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Thuiswerken | Working from Home | Coronavirus
Thuiswerken | Working from Home | Coronavirus

Working from home, but staying connected

There’s no escaping the impact of the Coronavirus. It’s changing all our lives, at home, and at work. The Dutch government has closed restaurants, sports clubs and schools. At least until 7 April. A few weeks ago, such drastic steps to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) seemed unimaginable. They’ve also advised people to try working from home, to reduce social contacts. BSL started making changes last week. Changes designed to protect clients and our team. We’re working from home as much as possible.

Coronavirus – BSL working from home

Working from home full time is not always easy. BSL has a few advantages over some organizations. Our IT focus means we can access most of our network over VPN. We’ve of course had to solve a few technical issues, and scale up our network services. It’s sometimes difficult to get all devices (mobiles, tablets, Linux, OSX, Windows) playing happily together. And the coffee machine remains out of reach 😔. But we’ve got through most of the teething issues. Our engineers, designers, and our admin are now up and running, all working from home.

Each morning our stand-ups take place using Monday.com. Just the same as in the office, but thanks to Google meetings, distributed over kitchen tables, home offices and gardens throughout Holland. It’s been great to see our team all pull together. Although we’ve had to introduce new house rules 🙂 – No pyjamas, no eating breakfast, and covered (at least from the waist up).

Working from home – software development

You might ask, can our developers create complex software working from home? The answer is a resounding yes! Our developers have continued work on their projects without too much interruption. Our project planning, time registration, gitlab and other essential services are accessible. They’ve even started new projects this week on behalf of NBD Biblion and ABN AMRO. Via VPN, they can access development servers at our Breukelen office. And via our virtual stand-ups and Monday.com, we discuss and plan our work for the coming day. We exchange ideas, tips and chatter too in our Team hangouts. It’s been a steep learning curve. And of course, we have to get used to the idea that we can’t wander into each other’s offices. But our infrastructure keeps us working together as a team. As far as possible, it’s work as usual 😀 at the Bright Side of Life.

Customers

Eek watching our serversWe need to protect everyone from Coronavirus (COVID-19) by working from home. But we are also doing everything we can to minimize impact on our customers and services. Our development work continues as normal. Conference calls replace face-to-face meetings. A telephone service relays messages to our employees. There’s also someone on standby to monitor our servers. And as usual, our support site is available 24/7. Yes, BSL is well-prepared to deal with this unprecedented situation!

Looking to the future

No-one can predict what will happen in the coming weeks and months. And working from home means companies and individuals have to make significant adjustments. We all need to follow the advice given by specialists. So BSL employees will continue working from home as long as recommended. But one thing hasn’t changed. The whole team is motivated. We will work hard to complete our projects on time, and within budget.

And if you need advice about our custom software or websites, we are of course still available by phone or via mail. We can’t offer you a coffee and a chat, but we will be happy to arrange a video call!

Best wishes – and stay healthy

On behalf of the BSL team, we wish you, your company, and your families all the very best during these challenging times.

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Machine Learning technology for Library services

Machine Learning technology for Library services

We’ve worked for many years with NBD Biblion, a unique organisation that selects and distributes books to public libraries in the Netherlands. They recently introduced Machine Learning (ML) technology to automate their client recommendations. After this success, NBD Biblion asked BSL to integrate a new Machine Learning service with MIPS, developed by BSL.

Drinks and a movie at BSL

Drinks and a movie at BSL

Enjoying a few drinks and watching a film together was a regular feature of life at BSL. I write ‘was’ because COVID-19 has kept most of us working from home. As a result, sharing a drink and watching a film together has not been an option. So instead, we’ve organised Digi-parties, Easter surprises and other events. Most recently, we arranged for everyone to enjoy a movie at home.

Two BSL anniversaries in May, time for a party

Two BSL anniversaries in May, time for a party

Two BSL anniversaries this week. Senior developer Peter Verbaan has been a key resource within BSL for 15 years, and front-end developer Roderick Gadellaa for 5 years. Reason enough for a party, you might say, and that’s something we love at the “Bright Side of Life.” For now, Corona makes this impossible, so it’s an online drink and a virtual hug.

Designing a simple phone app for 1888 information numbers

Designing a simple phone app for 1888 information numbers

1850 BV has asked us to design and develop a new simple phone app for Android and iOS, designed to help people who have difficulty using modern smartphones. After all, not everyone is excited about all the hundreds of features provided by a typical smartphone. It’s hard for people who lack the technological skills to figure all this stuff out. And or course, many simply find tiny screens challenging.

Early to market? Try developing a Minimum Viable Product

Early to market? Try developing a Minimum Viable Product

Entrepreneurs frequently contact us with ideas for their ground-breaking app, web-service, or web application. Their market research completed, business plan ready, financial backing sorted. They want to start, and get their product to the market as quickly as possible. This is when we introduce the concept of an MVP or Minimum Viable Product.

