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Showing posts with label website. Show all posts
Showing posts with label website. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 free online whiteboard (etc) collaboration tool

Screengrab of's homepage. is an innovative collaborative progressive web app, or PWA, which allows users to communicate in visual drawings as well as through text chat, audio, videos and by uploading files.

Progressive web apps are technically normal web pages available through modern browsers such as Google Chrome, but they look more like something users would see on a mobile. They allow all kinds of tricks that regular web pages wouldn’t too, such as being able to draw a response in a chat window, swap files and work on a mobile as seamlessly as a PC. describes itself as a free online whiteboard, but the site also allows video conferencing and text messages with offline notification. The video conferencing side allows images and files to be dragged and dropped into the chat, while the text messaging option will suit those more used to chatrooms than video conferencing. is powered by and has an extensive lexicon of keyboard shortcuts available for Windows and Mac systems, These cover all aspects of tool use, navigation and editing functions. It looks fairly simple to use, whether on the elderly Mac laptop I own or my more modern Android phone.

A meeting is initiated via the Start Meeting button available on most pages of the site. It’s as simple as that. Collaboration is easy, whether users write, draw or speak their ideas by preference. I can see this PWA appealing to the severely dyslexic people I have worked with, who were able to understand pictures much quicker than words, as well as those who prefer to speak to someone face to face and people like me who prefer words on a page.

Yes, there have been drawing apps before which have a chat element; the similarly named DrawChat or Draw Something (both 2012 releases), for instance. But this isn’t an app. It doesn’t appear in Google Play. Users simply type into their browser and the site will load. On a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile, it looks and works the same. And unlike many apps, this PWA has a solid business purpose. It can bring together collaborators from around the world in a couple of clicks, and allow them to share ideas across different media simply and quickly, crossing boundaries of language and expression.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mymediclique Medical Network and Personal Research Center

Medical professionals tend to advise against self-diagnosis using internet resources, because not everything is as truthful and accurate as it could be. Mymediclique could be the exception to that rule, however, because it is a health information site offering access to medical research articles and opportunities to sign up for clinical trials. Other services include the ability to request custom research and be sent a personalised report on the chosen topic.

This members-only site medical and dental information resource offers a social media side too, with groups focussing on topics such as allergies, women’s health, alternative medicine and digestive disorders. Once registered, users can find local providers and support from those living nearby with similar issues. They are free to comment on the articles in the subject groups and check out the latest medical research. Enlisting the team to find suitable clinical trials will incur a non-refundable fee and require provision of medical records.

The homepage has a short welcome video giving more details about the opportunities on offer. It offers an overview of the available services in less than two minutes, explaining that the medical experts on the site convert up-to-the-minute health and medical news into easy-to-understand language for the members. The article library is growing fast and that, together with the members’ shared experience, is the bedrock of this site. The icing on the cake is the chance to commission personal research from the team of experts.

Of course, no self-respecting site these days can survive without advertising, and the specific member-submitted advertisements on Mymediclique will showcase medical specialists in many different areas. In addition, the In the News tab carries information on food product recalls and new drugs coming to market.

Mymediclique offers a unique mix of social media support and medical expertise to help the members make informed decisions about their health and wellness. They can read up on treatment options for many of the most common modern health issues and add their own thoughts to the articles, maybe sparking a discussion as a result. It is not simply a diet or fitness site or an alternative therapy hangout; Mymediclique offers links to work published in medical journals and chances to contact doctors with new ideas on existing illnesses and syndromes.

It goes without saying that anyone using this resource should also consult their existing medical practitioner or specialist team before opting for treatment for any condition. The difference between Mymediclique and many other sites is that this one links directly to published medical research but provides a quick overview of the articles in everyday language. The social media side allows members to share experiences plus offering the chance to recommend professionals or courses of treatment to others. It is a clever mix of the social media and medical worlds which makes it unique.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Zigstat free SEO statistical & analytical reports

Screenshot of Zigstat website
Image taken with permission.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is vital to the success of any website. A good webmaster or website owner will know how to ensure their site has good SEO, but to the uninitiated it is often a dark art. Even for the best webmaster, having the stats of your site at your fingertips is useful information. can help decode some of the jargon and provide indicators of success by providing free statistical and analytical data on any website. Users provide the name of the website they are checking and in return can see a variety of stats about it. Data provided includes associated organic keywords, similar sites found by the same keywords and most popular sites providing backlinks to the website. There is also a screenshot of the home page, plus a host of SEO stats including the Alexa, Semrush and Moz Domain Authority ranks, popularity by number of visitors and traffic map by country.

