i was struck today by this tweet from Deborah Edwards-Onoro:

I thought I’d take a moment to share the story of how I learned to do web stuff.

I know I’m dating myself, but while attending college in the mid-90s, the web was new and exciting. We had no clue what this new Mosaic program was on the computers in the lab.We started to see these very long strings of characters that we could type into that program and it would give us information from around the world.

I was hooked. I wanted to make these new “web pages.” But it was 1995-1996, and there weren’t courses in it. I read a little online about how to make pages, but I had no server to share my creations on.

One department on campus did possess this power, this magical ability to host web pages: the Math and Computer Science Department at Duquesne University. They had a Sun Sparc server that was setup for their students to create some pages. I wasn’t a Compsci major though – so it took a few passionate emails to faculty members in the department asking, nay, begging, them for an account on their system so I could make web pages.

They relented and I got my account. I think the URL was something like:

http://www.mathcs.duq.edu/~mrichwal

Now that I know a lot more about managing servers, I know that adding a new user takes about 10 seconds, but for me, it was huge.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that small action changed the course of my entire life. I’m serious. I don’t know who the department managed accounts on that server in 1995/6, but thank you, either Dr. Thomas Keagy or Dr. Donald Simon.

Success. I had my account. I was ready to make web pages.

One challenge stood before me. I had no idea what I was doing.

That weekend, my girlfriend and I went one of the malls in Pittsburgh to a bookstore. Remember bookstores? Remember malls? They were all over back then. We were on a mission. I was on the lookout for the holy grail that would help me create web pages.

My career in web and marketing literally began that weekend when I bought HTML for Dummies.

Yes, HTML For Dummies. This book changed my life.

I tore through it in a few days. I was making pages. Making links. Making stuff blink (back when it was still OK to do that.) Tables. Frames. Bold. Italics. Images. Imagemaps.

That knowledge led me to get a work-study student job in Duquesne’s New Media Center, making web pages and interactive multimedia projects with faculty. That led me to be hired full-time as the University’s webmaster 3 months before I graduated.

That led me to a bunch of jobs in and out of higher ed doing web, marketing, and creative things. I’ve spoken at conferences, worked at 2 other institutions of higher education, and now work guiding a marketing team that’s spread out around the globe.

I owe all that to a simple account on a Math and Computer Science server and a copy of HTML for Dummies.

Were the pages I made at first good? Absolutely not, but you have to start somewhere. After getting a pretty good handle on HTML and how it works, I jumped into the world of interactive pages. Once I started my full-time job doing the website at Duquesne, I jumped into Cold Fusion and learned over a weekend how to write code that will query a database, and converted what was a printed, broad-sheet newspaper into an interactive website.

That site has been mostly erased from the history of the University, but even after not working there for 18 years, I still show up in site searches at that school. Proof:

You know what’s great – that Duquesne Times site is still running! It’s moved to WordPress now, but its still a thing! How cool is that – something I started back in 1998 is still going strong.

I say all that to say there’s no shame in learning how to do web sites and applications in Dreamweaver, even if I do make fun of my best mate and business partner Adam for using it.

If you learned on your own, in school, with a book, watching YouTube videos, it doesn’t matter. You learned it. You are still learning it. The tools have never been better or more accessible. There are undergraduate and graduate programs everywhere, coding bootcamps, online programs, and so much more.

Oh, one final thing. The girlfriend who took me to get that book? We got married and our oldest son just finished his first year of high school, where he took a digital marketing and multimedia class this year.

It’s all come full circle.

 

A QR Code generated by WeChat

A QR Code generated by WeChat

Since I switched jobs last year, I’m now managing a marketing team with team members in the UK and one in China. It’s been very interesting to learn about marketing in China and what works and doesn’t. It’s been a big shift from higher ed, but one I’ve enjoyed learning about. I’ve only scratched the surface so far, and I know I have much more to learn over the coming months and years.

