This year before laying out a new set of goals we will be carrying forward our goals of 2008. These were:
- Utilize all our assets
- Forge meaningful alliances
- Experiment in transparency
Considering that our tag-line is “always improving” it would be unrealistic to limit our commitments to a calendar year. In any case none of these goals were satisfactorily accomplished. As a result this year we will be taking into account the inevitable distractions and time constraints while still resisting the urge to set our expectations low to avoid taking on challenges.
To start we will get read of excess sites and subdomains and focus more on our core website and graphic projects. As for forging alliances we will be on the look out for these opportunities and decide on a case by case basis. Transparency could be achieved by utilizing this blog and disseminating more relevant information more often.
In the pipeline
We are moving over to a CMS style of updating news on our site and most clients’Â sites. This is currently in development and has proven to reduce the time it takes to update sites and associated rss feeds drastically.
Integrating social aspects into client sites will also prove an interesting challenge since we will have to consider minimizing spam and preventing inappropriate content from being posted. However we recognize the appeal of an interactive site versus a plain static one.
This year we also intend to put up a more comprehensive portfolio that more accurately represents work we have done and are capable of doing.Â Currently our portfolio appears to beÂ too sparse.
SeizerStyle Designs 2009 Calendars are now available for download. These calendars have been designed to fit on 8.5″ x 11″ paper for easy printing. Included is a list of Dominica national holidays and lunar cycles are also indicated.Click on a thumbnail below for a higher resolution version.
As a small business the price of software can be daunting. So much so that many use pirated software. Even if the software is not pirated some may find themselves in violation of the vendor’s restrictive licensing policy.
With the increasing popularity of open source software, alternatives to proprietary software are becoming more readily available. Most of these programs also have the advantage of being cross platform meaning they can work on multiple different operating systems.
SeizerStyle Designs regularly uses the following free and open source software:
Open source linux operating system which is a good alternative to Microsoft Windows. Running multiple programs on Ubuntu seems smoother and more responsive than on Windows XP in our experience.
Extensible web browser. Not only is Firefox standards compliant, it can also be customized using extensions to provide features that are not provided out of the box.
All email in one place. With the popularity of web based email services Thunderbird’s strength really lies in its ability to organize multiple POP and IMAP accounts in one place.
Komodo edit is a code editor which supports many programming languages. With cross platform support, code highlighting and project management.
GNU Image Manipulation Program or GIMP is a versatile image editing program. Although its lack of CMYK support may not make it suitable for graphics for advanced printing it is sufficient for web graphics.
Filezilla is an FTP client that can be used to upload and download files. With options including queuing of files Filezilla is a very stable FTP client.
Disclosure: SeizerStyle Designs may occasionally do business with the DotDM Corporation and/or related entities.
Two of our clients, the Dominica Amateur Athletic Association and the Dominica Olympic Committee, are now both sporting new shorter .dm domain names – daaa.dm and doc.dm respectively. These domains have replaced the lengthier dominicaamateurathleticassociation.org and dominicaolympiccommittee.org.
The main reason for the change was to make the domains shorter andÂ easier to type as well as to reduce misspellings. Since both domains already contained the word “dominica” the .dm TLD suits them well. Although it costs more to register a .dm than a .com, .net or .org TLD, we believe the simplification is worth it. There is also a wider choice of available .dm domain names since that space is less crowded than the other popular TLDs.
The hurricane season is once again upon us (June 1 – November 30). As usual we should pray for the best but be prepared for the worst. It is better to plan and acquire the things you may need early than wait for the rush when a storm is announced.
Some things that come in handy during or after a hurricane are: candles, matches, flashlights, radios, batteries,Â bottled water,Â canned foods, garbage bags, first aid kits. Remember that their will likely be a power outage during or after a hurricane and cell phones may take a while to work after a major storm (they should not be used during the storm). Ensure that your mobile phones are fully charged before the storm and that vehicles have enough fuel.
Let’s hope we are spared this year and that everybody stays safe and prepared.
Some useful links for the hurricane season are:
National Hurricane Center
The Weather Channel
Dominica Meteorological Service
You may notice a button below news posts on this blog and other SeizerStyle Designs websites recently. The Add This button makes it easier to bookmark and share the information in news articles and posts using some of the most popular social services. Hopefully this should make it easier to link to our information that interests you and easier still to share it with your friends.
We have also been experimenting with embedding documents directly into pages using Scribd. This would be ideal for sites like the Dominica Amateur Athletic Association which rely heavily on PDF files to distribute results and entry standards for various events. However, in our experiments not all the files were able to be converted successfully into Scribd’s iPaper format.
Since the ability to share information is an integral part of the internet experience we will continue to explore and integrate creative ways of making this easier to do. With the explosive growth of social networking it is important to be able to reach your target audience where they spend their time and with as few extra steps as possible.
Update: Scribd has changed its business model to a book membership service
A couple months ago I wrote about how Windows wouldn’t boot but linux would. Back then I said I was waiting for Ubuntu 8.04 to be released before I tackled the problem and now I believe I have a better understanding of what happened and how to resolve similar problems in the future.
When installing Ubuntu Linux I installed GRUB (a linux bootloader) to the Master Boot Record (MBR). This was not a problem since you can use GRUB to start Windows without a problem. The problem was however that my PC came with a restore partition which I could use to restore the PC to how it was originally and by overwriting the MBR I removed the ability to boot from the restore partition.
My hard drive is also a SATA hard drive and I learnt that unlike IDE hard drives I needed to load drivers from a floppy in other for XP to recognize my drive when installing from a CD. This would explain the blue screen of death I received whenever trying to reinstall before I knew about the drivers. So after I downloaded the drivers and installed windows from the CD came the setup and the Windows Activation. Now since my PC did not come with a Windows CD (only the restore partition) my OEM Windows key would not work with the Windows XP CD I was using.
My search for a solution led me to Dell’s support forums. I had to create a boot CD with a program called DSRFix. This came as an ISO file which included a program called ptedit, so after I burnt the CD image I was all set. I was able to restore my MBR to its original state (I did have to use the command DSRFIX /F to fix errors found). After that I was able to reboot and press CTRL+F11 to boot into my restore partition and restore Windows to its original state.
Now that Windows was working I diverted my attention to reinstalling Ubuntu. This time I didn’t want to overwrite the MBR so I created my partitions and installed GRUB on the linux partition instead. I then used a program called BootPart to edit my boot.ini file so that Ubuntu would show up in the Windows bootloader. Note: BootPart is a DOS program so you will have to run it from the command prompt and after navigating to the program folder the command bootpart /? will give information on it’s usage.
This experience helped me understand the process of dual booting better but I would not recommend it as an exercise on a machine with mission critical data. I backed up all my data before trying this just in case. It was a time consuming fix but if you find yourself in a similar position it just might help.
A wireless network is a great option if you want to connect computers without running many cables or if you want to maximize the mobility of your laptop/notebook computer. Setting up a wifi network isn’t that hard.
- Wireless router or wireless access point
- Wireless Network Inteface Card or Wireless LAN Adapter (one for each computer)
- Ethernet Modem
Putting It All Together
If you have not set up an internet connection with an internet service provider you need to do that first. The following steps will assume that you already have an internet connection up and running.
- Do not plug or unplug anything yet. You should follow any instructions that came with your router very carefully. These instructions are usually fairly simple and tell you when and how to plug everything in.
- Insert the setup CD that came with your router and run the setup program following the instructions that came with your router.
- At some point in the setup you will be required to connect your modem to the router’s internet port and connect the router to your computer via one of its other ports. You will also be instructed to connect the power supply to the router and then to plug it into an empty socket.
- After the router has configured your internet settings you should be able to use your wireless network. However it is greatly recommended that you set up some security measures first. You should be able to access your routers configuration via an IP Address (usually in the form of 192.*.*.*) where you can change various settings. Specific instructions should be in the documents that came with the router or on the setup CD. Basically you need to first give your router configuration utility a password then look in the settings for something such as “wireless security”. Here you should select security standard such as WPA (recommended) or WEP. You can then select a pass phrase that users must enter to gain access to your wireless network.Tip: Make your pass phrase exactly 5 or 13 characters. This will prevent you from getting error messages about your pass phrase’s length from Windows.
- You should now be able to unplug your router from your computer and use your wireless network interface card or your wireless lan adapter to connect to your router. They should immediately detect your wireless network. If you set your network to use WPA or WEP you will be asked for the pass phrase the first time you try to connect to the wireless network otherwise you should connect automatically.
Adware & Spyware are programs that gather information about you while you use your computer. This could be advertising in a program you downloaded or a malicious program running stealthily in your computer’s background. They can cause many inconveniences to a computer user. Besides using up system resources they also pose a security risk because they transmit potentially private information without user knowledge or intervention.
You should first try to remove spyware using Add or Remove Programs in Windows (click Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs). Once there you can uninstall any suspicious program. To help you we have compiled a list of common spyware below.
Some free tools for removing adware and spyware are Ad-Aware 2007 Free and Spybot Search & Destroy.
You may also want to clean your registry using RegCleaner.
Note: This is a simple tool, but can cause damage to your computer if you delete something that is needed by the system. Please ensure that you are certain what you delete is not needed.
Warning: Whenever making changes to the registry it is recommended that you make a backup first in case something goes wrong. All the programs linked to here are capable of making backups.
To reduce the chances of getting spyware on your computer you should do the following:
- Do not install suspicious programs or plugins onto your computer. You can always search for more information about a program before installing it.
- Scan regularly using both your antivirus and antispyware programs.
- Keep your operating system updated either by turning on automatic updates or updating manually on a regular basis.
- Use an alternative browser like Mozilla Firefox or Opera since most spyware and adware is targeted at Internet Explorer users.
Some Common Spyware/Adware:
Fun Web Products
Email is a convenient form of communication which has been blighted by an abundance of unwanted and unrequested mail messages known as spam. Spam is basically any form of unsolicited mail and it is usually sent to multiple recipients. Besides cluttering your inbox, spam can also be dangerous as many scams use it to lure victims.
Nigerian bankers, dead relatives etc…
Beware of email scams from “Nigerian bankers” or other people asking you to invest money in obscure schemes. These email scams are infamous for their shady methods and it is very unlikely that you will get any money from them. It is more likely that you will lose whatever money you send to the individual(s).
MSN is closing, send this to save a child etc…chain letters
These chain letters do not ask you for money but ask you to forward an email to many people to avoid something bad from happening. First of all, no email company will beg you to forward emails because forwarding emails uses bandwidth which these same internet companies have to pay for. Secondly, companies do not pay for email forwards and would need privileged access to email accounts to even track who has forwarded an email to a certain number of friends. With the large amount of email traffic on the internet this is neither trivial to accomplish nor economical to attempt.
How to deal with spam
When you receive spam i.e. unsolicitated email it is best to delete it immediately without opening it. The reason for this is that spam may include a virus or by simply opening a spam email a spammer may be able to determine that your email address is active and send you more spam. This technique usually involves images included in the email so it is advisable to disable the loading of images in emails from people you do not know.