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What Is The TPP And Why You Should Care

Written by Brandi Bennett

Monday, June 30th, 2014

tpp

Over the last year the news has been filled with more and more information on the TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership. Some people are for it, some people are against it, and some wish to receive more information about the TPP before they decide. There are a few issues with this. The TPP is, at its core, a trade alliance, one that if agreed upon will create a partnership between twelve countries. Now, we have many different trade alliances between the U.S. and countries around the world, and there are those that argue that this is just one more. It is someone else’s responsibility to know what’s going on, they might argue, or they, mistakenly, believe that it doesn’t concern them.

We let you know about SOPA back in 2011, and now we’re letting you know about TPP, or, to be more accurate, we are letting you know what it is possible to know about the TPP. There are many different areas covered, from food to imports and exports, but the reason we bring it to your attention is due to its potential effects on the internet.

 

A Secret?

As a precursor, it is important to note that there is a distinct lack of transparency associated with the TPP; unlike other trade agreements of the past, this one is being done in secret, and very little information is making its way to the public eye, all of which has been leaked.

From those documents, however, it is possible to see that many of the principles of SOPA that we disagreed with so strongly have been included in the TPP. Though it will do far more than this, and affect far more areas than just the Internet, the most important thing for Internet users to pay attention to is the fact that it will work to decrease the online rights of companies and users alike, reducing Internet freedoms and working to increase the likelihood of net neutrality disappearing into the mists of time, something spoken of as a myth that never was.

These online freedom restrictions would not only work to restrict, and in some cases, remove freedom of speech from the internet, but, in essence, the parties who are in agreement with the TPP would have to abide by the same laws as the country with the strictest control over their users’ internet usages; an approach that would include the necessity of users to take down pages without question and remain down until such a time as the site owner could prove the right to post it, instead of applying the traditional laws that require the hosting provider to provide proof to the owner that the site must be removed and must provide the owner with a reasonable amount of time to do so before blocking access to the site itself.

 

Things Continue to Unfold

As more and more information on the TPP is leaked, more users are working to take action, lobbying politicians to take action against approval of the TPP. Google’s placed considerable time and effort into doing so, and now the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations – a national trade union center) is pushing for the government to decline to participate as well.

As we said back in 2011 – “We here at HostGator support a free internet. An internet in which free information and unhindered distribution of said information is an unalienable human right.” We still stand by this statement and we believe that you need to know what is occurring in regards to this most troubling piece of legislation.

 

Image Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation. (2014). TPP Banner. [image online] Available at: https://www.eff.org/sites/default/files/TPP-banner.png [Accessed: 27 Mar 2014].

Goooooaaaaaaalllllllll!!!!!

Written by Sean Valant

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

It’s a very exciting time in the world of sports! A time of collective exaltation, when one word can be heard above all others in joyous celebration: Goooooaaaaaaalllllllll!!!!!

In the United States, we call it soccer, but throughout the globe fútbol is a sport held deep in the collective heart of many people.

As you surely know, there is a very important fútbol tournament happening right now. We’ve decided to acknowledge and celebrate this competition by offering a special promotion: 45% off all new hosting packages and domains for as low as $8 per year!

Although we will certainly be hearing exclamations of Goooooaaaaaaalllllllll!!!!! for a few more weeks still, this special promotion is today and tomorrow only: June 24th-25th! The sale will conclude at 11:59pm CST on Wednesday, June 25th.

Throw on your favorite team’s jersey and enjoy the spirit of camaraderie that this tournament brings; may the best team win!

For just a little bit of extra fun, we made the following video that we very much hope you enjoy:

Five Must-Have Google Chrome Extensions For 2014

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

I’ve found that while computers have made our lives exponentially easier and more organized, sometimes the user can’t keep up with the technology, allowing mainstream tasks to become obsolete. For those of you who are unaware, a browser plug-in is a piece of software code that allows a program, or portion of a web page to do something it couldn’t by itself. One of the most common being Adobe Flash Player; without it, you wouldn’t be able to view videos embedded into web pages.

For these reasons we thought it’d be a good idea to share five plug-ins and browser extensions that may make your work flow and internet capabilities that much easier.

  1. Facebook Unseen- Block’s Facebook’s read receipts from being sent.

I actually really like this one. While Facebook has become an integral marketing tool, it has also become one of the largest time-sucks from a day of productivity. It’s hard not responding to a message from a friend or client when it’s indicated very clearly that the message has been received.

Sometimes we receive a message via mobile and don’t have the means to respond properly on the go. I find this is the perfect solution to still being able to read a message, while not offending someone while you wait to respond until later.

facebook_unseen

 

  1. Grammarly Lite- Rest assured your e-mails are making sense.

Spell checking is nothing revolutionary when it comes to most e-mail and comment boxes. However, when it comes to ensuring professional fluency in the messages you send out, grammatical mistakes often go unnoticed until the message is already in your sent box. The ways in which you’re covered include:

  • Prepositional errors

  • Inaccurate usage of pronouns

  • Irregular verb conjugations, etc.

Spell checking is also included in the set of features, which may come in handy for less developed messaging programs. Grammarly Lite works on all Social Media applications as well, so status updates, and messages will be on point.

