I’ll Senduit!

I’ve been having some issues with some software that I’ve bought and I was asked to send a log file back to support so they could see what is going on in the background. I didn’t take much notice of the size of the log file, so I attached to an email and tried to send it. Ten minutes later my Internet Explorer (which is tied to my hotmail) stopped responding. I tried to attach it to my gmail account and then finally got it to go with my regular email account tied to my ISP. That one finally went, but came back as the recipient wasn’t allowed such a large file.

I emailed back the support and asked if there was a part of the log file I could copy and paste, as I had also tried to copy and paste the whole file and that also caused my gmail to crash.

She emailed me back and said to upload it using a site called Senduit. And I’m sure there are other sites like this but I just thought WOW.

You can pay for FTP (file transfer protocol) services that allow you to upload files and give a user name and password to your clients or friends, but this is a time related service that is free! (and I like free)

Here’s how it works. You go to www.senduit.com and all that it really has is an upload button. You click on the upload button, navigate to the page where your file, image etc is, and select open. Then choose how long your recipient has to open it (from 30 minutes to 1 week) and then click “Upload”. What comes back is a link to a website that you send to your recipient for them to download. When that page comes up, a message tells them that the file will immediately start to download and it does. Now it takes a bit of time depending on your own internet speed, and the size of the file, but it’s a great service for those large files you need to send to someone from time to time. Regular email accounts just won’t allow you to send them!

How long did my 14mb file take to upload? Twenty-eight minutes.

A Terabyte!

I was in my local Staples yesterday, looking for an external drive for backing up my hard drive. We were looking at the boxes of various external and internal drives and saw one that said 1TB. TB? My husband said “wow, a terabyte”. I thought him very clever and imaginative to come up with a name for a thousand gigabytes, but when we got home, I looked it up and it turns out that he is correct. We are now in the age of the Terabyte. It sounds like something that comes from the moon. Of course we had to buy the 1 terabyte hard drive. It was just too intriguing not to. (and it worked out more cost efficient for the extra memory)

I backed up my Documents and used up only 52 Gigabytes of this hard drive, and I remembered when my brother-in-law bragged to us that he had just got a new computer with a 1 gigabyte hard drive. He said he’d be set for years. I’m sure it won’t be long before we have programs that take more than terabytes can cope with.

What comes after a terabyte? A Petabyte! Here is a list I found that gives from the byte to the yottabyte! A Yottabyte?

What comes after the Byte ?
1024 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte

What comes after the kilobyte ?
1024 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte

What comes after the Megabyte ?
1024 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte

What comes after the Gigabytes ?
1024 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte

What comes after the Terabytes?
1024 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte

What comes after the Petabytes ?
1024 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte

What comes after the Exabyte ?
1024 Exabyte = 1 zettabyte

What comes after the zettabyte ?
1024 zettabyte = 1 Yottabyte

Stuff

I was looking at this article in the paper the other day about two people who are travelling all over North America to set a world record for the longest journey by car using alternative fuel (in their case, used vegetable oil from local restaurants). They want to look at alternative energy ideas, the tar sands and give talks to schools about their awareness project. Their trip has a title of Driven to Sustain
So what does this have to do with websites and all things computer? Well, on their site I found this little 20 minute movie called Stuff. Check out The Story of Stuff. It was fascinating and made me think of all the technology that we have and how quickly it is useless. But it doesn’t always have to be.
Let me illustrate. I have a pda (personal digital assistant to be fancy, or an electronic diary/address book) that I bought way, way back before the year 2000. Its a bit big and clunky now compared to the new fancy sleek phones, but I’ve looked after it and it still works. However, it started to show it’s age in it’s synchronising with Microsoft Outlook, and like an elderly person’s memory, my appointments started occasionally disappearing. And that doesn’t look good when you were supposed to be somewhere and you don’t show up! But, rather than get the newest model and consign my pda to the growing pile of garbage, I did some research and found two programs that would still work with my old pda, and refreshed its usefulness. It turns out it wasn’t anything to do with the pda’s brain, but the new operating systems don’t really want you to use an old version of Outlook and the version of Outlook my pda would work with couldn’t be updated and the pda company wasn’t doing any further updates, and so on. To make a long story shorter, I was able to use a different Contact program, Time and Chaos, and synchronise with a different synchronising program called Companion Link.
In that video Annie Leonard talks about planned obsolescence and this is what the computer companies want. They don’t support a product that is over ten years old because, let’s face it, they want you to buy a new one. But if you work at it, and don’t mind not having the newest, shiniest toy, you can keep some of your “stuff” for a lot longer, and not contribute to the mess we are in.

The art of Keywords

Having your website show up in search engines is hard. There are millions of other sites competing, some of them good, some of them great and some dismal. But without promoting your business and website yourself in your every day work, your site won’t often be seen.

The search engines don’t rely on meta tags or keywords embedded in your html the way they used to, but you can still add them. The thing is to be smart about them. You want to make sure that the words to add as keywords are also in your site. It is better to create your text in your site to include the main ideas for your business than rely on keywords to have people find your site.

A client recently has been struggling to come up with a list of keywords for me. I suggested he narrow it down to 25. He finally said “I can’t get just 25” so I said that it was okay if there were a few more. When I got the page of keywords, there were 260 on the page. I was thinking that he couldn’t narrow it down to under 30!

And there was a lot of duplication on there. A smarter way to include keywords is to do the following.

