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Choosing between a hosted or non-hosted shopping cart solution

For the longest time, the recommended approach to a shopping cart was to buy a script and host it yourself. The logic is simple when you own and run the shopping cart solution;you control all the aspects of both the experience and the outcome. Also, you would never be the victim of sudden price changes to a service. However, cloud and technology improvements mean the decision is no longer in favor of hosting the shopping cart yourself.

Here are three reasons why opinions have changed:

Cost – The most stable and secure online shopping systems charged a percentage of all sales. The percentage is small, but when taken from revenue, and not profit, it becomes difficult to sell any low margin products. Things have changed now with most providers offering excellent features on monthly subscriptions.

Tools – The look and feel of the site and store did not matter as much as they do now. Good design and flow can make a big difference to sales. These online providers now have amazing built-in tools to create websites and stores. Secure Net Shop, for example, has a website builder to create a simple website or a complete online store.

Setup – It was a given that you would need to hire someone with technical expertise to set up and configure the shopping cart. Modern systems are so simple that you can do everything yourself with easy user interfaces and tools. The only tedious part is when you enter all the product details, but even those have bulk import tools.

How to get more Facebook Engagement

Facebook’s algo is so heavily influenced by engagement rate, you MUST use public figure pages + one minute videos + dollar a day boosts.

But I don’t want to create a public figure page on Facebook, you say. I’m not “big” enough, not a professional speaker, or of that braggadocio personality.

Look at it not like self-promotion or motivational speaker stuff, but about sharing good stuff with your audience.

You’re teaching, not talking about yourself, your lifestyle, etc.

You’re giving and sharing openly— not chest-beating, promoting get rich quick schemes.

Yes, there are a TON of self- proclaimed authors, speakers, coaches, and hucksters of all variety peddling their wares. And I also feel icky when I see these folks make hollow promises.

But just because many are abusing the medium doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there, any more than 20 years ago, the dominant players on the web were PPC– porn, pills, and casinos.

The current crop of weeds will go away in due time, as Facebook matures.

Your public figure page, one minute videos, and dollar a day are how we show Facebook we deserve to rank in the newsfeed with 50%+ engagement rates (view-through), relevancy scores of 10, average watch times over 20 seconds.

Do you have these three components?
Because if you don’t, you’re handicapped from ranking on Facebook– your stuff looks too much like an ad.

The possible uses of machine learning

Machine learning is an aspect of artificial intelligence that involves training a neural network (a digital version of the brain) with a specific set of inputs. During that training, the net will determine what factors determine one outcome over another. Here are some of the possible uses of machine learning, should the computation power grow enough to accommodate these use cases:

Medical – The medical field has the most to gain from machine learning. There is already a trial in progress that uses images taken of patient’s retina to determine the potential for cataracts and other issues.

Self-driving cars – Google is already using some form of machine learning for its self-driving car program. We do not know what Waymo uses at this point, but it is not a machine learning algorithm that drives the actions of the car. However, in the future, the car itself could be figuring out what is or isn’t dangerous based on a trained model.

Home automation – At the moment, home automation is a series of connected devices triggered under certain conditions. In a truly smart home environment, the house would know when someone came home if that person is you and what you usually do when you get home. This, in turn, would set the temperature, switch on the lights, open the garage and prepare for your entry into the house.

AR – Augmented Reality could be the next big thing. Google Lens shows us what is already possible and with some development could be the basis for an augmented reality display on glasses or contact lenses.

The ideal home networking environment

The typical home will have a router provided by the ISP with its own wireless network. That was fine a few years ago, however, going forward it is unlikely that will suffice for the typical family. Now a family of four could have as many as 20 devices on the network, requiring coverage all over the house. This is why it is important to get a network set up correctly with future growth in mind. Here are the components of an ideal home network:

Router

The first point to upgrade would be the router. Internet connection speeds get faster every year, some exceed 100Mbps, which means you will need a router that is capable of gigabit speeds. Also, new routers provide additional features like segmentation, parental controls, etc.

