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Category Archives: Blog




Why Linux?

If you’ve been dealing with websites or servers for Awesome-Tuxa substantial amount of time, you probably know which operating system you prefer. You know whether you should order Windows or Linux for various types of websites and applications, and you know the advantages of each. Unfortunately this level of knowledge can take years to accumulate and not everybody can spend the amount of time it takes to learn two server operating systems enough to know when to use which. Linux is the preferred environment for many developers, hosts, resellers, and businesses, and with good reason.

Languages

Linux allows developers to use PHP, Python, CGI and Pearl when building websites and applications. These are all very popular and will run better in Linux than in Windows. While a Windows environment allows for more exclusive programs such as ASP.NET, people generally prefer PHP based systems for sheer simplicity. WordPress, for example, is PHP based and uses a MySQL database. While WordPress can run in Windows, people can generally expect better performance out of a Linux environment.

Diversity

Linux is open source, which means the source code can be downloaded, modified, and published by anyone. This means people all over the world are able to build variations of Linux to suit different needs. Ubuntu, Red Hat, CentOS and SUE are some of the more popular distributions, which have very active communities supporting their users.

Security

Linux has always been known for being more secure than Windows. For people doing ecommerce, HIPAA compliant hosting, or anything that requires security (which, let’s face it, should be any website), Linux is the preferred OS almost universally.

Performance

Linux generally has lower system requirements, so there is more headroom to run the programs you want. If you’re running a dedicated server or VPS, this means you can get away with lower cost by saving on CPU and RAM. In a shared environment, Linux plans can come with better allocations and perform smoother than Windows systems.

If you’re unsure whether Linux is right for you, call a specialist or a developer to go over your site and see if you would benefit from making the switch. Our support and sales teams are always happy to answer your questions and make sure you’re on the ideal system for your hosted technology.

 

Advantages of Solid State Drives

Solid state technology isn’t new, but making the switch for dedicated and virtual servers ssd-drivehasn’t happened as rapidly as it has for desktop and personal computers. Newtek is making it easier than ever to host sites on solid state drive-based servers with the Linux SSD VPS. Starting at $5, they are a perfect alternative to shared hosting plans and will scale to meet your needs as your business grows. But why switch, and what makes solid state drives better than traditional spinning hard drives?

Speed
Nobody likes to wait. Whether you’re shopping online or just browsing the internet to kill time, studies have shown that if you have to wait more than a second for a webpage to load, you are far more likely to go back and look at a different site than to wait around much longer. Increasing speeds on your site means increasing your conversion rate for web visitors. Solid state drives perform at roughly 100 times faster than a hard drive when accessing data.The scalable resources on our SSD VPS’s can also increase RAM and CPU allocations on the fly, guaranteeing the best performance for your application, website, or stored data.

Reliability
As the name implies, solid state drives have no moving parts. Compared to a hard drive’s spinning platters and magnetic arms, the solid state drive has a much less likely rate of failure. Hard drive failures also increase dramatically over time, so the older your drive is the more likely you become to have a critical failure, resulting in data loss, downtime, and the expense of a new drive. If you haven’t had any issues on your current hard drive, consider yourself lucky and make the switch to an SSD now to guarantee you don’t have to deal with a bad drive!

Power
Solid state drives require less energy to power. In a desktop or laptop, this means you get lower electricity bills and better battery life. In a datacenter, lower energy consumption means better performance, the ability to provide larger capacity data storage, and reduced carbon footprint.

 

Solid state drives are beneficial both in the consumer world and the hosting world. SSD storage means better performance and longevity for your site or online business. If you’ve made the switch to solid-state storage in your own computer, it’s time to make that same switch for your hosted technology. If you haven’t switched on your own devices yet, let Newtek show you the difference they make with a $5 SSD VPS, available now.

Why Colocation?

Your infrastructure is a critical part of your business. You host your website, applications, Colocation Datacenter IT Manageremail, or critical data and backups on a valuable server that you maintain in-house to save money on hosting. While hosting in house will save you from leasing hardware costs at a datacenter, there are many more excessive expenses and unnecessary risks that come with keeping that hardware at your office. That’s why colocation has become such a prominent service in datacenters across the US, and why you should consider colocating at Newtek.

