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Should You Use QR Codes?

Factoid: the QR code (short for Quick Response Code) was first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. Introduced in 1994—long before we had smartphones to scan them with—the code’s purpose was to track a vehicle’s progress through the manufacture process.

Today, QR codes can be found everywhere from magazines to corner benches, directing consumers to sites ranging from real estate to women’s fragrance and everywhere in between. They may be standard black and white, or colorfully graded to include a company’s logo. They can even be gigantic and composed of people holding umbrellas: the current record-holding world’s largest QR code encompassed 27,000 square feet, composed of 2,503 employees of the Coca-Cola company in n Zhengzhou City, China standing in formation, holding raised red and white umbrellas.

As useful-yet-novel as QR codes may be, when using them for your business, or when scanning codes in your personal dealings, there are several functionality and security issues that must considered. Security concerns regarding QR codes fall into one of multiple camps: where the code was generated, how the code is scanned, and the code’s destination.

Code Generation

QR codes can convey an enormous amount of information: while a standard barcode can represent up to 20 characters of information, QR codes can carry thousands of characters. There are hundreds of free code generators online, making it easy for hackers, and others with malicious intent to create a code, post it, and wreak havoc on all those who dare scan it.

When using a code generator, ensure you’re working with a stable, reputable company, and consider the lifespan of the material on which the code will appear. Codes may be considered proprietary by the company whose software you’ll use to generate it, so if the company closes or is acquired, the code may point to a 404 error message page. In addition, if QR codes go out of favor, a brochure meant to be relevant for several years suddenly becomes outdated.

Uncertain Links:

When scanning a code, how can you be certain where it leads? Simply because it’s implied by the information surrounding it? QR codes may convey direct or indirect links, which can be either safe of malicious, and you’ll never know until you scan (without a preview option, that is). Because a QR code’s information is unintelligible to the human eye, users have little indication of where the code may lead, and malicious QR codes may install malware on devices, or direct the user’s device to a questionable website.

Scanning Apps

QR code reader apps used to scan the codes carry their own set of issues, and there are currently no standardization requirements for these apps. Look for readers that allow you to preview the link before visiting the site. Apps include QR & Barcode Reader and Norton Snap both have this functionality.

When incorporating a QR code into your business materials, it’s imperative—for both your own safety, and that of your potential customer—to take security into consideration. Choose a reputable company to develop a QR code strategy: in addition to the aforementioned considerations, look for a company that offers a pricing plan, has a good grasp of the safety concerns involved, and appropriately accommodates error correction. With a bit of knowledge and the right tools, QR codes can work for you, your business, and your customers.

Heartbleed: Still an Open Wound

It’s been a month since the news broke of the Heartbleed bug—“a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library.” OpenSSL software helps keep information security while in transit over the Internet and corporate networks.This weakness created a vulnerability in encrypted information, allowing attackers to eavesdrop on supposedly secure communications and access critical information like website encryption keys, usernames, passwords, and user data. Heartbleed was such a concern that governments around the world got involved with warnings to banks and other businesses to create fixes to their servers and asked them to notify their customers to change passwords.  

While the world breathed a collective sigh of relief when the bug appeared to have been squashed, recent reports indicate that more than 300,000 serves are still vulnerable. More concerning is this number is only the official tally—an unknown number of servers may also be “unofficially” vulnerable.

Being proactive to safeguard your information is of the utmost importance. The first step is determining whether the websites that have access to your private information has been compromised. Several checker tools have been created, including McAfee’s Heartbleed Test site, as well as LastPass, Qualsys, or Filippo Valsorda. If the site is safe, change your password. If the site is not safe and may be vulnerable, do not change the password, but closely monitor information associated with the site—credit card use, changes made to the account. Only change the password once the site has been patched, and create a long, strong password, using a mix of characters, symbols and numbers. The days of using the same password across multiple sites is gone, so consider using a password manager to keep track.

Kinetik I.T. offers disaster recovery audits, planning and implementation services, as well as a wide array of technology and internet strategy solutions.  To learn more about services and products, and to stay up to date with Kinetik I.T., visit or follow Kinetik on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

What Could Your Company Do with a Web Application?

As industry becomes more reliant on connectivity, business needs and those of employees and customers are also evolving. Along with this evolution, web-based database applications have become the medium for the next century.

AppStorm describes a web app as an application utilizing web and [web] browser technologies to accomplish one or more tasks over a network, typically through a [web] browser. More specifically, an app utilizes computer software designed to help the user to perform singular or multiple related specific tasks, using Web technologies like Flash, Silverlight, JavaScript, HTML & CSS, Java, various other programming languages and other computer technology intended for the use across networks.

How can a web app provide more functionality and customization to your business? 

·      Compatibility: Unlike many desktop or smartphone applications, web-based choices are far more compatible, regardless of platform. The customer can access the app via web browser, usually without installing additional software. making your audience far wider than it might otherwise be.

·      Scalability: The world of business is changing fast, and so is the size of your company. It’s tough to predict where you’ll be and when you’ll get there, which makes scalability essential. You need a system that can grow and change with your company, and custom web applications can do just that.

