About SME Pals

SME Pals was started in 2008 by David Mercer as a companion blog to the many technical books on Web development and programming (see below) he was writing at the time.

Later on it evolved into a blog/resource to help people (in particular entrepreneurs and small business owners) cope with the ever changing world of technology.

If there's a piece of technology out there, from website builders to cloud accounting software, that can be used to start or run a business you can be sure that we've tried it, played around with it, broken it, and reviewed it to help you make better decisions earlier.

SME Pals now boasts a huge range of information, articles and resources to help anyone startup and run their own home based or small business - regardless of whether it is a blog or a full-fledged eCommerce site.

SME Pals is based out of our offices in Claremont, Cape Town, South Africa, but like all modern businesses, employs a network of people distributed all over the globe in order to bring a high level of experience and insights straight to you.

About David Mercer

I help clients develop new applications (predominantly using PHP, Drupal, and any other Web technology or language that fits the problem), advise on technologies and solutions, and help grow businesses online using search optimization (SEO) and Internet marketing.

Companies use me to deliver solutions to unique and complex problems that they don't necessarily have the skills to manage in-house. For example, I am currently building a hybrid ACO (Ant Colony Optimization) solution to the mTSP (multiple Traveling Salesman Problem), with constraints, for a leading UK based satellite vehicle tracking firm.

I'm a bestselling author of programming, development, eCommerce and marketing books (see below) and a serial entrepreneur specializing in Web and eCommerce startups.

A bit more about me...

I am one of the most experienced technical authors in the world today, having contributed to in excess of 30 technical titles published by many of the world's major publishers, translated into many of the world's major languages.

I have been working in IT ever since I spent a month (in the late nineties) dismantling various old computers in order to construct a Beowulf cluster high performance computing system. Memories of which haunt me to this day (that's a reflection of my hardware mangling abilities).

After co-authoring several successful books on any number of programming topics, including shell scripting and PHP, I became interested in business and its online implementations.

I have founded several Internet startups, and continue to be involved in new startup web based projects, like ZAPlayGround.

When not writing or working on my own enterprises, I provide strategic, technical, analytical and marketing consulting to large businesses (and some SMEs) and organizations.

I founded SME Pals to help individuals and organizations fully leverage the power of the Internet. It has a dual mandate: to both educate and to alleviate the intellectual burden of entry into the online market.

I hold a cum laude science degree with a dual major in Applied Math and Math from the University of South Africa.

Some of my books...

Building powerful and robust websites with Drupal 6

This book meets the booming demand for well presented, clear, concise, and above all practical information on how to move from knowing you want a website all the way through to designing and building it like a pro, and finally successfully managing and maintaining it.

"Excellent - Very helpful" by Scott Jenkins (5 stars)
"Easy to understand Drupal book" by R. Todd (5 stars)

Drupal 7

This book provides the best way to learn and master Drupal 7, enabling you to create virtually any type of website. It meets the booming demand for well presented, clear, concise, and above all practical information on how to design and build sites like a pro.

"Comprehensive but easy to follow" by S. Wile (5 stars)
"Good Drupal 7 book for beginners" by Chris fontenot (4 stars)

Building Online Stores with osCommerce: Professional Edition

At all times, the coverage given in this book pays homage to the fact that, ultimately, the reader has a business goal in mind. To this end, the material never gets bogged down in technical issues or long discourses, but rather focuses on what is practically important for the online business and then moves on. To complement this, there are plenty of suggestions and hints as to how and where to look for further information.

"Perfect introduction to osCommerce" by John Morehead (5 stars)
"All you need to set up an e-commerce store" by T. Fetcho (5 stars)

Building Online Stores with osCommerce: Beginner Edition

The book's business oriented approach focuses on using osCommerce to meet your business goals and requirements. You will also learn how to get the most from the osCommerce community, and see how the open source nature of osCommerce can bring great benefits to the quality of your site. By the end of this book, you will be confident in running your own store and possess enough know how to establish a strong online business.

"Fantastic book for people wanting to explore the world of e-commerce" by Liam O'Shannessy (5 stars)
"Good osCommerce starter book" by Horizon Enterprises (5 stars)

Beginning PHP5

Beginning PHP5 is a complete tutorial in PHP5's language features and functionality, beginning with the basics and building up to the design and construction of complex data-driven Web sites. Fully functioning applications are developed through the course of the book. Other features of the book include installation guide and troubleshooting tips, introduction to relational databases, practical working examples and applications, and a detailed language reference.

"Perfect book to start PHP" by Massimo Ardito (5 stars)
"PHP5 a really really good review" by onetrap (5 stars)

Internet Marketing with WordPress

With over 60 million WordPress blogs in existence, how does your customer know which one to visit? And with so many companies out there, all clamoring for attention, how will visitors know whether to spend their money with you? The answers are in this book. Create a WordPress blog which will instantly capture your target audience, build your reputation, and turn visitors into paying customers.

"Do It Right and Everyone Benefits" by Christine L. Goldman (5 stars)
"Solid advice: take your site seriously" by Jonathan Christopher (4 stars)