Why we do server maintenance

June 24, 2016
FreeImages.com/Whrelf Siemens.

FreeImages.com/Whrelf Siemens.

Server maintenance comes with the territory when you do what we do.  As part of a recent exercise to ensure we are secure and running as efficiently as possible we had to do some updates to our servers, and we wanted to share with you why we do these things.

Security

First and foremost we want to make sure that our systems and the websites that we host are secure.  From time to time you may see things floating around the web about zero-day exploits, and other vulnerabilities that make sites susceptible to hacking.  Part of the maintenance that we do is to fix these weaknesses and vulnerabilities so that they cannot be exploited to harm our servers or our customer’s website, or even our customer’s customers.

Hardware Troubles

Like most anything electronic, the parts that make up a server inevitably break.  When this happens it can cause a server to go down.  So when hardware fails it is pertinent to replace it as soon as possible to keeps things up and running.

Software

Much like your computer at home, our servers rely on software to do many of the things that they do.  Also just like in your home computer, from time to time, these softwares get updates to make them run more efficiently or patch bugs that make them fail.  Part of the maintenance that we do is keeping these software packages up-to-date so that we can keep running at peak performance.

Regardless of what type of maintenance we are doing, we always have our customer’s business in mind.  On occasion the maintenance that we do may require some sort of downtime for your website.  When this is the case, we will do our best to notify you ahead of time.  We will also try to schedule these downtimes at a convenient time, so as to impact your business as little as possible.  If you ever experience any issues with your site, or have questions about the type of maintenance that we are doing, please feel free to reach out to us.

Images provided by: FreeImages.com/Whrelf Siemens.

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Brady is the voice on the other end of the phone line when you call Sephone. He graduated from the New England School of Communications in 2009 and assists Sephone in building and maintaining our sites.

Virtual Reality and the Cardboard Spec

June 17, 2016

Perhaps you’ve been thinking lately that the modern world isn’t futuristic enough. We’ve seen Back to the Future – where are our hoverboards?

hoverboard

Apparently, they’re in Spain. Image cred: NowThisNews

For those unaware, the tech world has been moving to some pretty amazing places as of late. One of these is the wonderful world of virtual reality – simply strap a device to your face, and suddenly media becomes ever more immersive. Neat, right? Absolutely! So let’s take a look at some of these headsets.

read more

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Gary is a team member at Sephone, helping to design, build and maintain websites. He is also a web design student at the New England School of Communications of Husson University.

Keep ’em Interested… Add a Little Fun!

June 9, 2016

I admit, this isn’t a great way to start a blog post, but a lot of what we make isn’t very fun. I spend a lot of my time at Sephone making time tracking applications, inventory systems, schedulers… stuff that is pretty universally regarded as blah by those who have to deal with them.

Sure, we make things easier by putting them online and designing them well – but let’s face it, at the end of the day, they’re still chores. Not many people plan to log time or catalog a room of products on their next vacation.

For my vacations lately, I’ve been taking a bunch of trips. I’ll take a long weekend, head to a new place for a few days to refresh, and that will be that. Once I’m there, it’s great. But the process of getting there can be a little rough: catching flights, bringing paperwork, running between terminals. Talk about chores.

Which brings me to Detroit:

Light Tunnel

The Light Tunnel – with glass by Foxfire Glass and a lighting design and score by Mills James – awaits travelers moving between terminals at DTW. Once you’re inside the tunnel, you stop thinking about timetables and gate numbers and escape for just a minute. It’s relaxing and immersive. It makes connecting to your next flight a little more bearable (or even a little fun). I walked the length of the tunnel twice.

Adding little touches to the design of menial or monotonous tasks can really improve a user’s experience. An animation or joke on loading screens between pages can add a smile to someone’s day. Even something as small as a photo or quote can keep people interested as they enter information on a form. On a larger scale gamification or loyalty programs can add incentive and keep people coming back.

Try to brighten a dull task with a little bit of fun. You might be surprised how much of a difference it makes!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

There’s More to Tech Than Gadgetry

June 2, 2016

First Things First

Download or update the Waterfront Concert App from the App Store or Google Play Store waterfront-concertsand make sure your Bluetooth and Location Services on your phone are activated.