Wireless access

There is no point in buying range extenders and wireless bridge devices. The best devices to get now are mesh-capable wireless devices like Google Wi-Fi or EERO. These units talk to each other and provide best in class performance for homes.

Ethernet

Network attached storage devices, and streaming players work best when connected to a wired network. The best way to do this is to get a router with multiple ports and connect these devices directly. If it is possible, run a cable from the router to a gigabit network switch and connect all devices with physical network ports directly.

Cameras

There are affordable home security cameras that connect and use the wireless network. The problem is that several of these cameras can use up most of the available wireless network bandwidth. Get around this by setting up a separate network only for cameras. This will also provide additional security.

Your Identity

If you are an SEO, can I say that I’m a PPC?

If you are an MBA, then can I call any degree or skill I have as my identity?

What you have and who you are aren’t necessarily the same thing.

I am not analysis, optimization, or advertising.
I am a human being who has intrinsic value independent of my skill, job title, and accomplishments.

You, my friend, have immense value even if you don’t have a Ph. D in your email signature line.

And sometimes it’s okay to just sit there and be content– to not have to “hustle” all the time or be guilted into maintaining false appearances.

You have permission to just be.

I’ve done little work the last 3 weeks, and it’s been great. 9 flights over 8 hours each, plus a dozen short ones. No wifi.

I used to joke that I work part-time- just choose which 12 hours of each day.

But now I “work” only 4 hours each day, with learning being the bulk of my time. 2 hours for clients and 2 hours for our team.

I’ve said NO to thousands of requests for meetings with no guilt. And that has pissed off potential clients who weren’t a fit anyway.

Those people expect instant response and for free, who don’t respect your precious time.

Be around those who love you and who you love, independent of your degree, skill, or title.

Buying network attached storage

So the time has come, and you want to buy some network attached storage (NAS). The question is how do you decide what you need in a NAS? Here are some basic criteria you can use to decide:

Storage

The most important factor is the amount of storage you need. This alone will determine the kind of device. The more storage you need, the larger the device. With modern 6TB drives, an 8-bay NAS will hold 40TB of data and can handle a single drive failure. The budget will also play a part since the larger drives are quite expensive.

Redundancy

The safety of that data also plays a part in the decision. A RAID 5 array can handle the failure of a single drive. You can increase this by committing more drives to the pool, but that reduces the amount of storage. Also, you can add spare drives that only activate when another drive fails. Once a drive fails, it will need a replacement quickly.

Backup

A higher-end NAS is a mini computer and can run applications. These applications are specific to the device and come from the vendor. These devices can run the backup software and use cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox as targets.

Network Speed

There are usually three options when it comes to network speed. There are 100mbit ports, Gigabit ports and an aggregation of several of the same ports. If there are a lot of people accessing large amounts of data from the same device, then invest in a device with multiple gigabit ports.

Four important factors when looking for an EDI solution

Written by Act Data Services, Inc. 1-800-ACT-DATA

When it comes to choosing EDI services, the toughest point is when you begin evaluating options. A business needs scalable solutions that will allow them to grow and have the capacity to support that growth. The capacity, along with expertise should form the basis of your selection criteria. Also, here are four more factors that should play a role in your decision:

Transaction volume

The first step is to gather as much information about your organization as possible. The most important number is that of your monthly transactions. The count should include all documents sent and received in whatever form. In future, all this will be digital, but for the count, include all forms of communication. Now we know how many transactions we have, what sort of effect growth will have on those numbers.

Integration

Most organizations use some form of ERP software. The larger companies will use software like SAP, NetSuite while smaller outfits will have systems like BusinessByDesign. Ideally, the EDI outsource should integrate directly with your ERP and other in-house software, creating one seamless system. This way everything from reorders levels to order fulfillment to warehouse management will be seamless and error free.

