Monthly Archives: August 2013

I’ll just Login to the Shop and get That

ecommerce_flowWhen something is to be taxed and the taxman writes an 89 page booklet on it, then it is possible to say that it has become mainstream. Ecommerce has reached that elevated status and according to the mentioned booklet, electronic commerce (e-commerce) is rapidly transforming the way business is conducted throughout the world.  So what is it?

Ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods and services of any kind over the internet. Essentially there are three types of transactions that can occur over the internet:

  •  On-line ordering of goods which are delivered to the customer from the supplier through the post or courier systems(clothes, furniture, car parts, etc.).
  • On-line ordering of services (for example, flights, motor tax) where payments are made for services, which are delivered as usual.
  • On-line ordering and delivery of digital items, such as music,  online courses, books or software” services which are downloaded over the internet in digital form.

There are a multitude of online shops on the Internet, some genuine , some not.  In any case when spending money over the Internet , it is important to protect yourself, so your card details are not in danger of being hijacked, and your personal information made available. Following the tips below should go a long way to ensuring that you are protected.

  • Always ensure that your browser and your operating system are up to date.  At your peril ignore the message boxes that pop up on your screen asking you to install updates.
  • Shop with retailers that you know or get to know an online shop either through recommendations or your own research before you give them your hard earned money
  • Ensure the site uses encryption so that your credit card details cannot be intercepted by another person.  To check this look for an unbroken key or lock at the bottom of your browser window or check the website address, which should begin https:// rather than http://
  • Keep a record of your internet transactions, including the retailer’s website address. Many online stores send customers e-mails summarising the purchase details, it is a good idea to save or print these.
  • Before buying, read the delivery and return policies that should be on the retailer’s website. Can unsatisfactory items be sent back? If the items are faulty, can you get a refund or a credit note? or can you return the items particularly clothes if they are not suitable?, who covers the cost of postage, which can be substantial.
  • The online shop should also have information about delivery arrangements and costs, credit and debit cards they accept and taxes that apply.
  • Look for a telephone number or e-mail address and note them down in case you have any queries.
  • Check if the site has a privacy policy, and read it.


Ecommerce is the first in a family of electronic commerce facilities. A close relation of ecommerce is mcommerce, shopping using your mobile phone.  It is suggested that half of all traffic to internet shops will be through mobile devices by the end of 2013.

If you have a product to sell, that can be delivered for a reasonable cost, it is the place to be.


Consumers and designers

hammerIf you saw a child carrying around a hammer or even an adult carrying around a hammer and hitting things with it, one would be unlikely to say the person was a master carpenter or that the child would grow up to be master carpenter.  It would not be acceptable to say that a person who sits in a car all day, knows all about cars, as this is obviously not the case.  There is a substantial difference between a person who uses something and one who is capable of designing something. Indeed a  person who manufactures and sells a lot of  sweets, might be one of the richest people in the world where as a person who consumes a lot of sweets, is unlikely to benefit in the same way.

Parents and friends will, often be heard to, say about a person who spends a lot of time on a computer, that they are a genius at computers.  The truth of this is questionable.  Using computer systems, such as social media sites  requires straightforward skills that are easily learned by anyone. Understanding computers and designing systems for them requires a greater amount of learning and discipline. But it is work that can be very rewarding.  As Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Larry Page  can testify.

Mark Zuckerberg the founder of  Facebook’s vision of a completely open society controlled by the wisdom of crowd has moved a little closer to its goal by acquiring Zibbigo,  a speech to speech translation app, developed by a company, called Mobile Technologies, their goal was to  break through language barriers to open up communication between the people of the world.

Technology is one of those areas where individuals with a good idea and technical skill can make a difference. Larry Page in his speech laying out the future of Google, said that “Technology should do the hard work so people can do the things that make them the happiest in life”  and that “We should be building great things that don’t exist.”

To give our young people the best opportunity of taking the step to create great things that don’t exist in a way that adds to the health of society, We could teach them critical thinking and give them formal instruction in logic.  Thinking critically improves a person’s ability to understand and they are better placed to be able to see what is needed and then design systems.  It also improves their problem solving skills in other areas of life. It can be of great value to teach young people how to design computer systems and it is of value to teach them how to think logically.