How can Blockchain help my business?

Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin are buzzwords that have been around for a while but have been subject to considerable hype and speculation in the last couple of years. It is easy to concentrate on other things until this hype and speculation settles down and genuine accurate insights emerge. Let’s take a deep yet understandable dive into how it works.

Blockchains and Secure Transactions

Blockchains are formed by networks of computers that contain a ledger of financial transactions commonly known as the blockchain. Each transaction is a block which contains all the information about a specific transaction. This includes dates, currency, amount, who is getting paid and who is sending it, and the good or services the transaction is for. Note, that users of blockchains create usernames to protect personal identities and this is also a digital signature.

When a transaction is created it goes through a verification process. Unlike standard transactions which are verified via the banking industry, the process is verified by the network computers in the blockchain, which could be hundreds, or thousands of computers. So, if you purchased goods from an online retailer, the network would check the digital signatures, amounts involved, currencies, dates, times, and everything else.

Once the networked computers verify the transaction has taken place, this is added into the blockchain creating a code which is almost impossible to alter or hack. This code is called a hash and is unique to the transaction. Once added details can be seen and reviewed by the public although username details are private.

Blockchains tends to utilise cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins but it also uses conventional currency too.

Applications

Blockchains are being utilised more and more for business. They tend to save costs as banking fees are negated but they also streamline workflow. This is especially realised in the following areas:

Supply Chains

Blockchains are also improving supply chain management especially if international shipping is involved. Customs clearance information, certifications, and every piece of information needed are contained in the block. This speeds up clearance and saves cost. To do this by conventional means often means a small army of middlemen who all need paying. With blockchain much of the process is streamlined resulting in a business getting materials faster and cheaper.

This also means that if your business relies on purchasing raw materials or components, a blockchain could speed up delivery and save costs.

Smart Contracts

Given the high security levels of a blockchain to alter a transaction requires a hacker to alter the transaction on every computer in the network. This can potentially be millions even billions. As such, storing sensitive information becomes a real option.  Smart contracts can be generated using blockchains. All the necessary information can be recorded and once verified the agreement is legally binding.  All sensitive information can be encoded into the block using a private key.

Healthcare Information

On the same theme of smart contracts information such as patient records could be stored on a blockchain. This would be protected by a private key so that sensitive information could be released only by the patient as and when needed. It could, with the patient’s permission be shared among the medical community. This would make getting second opinions easier by both patients and doctors and provide an up to date medical record minimising medical error and assisting diagnosis.

Blockchain Business

Embracing blockchain now is prudent. Given the speed accuracy and security offered by blockchain transactions you could find your business runs smoother and workflow and productivity is increased simply by conducting your transactions via blockchain and not via conventional means.

My Website is Down… What Do I Do?

Sometimes websites go down, and it happens for a variety of reasons.  Many are resolved in a few minutes and there is no action needed from anyone, and often the issue is with a third party, such as your internet service provider for example.  In this post we look at what to do should your website go down.  Whatever you do, don’t panic as issues are often easily resolved.

Step 1 – Check your Internet Connection

The first thing to do if you feel your site has dropped out is to check that your internet connection is functioning.  To do this, see if you can access any other websites.  If you can, then your site could be down due to a hosting issue.  If you can’t there is a possible fault either with your hardware, or a problem at your ISP’s end.

Another thing you can do to test if it’s an issue with your internet connection is to;

  • try logging in to the website, via your mobile device. While doing so, make sure that you are NOT connected to your Wi-FI network, and using 3G/4G internet.
  • ask family/friends/business contacts to test if they can access the website from their computers – this is particularly effective if they are using a different internet connection from the one you are using yourself.

If you have access to other websites move on to step 2.  If you do not, move on to step 3

Step 2 – Confirm if your Site is Down

If you feel your site is down you can confirm this by visiting this site: http://www.isup.me/.

Simply copy and paste your site’s URL into he box and press enter.  It will tell you whether your site is actually up and running and you can’t see it, or is it down full-stop.

If the site can be seen by the rest of the world, but not by yourself, try clearing the cache and refreshing the page and identify any issues in your internet connection.  This will probably make your site visible once again.

