Linux or Windows

The vast majority of websites are hosted on either Linux or Windows OS servers, and the market share is now shifting towards Linux according to a recent report from W3tech. Consumer surveys indicated that Unix servers make up some 66% of all web servers while Windows accounts for just over 33%. For most this isn’t going to be something they’ll give any consideration to, and it’s true that websites with standard HTML pages will be served equally well with either OS.

These days greater numbers of websites have been ‘revamped’ since their inception and now feature dynamic design elements that enhance the UX experience for viewers. If you are planning to design or redesign your website to be much more engaging, you should work with forms and execute web applications both systems will serve your needs.

Linux and Windows are pretty much neck and neck when it comes to functionality. Each works with a number of frameworks and front end programming languages, and have impressive features when it comes to hosting. Linux and Windows handle data in the same way too, and both sport easy, convenient and fast FTP tools to serve a wide range of file management functions.

Nine times out of 10 you’ll be at your best with either, and at 4GoodHosting our Linux and Windows web hosting specs make us one of the best Canadian web hosting providers with data centers in both Eastern and Western Canada.

Our standard web hosting is via ultra-fast, dual-parallel processing Hexa Core Xeon Linux-based web servers with the latest server software installations, and our Windows hosting includes full support for the entire spectrum of frameworks and languages: ASP.NET, Frontpage, Choice of MySQL, MSSQL 2000 or 2005 DB, ATLAS, Silverlight, ASP 3.0, PHP4 & PHP5, and Plesk.

Let’s have a look at the difference with each.

Price

The most significant difference between Linux and Windows web hosting is the core operating system on which the server(s) and user interface run. Linux uses some form of the Linux kernel, and these are usually free. There are some paid distributions, Red Hat being a good one, which comes with a number of special features aimed at better server performance. With Windows you’ll have a licensing fee because Microsoft develops and owns its OS and hardware upgrade needs can be a possibility too. We like Linux because over its lifespan, Linux servers generally cost significantly less than a similar one that’s Windows-based.

Software Support

Before choosing an OS, you’ll also have to consider the script languages and database applications that are required to host the website on it. If your website needs Windows-based scripts or database applications to display correctly, then a Windows web hosting platform is probably best for you. Sites developed with Microsoft ASP.NET, ASP Classic, MSSSQL, MS Access, SharePoint technologies will also head over to the Windows side.

Conversely, if your website requires Linux-based script or database software, then a Linux-based web hosting platform is going to be your best choice. Plus, anyone planning to use Apache modules, NGINX or development tools like Perl, PHP, or Python with a MySQL database will enjoy the large support structure for these formats found with Linux.

Control Panel And Dev Tools

Another consideration with these two web hosting options is that Linux offers control panels like cPanel or WHM, and Windows uses Plesk. There are fundamental differences between them. cPanel has a simple user-friendly interface and users can download applications, such as WordPress, phpBB, Drupal, Joomla, and more with super simple one-click installs. Creating and manage MySQL databases and configuring PHP is easy, and cPanel automatically updates software packages too. Plus, we like our Linux hosted websites for people new to the web. cPanel makes it easy for even people with no coding knowledge to create websites, blogs, and wiki pages. You can get tasks done faster without having to learn the details of every package installed.

Plesk is very versatile in that it can help you run the Windows version of the Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP stack. Plesk also supports Docker, Git, and other advanced security extensions. Windows servers have many unique and practical tools available as well, such as the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI) for speedier installation of the IIS (Internet Information System web server), MSSQL, and ASP.NET stack.

Because it’s been on the field longer, there are loads of open-source Linux applications available online. Windows hosting has fewer apps to choose from, but you have the security of knowing they are all from from vetted licensed providers. This increases the rate you can move ahead with database deployment.

Performance And Security

A reputable Canadian web host can be expected to secure your website within its data centres, but online attacks on Windows servers over the last few years show that they may be more of a red flag here than with Linux servers. That’s not to say that Linux – or any OS that has been or ever will be developed – will not have any security issues. Solid security is a product of good passwords, applying necessary patches, and using the rack for support.

Further, Linux server is pretty much universally considered to superior to Windows for stability and reliability. They rarely need to be rebooted and configuration changes rarely require a restart. Running multiple database and file servers on Windows can make it unstable, and another small difference is that Linux files are case-sensitive and Windows files are not.

Penguin for the Win

Your choice of server should be dictated by the features & database application needed for the proper functioning of your hosting or website development project. Those of you working on your own external-facing site and looking for a combination of flexibility and stability will be set up perfectly with Linux and cPanel. Those working in a complex IT environment with existing databases and legacy applications running on Windows servers will be best served being hosted on a Windows OS server.

