Saturday, December 29, 2012

Website Development Articles

This platform provides website development articles for web developers. Also you can find Website design, web design,custom website developmentt and ecommerce web design related articles.

Cabins & Rates

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to Select and Join an Affiliate Program

Affiliate ProgramThere are many horror stories about affiliate programs and networks that related to illegal programs or pyramid schemes. Basically, these do not have worthy products.
These are the schemes you do not want to be associated with. It is obvious you want to be with a program that offers high quality product that you will readily endorse. The growing number of those who have joined already and are succeeding is proof enough that there are reliable and quality affiliate programs out there.
Why participate in an affiliate program?
An affiliate program allows you to work part-time. It gives you the opportunity to build a generous residual income. And it makes you an owner of a small business. Affiliate programs have already created lots of millionaires. They are the living testimony of how hard work and continuous prospecting and motivating or training others, pays off.
If you decide to join one, you must take note that you are getting into something that should be patterned to what you are capable of. This will assure that you are successful.
How do you choose a good affiliate program to promote / join? Here are some tips to consider before you sign up:
1. Will it cost you anything to join? Most affiliate programs being offered today are absolutely free of charge. So why settle for those that charge you some dollars before joining.
An extremely good affiliate program with many products and marketing tools available to you is mentioned on my site within my articles menu with the same subject name as this article. Have a browse and if you like it - join!
Affiliate Program2. Join a program that you like and have an interest in. One of the best ways of knowing if an affiliate program is the kind of program you wish to promote, is if you are interested in purchasing the product yourself. If so, there are likely others who are also interested in the same program and products.
3. Look for a program that is of high quality. For instance, one that is associated with many experts in that particular industry. This way, you are assured that you are joining a high standard program.
4. Join affiliate programs that offer real and viable products. How can you tell? Do some initial research. If possible, track down some of the members and customers to give you testimonial on the credibility of the program.
5. Check whether the program is catering to a growing target market. This will ensure you that there will be more and continuous demands for your referrals. There are forums and discussions you can participate in to get this information.
6. An affiliate program that pays out 30% or more would be a great choice. There are some programs offering this kind of compensation. Look closely for one. Do not waste your time with programs that do not reward substantially for your efforts.
7. Be aware of the minimum quotas or sales targets that you must fill. Some affiliate programs imposes pre-requisites before you get your commissions. Just be sure that you are capable of attaining their requirements.
8. Choose one that has plenty of tools and resources that can help you grow the business in the shortest possible time. Not all affiliate programs have these capacities.
9. Check out if the program has a proven system that can allow you to check your networks and compensation. Also check if they have it available online for you to check anytime and anywhere.
10. Choose an affiliate program that is offering strong incentives for members to renew their membership or that provide continuous help and upgrades for its products. These programs have the tendency to retain their members and can assure the growth of your networks.
11. Be aware of the things that members are not happy about in a program. As mentioned above, you can do your checking at discussion forums. If you know someone in that same program, there is no harm asking if there are many downsides involved.
12. Is the affiliate a one tier or two tier program? A single tier program pays you only for the business you yourself have generated. A two tier program pays you for the business, plus it also pays you a commission on the on the sales generated by any affiliate you sponsor in your program. Some two-tier programs are even paying small fees on each new affiliate you sponsor. More like a recruitment fee.

How to Find the Right Affiliate Programs

Affiliate ProgramsFinding the right affiliate programs to make money with is fairly simple. The first step is picking the niche topic or niche topics you want to have websites about. The best topics to start with are the topics you are interest in or passionate about.
After you decide the topics you can begin to look for affiliate programs that offer products that are related to your topics. Applying for most affiliate programs is easy and only requires you to give them your information and they'll allow you to join their affiliate program. However, some affiliate programs have an approval process and won't approve you to join their program without certain requirements like having a completed website, a certain amount of traffic or a certain method of advertising their product. For the affiliate programs that have tight criteria re-apply for them at a later date when your website is getting a large amount of traffic and your website is completely built.
While you search for affiliate programs you should also learn about what types of keywords people that search for the topic you have chosen use to search for to get to information about the topic. There are quite a few websites available that have keyword information. Some websites you need to pay for to use their service. If you want to minimize your costs you can do some research on your own. Keywords are determined by what a person is interested in regarding a topic and what words they use to search for topic.
Affiliate ProgramsAnother topic to research while you are looking for affiliate programs is the how people advertise affiliate programs. Banner ads are a common way that people advertise affiliate programs, but many people say that banner ads have become ineffective means of advertising. The statistics of banner ads show they usually have low click through rates for affiliate programs. A popular way people are using right now to advertise affiliate programs are through text links. Text links can appear any where in an article and do best in a context that pre-sells the link and make a person want to click on it when they read it.
Text links also serve another purpose and that is to drive traffic to a website. Links that use keywords are considered 'anchor links' for a search engine and will give a higher ranking through a search engine.
Sometimes it can be hard to find a lot of affiliate programs for certain topics. If there are different websites that sell products for the topic you have chosen, but they don't advertise that they offer an affiliate program you can contact them to see if they do have one or would be interested in setting one up. Many businesses don't realize that they have nothing to lose setting up an affiliate program and everything to gain. When you are searching for affiliate programs you would be wise to learn about how affiliate programs are created and offer this to webmasters who don't have an affiliate program started.
Content for your topic is the next step in creating your website. Having some knowledge about HTML coding can be very helpful, but often time it is not necessary, because there are so many programs available that make building a website easily.
When you create your website content it is important to keep three things in mind: Know the information people want about your chosen topic, know the keywords people search for and know the affiliate programs that are available to you. The content you write should be able to catch a person's interest and direct them to an affiliate program website for the desired results. Learning how to pre-sell a product appropriately will give you the best results.
Another affiliate program type worth mentioning is contextual based advertising programs. Google ad sense and Kanoodle are two of the programs that offer this type of advertising. The simplest explanation of these programs is they analyze the content on a web page and display ads that are related to what you have written. If you have a topic that really interests you, but can not find any affiliate programs out there that will apply to your topic these are a good affiliate program to join and use on your website. These affiliate programs are good to use even if you have many affiliate programs already, because they can produce descent revenue by themselves.
The more affiliate programs you join the more chances for making money you will have. The more topics you have available for people to gain information from the more ways you can earn money from affiliate programs. Keeping up-to-date on the newest ways people use to advertise their affiliate programs and continuously improving your marketing knowledge will give you an advantage and lead you to a lucrative affiliate program business.
Kevin has been a successful online business owner since 2003. Need Help Deciding Try a FREE HOME CAREER at [] He is also owner of, and [].
If you need help with a homebased business contact Kevin at

4 Tips For An Effective Affiliate Program

Affiliate Program
1. What Is an Affiliate Management Program and Why Do You Need One?
Affiliate management programs allow you to effectively operate your affiliate program and the partnerships formed through it. You need effective affiliate management to ensure the highest ROI possible for all of your partnerships. is the poster child for a hugely successful affiliate management program. How did they do it? By using a robust affiliate management progr`m and providing powerful tools and training to their affiliates.
2. Where Can You Find an Effective Affiliate Management Program?
Of course, Amazon's affiliate management program, code is proprietary, so you won't be able to get your hands on that, but you CAN get one. Then, just how can you get your own affiliate management program? It's simple, they're everywhere. If you type the phrase "affiliate management program" into your favorite search engine, you'll see a plethora of returned search results. Don't despair just yet; I'm going to tell you just what to look for in an effective affiliate management program.
But for now, you must decide if it's more of a benefit for you to buy and install an off-the-shelf software package on your server, or to pay for a hosted service, even if you have the expertise to easily install your own program. Does the boxed version do everything you need it to do? Is the price right? (Only you can decide that.)
3. Things to Look for In an Affiliate Management Program
Affiliate ProgramYour affiliate management program should allow you to track your affiliates' progress, train them, contact them individually, and even make special arrangements with them (partnerships). A quality affiliate management program should immediately give you the information you need about your affiliates at a glance.
You should instantly be able to see who your best performing affiliates are and which ones are struggling. In this case, use the tools in your affiliate management program to email an automated training series to the affiliates who are having difficulty, or offer more personalized help. The choice is yours. On the flip-side of that, you can offer your best performers better incentives to keep the sales coming. Does your current affiliate management program allow you to do this?
4. What Are Multi-tiered Affiliate Management Programs
A multi-tiered affiliate management program is one that not only pays your affiliates commissions on the sales they make, but it also allows them to recruit others and make a percentage of their sales as well. Multi-tiered affiliate management programs are structured somewhat like MLM programs. They allow the top person to make a percentage of the sales of everyone else whom they recruit. Some affiliate programs go as deep as 5 levels, but these normally don't live up to expectations. It's like, "each one - teach one. The person directly above is responsible for the success of the person directly beneath them.
Two-tiered affiliate management programs usually work best for this. They are the most effective, as others don't pay as well on the 1st and 2nd levels (tiers) as the 2-tier affiliate management programs. Affiliate management programs that stretch beyond 2 levels may place the highest commission percentage to be earned on the lower levels - which are usually not filled. This prevents the affiliates from making the max commissions on their sales. It also provides little incentive for affiliates to keep promoting your product/service.
Therefore, for the best results I strongly recommend you use a two-tier affiliate management program if you're thinking of implementing a multi-tiered affiliate management program. Better yet, implement an affiliate management program that gives you the flexibility to offer a flat affiliate program, a 2-tiered affiliate program, or no program at all to your affiliates.
Look for an affiliate management program that's part of a package, or e-business suite. The package or suite should be a synergistic combination of e-business tools that you effectively manage and see the results of your efforts. For instance, you should be able to view your affilliates' stats, ads, and progress, etc. Don't make it harder that it has to be. Let the tools do the work for you by choosing the right tools upfront. So, you need a combination of powerful tools that automatically run and manage your affiliate program for you.
Offer your affiliates a chance to earn commissions, even recurring commissions through your affiliate management program. Let your affiliate program do the tracking and expense calculations. You benefit by instantly seeing which ads produce the best results for you, and which ones you need to toss. Then, everyone's happy - you and your affiliates!
Thanks for reading, and much success to you in your online endeavors!
Ettione Stuckey has a passion for ecommerce and Internet Marketing. He understands the science and application of ecommerce technology and concepts. Benefit from his efforts and learn more about affiliate management at

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mortgage Affiliate Program Profits

There are a number of affiliate programs available through many different types of merchants. One of the most common affiliate offers, though, is a mortgage affiliate program.
Program ProfitsA mortgage affiliate program operates the same as most any other affiliate program with other merchants. The mortgage broker or mortgage lender offers to pay you an agreed dollar amount for either a click through from a link on your web site, a fixed dollar amount for a lead you've generated through your link, or a percentage of the amount financed through a lender by a new customer that visited their site as a result of your link.
While a mortgage affiliate program can be a beneficial way to earn added dollars, it's still much the same as other affiliate programs out there. The similarity is due to the fact that a mortgage affiliate program is not a way to earn money fast, despite promises made by the mortgage affiliate program to simply place their banner on your web site and watch the money start rolling into your bank account.
If you're serious about becoming involved in a mortgage affiliate program, there are literally hundreds out there from which to choose. Make your decision carefully, though, and consider the following items as you look at different mortgage affiliate programs.
1. Choose a mortgage affiliate program that offers excellent affiliate support and communication.
A good way to test the waters as to how good the mortgage broker or lender's communication and support is with their affiliates is to simply email an inquiry. If they don't respond within a day, send one more email. If you haven't heard from the mortgage broker or lender you've chosen within two to three days, chances are it's best to search elsewhere for a mortgage affiliate program. A mortgage affiliate program that doesn't even bother to respond to a serious inquiry probably will not offer the support needed once you've put their program into action on your site.
Program Profits2. Don't pay money to enter into a mortgage affiliate program.
If a mortgage affiliate program asks for money in order for you to post their link on your web site, it could possibly be a Multi Level Marketing, or MLM, program, which are normally not successful in mortgage affiliate programs. Additionally, chances are good that such an offer could, plain and simply put, be a scam just out to take your money. A true mortgage affiliate program will be available to you at no charge.
3. Consider a mortgage affiliate program only with a broker or lender that is honest.
When you make your initial email contact with the company offering a mortgage affiliate program, don't be afraid to ask for references of others currently involved in their mortgage affiliate program. If they won't offer references to you, be wary. If they do offer a name or two for you to contact, ask the affiliates how successful the program has been for them, what level of support they receive from the broker or lender, and ask them to describe their experience working as an affiliate. If all of these questions are answered with a positive response, chances are you're making a good decision with signing onto the mortgage affiliate program.
4. Choose a mortgage affiliate program that offers a variety of ways of reaching potential customers.
Some mortgage affiliate programs require a banner link on your web site. While this is the option of choice for many affiliates, consider a company that also offers text links for your site, or allows you to purchase mailing lists in order to promote the mortgage affiliate program through email. Even if these options are not immediately of interest to you, if the program takes off in your favor, it could be another way to generate additional funds. Text links can be an excellent choice, especially if you already have a couple of affiliate programs posted that you're working with, or are considering working with others in the near or distant future. With too many affiliate banners, your site can start to appear littered, distracting from the content of your web site, loading slower, and frustrating visitors that might otherwise click on your affiliate links. Flexibility with the mortgage affiliate program on how you connect with individuals interested in the mortgage program can give you some great options on how to develop and increase your affiliate earnings.
There are numerous mortgage affiliate programs available. A simple search through your favorite search engine will verify this to be true. While we endorse none of these mortgage affiliate programs, a few that are readily available and are continuously looking for affiliates to sign on are as follows. Watch for two-tiered programs, where you're paid for individuals that go to the company's web site through your link and fill out a form, and then are also paid a commission if that customer also finances or refinances because of your link.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Overview of Computers and Technology Law

