Saturday, February 23, 2008

web design

Web Design. What is Web design? Simply put it's the design process of creating a web page. What is this process?

Good Web Design, usually starts on paper. I prefer to gather all of my content before I begin any website. If all the content is not available, I will usually draw on a piece of paper a basic site map. Using the site map will help me set up what type of menu system I will use.

Once I know all of the menu items for a web site the next phase is the actual design of the website. I usually will ask the client for a few examples of some sites that they like. This is not so I can copy a website however, to see what elements the sites have in common. What type of menu (horizonal or verticle) system that the client seems to favor. This also helps me to see how the customer prefers for text to be handled... Justified, not justified, large, small fonts. It's truly amazing the things that you can pick up by viewing these websites! I will then go thru the client's competitors websites and see how they are handling things!

Once I have a good grasp on what the customer likes, I open up photoshop and I work up usually 3 looks. This is a process. I will usually spend about 4 - 6 hours on the layout of a website. Let's face it this is one of the most crutial phase for a successful website.

Once I have 3 looks that I like I send them to the client to get their feedback. Generally speaking, most clients will pick one of these three and we will tinker with the basica look until we are all satisfied with the Layout!

Once the client has signed off, I will then cut the "layout" up into html elements. (images to be used in the actual HTML Coding of the project) Once all the peices have been "cut", I will then open up notepad (yes, I said notepad) and I will then begin typing out code!

The end result is a highly graphic web page design that both myself and my client can be proud of!!!!

To view some examples of my website design check out my website at

Houston Web Design

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Filter Spam

Today I set up a spam filter for a client. This seems to be a popular Hosting add-on. I use to setup spam filters for people in my own Email System. However, I quickly realized that I did not want to be in charge of what email messages get delivered.

Let's back up. Once upon a time I hosted a lawyer. One day I get a call from my hosting client, asking me why one of his "important" papers never made it to him. My first response was: "What was the subject?"

To my surprise his answer was: "viagra lawsuit"

I said, you have a rule that says if the word viagra appears in the subject then delete.

So needless to say from that point forward I never wanted to filter anyone's email! So for the last few years I've given my email customers the ability to "filter" their own mail however I'm not going to be the one that manages the filter!

Ok Fast forwad, I setup postini for a customer. This product was very easy to integrate and seems to work like a champ.

So I have to give the thumbs up to this product!

Web design houston

Web hosting houston

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Web Hosting - the basics

Today I was asked, " What exactly is web hosting?" this made me wonder ... Do people really know what "Web hosting" is and how does it work?

Web hosting includes several things.
1. DNS (zone records)
2. Website hosting
3. Email Hosting

So let's go thru what each of these things are.
1. DNS - Domain Name Service. This means that these is a "name service" running on a server somewhere that translates IP address to a name: example = There are several "flavors" of DNS serivces available out there. The standard is BIND, however microsoft has there own "dns" service called MSDNS.

Both of these service basically do the same thing and the only real difference is where the information is stored however , you can configure Micorsoft to run just like BIND.

2. Web site hosting. This is simply where your files reside. Basically all website are just files that are accessed via a "web service"

3. Email hosting. This is where your email lives. This is where you "pop" your email. The two most used Protocols used in email is POP service and SMTP service.

I could type for hours on these services and thepros and conns of each however, this is not a technical document.

So a quick wrap up! Web hosting is simply giving your files a place that other people can access. web hosting includes EMAIL, web and DNS

If you need Web hosting in houston or web design in houston please visit Houston Web Hosting @

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Vista Media Center

Over the last 6 months, I've been playing with Vista "Media Center". Vista Media center is Microsoft's home theater / media solution. Media Center offers a wide range of media solutions for the home theater. This includes: My Music, My Pictures, My Videos, MY DVDs and My Recorded TV.

So I started this experiment with XP media Center last year. I ran this "Solution" for about 1 month! Sadly, the computer I was using was not powerful enough to be used as a media Center.

Fast forward to my current solution:
intel P4 2.4 gigahertz Processor.
2 Gigs of RAM
802.11n wireless Network card (for faster network transfers - Streaming Videos)
1 500 Gig Western Digital Hard Drive
1 External 500 Gig Hard Drive
1 External 750 Gig Hard Drive
1 Windows Media Cetner Kit from Hauge pauge PVR 150.
1 ATI 128 meg Video Card (DVI output)

The Setup went very smooth. I installed Vista with no issues at all! Everything was up and running with in 2 hours. I hooked up my satelite receiver to my PVR via the S-VIDEO connection. To my surprise, everything worked like magic. I then moved my existing data from my several sources: laptops, desktops and other removeable sources that I have collected over the years. I move all my pictures, my movies, and my music.

Once setup, I quickly went and explored all the options that are available inside media center! First thing I checked out was My pictures. I had moved all my pictures (about 3 gigs) to "My Pictures directory". Media center organzied everything for me! By folders or by date taken... it's awesome! I love this feature. A majority of my pictures are of my kids. Since they are now accessable via my "TV", I find myself playing the slide show and sitting in front of the TV all the time. My kids also seem to like this feature.

Next I checked out "My DVDs". To my surprise, I couldn't see any of my DVDs!! I had over 100 gigs of movies. Where were all of my DVDs? I quickly noticed that I could see my DVD player but nothing else. Surely, Microsoft would have made media center have the ability to veiw all my stored DVDs.

I went and did some research and found out that "My DVDs" are not setup by default and I have to go to the registry and make a change to "Activate" "my DVDs". This is bad! I think the next version of Media Center that this should be setup by default!

Now for my review, My DVDs is a great feature. It organizes all my DVDs very nicely. However, in order to make it work correctly, you have to go thru a process. You have to save the DVD files to a hard drive and create an XML file for each movie.

I have made a routine while "encoding" my DVDs and it seems to work for me. I open DVD Shrink and encode the disc. While this is recording I go to and search their online database of DVDXMLs and save the file into the directory. the entire process takes about 30 mins. Oh another cool thing. Any movies that I have "recorded" are also available in the My Movies Section.

I spend about 80% of my time watching movies, so this section is very important for me! There is also a "plug in" that allows you to automate this process. I have not used it, so I can not comment on it. Check it out, go google "my movies" and you can try it out for yourself.

Next thing to check out was "My recorded TV". This was to be my main "tivo" system for my household. I was very excited about this feature. I must say it's a great setup.

Very easy to use and very visual! Only draw back, I only had 1 video capture card and 1 satelite receiver. To make it function like my Tivo, I need to get a 2nd capture card and a 2 satelite reciever. (currently, this is not in my budget) So as a result, I can only watch 1 thing. So if I want to record "Show A" and watch "Show B" I can not.

Now what about the "extras"? These are all great, Sports is the best. You can track players, scores, watch games and get up to date information at a touch of a button! Just awesome! Great for the fantasy football player or any other sports person.

Over all I loved VISTA MEDIA CENTER!

web design Houston

Houston web hosting

Saturday, February 16, 2008


So my major project this week was integrating newest product Called CIM. While reading thru the PDF this product really looks like it has potential. My client wanted to setup a e-commerce solution that would allow their customer's to select from the credit card the user previously used or add another one. The customer also wanted to have al lthe Credit card information stored remotely at location. documentation was great and left no real question as to what I can do. I quickly started writing my customer's e-commerce solution. Once finished, I went to test it and my first attempt went thru without a hich! Awesome looks like we're ready to go!

I then try my visa bank card, only to find out it's declined!!! What?? This is my own bank card so I know there's money in the account, what's the problem? I call up my bank and they inform me that they do not allow .01 transactions and they will always decline these transactions!!! So normally the response is well we'll just authorzie for a $1.00 instead of $.01. Here's the kicker!! On the CIM this is hard coded during the payment profile setup phase to authorize that this is a valid credit card!...

