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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.
Turning your Eye to Government, Nonprofit or Small Business for you Next Job The type of business you work for can effect your job satisfaction. Your personality type may also work out better at certain types of businesses. Research different business types before going on your job search. Working for a small business or a non-profit definitely has its pros and cons. First of all, getting hired at a small business can be much easier than landing a position than at a corporation. Typically you will only have to go through one person to get the job. Usually the small business owner conducts the interview. This can be a good thing because the business owner may be willing to overlook a lack of experience or extenuating circumstances concerning your work history. Nonprofit jobs are often easier to get if you are passionate about the cause. The person that is doing the hiring is generally passionate about the cause that the nonprofit is working to assist. If they pick up on passion about the cause from you, typically you will get the job. However, that passion is necessary because they pay may not be very much. Working for a smaller company also opens up more opportunities for promotions. With fewer employees and contact with the owner, you may be able to move up in the company faster. You will be able to pick up on skills in less time than at large corporations, which often have many hoops for one to jump through before training for a new position. There may be a smaller window of time to pick up on new skills because of the limited amount of time that can be put towards training. Nonprofits may not have as many opportunities for promotions and job stability may be questionable. If the donations stop coming in or whoever funds the nonprofit decides not to fund it anymore, you could be out of a job. This is a very real concern with a nonprofit job. There are some drawbacks to working at smaller businesses. Sometimes, the staff at smaller businesses have been in place for years. New, younger employees may not be viewed favorably. This could affect working relationships with co-workers. Smaller companies also mean smaller paychecks. Independent businesses are not able to generate large paychecks. This could make staying at a small business undesirable. However, the personal interaction between you and your boss could be encouragement to stick it out with a small business. Or the opposite could be true. Government jobs can be beneficial to have for a number of reasons. First of all, government jobs offer good salaries and great benefits. You will have all government holidays off and you will be working in a position that is necessary to the maintenance of the government. That means that you probably won?t have to worry about being displaced. Although, remember that if the government runs into tough times, layoffs are possible. Government jobs are usually normal business hours but not always. There are some positions that will have hours that extend a little bit beyond regular business hours but for the most part, you will be able to enjoy your life by taking advantage of vacation time. Sick days will also be available at government jobs. Some of the drawbacks of government jobs are that you may have to deal with a large amount of on the job stress. You may be responsible for processing hundreds, maybe even thousands of cases and one mistake could be very tragic for an individual. Depending on what your position is, you may be instrumental in handling paper work from a huge amount of people.
Web Hosting - Sharing A Server – Things To Think About You can often get a substantial discount off web hosting fees by sharing a server with other sites. Or, you may have multiple sites of your own on the same system. But, just as sharing a house can have benefits and drawbacks, so too with a server. The first consideration is availability. Shared servers get re-booted more often than stand alone systems. That can happen for multiple reasons. Another site's software may produce a problem or make a change that requires a re-boot. While that's less common on Unix-based systems than on Windows, it still happens. Be prepared for more scheduled and unplanned outages when you share a server. Load is the next, and more obvious, issue. A single pickup truck can only haul so much weight. If the truck is already half-loaded with someone else's rocks, it will not haul yours as easily. Most websites are fairly static. A reader hits a page, then spends some time skimming it before loading another. During that time, the server has capacity to satisfy other requests without affecting you. All the shared resources - CPU, memory, disks, network and other components - can easily handle multiple users (up to a point). But all servers have inherent capacity limitations. The component that processes software instructions (the CPU) can only do so much. Most large servers will have more than one (some as many as 16), but there are still limits to what they can do. The more requests they receive, the busier they are. At a certain point, your software request (such as accessing a website page) has to wait a bit. Memory on a server functions in a similar way. It's a shared resource on the server and there is only so much of it. As it gets used up, the system lets one process use some, then another, in turn. But sharing that resource causes delays. The more requests there are, the longer the delays. You may experience that as waiting for a page to appear in the browser or a file to download. Bottlenecks can appear in other places outside, but connected to, the server itself. Network components get shared among multiple users along with everything else. And, as with those others, the more requests there are (and the longer they tie them up) the longer the delays you notice. The only way to get an objective look at whether a server and the connected network have enough capacity is to measure and test. All systems are capable of reporting how much of what is being used. Most can compile that information into some form of statistical report. Reviewing that data allows for a rational assessment of how much capacity is being used and how much is still available. It also allows a knowledgeable person to make projections of how much more sharing is possible with what level of impact. Request that information and, if necessary, get help in interpreting it. Then you can make a cost-benefit decision based on fact.