Reduced Infrastructure Costs
Keeping your server updated and compliant is expensive, and keeping the environment that machine runs out of is equally as costly. With colocation at Newtek, your own hardware is housed in a Tier III datacenter. You save by not having to lease a server, and Newtek handles the expenses of keeping everything powered and properly cooled.

Improved Power and Networking Capability
As a business owner, you rely on your services being available at all times. If the power to your office goes out, or there is a network issue, you still need customers to access your website and you still need to be able to get your emails. Unless you’re running UPS’s and a redundant network, that probably won’t happen while hosting in-house. Colocation allows you to piggyback off of our reliable power and network without investing in the hardware and maintaining multiple service contracts with providers.

Hands-Off Management
Having a server administrator on staff can be costly. If you’re looking to reduce staffing expenses, opt for a managed colocated server. Newtek’s highly skilled server and network administrators are always available and will keep your server updated and performing optimally for a fraction of the cost of hiring an administrator.

24/7 Support
As with all of our hosting products, Newtek offers 24/7 live, US-based support available via phone, live chat, and email. Our customer service is highly commended and we work for a one-contact resolution so you know when you reach out to us, your issue will be resolved in a timely manner.

Reduced Bandwidth Costs
Depending on the type of business you do, you may need to keep several computers, merchant terminals, smartphones, televisions, phone systems, and more online. Business internet lines are expensive and adding the bandwidth requirements of your server to that can leave you with a lofty bill. Newtek’s colocation is priced based off of ping and power, so you don’t need to worry about paying for data transfer.

Colocation is available now at Newtek, and if you aren’t sure whether this solution is right for your business, we offer free phone consultations to guarantee the best fit for you.
Check out the available pricing on our site, or call us at 866-820-8910.

Adobe Experience Design CC Preview

Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications are a mainstay for designers and developers around the world. Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Illustrator help people create and publish graphics and websites, but there hasn’t ever been a product that focuses on user experience in the Creative Cloud. Project Comet was the codename for Adobe’s entry into the UX design world, and it now has an official title and preview available for Mac OS X. Say hello to Adobe Experience Design CC.
Adobe Experience Design Marquee
Experience Design (abbreviated as XD) is for creating a unique and powerful user experience in your site or application. While design is important for UX, a tool like Experience Design will focus more on the actual interaction with your design. XD comes with tools focusing on gestures, transitions, and elements for your app or website.

In the preview there are two tabs to work in: Design and Prototype. Adobe Experience Design IndexDesign is about building the pages, galleries, and content that your finished product will use. Prototype allows you to map out the navigation of your app. You can then share a live preview with anyone to try out your project, making it easy to get feedback.

Experience Design is in preview right now on Mac OS X, with a Windows preview coming soon. All of the features that will be in the final version are not available in the preview, but the roadmap on Adobe’s site is looking very promising. To keep up with new features or to get your preview of Experience Design CC, head to Adobe’s website.

UsabilityHub Suite: The Final Verdict on Your UI

Designing a website that looks good is a big undertaking. You need a design that works objectively, not just to you. The functionality of that site can be even more difficult to decide upon. After hours of design choices and working with your site, a UI feature that makes perfect sense to you might not be as obvious to somebody who has never seen it before.

UsabilityHub looks to help make those critical design decisions a little more clear for you or your designer with their suite of UI tests. You upload your design to their site and they present it to a number of people to answer questions, try to complete an action or simply choose which design they prefer.

Five Second Test

The first test I tried was the five second test. If the visitor doesn’t know what Five Second Testyour site is about in the first five seconds, chances are you’ve already lost them. The way the test works is after you upload your design, it will present it to the people taking the test for a total of 5 seconds. They have to take in as much about the site as possible, then answer a series of questions about what they remember about the site, what they like and what they don’t like. As a designer, this helps you make sure your design is clear enough to capture the attention of your would-be customers quickly, and maximizing the number of conversions on your site.

First Click Test

The first click test makes sure the product, feature, or page you want people to click is as First Clickobvious to navigate to as you think it is. You upload an image of your site, and give the testers a task to complete. In the example on UsabilityHub’s site, they use Amazon.com and ask testers “Where would you click to register for Prime?” The user gets one click to find the objective and you get the feedback on where they clicked. If you have a question about if a UI decision is intuitive or not, this will be the test for you.