Needless to say I had to write a work around. Which I did get done however, it added about 3 to 4 extra hours to the project i wasn't expecting!

Oh well... Other than that.. I actaully enjoyed working with the new CIM API.

Web Hosting Houston

Web Design Houston

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What would you do?

Today was an interesting day, I had a client that I recently took over hosting of their site. The customer had left their Previous host for lack of response to technical issues and poor search engine placement results.

I took over hosting of this website in November 1. Up until this point my new customer's web site was not coming up in any Search engine. The previous Host, was charging them $400 a month for SEO services.

I moved their site. However, they did want search engine placement because they thought that they already had this service.

About a month into my hosting this site, the previous host contacted the client stating that my new client moved their hosting and because of that they had dropped out of the search engines and they are losing money...

Here's a copy of the email that he sent to my new client...I did change the names. In this version old company is called (previous Hosting company) and my new client is referref to as abc inc.


-----Beginning of excerpt from previous company's email on 12/06/07 --------

Dear All,

Your search engine rankings have all but disappeared!

This is due to a couple of factors:

1) The links (1000s) your site had from our other clients pages
to your web site have been removed because you left our services.
Google, Yahoo and other search engines use the number of links to your site as a major factor in determining rank.

(2) The new company does not appear to know anything about search engine marketing, and made some changes that have adversely effected your rankings. Keep in mind that there are only a couple of good Internet Marketing companies in Houston, and your new provider is not one of them.

Our understanding was that (abc inc.) relied almost exclusively on Search Engines listings to bring new business, and based on the disappearance of those listings, we can only assume that (abc inc) will suffer a great loss that will threaten the future of (abc inc.).

From conversations with (abc inc.) we learned that the reason for leaving (Previous hosting company)'s services was due to problems with email delivery, which could easily have been worked out if the problem was communicated to us.

We can and are still willing to help (abc inc.), so if interested contact us, but keep in mind that it will take 60 to 90 days to reverse the changes.

In the event that you do not want to use (Previous hosting company)'s services, we would strongly encourage you to use one of our competitors that is good at Internet Marketing, because the company you are with now is not capable of giving you the results you were used to with (Previous hosting company).

Thank You,

---------end of email -----------------------------------------------------------------

Now let's take this letter apart....

1. 1000s of links...If they have 1000s of clients that were linking back to abc inc's website ... why is it if you look on google for "link:" there are only 111 sites that link back to them...

This is not 1000(s) of links from other Previous Hosting Company's clients. I find it hard to believe that they would have given (abc inc.) more back links than the they the company would have... Seeing how these were all the previous hosting company's clients so their name is on all the web sites they create? hmmmm seems fishy...

This also sounds like a link farm to me and I do believe that google frowns upon this as well. Please refer to Google's SEO page @

2. At the time this letter was written I had not changed any of the website pages at all, so the work he was putting down was his own!!!

Now let's see what the previous hosting / SEO COMPANY HAD DONE TO ABC INC's WEBSITE!

The Previous hosting company had made my new customers web site in frames and had stuffed all the keywords in the No frames portion of the web site. (which as most people know that this is not a valid SEO technique - if it was EVERYONE would just put a lot of keywords in the NO FRAME section )

Please again refer to Google's SEO page @

The funny thing is the previous hosting company had used this same strategy on their own web site.

Needless to say you can not find the previous hosting company on ANY SEARCH STRING that they are targeting...
Say for instance "houston web hosting" (hey look who's at the top of the page it's me!! - which mind you my website has been on the top of these search strings since 2005. )*&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1

I'm debating on wether or not I should sue the "previous hosting company" for libel for the comments he makes about my ability to do SEO and my professional reputation? What do you think?

Please post your comments below!
Web Hosting Houston

Web Design Houston