Support

Lastly, look at their service and support offerings. If possible, ask for references and inquire about after-sales and other support including issue resolution and triage. Important business critical systems need top-level support in times of crisis.

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Not everyone needs millions of EDI transactions a month. Act Data is a provider of EDI services including web-based EDI solutions.

Kickstarter? Why More Filmmakers are Seeking Independent Funding

You might have heard how many successful indie films and video games have had Kickstarters raise enough money to fund production. The biggest example is probably the Veronica Mars movie, which raised more than $5 million to fund its production, but there are several examples of small and medium sized movies making their goals and seeing the light of day.

With all of this crowdfunding, you might think that engaging with private investors has gone the way of the Dodo.  That’s not so. In fact, many up and coming filmmakers are still seeking out private investment even when they have a successful Kickstarter. Here’s more of the lowdown behind how tech plays a role in film investing, and why traditional investing is making a comeback.

Funding Portions

The reality for many filmmakers today is that Kickstarter funds usually only cover a fraction of the costs. Private investors will carry the costs of music rights, post production and other important investments that come with even the simplest of productions. Kickstarters are often a good sign there is interest in the film, and a way to either secure that little bit extra to make it special, or provide a way to recoup some of the potential losses if the film bombs.

Traditional Funding

Traditional film funding has gotten much more accessible. Many cities across the United States have a film bureau setup to help you figure out taxes, and other potential incentives you can use to acquire investors. You may even be able to find an investor directly through that organization. It’s always helpful to find someone local, and there are more resources around the US today than ever before.

Bio: Omar Amanat is a film investor and philanthropist who donates funds from the films he produces to charities of his choice.

Costs to factor when deciding on colocation

Written by Rack Alley

There are several options when it comes to server hosting now. There is the in-house system, colocation, server hosting and cloud hosting. Many organizations still prefer colocation at an LA data center to cloud hosting due to predictable costs and existing infrastructure. Here are several cost factors to take into account when making the decision:

Floor space

Rack space at a colocation facility is much cheaper than renting floor space. A proper in-house data center requires floor space for the actual equipment plus the support gear like UPS, batteries and cooling/heating.

Network access requirement

Point to point links are cheaper than ever, making it more cost effective to channel all connectivity through a data center, where internet bandwidth is much cheaper. Road warriors and home office workers can connect using a VPN.

Hardware under warranty

One of the reasons that it makes financial sense for companies to choose colocation over server hosting Los Angeles or a cloud implementation is the amount of hardware that is still under warranty. The more hardware that is within the warranty and support lifetime the more it makes sense to co-locate. Cloud hosting will not use any existing equipment.

Physical security

From an audit perspective, firms require several levels of security for data centers. Achieving this level of security in-house can be expensive. This security is not required for services like server hosting Los Angeles, but only for services that involve a physical asset of that organization.

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Rack Alley is an LA colocation and hosting services provider.

The number one way to reduce shopping cart abandonment

Written by Secure Net Shop

The high rate of shopping cart e-commerce abandonment is a big issue for online retailers. What many of these stores do not realize is that this is an opportunity to increase sales with just a few changes. With shopping cart abandonment as high at 75%, according to Listrak, this means that only one out of every four completes a purchase. Decreasing abandonment by 25% alone, will double sales. Here is the single change that will bring about the biggest reductions in abandonment:

Free shipping. According to Forrester, 44% of cart abandonment is due to shipping costs. It is the number one cause. Free shipping is available in many places, and customers have come to expect it from everywhere. Even if it involves increasing the price of the product, free shipping is the number one way to increase sales and reduce cart abandonment.

Sometimes there are scenarios where you cannot absorb the cost of free shipping, not can you absorb it into the cost of the product. In those situations, offer free shipping beyond a threshold and make it clear from the start. For example, you can offer free shipping for orders over a $100. E-commerce cart software support conditional free shipping.

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If you want to succeed at running an online business, you are going to need an online store. The commerce shopping cart sold by Secure Net Shop should be at the top of your list.