Monday, 16 June 2014

A little retrospective blog tidying up

Seriously - where have the past two years gone? I finally got some time to myself to have a look through some of my older stuff and came across my blog. Unfortunately I had let it stagnate a bit in the recent year or two, so I've decided to retrospectively go through and clear up some loose ends amongst other things.

I've removed the ads. Unfortunately whilst I had great plans to make a million from Google Adsense, it just never happened - in fact, I didn't get even minutely close to my million target. Mission failed.

I've chosen a new design. The old skin was about as minimal as I could go, I loved the design when I first started the blog, however as time has moved on, I began to hate it. It had a darkish-not-nice theme to it, so we're now set with a nice bright white and blue theme.

I've removed some old outbound links. As proof of how quickly the internet moves on, I have revisited several of the sites I used to visit and several of them had closed down. I removed them.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Broadband Review of Zen Internet

I've been wanting to switch broadband provider for about six months now but was tied in to a contract with Talk Talk. The contract period finished this month so I set about hunting for a new ISP.

I came across this Zen Internet review at Broadband Reviews. I decided to switch to their Zen Lite package for £18.37. The connection is reliable and stable so should hopefully allow me to blog more often than my previous connection - I hardly used it as it was so unstable. *This post was updated on 16th June 2014 to remove the links at the site is no longer live. Apologies for any inconvenience. *

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

UK Metal Theft - Telephone Cabling

There has been a significant increase in the theft of copper across the United Kingdom in the past few years. This is due to a number of reasons, but predominately the rising price of copper, the recession and finally, the simplicity of the theft. I personally know of people in rural areas who have been affected by this up to three times in six months – each time, they are left without any telephone line and thus broadband for three or four days.

Some simple facts about the rise in metal theft (over a two year period)
The theft of metal across the UK has risen over 700%!
There have been a total of six deaths and fifty injuries related to this type of crime!
Some sixty fires have been caused, along with 673 days of delayed trains!

I'm sure you will agree, these statistics are staggering, however the further you delve into the statistics, the more shocking things get. British Telecom have said that over the past 11 months, there have been 480 arrests, along with 240 tonnes of recovered stolen copper. Up to 80% of BT's cable theft is said to be carried out by organised criminals.

Something had to be done about this and the tail end of 2011 had seen a large increase in raids by polic on scrap metal yards, although because of the very nature of the commodity this did not see a lot of success due to the fact that the copper can be easily melted down. There have even been reports of BT copper cable being stolen from the roadside and then shipped to China – in what is being coined 'theft-tourism'.

If you are one of BT''s customers' who this has affected, you will know just how much of an inconvenience this has caused. It is not known how much money business' across the UK have lost due to being essentially disconnected from the outside world, however, one thing is for sure, it's certainly not going to be a small figure.

However, things are set to change! This month, BT have introduced a widespread new technology 'RABIT' – Rapid Assessment BT Incident Tracker'. The technology had been piloted in certain areas in December 2011 and initial results suggest this could drastically reduce BT's metal theft figures.

RABIT is essentially a burglar alarm. The technology runs on the BT network, and instantly informs BT and local law enforcement of malicious attacks, pinpointing the exact location. Therefore, any would-be-copper-thief would now have to remove the copper and be gone within minutes to evade being caught. An impressive improvement on the hours that it would have taken before to first discover that cable theft was causing faults, and then to find it.

It is still early days on this technology, but BT and police forces across the country are both confident that this is going to be a huge improvement on customer satisfaction due to less downtime, whilst also catching the criminals red handed. Watch this space!

IT Support for your business

The development of the IT sector has grown massively over the last decade. As a result, the face of companies is shifting and businesses are becoming increasingly dependant on their IT. Businesses use IT for everything from running their accounting software to filling out timesheets.

Whilst the high majority of the workforce are what is often termed as ‘IT literate’ only a small percentage are adequately trained to deal with the IT problems, when the systems go wrong. Problems can be as simple as loading new software packages, unlocking systems rights or as complex as viruses wiping information. For larger companies, it is practical and simple to have an IT department to be on hand to deal with all the arising problems. Unfortunately this is rarely cost effective or practical for smaller business with perhaps only 1-20 employees.

The options an employer is therefore faced with, is either to entrust the responsibility of IT support to an employee and provide costly training to fulfil the duties, or alternatively to source an IT support contract with a local IT company. Most IT companies have a range of support contracts and can tailor the service to the size and needs of your company. If you would like a lot of services, the IT technicians can be regular visitors to your business or if your IT needs are much smaller and you just require a technician you can call when something goes wrong, then smaller support packages are available.

Why is it better to have an external IT support than an internal IT support? Well firstly, the probability is that a technician from an IT company will have much more extensive knowledge and not to mention experience than an employee of your own. Also a professional IT technician can also suggest improvements you can make to your IT systems and provide support that goes further then just fixing things. It generally works out much cheaper to have a support package externally then the costs of training staff and keeping their knowledge and expertise up to date.

How do you chose the right IT support company for your business? If you want the technicians to visit your offices, it is important to choose a company that is local because most companies will need to be charging travel. Decide on your budget then shop around for support packages that meet your criteria but are a price you think is suitable for the service. Particularly if you will have the technicians visiting regularly, meet with them and make sure you will be happy to have them in your office. Have in depth discussions about the costings to clarify what additional services might then become additional fees.