Please read on…

Since Sephone began back in 2001, we have always been excited about using technology in making businesses run more efficiently.

Since Sephone began back in 2001, we have always been excited about using technology to make  businesses run more efficiently.  Efficiency saves time, saves $$$,  gives a business time to focus on Customer Service and growth.

“Back in the day,”  we wrote a Content Management System, called datAvenger that is still in use and upgraded today. In 2001, content management (which meant small to medium sized businesses could update their own websites) this is before Facebook and WordPress.

We Think Outside the Box

This week, Waterfront Concerts is holding the first show in Bangor for the 2016 season.   By this time next week, things w in full swing in Portland at Maine State Pier and Bangor.

We have posted about the Waterfront Concerts– 3 years ago (can you believe it?) And have been working with them ever since. The App and the Website are all “spruced up” for the new 2016 season and for the new mobile devices that have come out since then.

iBeacons

Since last year, we have been creating integrations for  Beacons.  Beacons are a great way for the folks at Waterfront Concerts and the American Folk Festival to keep you in the loop as to what is going on through the App that you downloaded to your phone.

Waterfront Concerts uses iBeacon messaging to notify fans through the App.  If a fan has VIP tickets, a notification is sent at the designated time to find your seat. Discounts and information from the Concession Stands can be sent.  (Not to worry, this isn’t meant to be spammy but to be informational and enhance the event.)

We Make Things That Help Business Run Better, Make Customers Have a Better Experience

When you wonder what it is that Sephone does, this is it.  We build stuff for businesses that works.

To us, that is what it comes down to with your business right?  Relationships. Counting on each other.

Enjoy the 2016 Waterfront Concert Season!  If there is something “special” that you think you can do better, give us a call, we can probably help!

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

A look into the world of Wordsmithing – A series about crafting messages that engage and delight – Part 3

May 26, 2016

Credibility: Worth Its’ Weight In Gold

Tom Magliozzi (co-host of the hit radio show Car Talk) summed up the customer experience when he said that “Happiness equals reality minus expectations.”

In the previous blog post on wordsmithing, we discussed brevity and how a short message can have greater impact than a long one. In this post, we are covering the third rule in Words that Work; “Credibility”, and why it is so important.

Words define who you are as a company. If the words lack sincerity, contradict facts or fail to live up to what you are selling, you will lose credibility and your customers will go elsewhere. In this case, credibility is synonymous with reputation, and you should guard it as such.

Credibility can be rather simple to establish: Tell people who you are, what you offer, and why they should do business with you. Make sure your company and it’s offerings live up to what you say. Do your best to live up to your company’s stated vision/mission/goal, and people will start to trust you.

If you promise something people pay for,  it better live up to that promise or you will quickly find you have unhappy customers who will leave you for greener pastures and cost you a chunk of your reputation when they do. Credibility can take a long time to build, but a very short amount of time to lose.

What to avoid:

Avoid labeling each product as “new and improved” – Stating that every product you release is “new and improved” is a good example of what not to do. Not only will this quickly turn people away unless the improvements are clearly tangible, you risk scorning customers who bought last years model.

Don’t over-promise – It is never a good idea to promise more than the product or service can deliver.  If your sales pitch raises expectations too high, the customer will have much higher expectations of your product/service. Even a decent experience will seem lackluster if the promises make it out to be more then it is.

The Hype Train while more commonly seen in the movie and gaming world, companies often run into trouble generating excitement or “hype” for a product too far in advance of it’s release date. Enthusiasm for a new product will only last so long, and if you release your product months (or years) after initial excitement has worn off, people won’t be as interested. Keep in mind that even if you do release a product in a timely manner after announcing it, the hype you generate will lead to increased expectations of the products performance.

You might be wondering about companies like Apple who in fact do claim each new iPhone as “New and Improved” and generally ignore these warnings. What they are selling is not just a product or service, it is a feeling – a topic for another day.

Remember: Happiness = Reality – Expectations.

Words that Work, can be found at any major retailer that sells books (ISBN 978-1401309299).

