Andy Paddock

Andy Who?

Don’t Trust Anybody – Even Me — June 12, 2015

Don’t Trust Anybody – Even Me

This is the first in a series of posts explaining what to do instead of giving people like me access to your web stuff. I’ll start with your Facebook page and in my line of work this scenario is all too common. Continue reading

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Web Site 101 — May 13, 2015

Web Site 101

This guide is for those of you that want to get your new web site from an idea in your head to a live site on the internet. If you’re looking to have a play around with publishing content on the internet with no relation to your new business then I’d recommend you create a site on wordpress.com and go no further with this guide until you decide you need a site for your specific venture. Continue reading

It’s lonely at the top — May 6, 2015

It’s lonely at the top

So because I don’t consider myself artistic enough to be a “web designer” but I do know how most Internet technologies are put together and function. For those reasons I called myself a “web consultant” and set about my Google ranking based on that search term but with the addition of “Salisbury” as that’s my current location.

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— January 17, 2013

GDS continues to show the way, showing true compassion and giving credit are not things you would normally associate with any government department/web site. I applaud you and think anyone who thinks this is not the right place for this kind of post should get back into their stuffy tight lipped box.

Government Digital Service

We are shocked and saddened by the death of Aaron Swartz. Some of us at GDS were fortunate to have met him; others were involved in the many projects he worked on; all of us are in some way indebted to his legacy. As Sir Tim Berners-Lee said, ‘we have lost a mentor, a wise elder.’

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Canonical Conundrum — December 10, 2012

Canonical Conundrum

google-seoNot so much a conundrum as the use of Canonical links for SEO is well documented but my angle is, as usual a little bit different.

The setup: We have a secure extranet and recently added two sites that had existed for some time on the internet and had a fairly decent page rank (in google at least) they both retained a public page for a period of a few months to advertise the fact they had moved.

The Issue: Google bot had spidered the sites but came up against our login page so updated it’s title and description but decided the original url was of greater importance than the actual url of our login page. The killer problem concerns our single sign on solution that remembers the URL you click on. The sequence would be as follows:

  1. User searches for Forces Gateway (now Defence Gateway).
  2. Google displays the Title and Description of the Defence Gateway Page but retains the url of one of the two former public sites.
  3. User clicks on link and logs in.
  4. Single sign on directs user to original url and not to the Defence Gateway page.

The Solution: It was very simple, we added a canonical link to each page and within a few days google had the correct url matched to the title and description.

Key statements from the Google Webmaster’s Help pages

Why specify a canonical page?

It’s common for a site to have several pages listing the same set of products. For example, one page might display products sorted in alphabetical order, while other pages display the same products listed by price or by rating. For example:

http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&trackingid=1234567&sort=alpha&sessionid=5678asfasdfasfd
http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&trackingid=1234567&sort=price&sessionid=5678asfasdfasfd

If Google knows that these pages have the same content, we may index only one version for our search results. Our algorithms select the page we think best answers the user’s query. Now, however, users can specify a canonical page to search engines by adding a <link> element with the attribute rel="canonical" to the <head> section of the non-canonical version of the page. Adding this link and attribute lets site owners identify sets of identical content and suggest to Google: “Of all these pages with identical content, this page is themost useful. Please prioritize it in search results.”

Is rel=”canonical” a suggestion or a directive?

This new option lets site owners suggest the version of a page that Google should treat as canonical. Google will take this into account, in conjunction with other signals, when determining which URL sets contain identical content, and calculating the most relevant of these pages to display in search results.

Falling in Love Again — December 7, 2012

Falling in Love Again

Image

Maybe love is not the right word for it but after the disappointment of Huddle my trial account of Podio has been a revelation of biblical proportions.

I’ve been aware of Huddle for some time now but my work has never been taken in that direction so I’ve just dabbled in and out with no real identifiable requirement to use any Social Enterprise offering. Our requirements have recently identified at least a greater need to investigate Social Enterprise so we have started testing and setting up meetings to have the inevitable mind blowing price tag revealed.

I opened trial accounts for Huddle, Jive, Social Cast and finally Podio following a recommendation from RackSpace. Huddle instantly died a death as all they seem to be pushing is their security credentials and not much else. Jive started to rise to the top of the tree mainly through a recommendation from Paul McTurk.

After a recommendation from RackSpace I had a look at Podio and was instantly taken with it’s simplicity but also it’s potential to be as complicated as you want it to be. It doesn’t set it’s self up as an addition to something else or indeed need any other software to perform it’s tasks.

The only elephant in the room is the lack of versioning control for documents but Podio is so good it makes you question why you need to version control a document that’s more than likely being stored in SharePoint which has it’s own version control.

The Pension Trap You Shouldn’t Escape From — September 7, 2012

The Pension Trap You Shouldn’t Escape From

To put some meat on the bone and to add the opinion of a serving soldier please bear with me while I bleat on for a few minutes.

The facts are out there and the injustice is obvious and can’t in my opinion be excused, but I have a different angle.

I have not got long left to serve in the Army and am what some may say pension trapped, I’m so far into my full service that if I decided to leave it would dramatically reduce my pension. On the other hand If I decided to leave early I would not get a pension but would potentially be more employable.

I’m happy to stay and risk my age impacting on my ability to start a new career but I’ll have the buffer of my pension to soften the blow. These few good men are in the same position but have just had the safety net ripped away.

Related Links

Pension Justice for Troops – e-petition

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