6 Reasons Drupal 8 is the Best CM Platform Around

These days if your website – and overall web presence – isn’t backed up by fresh, relevant content being shared via it every week then you’re going to be at a disadvantage compared to those that do have good content. Drupal is definitely a household name when it comes to content management, and while WordPress may be king based on the simplicity of use it offers, Drupal is really where it’s at for those of you who have even the most basic of computer application wherewithal.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re not unlike any other Canadian web hosting provider in that we strive to relate the importance of promoting your business or personal venture effectively on the web. Drupal is currently the top content management platform used by governmental and non-governmental agencies, global companies, and higher education institutions, so it’s fair to say that it is the most solid choice for a content management platform that’s designed for those who have a more developed and polished web site and web presence, and know their way around that site with a measure of can-do authority.

Since Drupal was first released in 2000, it has stayed at the top of the industry by developing the latest innovations, raising the standards of digital experience, and being the consensus preferred content management platform available.

Here are the top 6 reasons why the new Drupal 8 is the best choice for you and whatever interest you have in promoting yourself online via quality, original content.

  1. It Is Easyand Intuitive to Learn Everything About The Platform

Drupal’s developers here introduced a convenient, user friendly interface that allows site admins and editors to quickly and easily perform foundational tasks like data modelling, front end, landing page, installation, establishing information architecture, and much more.

Further, training with it is very simple thanks to the Drupal 8 user guide and the large number of Drupal training organizations available on the Marketplace. You can also find a wide variety of video tutorials, books, forums, and even a community where you can have all your questions answered.

  1. It OffersThePerfect Combination Of Functionality & Features

Drupal 8 is indeed very functional and user friendly, but it also boasts a wide array of features and enhancements. It now lays claim to being the first CMS with almost 59 core modules, including JQuery Update, Entity API, and CKEdition. Users will also love automatic packaging and it is particularly good for businesses utilizing their website for e-commerce. It analyzes your site and automatically packages the site configuration into a set of features, rather than you having to do all that manually. Other important business features provided are:

  • Twig, a new PHP-based theming engine that is secure, fast, and flexible
  • Built-in themes that are mobile first, easily adapting to different screen sizes
  • Text editing on any page without having to go to the full edit form by default
  • Views are integrated with the core, allowing users to quickly create pages, admin section, blocks, and modify existing pages with real ease
  1. Drupal 8 Comes WithBuilt-In ConfigurationManagement

Configuration management is built in at the file-system level with Drupal 8, so you will have no problem carrying over configuration elements like fields, content types, and views from your local development to the server. Tracking your configuration changes is made easy by use of a version-control system. All configuration data is stored in files that are kept separately from the site database.

Drupal 8 also comes with the Drupal Module Upgrader, which lets you automatically convert your Drupal 7 code to Drupal 8, with a smooth and reliable migration process. The Module Upgrader scans and then upgrades the previous version, while flagging any code that should be upgraded and also pointing out relevant changes as they are needed.

  1. Drupal 8’s ScalabilityAllows for Transitions with Growth of the Business

Successful businesses grow, and with that growth comes an increasing demand for interactive websites with a variety of elements. Sometimes sites that are handicapped by one or more functioning components of the site can leave that website running much too slow. Drupal 8 is equipped for scalability, and has the enhanced features necessary for your website to be as dynamic as it needs to be without running slow.

  1. Drupal8 GivesThe Content Editor Real Power, and Unmatched to Date

Thanks to WYSISYG editor CKEditor being bundled with the core, authoring with a content management platform has never been easier. Drupal 8 is integrated with a variety of key marketing tools, and it offers a greater variety of better content authoring tools. Add improved translation capacity which allows your business to interact with a global audience that may have previously not been within your reach and this really is a big selling point for Drupal 8.

  1. Drupal8 IsFully Responsive from Day 1

You can use Drupal 8 to deliver experiences on desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, or anywhere else a customer chooses to view your content, and nothing additional is required of you. Keep in mind when considering this that if your site is not mobile-friendly, you can expect anywhere from 50 to 79% of your visitors to bounce within seconds of arriving and they will also be very unlikely to return anytime in the future. Avoiding this possibility is made easy when Drupal 8 is your CMP.

In conclusion, Drupal 8 is especially easy to use, and in the event you do run into a problem then there are plenty of directions you can turn to for assistance. You can also count on it making authoring, configuration management, and upgrading equally simple, while also offering translation services along with being able to immediately adapt for mobile devices. Slam dunk as far as the best CMP out there right now as far as we’re concerned.

Top 5 Spelling and Grammar Checkers for Your WordPress Site

Grammar in website

Grammar in websiteSome people will pay little heed to the insistence that you shouldn’t have even so much as one type or grammar mistake in the text of your website or blog. Others will disagree, suggesting that there’s a good number of viewers who’ll think less of you in as far as being an authority with your subject matter, or caring insufficiently about your marketing efforts. This is particularly true for anyone who offers a professional service of any kind and uses their website to promote themselves.

Many people choose the simplicity and up-n-running quick appeal of WordPress for creating their basic website. Like any Canadian web hosting provider, we’re sure that it’s the same way for a good many of our customers and, as the author of this blog myself, my first foray onto the web was with a WordPress blog hosted right here at 4GoodHosting.

