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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.
Can Facebook or MySpace Help You Land a Job? The Internet is quickly becoming the vehicle of choice for people looking for a job and for employers looking for people to hire. There are many job sites on the Internet dedicated to matching up employees and employers, and most people turn to the Internet today when they are hunting for a job instead of turning to the classified ads in the local paper. Job hunting websites may all be well and good when you are looking for a job, but what about social networking sites. Everyone knows how popular sites like Facebook and MySpace are online, but can they help you get a job? If you are in the job market, can these sites be your foot in the door, or a one way ticket to the unemployment line? The answer is that there is no easy answer. To know if you can find a job using Facebook or MySpace, you have to know how employers feel about these sites, and employers have mixed feeling about them. Some companies are actively using social networking sites to track down employees that meet their company?s employee profile and have had great success finding workers via social networking sites. Other companies wouldn?t touch these sites as a hiring tool with a ten-foot poll ? in fact, many companies don?t even want you to access these websites from their company computers. The real answer to this question has more to do with exactly what kind of job you are looking for. Are you looking for an executive position at a company? Then stay off of the social networking sites, at least for job hunting (and maybe all together). No company is going to look for its top brass on a social networking site, and you will be wasting your time. However, if you are looking for entry level or hourly wage work, the social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook may be the answer for you. Many hourly wage employers in particular, like fast food restaurant chains and mall stores, use MySpace and Facebook to look for potential employees in their area. If a potential employer sees your profile and thinks you may be a good fit for their company, they will send you an email or an instant message and get the ball rolling. You should also, however, carefully consider the downsides of using social networking sites as a job tool ? and you should carefully consider how and if you use these sites at all if you are in the market for a new job. Most people wouldn?t want their parents to see their social networking site profile, let alone potential employers. If you have rude and off color material, political or religious material, and inappropriate photos of yourself on your profile, a potential employer will be turned off, and you might lose your chance at that job. Most people give up way too much of their privacy when they use these kinds of sites, and your social networking site profile may offer a window into a side of you an employer might not be overly impressed with. Further, you can open yourself up to danger by using these sites to job hunt. If someone approached you in the street and offered you a job, would you accept? Then why would you accept a face value an approach by someone on social networking site? If you do get approached for an interview, never meet anyone in a private place, and do your homework to make sure the facts check out before you go for the interview. One last reality check ? there are over 60 million users on MySpace alone. How will an employer find you in the crowd? MySpace and Facebook may help you in your job hunt, but don?t count on them as your sole avenue into the job market.
The Convenience of Online Writing Degree Programs (online writing degree programs) Online writing degree programs are not readily available, but they are growing in popularity. There are many traditional and online schools that offer online degree programs to busy writers. The online degree programs offer courses that teach students the basics of writing, including paragraph structure, theme writing, descriptive writing, tech writing, and grammar. Usually in writing degree programs, writers are given many assignments within one week, which range from analyzing the work of others to composing their own short stories and essays. The courses offered in an online writing degree program are much like the ones offered in traditional programs, and students will begin their program by taking beginner?s courses and eventually work their way up to the more advanced. The beginner?s course teaches the basics of writing, but after taking them, students will be able to take more specific courses, such as creative writing and tech writing. The online programs give students more freedom, but the workload is almost the same and students will have more and more writing assignments as they move further into the degree program. The online writing degree programs offer bachelor degrees as well as masters? and there are many schools that offer these online programs. Chatham College is one school that offers online writing degree programs. Chatham online is the online division of Chatham College, which offers online masters? degree programs for writers. The writing degree program offered by Chatham online offer 7-week courses and it has no residency requirement. The programs give students the freedom to study anytime or anywhere an Internet connection is available. Chatham online offers many degree options for its students, including the Master of Professional Writing degree, which gives students training to become technical writers, content developers for the web, advertising copywriters, and public relations specialist. It also offers the Graduate Certificate-Non-fiction Writing. This program gives students the opportunity to use their nonfiction writing skills and focus one subject, which include nature, environmental, or landscape writing. Students are given many writing assignments and attend many online writing workshops where their work is presented and critiqued. Once the program is finished writers will have a portfolio of their work that is of publishable quality. Another unique program is the Graduate Certificate-Writing for Children and Adolescents. The Certificate in Writing for Children and Adolescents provides students the chance to write fiction and nonfiction for children and adolescents. There are also many other colleges that offer online writing degree programs including Burlington College. Burlington College offers a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Literature through an online program. However, this school does require a four-day residency in Burlington, Vermont at the beginning of each semester. Goddard College is also a school that offers a master?s program online. The college offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree through their online program. In this program, students are able to study poetry, fiction writing, creative nonfiction writing, and memoir, play writing, and screen writing. A short residency is also required for the program at Goddard College. The University of Denver is another school that offers online writing degree programs. It offers the Certificate of Advanced Study in Creative Writing. The program includes a range of courses on content and writing processes for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and other areas of writing. There are many other colleges and universities that offer online writing degree programs including Goucher College, Lesley University, University of Central Florida, and Washington State University. Like all degrees, online writing degrees are not simple to obtain, but they can provide convenience and knowledge, which helps them advance as a writer, or develop writing skills to that will help them in the future.