Website Design – Hardware and Software Tools You May Need

Before you get started with your new website or editing your current site, you need to consider which hardware and software tools you may need to support your efforts.

When it comes to hardware needed this can be very simple or reasonably complex depending on your particular needs. Of course, if you plan to create a new website (or even view your new website later) you need a computer. Simple enough, right? Not necessarily. We prefer to work with Apple Macintosh (OSX Leopard on MacBook Pro) as we do a lot of intensive graphics work and have previously invested in Adobe Creative Suite software (Photoshop, InDesign, Flash, Dreamweaver, etc.). It is just as easy to create your new website using your Windows PC but we would suggest you stay away from using Windows Vista (any version) and migrate to Windows 7 or stick with Windows XP. These operating systems are just much more stable and reliable.

Another consideration for hardware should be some sort of backup hard drive or removable USB memory stick (s). It is important that you back up all of your website data to a removable drive in the event your computer crashes, is broken or is stolen. When you create website files, most of your data will be stored on the website hosting servers but, in many cases, you will have many other "builder files" that usually never make it to the hosting servers. If you lose this data you will be forced to start from scratch in many cases. Another piece of hardware that many forget about is a HD Video Camcorder. If you plan to include video on your site, you should be investing in something half decent; You can typically pick up a good video camera that also captures "still photos" for under $ 500.00.

When it comes to software needed, this can be somewhat more complicated, again depending on what your website design goals are. At the very least, you will need some sort of text editing software, FTP (file transfer software), graphics creation software and then a variety of other tools as you progress.

Here are some of the most common subjects you should consider when planning the design of your website product.


Do you currently have a computer that can process large files (ie – video files) quickly and efficiently?


Are you planning to host your own website portal? If so, do you know what type of hardware and server software you will need?


Do you currently have some sort of backup hard drive equipment or plan?


Will you be creating custom videos for your website and, if so, do you have a HD video camera ready to go?


Are you planning to make your website "mobile web friendly"? If so, do you have an iPhone and an iPad? Android phone? Blackberry device? These will be needed for testing purposes!


Do you have any website creation software (ie Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Front Page) installed, licensed and ready to use?


Are you planning to create your own website graphics or edit pictures? Do you have the necessary software (ie Adobe Photoshop or Photo Studio)?


Are you planning on creating a database for your website and, if so, do you know which software to use for this purpose?

Source by ER Woody House

7 Biggest Mistakes in Southern Cooking

There is Southern Cooking and then there is SOUTHERN COOKING! You can follow a recipe and still come out with a dish that does not resemble what the recipe intended. The reason is technique and the little secrets that are not included in the recipe.

Technique is as important as the ingredients and proper technique helps you avoid the following common mistakes made by novice cooks. You can find many free Southern recipes on the internet, but few web sites provide the additional information needed to to be a real Southern cook. So when you find a site that does, bookmark it and stick with it for your Southern recipes. (See Resource Box below for recommendation).

7 Biggest Mistakes:

1. Failure to Properly Preheat Oven When Baking.

Have you ever made cornbread that came out soft and crumbly without a crust? Or biscuits that did not rise and have a gray color? It was probably due to the fact that your oven was not properly preheated. When baking, the crust is set in the first 10 minutes. So, if you want a nice, golden crust on your cornbread, be sure to get the oven up to 400 degrees before you put the cornbread in.

Ovens vary in how long it takes to reach a given temperature. Some ovens will reach 400 degrees in 4-5 minutes. Some will take as long as 15 minutes. A good practice is to get a thermometer (any food thermometer that goes up to 425 degrees will work) and time how long it takes your oven to reach 250, 350, 400 and 425 degrees. Write it down and keep it handy if you can not remember. Then always allow the alloted time to reach the desired temperature before beginning your baking.

2. Undercooked Vegetables

Keep in mind we are talking about Southern cooking. Not Chinese or West Coast casseroles. Many vegetables, Southern Style, are cooked considerably longer than most people tend to cook them. Specifically, green beans are cooked until soft and dark green in color. They are not crunchy and bright green. Okra and green tomatoes, are cooked until some burned edges appear and are very crunchy. As a general rule boiled vegetables are cooked until very tender and fried foods are cooked until crunchy (this goes for cornbread, fried chicken and pork chops, too).

3. Failure to Use Cast Iron

I have never researched all the reasons why, but Southern cooking is best cooked in cast iron cook-ware. The cast iron holds and transfers heat unlike any other type metal. Food just does not cook the same in aluminum or steel. Especially cornbread. Besides, it is the traditional way to cook Southern.

Older cast iron tends to have problems with rust and food sticking, but the newer cook-ware comes already cured (seasoned) so it is not as much a problem. However, it is not difficult to cure your cast iron if you have an older style. You can get complete, free instructions in the web referrals below.

4. Failure to Use Onions and Bacon

Onions and bacon (or bacon grease) are used extensively in Southern cooking. Some cooks, however, stray away form cooking real Southern because they (or family members) do not like onions and/or concerns about the fat content in bacon.

They do this because they fail to understand the reason for using bacon and onions. They are NOT in the recipe so that you taste onions or bacon. They are there only to provide subtle flavor. A unique Southern flavor. If you do not like onions, use only a small amount and remove the onion from the dish before serving (put onion in cheesecloth while cooking and it is easy to remove). If you are concerned about the calorie content of bacon, do not use whole bacon. Just add 1/2 tsp of grease from previously cooked bacon. And, accept the fact that Southern cooking is not inherently low fat. It is meant to be flavorful and robust. So, use that bacon and onion for real Southern dishes.

5. Overworking Dough

Southern breads are meant to be light and fluffy. Even cornbread should not be heavy and solid. Many Southern cooks never learn how to make good biscuits. And homemade Southern Biscuits are the trademark of good Southern cooks.

Three errors cause bad biscuits (and other breads). First, do not overwork the dough. Biscuit dough should only be kneaded three times. No more. Just enough to shape it for cutting out the biscuits.

Second, when cutting the dough, do not push down and twist the biscuit cutter. Push straight down and straight back up. Twisting compacts the edges of the dough and causes uneven cooking.

Third, remember the previous mistake above…preheat your oven. A cold oven can result in flat, hard biscuits.

6. Yellow Cornmeal and Sugar in cornbread

Everyone has their own preference, but, please do not use yellow cornmeal in cornbread. It may be mental, but it just does not taste the same as white cornmeal. Besides it looks funny. And, NEVER, NEVER put sugar in cornbread if you want authentic Southern cornbread. Cornbread is bread to accompany a meal. It is not dessert. It is not cake! It is BREAD. So, if you like sweet cornbread…go ahead and use your sugar…but, do not call it Southern Cornbread!

7. Failure to Use buttermilk

All good Southern cooks use buttermilk in everything except desserts. Regular milk does not add the flavor that buttermilk does. Especially in any dish with cornmeal (cornbread, hush puppies, tamale pie, etc.). If you do not have buttermilk, you can make a reasonable substitute by stirring 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a cup of regular milk. Allow to sit for a minute before use.

These are some of the most common mistakes (or lack of Southern cooking technique) made in Southern cooking. You can ignore all of them and make eatable food, but it will not be traditional Southern. Even some good Southern cooks fail to comply with all the above, but they have probably developed a variation of these same techniques.

So, get in that kitchen, fire up the stove and make your family a real Southern dinner tonight.

Source by K. A. Miller

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Internet Promotion – Advantages and Disadvantages

The emergence of globalise trade, increase in foreign investment and cross-border transactions have put many small businesses under pressure to find innovative ways to continue to market their products and services. This is especially difficult given that they often operate on tight marketing budgets.

In the quest for cheap marketing alternatives, these small businesses continue to use conventional marketing tools such as newspaper, magazine, radio and television advertisements, unaware of the advantages that Internet Promotion offers. All too often, these entrepreneurs focus on the disadvantages of Internet Promotion and fail to adequately take advantage of the opportunities that it presents. Moreover, their preoccupation with conventional marketing strategies is driven by a misconception that these are cheaper than Internet Promotion.

To most small business entrepreneurs, marketing or promoting their products or services via the Internet can be a daunting task. However, with adequate information small businesses can benefit significantly from Internet Promotion while minimising the disadvantages that it presents. In fact, it may prove to be the marketing strategy that generates the highest return on investment.

