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April 2010

QiSoftware Business Blogging

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Small Business Advertising Tools

Last fall, I developed an interface that provides a randomly generated list of automobile photos, descriptions and links for a selected number of cars- currently available through the dealer. An illustration of the interface is shown on the right.

The interface is a quick executing Java Servlet-- which accesses the current inventory maintained with the management service the dealer uses. In this case autofind.com. Placement of the advertisement can be anywhere on the a publisher's site and customized to use current page styling.

The more button at the bottom allows visitors to scan through the dealers inventory.

Last fall, when I initially promoted the interface there was some interest-- however I did not get much further than that. I am again promoting the tool- because [1] I think it could be useful for small dealers that want to place ads quickly with online publications and [2] I want to show the type of interfaces I offer small businesses who want to promote their services and products via online publications.

QiSoftware offers custom advertisement interfaces which can be in place in a matter of hours.

Today, when I tested this interface-- using NetBeans, I found it was inoperable. The inventory service changed layouts. I repaired the interface in a matter of minutes and since I maintain copies of all client interfaces, can ensure yours too- are never in disrepair.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Custom Affiliate Marketing Interfaces

One of the many services QiSoftware offers-- custom interfaces for affiliate marketing. Examples of these tools are found throughout the news service WiredPages, which also doubles as a showcase site for QiSoftware efforts.

Recently, I reintegrated the Expedia powered travel deals widget maintained on the Dining & Travel page.

A little about the interface

The interface is a Java Servlet that pulls Expedia feeds [depending on the pull down menu selection]-- which contain Commission Junction [CJ] tracking information. Commission Junction offers webservices-- and I have integrated interfaces using theirs, however in the case of this Expedia interface-- I chose to use their feeds directly.

Commission Junction, BuyAT, LinkShare and the Google Affiliate Network all offer webservices, i.e., feeds, APIs, etc., for affiliate publishers and I have used their services to integrate ad interfaces.

The reasons I like Java Servlets for Affiliate Marketing:

Piracy, piracy and more piracy. Prevention of. I ensure affiliate publishers get credit for their ads-- by checking referer information, amongst other things. This in part, why my interfaces are custom. Styling-- another.

Two-- a Java Servlet is faster than a PHP script. I retrieve real time data when the user accesses pages with my interfaces. In other words-- I do not port data and load in local intermediary databases. This would be costly for my web host and the data is not always timely [depending on how often one exports data from the affiliate management service]. That said-- I can write custom interfaces using Java Servlets and JDBC for local databases that would be faster returning ad links for web pages-- than most script languages.

Other examples of QiSoftware Affiliate Interfaces:

Piracy is a big issue with me. I like ensuring publishers get credit for their work. My interfaces-- offer automation, style and are designed to ensure you get credit.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blogger Calendar Demonstrations

Recently, completed the beta version of the Blogger Calendar for the Thingamablog platform. Demonstration in the sidebar. Features include:

  • Post selection based on calendar date.
  • Load blog archive file for a given month [if available].
  • Navigation without page refreshing.
  • Hundred year calendar.
  • Set custom color schemes.
  • The Thingamablog version uses only a Java Applet and requires no server side Java/jsp support.

In addition, recently updated the Movable Type demonstration calendar which incorrectly rendered the current month when specific posts were requested.

Platform demonstrations of the Blogger Calendar:

Contact QiSoftware for more information-- consulting@qisoftware.com.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Small Business Programming Needs

The other day, one of the freelance services I belong to sent notification that an employer wanted a payroll system built. The employer was pretty specific about what he wanted but never provided the environment his new system would run in.

I assumed Microsoft Windows and immediately thought of Access- and a runtime application. I also wondered why he simply did not buy QuickBooks. He needs a complete database application.

My curiosity as to how this small business owner, and others-- are keeping books and billing [I use PayPal for billing]-- led me on a small research task.

One question, what are small business owners requesting in terms of programming help these days.

The graph on the right, uses Freelancer.com data and is a breakdown of the major programming environments [i.e., Java, PHP, etc.]-- offered today, and shows how many requests per programming technology are being sought [literally today].

PHP the clear winner, however in the case of the employer that needed a new payroll system- I am pretty sure he did not need a PHP programmer.

Why is this important to me? I can support PHP, however rarely bid on PHP projects. Why? Opensource. Most believe programmers should charge less for PHP and more for Java. I want to charge less for Java and more for PHP. Source code-- should always be more, in my opinion. By default, PHP is opensource code delivered to clients...

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Blogger Calendar Work Around

Have researched at length the feasibility of using the Blogger Calendar with Thingamablog. The issue? The most efficient manner possible. Keeping in mind, if I write code -- it would have to be a separate module [plugin] which cannot interfere with how any version of the core program works [licensing issues].

With that limitation and careful study-- I determined it is more efficient to work with the program as it is currently distributed-- without adding a new interface.

So here is what I have come up with. There is a two step process that must be performed to generate the files-- the Blogger Calendar requires.

Thingamablogger-- edits his post using the Thingamablog Entry editor as he normally would. Before publishing the final version of the post to the site, ensures the archive settings are set to "Day Interval" with the Day Interval set to "1" as illustrated:

Use the "Update/Publish" button [shown far left] on the Entry Editor to publish the post:

Update Archiving Settings to "Monthly" as shown in the following diagram and hit "ok".

Then a "minimal" publish is required [sending only new or revised files to the server]. This is accomplished with the Publish Weblog button shown:

Once you are finished, your directory structure will look like this:

The illustration on the left showing the Entry Files [only the new one is sent with the update post] and the diagram on the right showing the monthly archive file which has all of the links for posts you have generated over the given month.

This process is really not that involved. I have my settings set up for automatic connect [no usernames or passwords] -- I simply click buttons and my posts are placed on my server.

