Chinese domain name scam

cnThe “Chinese domain name scam” seems to be making the rounds again. Typically the emails pretend to be from a company in China that registers domain names (web site addresses). They write to inform you that someone in China wishes to register the name of your company with a .cn (China) extension.

This can make some domain name owners pretty angry and frustrated. Unfortunately, you cannot control whether they register the .cn version or not. You’re not a resident of China so you can’t register it yourself. And why would you?

There are hundreds of different domain name extensions. If you own a website, you originally registered a domain name at some point. Your domain name typically ends in .com or possibly .ca. You probably didn’t register anything else. Some are top-level domains and available for purchase by anyone. To register others, you must be a resident of that country or meet other requirements.

For example, we have registered www.kitsmedia.ca. We could also have registered www.kitsmedia.net, www.kitsmedia.biz, www.kitsmedia.tv and many other variations. A list of domain name extensions can be found on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_top-level_domains and more are being approved all the time.

If someone in France wants our name, they can register www.kitsmedia.fr. If someone in Austria wants it, they can register www.kitsmedia.at. We have no control over who else registers our name since we are not residents of those countries.

Do not answer any emails asking you to buy another version of your domain name. If you reply, you will confirm your email is live, and any information you provide – such as your name and contact information – can be sold. If you do buy the name, you will never see your money again. If you complain, you will receive increasingly aggressive responses and, at some point, an invoice to purchase the .cn version.

For more information and to report these sorts of nuisance communications, please see:

http://www.keepalert.com/Experts-opinions/scam-to-register-asian-domain-names.html

http://www.insercorp.com/blog/index/view/id/7

Pros and cons of hosting on WordPress.com

wordpress-comWhen you choose a WordPress-based site, you need to decide whether you want to have a site that is hosted on WordPress.com, or whether you want to do a separate WordPress installation on your own choice of server.

The benefits of the first choice are fairly obvious. WordPress.com will host your site for you and do all the necessary updates as they occur. (WordPress sites need frequent updates – read more here.) You don’t have to get involved with the messy business of finding a domain name and a host on your own, then installing WordPress or hiring a developer before you can start add content to your site. Similarly, WordPress.com supplies you with a choice of “themes” or layout styles. You don’t have to find your own theme and install it yourself, or hire a developer to make one.

The drawbacks of using WordPress.com only start to emerge once you’re committed to them.

You will find that you cannot upload just any theme you find – you are limited to their selection. You can’t install any outside plugins, which can be quite an issue when you need to have something not offered among their own “built-in” plugins. You cannot use your site to sell any products or install any kind of shopping cart.

You can’t use Google Analytics on a WordPress.com site – they offer their own site stats. And you can only view the past month of stats, so you will be unable to compare the performance of your site and the number of visitors in previous months. http://en.support.wordpress.com/stats/

Site certification is done through an html tag rather than Google’s preferred method of Google Analytics. And in addition, WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to add additional users to their site stats. This means that other people – like members of your team or even your boss – cannot review the stats, as they can in Google Analytics.

From a visual persepctive, WordPress.com reserves the right to add their own content to your site, whether you want it or not. WordPress.com will display their own advertisements – or the ads of other companies – on your blog, unless you purchase an Ad-free Upgrade or a VIP Services account. Their footer credits and the WordPress.com toolbar may not be altered or removed regardless of upgrades purchased.

One of the most important drawbacks to using WordPress.com is the inability to perform even the most basic, organic search engine optimization (SEO) on WordPress.com sites. Instead, they offer three suggestions:

First, rather than allowing you to add keyword phrases in meta tags, and upload an xml sitemap through Google’s Webmaster Tools (both of which are absolutely fundamental to being cached by Google), WordPress.com claims that just the way they design their themes is enough to optimize your content for search engines!

Second, WordPress.com advises users who want to get better SEO results to continually publish new posts and pages. It is true that Google likes to see a site being updated – it tells the Google bots that the site is actively being used. But that is only one piece of doing SEO properly, and it certainly doesn’t take the place of meta tags.