The Entoen Nu app makes history lessons easy

The Entoen Nu app makes history lessons easy

Do you sometimes have trouble with Dutch history? The EnToen Nu app is intended for those interested in Dutch culture and history, particularly children from grade 5 up to and including secondary school. It can be used at school, and at home. We’ve recently updated the app, adding support for the latest version of the Canon of the Netherlands.

SRS: New Job Model and Access Governance Foundation

SRS: New Job Model and Access Governance Foundation

Since developing the original Signature Registration System (SRS) on behalf of a large international bank we’ve made many changes. Migrating SRS to an Azure SQL cloud service is our current focus, but earlier this year we worked on two other infrastructure changes: Introducing NJM (New Job Model) and AGF (Access Governance Foundation) support in SRS.

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 2

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 2

In recent months, two clients have asked us to migrate legacy Oracle systems to Azure. In the previous blog, we explained how our tiered web applications make it easy to maintain our software and to migrate from one database to another. We asked Eric Wijnands to tell us about one of these migrations, moving a Banking solution from Oracle to Azure SQL.

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 1

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 1

Is Azure the flavour of the month? We’ve been approached by two clients in recent months to help them transition legacy Oracle systems to an Azure Cloud database. We’ve been building tiered database solutions for many years, with Front-end web applications calling web-services that use Oracle databases for storage. Just how easy is it to migrate these applications to Azure?

BSL creates a new Corporate site for WCC Group

BSL creates a new Corporate site for WCC Group

The WCC Group is a leading provider of advanced solutions for Public & Private Employment Services and ID/Security government agencies. Two years ago we designed and developed a dedicated Careers site to help find the specialized personnel needed to support their rapid expansion. This year they asked us to create a new, modern, responsive Corporate site.

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson – Part 2

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson – Part 2

In his previous blog, Martyn introduced us to his time working for Computervision/CIS, creating custom solutions for their clients. Experiences that he uses daily within BSL. After leaving CV, he continued to travel, working firstly with a company you’ve maybe never heard of (although you’ve probably used their products). And then with a company that you all know: Apple Computer.

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson

So rounding off our current series of Bright Stories, it’s the turn of Martyn, our director. Martyn created the Bright Side of Life more than 25 years ago, and he’s been developing software since 1977. It’s not easy to condense 43 years of software development into a single blog, so in this first part, we find out just why he became a software developer, with some “Lessons Learned” on the way.

Front-end Developer – Roderick Gadellaa

Front-end Developer – Roderick Gadellaa

Continuing our “Bright Stories”, this week we turn our attention to Front-end Developer, Roderick Gadellaa. Someone with a very sweet tooth, and who enjoys solving design and UX problems. You’ll frequently find him on Twitter, tweeting about design changes and concepts. Here at BSL, Roderick’s enthusiastic whistling and singing are part of our soundscape!

PA / Customer Relations Manager – Caroline Bos

PA / Customer Relations Manager – Caroline Bos

As part of our “Bright Stories” series, it’s now the turn of Caroline, PA / Customer Relations Manager at BSL. We tell you why her varied background, outgoing personality, and talent for organization make her ideal for the role. Connecting and communication with people is in her DNA! Having worked nearly 8 years at BSL, she plays a pivotal role in our organization.

Software Developer – Jurjen Schröder

Software Developer – Jurjen Schröder

Our “Bright Stories” campaign is your chance to get to know some of the talented individuals that make up the Bright Side of Software. This week, the spotlight is on one of our software developers: Jurjen Schröder. An opportunity to find out more about Jurjen, and at the same time discover why he keeps some very unusual housemates!

Agile working is a success even during Corona

Agile working is a success even during Corona

Agile working is ideal for teams working remotely. Although we’ve used Agile for several years, there’s always room for improvement. Flexibility is part of this approach. Each client has their preferences, and so we refine our working methods to suit each customer. Fortunately, this type of refinement is more or less built-in to Agile: The Sprint Retrospective…

NBD’s LiteRom and Uittrekselbank online websites refreshed

NBD’s LiteRom and Uittrekselbank online websites refreshed

Agile development is part of our culture. During two recent Sprints, BSL delivered new versions of NBD’s Literom and Uittrekselbank online web services. LiteRom contains thousands of book reviews, as well as many articles about authors. Uittrekselbank subscribers can access thousands of extracts about books, as well as detailed author profiles. Find out more in our blog…

Eric Wijnands, Designer and Developer, with a love of Jazz

Eric Wijnands, Designer and Developer, with a love of Jazz

BSL has always looked for designer and developer candidates who have their own stories to tell. Rounded individuals who offer more than just IT skills. Our work frequently begins with understanding the work carried out by our clients. So we supply inventive teams that deliver usable, productive solutions – not just code. Offering designers and developers with wide interests outside of IT.

