Archive for January, 2010

Protecting your online store

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    Owning an internet shop or accepting money for goods or services is common practice these days for many website owners; however, as we’re all aware, criminals are forever finding new ways to defraud business owners.
    An example of a common scam is where a fraudster, posing as a customer, asks to have an item shipped abroad using their own preferred haulage or courier company. It usually goes something along the lines of this:

    • The fraudster sends the payment up-front to the vendor in the form of a cheque or by Credit Card for the cost of the goods AND the cost of the haulage
    • The vendor arranges and pays for the haulage using the fraudsters requested haulage company which turns out to be a fake company
    • It later transpires that the payment to the vendor was made using either a fake cheque or stolen credit card details

    The signs of internet fraud

    The problem with payments made using stolen credit cards or fake cheques is that it may take several days or even weeks before this is spotted by the bank and the vendor is often liable for the money.
    In order to avoid falling for a scam, it’s useful to be aware of the common signs of fraudulent activity, such as:

    • Customer asks to pay using Western Union Money Transfer
    • Customer asks to use their own courier or haulier
    • Customer pays by cheque but demands the item be shipped immediately
    • Customer asks for item to be shipped to an address other than the credit card billing address
    • Customer attempts to place an order by email
    • A single order placed using multiple cards
    • Orders requested to be rushed or ‘shipped overnight’
    • International recipient addresses – these need to be checked very carefully
    • Unusually large orders
    • Orders from ‘high-risk’ countries
    • Telephone number disconnected or wrong

    If you have any concerns, please contact you bank before accepting orders. You may also want to request a fax copy of the customers’ credit card together with another form of ID such as driving licence beforehand
    For more information, Visa has a guide to protecting your online store:
    http://www.visa.ca/en/merchant/fraud-prevention/fraud-warning-signs/protecting-your-online-store/
    Of course, you’re always welcome to phone us if you have any concerns!

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      Written by Chris

      January 21st, 2010 at 9:42 am

      Windows keyboard short-cuts everyone should know!

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        There are hundreds of short-cut keyboard combinations and when you start to learn them , they can really help you save a lot of time!

        Many of them are also transferable meaning, for example, some that work with MS Word may also work with Photoshop.

        CTRL+C and CTRL+V are very common and widely supported short-cuts for copy and paste, but most people know these already. below, however, are a lot short-cuts you probably didn’t know!

        • CTRL+TAB – Move forward through tabs.
        • CTRL+SHIFT+TAB – Move backward through tabs.
        • TAB – Move forward through options.
        • SHIFT+TAB – Move backward through options.
        • ALT+Underlined letter – Carry out the corresponding command or select
          the corresponding option.
        • ENTER – Carry out the command for the active option or button.
        • SPACEBAR – Select or clear the check box if the active option is a check
          box.
        • Arrow keys – Select a button if the active option is a group of option
          buttons.
        • F1 – Display Help.
        • F4 – Display the items in the active list.
        • BACKSPACE – Open a folder one level up if a folder is selected in the
          Save As or Open dialog box.
        • CTRL+C – Copy.
        • CTRL+X – Cut.
        • CTRL+V – Paste.
        • CTRL+Z – Undo.
        • CTRL+Y – Redo
        • DELETE – Delete.
        • SHIFT+DELETE – Delete selected item permanently without placing the item
          in the Recycle Bin.
        • CTRL while dragging an item – Copy selected item.
        • CTRL+SHIFT while dragging an item – Create shortcut to selected item.
        • F2 – Rename selected item.
        • CTRL+RIGHT ARROW – Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next
          word.
        • CTRL+LEFT ARROW – Move the insertion point to the beginning of the
          previous word.
        • CTRL+DOWN ARROW – Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next
          paragraph.
        • CTRL+UP ARROW – Move the insertion point to the beginning of the
          previous paragraph.
        • CTRL+SHIFT with any of the arrow keys – Highlight a block of text.
        • SHIFT with any of the arrow keys – Select more than one item in a window
          or on the desktop, or select text within a document.
        • CTRL+A – Select all.
        • F3 – Search for a file or folder.
        • ALT+ENTER – View properties for the selected item.
        • ALT+F4 – Close the active item, or quit the active program.
        • ALT+Enter – Displays the properties of the selected object.
        • ALT+SPACEBAR – Opens the shortcut menu for the active window.
        • CTRL+F4 – Close the active document in programs that allow you to have
          multiple documents open simultaneously.
        • ALT+TAB – Switch between open items.
        • ALT+ESC – Cycle through items in the order they were opened.
        • F6 – Cycle through screen elements in a window or on the desktop.
        • F4 – Display the Address bar list in My Computer or Windows Explorer.
        • SHIFT+F10 – Display the shortcut menu for the selected item.
        • ALT+SPACEBAR – Display the System menu for the active window.
        • CTRL+ESC – Display the Start menu.
        • ALT+Underlined letter in a menu name – Display the corresponding menu.
        • Underlined letter in a command name on an open menu – Carry out the
          corresponding command.
        • F10 – Activate the menu bar in the active program.
        • RIGHT ARROW – Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu.
        • LEFT ARROW – Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu.
        • F5 – Refresh the active window.
        • BACKSPACE – View the folder one level up in My Computer or Windows
          Explorer.
        • ESC – Cancel the current task.
        • SHIFT when you insert a CD into the CD-ROM drive – Prevent the CD from
          automatically playing.
        • Windows Key – Display or hide the Start menu. Windows Key +BREAK –
          Display the System Properties dialog box.
        • Windows Key +D – Show the desktop.
        • Windows Key +M – Minimize all windows.
        • Windows Key +Shift+M – Restores minimized windows.
        • Windows Key +E – Open My Computer.
        • Windows Key +F – Search for a file or folder.
        • CTRL+ Windows Key +F – Search for computers.
        • Windows Key +F1 – Display Windows Help.
        • Windows Key + L – Lock your computer if you are connected to a network
          domain, or switch users if you are not connected to a network domain.
        • Windows Key +R – Open the Run dialog box.
        • Windows Key +U – Open Utility Manager.
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          Written by Chris

