Category Archives: Tech

Take On Your New Business with Updated Computer Software

Now, more than ever, people are making the decision to leave their 9-5 jobs and starting their own, home-based businesses. Most of the home businesses people are opting for are internet businesses or primarily internet-based. The internet is a surefire way to reach the greatest amount of people in the least amount of time and not only that, but while conducting business online, your computer soon becomes your very best organizational tool.

People who conduct business from home are realizing within just the first few months that the days of home offices filled with standard office equipment such as something as simple as a filing cabinet is no longer needed. All of your important documents and files can easily be kept on your computer and since you will surely be spending a considerable amount of time on your computer to keep up with your budding business, keeping your business files on your computer is more convenient and easier to keep track of. But what do you do when your computer gets a virus or you do a virus scan and find spyware and malware on your computer that you can’t get rid of?

There are a great deal of risks that one must take as soon as they choose to keep important documents on their computer. You must be prepared for something to go wrong with your computer at the most crucial and inopportune time. Some feel a bit safer with their documents by keeping them on an external hard drive, backing up their important files and keeping them on a private server or even keeping copies of your files, printed out and kept in a filing cabinet. One of the most convenient aspects of home businesses is that all you should need is your computer, whether it be a desktop computer or a laptop that you can easily travel with and never have to miss a day of work so keeping run of the mill office furniture in your home-based business is being counterproductive and you are making your business and organization more difficult than it has to be.

Did you know that something as simple as computer software can eliminate not only these, but many other risks that people take when doing business on a computer? A computer’s operating system is the most crucial and important aspects of your computer; if your operating system is not functioning to the best of its ability then you, and your home-based business are not functioning to the best of your ability. If you are using a PC you may feel that you are limited with what operating system you can choose to run your computer on. The simple fact of the matter is that most businesses and even people are not using the one Windows operating system that has been tested and proven to work most effectively for individual users and is the absolute best operating system for home-based and small businesses to run on–Windows Vista.

Windows Vista has less than half of the security risks that Windows XP, the most common operating system PC users are using today, has; with a 60% less likely change to be infected by spyware or malware. If that doesn’t make you more comfortable, you are also guaranteed the peace of mind and know that your important files and documents will not be lost while they are on your computer since Windows Vista has also implemented a new Windows Backup and Restore Center. Vista is the most secure Windows release to date, which is comforting since the amount of people who use and have used Windows XP know the frustration that sets in when your computer gets a virus you can’t seem to get rid of or your computer freezes or applications randomly crash for no reason. People who run small or independent businesses have polled to be up to three times more favorable of Windows Vista just after using it and adjusting to its interface and superior quality.

Since its launch, Windows Vista now supports more than double the number it supported at the time of their initial launch; the PC world is moving over to Vista–Are you willing to be more productive in your business and make the smooth transition over to Windows Vista?

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Trade in Your Wedding Notebook for a Website

While we have all seen the tremendous impact personal and business websites and blogs have had over the internet and internet surfers, engaged couples have found that wedding websites have been extremely helpful and convenient in not only their wedding planning, budgeting and reference, but also for just about everything else.

Wedding websites are the new reference point for the bride and groom and also for their attendees and wedding party. The websites that couples can make range from simple to complex and can be used purely for getting the word out to your friends, family and colleagues along with your online friends and everyone else in the world or for just about everything that goes into planning a wedding complete with interactive sections for your bridal party to participate in.

There are many websites out there that cater specifically to couples who wish to build their own wedding site. If you are not HTML savvy, there are some very chic and elegant templates to choose from on Wed Simple and My Wedding; both sites are set up to be as simple or as complex as you’d like.

Through a wedding site you and your husband or wife-to-be set up, you can not only keep track of your guestbook and contact information, driving directions, menus, little notes that remind you of upcoming appointment, photo galleries of the whole process from the proposal to the honeymoon, an extensive online gift registry and also a personal blog for the two of you to get frustrations out, think out loud and so on.

If you are HTML savvy yourself you do not have to go through a pre-made wedding website company. You can simply buy your own domain through GoDaddy ($10) or NameNova ($7 and also the domain purchasing website I have used for about 2 years now) After you get your domain name all you need is the hosting, which I cannot recommend BlueHost enough; I have used them for years now and have never had a problem with them.

Wedding websites are your complete wedding planning tool so do you think now is a good time for you to throw away that overflowing binder and myriad of Post-It notes in various colors to keep track of your schedule? Yeah, me too.

Add Some Style to the WordPress Admin Panel

As anyone who uses WordPress knows, the admin panel is a little rough on the eyes. It’s the same blend of blues and greys, it never changes and if you get sick of looking at the ‘fresh’ design that was released with WordPress 2.5 the only other option you have is the vintage WordPress look, which is even worse than the fresh look.

