At Freelock, we don't think one backup is enough. All kinds of things can, and often do go wrong. Murphy was an optimist, after all.

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A question of risk

How would losing your web site affect your business?

That might seem like a silly question, but a surprising number of small organizations don't think it can happen to them. Think again -- web sites get lost all the time, through a variety of means. The server hosting your site might have a hardware failure. Your site might get hacked. Your web developer might accidentally delete something critical. Your host might go out of business, leaving you stranded. If you're in the tech world, you hear about these incidents all the time.

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Quality Code: How do you judge?

[Originally published on the Open Source Small Business blog, in January 2008.]

I’ve seen a lot of code in various languages. As a technical writer, I used to write documentation for programmers teaching them how to use a particular interface or system. I’ve been involved with traditional software development projects at large software companies and startups. And I’ve done my share of actual programming of web applications.

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What is LAMP?

LAMP is a general term for a development platform, on top of which developers create custom web applications. The two other major established platforms for web development are Java and Microsoft's .NET.

The acronym LAMP refers to the parts of the platform:

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Custom Development Process

Understanding How an Idea Comes to Life

You can have a custom website that will do just about anything, and we can prove it. This is a brief outline that describes how we bring your ideas to life through our proven methodology.

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So you want a web site...

The first thing to ask is, why? Web sites have lots of reasons for existence, but for business purposes, we tend to see some combination of four motivations:

  • To act as an online brochure

  • To attract new customers from search engines

  • To sell things online

  • To build a community of people who might someday buy something from you

A web site can do any or all of these, but generally the further down this list you get, the more the site is going to cost in terms of development cost and your time. 

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Beyond an e-brochure: getting business from your web site

A web site is an essential marketing tool of a business. These days, especially in the Seattle area, people will check out your web site before doing business with you. The work you do with a graphic designer like Peter Mckinnon can have a big impact when someone decides whether you're the right fit for what they're looking to buy.

Just having a web site, however, does nothing to get customers beating down your doors. People need to find your web site somehow, amidst the millions of other web sites out there. For small, local businesses, they don't find your web site online--they find it from your business card, a sign on your car, word-of-mouth, or all the rest of the traditional ways people market their business.

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Bayesian Knowledge Engineering

After being an active Knowledge Engineer for 2 years modeling troubleshooters for various Microsoft products, I wrote a 70-page tutorial to train new knowledge engineers. On a later freelance project, I converted the Word document to a compiled online help format.

Microsoft has graciously given me permission to post the tutorial here: (No longer available, code originally written to run in Internet Explorer 4, and no longer works in modern browsers)

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