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Web Hosting - Databases, What Are They and Do You Need One?
'Database' is one of the most commonly used terms that one encounters in web site design. Yet, what they really are and whether they're essential is often not clear to novices.
A database is a collection of organized data, stored in files that have a specific structure. It's that organization and structure that allows for easy and rapid storage and retrieval.
The need for a database generally only arises when you have a certain amount of information and that information needs to have some structure. If you have a half-dozen names and addresses to store, a database is usually overkill. If you have a blob of data with no relationships between any of the items in that blob, maintaining a database is usually more trouble than it's worth.
Maintain a database? Yes, like other complex systems a database, to be effective, needs to be designed properly at the outset then kept 'tuned' for good performance. The alternative is to gradually allow the database to become more and more disorganized. That leads to difficulty in use, poor speed of retrieval and more frequent failures.
With MySQL, Access or MS SQL Server, the three most common choices of database product for web sites today, setting up a database is relatively simple. Even those with limited technical skill can get one up and running just by following some simple instructions. But some thought should be given to how you want the information organized, and to maintaining the system during its lifetime.
Suppose you have a set of names, addresses, email addresses, products purchased, date purchased and amount. If you have only a few dozen records it matters very little how these pieces are arranged and related. A database usually isn't even warranted in this scenario. Once you have several thousand or more records, it matters a lot. Speed, the ease of expanding the set of attributes (like adding, say, product category), and other issues come into play.
Even those with little technical expertise, but a willingness to exert logical thought and invest some time, can build a very robust database. Think about how you would organize a set of data (called 'tables'). Should Name, Address, and Product be in the same table? Or should the personal information be stored in one table and any product information (product, price, ...) in another?
Some experimentation may be needed to get it right, but the choices have an impact on how easy the tables are to maintain. It also affects the speed with which programs can fetch old data and store the new.
Having a database also introduces new maintenance issues for the server administrator, since backups usually need to be done differently. Recovering a failed database is usually more complicated than simply re-copying files from yesterday. Ask your hosting company what tools and skills they have for dealing with any database system you consider.
It's true that introducing a database creates more complexity and the need for additional thought and administrative effort. At a certain level, professional expertise will be needed. But clearly the advantages outweigh the costs in many cases. Companies large and small eventually use databases to store and organize data. At some point, you may be fortunate enough to be one of them.
Make Allies in the Workplace to Boost your Own Employee Status A pleasant work environment can go a long way. Having allies in the workplace that work with you, opposed to against you, can create an enjoyable calm at your place of employment. While everyone is not going to be best friends in the workplace, the ability to get along is very important. This can be more challenging with some people than others. However, typically when there is a real bad apple in the mix, they tend to weed themselves out with complete alienation. With that in mind, make allies with as many of your co-workers as you can. A healthy work environment makes the actual work go much smoother. If you want to gain allies at work treat everyone with respect. Employees that are known for their fairness and respect for others are the ones that people trust. If something goes wrong on the job, the boss and other employees know that they can get the right version of the situation from the employee that is kind to everyone. You do not have to like people to be kind to them. Co-workers that you do not like personally should be the ones that you greet and discuss work issues with. Other than that, you want to steer clear of your least favorites. The same is true for bosses that are on your least liked list. Simply limit contact to business material and you will cut down on the chances of having altercations. Nothing ignites work hostility more than employees that do not do their share of the work. If you want to have allies in the workplace, be sure that you are doing your job. You will not have to force the issue if you are doing what you are supposed to do. Your co-workers will like having you around and will be pleasant if you are completing the work you need to do. Don?t gossip. This is one of the major ways to create dislike in the workplace. Spreading rumors, or even truths that were confessed behind closed doors can keep the office on edge. If you are the confidant of someone at work, do not take the information they have shared with you and share it with others. If co-workers come to you and bicker about one another, do not chime in. If they are complaining to you about someone, they are complaining about you to someone else. Politely listen and move on. Remember your manners. Sometimes things get hectic at work and we forget our manners. We find ourselves in a hurry, throwing reports at the secretary or interrupting someone?s phone conversation. Try to compose yourself and be polite. Do not forget your manners simply because you are at work. Put forth extra effort to get along with your co-workers that are not easy to get along with. Personalities are going to be in conflict occasionally. There is nothing wrong with being opposed to someone and their views of the world. However, if they are your co-worker or boss, you need to not let that get in the way of you communicating with them. Allies do not have to necessarily be friends. Instead they should be people that are aligned with you because of the job you do and the way that you treat people. Employees that are able to form alliances at work will have a much easier time getting through the day. Also, if something happens on the job and you need help, co-workers will be much more willing to help out if you are someone who is well liked. With that in mind, it is worth your effort to try to gain allies at work.
