1. Getting to Know the QR Code’s Cousin: Microsoft Tags

    With all the interest in QR codes, it is no surprise that Microsoft wanted a piece of the action. Enter the Microsoft Tag.

    The Microsoft Tag is a high capacity color bar code and works much like a QR code. However, unlike QR codes which are typically black and white (though some sites offer an alternate color rather than black), the Microsoft Tag can be created to have two, four or eight colors in a triangular grid matrix. They are designed to support four types of content, with optional passwords for each:

    • URLs
    • Free text – up to 1,000 characters with password optional
    • Dialers – automatically dial the embedded number
    • vCard – the ability to upload all or part of a form’s information requirements
  2. Get Queued Up: QR Codes and Your Business

    It has been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same and when it comes to business marketing, this is certainly true. After all, in days gone by businesses promoted their services primarily with printed advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Today, those marketing methods are still standard, but they are combined with additional media advertisements like social media sites, e-mail campaigns and television commercials. A newcomer to the marketing scene is the QR Code.

  3. Tech News Recap for Small Business

    Latest NewsThe world of technology is constantly changing. In fact, by the time you finish reading through this, chances are something new has been developed or released. However, here are some of the more recent advancements in technology, development and communication that you, as a business owner, might care about.


    • Google announced the end of the Real Time
      Collaboration protocol WAVE which was introduced in 2009. WAVE was
      designed to replace e-mail and change online communication but was
      ultimately too complicated and confusing.
    • IE9 Beta was released
      Sept. 15. It has better graphic capabilities and allows you to pin
      websites to the task bar. In addition, IE9 offers improvements to CSS3
      selector support and a ledge for HTML canvas. For many, these changes
      are seen as too little too late as IE has slipped to 50% of the market share recently – a position it used to dominate.
    • Google Instant search- Search at
      the speed of type. Released Sept. 8, Google Instant Search takes what
      you have already typed, determines a likely completion and streams Real
      Time results based on these predictions. Google InstantI offers:
    • Relevant results quicker, so you can get what you are looking for faster
    • Results are listed before you finish typing; just stop typing, select and go
    • You can scroll to search, then see results instantly
    • Time
      saving-tests show that the average search saves 2 to 5 seconds per
      search, which translates into as much as 11 hours per second.


    • Bing Maps has a new interface with improved graphical tools for rich colors and better images.
    • Microsoft employees had a funeral procession for the iphone.Windows-powered phone and tablets are rumored to be on the way…somehow I doubt these new products will be sending the iphone to the afterlife, but it is good to see Microsoft in the news again 🙂

    Research in Motion

    • Blackberry announced what appears to be the first serious competitor for the iPad, dubbed the "PlayBook."


    • Apple recently recanted on their stance on allowing Flash to run on their iOS device. Now we wait and see if Adobe cares.
    • Apple
      X Code IDE can manage all testing devices, packaging iPhone apps with
      correct certificates, install apps on devices and has a remote debugger
      which connects to the devices in Real Time to help developers manage
      breakpoints as the app is controlled on the device.
    • Latest
      version of XCode is XCode 4 which is bundled with Mac OSX V 10.6
      allowing 7 new multi-tasking services which improve user experience. The
      IAd displays interactive content without leaving the app and has 1,500
      new APIs.


    • Flash Player 10.1 for the
      mobile has been re-designed and optimized to reduce memory needs by 50%
      and has hand held features like accelerometer and smart zooming which
      scales Flash to full screen.
    • Adobe Air improvements provide
      better applications outside the mobile browser and across multiple
      operating systems. The key improvement is better working Flash on mobile
      devices which pleases both designers and consumers.

    Software & Development:

    • Magiq-This
      marketing tool can be used on any system. It allows you to collect data
      which can then be implemented into creating a site that is geared
      toward specific guests.  (e.g. Those who find your page by searching for
      a keyword will get a different homepage-if you choose such an option.)
      Or, you could base your homepages appearance on different text, images
      or a different search variable. The program uses "gnomes" that perform
      geolocation, image replacement and other tasks. Each time a gnome is
      employed you are charged-its minimum monthly cost is only a measly $790.
    • Firebug1.5/Firebug Lite 1.3
      FREE! This can be used with Firefox, IE6+, Safari, Opera and Chrome. 
      The Firefox extension is simple to use and gives you an overview of the
      page being considered. It has separate tabs for DOM, HTML and CSS so you
      can find what you are looking for easily. Also, you can enable specific
      panels to make checking JavaScript and others easier. On pages without
      scrutinization needs, Firebug automatically removes itself.


    • Ability to sell both tangible and digital products with licensed keys
    • Ability to sell affiliate products with your or other affiliate products
    • Multiple payment options (PayPal, WorldPay, Cash @ Store…)
    • Custom shipping calculation
    • Information capture at point of sale

    Mobile Advances:

    • SendFlow-
      a web-based platform which allows users to design, broadcast and manage
      interactive SMS text and voice messages. Two-way messages can be
      answered in Real Time using land-lines, mobile phones and Internet
      transports, like Google-talk.
    • Percent Mobile- A fully hosted mobile
      analytics service that measures and analyzes mobile traffic to one’s
      website. Percent Mobile is designed to help you understand your guests
      so will better know how to serve them.
    • 2nd quarter
      data from NPD Group shows Android as the top selling OS in American
      smartphones. Google says that 200,000 Androids are being activated

    Social Media:

    • Recent studies
      show that Twitter users are the most influential consumers on the web.
      Daily Twitter users are, compared to non-Twitter users:
    • 6x more likely to publish online articles
    • 5x more likely to post blogs
    • 7x more likely to post Wikis
    • 3x more likely to post product reviews
    • FaceBook advertising has increased 10-fold in the past year.
    • FlowTown
      This web based tool allows clients to import and connect e-mail
      addresses to real people on the social web.  Flowtown provides profile
      information such as location, age, and gender as well as any social
      networks that current e-mail contacts are using. FlowTown clients can
      use this information to better their marketing campaigns. MailChimp recently implemented a similar ability, called Social Pro.
    • Research by Nielsen Co. shows that Americans spend 22.7% of their time using social media sites.



    Website Magazine, October 2010; pages 6, 7, 42 & 43

    Website Magazine, April 2010; pages 6-8, 16

    Practical Web Design, Sept. 2010

  4. What is PHP Programming and Why Should you Care?

    So you want to develop a website where that you can track phone calls, emails and follow ups, as well as manage billing , inventory/ and the status of team projects. Or perhaps you want to create your own online community or social media website. No Problem! Thanks to the versatility of the open source programming language PHP, you can do that and more! Designed by Rasmus Lerdorf in order to pass his resume online and then collect data, PHP has continued to be used by web developers for a variety of needs and web-based applications.  PHP is lauded by programmers for many reasons, but these factors are best summed up as follows:

    • PHP can be used to create exceptional web pages and interact with info on the web
    • It can be used as a go between with users and databases (Such as MySQL)
    • Compatibility with almost any Internet server
    • PHP/MySQL-based open source solutions are free to use and can be found easily online, such as ImpressCMS or WordPress
    • The syntax is simple and has many similarities to C or Java. In addition, it can be used easily on Windows, Macs, UNIX and other programming platforms.
    • PHP, though free, is also secure, when used properly

    PHP LogoSome of the more common uses of PHP programming are:

    • Online inventory management systems – track what you have in stock and who is ordering what products/service
    • Content management systems – manage your website yourself easily online
    • Online photo galleries – store photos of products, customers, family, etc.
    • Ecommerce systems –  sell products online with a shopping cart
    • Community social portals – create your own version of Facebook, perhaps?

    In addition to the many uses of custom PHP development are several attractive benefits that make it practical for everyone involved. These benefits are because PHP is an open source framework.

    • PHP custom programming costs less than other languages, typically.
    • Because it is simple, it takes less time to have your website live.
    • The flexibility of PHP makes it perfect for an abundance of website designs and customization options.

    PHP is one of the more versatile tools in the programmer’s toolbox. If you are looking for a way to ramp up your website, PHP is just the tool. Contact Page Progressive to see how custom PHP can be used to help you.

  5. Adobe vs. Apple: Is Website Development with Flash Dead?

    Last month, Steve Jobs announced that Apple will no longer be using Flash on its devices like the iPad, iPod touch or iPhone. He then went on to give 6 reasons to back the statement.

    1. Apple Versus AdobeFlash is 100% proprietary and is only available from Adobe. However, he does conceded that Apple uses proprietary products like the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, but uses open standards like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.
    2. Although Adobe says that Apple devices cannot access the “full web” due to so much of the web’s video content being in Flash, Jobs points out that many sites now offer the same content in H.264 codec, so iPad users are missing very little.
    3. According to studies done by Symantec, Flash had the worst security records in 2009; Flash is also the number one reason for Macs to crash.
    4. Flash drains battery life, in some cases by more than 50% when compared to using H.264 codec videos.
    5. Flash is designed for a PC and a mouse, not for touch screens, so rollovers and other interactive components can be an issue.
    6. Apple does not want developers to use a “third party cross platform development tool,” preferring to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to their developers so that they can design applications that are unique to their needs and take full advantage of feature on Apple devices.

    Of course,  Adobe could not stand idly by and say nothing. Consequently, the founders of Adobe, Chuck Geshke and John Warnock, have responded to Jobs,  stating:

    1. Saying that they believe in open markets and have"openness to innovation". Adobe has launched a new campaign titled "We (heart) Choice" where they state, "We support technologies like HTML4, HTML5, CSS, and H.264."
    2. Flash was originally designed to be used with tablets that have touch interfaces. For content designed with a PC and mouse in mind, Flash 10.1 (this is scheduled to be released in June 2010) will work.
    3. Concerning battery life- Flash 10.1 will improve battery life, codec execution, memory use, and hardware-accelerated video playback and the Flash Player will be ideal for laptops, tablets, desktops and netbooks.
    4. Regarding security problems, Adobe has taken steps to improve Flash vulnerability and are correcting concerns within Flash as quickly as possible.
    5. Adobe states that Flash Player is part of both open and proprietary technologies and that anyone can design their own SWF or FLV/F4V player.

    For those on the sidelines of the Apple-Adobe debate, there are many opinions. Some, such as James R. Borck of InfoWorld Test Center, feels that Adobe is making progress in hardware acceleration and that Flash is a solid and well-designed content delivery platform that has continually changed to keep up with a rapidly growing web ecosystem.

    Others like Michael Gartenberg of the Altimeter Group, feel that Adobe should focus on what users are missing out on if they don’t have Flash rather than spending time talking about "open" or "closed" technology. Gartenberg has also commented that in order for Adobe to be successful, they ought to convince Apple customers to pressure Apple to makes changes; however since Apple sales are skyrocketing, this doesn’t seem to be likely.

    When it comes to security issues, Ed Bott of PC Computing Magazine recently checked the facts concerning Adobe’s response and found while Adobe stated "that they had the second fewest number of vulnerabilities" this does not accurately tell the story. Bott, followed through on this statement and checked the Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report page and found 23 vulnerabilities in the Flash Player and Adobe Reader.

    Apple’s stance on Flash seems to have made an impact on web development as well. Several web developers, have had clients specifically ask for sites that are compatible with Apple mobile devices. Daniel Trimpey, CEO of Page Progressive, a web development company in Raleigh, NC says:

    "While we had already decided a few years ago to pretty much abandon the use of Flash technology for most sites that we develop and instead rely on Javascript-based alternatives, this recent feud between Apple and Adobe certainly reinforces to us the use of more open standards like CSS, HTML and Javascript, which are making huge strides in their ability to mimic many of the interface elements that were only possible with Flash in the past. And these technologies are better for search engine optimization and also easier to integrate with content management systems."

    Big names and technical arguments aside, many consumers and web developers have one opinion in common: The belief that by Apple choosing to keep 3rd party programs from developing cross-platform apps, that Apple is wanting to "corner the market" so they have no risk of profit loss from apps that are not confined to the Apple iTunes Store.

    Only the future will tell if Flash technology will remain prevalent in website development, but with support from Nokia and also Google, who develops the popular Android mobile operating system, chances are Flash will be sticking around at least for now.