 

  1. LastPass- Securely store your passwords and personal information

How many contact forms are you going to fill out before you entrust a third party to securely remember all of your Log-in information? With LastPass you won’t have to again!

Personally, I get overwhelmed with how many accounts I belong to, and how many new registration forms are requested on a monthly basis. Saving minutes here and there while logging in really amps up efficiency during the work day, and prevents remembering all of the various user-names and passwords we’re accountable for as individuals.

last_pass

 

  1. StayFocusd- Block out your online distractions

Here I sit, guilty as charged. As a writer I spend the majority of my work day pinned between my word processor, and a limitless expansion of digital distractions. My saving grace has been allowing StayFocusd to do what my discipline could not, and that’s block the pages and applications I knew were hindering my work flow.

Notable features include entire domain blocking, specific sub-domains, paths and in-page content (images, games, videos). You can even set a time limit if you want to browse for only a reasonable period of time. Many companies have put out comparable applications for considerable annual fees, StayFocusd is free!

 

  1. NiftySplit- Split Chrome into two windows

Not quite dual screen potential, but for anyone doing work on the go, having your browser split to surf through web pages more efficiently is a wonderful tool. How it works is you open your favorite website (The Homepage) and when you click on any link it then opens in the right hand side of the split screen interface.

Researchers, shoppers, and anyone just browsing web links will love not having to open a web page, click back and find their location in the link index again.

nifty_split

What are you favorite Chrome extensions? Let us know in the comments!

 

Image sources:

Facebook Unseen- http://img.brothersoft.com/screenshots/softimage/f/facebook_unseen_for_chrome-518325-13771402970.jpeg

LastPass- http://www.majorgeeks.com/index.php?ct=files&action=file&id=2566

NiftySplit- http://core5.staticworld.net/images/article/2013/09/niftysplit-100054314-large.jpg

Online Business Planning For Newbs

Written by Michael Dickens II

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Have you discovered a need that can be filled online? Are you decided in your approach to fill that need? Are you clueless or brand new to the process of creating, publishing and maintaining a website? If so, this article is for you.

At this point, you may have already outlined your operations strategy and colorfully grown your brain child into an impressive embryo of idea rich DNA. And, if you are a business mind worth anywhere near your salt, you are preparing to tackle all those unknown expletives…lol…or rather variables

 

1. Know Your 1, 2, 3s

First thing’s first. A decision to proceed and capitalize on the shiny new “land of opportunity,” found in the WWW, is a decision to either spend money (hopefully wisely) OR invest considerable time. Again, just to be clear, your success will be a derivative of either 1. Monetary Investment or 2. Substantial Time Investment. And, in most cases, depending on the lofty or lowly goals you may set, 3. Both could be imperative.

It is, therefore, necessary to ensure you make the “right” decision for YOU and your business model. There is typically a direct relationship between the quality of development and the amount of monetary investment required. A good web developer will cost a good amount of money while a great developer will cost a great amount of money. The same is true of your time investment. If you are completely inexperienced, developing a site, alone, from scratch, will require serious time in order to conquer the learning curve involved. The more complex or polished you desire your site to be, the more the time investment you must make in order to get it that way.

You must also consider that websites are not static. Generally speaking. They will consequently require occasional or frequent updates. These updates could be necessary on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis depending on your business needs.

Again, this will cost either money or time. Unless, of course, you have an awesome friend who is adept at all things “web” and can give you a courtesy hook-up. Otherwise, build this cost into your business budget and plan. It is an absolute.

 

2. Mark Your Method

Once you have picked your poison and chosen your pill, outline the next steps of your process (realistically). Example: When tying shoes, step 1 is take string A and crossover string B…In other words, you want a REAL step by step process in place so you can quickly identify your preferred criteria and make an informed decision. That process can take a while. So, we created the following starter checklist just to get you started:

 

When evaluating potential developers you will want to evaluate:

1. Are their prices competitive?

2. Does their work portfolio include examples similar to your expectations?

3. Can they provide ongoing maintenance as you would need it?

 

When deciding on a DIY-business project you will want to do the following:

1.  Establish a set period of time (start and finish) during which you will commit to hone your skills as a developer.

2. Decide what information (i.e. books, websites, how-to articles, etc.) you need to study in order to create the vision you have in mind.

3. Consider and plan to study all necessary security measures if developing an e-commerce site.

 

3. EXECUTE!!!

A plan means NOTHING without action. Therefore, plan the execution of your plan. Set a solid start date and develop a timeline with various (practical) goals. Understand that the nature of planning denotes that everything will not always go according to plan. So, plan for change. Build a “review period” into your timeline and prioritize celebrating your successes in addition to acknowledging where/how you need to improve.

 

4. Launch

Never approach a launch casually. Be sure to check and double check and triple check site functionality. Have others proofread and test the site thoroughly. After all is officially approved-set and promote your launch. And, when you arrive at this point in the process, give yourself a pat on the back. Invite your friends over for a party. Go out on the town. Whatever you do, make sure you do something AND enjoy yourself!!! You have reached a significant milestone in the life of your business. Whether you contracted someone to help put flesh on your idea or you did all the grunt work alone, you still have great cause to be excited. Make a big deal about your launch. You earned it!

 

Quick recap, understand the different types of investments that will be required. Choose one (or a combination). Build your plan according to the corresponding investment method. Execute your plan. Launch your business!

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