Marketing 101: Expanding Boxing Day

Published on Dec 31, 2009   //  Marketing Tips

While Americans usually find their best deals on Black Friday, Boxing Day is the annual tradition for bargain hunters in Canada. It is on this day after Christmas that most retailers put their products on sale, trying to clear out as much of this year’s stock as possible.

However, the concept of Boxing Day has quickly expanded in recent years to go well beyond a single day of shopping. Part of this has to do with the increasing popularity of the Internet, but it also has to do with increased competition and increased motivation to move as much stock as possible before year’s end.

These days, many major retailers do not wait until Boxing Day proper to start their sales. If they have an online storefront, it is not out of the ordinary to see the online sales start around supper time on Christmas Eve. In this way, online shoppers can start diving into the deals nearly two full days before they pay a visit to the brick-and-mortar stores. Does this take away from Christmas dinner? Perhaps.

Further still, the sales are expanding past Boxing Day to become a Boxing Week instead. Many of the sales that you see at stores will continue to be honored through for an entire week, giving shoppers the opportunity to avoid the initial crowds. The selection may be more limited, but the experience can be less daunting and potentially less frustrating.

At some point, these “massive sales” are going to lose much of their meaning, because retailers have already started offering Boxing Day-level sales at other times of the year. The spectacle simply is not there anymore. Don’t you agree?

Everything PHP: Multiple Table Joins

Published on Dec 30, 2009   //  Development

Everything PHP

Continuing our series on MySQL table joins, today we’ll be taking a look at how to join multiple tables together. You may need to join multiple tables when you have data spread across multiple tables with reference points relating them.

The syntax for joining multiple tables versus two tables is similar. You may even recognize some of the operators from previous articles. First, let’s have a look at a two table join:

[sql]SELECT * FROM table1 JOIN table2 ON =[/sql]

With a multi-table join, we will need a field in the “joining tables” that will relate to a field in the initial table. These matching fields do not need to be the same for each “joining table”. Now, let’s take a look at our feature presentation:

[sql]SELECT * FROM table1 JOIN (table2, table3, table4) ON = AND = AND =[/sql]

There is no hard limit on the number of tables you can join; however, there is a practical limit. If you’re joining more than ten tables together, you may want to look at alternate methods, such as multiple queries. If you’re joining more than ten tables constantly in one application, your data may be spread across too many tables, and you may want to look at combining some of them.

Next week we’ll be going over the different types of joins (left, right, outer, inner, natural).

Tip: If you have phpMyAdmin installed on your server, you can easily run SQL queries by selecting a database and going to the “SQL” tab at the top of the page.

WordPress Wednesday: Alternate Comment Systems

Published on Dec 30, 2009   //  WordPress

By and large, the majority of people who blog using WordPress make use of the integrated comment system that comes with the popular CMS. It requires the least amount of work and it can be easily adapted or modified using a series of WordPress plug-ins. However, a growing number of blogs are using alternative comment systems instead.

One of these is called Disqus. That’s because it can pull comments that are not only being written on your blog, but also from other channels like Twitter, YouTube, Digg, and FriendFeed. This way, you can more easily capture the conversation that people are having about your post, even if they are doing it away from your blog.

Another alternative is IntenseDebate. Some of its features include the ability to reply by email, email notifications, reputation points, comment voting, OpenID support, and RSS tracking.

One possibility that does not get as much attention is Echo by JS-Kit. The interesting thing about Echo is that it allows for real-time comments without the need to refresh. It also provides a live stream of tweets, diggs, and more.

Do you use the default WordPress comment system or do you prefer one of these third-party add-ons? Why?

Business 101: Competing Against Yourself

Published on Dec 29, 2009   //  Business Topics

They say that having too many customers is a good problem to have, but how do you deal with the extra volume without sacrificing quality in terms of product and service? One way that some companies seem to address this issue is to effectively compete against themselves.

I’ve found that there are several shopping malls where you will find both a Future Shop and a Best Buy. They may be in different areas in the shopping centre, but they are effectively going after the same customers and selling the same products. Since both Future Shop and Best Buy are owned by the same parent company, these two locations are effectively competing with one another.

In like manner, I was down at Robson and Denman in Downtown Vancouver looking for an authentic bowl of Japanese ramen noodles. My intention was to go to the Kintaro Ramen House, but it happened to be closed when I went. Half a block down the street was Motomachi Shokudo, another ramen shop that happened to be opened by the same chef as Kintaro. These two eateries are a little different — Kintaro uses pork fat and Motomachi uses organic chicken — but the concept is similar.

Do either of these scenarios make sense to you? Or would it make more sense to have a larger, single location? Does the false sense of competition increase or decrease overall customer interest?

Great Gadgets: Ten-Port USB Hub with Power

Published on Dec 28, 2009   //  Gadgets

Great Gadgets: Ten-Port USB Hub with Power

We have a lot of accessories these days. On your computer, you may have a webcam attached to one USB port. You may have a keyboard in another, a wireless mouse in yet another, and perhaps an external hard drive or three. How on Earth are you going to have enough USB ports to handle all of this accessorizing?

Leave it up to the kindly folks at MeritLine to introduce a 10-port USB hub. This goes above and beyond the usual four or five-port USB hubs that are sold by just about everyone else, resulting in an elongated strip of USB functionality.

To make matters even more interesting, a power adapter is included in the package. Presumably, you could use this USB hub without the aid of a computer, plugging it directly into a wall outlet. The result would be a ten-port charging station for your BlackBerry, iPhone, GPS, or any number of other USB-powered devices.

Look for the 10-port USB hub on MeritLine for $25.99. The page says that there is free standard shipping, but that may be only to United States addresses.

In the Sphere: Merry Christmas

Published on Dec 25, 2009   //  In the Sphere

Web hosting and freelance writing are inherently non-denominational in nature, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t all choose to enjoy the holiday season together. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or nothing in particular, have yourself a wonderful rest of 2009.

Stephen Fung seems to be known best for his gastronomical exploits and it seems that the PR people know it. He received an early Christmas present from Asus. Instead of a motherboard, they gave him boxes and boxes of food.

Tyler Ingram has a great eye for photography, so it’s always great when he shares his pictures with us. Check out the fantastic shot of a bald eagle high up on a tree near Second Beach in Downtown Vancouver.

Zac Johnson is a successful Internet entrepreneur, so he knows more than anyone that time is the most valuable commodity. He tells us about his experience with a virtual assistant and how it has helped him streamline the busywork for his business.

Miss604, known to those closer to her as Rebecca Bollwitt, offers a great Christmas gift idea. Instead of giving a physical product that may be neglected, try giving the gift of theatre. Check out her post for a list of suggestions in and around the Vancouver area.

InvestorBlogger turns our attention to the financial side of things, discussing the trends in interest rates for the coming year. Will consumers bite back? Will the banks continue to protect their interests? Time will tell.

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