Meet Antonio Mobile Developer Extraordinaire


Antonio’s first thought each morning as he starts with Banyan is “what can I learn more about today”; he embodies one of our core values: “Technology Enthusiasts”. Antonio began with Banyan as an Android developer, but has quickly branched out and handles iOS and Leaf development. Leaf is the software agent that resides on IoT devices and sends and receives messages from our IoT platform, Canopy. Antonio never shies away from learning new things and enthusiastically takes on any challenge provided.  He is currently conversational in Java, Swift, Objective-C, Python, and Go.

All this while also pursuing his college degree during his time away from the office.  Antonio is one of the youngest members of our team and the fact that Banyan can help him pursue his ongoing education is just another way we are giving back. It’s incredibly rewarding to help young engineers like Antonio. We’re building #morethan great software, we’re giving our employees every opportunity to succeed.

As you come to know Antonio, you’ll see why we are thrilled to have him on our team. Antonio is #morethan a great developer he’s fun to hang out with. We asked him a few personal questions and here’s what he had to share.

Tell us about your family. Do you have any special or unique traditions?
For Thanksgiving, the guys cook dinner.

What charitable organizations are you most passionate about?
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

What’s your favorite food?
Pizza

Do you have any sports, hobbies or activities you enjoy?
Soccer and Basketball

Do you have favorite technology or gadget?
iPhone

If you had a super power, what would it be?
Teleportation

When you were a kid, what did you dream of becoming when you grew up?
An architect

If you were stranded, would you rather it be on an island all by yourself, or in an unknown city filled with other people?
Unknown city filled with other people

What cartoon or literary character are you most like?
Thomas the Tank Engine

What do you like most about working at Banyan?
The opportunity to try new technologies and learn different skills. I have learned so much already since coming on board with Banyan.

Antonio brings a great deal to the Banyan culture with his gregarious smile and positive outlook on life.  He also has reminded us from time-to-time of the need to stay young, like when he went to see the movie C.H.I.P.S. and didn’t know beforehand that it was based off a TV-series from the 80’s.

One of Antonio’s favorite phrases is “oh, wow!”, and that is exactly how we feel about having him as part of the Banyan team – Wow!

 

 


IOT predictions

Next Generation #Makers: Raising Our Replacements

IOT predictions
Grayson and I were at the Decatur High School football field, but we didn’t see a touchdown or a first down. We watched drone races at the back of the field where competitors would line up in twos and threes to race around the course, getting points for each successful lap. That was awesome but not my son's favorite part of the Atlanta Maker Faire. Grayson built a circuit with an LED light and battery and did quite a bit of soldering. I have to give it to the person manning the booth, that was pretty brave to let a 7-year-old have his fingers that close to a hot soldering iron.

When we have fun, we learn more and learn faster.

grayson
Grayson at the Atlanta Maker Faire

Ironically, the jocks didn't own the field that Sunday. It was taken over by the geeks that aced math and science. The kids that you would find building bridges in Shop Class. And the ones that went to Art Club after school. That day wasn’t about physical strength or endurance. It was about intellect and creativity. There were over 150 tents with everything from a Jell-O piano and metal workers making tiny swords from nails to robotic claws that let you ‘mine’ for candy. We spent the day with my good friend Steve, or Ardis as he’s known at the office, and his son Ryan. Watching the boys discover and learn the basics within the fields of mathematics and engineering took me back.

grayson-soldering
Grayson with a soldering iron building some cool stuff!

We soon realized how our sons are just like us. They love to build, work with hot soldering irons and are fascinated by flying electronics.

ryan
Ryan checking out a STEM project

 

Growing up in the LEGO, Tinker Toys, and Lincoln Logs generation I would spend hours building. I think this started me down the path towards math and science. One Christmas morning, when I was about Grayson's age, I remember opening up my Robotix set eager to put it together. Fun at the time, but not as cool as Dash and Dot robots that Grayson got last Christmas. I also remember getting a TRS-80 and writing my first program to see what I could make or how to modify games to win. I know what you’re thinking, that’s cheating but really, isn’t it just being clever? And clever is another word for smart, right?

