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  • Advertising on Social Media

    No comments April 26th, 2016 291

    There are nearly countless methods of social networking on the internet, with the numbers growing every day. Naturally, a few names standout as the top platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Small businesses likely cannot afford to choose more than one of these platforms, though the visibility is certainly worth the investment.

    Where will you receive the best results?

    Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of advertising on the top social media platforms:

    Facebook

    Pros: Facebook has the largest number of users (over 1.19 billion and of those at least 700 million users are active daily) and will give you immediate visibility with a wide range of audiences. It offers advanced targeting options so that small businesses can advertise to their specific clientele. Targeting options are: location, gender, likes/interests, workplace, relationship status, and education.

    Cons: In comparison to other sites, Facebook’s provided metrics are very small. Additionally the expense for a small ad may not offer increased traffic enough to justify its cost.

    LinkedIn

    Pros: The user base is made up of mainly business professionals, which gives the platform a high conversion rate. Categories like employee title, location, and demographics allow targeting to specific audiences. The platform is growing swiftly, particularly in markets such as India.

    Cons: Click-through-rates are fairly low, though the ones that do click are usually invested. Compared to other platforms, advertisements are expensive. Additionally remarketing options are not available.

    Twitter

    Pros: With its use of hashtags, Twitter allows targeting of users based on their current interests. Like Facebook, Twitter has a dedicated user base (over 320 million active users, with 1.3 billion total). Its ad format is much more straightforward via promoted tweets, which appear like any other user’s tweet. Promoted accounts and trends are additionally beneficial.

    Cons: Apart from hashtags and keywords, Twitter’s selection of interests to choose from is fairly limited and makes it difficult to target by interest. Twitter keeps quiet about its ads’ success compared to other platforms. Also the cost can be unthinkable for small businesses, especially for “promoted trends.”

    Google+

    Pros: As a search engine itself, Google knows how to use SEO benefits. Its audience is more tech-driven (a pro for some companies and a con for others). The advertiser does not pay for their ad unless someone clicks on it and at that point, pays per click.

    Cons: Google does qualify hovering over the ad for two seconds or more as a click. This platform does not receive as much traffic as the other sites mentioned, with a mere 300 million monthly users (although this includes use of Google’s other products like YouTube). Also targeting options are limited and promotion policies are restrictive.

     

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  • Color Psychology pt 2

    No comments April 14th, 2016 522

    If you haven’t yet, take a look at our first post on colors. This follow-up will focus more on the marketing potential in color and how to utilize that.

    First off, you have probably seen a color wheel, but do you know how to utilize it?  These terms may be helpful:

    Color wheels are a helpful tool for assembling colors and intensities that complement each other. The hue is the brightest form of the color shown on the outside of the wheel. These are the purest form of the color and are not diluted with any white, black, or grey. Next is the tint, which has been mixed with white for a more pastel version of the same color. Third on the wheel, nearing the center, is the tone, which is the hue mixed with true grey for a more muted version. Lastly, closest to the center, is the shade which is the hue mixed with black for a rich, deep result.

    Often in marketing, tints are used for female products while shades promote products geared toward men.

    Think of the common colors we see around us. Pink is often associated with confectionary shops, red with fast food, calming greens with bookstores or organic markets, while blue is a common color in insurance companies and banks.

    Color’s influence cannot be overstated.

    The most important thing is that your design promotes readability. Blunt, complementary colors keep the text from fading into the background without contrast. For images or logos, colors schemes with the central item being the brightest color will focus attention without straining your viewers’ eyes.

    Color schemes that consciously direct the eye’s path are often the most successful. For example, a website with a grey background, black text, and some red framing. If you organize the red so that it is associated with buttons, essential elements, and action, readers will be “trained” to recognize the highlighted sections as important.

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  • Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0

    No comments April 12th, 2016 320

    For those who frequent the internet and technical articles, the terms Web 2.0 (or 1.0 or 3.0) surely have surfaced and may be confusing. What is the difference between the three and why does it matter?

    There is no hard and fast classification as these terms are broadly used, but basic definitions can still be applied to each.

    Web 1.0 refers to the very first implementation of the web in which users could read but not interact with or contribute to the information they found. This read-only format was used simply to establish an internet presence and widen contact with audiences by making their information readily and easily available.

    An example would be shopping cart applications which mainly function as an online, seachable catalog with the advantage of shopping and purchasing from any location. The purpose is convenience and accessibility.

    Web 2.0 is the term for a read-write arrangement that allows contribution of and interaction between the users. This goes beyond (although it does include) comment sections or availability of a rating system or feedback. Think of websites like YouTube or Twitter that rely upon user contribution and uploads. The users become integrated and invested in the information. The purpose here is connection and contribution.