The Advantages

Cost Effective and Enduring Marketing Strategies

The Internet has become the information superhighway for the buying public. Most persons prefer the hassle free transactions that Internet shopping can offer. As a result, the Internet has become the most powerful selling tool. Internet Promotion offers cost effective ways for small businesses to enhance their product or service distribution networks. For example, the use of portals can help create new marketing channels and logistics, or provide better or faster product access for customers.

In comparison to other forms of marketing, Internet Promotion presents the advantage of reduced budget and storage costs, when compared with printing brochures, producing television or radio advertisements or managing a call centre. It presents a fast and cost effective option for penetrating new markets.

Market Penetration

With millions of person using the Internet to search for products and services, small businesses can penetrate other markets at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing methods.

Websites act as virtual storefronts, allowing businesses to stay open 24/7. Internet Promotion gives a business greater visibility, thereby creating more opportunities for increasing its customers at relatively low cost. Never before has it been easier for an upstart business to be able to reach out to literally millions of potential customers and to position themselves for success, without the need for costly infrastructure and overwhelming marketing costs. Thanks to the Internet, new businesses can become popular almost overnight.

Low Cost, Instant Communication

Email makes business communications instant, whether the customer or business affiliate is across the street or across the globe. It makes it easier for customers to maintain contact and readily facilitates repeat purchasing. An effective online strategy can therefore turn a small web business into a virtual cost saver and income-generating machine. The net result is that the small business can gain significant competitive advantage in a given market.

Many online businesses have therefore resorted to the use of ezines, blogs, pop-up ads and other online marketing tools to let customers know about new products or services as well as provide information relevant to their respective industry. The benefits of this strategy are two fold. Marketers can effectively heighten brand awareness for relatively new products on the market whilst strengthening customer relationships, with shorter time frames.

Content is Timeless

Internet Promotion also provides the advantage of being enduring. Whereas participation at a trade fair or conference loses sales impact, once it is over, and an advertisement in a newspaper or business magazine may quickly lose its sales generating value within a day or two or as soon as the next issue is released; Internet Promotion is often timeless. Apart from the dates and sometimes prices, much of your website content remains valid years after.

Real Time Statistics For Measuring Success of Promotion Campaign

One of the most significant advantages of Internet Promotion is that its success is measurable. Marketers can use tools that provide real time statistics, on unique visitors, repeat visitors, click through rates (CTR) on advertisements, thereby allowing them to evaluate the effectiveness of a promotion campaign. This enables marketers to determine what works for their particular market and to make timely changes in their marketing strategies.

Time Saving

Another important advantage of Internet Promotion is that it saves time since it generally does away with counselling on product uses and benefits, service information and sales administration. Visitors can access “frequently asked questions” to help themselves, and can buy online, without the involvement of staff. This saves time and money. So, whether 10 or 10,000 visitors visit the site, the increased cost is marginal whilst the savings can be immense.

But like any business approach, Internet Promotion is not without its risks and weaknesses.


Difficulty in Attracting Customers

Small business may not have the resources to pay for paid directory inclusion, pay per click inclusions and often have to rely solely on search engine optimisation or word of mouth to drive traffic to their sites. With millions of businesses selling the same product and services, competing with more established businesses can be frustrating and costly venture for small business.

On the other hand, larger companies can offer promotions, pay for directory inclusions, implement pay per click campaigns as well as employ the “who is who” in internet marketing to develop campaigns that generate traffic and leads.

Difficulty in Evaluating Legitimacy of Transaction

Another notable disadvantage of doing promoting businesses online is that it may be difficult for the businesspersons and consumers to thoroughly evaluate the legitimacy of a transaction. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to thieves using stolen credit cards and stolen information to do online transaction.

With Internet credit card and identity fraud on the rise, small businesses are forced to finance costly security measures to reduce their vulnerability to fraudulent transactions.

Salespersons and Customers are Isolated

Another disadvantage of promotion via the Internet is that the customers and businesspersons are isolated. There is little personal contact between customer and salesperson prior to and after the sales is closed. Thus, the prospect for repeat sales may thus be diminished. Entrepreneurs are therefore compelled to adopt marketing strategies to drive online users back to their site.