Long-term relationships brings rewards to clients

Long-term relationships brings rewards to clients

2019 is a year where our long-term relationships with clients have kept us extremely busy. BSL provides highly skilled teams that complement our clients’ needs. As a result, we respond quickly to new demands. Designing, developing and delivering unique applications. This year we’ve worked on many new developments for existing clients.

Moscow performance for Marc Stoffels

Moscow performance for Marc Stoffels

Before Marc Stoffels made the move into IT, he was an actor. One of the theatre companies where he played, Het Houten Huis was recently invited to bring their performance to Moscow. A trip to Moscow is an experience in itself, and BSL didn’t want to deprive him of the opportunity. But with one condition – we asked him to write a blog about his trip!

Conversational Design helps increase conversion rates

Conversational Design helps increase conversion rates

Many websites ask visitors to share their contact details. And for many years the best anyone could come up with is a contact form. There are ways to make such forms more inviting, but a contact form shares many characteristics with a nightclub bouncer – it keeps people out. So we’ve started using Conversational Design UI’s. A technique that puts website visitors at their ease…

Don’t know your MVP from your SUV, read on…

Don’t know your MVP from your SUV, read on…

At the Bright Side of Life it’s in our blood to help clients to think about their needs, and to work with them to define the features needed in a first release. Going for an all singing and dancing first release is rarely the right approach. Focus on what you need – an MVP demonstrating great value to your users. It will save you money, gain insights into your users’ needs, and help to create a better product.

Summer Event – BSL and the Soldier of Orange

Summer Event – BSL and the Soldier of Orange

Our summer event this year was an opportunity for Martyn (Director, BSL) to finally experience a little Dutch culture. He’s not yet ready for the full Marco Borsato/Andre Hazes experience. So on June 6, we tore ourselves away from our work, and stood in the sunshine outside the office, waiting for a coach. A coach that was going to take us all to Katwijk, and the Soldier of Orange!

Keylane Careers – a Recruitment Challenge

Keylane Careers – a Recruitment Challenge

Recruiting talent for IT service providers is not easy. Good developers and designers are scarce. BSL uses our own website and several social platforms to find new talent. But when you’re a multinational, looking to recruit talent across Europe, you need to “Think Different”. And that’s just what the Keylane Careers team has been doing.

BSL team at the NN Rotterdam Marathon 2019

BSL team at the NN Rotterdam Marathon 2019

In February, BSL received an invitation to take part in a charity Business Run during the NN Rotterdam Marathon on 7 April. Participants could sign up for a 10K (1/4 marathon), with the goal of raising money for a good cause – the Linda Foundation. This charity helps make life a little brighter for less fortunate children in the Netherlands.

Oracle – MySQL Bootcamp in Dusseldorf (the boys on tour)

Oracle – MySQL Bootcamp in Dusseldorf (the boys on tour)

BSL has a lot of experience with Oracle databases and has been an Oracle partner for years. We were recently invited by Oracle to a MySQL Bootcamp held in Dusseldorf. The purpose of the Bootcamp was to learn more about the MySQL Enterprise edition, the commercial edition of MySQL. Two of our developers want to share their experience…

Will the proposed ‘EU Copyright Directive’ endanger the Internet?

Will the proposed ‘EU Copyright Directive’ endanger the Internet?

While the Brexit soap has all our attention, the EU is working away on their own controversial proposal: their EU Copyright Directive. This directive will endanger the Internet. A claim made by many journalists and technical gurus, including Tim Berners-Lee and Jimmy Wales.

Mandate fraud costs Pathé more than US$ 22 million

Mandate fraud costs Pathé more than US$ 22 million

Pathé recently lost millions in an internet scam (named Mandate fraud) that targeted their Dutch office. Several emails, apparently sent from the personal account of the Pathe CEO asked the Dutch office to wire the money in four tranches to a bank account based in Dubai. SRS software developed by BSL could have helped prevent the fraud.

Front-end Developer with Marketing skills – Gabriella Pap

Front-end Developer with Marketing skills – Gabriella Pap

We’d like to welcome Gabriella, the newest addition to our team. She’s working as a junior Front-end Developer, but will also be putting her online marketing skills to good use. Gabriella wants to become a Full-stack developer. Her new colleagues at the Bright Side of Life will be very happy to help her reach this goal.

A look back at BSL in 2018

A look back at BSL in 2018

The year is almost over, so time to look back at 2018. It’s been a good year, with many new orders and several new clients. We’ve also welcomed a number of new colleagues. And our workload was so great that we collaborated for the first time with a third-party developer. He helped us deliver two new web applications over the summer.

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Do you want to get an estimate for developing your custom software. Or advice on creating new websites, or integrating web applications with existing systems. We're happy to answer any questions you may have, no strings attached. Give us a call, or get in touch at sales@brightside.nl!

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