Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A strong file naming convention is of HUGE importance when the number of files you manage continues to increase, especially as you add in the factor of multiple employees and multiple access points (both local and remote). You need to settle on a naming convention and stick to it. If not, you will find yourself unorganized, with multiple versions of files saved here and there. The frustrating result is wasted time searching and wasted digital space on your computer and/or server, and perhaps problematic file uploads or file sharing.

A key step in organizing your files is to determine the categories by which your files fall under. To structure categories, take advantage of Folders. Perhaps you have a set of subcategories that fall under documents. They could be, for example: Press Releases, White Papers, Handouts, Brochures, etc. Within those folders, you want to make sure you use a brief, descriptive file name that will not only be an understandable reference to you, but to colleagues who need to access to the same data.

Are there multiple versions of a file that you need to keep? Consider a dating structure (presentation-2012-01.pdf) or an alphanumeric structure (Document-A.pdf). If you have date based files, begin the file name with the year, month and day, if necessary (2012-01-25-document.pdf) so that all your documents are listed in order by the date named/saved from top to bottom. A date-first naming convention is a great method for saving batches of photos, as many people remember when a picture was taken, allowing them to narrow down their search easily.

Even more care needs to be practiced on the World Wide Web (aka: the internet). In all file names, whether online or offline, you should stick with using ONLY the following characters:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
a b c d e f g h I j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
- (hyphen) _ (underscore)

The first reason is that with this strong core of characters, you and your colleagues will likely be better able to stick to an organization system.

The second reason is that special characters (like apostrophes, commas, !, &, (, ), etc.) cannot be read by internet bots when in file names. Therefore, your uploaded file will likely be un-openable. Special characters can also break links for us humans and prevent file uploading and sharing.

The third reason you should only use these limited characters is because if your file name has spacebar spaces in it, the spaces will be replaced by “%20”. Have you seen web addresses similar to the following example?

www.website.com/Document%20Final%20Draft.pdf
or
www.website.com/Product%20Page%201.html

The internet does not like space bar spaces in file names, and this %20 replacement looks awful in website addresses. To avoid this, use a hyphen or underscore in all your file names, especially those you expect to upload to the internet. Now doesn't this look better? It's easier to read too!

www.website.com/Document-Final-Draft.pdf
or
www.website.com/Product-Page-1.html

For best SEO (search engine optimization) practices, however, use a hyphen rather than an underscore. When using hyphens in place of spaces, Search Engine algorithms can arrange the words of a file in any order to give you more search engine search results. If you use underscores, the order of the terms can only be ranked by Search Engines in the order presented.

Chances are, you haven’t been following all these best practices, so, you may have a bit of clean-up to address. But once your practices are in place and used regularly, locating and sharing files will become hassle free for everyone on your team.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Domain Name Registration vs. Web Hosting

Tech Tips from InfoPathways
Domain Names vs. Web Hosting

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? WHY AM I PAYING FOR BOTH?

 
The web is still a very new world for many businesses to conquer, and understanding the elements of the website can be confusing. Unfortunately that can lead to mistakes and misunderstandings. Two things that are often misunderstood are the differences between your Domain Name registration and your Web Hosting. Let’s think about your website as an apartment. The address is your domain name, which points to the physical space. The physical space is your actual apartment (website) which houses all your stuff (pages, images, documents, etc.).

Your Domain Name
I like to explain your domain name as an apartment address. It is the name of your location. A domain name is your web address; for example: “website.com” or “website.org” or “website.net”, etc.. Everyone’s domain name is unique, and to launch a website, you must have one.

To obtain a domain, you have to find one that is available and purchase it through a Domain Name registration company. You can register them for 1 year or 100 years! There are benefits to investing in multiple years. The more years you invest in, the price often decreases a little per year. Search Engines will also place more value on a website whose domain name doesn’t expire for a longer time. The idea is that the Search Engines believe your company will be around for a while, and because of that, they trust that the company is genuine. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is really all about trust. Now back to the topic at hand…

Often, to save you the trouble, your web supporter will manage your Domain Registration & Renewal for you at a reasonable cost. However, many company owners want to manage their own account. This is where things can get a bit tricky. Assuming you have already registered your domain at a previous date, your domain has an expiration date. This means that unless you renew, someone else can snatch it up. The “snatchers” can be another legitimate company or someone who is buying the domain to try and sell it to you for a higher price… it feels a little like blackmail, but it’s legal. So lesson one, if you plan to keep your domain, never allow it to expire!

