get yourself a website

How is the internet changing?

The overall trend is of reducing cost. The key areas are the widespread availability of cheap broadband access and the proliferation of Service Providers offering low cost hosting for websites which use scripting and databases. At the same time there has been an exponential growth of high quality open source software with active communities of developers and self-help user groups

What does this mean for the average small business?

Everyone is aware that the internet is hugely significant and that they shouldn't ignore it, but for most it doesn't seem directly relevant to their line of work. Sure, software vendors, mail order companies and auctioneers need to use it or get left behind, but for the average company hopefully it's enough to put up a page or two with some general information and contact details, beyond this it's hard to see what use it can be. Here are some pointers:

  • Your customers are increasingly using the internet to find suppliers. To keep a high search engine rating there are three key factors: content, content and content. You have to keep adding to and updating useful information on your website in order for other sites to link to it and for search engines to position it near the top of a search. The administration of this used to be a headache that many small companies couldn't afford to take on. However with the advent of Content Management Systems anyone can publish and edit web pages in whatever area of your site they are given permission for. Cost of software = nothing.
  • Web shops can be used to sell anything. The software is free and anyone with a valid email address can register with PayPal (and others) at no cost and start receiving credit card payments.
  • Put your production, stock and accounts system on the internet. It will then be hosted by people who run servers for a living, who can guarantee reliability, backups and upgrades to the hardware and software without you having to even think about it. The computers in your office can be as basic as possible providing little incentive to burglars and little damage if they fail. Customers and salesmen can check up on orders from anywhere at any time without wasting staff time. You can save costs by allowing office staff to work part of the time from home and by allowing your auditors to do some of their work remotely. Cost of software = nothing.
  • Put other database applications on the internet for the same reasons as those above. MySQL is one of the most powerful and widely used commercial database software in the world, it is free and can be used for any special applications that need to be added to the basic stock and accounts packages.

An advantage of using open source software is that you have a potentially vast reservoir of programmers to call upon should you fall out with your original supplier!

You can do all this yourself with a bit of searching on the internet. If you would like some of the setting up done here are some examples of possible costs:

job direct
work cost of
Set up a web space with and content management software for you to enter pages. £ 50* 2 hr £ 100
Consultation and implementation of basic graphic design and web structure 4 hr £ 200
Set up web shop software to allow electronic payment to your email account 4 hr £ 200
Set up blank manufacturing, stock, accounting software 4 hr £ 200

* This is the kind of charge a hosting company would make to register a .COM domain name and give basic business level hosting for a year.

Obviously work involved with modifying settings, entering data and setting up new database applications would depend on what was requested. In many instances this could be added piecemeal as the need arose.

I would be glad to call in at your offices and spend a couple of hours talking about information technology, productivity, quality or anything else where I might be able to contribute something useful.


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?For application builders, iPad mini presents a bit more opportunity than challenge
Some people like a pocket-sized notebook, and some people like carrying close to a legal pad. That's why for years, Moleskine has offered a dozen sizes for its notebooks, and convinced bookstores to carry them all. But despite the fact that Apple's iPad has replaced the notebook for a great number of, it's always just come in a single size - until now. The company's new iPad mini represents a new size between the apple iphone and iPad, and when it runs 275,000 iPad applications, it's got a a couple people a modest confused. Daring Fireball creator (and noted Apple evangelist) John Gruber tweeted. "It runs iPad applications, but the iPad Mini feels like a big apple iphone in use."
And therefore the 7.9-inch variety factor does actually feel different. Paired which has a big iBooks update. the iPad mini would seem aimed considerably more at consumption than generation (like Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire), yet, later in its presentation, Apple demoed the drawing application Paper on its new system. Perhaps it's simply just a smaller iPad for people that want a smaller iPad for any quantity of reasons. Or maybe it's Apple's e-reader that also does other stuff. So what is the iPad mini's utility, and does that make an iOS developer's job any even more confusing?
A newfound utility
"A lot of what we're really excited about is increasing mobility," FiftyThree co-founder and Paper designer Andrew S. Allen mentioned to the Vergecast after Apple's event. "Having a smaller screen suggests you may take it a small number of additional places and really feel a modest less awkward than pulling out your giant iPad. We're all about capturing ideas as they happen from the moment." Since iPad two applications run to the mini right out with the box, there will be no shortage of ways to engage with the new equipment. Yet, nobody wants applications that aren't really developed for that unit they're applying. Paper furnishes merely a smaller canvas, at the same time some applications must scale down dozens of buttons and UI parts.
"iPad mini] will be a concern for applications that did a poor job designing with the larger design, and for applications that are too busy and have too a lot of things going on on just one screen," one-time Flipboard for apple iphone designer Craig Mod explained to the Vergecast yesterday. He called out inventory trading applications and finance applications as experiences that may get significantly diminished and perhaps become illegible on the the iPad mini's smaller screen. Yet, within the same time, he explained that since the iPad mini's screen is the same aspect ratio as its iPad brethren, designing for it might possibly yield a nice bonus for builders. "If you design and style for a 7-inch screen to begin with, then it will probably operate fine on the 10-inch," but does that logic apply as soon as you flip things near?
"If you layout for a 7-inch screen first of all, then it will probably get the job done superior with a 10-inch."
Mod may have predicted a new trend in iOS application pattern: focusing to the iPad mini practical knowledge primary, and then scaling up from there - but not almost everyone agrees. "I don't think Apple wants builders to goal the iPad mini specifically," Quotebook developer Matthew Bischoff says. "It complicates things for them immensely if people commence doing that." Pocket developer Steve Streza says, "We haven't seen any updates to Apple's developer equipment yet. It's unlikely that there will be a 'third' part of the universal application. But what I'm hoping for is some way to programmatically determine that the system the application is functioning on is the iPad mini. Then we can make changes to font sizes and stuff if we would need to."
Worrisome touch targets
In shrinking the iPad mini's screen, Apple has effectively also shrunk the size of "touch targets" - touchable areas over buttons inside applications. Just two years ago, Steve Jobs claimed, "This size is useless unless you include sandpaper so customers can sand their fingers down to some quarter of their size." Apparently to Apple that's no longer the case. "Will some buttons be too smaller to the smaller display?" Grades designer Jeremy Olson asks. "We have to have it in our hands to really know for sure, but I suspect most applications won't need to get to change considerably, if anything." Apple's presentation confirms Olson's suspicions. The corporate usually demos a handful of new applications when it launches products at new kind factors, but not to the iPad mini. Instead, Apple chose to demo applications that currently exist, like Yelp, to present how they succeed just fine relating to the mini with no help from the application developer.
Even an individual game developer we spoke with was unfazed. "If people have been following Apple's 'minimum interactive area of 44x44 pixels' buttons inside apps], then they should be absolutely fine," reported Matt Rix, who develops Trainyard for iOS. "Unfortunately, a lot of people don't follow that rule all the time (this includes Apple themselves - just appear on the purchase button on applications inside the Application Retailer application), so it'll be interesting to see just how big an issue it really becomes," he additional.
The "touch targets" for the iPad mini are apparently now about the size of those on an apple iphone, yet apple iphone applications are made for a a lot smaller screen from the get-go. And what about that tiny bezel? Since the iPad mini has a substantially smaller bezel than the iPad, stray fingers appear to be a good deal considerably more doubtless to accidentally flip internet pages as you're reading in portrait mode. It's a problem tons of reading products have faced, from the Kindle to the Kobo. But, on its iPad mini structure webpage, Apple says :
iPad mini intelligently recognizes whether your thumb is simply resting for the display or whether you're intentionally interacting with it. It's the kind of detail you'll discover - by not noticing it. And it's a quality example of how Apple hardware and software give good results together to give you the finest knowledge achievable.
Only time will tell if errant button presses will be significantly more frequent for the iPad mini, but Apple appears to be to previously acknowledge at least 50 % on the problem. We'll will need to wait and see how iPad mini differentiates amongst screen-edge drawing or gestures (like in Paper) and simply holding the edge from the screen when reading an iBook. "I've come to really trust Apple's decisions about these sorts of things," Application Cubby founder David Barnard says. "They really take incredible care inside the overall UX of their products and I don't think we're going to see them make a huge mistake like employing very small bezels that design other accidental taps."
Apple's new pad
It could very well be argued that it's worth owning an apple iphone and an iPad, but owning all three new gadgets sounds ridiculous. Or maybe not - if you're the kind of person that carries available three differently sized notebooks - and if you happen to have deep pockets. Some people prefer reading on the enormous screen, and some over a smaller screen. It's a huge pain for builders to generate applications for three distinct screen resolutions, and fortunately, it doesn't appear like they'll should. "The present iPad application we have will give good results fine for iPad mini owners," Streza says. "We'll make any develop tweaks we really want once we have the unit. Influenced by what we've seen on Android, the 7-inch tablet appears pretty popular for reading Pocket." The iPad mini could open up applications like Pocket to millions added consumers. Yet, builders would possibly will need to construct an inherent style and design flexibility into their applications so they take a look OK with a four, 7.9, or 9.7-inch screen. Either way, a person increased iOS machine is brilliant news for builders. Olson says, "This thing is going to sell like hotcakes, and that's a huge additionally for us."
Further from The Verge