The report also shows the page loading speed (vital for user engagement), earnings from advertisements and popularity on numerous social media channels. Thinking somewhat laterally, the analytics draw parallels between the subject site and similar sites on the same IP address, as well as contrasting the site’s success with those showing the same Adsense adverts.

Lastly, the analytics show the WOT Trustworthiness and Google Safety scores for the website as well as reproducing the WHOIS data and information on the domain name and registration details.

But why would anyone want to know this information about a site?

Sometimes, being able to contact the person who registered the site is important, for instance in cases of plagiarism or when serving a cease and desist notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A recent article from the BBC entitled How long will you wait for a shopping website to load? (Matthew Wall, Technology of Business Editor, 19 August 2016) suggests that if a site hasn’t loaded within three seconds, many potential customers will look elsewhere. It is also interesting for website owners to know which sites the web considers most similar to theirs, and how other sites perform serving the same ads as theirs.

Services such as Zigstat are not often widely recognized outside the professional website management realm. But anyone who has a website, no matter how large or small, will benefit from having free information on hand, on demand. A single snapshot of a website’s stats is all very well, but for those looking to grow their business, or see why orders have dropped, regular visits to Zigstat before and after making changes to the site can be beneficial and provide real insight into their own and their competitors’ performance.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Progressive Designs offer graphics, web design and more

Progressive Designs
Graphic created especially for this article and used with permission.

Progressive Designs offers a graphic and web design service. The team prides itself on meticulous attention to detail and a full service provision of web design, graphic design and copywriting for marketing and advertising. They will design websites, offer an update to a logo, or simply provide some fresh descriptive words for any site. Advertising copy and marketing materials fall within their services, so for businesses looking to launch a new range or service, Progressive Designs would be a good one-stop shop.

The team is based in Mauritius, but obviously, given the nature of their business, the company provides services worldwide. They will offer potential clients from all fields a quote and further information on request. Progressive Designs has a very strong graphics design side, with around 90% of their team having some expertise in this area. Three quarters of the team have copywriting experience and most of them are also capable of undertaking web development and the design elements of any project. The About section of the Who We Are page on the website has both written and video evidence for this, so no matter how clients prefer to be given information, it is here. Playing the introductory video embedded on the page gives interested viewers an insight into how the firm came to be, while the Services section of the same page provides an overview of the range of specialisms offered.

The company will not only help clients with web development and design but also image, artwork and logo design. Their expertise also extends to design and packaging for physical items including CDs, posters, magazines and catalogs, textiles (think promotional goods) and even books. Progressive Designs will handle any cross-platform advertising campaign, and as you might expect from a graphics and design agency, they have a Facebook presence and a number of YouTube videos. Both images on this article were produced especially for it, and illustrate exactly what the company offers. The header image suggests that Progressive Designs will take any firm from an idea to the solution across a seemingly bottomless chasm, through use of graphic design. The second one, displayed at the end of the article, implies the option of saving a business from heaps of design changes and failed logos.

Advertising and design are more and more important these days. Everyone has their own website, many run their own businesses, either as a freelance sideline or full time as a main income. The only way to be noticed is to be eye catching, unique, different. With the help of Progressive Designs, the next campaign could be the one which catches the public’s imagination and establishes a new brand.

Progressive Designs
Graphic created especially for this article and used with permission.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Colleen Nye: Author

Colleen Nye, Author.
Image supplied and used with permission.

It gives me great pleasure to be writing about an author. Makes a change from articles about apps and websites, and in any case, Colleen Nye is a thoroughly modern wordsmith who uses collaboration with other authors to create some of the work she publishes. Come to think of it, she’s right up my street.

On her website Colleen describes herself as “an author in various styles and genres – Novels, short stories, poetry, romantic comedies, suspense thriller, drama…”. Colleen is a prolific and compulsive writer, always working on something and often on several things together, it seems. Her publication list for 2016 is as fierce as it is varied, with anthologies co-written with other authors, a teen drama, a science fiction work and a series of five books in an anthology known as The Debut Collective.

But let’s start at the beginning. Colleen has been writing and winning awards for her work since her teens. Now she owns her own publishing imprint, Blue Deco Publishing, as well as producing an impressive output of work and curating anthologies in which other authors have a big part to play too.

To date, Colleen’s work includes:

  • Immersion – a science fiction world where virtual gaming is key.
  • The Unattainable Series – Book one is called When in Maui, a romantic novel. Book two is titled When in Doubt, and will be released in spring 2016.
  • The Lunchtime Anthologies – Gable Heights is the first installment in the series which meshes Colleen’s main storyline with other authors’ short stories and plot developments.
  • Pieces in two volumes of anthology work from the Writing from the Ledges collective: Voices from the Ledges and Seasons of Life.

Colleen’s blog includes a series of writer interviews, a reminder of the reality of NaNoWriMo (where every self-respecting novelist tries to bash out as many words as possible in the month of November, hoping to reach the holy grail of 50,000 words in 30 days) and information about upcoming releases from Blue Deco Publishing.

If it’s word-centric or writing-focused, expect to see Colleen involved. Besides running Blue Deco Publishing, she writes press releases and leads workshops on creative writing and getting published. Plus, she is always up for book signings, conventions, appearances and talks. For instance, she will be at Utopiacon conference in Tennessee in June 2016, which is a specialist event for writers of supernatural fiction, and Tulip City Author Event in July 2016 in Michigan. Further ahead, Colleen’s appearances are already planned at Indies in NY in August and Penned Con in St Louis in September. That is only a snapshot of the events where Colleen is appearing in the next year or so, and she is booking into 2017 too.

If you like your authors varied, prolific, modern and refreshing, Colleen Nye’s work should be on your recommended reading list. No chance of becoming bored with the same style of writing for book after book with this author, that’s for sure.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Alani Greetings provides cards for the African-American and LGBT markets

Alani Greetings, Dayton, Ohio.
Image provided and used with permission.

The Americans have the Brits beat when it comes to greetings cards. There are websites which offer lists of reasons to celebrate each day, and for many of those, there’s an appropriate greetings card. Some are funny, some are rude, some are downright odd if you’re not part of the target demographic.

Bosses can find cards for their staff to show their appreciation. There are cards for expressing your sadness at the death of a friend’s pet and for every conceivable relative’s birthday. Some cards are undoubtedly in better taste than others - there was a section in one greetings card shop I visited in New York which was marked ‘Appropriate for Eating Disorder or Addiction’. Hmmm.

But for those who identify as LGBT or who need a card suitable for a proud African-American, there can be a limited choice in the mainstream outlets. Fortunately, the internet has come to the rescue of many people needing specialist items, and greetings cards are no exception. For tasteful LGBT and African-American cards, there really is only one place to look. Alani Greetings, LLC, based in Dayton, Ohio, has a range of unusual cards for both groups of people. Online orders are welcome, and at present, with a minimum spend of $9.90, buyers will receive $2 discount when they quote the promo code ‘MELL’. (Correct at January 2016 - please check website for current offers.)

There are presently 28 different designs available, roughly split equally between birthday cards, statement cards and LGBT cards. The cartoon birthday cards are mainly aimed at the African-American market, while many of the photo cards are perfect for a group of diverse friends to send greetings to the birthday girl or boy.

The first card in the selection is the Baby Girl card. This is a statement from a father to his lesbian daughter affirming that he will always be there for her.

The next two cards are birthday greetings aimed squarely at the African-American market. Both cards suggest that the birthday girl or boy can enjoy their cake today, but tomorrow the ribbing will be about exactly how much of it they enjoyed.

The bittersweet message in the ‘Bye’ card is that when it’s over, IT’S OVER. Perfect for an ex-girlfriend to send to their former partner of either sex, just enough bitterness to bring it home without an overdose of sarcasm.

‘Campfire’ is a subtle kick in the teeth for a guy who made a mistake, where the African-American woman is telling him that she will never let him forget this trip (for all the wrong reasons). Oops.

