Category Archives: Web Development

How Do I Select The Right Company To Host My Website If I Live In Australia?

Guest article: If you want a website online, there are a number of reasons why you want all your support in your region. This is not just because they will speak your language. You are making contractual arrangements with suppliers, and therefore, you need them to be in your region for legal issues. Here is a deeper look at this issue when setting up a website.

imageDespite it being the World Wide Web, we want to make sure we know where our website is being hosted. This will also depend on the type of website you are building. Locality is always an issue. For example, if you live in Brisbane, you want IT services Brisbane.

In this article, we look at the right type of services, and other server needs you must think about. You could have put a lot of effort into your website, and you want to make sure you have complete control. There are some very local issues to understand even though you could view your website from anywhere in the world

  • Getting Started. When we think about setting up a simple website, we think about getting online and buying a host program – the hosting program is where your site will go. On these websites, we can buy domain names and buy the space and location for our website. We build our site ourselves, or we build it online through one of these sites. When everything is running smoothly there will be no problem. What happens if that company that you bought your domain name and hosting location goes out of business? What happens if something goes wrong or there are legal problems and the hosting company you bought space from is in another country? While we will buy a simple hosting package online, we still need to make sure that company is in our locality, city, state or country. It could be very hard to deal with them if they were in some lawless country on the other side of the planet. You know you are safe when the supplier is in your country, and they have a physical location. Get your hosting program from a company in your locality.
  • Computer Support. The hosting company will give you a limited amount of IT support in relation to how their servers work. This support is normally in the form of emails and other online interaction. You still need to maintain your own computers repairs, service and security. Even simple sites can have very confidential information, and so you will need to know how to handle this. If you are in Brisbane, for example, having a local computer repairs is essential. You might need to get face-to-face support by people who understand you and speak your language. Having support locally is always essential.
  • Going a Bit More Professional. When you buy your hosting program online, you are normally buying space that is shared with other people. The hosting company has a room of servers where everyone’s website and web space is shared. If you are looking for a more secure and professional setting, you will need to look for a more professional dedicated servers provider. Dedicated servers are individual computers for each client. This will mean you will have your own computer in a secure location with your own super-high speed internet connection and support. If you are intending to earn income from your website, this will be essential. It will mean your data, and information is more secure, your website’s speed will not be influenced by anyone else’s internet use, and you will have professionals who will keep an eye on it for you. You could set up your own server in your own location if you have that knowledge. You would need to make sure you have backup power and a range of other security issues (both online and offline) solved. Dedicated servers are often in a very secure location, and you want this location to be in your locality, city, state or country. Again there are legal issues you need to think about. Just like your hosting program, domain name and IT services, you want them from someone who understands you and resides locally.

Guest article by Sachin.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Networking, Tech Net News, Web Development, Web Hosting, Web Site Design, Website Builders

Bryan Keller’s Web Design and SEO Primer

Guest writer Bryan Keller, gives you the lowdown on how you can improve, not only your web site or blog’s visual appeal but, how SEO (search engine optimization) properly utilized, can drive more readers to your site.

image SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing one’s website to improve the position in which the website will appear within the search results obtained from a search engine based on specific keyword phrases.

The exact formula for achieving this result effectively and efficiently is a much talked about and debated issue.  However, there is at least consensus on the basic approach to improving position and for anyone who owns an online business it is just about imperative to follow these basic techniques for there to be any hope of appearing somewhere on the first or second page of Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

First, foremost and most important is the basic design and structure of the actual website itself.  A carefully planned out, user friendly, logical, and straightforward landing page or home page is essential.  In addition, maintaining a structured, easy to navigate, uncluttered and not overly complicated web design results in lower bounce rates.

It is very useful to actually layout the design of the website on paper before any computer design work even begins.  Using a graphical flowchart also greatly helps keep things organized and makes the design much easier to understand for anyone who will eventually be involved in the design, coding or implementation of the final project.

A flowchart is basically just a simple graphical representation utilizing directional lines, graphical symbols and pointer arrows that is utilized to depict the design characteristics of a websites menu-flow, page-order, and logic path.

In designing the website keep in mind that as much useful, high quality, informative, data about the business or industry the website is focused on should be included throughout the site itself.

A glossary of terms that relate to the industry the website specializes in would be a good place to start.  Another very useful inclusion could be a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page that describes in detail the most common questions relating to the website’s area of business, with descriptive answers.

When it comes to SEO, there can never be too much information included in a website as long as it is all completely original unique content (unless references are duly noted).

Original content means copying pages of data from the Wikipedia, or using content pages found on other websites or even ‘lifting’ excerpts of content from other websites simply will not work.  Plagiarized content ‘lifted’ from other sources without express consent can also be a source of legal concern.

This is one place where Google in particular, is very good at detecting copied content and will give no SEO advancement for such material included in one’s website.  If a business owner is not able to author original content themselves it would be advisable to hire someone to write original content for the website.  Original content is just as important if not more important than any other aspect of achieving good SEO results.

Additionally, there are many so called ‘article submission’ websites that are available to host uploaded content articles written about almost any subject.  As a matter of fact it is very possible that you may be reading this article on an article submission site at this very moment.

The purpose, in SEO, to the process of uploading and submission of articles to these types of websites is twofold:  first, popular article submission sites have thousands of guests each day which is a huge potential market for readers of the submitted articles and second, as an author one is allowed to create a signature that can include a link that directs traffic back to the website of the author’s choice.

This brings us to the topic of links, and more specifically ‘backlinks’.  The term backlink refers to a hypertext link, which is located on an external website that links, references, or points back to one’s own website.  A ‘backlink’ is made up of two parts: 1. The ‘URL’ of the destination site (or the site the link is pointing to), and 2. the ‘anchor text’ which is made up of the ‘keyword phrase’.  An example of a ‘backlink’ written in html code would look like the following:

<*a href=”

“>Your Keyword Phrase<*/a>

When displayed this link would appear as:

Your Keyword Phrase

‘Your Keyword Phrase’ would be an active link pointing to the ‘url’ that follows the ‘href’ in the link statement above. (Please be sure to remove the asterisks – I used them only to prevent the link from becoming active.)

In the early days of the Internet backlinking was the holy grail of SEO.  One merely needed to acquire many, many links pointing back to one’s website to achieve a very high position within the result set of a search engine.  At that time it was mainly just the quantity of backlinks that determined a websites PR and not the quality of the incoming links.

Those days, I’m afraid, are long, long, gone.  The search engines are much ‘smarter’ today and the number of backlinks is not nearly as important as the ‘quality’ of the backlink in determining whether or not the backlink will provide a benefit to SEO at all.

To prevent the misuse of link farming and other types of link manipulation the use of the ‘no follow’ attribute has been implemented.  When the use of the ‘no follow’ attribute is applied to a link it directs the search engine to award no PR or ‘PageRank’ (PageRank will be explained in a moment) benefit to the landing site no matter how high the ‘PageRank’ of the referring site may be.  This has been successful in helping to reduce the amount of spamming and ‘spamdexing’.

Other methods that were once popular but are no longer effective include:  keyword stuffing, the use of hidden or invisible text, the use of unrelated hidden content with high search volume, and Meta tag stuffing.  If you are solicited by a business that mentions any of these techniques as a means to improve your SEO be sure NOT to do business with them!  None of these methods work at all anymore.

At this point it becomes necessary to discuss PR or PageRank.  PageRank is the method of grading a websites ‘authority’ or importance on the web and the process was developed primarily by researcher Larry Page (hence the name ‘Page’ Rank) at Stanford University as part of a research project.

Page and another researcher named Brin later founded Google and took the technology with them and it is still the basis of the Google search engine and search tools to this day.

A website’s PageRank is a numerical weight ranging from 0 to 10 that is assigned to a website based upon, among other things, the quantity of and the PageRank of the external websites that link in or have inbound links that refer to the target site.  A website that has many inbound links from websites that have high PageRank themselves will in turn be given a high PageRank as well.  According to Google’s website the PageRank is calculated by ‘considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms.’

Needless to say, trying to understand an algorithm this complex exactly will never be possible but there are still many things that can be done to boost a sites PR and help improve its placement in search engine results.

We have discussed the importance of a high quality website design, the need for very informative original content, article submissions, backlinking and PageRank.  This would be a good time to begin discussing the process of determining keywords and keyword phrases.

Selecting the correct keywords and keyword phrases to focus the SEO efforts on can determine whether or not it will be possible to successfully achieve the intended result.  It is very important to take the time to do some research on competition and keyword popularity.

