Introducing Visual Studio Code

Given the buzz in the air around this year’s Build conference, you may have missed their announcement on releasing a brand new code editor called Visual Studio Code or VS Code for short.

Why should you care? Simply put, this is an editor designed and optimized specifically for working with code.

I am a bit of an editor junkie and have used many (an actual screenshot of my task bar below):
my-editors

From left to right, that’s Brackets (from Adobe), Visual Studio, VS Code, Atom (from GitHub), Sublime Text and Notepad2.

I tend to switch between them choosing the right tool for the job. Lately, that has been VS Code. I really like what Microsoft has delivered. Not only is it cross platform (Winnows, Mac and Linux), but it’s finely tuned specifically for working with code.

This is only a beta release, but I would not let that stop you from installing it and taking a look at it. In the last 3 weeks, they’ve delivered two major updates as the team works towards their 1.0 release.

To find out more or download a copy (it’s completely free and open source), visit code.visualstudio.com.

We have an Author Among Us!

After many months of work, our own Mike  Hatfield is a published author. His technology book, “CoffeeScript Application Development Cookbook” has been published and is now available on the Packt and Amazon websites.

Mike has a  LinkedIn post on the subject, at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-book-has-been-published-mike-hatfield.

Congratulations to Mike on this significant achievement!

Nicom’s New Website

We practice what we preach and we’ve recreated our own corporate website (www.nicomit.com) so that it has a crisp message and is friendly to mobile devices, just like the ones we build for our customers.

I want to thank Ryan Grant for pulling out all stops to get this out in time, and to Mike Hatfield for doing all the things needing doing for making this all work technically. And to the sales and management team for content.

The goal is to always keep our website up-to-date and being representative of what we feel our value proposition is. Removing superfluous content, and moving it to a user-friendly CMS like WordPress will make this much easier than it’s been in the past.

Needless to say, I am delighted to have this important project completed.

A Good Idea Goes a Long Way

How would you like generate a boat load of traffic to your web site without filling someone else’s boat with money to do it?  Well, it could be just as simple as coming up with the right idea. Or to be more specific, an idea that people will talk about.

We all stand around the water cooler talking about the latest neat thing we heard about on the radio or that a friend mentioned to us. Maybe it is a product, service or just something funny that was on TV the night before. But what if that water cooler was actually a complex social network that connected with thousands of other people? Suddenly what you thought was interesting is being discussed all around the world. Then somewhere along the line all of these people stumble across a web site, video or some sort of content that is related to this topic of interest. Suddenly links to that content start popping up all over the place. As a result traffic to the web site that is hosting that content goes through the roof and prominence in search results increases. Now what if you happened to have that content of interest on your web site? That would not be so bad, would it?

So how exactly does something spread like wildfire through these social networks? Well first, there needs to be that good idea. This idea does not have to be groundbreaking. In fact it could even be something that seems downright silly. But what it needs to be is something that people will talk about and more importantly send to other people online. So long as it generates some sort of buzz or interest, then the word will start to spread. This interest can be the result of something people find humorous, silly or even controversial.

Recently we had the pleasure of developing an online contest for KFC Canada’s website, which was able to reap the benefits of this phenomenon. The contest was tied into a promotion for their new spicy Wicked Crunch Sandwich. In the contest a video shows a fictional heavy metal band playing on stage. The singer in the band screams over the music and ends the song by breathing fire. They then cut to a shot of him backstage taking a bite out of a Wicked Crunch, to which he states, “Oh man that is hot.” That may or may not seem humorous to you. However, due to the fact that a company such as KFC chose to use a dark, leather and spikes heavy metal band in their contest, it was deemed a rather bold move by many people. Because of this bold move, people online started talking about the contest, posting links to it and even clips of the video started popping up on YouTube. Suddenly contest submissions started increasing and went from a couple hundred a day to thousands. In addition to that, the contest page on the KFC web site started showing up prominently in search results. All thanks to the interest generated by the links back to the KFC site from numerous blogs and message boards.

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Optimize your website for search engines to find

I was recently flying in from Boston when I noticed my native West Pubnico from the air, clearly distinctive because of its 17 power-generating windmills, and I remarked how it reminded me of looking at Google Earth on my computer.

Then, it occurred to me how strange a thought this was: that reality was reminding me of a virtual image rather than the other way around. It was life imitating illustration, if you will.

That’s pretty much the way it is. Our sense of reality is becoming viewed more and more through the lens of the Internet, and this is something you need to take seriously if you’re depending on your website to carry your message.

Many people think that all you need to do is create a website and people will find it. That’s akin to printing stacks of marketing brochures and putting them in a warehouse, hoping someone will stumble upon them.

Others think that registering their website with search engines will do the trick. That would be like putting an ad in a few newspapers telling people where they can go to get your brochures.

Still others feel that if you put in enough keywords, then that will make your website popular. It will definitely help, but it’s far from the full story.

If not done correctly, it will hurt more than help. Why? Because search engines don’t like to be tricked. If the keywords don’t match the content and follow search engine rules, then the search engines may downgrade the site in their listings.

But help is available. There is a whole industry around making sure your website gets found by the right people via search engines, a process called search engine optimization. Here are some of the important facets of search engine optimization:

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