Sunday, October 31, 2004

Affiliate Programs October 2004 --

Because I disabled the Maryland Wired site in the midst of the October 2004 reporting period -- the click throughs and impressions were zero'd out for that site. In my last Affiliate Report I reported the following:
The odd thing about some of the numbers -- Maryland Wired received impressions for a merchant that I never used on the site -- one of the travel sites. I don't know how that could have been mis-reported.
Since Maryland Wired will no longer be published after December 1, 2004 and because of the above error, I removed all affiliate programs and the shopping page, see announcement post --> Legal Notes 10.25.04.

Therefore this report only provides information for Wired Pages and the QiSoftware domain sites. No sales, 9 impressions and 4 click throughs. The majority of the impressions received after the 26th of the month [October 2004].

Impressions: Number of times, in the date range selected, that your links for this merchant have appeared in visitors' browsers.

Click Throughs: Number of times, in the date range selected, that site visitors clicked on your links and were taken to the merchant's site.

April 1, 2004 - June 1, 2004
[First 2 month reporting period - All merchants]
88 impressions
98 click throughs

April 1, 2004 - November 1, 2004 [I ran a daily report for Oct. 31, 04]
[Since becoming an affiliate - All merchants]:
179 impressions
134 click throughs

Between June 1, 2004 and today (5 months) my affiliates links have only been clicked 36 times and return visitors (impressions) have occurred 91 times. I really had a lot of curiosity the first 2 months, however never any sales. The 36 click throughs over the 5 month period also include the test clicks that I issued to ensure everything was working correctly. These totals are for all the merchants with whom I have agreements -- which is about 3% of the total links found on my sites.

I provide this information because I get a lot of traffic from unique site visitors. Internet self reporting suggests there are problems with affiliate programs however all I can submit into evidence to substantiate that claim are the odd statistics I am provided meshed against my website statistics. Just one sale would be clear evidence, but as I have stated all along, it is more the lack of curiosity from site visitors that is really the red flag. And I have a lot of visitors.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Blogging Study...

Blogging is becoming more popular with each new day. Ever wonder who is blogging in your area? I reside in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and before I started my research on Thursday, October 28, 2004 I had come across only one blogger from Washington, DC. So I decided to implement a demographic research study about bloggers. I belong to several Yahoo! Blogging Groups. I sent each an email requesting members respond to my survey and provide me with their blog bios. To date I have received about 8 replies. I have provided their responses in this --> forum post. To see the number of views received since creating this announcement on 10.28.04, see this link --> Blogging By Location listing. To participate in this study and have your blog listed, you will need to specify the following:
  • BlogName & URL
  • Blog Location
  • Blog Topic
This information will have to be posted in the forum so that I can include it in the main list. I hope that my non-certified research will provide answers to the following questions:
  • Are they more bloggers in colder regions?
  • Are there any patterns to what people blog about based on physical location?
  • How many respondents can I get?
Why should you participate in this study? -- Forums are an excellent promotion tool for websites and blogs, so by listing you get a free promotion.

If you are a Business Blogger and belong to Yahoo! click on Yahoo! BusinessBlogs Group to join this group.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Charitable Promotions...

The Wired Pages site promotes several charities on the Religion, Charities, and Organizations page. In addition, the page maintains links for government oversight agencies for charitable organizations, including:With the onset of the Holiday Season I would like to promote the charities listed on this page. I would also like to host free image ads for at least one of the charities through the next 6 months. If you have a suggestion or represent one of the organizations listed and wish to run a free promotion for your charity contact me at Charity Promotion. The type of promotion that I think will work best -- an image that is associated with your organization that can either be placed in the sidebar or main body of the page without overpowering. If you are not listed and wish to have your organization listed you can also contact me with this address --> Charity Promotion.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Blog <> Forum Communication?

I have added a forum poll, "What is your blogging platform?" to the sidebar of this blog. This poll is connected to the "News, Software, & Java forum. I want to see how well this blog interacts with the forum's interfaces and tools. I am also very interested in the results of this survey, because knowing the preferences of the blogging community will enable me to provide the most useful software tools.

I also found a great tool that allows one to create free polls on websites and blogs... see this link -->Snap Poll. For a complete list of blogging tools and add-ons see this link -->Blogging Tools & Add-ons.

That ? in this entry's title is a no... The session ID of the forum post hinders the Blog <> Forum Communication for this process... Removed the poll, one hour after inserting. See this entry if you wish to take part in the survey -->Blogging Platform Survey.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Legal Notes 10.25.04

Today I removed all affiliate merchants from the Maryland Wired [MW] site in anticipation of the early December 2004 stop publication date. The [MW] shopping page was also replaced with the temporary template page I have been using as a placeholder for pages I remove in anticipation of the site's end date. This public notice because of the anomalies I have observed relating to affiliate programs that I use.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The AOL Sphere --

At last check there were 23 million dial up users accessing the AOL service. This total does not reflect the boardband users who also access the service. I too have access to an AOL account. As some of you may know, my promotional site, Wired Pages is hosted on the AOL platform.

AOL is a veritable marketplace yet largely untapped outside of its own sphere. What does this mean -- people are not setting up outside forums and message boards to discuss AOL related issues. That's a lot of users!!!

When I ran a Google search of the term "AOL Forum", I was surprised to see how sparse the results were. I have added an AOL topic area to the News, Software, & Java Forum, where users can discuss AOL related issues, problems and solutions.

I did read an article earlier this year, that claimed AOL was going to abandon the proprietary development language it has been using for years in favor of HTML to develop web pages and interfaces. Several reasons were given for this, including the inability to view pages in browsers outside of the AOL environment and the cost associated with maintaining the proprietary language that is outdated and cumbersome, or so the article claimed [sorry cannot reference the article directly]. This change could also help to make AOL more accessible and discussed more outside of its own sphere. Keep in mind that I am a developer and tend to look at programs and interfaces in terms of cohabitation in a larger environment. What works with what and not how to change a screen name. [However feel free to ask how to change your screen name in the forum if you like.]

The question that prompted me to look for a solution to an AOL problem was my inability to successfully port my demonstration blog, QiSoftware Demonstration Blog to my AOL account. AOL does have a journaling interface, however it is not compatible with the Blogger Calendar. Preliminary tests indicate that directory reads are achievable through AOL, thereby making it an attractive hosting location for blogs created by third parties, such as Blogger.com that can also integrate the calendar.

AOL Problem Details: I am currently able to connect to the AOL account via the Blogger.com FTP interface, but it appears to go into a perpetual hang state. I issued a general question in several venues as to whether anyone had successfully ported a blog via FTP to an AOL account. To date I have received no replies. I would love to hear from you if you have been able to achieve this.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

QiSoftware Solutions --

The QiSoftware Solutions website addresses some of the software solutions I have developed for first the Maryland Wired site and now Wired Pages and some of my other sites.

This separately maintained website under the qisoftware.com domain - discusses software tools that I have developed which can easily be integrated elsewhere. I do create custom applications from scratch, however this site [catalog] is meant to show the tools that are currently available or give you an idea of the type of tools I can create for your site. This catalog does not include prices, however I do provide a standard price list upon request.

I recently added the Blogger Calendar page to the catalog. Because of the continuing interest in the calendar I have enumerated the online resources that address the calendar specifically:
  1. QiSoftware Solutions Catalog Page
  2. QiSoftware Blogspot Calendar Demonstration
  3. BloggerForum.com Post Discussion of Planned Implementation
  4. Calendar FAQs [an entry to this blog]
  5. Calendar Usage -- Dating Your Blog [an entry to this blog]
  6. News, Software, & Java Forum Post Notification of Blogging Tool or Add On...
  7. and of course each page of this blog displays the calendar --
Each page of this blog contains a link to the QiSoftware Solutions catalog - located in the upper right corner labeled Solutions beneath the Wired Pages and Forums links. Wired Pages is a working promotional site that showcases some of my software tools, while the Solutions site discusses the technology associated with the tools.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

BlogAds...

I am running my first blog advertising ad. The ad I am running is a BlogAd. The top half of the ad is shown in the image below. The actual ad is on the sidebar right under the profile area and will run through Monday, October 25, 2004. The link on the image below is "hot" so feel free to check out the product.



I was very excited about getting my first request to host an ad. I like projecting a cool exterior. When the order for this ad arrived I was jumping up and down and giggling to myself...

The bad part -- because it was my first ad I reworked my Blog Template and did a myriad of other tasks [listed below] including writing the prospective advertiser - about how pleased I was to host the ad. The only thing I didn't do was inform BlogAds that I would host the ad. When I received their email indicating an order had been received I logged into my account saw the reject box and of course did not insert a check mark. I thought this was all I needed. There was a "Hold" on the ad indicating the advertiser wanted to wait until a specific date to run the ad. When the morning arrived for the ad to run, the ad was not running. I again logged onto BlogAds, took the "Hold" off the ad and voila it immediately appeared. Needless to say, I know how it works now. The following is an itemized list of the things I did to prepare for my first advertising campaign.
  1. Reviewed the advertiser's website.
  2. Found another blog running one of the ads... immediately loved it.
  3. Wrote to the prospective advertiser indicating how much I loved the ad, on the site I found and if there were any color or location preferences for my ad. [Do you think they knew it was my first?]
  4. Developed a Microsoft Access database to allow easy tracking of Sales, Agents, Advertisers, and Accounts Receivable information. [Hope I have another advertiser, it would be a shame to let my fancy new database go to waste.]
  5. Reworked my blog template.
There are two means by which I accept advertising for my blog.
  1. BlogAds
  2. QiSoftware Advertising

If you would like to check into BlogAds for your blog see this site --> BlogAds. The BlogAds people have done a lot of research on blog advertising and provide information via their website and weblog at this link --> BlogAds Blog. Most bloggers who sign up with BlogAds have some sort of political agenda, but you don't have to have a political affiliation -- as is my case [I am listed under the Business and Technology categories].

As I learn more about the advertising arena I will provide more details.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

My Software Tools...

As promised, [refer to the earlier post, "My Hardware Tools"] here is the table of software tools I use most often in my work.

SoftwareUseNotes
Microsoft Office 2000, including Word, Excel, Access, Publisher, PowerPoint, and ClipArt Gallery (CAG).
Sales Database [Access], Website Development [Publisher], Correspondence and Documentation [Word], Miscellanous graphic support [PowerPoint]. The ClipArt Gallery interface also enables me to store my digital photographs and search based on keywords. In addition, I offer custom tools and support for those requiring help with Access or Excel.This suite is not the latest but is comprised of a great set of tools that I use extensively for business and other interests. When the need presents itself I will update this software suite.
Frontpage 98/Image ComposerGraphics support for the web and a myriad of other projects. [Image Composer]I rarely use Frontpage because I use MS Publisher for website development and maintenance. I love the graphics software, Image Composer which was a standalone software tool that came with Frontpage. It is a very powerful and a extremely useful graphics program.
Borland JBuilder Integrated Development Environment (IDE) on PC and Mac platformsJava development. PC and Mac platforms supported to ensure tools and interfaces I develop support both platforms.I like Borland.
Borland C/C++ IDEC/C++ software development.My first Borland IDE was for C/C++. I am accustomed to the manner in which Borland works. I don't use a lot of wizards or pre-fabricated interfaces so the fact that Borland offers a pure appoarch to software development is a tremedous asset in its favor -- in my opinion.
AppleWorks SuiteGraphics overlay, some documentation, correspondence, and spreadsheets for website statistics.Because the resolution on a Mac is more intense than my PC I can develop images that are more intense. I use the drawing tool to add highlight text or other elements to existing images. I also use the spreadsheet program for storage of website statistical information. The tools in this suite are not as sophisticated as the Microsoft Office Suite I use on the PC, but are adequate for the maintenance operations I perform on the Mac.
CuteFTPFile transfer on PC platformsWired Pages [and Maryland Wired, no longer being updated*] consists of a lot of files, mostly graphics. I use CuteFTP which allows me to upload multiple files conveniently.
Paint Shop ProScreen captures, re-colorizations Popular Paint Shop Pro program allows for sophisticated manipulation of bit map images.
Adobe PhotoDeluxeBitmap manipulation, and image transparencyAnother popular graphics tool.
Windows Inherent Software ToolsNotepad for quick edits and standalone pages that do not require a Publisher file. Calculater is used for hex to decimal and vice versa base conversions.-
Mac OSX Inherent Software Toolstcsh shell - vi for editing, ftp for file transfer. I also use the TextEditor for on the fly updates and corrections, and the screen grab tool to capture images for inclusion in blog or forum posts.AppleWorks is part of the OSX package of software tools, however I discussed separately above.
Windows Browser InterfacesInternet Explorer [IE], Opera, Firefox, Netscape 7 series, Netscape 4 series, and Mozilla used to ensure multiple platform support for programs and interfaces I develop.I use the IE browser on the PC
Macintosh Browser SupportSafari, MacIE, Opera, Firefox, Netscape, Mozilla. To ensure multiple browser support on the Mac platform for programs and interfaces I develop.I use Internet Explorer [MacIE] most often on the Mac [bookmarks], and I like the "lightweight" feel of Firefox.
Corel Gallery 2Royality Free Clip Art used in many projects both web based and otherwise.A lot of clipart with a great interface for exporting to a great many graphics programs.
WinZip/PkZipArchivingI back everything up in duplicate.

*Updated 10.25.04

The above table addresses cross platform support quite a bit with no mention of Unix and Linux platforms. I have discovered that most of my interfaces and programs work correctly on the different Unix platforms if they work on the Mac and PC platforms. I also offer Mac screen shots for those web designers and developers that don't have access to a Mac. See this link -->Mac Screen Shots.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

A Taxing Question?

I have come up with a solution to my tax question?
I am a software consultant. Do I collect taxes for custom software programs I sell to in-state clients?

My options included:
  1. return to corporate life
  2. find more contracting gigs
  3. hire an accountant or attorney
  4. simply not sell products to in-state clients?
I opted for the latter position of not selling to in-state clients for the time being.

In my research on this issue I found many articles -- including a Small Business Primer - Part 1: What Business Are You In? that I thought rather interesting. The following excerpt defines 4 categories that prospective small business owners, should consider when trying to determine "What Business They Are In"?
What Type of Business Do You Want?
The next step in your business definition phase is to define the type of business you want. There are four main types of business:

1. those that create products,
2. those that supply products,
3. those that supply services and
4. those that consult.

A product-based company will typically require factory/production facilities, a supply chain, a larger work force, etc.

A supply company will need products to supply, as well as customers to supply the products to. Often they’ll need to constantly seek out new areas of demand in order to stay ahead of the game.

A services company, like most Web companies, will be extremely vulnerable to market interest which, as we all know, can shrivel up rather quickly. These businesses must constantly be on the lookout for new markets and clients.

A consulting company is perhaps the easiest business model, because it involves no product creation cycle. There is simply knowledge, and the search for clients who require that knowledge.

As example - the article further contends [I being the article's author]:
# I could program software for people to use (a product-based company)
# I could set up an online store to supply programming tools to others, along with witty and insightful reviews (a supply company)
# I could offer my hand to complete custom Web development for clients large and small, the world over (a services company)
# Or I could found Penguin Consulting, a company which specializes in pinpointing the mistakes of others without providing real solutions

I reference this article in particular, because it touched upon the professional categories of those considering the computing industry for their small business. According to the above excerpts -- consulting has no tangible products. I am more than a programmer so computer or software consultant is what I normally use, and yes I do provide custom software tools. Is a custom software program a tangible product? This is important because tangible products and services may require taxing if sold in-state.

A search of the State's Tax Code and several calls to state comptroller and tax agencies yielded no clearer picture, so I was left with the options I enumerated above.

I found the article on a site called SitePoint. This site has a lot of interesting articles and other offerings for those trying to establish e-commerce businesses or other web related endeavors.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Media Surveys & Research Reports --

Media surveys and research reports on various topics that affect the overall population or a demographical segment can be very useful in business. I have added a section on my forum that provides a list of recent surveys conducted by various research groups. Use this link --> News & Media Research and Surveys for the latest reports. New reports are added as they are made available.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

PayPal - Legal Questions?

I recently set up a Business PayPal account. I want a convenient means to accept payment over the Internet for services I provide.

I would like to think that on most subjects I am somewhat knowledgeable. It was so easy to setup my Business PayPal account that I didn't look deeper into the many issues and questions I am now facing.

For instance, the last time I checked -- the Federal Government did not require an Internet Tax. That said, how do states handle services paid though the Internet. My business is a sole proprietorship, so a lot of the legal concerns of more formally structured businesses are not applicable to my consultancy. However, I still have to pay taxes on income generated.

On the premise, that my offerings are service related, are paid for over the Internet, and include: (1) custom software applications and (2) ad space -- an itemized list of my questions follow:
  1. If doing business with an in-state client -- do I need to collect state taxes from the client for services provided?
  2. I assume that where state tax laws are concerned, Internet sales are like mail order sales. Is this an incorrect assumption?
  3. Is a custom software package considered a service?
  4. Does it matter if I am selling my own software or Microsoft's?
  5. I provide Software Consulting Services. I pay taxes on income I earn and not applications I provide. What is the difference in as far as the law is concerned between services I provide under a contractual agreement versus custom applications I may provide based on client specification?
  6. Am I making this harder than it has to be?
  7. When am I going to hire that attorney I keep promising myself?
    Response: When I stop needing a new PC [see my My Hardware Tools]…
Yesterday, I found an interesting legal advice site -- > Free Legal Advice which prompted me to add an new topic area to my forum: Business Legal Issues. Any free legal advice received over the Internet should be held in that light… Free Legal Advice obtained over the Internet…

With so many using this [PayPal] very useful Internet service, I can't believe that I have so many questions and finding it difficult to get answers. Many of you are going to ask -- why am I just now looking at these issues? I can answer that - because I recently signed up with PayPal's Business services to accept payment over the Internet. When I get the rest of the answers I will let you know. Don't you just hate that…

Feel free to provide any answers via comments to this post or on my forums board.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

BlogSpot Calendar Demonstration...

I have integrated a demonstration version of the Blogger Calendar into the QiSoftware Support blog. This blog is located on the blogspot servers.

You will notice, the most recent post is a Calendar Index [in case this is not the most recent post when you see this I have provided the link]. This is where I am reading blog entry dates using the method I described in the earlier post --> Calendar Feasibility and Blogspot.

The earlier post specified a date form of: yy_mm_dd. The actual implementation of the calendar requires date specification in the following format: yyyy_mm_dd.

For those of you using the Pro Blogger platform, integration will not require the "Calendar Index" post. This requirement is only for those using the "free" Blogger platform and the blogspot servers. Here again see the earlier post for reference --> Calendar Feasibility and Blogspot.

I am still tweaking this demonstration version -- so if it changes, I am testing different colors and looks. Let me know what you think...

Washington Media Outlets...

I live in the Washington Metropolitan area... Over the years I have compiled a list of online media stations, newspapers, and magazines that cover Washington and the surrounding areas. The surrounding areas include Northern Virginia and Maryland.

If you are planning a visit to the Nation's Capital or live in the area -- this guide can be useful in finding local media providers for almost every genre. Here is the link --> Washington Media.

Local residents... feel free to email me with links you would like to have added.

The Wired Pages Media page, not to be confused with the Washington Media page, provides a myriad of links relating to the general media. FCC queries relating to licensing and government oversight of radio and television can also be submitted from this page.

Friday, October 01, 2004

September Affiliate Report

There were a total of 14 impressions and 5 click throughs for the month of September. No sales. The odd thing about some of the numbers -- Maryland Wired received impressions for a merchant that I never used on the site -- one of the travel sites. I don't know how that could have been mis-reported.
Impressions: Number of times, in the date range selected, that your links for this merchant have appeared in visitors' browsers.

Click Throughs: Number of times, in the date range selected, that site visitors clicked on your links and were taken to the merchant's site.

As I have indicated... I may buy that no one purchases from my site(s). I am not buying that no one clicks...

Calendar Feasibility and Blogspot...

I have had several requests for feasibility assessments with regard to the Blogger Calendar and the blogspot servers -- [Blogger's hosting platform].

I have come up with a solution though it is a bit unconventional. The unconventional part of the solution involves creating a Blog entry that will contain an index of all the blog entry dates.

For those of you with large blogs this can be done automatically by setting the archive to daily and the date format to a yy_mm_dd. Once the list is generated, view source on the main page of your blog and cut and paste the dates listed under the archive. A good text editor with a replace function will remove pre and post html tags from the list. Then reset your archive to "Monthly" or whatever you had it set to, and your date preference and re-publish your blog. [The date format is the one specified under the "Settings -- Formatting" tab and labeled "Archive Index Date Format".]

The dates for each entry will be read by the Blogger Calendar program, and enable proper execution of the application.

The dates stored in the Calendar Index Post -- should be of the form: yy_mm_dd [same date discussed above, under the Setting -- Formatting tab] with < div id="qisoft"> < /div> tags -- surrounding the entire list of dates. The name of the post can be anything you like, but will have to be coordinated with me. Surrounding the dates with a div id = "qisoft" will allow you to explain why the post is in your blog. ie., "This is my internal date index". Keep in mind this post will only be visible on the main page for a short period of time.

Every time a new entry is entered you will have to update this special "Calendar Index Post" in your blog. Simply add the date of the post (i.e., 04_10_01). Each date must be on a separate line and there should be no duplicate dates.

The other problem -- support for Java Applet/Servlet technology can be handled directly through me or any other solution that supports this technology. For instance your friend's server supports Java Servlets and he will give you space.

I am still waiting on a reply from Blogger concerning these issues so if I get a response, I will let you know. If you have something else you think may work -- I am open to suggestions. The problem is, I need a quick way to obtain the dates of your blog posts to "enable" the appropriate days of the calendar.

WordPress and Movable Type folks -- there should be no problem in providing support for those of you who use these blogging platforms, however there will be no support for retrieval of archives based on the "category" feature, only the post dates.