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Web Hosting - Email Issues When you build a web site, you often provide a means for users to communicate with you. One of the most common 'add-ons' to a web site is the addition of some kind of email access. Email is used to sign users up for newsletters, provide communication for administrative issues and a hundred other uses. But, as everyone sadly knows, email problems can occur. Virus infection is among the most common, though the situation is actually better today than in the past. Huge efforts, and some progress, has been made over the past 10 years to reduce the number and severity of virus attacks. Hackers haven't surrendered, far from it. But they're on the defensive like never before. Many of those viruses were (and are) spread through email, usually in the form of email attachments. That's the source of the now-common advice never to open an attachment from someone you don't know. Professionals will often extend that advice to suggest you never open an attachment that's unexpected, even if it's from someone you know. Well-meaning, but computer-challenged friends often accidentally forward virus infected emails. Spam has taken over the top spot for email annoyances. It's estimated by various different professional sources that 92-97% of all email sent today is spam. While the definition varies, spam is generally regarded as any unwanted commercial email sent by someone whom the recipient doesn't know or have a business relationship with. Spam clutters email inboxes, requires people to sift through to find valid messages, and often contains offensive messages in some form. But, it's a fact of life and isn't going away anytime soon. Even though laws are in place, thousands of spammers continue to risk fines or jail for the chance of making money from that small percentage who will open the unwanted email. Other forms of email problems are even more severe for many web site owners. When the mechanisms fail that they rely on to send and receive messages to and from their users, that's a problem. Dealing with those problems can range from sending an email or instant message to an administrator, to tracking down the right person to get your site removed from a blacklist. Email is the communications vehicle of choice for millions everyday. When the system burps, someone has to take time to do something about it. Often, that means relying on a person who is already overburdened with too many issues to resolve. So, besides pointing out some sad facts or complaining, what's the point? All of the above shows just one more area you should look at when selecting a web host or deciding whether to move to another. Just as with server or network administration, companies vary in their ability to deal with email-related issues. Some are responsive and super-competent. Others, are simply indifferent or worse. And many are in between. Email administration, like server maintenance or network management, is a professional specialty. Skill in one does not necessarily mean quality work in another. Finding a web hosting company and/or system that has few email problems, and solves them quickly when they occur, is an important task. Spend some time researching who provides superior support in email. You'll be happy you did.

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.

Software copyright Software Copyright Difficult to Enforce For those of you who love computer games, you probably know more about software copyright than you ever thought you'd want to know-especially if you have or have ever owned multiple computers. Most new games not only come with special copyrights but also built in security features that are designed to enforce those copyrights. Some have even gone so far as selling you the right to 'use' the material you are purchasing rather than providing you with actual ownership of the software to which they own the software copyright. That bothered me a bit at first, but I've come to understand it's another way of protecting them and their rights as well as controlling or limiting how you use the software they provide. Software copyright is actually quite confusing and hotly debated. Many stores will not accept opened software as returns because the software companies won't reimburse them for the product and they are left holding the bag. It doesn't sound like much but when you think of literally thousands of consumers attempting to return opened software because they didn't like or worse, they only needed to download and install it for it to actually run. Companies that produce computer software have become savvy to the ways of the modern consumer. Those companies that produce computer games especially require that the disk actually be in your player in order for the game to operate properly. This enforced the software copyright to the extent that two people can't reasonably share ownership of the same game, as they both need an actual disk in order to operate the games. But for every solution there is a hacker or budding programmer that creates a new problem for software makers and holders of software copyright to face. One of the latest problems is the virtual CD. The long and short of this is that the computer is tricked into 'seeing' the CD where it should be and carries out the game as though it were. Another important thing to note about software copyright is that there are many programs available that mimic some of the more notable applications for no fee. These are often referred to as open source software and often have excellent if not superior quality to similar programs that are available for fees. One thing I've noticed is that I will often find free open source software, download it, love it and a few months later I will find a more polished version of the same software, by the same company available with a few more bells and whistles for a fee. The new improved software has a software copyright and is not free to consumers but it is also a much better version than what I currently have. It's a great way for new software developers to make names for themselves and get volunteers for the testing process of their development phase. A software copyright offers protection and recognition to the owner of the software. The problem with protecting software is that it is impossible to police properly. That would require walking into every home on the planet and checking each computer to make sure there are no duplicate copies extra copies, illegal copies, etc. Plus, who keeps the actual boxes from all their software? I certainly do not. I could never prove that I was honoring the software copyright if the packaging or receipts were the only way I have of doing so. Most people in the world today honestly want to do the right thing. Software is one of the most expensive purchases people will often make for their home computers, it only makes sense to buy actual copies that have an actual software copyright in order to protect your investment not only in your software but also in your computer.

Four Ways to Be a Great Employee Many people in the workforce and go to a job every day face similar problems. These problems include problems such as being a good employee, getting that raise at the end of evaluation period, keeping the job and many more. There are many things that you can do to ensure that you do not get fired or you get the raise that you deserve. Perhaps you just want to learn how to become a model employee. This article will discuss four ways to be a great employee. To be a great employee, your boss first of all wants to see results and good work. If you love your job, giving results, turning projects in on time, mastering difficult assignments is most likely a breeze. But if you are working to make a living and this job is not your dream job, you still need to deliver good work. Often times to be able to deliver your work on time and meet deadlines, it is important to be very organized and efficient. Many employees lack the efficiency needed to do their job right. If your job is a desk job, it might help if you just go ahead and clean up your desk, organize information and get a clear idea of which materials are stored where. A messy desk will leave you searching for the information needed to fulfill your assignment. This takes valuable time out of your schedule, time lost you cannot afford to loose. Another very important way to be a great employee is to be on time and not leave early. Employers like to see their employees arrive at time or just a little bit early, so they know that their employees are ready to start a good days of work when they finally put away their coat and get their coffee. Many of people come in and easily take 15 minutes before really are getting started with work. Employers see this time as a down time of yours and showing your employer that you do care about your work by showing up on time and if needed staying longer, is very much appreciated. If you are almost finished with your assignment, but it is time to go, do not get up, put your jacket on and wait the few minutes left for clocking out. Finish your work then finish your customer call or whatever necessary and then you can leave work. Sleep. Yes, sleep means going to bed early enough to get the necessary rest for your body. A well-rested mind and body makes a great difference. If you are lacking sleep or you are tired at work, you are more likely to make mistakes and forget things. Work is not the place to relax and sleep, but so many of the employees come tired. In some jobs mistakes can be fatal or ruin products worth hundreds and thousands dollars to the company. Another good reason to be rested well is that work will flow easier. You are a nicer person and your happy attitude at work will be recognized by others and is sometimes infectious and can help motivate others. Number four on the list to being a great employee is dressing appropriately. Whether your office has a dress code or not, if you work in an office, wear office appropriate clothing out of respect to your boss, colleagues and customers. Many offices have established dress codes because their employees come with the ripped jeans or dirty shorts while customers could potentially show up at any minute. Nothing makes a worse first impression on a customer than the cloths you wear.