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Tech Talk: DevOps with AWS

by Alice Swan Jul 2nd, 2020 Cloud EC Inside Tech Talks Technology

DevOps has reshaped the way software is processed and delivered by providing a structured and decoupled approach by way of the DevOps toolchain.

Using CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) in your DevOps pipeline provides automation that improves delivery time, thus allowing developers a faster and more reliable way to go from code to deployment.

If you’re already invested in AWS cloud infrastructure, then it’s worth checking out AWS’s DevOps suite, as they’ve created tools designed to integrate their services for a quick to implement solution. AWS CodePipeline allows you to create custom workflows and control how CI/CD is implemented in your system.

In June 30th, Jim Davis, a senior software engineer and tech lead at Evans & Chambers, conducted a tech talk on the advantages of incorporating DevOps into one’s software development cycle, and demoed a “hello world” application going from code to a hosted deployment in about 15 minutes with the push of a button.

About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

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Tech Talk: Amazon Textract

by Alice Swan Apr 30th, 2020 Cloud EC Inside Tech Talks Technology

In industries from government services to insurance, paper forms that were designed for physical use are increasingly sent over the internet. These forms have proved difficult to incorporate with digital tools and applications in the past.

As a result, demand has increased for robust Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tools that turn written forms and tables into machine-readable text. Document processors that require users to define a template are excellent for certain applications, but in situations with scanned or faxed documents, there are often problems with text recognition. Amazon released Textract in late 2018 to serve as a template-free OCR solution that serves as both an extractor and analyzer of text.

On April 28, Kayla Cross, a software engineer on the Security Control team at Evans & Chambers, held a virtual Tech Talk to provide an overview of Textract’s functionality. She outlined its advantages, such as reducing the burden on the user, and highlighted its easy-to-use API. She also outlined its possible uses, including identifying text for natural language processing, analyzing data with multiple columns, and parsing complex government forms like DD254s and SF86s. She ended with two demonstrations that showed different approaches to using Textract in the Amazon ecosystem to parse a government form and a picture of a blog post taken with a phone.

Tools like Textract can prevent the arduous experience of re-entering information that is already contained in a form into separate software, which makes it an attractive solution for developers seeking to improve user experiences and streamline their applications.

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About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

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Evans and Chambers Technology Hosts Tradecraft Thursday: Impact of Economic Espionage

by Alice Swan Mar 10th, 2020 EC Inside Events

Did you know that the United States regulates and restricts the release of critical technologies, information, and services to foreign nationals? You may be intrigued to know how compromised exports can weaken our national security.

Recently, Davidian Shirley, one of Evans & Chambers’ top intelligence analysts, held a Tradecraft Thursday training for the company discussing the impact of economic espionage and third-party access to controlled U.S. exports, as well as mitigation strategies. Davidian introduced general strategies of economic espionage against the U.S. Government and corporations and shared publicized cases illustrating how foreign adversaries gained access to sensitive information that saved their nations millions of dollars in research and development and undermined the United States’ strategic advantage. As a global superpower, the United States must be strong and effective security measures for its export system in order to protect and bolster national security.

Check out this article Foreign Economic Espionage in Cyberspace.

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About Tradecraft Thursdays

Tradecraft Thursday is a series of employee-led internal monthly talks dedicated to EC’s core value of continental learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of professional topics to promote best practices and a shared understanding of common problem sets within our customer spaces. Stay tuned for the next Tradecraft Thursday recap!

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Tech Talk: AWS CloudFormation

by Alice Swan Feb 28th, 2020 Cloud EC Inside Tech Talks Technology

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a powerful method for safely and reliably managing complex solution deployments. IaC reduces or eliminates manual steps, limiting the opportunities for human error. AWS CloudFormation is a managed IaC solution for representing and deploying solutions in the AWS platform.

On February 27, Pat Ryan, cloud practice lead for Evans & Chambers, held a Tech Talk to provide a basic introduction on the core concepts and practices of CloudFormation. He described the key syntactical elements of a CloudFormation template as well as the built-in functions and variables.

Following the discussion on CloudFormation basics, Pat walked through an example of a complex template that he produced for a government client.

The presentation provided an introductory understanding of CloudFormation and introduced other IaC solutions such as Ansible and Terraform.

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About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

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Tech Talk: Amazon Lex Chatbox

by Alice Swan Oct 25th, 2019 EC Inside Tech Talks Technology

Do you want to create a scalable and easy-to-use chatbot in minutes?

On October 24, Colin Ardizzone, a developer at Evans & Chambers, held a tech talk detailing how to set up an Amazon Lex chatbox. Lex is Amazon’s service for creating conversational interfaces for applications powered by the same technologies as Amazon Alexa. During the talk, Colin discussed basic concepts of natural language processing, how to create and configure Lex, and demonstrated how Lex can effectively integrate with other Amazon web services. The presentation also covered some of the best business use-cases of Amazon Lex from industry leaders such as Capital One and Nasa.

The tech talk was designed with both AWS beginners and experienced users in mind. If you would like to follow along with the example in this tech talk, you can do so by creating an AWS free-tier account. All the baseline blueprints in the presentation were provided by AWS and are more than enough to get started with your own chatbox. For more great resources on Lex, we recommend reading some of the partner blog posts found here.

