I’ve MOVED!

Hi All,

As of today, all my blogs will be posted on http://www.hungryroxy.com.  Please lets continue our conversation on the HungryRoxy web site.  Thanks.

Sincerely,

Haipin

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Transition

Hello, I’ve been talking about different technology that can positively help small businesses run their business better in the past three months or so and I really barely touched the surface.  However, moving forward, I’ve decided to focus my blog a little more on my expertise which is mobile app development and web app development.  With that said, my future blogs will be focused on writing tutorial around web and mobile app development intertwined with some observations, opinions, and general musings on those same topics.

Still though, my personal interest in helping out small businesses with anything technology is still a great passion of mine, and whenever I find topics that I greatly believe will be helpful to small businesses, I will talk about that too.

In the next month or so, I will be slowly transitioning my blog but first things first… I will need to move my blog and start using http://www.haipincua.com, which is the domain I’ve had for over a year now and still haven’t had the chance to use with my blog.  With that said, my blog will have less activities in the coming month but rest assured, it’ll will return to its normal status and hopefully in a better state soon.

In the meantime, I will keep up with my tweets (@haipinc).  In there I will continue to send out links to anything worthy of attention (to me anyways) 🙂  Twitter is also the place to find out more of my progress with my upcoming newly designed web site and any other projects I’m working on.

Alright, I’ll see you guys on the flip side.  Check http://www.haipincua.com once in a while and see if it’s slowly improving.  🙂

Many thanks.

Building a Web Site: For the “do-it-yourselfers” (Part II)

So now that you’ve gone through HTML boot camp and you feel that you’re ready to start building your actual web-site, let’s talk about what you’ll need to get an actual site going.  And after, we can start talking about CSS, javascript, and what not to make your site come alive.

First, you’ll need to buy a domain name for your business.  There are many services out there to use for buying a domain name.  My personal favorite is Hover.  Hover is simple and provides only a few services which means that at Hover, you can buy a domain and not get harassed with the usual up-sell tactics you’ll find elsewhere.  Next is hosting, personally, for most small businesses that would really only like to have a web site for purpose of having blogs and forming and developing a community around their business, I would recommend using services such SquareSpace which is, to me, a better “hosting” option compared to typical hosting services provided by companies like GoDaddy.com.

On that note, let’s talk more about SquareSpace.  SquareSpace, is a service that allows for easy creation of web sites by allowing users to use highly customizable templates.  With SquareSpace, for anybody who would like to customize their sites, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is key which of course,  is another tech to learn for anybody who would like to build their own website.  Check out squarespace.com and look at the many templated (but doesn’t look like so) examples they have.

To learn CSS, go again to w3schools, click on the CSS tutorial link.  In the future, I will start writing tutorials on web development and CSS will be one of the many things I will cover immediately.  For now, go to the other experts (w3schools).

Building a Web Site: For the “do-it-yourselfers” (Part I)

It’s tough running a small business and some stuff you just have to outsource and let the pros have at it like accounting for instance… who wants to deal with that?  Sometimes though, there are just things that are too exciting and small business owners just don’t want to pass to someone else.  Like building a web site for example.  Many business owners take pride in their business and many times would like to develop their sites themselves because they want the creative control and many take pride in being able to build something on their own.

Well, luckily, the internet is full of resources for building web sites and in this blog, I will provide you the necessary resources to get started with learning the appropriate technology.

For now, let’s talk about HTML.  HTML is the markup language used for building web pages.  To get a simple page created, you at least need to know basic HTML.  My personal favorite tool to use online for learning anything web is W3School.  To get started with HTML, go to http://www.w3schools.com/html/ and start with the tutorial.

YouTube, believe it or not, is another great tool to use when learning HTML.  Just go to YouTube and search for HTML.  You are sure to find lots of video tutorial on HTML.

As far as HTML books, I personally haven’t used one in a very long time (thank you Internet) but that doesn’t, by any means, lessen the value of a well-written self-help book.  Amazon.com is the place to go for books (I’m sure you already knew that), but as a quick tip for shopping for HTML books, make sure to read the description of the book and also the reviews on the books itself.  The description and reviews often reveal who is the book is written for (i.e. programmers, beginners, designers, etc.)

Lastly, as you go through the process of learning HTML, you’ll need some tools to practice with.  Fortunately, you don’t need to spend any money at all (towards tools) when it comes to building web pages.  Start with the built in text editor and internet browser that came with your operating system (I’m sure any tutorial you’ll go through will tell you the same thing).