In general the most common terms that describe a business would be the best place to start.  For instance if you own a business that provides roofing contracting services keywords that you might consider focusing on might be ‘Roofing Contracting’ or ‘Roofing Contractor’.

Google provides a tool that displays the average number of searches for selected keyword phrases.  You can find this tool by searching Google for ‘keyword tool’.  After entering the keyword or keyword phrase and pressing the ‘search’ button a page of results will be displayed that indicate the number of times the particular keyword(s) has been searched for on average each month.

Also displayed are many other similar phrases that most closely match the keywords that were searched for.  Take the time to scroll through this list and many good alternative phrases can be found in this way.  Choosing the phrase that has the most searches and most closely matches the website’s line of business is a solid practical approach.

Guest writer Bryan Keller:

I own a Computer Repair and Data Recovery business in San Antonio, TX, San Antonio Computer Repair. I spent 10 years in database development. I am now also providing Website Development, Hosting, and SEO services. We use the Joomla CMS.

Altogether, I have been involved in computer programming for over 30 years. I was a self-taught programmer back when the ‘Atari 800’ was all the rage! I had an Atari 800 with 16 kilobytes of ram and a 6502 8-bit processor that ran at 1.7 MHz, no hard drive and a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk that stored just 180 Kilobytes of data. Of course there was no internet but we had the dial in bulletin boards that we connected to at 300 baud. lol.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Web Development, Web Hosting, Web Site Design

Neosites – A Professional Website Builder to the Max!

image WordPress went off the air last week, for the second time this year. But, since WordPress is a free site service, I felt it was not really appropriate to whine about it. Nevertheless, I am not inclined to accept assurances that it won’t happen again, and this has led me to consider alternatives.

One of the reasons I was drawn to WordPress initially was WordPress’ stated policy of limited, or no ads – “At, we sometimes display discreet AdSense advertisements on your blog to help pay the bills.” Recently however, it seems every article on my site has advertising attached to it.

I have no problem with helping to “pay the bills”. But, I do have a problem with becoming a profit center for someone else. The situation reminds me of what my father said years ago – “If you work for nothing, you’ll never be out of a job”. So, now I had two reasons to research alternatives to WordPress.

There are more than a few sites on the Internet that offer similar free services , but frankly; most of them suck. Who needs a website that looks like it was created with an old version of MS FrontPage? Who needs a website so filled with advertising that your page content loses focus?

I need a website that looks highly professional, and polished. A website where I control the advertising – assuming, that in fact, I want advertising on the site.

As luck would have it, as I was going through this decisions, decisions, process, I received a “check me out” invitation, from a new player on the block Neosites, which offers both a free service, and layered fee services.

According to Neosites there approach is “a revolutionary on-line tool that lets you build and manage a website quickly and easily. You can create a professional looking site in just a few minutes.”

So, being the adventurist type, I jumped right in.

The following screen captures illustrate just how easy it is to work with Neosites.

Sign Up

Neosites 4

Choose your plan

Neosites 5

Choose your theme

Neosites 1

Work through the Setup Wizard

Neosites 2

Then, manage your site pages

Neosites 3

Fast facts:

Choose a design from our gallery of over 2000 templates. They can be modified at any time and all the content will adapt to the new design.

Instructional wizards allow you to build a professional website without technical know-how. Edit the homepage with just a few clicks while you navigate the site. In minutes you can have your site up and on-line!

With Neosites you can create a website and domain name, e.g Have the advantage of webmail with corporate e-mail accounts, e.g.

Neosites offers SEO tools that let you position your site inside browsers, send promotional e-mails to your contacts, and integrate your contacts into your Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

Online shopping! Make sales through your site with different payment options. Receive payment on-line from credit cards, cash, or money transfers.

Upload a logo or start from scratch with our flash logo editor. The image editor allows you to select and edit images that will always fit right into place no matter what design you chose.

Make the site more dynamic by adding effects to your images. If you lack a photo for your site, browse our image bank of more than 1500 images.

Create pages that incorporate images and video.

Make sales through an on-line shopping catalog and shopping cart.

Show off your portfolio with our image gallery.

Receive orders or subscriptions with our customizable forms.

Instigate debates with forums.

Display videos organized into albums.

Have visitors download files from your site.

Measure your site’s web traffic and effectiveness by analyzing number of visits, page hits, location and source of your visitors.

I’ve only been testing this new service for a few days, but I like what I see. It’s too early to tell if I’ll choose this route, or even if I’ll make the switch from WordPress, but should I do so, Neosites is at the top of my list of alternatives.

