UK Dedicated

I wanted to drop a note about my experience with UK Dedicated.

I have had servers with a number of different server companies in the past. I ran my own reseller service when I was at University. I have managed in-house servers and used virtual servers hosted by some of the big names on the net. None of which have ever come close to the service received by UK Dedicated.

When I realised that running a reseller account to host my clients websites was a bad idea due to the server been crammed with other resellers and constantly crashing I decided to purchase my own server and have it hosted in a top data centre. I search high and low and stumbled across UK Dedicated. I was able to keep in constant contact with the guys as they guided me through purchasing and setting up the server. They do not operate phone support so everything is done over the web. I was setup in record time and to my surprise everything worked, I have come to accept that nothing goes how it should and nothing is done when it should be no-a-days however these guys broke that trend.

The service I have received from day one has been stupendous. The support ticket system is first class and response time is sometimes unbelievable. The company occupy space in a couple of data centres both in London, one of which is at Global Switch London 1. This facility provides unsurpassed levels of security along with physical measures to protect the safety and reliability of services. The speed is great and I have never had a problem with connectivity.

I have recently moved jobs and we have recently assessed the hosting we provide to clients. With the service I knew I could expect from UK Dedicated there was only one choice for me. I put my recommendation to the guys at work and I am happy to say our clients are now hosted on a UK Dedicated server… allowing me to sleep much better at night.

Andy and Craig at UK Dedicated run a smooth well oiled service which I cannot recommend enough. If you are ever looking at dedicated servers then please take a look at www.ukdedicated.com and feel free to contact me if you need any further persuasion.

basecamphq.com

This is quite a simple and easy blog post for me. I have worked on many projects where there are many people involved, it’s what I do. A typical project for me involves myself (the web developer), a designer or two and then a couple of people from the client organisation. Simple enough you would think however it’s amazing how projects can drag out due to poor communication and lack of time efficiency.

Basecamp is an online project collaboration tool which in my eyes is one of the best online applications I have ever used. It’s simple, easy to use and only does what it has to do. It enables me to setup an online space for a project and invite people to access this space. Then clients and colleagues can login to view to-do-lists, files and messages for the project. One of the highlights for me is the ability to store all communication in one place. For example if I post a message to the project area then it emails this message to everyone who I select. Then they can reply to that email with their comments which then get attached to the online tool. So basically everything is centralised. You can add files and upload new versions of files also.

Basically I would encourage everyone to try it. You can open a free account to test it out for yourself. I have been using a paid version for months now and it has saved me time and money along with improving my productivity and the image I portray to clients.

Please give it a go and let me know how you get on. Go try it now – Basecamp.com

Why Basecamp?
Basecamp takes a fresh, novel approach to project collaboration. Projects don’t fail from a lack of charts, graphs, stats, or reports, they fail from a lack of clear communication. Basecamp solves this problem by providing tools tailored to improve the communication between people working together on a project.

WampServer

Apache, MySQL, PHP on Windows

WampServer is a Windows web development environment. It allows you to create web applications with Apache, PHP and the MySQL database. It also comes with PHPMyAdmin and SQLiteManager to easily manage your databases.

WampServer installs automatically (installer), and its usage is very intuitive. You will be able to tune your server without even touching the setting files.

WampServer is the only packaged solution that will allow you to reproduce your production server. Once WampServer is installed, you have the possibility to add as many Apache, MySQL and PHP releases as you want.
This tool is a must for any PHP developer. I have tried a number of different setups when developing. I have tried developing live on the server, setting up Apache, PHP and MySQL myself and I have also used Sokkit/PHPTriad (product is no longer available for sale). I have been using this tool for a while now and I have to say its working a dream.

Browsershots

Browsershots makes screenshots of your Web design in different browsers. It is a free open-source online service. When you submit your Web address, it will be added to the job queue. A number of distributed computers will open your Web site in their browser. Then they will make screenshots and upload them to the central server where you can view all the screen shots of the website you have submitted.

This is a wonderful tool and is an essential part of a web developers tool kit.

Domain Dossier

There will always be times when you need to find out information about a domain name. Most people pop along to one of the many WHOIS lookup services but I have been using a tool for a while now that goes that little bit further. The Domain Dossier hosted by CentralOps.net is a great online utility that enables you to find out all the information attached to a domain name including DNS details and network information.

CSS Formatter and Optimiser

Ensuring your CSS is well written and formatted correctly is essential to good website design. As more and more CSS is being used to style websites it’s important to optimise your CSS files.

Once I have finished a project and have made sure all the formatting is correct, I place a copy of this file (with comments) into a ‘source’ folder (example). I then run my CSS through the cleancss.com utility using the ‘High (moderate readability, smaller size)’ compression. I also strip out all the comments at this stage and then upload this file for use with the website (example).

You now have the source file with comments and good readability in case you need to go back to alter or add something at a later date. You can then run the CSS through the utility again and replace the master.css file. You end up with all your selectors and their properties in the correct order and a CSS file which is smaller in file size which will enable you to maximise your server’s resources.