Amazon EC2

As this product was in the news just this past week, I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about the product the issue it had last week.  Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), is a web service that provides a “resizable compute capacity in the cloud” (see Amazon’s description).  What it does is that it allows users to rent virtual computers to run any computer application.  Services like about.me, Reddit, HootSuite, and FourSquare uses Amazon EC2 to run their web applications and were all unfortunate to be affected by last week’s outage of Amazon’s service.  This specific event, although rare, is telling of how reliance in cloud computing alone can be costly to your business.

Amazon EC2 as a product itself is too big to discuss.  What you need to know about it though is that its a service that allows you to rent virtual computers to run your web applications.  This service scales based on the demand of your web app.  For instance, if there are currently many users accessing your web application, EC2 should scale to allow for smooth operation.  Amazon’s pricing structure for this service largely depend on bandwidth, memory, and cpu usage.  Honestly, it’s all confusing.  But if you’d like to know more, check out Amazon’s site for this service.

What happened to Amazon EC2 starting Thursday morning until Friday (April 22nd), according to Amazon was that a networking glitch caused harddrives to automatically create back-ups of themselves which lead to storage capacity getting filled.  More importantly, what happened illustrated the necessity for a “disaster recovery” plan for Amazon, other similar bases, and more importantly your business that relies heavily on these types of services.

Update: Drop Box and Security

This is more or less an update to one of my previous post.  I’ve talked about cloud storage previously and how Dropbox is one of the many services that I personally use.  Recently, there’s been a couple of major information regarding Dropbox that were brought to its user’s attention.  First, according to Dropbox, although most of its employees are prohibited from accessing user data, a small number of employees must be able to do when required by law.  The second part of my previous statement (“when required by law”) prompted even more concern from Dropbox’s user base, which lead Dropbox to update its privacy policy.  The new privacy policy, which according to many is inline with the privacy policy of such companies like Google and Twitter, indicates that Dropbox, when required by law, with turn over user data as a form of compliance.

In light of these new findings.  I looked for other online storage solution that promised a little bit more security.  Wuala (www.wuala.com), is a secure online storage service that’s provides a little bit more security.  Encryption happens on your computer and therefore anything sent over to wuala is already encrypted.  The following video explains a little bit more about Wuala.  Check it out!

Wuala’s pricing structure ranges from free for 1 GB of storage to $289 for 250 GB of storage.  The free service does not include file versioning, backup, sync, and time travel.  Wuala is available for the Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux platforms and also comes with a mobile app.

Intuit’s GoPayment VS Square

When Square came out, even without using the product, I was already a big fan.  I mean, the idea itself was just that good and now a new competition is in town ready to go head to head with Square.  Intuit’s GoPayment, introduced very recently, is offering the same type of services that Square offers.

In this blog, I will break down the similarities and the differences between the two services.  Who you use is entirely up to you.

Cost of Hardware (card reader)

Zero dollars.  Nothing can beat that right?  Both Square and Intuit offer their card readers at no charge.  Intuit’s GoPayment is technically $29.95 but is free with application.  GoPayment also supports Mophie’s credit card reader but that’ll run you about 80 dollars.  Square’s card reader can be ordered from its website for free and soon enough, can be bought at the Apple Store online for 10 dollars and comes with a 10 dollar credit that can be applied to Square fees (so still zero dollars).

Hardware Supported

Square supports iOS devices (except 1st gen iPod touch and 1st gen (2G) iPhone) and most of the Android devices manufactured by HTC, Motorola, Samsung, LG, and Dell.  The minimum Android version required is 1.6.  Square’s card reader plugs in via the headphone jack (3.5 mm).  Intuit’s GoPayment has a list of devices supported here.

Pricing

Square has one simple pricing model.  The fee is 2.75% of every transaction unless the credit card number was entered manually, in which case the fee is 3.5% and a 15 cent transaction fee. Intuit has two pricing models: Low-Volume Plan and High-Volume Plan.  The low volume plan has no monthly service fee with a swipe rate of 2.70%, keyed rate of 3.70%, and a 15 cent transaction fee.  The High-Volume plan charges a $12.95 monthly service fee, swipe rate of 1.70%, keyed rate of 2.70%, and a 30 cent transaction fee.   Right off the bat, Intuit’s GoPayment is a little bit pricier than Square’s.

There you have it.  Both of these services work about the same way.  There are other considerations of course such as security and the type of support that both companies provide.