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Straightforward design, marketing, and technical advice for making your marketing communications more effective.

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.

 

 

Facebook Plans to Take Over the World

September 22nd, 2011

This provocative article about Facebook’s imminent steps in their strategy to take over the world is really no surprise given the magnitude that Facebook has grown over the last few years. It’s the nature of the beast. Anything that gets too big tends to develop an insatiable appetite for growth and eventually begins devouring the values upon which it became successful. Think Microsoft and Google.

So there are big changes coming to Facebook. Changes, according to Ben Parr on Mashable, that are going to “Change the world of social media” (Ben sounds like a Facebook shill in parts of this article). Here are some of the quotes from Ben Parr’s article, regarding the “mind-boggling things” Facebook will be launching in within a month or so:

  • “Facebook’s goal is to become the social layer that supports, powers and connects every single piece of the web, no matter who or what it is or where it lives.” (Shouldn’t Dr. Evil get a credit for this line?)
  • “These changes will make Facebook a place where nearly everything in your life is enhanced by your social graph. These changes will make it so you know your friends better than you ever thought you could.” (It’s about time . . . seeing and talking to people is such a hassle anyway.)

Has Facebook turned “evil”?  It seems they are intent on creating their own de facto mandatory internet upon which users have very little direct control. That path will be the beginning of the end for them or any other company that thinks they can reign in the freedom garnered from the social media revolution.

One thing that especially alarms me is how Facebook has managed to have users create the value while Facebook collects huge sums of advertising revenue generated from that content. Now it’s expanded into the business realm. As of this year we can build a complete custom interactive web page on our company’s Facebook page but Facebook has complete control and gets advertising revenue. It seems bizarre to me that we’ve allowed ourselves to be suckered into this sort of proprietary network to build our online presences within. It’s like a successful version of AOL (without 10 billion DVD’s being mailed).

While Facebook and other social media platforms will be with us indefinitely, I’m looking forward to the day when the realm is stabilized and attempts by small groups of people to control and profit off the masses are thwarted.

Till then, we offer custom Facebook page design and optimization. 🙂

 

BitDefender – Creating Powerful Corporate Mythology

August 30th, 2011

BitDefender Logo

I’m fascinated how a corporation can use a logo, or rather the story behind it, as a totem of corporate mythology (or to be more crass, groupthink). Logos often have more impact within an organization than without. I don’t really get much as a consumer from BitDefender’s new logo at first glance, but as you can see from this link they have created a great myth around it which can be a powerful uniting force within the organization and amongst their customer evangelists.  You can check out their new brand mythology here.  My compliments to the branding team who led this project.

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