Cool WordPress Plugins – Stuff You Should Be Using

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wordpress

WordPress is awesome, if you want an easy to use CMS that has functionality you would never dream of developing then you need to be using it now.

One of the coolest things about WordPress are the millions of plugins that extend the functionality, there are so many to chose from its a little tough to work out where to start – here are a few of my favourites both paid and free.

I will not be going over them in great detail here and some of them will require further follow up posts to dig deeper in to what they can do. (more…)

New Features of Windows 8.1 – Top Ten Updates

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windows-8.1-top-ten-features

The MS Windows operating system has been has been about now for almost 30 years (see wikipedia here), starting with Windows V1 in 1985. This was not a native operating system but an operating environment that would sit on MS DOS and would try to make things a little more visually appealing for the consumer to little avail.

I have been a Microsoft Windows user for almost the same amount of time its been around, I remember the good old days of booting up to a nice command line and then running my OS operating environment… I must have installed Windows 3.11 thousands and thousands of times.

Fast forward to now and we have Windows version 8 and the recently updated 8.1.

For anyone who skipped previous version of Windows this may be worth a look, there are a number of smart new features, benefits that could make your life easier, let take a look: (more…)

Going Through Some General Statistics

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Sitting in my office as the aroma of coffee fills the room, I am reading a recent Google report that says only 17% of the tech roles around the world are filled with women. I am surprised, and frankly quite disappointed.  I call my colleagues to take a look at the report as I head to the corner of the room where we recently installed the best drip coffee maker to keep our caffeine levels high. That is when I realize this must go on our blog.  So here I am, a male software engineer, writing about the male domination that underlines the world of technology unlike some other professions today.

An issue that needs to be raised:

You might find women like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer leading companies like Facebook and Yahoo in the present world. However, what some might not be aware of is that they make the exceptions, not the norm. Currently, my team consists of four tech professionals. Two of them happen to be the most capable women I have ever met. Unlike most men, I am not ashamed to say that my female colleagues are more efficient and productive than me. In fact, it is not the case with my team only. According to a study by Net Impact, one third of the women are more suited for jobs that are meant to have an impact or make a difference, as compared to 17% men only. It can be visibly inferred from this that women are more prone to be productive at meaningful jobs and have a larger tendency to get incentive when their job is about something higher than themselves.

As my female colleagues sit across from me, urging us to get those electric meat smokers out this weekend and host an office barbecue, I wonder what could be the reason for women lagging behind in tech industry. One fairly obvious reason is that women are known to be generally lesser interested in technological advances and tech industry as compared to men. If we look at statistics in the professions of law and medicine, we see staggering rises in the number of females. However, tech industry remains a profession where most women choose to stay dependent on the men.

My purpose and take home message:

The primary reason I am writing this article today is to convince women who are craving to make an impact, that technology is where you can begin with. A simple line of code is all you need; if you are good then a simple line of code is all you need to make an impact across the globe. There is no reason why women can’t be as good as men when it comes to coding and programming. Especially with all the help available online, the online courses and programming clubs, women have the ability to step up their game and be a part of one of the most important and highly evolving industry today. It is high time technology, like medicine and law, starts benefiting with the contributions of women as well.

Essay Writing Apps That Can Save Students Time

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writing appQuite often, the hardest part of writing an essay is knowing where to begin. As with any big project, the best way to succeed is to make a plan and get some support. Students today don’t have to rely solely on the traditional ‘study group’ in order to get the insight, advice and support they need. Students with access to smartphones and tablets can make use of any of the following applications or sites like http://researchpaperforsale.net to help with paper writing.

PaperHelper (RumbleApps)

PaperHelper offers an easy way for writers to manage their written work while tackling research by splitting the screen in half, allowing students to summarize and quote directly from their sources without interrupting the natural flow of their writing. Having the screen split in half also helps to keep students on track by keeping their working draft right in front of them as they research, making it harder to get distracted along the way.

Evernote

Evernote has emerged to be one of those ‘jack of All Trades” applications which seem to fit no matter what the problem. For essay writers, Evernote offers a clean, clear and organized way to gather research from a variety of sources. Evernote can keep tags on websites, copied text, independent files and even image files or photos from your smartphone. Whether you find your research online, in dusty library stacks or out in the field, Evernote lets you bring everything together in one place as you begin to write your paper.

