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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.
Fair Use Copyright Law Don?t Overstep the Fair Use Copyright Law Many people are interested in the fair use copyright law. The fair use copyright law enables people to use portions of material that is copyrighted for the purposes of criticism or as commentary. The hard part for many people is understanding what is permissible under the fair use copyright law and what is not permissible. Anyone who writes or publishes should brush up on what is allowed and what is not allowed. Using another person?s words to make news reports, to use as a comment or criticism or to use for research, scholarship, or for educational uses that are nonprofit are generally considered fair use. In these instances, the fair use copyright law allows one person or author to make use of another person or author?s work without asking permission to do so. In situations that do not fall within these specifications you are probably violating someone?s copyright if you use their work ? especially if you are using another person?s work for economic or commercial gain. When you are trying to see if you can use another?s words, you should keep a few things in mind. The answer to the following questions will help you gage whether you would be violating a copyright. First, are you transforming someone else?s work or are you copying it? Second, are you going to be making any financial gains from your work that would compete with the original copyright holder? Third, do you have the author?s permission to quote their work? Just because you list the author and give credit to him or her does not protect you from infringing upon someone?s copyright. Fourth, how much of the original author?s work are you using? If you are using a substantial amount of another?s work, you are probably in direct violation of their copyright. Many publishing companies have set rules on how much material they will allow to be quoted in other sources. Some of these ranges start at 100 words or less. However, there are truly no standards to go by, so be careful. You can not assume that keeping your copying fewer than 50 words will allow you to pass under the radar ? especially if the original piece is hovering around 125 words itself! Lastly, what portion of another?s work are you using? If it is the meat of the book and the most important part of the book, you are probably in direct violation of the owner?s copyright. With a little common sense it is not hard to decide if you are violating someone?s copyright. People who are truly interested in staying within the guidelines of the fair use copyright law usually do a good job of doing so. Many people push the fair use copyright law right up to the line, while others will blatantly cross over it without giving a second thought to the repercussions. When these people are summoned to court to answer for their vagrant disregard for the property and copyright of another they are usually sorry. Sorry they got caught! It is very important that people who take advantage of the fair use copyright law are held accountable for their actions. Without accountability many more people would follow in their footsteps and use another?s works as their own.
Business writing: What it is and Tips to Help You (business writing) Business writing is much more precise and less detail oriented than other styles of writing. In writing for a business there are a few elements you must know. Your knowledge or lack there of these elements can make or break your business writing career. Your goal for business writing is to strive for clarity and precision, yet not be too vague or elaborate. Examples of business writing would be emails, business plans, brochures, and many more. Virtually anything writings that pertain to a business are classified as business writing. When people read business writings they are not only looking for what happened and why, but how you are handling the situation at hand. A person reading a business writing that has an organized and concise style with an active tone is going to heed a much better result and give confidence that any matters will be taken care of. Organize your thoughts. The more organized you are the quicker and easier it will be for you to put your words in a decisive and orderly style. Your writing should be grammatically correct along with the proper usage of capitalization and punctuation. These errors can cause misinterpretations amongst the readers of your business writings. An example of correct and incorrect punctuations would be ?We are missing the actress Jane.? Or ?We are missing the actress, Jane.? While both are correct, they mean two entirely different things. Business writing is backwards or upside down from other writings. You start with the ending and then give a brief synopsis on how you got to that point. You may include other avenues that were considered and why they were not chosen. Have a positive attitude. Even if you are conveying a message that has on outcome other than optimal a positive tone will bring a much better response. Tell your readers what good came about from the outcome. Tell them what you can do with these results. For example a non-profit agency held a fundraiser. They were hoping to bring in $25,000 for building repairs and play ground equipment. Unfortunately, they only got $15,000. Positive tone writing would be ?Our fundraiser was successful. We can now begin building repairs.? Or ?The new playground equipment will be delivered tomorrow due to our successful fundraiser.? Even though it was not as much of a success as you would have liked, by keeping a positive attitude and showing people what can be done will promote a positive attitude in the future. A negative tone might be something like ?Since our fundraiser was not as successful as we had hoped, we will have to choose between playground equipment and builder repairs.? This approach could be unfavorable to future fundraisers because it seems as though you are unthankful for what you did get. Being positive shows your appreciation for the hard work or donations that you have received. Don?t play the blame game. Even if you know whose fault it is a deal fell through there is no need to start a mud-flinging contest. Surely, the person responsible is already aware of the situation and chances are so is everyone else. Down the line they are not going to remember whose fault it was, but they will remember who was naming names. This is not only very unprofessional, it is malicious and that is not how you would like to be talked about. Finally using an active voice will promote a better reception to your business writing than a passive one. An active voice shows that you are in control and are aware of how or why things are going to happen.