If you’re like me, you know that change is good, especially when it comes to sites you look at every day. We all need to change it up a little bit every now and then, which is why sites like MySpace have so many free template sites and the same goes for Blogger and WordPress design templates, why sites like Plurk and Twitter allow you to change the look of your profile, and so on. People do not want to be forced to look at the same thing over and over again. This also applies to the WordPress Admin section. I know that I spend countless hours every week working on my websites; the amount of hours I put in on my websites are the equivalent of two full time jobs, not even factoring in the fact that I also work a full time job from home. With a “job” that you spend up to 80 hours a week on, looking at the WordPress admin panel while you go about your website work can get a little sore on the eyes and very repetitive.

Pressing Pixels thought the same thing and decided to make a plugin to change the look of your WordPress admin panel–WordPress Custom Admin Branding.

The WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin is a great plugin and makes logging into your WordPress panel again and again a little more refreshing than it would be normally. Here’s a look at what Woman Tribune’s WordPress now looks like:

WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin login
The WordPress login screen using the WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin

WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin header
The WordPress admin dashboard header using the WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin

WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin footer
The WordPress admin dashboard footer using the WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin
With this plugin, there are three separate parts of the WordPress admin panel that may be changed with an image of your choice–The login screen, the header and the footer, as you can see to the left here. The plugin works with all WordPress installations, I’m currently running WordPress 2.6.1, which you can also see in the footer image, and the plugin works perfectly without any tweaking.

I definitely recommend this plugin for anyone who is sick of looking at the same old WordPress admin panel. Download the plugin here.

ScratchBack: Because the PayPal Donation Button is Ugly

Making money for your blogging/website endeavors isn’t new, it’s actually a big reason why so many people are starting their own websites. Once Darren Rowse published on his website that he makes a six-figure income purely from blogging and has even went as far as to publish a book about blogging for cash, everyone has been jumping on the blog bandwagon.

There are many ways that you can make money blogging including putting a PayPal donation button on your site. Most of your readers are not advertisers and so while you can make money from direct advertising on your website, there are still a great deal of people visiting your site and if you write about a great deal of information that appeals to many people and they appreciate the work you have put in to your website in order to bring them the content they crave, some people may love to have the option of donating a little money to you to thank you for your contribution and let you know that they appreciate your hard work.

If anyone has actually seen the PayPal donation button you may have noticed that it is seriously one of the ugliest buttons to ever grace a website. I don’t know what layout the PayPal donation button would look good on, but it honestly looks horrendous on most websites and while it lets your readers donate to you, they don’t get much out of it.

Scratchback

ScratchBack took all of what I’ve already covered into consideration when thinking of a program that would let a website’s readers give back a little. ScratchBack is a program that gives you a fancy shmancy tip jar for your blog. It lets your readers scratch your back and like the saying goes, it also lets you scratch their back in return by providing a link back to their site when they purchase a link using the ScratchBack widget, which you can see in action on my sidebar to the right.

ScratchBack is a great program with an easy to manage control panel, making the entire program fool proof to set up for your website. It is also quite flexible with many color options for you to choose that will match your website’s layout the best and it also lets you pick your own widget rate, giving you complete control over the price of your top spots. By pricing your top spots low you may get more people who purchase a link on your site and scratch your back, but by pricing them a little higher, your links will be more in demand, especially if you choose to only display a certain number of top spots at a time. For instance, on Woman Tribune, our top spots are priced at $25 for an entire month. Looking at that purely from an advertising perspective, you are able to tell me that you appreciate the hard work put into this website and in return, get a link back to your website or blog for about 83 cents a day–A complete steal when you inquire about advertising prices on a website. Even if you don’t have a website of your own and you still want to scratch my back, you can link to your favorite website, a friend’s website or a website that you feel readers of Woman Tribune would be interested in.

To sign up with ScratchBack you can go to their website and you can also check out their blog for exciting industry news. They have also implemented a link directory which is huge, so go on over to their blog directory and submit your link.

Hint hint: Link directories are important because it provides a back link to your website which helps raise your Google PageRank.

We give ScratchBack
[rating:4/5]

Tackling Comment Spam for Good

Blogs are everywhere today; just about everyone has one and because so many people of various backgrounds, cultures and personal interests are involved with the caring and keeping of personal or entertainment websites, they have easily become the leading form of web media when it comes to attracting spam.

Web publishers need to constantly be on top of their comments, checking for spam and getting rid of it promptly before viewers see them and suddenly think we condone the buying and selling of illegal pharmaceuticals or we are unnaturally concerned about their personal and intimate relationships. Spam comments are equally bad for everyone involved in a particular website. They are irritating for the webmaster, having to check sometimes daily or even multiple times a day for comments that are inappropriate for the website and are offensive to readers and it also shows readers that a website may not be as professional as it would like to be seen. If a website fails to look the part of a multi-faceted, entertaining and above all, polished and mastered website, it does not matter how well your website does stat-wise, your viewers will not be interested and potential-advertisers will not take you seriously.