Some of the greetings cards are very subtle. The Easter card and the blank ‘Chairs’ card are both based on the LGBT rainbow, but to many the rainbow is simply a pleasing arrangement of colors. Look closely at the Easter card, however, and the subjects are all men, wearing unmistakably female hats. Many of the photo cards are tinted to make the point and draw the viewer’s eye towards each person.

The Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards are suitable for children of any persuasion to send their parents, as they simply highlight the fact that parents have been known to give their children advice which they only fully understand later in life.

My personal favorites are The ‘Grow Old With Me?’ cards, which are nothing less than declarations of intent for gay and lesbian couples. After all, LGBT couples can be just as besotted about their partner as any straight couple, and I’ve heard it said that many are more faithful than their straight counterparts can be. However, if your friend suspects that their partner is playing away, you can always send them a cheeky ‘Pussy Cat’ card to lighten the mood and remind them they have an answer to the situation.

For the selfie fangirls, the ‘Smile’ greetings card is a great way to show you know your friend, while the sassy African-American ladies of ‘Suitcases’ can remind a broken hearted sister that a BFF is better than any boyfriend and the ‘Get Together’ pairing has one birthday card and one fun greeting for friends who are meeting up for the first time in a while, or thinking of someone who can’t be there to celebrate with them.

Alani Greetings has a small but eye catching selection of niche cards for the LGBT and African-American communities. For those who live in areas where such cards are not readily available in any stores, shopping online is a very acceptable alternative to make sure that friends elsewhere receive appropriate cards sharing love and laughter across the miles.

Alani Greetings’ mission statement reads ‘We plan to bring you greetings you don’t see in the mainstream marketplace.’ This they do with humor, grace, subtlety and occasional mild cheek. A perfect mix to ensure everyone laughs and no one is terminally offended.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Flying-Drones.Expert, a site for information about drones

Flying-Drones.Expert logo.
Image supplied and used with permission.

A few months ago, I wrote about the FLYBi drone crowdfunding effort. Now I hear there’s a whole website devoted to reviewing the drones which are already on the market. has comprehensive reviews of the best of the currently available drones. These are either by single machine or grouped under headings such as ‘Best Drone Under $100’ or ‘Cheap Drone with Camera’. Many of these models are available via Amazon or eBay for those interested in trying the technology themselves.

The Use of Drones section is about more than how to safely manage a drone (see the article ‘How to Fly a Quadcopter’ for information on that side of things). It also covers comparison reviews of various drones and articles on drone use for professional video recording, in a commercial setting and for stills photography using an onboard camera.

The News tab rounds up many recent news stories involving drones. There’s more on Amazon’s plans to use drones for deliveries and the tale of the Californian who shot down his neighbor’s drone because he thought it was over his property. Many of the stories come with a US bias, although UK fliers are becoming more popular too.

The Models tab is subdivided into Directory, Manual, Photo and Review sections so readers can more easily find relevant posts. Links to manuals for many of the popular models are included for quick reference, while the photo gallery shows various views of models in flight, assembled on the ground and in their carrying cases.

The Flying Drones Guide tab rounds up the different price ranges of drones and reviews some of the capabilities. For an idea of that drone video cameras can do, check out the Best Flying Drones Video tab.

One of the most useful and informative posts on the site is the comparison between prices of drones available on eBay and Amazon, which gives a complete breakdown of models for sale from under $100 to over $1000, including a brief description and shipping costs for each. If someone is considering a drone as a present for a friend or relation, the post is a good starting point to make an informed short list of potentially suitable models. has a lot of information on current models, prices and flying tips. The site can help those just starting out with a cheap drone, or provide pointers for upgrading to the next model. Owners should always fly their drones responsibly, and be aware of any local rules regarding their use, especially near restricted areas such as military installations or privately owned land like large country estates or outdoor venues.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Private chat lines, Turkish style, from Ozel Sohbet Hatti

Ozel Sohbet Hatti logo.
Supplied and used with permission.

Despite the rise in online dating and singles/match sites, chat lines are still popular in many countries. Turkey has a booming chat line industry, and a simple search engine enquiry will find several pages listing companies offering these telephone based services, instead of, or as well as a web based chat forum option.