Third, if you want better SEO results, WordPress.com encourages their users to promote their sites outside WordPress.com (for example, on other blogs and sites) as a way of improving results. Again, that is a far cry from doing even basic SEO work in the background of your code and letting Google know it’s there! This means that if you are not easily able to keep making posts and contacting other blogs – or simply don’t want to – effectively your WordPress.com site will do very poorly in Google’s results. Read more about suggestions for search results from WordPress.com at  http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/seo-on-wordpress-com/

Possibly most important of all, you need to realize that your website on WordPress.com is not your own. Although you will be generating all the content, including your own original writing and photos, by putting this material on WordPress.com you are automatically transferring ownership of all of it to Automattic, the company who provides the hosting service for WordPress.com. Wasn’t that nice of you?

By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your Website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting your blog.

Meanwhile, WordPress.com can also remove content from your site, re-use your content for their own purposes, or even take down your site if they feel for any reason at any time that they don’t want it on their server. This information is freely available in their Terms of Service. http://en.wordpress.com/tos/ Imagine spending endless hours perfecting your site and adding content, only to have it disappear, with no compensation or regress!

Automattic has the right (though not the obligation) to, in Automattic’s sole discretion (i) refuse or remove any content that, in Automattic’s reasonable opinion, violates any Automattic policy or is in any way harmful or objectionable, or (ii) terminate or deny access to and use of the Website to any individual or entity for any reason, in Automattic’s sole discretion. Automattic will have no obligation to provide a refund of any amounts previously paid.

By having a website on WordPress.com, not only are you handing ownership of your site’s content over to Automattic, but if you’re developing the site on behalf of someone else, you will have to get permission from your employer or client to hand over their content and the copyright of the content to WordPress.com

If your employer has rights to intellectual property you create, you have either (i) received permission from your employer to post or make available the Content, including but not limited to any software, or (ii) secured from your employer a waiver as to all rights in or to the Content;

Don’t think by hosting with WordPress.com you have saved yourself any development headaches. One of the arguments most often made in favour of having WordPress.com host your site is that you will be able to avoid all the problems and issues that come up with having your own site on an independent server. However, if you have problems with your site, such as malware attachments or other issues with Google caching your pages, you will not be offered any help at all by WordPress.com. http://en.support.wordpress.com/webmaster-tools/ These are serious and frequent issues, and this is the time when you NEED outside help!

Having your own WordPress site on an independent server can be an expensive and difficult business, especially if you or your developer uses free or purchased themes and built-in plugins which can lead to serious issues with modifications and updates.

But at least with an independent host and an independent installation of the WordPress software, you will know it’s your own website. You will know you own it in its entirety; that you can design any kind of theme you want and use any plugins you want; and that you can have an ecommerce site or simply just sell a few things from your site. You can track your visitors when and how you want. You’ll know that you can use proper SEO tools and do a proper submission to Google. You will not have unwanted ads or footer material placed on your site without your permission. And most of all, you will know that no one can remove your website from the Internet without even informing you.

7 ways to recognize spam comments

spamCan you tell a real comment from a fake one? WordPress sites attract spammers who try to attach comments to your pages, links and images. They want your approval so they gain links to their own sites, which in many cases are sources of malware. Learn to recognize these 7 types of spam comments so you don’t create opportunities for them to use your site for devious purposes.

Login to your WordPress Dashboard and locate Comments in the left side menu. Click to open. To remove the ones sent by spammers, select the boxes beside them, then do a Bulk Action to remove them to the Trash. See the screenshot at the end for details on removing them.

Seven common types of spam comments:

1. Comments with email addresses that have a series of numbers and/or letters, such as:
533.4.fd2d@gmail.com

2. Any comments with email address or web links that are unusually long, like:
http://www.purevolume.com/listeners1/stakingportal5061/posts/411904/
Spyro+The+Dragon+Game+Series+For+Playstation+One

3. Unless you are Asian and expect people to make comments in a foreign alphabet, you can expect all comments with Asian characters in the email address or links are spam. For example:
バーバリブラックレーベル

4. All comments that direct you to link to another URL are spam. For example:
I have discovered website which offer to dramatically increase traffic to your blog http://insane-webs-traffic.com

5. All comments that use words or phrases with no proper message, such as:
%titlet% lunettes carrera pas cher lunettes carrera raye ban lunettes

6. All comments from people you don’t know who make very general comments about your site are spam. Comments should make specific reference to something you say on your page or post. Typical spam comments:
Hey this is a actual cool web site
You write the best posts ever.
Can you tell me how do you make your design so good.

