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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.
Software company patent A Software Company Patent is the Door to a World of Confusion There is no universal understanding of exactly what a software company patent is. In general, owning a patent allows a company certain rights (or exclusivity) for a prescribed amount of time. Individuals or corporations seeking a patent must apply for a patent in each and every country in which they wish to have one. Unlike copyrights, patents are not automatically granted to applicants and can take quite a while in order to be approved. Another thing to remember, particularly with a software company patent, is that a patent may issue in one or more of the countries in which you've applied but not all of them. The real problem lies in the fact that there really is no central agreement about what a software company patent actually grants among any of the nations so those who are awarded patents may not be getting exactly what they think they are getting in the process. With no universal agreement there really can't be universal enforcement about the laws and the rights surrounding a software company patent. The growth of Internet business and e-commerce in general has led to many patent applications for software, particularly software that was designed for specific business applications. The problem is that while the cases are granted and successfully tried and defended in some countries, other countries offer no enforcement or legal recourse for those who do not honor the software company patent even if the patents were granted in those countries. The fine line between nations about what is and isn't patentable is another challenge when it comes to establishing and honoring patents. In other words, the issue of a software company patent is a rather confusing process at best. Patents differ greatly from copyrights, which are issued automatically and recognized and enforced internationally. Copyrights protect the source code of software from being copied and registration is generally not required in order for your work to be protected. Lately there is a new term, copyleft, which is an obvious play on words and represents the rights to not only redistribute the works that are covered by this but also to modify and freely distribute those modifications. This term is very much in the spirit of many open source types of software and music. The catch for copyleft protection is that the newly created work be distributed in the same manner and spirit in which it was received. In other words if you were freely given the software, then you must freely provide the improvements and modifications you made to that software. Of course this is a long way from the idea of a software company patent. It is also important that you are sure you understand exactly what you are applying for as far as your patent goes. Different countries will grant patents for different things and those are closely regulated and carefully regarded when it comes to software-know what you are applying for and understand what you are being granted. A software company patent means different things to different people in different places and it nearly impossible to get other countries to honor a patent that they would not have granted at the same time they shouldn't expect other countries to honor patents based on their decision to do so either. One unfortunate circumstance surrounding patents is that there seems to be an unequal and obvious disparity between the haves and the have not's. Patent enforcement for software, unlike literature and music is largely subjective. In literature and music, it is rather obvious that the copyright has been abused or that the work has been copied, this isn't as simple with software which is one other reason that software company patent is such a hotly debated subject in the software industry.
Five Flex Time Options that Can Propel your Employee Productivity Flex time is something that is still very rarely used in the United States, but has many followers in other countries, especially European countries. Flex time in general means flexible working hours for employees of a company. They way the flexible working hours are implemented can differ greatly. But one thing is for sure, flexible working hours can greatly propel the employee productivity in your company. Take a look at five different ways to implement flex time in your company. The first and probably easiest way is to give your employees the option to come in to work and leave work within a certain time range. For example, so far your employees worked from 8am to 5pm, now you might give them the opportunity to come in to work anywhere from 7am to 9am, and of course, leave somewhere between 4pm and 6pm. This first model would give your employees an opportunity to be on time as long as they are within that range and their individual habits are considered in regards to being an early riser or a late sleeper. This first model would set the rule that there are 8 work hours plus a one hour lunch in a work day and these are not variables. Therefore, you only have to check their arrival and leaving times in one way or another. A second option is very similar to this, but you can expand the hours worked to a weekly or monthly check, where the employee is responsible to work 40 hours a week with one hour lunch everyday. Then he or she can come and leave in the morning and afternoon in the specified time ranges. For the employee, this means maybe on days that he or she is more energetic, they can spent more hours at work to get their work done and on days they do not feel so energetic or so good or they have family things going, on they can come in the minimum hours established from 9am to 4pm. This version of flextime is a much appreciated model by many employees, but for the employer, it means more work in tracking hours worked and arrival times, to make sure the required hours per week or months are worked. An even more advanced version of the first two flex time themes is a theme where the worker can accumulate time to take off at some point in the future. How specifically you are going to use this version is up to you. You basically are making sure that your employees are not working more than the required amount of hours. Why would you profit from this? Less time spent at the work place makes for more time to relax and regenerate and your employees will be more efficient and motivated throughout your work week. In some companies this flex time method allows the employee to accumulate hours up to a certain amount and then for example, they are allowed to leave after six hours for several days to be home for activities with their family. In an even more expanded version, a fourth version of flex time options, the employee can actually take full days off after having accumulated hours. These days are in general additional to vacation and holidays and can be taken in agreement with their supervisor. The fifth option that has been adopted by some companies actually gives the employees the chance to go into negative hours on their time account. This means if you do not have the required hours, you can still take a flex day off, but have to make sure that after a period of time, that the employer sets in the contract your account goes back to zero or higher. If the employer is a really generous person, he might allow you to completely choose the hours you want to work. You might be able to take work home or work from 10pm to 3am if you desire, as long as you have your assignments done on time and your hours are fulfilled.