Is my internet slow?

Or…   the Onion of Discontent

There are many reasons why an internet connection may be slow, some of them will be directly under your control, and others will be under the control of the equipment manufacturers of the devices used that the communications pass through. The extent of which is from the device you are using to the server at the far end of the connection. Various services providers share the responsibility of carrying the traffic. It is a complex picture to reconcile.

Where is the problem?

When trying to establish where a problem exists the first person you call is your service provider (BT, Talk Talk, Virgin etc). They will follow a fixed trouble shooting process which will try to prove that the problem is something you are doing, or have done or is within that part of the network you control. They adopt this approach because if nothing is listed as a fault in your area, then statistically it is most likely to be something at your end.

That will include your router/ hub, your phone wiring, the building materials used in your house, the location of WiFi access points, the list is large. They will not be as direct as that, however those are the implications. Continue reading Is my internet slow?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Group Calendar

For some charities I work with they would like a group calendar or office calendar that is available to everyone. If you use Outlook with an exchange server, or Office 365 then you can create one using this method. Most people however do not use Outlook in this way. The various calendars are private to the individuals.

Here are two methods, the first has been set up for one small regional charity. Both use Google Calendar. Continue reading Group Calendar

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Electronic Forms

Using Google Sheets for online forms

form-elements

I have been looking at using Google Docs which are a set of online web based applications. Currently you can create forms, spread sheets, presentations and text based documents online. They do not offer everything that is available with MS Office however they offer greater flexibility to website users because you do not need to have MS Office installed on your computer or device.

You can download a PDF version here.

The main problem is that if you have a moderately complex form it will generally mean it has to be presented in one of the following formats:

Continue reading Electronic Forms

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Modern Tribe Calendar

I have just set up the Pro Version of Modern Tribe Calendar for Parkinson’s West Herts website which is currently in the late stages of development.

The free version is very popular on WordPress and you may have it on your website. If you want an interactive calendar that makes entering information for an organisation easy, this is a great choice. Better than that Modern Tribe offer (subject to status and your application) a free Pro version that offers additional features over the free version for charitable organisations.

I have built several sites  using calendars, some use Google Calendar on their sites, this offers a easy solution however it is not integrated into WordPress. If your calendar is integrated into WordPress there are many more things you can do with it.

You can see the calendar in action here: http://www.wingrove-media.com/pwh/events/  In this sequence there are many repeat items. It took around 1.5hrs to enter everything.

Contact me if you are interested in learning more about this plugin for your website.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Slow Internet? A guide for improving network performance.

Or…   the Onion of Discontent

There are many reasons why an internet connection may be slow, some of them will be directly under your control, and others will be under the control of the equipment manufacturers of the devices used that the communications pass through. The extent of which is from the device you are using to the server at the far end of the connection. Various services providers share the responsibility of carrying the traffic. It is a complex picture to reconcile.

Where is the problem?

When trying to establish where a problem exists the first person you call is your service provider (BT, Talk Talk, Virgin etc). They will follow a fixed trouble shooting process which will try to prove that the problem is something you are doing, or have done or is within that part of the network you control. They adopt this approach because if nothing is listed as a fault in your area, then statistically it is most likely to be something at your end.

That will include your router/ hub, your phone wiring, the building materials used in your house, the location of WiFi access points, the list is large. They will not be as direct as that, however those are the implications. Continue reading Slow Internet? A guide for improving network performance.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Post Launch – things to do

What I have provided

The following guide is just an opinion on how to handle the propagation of your site to your target market. There are many ways of doing this, and you can spend a lot of money doing this through a third party. The approach below is targeted at the local charity with little to no budget, so it assumes that you are spending nothing except time in doing this and perhaps a few phone calls.

The following steps will have been taken by myself in the late stages of developing the site and publishing it under your domain name.

  • Site map generation
  • Registering with Google and Bing search engines
  • Google Analytics account set up
  • Useful Links page creation
  • Newsletter*
  • Social Media*

(*optional)

The first two items are processes which firstly create an index of the content of your website in a series of files that are held on the server and used by search engines when they visit your site. The importance of registering with Bing and Google ensures that these search engines visit your site and learn about the content on the site. Once this process is completed you will start to appear in searches on the Internet.

There are some things you can do which require only a small amount of effort, but can make a big difference. Read the full guidance here.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Got a server? Then you may need one of these.

This might seem like a luxury, they have been around for a long time and also very expensive. Now however they are available to home users and small businesses for less than £100.

UPS

A UPS is an Uninterruptable Power Supply. It is used to maintain power to devices that need to run continuously. Things like servers, network attached storage (NAS), and to a lesser extent your router and some key network devices if you are backing up your server.