1. Make the Titles in your page work for you. Don’t just name your contact page “Conact us” Put something like “for the best in Tractor parts and Accessories call Company X” That gets in a few great keywords, ie tractor, parts, accessories and your company’s name. And it is relevant.
2. Make sure all your images have captions. It is good for the blind who can’t see the image to know what it was, and is another opportunity to relate it to the page.
3. Go to GoogleAdWords: Keyword Tool, and put in some of the words that you think your potential customers would use to find you and see how popular they are in searches. Google not only ranks them for the past month, but gives you suggestions on other related words or phrases. It may help you if you are stuck. If none of these popular words are in your site at all, and they do relate to your product or service (and why aren’t they?) then consider re-writing the text to include them.

The search engines search all these things as well as your meta tags, and you want to take advantage of all of this.

National Do Not Call Register

I wrote a while ago about a list you could put your telephone number on to reduce the number of annoying telemarketing calls you receive. The Canadian Government started an official “Do Not Call” register on September 30th, 2008, so you can register with them as well.

The web address is www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca

You can put your telephone, cell phone, fax number etc all on this registry. For some reason it has an expiry date. I’m not sure why that is, are you going to be more interested in hearing from people about new windows at 8:30 at night in three years from now? Doubt it somehow.

It doesn’t promise that the calls will stop right away, nor will all the people that call you now have to stop either. Banks you deal with, charities etc are exempt, but it is a start and you can tell each one you receive a call from to please take you off their list as you don’t want any further calls. I’ve done this will Bell Canada for the simple fact that every time they call with an “offer” my bill is changed whether I’ve agreed to anything or not.

Opt out lists

Michael Geist is a writer for the Toronto Star who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce law at the University of Ottawa. He has set up a website called IOptOut.ca that enables people to opt out of many organization’s marketing lists. What you do is go to his website and fill in an on-line sheet. He asks you for a user name and password (this is so you can go back in and add more companies as they are added) as well as any email addresses you have and your various phone numbers as well. You submit this information and then immediately sign in again with your new user name and password and you are taken to a page that has a list of categories of companies that you can opt out of. It’s as easy as putting a check mark for whole categories or only opting out of a few in a list.

What his team then does is to send out opt-out requests on your behalf to all of these companies all at once. He has so far sent out millions of requests for people just like you and I who are tired of getting calls (and emails)from companies every day (or late at night) wanting you to buy something.

He is backed by a ruling by CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission)in that it will endorse the national do-not-call registry (DNC). Apparently, the Canadian Marketing Association and the Canadian Banker’s Association were upset about this list and told their members that they didn’t have to honour the registry. The CRTC’s response was “these requests would be in compliance with the Act and the current Unsolicited Telecommunications rules. In short, on the basis of the facts as I understand them, I consider that do-not-call requests made through iOptOut are valid and should be honoured”.

So, the CRTC is saying that if you are registered on a do-not-call list, they can’t call you without subjecting themselves to fines. About time.

Microsoft strikes again

I’ve been getting files lately (as have my clients) with the extension of .docx

I can’t open these files, and at first I didn’t know what they were. (I looked it up to make sure that the file wasn’t a virus or corrupt file)

Apparently they are Microsoft’s new file extensions for their newest version of Word, Word 2007. I don’t have the newest version of Word, so I can’t say for sure, but if someone sends you a document with this version of Word, you can ask them to re-save it in an earlier version (if Word 2007 has that option, older versions did). Or if there is no images or it isn’t a complicated document with tables or so forth, you could have them just save it as a text file.

However if you can’t ask, there is a website called DOCX Converter that you can upload your file to, give them your email address and in my tests, within an hour you get your file converted and you can copy the text to your own version of Word.

Open Office can’t open these files yet, but I’m sure that they eventually will work out a converter as well, so you have a Microsoft free alternative.

Surveys

Occasionally your company may want to conduct a survey of a client’s satisfaction with a job that has been completed, or feedback on some proposed changes. You could just create a form on your website, or you could email those people a professionally made survey from an on-line company. I found a company called Survey Monkey. You choose a template on how you’d like your survey to look, you can add your logo and then create your questions and choices of answers or a space for a more detailed answer.
There is the basic free version, which allows for ten questions and only 100 people to get the survey, or other plans where you pay.
There are lots of free things on the web to help you run your business better. I hope that this was one that may come in handy!

Songza

This isn’t particularly new, but with all the news of Canada catching up with copyright laws of other countries, the downloading of music etc is coming to an end, or will do eventually. There is a neat site called songza that you can use to hear new music and listen to music that you already know, but perhaps haven’t heard for a while. You can’t download it, but it is a great way to find an old favourite that you haven’t heard before. They then give you the opportunity of finding a place you can purchase it, should you wish to.

I found a song I haven’t heard for years called Toast. If you type in Toast and Paul Young it comes up. It’s by a band he was in called Streetband. It’s just a bit of British whimsy, but it’s the only place to hear it.

Publish your own books

I have been on a road trip out West recently, and am now catching up with what’s new.
I went for tea to a friend’s house last week and he showed me this really professionally printed book he had made on-line. He downloaded a program (he has a iMac, but it was available to either PC or mac) and then with their desktop program, lots of help and templates, he created a 24 page book. He chose a soft cover, but you can choose a hard cover book, and one with a dust cover jacket as well! I was so excited about the possibilities.

I immediately had lots of ideas for books I could create but thought that I would put together a book (for my two travelling companions and the friend we visited) with a selection of the best photographs that we took of the Rockies, Yellowstone etc. It might mean we would actually look at it from time to time!

Check it out at Blurb.

I could write a kid’s story for my niece and nephew, a cookbook for friends…. And you can print up just one if that’s all you want! Or a book about computers!

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