Free 411 Directory Assistance Calls 1-800-FREE411 and 1-800-GOOG411

by demtron on Sunday, November 09, 2008 08:31 AM

I’ve heard about free 411 calls for number of years, but I’ve also heard about all the scams and hidden fees surrounding these services.  Recently, after discussing this with a friend, I wanted to see if these were really valid services.

There are two services I found that I think are worthy to use, especially for small businesses.  One is 1-800-FREE411 and the other is 1-800-GOOG411.

How do they work?  They’re pretty simple with no hassles.  With 1-800-FREE411, you listen to a 10-15 second message from an advertiser (who’s paying for the cost of your 411 call).  Make your selection at the prompt if you want to use the offer or continue on to request your phone number information.  You can get both a phone number and, if you’re calling from a mobile phone, driving directions sent to you via text message.

GOOG411 is completely free with no advertisements.  However, a caller can only receive business phone numbers.  GOOG411 can also send text driving directions along with a map to the business location.

One important point for mobile phone users – you’ll still be charged normal airtime and SMS rates from your mobile phone carrier for placing a call to and receiving text and maps from these services.

These services are a “must” for your speed-dial list.  Skip the $1 to $2 directory assistance fees!


Choosing a Shared Hosting Provider – Tip #3

by demtron on Saturday, November 08, 2008 04:14 PM

Database Features

Most hosting plans advertise database storage space.  Compared to a few years ago, the amount of space is usually ample for most applications.  Don’t be fooled by the amount of space offered – there are many considerations depending on how your site will be used.

Do you need a database?  Many sites require a database to store a blog, eCommerce elements, forum, or custom data for reports.  Even if your site doesn’t require one today, be prepared to use a database if you plan to add one of these features.

Which database do I need?  There are three main database technologies that are offered with hosting plans.  MySQL is generally offered with Linux hosting plans, whereas MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server or both are offered with ASP.Net hosting plans.  A third, Microsoft Access, is occasionally offered, although it’s falling out of favor due to the decreased costs and greater capabilities of the other two flavors.  If you’re considering a blog, forum, image gallery, or eCommerce site, there are more choices that use MySQL than the others.  In my opinion, it’s generally safe to choose a plan that offers MySQL and only consider the others if your other tools require it.

Does your host perform backups?  This is REALLY important.  All hosting companies will back up databases, but most will only use them in case a server goes down and the server’s image needs to be restored.  As the customer, you won’t have access to them.  Some hosts will offer to restore backups for a fee.  Especially if you run a blog or forum, losing a database without a backup means a complete loss of the entire site.  Which brings me to the next question…

How can you perform backup yourself?  Check with the host’s tech support or knowledgebase to find out how to perform a backup, how long it will take, where it will be stored and how you can retrieve it.  Also, if check in your blog, eCommerce, or other software to find out if there are any other considerations to back up their data.  You NEED to do backups, so figuring this out is vital.

How can more space be added to the plan?  Many plans cap database space at 50 to 200 MBs, which may be plenty for small sites.  However, if your site becomes popular and you need to grow quickly, you need an upgrade path.  Some hosting companies will charge an extra monthly amount to add more space to a plan, while others will ask that you upgrade to an all-around higher-capacity plan.  Check the costs of these options and think about how likely it will be that you need this capacity.

In a future post, I’ll discuss some of the more technical aspects of assessing databases. 


Browser Detection for ASP.Net Ajax

by demtron on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 10:17 AM

Here's a class that I found in client-side Microsoft AJAX library for browser detection.  It's Sys.Browser.Agent.  For a while, it wasn't documenated anywhere in the Microsoft on-line documentation, but it must have just appeared recently at:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc679064.aspx

One example of how this class can be used:

if (Sys.Browser.agent == Sys.Browser.InternetExplorer) 
    { 
    alert("Display this message for IE visitors");
    } 

For Sys.Browser.agent, the four values it can return are:

  • Sys.Browser.InternetExplorer
  • Sys.Browser.Firefox
  • Sys.Browser.Safari
  • Sys.Browser.Opera

Export Modules to Text Files in Microsoft Access

by demtron on Sunday, October 12, 2008 09:12 PM

I was recently asked to review the code differences between two Access databases.  One was the then-current production version of the database.  The other was a version that was being modified with new business rules.  As a first pass, I decided to export all the form, report, and code modules from each database into separate text files in separate folders, then use a source code comparison tool to compare both sets of files for changes.

I may need to create some code that will compare other objects such as tables and queries, but for right now, comparing source code files has proved to be a good start for getting a handle on the changes.  Here's the code I used to export all the modules.

Option Compare Database
Option Explicit
Public Sub CreateModuleFiles()
'On Error GoTo Err_Handler
Dim accObj As AccessObject  'Each module/form/report.
Dim bWasOpen As Boolean     'Flag to leave form/report open if it was open.
Dim strDoc As String        'Name of each form/report
'Stand-alone modules.
For Each accObj In CurrentProject.AllModules
Call WriteOutModules(accObj.Name, True)
Next
'Modules behind forms.
For Each accObj In CurrentProject.AllForms
strDoc = accObj.Name
bWasOpen = accObj.IsLoaded
If Not bWasOpen Then
DoCmd.OpenForm strDoc, acDesign, WindowMode:=acHidden
End If
If Forms(strDoc).HasModule Then
Call WriteOutModules("Form_" & accObj.Name, False)
End If
If Not bWasOpen Then
DoCmd.Close acForm, strDoc, acSaveNo
End If
Next
'Modules behind reports.
For Each accObj In CurrentProject.AllReports
strDoc = accObj.Name
bWasOpen = accObj.IsLoaded
If Not bWasOpen Then
'In Access 2000, remove the ", WindowMode:=acHidden" from the next line.
DoCmd.OpenReport strDoc, acDesign, WindowMode:=acHidden
End If
If Reports(strDoc).HasModule Then
Call WriteOutModules("Report_" & accObj.Name, False)
End If
If Not bWasOpen Then
DoCmd.Close acReport, strDoc, acSaveNo
End If
Next
End Sub
Private Function WriteOutModules(strModule As String, bIsStandAlone As Boolean)
Dim strCode As String
Dim bWasOpen As Boolean     'Flag applies to standalone modules only.
Dim lngLineNo As Long
If bIsStandAlone Then
bWasOpen = CurrentProject.AllModules(strModule).IsLoaded
End If
If Not bWasOpen Then
DoCmd.OpenModule strModule
End If
For lngLineNo = 1 To Modules(strModule).CountOfLines
strCode = strCode & Modules(strModule).Lines(lngLineNo, 1) & vbCrLf
Next
strCode = strCode & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & vbCrLf
If Not bWasOpen Then
On Error Resume Next
DoCmd.Close acModule, strModule, acSaveNo
End If
Dim intFile As Integer
'*** Set to next free open number ***
intFile = FreeFile()
Open "C:\output\modules\" & strModule & ".txt"   
For Output As #intFile
Print #intFile, strCode
Close #intFile
Debug.Print strModule & " complete"
DoEvents
End Function

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