If you’re looking to create that first web site, including web hosting,  using a WYSIWYG visual website creator, and you want to do it for free, (or as in my case, using the fee based plan), then this service from Neosites will fill the bill admirably.

Sign up at: Neosites

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Filed under blogging, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Software, Web Development, Web Hosting, Website Builders, Windows Tips and Tools

Why Everyone Should Use Two or More Screens

Guest writer Joe Coburn, makes a convincing argument for multiple monitors – see what you think.

image I often get asked, “Why bother with two screens, one is enough!” And this got me thinking.  “Why do I use two screens?” Well, the main answer is – because I can.

I am a lover of technology, and having two massive widescreen monitors on my desk – just seems like the next logical step up from one.  As it so happens, I also have two desks, talk about nerdy!

Although, when I first started using dual monitors, I actually did not have a use for them.  I did not develop websites at the time, nor did I do any programming.  The second screen was just wasted with a media player or email program.  How things have changed.

I like multiple monitors so much that I have now bought a third screen, which is just sitting there, begging me to buy a new graphics card to run it.

So, after a short period of time using dual monitors for absolutely nothing, I switched from two enormous CRTs to one widescreen LCD.  It was ok for a short period, all good in the hood.

I soon got into web design, and programming, and felt that two screens were needed again.  I bought myself a 22inch 1920 x 1080px HD monitor.  It is great, and using it in conjunction with my 20inch, 1680 x 1050px Dell widescreen, means that I effectively have a 42inch widescreen (not exactly the same!).  I now have enough space to run mostly everything I use, without switching.

When used in conjunction with cool software, such as UltraMon, you can even have an extended taskbar on your second screen.

To illustrate, just some of the things I can have open at any one time during web development:







*Shudders* Internet Explorer



Multiple file explorers


Windows Snipping Tool


Now that is a lot of software, especially when I need to see most of them simultaneously.  Now tell me I can do that on a single monitor, without wearing out my alt + tab keys.

Now that you have turned to the dark side, here are some examples of what you can do with multiple monitors:

  • Play games (best on 3)
  • Coding
  • Stock Trading
  • Graphics Design


It does not take much to run more than one screen.  I currently use a single dual output graphics PCIE graphics card, and am in the process of adding a second PCI card with four outputs!  You could use two PCIE cards, a USB VGA port, or many other ingenious solutions.

ATI’s latest graphics cards have their eyefinity technology.  This allows you to connect three (or 6 if you use crossfire), or own a Radeon HD 5870 eyefinity 6 graphics card.  This technology will get even better as bezel-less monitors are mass produced.

Real Life examples:

I spoke with Rob Ray, the Development Director of Wise Recycling Ltd , and he was kind enough to allow me to conduct a sort of mini interview with his in-house IT manager, Chris.

Chris runs more than just dual screens, he uses four!  As a quick rundown, he uses 64 bit Ubuntu Linux 8.04 (not the latest, however, he cannot achieve the setup he has in any later versions), an Intel dual core and 8GB ram.  He uses two graphics cards, one standard PCIE and another, PCI, with one LFH 60 pin port that adapts to 2 DVI outputs.  All that gives him this:


Those screens are all 17inch Dells.  Sweet!

Whilst I was there, and as it was a working environment, I saw firsthand that he actually had that much stuff open, he really does need those screens. I would struggle to fit all those applications onto my two widescreens!

So, who is guest writer Joe Coburn – “I am a 17 year old student, based in Lincolnshire, England.  I have a passion for IT, and am a web developer.  I aim to inform and have fun on my Blog, and I’m about to start offering a web-design service on my website.”

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Filed under Geek Software and Tools, Living Life, Multimedia Tools, Multiple Monitors, Productivity Software, Recommended Web Sites, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools

Weebly – Powerful, Free, Website Creator

If 2010 is the year you’ve decided to create and host your own website for personal, or business reasons, then you’ll be impressed with what Weebly, a free Web site builder and hosting service, has to offer.

Sure there are more than a few sites on the Internet that offer similar free services, but frankly; most of them suck. Who needs a website that looks like it was created with an old version of MS FrontPage? Who needs a website so filled with advertising that your page content loses focus?

Instead, you need a website that looks highly professional and polished. A website where you control the advertising – assuming, that in fact, you want advertising on the site.