Let’s Try: Atom

May 20, 2016

As a web developer, I often find myself perusing the web for a variety of tools to work with. Even when I’m comfortable with my current workbench, I’m always on the hunt for any new programs or modules that I can supplement into my workflow. Lately, this trend has brought me to Atom, github’s multi-purpose text editor. Spoiler alert: I’m thoroughly pleased with Atom and it is my main choice for working on my home PC. Let’s run through the reasons why! read more

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Gary is a team member at Sephone, helping to design, build and maintain websites. He is also a web design student at the New England School of Communications of Husson University.

Why I Love Dropbox

May 12, 2016

Two Words.  It’s Easy.

Dropbox has been mentioned in this blog before by a few people.  And as Summer rolls up dropbox-iconto the curb, Alex reminded us about the fact that our phones WILL run out of memory.  And if “Murphy” (of the famed Murphy’s Law) has anything to say about it, you will be at your nephew’s wedding or some other event when all of a sudden you cannot store any more photos.

Memory Impacts and Your Phone

The best thing about our phones is that we use them.  We stay in touch with everything. This is also the worst thing about them.  When we run out of memory in our phones, functions are affected.  Emails, attachments all kinds of stuff that we may need access to while we are “taking the afternoon off” to do something with family.

Off-site Storage

Comes in all shapes and sizes.  Google has some, dropbox and many others.  I love dropbox because it is easy to access and you get 2G of space for FREE and you can try it out first.  2 G is enough to see if you use it or not.  Samsung often has deals with Dropbox when you buy a new Galaxy.  This is how I really got hooked.  We use at Sephone too.

Organize by Folder – Share by Image

Recently we had a death in the family.  As in most funerals,  there is some sort of Memory Board shared.  It was easy for me to share images (at full resolution) with people (and funeral homes.)  There is never a better time for things to be easy than these.

I also have client folders that are shared with them and people working on the projects that are completely separate and unique to that project. These folders can include .pdf and other documents as well as photos and images.

Take A Photo and Synchronize Automatically

You can synchronize over wireless if you want to – you never have to worry about losing these documents or memories again.  It happens when you want it or when you don’t want to think about it.

That, my friends, is why I love Dropbox.  Go on, download it now, or in the App or Google Play Store and be ready for anything that this great summer will bring!

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

A look into the world of Wordsmithing – A series about crafting messages that engage and delight – Part 2

May 2, 2016

Brevity: Use Short Words to craft a sentence

Abraham Lincoln was once asked how long “How long do you think a man’s legs should be?” He replied, “Long enough to reach the ground.”

Today, we are covering the second rule in Words that Work; “Brevity”, and how you can use it in your day to day communications – with a focus on websites and e-commerce.

When trying to describe a product or service, try to keep the description short and sweet. In the previous blog post on wordsmithing, we discussed swapping out longer, complex terms and jargon for shorter, more effective text. Now, we will look at taking those simple words and crafting them into a powerful sentence.

Some of the best examples of this style of writing can be found in ad slogans. Nike’s “Just do it” or General Mills “They’re grrreat!” Short slogans that pack a powerful punch, instantly bringing to mind an image of a brand and all that is associated with it.

Application

When writing copy for your products or services keep in mind the following tips and tricks:

  • List features as bullets points.
  • Don’t use 10 words when 5 will work.
  • Make your points clear and simple, avoid large blocks of text (Modern readers scan text, make sure your message is clear).
  • Use words with emotional impact. Explain how your product/service will end the customers pain or worry, and use motivational words like “free” and “win”.
  • Use word combos that read smoothly, such as “Try before you buy” or “Money back guarantee” (When it doesn’t sound cheesy.)
  • Use word clusters such as “Easy, Affordable, Safe” or “Quick, Friendly, Professional” to describe your product or service.

Images

We have all heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” and to this day that still holds true. If you have an image that can express your intent, cause an emotional appeal, or that describes your product better then your copy, use it.

Images are not only a great way to supplement your copy, but also a great way to keep your text short and sweet. In addition to cutting down the amount of copy you need, images will help to boost your SEO results and drive traffic to a page.

Words that Work, can be found at any major retailer that sells books (ISBN 978-1401309299.)