The 21st century truly is the "high tech age." As a consequence, computers and technology law is of crucial importance. In point of fact there are an ever growing number of issues relating to computers and technology law at this juncture in history. With that in mind, this overview of computers and technology law is presented.
One of the more active areas in regard to computers and technology law involves issues stemming from copyright. When it comes to computers, the Internet and technology law, copyright issues have become very commonplace. Protecting copyright interests with the growth of the Internet has become particularly problematic. In point of fact, with the growth of the Internet, and with the increasing incidence and complexity of copyright issues associated with the Net, there is a whole new legal specialty including attorneys that focus their practices on these issues.
Copyright issues extend beyond the Internet as well into the arena of software and hardware development as well. In regard to computers and technology law, the protection of intellectual property associated with software and hardware is extremely important. Once again, this is an area which has given rise to a whole new legal specialty consisting of attorneys who are focusing their energy and efforts on protection the intellectual property interests of those men, women and companies involved in the design and development of software applications and computer related hardware.
Of course, some of the most important developments that have occurred in regard to computers and technology law are related to music and the downloading of music off of the Internet and World Wide Web. Through both litigation in courts and statutes and regulations that have gone into effect, there continues to be a great deal of activity in the arena of protecting the copyright interest of people involved in the music industry on different levels.Computers and Technology Law
Although it has not become as prevalent as many industry analysts predicted, there has been a slow but nonetheless fairly steady increase in the number of people who are using ebooks at the present point in time. (Many experts predicted about five years ago that there would be a significant number of people using and reading ebooks by this point in time. While this significant increase that was contemplated in the past has not occurred, the number of eBook users is higher than it was five years ago.)Computers and Technology Law
With the increase in eBook usage -again, which is expected to expand at least to some degree in the next few years - there has been a growing concern associated with protecting the copyright interest of authors who are finding their work in eBook form. On a number of levels, it is a more complicated task to protect written materials that are included in ebooks that is the case with traditional, "brick and mortar world" publications. Therefore, in regard to computers and technology law, there is a growing interest amongst attorneys in developing more effective avenues through which the content of ebooks can be protected in this high tech age.
Jeff Ryan creates quality legal articles to help you learn more about common legal issues.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How To Select Affiliate Programs

 Affiliate Programs
Affiliate programs offer most promising opportunities to earn money, to grow contacts and to establish yourself on the net. But this is easier said than done. There are so many affiliate programs available - genuine programs and the other ones. Joining most of these programs is extremely easy. The natural question is - how do you locate good programs that will suit you?
This is an important question and needs careful consideration. It is better to do a little research before joining a program rather than realizing later that all is not well.
The first consideration is the reputation of the program. It is worthwhile doing some research on this to satisfy yourself. There can be several ways of doing it. You can get in contact with the person who referred the program to you and find out his experience with it. Visit the website of the program and look for testimonials. If you know someone who is well versed with internet marketing he can offer you some advice. There are also websites that evaluate various affiliate programs and you can find them quite easily by searching on Google.
Generally affiliate programs found at these directories can be trusted because these directories do their own verification of the programs before registering them. However, this should not absolve you from doing your own little research.
Once this issue is settled to your satisfaction, you have crossed a big hurdle. I shall assume that you are interested in long term relationship and your own persistence with the program will count as much to your success as the benefits you get from the program.
Another consideration is how much it will cost to join the program. Many programs offer free affiliate membership and to that extent risk is minimized. Therefore it will be advisable to go for free or low cost affiliate programs unless you have definite information that it is worth paying for the program of your choice.
 Affiliate Programs
Payment schedule of the affiliate program is another issue to be considered. There are wide variations. Various programs pay weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly and some progr`ms give immediate payments. There is now a tendency towards immediate payment and many affiliate programs are adopting it. This is facilitated by using payment processors like PayPal and Stormpay. The method of payment also varies - payments may be made by checks, direct deposit in the bank account or through the payment processors. Also different programs have their own policy regarding minimum commission that must accrue before payments can be made to the affiliates. You will be in the best position to decide whether the program's payment policy suits you.
Another factor to be considered is - what is the hit per sale ratio? This is the average number of hits to a banner or text link it takes to generate a sale based on all affiliate statistics. Many programs make this data available to the affiliates which is a big help. This factor is extremely important because this will tell you how much traffic you must generate before you are likely to earn a commission from the sale.
Now almost all the affiliate programs track the computers which are used to access the affiliate sites by placing cookies on those computers. The lifetime of these cookies varies from few months to the lifetime of the computer. This is necessary to give credit to the affiliate for any sales made through his promotional efforts. The period of time that those cookies stay in the system is also important. This is because most of the time visitors do not buy initially but may want to return later to make the purchase. It will be advantageous to know if you will still get credit for the sale if it is done some months from a certain day.
Success of promotion can be improved only by trial and error. There is no fool-proof strategy which will work for all situations. This has to be done the hard way. The affiliate program should give ad-tracking services to their affiliates to keep track of their promotional campaigns. The data these services generate should be available online anytime you decide to check them out. Constantly checking your individual stats is important to know how many impressions, hits and sales are already generated from your site.
The affiliate program should offer physical goods, goods in electronic form and/or services of some value to their customers. As an affiliate you should have good knowledge about what the program offers. It will be to your advantage if you actually own and use any of those products - you will be able to narrate first-hand experience to your prospective customers. If by any chance you do not really understand what the program offers, it is better not to join such program.
Does the affiliate program have a single tier or multi-level structure? A single tier program pays you only for the business you have directly generated. A multi-level program pays you for the business, plus it also pays you a commission on the sales generated by any affiliate you sponsor in your program. Multi-level programs help you leverage your earnings which grow to huge amount with consistent effort. In the process you have a chance to get to know your up-line and down-line affiliates well and develop personal relationships with them.
Lastly, what is the commission paid by the program? What other payments are made by the program? There can be one time commission for selling a single item, recurring commission for services or memberships, leveraged earnings and bonus of various types. Understanding the compensation as well as affiliate structure is necessary for an affiliate.
These are some of the important considerations for evaluating an affiliate program. It is not a complete list by any means. The affiliate needs to remain watchful for surprises. Even then some element of risk will always be there. The success of the affiliate will depend not only on the program, but also on his own efforts.
Sanjay Johari is an author and an internet marketer. Visit his website for network marketing opportunities, resources, articles and other information:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why You Should Promote Residual Affiliate Programs