With Weebly you control virtually every essential aspect of site design – and built-in integration with Google AdSense, allows you to deliver text and image ads that are specific to your site and your site content, if you choose.

The best part? With this free package you can turn out an attractive and effective web site without the need for any complex HTML, or other programming skills.

Using any one of the 70+ professional templates, WYSWYG (What You See Is What You Get) design tools, and your drag and drop skills, absolutely everyone (regardless of age or education level), can build a professional, and attractive website without having any previous experience.

If you’re looking to create that first web site using a WYSIWYG visual web page creator, and you want to do it for free, including web hosting, then this free service from Weebly will fill the bill admirably.

Fast facts:

Powerful, Drag & Drop Website Editor – Easy drag & drop website editor. Videos, pictures, maps, and text are added by simply dragging them to your website – no HTML or technical skills required!

Free – It is completely free to create and publish a website with Weebly. You can opt to buy a pro account upgrade for a small fee, or purchase your own domain, but our free service is and will remain 100% feature packed.

Hosting Included – No Restrictions. No arbitrary bandwidth restrictions, storage caps or limits on the number of pages allowed, either.

70+ Professional Designs (or Customize Your Own) – You can completely customize the template of your site, or build your own with HTML & CSS, right in the Weebly editor.

A Variety of Content Elements. – If you can imagine it, you can do it with Weebly. Add pictures, videos, music and audio, documents, maps, and photo galleries. Sell products, accept online bookings, create a contact form, or arrange your pages in multiple columns. Drag on slideshows, files, forums, games, RSS feeds, or any other HTML embed code — all by simply dragging and dropping.

Powerful Blogging Features – Weebly supports an unlimited number of blogs within your website, with full comment moderation features allowing an open, moderated, or closed conversation.

No Advertising – We don’t place advertising on your site, and never will. But, we’ve integrated with Google AdSense to allow you to easily enable advertising – as simple as entering your email address – letting you earn money from your site!

Publish to Your Own Domain – If you already own your own domain, use it with Weebly, at no charge. You can publish to your own domain name (ie. instead of and we’ll still host your website for free.

Sign up at: Weebly

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Filed under Freeware, Interconnectivity, Living Life, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools

5 Free Microsoft Programs – Really!

We’re all pretty well used to kicking out the cash to Microsoft, so it might surprise you that Bill and the boys, actually give away some very polished applications.

Office Accounting Express 2009

image Even if you don’t run an office, you can still use this terrific application to managing your credit cards, and bank accounts, and if you have a PayPal account, you’ll find it easier to complete transactions using Office Accounting Express.

If, on the other hand you do run a small business, you’ll find increased functionality within this program, including  the ability to handle payroll, vendors,  invoices, quotes, cash sales, and more.

I’ve used QuickBooks for years and I found, in testing, Office Accounting Express was a reasonable substitute.

Note: As of November 16, 2009, this application is no longer available directly from Microsoft. Download is still available at the link below.

Download at:


image This latest release of Paint.NET (November 6, 2009), might not be quite Photoshop in disguise, but it’s a pretty serious contender.

While it can’t perform some of the more esoteric functions of Photoshop, it can certainly assist even an average photo hobbyist achieve spectacular results – results which are generally not achievable in a free photo application.

Download at:

Virtual PC 2007

image Regular readers of this site are probably familiar with the benefits of running in a virtual environment (a virtual machine acts like a standalone computer), while surfing the Internet, or while testing new software. Microsoft’s Virtual PC application allows even less technically inclined users to run in this mode, in a way that’s easy to understand, and easy to use.

Download at: Microsoft

Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition

image Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition is an incredibly functional and easy-to-use free application that will output a unique, custom designed website, to promote your club, hobby or business, or to put your favorite family/holiday photos online.

It couldn’t be easier. As Microsoft says – “Get started quickly by becoming familiar with the Visual Web Developer environment with the Introduction to Visual Web Developer 2008 video”.

If you are an amateur, or even if you are a proficient web site developer, Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition, will surprise you with the professional quality that you can achieve with this application.

Download at: Microsoft

SyncToy 2.0

SyncToy 5 SyncToy 2.1 is a free application that synchronizes files and folders between locations. Typical uses include sharing files, such as photos, with other computers and creating backup copies of files and folders.

