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8 Tips for a great website

1/05/2017

The web is a crowded place. Everybody is vying for attention. Here are 8 tips to help make your website stand out from the competition.

ASIC Scam Email

15/02/2017

I got an email purporting to be from ASIC this morning asking me to click on a link regarding the newal of my company. I was suspicious but came ver close to clicking that link. Very dangerous.

Lorem Ipsum

14/02/2017

I often get asked about the fake Latin that appears on development versions of sites.

Why not use English? It’s there to demonstrate how the various text elements work together. That way the client can see how the paragraphs compare to the headings, how lists look etc.

Secure Certificates Explained

8/02/2017

This is a very brief introduction to the SSL certificate. Why do we have SSL certificates? There are 2 reasons Encryption: Scrambles the data so it is only able to be read by the browser and the server. Identity: verify who you are. You are not on a sever pretending to be someone else

Google Chrome - secure sites warning

6/02/2017

Google's Chrome browser will soon start giving warnings if you try to enter passwords or credit card numbers on unsecured web sites.

Melton: A Tech Hub

1/02/2017

The City of Melton is one of Australia's fastest growing areas. It also has a large area connected to fibre optic broadband. It's population currently sits just below the 140,000 mark. It is projected to be 315,000 in 20 years. That's bigger than Canberra. With that growth comes demand. Where there is demand you will get supply. In other words, a lot of potential.

Design Trends to look for in 2017

6/01/2017

2017 is here and it's time to get out the crystal ball and predict what's coming up this year. This year will be more about evolution than revolution.

Website Revamp

30/12/2016

The site has undergone some changes. The previous site was monochrome and a bit bland. I wanted to inject more colour and personality into it. I've spent a bit of time evaluating my site. There is a lot of information there. Most of it is dry and technical. For 2017, I will make it my goal to try to write some more interesting blog posts. Let's see how that goes.

Co-working

2/12/2016

I normally work at home. There are a lot of advantages. The main one being there is no commute to the office. There is a lot of freedom. I can work when I want. I could do a couple of hours in the morning, the go off and do something else and then come back and finish off in the evening.

Modal Pop Up Hell

19/02/2016

Modal pop up boxes are becoming more and more common. Your screen goes dark then a sign up form appears or worse, an ad. They are usually triggered by either scrolling to a certain point on a page or after a time interval. Normally you can close the window or press escape and it goes away. Others are more aggressive and don't let you continue unless you sign up.

End of Life for Old IE

13/01/2016

Today is the day that Microsoft ends support for older versions of Internet Explorer. If you have IE7, 8, 9 or 10 then it is time to upgrade. Explorer is not the behemoth it once was. These days IE7 accounts for 0.05% of the browser market. IE8 is 1.18, IE9 is 0.19% & IE10 0.87%. There is very little usage in the domestic sector. Many corporate environments still use IE8 because is ties in with their I.T. structures. IE11 takes up 6.45% of the browser market but is dwarfed my Chrome with 20.46%. What does this all mean?

Static sites with Jekyll

5/01/2016

Static sites are making a comeback. People are starting to see advantages such as speed and security. Jekyll is a simple, blog-aware, static site generator that is distributed under an open source license. Once installed and setup it means there is no need to worry about security updates for your site.

End of flash?

16/07/2015

Flash has been around since the mid 1990's. When it came out it was the only way to put interactive animations on a website. Websites made from flash are not accessible to people with disabilities so I've never been a fan. Flash has mostly fallen out of use for websites now. It is primarily used as a platform for online games.

Facebook Like Farming Scams

25/05/2015

I’ve seen a few like scams doing the rounds. They usually take the form of competition. However, there is no prize.

They usually follow the same pattern of “like and share”. They will offer “prizes” such as: a cruise, airline tickets, a phone… There is no prize. They don’t exist. The promised prizes are just the bait used to hook people into liking the page and sharing the content.

Mobilegeddon

16/04/2015

Google is about to change its search algorithm. The new algorithm will place a greater emphasis on mobile friendly sites. Sites that are not mobile friendly will drop down the list. This has been dubbed “mobilegeddon” by some.

This change will start rolling out from the 21st of April. Mobilegeddon implies some kind of browser apocalypse. Mobile unfriendly sites won’t disappear from Google but mobile friendly sites will get priority.

A Website Redesign

30/12/2014

I've been a busy behind the scenes remaking our website. The new site shouldn't look radically different from the old one. The major changes are behind the scenes. We've moved the site from being Zurb Foundation based Drupal to Codeigniter using Bourbon, Bitters and Neat.

5 Million GMail acount passwords published online

11/09/2014

A list of 5 million GMail addresses and passwords were recently published on a Russian bitcoin forum. Security experts say that the source was most likely from a phishing attack rather than Google being hacked. The list appears to be old. There is no need to panic

How to fix warning messages when compiling Zurb Foundation subthemes

30/08/2014

After running an update to my local gems, I started getting a bunch of warning messages whenever I compiled a Drupal Zurb Foundation subtheme base project.

WARNING: Paremeter $from-context must resolve to a value in pixel units. on line 43 of /Users/derek/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p353/gems/compass-core-1.0.1/stylesheets/compass/typography/_units.scss

Facebook's Save for Later Feature

5/08/2014

Facebook has recently unveiled a new feature that allows the user to save for later.

You are on the move & see something interesting that you might like to save for later. The trouble is as the day progresses and you forget. Or you remember but you can’t find it because is it lost in everybody else’s timelines. Save for later is very helpful.

It works on iPhones, Android and desktops. This makes it very handy if you have something that you want to look at on a larger screen.

Using SASS and Compass for CSS

30/07/2014

I am constantly on the lookout to see what technologies are out there and which ones will be useful to me. All of my projects involve using cascading style sheets. Those style sheets have been getting bigger and bigger as I add more features. Now I use CSS for gradients when previously I used graphic files as background images. Although the style sheets have been getting bigger, they’ve replaced gifs and png files. The net result has been smaller total code. Then comes the question, how do you deal with large CSS files?

CSS Frameworks: Get Skeleton

20/05/2014

We’ve been using CSS frameworks for quite some time. The first one we used was Blueprint. It allowed us to design to a 960px grid.

Why 960? 960 is a nice useful number. You can divide it evenly by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 & 12. This makes it very flexible and easy to create a website of almost any design without have to resort to a lot of arithmetic calculations. Blueprint enabled us to get a design done a lot more efficiently.

The problem with Blueprint was that it was a fixed width grid. That doesn’t translate well for a mobile phone.

Domain Name Explosion

28/04/2014

The name space of the internet is undergoing the largest change in domain names. We have gone from a dozen options to literally hundreds.

Previously we chose between xyz.com.au and xyz.com. Now it is feast. Currently, there are over 900 potential top level names that have either been released or about to be released.

Thankyou jxeeno!

24/04/2014

Blogger jxeeno has been essential reading. His site mynbn.info has filled many gaps in information about the NBN.  This has been very useful as NBNco has steadily removed more and more data from its website. This is especially ironic as the Minister for Communications, Malcom Turnbull promised us greater transparency.

It is lamentable that data that was once public can now only be obtained by FOI requests. This is not greater transparency. Quite the opposite.

I want to publicy thank jxeeno for his efforts. Thank you. I hope you go far.

Heartbleed

16/04/2014

Heartbleed still continues to ripple through the internet. Heartbleed was a hole in Open SSL that allowed some people access to small amounts of data during a secure http transaction. It is not so much a break in and burglary attempt. It is more of an open window where someone can reach in a take a few small things. That is not to say that it is nothing to worry about. It is.

Mashable has a list of sites affected by Heartbleed.

Create a Google Merchant Data Feed on Commerce Kickstart

8/02/2014

Google Merchant is used a lot by SEO companies to help their clients boost their rankings. Commerce Kickstart doesn’t come with a native way of supplying a product feed, but with Views and a couple of modules it can be easily done.

No doubt, there is probably a better way of doing it, but this is what worked for me.

Submission to The Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network

16/01/2014

I have completed my submission to The Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network. I've put a link in below.

I believe it is important for all Australians to have access to fast broadband. The only way to do that is to have fibre everywhere it is practicable to do so.  Rural areas need fast broadband as it is a great leveller. It can bring services to the bush and also allow the bush to compete with the city on a level playing field.

We also need fast internet to compete on a global scale. Australia is in danger of being left behind.

Drupal on MacOSX: No clean URLs

4/01/2014

Neil Gee's "Fastest Way of Installing Drupal 7.24 on Mac OS X 10.9 , 10.8, 10.7" guide is a fantastic guide to getting started if you want to get Drupal up and running on Mac OSX Mavericks. His guide on installing mysql, php & phpmayadmin is very clearly written and not too technical. I thoroughly recommend both guides.

NBN -2.0 not 2.0

13/12/2013

This is bad news for Australia. We are strong supporters of fibre. Fibre may be more expensive in the start with, but will be cheaper in the long run. In the long run, we will all be on fibre. Everybody recognises that.

Fibre is a lot easier to upgrade. In most cases an upgrade involves swapping over the equipment at the other end of the fibre. Upgrading to fibre from other technologies such as HFC & FTTN is not so easy.

Uploads have largely been missing from the debate.

NBN and Why Don't They Talk About Uploads?

10/11/2013

A lot has been said about downloads in the debate but virtually no focus has been put on uploads.  Uploads are becoming more and more important as the internet continues to evolve.

The web started out pretty much as a one way street. We looked up information and jumped from link to link.  That has changed.  The web runs 2 ways.  The same thing will happen to how we use broadband.

Sites like Facebook, YouTube & Twitter don’t create content. The users do.  At the moment, around 30 billion pieces of content are shared each month on Facebook. That includes news stories, photos, links, posts and notes etc.  The average user creates around 90 pieces of content each month.

Gigabit Internet and Chattanooga

26/09/2013

Chattanooga is probably better known from the song immortalised by Glenn Miller. Up until recently, that was probably it. Something else has happened in Chattanooga. It has become “Gig City”. A joint venture between the local city council and the electricity company has built a gigabit fibre optic network. The US has a patchwork of internet access. Areas where it is profitable are well connected. Others have adequate broadband and other a have practically none at all. Chattanooga boasts internet speeds 100 times the average. Fast broadband has had direct benefits for Chattanooga. This is a lesson the current government needs to heed as it considers the future of the NBN.

The People Have Spoken

8/09/2013

Australia went to the polls yesterday and gave the Coalition a thumping majority. That's democracy. What will happen to broadband?

The Abbott government policy of broadband simply cannot be installed as quickly as they say. It will take time and will be out-dated soon after it is completed. Is the being responsible to the taxpayer?

One of the issues that I have been concerned with is the National Broadband Network. I have made no secret of what I think is in this country's best interests. The National Broadband Network is an import issue. Broadband is already starting to be seen as an important utility along with telephone, electricity, gas and water.

Link Farming: Don't do it

3/08/2013

Link farming is the practice where you gather a bunch of websites and have them link to each other. On the surface it seems like a good idea. If I have a bunch of websites all linking to me then it will increase my search engine rankings. Right?

Wrong! Search engines are smart these days.

Social media buttons using CSS sprites

7/07/2013

CSS sprites are basically a contact sheet of images. Each image is picked out using CSS positioning properties. The main advantage of sprites is that you use one image for all your icons. That means only one call to the web server which means less overheads. This means less bandwidth and a faster site. Bonus!

Web tip: Know what you want

6/06/2013

When it comes to getting a new website there a number things you need to consider. The first step is having a clear idea of what you want.

If you don't have an exact idea, the questions below might help to crystalise things.

Competing In An International Market.

4/06/2013

I've spent some time looking at some of the freelance sites out there. The competition is huge. And it is global. Most of the projects being put out to tender aren't worth bidding on. I see numerous requests for projects at $10-$15 per hour. Those tenders get picked up.

Code houses in India and Russia can hire graduates for far less than our minimum wage. They seem to work on the principle of churning out the projects and then moving on to the next. That model works fine if everything goes according to plan. If things go wrong, then they can go horribly wrong. You have not only the tyranny of distance against you. You have the issue of trying to get support from a vastly different timezone. Compounding that can also be the language barrier. A case in point is an ad I saw the other day.

Web tip: Set up your structure first

25/05/2013

I teach an introduction to web design course at my local community centre. The students are given a project to work on during the 8 sessions. This usually involves setting a website using WordPress on wordpress.com. The first thing they usually do is race off and find a nice theme that suits their aesthetics. It's human nature but, it is a bit like painting the house before you've finished putting the walls up.

Why does a mobile friendly website matter?

21/05/2013

The time to make your website mobile friendly is now. Hits from mobile devices are expected overtake desktop browsers within the next 3 years.

In Australia, as of May, 2013 about 13% of hits to websites came from a mobile device. This may seem like a small number. However, the real story is the growth. In May, 2010, hits from mobile devices made up 2.6% of the total. One year later, this had increased to 5.3%. A year ago, the number was 8.3%. The trend is clear. More and more people are using mobile devices to access the web. Some pundits are claiming that mobile usage is doubling approximately every 18 months.

Adobe Creative Cloud

19/05/2013

First off. Cloud is a misnomer. Adobe's Creative Cloud works like this. You subscribe to their service. While your subscription is active, you can use their software. You can subscribe to one app or the lot.

Subscription software is not new. Anybody who uses anti virus software will know this well. Norton went subscription a long time ago. With the retiring of the creative suite (CS) line, Adobe is also retiring the perpetual licence. This has caused quite a stir in the Adobe community. There is a petition circulating against the move which has garnered nearly 16,000 signatures.

End Discriminatory Pricing Now!

18/05/2013

I have been a critic of Adobe in the past. My experience has been they make fantastic software but their customer relations leave a lot to be desired.

I have on the odd occasion had to contact their support. Fortunately, not too often. My experience I have found them to be slow and often unresponsive. I don't think that is something I can solely call Adobe on. I think it is more to to with big businesses. In a big corporation, nobody seems to take responsibility.

Like This To Beat Cancer

27/04/2013

We've all seen Facebook posts like that. Wouldn't it be great to have cure for cancer or put and end to world hunger by pushing the “like” button? It's simplistic nonsense. Of course it won’t cure cancer or perform any other miracle. It's a scam. Here is how it works.

A page is created. It will have some message that tugs at the heart strings or some cutesy, humorous message. There can be a dark side to this. The images can often be stolen from real people and appropriated and repurposed without permission. This happened to a young girl with Downs Syndrome called Katie.

The Coalition Releases its Broadband Policy

9/04/2013

We've heard a lot of criticism from the Coalition on Labor's NBN but no mention of what they might do themselves. Today we got some details.

Cost. The Coalition's plan is forecast to cost $20.4 billion vs Labour's forecast of $37.4 billion.

Mozilla Turns 15

3/04/2013

Warning! Domain name scam strikes again.

2/04/2013

We received a letter from a company called Domain Renewal Group. The letter looks like a renewal notice for a soon to expire domain. It has the appearance of an invoice. It is not. It is a scam. If get one of these in the mail, send to the recycling.

It operates by looking like an invoice. If you are a time-pressed business, you could easily just pay it without giving any thought. They offer to renew a .com domain for AUD$75 and make it look cheap. By way of comparison, here is a sample of typical .com registration costs:

The NBN

29/03/2013

Why Do We Choose to Use an Open Source CMS?

26/02/2013

The big advantage is control.

We could build an in-house CMS and house your site on that. That's exactly what a lot of our competitors do. The big advantage is a highly customised interface. If this is done well, the result could be huge gains for the customer.

We could spend time developing our own CMS. We did try to but it never progressed beyond the alpha testing stage. However, it would be very difficult for us to compete with a large developer community. Open source software is built by a dedicated community of programmers who have far more specialist programming skills in that area than we do.

CMS vs a Static Website

26/02/2013

Websites are an important part of your business. They operate as a virtual shopfront, a cyber window into your world. A content management system migh be exactly what you need, but there are also times when a CMS is overkill.

Wordpress - Is It Only For Blogs?

25/02/2013

Google Adwords Phishing Scam

19/12/2011

We recently received an email asking us to to update our Google AdWords. This is clearly a phishing scam that has nothing to do with Google. This makes a change from the regular banking or eBay ones we get.

The link says http://adwords.google.com/select/login while it really points to http://www.adwords.google.com.0lks.cn/select/Login. Note the extra bit in the URL.

Don't get caught out.

Advantages of Drupal

19/11/2011

  • It is easy to use & update
  • Value for money
  • Reliable & Secure
  • Search-Engine Friendly
  • Modular and Extendible

Dodgy .au Domain "Registrars"

17/04/2011

Over the last couple of years a number of people have been caught out by "Renewal Notices" for Australian .com.au domain names being sent out. Some of our customers lost their .com.au domain names because they paid a "renewal notice". The company took the money but soon after cashing the cheque went belly up. The result was that the domain name was not renewed and it lapsed. The flow-on was that the client's website went off air.

Avoid the Attack of the Killer Virii

2/09/2010

The nature of the computer virus has changed over the years. It used to be that the humble floppy disk was the vector for transmission. Now that has changed . The number one vector is email.

Some of the new viruses can be quite sinister. Some run inside the computer collecting keystrokes and details such credit card numbers. Others turn machines into "zombies: sending out spam. Some viruses are political, designed to attack major corporations such as Microsoft. In fact Microsoft has often been a target. A lot of viruses have been written exploiting some security holes in the code. Once a security hole has been discovered Microsoft issue a patch pretty quickly.

Why Bother With Web Standards?

29/03/2010

Standards make things standard. I know it's an obvious statement but it's meant to be. The reasons for having standards should be obvious too. The web used to be designed for Netscape or Internet Explorer. You either designed to get the best for one browser or you designed a compromise to suit both. The other way around it was do two designs and set a javascript routine to sniff the browser and direct the use to the appropriate files. This is extra work and what happens if you decide to incorporate another browser into your design? Another set of files?

The Scourge of Spam

23/03/2010

Spam used to just a nuisance. A little bit of junk email here and there. Hit delete and forget it. Now it is turning into a major headache. Some spam contains viruses. A lot is just plain fraud. The fraud ranges from spam proporting to be from your bank asking you to click a fake link to supply your net banking login and password, to the Nigerian scams, to advertising products that have doubtful claims.

A lot of spam is theft. Many spammers scour the internet looking for open relay mail servers. They then send a flood of spam and move on the next victim. A kind of internet mugging.

Rudd Government Propose Mandatory Filtering for ISPs

4/06/2008

The Federal government has come good with one of the promises that is to introduce mandatory Internet filtering. They want to introduce what's called a "clean" feed. People will be able to opt out. But will it actually solve the problem?

We would not disagree with the proposition that there is a lot of nasty content out there on the Internet. The question is what we do about it? Content filtering is an old-style method to deal with the problem. The thing is the world has changed. A lot of our life has moved from the real lives there into the virtual realm and this requires a new paradigm, a new way of thinking. In real life can't always avoid the nasties, so we use strategies to deal with them. The same applies to the virtual world.

11 Spammers Indicted in a US Court

10/01/2008

A US federal grand jury in Detroit on the 3rd of January, 2008, indicted 11 people over a wide ranging international fraud. The people included: several Americans, a Russian and a man with Canadian and Hong Kong citizenship. The fraud involved spamming, sending out millions of messages in a "pump and dump" scheme.

The end of the line for Netscape

30/12/2007

In a historic move, AOL has announced the end of the line for Netscape. Support for the browser will cease from the 1st of Feb, 2008.

Netscape began in beta form in 1994 under the name of Mosaic. It's name changed to Mosaic Netscape but a legal challenge from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications meant a name change to Netscape Navigator.

Firefox 2

20/12/2007

Firefox 2, the latest from Mozilla has been released. There is a lot happening in the arena of the "browser wars".

On the surface, not much appears to have changed. Firefox 2 is skinned slightly differently. The tabs have a glassy look about them.

Internet Explorer 7

20/10/2006

Internet Explorer 7 marks the first major update to Internet Explorer in several years. Explorer 6 has been a bane to us as a web developer. We've been forced to compromise a standards compliant design in order to accommodate an aging browser. IE7 marks some considerable improvements

First off is tabbed browsing. Here, Explorer is playing catch up to Firefox which in turn borrowed from the underrated browser, Opera.

Firefox vs Explorer

9/09/2003

We've been testing some of the new crop of web browsers lately. The results seem to be point one way... Firefox.

In case you haven't heard, Firefox is a stand alone web brower that is part of the Mozilla stable. It has a number of advantages over the dominant Internet Explorer: