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Get you business online for free

Business Information Pro Tips Site Info Tech

Get your business online for FREE – it’s easier than you think!

Posted By Jar Half Full

Welcome to the age of the internet…

These days, the internet is deeply embedded in how people behave and live their everyday lives.  If you have a business then you want your customers to be able find you; your contact details, opening times and address.  In the past, the Yellow Pages was the de-facto way of contacting a business but with the prevalence  and availability of the internet, search engines are now the source of almost all consumers’ information.  Here, I’ll show you how to get your business online for free.

A widely quoted statistic these days in this area is:

97% of consumers surveyed about local shopping habits (not online habits) said that they use the internet in some way before visiting or contacting a local business.

This number is staggering and highly reflective of peoples’ shopping habits in this connected age.

 

But how do I get my business online?

You may have a business that is completely offline and relies on footfall rather than user clicks to make money.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some online presence and getting your business online does NOT mean getting someone to make you a website for hundreds of pounds.

Google is the biggest search engine and Google Maps is a massively useful tool for finding local businesses.  You can get on both and supply information about location, opening times, business type along with storefront pictures and whatever else you want using Google’s great FREE tool Google My Business.

 

Google YOUR Business

Google My Business Example Screenshot
Google My Business

Click on “Start Now” and begin filling in your business information.  What you are actually doing is creating a Google+ profile for your business which essentially gives your business something for Google to present when potential customers search for your business or business type in your area.

This is hugely important and I couldn’t recommend you do this enough.

Fill out a minimum of:

  • Business Name
  • Business Type
  • Address
  • Opening hours
  • Contact telephone number
  • Some level of description of your business

Google will send a validation code by postcard to your address so you can prove your ownership and location.  Once this is done – you are online!  For FREE!  And you did it all yourself!  Your business will have a prominent place in search results.  Check out the screenshot and see the large box on the right!

 

Example Search After Using Google My Business
Example Search After Using Google My Business

You can see your logo, shopfront and location on Google Maps along with any contact details you wish to display and Google shows today’s opening hours by default with a button to show all opening hours.

You can go back to your profile any time and add pictures, updates, anything you like and your customers will now be able to find you, and all the details they need to plan a visit, online.


I hope you found this little tip useful and I’d just like to point out I am not connected with Google at all.  I just think this is a great tool and is increasingly important for businesses of any size to be findable online in some way.

Please feel free to comment or contact me if you have any queries or feedback to this post.

Thanks for reading!!

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Happy Goon at the Digital Awards 2016

News Programming Tech

Happy Goon Finalists for “Best App” At Digital Awards 2016

Posted By Jar Half Full

 

As part of my work with my other business venture, Happy Goon Inc. co-founded with my good friend Colin Hughes, I developed a mobile app built in Unity for both Android and iOS.  This awesome app supports the business’ core function by providing the magic (aka augmented reality) for the greeting cards to come to life!  This is a really exciting use of AR technology and puts it into the hands of consumers to really add value and more importantly, make people smile!

We were both excited and honoured to be nominated for “Best App” category and even more thrilled to find out we were finalists!  There was fierce competition as you could imagine and we just missed out to a very cool app built for the University of Hull by my friends at {sauce}. Their app eases new students into life in the city which is great both for students and local business.

Massive thanks to everyone that supported our nomination, it’s a fantastic achievement and I am very proud!

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Code Craft and the IT Professional

Information Musings Pro Tips Programming

You Write Code But Do You Know Your Craft?

Posted By Jar Half Full

IT Professional vs IT Literate

Today, the ability to write computer code is no longer purely the domain of the IT professional.  With the prevalence of IT in the workplace, mobile apps and common scripting on websites, it is being taught earlier in schools and some believe it will soon become as important as English and Maths when looking for jobs and further education.

Despite this, IT professionals need not worry for their jobs.  English and Maths qualifications are largely necessary for many jobs and are taught as core subjects in schools.  Not everyone who graduates is a best-selling author or competing for work as a maths professor.  I feel that being able to code is indeed like being able to talk a language or learn a skill. Being able to do write and understand a language may help you in everyday life but it does not make you a professional in that field.  This applies to actual native languages, legal speak, medical terminology or programming languages, you need more than a basic understanding to be a professional.  You need depth of knowledge and a passion for your craft.

Think of developing with code like other engineering or architecture disciplines.  Software engineering is an uncool term today, but I believe it still helps define what we should be striving for. We can all cut materials, stick them together and maybe some of us can even fix a broken toilet. An engineer would know all about suitable materials, their properties, strengths and weaknesses. Architects know techniques for calculating forces for stable construction.  Craftsmen must know the correct tools to use for any given endeavour.

Software engineers should be no different!

The Programming Language is your Material

The properties, and therefore uses, of Java, COBOL and Ruby are very different. Know the strengths of different languages so that you can apply the most suitable one to the current situation.  Programming languages will never provide an optimal one-size-fits all solution.

Plugins, IDEs and Frameworks are your Tools

Tools by definition make life easier.  Take time to explore and get to know which tools exist to help build and maintain your code. Many languages have been around for a long time and their toolsets are now very mature.  There is no extra credit for writing code in Notepad and no shame in standing on the shoulders of others.  This is how we progress farther than those who came before us, use what you can but continue to innovate.

Design Patterns are your Techniques

Yes, design patterns.  This is an often overlooked part of a developers arsenal as it can be a bit dry.  Tutorials often cite the DRY rule in coding for “Don’t Repeat Yourself” which reinforces the argument for learning design patterns.  For an industry built on reusing code and minimising duplication, some are still unaware of design patterns that exist for a wide range of common problems.  Almost any problem you face in coding has already been solved over and over again.  The best solutions have been generalised into an efficient, effective template (pattern) which works optimally in any context.

Just to bring home the importance of design patterns, think of a carpenter; if he needs to create a corner by joining two pieces of wood together, he knows he can choose between a mitre, dovetail or dowel joint to name but a few.  He does not simply glue or nail the bits together to see if it does the job.  This would be naive and unprofessional, the product would be weak and ugly and not up to task.  The problem has already been solved in an efficient way and passed down through generations so there is really no need to “reinvent the wheel”.  Design patterns may be a bit theoretical at first, but they can save days of head scratching by identifying the problem along with the solution.  You will also be implementing an optimal technique to create a more robust solution you can be proud of!

Conclusion

So in conclusion, love your craft and don’t be afraid of the next generation who can code before they can walk.  Code development in whatever form it takes, is not just being able to write and understand code.  Like any ideal occupation, it is about enjoying the process and being passionate about what you do and that is what sets you apart.  Go that extra mile: learn the best uses of multiple languages, research all the tools, frameworks and plugins you can and commit (at the very least) the core design patterns to memory and you can go beyond being a coder and make it as a Master Code Craftsman.

Further reading:

Programming is not a craft – An interesting take on the Software Craftsmanship movement (of which I am not a part).  As you can tell from this article, I believe software IS a craft and from reading the comments I can see I am not alone.  I could go on for a while about this but in short, experience shows the client wants a solution to a problem and it is up to the developer to craft that solution.   doesn’t know what they want in terms of implementation and if you just deliver the features they ask for regardless of the implementation it stacks up the costs in the long run.  An IT professional should consider their craft and should be able to deliver something the casual coder can not.

Some Core Design Patterns. I spoke about design patters so here is a link to some of the core Object Oriented (OO) ones.  Design Patterns are really useful and can be applied to most languages to maximise reuse and loose coupling for producing flexible code.

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Atlassian for Git Tutorials and Repository

Information Programming Tech

Great Git Tutorials

Posted By Jar Half Full

I’ve been working with Git for source control for a while now, and initially learned using this excellent respoitory of Git tutorials by Atlassian.

Atlassian provide the BitBucket repository solution so it makes sense they help you use it.  I still find myself coming back to it every now and then so I thought I’d share the page as it is well worth a bookmark.

https://www.atlassian.com/git/tutorials/

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British computer society member

Information News Programming

British Computer Society

Posted By Jar Half Full

Since returning to the UK from New York, I have become a fully fledged member of the BCS.

This shows my commitment to the field and will allow me to network with fellow professionals, develop my skills and progress my career in computing.

I am looking forward to making the most of my new membership and working towards my fellowship and Chartered Engineer status!

Find out more about the British Computer Society at www.bcs.org.

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Hello World code

Information Musings Site Info

Hello World

Posted By Jar Half Full

It is only appropriate that inaugural post for my programming / tech blog should be the archetypal first step into any new language.

Hello World.  It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

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