Many unsuspecting web owners hop from one domain registration company to the next (upon renewal) due to a misleading tactic presented by less than scrupulous companies. As your domain comes up for renewal, other companies will send you warnings that your domain is about to expire and sometimes they even send bills for you to renew! These notices can be deceptive, leading the web owner to panic and renew ASAP, believing they’ve received a bill from their original registration company. Switching companies is not necessarily bad, but it can increase your costs as well as lead to confusion for both the website owner and the web support company. Note however, if your email is configured along with your domain name and you move your registration to a new company, you may break your email, causing you to miss important correspondence.

Domain registration fees can vary from company to company, but all are providing basically the same service plus or minus customer service.

Your Web Host
Going back to the apartment analogy, web hosting is basically paying for rent to house your website. Your website has to be located on a web server and that server needs to be maintained. This is another cost totally separate from your domain name registration (however, they can often be purchased from the same provider).

Good web server maintenance means less downtime for your website and faster loading of your webpages on other people’s computers. Faster loading websites leads to more web visitors sticking around and checking out your website and its valuable content. Web hosting fees are in place to cover the cost of the server maintenance and the equipment used.

Many website support companies and IT companies provide web hosting as one of their services. There are companies all over the world that host websites. Be aware of where your web server is located physically. If doing business locally is very important to you and your organization, consider a local web hosting company.
Web hosting fees vary from company to company and besides basic hosting, what is included may vary, like the space your website takes up, email accounts, and the number of visitors you typically receive.

Bringing it all together...
Like many elements in life, it is good practice to manage all the fundamental operations of a website through one company to avoid confusion and streamline the process. Picture having your domain through one company, your hosting through a second, your web support through a third company and your SEO tackled through another! That’s four separate companies to keep track of and to coordinate the efforts of one website! It is not uncommon for this separation to happen and often it can increase costs as one company is not informed of another’s actions. Major headaches can result from trying to figure out who to contact in the event of website issues, especially when the four firms begin pointing fingers at each other. Ask your web support team to help you manage all your elements more efficiently. If your web support team does not manage Domain and Hosting accounts, they can likely get you set up with a trusted partner. If purchasing Domain and Hosting through a third party, try to find a company that can provide both, like www.NetworkSolutions.com or www.GoDaddy.com.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tech Tip: Online Credit Card Processing

The weakest link in the credit card paying process is the company that processes payments.
 
CAUTION WHEN SAVING INTERNET HISTORY

Do not save credit card information online. Some web pages may ask you to save your credit card information for future purchases. Do not do this as someone can go back to that web page and have a shopping spree at your expense.



Most online accounts remember your Username and give you the option to save your Password. If you have a password saved, the account’s history will automatically fill in the password after selecting the Username option. This is the same for entering credit card numbers! If a web user logs into a shopping site you previously visited on the same computer and decides to purchase something, they might be able to use the same trick and select a credit card number that drops down. Any time you use a public computer, never set the account to save your Passwords and ALWAYS log out upon completion of your tasks. If you simply exit out of the web browser, the next user can reopen the web page and be automatically logged in as you. There is usually a set timeout period in which a user can stay logged in if not active. This timeout period creates a window in which a malicious user can navigate to that site and use it as if they were you. Have you seen Facebook pages “hacked” by the user’s friend in which they post embarrassing status updates? It’s the same idea, but with your credit card and your private information.

CLEARING SENSITIVE INFORMATION

If you are worried about saved usernames and passwords, there is a way to erase that memory from your computer. Before doing so, note that it will erase MORE than your usernames and passwords. When you are ready, follow the steps below:


  1. In your browser (Internet Explorer is used in this example), you may have a small tool bar; click the tools button in the upper right-hand corner (shown above) and select “Internet Options”. In other set ups, you may just see a small gear icon (shown right) to access the same option.

  2. Under the “General” tab of the “Internet Options” window (below, left), select Delete to bring up the “Delete Browsing History” window.