Papers (mekentosj.com)

For students who rely on independent papers and scholarly journals, the Papers app can be a lifesaver. Papers makes it easy to search any publication in your personal library with the ease of a common search engine. Papers also gives users access to papers listed through some of the most common sources, including

ACM
NASA-ADS
arXiv
Google Scholar
JSTOR
Pubmed
Web of Science

Chapters (Steven Romej)

Originally billed as an application to simply help with general writing, Chapters offers a way for students to organize notes, research and inspiration even when working on a number of different essays at one time. As most students already know, essay assignments don’t happen one at a time. Quite often, students find themselves juggling several different topics, outlines and assignment requirements. Using Chapters, students can create individual notebooks within the same app so they can keep track of notes and sources easily as well as being able to search individual notebooks or the collection as a whole.

EasyBib (Imagine Easy)

To put it simply, EasyBib has taken the academic world by storm. EasyBib takes the guesswork out of creating and formatting a bibliography for an essay, term paper or any work which uses citations. With nearly 60 different options for sources, it won’t matter where you’re getting your information, EasyBib can help you cite it correctly. For essay writers, EasyBib means that once you get the meat of your essay done, you won’t have to spend an extra week trying to figure out the citation and formatting issues.

Roku 3: The Best Streaming Device With Thousands of Roku Channels

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rokuRoku player is a type of set top box that is used for streaming roku channels over the Internet. This means that on can be able to receive roku channels from anywhere in the world by the use of a roku player using either wired or wireless connection. It operates as a USB device that can be plugged onto the Television set when one wants to watch say a movie. One can also connect the Internet to get the latest available content and also access the online content such as games. At the moment, Roku 3 is the latest Roku player in the market. It was released in March 2013. There are very many roku channels available that are streamed and can be accessed using a roku player. As a matter of fact there are over a thousand channels. One can watch movies, series, TV channels, store photos, listen to music and even play games using a roku player.

Roku 3 player has a lot of new as well as exciting features which include: free channels, fast speeds, remote control, head phone jack, storage capability and is easy to use.

Also, the remote control has a headphone jack which on can be able to plug in and listen to music, or listen to a favorite movie.

With roku 3 player one can receive the latest information in terms of weather, traffic updates, and latest news and receive the most current available information. This means that Roku 3 is a versatile device that works pretty well in a big city setting or even at home due to its immense capabilities as well as features.

No monthly subscription

This is one of the great features of Roku 3 player. When on acquires a roku player there are no monthly charges as the roku player comes loaded with free entertainment although some Roku channels do actually charge but one can opt not subscribe to these and watch only those channels that are free. Some of the premium channels available on the roku player include Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus and HBO Go. There are over a dozen free channesls available on the roku player such as Sky News, Pandora, One can also be able to connect to the Internet in case one needs to update the roku player or check for new roku channels available.

Free shipping

In some instances, free shipping is provided for example when buying from Amazon.com but this is dependent on certain conditions such as the buyer’s location. Therefore, one needs to verify if their location qualifies for this when purchasing this product.

Unbelievably Cheap

The roku player retail price is $99 dollars which is quite considering its immense features and capabilities as well as thousands of channels such as Netflix and Hulu. Thus one should not shy away from acquiring this great device.

The roku 3 player is no doubt a versatile and powerful entertainment gadget that offers entertainment whether one resides in a city or a small town. It can be bought online from major sites such as Amazon and who can also provide free shipping.

Should the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Be Named the Best Headphones?

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We have previously covered a wide variety of hardware topics, now it is time to have a look closer at the current headphones market. We have had a look around to see which headphones are the most popular and highest rated right now, to see if we can name the best pair.

The title of this article is slightly provocative. However, the question is legitimate. If you search on Amazon for the currently overall highest rated pair of headphones, you will find that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x comes up as number one with a rating of 4.8 out of 5. After all, Amazon is creditable and the largest source of user product reviews, therefore the rating is relevant.