7. All comments that don’t make sense are spam. These are auto-generated using English words to imitate the English language. Two examples:
It really is hardly ever slash and dry on what water will do.
What are the results that will archives any time a wordpress living space modernize expires?

comments

7 things to try when you can’t connect to your website

not-foundYou finally have time to login to your WordPress site and update it. You need to add new photos or promote an important event. But you can’t connect to your site! What can you do? Keep this list on hand for future reference.

1. First, refresh your browser a couple of times. Look for a small circular arrow or a double-headed arrow located near the address bar of your browser. Click it a few times (wait for your site to load between refreshes) to make sure you have the latest version of your site and an updated connection to your site.

2. If your site still doesn’t come up after refreshing, do a Google search on a topic you’re never searched before. No connection? The problem is with your Internet connection. Check your connections or contact your provider, Shaw, Telus or other company.

3. If you don’t have problems connecting to other sites, go to http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/ and enter your web address. This will tell you if your own site is the only one that’s down, or if everyone sharing your server is down.

4. For more detailed information on whether your server is down, try http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/bluehost.com.html for Bluehost or http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/godaddy.com.html for GoDaddy — (replace the host name with your own host). This site provides an automated graph of server connections at Bluehost during the past 24 hours.

5. If you’re hosting with Bluehost or through our managed hosting on Bluehost, check their Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/bluehost (You don’t need a Twitter account to do this.) Scan the top 10 or 20 comments to find out what Bluehost is saying to other people.

6. Try again in half an hour. Rarely do you need to wait more than a few minutes, or, in extreme cases, half an hour.

7. Many connections issues are caused by problems somewhere along the line between your server and your home. The connection from the computer in your home or office to a server has multiple connection points. Read more about Denial of Service attacks, which account for most server and Internet downtime over the past few months. This is a chronic and rapidly increasing area of concern for website owners everywhere.

Last but not least, welcome to the job of web site development. If you have a WordPress site and if you’re responsible for updating it, you’ve joined website developers everywhere in a common problem — occasional server disconnections.

Who’s attacking your website?

Areas of the world experiencing Denial of Service attacks at the time of this posting, August 26, 2013

Areas of the world under attack at the time of this posting, August 26, 2013

Some of our clients have been experiencing problems connecting to their WordPress sites in recent months. This is an ongoing problem for us because we want to feel confident about the hosts and servers we recommend. If your site is not available when you want it to be, it can be very frustrating.

Connection problems can happen at many points between your computer and the host computer. The biggest problem however are DDoS attacks, or Denial of Service attacks. You can view a real-time map showing attacks currently underway across the globe at www.akamai.com (then click the “Attacks” button to reveal areas currently under attack).

Denial of Service happens when a server receives thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of “fake” connection requests simultaneously. These situations are caused by people who deliberately attack servers through tools like botnets. As a result, the servers are overwhelmed and cannot deliver your website files to you.

One recent analysis revealed the origin of attacks as China (39.08 % of attacks), Mexico (27.32 %), Russia (7.58 %), Korea (7.29 %) and France (6.50 %). Another source claims China 41%, followed by Mexico, Germany and Iran. Several weeks ago, we experienced a Friday morning when almost a third of servers in North America were affected at the same time.

The origin of the attacks shifts constantly and Denial of Service attacks grow more and more complex in scope. It is the largest issue currently facing the Internet today. It particularly affects countries like the United States that have extensive network infrastructures, and particularly the West Coast of North America. These areas are typically more susceptible to being selected as targets by malicious groups who seek the unauthorized use and abuse of those network resources.

Why do people launch these attacks? The people behind them include crime gangs, extortion groups, groups disguising other crimes, hacker groups, vandals and mischief makers. One type of attack, known as cyber “hacktivism”, involves attacks by people against certain banks, ecommerce and government sites and corporate sites just because the sites don’t serve their political, religious or ideological values.

Websites may be remembered one day as a luxury of the early 21st century. Denial of Service has been described as an “arms race” between the hackers and the companies trying to solve the issues.