Affiliate Programs
Are you a webmaster in need of additional income? Or are you planning to set up an online business but you still don't have any product to sell? If so, affiliate marketing may be the best solution for your problems. With affiliate marketing, you won't need to worry about the products you have to sell. All you need to have is a website with sufficient contents that are related to the products of a certain online company offering affiliate programs. By becoming a member of the program, or by becoming an affiliate, you can start earning a certain amount of money right away!
Affiliate marketing is some sort of business relationship established between a merchant and his affiliates. In affiliate marketing, an affiliate agrees to direct some traffic to a merchant's website. If that traffic is converted into some kind of action, like a visitor purchasing a product on the merchant's website or a visitor becoming a lead for the company, the affiliate who directed the traffic will be compensated. Compensation may take the form of either a percentage sales commission for the sales generated or a fixed fee predetermined upon the application of the affiliate on the merchant's affiliate program.
Promising a lot of benefits both for the merchants and the affiliates, affiliate marketing has become one of the most popular online marketing methods today. In fact, almost every merchant or retailer site today offers an affiliate program that any one can join into. Most retailers would entice people to become affiliates or members of their program by promising great benefits like large commissions, lifetime commissions, click through incomes and a lot of other benefits. But would all these affiliate programs bring off the same benefits?
Affiliate ProgramsMost affiliate programs would pay you, as an affiliate, a one-time commission for every sale or lead you brought to the merchant's website. Commissions for this kind of affiliate programs are usually large, ranging from 15% to a high of about 60%. Other affiliate programs would pay you a fixed fee for every click through or traffic you send to the merchant's site. Programs like this often pay a smaller fee for every click through, usually not getting any larger than half a dollar. The good thing about this kind of program, however, is that the visitor won't have to purchase anything in order for the affiliate to get compensated.
Another type of affiliate program is the residual income affiliate program. Residual affiliate programs usually pay only a small percentage of sales commission for every sale directed by the affiliate to the merchant's site. This commission often comes only in the range of 10% to 20% sales commission. Because of this, many people ignore residual affiliate program and would rather opt for the high paying one-time commission affiliate program. Are these people making a mistake, or are they making the right decision?
We can't tell, for sure, if people are making a mistake by choosing a high paying one-time commission affiliate program. But we can definitely say that they are making a large mistake if they ignore residual affiliate programs. Residual affiliate programs would indeed pay at a lower rate, but merchants offering such kind of programs would generally pay you regular and ongoing commissions for a single affiliate initiated sale! That means, for the same effort you made in promoting a particular affiliate program, you get paid only once in a one-time commission program, and a regular and ongoing commission for a residual program!
So, are the benefits of promoting residual affiliate programs clearer to you now? Or are they still vague? If they are still vague, then let's make them a bit clearer with this example.
Suppose there are two online merchants both offering web hosting services on their sites. The first merchant offers a one-time commission type of affiliate program that pays $80 for every single affiliate initiated sale. The second merchant also offers an affiliate program, but this time a residual affiliate program that pays only $10 for every single affiliate initiated sale. As an affiliate, we may get attracted at once at what the first merchant is offering, as $80 is definitely a lot larger than $10. But by thinking things over before actually getting into them, one may be able to see that the second merchant is offering us more opportunity to earn a larger amount of money.
Supposed you have directed traffic to the merchant and it converted into a sale, you'll get paid once by the first merchant for the sale you have initiated. But with the second merch`nt, you'll get paid monthly for as long as the customer you have referred to the merchant continues to avail of the web hosting service. That means that for the same effort of getting one customer to avail of the merchant's service, you get paid monthly in residual affiliate programs while you only get paid once in a one-time commission type of affiliate programs.
So, are residual affiliate programs worth promoting? Definitely yes, because you virtually get more money from these types of affiliate programs in the long run! And would residual affiliate programs work best for you? Probably not, probably yes. It is not really for me to tell. But with the benefits that residual affiliate marketing can provide, it would really be unwise to ignore such programs.
Emmanuel Aubrey Website Creator/Power Affiliate. My website is Why You Should Promote Residual Affiliate Programs [] or []

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Computers and Technology - Internet Tools and Software

Internet Tools and Software
Nowadays, there is much that a PC owner is able to do to maintain the performance or or even effect a simple repair with suitable Internet tools and software. Most complaints about the performance of a PC centre around the slowing down of the machine. In my experience fragmentation of the "C" or "D" hard drive or both is often a major cause. This is because with continual deletion and overwriting of new files, the data ends up all over the drive in small segments. The PC operating system, i.e., XP or VISTA provides a built in defrag program to reduce the file fragmentation. Usually, the invoking of the defrag program will make your PC fast again.Internet Tools and Software
Other Internet Tools and Software are available to fix problems involving the Internet when your machine becomes saddled with Spyware and Adware. These unwelcome programs enable outside individuals and companies to spy on your web browsing activities and invade your privacy. 'Scan your Computer for Free' programs are available to effectively eliminate these nasties. Also, most people are aware of virus infections in one's PC and there are good AntiVirus programs, which will keep your PC safe.
Another problem which will challenge your PC is missing and invalid references in your Windows registry. Again, there are good programs to clean any invalid or obsolete entries.
To summarise in this modern day of Computers and Technology, there are many Internet Tools and Software available for you to keep your PC running efficiently. These tools are easy to install and apply and are relatively inexpensive to buy representing good insurance for your PC investment.
This article authored and submitted by: Ralph McIlwraith
Ralph has had many years experience with Computers and Technology, Internet Tools and Software

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Online Degree Tips - Your Guide To Online Degree Programs