The other option? Thingamablog's developer, Bob Tantlinger integrates a module-- I develop which generates an xml or plain text file for use with Blogger Calendar. He wants to know if I would require payment for the Calendar, in that case? As long as he requires no payment for Thingamablog-- I require no payment for the Applet version of the Calendar that will work with Thingamablog.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Pros & Cons...

QiSoftware service pricing structure is outlined here, however meant only as a guide.

The web hosting prices are pretty accurate-- however custom software and design work are done on a per client basis, and the guide should be used for estimation purposes only.

New service offerings are being rolled out-- with more emphasis on design in terms of platform changeovers and customer care. Included in these offerings:

  • Existing template enhancements or adaption for new services
  • Finding the right solutions-- for clients.
  • 24 Support Desk-- the biggest complaint amongst website owners? What did I do to my template.

My own recent issues with--

  • blog post maintenance
  • hosting
  • access to backups
  • best interests of my business

led me in search of services-- in the past, I probably would not have reviewed- let alone tried. I want to do the same research for you.

For instance, who controls my published words led me to want more control over my published words.

When I found Blogger would no longer allow me to port posts to my own site-- I went in search of something else and found, Thingamablog. Do not get me wrong-- Blogger is a great free service...

That said, I am in business and I need more control. How about you?

I am sure, I am not alone. We have all had valuable lessons learned with the first evolution of the internet and I have found lately-- I have been crossing my t's and dotting my i's with a little more thought. Not that I was unwise in the past..

My situation is probably different than most-- which has led me to be more cautious. I am also very logical and tend to look at things in many different aspects-- always asking, what is it I am not seeing.

I can also lay out the pros and cons-- in a more direct manner-- than say someone who wants to sell you a bill of goods, so as to allow clients-- the choice of making the most informed decision for their personal and/or business online needs.

My experience, on many levels can be beneficial for the right clients... and yes, I am persnickety... I like teamwork. I do not like competition. I work hard-- I do not have time for those that believe everything is a debate.

My clients make their own decisions. I give them all the angles.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Custom Tag-- Sponsors

To each page of my new Business Blog template, I have added a new sidebar element; Sponsors-- as illustrated below using the main page template:

Thingamablog allows users to create "Custom Tags" for use in templates. To create my Sponsors Custom Tag-- I selected the Configure Weblog item as shown:

The dialog forms shown below are presented and enable creation of Custom Tags-- in this case "Sponsors". Note: there are two dialogs here. The one in the foreground is presented when you click on the "Add" button of the form shown in the background:

One only needs to insert the label without the "<$" and "$>" label containers. The program inserts these characters when the "ok" button is clicked to create the tag. After defining your custom tag-- insert "<$Sponpors$>" into each of your template pages as illustrated below using the Thingamablog Template Page Editor.

This will list the information to each template page where the custom tag is inserted. Right now, I have no sponsors -- however the place marker is shown.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Thingamablog & Blogger Calendar

Will I develop a Blogger Calendar for this new blog? Yes.

I downloaded the source code [Thingamablog [version 1.1b6], available on sourceforge], believing I may need to write a module to retrieve the information I need and have it automatically transfered when new blog entries are published. The good news, I do not need to write a module for Thingamablog.

What's even better? I only need the applet interface for this platform [Thingamablog] and not the servlet. [Will be investigating Java Applet and JDBC connectivity to determine whether I can offer WordPress users the calendar without requiring server side JSP support].

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Thingamablog, a winner...

I have found the right solution for my needs-- insofar as a new business blog platform.

To recap-- Blogger decided to discontinue FTP support and I did not want to use the "domain switching" service they offer-- which "pretends" a blog is being hosted on a private domain, when it is really hosted on blogger servers.

So, the problem? I have two applications that use MySQL databases and PHP and both heavy resource consumers on my server. I reference Q's Wire and the News, Software and Java forums.

The original QiSoftware Business Blog- consisted of static html files sitting on qisoftware.com. These were the files ftp'd to my domain each time I published a new blog post. Static html files are less resource intensive than MySQL and php [WordPress].

I also have a problem with unauthorized changes to my publications. Sitting on my domain- a lot of folks are going to be in trouble for changing my published words. Technically as related to legalities, Blogger can say-- your words belong to me-- if I publish to their servers.

So what was I left with? I needed a service that would allow me to publish to my site, static html files. I queried Google [cannot remember the exact search term now], and Thingamablog was one of the first results.

No database and you publish from a private offline source? I was sold. It was a good pick for my needs.

The only negative many will have-- [but not me]? No comments. I do not mind. I am in love with this software and this solution.

I do not want to provide too many details as to how to setup the service. I think this is a good candidate for -- yes, it can be done-- and you should figure out how. Why? This software sits on your private computer and you will need to understand the inner workings.

That said, it is not hard to setup. Really. I created a new blog template-- so that is why I spent a lot of time with it yesterday. It comes with about 10 templates that are pretty good-- and I have found one or two developers that offer free ones. I will be more than happy to setup a custom design for you-- however I am not free-- consulting@qisoftware.com.

Yes, Thingamablog is a winner.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Remix

The original QiSoftware Business Blog [started June 2004], used the Blogger platform. I used FTP to port blog posts to my private domain-- qisoftware.com. As of May 1, 2010, Blogger will discontinue support of FTP for their service. I decided to "retire" that blog.

I had not decided what I was going to do about a new blogging platform until last night. I went in search of a blog I could maintain on a local computer which did not require a database, i.e., MySQL. I found Thingamablog, so I thought I would give it a try.

I installed the software on both my MacBook and Acer Netbook. I am currently setting up the MacBook version and will provide full details once I complete my review.

Very impressed with this software....



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