Resources

http://copperegg.com/ddos-attacks-quicker-and-more-frequent/

http://siliconangle.com/blog/2013/08/26/5-notorious-ddos-attacks-in-2013-big-problem-for-the-internet-of-things/

Responsive website design for WordPress

From tarot card readings to roofing, jewellery design and fertility law, we’ve had a busy summer full of unique clients.

We’re building custom WordPress sites with responsive design on all new projects. If you haven’t had your site converted to WordPress yet, you may be interested in having it rebuilt using the latest in web coding. With a responsive design, your new site will configure to fit the size and format of any screen – from cell phones to tablets to desktop monitors and laptop screens.

View how your site will look on cell phones and other screens

The text on a responsive site will stay the same readable size as it does on a desktop monitor. But the rest of the design including slides and images will slip around and re-size in new positions, depending on how the device is held. For example if a cell phone or an iPad or iPhone is held sideways then turned vertically, the content will move around and adapt to fit each format. The effect is often like a collapsing house of cards as one section neatly moves down and relocates under the previous one.

Open each of the following responsive sites then click down on the right side of the browser window. Slowly pull it closed to cell phone width to see the effect. Magic!

Copyright and websites: What you don’t know can bite you

Websites have interesting copyright issues. Many people mistakenly believe that once they have paid for a website, they own it. Be sure to understand your rights as a website owner, and the rights owned by the website developer, photographer, videographer, the SEO company or the marketer that you hire.

If your website is on a site builder like WIX, OtherPeople’s Pixels, Blogger or WordPress.com, that company owns the copyrights for the design of your site, the plugins and other functional features, and all coding behind the site. They can terminate or remove your site from their server at any time without providing a reason.

If you purchase or download a template/theme/design for a website, the original developer of the template owns the copyright. You are simply purchasing a license to use their design. Check to see the conditions of use.

If you purchase stock photos for your site, you are purchasing only a license for use. You do not own the copyright to the photos. Check the licensing agreements for the terms of use. For example, you may be able to use the photos for a website but not for printed material like advertising.

You need a logo that can be sized up or down, used on websites and in print. If you have a logo designed for you, the designer owns the copyright to the logo. Before hiring a logo designer, check the cost of obtaining the original vector image or at least a variety of high-resolution images for use in different situations.

If your website designer/developer took the photos for your site, he or she owns the copyright to the photos. They cannot be used by you for print media, business cards or any other purpose, without the designer’s permission. They cannot be used by a different designer on another site without the previous designer’s permission.

If you have a custom site built, the developer/designer owns the copyright to the site design. If another developer, SEO expert or marketing person subsequently takes over the site and adds content or additional features to the site, they cannot change or replace the designer’s name in the footer.

If you have a custom site built, the developer/designer also owns the moral rights to the site. This means they can protect the aesthetics of their design by objecting to any changes you make to it. If you change images in a slider, for example, the new images must match the look and feel of the previous slides, and not affect the integrity of the design.

If you have a custom site built, neither the design nor the coding can be used on another site without the original designer’s permission. People with WordPress sites need to understand they can change the content, but not the design.

If you have a custom site built, the developer/programmer also owns the rights to the style sheets and other code that affects the site functionality. You cannot use their code on another site.

Because the site designer/developer owns the copyright to the site, designers can make as many sites as they like using the same design and coding. Be sure to check with your developer if your design will be original and used only for your own site.

Resources

Copyright issues in web design
http://mincovlaw.com/blog-post/copyright_issues_in_web_design

When a website design is copied
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/12/18/my-website-design-was-stolen-now-what/

How to pursue website copyright infringement
http://www.sitepoint.com/theft-webmasters-recourse/

How often should you change your website?

Some people change the appearance of their website every few months, while others keep the same site for years. This article discusses the pros and cons of updating or replacing your website.

Many really good HTML sites have stood the test of time since 2003 or 2004. These early sites are smaller than sites built today, but have solid design and good information architecture.

Two years ago, we began to notice that designs we had built only months previously were being replaced. Not just the design, but all the content thrown out and replaced within months. It was not just our sites. The majority of sites selected as winners of various website contests in 2011 had already been replaced with different designs by early 2012. Award-winning sites from 2012 are already being replaced with completely new sites in 2013.

Why are new sites being changed so frequently?

