Thursday, July 12, 2007

New Client ... Servosity

We're announcing a new client that we acquired several months ago:

Servosity - On Demand Backup

Damien found us through a web link on Guru.com (and we are grateful that he did), and we have been helping Servosity tweak their back end, databases, and network infrastructure to ensure that their network keeps up with the software that they are developing. So far, so good!

If you are in need of some reliable backup software (you do have some, don't you?), make sure to call the team at Servosity!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Difference Between Marketing, Advertising, PR and Branding

What an amazing graphic to explain Marketing, Advertising, PR, and Branding.

No explanation is needed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Web Page Sizes

Back to the site optimization theme I've written about lately ....

A lot of attention is paid to file size when working with web sites and web applications. Specifically, there is a lot of literature on compressing Javascript files (by the way, the best way is to use Rhino or the Dojo toolkit which has built an online tool, ShrinkSafe) and tweaking images and graphics for fast, faster, and fastest load times.

Sometimes web developers forget about optimizing the content!

On a recent web project, our team noticed that the pages were taking longer to load than necessary. I noticed my FasterFox timer had gone from a few seconds to over 15 seconds on some pages. We began digging into the first culprits (Javascript and graphics) and concluded that neither were the issue. Javascript was well compressed using a custom ant target (which uses ShrinkSafe to compress the javascript), and the images were at a reasonable size, well under 100K for the whole page.

I decided, somewhat haphazardly, to look at the source code on the page that was taking some time to load. I saved the HTML code as a new file, and checked the file size. At over 65,000 lines of code, the HTML file, alone, weighed in at over 3.3 MB. That is huge, considering that our average page size is between 12K and 45K. After doing some more digging, it appears that 86% of the 3.3MB file is white space ... specifically, spaces and newline characters.

The culprit? A developer, who was using spaces instead of tabs. A simple, and common, IDE setting was inflating a page from under 500K to over 3.3MB. Several JSP files, with loops in them, had hundreds of spaces that expanded in our application to thousands upon thousands of white spaces.

Lesson learned: Use tabs, not spaces, when programming or coding.

Monday, May 21, 2007

TimeForge.com version 1.4 Press Release

Lubbock, TX – May 21, 2007 – TimeForge.com, a scheduling application designed for the food-service industry, was released in February and has been quickly adopted by the hospitality industry. For years, electronic scheduling has been a growing alternative to “pen-and-paper” scheduling, but most electronic systems have been overly complex and cumbersome to use. Employee scheduling is now simple! The TimeForge.com software is easy to use, quick to implement, and provides an effective combination of quality software and extensive features, with monthly programs starting under $10 / month.

Along with the basic ability to quickly and easily create schedules that work for your business (including multi-week or monthly schedules), TimeForge.com includes AutoScheduler™, an automatic scheduling tool developed with leading industry experts. The AutoScheduler™ program simplifies the creation of schedules by accurately balancing employee requests, payroll costs, and staffing requirements. With the click of a mouse, the AutoScheduler™ can create an entire 7-day schedule for your business in under 30 seconds! Blazing fast scheduling combined with industry-leading reports puts you and your managers back where you belong .... on the floor with your customers.

TimeForge.com will automatically alert employees of newly posted schedules and schedule changes on a continual basis. Employees can be notified through the TimeForge.com website, email, or even daily text message alerts. Multiple notifications provide a solid scheduling system that eliminates any confusion about staff responsibilities. TimeForge.com also reduces the amount of time that managers spend on the phone with employees. Employees can log in to their individual TimeForge.com accounts and enter a work request (time off, school schedules, work preferences, etc...); the manager can then approve or deny employee requests at their convenience.

TimeForge.com can save your business time and money, and can reduce confusion and tension between the management and staff.

Sign up for your free 90-day trial at www.TimeForge.com today!


About TimeForge.com
TimeForge.com is an employee scheduling application designed for the hospitality and restaurant industries. Currently used by more than 100 restaurants, bars, and clubs from all over the United States, TimeForge.com is designed from the ground-up to simplify the complicated process of employee scheduling, with a single task in mind: to put management back where they belong – on the floor with customers.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

TimeForge.com Update

The premier software for employee scheduling in the restaurant and hospitality industry got an exciting update today!

Many different screen shots and movies are now posted, so you can see what TimeForge can do for your restaurant, bar, or club before you sign up for a free trial. And, as mentioned yesterday, our new pages load even faster than before - we reduced the size of our pages by another 40K, which means TimeForge.com is now simple AND fast.

Coming soon to TimeForge.com: Tutorials and Version 1.4 of the software

Ready to see what automatic employee scheduling software can do for you? Sign up for a free trial of our flagship software product, TimeForge.com

Friday, May 18, 2007

Speed of a Website

SmugMug founder Don MacAskill recently wrote about the need for speed in his application space. Specifically, he took some stats from the Alexa tool from Amazon.com.

According to Alexa's own Speed Test, Alexa aggregates data from all of their users who have their toolbar installed on their machines. But I'm not sure how they decided that SmugMug takes (on average) 0.9 seconds to load. Perhaps an explanation is in order.

According to WebSiteOptimization.com (a tool we use quite often), SmugMug's index page is 351K and it would take someone on a T1 about 6.26 seconds to load. Which means that if Alexa's load time is 0.9 seconds, the average Alexa user who visits SmugMug.com would be (6.26 seconds / 0.9 seconds) = 6.95 times faster than a T1 connection. Since a T1 is 1.44 Mbps download that would be 10.08 Mbps down!!

Using those same numbers for our restaurant / hospitality employee scheduling product TimeForge (which is about to get a massive update on both the website and the application) we get some great load times! TimeForge is 171K in size (our next update should reduce the size by another 40K!), and should be loaded by a T1 in about 4.11 seconds. Assuming that our average user has a 10Mbps connection (like SmugMug!), our load time is 0.59 seconds!

As for the 10Mbps? Don pointed out - statistics are best in relation to other statistics, and doing some digging on our competition would probably be the best relation for the Alexa stats.

Monday, May 14, 2007

IEEE Paper on Embedded Mesh Networks

Exciting news!!

A paper that we sponsored and co-authored (through Resolution Systems) is going to be presented at the IEEE International Symposium on Consumer Electronics conference held in Dallas, Texas from June 20, 2007 - June 23, 2007. The paper was a fairly comprehensive look at the transmission of Zigbee data over a CC2420 chip using an MSP430 microprocessor from Texas Instruments.

Much of the work was done by our chief electrical engineer, Michael Helm, and the paper is an exploration of antenna orientation, transmission distance, and how well data transmits through various objects (like refrigerators). In fact, during his course of work testing external ranges, he almost stepped on a prairie rattlesnake!

Michael will be presenting the paper on our behalf in Dallas, so stop by and say hello!

If you are interested in any of our findings, feel free to contact us.