Today, modifying games is the norm. Mods, as they are known in Minecraft, are incredibly popular. Gamers (a.k.a, closet programmers) don't just want to build in a Minecraft world they want to create new versions of the world. This generation is learning fundamental programming skills through what is perceived as playing or to put it another way…just being a kid. Eagar minds can join Code Kingdoms which lets aspiring modders learn to code while building whatever they can imagine. Picture walking into your son’s or daughter’s room and seeing a black screen filled with lines of code and hearing the clicking of keys as they are building their own world, not by dropping blocks but by writing code.

webb1985
1985 photo of me with my Robotix set

When we have fun, we learn more and learn faster. That was true decades ago when we used those interlocking 2x2 and 2x4 blocks to create many different things. Just as it is true today if you're building with Redstone. The concept of using building blocks in code is the very essence of building great software and scalable solutions.

Ardis and I had a blast at the Maker Faire with Ryan and Grayson. We also realized how our sons are just like us. They love to build, work with hot soldering irons and are fascinated by flying electronics. I think it’s fair to say we’re raising our replacements and the next generation of engineers.


Back to School Edition: The Hour(s) of Code


While many of us were enjoying our last weekend of freedom, having fun with our kids or shopping for school supplies, others like Mark were heads down and knee deep in code. It takes a special person and a lot of passion for coding to participate in the annual ICFP Programming contest. Mark’s just that kind of guy and why we are so fortunate to have him at Banyan.

Get on the ‘right side’ of the problem

This year’s ICFP challenge was based on origami. The art of origami transforms paper using an intricate series of folds into beautiful, two-dimensional objects. Right-brained people see the end result and don’t think much about the math required to do this at scale. But for the left-brained among us like Mark, this can be deconstructed and re-engineered using math and programming.

The clock is ticking, time to code

Friday morning, around 7:00 a.m Mark got to work. While we all grew up making paper airplanes, and maybe even some origami birds, this challenge was anything but a five-minute folding exercise. This required Mark’s skills in two-dimensional mapping, geometry, and some math that he, along with many of us, haven’t used in many years. He had to write a program to map a square shape into a special silhouette of what the resulting origami would look like.

Here’s a sample skeleton represented graphically:

Origami-shape-graph

Mark used the Haskell programming language and tried rendering it with Postscript. While that worked for the first few, once the coordinates became more complex, the routines broke down; still, he continued to work at it. Even with a simple skeleton there are many possibilities (number of line segments permuted, plus additional segments formed by the unfolding process), so the number of combinations gets very high, very fast. Solving each problem he encountered, until finally breaking Friday night, but motivated to stick with it through the weekend.

Day two: Some light reading before heavy coding

After he returned from his Shakespeare reading on Saturday, he continued to work the problem until he was able to generate a successful solution. That breakthrough fueled Mark through Saturday night. He continued to do all of his coding in Haskell and that worked well: rather than decimals, the shapes were specified with rational numbers like 1/2, and to an extreme, intentionally large numbers like -1792728671193156318471947026432/8656059743299229793415925725865. Since Haskell can do rationals with arbitrarily large numbers it was a fortunate choice, as processing wasn’t a problem. Mark raced the clock, had fun, and stayed up for as long as he could before submitting his solutions for all the problems his program could solve.

Mark inspires us all to do something extraordinary, take on a challenge, and feel the rewards of hard work. Well done Mark!

A real-world application solved by the origami challenge

If you’re wondering how this origami challenge might apply to some real-world problem solving, look no further than geolocation and wayfinding solutions. Two-dimensional planer designs and mapping coordinates allow for a multitude of routes to a destination. Seeing patterns where points repeatedly cross multiple routes can help retailers manage store traffic or strategically place promotions in high traffic areas.


The ABC's of PCI and EMV compliance. What do small businesses need to know?


There are some very basic steps you can take towards making your payment processing solution compliant with PCI and EMV. Payment Card Industry (PCI) and Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) compliance are concerns of any payment processing solution today. 

$20,752 IS THE AVERAGE COST TO A SMALL BUSINESS DUE TO HACKING, UP FROM $8,600 IN 2013 (National Small Business Association)

It’s essential small businesses have an end-to-end payment solution in place that allows for PCI and EMV to be addressed. Cyberattacks are no longer just a problem for large, global enterprises they are a problem for any company of any size with a payment processing solution. Businesses of all sizes can take steps to protect customer information. This was the case for long-time, Banyan customer Franchise Entertainment Group (FEG).

