Web Design Blog

Editor's Note:
I'm posting this article because it goes into a fair amount of detail about how a web site's hosting account and how its various parts are configured play an important role in handling large spikes in traffic.  Most of my clients never encounter this type of a problem.  It's always good to be ready.  If you're not sure if your hosting account is set up to handle large bursts in traffic, let me know, and I'll put together some recommendations.  For most folks, enabling caching is going to be sufficient.  Others might appreciate the extra protection provided by a service like CloudFlare.

Millions relied on Space City Weather—here’s the configuration that weathered Hurricane Harvey.

HOUSTON—I had enough to worry about as Hurricane Harvey plowed into the Texas Gulf Coast on the night of August 25 and delivered a category 4 punch to the nearby city of Rockport. But I simultaneously faced a different kind of storm: an unexpected surge of traffic hitting the Space City Weather Web server. This was the first of what would turn into several very long and restless nights.

I recently switched a client's site from HTTP to HTTPS (SSL encryption) and needed to come up with a solution to their "social sharing counts" resetting to zero.  This is not a flaw or bug, it's working as it was intended.  

Here is how it works.  When you share a page via social media, it uses its URL:
http://www.yoursite.com/the-page-you-are-sharing

When you switch to SSL / HTTPS, your URL changes, similar to if your domain name changes altogether:
https://www.yoursite.com/the-page-you-are-sharing

With the new URL, you lose all of your social sharing counts, a source of major pride (and potential profits).  

My wife and I have been avid iPhone users for a decade.  We recently switched over to Android and I wanted to write up this post to share my thoughts and findings.  

First, Why?

We recently learned about these new Huawei phones and did some research on our own.  We wound up purchasing matching Huawei Honor 8's.  First, the specs are great.  They stand up spec-per-dollar wise when compared to iPhone 6s, which was going to be the iPhone that we went with if we stayed in Apple's ecosystem.  The iPhone 7 doesn't have a headphone jack and that was a deal breaker for us.  The Honor 8's have a 'full' 1080-resolution screen squeezed into 5.2 inches.  This basically means that the screen is a little larger than our old phones, but the clarity is amazing.  Huawei has openly stated that they intend to compete with Apple and Samsung, head on.  I personally believe they will be successful.  

The Joomla 3.7 release added new features AND 8 (eight) low-level security patches.

What they should have done, was to release 3.6.6 with all of the security patches as a ‘security’ release.   Then, after the dust settles, release v3.7.0 with the new functionality.  They combined both “security” and “new functionality” into the 3.7 release.  To me, it seems they should have pushed the security patches into 3.6.6 and then the new features into 3.7, rather than a combination. 

The result is a scramble in the Joomla community where everyone rushes to install version 3.7 because it contains security patches.  Then, another scramble to install 3.7.1 because 3.7.0 had a new security issue.  It seems like a racket, no? 

This article was originally posted on SearchEngineLand.com

Google often provides useful information to the SEO community, but columnist Nate Dame argues that ultimately, the company's advice is in their best interest, not yours -- so make sure you understand the nuances.

Last month, Google released a video detailing best practices for hiring an SEO company, and it is positioned to become the go-to guide for hiring an SEO. After all, who better to tell companies what they should look for in an SEO than the operators of the world’s most popular search engine?

Starting in January 2017, any website with a "login" form visible (e.g. Client Logins, Shopping Carts, etc) will show an "insecure" message in the browser's address bar if the site does not have an SSL certificate properly installed and configured.

Particularly for my clients that are security-minded, it's important to consider how to proceed with this information.  Some of my clients already have SSL certificates running on their sites, even ones that don't process credit cards.  For clients who already process credit cards, their sites already have the necessary SSL encryption certificate (https), so this is a non-issue. 

I had been researching this issue for a client and wanted to share it with everyone.  My client and I had been discussing the ability to collect recurring payments via PayPal WITHOUT requiring the user to have an actual PayPal account. 

I recently received an email that is referenced in this forum thread.  I was going to post my response on this other site but it tried to get me to sign up for a premium plan in order to post a response.  Instead, I am posting it here:

Greetings from the beautiful Pocono Mountains!  As we get ready for winter, we want to share a few of our recent projects, along with some ways to make your website more effective.  

In this issue:
Another very happy client (recent testimonial)
Sites that generate ad revenue
Sites that build communities
PDF Form Submissions

As always, I appreciate referrals!  

Thanks,
-Nate

Solution after finding myself unable to print multiple lines on my Quickbooks Invoices.  Seems like there are a lot of other people who posted similar problems and Intuit was fairly unresponsive.  (Here's a similar one)  Hopefully this video will help shed some light on the issue.  I almost wound up typing an amount and hourly rate for EVERY line on my invoices, even though only 1 line per invoice was actually required.  Yikes! 

