Shopping online – tips and advice

When shopping online, there are loads of things to look out for, and loads of ways to get a better deal. In this article I hope to share some of the experience I have got from shopping online, and some of my tech knowledge in order to help you get a better deal – what you want, at a reasonable price.

The first thing to say is that what you are shopping for, is crucial to how to go about buying it.

Virtual Goods

If you are buying an online or ‘virtual’ good/service, then the key thing to check is that you are buying from a reputable firm. Checking the firm is reputable and reliable is key for all online shopping, but especially so if you are buying something virtual – e.g. a website, anti-virus software, access to a game, music etc.

There are a few ways you can go about checking if online firms are reputable. The first is to see if the firm exists in reality, do they have shops in the real world, or are they totally online? Firms with physical property are less likely to be fraudulent, as they are easy to find and locate. Totally online firms can be just as reputable, look at the likes of Play.com and Amazon.

Play.com's LogoThe second way to get an idea of whether a firm is reputable or not is to check their stats. Does the site have a good Alexa rank – top 500,000? If not, people may not be visiting the site for a reason: it has just been set up, and after a few quick cons will be gone. You can check the history of the site using the Way Back Machine for more info on its past.

The third way is a much less reliable way, but can be useful to back up your decision. Try looking at the websites PageRank. If they have say a PageRank 3+ homepage, they are more likely to be legitimate than a site with all PageRank 0’s. People link to shop websites when they buy things and then review them, so shops should acquire PageRank. If they have no PageRank, they may still be legitimate, but check, as that may mean they have not been trading for long, therefore have just set up to scam, and will be shut down soon.

Finally are they a big name. Say you are buying anti-virus direct from the supplier. Most people have heard of the likes of Kaspersky, Sophos and Norton, but if the company is called something like ‘SpywareBeGoneSolutions’ then they are a lot less likely to sell you a good product, if any product at all.

Kaspersky's LogoFinally, when checking that the firm you are going to buy from is going to give you the product(s) you want, watch the news, or research them on news sites! Is the firm about to go bust or being run by administrators? If so, buying from them may lead to you loosing your money!

Services

If you are buying a service, such as a holiday, insurance or a meal at a restaurant, then there are loads of really useful sites that can help you, by giving you an incite into what others thought of that service.

Say for example you are buying a holiday, you can use websites like TripAdvisor.com to see if the place you are looking at staying at has positive reviews. If not, you can maybe choose somewhere else. Be careful though, as sometimes these sites can be misleading, as Jonny recently wrote about.

There are other websites too like MoneySavingExpert.com and Yelp, which can offer similar services for other things like insurance, banking, restaurants, shopping etc. MoneySavingExpert.com is especially worth a look, as aside from reviews, they can give really good advice, to help you save money when buying all sorts of things.

Products

The key to ensuring you get value for money and what you want when buying products online is to make sure you read what other people think about it. Reviews are really useful, and can help you determine which product is right for you.

Don’t be afraid to venture out of the companies website itself, and look for more reviews elsewhere online. Some firms will only publish the positive reviews they receive on their own site, in order to try to persuade more people to buy that product, from them.

A really important bit of advice is not to discount the high street, it can still be a very good place to buy things. Often things are cheaper online, however you can usually see and sometimes try products when in a shop, whereas online, all you have is pictures and possibly video.

Once you know the product is for you, make sure that you shop around. Find the best deal using price comparison sites like MoneySupermarket.com and PriceRunner.co.uk.

Once you have your product and the shop, don’t forget to go to coupon sites to see if you can get an even better deal. Sites like MyVoucherCodes usually have some great discount offers, you just need to look.

To conclude

In summary, when shopping online, make sure that you are buying from someone reputable. Make sure the product or service is what you want. Check out other peoples reviews. Look for the best deal, and then finally don’t forget to check if there are any vouchers that could further slash the cost.

Hopefully these tips have been useful, good luck shopping online!

Online data backup using cloud computing technology

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Bulldog Backup. To find out more about sponsored content on Technology Bloggers, please visit our Privacy Policy.