Franchise Entertainment Group (FEG) is Australia's premier home entertainment group encompassing such iconic brands as Video Ezy, Blockbuster and EzyDVD. FEG’s DVD rental kiosk solution needed to integrate a new EMV-compliant hardware and gateway for payments and have supporting infrastructure. They also needed their team trained on processes to support ongoing compliance.

Here are some of the steps FEG took towards becoming PCI and EMV compliant. Sometimes it is as easy as ABC. Don’t be intimidated by hackers, be prepared.

‘A’ Always be aware of your vulnerabilities

Your business and the customer experience revolve around the point of transaction. It’s where revenue is made and where you can build trust. Whether your point of transaction is a point-of-sale (POS) system or a vending machine, or DVD rental kiosk like FEG, always be aware of points of vulnerability surrounding your devices. Criminals can steal data in a number of ways like inserting “malware” onto the payment system to steal credit card data. Mag stripe readers are at greater risk for data breaches than chip readers. There are several other points of vulnerably shown in this illustration.

Illustration-HowCriminalsGet your Data

‘B’ Bring on a partner that has expertise in PCI and EMV compliance

As the payments landscape continues to evolve, standards and compliance are insurance to your business and your customers that operations will continue to run smoothly and securely. Whether you’re starting out, or scaling up, it can be hard to keep up with the latest standards. You can vastly simplify any PCI concerns about your payment processing environment by going with EMV. However, it’s not without its challenges, especially if current business processes rely on the availability of data obtained directly from the credit card. So don’t go it alone, work with a partner that has expertise in this area. Here are some key learnings from FEG’s integration of EMV.

How you can identify the customer

For FEG, the situation required the payment system to identify the customer (the human) based on the credit card they presented. In a non-EMV world, that is generally accomplished by reading the card data and matching it against data already stored. Similarly, data obtained via a token for the card can also be matched against previously stored data. Conversely, with an EMV situation it’s unlikely you’ll have access to the card data nor you will not have access to the card number. Further, many providers have yet to implement a tokenization routine for EMV-based transactions. We solved for this by partnering closely with the payment provider to develop their technology to support both a limited card read (name, bin, and last 4) as well as a tokenization solution.

What you can do to support recurring billing

Another challenge is recurring billing with an EMV solution. This mirrors the first problem, because you will not have access to the full card information, and the payment processor must provide some means to effectuate a follow-on payment or refund when the card is not present. In FEG’s case, the payment processor had a secondary API that allowed for those payments to be processed, which we had to implement in parallel with the card reader integration.

Consider the impact of network and infrastructure changes

There may be network and other infrastructure related changes that you’ll need to make in order for the EMV transactions to flow through the environment, depending on the solution that is chosen. For example, some card readers may connect directly from the endpoint to the payment processor without first passing through a central enterprise service. Additionally, if you have a large network of terminals, finding a suitable set of hardware could be a challenge. In most cases the hardware needs to fit in existing devices or mounts, and it can be expensive to replace a large number of hardware units. At this time options are limited, as the hardware is mostly available directly from the payment processor as opposed to being able to choose from a set of generally available hardware.

‘C’ Continuously improve to comply

For FEG, finding the right partner put them on the path to PCI and EMV compliance. Their payment processing solution is fully compliant with PCI standards and the team has been trained on processes that will enable them to support evolving requirements to maintain their certification. Additionally, they have a complete, multichannel strategy that enables customers to reserve movies online or from their mobile device.

The PCI Security Standards Council (SSC) announced a significant advancement in its efforts to foster small-business cybersecurity: A set of payment protection resources that acquirers can use to educate and empower the small merchants they serve to fight cybercrime. It’s all about creating a better understanding of the real risks that go along with the method(s) merchants rely on to process payment transactions. To learn more about how EMV can help reduce fraud check out the Merchant Guide: Stepping Up to EMV Chip with PCI.

Take a look at this case study of FEG’s transformation and how they are enabling their business operations with Canopy IoT platform.