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What should I do?

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By: Rachel Lederer, intern / geek & creative @ wisnet

Being an intern at wisnet is amazing, but certainly doesn’t come without challenges. Not being the most skilled in technology poses a problem for me at wisnet. However, working with the Customer Care team shows that communication is a field where all innovative thinking is welcome. Creativity is never right or wrong, everyone has different ideas to bring to the table.

We all understand that everyone is different, and has different views and opinions, which makes our team unique. After all, wisnet is not a group of geeks & creatives just for show. We all actively try to become better leaders, thinkers and learners every day. That’s why I choose wisnet. We are all different, and when everyone comes together, there is no judgement. No question is a dumb question, just like no answer is the wrong answer, and I have come to learn that it is better to ask too many questions than not enough, especially in the business world.

That being said, it’s no surprise that the academic world is vastly different than the business world, though I never really understood how different until I joined wisnet. I have been told by my parents, colleagues and professors that there are still deadlines and assignments, which I understand are everywhere, not just in school. Here, people have projects to work on, and there is no assignment list. The team just happens to know what they need to work on, and everyone works well together to get the project done.

Overall my experience at wisnet has been life-changing to say the least (it really has, I’m not just saying that). When I think back to sophomore year when I was choosing what internships to complete, many people told me to just get an internship on campus, it’s easier. I was a bit stunned when I heard this. I didn’t want easier, I wanted challenging. I wanted to experience both an internship at school and in the community. The way I see it, the more experience a person has the better off they will be. I would much rather have too much experience than too little experience, especially when I graduate next May.

Lather. Read. Rinse. Repeat.

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A geeky book review on “10% Happier” by Dan Harris

By: Joe Truesdale, account manager / geek & creative @ wisnet

If you know me, you know that I’m not a great reader. I’m slow. I often get a few pages along when my mind starts wandering and then I realize, “Wait… what did I just read?” Only to have to go back and read it over again. And if those two things don’t happen, then I simply fall asleep mid-read and don’t get anywhere.

I’ve always loved learning new things, though. So what’s one to do when they can’t read efficiently but they want to keep expanding their knowledge base? Audiobooks! I love listening to podcasts (primarily about video games, work culture, and the Packers) so I thought this might be a good way to get back on track with continued learning.

So I laid out my plan:

1. Find some audiobooks on Audible to queue up on my phone
2. Purchase a waterproof bluetooth speaker to listen to books in the shower (sorry if that’s TMI)
3. Learn!

I started my new adventure with a book by Dan Harris, national reporter and news anchor, titled, “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story.” I’ve always heard about meditation being such a positive influence once people start doing it, but every time I considered it or thought I’d give it a shot, I just felt silly or self-conscious (even though I was alone). I figured that if I could knock out the reading limitations with a book that would get me another life skill right out of the gate, it’d be that much better.

After a few mornings of getting the book started, I found myself looking forward to listening more each morning. So not only was I absorbing the material from the book, it was motivating me to get out of bed so that I could listen to more of the book. Bonus! I also realized that I had similar attention span issues with this long-form content as well. So in the middle of a listening session, I’d catch myself thinking ahead to what’s on today’s agenda or thinking about what happened yesterday instead of being mindful and present in the audio. Thankfully, I was able to recalibrate pretty quickly for the most part and only had to scrub backward a few times here and there to catch what I had missed.

I quickly became a fan of Dan Harris over the course of the book. His storytelling ability is absolutely phenomenal. He delivers his book in such a conversational way that it’s like he’s right there with you telling stories (which might be a little weird given that I was in the bathroom everytime I listened). I won’t get into the next book I’ve started listening to, but I’m quickly noticing how good Harris is and how important it is to have a really good performer to hold your attention.

Harris begins by talking about his life as if it’s a memoir, but quickly diverted into his initial reactions to meditation and mindfulness. Seeing them as “hippy-dippy” and not really worth his time of day. Feeling silly when he gave it a shot for the first time. The struggles he had staying focused and carving out the time for it. Slowly but surely, Harris then comes around on it and begins to see and feel the impact on his life, outlook, and performance at work. Some truly enlightening stuff. While he won’t claim that it’s an amazing, revelatory thing, he consistently mentions that it makes him about 10% happier (hence the name of the book). Which is a great return on investment when you think about it. If we could guarantee a 10% return on a lot of things, that’d be rad, right?

My next goal is to try and start small and begin daily meditation sessions of five or ten minutes apiece. I’ve consistently toyed around with the notion of different apps to help facilitate meditation like Headspace (Harris even has his own 10% Happier app), but I think I’m going to try going cold turkey first and see how that goes. I’ll be sure to report back on my success or failure, but either way, I’m glad I “read” the book. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to find just 10% more happiness!

Why isn’t my video auto-playing?

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By: Tracy Freund, account manager / geek & creative @ wisnet

For those of you with video backgrounds on your website, you may have just realized that the video is no longer playing automatically when in the web browser Google Chrome. What on earth!? So now you may be thinking, “Did I break something?”

Rest assured, you did not break anything, at least that we know of. Google Chrome recently released an update to their browser that turns video autoplay off unless your site meets specific requirements for media engagement.

I will admit, when we first read of this update, we freaked a little! What were we going to do to get sites these working correctly again?! Thankfully, we found it to be an easy fix thanks to our dedicated programmers and developers. They jumped right in and applied the fix which basically tells Chrome, “Hey, it’s cool. This video is muted so it’s not annoying.”

Why Being a Programmer is Never Boring

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By: Steve Maass, senior application programmer / geek & creative @ wisnet

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a routine, where things kind of work the same way every day, and once you learn to do something, you can kind of do it on auto-pilot, programming is really not the job for you. But for those of us who enjoy the thing that makes programming interesting, even fun–creating something and seeing it work–change and constant learning are part of the deal.

When I started at wisnet, we mainly programmed in a language called IML (Internet Markup Language) that was created by our very own resident genius, Brian Kolstad. IML was geared to be a rapid-development language. It has commands that in many cases cause multiple operations to happen that in other languages would take several lines of code to accomplish the same thing.

I had never heard of IML (as was true of most of the rest of the world). Personally, my programming background was in ASP and JavaScript. But with the use of Brian’s IML documentation along with many questions over my shoulder to him, it quickly made sense, and I became an IML programmer, not touching ASP since.

JavaScript got its own rapid development boost when jQuery became popular. jQuery basically is JavaScript, but, like IML, it offers a way to do with simplified commands things that would be much more complicated to do in JavaScript itself. So, another learning curve leading to cleaner and faster programming. And more fun, when you try something new and see it work!

Fast-forwarding to 2018, wisnet’s main focus now is PHP, a language that’s been around for quite a while and has a rich and deep and constantly improving pool of code libraries and frameworks. Learning curve? You bet! But the result is standardized, structured programming that anyone with a knowledge of these common frameworks can jump in and follow.

It’s a truism that in technology, if you don’t stay in the game, you can get left behind. So is there still IML-based code in the world? Sure. We still support it, and when it’s appropriate, we still use it. But we want to make sure that our customers get the best websites and web apps that we can deliver, so we always stay tuned into what can improve our processes and our final product. That doesn’t mean jumping on board with every buzzing trend, because many trends don’t trend for long. But it does mean evaluating what might help us do what we do. And when we see a clear advantage in adding to or changing how we do things, we take that opportunity to learn, to challenge ourselves, and then to lean back and smile when that new chunk of programming… works!