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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.
Short Trips: Articles are Great Ways to Enter the Writing Market (writing articles) Not everyone who loves to write is destined to become a writer. Most people define a writer as a person who makes a living from their writing. Writers are committed to a career of difficulty and very hard work. Not that every other job doesn?t include work, but writers make up a group of individuals who are less recognized for their contributions. Certainly there are famous writers who are appreciated for their efforts, but they do not represent the majority of those who take up a pen for their livelihood. If you love to write, but you?re not sure about taking the leap into becoming a writer, there may be a perfect option for you to use your skills. Writing articles is a writing job that can be taken up to whatever degree you would like to do so. Types of Articles to Write Because articles are such short pieces, each one can only cover the smallest piece of information that the world contains. Depth and length are limited by each other and so writing articles allows you to focus on just about anything you?d like. If the articles cannot cover the scope of material that you?d like to cover, you can write more. Articles come in all kinds of packages. They are written for magazines. A magazine will always have a general topic that it strives to cover. Within the broad topic though, there are thousands of possibilities for the creation of articles. Newspapers are more directed towards current events rather than interesting tidbits or random information, but they also must buy articles in order to be printed each and every day. There is also the possibility of writing articles for the internet. In that genre, the topics expand exponentially as time goes on. The opportunities are out there, so how do you start writing articles? Getting Hired for the Work To get hired to write articles you mostly need the ability to market your writing skills. There are many, many good writers in the world. To get hired to write, you must be better than good. You must be able to use your words to describe, explain and convince. You must let an editor know why you are the right writer for a particular job. If you can write effectively enough in your resume and cover letter, an editor will know immediately that you have the skills and abilities to write equally convincing and interesting articles. If you are interested in continuing in the process of writing articles, you must know how to construct great content into a great finished product. Writing Great Articles If you can allow your curiosity to drive you, you will never run out of the ability to create great articles. The first rule in writing articles is to be ever ready to learn something new. You never know when you?ll need that piece of information to back up your writing. The idea for writing articles is only half of the battle though. You also have to actually do the engaging writing. This is where you pull out all of your literary tools. Write with enthusiasm so that your reader will be enthusiastic. Write with variety and slight complexity so that your reader will not be bored. Add a little bit of suspense as you are writing articles so that every reader will keep going until the end. Writing articles can be a career, but it doesn?t have to be. The beautiful thing about article writing is the short term nature of each project. You will move from one topic to the next as you continue to learn and expand your writing abilities. Writing articles can take you from your front yard to across the world in as short of trip as you need it to be. If you are considering the possibilities available to you in a writing job, investigate the possibilities of article writing. If you are a writer, you?ll love the work.
Writers Block: What Causes it and How to Overcome it (writers block) If you are a writer then you know what I am talking about. You have everything ready, a drink, a snack, the topic, and even reference material. You sit down ready to start typing or writing, which ever you prefer, and it happens. You are stuck, your mind is blank and you have no idea how to fill that blank canvas in front of you. It is a writer?s worse nightmare come true. You have writers block. First you need to figure out what is causing it. There are a multitude of things that can be causing it. Stress is one of the biggest factors that cause writers block. Whether it is stress caused by personal matters, deadline dates, or fearing your article won?t be good enough it can block the words from flowing as easily as the should. Sleep deprivation doesn?t let your mind function to its full potential. Getting a good night?s sleep is imperative to having a clear mind and being able to focus. The project itself could be causing the writers block. A topic you are not interested in can easily turn your normally resourceful mind into jelly. The research on that topic turns into a grueling task. Then trying to put the words on paper that make sense and will peak someone?s interest seem impossible. If a topic has personal meaning to you it can be hard to write objectively about it. A simple informative topic can easily become a personal rant session. Writing because you have to, not because you want to makes it hard to concentrate and focus. Now that the basic causes have been covered, you need to know how to fix it. Writers block is not permanent. Identifying the reason is the hard part. Relax. The world is not going to end if the article isn?t as perfect as you feel it should be. Just because you don?t think it is perfect doesn?t mean someone else won?t. Go and read some of your previous writings. Even if what you read has nothing to do with your current topic, it can be inspirational to you. Don?t burn yourself out on a topic. Try to split up the writing process. Research and brainstorm one day and write the next. This will give you time to think about your topic and figure out the angle you want to write. Talk your way through it. Call a friend or colleague and chat. Tell them the topic you are working on and get their opinions or ideas. They may be able to offer fresh insight and ideas. Work on multiple projects at one time if you can. Bouncing back and forth between a few topics can keep your mind hopping and will keep boredom at bay. Take a break from you current project and write about something that motivates you. Chances are once you get those creative juices flowing they will continue into your next project. Make yourself a schedule and stick to it. If your schedule says 500 words by noon, write your 500 words and stop. Even if you don?t have a project going, by writing daily you will stick to your schedule and keeps your imagination going. If you write from home, which most of freelance writers do, make a quiet time and treat it like a real job. If you have young children at home, write while they nap. Let your answering machine be your secretary. If it is important they will leave a message. Most importantly remember why you started writing in the first place. Even the best of the best have gotten writers block at one time or another.