In conclusion, it is advisable to have an external IT support contract to ensure you have a support system in place for when problems arise and to keep your business running at optimum speed.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The definition of a web designer

A web designer is a person, who designs and at times, creates websites, along with other applications. As it is, web design refers to creating presentations of content which is delivered to the end-user through the internet, with the help of a Web browser as well as other Web-enabled applications such as micro-blogging clients, Internet television clients as well as RSS readers.

A designer might or might not be a programmer. However, most of them have some sort of programming skills. Several web designers are web programmers as well, which means that they are not only the architect of the page but they also implement their designs through programming. Designers can therefore be called writer as well as a computer expert.

An extremely important task of the designer is creative design of the web pages, which is generally worked out with a client who expresses certain needs or that the web pages are required to fulfill. Web designers usually have proficiency in graphics software, such as Photoshop, and many of them are also quite good with programs such as Java. A web designer usually has to work with a number of media programs. Overall, the objective is to create web pages with a particular design, a standardized graphic set, as well as eye grabbing details. A designer might also write contents for web pages, depending upon the requirements of the client, although sometimes they simply edit or program contents that the clients provide.

There may or may not be any difference between a designer and a programmer. As it is, programmers might only implement designs through programming in XTML, HTML, and several other languages. They might set special functions such as shopping cart software. Apart from that, they may also be responsible for the maintenance of the existing web pages as well as introduction of new information. A web designer, particularly one with a lot of talent might also do this. As a matter of fact several designers provide both design as well as programming services.

A designer should always keep himself/herself updated with the latest trends of the Internet industry. He/she must have knowledge of what services have been expected, he/she should also know as to what graphics would be liked and enjoyed, as well as how high a webpage would rank in the search engines results. Apart from that, they may also assist clients in formulating plans on increasing the visibility of the web pages.

In today’s world, where the internet is getting bigger with every passing day, a web designer has an increasingly important role to play.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Web Standards and its disregard by all major search engines?

I'm a big fan of that little icon which you stick on your website 'To show your readers that you've taken the care to create an interoperable Web page, you may display this icon on any page that validates.'. (Do a Google search you'll find it fine!). My main question is if we're all supposed to follow this (and I've been advised on many occasions it helps with search engine optimisation) then why the hell do the major search engines not bother to follow more or less ANY of these standards?

I checked Google, Yahoo, AOL, Ask. None of these search engines follow web design standards?

Is it because the search engines don't need to be found?

Friday, 20 November 2009

Promoting a restaurant Website

Because of the economy being all over the place at the moment, it is now more important than ever to use your website as a tool to get new business. Because of this, many restaurant owners are now looking to expand their presence on the web rather than use it merely as a source for a menu or opening times. So how can you promote a restaurant online? Before I begin, you could maybe consider a couple of the following points to convert those web visitors into bookings:

  • Is there something special you can 'push' about your restaurant?
  • Are you able to offer discounts on orders found from the web?

You will need to decide which keywords you wish to be coming up for in searches. For example, 'Italian restaurant' is going to be far too vague if you've only got one premises. Maybe 'Italian restaurant Sussex' may be more fitting. (The county appended to the end is a commonly used search for local businesses). Of course, if you're a national business, then you may wish to be appearing at the top for 'Italian restaurant'. OK, let's say for arguments sake you chose 'Italian restaurant' as your main search term. In reality, you would usually choose two or three keywords.

Search engine optimisation is a term for collectively carrying out the following tasks, to get to the top for your chosen search term may however require working harder than some other keywords depending on the competition. This next stage is divided into two stages, on-site and off-site optimisation. This is by no means a comprehensive list but should get you off the ground at least.

On-Site Optimisation

OK, I'm going to summarise with bullet points here - in the previous example of 'italian restaurant' on-site optimisation would involve:

  • Sufficient use of H1 tags - with the keyword 'italian restaurant' in there. (Basically you want a relative heading which makes use of H1)
  • Ensuring the webpages load quickly - even it todays modern era - if it's taking too long, the Googlebot will leave without indexing any further.
  • Create a page specifically for the term 'italian restaurant' with 'italian-restaurant' in the url. It might be index.php?p=Italian-restaurant, it might be Italian-restaurant.html depending on your setup.
  • Now with some good thinking, fill the Italian-restaurant page with plenty of text about Italian restaurants. Obviously as a business, I expect you don't want to publicise other businesses - so why not do a page on the history of Italian restaurants?

Off-Site Optimisation

Now comes the tricky part! Google gives each webpage a value, for the purposes of example, let's say your rank value is 1, your opponents rank value is 4. If you're both competing for the same keyword, your opponent will rank higher as they've got a higher rank value for that keyword. To increase this rank value for your site, you need to build links to your website from relevant websites. Surprisingly, this process has been given the term 'link building'. So how do you build links? Today, I will just explain the legitimate, what we call 'White Hat' techniques for building links to your site.

  • Setup a signature link on any forums you post on.
  • Submit yourself to as many web directories (manually - avoid auto submissions).
  • Find 'eat out guides' and submit yourself to as many as possible.
  • Find review sites, submit yourself for a review.
  • If you regularly visit blogs always leave a comment with your URL.

One last thing to note - when you're building links try to always include the term 'Italian Restaurant' in your anchor text. For example, this may involve submitting yourself to directories with the name of 'Angelos Italian Restaurant' in order for you to get the relevant anchor text. Remember - with blogs, only comment if you feel you can add something of value to the discussion - and at least read the blog - that is somebody's website so don't be rude! So there it is - some site promotion tips, this should be enough to get you started at least. I wish you much luck in the promotion of your business.