One of them is Ozel Sohbet Hatti (Private Chat Lines) which offers a chat service for 295 krs a minute, or around $1 a minute. Mind you, to use the site, you have to be able to speak Turkish, as it’s not always offered as a translated option in searches, possibly due to the subject matter.

On the home page, visitors are shown photographs of 12 different girls, and on average around 10 are available at any given time. Dial the chat line number, select the extension for the girl you would like to speak to, and you will be connected immediately. Of course, the service is open to over 18s only. I would imagine the chat can get pretty hot at times, just as it always has done on these kinds of chat lines.

One or two of the girls are showing their selfie abilities, having taken their pictures in front of a mirror for maximum effect. Gonca is standing in her bathroom, while Esra is showing off her bedroom behind her. There are a fair number of exaggerated pouts, as you might expect, and Gonca at least looks as if she is channeling Kim Kardashian, in a figure hugging dress with her head back, long hair dangling and backside prominently thrust out. Both Ada and Ecrin’s photos show them as car passengers, and while Ada’s thousand yard stare is not directed at the camera, Ecrin’s large dark glasses hide a direct gaze as she flips the peace sign. Interested visitors can click the photos for a biography and more information on each girl. The site proudly boasts that it employs 100% Turkish girls on the phone lines.

The site administrators are contactable by email if users have any questions or run into problems while using the chat lines. However, these services are generally fairly simple to use. Regulars just have to be careful not to run up massive bills, or just as with mobile phone users who are shocked by call charges, they might be in for a nasty surprise at the end of the month.

In these technologically-led days, it’s interesting to see that the more traditional way of hooking up through private chat lines is still available in some places, even if these days the paper flyer has been replaced with a website instead.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Self Sealing Water Balloons are the (Water) Bomb!

Water Balloons from Splash Around - endless fun for summer days
Did you see the article about the cadets at West Point who were injured in a pillow fight (, September 5, 2015) because some of them hid hard objects in their pillows? They should have tried these no-tie, self seal water balloons from Splash Around, I reckon. Currently available through, they have been proving very popular over the summer.

The balloons fill quickly and simply from an outside hose and are supplied with the nozzles to fill them too. All a user needs to do is put the whole thing in a large bucket then attach the water hose to the nozzle, turn on the tap and the balloons will fill in less than a minute. Yes, it's that simple. Once filled, the balloons will come free of the nozzle with a shake. Some users report that if they are filled without being placed in a bucket, they will automatically drop off the bundle when full. Great fun for the kids to chase around the yard to start the game. Others suggest that filling them while holding the nozzle assembly underwater makes them fill up better. It's certainly worth a try to ensure maximum fun, at least.

The balloons come ready batched in three bundles of 37 (that’s 111 in total) with the stick-like nozzle attached to each bundle. They are made of biodegradable latex, which according to reviews is durable enough to last a while before bursting. Some reviewers say the balloons which don't burst can be refilled and reused too, which surely makes them even more fun. Parents report that they're safe for youngsters to use unsupervised, but it sounds like the adults have just as much fun with them as the children. Perhaps water balloons could become a summer version of the pinata?

These balloons are an ideal fun addition to any party and a great way to cool down on hot summer days. Thirty seven balloons in a bouquet is enough for anyone to hold their own in a water fight, even against water pistols. The reviews I've read so far say a batch of these balloons have managed to enliven many birthday parties for people of all ages.

Splash Around have a good reputation for providing quality products at reasonable prices and those few customers who have reported problems have been met with exemplary customer service too. This sounds like a recipe for success from a firm which has found a niche in the market.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sun Pixie's Tarot offers empathic card reading via Skype

SunPixie, Tarot reader and empath.
Image supplied and used with permission.

Having their tarot read is not for everyone. It's a way of gaining insight or answers, although the results can be unsettling if the sitter isn't prepared for them. However, with Sun Pixie's tarot reading techniques clients are firmly in the modern era.

Patrons can have their cards read in person (she's based in Thailand), over the phone, and now, by Skype. Yes, Skype. See what I mean about being firmly in the modern era? Prices for personal appointments and the cost per minute for phone or Skype consultations are clearly quoted on Sunny's website along with availability and a chance to receive a notification when she’s back online.