Navflow TestNavFlow

Navflow is similar to the first click test, but instead of one click you as the designer set up multiple “hit zones” and the user must navigate your site to complete the task. It’s hard to overstate how critical it is that your website is easy to navigate, and this is the test to guarantee the UI makes it easy for your customers. Instead of a heat map, you get results of how far through your task they were able to navigate.

Question TestQuestion Test

This test is like the five second test, but untimed. Where the five second test is about making sure your site’s purpose is quickly recognizable and the information can be digested quickly, the question test allows you to ask questions that will require a more thorough look at your site.

Preference Test

As eaPreference Testsy as UI questions can be, the preference test lets you upload two designs and ask a question related to the two. If you have two designs for a logo, homepage, or form that you can’t decide between, this test lets you get objective feedback from real users.

 

 

The best feedback you can get on your site comes from use. You may have a design that looks great and you think is functional, but if that design goes live and it turns out what makes sense to you doesn’t translate to most users, that’s lost revenue from your site’s potential sales (and chances are if they didn’t like your site the first time, they won’t be back). UsabilityHub’s tools ensure you make informed design decisions that maximize the accessibility of your site. Check out their products at UsabilityHub.com

Use Google’s Knowledge Graph to Beat SEO

Anyone who owns a website knows the struggle of Search Engine Optimization. Developers are constantly having to update content, code, keywords, and more to make sure their site is reaching their audience through search engine results. Being the top of the list might not cut it anymore, as Google’s Knowledge Graph offers the exact information the user is looking for, presented beautifully and accessibly above any actual search results. You may have seen the Knowledge Graph before, some of its results look like:

Newtek Knowledge GraphKnowledge Graph Weather

Knowledge Graph Cast

 

For the searcher, and your potential customer, the Knowledge Graph is the most appealing way to get a search result. You know when you see a KG result, you’re getting exactly the information you’re looking for. For Google, the idea behind the Knowledge Graph is not just understanding what a search is looking for with keywords, but understanding the context and purpose of that search, to provide the appropriate information preemptively.

As a business, this can help or hinder you, based on what presence you and your competitors have in the Knowledge Graph results. To get your business, brand, or personal profile results in the Knowledge Graph, follow these simple steps.

  1. Create a Google+ page for your business.

Creating a clear, accurate Google+ page is probably the easiest way to help Google know Google Plus Sign Upwhat your brand and content are about. Set up a free account for your business and keep an active stream of posts and connections (circles), and you will be more likely to receive a Knowledge Graph result. If you’re a local business with a physical location, make sure you select “local business or place” at step one to maximize the likelihood of you getting into the Knowledge Graph.

 

 

  1. Use YoutubeImperial March

Yes, utilizing all of Google’s multiple platforms will improve your chances of being used in the Google Knowledge Graph. If your business has any sort of video content, or even music which you could upload to Youtube, Google will typically allow those videos to be presented as a KG result.

 

 

3. Wikidata

Wikidata is the database at the core of Google’s Knowledge Graph. Anybody can contribute to Wikidata and it’s free to use. Go to wikidata.org and sign up to create your listing in the database.

 

 

4. Wikipedia

If it hasn’t been made painfully obvious, the idea behind getting onto Knowledge Graph is to have your information on as many platforms as possible so Google can understand the context of your business or service. Wikipedia is another free, community driven information source that Google will check when verifying your information so create a page at Wikipedia.org

 

 

Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to “being the answer” on Google. Get yourself in that Knowledge Graph and boost traffic to your site, and establish yourself as the go-to resource for information in your field.

LG G5: Android is Better with Friends

LG recently announced the next iteration of their flagship Android device, the G5. Taking cues from both the G4 and the V10, as well as some unreleased Android devices, LG takes one of the most impressive innovative leaps with this new phone.

Build2016-02-22 12_20_07-LG G5_ Release Dates, Specs & News _ LG USA

The chassis of the G5 first caught my eye, bearing a striking resemblance to the most recent Nexus devices (the 5x especially), the G5 is a cozy 5.3” screen on a metal unibody. It has a very unique slight curve towards the top of the screen, which sets off the very futuristic look of the device. Unlike any unibody phone ever, the G5 features a removable battery and microSD slot. Samsung has migrated away from these removable components, opting to leave them unremovable like an iPhone. This is to the dissatisfaction of many Samsung customers, who I feel will find a great new home in LG’s ecosystem with this new device.
The rear volume rocker, which has been a unique LG Gx series feature, has been moved to the side of the phone. The back of the phone now houses a fingerprint scanner and an impressive dual-lens camera (one 16Megapixel, one 8Megapixel Wide-Angle).

