Posts Tagged ‘#database’

Automation

Helpful Hints | Posted by Dennis March 5th, 2012

There are times when a good ol’ pencil and paper still rule.  How do you decide if/when to spend the effort to make things happen automatically?  Before you spend a lot of time or money… read on.  When you look at a routine, or process, or calculation, you need to ask yourself  some questions;  1) do we repeat this very often?  2) if yes, how long does it take?  3) How long (or how much money) will it take to make it automatic via computer?  4) how long then, will it take for this automation to pay off?  For example, I recently dug in and revamped the database for TPCD.  See, it tracks all work-orders, parts, and invoices… but was never designed to track payments.  So every time a deposit was made, somebody had to sit down with a pencil and paper, write it all down, add it up, and fill out a slip.  It took about an hour for a standard deposit, and was sometimes inaccurate.  It took me about 30 hours of programming time to automate this.  (it would have taken a pro SQL guru much less time)  At a dollar value of $3000, it’s hard to justify this.  It saves about 30 minutes on each deposit, so it will take several years to recoup the costs.  But there’s a hidden value here:  it helped track down unpaid invoices.  So about $600 was recovered IMMEDIATELY.  Now, for the average user there wouldn’t be any programming involved per se’.  You probably use a canned database (like QuickBooks, for example) that has the automation you need BUILT IN, but there is a time cost in figuring it out and setting it up.  Bottom line:  if you repeat the process on a regular schedule, it’s probably worth it to make it computerized.  If the task is too daunting, hire a professional to set it up for you.  You’ll likely recover that cost, plus some.  And you might be pleasantly surprised out how quickly and easily he/she accomplishes your goal.  :-)

Rigging Searches

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis August 28th, 2011

OnlineYellowpages.comSince the  first HTML web page hit the Internet, people have been pushing ideas and products.  It’s gotten a LOT more commercial in the last decade, so competition to ‘be found’ on the web is fierce.  Everyone wants their page to pull up first if you search for them.    There are lots of ways to do this.  Some are legitimate, and the way the search engines were intended to be used.  Some are not.  They call these  White Hat vs Black Hat SEARCH OPTIMIZATIONS and it’s big business these days.  See, search engines like Google and Yahoo constantly troll the net for information.  They look for, and index, all the text, descriptions, keywords, etc. that are on each site and put it in a database.  From the start folks have tried to “trick” the search engines by adding one word 1,000 times in the invisible KEYWORD section, for example.  Because of this Black Hat activity, the search engines started changing the rules for how information was grabbed.  These rules have become VERY complex, so it’s difficult to fool them.  There are now services available to help companies optimize their search engine results, and most of them are White Hat.  But if you don’t want to pay someone the main thing to remember is that CONTENT IS KING.  In other words, the more you provide fresh writing to viewers, the more likely you will come up in a search for information.  If you just want a listing, like the yellow pages, be sure to register with all the services like Yellowpages.com, OnlineYellowpages.com, etc.

When to update (or NOT!)

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis April 15th, 2011

People get frustrated trying to figure out when to update which software.  As a rule of thumb, we don’t buy into brand new issues of software until they’ve been out for at least 6 months.  So, for example, right now we’re warning our clients to stay away from Internet Explorer 9.  Microsoft is notorious for throwing their software out there half-baked.  BUT there are lots of cases where you SHOULD update, and that includes normal windows updates, driver updates, other standard security updates from vendors like Adobe, Java (Sun), etc.  WATCH OUT because a lot of times they bundle some crappy package with it, like McAfee Security Scan.  To avoid it, look for a checkbox along the way and UNCHECK IT.  Another good reason to buy new releases of software is for your database(s).  If you have critical business or personal info on a database (like Quickbooks, for example), you should get the new version every 2-3 years to insure that your data gets converted to the latest, greatest.  Otherwise, if you wait too long, you might not be able to upgrade.

Databases

Helpful Hints | Posted by Dennis January 28th, 2011

What’s a database (DB)?  It’s a way to organize information so that it can easily be viewed, organized, and accessed.  It allows you to keep track of all the relationships between each piece of data (so they’re sometimes called RELATIONAL databases).  Most PC users are already using a “canned” DB of some type or another.  Financial software for your books or taxes are a common example.  But did you know you can create your own?  MS Access or OpenOffice Base are two database programs that allow you to create ANY kind of database you want, from Movie Collections to Recipes.  A lot of small businesses start by building Excel spreadsheets or Word templates for all their common documents (invoices, etc.) but this can quickly get out of hand once they have a lot of customers.  That’s a good time to change to a database.  They’re designed to handle HUGE amounts of data with minimum clutter and maximum tracking.  There are almost ALWAYS a pre-made, or canned, version of DB’s for any type of business or activity you can imagine, but if you have the time, or know a good tech, it’s better to build your own.  Then you get EXACTLY what you want/need instead of conforming to some programmer’s ideas.