SyncToy can manage multiple sets of folders at the same time; it can combine files from two folders in one case, and mimic renames and deletes in another case. Unlike other applications, SyncToy actually keeps track of renames to files and will make sure those changes get carried over to the synchronized folder.

Download at:

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Filed under Backup Tools, Business Applications, downloads, Emulators, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Image Editors, Microsoft, Multimedia Tools, Operating Systems, Productivity Software, Software, Web Development, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free StatCounter Can Help You Manage Your Blog for Growth

image Are Blog statistics important? Maybe – maybe not; it really depends on why you blog, the type of content you produce, and on your expectations for readership – most particularly on your readership expectations.

If you are a serious Blogger, you may have already concluded that the Internet playing field is not level; that your site cannot compete with corporate sites that specialize in the same content that you offer. But, there are exceptions – and your site can be one of the exceptions.

Let me state up front, this is not an article on SEO, which frankly, I consider voodoo, and in a broader sense – cheating. In order to attain good search engine placement, great content is the critical ingredient in the success recipe. But, it’s not the only ingredient.

I have a great many friends who are serious bloggers, who regularly produce great content, but whose readership growth does not reflect the efforts they put into creating this great content.

Anyone who has been in a management position is, or should be, familiar with this old truism from management guru Peter Drucker – “What gets measured, gets managed”. Having spent most of my working life in management, I can assure you of the general truth of this statement.

Measuring the performance of a business operation, (a serious blogger is in business, in a sense), and then acting on the results of those measurements, is critical to both the short and long term success of any business. Measuring customer expectations (and then listening to the customer), is arguably the most important.

We are all familiar with General Motors, a notable example of what can happen to a company which chooses not to listen to customers. Elementary analysis of customer expectations, appears to not have been one of General Motors strong points.

In order to be a successful blogger, and compete with “the big guys”, you need the ability to measure and manage your Blog’s important metrics. Since you can’t talk directly to your customer (the reader), to any great extent – I grant you “comments” are important – you need an unbiased tool, one you can rely on, which will accurately measure and report your readers needs, wants, likes, dislikes, and more.

StatCounter is a free measurement and reporting tool (a more comprehensive upgrade version is available), which, if used appropriately, can help you measurably increase your Blog’s web presence and help drive more visitors to your site.

Fast facts:

Free, Fast, Responsive, Quick loading and Reliable Service.

Invisible Tracking – no ads on your website.

Accurate real-time website statistics with detailed visitor tracking and analysis.

It couldn’t be simpler – pasting a piece of code into your home page starts the process which will provide you with the following information.


Popular Pages

Entry Pages

Exit Pages

Came From

Keyword Analysis

Recent Keyword Activity

Recent Came From

Search Engine Wars

Exit Links

Exit Link Activity


Download Activity

Visitor Paths

Visit Length

Returning Visits

Recent Pageload Activity

Recent Visitor Activity

Recent Visitor Map



System Stats

As an illustration, here are several examples of “Recent Pageload Activity” from my site. Clicking on the graphic will increase the size, or use your Browser magnifier.

For Statcounter

StatCounter October 18, 2008

As you can see, even this one screen can tell you who your readers are, where they came from, what they found interesting, and more. To put it another way –in this case, StatCounter is reporting my readers needs, wants, likes, dislikes, and so on.

I use StatCounter every day to help me listen to me readers, and to determine what it is they need – what they want to read, and what’s important to them. Taking this small extra step, has paid off in helping me establish an Internet presence that might otherwise have been much more difficult.

If you are a serious blogger, StatCounter, used appropriately, can increase the pleasure that blogging gives you. After all, which one of us doesn’t like to see our efforts produce results.

One caveat: The free version of StatCounter is restricted to the last 500 web site hits. For most people though, this restriction should not be an issue.

You can signup for this free service on the StatCounter site.

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Social Blogging, StatCounter, Tech Net News, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools

Exploit the Power of Amazon S3 with CloudBerry Explorer Freeware.

If your head is in the Cloud, this guest writer article from the team at the CloudberryLab, is for you.



CloudBerry Explorer is a freeware Windows Client for Amazon S3 and CloudFront services. CloudBerry Explorer makes managing files in Amazon S3 storage EASY. By providing an FTP client like user interface to Amazon S3 accounts, files, and buckets, CloudBerry lets you manage your files on cloud just as you would on your own local computer. And best of all it is absolutely free!