From all indications, it appears that the advantages of Internet promotion, far exceed the disadvantages. With adequate knowledge, entrepreneur can benefit significantly from Internet promotion, especially small business owners.

More and more, the growth and outreach of the Internet’s, its ease and accessibility for customers is becoming inevitable. Small business would therefore be well advised to start their web advertising function in order to improve their competitiveness online.

Source by Carla Lendor

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Internet Webmaster Costs – Should You Outsource Website Management?

The Cost of a Webmaster

If you have a website and are considering hiring someone to manage that website, you need to consider the cost of hiring a webmaster. When compared to the cost of hiring a full-time or part-time employee, outsourcing your website management needs to a professional webmaster may make a lot more sense.

How Much Does a Webmaster Cost?

This is a bit of a loaded question. The answer is as simple as it is complicated… it depends! Every website has different management needs, therefore the cost of managing it will be different from one website to another.

Webmasters also charge differing fees. Some base it on a standard hourly fee, while others offer monthly or annual packages. You could see pricing online ranging from $10 a hour for an international webmaster to a few thousand a month for a professional webmaster that is focused on only a couple clients.

The thing to remember is that in this marketplace, you truly get what you pay for in webmasters. At $10 a hour, you are most likely considering someone overseas that works in a different time zone, offers only a select few options in management and manages a hundred or more clients at a time. At several thousand dollars a month, you should expect a dedicated webmaster with few other clients and a wide range of services.

Outsourcing Vs. Direct Hire

One of the considerations is whether to outsource or hire internally. Here the cost difference can be even greater. Let’s look at an example…

According to, the average salary for a webmaster can range from $45,000 to over $105,000 a year, depending on location and experience. Add to that the costs of employee benefits, such as insurance and retirement, and the additional taxes required for social security and unemployment, and you can see how the costs can really add up!

If outsourcing to a professional webmaster can range from $10 a hour to a few thousand a month, you could see annual costs from less than $1,000 to upwards of $30-40,000 a year, depending on your needs, the services offered by the webmaster and the number of clients the webmaster works with. The more the webmaster charges, they should offer more options and work with less clients, providing you more exclusive attention.

John, with Widgets Galore, is seeking someone to manage their company website. They need a website manager to update content on a weekly basis, optimize their content and keep the software up to date. Adding social content and email marketing would be secondary needs, if their budget can handle it. Doing some research, John has found a professional webmaster that works with only a handful of clients with a monthly cost of about $600 to provide all their needs. Doing some simple math, the annual cost of this webmaster would run John’s company only $7,200 a year, much less than hiring a full time employee, or even a part-time employee. Given the major difference in costs, you should seriously consider a webmaster service over hiring an employee to manage your organization’s website.

Source by Edward Nailor

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Search Engine History – Web Search Before Google

Did Google always dominate the web search market? In the second of three posts on the history of the Search Engines, I look at the pioneers of the early search market, including the very first web crawler, WWW Wanderer. Did you know that Disney used to be one of the biggest players in the business? Or that Altavista was more technically advanced, in many ways, in 1998 than Google is now? Read on!

The pioneering Web Search Engines

Really, the point at which modern search engines first begin to appear is after the development and popularisation of the MOSAIC browser in 1993. In 1994, Internet Magazine was launched, together with a review of the top 100 websites billed as the ‘most extensive’ list ever to appear in a magazine. A 28.8Kbps modem was priced at $399 and brought the internet within the reach of the masses (albeit slowly)!

At this point and for the next 4-5 years, it was just about possible to produce printed and web-based directories of the best sites and for this to be useful information for consumers. However, the rapid growth in the number of www sites (from 130 in 1993 to over 600,000 in 1996) began to make this endeavour seem as futile as producing a printed yellow pages of all the businesses, media and libraries in the world!

Whilst WAIS was not a lasting success, it did highlight the value of being able to search – and click through to – the full text of documents on multiple internet hosts. The nascent internet magazines and web directories further highlighted the challenge of being able to keep up with an internet which was growing faster than the ability of any human being to catalogue it.