Online Degree Tips
Is an Online Business Degree Right for You?
Deciding if an online business degree is right for you is an easy task. With the wide selection of programs, flexibility and personalized formatting, an online business degree is a great choice for any one new to the business world or those that are very experienced but looking to learn more.
These degrees can be obtained in many fields of business, for examples, accounting, general business, leadership and marketing. Many colleges offer these business degree, but three well know, accredited online colleges are Ashworth College, Kaplan University and Walden University.
To decide which online business degree is right for you, it is best to decide what your career goals are or what your current job calls for. For instance, if you want to start your own small business, then a degree in marketing may be your best bet. But, if you are currently a manager at your place of business then a leadership degree may get you the skills you need to get a promotion and a raise in your current career.
Other individuals may pursue an online business degree in order to change careers. Many nurses, teachers and other non-business career holders seek online degrees while working at their regular job.
Applying is easy. All you need is a high school diploma or G.E.D and a wilingness to learn. Depending on your previous college experience and work history, you may be able to obtain your business degree in as little as six months.
Before deciding on a university that you are interested in, make sure that they are accredited and the staff has extensive experience in the field that you are interested in.
Once you have decided to enroll, getting started is easy. Most colleges offer year round enrollment so that individuals can get started on their studies right away. After enrolling, most online programs make the coursework available for immediate download so that you can start that very day itself.
What are the Advantages to Completing an Online Bachelors Degree?
An online bachelors degree is a four-year college degree that an individual completes and earns through the Internet. The biggest benefit of an online bachelors degree is that it usually takes less time to complete.
Online Degree TipsMost individuals can complete their online bachelors degree in as little as three years. If you have prior college credits to transfer or relevant work history to consider, then you can complete your degree in as little as six months.
Another benefit to completing an online bachelors degree is that the course work is extremely flexible. Classes can be taken any time throughout the day and you never have to leave your house. All course work is completed via the Internet either through downloadable lessons or virtual class times.
The average online bachelors degree program requires at least twenty hours of course work a week. But since the course are completed online, individuals can work faster or slower, depending on their schedule, as long as the course is completed within the allowed time frame.
The standard time frame for the course work of an online bachelors degree is one class every five weeks. This schedule allows a student to concentrate solely on one class or module at a time ensuring that they learn all of the information presented in that session. This is an advantage over traditional four year colleges because with an online program you can devote your time to each session without being distracted by other classes and information.
Tuition payment is also easier with an online program. Online degree programs qualify for the same tuition assistance that on-site programs do. Therefore, individuals can apply for student loans, payment plans and employer reimbursement programs. Plus, some online colleges allow the student to pay as they go, cutting down on upfront college costs.
Earning an online bachelors degree is a perfect way for individuals that are currently employed full time to further their careers. By studying online, individuals can keep their regular job and still earn a degree in record time.
To qualify for enrollment, you are only required to have a high school diploma or G.E.D. Since no prior college education is required, online degrees are also the perfect choice for someone that must work full time to pay for.
If you are contemplating earning your bachelors degree, then an online bachelors degree program is definitely worth researching.
Why You Should Choose an Accredited Online Degree
An accredited online degree is a college degree that is received through Internet studies offered by an accredited college. This means that the school or university that is offering the degree has been approved by a national or state board of education.
In order to offer an accredited online degree a college must offer its course work and lesson requirements to the board of education for approval. The board will then go through that course work and make sure that it adheres to the industry standards for completion.
When contemplating completing any type of degree over the Internet it is best to do so with an accredited online degree provider. Accredited degrees are more reputable and the credits transfer to other schools should you ever decide to further your education again.
Online degrees can come in many forms. You can earn an associate's degree, bachelors or masters degree or even a course completion certification diploma.
To earn a masters accredited degree online, you must first possess a bachelors degree from a regular or online college.
To earn a bachelors accredited online degree, you need to have at least a high school diploma or G.E.D.
With both degrees, you can shorten the amount of time it takes to complete by having prior college credits or related work experience.
It usually takes about three years to complete an accredited online degree. This time frame is based on a curriculum of at least twenty hours of course work a week. Some degrees, like a specialized law degree, can take up to four years to complete.
By choosing an accredited online degree program as opposed to a regular degree program, you are choosing a degree of a higher standard. With an accredited degree, there will be more choices opened up to you and more occasions for advancement.
What are Accredited Online Degree Programs?
Accredited online degree programs are college programs that are offered over the Internet by certified schools and universities. Accredited online degree programs are tested and approved by state or national education review boards.
There are many different types being offered on the Internet. These programs include degrees in many different fields such as accounting, law, business management and healthcare.
A few well-known schools that offer accredited online degree programs are Phoenix University, Concord Law School and Pierce University. Accredited online degree programs usually offer a completely off-site program, meaning that the student can access everything they will need to earn a degree from the comfort of their own home.
Also, these online degree programs usually offer downloadable lessons that can be accessed and completed at any time during the day or night. However, some programs do require the attendance of virtual meetings or classes that are put on at certain times throughout the day via the Internet.
To find out which degree program is right for you, you first need to choose a field of education that interests you. After defining your field of interest, seek out a school that specializes in that field.
Accredited online degree programs are very useful for those individuals seeking to further their education while continuing full-time at their present job. Some even offer credits for work already completed in the same field as the sought after degree. These credits are usually based on work or life experience. Also, some programs accept credits from other colleges.
Applying prior credits toward accredited online degree programs will help to shorten the length of time required to receive your new bachelor's or master's degree. While some programs can take up to four years to complete, prior credits can reduce your education time by up to two years.
How to Get Your Bachelors Degree Online
Getting a bachelors degree online can be a fast and easy way to further your career. But before you enroll, there are a few important things you need to know.
First, you'll want to make sure that the college that offers the online degree is accredited. School and universities are accredited on a state or national level. This accreditation means that a board of education has researched and approved the schools curriculum and course work.
Next, you will want to make sure that the school is highly recognized and that the bachelors degree is transferable. This helps because someday you may want to further your education by completing your masters degree and you will need to be able to transfer your bachelors credits.
Prerequisite to getting a bachelors degree from any university, you must first have at least a high school diploma or a G.E.D. It also helps to have some college or previous work experience under your belt. If you have previous college credits, then they can be applied toward your bachelors degree program and shorten the length of time that you will need to be enrolled in school.
Without previous college credits, most bachelors degree online programs take up to three years to complete. This time frame is based on an individual that takes at least twenty hours of course work a week. With prior college credits, or by spending more time on course work each week, some individuals can complete their bachelors degree online program in as little as one year.
To decide which college or university to enroll with, it is best to decide what type of degree program you need. Many colleges offer these programs but some specialize in different fields. For example, a person who wants a bachelors degree in business night want to go with Ashworth College, while a person that wants an education degree would want to go with Penn State University.
Once you have chosen a bachelors degree online program, you need to research its class schedule. Many online programs allow you to download the course work and complete it on your own schedule, but some programs require that you log on to the Internet for virtual class sessions a few times a week at a designated time.