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 is a web service that allows reliable and secure storage of your data in the multiple data centers with unlimited capacity and scalability. It allows you to easily scale up your data storage to meet growing needs of your business. What’s more you pay only for what you actually use and you don’t have to provision servers to match anticipate growth far in advance of this growth start hitting you. You don’t have to invest in the hardware infrastructure and you don’t have to pay for ongoing operations of those servers. You just pay low fee for data stored on Amazon servers.

However Amazon S3 is primarily designed for software engineers who would integrate the S3 with their web platform using so called S3 API which is based on REST and SOAP. This makes it difficult for less sophisticated users to employ Amazon S3 who would otherwise benefit from the scalable web storage as well. But at the same time it opens an opportunity to 3rd party vendors such CloudBerry lab and many others to unleash the power of Amazon S3 for consumers.

With CloudBerry Explorer you can

  • Allow end users to accomplish simple tasks without special technical knowledge
  • Automate time-consuming tasks to improve productivity
  • With CloudBerry Explorer, Amazon S3 becomes an extension to your local storage. You are no longer limited to the classic data storage on your local drive(s). With CloudBerry Explorer, you can move files to Amazon S3 just as easily as managing them on your local drive(s).
  • CloudBerry Explorer allows you to move large files such as photos, videos, and music to Amazon S3 and free up your local storage.
  • The files on your Amazon S3 can be shared with anyone who has access to the internet. For security purposes, the S3 accounts can be password protected and access can be restricted

Now let’s look at some of the CloudBerry Explorer functional capabilities

Browse S3 Buckets

CloudBerry Explorer allows you to browse contents of your S3 bucket and create new buckets and folders and rename files. It works just like Windows Explorer or any other file system browser.


Copy Files in background

CloudBerry Explorer allows you to copy files in the background, you can turn to other tasks while copy process is running. You can also pause/ resume copy process and review copy queue for errors. You can also hide CloudBerry Explorer to system tray to free up some space on your task bar while copy process is running. It will tell you when the process is over.


Register Multiple S3 Accounts

CloudBerry Explorer allows you to register as many Amazon S3 accounts as you like


Setup access control lists (ACL)

CloudBerry Explorer allows you to setup access control lists (ACL) with ACL editor, you can grant access rights to other Amazon S3 users or to any internet users. ACL editor reminds you the one that you use to manage file permissions on Windows.

Besides, you can propagate bucket ACL to all files in that bucket- something that Amazon S3 doesn’t provide out of the box.


Efficiently copy files between S3 accounts

CloudBerry explorer provides for fast and efficient way to copy objects between two Amazon S3 accounts, it leverages Amazon S3 capabilities to run this process on Amazon servers without the need to download files to your local computer.


Generate Web URL

CloudBerry Explorer allows you to generate URL for single or multiple objects. You can also generate time limited URLs that will expire at a predefined time. You can also specify CNAMEs to make your URLs look nicer and use URL shortening service and BiTorrent URLs.


Configure CloudFront Distribution

CloudFront is another Amazon service that works in conjunction with S3 and allows for efficient content distribution. The content is published to data centers in multiple geographical zones and the user download content from the server that requires fewer network hops. All this happens transparently to the end user and the publisher pay a small per usage base fee.

CloudBerry Explorer allows you to configure Amazon CloudFront service in a matter of minutes. Just select a bucket and click a button on the toolbar.


PowerShell Command Line Interface

Finally, CloudBerry Explorer ships with a set of PowerShell cmdlets which you can use to script bulk or frequent operations. Most of the features available thru the user interface are also available though a PowerShell command line interface. You can combine CloudBerry Explorer commands with regular PowerShell commands. PowerShell is designed to operate with other objects, so you’re not limited to command syntax. You can write complex scripts with loops and conditions and schedule routing tasks such as data backup or cleanup.

CloudBerry Explorer PRO version

CloudBerry Lab is currently working on a profession edition of CloudBerry Explorer. This product will feature compression, encryption, multi threaded files transfer, customer HTTP headers and FTP source support. It would require writing a separate article just to make an overview of these features and we simply don’t have enough space here. Professional edition will have a small licensing fee associated with it.


One final note is that CloudBerry Lab tries to stay on top of what works best for Amazon S3 users and delivers new version almost every month. It has been 5(!) commercial releases since CloudBerry Explorer was first released in November, 2008.

Overall CloudBerry Explorer is a solid Amazon S3 client that can help developers, web designers and other users who want to exploit Amazon S3 and CloudFront services.