But enough about that and back to topic, it is important to have text with words that are spelled correctly uniformly along with perfect readability for your viewers. Considering how easy it is nowadays with all of the extensions and plug-ins available to check your spelling and grammar for you, why wouldn’t you take 10 minutes or so to go over your site and make sure everything’s reading smoothly?

Yes, all browsers do include an in-built spelling check tool, but it does not check for readability or grammar. So let’s have a look at those best grammar checker plugins for your WordPress websites in below:

Grammarly

Grammarly is definitely the most well-known of them, a widely-used grammar checker plugin which is available as an add-on for popular browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox. Grammarly scans over your posts’ spelling and grammar mistakes and prompts you to edit them correctly.

An indicator appears at the bottom right of editing field. Click on it and then the tool will display all the errors in your post, highlighted with a red underline. Grammarly does require you to switch your content to text editor to proofread.

Ginger

Here’s another easy-to-use grammar and spelling checker plugin, which assists with boosting your productivity and promoting your writing skills. Like Grammarly, Ginger is available as an add-on for browsers and it’s equally easy to use.

Ginger users will see a small icon appearing at the bottom right corner of entry fields for Facebook, Gmail, and WordPress’ built-in editor. It will detect errors in real time as you are typing and then highlight it with context.

Some drawbacks to Ginger though in our opinion. For starters, you have to revert to text editor in your WordPress website and you also need to manually launch the Ginger editor for proofreading with full ability.

After The Deadline

This plugin is an extension of Google Chrome, and comes with a built-in spelling checker tool along with an optional readability and grammar check display that we really like. After installing this extension in your browser, you will then need to click it on and choose options. It opens a Settings page like you’d find with any add-on, and you then select the options you are likely to use.

Clicking on the Spellcheck icon allows you to run the add-on when you are composing posts. Note that icon can be founded in the editor’s bottom right corner.

Hemingway

Hemingway is little different in that it is a web-based text editor. It doesn’t work like the other grammar checker tools that work within the WordPress post editor. It does offer a free web-based editor free of charge that shows you readability, spelling mistakes and grammar errors in your writing.

What gets Hemingway on the list though it can be a style checker as well as a grammar checker, designed to promote your posts’ readability in the means of displaying the readability score of your posts as well as offering suggestions where you can make improvements.

It’s got a simple and clean layout to help you evaluate your WordPress blog posts quickly before you publish them.

The web-based app of Hemingway also can be a paid desktop application for Mac and Windows that lets you post directly to your WordPress site.

LanguageTool

This is a free extension for major browsers and file managers like Google Chrome, Google Docs, LibreOffice, and FireFox. It’s available as a desktop app and a web-based editor.

Languages tool impresses with the fact that the extension comes with support for more than 20 languages, including English, Polish, Russian and German. Website masters running multilingual sites and having multilingual authors will find it extremely useful.

Only downside for this one is that the free edition will only check up to 20,000 characters each time.

Jetpack

The Jetpack plugin suite for WordPress lets you get off the ground quickly when reviewing your work, and what’s good about it is it comes with many useful modules. The big plus for Jetpack is that the plugin allows adding proofreading to WordPress post editor.

For advanced grammar detection, you can go to Jetpack’s Settings page and choose different style ‘rules’. Jetpack’s only drawback is that the plugin requires you have WordPress.com accounts, and some of the added features aren’t particularly useful for many people .

Now that you’re in the know, try one out and see to it your WordPress website is ‘perfect’ from front to back, and with every new blog post or guest contribution.

PCI Compliant web hosting is now available from 4GoodHosting, with the same quality, reliability, and customer service you can expect from one of Canada’s premiere web hosting providers. Merchants and service providers online now can now have their website hosted in a secure environment that will be approved by PCI scanning tests. A PCI approval scan will allow you to secure merchant accounts with your financial institution and offer customers proven-secure online processing of their credit cards.

Site Isolation from Google Promises to Repel More Malware Attacks

Against malware

Against malware

Security in the digital business world is really a challenge these days, and the world wide web is becoming as full of nefarious characters at the town of Machine, the ‘End of the Line’ as it were in the cool monochrome Western Dead Man with Johnny Depp from the ‘90s. A few months back we had detailed the big bad Spectre virus that had come onto the scene and posed major threats as regarded the insecurity of data for any type of website handling sensitive personal information.

It continues to be a ‘thing’, and in response to it Google recently enabled a new security feature in Chrome that secures users from malicious attacks like Spectre. It’s called Site Isolation, and is a new feature available with Chrome 67 on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a Canadian web hosting provider that puts an emphasis on this for obvious reasons, always seeking to be as on top of our clients’ web hosting needs as effectively as possible.

Google’s experimentation with Site Isolation has been going on since Chrome 63, and they’ve patched a lot of issues before enabling it by default for all Chrome users on desktop.

Chrome’s multi-process architecture allows different tabs to employ different renderer processes. Site Isolation functions by limiting each renderer process to documents from a single site. Chrome then relies on the operating system, and mitigates attacks between processes and any site.