Step 3 – Reboot your Hardware

So now you have concluded your hardware is malfunctioning try shutting everything down and unplugging everything, especially any dedicated internet equipment you have such as routers.  Wait for five minutes and plug everything in.  Switch on the equipment that needs to be switched on, and wait for everything to boot.  If you are still having no joy, call your ISP provider.  They will be able to confirm if they have issues, or if it is an issue at your end.

What do I do if I get a Specific Error?

If you get a specific error such as 403 Forbidden, Google it.  This will not only tell you what the problem is, it will also hopefully give you the information you need to fix it.

Contact your Website Administrator

If you absolutely can’t can the website to work, then you should contact your website administrator.  They should be able to check what’s wrong, and fix any issues. If you receive any errors, make sure to include a screenshot of the error in your communication with your administrator.

Bear in mind that the largest percentage of website development companies, purchase hosting services from larger website hosting companies in order to provide the service to you. What that means is that some issues are out of your webmaster’s control – and any deep, more complicated issues will need to be fixed by the data centre administrators and not by your web master.

 

What is Web Hosting?

Web hosting together with a domain name and a content management system, are the three fundamental elements needed to begin, operate, and maintain a website.  This article focuses on web hosting and explains why it is needed if you are planning to start your own website.

Web Hosting and Servers

The key aspect to remember about the web is that all of the information is stored on servers.  Servers are computers which are connected to the web.  When you access a website, download, or upload a file, or simply read information, all of this is stored on a server.  Web hosting is the term used for storing the content management system and web design on the server.

Server Space

When a website is created it is stored on a web server.  The amount of space the website will utilise is known as server space.  For many websites this will expand over time as more content is added to the site.  As websites vary in design and purpose, the amount of server space required is unique to each site.

Web Hosting Companies

As the web has evolved so have businesses associated with the web.  As a result web hosting companies have sprung up and charge website owners fees to host their website.  This is normally a monthly cost, though it is possible to pay annually.  As well as hosting a site, web hosting companies may offer other services such as monitoring when your site is offline, and sell additional space as a site expands.

Web hosting companies are generally judged on the following aspects:

  • Up time – How reliable are their web hosting services? If your web server crashes your site will be offline.  If you rely on it for business, this can be disastrous.  At the very least it is annoying.
  • Price – Which varies greatly from one company to the next. One must keep in mind that with all good things in life, beware of hosting advertised as cheap or “unlimited hosting” as these usually are not suitable for companies that are serious about their web presence.
  • Security – Just how secure is the web server? Some web hosting companies offer better security for an increased price.
  • Backup – Backup is important for every server. Problems happen (hardware issues, data corruption, virus infections, malware attacks and hacking) so it’s important to have a layer of protection for when something goes wrong. Serious web hosting companies offer monthly, weekly or even daily data backups to make sure that hosting services can be restored quickly.

Web Hosting Server Types

If you are considering starting a website, then choosing the right web hosting solution is important.  The type of site you are planning to launch will determine what kind of web hosting you need.  If you require e-commerce facilities, i.e. you are planning to take payments online and store customer information on a database, your web hosting requirements will be pretty complex.  If you are planning to start a site to showcase a portfolio, then you are requirements are quite straightforward.

I need web hosting. Can you help?

We sure can. We have partnered with one of the leading web hosting providers in the UK to provide web hosting services in Malta. If you require more information please get in touch and we can discuss your requirements.

What is a Domain Name?

Together with web hosting and a content management system, domain names are fundamental to starting your own website.  This article discusses domain names, and the differences between domain types.  Read on to discover which domain name is right for your site.

What are Domain Names?

Put simply a domain name is the name of your website.  For example if you called your site applejuice.com, that is your domain name.  There are two factors that you may want to consider when choosing a name for your site:

  • The site name should be easy to remember, and if possible catchy.  Applejuice.com for a site selling or talking about apple juice is perfect.  It’s easy to remember, catchy, and fairly short.  It also describes what the site is about.

If the same business or organisation had called itself freshsharp.com, this would not be as effective.  However if your company provides a range of different products or services, opting for a domain name with the company name would be suitable.