Web technologies have changed enormously in the past few years. Many people moved from HTML and Flash sites to content management sites built on platforms like WordPress or Joomla so they can do their own updating. Companies with Flash sites were forced to re-do their sites when Apple didn’t support Flash on the iPad and iPhone. People who used free platforms like WIX discovered they couldn’t do SEO work, their sites couldn’t be verified by Google (utterly critical to getting indexed and showing up in a search) and their site didn’t display on iPad and iPhone.

Most people today are redesigning their sites to adapt to mobile devices. Many companies who micro sites for mobile are already redoing them with responsive designs in 2012. Most of our work in the past year has been spent on designing responsive websites, where the content not only scales down but the layout of the content changes on smaller mobile screens.

WordPress is currently is the number one site-builder, and people with WordPress sites frequently change their designs. One reason is that WordPress allows you to change the “theme” or design of a site while keeping the content, menus and plugins intact.

We also see a fast turnover in WordPress design as a result of owners altering their sites. Not just adding content, but fundamentally altering the layout and design. Several expensive sites we built this year were immediately re-designed by their owners upon completion, simply because the owners wanted to try their own hand at “changing it up” – hacking the responsive designs, breaking links, altering URLs and installing incompatible plugins. Unfortunately WordPress makes it easy for anyone to alter their site design, usually to its detriment.

Other people just seek constant change. We’re often asked to look at sites and tell people what’s “wrong” with them. In most cases these sites have only recently been completed.

In other cases, site owners are approached by “SEO experts” who just plain wreak havoc on a site, drop user-friendly features and greatly change the appearance, throwing out proper usability and visitor experience.

Sample of website that has been copied and hacked by “SEO experts”

What’s wrong with changing your site as often as you feel like it?

Rebuilding your site too soon, especially if you don’t retain the same URLS, can be disastrous for your search engine results. Search engines need a good couple of years to make a profile of your site and a cache of back links (referring sites). In turn, referring sites can take months and years to acquire. When search engine optimization is done properly and organically, it takes time to “grow” the organic SEO.

One of the most valuable features of an older site is your Google Page Rank. Page rank takes years to build. Even when using 301 re-directs to ensure continuity between your old URLs and your new URLs, you will lose page rank.

Another valuable resource is repeat visitors. Repeat visitors are worth gold, and they may not be very happy to find your site changed. Branding means building up recognition and trust. If you follow large sites like Amazon, Old Navy or The New York Times for a while, you will soon see that despite all the money they could spend on new web design, their design alterations are done gradually and carefully so repeat visitors are not confused or annoyed.

For the sake of search engine continuity and branding, we often encourage new clients to keep their sites as is, perhaps with an updated heading, a slide show, or some social media links – features that will improve the visitor’s experience, but not necessarily at the expense of throwing out the whole site or changing the URLs.

So when should you change your website?

We recommend changing a site for the following reasons:

1. When the technologies used for your site are no longer compliant with modern web standards.

2. If your site is on a host or site-builder that does not support search engine optimization. Converting to WordPress is the best thing you can do for your search engine rankings.

3. If your site does not display well on mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets. When your market depends on visitors connecting through mobile devices, it’s time to move to a responsive design.

4. When you need a content management system to be able to add content yourself. If you need to frequently update your site content or want to start blogging, WordPress is the format of choice.

5. If you want to add features that are most easily done using plugins and widgets on a content management site. Building forms, calendars and other functional features from scratch on html sites is considerably more expensive and time-consuming than installing and modifying plugins on a CMS like WordPress.

6. If you need to increase your visitor interaction. Through the use of social media plugins, newsletter signups, visitor polls, Google maps and share widgets, content management platforms like WordPress offer valuable opportunities for increasing your social interaction with your visitors.

The best way to replace your site

When you replace your site, our best advice is to keep the following features intact for the sake of search engines and visitors.

1. Keep the same names for the URLs of the pages.
You want to retain all the search engine benefits your old site has gained, especially if your site is well-indexed on Google. Find out if your site has been well indexed by typing “site:www.mysite.com” into a search box.

2. Add re-directs.
If the URLs of important pages have changed, be sure to re-direct them to the new pages so visitors who bookmarked your site don’t get error messages.

3. Keep your GA ID
Keep the same Google Analytics number by transferring the code to the new site.

4. Contact your referring sites.
If you change your domain name, even slightly, do a links search to see who is referring your site, then contact the designers or webmasters (typically in the footer) and ask that your old domain name be replaced with your new one. To find your referring sites, type “links:www.mysite.com” into a search box.

5. Keep the most popular features of your site.
Check your Google Analytics to see what pages or content has been most popular. If you really don’t want to keep these pages, phase them out gradually from the new site rather than dropping them altogether. Remember that repeat visitors are a valuable commodity.

At Kits Media we believe that websites built with the latest technologies should support the addition of more pages and more features over a period of time. They should be carefully managed and monitored for visitors, search terms, back links, malware and updates during this time. We believe websites are most successful when they start with a long-term plan, and we welcome clients with the same approach.

RESOURCES

http://thenextweb.com/dd/2012/10/28/10-tell-tale-signs-that-your-website-may-need-a-redesign/
Comprehensive list of reasons to change your site design

http://www.thesitewizard.com/domain/reclaim-website-from-bad-web-designer-host.shtml
Excellent cautionary tales and tips for moving your site to a new host, retaining dynamic pages, changing urls and more

http://www.webpagemistakes.ca/301-redirects-what-you-need-to-know/
What you need to know about website re-directs following a site re-design

http://www.marketing-jive.com/2012/04/12-website-redesign-tips-for-2012.html
Outlines a plan for managing the goals, functionality and appearance of a new site design

http://www.slideshare.net/shuey03/redesigning-your-website-when-why-how-seocom
Video presentation discusses when, why, and how you should redesign your website for both search engine crawlers and end users.

http://www.thesitewizard.com/webdesign/important-site-redesign-tips.shtml
This older article provides some still current advice on changing the design of your site.

Pros and cons of cloud computing

There’s a lot of pressure today on businesses to adopt cloud hosting for both daily office work and websites. Cloud computing means that instead of knowing exactly where your software, documents and website files are located – on a server in a building on a street in Burnaby, for example, or in Utah or Ontario – your files are distributed and accessed from computers spread around the globe.

Cloud computing is heavily marketed for the following benefits. Companies can reduce their capital costs on hardware, software and licensing fees, and owners of large corporate websites may experience faster access and streaming of their content. The financial model for web hosting shifts from a static annual or monthly charge to a pay-by-use model. The cost of software and complications of local area networks are handled by the cloud host’s data centres, rather than your company’s IT people. Cloud computing offers expanded opportunities for wireless computing: because all applications and documents are globally distributed, they can be accessed from anywhere in the world that has wireless access.

But I have a lot of concerns about cloud hosting and I’m not alone. In August, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak expressed his own concerns about cloud hosting. This is from an industry leader whose own company has been one of the most prominent in the promotion of cloud computing. And many people agree with him.

At least with a host like Bluehost, right now we know your web files are stored on a server in Utah. They have a physical location and address. With cloud hosting, some could be on a server in England, some in Bangladesh, some in China – wherever a server is available at that split second.

Cloud-hosted companies assume a greater risk as a result of the many additional resources and connections required. When data is stored on multiple servers, often spanning several countries, issues quickly arise when any particular data centre is compromised. There are also issues around standardization, since there are no proper international standards for cloud technologies at this time.

There are also — and most importantly — huge security issues. Some of our clients express concern about the Privacy Act and hosting on an American server, but cloud computing is much worse. You really have no control over your files – they could be anywhere, including most third-world countries. The development of cloud computing resources in third world countries is increasingly encouraged and supported by large Western corporations. In return, there is an exponential increase in the number of people with permission to access the passwords and firewalls, and an increase in opportunities for hackers.

A good summary of the security issues is provided by Kurt Johnson in his article, Cloud Computing Hides Big Issues in Corporate Data Sharing on forbes.com.

Long before cloud computing, companies were sharing vital information with customers, partners, vendors, and contractors to make business processes run more efficiently and economically. They started with Web commerce, then moved into mobile applications and social networking. Each new information-sharing program opened up another hole in the corporate information security armor.

Cloud computing is another step on the continuum, and it also raises the stakes. Hosting vital data and applications on a cloud provider’s infrastructure puts vital information outside the corporate wall. Even more importantly, it creates a new set of users who have full access privileges to your data and applications — namely the cloud service administrators.

Too often, without realizing it, they rely on nothing more than trust to keep their data safe. They trust that the right people have the right access to vital information and will use it for the right things, yet they don’t really know who they’re trusting because they don’t know who all of those users are. Their service provider tells them to trust that they are managing user access effectively. Trust, in this context, is a flimsy defense.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/02/17/cloud-computing-hides-big-issues-in-corporate-data-sharing/

Read more:

To Cloud or Not to Cloud – Pros and Cons
http://www.starktalent.com/tag/pros-and-cons-of-business-cloud-computing/

The Cloud and Africa: Indicators for the Growth of Cloud Computing
http://theafricanfile.com/ict/the-cloud-and-africa-indicators-for-growth-of-cloud-computing/

Cloud Computing: The Business Persepctive
http://www.acc.ncku.edu.tw – PDF

Cloud Computing Pros and Cons
http://epiclaunch.com/cloud-computing-pros-and-cons/

Cloud Computing Pros and Cons for Small Biz
http://www.cloudproviderusa.com/cloud-computing-pros-cons-small-biz/

Crowd-sourcing a logo with 99 designs

99designs.com is a crowdsourcing site for graphic design. Crowdsourcing means that designers across the globe compete for the winning design. In the process you receive dozens and possibly hundreds of designs. Several of our clients have been very successful securing a logo through 99designs, so we decided to try them ourselves.

You start by signing up for an account then answer questions about the style of logo you want. Visual examples as well as value scales are included. You can write a description of the logo you envision, and upload sample images. 99designs then asks you to choose the amount you want to pay. We decided to start with $299 and see how it went.

Each contest lasts 7 days. The first stage lasts 4 days or 96 hours. After receiving about 20 different logos in 24 hours, we were asked to “guarantee” the money to encourage more designers to participate. This meant we agreed to pay for at least one of the logos by the end of the contest, which definitely seemed fair.

Early samples of logo designs from 99designs.com

The designers who participated in our contest came from the east. The majority were located between Bulgaria and Malaysia. Most submissions came in during the night while we were sleeping in Vancouver.

99designs encourages you to look at completed contests and to invite designers whose work you like. This was extra effort but very worthwhile. I opened about 40 contests and looked for designs I liked. Most contests in the $299 range had an average of 20 designers per contest, with an average of 60 designs each.

When I saw a design I liked, I linked to the artist’s portfolio to see if I liked the other designs. In all, I contacted 31 designers and asked them to look at our project. About 15 people I did not contact also supplied designs. We felt I substantially increased the odds of getting a good design by inviting people, rather than leaving the contest to chance. $299 is at the low end of the scale for a logo design.

You can rate each design with one to five stars, but can chnge your ratings any time. I found this useful for organizing our favourites. You can also write the designer directly about each design, and give feedback or ask for small changes.

I had described us as a website development company in Kitsilano interested in symbols to do with computers, the ocean, mountains and/or trees. There were strong cultural differences in subject matter. Designs came in with palm trees, tropical sunsets and Caribbean-coloured oceans. Most of the mountains were very pointy, like volcanoes or the Himalayans. If I did it again, I would provide mainly visual samples instead of text.

Samples of final entries from among the 320 submitted

We were amazed and astounded by the talent of the participants. When you work with one designer, you might go through 10 or 20 variations before the designer gets fatigue. By crowdsourcing the logo, more than 25 designers were able to participate and to bounce off each other’s work. (Although this was a bit of a calamity when one of them would use the wrong colour scheme or a palm tree and others would copy it.)

At the end of 4 days, we had 198 entries from 25 designers – more than twice what we had anticipated. We chose 6 finalists (who together had created about half of the entries). We also chose 6 designs and posted voting contests on Facebook to get feedback from other people.

During the final three days, the 6 finalists continued to produce variations on their ideas. At this point the designs became quite similar. We ended up with 320 designs, and eventually chose one that had been created early in the contest. You can see the winning logo at the top of this page and a white version of it in the footer below. It was an excellent experience and I highly recommend 99designs if you’re looking for a logo.