What has surprised me is that with the rise of social mega-services like WeChat, one technology that never quite caught on here continues to explode there.

That’s right, our friend, the QR code.

The sad, maligned QR code. The things that’s had books written about it.

What’s been at most a novelty here, is serious business there. It’s not just for social either, QR codes are everywhere in Asia, and China especially. If anything, the demand for them is rising.

We’ve been using them for awhile, but they are a key part of our messaging in that region of the world. We put them on some printed materials, and we made favicards at Jakprints this year with a QR code that takes users to our brand’s WeChat page. Jakprints even tweeted them out:

Last night, my father sent me a picture from a McDonald’s in China where he’s travelling for business. Yes, the self-ordering and payment kiosk could be a post about the coming change in employment due to automation, but also pay attention to the QR codes prominently displayed on the side graphics. I don’t know where that QR code leads, but they’re not going away in China anytime soon.

Editor’s note: Many of our college and university web sites accept credit cards for many reasons. It could be online gifts, tickets or event registrations, even tuition deposits or payments. We all buy things online with our credit cards. Once you hit that purchase button, what actually happens and what are the steps and players that work to put the actual money into your account. This post looks into that.


If you’re an online business, odds are your business wouldn’t be possible without credit card transactions. Most of the convenience and speed we associate with online purchases are thanks to the infrastructure behind credit card processing. This makes it possible for payments to be received almost immediately, and is a big part of the reason why online spending is increasing all the time. Your customers send their credit card information, their payments are approved, you get your money, and you send the products. All of this happens in a matter of moments, regardless of how far apart you and your customers are. Even though the process can seem like magic, there’s an extremely complicated process involving numerous parties, and it’s important for businesses operating online to understand that process and the role they play in it. Knowing how the process works not only makes you better informed when your customers have questions, but it also can help you control certain processing fees. All businesses are subject to credit card processing fees, but understanding the processes behind them may allow you to negotiate them or avoid them altogether.

In addition to you and your customers, credit card processing involves a number of financial institutions and service providers. These include the banks that issue the credit cards; the processors that serve as intermediaries between the banks and the credit card associations (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) that establish the rules; the merchant account providers that manage the actual processing; and the payment gateways that provide the “virtual terminals” that capture the credit card data during the online checkout process.

The process is broken down like this:

  1. The customer enters his or her credit card information into the secure online checkout form.
  2. Through the payment gateway, the merchant captures the credit card information.
  3. The merchant sends that information to the credit card processor that then sends that information to the appropriate credit card brand association.
  4. The credit card association then confirms the transaction with the customer’s card-issuing bank.
  5. The card-issuing bank either confirms or declines the purchase, and notifications are sent to all parties. This all happens within moments of the customer submitting his or her card information.

In addition to the fact that you and the customer never meet face to face during an online transaction, processing credit cards through an online purchase differs from an in-person, point-of-sale transaction for two key reasons: The first is the involvement of the payment gateway, which takes the place of the point-of-sale credit card terminal equipment during the transaction. For brick-and-mortar merchants, the terminal is either rented from merchant account providers or purchased by the merchants.

The other key difference for online merchants is the presence of the address verification fee, which is assessed for online transactions because of the extra level of verification required when the physical credit card is not involved in the transaction. This is just one of many fees merchants can incur on every credit card transaction. Some of them are regular fees that occur monthly, others occur on a per-transaction basis, and others are incurred only under certain circumstances.

No matter how often your business conducts transactions with customers through e-commerce, understanding the fees you may be subject to — as well as your options for paying them — is essential in helping you avoid racking up more fees than you should be paying. The guide below explains many of the most common of these fees, as well as the payment structures available to online merchants. Review it and you’ll come away with a better understanding of how complicated all of those simple e-commerce transactions really are.

How Does Payment Processing Work?

Author bio: As Vice President of Sales at Performance Card Service, Matt Wollersheim’s focus is on general marketing, client relations and development of new processing channels. Performance Card Service provides high-risk payment gateway solutions.