I noticed that after installing the Joomla 3.6.4 security patch, the background color of the /administrator control panel login screen changed.  It seems that with today's release of Joomla 3.6.4, and ease of which the exploit can be executed, it's really bad timing to make it so easy for hackers to see whether or not a site has been patched.  This latest Joomla exploit allows for a person to do two things:

I just encountered an issue after upgrading a client's site to Joomla 3.6.4.  I was presented with the following error message on both the front end and back end of the site:

Error displaying the error page: Illegal mix of collations (utf8_unicode_ci,IMPLICIT) and (utf8_general_ci,IMPLICIT) for operation '=' SQL=SELECT id, home, template, s.params FROM #__template_styles as s LEFT JOIN #__extensions as e ON e.element=s.template AND e.type='template' AND e.client_id=s.client_id WHERE s.client_id = 0 AND e.enabled = 1: Illegal mix of collations (utf8_unicode_ci,IMPLICIT) and (utf8_general_ci,IMPLICIT) for operation '=' SQL=SELECT id, home, template, s.params FROM #__template_styles as s LEFT JOIN #__extensions as e ON e.element=s.template AND e.type='template' AND e.client_id=s.client_id WHERE s.client_id = 0 AND e.enabled = 1

I received another "Is this legit?" questions from a client today, and wanted to share so that others can also avoid this.

These people are combining “SEO” with “Registration” in their tactics, which is total shenanigans… it’s like a mechanic telling you that your car needs a new muffler bearing.  There is no such thing. 

I was recently frustrated when trying to find a freely available, open source responsive slider / slideshow plugin for Joomla K2 items.  It seems there are plenty available if you are willing to pay, but for something this simple, I figured I would roll my own and share. 

Notes:

  • This particular example is for using the K2 Joomla component, but the same overall concept will apply to any type of module that supports the standard Joomla template override structure.
  • Since it's hand-coded, it will apply to all versions / platforms of Joomla: 1.5.x, 2.5.x, 3.x
  • See "attachments" area for downloads, including the flexslider library, readme, template override, and new CSS.
  • Click here for demo

Directions:

=============

1.  Add the following jQuery and FlexSlider script to your template’s index.php file:

Background:

From the dawn of time, Google has provided you the exact keyword queries people have used to find your site. So, anybody that goes to Google, types in a keyword combination and winds up at your website, Google has told you the keywords they’ve used to find that. And that’s highly valuable information because you can use those keyword combinations to optimize your site around to get even more people to your site.

Well recently, they stopped doing that, and this was a big hit to a lot of people. But today, I’m going to show you three reports that Google has started including inside of their analytics dashboard, that can help you get around this, to identify what keywords people are using to find you, and to optimize your site around those keywords. So, let’s get going.

I put this video together to discuss some of the similarities and differences between Joomla, Wordpress, and Drupal.  In particular, I set up some sample content in a "plain vanilla" installation of each platform, and examine the underlying database structure.  Too frequently, I find myself reading peoples' opinions about which of these platforms is better than the other, and I can't help but think to myself, "You're just saying that because you learned (insert platform name here) first." 

If you already have a site built using one of these platforms and want to hire me, I'm happy to play the role of consultant.  If you don't have a site and want to engage me to design & build it, I can do that, too.  (I generally don't find the database structure by itself to be enough of a reason to switch from one platform to the other, but that's also an option if sufficient reasons exist.)  Get in touch today!

[Update 10/27/16: Apple has discontinued this model]

A client recently hired me to set up his new laptop for him.  To make a long story short, he needed a Macbook Pro with a non-retina screen.  He wanted something with plenty of storage space.  He also wanted a solid-state hard drive (SSD).  He also wanted a new computer with a warranty.

My solution?  Let's get started.

First, let's take care of the "oh, but this will void your warranty" argument.  No, it won'tHere is another article.  In a nutshell, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 states that a company can’t require you to upgrade with OEM parts to retain the warranty.

fluxF.lux
(Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)
www.justgetflux.com

Does the computer screen ever hurt your eyes?  Do you have trouble falling asleep after using the computer? That's because your screen settings are optimized for daylight hours.

f.lux fixes this: it lets you control the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day.  It's better for your eyes and sleep cycle.


ublockuBlock
(Firefox, Chrome, Safari)
www.ublock.org

Too many ads on your favorite websites?  Tired of YouTube video ads?  With uBlock, ads are a thing of the past!

Greetings from the Poconos! We have some new features and options we’d like to share with you:

To zoom, or not to zoom?

I recently had a conversation with a client regarding their “responsive” (mobile-friendly) website. They were requesting “pinch and zoom” capabilities to enlarge photos.

We recently received this announcement from Google, they are replacing the "old" reCaptcha system with a newer, smarter, easier to use system.

Many of our clients have asked about adding a reCaptcha anti-spam mechanism onto their site's contact page (get a quote form, etc) and our advice was typically as follows:

  1. Avoid adding a reCaptcha field at all costs because it makes it more difficult for legitimate people to send messages through your site.
  2. Typically, we start by adding a security mechanism called Project Honeypot onto the site, which blocks malicious visitors based on their IP address. 
  3. If blocking malicious IP addresses still doesn't cut down enough on the amount of spam that is sent through the form, then we look into adding a reCaptcha system.

Latest Comments

Nate Covington posted a comment in Download XMap for Joomla - All Versions Joomla
Hi, I stopped using Xmap years ago. Not sure about your particular error with Hikashop. I suggest ...
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Got these errors with your copy of XMap for Joomla 3.0.x download when upgrading a Joomla / Hikashop...
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Joy Lewis posted a comment in Beware of Fraud: Web Design Scam
I had the same issue today, I'm glad I didn't respond it seemed really fishy. Thanks for getting i...
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