·      Everything You Need, Nothing You Don’t: When you’re dealing with an off-the-shelf solution, you’re getting lots of things that may not match your specifications. Custom web application design means your needs are the primary consideration from day one of project development. The entire application is built to meet your needs, and that means you’re going to have something that does exactly what you demand from the moment it is released.

·      Time Savings: Imagine automating a vital yet time-consuming process – what could you do with the time you save? Custom web apps offer the ability to change your company’s daily tasks, increasing your company’s productivity and efficiency with a single web application.

·      Financial Savings: Automation of your business processes or tasks will provide you with substantial financial benefits in the long run.

While the idea of customization may sound daunting to the owner of a smaller business, a web app specifically designed with your business needs in mind can automate helpful and engaging tasks, like alerting customers of new product releases or price changes, forwarding web-generated leads to sales representatives, even conducting business any time, anywhere, in any language and currency, through any distribution channel.

A web application designed and developed by Kinetik I.T. will keep your employees and clients informed while building credibility. Many of our clients have experienced a measurable return on investment by implementing web-based solutions.

To see examples of custom-designed web apps and learn how they’ve helped several of our clients, please visit our online portfolio. 

Why Fixed Price is a Bad Idea in Software Development

As a professional Phoenix custom software design and development company we often take over custom software development projects after the relationship with a fixed-price software development company has turned sour. The fixed-price pricing model for software and web application development projects may sound attractive to a customer initially, but unfortunately, both parties will most likely suffer in the end.

A fixed-price contract happens when the customer is guaranteed a fixed price to complete certain tasks and/or provide specific variables. A fixed-price contract might also have a limit for expenses, in which case the customer cannot be billed for any amount over these limits. In any arrangement of this kind, the specifications must be complete and detailed and the contract must allow adjustments to the price for any variation to the agreed-upon specifications. 

The only fixed-bid software projects that have a chance of success are those which cover additional time, in the event the software development company has underestimated how long it will take to complete the project. Estimating is often the hardest part of any software development project. Estimating a project’s timeline is never an exact science, especially for custom projects which may entail unexpected needs and wants on the part of the client, leading to “scope creep”; or unforeseen technical issues that are often out of the control of the software developer, leading to spending additional time to provide a “work-around”.

In business, it can be difficult to agree ahead of time on the scope of an entire project, and determining the specific details of the software requirements and performance criteria is no different. Similar to custom building a home, the unexpected and unforeseen will often occur in the middle of the process. While software design specifications and features may be decided upon in advance, building the actual product, taking into account the high degree of detail necessary, and leaving little room for interpretation is very costly and not always a good use of the client's resources and money. 

At the end of the day, the most important consideration is the final product and its overall fit and performance.  When considering a fixed-bid contract, whether client or developer, ensuring a quality end product is paramount. 

For the client, fully understanding project needs and outcomes, and working with a trusted company can go a long way to ensuring a successful outcome. When working with a new developer, consider starting with a smaller project, a kind of test run to ensure compatibility before delivering a larger project – especially one that may entail a fixed-price agreement.

To learn more about services and products, and to stay up to date with Kinetik IT, visit or follow Kinetik on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.



Three Reasons to Create a Mobile Site Now

Statistics clearly state the case: nearly 100 million people use the mobile web daily, and smartphones are outselling PCs faster than ever. Transitioning to include your business site on the mobile web is a must.

So, how does your current website look on a mobile browser? If it’s not designed with optimized mobile settings, the aesthetic may not carry over well to a smaller, handheld device. Aside from a poor user experience, a sub-par mobile site can compromise the look, feel, and content of your company’s website, negating the time and money invested in developing thoughtful messaging and concise branding.

The simple fact is that, due to the limited amount of space and generally slower connection speeds, a mobile design needs to be both more simply designed and more task-based than the standard companion website.  Here are a few reasons to consider this shift to a mobile-optimized site – sooner rather than later:

  1. Appearance: Your site’s design probably does not look as good as you think it does. Mobile web emulators abound online, offering an easy way to view your site across devices. Type in your URL for a glimpse at what potential customers see – does it offer the user experience you’d like customers to have? If not, it’s time to develop a mobile site.
  2. Lagging behind: Chances are, your competitors already have a mobile site. Even if they were not early adopters, the biggest companies in every industry have a mobile site, and it’s a sure bet that your competitors are in that mix.
  3. Increased traffic: Mobile sites mean better SEO. Google is bent on ensuring searchers have the best possible experience, and while no one is saying exactly what that entails, it’s certain that mobile sites for mobile users factor in somewhere, so capturing those who are looking may mean you have to go mobile.

You need only look around – to see the multitudes using phones to read, shop, and research – to understand how necessary a mobile website is for today’s business. Kinetik IT has been offering Phoenix businesses web and I.T. solutions, including mobile sites, that will enhance profitability for years to come. To learn more about services and products, visit or follow Kinetik on Facebook, LinkedInor Twitter.