Sun Pixie offers a choice of Pagan, Native American or Visconti decks. Tarot must be read from a deck matching the client's cultural background, hence the choice. Traditionally, the cards are read with the reader face to face with their client, but effective readings can also be given by phone. In addition, Sunny offers the chance for her phone clients to see the cards over Skype. Of course, seers and empaths can work remotely, but putting a face to a client helps her to add depth to her reading.

Clients have a choice of the number of cards they would like to have read. They can opt for a small spread of 1-5 cards or a more in-depth examination of up to 28 cards. However big or small the spread, Sun Pixie suggests that her client reflects on the cards as they are known to provide answers to those seeking them. This is because the artwork reflects the many different types of human personalities and therefore says different things to each person. A tarot reading is seen as a way to move out of a blindspot - a place where clients see no or few opportunities - and explore what might be possible if they took one step away from that space. Readers are empaths; this means that they can give clients insights into situations that they might not have seen themselves. Sun Pixie is an MA graduate of Appalachian State University, and believes that the mix of academic and spiritual discipline learned there lends an extra edge to her readings.

It is entirely up to the client whether they choose to connect via Skype to see their cards. Prices vary depending on the time of day, but Verified Call protection will still ensure a private and confidential conversation even if Skype is used. A new moon brings a temporary halt to readings, with private consultations only available at that time. All of these details can be found on the website, or by looking at the button below.

Sun Pixie doesn't promise to change the world with a tarot reading, but she can set clients on the path to changing their world, if they wish to.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Queen Bee Social - social media help for businesses

Queen Bee Social logo. Provided and used with permission.

Social media and businesses have not always been the best of friends. As Queen Bee Social point out in one of their latest blogs When Businesses Go Socially Rogue, brands can easily undo years of good work with one ill advised tweet or post, and the resulting loyalty rebuilding exercise can be lengthy and expensive.

Fortunately there is an answer. A company like Queen Bee Social can help you to put the word out about your business in the right way. Queen Bee provide a complete social media marketing service which will increase your valuable inbound traffic (that's what brings you customers) and advise on how best to run your social media accounts to maximize their impact and raise your search engine rankings.

Looking at some of the headlines on the front page of Queen Bee Social, you can grasp the strategic importance of the correct social media marketing plan. Personalized marketing experiences are becoming the norm, with companies targeting adverts based on search terms, topics in blog posts, and even programmatic advertising to tie up their advertisements with what the viewer wants to see. In addition, 59% of businesses say effective search engine optimization, or SEO, is the key to lead generation. Furthermore, 71% of social media users who are shown good customer service by a company will recommend that firm to others.

Get it right, and there is a huge amount to be gained. Get it wrong and it could take a while to recover. Queen Bee Social will walk you through all of these minefields and more. The firm offers tips on integrating traditional marketing avenues with new digital media, as well as showing clients how to make the most of that social media. You will learn how to set and implement a successful social media strategy to draw in new clients and reinforce loyalty in existing ones. Queen Bee will look at your existing social media presence to see how the business is performing in the field and offer advice to make it more effective where necessary. They will also give tips on email marketing campaigns to ensure your emails aren’t simply deleted by your clients; or worse, by your targeted new customers. Mobile marketing is another area where companies can seek help, to ensure that they are making the most of their market on the move. After all, search engines penalize companies with poorly performing websites on mobile platforms, which is unlikely to help business.

Of course, Queen Bee Social will also help out with reputation management too, so if you have suffered an employee meltdown in public, they will be able to advise the best way to avert reputation ruin. Group and individual training sessions are available to suit your company’s structure and working practices, so all styles of company can benefit.

No matter the size of your firm or the social media questions that you may have, it is likely that Queen Bee Social can help provide answers. If you feel your company’s social media presence can be improved, founder Megan Washington and her team should be able to help.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Web Shrinker. The web. Categorized.

Web Shrinker icon.
Provided and used with permission.

Now, I know next to nothing about coding, but when I heard that there was an API developer seeking Kickstarter funds to try to categorize the whole Internet by subject, I was suitably impressed. Statisticians, the terminally curious and geeks are going to love this. For anyone who has ever wondered how many websites there are on the web or what the most popular category is for starting new sites, the Web Shrinker API for developers will help.