Friday, July 20, 2012

How To Create Your Own Successful And Profitable Affiliate Program

Profitable Affiliate ProgramMost of the truly successful marketers have three competitive advantages :
  • They run successful Affiliate Programs (Part 1)
  • They own large Opt-In Lists and have large traffic (Part 2)
  • They create their own products (Part 3)
Step #1 - Three Affiliate Program Opportunities
  • Opportunity 1 - Using Own Products and Services Combining your own products with a successful Affiliate Program is almost a license to write your own checks.
  • Opportunity 2 - Using Resell and Master Rights Products Surprisingly, as you will see in step 4, you can create and run an Affiliate Program even if you don't have your own products and services.
  • Opportunity 3 - Substitute Joint Ventures All successful Affiliate Programs are joint ventures in miniature. Your affiliate partners require as much of your support and commitment as would any JV partners.
Step #2 - The Top Ten Features Of A Good Affiliate Program
  1. It delivers consistent sales for Affiliates, by marketing products with high consumer benefits.
  2. It operates on a Leveraged I'ncome Pay structure, which extends a number of levels deep.
  3. It operates on a Residual I'ncome Pay structure giving Affiliates repeat I'ncome.
  4. A good program has high quality marketing tools and incentives for the Affiliates.
  5. It pays out big percentages of the sale to the Affiliates and it pays promptly
  6. The administration function tracks and corrects affiliate issues quickly, and effectively.
  7. A good program trains and supports Affiliates enthusiastically.
  8. It offers Affiliates complimentary, high value, front and back end products for promotion.
  9. Profitable Affiliate Program
    Add caption
  10. It handles all end customer care issues. 10) A good program constantly tests new ideas to support and strengthen ties with affiliates and end customers alike.
Step #3 - "Own Product Affiliate Program"
Most people join an Affiliate Program on the strength and reliability of its compensation plan.
* Compensation Structure Planning :
  • Who can join the program Is it open to anyone or just selected, approved partners ?
  • Downline matrix structure for Leveraged I'ncome How deep is the matrix of downline earnings for Leveraged I'ncome ?
  • Residual I'ncome Payments Does the program pay Residual I'ncome, on repeat subscriptions for as long as the end customer renews ?
  • Minimum Payment amounts, and deadlines. Policy on payments, returns and deductions from Affiliate payments must be clear from the beginning.
  • Affiliate monitoring of the program Affiliates must be able to easily monitor referrals and earnings. Clear and accurate reports to Affiliates should be available online or sent by e-mail.
* Marketing Plans
Develop high quality graphical links that Affiliates can use on their own websites to point to your program. These include
  • Web Templates and copy
  • Banner Links
  • Button Links
  • Text Links
Write e-courses coaching your Affiliates on what works best in promoting your products and services.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that when they sign up the whole thing will run on autopilot.
* Legal Issues
Consult professional, qualified lawyers to help you draw up your program terms and conditions before you go to market. The upfront cost involved may save you greater expense in the future.
Step #4 - Resell and Master Rights Product Affiliate Programs
An Affiliate Program without your own products is possible, but use caution - it is less likely to be a huge earner, than one promoting your own stable of products.
Why would anyone join an Affiliate Program to promote a resell or master rights product, that they could buy and sell earning 100% of the profits ?
The answer is reduced effort, time and money.
An Affiliate Program for resell or master rights products saves the affiliate from having to buy, process, add value to and give customer service to the resell rights product.
It becomes an easy I'ncome stream that people may want to join.
The trick in this situation is to
  • Spot a product with selling potential, that is relatively scarce and has not been over marketed.
  • Create the Affiliate Program where the product owner has failed or is incapable of seeing the market opportunity.
Remember caution - Do not spend huge sums setting up this type of program because the "Return on Investment" is likely to be low.
Step #5 - Mini Joint Venture
JV partners bring "something with them, to the party" - This might be funding, a huge opt-in list, a product or service, or ideas.
Affiliate partners on the other hand, bring only their desire to promote your products and services.
However, the practical day to day administration of the two types of programs is very similar.
For instance:
  • You should coach affiliates and JV partners in the best way to market the products.
  • You must listen to their issues and deal with them effectively and efficiently
  • You must make sure they are happy with the program arrangements, in order that they promote it strongly and join up for future promotions.
JV's and Affiliate programs are different, but only in small details. Treat them with similar care.
Step #6 - Affiliate Program Automation
Quality tools are indispensable for Affiliate Program Automation
  • Affiliate Scripts - These are commercially available scripts that allow you to set up programs of various complexity in terms of compensation plans, account management, and program administration.
  • Administration Tools - These allow you to see in detail which Affiliates are performing and deserving of more of your effort, time and attention and which ones are not and can therefore be dropped from the program.
  • Sequential Autoresponder - Use this to coach and train your Affiliates by sending them regular e-mail.
  • VoIP Communicators - These allow you to hold Cheap Live training and support seminars where your Affiliates can virtually attend, see, hear and talk to one another from across the Globe without the need for expensive travel or phone costs.
  • Payment Processor - This is the facility by which your Affiliate partners will be paid.
  • Product Fulfillment - A successful program will generate many sales and the fulfillment process must be able to cater for the heavy workload.
  • Customer Care - The extra sales means that you may need to handle higher levels of end customer issues including returns.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What is a Good Program Spec?