Headphones review sites and other experts also generally agree that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is an outstanding pair of headphones. Headphones Unboxed for example, recently rated them as their first headphones choice. The question is – why are they so highly rated and popular?

Both users and experts press the high level of sound quality of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x; many mention that it is in line with any professional studio headphones. In combination with a much lower price than many other studio headphones (they go for under 200 USD at most stores) it is no wonder that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is so popular. Beyond sound quality, Consumer Reports advises that consumers should choose highly comfortable headphones to be pleased in the long run. The Audio-Technica ATH-m50x are well padded and are reported to be very comfortable to use for hours. The headphones are also said to be “as flexible as a yoga teacher”, making them easy to store and travel with.

If we look at the second highest rated headphones on Amazon, we find that it is a pair of Bluetooth headphones for kids, namely the LilGadgets Untangled Pro. While the LilGadgets Untangled Pro may be amazing for kids, many adults would not agree that such headphones are one of the best ones. In the end, it all comes down to “who the user is and what he or she will use the headphones for” according to Consumer Reports. For example, the Zipbuds JUICED 2.0 have been ranked the best headphones for girls to use, but then again, others who are fond of soft muted colors or prefer other features such as Bluetooth, including other girls, would not agree. The same thing is true when it comes to headphones for other groups, such as truck drivers or pilots. Also, one person may prefer different headphones for different occasions, for example one pair when they go running and another pair at home. Beyond that, the budget of the user plays a huge part in the choosing the right pair.

“Nobody said it was going to be easy” as Coldplay’s Chris Marin sings. It is true for naming the best headphones. While a pair of headphones can be rated highly by one expert, it might not fit the needs or budget of a user. Either way, most users and expert still seem to agree that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are amazing headphones, but it is not the best pair for everyone and for all occasions.

When and When Not to Build a Responsive Website

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When redoing your website’s design it’s important to take into consideration many different aspects. For one, the project could become quite big in a hurry. Before even beginning any design it’s important to layout the scope of work that will be performed and then stick within those parameters. If there is a large amount of work to be done, it’s usually a good idea to break the large project up into different phases. For this post though we’re going to focus on just one of the aspects that should not be overlooked – making sure the website is responsive.

Why Build a Responsive Website

A responsive website simply means that the xHTML and the CSS markup was done in such a way that the website “responds” appropriately to different sized monitors. This is becoming more and more popular than separate mobile websites for many reasons. One of the biggest ones is simply because you’re only dealing with one website instead of separate websites for mobile and desktop.

While this may seem like a lot of work to implement, it really isn’t that bad as long as you hire a web developer who knows how to do so. In fact, just about all kinds of websites are implementing these techniques. You’ve got every kind of website ranging from workout websites like Dr. Jade Teta’s Metabolic Aftershock all the way to ecommerce websites like Tattly. What is important to note though, is that not only are their home pages designed to be responsive, but the sub-pages shrink down as well. This makes for a uniform and consistent feel across the entire website on any type of device – whether a smart phone, a tablet like an iPhone or even a laptop.

When NOT to go Responsive

What is interesting is that some big corporate websites (like Apple) are not responsive though. While yes, this article is all about recommending making your website responsive, if you have team and a buget like Apple then it actually does make sense to build separate websites…. even though I’m not sure that they have even done that to the extent that I’m referring, their website still does look good on all devices.

In addition to having the budget and team, there are other times when going responsive is not the best option. Mainly, this is when you have so much diverse information that you simply cannot allow any of it to be hidden on small screens. When you are facing this type of project, just rember that you have to design the site so that users can at least get around and work your website.

Definitely don’t use outdated technologies like Adobe Flash and others… those are being weeded out and most developers won’t even touch a project if it’s going to involve a lot of Flash work to be done.

In this day and age, simple is ruling the design space. Keep this in mind, and more often than not, if you design a clean and simple website that is responsive you will be ahead of the curve and your customers will appreciate the experience.

High Tech Fitness

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fitnessIt’s not hard to see how technology has impacted our everyday lives over the last 10 years. Today, you can make a phone call from just about anywhere, listen to as much music as you want from a tiny wireless device, and you can even keep up with the latest breaking news instantly. But one thing that people don’t usually equate with technological advances is in the realm of health and fitness. The truth is, it is so much easier to get in shape and stay in shape these days than it ever has been before. You can also find the best supplements to help you, like the best bcaa supplement and the top testosterone boosters on the market to name a few.

There are apps and websites that have been developed just to help people get motivated and maintain it. There is a plethora of knowledge out there as to what to do to get in shape and there are even apps that remind you to workout or follow your diet. In a way, f you want, you can have the equivalent of a personal trainer, a life coach, and a pep talking guru in your pocket to help you along your way.

When it came to following a diet back in the day, you had to write down everything in a notebook and then grab the calculator and starting crunching numbers. Probably the single greatest thing about the health and fitness technology advances is that there are no shortage of apps that can help you track your diet almost effortlessly. Since many people may not know which apps work the best, we have put together a list of the top 3 apps that will help you track your diet and slim that waist down.

1) My Fitness Pal

Available on iPhone and Android operating systems, this is the easiest to use and most versatile diet tracking app out there today. Oh and did I mention it’s free!? Once downloaded, you setup your personal profile and enter in your tracking numbers that you want to follow; things like calories, carbs, fats, etc. If you don’t know exactly what you should be doing, the app will actually suggest some numbers for you based on the  initial information you entered.

From there, it gets even better, as they have a giant library of foods that you can search for, I’ve rarely come across a food that isn’t in their database. They even have restaurant foods so if you go out to eat, you can still stay on that diet and know what’s in your food. For those rare occasions that there isn’t any info on the foods you are eating, you can enter in your own foods as well. They even have a social aspect to the app as well,  so you can connect with other users who will offer help, motivation, and support.

2) My Macros+

This app is only available on the iPhone, but is created to be a little more advanced than other diet tracking apps. In this app, you set up your own personal profile and set your exact fats, carbs and protein (macro nutrients). It lets you have up to 6 meals per day. For most out there, this app will feel a little too in depth but it was created by a bodybuilder and is really meant for those that are really tracking their diets to the T.

The downside to this app is that it doesn’t have the large database like MyFitnessPal and others, and it does cost $2.99 to download. But if you’re looking for something beyond what the other diet tracking apps out there offer, then we suggest giving this app a try.

3) Lose It!

This app is available on iPhone and Android. This is a great app for those that are just getting started and need help in a lot of areas. It’s not as in depth as MyFitnessPal or My Macros+ as far as tracking individual macronutrients, as this app really focuses on calorie intake alone. It has a great social aspect and helps beginners get started on a diet plan that works for them.

It is not near as in depth as the first two apps, but this app is meant for beginners and those that are just wanting to start some sort of diet. If you’re new to dieting or are just wanting to ease back into a healthier lifestyle, then this app may just be what you’ve been looking for.

5 Futuristic Car Technologies I Want to See in My Lifetime

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carI’m so fed up with my car. I have a big family, so a car that seats less than 7 is out of the question. I’m also not a rich guy, so when I buy cars, I need them to be $5000 or less. So, it’s easy for me to daydream about what car technologies I’d like to see in my lifetime, and that’s where this post came from! While we all have seen the typical flying car in science fiction or futuristic movies, it’s not hard to imagine the near future of cars with the emerging technology today. Some of the latest innovations are promising for futuristic machinery in the not so distant future.

Here are 5 car technologies that we hope to see become fulfilled in our lifetime:

Self-Driving Cars

While it may seem scary to some that cars have the advances to drive themselves, others find this a revolutionary piece of technology. Google engineers have already tested their self-driving cars in California and Nevada. Their cars not only drive themselves, but record images of the road and send signals to the car’s computer. They do this through lasers, radars, and cameras, and this allows the car to see further and in areas such as blind spots that humans cannot see.

This emerging auto technology has the opportunity to decrease traffic deaths dramatically as most accidents are caused by human error.

Augmented Reality Dashboards

BMW already has the ability to display basic information onto one’s windshield, but now they are building an augmented reality dashboard which will help a identify objects in front of a driver and how far away it is. For example, if you’re heading towards to the car in front of you at a speed that is too quick for the distance, an overlay of information will display on the dashboard telling you which lanes are available to change into quickly. When the technology is connected with the GPS system, real time solutions can be made without ever having to take your eyes off the road.

Cars Communicating with other Cars on the Road

A developing technology called Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication allows cars to communicate with other cars and traffic signals on the road. Companies and automotive manufactures like Ford are developing this technology as a way to decrease accidents on the road. V2V will work by using a wireless signal to send info back and forth to each car, so that if a car happens to blow a stop sign, the car knows this before the human does, and provides information on how to keep a safe distance, by alerting the driver to stop.

Energy-storing Body Panels

Hybrid cars are changing the way a car damages the environment through safer and more ‘green’ efficiency. However, they need batteries to work and those batteries take up much space and are extremely heavy. With energy-storing body panels made of polymer fiber, the car weighs 15% less than average. It would capture energy produced by when charging overnight and bring it back into the car when it’s needed most. This eliminates wasted energy and makes Mother Earth happy.

Airbags that Stop the Car Itself

Mercedes is testing airbags that deploy from underneath the car that will help stop a vehicle before a crash. The bags have a friction covering that slows the car down and can double the stopping power of the vehicle.

Exercise applications that could change the fitness industry!

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appFor a long time I have been extremely into health and fitness. Today I would like to talk to you all about software applications that could be used to greatly increase the effectiveness of our workouts and the fitness industry as a whole. Imagine if every exercise routine we did could be automatically added up and calculated in one single program. Imagine if our heartrate was constantly being monitored and having the results scents to this application. It would make tracking progress hundred times easier and because of this it would increase motivation to work out and continue striving towards one’s goals. The more I think about it the more I find great uses for people that are becoming personal trainers and every one else in the fitness industry. Let’s get right into some of my ideas.

Heartrate monitor integration

Heartrate monitors are not that complicated compared to how they used to be. We nearly have heartrate monitors on every single exercise machine in every single gym. Now heartrate monitors are smaller than ever and can be easily worn every day with comfort. Personal trainers kid have a tiny wrist band that they have their clients where. This band would send heartrate monitor signals to a single application that the personal trainer could review later on. It would also provide much more information about metabolism and what times of the day are best for exercising. Also hold clients responsible for exercise if they get lazy at times. One of the hardest parts about personal training is keeping clients motivated and making sure they do the right things when they are not with you. This sort of accountability using heartrate monitors can be an extra push for the clients to get out there and work out every day.

Keeping track of results and progress

Even in this modern day most personal trainers carry around a clipboard, a pad of paper and a pencil to chart the progress of their clients. What if every personal trainer had either an iPad or in an android tablet. It would be a win-win situation for both the client and the trainer. The clients would be able to access all of their workouts in the progress they have made from a single application whenever they got home. They would also be able to print out all the work as they did that day, that week or even 2 months ago. One of the hardest things personal trainers have is making duplicate copies of the same workout. If they write it down they have to write it down again so that they can have a copy as well as their client. This way everything is digital and everyone has a copy because they are all integrated into one application.

Conclusion

The combination of both the heartrate monitor as well as a single app to keep track of progress is an amazing step forward for the fitness industry. Clients will be more motivated than ever because they will be able to quantitatively track their progress and see results. Personal trainers will be able to better understand each client’s individual needs and will be able to see how hard they are working throughout the day even when they are not with them. Personal trainers will make higher salaries because of the value that they provide their clients. And everyone will have access to all the workouts and tracking progress will be easier than ever has been. This is my vision for software that can change the fitness industry!

Technology Leads The Way For Greener Living

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It seems that current culture, lifestyle and even the Internet are filled with a variety of buzzwords that often say very little while trying to convince people to purchase some miraculous gimmick or medical device. The majority of these items deal with things like greener living while protecting the planet or teaching folks how to improve their own life or those of a loved one. Thankfully, this is just the beginning because hidden in this mountain of hype are a number of nuggets that can really make the future look bright.

Some of the most eco-friendly innovations in the world are in the field of transportation. These improvements range from incremental fuel enhancements which steadily increase the amount of miles people can get from the fuel they burn to advances in the various types of combustible fuels that will power the future. The latter is important because the world will eventually run out of petroleum from which gasoline products are made. To ensure that people make quick progress in these endeavors the industry uses a variety of computer models and software simulations to predict how new fuels will react and how the people of the world will react to them.