Google has stated that in Chrome 67, Site Isolation has been enabled for 99% of users on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS, according to a recent post on their company blog, stating further that ‘even if a Spectre attack were to occur in a malicious web page, data from other websites would generally not be loaded into the same process, and so there would be much less data available to the attacker. This significantly reduces the threat posed by Spectre.’

Additional known issues in Chrome for Android have been identified and are being worked on. Site Isolation for Chrome for Android should be ready with Chrome 68.

Need for Speed

Quick mention as well to Speed Update for Google Search on mobile. With this new feature the speed of pages will be a ranking factor for mobile searches. Of course, page speed has already been factoring into search engine rankings for some time now, but it was primarily based on desktop searches.

All of this is based on unsurprising finding showing people want to find answer to their searches as fast as possible, and page loading speed is an issue. Keeping that in mind, Google’s new feature for mobile users will only affect the pages that are painfully slow, and that has to be considered a good thing. Average pages should remain unaffected by and large.

We’re always happy to discuss in more detail how our web hosting service comes with the best in security and protective measures for your website when it’s hosted with us, and we also offer very competitively priced SSL certificates for Canadian websites that go a long way in securing your site reliably. Talk to us on the phone or email our support team.

2 Weeks To HTTPS Becoming a Necessity for Websites

It’s July 9th and two weeks from today the web is officially going with full HTTPS as requisite, and that’s a development that’s been a long time in the making. Securing traffic on the internet is an obvious priority, but of course there are people who are strongly opposed to having a secure web.

Two weeks today Google will be uniformly labeling any site loaded in Chrome without HTTPS to be not secure. Most webmasters will be on top of this and accordingly usage of HTTPS is exploding right now. In the 6 months up to a recent report, 32% growth in the use of HTTPS was seen in the top 1 million sites. Mozilla tracks anonymous telemetry via Firefox browser and recorded big growth (75% page loads) in the rate of pages being loaded over HTTPS. Chrome too, at around the same 75 percent.

We’re a Canadian web hosting provider who’s always got our thumb on the pulse of the industry, so it’s important to relate that quite a few popular sites on the web still don’t support HTTPS (or fail to redirect insecure requests) and will soon be flagged by Google. Plus, let’s clear up a few emerging myths about HTTPS:

  • It’s a Hassle
  • I Don’t Need It
  • It’s Gonna be Slow
  1. It’s A Hassle

No, it’s pretty darn simple. You can protect your site with HTTPS in a matter of seconds for FREE. Sign up for Cloudflare or using a CA such as Let’s Encrypt. We can assist you with any other web security and accessibility concerns you may have beyond https encryption of your website.

  1. I Don’t Need It

Well it turns out, you do – particularly as it relates to the safety and privacy of those visiting your site. Without HTTPS, anyone in the path between your visitor’s browser and your site or API can peer in on (or make modifications to) your content without you needing to be made aware of it. Governments, employers, and even especially internet service providers can and have been overseeing content without user consent.

If having your users receiving content unmodified and safe from maliciously injected advertisements or malware is a priority for you, you are advised to move your website to HTTPS.

Add the fact that the major browsers like Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft, are restricting functionality to only work over HTTPS. Google will soon block unencrypted mobile app connections automatically in their upcoming Android version. Apple has announced that apps must use HTTPS, but there has been no official announcement of this yet.

  1. It’s Gonna be Slow

The last common myth about HTTPS is that it’s not speedy enough. This belief is a holdover from an era when SSL/TLS might have had a negative performance impact on a site, but that’s not the way it is today at all or ever. HTTPS is also now required to enable and enjoy the performance benefits of HTTP/2.

Here’s two untruths to consider:

1) It takes incrementally more CPU power to encrypt and decrypt data; and

2) establishing a TLS session involves nothing more than 2 network round trips between the browser and the server.

HTTPS content from the edge – 10-20 milliseconds away from your users in the case of Cloudflare – SSL/TLS enabled sites are superior. And even when they are not served from an edge provider they still function at a high level. Advanced users should also consider using HSTS to instruct the browser to always load your content over HTTPS, saving it a round trip (plus page load time) on following requests.

Improving Site Security with WordPress User Roles

WordPress continues to be the most popular choice when choosing a vehicle for building a basic website. Those of you who are a single individual running such a website likely haven’t given much thought to WordPress user roles. In the event that you ever want to allow someone else access to your site then it’s helpful to know how to use these user roles. With them you can give people access to certain areas of your site, but only to certain areas of the site where they’ll be doing what you’ve requested them to do.

Enabling everyday folks to be more in command of their digital presence is a part of what’s made 4GoodHosting a leading Canadian web hosting provider and, while we prefer websites that are much more dynamic, we understand that WordPress is intuitive to use and works perfectly well for a good many of you.

So, today we’ll discuss what WordPress user roles are, have a look a their importance, and share some tips on how to use them the right way to improve overall site security.