Since the industry is preoccupied with producing software faster
(and not necessarily better), let's stop and consider how we typically approach programming and allow me to put my spin on it. There are fundamentally three aspects to any program development effort: defining the program's specifications, designing and writing the program itself, and testing it. The software engineering gurus in the industry are primarily concerned with the internal design of the program, but there Program Spec
is now a raft of consultants trying to determine the best way to
approach the program externally. Why? Because there is now many ways for producing software than just writing source code using a common text editor; e.g., visual programming aids/prototyping tools, workbenches, 4GL's, program generators, etc. Such tools take the need for writing precise source code out of the hands of the programmers and allows them to concentrate on basic screen and report layout. They are excellent tools for most programming assignments, but they cannot do 100% of all of the programming for all applications. We still require
professional software developers with an intimate knowledge of programming languages and design techniques. Regardless if we write a program by hand, or use some sort of interpreter/generator, we still need to provide the programmer with precise specifications in order to perform their work.
Seldom do companies make use of a uniform approach for producing program specifications. It is not uncommon for programmers to receive specs in obscure ways, such as a memo from an end-user (the back of a cocktail napkin is my personal favorite). Rarely are specifications given in a consistent manner that can be evaluated for completeness. A standard approach would improve productivity and communications within the programming staff alone.
What should a good program spec include? Actually, its not too
difficult to figure out...
Each program should be defined in terms of:
  1. Input Descriptions (to collect data or request an output) - be it implemented by a GUI, command line interface, verbal, optical, or through some other screen interface. All inputs should include: a. Name, alternate ID, program label, description. b. Defined layout and examples. c. Input transaction specifications, including default values and editing rules for data to be collected. d. Messages; e.g., data validation, and general processing. e. Panels (for screens). f. Relationship of inputs to outputs.
  2. Output Descriptions (to retrieve data) - be it implemented by a GUI, printed report, audio/video, or through some other screen interface. All outputs should include: a. Name, alternate ID, program label, description. b. Defined layout and examples. c. Panels (for screens), maps (for reports). d. Messages; e.g., general processing and program specific information/warning/error messages.
  3. Data Structure Descriptions (data bases, files, records, and data elements). NOTE: Programmers should NOT be in the business of designing data bases as they will only do what is convenient for their application, not others (thereby missing the opportunity for a company to share and re-use data). Physical files should be defined by Data Base Administrators. a. All data structures should include: Name, alternate ID, program label, description. They should also include... b. Data Bases - organization, key(s), labels, volume/size, backup requirements, internal structure. c. Files (both primary and working) - organization, key(s), labels, volume/size, backup requirements, internal structure, file-to-file relationships. d. Records - form, length, key(s), contents, record-to-record relationships. e. Data Elements - class, justification, fill character, void state, mode, picture, label, size, precision, scale, validation rules. If generated data, rules for calculation. If group data, rules for assignment.
  4. Program Description: a. Name, alternate ID, program label, description. b. Characteristics: Required processing speed, memory requirements. c. Dependencies to other programs externally (e.g., batch job stream). d. Dependencies to modules internally (e.g., DLLs, subroutines, etc.) e. Functions to be performed with Inputs, Outputs, and Data Structures (create/update/reference). f. Special processing rules (logic for processing) g. Command language required to execute the program (e.g., command files, JCL, etc.) h. Physical environment where program will be executed. i. Test Plan and how to assemble test data. j. Method of implementation - programming language(s) to be used, design techniques to be observed, tools to be used.
In-house software engineering standards complements any program specification (and should provide guidelines for writing the specification). Such standards define "best practices" for design and conventions to be observed during programming. As an aside, the objective of software engineering should be: Maintainability (easy to correct and update), Performance, Design Correctness (proof), International support (to accommodate languages and cultures), Integration (sharing and re-using code), and Portability (platform independence).
Between the programming spec as listed above and a good set of programming standards, it becomes rather easy to implement any program, be it by hand or through the use of a generator. As a matter of policy, specifications should be written under the assumption that a program generator will be used. This forces us to be more precise in our specifications.
When it comes to assembling a program spec, I am of the philosophy that "You eat elephants one spoonful at a time." It is difficult to gather the specs for a single program in one fell swoop. Plus, when we consider most development projects today involve more than one program, the problem is further complicated. For major development efforts, I am of the opinion that "layers" of documentation are required. For example, under "PRIDE-ISEM, we view a system as a collection of sub-systems (business processes), implemented by procedures (administrative and computer), administrative procedures consist of operational steps (tasks), and computer procedures consist of programs (which can be sub-divided into modules if so desired).
Program SpecBasically, "PRIDE" views a system as a product that can be engineered and manufactured like any other product. From this viewpoint, we can make use of other engineering techniques, such as a top-down blueprinting approach to documentation where levels of abstraction define the different levels in the system hierarchy. For example, the Phase 1 Information Requirements contained in the "System Study & Evaluation Manual" define what system(s) are needed (either new or existing systems requiring modification); the Phase 2 "System Design Manual" includes specifies the sub-systems; the Phase 3 "Sub-System Design Manual" specifies the procedures
in the business process; the Phase 4-I "Administrative Procedure Manual" specifies the operational steps, and; the Phase 4-II "Computer Run Book" specifies the programs. This blueprinting approach allows us to progressively refine our specifications until we reach the bottom of the product structure. In other words, it is not necessary to define everything about an Input, Output, File, or Data Element all at once, but rather to initially identify the need for them, then progressively refine the details until we are ready to program.
This approach to documentation is sometimes referred to as "step-wise refinement" whereby the design of a structure, such as a product or building, is refined over various levels of abstraction. Only when we have completed these architectural
designs can the product move to manufacturing/building. Imagine trying to build an automobile or skyscraper without such a technique. It would be virtually impossible. Why should systems be any different? In order for this approach to
work, you must accept the concepts: a system is a product; that there are various levels of abstraction to it, and; there are standards for documenting each level. This is considerably different than a "forms driven" approach to development;
e.g., fill out forms in a regimented sequence without any thought in regard to the design of the system. Instead, documentation should be a natural by-product of the design process.
This also makes a clear delineation in terms of "types" of specifications; for example "information requirements" and "programming specs" are miles apart in terms of content and purpose. Whereas the former is a specification regarding the business needs of the user, the latter is a technical specification
for the programmer to implement.
This blueprinting approach also highlights the need for basic systems work in the earlier phases of design, with the programmers being the beneficiaries of more precise specifications (as opposed to vague concepts), thereby
simplifying their job.
So, what is a good program spec? Anything that eliminates the guesswork for the programmer. Consider this: if the up-front system design work was done right, programming should be less than 15% of the entire development process. Then why does it currently command 85% of our overall time (and financial resources)? Primarily because we have shifted our focus and no longer believe we are being productive unless we are
programming. After all, programming is perhaps the most visible evidence of our work effort; system design is less tangible.
Let me illustrate, back in 1976 I took an entry level COBOL training course from IBM in Cincinnati. Our class was divided into teams of three people and each team was given problems to solve. When we received an assignment, the other two programmers in my team immediately started to write code,
key their entries (Yes, we used keypunch equipment back then), then compiled the program. Inevitably, there were errors and they would go back-and-forth correcting errors until they finally got it right. As for me, when I got an assignment, I would pull out a plastic template and paper, and work out the logic of the program before writing the code. I would then key and compile, and would always complete the assignment before my partners. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked them, "Why do you do it that way?" They contended this was how they were expected to work by their superiors; that they weren't being productive unless they were producing code. I countered that even though they were faster at producing code, I was still beating them every time, simply because I was thinking the problem through.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Declarative Programming - Strategies for Solving Software Problems