If you work with Amazon S3 on Windows or considering using Amazon S3 it is a good reason to start now and download CloudBerry Explorer from CloudBerry Lab website at

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Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, Freeware, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Productivity Software, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools

Cloud Computing – An Overview

cloud-computing Cloud computing is not a new concept. If you really want to get down to it, the internet IS the cloud.

The purpose of this article and the articles that will follow is to try and flush out desktop computing in the cloud and how we are moving farther away from the traditional “C drive” desktop and closer to the desktop that lives in the cloud.

First of all, we need to figure out what we are trying to accomplish. While there is more than one school of thought on how to get there, the end result is arriving at the same summit.

The simple answer: I envision browser based computing where all of my data exists on a web accessible server from anywhere in the world. This includes my software, desktop, c drive, storage, etc.

So basically when I boot my machine, it opens a browser that contains my “desktop” that exists on the web. Synchronizing that information to the c: drive is important as well for the times you are unable to connect to the web.

cloud-computing 2

I hear what you are saying – the technology already exists and is used. Unfortunately, the people who are making this point are geeks like you and me and do not apply to the mainstream computer user. To get an acceptance of moving desktop computing to the web, we must convince the mainstream that it is safe to do.

In my next article, we will attempt to explore the biggest concern:

The Cloud – Is my information safe?

In the meantime, here are several up and coming Cloud Links:

Cloudo is a cloud based desktop with storage (not much mind you). The concept is there and will give an idea of what is possible. This is free for all, so sign up and give it a try.

This is a short article explaining Google’s up and coming Gdrive and their attempt to dethrone Microsoft from your desktop.

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Glenn’s site at The Crazy World of G.


Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, Geek Software and Tools, Google, Interconnectivity, Networking, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools

Cloud Computing – Is Your Head In The Cloud Yet?

This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

cloud[1] As Glenn explains “Even though I spend most of my day at a desktop or on the road (in the Pacific NW), with my laptop, I have an insatiable thirst for leading edge computer technology that helps me get my job done faster.

I firmly believe we are on the verge of an open source cloud computing world. The company I work for is making great strides in making our software web accessible (which is no small feat!) I am excited to share my cloud research as it evolves”.

Take a look at some of the Cloud applications Glenn has discovered, and has put to good use.


iGoogle – I love all things Google and this is my first stop when I enter The Cloud. Check out the Radiohead theme to customize iGoogle.


Gmail – integrates nicely with pretty much everything. It’s also the consummate beta so if you are a geek wannabee, you can make sure to tell everyone you are testing beta software.


Google Reader – The best RSS news compiler.


Google Docs – Word processing, Spreadsheets, calendar, etc.


Mediafire – Unlimited file hosting for all types of files. I use it to back up my media and it has an excellent photo album view that lets you share files and folders. Highly recommend.


Clipperz – I’m still a little weary of putting my bank account info in The Cloud but Clipperz uses a pretty strong encryption method which is fine for storing your other passwords.


Delicious – Does an excellent job managing your web bookmarks and integrates nicely with Firefox.


Rondee – I use it and it works great.

Calliflower – I use this service as a backup. Haven’t had to yet…


Shrinkfile – Compresses/Extracts files to zip, etc.


Zamzar – I use this to convert open office docs to Microsoft doc formats. It will pretty much convert any file you throw at it to a compatible format.


Rapidpik – I use this to host image files for my blog on occasion. Very fast and no sign up required.


Photofunia – Uses face recognition technology to insert your mug in a variety of different poses.

Face In A Hole – Another face recognition site. Just upload your favorite face photo and choose the pose.

PixiFX – Online image editor. I like the various borders they offer (among other effects). Once again, upload your photo and choose your effect. User friendly.


Diarised – I haven’t had the opportunity yet to use this but I’m anxious to. Very nice layout.


Ecalc – This is the daddy of all things calculated and converted.


Filemail – I use this every once in awhile when I have to send a large file(s) to someone who’s email won’t accept large files. This happens to me frequently.

FAX – Online fax machine. It’s a pain to use but it works in a pinch.

Another promising cloud technology that I’m keeping my eye on (I already registered, it’s not yet available) is Grand Central which has just been purchased by Google. Check it out, it looks pretty cool.


Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Google, Interconnectivity, Networking, Productivity Software, Recommended Web Sites, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools