Responsive Web Design: Stone House Farm

iPoint client Stone House Farm has just received a nifty new website.  Their site was constructed with responsive design, meaning that the user always maintains an optimal viewing experience whether they use a cell phone, tablet or PC.  This form of website design has become extremely popular with the recent boom and adaptation to smart phone and tablet usage.

To try out this technology from your computer, visit Stone House Farm’s Website and view the website in full-screen.  Slowly, shrink the browser window and watch as the website adapts to it’s surroundings.  The first format change represents tablet viewing, and the last change represents the website if it were viewed from a smart phone.  You can also view examples of these images below:

 PC  View                                    Tablet  View                 Smart Phone

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Network Attached Storage- 4 Reasons Why Your Business Could Benefit

Network Attached Storage

What is Network Attached Storage?

Network attached storage (NAS) is a computer device that can be attached independently anywhere on your network to store files and make them available to accredited users.  These servers have their own IP address, so there is no need to go through your network server as an intermediary.  The install and configuration of these NAS servers is seamless and requires little IT experience, making it an ideal option for small to medium-sized businesses.

Schematic Example of network attached storage integrated into a LAN System

*Above is a graphic example of a LAN system with  NAS implementation

So what exactly are the benefits to using such a device?

  1. Efficiency and Reliability:

    NAS servers contain streamlined operating and hardware components designed for efficient system performance, unlike general purpose servers.  They also reduce bandwidth bottlenecks because the component is physically separate from the network server- this is especially helpful because storage remains accessible even during network server failures.

  2. Flexibility:

    The storage system can be accessed by multiple different users and servers throughout your network- locally and abroad.  As a result, this shared network resource effectively allocates storage based on user-specific needs rather than allocating a determined amount to each user which can be an inefficient use of space.  Increasing storage capacity is as simple as plugging in a new expansion unit or adding a new drive to an existing NAS server.

  3. Easy to Use:

    Installing one of these systems is relatively stress-free, without a high degree of IT knowledge.  The process is as follows:

    1. Insert Network Attached Storage anywhere on your existing network
    2. Assign it an IP address
    3. Specify a few environmental settings
    4. Ready to use!

    In addition, many of these NAS servers incorporate a wizard or other user-friendly tools to facilitate the installation process.

  4. Data Protection:

    In order to avoid disk-failures, many NAS devices readily support one or more RAID levels and include an intuitive tool to help you choose the right RAID level to meet your business’ requirements.  Once these parameters have been established, all files written to it will be automatically and continuously protected.


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Windows 8 & Connected Devices Demolish PC Sales

No ThanksWorldwide personal computer market shipments fell 13.9 percent in the first quarter of this year- the biggest drop that the industry has experienced in over two decades.  Many analysts believe this is due to a backfire from Window’s 8 new operating system, as well as consumer migration to connected devices such as tablets and especially smart phones.cheap Lasix

Windows 8: New operating systems have historically boosted PC sales, but the cold reception to Microsoft’s Windows 8 has spurred sales this quarter.  A few factors attribute to this flop, including the price-point of touch-screen PC models which are “required” to get the most out of the operating system.  In reality, however, Windows 8 operates seamlessly on any standard machine.  The functionality of the new system has also turned off many past-users.  Whereas the old program used the familiar “start” button and task bar, the new Windows 8 utilizes a variety of colorful tiles to represent applications.  Many are unfamiliar with the new setup and, as a result, have not chosen to upgrade their systems due to the unnecessary technological shift in navigating simple PC tasks.Buy Dostinex

Technology Shift:  Yes, global PC shipments fell $12.3 million from last year, but can we honestly put all the blame on Windows 8?  This operating flop may have slowed the PC market, but consumer shifts to substitute technology is also a cause.  An analyst at Gartner, Mikako Kitagawa, points out that “even emerging markets, where PC penetration is low, are not expected to be a strong growth area for PC vendors”.  Simply put, consumers are opting for connected devices such as tablets and smartphones, opposed to PCs and new Windows operating systems.  The following charts portray the PC vs. Tablet sales trends over the past year:order Cialis

 pc sales chart

 

tablet sales chart

Expect to see these trends continue down the road.  Microsoft will no-doubt release a new operating system in hopes of replacing their unsuccessful Window’s 8 flop, but every day they wait tablet sales will continue to dominate the market.