    What comes next? Numerically, it is obviously Web 3.0, but its functions are less obvious to imagine. The idea is a read-write-execute version of the web. This latest development is still in process. Ideally Web 3.0 will reduce the communication gap between computerized applications and users so that technical data is more accessible and readable to humans. From there, applications will have the potential to communicate directly to each other and simplify the need for user instruction. This will allow for broader, more instinctive search engines and intelligent, computerized interpretation of information.

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  • New – Database Vault for Windows!

    No comments April 6th, 2016 366

    ASPnix is pleased to announce Database Vault for Windows – a brand new database backup management application. Database Vault offers a simple all-in-one solution for creating and managing MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server database backups. No need to have multiple applications for different SQL database engines, let Database Vault do it all!

    database-vaultDatabase Vault has the ability to store database backups to a variety of storage locations and solutions, such as a local disk, external USB drive, network storage, or an offsite FTP server. More storage locations such as Dropbox, Amazon S3 and Google Drive are coming soon!

    A single installation easily manages an unlimited number of database backups and versions. Backups take almost no time to create, and multiple databases can be backed up simultaneously, streamlining the process. Database Vault supports both full and incremental backups for Microsoft SQL Server, as well as supporting SQL Server’s native backup compression. Additionally database backups can be compressed to save space, password protected, and AES-256 encrypted for security. Database Vault has email notifications support for successful or failed backups and can include the backup task log file for a quick diagnostics of what has failed or gone wrong. 

    Database Vault integrates with the Windows Task Scheduler to allow backup administrators to schedule and plan backup tasks or directly edit the scheduled task within the Windows Task Scheduler, allowing optimal control over the task’s execution.

    Database Vault has been tested with databases from only several MBs all the way to 100GBs and handles databases of all sizes with ease!

    For a limited time, we are offering a $50 off launch promo on both the MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server backup options.

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  • Color Psychology

    No comments April 3rd, 2016 466

    Color is a very important tool for conveying tone, encouraging emotions, and connecting with your viewers on a subconscious level. Used correctly, the color tones you use can be harmonious with each other and your textual message. Incorrectly used, colors can repel viewers, clash, and appear in disagreement with your website or blog’s message.

    While colors initially may seem self-explanatory due to our societal and cultural cues (blue = sad, yellow = happy, etc), the hues can have deeper contextual messages for your readers. Here are some important color connotations:

    Red: enthusiastic, powerful, confident, energetic, protective, exciting, prosperous. Most exercise products and companies use this color to encourage energy and assurance.

    colored pencilsOrange: active, healthy, social, friendly, warm, fun. This can be a risky color to choose as a central piece of a logo or background, as people usually have a strong innate negative or positive response to it.

    Yellow: communication, mental stimulation, optimism, enlightenment, happiness, creativity. Even though yellow is typically representative of happiness in American culture, in Greece it signifies sadness and in French culture yellow represents jealousy.

    Green: soothing, mentally and physically relaxing, harmonious. As a naturally pervasive color, green makes an excellent dominant color in backgrounds etc as we are so accustomed to seeing it around us.

    Blue: calming, trustworthy, cooling, intuitive, commitment, stimulates productivity. Like green, blue is common in nature in the sky, oceans, and lakes and provides a connection to the natural world.

    Purple: uplifting, creative, calming, royal, mystic, balanced. The color has the connotation of peaceful compromise as it is a perfect equilibrium of two primary colors.

    Pink: energetic, youthful, fun, active, confident, passionate. This color encourages friendliness. It appears open-minded, eager, and flexible.

    White: purity, clarity, cleanliness, new beginnings, peace, safety, happiness. Used effectively, white can be more than simply a default background. It can emphasize without being obnoxious.

    Gray: intelligence, sobriety, calming, efficiency, authoritative, elegant. As a perfect neutral, gray is the ideal background color.

    Black: sophistication, confidence, potential, authoritative, weighty, important. While too much can be oppressive and overwhelming, the dark color provides an idea of restful emptiness and the urge to fill it.

    Brown: security, responsibility, comfort, warmth. It can be a difficult color to pair successfully, but when used correctly can provide a homey, earth tone.

    The next step is knowing how to pair and identify the colors you wish to incorporate in your website, logo, or blog design. Check in soon for a follow-up piece continuing on color selection, influence, and pairing!

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  • Optimizing Images for Websites

    No comments March 30th, 2016 283

    Images are an essential element when it comes to grabbing readers’ attention and breaking up long paragraphs of text. Images educate, emphasize, and elaborate. The more images used, however, can gradually slow your browser’s speed, increase the size of your pages, use up storage on your server, and ultimately increase the page load time for your visitors.

    The answer is optimization.

    The first thing to pay attention to is the image format. Most images will allow you to save them in various file picturesformats. Typically JPEG or PNG are used for the web. JPEGs are prime for photographs as they compress the colors well and don’t lose quality. PNG works better with screenshots or graphic images. Because of PNG’s higher compression quality, however, those files will be larger. Sometimes this payoff is worth it for the clear quality. Even though GIFs are usually used for animated files, the format also can be used for low-quality pictures with few colors or smaller files. Avoid putting larger pictures in GIF format, as this usually significantly reduces the quality.

    Another aspect to note is which category the image compression is: lossy or lossless. A lossy compression loses quality while taking up a small amount of space. Lossless gives you the exact quality of the original image but uses a greater amount of memory.

    JPEG = Lossy

    PNG = Lossless 

    GIF = Lossless

    Most graphic editing applications allow you to save your image for the internet, usually labeled something like “save for web & devices.” You want to select the lowest size possible without losing image quality. Try to keep your images under 70kb.

    Decorative images such as buttons, banners, and borders can take up more space than you can afford. Avoid this by putting simple patterns in GIF or PNG-8 format to reduce the overall size. Look for areas where you can replace pictures (such as colored sections or backdrops) with CSS styling. Are you using a wallpaper background image? Try playing around with the size. There is usually a bit of wiggle room between how much you can decrease the size before it starts visibly decreasing the quality as well. A neat trick is to crop the center of the background image out or replace it with a filled color. This will reduce the size considerably and, as long as the content covers the center, your viewers will not notice a difference!

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  • New Features of Windows Server 2016

    1 comment March 27th, 2016 451

    With the release of the 2016 Windows Server rapidly approaching, you may be wondering what to look forward to, the changes that will be implemented, and how that will affect you. Here are some of the most exciting and revolutionary improvements to anticipate.

    windowsThe new Nano Server offers a 93% smaller VHD, 80% fewer required reboots, and 92& fewer critical bulletins. It is designed to run Hyper-V, Hyper-V cluster, Scale-Out File Servers, and cloud service applications.

    The new system offers support for containers, which enable isolation of applications from the underlying OS. This will improve the reliability and organization of the applications, including Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers.

    Docker support is also newly available. The open-source engine Docker is used for building, running, and maintaining containers such as were just mentioned (Windows Server and Hyper-V).

    Hyper-V also is getting upgrades, which will allow the addition of a new Window Server 2016 node to a cluster, so that the cluster can run at the update’s speed before all of the nodes have been upgraded.

    Storage replication of virtual hard disks is now a possibility at the block level, with the options of synchronous and asynchronous replication. Particularly in disaster situations, this replication can be a life-saving recovery method.

    Another handy upgrade is the option to add and remove virtual memory and virtual network adapters without having to shut down the virtual machine. This greatly streamlines the process and expands mobility.

    Overall you can expect lower attack rates, faster restarts, and the capability for running more VMs on the same hardware. The central goal in all these improvements is to make windows a “cloud OS.” There will be greater isolation and security for Hyper-V containers, but slightly less efficiency. On the plus side, a smaller amount of features provides for fewer patches and forced reboots.

    This, of course, is a limited list of some of the most exciting updates. To view a more complete list or try out a preview, visit Microsoft’s website. Let us know in the comment section which improvements are the most exciting to you!

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  • A Comparison of CMS Platforms

    No comments March 24th, 2016 203

    When it comes to CMS platforms, there are three that stand out as the most popular of the field: WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. All of the systems boast fast and intuitive services as well as being open sourced. As much of a benefit as this is, it does make the decision making process more difficult. The initial choice is very important, as most people do not switch between platforms and tend to stay with their first choice. To make your decision easier, we have compiled an overview of each platform.

    WordPress is one of the best options for newcomers to the field, made obvious in the fact that it is far and away the most popular, with over 140 million downloads. It excels in sites and blogs that range from small to medium sized. Manual installation time runs about 5 minutes and the entire time it takes to set up a blog or website can be under an hour. WordPress offers over 2,000 free themes and 27,000 free plugins, allowing a large array of professional-looking options. Another advantage is the extensive community support that springs from the millions of users.

    Cons: WordPress is designed more to support small and medium sized sites, so the larger your site gets, the more server resources are required. Also the framework can difficult to manipulate.

    Overall: If you are a newcomer with limited technical knowledge, this platform will be ideal for your needs.