  • Search engine optimisation is influenced by your domain name.  So should your domain name be descriptive, then your site is more likely to do well on search engines.  In our above example, applejuice.com is a far better name for a company selling apple juice than freshsharp.com. At least from a search engine optimisation (SEO) perspective.

Top Level Domains

Another aspect to take into account is the top level domain (TLD).  The TLD is refers to the last three letters of the domain name.  i.e. .com, .org .edu.

Here is a brief list of the more common TLDs.  Not all of them will be available to you.  Domains that can be owned by anyone are called open domains.

  • .com (Commercial) – This is primarily used for most businesses. This domain is an open domain.
  • .org (Organisation) – This TLD was designed for not for profit entities such as charities. Most charities and not for profit organisations use .org.  It is an open domain.
  • .net (Network) – This is often used by people who make sites for their own, non commercial purpose. It is cheaper to buy than other TLDs and is also an open domain.
  • .edu (Educational) – This TLD is limited to educational establishment such as colleges, schools, and universities.
  • .gov (Government) – This TLD is limited to government entities only

Country Specific Top Level Domains

As well as TLDs describing the structure of an organisation, there are also country specific TLDs.

For example .co.uk, represents British commercial sites, while .mt represents Malta. It’s important to note that some countries require the domain name owner to have a presence in the country.  This varies from country to country.

Choosing a TLD

In many respects this is dictated by the purpose of your website and target audience.  If you are planning to sell commercial goods to people in the Netherlands, it could well be prudent to use the .nl domain name.  While a discussion group about climate change could be better served by a .org or .net TLD.

Buying a Domain Name

There are specific sites which sell domain names.  Once a domain name is bought it is registered to you.  The price of the domain name is determined by the TLD, and if someone else has bought it first.  If they have you might be able to buy it from them, but this will probably be at considerable cost.

If you have questions about domain names, or you are interested to purchase one, please get in touch.

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

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An Introduction to Content Management Systems

This article discusses content management systems in relation to web design. Specifically what they are and how they are used. If you are planning to launch a website or simply conducting research about content management systems, read on and discover how and why content management systems are fundamental in controlling what people discover when they land on a website.

What is Content?

Content is simply what you see when you land on a website. It is often text, or copy as it as is called by professionals who work online. Images, videos, and sound files are also key features of content. Generally speaking the better and more useful the content on a website, the better the website.

Content Management Systems

Content management systems, or CMS, are simply how information is put on to a website. The site manager or webmaster as they are known should be able to generate web pages, and fill these pages with text, pictures, and video. If need be, they should also be able to edit the content after uploading it to the site.

Good content management systems will be intuitive to use and allow people with little knowledge of web design to manage a website.

Blogging and Content Management Systems

Blogging has become a part of everyday life for many. Sharing your thoughts and opinions with the world has become very much part of our daily lives. From micro-blogging sites such as Twitter, to more comprehensive discussion posts on a forum, to specific blogs focusing on a specific subject, blogging in one form or another drives the web.

Blogging has become crucial to business strategy, and drives revenues directly or indirectly via marketing channels such as search engines and social media.

Any method of entering content on any kind of site uses a content management system in one form or another.

Content Management System Plug-ins

Content management systems can be modified to your needs, depending on which one you are using. Wordpress is the most popular CMS in the world today, and it is estimated that 20% of the world’s websites, are built on this CMS platform. One of the reasons for the success of Wordpress is that features can be added to the CMS to make it more useful to a website’s target audience. These features are commonly referred to as plug-ins.

Plug-ins are like apps on your smartphone or tablet, and they allow you to customise your web design and your CMS. They can improve aspects which people don’t see, such as search engine optimisation (SEO) or they can make an impact to the web design itself.

Content Management Systems and Business

CMS have also made a massive impact on business. CMS can be used to facilitate taking a payment, displaying goods, storing information on databases, and controlling how this content is targeted to a customer and client base. EBay and Amazon have a powerful retail CMS at their heart.

Content management systems have been around since the late 1990s, and continue to evolve today. They are often updated and improved, and will no doubt be powering websites for many years to come.

Interested to have your own business website with a professional content management system? Contact us today for a free quote.

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