Web Hosting - Unix vs Windows-Based Hosting, Which Is Better? An operating system functions largely out of sight, or at least is supposed to. It doesn't matter to non-geeks how a file gets stored, or how memory is used, or how simultaneous processes share the limited resources available on a computer. These are among the basic functions of any operating system. Yet, you can find very passionate supporters - who offer very detailed lists of pros and cons - for every operating system. Why? Because, though the low-level functions of an operating system do their work out of sight, there are many other features that rise to visibility. Sometimes, they do so when they're not supposed to. Weighing the pros and cons objectively could consume a book. But to select a web host operating system, a manageable level of considerations apply. They can be weighed even by those who don't know a processor queue from a pool cue. Learning Curves For most web site owners, administering the site/server is just overhead. It's not something they take pleasure in doing and they have plenty of other things to worry about. Many wouldn't know how and have no interest in learning (rightly so, given their priorities). Consequently, ease of administration is paramount for such people. Whether a Unix-based site (usually Linux these days) is easier to administer than Windows depends on your current skill set and the type of tools and level of access the web hosting company provides. But in general Linux is more difficult to install and maintain than Windows and the learning curve is steeper. FTP and Control Panels Often, you don't have to care. For many, the operating system is fairly transparent. FTP file transfers to get a new web page up to a Windows server are very much like they are to a Linux-based site. The user/administrator simply doesn't see what's behind the curtain. Many companies provide other utilities that completely mask any awareness of the operating system underneath. When that's the case, the web site owner has no reason to care, until or unless they need or want to go 'inside the black box'. Performance Performance issues can be relevant in selecting which operating system host type to choose. But for the most part, that aspect is outside the web site owner's control. Overall performance can be good or bad on either system, depending on many factors that the publisher will rarely see. The issue is a wash, as far as tipping the scales is concerned. What is more likely to be seen by a web site owner, at some point in their (and their site's) development is the database product that can be used to store information. Databases Microsoft SQL Server is relatively simple to use, yet extremely powerful and can deliver great performance. But it doesn't run on Linux. At least, not without special software to emulate Windows, which usually kills performance. On the other hand, with a bit of time invested, MySQL isn't significantly more difficult to learn than MS SQL Server and there are many free installations. Cost may well outweigh other considerations for most on this issue. Programming Languages Last, but not least, there are differences in programming languages that can be (or at least typically are) used on Windows vs Unix. If you have programmers who are skilled in Visual Basic, ASP and other Microsoft technologies, then a Windows-based host will be your preferred choice. For Perl and PHP programmers, Linux is the more common platform of choice. No single factor can push you to one versus the other operating system. And, in the long run, it isn't the primary consideration, unless you just enjoy playing with operating systems.
Technical Writing: What is it? (technical writing) Technical writing is one of the most difficult forms of writing. To be a technical writer you need to be able to convey a technical message in a concise and effective manner. Technical documents must be created using comprehensive and precise information in a brief and understandable style. You will need the ability to be able to correspond with technical experts and have the understanding of all technical terminology. You are the middleman between the designers, engineers, or scientists and the audience of the technical writings. You have to have the ability to under stand what they are saying and the turn it into something that can be understood by someone else. Simply put it is writing that designs, creates, and upkeeps any kind of technical data such as user manuals, how to guides, and online help just to name a few. To be able to achieve a career in technical writing you must be able to write complex data in a straightforward, easy to understand and articulate fashion. You must be able to word step by step instructions in a way that seems effortless to a consumer. While doing technical writing one of the most important aspects of your job will be creating for an intended audience. So not only must you understand and convey what you are writing, you must understand whom you are writing it for. In most cases, you are generally trying to explain complex technical information to the average person. But with the diversity in the world today and having such a vast potential audience you must understand the meaning of the words you use and what they could mean to someone else. Some technical writing projects may also include magazine and newspaper articles. These articles will probably be focused on new technologies and products. In some cases this may be in the form of an advertisement. Or it could just be an introduction to a new product saying hey this is what we have and this is what it a can do. Although a formal education is always a plus, if you have experience and successful past ventures in technical writing it isn?t always necessary. Knowledge into the multiple components needed for technical writing is required. They key components to what you must know is an in depth knowledge many software programs. These applications can include Visio, Quadralay Web Works Publisher, Microsoft Word, and HTML script writing. Proper formatting, style, and organization of writings are what make them easy to follow. Correct wording, clear sentences, and easy terminology make your technical writings easy the read and comprehend. If you are employed as a technical writer with a company, you will most likely be working with a team of other writers. You writings will be reviewed for content efficiency as well as any grammar and spelling errors. Depending on the structure of the team they may be working on the same project as you or they may be working on separate projects. Either way the team is assembled as a support group to help make your technical writing be as accurate, effective, and as simple as it can be. To succeed in technical writing these are the simple rules to follow. Keep it as simple as possible; no one wants to read four pages to find a simple one word answer. Understand the people you are talking to and what you are telling them. If you don?t understand, neither will they. Make sure you get your work proofread or read it aloud to make sure it makes sense. You know what you are trying to say, but your reader does not. You are the carrier for getting information from point A to Point B.