    Joomla requires slightly more technical knowledge particularly in coding, but is excellent for e-commerce or social networking websites. It offers excellent native support for online stores and is relatively simple to set up. It is a nice middle ground between the more basic WordPress and more technically complex Drupal. Manual installation takes around 10 minutes to complete. With about 30 million downloads, it also offers 900 free themes and 7,000 free plugins.

    Cons: Joomla is free, but does not offer a free hosting server such as with WordPress.

    Overall: If WordPress is too basic for you, but you are not ready to tackle Drupal yet, Joomla will be your top option.

    Drupal may be the most complicated to work with, but also the most flexible, with even the root files editable.  It boasts the most powerful CMS. It does stand at the lowest downloads with just over 15 million, which may simply be a reflection of the technical knowledge of the typical users, as the platform is the most technically advanced. Performance is topnotch with swift response and page loading time. Naturally this may vary as plugins are added. Manual installation takes around 10 minutes to complete. It offers over 1,800 free themes and 24,000 free plugins.

    Cons: While the software is free, Drupal does not offer hosting on their servers, requiring you to purchase your own web hosting and domain name. Finding support also can be difficult, as the system requires some in-depth knowledge.

    Overall: If you have a basic knowledge of coding/programing languages and are looking for ultimate flexibility, this platform will be a perfect fit.

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  • WordPress Plugin CCTM Compromised

    1 comment March 17th, 2016 238

    A WordPress plugin called Custom Content Type Manager has been revealed to contain a backdoor which its owner was using to access core files and steal user credentials. The plugin has been installed on over 10,000 sites in the three years it has been available, offering services for creating custom post types.

    However, in the past month the plugin abruptly changed owner and released a new version, after having had no updates for the previous ten months. This new version was riddled with problematic changes, including the auto-update.php file which could download files from the server on the infiltrated website and CCTM_Communicator.php file which alerted the owner’s server when a new site became compromised.

    The plugin gathered information on the infected site, recorded encrypted usernames and passwords, and sent the data to the core server, giving the owner full access as administrator to any of the infiltrated websites.

    Those who have downloaded this plugin are advised to remove it immediately, downgrade core files to the standard version, and either get rid of the CCTM plugin or use the last confirmed stable version (0.9.8.6). Even if you have installed the plugin at some point but never updated it, you may have been automatically updated to this malicious version.

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  • DDoS Attacks and How to Prevent Them

    No comments March 17th, 2016 237

    DDoS attacks (distributed denial of service) occur when a targeted system’s resources or bandwidth is flooded with such a multiplicity of traffic that the system is unable to handle it and shuts down. Most of the time these attacks are a calculated effort to overwhelm the system with multiple compromised systems.

    Is this something you need to worry about? Here are some stats: one third of all downtimes can be traced to a DDoS attack, a week-long DDoS attack can cost less than $200 on the black market, and every day more than two thousand attacks take place.

    These attacks work through a series of compromised computers in which the user does not even know that their computer is being controlled remotely. This network of computers (called botnets) can be made up of thousands to millions of machines. Once directed at a single target, huge flood of traffic is generated to overwhelm and incapacitate a system.

    It is important to realize that every site is at risk and is vulnerable. The attacks can be random and it is far better to be well prepared than caught off-guard. Make sure your applications, supporting services, and DNS are all current and up-to-date. The common weak spots in corporate networks are the server, the internet pipe, and the firewall. It is helpful to already have an existing communication with your internet service provider so that in case of an emergency contacting them is one less thing to worry about.

    It can take some time to realize that your system is under attack and not just experiencing a failing server or application. Knowing what your query load is will help alert you to the presence of an attack. BIND’s built-in statistics support, for example, keeps record of stats for later observation. Getting an idea of what is normal is important.

    One of the most basic ways to prevent attacks is by overprovisioning your bandwidth. This is fairly inexpensive and helps you to accommodate sudden surges in traffic. This will not completely prevent DDoS attacks, but will give you a few extra minutes.

    From there, rate limit your router, which will stop your web server from being overwhelmed. Use filters so that your router knows to drop packets from obvious attack sources. Set your timeouts to shut down half-open connections at a more aggressive pace. All these things will gain you time while you contact your internet provider. Their strategy usually involves black holing you for a bit, so that the DDoS does not consume bandwidth and affect other customers on the server. Then the provider is able to stop the attacking traffic from reaching the network, divert the traffic elsewhere so that your site can get back online, and then identify malicious packets for a mitigation specialist to take care of.

    It is best to have a plan already set before the action is needed. Talk to your provider about their strategies and ask for their advice for your particular site.

     

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