          January 15th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

          Posted in Software

          Tagged with ,

          Chernobyl Charity appeal

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            Urgent appeal for help from Chernobyl Children's Lifeline (Sheffield link)

            Chernobyl Children's Lifeline (Sheffield link)

            Do you:

            • Live in Sheffield?
            • Have a spare room in your house?
            • Have have some time to spare in July and August?
            • Want to do something life changing?

            If so, call Mick Ring (the Chair of the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Sheffield link) as soon as possible on 07973 850 488 or email lcfc@blueyonder.co.uk.

            9 host families needed urgently to be confirmed within the next few weeks!!! Hurry – don’t delay!!!

            More about what’s involved

            Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Sheffield (CCLL) is urgently looking for Sheffield families willing to act as ‘host’ families to look after a child between the 19th July and 16th August 2010.

            Due to the red-tape involved, the volunteer host families must get in contact as soon as possible – preferably this month (January)! Don’t delay!

            If you’re able to help or want to find out more, please contact us or CCLL directly using the contact details below

            About Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline

            CCLL is a national UK charity (registered charity no. 1014274) and the Sheffield link was established in March 2006

            The charity helps deprived children living in heavily contaminated areas affected by the Chernobyl disaster (primarily Belarus and Ukraine) by bringing them to the UK for a month-long respite holiday where they benefit from, among other things, clean air, good nutrition, physical safety and an environment free of radioactive contamination.

            About the children

            The children who come to Britain fall into one or more of the following categories:

            • They live in a contaminated area or have been evacuated from a heavily contaminated area
            • They live in an orphanage
            • They may have had cancer and be in remission after treatment
            • They may be recovering from an operation or other illness

            (please note; the children due to visit in July 2010 will not be orphans or recovering from cancer)

            Chernobyl Children Life Line (Sheffield Link)

            Chernobyl Children Life Line (Sheffield Link) aims to help children suffering from the after-effects of the Chernobyl disaster and economic situation

            The children stay in the homes of British host families. Each child will have medical clearance to travel to the UK and poses no health risk to families. The charity brings over an average of over 4,000 children per year. During their stay in the UK they eat uncontaminated food and breathe clean air. They experience family life to the full and take part in a huge range of activities, (such as a visit to the seaside and the fire station, as well as swimming and lots of picnics).

            What to expect

            This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the children –  many of them live in a cycle of poverty and are affected by alcohol abuse within their families.

            For the host families, this may seem like a big commitment, however, the whole experience is incredibly rewarding – for many it’s life-changing! We should know, we were a host family in July / August 2009!

            Can you help?

            There are several ways to help this Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline especially by volunteering as a host family. This involves being the primary foster family for a child during their stay in the UK.

            Other ways to help are by volunteering as a support family to help the host families or by donating clothes, time or money.

            Contact details

            If you’re able to help, please either contact Mick Ring (07973 850 488 / lcfc@blueyonder.co.uk) or contact us

            Donations of clothes mainly to fit children 7 to 15 needed although all donations appreciated. Clothes are also often sent back with the children for their siblings.

            CCLL website: http://sheffield.ccll.org.uk

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              Written by Chris

              January 14th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

              Microsoft SQL Server update problem

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                Q. I am unable to install the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 update KB970892 on windows Vista. What should I do?

                A. You’ll need to edit your registry for this one so, as ever, back everything up first. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, seek professional technical help first!

                1. In the ‘Run’ box, type in ‘regedit’ (or navigate to C:\Windows\regedit.exe)
                2. Navigate to ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft
                  SQL Server\MSSQL.1\Setup\’
                3. Right-click on ‘Resume’ in the right-hand column and select ‘Modify’
                4. Change the ‘value data’ from 1 to 0 then click ‘OK’
                5. Re-boot and then re-install the update
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                  Written by Chris

                  January 14th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

                  Seven Creative January Newsletter (12 January 2010)

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                    Finally, a new year, a new decade and the recession is over, but… the country grinds to a halt because of a few inches of snow! Don’t you just love being British? Oh well, every silver lining has its cloud!This doesn’t, however, change the fact we’re well into January 2010 and back to the grindstone, looking forward to the challenges this year will bring us! As I write, Mrs. C. is baking us a lovely Steak & Kidney pie to keep our energy levels up as we get back into the swing of things!

                    This year promises to be an interesting one with a new government on the way and the inevitable tax rises that will follow. This, coupled with the all-too-evident ‘pinch’ we’re all feeling due to the economic conditions, means it’s never been more important to invest in working ‘on’ our businesses as opposed to the traditional working ‘for’ them.

                    In this issue:

                    • A warning about the Domain Renewal Group
                    • All about your website images
                    • Search Engine Optimisation

                    The Domain Renewal Group (Warning)

                    If you’re lucky, you won’t have come across the Domain Renewal Group (aka the Domain Registry of America) before.Since 2001, they’ve been causing problems for domain owners with their ‘misleading emails’ (Jason Parlour, 2009), ‘hidden fees’ (US Federal Trade Commission, 2003), email scams (Jason Parlour, 2009), mass unsolicited mailings (Spam) and mass unsolicited direct mail.

                    Their normal modus operandi is a practice known as ‘domain slamming’ where they send official looking direct mail to addresses they take from the ICANN register entitled something along the lines of ‘Domain Name Expiry Notice’. These letters are very misleading using highlighted text to imply that a specified domain will expire unless payment is sent for the renewal. Responding to these letters causes the domain registrar to be needlessly moved and the domain Nameservers to be changed.

                    Several brushes with the law and out-of-court-settlements later the Domain Registry of America are still up to their old tricks but now also targeting Europe (also Australia, New Zealand and Canada).

                    If you are unlucky enough to receive a letter or email from them, please just ignore it. It’s not an official notification and responding may, among other things, cause your email and web services to be lost.

                    To find out more, do a Google search for ‘domain registry of America scam’

                    All about Images

                    Fact: the images on your website can make or break your site. Often, our websites are the first impression a potential customer will get of our business and assumptions are quickly made in the same way as when we meet someone in the flesh for the first time.Therefore, presentation is vitally important if we are going to turn potential customers into actual customers. This is why the images we have on our websites must not only be illustrative and relevant but also professional and predictable.

                    The psychology of the internet is an evolving science just as the web itself is evolving and potential customers are no longer satisfied with poor quality images such as animated GIFs or uncompressed Bitmaps. Having said this, editing your images has never been easier. As long as you follow a few simple rules, you can quickly and easily produce images which will save bandwidth and increase conversion rates.

                    Here at Seven Creative, as we do this for a living, we primarily use the industry standard software for web and print, i.e. Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.  However, this software is very expensive and difficult to learn. There are, however, many options for free software that is still of excellent quality and will allow you to make all the necessary adjustments to images when editing for web optimisation.

                    The best option at the moment, according to many small business owners I’ve spoken to, seems to be Picasa but there are also many other great alternatives such as Paint.net, Irfanview or GIMP. To learn to use any of these, why not try YouTube – search for ‘ tutorial’, e.g. ‘Picasa tutorial’. If you’re anything like me you learn much more quickly when someone is showing you how to use software as opposed to trying to read the manual and there are hundreds of great tutorials available here.

                    Finally, here are some of the main points to consider when creating successful web-optimised images:

                    1. Quality – this is one of the most important factors to take into account. If your images look like they’ve been taken using a mobile phone, you’ll not be taken seriously so invest in quality images. If you’re not able to take the photos yourself, have you considered buying royalty-free stock or hiring a professional photographer? Whatever you do, make sure your images are good quality.
                    2. Cropping – spend time making sure your images are correctly cropped. This can be a difficult one as composition is largely subjective, however, it does make a big difference when you get it right. Philip Straub provides a great tutorial at CG Society
                    3. Sizing – it is possible to tell a browser to display an image any size you want, however, the best option, by a country mile, is to have the image sized correctly before-hand. This will ensure that the image displays exactly how you want it to avoiding pixilation, unnecessary use of bandwidth, slow display and annoying site visitors. If the space you want to fill is 250px x 250px, resize your image to that resolution before it is inserted.
                    4. Compression – a JPEG is a compressed raster image and the most popular and widely supported image format, however, the compression is something that can and should be controlled. Some images need to be very high quality whereas it’s not so important for others. Getting the correct compression ratio will mean your images display quickly and you will not use up bandwidth unnecessarily. This is best done by eye, but, as a rough guide, an image with resolution of 100px x 100px (10,000 pixels) should be around the 5kb to 10kb size, an image with resolution of 40,000 pixels should be around 13kb to 18kb or an image with resolution of 160,000 pixels should be around the 40kb to 50kb area. If you compromise on quality you can have smaller images but they can become more pixelated and vice versa.
                    5. Relevance – this might sound obvious but what is the point of having an image for the sake of having an image? I’m all for use of negative space (as a minimalist at heart) but decisions need to be based on reason. Images are great for breaking up large areas of text and illustrative purposes but they need to relevant. When I studied effective presentations at university, I realised that websites, just as physical presentations, are communicating with people who don’t always respond to text in the same way as each other i.e. some people are ‘readers’ and some are ‘lookers’ – or to put it another way, some people need to read text and some need to look at pictures to get the message. Images need to tell a parallel story to the text and provide the same function in order to cater for different needs. If you remember the primary objective of your website is to funnel potential customer towards the close, whatever that may be, it is sometimes easier to make these decisions. Choose images wisely!

                    This is a brief introduction to the use of images on the internet and I could go on… if you have any questions, please let me know.

                    Other useful image tools

                    Resizing and compressing a large quantity of digital images can sometimes be a daunting task, however, there some applications to help:

                    • If you’re using Windows XP, Microsoft provides a free little image resizer add-on. Once installed, right-click on the image or images you want to resize and select this application. Download from here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/Downloads/powertoys/Xppowertoys.mspx (11th link down from the right-hand column).
                    • If you’re using Vista, you could try Image Resizer PowerToy Clone for Windows available from: http://sourceforge.net/projects/phototoysclone/. This is also a free application and works in a similar way to the Microsoft XP version. I’ve not tried this application myself, however, according to the documentation (http://www.codeplex.com/ImageResizer) it is an extended-support version of the Microsoft XP Image Resizer Powertoy so should work in a similar way.
                    • Alamoon offer free versions of their ‘Water-mark’ tool and ‘Colour Enhancer’ tools. The watermark tool will allow you to stamp images with text to help deter people steeling them. The colour enhancer tool  will automatically adjust your images lightness, contrast and colour balance. I’ve not tried either of these applications myself so can’t comment on their ease-of-use etc. so please let me know your thoughts if you try them. Download them from here: http://www.alamoon.com/index.html

                    As always, please backup your computer before installing any new software and check compatibility before-hand. If in any doubt, please seek professional technical help first.

                    Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

                    In my book, ‘Got website, what now?’, one of the things I talk about the fact that getting a website produced is only the first tactical step in your online marketing strategy.  Each other activity within your tactical plan also has to support and drive traffic to your website/business.  Think of your website as the internet “shop front” of your business…people don’t suddenly rush to find you just because you have opened, it takes targeted marketing to let the right people know about your services.  This is what will maximise your return on investment.As in any area of business, success comes from focus. A website, unless properly supported, is very unlikely to prove an effective sales tool: You can have the best looking website in the world; however, if no one ever sees it, it is effectively useless.

                    Search engine optimisation is the science of tweaking your site to help it index as well as it possibly can for your budget. A common misconception is that Search Engine Optimisation is expensive. This is simply not true as many of the steps you can take are quick, simple and free:

                    • One of the easiest steps is link exchange. Certain links are more valuable than others, such as relevant, direct inbound links, however, to quote Tesco’s, ‘every little helps’! there are a million websites out there who would be more than happy to exchange a reciprocal link
                    • Content is still king – you can’t beat good, old-fashioned content within your website. search engines love a lot of content and as long as you’re not trying too hard to manipulate the system, you’ll start to get more search engine matches
                    • Competitor analysis and keyword analysis and implementation may take a little more time and skill, however, it’ll pay dividends in the future.

                    Seven Creative Search Engine Optimisation services focus on the advanced side and can start to show results very quickly. We work by the half day (4 hours) and prices start from £100.

                    Seeing your website as simply a point-of-contact may be selling it short. You’ve invested time and money in it; the least it can do is give something back!

                    Next issue…

                    • Conversion Rate Optimisation and a browser comparison

                    And finally…

                    I thought I’d like to end January’s newsletter on a lighter note and leave you with a final thought:”Machiavelli said, ‘It is better to be feared than to be loved, if you cannot be both.’ Something to bear in mind when you embark on internet dating.” – Edward Aczel

                    I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their custom and loyalty and wish you all a happy, successful and prosperous 2010 – – Chris

                    Visit our website today for information www.sevencreative.co.uk

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                      Written by Chris

                      January 12th, 2010 at 9:00 am