Let it Snow, Let it Snow

On a separate hobby of mine, I came across Tom’s Boring Mordheim Blog. Tom is a very skilled miniature painter and modeler. After joining his online community, I helped him to make his home page “Snow.”

Check out the link to the blog above to check out (EDIT: see what his header image usually looks like. Now that he has taken down the snowing animation, click here to see the same image Christmas Style. It used to be just a plain .JPG. I replaced it with a Flash Animation, and amazingly, it is a smaller file than the .JPG!

Enjoy,
Ashton Sanders

Google Index Spasm (Google Dance)

I call this the Google index Spasm (other’s call it the Google Dance):

After a couple weeks in existence, my new blog found itself on the second page for it’s main keyword. After fluctuating between rank 12 and 18 for another two weeks, it fell to rank 80+… If I didn’t know better, this would have caused me to be very disgruntled.

I don’t know the purpose is of the Google Spasm, but it’s kind of funny and annoying at the same time.

Today my blog is back up to rank 19 for its keyword. I think some call this the “sandbox” but my site wasn’t in it for very long. Although that could be because it is a blog.

-Ashton Sanders

Blogger vs WordPress – Remote Site

When I first started this blog, I did a little bit of research about blogs, and chose Blogger. Now that I’ve been using Blogger for almost a year, I’ve started another blog, about Mordheim, with WordPress, and here are my thoughts:

Blogger

Overview

Blogger is very simple and user-friendly. There is a reason they are the most popular: it’s extremely easy to set up a blog and write posts. They also have a lot of functionality.

WordPress

Overview

WordPress is a little more complicated, and it seems like you can do more with the additional complication. They also have a very user-friendly interface and simple layout. WordPress has a larger base of fans who have created many blog layouts that are free to download. Because of this, WordPress’s Free Layouts are much nicer, stylish, better.

Blogger

Remote Blog

Unfortunately, if you want to put your website on a remote server (any other website besides “*.blogspot.com”), you lose almost all of your functionality. You don’t even get a Category Roll. The Categories listed on the right side of this blog is done manually. (The post count is also done manually).

WordPress

Remote Blog

Fortunately, WordPress.org supplies you with a free download of WordPress, and easy installation instructions. In 5 minutes, you have a new, stylish and functional blog hosted on your PHP website. They have a lot of functionality, and each free blog layout has different amount of functionality. You could probably spend the rest of your life trying out different blog layouts. If you are a PHP programmer, it is very easy to sink into the code and make lots of changes to the functionality. From making the categories display alphabetically, by ID, etc.

I would definitely recommend WordPress over Blogger for advanced users who are looking to host their blog on their website.

Blogging For Life,
-Ashton Sanders

Content Management System for Websites

From my years of working on the internet, I have come to realize that the one thing that almost all of my clients desire, is the ability to manage their own website. This way, they never have to wait on their web guy to change a phone number on their website. If they have a new product, they have the ability to add it to their own website.

Because of this huge demand for a CMS for websites, we have developed one that I call “Database in a Flash.” This Content Management System is a very user-friendly program that uses MySQL and PHP. It allows anyone who knows a little bit about the internet to communicate with their MySQL database to update their website.

It really is an amazing program. For more information, feel free to contact us.

-Let me know if you have any questions,
-Ashton Sanders

Network Solutions Rant v2.3

Network Solutions continues to amaze me. I have a client who bought some very good domain names early in the domain rush, and she purchased them at Network Solutions for $35/year (as opposed to $9/year at godaddy.com or $6/year at 1and1.com).

Can Network Solutions Get Worse?

I wanted to forward one of her domains to 301 redirect to another domain, and after a couple clicks I found that it costs $20/year to forward a domain… and if you didn’t know… that is normally provided for free.

But Network Solutions Can’t get worse than that… Can they?

Yes they can. If you buy a domain at Godaddy, you get 100 email accounts free (or something ridiculous like that). If you want to get email with your Network Solutions domain, it costs $1.34/month for each email account… If you actually ended up using 100 email accounts with Network Solutions, they would charge you $134/month! That’s $1608/year for what you normally get for free at any other registrar…

-If you use network solutions, you obviously haven’t opened your eyes.
-Ashton Sanders

(P.S. If you are someone who actually likes Network Solutions, please shoot me a message with why that is. If you don’t exist, I wouldn’t be surprised.)

The Problem with Web Developers

This post has been dwelling within me for the past couple days.

I’ve been trying to find a responsible ASP.net programmer for a three-week project. Unfortunately we have a problem with one of those words: responsible. How do I know they are responsible? How do I know they won’t put me off for another project, even though I’m paying them top dollar to do this project right now?

Ask for references… Great, this guy made 50 websites in the last 10 years, and three of them are happy. I guess that means he’s responsible.

It’s a very tough situation, especially since it is very hard to switch horses mid-stream when you get into the complicated and extensive programming projects.