Currently fundraising on Kickstarter has just begun with a month to run. Founder Adam Spotton hopes to scale up the project using Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the coming months. To date the API has already categorized over a quarter of a billion sites. Throughout the company’s history, they have mainly used open source software. Adam's intention is to give a donation to these open source developers once the API is open to the public. But first Web Shrinker aims to substantially increase the sites categorized, by using AWS computer resources, and finalize some items relating to categorization and production of the downloadable list. The development team believes that once the campaign is complete, the category list will contain over 1 billion sites while continuing to add new ones in real time.

Web Shrinker JSON response.
Image provided and used with permission.
It's an ambitious undertaking, with the intention of providing a downloadable list of website to category mappings as well as an online interface for the search, accessed via an HTTP GET request. This will return the categories as a JSON response. The idea is to allow the accurate classification of websites into categories, and if an immediate category isn't known, the service will crawl the target website and categorize it. It is designed to be used with other software as well as being a reference resource for the creation of website filters and enforcement of acceptable use policies. Since sites can be categorized on request via a crawler bot, the API is constantly updated with new sites, making the list as accurate as possible at the time of request. Requests for lookups can be for an individual site URL, a specific IP address or hostname. The latter two categories will return a list of all applicable content across all categories.

Kickstarter backers can expect to have a preview of the API to play around with as a bare minimum. This will extend to having the chance to input to the API searches for those backers who pledge $100 or more. The team hopes to have a beta testing version available for backers in a couple of months (November 2015), with the more detailed versions open for the bigger backers in February 2016. Currently there are 32 categories; suggestions are welcome for others. Once fully released, the API will be available for free for 100 requests; the Basic level will then include 20,000 requests, with yet more features available to Intermediate and Professional user levels. Screenshots for categorized sites will also be available with this service.

This API takes a whole new slant on the standard search engine, which searches by keywords. It allows a totally new set of statistics to be generated and I can see it being used by Masters students for thesis work, researchers, techy writers, webmasters and figuresmiths the world over.

Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Train Dogs, essential tips for dog owners

How to Train Dogs.
Image provided by webmaster.

Everyone loves a well trained dog. Sure, they don’t make the news headlines for being well behaved, but they can win friends, prizes and praise for being easy to get on with, good with strangers or children, not pulling on the lead or barking too much.

However, training a dog takes time and effort, especially if you have to teach them not to do certain things they’ve been accustomed to getting away with in a previous home. To find out the best way to train your dog to behave well in every situation, you need a site like How To Train Dogs. This blog is just one of several similar websites which all contain articles on the basics of training your dog. Recent topics covered here include toilet training your dog, teaching your dog to come to you on command and tips on training a dog not to bite. There is certainly plenty of choice when concerned owners need to research details on ensuring their pet is well behaved and healthy. These days, there is much at stake for owners found to have a dangerous dog. Some breeds have been officially designated ‘dangerous dogs’ in the UK and strict legislation applies to keeping them. Other breeds, such as chihuahuas, require special care due to their nature, as pointed out on this site. Owners of smaller dogs should be aware of the necessity to put a dog coat on their animal before taking it for a walk in the winter, for instance, due to the fact that the smaller breeds will naturally feel the cold more. In any case, vets’ bills are too high to be taking chances with an unhealthy dog, so as a responsible pet owner it pays to research correct care on a site such as this, which provides a more personal touch than some of the more official sites.

The last five articles are linked on the right hand side of the blog; for more entries, readers will have to check the archives. Caring for a new puppy should also include training from the earliest days of their independence, and for older dogs, new to the owner, any corrective training should begin as soon as they notice undesirable traits in their pet. The articles are generally broken down into step by step processes to make the training process easy to follow, and although some of the explanations are quite convoluted, readers should be able to get the gist of the instructions.

