At Pinkeye Graphics, we like to play with pretty pictures and computers. Cat likes to get out her pencils and sharpen them, whereas Matt loves to blow the dust out of the inside of some second-hand PC. That's more-or-less what we do, and sometimes it seems to work out pretty well.
When we first started, back in 2007, we kept our records on paper. Amazing though it must seem to some of our younger readers, this used to be how many businesses kept records. But not for long. We soon found that even keeping spreadsheets full of figures and invoices wasn't keeping things together. So we bought some software to help us - 'Mind Your Own Business' it was wittily called. It was OK, and helpfully it didn't cost anything more once we'd bought it. It did take quite a while to operate though, and when MYOB's UK business closed down, there was no support, and an endless series of shrill marketing messages from some other lot trying to get us to buy their product. So we went to look for another way to manage our business finances.
About twice a year Matt from Pinkeye pokes his head around the virtual email filters and goes looking at the spam in person. It's not a pretty sight - and invariably gives him cause for a rueful shake of the head.
We run quite a few websites from our fairly modest servers which we host at the highly-recommended eUKHost. Most of these are websites that are well used throughout the year but don't get huge jumps in traffic. However we do have a few clients that have occasional big spikes in demand, for example when there's a product launch or big annual event. This can cause problems with the server, as when it is working hard and slows down for one website, it slows down for all the others on that particular machine.
Up to now we've juggled server resources by hand and managed to keep things going most of the time. But this year we knew we faced a bigger challenge with the announcement of the winners of the British Wildlife Photography Awards. This major national competition is entirely web-based, and we manage and host the website. Last year the announcement of the winners nearly - but not quite - toppled our server. This year we knew it was a much more popular competition, with many thousands more images uploaded. So we were expecting a big rush. It would never do for the BWPA website to fail just at its moment of glory. So we put in place a contingency plan that we hadn't tried before, the use of a service called CoralCDN, also known as Coral Cache. It worked like a charm. The website continued live throughout the two days with a 1500% spike in traffic when it was featured on the front page of BBC Online, National Geographic, Bild, The Times, the Guardian and many many more. Read on to see how we did it.
It's an unusual problem but a frustrating one. A client had sent us some emails from an Outlook system which had images attached to them we needed. Straightforward? Not this time! The emails came as attachments, with no filetype, and could only be opened as text documents. Needless to say we don't have Microsoft Outlook running so we couldn't open them that way. The text documents were huge, and looked something like this:
Content-Type: image/jpeg; name="Six-spot Burnet moth.JPG"
Content-Description: Six-spot Burnet moth.JPG
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="Six-spot Burnet moth.JPG";
size=416910; creation-date="Sun, 25 Jul 2004 11:33:28 GMT";
modification-date="Sun, 25 Jul 2004 11:33:28 GMT"
..and so on for another 600Kb. How could we get this image out of the email? A solution was at hand. Read on to see what it was.
Pinkeye Graphics is pleased to promote an event to help people on the Isle of Wight manage their money. Organised by the Footprint Trust, the free 'Cash Low? Cash Flow!' event offers advice about debt management and guidance on making your cash go further.
Cat was delighted to be asked to create the flyer for this worthy happening and, with only a week or so to turn it round was happy to deliver the finished product to the client today. The A5 flyer was printed locally on 150gsm Revive pure offset 100% recycled paper using vegetable-based inks by Crossprint, with an impressively quick two-day turnaround.