Dealing with spam comments can quickly become a second job for a webmaster, especially since the bigger a website gets, the more spam it attracts. The secret is to finding an efficient and user-friendly spam comment program to help eliminate the worry of unprofessional and inappropriate spam. If you are running WordPress, you are most likely still running the spam monitoring system Akismet that came with your original WordPress install; however, there are other programs out there, for WordPress in particular, that I have found to work much better than Akismet.

Defensio anti-spam Defensio is a comment spam monitor and eliminator whose entire mission is based off of outsmarting evil spam, which it does miraculously. In my opinion, you cannot get any better than Defensio for taking the edge off when you’re thinking about how your website is doing and if any spam is leaking through.

With its innovative technology, Defensio actually adapts to the content you post and is proven not to work in the exact same manner for two different bloggers; instead, it adapts to the webmaster’s specific way of managing their comments and follow suite. Every comment that is posted on your website is given a level of “spamminess” and is determined whether or not the level it is given is low enough to be posted. On a personal level, I have seen comments with a spamminess level as low as 20% be held for moderation, just to make sure that it wasn’t someone trying to plug their site or a company looking for some shameless exposure.

With 99.77% accuracy, Defensio definitely gives you the security you need to be a successful, professional and efficient webmaster with absolutely no worry about back doors being left open for spam comments to get away with accessing your content. It tackles comment spam for several different user interfaces such as WordPress, PixelPost, Mephisto, Text Pattern, Movable Type and Drupal. It is also supported by several different web developer platforms such as Ruby on Rails, Java, Perl, PHP (4 and 5) and Python; all of which can be downloaded here.

Get Involved with StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon StumbleUpon is by no means a new tool, however, I have found that a lot of people who should be all over this, webmasters in particular, have no idea what it can do for them.

StumbleUpon is an extremely unobtrusive toolbar that lets you rate websites as well as find new websites that would be of interest to you. There are several very targeted categories that you may look under to find sites and best of all, it helps you promote the sites that you love so that others will be able to enjoy them as well. Now, when you think about it, if StumbleUpon lets you promote websites, doesn’t that mean that you can also promote your own website with it? Why yes it does.

When you join StumbleUpon, you are given a page of your own where every website you rank will show up on, so all of the people who view your StumbleUpon profile can browse through the sites that you have promoted. This has been a very influential tool for me thus far, running two websites of my own as well as lending my expertise to other websites in order to get them a bit bigger than they already are. A great tip when using StumbleUpon is that when you submit your main page, don’t just stop there. People may be interested in your site, but if your website has a splash page where you have to click enter in order to view it, or you believe people just must see one page on your website, you can submit them individually. What’s great about this for bloggers, specifically, is that while you can promote your website, you can also promote every post you write just by clicking one button in your StumbleUpon toolbar.

When using StumbleUpon, we must adopt the online realm of thinking when it comes to viewers. While submitting your site, all of your pages and all of your blog posts to StumbleUpon, that isn’t going to do much if you have no friends and you’re the only one who visits your page. While countless people use this tool on a daily basis, there are also countless websites being submitted to the same categories you are submitting to, so the likelihood of people seeing all of the great content on your website through this tool, is pretty slim. I also have the answer to that problem!

StumbleUpon groups, I can say from experience, are absolutely amazing. A StumbleUpon group is a group of people who send emails to other members asking them to Stumble a page they have submitted or would like to promote something to a wider audience. All that is needed from you is to go through the submissions and click the thumbs up button on your toolbar saying that you like the post and when you submit posts or websites of your own to them, they will do the same. There are many groups out there with a large number of participants, so gaining attention to your website has now become quite easier.

After installing the StumbleUpon toolbar, I also recommend that you join the StumbleUpon group, StumbleMe. Become involved with other bloggers and help them gain an audience while spreading the word about your site as well; it’s a win-win.

The StumbleUpon toolbar comes for Internet Explorer as well as for Firefox and can be downloaded here and don’t forget, once you’ve downloaded the toolbar, join StumbleMe and see your hits increase dramatically!

adgridwork Production Analysis

adgridwork

adgridwork is a new site that functions along the same lines as BlogRush. Their mission is to provide free advertising for websites.

The mission is outstanding. As soon as BlogRush launched, bloggers flocked to it by the thousands and they saw a turnout with blogger participation that they most likely did not foresee. The same goes for adgridwork. Bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon with this website because let’s face it, who doesn’t love free advertising? The more people being introduced to your website, the better and I’m no different.