Of course, as you would expect, this site also has many pictures of puppies and dogs for animal lovers to admire. For a gentle introduction to the fine art of training a dog, How To Train Dogs is certainly worth a look.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Local Plumbers Directory lists Australian plumbers nationwide

Local Plumbers Directory, Australia
Image supplied and used with permission.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a local locksmiths’ directory in Kansas City. Now I’ve discovered a similar listings service for plumbers in Australia. Local Plumbers Directory is simple to use, in that customers needing a plumber enter their postcode, any specialty they require, suitable keywords or a business name if they know it. The database then provides them with a list of possible matches to their specifications. They choose the ones they like and contact them for quotes before engaging their preferred plumber or the one whose experience most closely matches their job. The service is free to both customers and plumbers, and puts customers in touch with specialist, qualified, licensed local plumbers they might not have known about otherwise.

The site is also open to plumbers looking to expand their client base. And let’s face it, plumbers are always eagerly sought after. When a tap bursts, a shower fails or a toilet gets blocked, it’s a major inconvenience, after all, and most people need the problem fixed as soon as possible. For plumbers this means a constant stream of new clients without having to pay commission fees, as well as a chance to have a full mini-website for their business and a boost to their search engine rankings.

Local Plumbers Directory has a number of features to help customers find their perfect plumber. The site simplifies the quote-finding process by allowing multiple plumbers to be contacted at once and also offers a Quick Quote option for local plumbers to contact the customer themselves. This is especially useful when customers are looking for an immediate resolution, as only the plumbers who are available there and then will contact the customer.

The site also has a list of ten questions for customers to ask any plumbers when obtaining a quote, as well as a blog and a video area. The thing which always strikes me about tradesmen’s listings is that these sites fill a gap in the market. These guys ought by rights to be too busy fixing drains, sinks, showers and toilets to have time to maintain a website. Like barbers, general handymen, painters and flooring specialists, they work with their hands all day, every day. Yet the rest of us expect them to be available online as well, which sometimes they might find difficult given the messiness of their daily occupation. A site such as Local Plumbers Directory in Australia helps them know where their next job is coming from and allows them to build their reputation with the best customers of all – local clients.

Friday, August 21, 2015

ATIS Digital Agency - Tirana

ATIS Digital Agency - Tirana
Logo supplied and used with permission.

ATIS (Albanian Telecommunication and Information Services) are a digital agency based in Tirana, Albania. In common with many companies in this connected life, they work with customers all over the world. Indeed, the agency expresses a preference for working in the field of ‘offshore web development’ so they would positively welcome enquiries from overseas.

What marks ATIS out from the others is that they are a one-stop shop for just about everything a firm could need, digitally speaking. This team of 12 hard-working men and women have delivered almost two million lines of code (1,956,628, to be exact) for 83 projects.

That's 1,328 and a third lines of code for every one of the 1,473 cups of coffee the team have drunk. Or an average of almost 23,574 lines of code per customer. That equals some pretty late nights and large projects.

Between them, ATIS can look after all aspects of a company's digital marketing requirements. They design mobile apps, offer web design and development services and have in-house copywriting specialists as well as creative design and digital marketing service experts. Whether assisting with a new email or social media marketing campaign, or revamping an older website for the mobile-centric Smartphone/tablet era, ATIS can help. If it's digital, the chances are that they have experience with it. The team is truly multi-talented, being able to design everything from a new logo to stationery or branding for uniforms as well as all the usual digital media. If it can be rendered digitally, ATIS will provide it, and I get the impression that the team enjoy a challenge.

The ATIS team’s web development service covers CMS, e-commerce, frameworks and web applications. This is complemented by web design; giving the site a great look, making it intuitive and easy to use. Of course, a web site might look good, but it needs persuasive copy if visitors are to become customers and buy services or goods. ATIS has multilingual copywriters to take care of that, and ensure that the keywords are in place to show good search engine optimization (SEO). When the website is ready, the team will attend to the social media marketing (SMM) and pay per click advertising (PPC) that make a well designed website not just look good but work well too. To be ranked highly in search engines today, websites need to work just as well on a range of devices from a 24” widescreen to a 10” tablet and a 4” Smartphone. A dedicated app might be the answer, and with ATIS, mobile apps are designed and tested in house. They can be produced for and published on iOS, Android and Windows as needed. A company is nothing without advertising and branding, and this is where the creative design side kicks in, covering logos, banner advertisements, business cards and other branding.

ATIS Digital Agency are, as you might expect, active on social media. The best place to find them is on Linked In but they also welcome enquiries directly through their website or via Google+, Facebook or Twitter.