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Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

CMS Made Simple Tutorial – Getting Started

February 24th, 2012

In this screencast tutorial I’ll introduce you to the most basic features of navigating and editing within CMS Made Simple’s administration panel.

What is DNS and Why You Should Care

October 6th, 2011

What is DNS (Simplified)?

DNS stands for “Domain Name System” (or often incorrectly referred to as “Domain Name Server”) and is the service that assigns and directs where and how a domain name’s websites are hosted and email service is handled.

DNS has often been compared to a phone book* for domain names. It’s a giant index of the virtual address (IP Address) for each domain name’s website, email and other resources.

DNS is the service that “points” you to the correct server when you type a web address in your browser or an email address in your mail client.

*Phone books are actual books that old people use to find phone numbers to places like Walgreens and the VFW.

Who keeps track of all this DNS information?

It’s appropriate to think of DNS as a single database. However that database is dynamic and does not exist in one physical location, it’s virtualized  . . . in other words it exists only in “cyberspace” and the physical information is redundantly maintained and physically spread across multiple locations throughout the world. (No, the illuminati are not involved.)

There are actually lots of places that DNS records are stored and kept updated but the primary places or services that keep the major indexes of DNS information are:

  1. Walmart (just kidding)
  2. One of 13 International Top Level DNS Root Servers (OK, maybe the illuminati are involved after all)
  3. ICANN domain registrars. This would be the company with whom you have your domain name registered / DNS services through.

Facing the “P” word—Propagation

Propagation is a word internet professionals like to use to confuse others and make themselves look smart. It also is a term that simply refers to the update process that occurs when a domain’s DNS services are modified. Propagation is the time and process that your DNS service provider (likely your domain registrar) takes to update their information and send that updated information up the line to the Top Level DNS servers so that everyone in the world will get to the correct new server when they type in your web or email address.

Propagation creates much angst in the world because it can cause Websites and email services to do strange things and even go offline for a time. It causes angst amongst Web professionals because when a DNS change is made we cannot guarantee to a client how long or exactly what kind and to what extent service interruptions might be. It typically takes 24-48 hours for propagation to complete. Oftentimes it goes through much faster and sometimes, technically, it can take up to seven miserable days (something I’ve never seen personally).

Propagation is a lot like death, taxes and Britney Spears songs . . . as much as we would like there’s no avoiding them and, in all fairness to propagation, it’s not nearly as bad as the other inevitables.  The best course of action is to go into a DNS propagation period in an orderly fashion hand in hand with your developer—schedule for a slow time and have the correct expectations (Also, don’t yell at your Web guy because he has no control once the change is submitted. He also is more sensitive than you might.).

To learn more fun facts about DNS and propagation and to know how to prepare for DNS propagation check out our other article:

To have your eyes glaze over and be lulled into a peaceful slumber, consider these reviewing these more technical explanations of DNS:

 

Boeing 787 Microsite

September 26th, 2011

Boeing 787I ran across the website for Boeing’s new plane releases, aptly named newairplane.com, and was impressed. It’s one of the best examples I’ve seen in both design and function of the microsite.  What is a microsite you might ask? It’s a small website, separate from a the main website of a company, that provides a dedicate platform for highlighting a product, product line, service or campaign. Microsites can be on a subdomain but are most often on a domain of their own which includes descriptive keywords or keywords consistent with branding.

Being such a mammoth corporation even launches of new products as big as the Boeing 787 would lose focus if placed within Boeing’s massive corporate site. Their microsite isolates and focuses attention on one aspect of their business, their new product launches. While Boeing doesn’t have to worry about this, microsites can often times serve as successful components to bolster search engine marketing. The key is though they have to be legitimate sites with unique and valuable content. There’s no better way to get an understanding for what a successful microsite looks like than to visit Boeing’s at newairplane.com.

While we’ve not developed any microsites of Boeing scale, we have help clients successfully develop numerous microsites to better focus and market their products and services. Contact us if you have questions about the feasibility of a microsite for your company or brand.

 

 

Amazon Ends Support for Internet Explorer 6

March 17th, 2010

As an addendum and emphasis to my recent post about importance of upgrading from IE 6, Amazon posted the following announcement to their seller accounts on March 11th:

Internet Explorer 6 no longer supported

Mar 11, 2010

We would like to inform you that as of the end of March 2010, we will no longer develop Seller Account pages to be compliant with Internet Explorer 6.

Internet Explorer 6 is no longer supported by Microsoft and is widely considered to be obsolete. It has multiple security flaws and is considerably slower than recent browsers.

This decision allows us to use all modern web development technologies and create an up-to-date user experience.

Although existing seller tools might continue to work for some time with older browsers, if you are still using Internet Explorer 6, we strongly recommend updating your browser to a more recent version now to make sure all Seller Account pages work properly on your computer.

If you are unsure which browser version you are running or how to update your brower, please contact your local system administrator or help desk for assistance.

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