April, 2007 Results

Just Graduated – Now What?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

It’s hard to believe that I graduated college nearly two years ago and have been working at an Insurance Company as a programmer since. I would like to tell you that college completely prepared me for a job in the real world, but I would be lying if I did.

During the time I spent searching for a job, being interviewed, and now having been in my job for some time, I have learned some valuable lessons that I’d like to share.

First we’ll look at some suggestions of what you can do while you’re interviewing for a job and then I’ll talk about ways to make you more successful at the job you land. Let’s begin.


Essential Reads!

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I have completed a new page entitled “Essential Reads” — you’ll find a link to it located on the right hand side just below the PageRank Decoder. I think you may find the page useful. There’s three sections to the page:

1. Find All Post by Author
The top part allows you to find all articles by a given author of Search-This. This was actually fun for me to develop because I got a chance to use both Flash and Ajax. If you mouse over a team member it displays their user name and real name and then if you click it, it retrieves all articles by that user. If you don’t have Flash you can still use the dropdown menu.

2. Essential Post
This next section shows some post that I think all would benefit from reading. This would also be a good time to subscribe to the Search-This feed. We now allow you to subscribe via e-mail too, so please sign up today.

3. Top Ten List
The last section simply shows the last ten people to comment on Search-This. This can be handy for trying to keep up with all the comments throughout the website. Below the last ten comments list is another list of the top ten most commented-on posts.

I hope you find the new Essentials page useful. If you can think of something else you would like to see included on the page, please let me know.


Optimizing your SQL Statements

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

Lately, I have seen a huge hype on Optimizing MySQL Statements, or on a more generalized approach of just optimizing your SQL. I want to reflect on this a bit and tell you that 10 tips will never solve your problem. 10 tips will not even come close to making a difference. 10 tips are not going to help you.

With that said, here are my reflections:

Reflection #1: Buy a Book
Why? It is purely simple, I can give you the best tips in the world and it won’t save your database from crawling if you do not fully understand why I gave the tips to begin with. Nor will it save you if the true cause isn’t entirely your SQL, but your schema as well. Sure there are things to keep in mind, but do us all a favor and buy a book, read it cover to cover, and fully indulge yourself in to how Databases work, especially the one you use for your site.

Reflection #2: Pick the Database for the Job
A professor once told me that there isn’t a single language that can do everything efficiently. Pick the language for the job, do not fit the job into a language. The same can be said about Databases. Pick the right Database for the job, do not try and fit your job into a specific Database just because you like it more.

Microsoft SQL, Oracle, Postgress, and MySQL (MyISAM or INNODB) all have their place. Do the research, figure out under which circumstance each work best, and then pick the one that is suitable for your task. Keep in mind cost and licensing can definitely be deciding factors. If you do not want to shell out the money for Microsoft SQL, then by all means, rule it out and research the others to see what will be more suitable. However, if you want to succeed, cost and licensing should not be major factors in your decision.

Reflection #3: Learn to ask for Help
The major issue with database and SQL design is primarily due to the inexperience of the user. If you are trying to design a database or write a complex SQL statement, by all means ask for help. I can’t tell you how many times I have rewritten the Stored Procedures at my work place because a newer developer wrote them.

There are countless places you can get help, countless forums, and chances are you may think you are designing something entirely revolutionary that has never been done. However, I am willing to bet it has been done and the user who can tell you his pitfalls and experience with doing it, is likely to be moderating a forum. Allow their experience to steer you clear from the same issues. No need to reinvent the wheel.


Links for the Weekend, 4-14-2007

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

Keeping Tabs on the Competition

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

“Know Thy Enemy” – The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

When you run a business, it’s always a good idea to know who your competition is as this is what really keeps businesses evolving. Recently, our company was recognized as an Authorize.Net certified developer. As an aside, Authorize.Net is the most popular payment gateway which acts like your website’s credit card terminal. Back to my story… since this has happened, we’ve had a ton of phone calls asking us to integrate Authorize.Net into an already existing website. This increase in traffic and sales has been extremely welcome, but after a couple months, we realized that we were landing every single lead that came our way. And when we told them our price, people immediately said , “YES!” So, we wondered if our prices were too low.


Styling Table Columns with CSS

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

When you have tabular data that is arranged in table columns then it is often good for presentation and usability to highlight one column or perhaps give all columns a different colour or style. If you are interested to find out how to achieve this with minimum fuss then read on as this short article will show you how to easily target the columns in your table using CSS.


Blog Critique: Chris Garrett on New Media

Monday, April 9th, 2007

Pro blogger Chris Garrett offered a very generous service on his blog last month. He offered to review other peoples’ blogs and provide feedback on how they could be improved. Make no mistake: having an outside, impartial source with his expertise give feedback is worth its Lose Weight Exercise in gold.

I was so impressed with Chris’ generosity I decided I would give back to him by reviewing his blog. In doing so, you might also learn ways to improve your own blog.

Let me start by saying that I really enjoy Chris’ blog. He does a great job providing fresh, relevant content on blogging and marketing and his eBook “Killer Flagship Content” should be required reading for all bloggers.

What follows are suggestions, nitpickings, and personal preferences of mine on things he could do to improve his blog. While the following are aimed at Chris’ blog, the suggestions offered could apply to most blogs. So have a read and see if your blog could also be improved by the following suggestions.


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