Defining WordPress User Roles

WordPress features a role management system that enables you to specify what actions users can or can’t undertake on your site. As your site expands, knowing how to use these roles is a very valuable bit of knowledge. Each role can be specified based on certain capacities, and one example would be enabling one use to publish a post while allowing another to update plugins and themes. Here are 6 default user roles that can be taken on separately to improve security for the website.

  1. The Administrator Role

This is almost certainly one you’re already very familiar with, given the fact it’s the role you’re assigned when you create your site. There is commonly only one administrator role and it gives access to everything related to your site. Given this role is all powerful, you should be very leery of giving anyone this high-level access to your site.

  1. The Super Admin Role

Note as well that there is one user role that’s technically a step higher than the admin role – the super admin role. The super admin role will only exist when you have a network of connected WordPress sites working in conjunction via WordPress’ multisite installation. This role is responsible for the entire network of sites, and comes with the same privileges as an admin extending out across the entire network of sites. Having a super admin role diminishes the capacity of the standard admin role. He or she can will no longer be able to modify or install plugins and themes, or make changes to user information.

  1. The Editor Role

This individual will, not surprisingly, have pretty high-level access to your site. They’ll be responsible for content management – which is huge – and they’ll be responsible for creating and editing pages and posts, plus moderating comments and changing categories. Access to plugins or themes won’t be possible for the editor, but everything related to publishing content is dictated by them.

  1. The Author Role

Not much to be concerned about there. The author will be able to create, edit, and publish posts, but not much more than that. They won’t have access to any pages, nor any level of administrative access.

  1. The Contributor Role

The contributor role has even less access than the author role, and worthy of even less concern accordingly. Contributors will be able to read the posts on the site, edit them and delete their posts. Not much more than that. They will not be able to post publishings or upload media files.

  1. The Subscriber Role

This role is typically used for subscription-based sites. Subscribers usually have access to a diminished WordPress dashboard, where they’ll be limited to managing their own profiles. This role can be useful if your aim in having users sign up is to have them gain access to specific content.

Why User Roles Matter

As a website grows and your backend features multiple people working on your site, a way to manage these users without getting overwhelmed is definitely required. User roles are important for two reasons. The first is that they can simplify your workflow, and especially when you have a developer maintaining plugins and themes, a team of writers, and an editor making sure content is accurate and visually appealing.

The best choice is to assign them specific roles based upon the jobs they been instructed to take on. This will make their jobs easier, as well as preventing them from accessing parts of the site not related to their work. Secondly, they make your site more secure. Defining user roles makes it so that you’re giving people access to limited portions of your site. That’s recommended at all times.

How to Use WordPress User Roles to Improve Security

Assigning different roles to different users based on how they’ll be using your site will help to beef up your overall security. Giving every single site user an admin role means you are essentially giving them full site access. Even though you might trust these individuals, there are possible scenarios where the security of your site can be compromised. A poorly chosen weak password is a good example. Next, you never know if another person’s computer is infected, and in truth they might not even know themselves. Their computer could have malware or another virus installed, and if you give them admin access instead of a defined user role, your site will be at risk.

In conclusion, by specifying user roles you enhance site security and help to safeguard it against any user errors. Defining and utilizing user roles exclusively within themselves will not only improve your overall workflow, but will also improve overall site security.

Enhancing Customer Experience with IoT Devices

The Internet of Things or IoT as it’s come to be abbreviated has changed the role of the objects around us and the means by which we interact with them and that’s because the focus has shifted to enhancing customer experience for IoT and enabled devices. Data is now collected with the help of smart components, and businesses then probe it for insights to make smarter decisions about their products.

The majority of these smart components are sensors, microprocessors, niche software, data storage techniques and tailor-made operating systems. They work collectively to leverage information derived from the data, and the way that’s done is causing that technology to be adapted by everyday people making everyday things.

A new phase of user experience, Smart User Experience, has grown out of this and it has made the customer experience within IoT increasingly important. Here at 4GoodHosting, part of what makes us a top Canadian web hosting provider is the way we’ve got our ears to the ground with developments of this sort that carry weight in the digital world and will be of interest to our customers accordingly. Today, we’ll look at 6 ways you can enhance customer experience with IoT devices.

Smartest Users

Customer experience is playing an extremely vital role for connected devices, and more specifically smart user experience is front and centre with smart technologies pushing it forward. Being aware of their surroundings and sensing changes in their circumstances allows these IoT devices to take on measures that can be implemented to enhance their functionality.

A quality smart user experience via the right interface enables companies to offer product iterations that consistently drive up the engagement factor and enhance the customer experience when using IoT devices.

So those of you planning to provide a phenomenal customer experience for IoT products will want to take a detailed and deeply introspective look at how you design an IoT device. It will without a doubt dictate the way in which users interact with your products.

  1. Exercise Clean Design

Introducing a UX-based functionality that fails to comply with the core values that the product aims to provide is going to put you in a bad spot right off the hop. For example, adding Google Search through the touch screen of a bread maker might seem ingenious, but it will most likely be a distraction and nothing more. An interactive menu that provides quick recipes for different types of breads would be a much better and welcome choice.

Features should always be introduced in a way that has them taking advantage of the core functionality of the device. Keeping the engagement quotient relevant and as unadulterated as possible is really important.

  1. Introduce Smart Automation

Function should be right up there with the look and feel of the product too. Since IoT-enabled devices come equipped with sensors, they can easily capture loads of data regarding all sorts of inputs.

The product should then be using this data to learn extensively about the user’s use preferences and then begin taking smart and automated decisions on its own. An air conditioning system that learns the correlation between the weather outside and the preferred temperature of the user would be a great example. If it then starts keeping the home temperature optimized autonomously, obviously the customer experience for the IoT device is enhanced in a big way .

  1. Personalize the Interface

Smart interface designing in IoT can be personalized by users according to their preferences and this takes UX to a new level entirely.

A good example is the POP Home Switch, made by Logitech. It can be quickly customized by the user to take control of the smart devices in the house by making use of custom recipes. A single click turns on the TV, while a double one activates the AC and locks the door.

  1. Beyond Screens Approach

The examples listed above prove that a successful strategy for customer experience for IoT involves thinking beyond the usual interfaces based around screens. This is possible when you leverage the capabilities of sound, gestures and intuitive movements rather than designing a simple screen-based user interface.

Your IoT device design should make things simpler while not introducing more complexity into the equation, but at the same time being designed in a way that it involves a minimal amount of training being required for the user.

There’s an interactive IoT powered product called Knock that’s a great example here. This small wireless device has a simple yet powerful design that converts any ordinary service into a control interface, with users knocking on the service and the device then carrying out the user-defined functions on the basis of the number of knocks entered.

This is an excellent example of a smart interface design as it’s especially simple for the user.

  1. Have a Broad Perspective

It is indeed important to design for the appliance, but you’ll also need to keep in mind the broader picture and grasp the perspective of the whole IoT ecosystem.

How is your device going to fit into this ecosystem?The reason this question is important is that the technological backdrop today is driven through screens and the UI of your IoT device can become lost along the way.

The best aim is to design it with the intent of keeping machine-to-machine interaction to the maximum and autonomous behaviour to a minimum. Ensure your IoT device is able to easily integrate with the existing ecosystem, and not ending up creating one on of its own.

  1. Engagement Design

Engagement is always the primary and most valuable aim for IoT devices. The more the user interacts with the IoT system, the more data that can be collected and the system is then more able to optimize itself accordingly for best results and customer satisfaction. But it is also crucial to place the center of control in the hands of the users. Simply, the interface design should make them feel like they are entirely in control.

Remote user interfaces go a long way in this regard, and they go very well with the core idea of the Internet of Things where a connected virtual world that can be accessed and controlled anywhere and anytime is the big picture goal.

Designing for scenarios that enable automatic remote access is the trend now.One example would be an IoT application where when you start your car before heading home at the end of the workday, the air conditioning system of your house will be activated to reach your optimum temperature when you arrive.

In conclusion, it is crucial that you make your IoT platform – whether one already in the market or one you are developing yourself – to be a memorable experience for your users that drives them to the maximum amount of engagement.The key here is to make the functioning of the platform as immersive, personalized and simple as possible, and combining the experience of various devices from an array of companies to capture as much market as possible is a wise approach.

Making your product ‘smart’ is not enough to grab the attention of users these days. You need to carve out your niche by doing what your competition has yet to do, and that is focusing more on designing smart interfaces and the UX experience overall.

Understanding Proxy Servers

We imagine a good many of you will have heard the term ‘proxy server’ more than a few times but not have a clue what it means. Think of all those times you’ve seen someone visit your LinkedIn profile in anonymous mode. A proxy server is a computer that is used as an intermediary, of sorts, between your computer and the websites you are visiting. The purpose of its function in doing so is so that you can surf anonymously or bypass an blocking capability of the websites you’re visiting. More simply, proxy servers hide your home IP address from websites that would otherwise be able to take note of it.

Here at 4GoodHosting, it’s been a long road to becoming one of the best Canadian web hosting providers, but we like to think that a good part of our reputability is in the fact that we have a more value-added proposition than many of our competitors, and being informative and helpful regarding everything in the web world is definitely something that’s helped us out.

So let’s look at proxy servers in greater detail this week, and see what makes them so appealing in certain instances or scenarios when you’re making your stops along the information superhighway.

Anonymity

One of the primary appeal of these servers is that they allow you to leave an anonymous comment on a website. The website’s owner may choose to block the proxy’s IP address, but it won’t be blocking your home IP address. Trying to track the IP address wouldn’t have any ability to track back to your genuine home IP address. You won’t care much if the proxy server’s ID is blocked, and that’s kind of the idea.

Proxy servers used to be the only way anyone could access the world wide web, but times have certainly changed. Hackers now often use proxies to get behind network firewalls.