Of course, designing and improving modern fuels is only one aspect of the situation. Even the best engineered fuels will be useless if you can’t deliver them to the people or industrial centers that need them. The logistics of global fuel supply is so complex that it could take decades before people can figure out how to create a new fuel delivery infrastructure. Thankfully, tomorrows technological tools and computers are developing almost as fast as our need for better, cleaner and more abundant fuels. This rapid growth places the technical demands exactly where they should be, in the hands of scientists and computer engineers as they struggle to ensure all aspects of the future meet up correctly.

It’s funny to think that we rely so much on computers when they tend to let us down all the time. Even the most advanced computer systems protected by the most robust antivirus software and encryption technologies are vulnerable to malicious attacks, bugs, and just plain clutter. It’s the reason that there are so many computer help blogs and other types of websites. It’s also the reason that the NSA is involved so heavily with computers. They are imperfect and constantly need improvement and innovation.

It is important for the current crop of college graduates to realize that the future is in their hands. Their hard work and intelligence is the means by which the world advances. Yet none of those advances will matter if we don’t have the technological skills and electronic capacity to control and calculate the future. To ensure the younger generations stay interested in computer technologies the industry must adapt and grow so new ideas will be allowed to take root and blossom. This is the direction our world is heading, and we must be sure to adapt and advance accordingly.

Cloud Computing explained in plain English

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Businessman drawing a Cloud Computing diagramWhat is it?

Much like the matter is distributed evenly throughout a real cloud, the data is distributed throughout the digital cloud. The software you are working on is not located on one single device. The task you are creating is not processed by a single server. Several computers are put together in a computing system and accessible over the Internet. Together they work as one, even though they are separate – hence this complicated, and, a bit general term – the cloud.

What can I use it for?

Cloud computing is not that different on the customer side as it is on the provider’s side. Unless you are creating and using your own system, you will not know the difference of upgrading to cloud right away. Hosting companies choose to employ the cloud to manage customers and services easier, to upgrade the hardware and software faster, bring the machines closer to full potential, to track the used services better and hence offer better price packages – based only on what you actually use. The advantages for the customer – better prices, less downtime, faster maintenance, better performance.

What do I look for?

To be completely honest, the term ‘cloud’ is overused. Not every computer system can truly be called a cloud. The way the system is put together would be very different from provider to provider. Even if they tried really hard to explain exactly how the system works, it would be a generous amount of complicated, incomparable information. One of the ways you know you would get full advantage of the cloud is to put your bet on a good name. Trust hosting companies that have been around for a while and have made a good name for themselves.

Is it safe?

It is just as safe as local computing is, if not more. Why? Remember this term – Point of failure. Your personal computer is a single point of failure. If something happens to your hard disk it will be very hard if not impossible to repair. Much like the brain, however, the cloud would not allow shut down just because one of the parts broke – the rest will step up and substitute the corrupt parts. They will keep buzzing, saving the moment – nothing will shut down, no work will be lost. On the user side nothing would change, except for, maybe, a bit of a slowdown.

Does it makes my life easier?

Easy answer – yes.

How? Let’s scale down for a moment. Imagine three different people who need to use a machine from nine to eleven o’clock. Ricardo needs 90% of the processing power from nine to ten. Lucy and Steven use 5% for the same period. From ten to eleven Steven uses 80% and the other two use 10% each. Normally they would each need a different device since they all need to be logged in at the same time and work. Ricardo and Steven would need dedicated machines since they both go close to the full potential of the server at times. To the hosting company that means three different machines – three times the hardware, three times the software, and three time to set them up. To the customers this means higher costs. As you can see there is no point at which the machine is loaded over 100%. The cloud setup will allow customers to each use the same machine and pay accordingly.

If we scale back up, we get to explain how the server technicians can fix a hardware problem or upgrade the software gradually on all machines, by diverting the data traffic. The result for the customer will be they do not have to experience any downtime. Cloud hosting allows uptime to reach a perfect 100%.