About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

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Tech Talk: User Experience Design

by Alice Swan Jun 26th, 2019 EC Inside Tech Talks Technology

Do you think you’d be able to explain User Experience (UX) Design and how it fits into the application development cycle? You may be interested to know that UX Design covers the entire cycle, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.

On Tuesday June 25th, Autumn Richardson, one of Evans & Chambers’ User Experience Designers on the DID(it) team at USCIS, held a Tech Talk for the company, explaining what user experience design is and what is considered to be a well-designed application.

In addition, Autumn explored how to incorporate users’ needs into each feature to improve workflow and used examples from an application she is currently designing that helps asylum officers maximize their time to reduce interview backlogs. In a busy and fast-paced world, efficiency is more important than ever. UX Design allows us to create products with meaningful and relevant experiences to users that help them concentrate more on what is necessary to fulfill their goals for the day.


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About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

 

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EC Welcomes 2019 at Annual Holiday Party

by Alice Swan Jun 17th, 2019 EC Inside Events

On January 12, 2019, Evans & Chambers hosted its annual holiday party at The Loft at 600 F in the heart of Washington, DC. The event was the perfect occasion for tipping our hats to all of our efforts and successes in 2018, as well as to toast 2019 and all the possibilities it holds.

Throughout the night the company president, COO, and VP of Strategy gave inspiring speeches expressing their gratitude to our staff for their efforts over the past year. When guests were not dancing or catching up with each other, they were in front of the camera of our digital photo booth, laughing and creating memories.

Several gifts were raffled off during the night, such as a 55” TV and Beats by Dre Headphones. In addition, EC gave back to the community by collecting toys to donate to Toys for Tots. All in all the event was enjoyed by all, and we look forward to another year-end celebration for 2019.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2019 from all of us at Evans & Chambers Technology!

 

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Evans & Chambers Technology Hosts Tradecraft Thursday: Misinformation in Media and its Implications

by Alice Swan Jun 1st, 2019 EC Inside Events

Do you think you’re able to identify biased and unreliable news sources? You may be surprised to learn just how difficult a challenge that is.

On Monday May 30th, Andrew Ewing, one of Evans & Chambers’ top intelligence experts, held a Tradecraft Thursday training for the company exploring the implication of unsourced, redacted, and biased media posts and how it has impacted the credibility of news outlets. Furthermore, Andrew discussed the implications on presidential elections and journalism as a whole. With the 2020 presidential election just around the corner it is important to have a reliable and unbiased news sources to help U.S. citizens make informed decisions on possible candidates.

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About Tradecraft Thursdays 

Tradecraft Thursday is a series of employee-led internal monthly talks dedicated to EC’s core value of continental learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of professional topics to promote best practices and a shared understanding of common problem sets within our customer spaces. Stay tuned for the next Tradecraft Thursday recap!

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AWS DeepLens and Machine Learning TechTalk

by Alice Swan Feb 28th, 2019 Cloud EC Inside Events Tech Talks

At this week’s Tech Talk, Jim Davis, a senior software developer for Evans and Chambers Technology, shared some of his experiences at the 2018 Amazon Web Services Re:Invent conference.

The discussion covered the basics of machine learning, as well as DeepLens, a deep-learning high-definition camera developed by Amazon as a sandbox and introduction into the world of machine learning. Jim demonstrated the different machine learning types (supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning) and gave examples and industry use cases for each. Jim’s Tech Talk also included a live demo of setting up DeepLens out of the box, which covered how to install and customize project templates freely available on the AWS site.

Jim also highlighted other takeaways from the AWS conference, such as AWS’s growing serverless services (API Gateway, Lambda, DynamoDB, RDS, etc.) and how Amazon has turned cloud computing into the powerful market segment it is today.

 

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About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

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A Peek Inside Evans & Chambers’ Culture and Activities

by Alice Swan Feb 8th, 2019 EC Inside Events

Here at Evans & Chambers Technology (EC) we are invested in hard work, company growth, and strong ethics. As part of that investment, we show our gratitude and appreciation for all the dedication from our team. EC hosts several events each year with employees and their families to  celebrate our culture and employee morale.

Last year, we swooshed into happy hour for a March Madness game, and we set up a friendly employee rivalry by taking guesses on which team would win the game and by how much. Next, employees and their families glammed up for the Virginia Gold Cup in their pastels and crazy hats to give back to our community and grow our EC network. After glamming up, it was time to get down and dirty for our braver EC team members at the Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder was epic! It included 10 miles of mud and ice baths, rope walks, and monkey bars, all the while having about 5 pounds of mud hanging off our backs. After all that commotion, employees enjoyed some much deserved relaxation at the DC Jazz Fest, bringing the summer to a close.

The EC family welcomed the fall with the Odyssey boat cruise on the Potomac, where we participated in  fun games, won cool prizes, ate delicious food, and played musical chairs! During the year, we snuck in a few happy hours to celebrate our accomplishments each quarter. We finished the year strong with our annual holiday party full of gratitude, cheer, determination, and motivation to keep EC excellent and to give a special thanks to our exceptional employees and the services they provide our customers!

 

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