Software

LG made some interesting decisions on the software side. As a long-time Android user, I’m used to every year meaning more features added to a phone. Most of the time they were a lot of impractical, useless features that I would wind up disabling anyway (ahem, Samsung’s gesture based navigation). With the G5 LG looked into the customer feedback and market research and decided to simplify the UI. LG removed many unnecessary/unused features, such as dual window and Q slide, and much of the bloatware that came with its predecessors. LG also ditched the app drawer and all apps will be on the homescreen of the device, similarly to how iPhones organize apps. This move comes from market research suggesting users would prefer to keep the apps on the homescreen, rather than isolated in their own drawer. The rest of the UI has been slimmed down to run faster, which should fly on the hardware packed into this device.

Hardware

The phone is one of the first to come out with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 820. It comes with 4GB of RAM 32GB of on-board storage. As I mentioned before, the phone has a micro-SD slot for expandable storage and a replaceable battery, which you access by pulling the bottom of the device down. The battery and bottom lip slide out and so do all the replaceable components. This mechanism is what makes the device truly innovative, as the bottom lip can be replaced with different modules to enhance or add to the features of the phone.

Friends

Beating out the highly-anticipated Project Ara, LG introduces modular accessories to the G line with what it calls “Friends”. Currently LG has produced two Friends for the device, but they are allowing third party manufacturers to access the specifications to create many more unique tools for the phone. The two that LG have produced give a good idea of what kind of potential these modules have. The first is the LG Cam Plus, which looks like the shooting side of a standalone camera. This Friend adds additional hardware controls to the dual lens camera and even adds additional battery life, bumping the phone up to 4000 mAh. The second module is called the LG Hi-Fi Plus, which adds a 32bit amp to the phone to improve the quality of audio coming out of the 3.5mm jack on the phone.

 

While the Friends are the most exciting part of the phone, they are also the most risky move by LG so far. With every other change made to this device emphasizing simplicity, will the modules scare users off? I can think of at least a dozen people I know personally who wouldn’t want to deal with extra parts to keep track of, and would probably never even remove the stock Friend on the phone. Hopefully the move towards modules sticks, and other OEM’s will start implementing similar features to their flagships, but we will have to wait and see how the G5 sells to make any predictions for their competitors.

Outlook’s Impressive Update

2016-02-18 11_09_40-Outlook takes on Gmail with huge new update _ Webdesigner DepotOutlook’s webmail recently got a fresh visual update as well as some great new features to keep up with Google’s Gmail.
While the first updates you will notice are the design changes, which include themes and emoji support, there are much more practical features in the new interface including a one-click-away Skype powered chat, the ability to tag people in email bodies and integrated Yelp data to help with organize events.

This is the full list of new features, from Microsoft’s blog:

• Built-in Office document editing
• Dropbox and Box integration
• Add-ins from GIPHY, Yelp, Wunderlist, Uber, Paypal, Evernote and Boomerang
• @Mentions (tagging users)
• Skype chat integration
• Inline (quick) reply
• Emoji support
• Image editing
• Pins, Likes, other extended prioritization tools

Check out the video from Microsoft below and if you’re currently an Office365 or Outlook.com user, let us know what you think of the new update in the comments.

ColdFusion VPS Plans Now Available

Newtek, in collaboration with Adobe, is proud to announce our ColdFusion VPS lineup.

2016-02-22 09_33_35-coldFusion.png (PNG Image, 1044 × 1043 pixels) - Scaled (88%)
With our new pricing structure, the ColdFusion VPS is the best way to supercharge your ColdFusion sites.

The new VPS’s come with a ColdFusion 11 license and an unprecedented number of included add-ons, built into the base cost to make sure our customers are getting the best features at the best price.

As with all of our VPS’s, resources are scalable instantly from your control panel. This ensures your performance is always optimized and you are always paying for only what you need.

Built into the base ColdFusion VPS is:

  • 1vCore CPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 80GB Storage
  • Monthly Backups
  • OS & Patch Management
  • Free Smartermail Email
  • ColdFusion 11 License

These VPS’s are available with both Windows and Linux operating systems, with the ability to add a suite of our most popular options:

  • Managed Care Bundle
  • Hardware Firewall
  • Additional IP Blocks
  • cPanel

Whether you’re a ColdFusion developer looking for a solution to grow with your business, or just looking for a platform that can help you minimize the cost of your ColdFusion hosting, the ColdFusion VPS is simply the most versatile option for you.

ColdFusion Button

Like to learn more? Inquire about pricing at 1-877-323-4678 or techsales@thesba.com

Apple: It Just (Doesn’t) Work [OPINION]

Apple has long been synonymous with user experience. One of the major appealing qualities of the OS X / iOS ecosystem is the synchronicity and simplicity of the native Apple Apps, powered by the iCloud service. Over the past several iterations of Apple’s operating systems, it seems like they have been losing sight of their original vision in regards to their software.

Many news sources and blogs have been criticizing Apple recently about this specific issue: their apps don’t work (or don’t work as well as they should). Users are installing third-party alternatives to applications and services that drew them to the iOS platform in the first place. Nate Ingraham, Senior Editor at Engadget epitomizes the experience of iPhone users struggling with Apple’s negligence:

“Raise your hand if you have a folder on your iPhone full of native Apple apps you never use … yup, that’s a lot of you. Now raise your hand if you use iCloud Mail, iCloud Drive or the default iOS Notes or Reminders apps instead of third-party options like Gmail, Dropbox, Wunderlist, Evernote and so on. Not nearly as many of you are raising your hand this time.”

So what is actually wrong with Apple’s apps? Each application truly has its own shortcomings. To truly understand what is wrong with the ecosystem as a whole you have to understand where and why each application is going wrong.

 

iTunes

When I got my first iPod and installed iTunes for the first time, I was in complete awe. The act of importing CD’s and buying new music online was incredibly exciting, and I could plug in my iPod and take it all with me. That was it. That was iTunes. Now with the aggressive growth of streaming services taking a noticeable chunk out of Apple’s music sales, the media giant had to make a move into the streaming business. I will admit I love Apple Music. I ditched my concurrent Spotify and Tidal subscriptions for the individual Apple Music sub, and haven’t missed anything from my previous providers. This service works great on my iPhone, seamlessly integrating my (owned) music with the library I have collected through the streaming service. The desktop is a different story.

Whenever I accidentally click iTunes on my desktop, my heart skips a beat. The bulky music player/marketplace takes ages to load, then wants to analyze my entire computer for new music (as a musician who will have several versions of a song that I’m working on, this is a nightmare). Once iTunes decides it’s done with my hard drive it moves on to memory. I have relatively powerful Macs (Mid-Range desktop & laptop from 2015) and I still have trouble running iTunes smoothly with anything else open. Even if the application were running properly, the seamless combination of Apple Music and iTunes on my iPhone is nowhere to be found in desktop iTunes.

I don’t even listen to music on my computers anymore, because the experience of using iTunes is so awful.

 

Mail

The first thing I do when I upgrade my Mac or iPhone is install a new mail client. iCloud Mail (or Apple Mail) is slow, bulky, and if you’re using a custom mail server (anything not @icloud.com. For example, my email that I host at Newtek) it is a major pain to set up. My third party client provides quick access to all five of my email accounts, with fast retrieval times (including my Gmail addresses, which any Apple user will tell you is atypical on Apple Mail), intelligent filtering and sorting, and a lightning fast search of indexed items..

 

The point of this post is not to sell anybody on third party software. One of Steve Jobs’ most recognizable quotes in reference to Apple products was “It just works”. Why doesn’t it just work anymore? Why do I have to download someone else’s email client, or stream music only on my cell phone, when Apple has the development power and certainly the ingenuity to develop their own powerful products? Perhaps they should focus less on cars and jewelry and spend some more of their resources improving the core product of their business. While it is great that a powerhouse like Apple wants to explore emerging technologies, if their core products don’t work the way they should, what is keeping any user from switching over to Android, and buying a Google self-driving car? I know I certainly trust Google Maps for navigation more than the native Apple Maps (which, to be fair, has seen improvement since 1.0).

I haven’t lost hope in Apple entirely. With almost every major consumer electronics news source calling Apple out for their recent shortcomings, and the Apple-to-Android conversion numbers sure to follow (especially with a new season of Android phones on the way), Apple will almost be forced to acknowledge and address the issues in their existing core applications. The only real question is: “Do I want to sit around and wait for them to fix it?”

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