Determining Your Server Life-Expectancy

server downtimeInvesting in a server is a big step for any business.  However, like all electronic components, there exists a specific life-expectancy for servers.  But how do you know when it’s time to replace it?  How can you make it last?

The general lifespan of the average server is about 3-5 years, depending on the usage.  This may seem short, but periodic upgrades and part replacements can extend this range to 10+ years.  So, the real question to ponder is: “when is my server unsupportable?”  This limit is reached when replacement parts are no-longer readily available, or when the costs/risks associated with maintaining your server exceed the cost of replacing it.  Keep in mind that any downtime from a faulty server can greatly inhibit daily business functions- so these costs can add up quickly.  For these reasons, it is ideal to monitor your server’s performance and replace it before it completely breaks down.

When it does come time for a new server, be sure to recycle it properly.  Many hazardous materials and heavy metals exist inside of server electrical components.  Due to these dangerous materials, you should contact your local IT supply recycling business in your area.  These companies dispose of hazardous materials properly, recycle reusable components, and (most importantly) destroy all of your personal and private information stored in the memory.

If you would like iPoint to monitor your server or to determine its life expectancy, check out our affordable network monitoring services. Don’t let a busted server inhibit your business from growing!

What is Responsive Website Design?

responsive web designTablet sales are expected to reach over 100 million in 2013, and Nielsen reports that the majority of Americans now own smartphones.  With these shifts in technology, you need to ensure that your website is accessible and user-friendly across more mobile devices than ever before.

A responsive web design uses “media queries” to figure out what resolution of device it’s being served on.  In other words, responsive web design is the practice of making your website reshape and fit any sized mobile screen.  For example, go to http://mashable.com/ and use your cursor to make the browser smaller. You will notice that the screen shifts from 3 columns, to 2, and then down to 1 when the browser is the smallest. This simulates the process that responsive web design has on mobile devices.

The benefits of incorporating a responsive design into your website are obvious.  You create a website once, and it will work seamlessly across thousands of mobile devices without any further structural modifications.  For publishers, it offers the simplest way to reach readers across multiple devices. For users, it ensures a great experience on every screen.  When you consider that 60% of individuals now prefer reading the news on mobile devices, it should come as no surprise that this responsive website update can be extremely valuable- especially if you have an eCommerce site.  Contact our web department for more information on this new design trend.

A Focus on Parallax Website Design

If you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, you’d know that iPoint undertook a parallax website project a few weeks back.  But what exactly is this new type of website design?  You have probably seen a few already- web pages that seem to be moving, with interactive background images and engaging content.  These pages take the user on a journey through the website, using a technique called the parallax effect.

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Background:

This parallax concept has been around for longer than you may think.  In fact, in the 1940’s it was used to create an illusion of depth in 2D video games.  Later, this effect was adopted by the arcade industry throughout 1980’s.  Today, web developers have adopted this technology and many exciting and engaging sites are being created as a result.

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Parallax

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How it works:

Parallax design is a common way companies have differentiated themselves from websites of the past.  Businesses today realize that their viewers want to be entertained, and this engaging design captures their viewers’ attention in 3 ways:

  • To form engagement through story telling
  • To guide users through their website
  • To create an element of surprise

 

Parallax scrolling allows images to move around the website at different perspectives and speeds- this adds an aspect of depth which gives the appearance of a 3D effect.  Take the graphic below, for example.

parallax graph

 

The user focuses on the center point of the screen.  Multiple backgrounds move at varying speeds, thus creating the illusion of depth and motion- almost like a fake way of animating background images.

When considering building a parallax website, you should use Javascript for animating elements.  The reason for this is that Javascript is installed automatically on every web browser- unlike other applications such as Adobe Flash.  What good is a beautiful website if nobody can see it?

For more information on parallax website builds, or if you are interested in developing one of your own, click here or contact iPoint.