I used to use BlogRush on this website, as well as another site I run and after a trial of 30 days, I logged in to see what my statistics were. Like many bloggers who have used this website, I saw no significant difference in the traffic I was receiving and decided to stop using the program. adgridwork has proved to be the same.

I tested adgridwork out for a trial period of 30 days at my other website, which already does decent with traffic, especially for being a newer website. After the 30 days, I logged into the website to check out my statistics.

adgridwork summary

As you can see from the summary above, an ad for my website was requested and shown on other websites several thousand times; however, the traffic received from using adgridwork was two hits.

When dealing with advertising, many factors must go into why (in most cases) ads prove ineffective.

First of all, people tend to spend a very large portion of their days online. What they do online includes checking their email. If you use an email provider such as Gmail, such as I do, or any other web platform email, you are seeing ads immediately and ads are displayed during the entire duration that you are logged in.

Social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook are also very large contributing factors as to why people spend so much time online. These websites are great time wasters and also (although MySpace has a much higher ad count than Facebook and other sites due to how extremely popular it is) display ads throughout their websites.

Another grossly large detail in ad campaigns is that almost all bloggers are looking to make money online. Blogging for profit has become extremely popular and those who are looking for blogging to literally pay off are latching onto websites such as BlogRush, adgridwork and many others in order to get free advertising to their websites so they move up in rank and then they fall prey to blogging for money resources such as PayU2Blog, PayPerPost, Text-Link-Ads and a myriad of others. In addition to these obvious-ads people are placing on their websites in order to receive income from their blogs, almost every blog right now has Google Adsense ads running on their websites, myself included.

Due to the amount of people in the blogosphere and those who are looking to get their websites known, once someone sees the same ad set up several thousands of times on several thousands of different websites, your mind become numb to them. The mind simply refuses to register that they are even there because of the amount of times you have already seen them–You simply do not notice them anymore. If you’re not even noticing that ads are on a website to begin with, what makes people think that others are going to click on their ads? To the random person, they are seeing your blog and reading what you have to say but they are not seeing your ads because of the amount of times the same, exact set up has been seen on many different websites.

With taking all of this into consideration, it is no wonder that while my ad had been displayed over 12,000 times, only two people actually saw it and clicked on it.

Another fact to mention is that when looking at ads that were being placed on my website through adgridwork, the same six ads kept showing up over the course of a month. So, perhaps when adgridwork takes the blogging world by storm and more people sign up, more ads will be displayed since that only makes sense, but when signing up with these free advertising websites, we must take into consideration that the outcome of them are most likely not going to be effective, as less than 1% of people are actually clicking on them in the first place.

I am taking the adgridwork ads off of my other website today and perhaps I will test out other programs to see if they prove to be any better; however, I am not counting on it.

Blogging Basics: Do You Have What it Takes?

woman on computer This past year has easily been marked the year of the blog. Not only does virtually everyone keep a blog, whether it be on their own domain, their MySpace page or LiveJournal, but it is also the time where more and more people are realizing the amount of money that can be made by blogging. But here’s a tip for anyone looking to create their household income by blogging: It isn’t as easy as it looks.

There are many bloggers out there that are pulling in annual six-figure incomes. Some aren’t making as much, but quite a few are able to live a decent lifestyle by what they make through their websites. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger is one of the top people in the blogging world right now; just look at the domain name! His website is dedicated to blogging for profit and teaching others how to benefit from blogging. Amanda Harris of Pajama Mommy is another person who not only makes a significant amount of money from her website, but her business posts go into more detail on how to do so. Another one of my personal favorites is Courtney Tuttle, who is the blogging bible as far as internet marketing goes. So how are they doing it?

Each and every successful website has a webmaster behind the scenes who has spent hours upon hours (I cannot stress the amount of time enough) marketing their websites. When thinking of your new website, think of it as practically raising something. Your website needs a lot of love and attention and if you let it go for even a few days, you have potentially lost a great deal of readers.

It takes months to build up an audience for a website and when you succeed in doing that, you cannot stop. One of the drawbacks of the internet and the society we live in today is that we 1: want instant gratification and 2: have the attention span of a gnat. Your website must bring a lot to the table that appeals to a wide variety or a large group of people and always keep in mind that there are trillions of websites on the internet today–Why do these people want to read your website? What do they get from reading your work?

If you’re thinking about blogging for profit ask yourself these few questions:

  • How much time can you wholeheartedly dedicate to your website?
  • Does your website appeal to a large group or wide variety of people?
  • What makes your website different than the trillions already on the internet?
  • If this wasn’t your website and you happened to stumble upon it, would you visit again?

This is just the very tip of the iceberg but I plan to dissect blogging for profit in several steps so check back frequently!