In June 1993, Matthew Gray at MIT developed the PERL-based web crawler, WWW Wanderer. Initially, this was simply devised as a tool to measure the growth of the world wide web by “collecting sites”. Later, however, Gray (who now works for Google) used the crawled results to build an index called “Wandex” and added a search front-end. In this way, Gray developed the world’s first web search engine and the first autonomous web crawler (an essential feature of all modern search engines).

Whilst Wanderer was the first to send a robot to crawl web sites, it did not index the full text of documents (as had WAIS). The first search engine to combine these two essential ingredients was WebCrawler, developed in 1994 by Brian Pinkerton at the University of Washington. WebCrawler was the search engine on which many of us early pioneers first scoured the web and will be remembered with affection for its (at the time) attractive graphical interface and the incredible speed with which it returned results. 1994 also saw the launch of Infoseek and Lycos.

However, the scale of growth of the web was beginning to put indexing beyond the reach of the average University IT department. The next big step required capital investment. Enter, stage right, the (then huge) Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and it’s super-fast Alpha 8400 TurboLaser processor. DEC was an early adopter of web technologies and the first Fortune 500 Company to establish a web site. Its search engine, AltaVista, was launched in 1995.

Founded in 1957, DEC had during the 1970s and 1980s led the mini-computer market. In fact, most of the machines on which the earliest ARPANET hosts ran were DEC-PDP-10s and PDP-11s. However, by the early 1990s, DEC was a business in trouble. In 1977, their then CEO, Ken Olsen, famously said that “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”. Whilst somewhat taken out of context at the time, this quote was in part symptomatic of DEC’s slow response to the emergence of personal computing and the client-server revolution of the 1980s.

By the time Altavista was being developed, the company was besieged on all sides by HP, Compaq, Dell, SUN and IBM and was losing money like it was going out of fashion. Louis Monier and his research team at DEC were “discovered” internally as the ultimate PR coup; the entire web captured – and searchable – on a single computer. What better way to showcase the company as an innovator and demonstrate the lightning fast speed and 64-bit storage of their new baby?

During 1995, Monier unleashed a thousand web crawlers onto the young web (at that time an unprecedented achievement). By December (site launch) Altavista had indexed more than 16 million documents comprising several billion words. In essence, Altavista was the first commercial-strength, web-based search engine system. AltaVista enjoyed nearly 300,000 visits on its first day alone and, within nine months, was serving 19 million requests a day.

Altavista was, indeed, well ahead of it’s time technically. The search engine pioneered many technologies that Google and others later took years to catch up with. The site carried natural search queries, Boolean operators, automatic translation services (babelfish) and image, video and audio search. It was also lightning fast (at least in the beginning) and (unlike other engines) coped well with indexing legacy internet resources (and particularly the then still popular UseNet newsgroups).

After Altavista, Magellan and Excite (all launched in 1995), a multitude of other search engine companies made their debut, including Inktomi & Ask Jeeves (1996) and Northern Light & Snap (1997). Google itself launched in 1998.

Of these early engines, each enjoyed its own enthusiastic following and a share of the then nascent search market. Each also had its own relative strengths and weaknesses. Northern Light, for example, organized its search results in specific folders labeled by subject (something arguably still to be bettered today) and acquired a small – but enthusiastic following as a result. Snap pioneered search results ranked, in part, by what people clicked on (something Yahoo! and Google are only toying with now!)

In January 1999 (at the beginning of the dotcom boom), the biggest sites (in terms of market share) were Yahoo!, Excite, Altavista and Disney, with 88% of all search engine referrals. Market share was not closely related to the number of pages indexed (where Northern Light, Altavista and a then relatively unknown Google led the pack):

Search Engine Share of search referrals (Dec 99)

Yahoo! – 55.81%

Excite Properties (Excite, Magellan & WebCrawler) – 11.81%

Altavista – 11.18%

Disney Search Properties (Infoseek & Go Network) – 8.91%

Lycos – 5.05%

Go To (now Overture) – 2.76%

Snap / NBCi – 1.58%

MSN – 1.25%

Northern Light

Source by David Viney