Declarative Programming
Many software and hardware producers take pride in the exponential pace of technology change, but for users and consumers of their products and services the rapid technological obsolescence often means increased costs, frustrations, and unfulfilled promises. Corporate America expects to make capital investments in goods and facilities that should last five, ten, even twenty years, but only an eighteen-month lifetime for computer software and hardware investment is not uncommon.
Lowering the costs to develop new software solutions or extending the lifetime of software applications are two complementary approaches to addressing technological change. These goals can often be met by taking a declarative strategy when designing software systems independent of the programming methodology employed.
Issues with Imperative Programming
Most programming projects today use the imperative style of programming. Developers write sequences of operations in a language, such as C++, Java, Visual Basic, etc., that implement an algorithm, or recipe, for performing tasks. The algorithm for the task mixes logical, or relational, statements about the task to be solved and control statements about how to calculate the solution. The logical statements describe "what-to" calculate while the control statements describe "how-to" calculate. Debugging the algorithm consists of verifying the accuracy of the logical statements and fixing the control statements, if necessary.
There are many problems with the imperative approach. The sequence of operations critically determines the correctness of the algorithm. Unexpected execution sequences through an algorithm caused by user input actions or real-time events in a multitasking environment may result in subtle or catastrophic algorithm failure. Writing the control logic is the programmer's responsibility and, therefore, subject to implementation errors. Understanding a program's algorithm is often difficult for other developers without extensive metadata, or comments, on the code and empirical tracing of the program's execution with sample data. Verifying program correctness consumes a significant portion of the development effort, but also usually fails to discover a significant number of defects.
To address the problems associated with imperative programming, the computer industry has developed and advocated many approaches. Structured programming and campaigns against "go-to" statements address some of the problems discovered with ad hoc control structures and statements. Modularization initiatives stress decomposition techniques on the premise that humans can better comprehend, reason about, and maintain smaller pieces of code. Object-oriented programming advocates program constructions using reusable components, libraries, and fr`meworks. The pattern programming school stresses analogies to other fields, such as architecture, by constructing programs using well-designed and crafted solutions, or patterns, that recur in many programming contexts.
Declarative ProgrammingWhat is Declarative Programming?
Declarative programming separates the logic, or what, of an algorithm from the control, or how, of an algorithm. The programmer still specifies the logic or equations specifying the problem's relations, but the programming system is responsible for control, or how the logic is evaluated. The most familiar examples are spreadsheets and query languages for relational databases. The user, or programmer, specifies a mathematical relation as a query, say in SQL, for what to retrieve, while the database engine determines how to execute the query against the database.
There are many advantages to declarative programming over the imperative style. In declarative languages, programmers do not specify sequences of operations, but only definitions or equations specifying relations. Unlike imperative programming, the logic relations in declarative programming are execution order independent, free of side effects of evaluation, and semantically clear to visual inspection.
The declarative family of programming languages has a long history in the academic computer science community and specialized areas of commercial application, such as compiler construction, expert systems, and databases. Declarative languages have two main family trees. The logic declarative languages, such as Prolog, are based on first-order predicate calculus, which generalizes the notions of Aristotelian true or false values to statements, or predicates, involving relations among any entities. The other family branch consists of functional declarative languages, such as Miranda, Haskell, and SML. The functional declarative languages are based on the l-calculus developed by the mathematician, Alonzo Church in the 1930's. l-calculus formalizes the notions of recursive application of pure functions to computable problems. Although not widely known as such, the latest programming fashion, XSLT, an extensible stylesheet language for transforming XML, is also a functional declarative language.
Despite the theoretical advantages of declarative programming languages, they do not have widespread use in commercial programming practice despite an attempt in the 1980's by Borland to mass-market a PC version of Prolog along with the highly popular Turbo Pascal. There are many factors contributing to the infrequent use of declarative languages. A large contributor is the paucity of collegiate training in declarative languages, but awkward syntaxes of some languages, inefficient compilers and run-times, and restricted domains of applicability of generalized "how-to" mechanisms are all contributors.
Using Declarative Strategies in Commercial Software

While declarative programming languages have not received wide-spread commercial usage, the strategy of separating logic, or what, from control, or how, in an algorithm is a powerful, generalized technique for increasing ease of use and extending the longevity of software. Declarative techniques are particularly powerful in user interfaces and application programming interfaces (APIs) that have a rich, complex set of inputs over a relatively small field of execution behaviors.
Two examples of commercial software that illustrate the applicability of declarative techniques are DriverLINX and ExceLINX in the fields of data acquisition and test instrument control.
Using Declarations for Data Acquisition
DriverLINX is an API for controlling data-acquisition hardware used to measure and generate analog and digital signals interfaced to all types of external transducers. Data-acquisition applications include laboratory research, medical instrumentation, and industrial process control.
Traditionally, APIs for data-acquisition devices modeled the characteristics of the hardware design and had a large number of functions of one or more parameters to setup the hardware and control data flow through the system. The ordering of sequences of operations was often critical to correctly programming and controlling the hardware. Upgrading to new data-acquisition hardware was often costly as hardware-necessitated changes in the order of operation sequences to program the hardware required costly software changes.
To surmount these problems, DriverLINX takes an abstract and declarative approach to data-acquisition programming. Instead of modeling specific board designs, DriverLINX abstracts the functional subsystems of data-acquisition hardware into generalized attributes and capabilities. Programs request the measurement task they want to perform by parameterizing a "service request" declaration. The DriverLINX runtime determines how to satisfy the service request using the available hardware and returns the measurements as a packetized stream to the program. The data-acquisition programmer is relieved of any responsibility for data-acquisition algorithm control.
Besides relieving the programmer of control responsibility, the DriverLINX abstract, declarative approach gives the program syntactic and semantic interchangeability when migrating to equivalent hardware products. The abstract, declarative approach also helps isolate the software vendor from early technological obsolescence of change in the computer industry by focusing on the immutable logic of data-acquisition relations while the control mechanisms vary with software developments. DriverLINX has been a viable approach to data-acquisition programming for more than 12 years despite the market evolution from 16-bit Windows to .NET today.
Using Declarations for Test Instruments
Test instruments, such as digital voltmeters and electrometers, have evolved from simple devices with a front panel knob and display screen to sophisticated measurement processors performing dozens of measurement and control functions. Like data-acquisition devices, typically developers send a carefully ordered sequence of commands to an instrument to setup the measurement and then send additional command sequences to control the data flow of measurements from the instrument. The aforementioned problems for developers using imperative approaches to instrument control significantly limit ease of use and prohibit quick instrumentation solutions to short-term measurement needs.
ExceLINX is an add-in to Microsoft Excel that allows rapid specification of instrument test setups by using worksheet forms. Users specify, or declare, the channels, configurations, sampling rates, triggering, and data locations for the measurements they wish to perform by filling out an Excel worksheet. When the user selects the "start" button on the toolbar, ExceLINX translates the specification into the correct command sequence for the target instrument, initiates the measurement, and flows the data back to the requested worksheet. Users can setup and collect measurements by themselves in minutes using logic specifications compared to days or weeks using programmer's time for imperative specifications.
Internally, ExceLINX also uses a declarative approach to handling the complex problem of field validation for the worksheet forms. Instruments have hundreds of parameters with complex overlaps among parameters. To validate whether the instrument supports the parameter set the user selected, ExceLINX maintains a dependency tree of allowed, disallowed, and unused parameters for every input cell on the worksheet. Each node in the tree also maintains logical relations among the selected set of parameters that ExceLINX evaluates at runtime to cross validate user input selections. Each supported instrument model has different parameter semantics, but ExceLINX can easily handle this complexity by switching model trees because the model-specific logic in the validation tree is separate from the shared control implementation in the ExceLINX code.
Declarative programming strategies that separate logic from control in algorithms are powerful techniques that can be used with today's popular imperative languages. These techniques can make software more interchangeable, maintainable, usable, and endurable.