops and tablets for professionals who need reliable, secure computing with comprehensive support services. The devices are already sourced, configured, and secured with industry leading backup and security tools. From there, their support technicians continue to monitor and manage encryption and backup compliance, policy enforcement of biometric and strong password access, and overall system performance. If you’re interested in trying NPC’s service, Eagle contractors can get an exclusive offer here.

Web Developers: Here’s Your Up-to-Date Roadmap for 2020

The LearnCode.academy YouTube channel has over 600k followers and is known for their free web development tutorials, website design tutorials and more. They also manage a Web Development Roadmap that covers everything you need to learn in the profession, from the most beginner skills through more advanced development techniques.

In this video, they walk through the web development roadmap for 2020, covering topics including basic frontend (1:06), recommended deployment platforms (3:50), advanced frontend (7:27), backend (18:40) and DevOps (25:27). For all of the details, make a coffee and hit play on the video. It’s a little more than half an hour, but could be well worth your time. Or, skip the explanation and browse the complete Web Development Roadmap here.

The Undisputable Top 3 Programming Languages for 2020

In early December, we shared a video by edureka! Listing their prediction for 2020’s top 10 programming languages. Heading up the list, the top three languages were unsurprisingly Python, Java and JavaScript. If you had any doubt about the popularity of these languages, here’s more proof.

Programming with Mosh, hosted by Mosh Hamedani, a professional software engineering trainer, published this video in mid-January, also declaring Python, Java, and JavaScript as the three most popular programming languages this year. Hamedani goes into extensive detail outlining what makes them so popular, stating that if you’re looking for a job in AI, web, or mobile development, this video is for you.

Fact-Checking Smartphone Urban Legends

Very few people manage to get through the day without depending on a smartphone. This device keeps us so organized and connected that losing it for just a few hours can cause panic. Naturally, we take precautions to ensure our phone is always running as best as it can, even if those steps are sometimes bogus.

What can keep your cell phone battery lasting longer? What should you do if it gets wet? Does freezing your phone really help the charging process and does rice really dry the device faster? This infographic from UBreakIFix collects a range of urban legends about cell phones, and fact-checks them so you can finally know once and for all.

Fact-Checking Smartphone Urban Legends

These Weekend Python Projects Look Impressive on a Resume

Are you a new developer looking for Python jobs but need to bulk up your resume? Often, especially if you still haven’t built much work experience, creating projects and including them with your application helps showcase your programming experience, as well as your general computer science knowledge. This Tech With Tim video provides examples of two impressive Python projects that he says you can finish in a weekend: a Sudoku Solver and a path finder.

Find the Happy Medium to Avoid These Programming Mistakes

Find the Happy Medium to Avoid These Programming Mistakes

Developers know that no matter how diligent and careful you are, when you least expect it, eventually things crash, and you find yourself in recovery mode. Even though every company and individual programmer has a few rules of thumb they follow, the worst can still happen.

Interestingly enough, a recent article in InfoWorld, written by Peter Wayner, points out that sometimes one developer’s “golden rule” is the extreme opposite of another’s. Neither are wrong, but taken too seriously and too far to the extreme, the worst can happen. Wayner demonstrates this theory by explaining the following programming mistakes:

Playing It Fast and Loose vs Overcommitting to Details

Overlooking basics brings out the simplest mistakes that then snowball into bigger bugs. In addition, using one big catch all for all possible exceptions can be a lazy solution that leads to more disaster. With that in mind, paying attention to every details and adding too much code will eventually slow down your application.

Not Simplifying Control vs Delegating Too Much to Frameworks

Not simplifying control over tasks in code can have negative implications. Wayner references one experienced developer who says there should be “One and only one place in the code for each job. If there are two places, odds are someone will change one but not the other. If there are more than two, the odds get even worse that someone will fail to keep them all working in the same way.” On the other side of the coin, relying too much on frameworks can make it difficult to troubleshoot because it’s challenging to find out what’s gone wrong in the code

Trusting the Client vs Not Trusting the Client Enough

Assuming the client device will always do the right thing can open up a number of security holes and vulnerabilities. Vice-versa, adding too much security to prevent any vulnerabilities is sure to slow things down, add clunkiness, and hurt the user experience.

Relying Too Heavily on Magic Boxes vs Reinventing the Wheel

Although extremely helpful, many magic algorithms have subtle weaknesses to them and the only way to truly get past them requires extra learning to truly understand what’s under the hood. You could try creating your own cryptography, but trying to re-invent the wheel won’t be as effective as what experts have already developed.

Closing the Source vs Opening Up the Project

Many developers today will advocate that closing the source on your project discourages innovation and hinders opportunity to uncover and fix bugs. In reality, though, there needs to be an incentive for outside contributors to put in the work and your project may not get any contributions at all. Not to mention there’s more overhead in managing an open-source project, like maintaining documentation.

Following Too Many Trendy Ideas vs Ignoring Too Many Trendy Ideas

Finally, who doesn’t want their project to be at the top of the game and taking advantage of all of the new bells and whistles? As you start implementing those new flashy items, beware that more work and challenges can arise because they’re so fresh. Don’t wait too long, though, because ignoring the trends will leave your code out-of-date and behind the times, which will eventually lead to bigger failures and malfunctions.

In any line of work, whether it be programming, other realms of information technology, or a complete other industry, flexibility is key. While it’s wise to follow best-practices, tunnel vision of those rules can guide you down the wrong path. We recommend reading the original 12 Programming Mistakes to Avoid by Wayner, as it provides extensive details on each of these.

Top 10 Programming Languages for 2020

The world of programming is fast-paced and always changing. Industry stats like the TIOBE Index or Stack Overflow Developer Survey remind us time and again that new languages are always rising to the top, the ones we want to work with might not be the ones in demand, and there will always be a few consistent areas where it’s always good to be knowledgeable.

This video from edureka! Takes a look at 2020 and predicts the top 10 programming languages clients will be using:

  1. Python
  2. Java
  3. JavaScript
  4. C & C++
  5. GoLang
  6. R
  7. Kotlin
  8. C#
  9. Swift
  10. PHP

Get all the details by watching the video. Are you seeing similar trends in your industry? Are you ready for 2020 or are there skills that you plan to brush up on before heading into the new year? We’d love to hear your perspective. Please share it in the comments below.