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Archive for the 'Build Your Website' Category

Earlier this year Google began including AMP listings into its mobile search results. AMP, short for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a specification for creating slimmed down pages for mobile devices. It’s a subset of standard HTML but with restrictions. In addition, Google caches AMPs on its own CDN to provide the fastest retrieval possible. Any AMPs appearing in Google Search results are linked to these cached pages.

You may be asking yourself why we need such a thing when mobile phones are already capable of displaying “ordinary” websites. It’s a good question, and admittedly that was my first question when I first learned of AMP. The AMP project says the purpose of AMP is to give mobile users a better, faster web experience. But what’s wrong with the current user experience on mobile phones? Is it really bad enough to warrant an entire new web page specification when we already have HTML 5?

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phpMyAdminphpMyAdmin is a handy tool for administering mySQL from an easy to use web interface.  However,  leaving such a powerful tool open to the entire world can be downright dangerous and is something that should be avoided if possible.   Ultimately it’s best to keep it off your production server (or any other server you care about).  However, if you absolutely must use phpMyAdmin, you should restrict who can access it.   Below is a quick and easy tweak that will only allow access to it from a specific IP address.  This tweak assumes an Ubuntu LAMP stack, but should work fine on any Linux distribution, although paths may be different.

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Magento LogoMagento is an incredibly flexible ecommerce platform. However, even with all the flexibility it offers, it can still be a challenge to make it bend to your will.

Recently, I needed to have a few specific categories show the products in grid mode, while all the other categories show products in list mode. This should be straightforward since the products that appear on a Magento category page can appear in either a vertical list, or in a grid. And, depending on how Magento is configured, the user can choose which view to display the products in.

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SESIf there’s one often overlooked aspect of deploying a website, it’s email delivery. Sure, you take into account your website bandwidth, DNS, server performance, etc… But email always seems to come low on the totem pole. I suppose this might be due to the fact that it’s ubiquitous. You use it every single day and never really think about all messy underpinnings of it. And, yes, email as it is today is pretty much a mess… I like to think of email as a throw-back to a simpler, more wholesome time when people actually trusted each other. A time before messages from Nigerian princes and bogus pharmaceutical ads filled your inbox. Sadly, those days are gone and the once simple and elegant SMTP protocol now includes a huge pile of kludges and baggage that must be dealt with, such as:

  • SPF records
  • DKIM
  • RBLs
  • IP address reputation
  • Mail server management
  • Reverse DNS pointers
  • Spam Filters
  • Sending Limits
  • Weak Passwords

When you think about it, it’s miracle that it works at all. Or perhaps it’s a testament to the resiliency of the original email spec, that it continues to chug along in spite of all the abuse that occurs. I figure it’s probably a bit of both.

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awsAWS makes it easy to take snapshots of your EBS volumes.  However, if you have many volumes, a way to automate and rotate snapshots becomes essential.  There are many solutions out there to handle automated snapshots.  One such excellent solution is the ec2-automate-backup script. Setting this script on a cron job, you can snapshot all your volumes in a specific region. Below is how I’ve set this up.

I have multiple EBS volumes attached to multiple EC2 instances.  I needed a way to take a daily snapshot of all volumes. In addition, I needed the snapshots to rotate, such that only the last 7 days worth of snapshots would be kept.

I chose to create a small EC2 instance specifically for running ec2-automate-backup from a cron job that will backup the volumes of all my production instances.

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Mobile vs Standard WebsiteThe present trend is that of mobility and the same applies to computers as well and that is the reason why more and more people are opting for internet enabled smartphones as they help them stay connected even while on the move. However, this has posed a certain type of problem for websites and website developers as many of them are not mobile friendly and hence not accessible through the mobile. The inability of websites to connect with the customers through mobiles could mean a loss of customers, which no business can afford. Therefore, website owners and developers have to work towards creation of websites that are available for the mobiles as well.

However, the task of creating or building a mobile version of the website is not very difficult as there are several tools that ease the process of creating mobile versions of websites. Some of these tools are discussed below:

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On the Ecommerce Outtakes blog, we talk a lot about what not to do online. In fact, our main focus is to point out where websites go wrong—with the intent, of course, to help improve the e-commerce experience across the web. One trend we’ve been noticing a lot lately is a lack of good filtering and sorting options. It’s a widespread e-commerce epidemic, and it’s high time we cured it.

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Rich Snippet Microdata Google Example

Rich snippets are all the rage these days. Ever since Google started enhancing their search results with these extra tidbits of information, everyone is rushing to update their web sites with the metadata to enable them. So what is the benefit of having a “rich” search result for your site? Good question. Other than giving the search engine user a little bit of extra bit of detail, I suppose there’s also a subtle psychological factor that kicks in. Someone might be more inclined to click on a search engine result that has a 5 star rating and a friendly face than one that doesn’t. Plus, they’re just plain cool. Who doesn’t want to add bling to their search results? But this only scratches the surface. There’s much much more to them than that.

Instant information aggregation: It’s only a matter of semantics

Rich Snippets, as Google calls them, are actually semantic markup. The idea of marking up some sort of document with meta information for the benefit of machines is not a new idea. Semantic markup is as old as information technology its self. For example, a Word document contains metadata about its author, and a digital photo contains meta data about the camera it was taken with. You might, for instance, store your digital snapshots in a photo archiving program which uses this semantic data to filter your photos by date taken, lens type, flash used, etc. So, in essence, metadata is data about data.

It’s should be clear, then, how this “data about data” can be extremely useful to search engines. It can provide a search engine the ability to derive a semantic meaning from a document’s meta information rather than having to rely purely on the abstract, human understandable, concepts within the text of the document. Searches can become less about keywords in text documents and more about relationships between semantical data types.

To illustrate this point further, consider the following search: Find all restaurants with a 3.5 star or better rating on the Las Vegas strip that specialize in Italian OR Mexican cuisine AND are open after 11 PM on Sunday nights AND do NOT require reservations. On the semantic web, rather than a list of links to restaurant web sites that may or may not match your given criteria, you might get a list of “restaurant result objects” that DO match exactly that criteria and never even have to visit the restaurant’s web site. This is where the real power of semantic data lies. Instant information aggregation.

A Microdata Example

This “semantic web”, also, is not a new idea. In fact, Tim Berners-Lee himself envisioned the world wide web as a kind of “Semantic Network Model” and even the earliest HTML specifications included the concept of meta tags, which you are undoubtedly familiar with. Later iterations, such as XHTML, took this idea a step further. Most notably is the RDFa specification, which has been around for quite some time.

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GoDaddy might not be as familiar name as Google to ordinary internet users, but most webmasters had, of course, heard this name. GoDaddy is currently on of the leaders in webhosting industry, providing various related services, such a website hosting, domain registration, dedicated servers, email plans, etc. Although dominating the market is not something GoDaddy had achieved, it might very well be on their mind.

It has been reported recently, that Google and GoDaddy enter certain form of partnership considering a “WebSite Tonight” feature, offered by GoDaddy. This service is a powerful tool that allows users create a website pretty quickly by using one of the available pre-designed templates, making it look almost “professionally designed”.

Google’s share of WebSite Tonight is offering various add-ons, widgets and tools that might be useful for a website owner and/or visitor. These include customizable search bar, Google Webmaster Tools, SEO-checking tools and more. Submitting website to Google is also made easier, helping webmaster to appear in the listings of world’s leading search engine quickly. Some tools will be available during the website building process; others are incorporated into the website’s control panel.

It has only been several months since Google had announced and completed the “New Adsense” – a redesign of the familiar GUI, adding several features to impress the users. And here it is – they are already adding more attributes to the popular money-making feature.

According to recent report, there will be now more things you could do in your Google Adsense account, such as creating and editing channels in Adsense for Games and Adsense for Video, blocking specific products by names and view the reports by page, and not only by unit.

There have also been some “renames” – the HTML is now “rich media” and Dynamic Images are called “Animated Images”. All those (as well as text, image and Flash) are included in the performance reports as “Ad types”. In addition, “Ad Requests” is the term that is now used instead of “Unit Impressions”, counting each time the request to show the ad is sent by the website towards Google service.

Google hopes these updates will be beneficial to Adsense users, making the popular “monetize you website” option preferable over Affiliate marketing, specific client banners and other possibilities.now