Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Sail racing results software

I have been developing some on-line sailing race results software over the past year or so.  There are plenty of free programs out there which will work out sailing results but I believe this to be the most useful and easiest to use because it works in "the Cloud" and publishes the results to the Internet immediately.  Also, because it is web based, it will work with any operating system and environment including Macs, Linux, iPhones and iPads.

The system copes with handicap racing using both the Portsmouth Yardstick and the SCHRS.  Times can be entered in hours, minutes, seconds format or seconds.

Discarded results are calculated instantly as races and results are added.

The software allows for unlimited numbers of competitors or races in a series.

Statistics are calculated for each series, race and competitor with a graph of the latest results showing a trend of how well individual sailors are doing.

The only system requirement is a web browser and an internet connection.  There is a low-graphics version designed specifically for mobile phones which allows you to add non-handicap race results instantly to the internet in the club house.

As soon as the results are published there is an RSS feed created which is added to Twitter complete with a link back to the results page.

I believe this is the best system out there.  It doesn't involve FTP, spreadsheets and web design.  It is easy to use and will work on any web enabled device.  If you want to try it out please call Liam on +44 1983 721264.  For a demonstration of the results please visit Shanklin Sailing Club.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Thunderbird 3 and POP3

Thunderbird 3 has a nasty habit of trying to get its users to set up IMAP instead of POP3 accounts. It also has an addiction to trying to guess mail settings based on the email address - and getting it badly wrong. It is not a problem if you upgrade from Thunderbird 2 because it just transfers the accounts across, but fresh installs can be really tricky.

Here's the way round it.

You need to input your name, email address and password and then let Thunderbird have a stab in the dark at getting it. If you are lucky, Thunderbird will give up quickly and allow you to input your own settings, otherwise you have to wait while it guesses wrong. It is often here that Thunderbird tries to insist on IMAP.

If you try "Manual Setup..." here, there will be no return from the path towards IMAP and inevitable misery. Click "Edit" and then change the drop down from IMAP to POP. 

You can then use "Manual Setup..." and put everything right - or just change them in the window above.  The incoming mail server will almost certainly need changing, and the port number for POP3 without security will usually be 110.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Beware SEO fraudsters

Ever since the dawning of the search engine at the back end of the last century there have been people trying to optimise web sites to appear at the top of rankings. Good web designers will try to make their sites search engine friendly at birth, others may fall short. Either way SEO [search engine optimisation] companies do not give a damn whether your site is the most search engine friendly in the world or a single page flash site with "Untitled Document" as the page title. They just want your money.

SEO companies have been ringing up my customers for years trying to get them to part with hundreds of pounds a month to put their sites on the front page of Google, but there is an increasing trend of these snake oil salesmen taking perfectly good web sites and wrecking them - and charging for the privilege.

Last month a customer was persuaded to let an SEO company "optimise" his web site. They promptly shut down the site and forwarded all the traffic to a moribund site of his with totally out of date content and a PageRank of "unranked".

And last week another genius took a web site I made, changed the title to a huge long list of spammy keywords, added four keywords at the bottom of the page, plus a really ugly web counter AND A LINK BACK TO THEIR OWN SITE. But best of all they managed to wreck the style of the site so that all the text (apart from their link) was brown on a brown background.

If you are rung up by anybody offering to optimise your web site or get you on the first page of Google, please tell them to go away. They are all fraudsters

Monday, 22 February 2010

Keyword meta tag

Back in the day when Alta Vista was the king of search engines, meta tags were said to be vital to a web site's search engine position. Since everybody knew this, it was easy to skew results your way and so search engines started worrying about more important things like title, content, link text, URLs and back links to rank web sites.

So are meta tags finished? Well clearly description tags are used by search engines when results are displayed so presumably they have some impact on relevance, even if marginally. Keyword tags must surely have had their day though.

Well I have the official answer. Sort of.

I have just taken over a web site - Appuldurcombe which I redesigned, and not wishing to break what was not broke, I copied the keyword and description tags from the old site. One of the keywords was open to the oublic (sic). I changed it to public but did a search on that key phrase to see if it appears.

These results will soon be out of date but Google has no interest whatsoever in Appuldurcombe's web site with the phrase open to the oublic. Even "open to the oublic" appuldurcombe does not bring up the web site. However it does bring up a number of directory sites that appear to have harvested the meta tags to create a page such as Cylex Business Directory.

Yahoo, however, once it has clarified that you really mean oublic and not public, has the official Appuldurcombe web site at the number 1 position.

Bing takes the same view as Google - which is to ignore the tags completely in its search results. And since Bing will shortly be providing the search results for Yahoo web sites, the end of the keyword meta tag is very nigh.