Say a building’s computer is being used as a proxy to get behind the network firewall of that building because the IP address of that computer would be allowed there. A proxy server is a hacking tool most commonly, despite the fact it was up until then the only way people could use the internet. At that time computers would basically be fighting with each other while trying to access the internet, so that one computer in a building would be the proxy and all of the other household computers would be working to gain an internet connection from it.

Proxy Server Downsides

The first major drawback for proxies is that they have incredibly low speed, and slow internet connections and inefficient hardware will make that speed even slower. Proxies also affect all browsers, so forgetting to turn it off may result in you entering information you don’t want to be volunteering while your’e still using someone’s proxy. Keep in mind again that proxy servers are often hacker tools. Hackers generally are the ones to use them, as well as those responsible for creating them. It slows down their computer and clogs it hopelessly, so what’s the appeal exactly?

Well, quite simply the aim is to gain mass amounts of information from people with as little work as possible. With that understood, never save passwords over a proxy. Any information you enter is initially sent through that proxy server, and you can be certain those hackers are saving that information. Always understand that while you might be using a proxy server for anonymity, there is a chance that whoever is providing it may well be using it for criminal purposes.

Proxy Server Upsides

It’s not all nefarious stuff when it comes to proxy servers. The privacy and anonymity appeals for proxies can be quite genuine. You can browse without websites knowing where the original request came from, and then personal information and browsing history remain private.

Proxy servers are popular for companies and schools when they are aiming to control where their employees and students can and can’t go online. Parents and school boards are also able to monitor children and employee’s browsing habits to be responsive to irresponsible or unproductive behaviour there.

How Does a Proxy Server Work?

Information is sent from your computer to the proxy, which then passes it along to the Internet. It’s going to be possible to link the two from the other side if the path exists in one direction. It’s quite possible to trace a proxy. If the police get a search warrant for your IP address, your company will be obligated by law to give them your information.

You may think that proxy servers sound much like virtual private servers (VPS servers), but they are not the same. The only function shared between them is that they both hide your home IP address.

Setting Up a Proxy Server

There’s more than one way to set up a proxy server if you require one. For starters, there are websites that will allow you to use their proxy servers, but again beware of hackers who will skim your information if they get the chance. Remember – if you can access their server, they can access your computer. These website proxy servers are almost like a private browser on Google. If maximum and reliable anonymity is what you’re after, there are also ‘proxy changing’ services you can use that change your IP address every minute. However, they do tend to be expensive.

Fact, Not Fiction; Undersea Data Centers

Having coaxial fibre optic cables crossing oceans underneath the sea floor has been commonplace for years now, but it would seem as if we’ve moved into new and definitely uncharted territory when it comes to having a part of the world’s digital connectivity found beneath the surface of the sea.

This past month saw Microsoft deploy – or more shall we say sunk – a shipping container-sized datacenter to the bottom of the sea near the Orkney Islands in Scotland as a part of its ambitious ‘Project Natick.’ This 40’ long datacenter is loaded up with 12 racks of 864 servers and 27.6 petabytes of disk. What’s most impressive, however, is the way Microsoft claims it can hold data and process information for up to 5 years without maintenance.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re not unlike any other first-rate Canadian web hosting provider in the way we’re super keen to be right on top of groundbreaking developments in both technology AND the way it’s deployed as it relates to the online world. This is definitely one such example that’s worthy of mention and then some, so let’s take a long look at it this week.

Microsoft’s capsule-shaped is called the Northern Isles datacenter, and it is the working equivalent of thousands of high-end personal computers. It will use the low temperatures of the surrounding sea water to cool the datacenter externally, contributing to the biggest benefit of this datacenter – dramatic reduction in cooling costs and electricity consumption.

The Northern Isles datacenter will use specialized radiators that leverage technology from submarines to cool the internal hardware, while also using artificial intelligence (AI) to detect any signs of failure in servers or any other equipment. All in all, it will operate like any standard data center deployed on land.

Electrical operating power will be supplied by the Orkney power grid, with renewable energy being generated via sea waves, tide, windmills and solar plants.

Working towards eco-friendly sustainable solutions is admirable on Microsoft’s part, and Project Natick is a step towards their vision of data centres with their own sustainable power supply. It also expands upon the environmental promises the company has made, including a $50m pledge to use AI to help protect the planet.

Interesting to note here that more than 50% of the world’s population live within about 120 miles of a body of water. Locating data centers in water bodies near coastal cities will bring data closer to the billions of people who utilize the World Wide Web. It will result in fast and smooth web surfing, video streaming, game playing, and authentic experiences for AI-driven technologies.

Project Natick is at present an applied research project, and the team behind it will be monitoring and recording its performance, power consumption, internal humidity levels, temperature levels, etc. for the next full year before any changes, upgrades, or reorientations are made.

With available land in many major urban centers being increasingly at a premium, the idea of locating data infrastructure underwater is not only revolutionary, but it’s exactly the kind of ‘outside the box’ thinking that is needed more and more as we move into some of the uncomfortable realities of the 21st century.

 

Defending Against Domain Name Slamming

You may think that there’s not much more to your domain name than a simple identity and location where your website is situated for discovery on the World Wide Web. In essence that’s all it is, an address where you can be found. But of course there’s significant value in that, and especially so for anyone who relies on being business online. It’s a fact that scams involving domain names have been increasing at an alarming rate.

Collectively, all these scams are referred to as ‘Domain Name Slamming.’

Here at 4GoodHosting, a part of what makes us a reputable Canadian web hosting provider is the fact that we strive to look out for our customers’ well being on the web. There’s an increased chance that someone with bad intentions may try to use your domain name to take advantage of you, so we’ll identify some of these scams and share some tips here today that you can use to guard yourself against them.

The Fake Bill Scam

The Domain Registry of Canada, or DROC, has been in operation for years, leading many Canadians to be confused regarding what looks like a renewal bill for your domain names. This scam is the version of ‘domain name slamming’ you’re most likely to come across, a it’s a type of scam that aims to overcharge or falsely charge domain name owners.

It’ll most commonly start with your receiving a letter that begins by informing you that your domain name(s) will be expiring in the near future. You’ll then be presented with a list of prices for renewal over different time periods before concluding with a tear-away payment stub you’re to use to ‘renew’ your domains.

The trick here is in the way they bury information in the walls of text in the letter. If you look and ready very closely, you’ll see that the DROC is actually asking you to change the company you register your domains with. Most commonly this will be snuck just under or above something more attention-grabbing like “failure to renew your domain name by the expiration date may result in a loss of your online identity”.

This of course gives you a sense of urgency to react, and individuals can be conned into paying up to 3X the price of a standard domain renewal. As if that’s not bad enough, you may also end up losing access to your websites and emails for extended periods of time.

Over the years, DROC has gone under many other names to continue their shady practices:

  • Brandon Gray Internet Services (a parent company – their certification as a .CA registrar has been revoked)
  • Domain Registry of America
  • Domain Renewal Group
  • Domain Registry of Europe
  • NameJuice
  • iDNS
  • Or any one of many others, unfortunately

Whatever such guise they’re using, they all use some variation of the same practice of mass mailing unsuspecting domain owners. The templates and logos may vary slightly, but the principle remains the same.

The 1-Up the Competition Scam

As mentioned, these scams need the domain name owner to feel a sense of urgency, but also a sense of fear of losing ground to the competition if they remain inactive or even delay in responding.

Generally delivered via email, these types of scams won’t request that you transfer your domain name, but they will ask you to purchase the same domain with a different extension. The standard ploy is to suggest that your domain name ownership is under question (almost never the case in reality), before sharing the helpful recommendation that you pay for the new registration yourself to wisely protect your brand and copyright around the world.

Their hope is that you’ll be sufficiently intimidated and ‘too busy’ to look into the matter much further. Then you’ll pay rather than spend time and resources pursuing what would be ‘legal matter’ developing out your continued inactivity.

Here’s an example of what this might look like:

Dear CEO,

We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in _____.

We Received an application from ______ Ltd on (date). They want to register (yourdomainname)as their internet keyword and
(yourdomainname).com.cn
(yourdomainname).net.cn
(yourdomainname).org.cn
(yourdomainname).asia
(yourdomainname).cn

But after looking into this further, we have found that(yourdomainname)conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter in the speediest and best manner, we need to send you an email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner here in _____ or not.

Best Regards,

(The Scammer) / Service and operations manager

The communication seemingly comes from an overseas company, and the email warns you that a there is a mysterious competitor that is aiming to purchase a variation of a domain name for which you’ve had ownership, but usually with a different extension, such as .com.cn. As there is a potential copyright conflict, this scammer is very kindly offering you the option to beat them to the punch and secure the new extension domain for yourself.

How is Information Obtained?

The WHOIS database is a massive collection of information on the ownership of most domain names, and it also includes detailed contact information for owners and administrators. It needs to be a public database, but unfortunately that allows certain dubious companies to be able to scrape its data and store the information they need to solicit unsuspecting domain name owners.

Luckily, you can guard yourself against any such occurrence.

Protecting Yourself from Domain Slamming

There are 3 primary ways to effectively safeguard yourself from domain slamming.

  • Choose to activate privacy protection as a means of shielding your personal information on the WHOIS and the information will then be inaccessible to spammers and scammers. Noe that individuals registering .CA domains receive this protection FREE by default.
  • Keep your eyes peeled, scrutinizing any such communications and trusting your instincts. If it seems illegitimate, it probably is! Read through the content critically and if you continue to have doubts then Google search the company’s name or email address. If the results share talk of scams, immediately discard and ignore the communication.
  • When a scam email is received, mark it as spam in your inbox and forward it to spam@fightspam.gc.ca. The antispam filters will make a note and should be able to reduce the number of messages of this type in the future.

If you receive a scam email or letter, or have been the victim of one of these scams, keep in mind you’re not the only one who’s been duped and that it’s not any reflection on your smarts. Canada has an Anti-Fraud Center which you can contact as well as Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) where email scams can and should be reported.