In the past I have written about cloud computing and how cloud data storage is the future, and at the moment it is playing a key part in backup technologies, as it is now easier than ever before to backup your data online.

One firm that offer online backup services are the Glasgow based Bulldog Backup, they were founded in 2010 and offer backup solutions for both domestic and business users.

I read a statistic the other day that almost 50% of businesses reported a loss of important data in the last two years, probably why more and more firms are investing in online data backup systems!

The good thing is, online backup solutions are getting easier and easier to use, another reason why more and more people are using them. For example, with Bulldog Backup, all you need to is select the package you want to buy, you will then be emailed with your login credentials, then all you need do is login and download the relevant backup client – either Windows or Mac.

When you install your backup software you are asked what you want to backed up, you can choose your entire hard disk, or just a few files – say pictures and music for instance.

Now you may be thinking that online backup storage is a great idea for most people, but you are on a connection which has a limited monthly allowance – say 40 gigabytes, you can’t afford to run the backup system, in fear of going over your allowance.

There is a solution to this too. With most good backup systems nowadays, you can configure how much bandwidth is used for backups, therefore you never go over your limit. You can also choose which files the software should prioritise the backing up of – e.g. give pictures and documents high priority, whilst don’t worry so much about music.

Select how much bandwidth online backup can use

Select how much of your bandwidth Bulldog Backup can use

The best thing is, once you have backed up your files, you can easily access them from anywhere, using your own personal web portal. Bulldog Backup’s portal has a clean layout and is designed to make listening to audio files and viewing images as easy as possible, all as standard. Therefore you can access all your albums whilst out and about, how cool is that! You can also install mobile apps for both iOS and Android, making it even easier for you to access your files on the move.

If you want to go up a level Bulldog Backup offer a ‘Pro’ account which has all of the standard features, with the addition of a ‘SmartDrive’ allowing you to sync files across multiple computers. A SmartDrive is basically a drive that appears like any other hard disk on your computer, only anything you store in it is automatically uploaded to the cloud – a pretty cool bit of tech don’t you think?

A screenshot of a SmartDrive

A screenshot of what the Bulldog Backup SmartDrive looks like – just another hard disk

Okay, so you like the idea of online backup, you can see the potential and benefits, but, what about the costs? Well you may be pleasantly surprised, you can start backing up online with Bulldog Backup from only £2.95 a month ($4.63) with a 1 Terabyte Protect account.

Think that is a good price? I have managed to get a discount promo code which makes the same account cost just £1.25 ($1.96) a month, and that price is fixed for 5 years! Visit the site bulldogbackup.com and use the promo code ‘bullbonanza00’ at the checkout before the 29th of February (this year) to take get started at that rock bottom price 🙂

What do you think about online backup? Will you be investing in it in the near future?

How to Improve Your Business Using Technology

In today’s day and age, you will very rarely find a business owner sitting on their laurels and simply allowing their business to move from one day to the next without change. With the current unsteady financial climate, most should be doing their utmost to move their business forward in order to attract and secure enough new customs to stay afloat. One of the many ways in which this can be achieved is to invest in the latest technology for your particular field of business.

Whilst this may seem a daunting prospect both in terms of a lack of technological experience and a strain on already limited finances, the advantages of making the investment could be profound. No matter what industry you find yourself in, there is almost certainly going to be a form of technology at your disposal – whether this be a specific system, programme or piece of equipment – that can have a positive effect on the way in which your business is run.

For instance, a retail setting that is behind the times in terms of technology could definitely benefit from the introduction of point of sale and EPOS software to make payment transactions swifter and stock counting easier. Although the transition from traditional ways to modern alternatives may be unnerving, if you are able to keep track on the amount of stock you have on the shelves whilst making payment at the tills quicker, this could have long-term financial benefits.

In an office environment, a large number of computers has now become the norm. In the world of computer technology, new system updates and program developments are common place so ensuring that your business stays up to date with such regular changes can be a struggle. However, by investing in professional help, you may then be able to divert your attention away from this area to concentrate on other pressing matters, safe in the knowledge that everything is being taken care of on your behalf.

IT support cartoon

Professional tech support could help prevent employees from needing their own!

Whether you decide to develop an in-house team to offer support when it comes to your IT systems, or decide that outsourcing will be a more cost-effective option, having one individual or a team of technologically savvy employees who are aware of technical changes that could influence the performance of your business will give you an advantage over your competitors.

It is no secret that attracting new custom can be a struggle and with many consumers now using the internet to find local services, ensuring you have a fully functional website and an online presence is more important than ever. Attractive website design coupled with an SEO campaign to get your business ranking in the search engines for particular terms related to what you offer could make all the difference and give your company the edge when attracting new customers.

Although the current financial climate leaves many businesses in a perilous position, it is clear to see that with an investment in new technology, things may well turn around. From developing a fresh and invigorating website through to purchasing the latest equipment and calling upon professionals to offer assistance, you and your business could see a turn in fortunes that leaves you in a far more stable position.

Tracing the Evolution of Batman Video Games

Batman has appeared in video games for over two decades. The main theme of these games centered on Batman fighting against villains. Several versions were launched over the years, featuring different tasks and characters. Batman comics were the inspiration for these games, which later went on to incorporate features from the films.

Development of Batman video games: 1986 – 1988

In 1986, Ocean Software, a Manchester based company developed the first ever Batman game based on the comic book. The batman featured in this version was rather cute and chubby, and wandered around 150 rooms in search of Robin. Two years later, Batman: The Caped Crusader was launched, which was better in terms of digital color and had two campaigns, one with the Penguin and the other with the Joker. These could be played in any ordered decided upon by the player. Even though the launch of this version coincided with the release of Tim Burton’s Batman film, they showed no similarity.

1989 – 1992

In 1989 NES featured the Batman based on the movie. The goal was to reach the big boss, played by the Joker, by tackling smaller bosses that came first. The Batman was purple and was put up against robots and Gotham city thugs. The next year saw the arcade version by Atari and the pinball version by Dataeast. 1992 witnessed ‘Return of the Joker’, which was a sequel to the NES version. This game had improved graphics and funny commentary.

1993 – 1994

Batman Returns launched in 1993 was inspired by Tim Burton’s movie, it even featured the movie soundtrack. This game was more advanced with limited 3D features. Batman had to fight with several thugs, Catwoman and the Penguin to move up the streets. 1994 saw the release of The Adventures of Batman, which was a cartoon version of the game; it was powered by SNES and Genesis and met some criticism.

1996 – 2001

1996 and 1997 saw the release of Batman Forever by SNES and Genesis and Batman and Robin by PlayStation. Both these games did not have great graphics and met unfavorable reviews.
Batman: Gotham City Racer, Batman: Vengeance and other games were released in 2001. The graphics were average, although Batman Vengeance was the better of the two. The games were based on the New Adventures of Batman cartoons. City racer featured the famous Batmobile, while the latter saw batman fighting street thugs in Gotham city yet again.

2003 – 2007

In 2003, Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu was noteworthy, as it introduced a new villain and also highlighted several unlikely characters. Clayface, Bane and Scarecrow were some such characters. Batman Begins (2005) was more realistic than its forerunners. It had superior graphics and the plot followed the Christopher Nolan movie. The voices for the game were given by the cast from the film. Justice League Heroes (2006) featured Batman among other heroes like Superman fighting enemies.

The Lego Batman Video Game for the Wii

2008 – 2009

The Lego Batman released in 2008 was an upward turn in the series. It combined attractive Lego characteristics with Batman characters and made it enjoyable for both serious gamers and casual players. Batman: Arkham Asylum was launched in 2009 was a bench mark for the game. The graphics and settings were exquisite. The eerie atmosphere was lent by the Arkham mansion. This Batman could be controlled in very superior manner and he took on several villains in order to get to the Joker who was at the heart of the plot.