I think I’ve heard so many bad guys say this in movies… and I’ll go ahead and repeat it.

-“If you want it done right, you got to do it yourself.”
-Ashton Sanders

Speed Tip – Selecting Text

On the subject of how to get things done as quickly as possible, here is the first Speed Tip.

Increase Speed while copying text

The web is full of tedious work, from having to manually input eight thousand products into a database to converting a site into a new format. Yes, it is totally impossible to work on the Internet and not end up having to do some extremely tedious work at one time or another.

Take today for an example: I had 70 straight HTML pages that I was converting into a PHP-included layout where the page’s title, meta description and meta keywords were all variables. So I had to go to the page source, copy the title, go to my new page, and paste the title… go to the page source, copy the meta tag… etc., etc., etc.

While selecting text (the “<title>” for example), you normally have to go the start the line (right after “<title>”), drag to the end of the line (right before “</title>” and then copy.

Heres the Speed Trick
If you double click on the first word, it will automatically select that entire word. If you hold down that second click, you can drag to the last word, and select each word at a time (; not each letter at a time). This way you only need to go to the first word and drag to the last word to make your selection.

“Whoa.. big whoop… save twenty pixels of mouse movement….” No, it’s better than that, you don’t have to waste time trying to get right to the front of the word. It gives you a much larger target, and thus it takes less time to “aim.”

-Ashton Sanders

1and1.com – Service Review #2

Today was my first day of real annoyance with 1and1.com. (Click to see my last Service Review of 1and1.com.)

Today, all of my website I had hosted with them went down for about 2 hours. When my server crashed, I was on the phone with a client doing tweaks on a website, and the site would not come up any more…

But the worst part of it all was I had just convinced a client to switch over to 1and1.com, and they had just published an ad in the LATimes. So they had all these people coming to their site… and it was down for two hours…

Of course I can’t really blame 1and1.com. Electronics fail all the time, but still… for three years with GoDaddy, I never had my site go down (that I know of=]).

-Ashton Sanders

1and1.com – Service Review

*This post is more than two years old and may be out of date.*

1and1.com is a hosting company who claims to be “The World’s #1 Web Host.” (Who doesn’t these days?) I switched over to them a month ago from Godaddy.

In an earlier post, I discussed my original comparisons of the two companies. For a quick overview: Godaddy.com is inexpensive and well worth every penny. Their online programs are very extensive and always being updated. Their help support is always on top of any problem. 1and1.com is the cheapest website hosting and domain registration I’ve ever seen in my life.

1and1.com

Positive: Domains are $6/year (for almost every TLD).
Negative: You can only buy one domain at a time, so if you want to buy 20 domains, as my clients have asked me to do a couple times recently, you have to buy each one individually. That has wasted a good 2 hours of my life.
Positive: Website Hosting is very, very cheap: $3/month, and you can host up to 25 sites on that one set of hosting! so instead of paying $3.50/month for each site at GoDaddy, I can host all of my sites on one hosting account for $3/month. (That is their smallest account and they have 10GB storage and 300GB Bandwidth!)
Negative: You can’t choose your username for anything. Not for your FTP, SQL database, Control Panel, etc.
Positive: The 1and1.com Control Panel is pretty extensive, and you can do just about anything. And if you can’t figure it out the FAQ is very extensive.
Negative: Their 24/7 Technical Support is horrible. I’ve been on hold for almost an hour before giving up, and another time, when they did pick up, they knew less about hosting than I did. You get what you pay for in tech support.

Summary

If you are computer-savvy, 1and1 is for you, but if you are one who needs tech support and/or don’t have more than one site to host, go with Godaddy.

-Ashton Sanders

Google Webmaster Tools

Yet another reason why Google is awesome: Webmaster Tools

Webmaster tools is the greatest tool for anyone wanting to get their sites up in the search engines. Search Engine Optimizers who don’t know about this tool, aren’t really search engine optimizers.

You prove to them that you own your website in one of two ways: 1) uploading an .html document to the server with a certain name like Google2903ncvd90nk30.html or 2) add a meta tag to your home page with a similar random name. After that, Google will get you all the information that they have about your site!

The program will tell you all of the crawl errors that the Google bot has while crawling your site! So if your site has gone through a couple redesigns or upgrades, I guarantee there are pages that used to exist that Google can’t find. And everyone of those pages create a 404 error for the Google bot – which, by the way, is not good. But you’ll never know unless you get this tool and find out!

Its got endless tools like that. It has a robot.txt analysis page that will tell you if you have any problems with your robot.txt.

It will tell you how your pages are ranked by Google. It will tell you like 50% of your pages have medium page rank and the other 50% has low page rank. It will also tell you how many links you have directed to your website, and where they are coming from.

Google Webtools also has a place for you to submit your website’s site maps! (Get gsite crawler to create your sitemaps… It makes it as easy as pie.)

And I barely scratched the surface on all of the different tools available to you through webmaster tools.

Check it out
-Ashton Sanders