  3. In the “Delete Browsing History” window (below, right), select what data you want to delete. NOTE: Before doing so, note that certain selections will erase MORE than your usernames and passwords. It can delete temporary files, history, cookies, saved passwords and web form information. After a thorough clean-up, you may find that some processes that were automatic now have to be completed manually (like typing out full website addresses and populating online form fields that you may fill out on a regular basis).

SAFE PRACTICES

Never send credit card or password information unencrypted via email, txt, instant message, picture or video. Information can be intercepted using online communications. If you are worried about one of your accounts, change your Password. All accounts provide this service, and it is certainly not a bad practice to periodically change your passwords.

Finally, monitor your credit card statements regularly. Checking your statements is not limited to mail or logging into the bank web page. Banks and credit card companies have developed (or have begun developing) smartphone applications allowing you to check your statements quickly, easily and very securely.

If you are making a purchase online, a good way to tell that the site is secure is if the website address begins with “https" rather than “http”. Https allows for secure eCommerce transactions, such as online banking, by encrypting the session with a digital certificate. Internet Explorer and Firefox display a padlock icon to indicate that the website is secure.


As Julianne Pepitone for CNN news writes, “For customers, the best thing to do is sit tight. If your card issuer thinks your account may have been compromised, they'll contact you -- and no matter what, you're not liable for unauthorized charges made on your account."

And Visa reassures "It's important for U.S. Visa consumer cardholders to know they are protected against fraudulent purchases with Visa's zero liability fraud protection policy, which exceeds federal safeguards. As always, Visa encourages cardholders to regularly monitor their accounts and to notify their issuing financial institution promptly of any unusual activity."

The consumer is somewhat protected but, the more you ignore internet security, the less financial institutions can do to help you. Protect your accounts, your credit card information, and follow safe practices for online purchasing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spice Up Your Email Signature

Adding Graphics, Links & Graphics WITH Links in Microsoft Outlook!

It’s nice to have an email signature that stands out. You don’t want it to be too big or too small, but at the same time, you want to include all the conveniences that your recipient may want. Obviously name and contact info are a given, but what about your website, Google Map Directions to your office or links to your social media accounts? Links are so easy to add, and you can even add links to images!

Active hyperlinks in your email signature increase the chance that the recipient will click it. Today, nobody has time to type out your website address or your Facebook URL, so GIVE IT TO THEM! Another great convenience to add is to link your office address to your Google Map directions page!

Also, don’t be afraid to change the coloring or format of your different lines of text. Make certain elements stand out, rather than using all black.

Following are directions on how to add an image to your email signature with a related hyperlink.

Adding Linked Social Media Icons to your Microsoft Outlook Email Signature

  1. Make sure you have the icons you want to use saved somewhere on your computer.
    Note: You can find fun social media icon image packages for free when you do a search on www.google.com. Find some you like and download the files to your computer. If the images are too big for your liking, you can resize them in any image editing program. If you do not have an image editing program, consider downloading Microsoft Paint.NET, which is free! We do not endorse this software – you download it at your own risk.
  2. Open a new email window and click the Signature Button to edit your Email Signatures:
  3. If you have not created an email signature yet, start a new one now by clicking “New”.

    NOTE: If you would like your email signature to insert automatically when you start a new message, reply or forward an email, populate the fields in the right hand column. It will save you time and keep your emails consistent with contact information easily at hand in every message you send!
  4. In the Email Signature Window, click the Insert Image Icon to browse to your image and insert it:
  5. Once the image is inserted, click on it once to highlight it:
  6. Click the Insert Hyperlink Icon located right next to the image icon.
  7. The Hyperlink Window will allow you to insert a related URL (web address) that you will place your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter or other website URL. Make sure you insert the entire website address from http://www All the way to the .com/.org/.net. In this sample, I’ve inserted our InfoPathways Blog Icon, clicked on it, hit the Hyperlink URL and I’ve inserted our blog’s website address, http://infopathways.blogspot.com/.
  8. Click OK. From the email signature window, the link will not work. To test that it works, open a new email window and email it to yourself. When you receive the email and hover over your icon, it should show a little pop-up note to let you know what website address it is linked to.
Go try creating your own custom Email Signature!
Set up an email signature for your new email messages and one for your replies and forwards.