You can also use it to power your desktop PC, which should mean you never lose anything through a power failure.

They perform several important functions, one is power line conditioning, and the other is continuing to provide 240v AC to a device when the mains power to a property or office fails.

The way they do this is by charging a battery (or several batteries) in a box. The power from the batteries is passed to an inverter which regenerates the 240V AC at an output or several outputs.

If the incoming mains power is interrupted then the output of the device continues to run based on the available battery power. That is, until the battery is exhausted.

The more sophisticated ones can send signals to attached devices to ask them to shut down (gracefully). Continue reading Got a server? Then you may need one of these.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Crowd Funding – a source of donations?

Crowd Funding is not a new phenomena, it has been around for at least 5 years if not longer. The principle is that you advertise what you want to do and how much money you need to do it and the “crowd” (people like you and I) offer to put money up to help you to achieve your goals.

The idea originally came as an alternative method of funding compared to seeking venture capital or going to the bank to start a business. So in these cases you are seeking a share of the business or organisation. However I have seen this extended to apply to charitable causes and projects. In this case there is no return on investment for those donating.

We would like a website…. but

Each year I get enquiries from organisations that do not have a website, but would like one. I provide a summary of the costs and the process, then I don’t hear anything else. I chase it to find that they cannot afford it, even at my very low acquisition cost.

It seems to me that these organisations are stuck in a rut. They are short of funds, and are having to be very selective on what they spend them on. We all know that local government funding is disappearing for many charities providing family services for example, so I fully understand the problem. However with a website, they would have a presence on the internet, they can be located, they can seek funding through it, direct funding providers to it to establish their value proposition. So it seems to be a chicken and egg problem. Is there a way around this?

Returning to Crowd Funding

I have looked at some sites that specialise in raising capital, it would seem feasible to document a project where a website and hosting can be provided to a charity based on crowd funding for say £200-£300 in the first year. If you know of any Not-For-Profit or charitable organisation that might be interested in this approach please put them in contact with me. I would be happy to give it a try.

Crowd Funding applied to your organisation

Of course it follows that this concept could be used to help your organisation. First you need a value proposition, what is it you are going to do, or want to do? Write it up and get it on a crowd funding website as a project. Then advertise it through your website, your facebook or twitter accounts.

I suspect it is unlikely that a single benefactor will pop up from the internet, however for a given project, it may be easier to raise £200 from 40 people assuming you have the connections. Using social media to make this happen will extend your reach to more than those you directly connect to. If you look at some of the projects they are more compelling than others.

If you are interested in this area (either something that you wish to pursue for your own organisation, or as a joint venture) contact me and I will help you look into it. Use my contact us page to drop me a line.

I will be doing some research on it over the coming months, and may initiate a project to learn how it all works. If I learn anything more I will add an article on it.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Google Analytics

I have around 75 sites running Google Analytics, I can grant full access to you so you can see your statistics. There is also a video tutorial I have created which gives a very brief overview on interpreting the information.  The video can be found on this page: Video Tutorials

Interpreting the data

There is a great deal you can do with Google Analytics, and there are some specialists that make a living out of using it, and interpreting it. I would encourage everyone to take a peek at it. It will show you how many hits your site receives per month, and what people are looking at. I would not however take it as gospel. It does need some  interpretation, and at best it gives you an indication of how many visitors you had expressed as a range, rather than an absolute value. For example some visitors arrived by accident. They tend to leave from the page they arrived on. These are recorded as “bounces”. What is not clear though is how long they spent on the page, and whether they got what they were looking for.

Doing your bit

There are some organisations I have worked with that have not followed up and checked their sites rankings in Google.  There are things that I can do to improve your ranking through the development of the website, and there are things that you can do. Without both of us working together on this, you cannot benefit from being at the top of an organic search. It is important to point out here that the goal is to be at the top of a google search without paying anything to influence your ranking. Continue reading Google Analytics

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Use your domain name for your email

Many of the charities I work with continue to use their broadband service provider email account, rather than an email account associated with the website they have just acquired.

For example if I created a website for www.mycoolcharity.org.uk then email accounts can be created for xxxx@mycoolcharity.org.uk. Then your mail is tied to your domain name.

Many however stick with xxxxx@btconnect.com, or yyyy@talktalk.net because these are the mail accounts they have always used.

Maintaining legacy accounts

Generally I recommend going through a transition period where mail from the old and new accounts run in parallel. You reply from the new email address and over time you will find your “real traffic” will migrate to the new email address as well. The only thing that is left on the old address is junk mail. …. and who wants to keep junk mail! Continue reading Use your domain name for your email

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail