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Web Hosting - Databases, What Are They and Do You Need One? 'Database' is one of the most commonly used terms that one encounters in web site design. Yet, what they really are and whether they're essential is often not clear to novices. A database is a collection of organized data, stored in files that have a specific structure. It's that organization and structure that allows for easy and rapid storage and retrieval. The need for a database generally only arises when you have a certain amount of information and that information needs to have some structure. If you have a half-dozen names and addresses to store, a database is usually overkill. If you have a blob of data with no relationships between any of the items in that blob, maintaining a database is usually more trouble than it's worth. Maintain a database? Yes, like other complex systems a database, to be effective, needs to be designed properly at the outset then kept 'tuned' for good performance. The alternative is to gradually allow the database to become more and more disorganized. That leads to difficulty in use, poor speed of retrieval and more frequent failures. With MySQL, Access or MS SQL Server, the three most common choices of database product for web sites today, setting up a database is relatively simple. Even those with limited technical skill can get one up and running just by following some simple instructions. But some thought should be given to how you want the information organized, and to maintaining the system during its lifetime. Suppose you have a set of names, addresses, email addresses, products purchased, date purchased and amount. If you have only a few dozen records it matters very little how these pieces are arranged and related. A database usually isn't even warranted in this scenario. Once you have several thousand or more records, it matters a lot. Speed, the ease of expanding the set of attributes (like adding, say, product category), and other issues come into play. Even those with little technical expertise, but a willingness to exert logical thought and invest some time, can build a very robust database. Think about how you would organize a set of data (called 'tables'). Should Name, Address, and Product be in the same table? Or should the personal information be stored in one table and any product information (product, price, ...) in another? Some experimentation may be needed to get it right, but the choices have an impact on how easy the tables are to maintain. It also affects the speed with which programs can fetch old data and store the new. Having a database also introduces new maintenance issues for the server administrator, since backups usually need to be done differently. Recovering a failed database is usually more complicated than simply re-copying files from yesterday. Ask your hosting company what tools and skills they have for dealing with any database system you consider. It's true that introducing a database creates more complexity and the need for additional thought and administrative effort. At a certain level, professional expertise will be needed. But clearly the advantages outweigh the costs in many cases. Companies large and small eventually use databases to store and organize data. At some point, you may be fortunate enough to be one of them.

Writers Block: What Causes it and How to Overcome it (writers block) If you are a writer then you know what I am talking about. You have everything ready, a drink, a snack, the topic, and even reference material. You sit down ready to start typing or writing, which ever you prefer, and it happens. You are stuck, your mind is blank and you have no idea how to fill that blank canvas in front of you. It is a writer’s worse nightmare come true. You have writers block. First you need to figure out what is causing it. There are a multitude of things that can be causing it. Stress is one of the biggest factors that cause writers block. Whether it is stress caused by personal matters, deadline dates, or fearing your article won’t be good enough it can block the words from flowing as easily as the should. Sleep deprivation doesn’t let your mind function to its full potential. Getting a good night’s sleep is imperative to having a clear mind and being able to focus. The project itself could be causing the writers block. A topic you are not interested in can easily turn your normally resourceful mind into jelly. The research on that topic turns into a grueling task. Then trying to put the words on paper that make sense and will peak someone’s interest seem impossible. If a topic has personal meaning to you it can be hard to write objectively about it. A simple informative topic can easily become a personal rant session. Writing because you have to, not because you want to makes it hard to concentrate and focus. Now that the basic causes have been covered, you need to know how to fix it. Writers block is not permanent. Identifying the reason is the hard part. Relax. The world is not going to end if the article isn’t as perfect as you feel it should be. Just because you don’t think it is perfect doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Go and read some of your previous writings. Even if what you read has nothing to do with your current topic, it can be inspirational to you. Don’t burn yourself out on a topic. Try to split up the writing process. Research and brainstorm one day and write the next. This will give you time to think about your topic and figure out the angle you want to write. Talk your way through it. Call a friend or colleague and chat. Tell them the topic you are working on and get their opinions or ideas. They may be able to offer fresh insight and ideas. Work on multiple projects at one time if you can. Bouncing back and forth between a few topics can keep your mind hopping and will keep boredom at bay. Take a break from you current project and write about something that motivates you. Chances are once you get those creative juices flowing they will continue into your next project. Make yourself a schedule and stick to it. If your schedule says 500 words by noon, write your 500 words and stop. Even if you don’t have a project going, by writing daily you will stick to your schedule and keeps your imagination going. If you write from home, which most of freelance writers do, make a quiet time and treat it like a real job. If you have young children at home, write while they nap. Let your answering machine be your secretary. If it is important they will leave a message. Most importantly remember why you started writing in the first place. Even the best of the best have gotten writers block at one time or another.

Reduce Employee Turnover and Produce a Great Employee For so many businesses in the United States it is the same picture they see year in and year out. Employees come, get trained, start to be efficient at work and then they leave. The company needs to train somebody new. To reduce employee turnover and produce a great employee, many things need to be established within a company as a support structure. Many companies so often neglect to ask and wonder what their employees might like or think would be helpful to make their work environment and conditions positive ones. Whether owning a small or a large company, your immediate concerns probably lie within making profits to be able to keep the company running and to be able to pay your employees. Of course, running a company takes a lot of effort and work hours spent solely on that. But every time one of your employees leaves, you loose capital--capital you have invested in his or her training and knowledge. The knowledge capital you loose is all the information that the employee has absorbed during his or her employment at your company and all the new skills he or she might have added during the course of his employment. So how can you make your company and working for your company more attractive and also produce great employees? There are many ways that this can be accomplished, most of them are rewards to the employee, but others that are just as important include the atmosphere and conditions at the workplace. This article will discuss just a few of the many possibilities you as an employer have to keep employee turnover low. For most employees, considering that they have an expectation towards the standard of living they have, a competitive salary is an important point. If you only pay minimum wages or never give raises and rewards, it is very unlikely to hold good employees that can make a lot more money somewhere else. To make their time worthwhile after hiring, you need to know what a competitive pay is and pay them either the average pay or slightly more. As for raises, raises together with evaluations will tell the employee that his or her effort and all the hard work he or she put into your company is appreciated. It also tells the employee how good his work is and what you will expect from him in the years to come. To produce a good employee, it is important to give the employee feedback on his work. Some companies reward their employees with bonuses for accomplished tasks or finished projects. Other companies will give their employees an award at the end of the month or year and generally attach a small bonus to that. Also consider a good benefit package. Many employees look for the benefits that companies offer to them and their family to make a decision whether they should work for this company or choose a different one. Often times, vacation is very important to employees. To be a motivated and good worker, employees need to spend time with their families or the things they love, like hobbies or sports. Yes, of course you would like them to work 60 hours for the 40 you pay, but consider this: an overworked overtired employee is most likely not able to work fast and efficient. That person also tends to be more error prone and unmotivated. Time off work to relax or regenerate is very important. Companies that offer ten days are often at the top of the list for employee turnover. Some companies offer flexible work times to accommodate for many different characters and situations at home. The employee that likes to come early and leave early versus the employee that likes to sleep long and then leave somewhat later feels just as welcome in this company or setting. Besides all these added factors, the work environment also plays a great role in producing great employees and reducing turnover. A respectful and good working environment is very important to keep employees happy and motivated. You know that a happy, motivated employee works better, faster and makes fewer mistakes.