Archive for the ‘software’ Category
Flamer is a sophisticated viral toolkit that remained undetected for nearly 2 years, and was recently exposed to become a high profile media topic.
Should the average web design client be concerned? Most likely not.
The primary targets being infected are not individuals or small business owners but sophisticated networks, and more specifically computers in the Palestinian West Bank, Hungary, Iran, and Lebanon. Some reports indicate smaller outbreaks elsewhere.
The apparent purpose of the virus is cyber warfare to disrupt Middle East threats to worldwide interests.
File types being infected include documents, graphics, and CAD or Computer Aided Design drawings. One component of the sophisticated Flamer Virus controls the spreading mechanism via USB sticks. Another will erase the digital trail needed to track down the source.
The best antivirus advice for web design clients to protect their computer systems is keep their programs, operating system, and antivirus software patched and updated real time. The Norton Security flamer graphic illustrating this post is similar to one received today via email from Norton to assure its users that their computers were secure against the Flamer threat.
Most advanced antivirus protection software costs less than $100 a year. If not already using a top brand, my advice to web design clients is investing in one today and keeping it up to date.
Your website or computer may not be the target of Flamer, yet 1000′s of other hackers are actively trying to get around security software for malicious reasons that do require prevention. Avoid identity theft. Protect your accounts and passwords. Use common sense before following links from unfamiliar sources.
Finally, besides protecting your web design content from hackers, avoid losing data from a hard drive crash and install some form of automatic file backup system. A redundant copy to store off-site in case of fire or natural disaster could be a lifesaver for your business, as well.
When your personal computer performance slows down and makes you miserable you may want to consider CCleaner and Defraggler to boost pc speed. A custom web design client recently asked us to replace a few photos on their website, then couldn’t see the new graphics later after the work was done.
The reply and pc speed tutorial and review of CCleaner and Defraggler from Piriform may help other website owners, so here’s the email to the client explaining what happened, why, and the solution when old web page graphics persist after replacement photos are uploaded:
Those new photographs are there as referenced. Your computer is displaying old versions stored on your computer. Here’s why, and the solution.
Your computer stores temporary text and graphic files or cache, of web pages you visit, and displays those on return visits. Some genius software geek at Microsoft decided saving a nanosecond a billion times over a lifetime was important without realizing a billion times is just one second.
What makes things worse with all those temporary files is over time your computer speed becomes sluggish.
Follow this tutorial to view missing replacement website graphics: For a fast solution press the browser top menu refresh button or the shortcut top row F5 key once. If still missing, or do this first, do a hard refresh. Hold the CTRL key and press the F5 key once. When I encounter a graphic that doesn’t update to the latest when doing changes I jump right to the hard refresh.
Computers come with built in software tools to clean up cached temporary files and other fragmented file storage that slows down computer speed and performance. I prefer third party methods rather than the default Windows tools, and use CCleaner and Defraggler free computer maintenance software from Piriform. Learn more or download those (not just trial software – actually free) at http://www.piriform.com/products.
Running those 2 programs every 3-6 months helps keep your computer up to speed.
Piriform offers other computer related informational or maintenance software including Recuva and Speccy, as well.
Website risk and vulnerability factors include browser security and quality web design. Site owners depend on the quality of their web design to help prevent hackers from taking control of site functions. Best practices by your designer and your internet service provider can help deter malicious visitors from doing damage.
However, a persistent hacker can invade almost any small business website if truly determined to gain access, yet most micro small business clients would be unaffected because hackers choose larger targets.
The majority of my custom web designs are informational websites instead of e-commerce, so only a handful process financial information which is commonly a target for identity theft.
For websites that are compromised, the next consideration besides site owner issues is the risk to site visitors. Readers may be unaware that website visitors could be more vulnerable depending on the software they use to visit a malicious website.
Recently, I came across an article about an annual hackers contest held each March since 2007. Your vulnerability can vary depending on the equipment and browser or mobile OS Operating System you use.
TippingPoint Digital Vaccine Laboratories or DVLabs does an annual pwn2own hackers contest in March with cash and electronic equipment prizes to hackers able to break into devices running on the most popular computing software.
The expert hacker contestants sign up and then attempt to hack into computing devices running on the following software listed here alphabetically under PC and then Mobile:
PC Browser Software
Apple Safari (hacked)
Microsoft Internet Explorer (hacked)
Mobile Devices and Software
Apple iPhone 4 running iOS (hacked)
Blackberry Torch 9800 on Blackberry 6 OS (hacked)
Dell Venue Pro running Windows 7
Nexus S running Android
From the results above (hacked shown in bold), Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox were clear browser winners and the iPhone and Blackberry under mobile devices were hacked. Besides the results linked above, you may want to read the pwn2own article on Wikipedia for a historical perspective.
Multiple options for a PC browser give users control over how they surf websites from a desktop or laptop computer. The same is not true for proprietary software used in mobile applications. Does this mean you’re defenseless if using a browser or OS that was hacked? Not necessarily.
You can be proactive about security. When evaluating browser security and quality web design our advice is being aware of risks and then take preventative action by using antivirus software for your computing device. Finally, use care before visiting any unfamiliar websites.
Do-it-yourself custom cms web design site owners need to understand the importance of optimizing their text content for search engines. This SEO or Search Engine Optimization tutorial explains free online tools for tweaking content such as testing in DupeFree Pro and SEO keyword density. Watch this video for details. (0:10:34 min./sec.)
Learning how to attract search engine traffic using content optimization is important for site owners who choose a cms content management system web design so they can control and manage their website. Optimized content using this tutorial can help.
An important tool in writing cms web design optimized content for search engine optimization is keyword research. For small site owners the web design and online research tools at Keyword Discovery are by subscription yet they do offer a keyword discovery truly free trial.
Here’s a graphic of part of the search page (slightly smaller than actual size):
If you want a custom web design that can compete online you need to know what site visitors type when they search for someone like you, not phrases that you know about your product or service and imagine people will search. You will probably be surprised at phrases in the search results that you did not consider. Your research will allow you to adjust key words in your web design and attract more traffic.
The free online tool version of Keyword Discovery has less features such as only the top 10 results for a given search phrase and a limit of 50 searches per day, yet that is usually enough unless you’re in the business of offering seo or web design services to clients. Unlike some seo software free trials that have a time limit, there is no expiration date.
Here’s how to get started optimizing your custom cms web design. KeywordDiscovery.com is owned by Trellian, so visit the Keyword Discover signup page and submit your request for a Trellian account and then check your email. Click the activation link in the confirming email then log-in to begin using the tool.
FireFox browser users may share online gems with a tweet on Twitter or post a message on Facebook while surfing the web as you share page content instantly. In addition you can quickly email links to the content via GMail, as well. The following graphic illustrates how the F1 FireFox extension may be used in Twitter, Facebook, and GMail.
The tiny “V on its side” icon (left) takes up very little real estate in your FireFox browser menu toolbar. While on a page of content you want to share select the “V” icon and choose from Facebook, Twitter, or GMail (center). Finally, insert a message and hit the share button (right) to instantly share the link.
The Facebook post will include a snapshot from the page, the Twitter tweet uses bit.ly shortened URLs to save characters, and the GMail option automatically inserts the URL into the message body. Download and then install the F1 social sharing FireFox extension or watch the video and begin using it now.
The computer hard drive storage capacity setup on my pc 3 years ago seemed like a forever solution until just recently. Imagine the shock of seeing a computer alert warning that open capacity on the 250Gb hard drive storage was dangerously low at 4%.
Rather than buy a new pc my solution was the WDBAAF0010HBK-NESN 1Tb External Hard Drive from Western Digital. The photo here shows the new My Book Essential 1Tb hard drive on my desk next to the pc tower. You can buy alternate capacity of 500Gb or 2Tb, also.
Once installed, mouse over the WD icon in the taskbar and it indicates storage used as a percentage plus a temperature indicator with “ok”.
The photo shown has the box (left) and actual external drive (right). My Book is an appropriate name. At approximately 7″ tall with air vents on 3 sides the add-on is shaped like a small thick book.
The backup system chosen 3 years ago was a Western Digital 250Gb external hard drive at $150 plus separate backup software for $100 for $250 total. The new WDBAAF0010HBK-NESN 1Tb external hard drive has 4x the storage for $99 (July 2010), plus includes excellent backup software that installs automatically. Thus total cost for bigger and better was cut more than half.
In 2007 I never imagined filling up a 250Gb hard drive. By the time I need a 2Tb drive I’ll be overdue for a new pc. The plug and play setup and installation of the WDBAAF0010HBK-NESN 1Tb was surprisingly fast and simple.
I was mildly disappointed that the software does not mirror my folder structure but splits storage into folders by file type: system, pictures, other, music, movies, mail, and documents. I archive and sometimes delete by entire project folder not by individual files, so I went to the WD forum for archive advice.
One solution from the WD community forum is keep two copies of the file you would delete or archive with one as the “original” and one on the “backup” drive so you have them stored in different locations. I’ve decided to store 50Gb of the original files on the retired WD 250Gb drive. There are already backups on the new external drive, so now I can safely remove them from my computer to free up storage space.
Overall I’m pleased with the great value and ease of use of the WDBAAF0010HBK-NESN. In particular I was very impressed with the software, the speed of the initial backup, and the automated real time backup function. The automation instead of manual backups means my 2007 post Surviving the Inevitable Hard Drive Crash warning about regular backups is now even easier with an external hard drive upgrade.
Having purchased SubmitEaze directory submission software several years ago for seo or search engine optimization reasons, recent updates and enhanced functions make this a good time for another look at SubmitEaze. Part of website optimization strategy for search engine optimization involves backlinks which are links to your website from other sites. These are like votes when found by Google, so by acquiring more votes your site is more likely to increase its rank.
Two methods of acquiring those backlinks are “Website Directories” and “Article Directories” featured in my series of do-it-yourself seo reports released in 2007. Follow that link to download your free copies of the PDF reports (no email or registration required).
In a hurry to learn how? Visit their site to watch the SubmitEaze demo videos.
In summary, you acquire backlinks by getting listed on other websites. The Website Directory lists businesses by category with links to those sites, and the Article Directory sites accept advice articles for syndication that includes links in the resource (About the Author) box. Get listed, or write helpful articles about your business niche and submit to 100′s of directories.
Prior to SubmitEaze, the submission process was VERY time consuming. Each site you visit meant doing copy and paste of content over and over, so submitting to 100 sites could take 2-3 days. SubmitEaze is a very fast and semi-automated software program with a system to submit your site or articles to directories in minutes, not days.
First released for web directories only, SubmitEaze now handles article submissions, too. My advice is to review the SubmitEaze software and watch their demo videos before you buy. I started out doing manual submission of my website, and then bought other software before discovering SubmitEaze and making it my standard.
The developers of DupeFree Pro software for checking duplicate content and testing article keyword density, just to name two great features, are asking existing users to reply to an online survey of possible new features. If YOU have taken my advice for downloading their free program and receive their survey request email, please take the time to comply. Here are some of the comments I included in my submission.
For me DupeFree Pro is used mostly for keyword density and article word count. It might be nice to have the option to set a target density for a keyword, ie 4 percent, then test and if the density is low, have a value displayed in DupeFree Pro for the number of times to add that word to achieve my target percentage.
That’s easy to achieve by trial and error yet with a number it would be easy to copy/paste that key word X number of times in appropriate places within the article while maintaining human readability. Otherwise, with trial/error and copy/paste I compromise the target and stop while thinking “good enough”.
In addition, I made the following comments
You have a great product which I am happy to promote and suggest people use. Many have. A 50 page PDF tutorial I wrote on custom cms web design and do-it-yourself seo makes reference to free resources for research and testing of website content.
The free ebook has been downloaded 1000′s of times, and includes DupeFree Pro as recommended for testing keyword density. The 4 percent target keyword density mentioned earlier in the survey is what I suggest within the 1.5-6.5 percent in your documentation. It has worked very well for me.
My core business is custom cms web design. I truly believe holding my position on Google page one at #1 and #2 for custom cms web design for the last 2 years is due in part to your fine software. Thanks!
Finally for my readers, given the opportunity please take the DupeFree Pro survey to help them in deciding on future developments and enhancements of their software.
An email received today was from a customer who watched one of my graphics tutorial videos recently where I use Xara Xtreme, and then asked for a comparison of Xara Xtreme and Photoshop for creating website graphics. Here’s my reply.
I chose Xara based on price and functions after downloading trial copies of each. Both are vector graphics software. Photoshop is the “standard” for high end professional design, yet for what I do designing web graphics and artwork for print, the cost and functions of Xara were more than sufficient and made it a clear choice.
It’s easy to understand why the advanced print artwork capabilities of Photoshop are needed for full time graphic design. Based on need, Photoshop had more than I needed or would ever use, while Xara was sufficient without more technical functions or a steeper learning curve.
View examples of my artwork for a feel for what can be done in Xara. 9 out of 10 logo designs on my site including these 50 custom business cards and another 50 card designs were drawn freehand in Xara to ensure crisp clean lines in the final artwork.
The video flash animation in the intro and outro of new videos done for my puppy’s Life with Corky website used Xara. Here’s an example 23 second puppy video on YouTube to demo flash creation and export. Special effects for the moving text and puppies popping up was created with Xara.
If you’ve only seen the first photo edit tutorial, an improved video of photo masking techniques shows more detail of how to use Xara for photo edits including cropping backgrounds, so that may be of interest, too.
I’ve been using Xara Xtreme for more than 5 years with professional results online and in print. Photoshop is excellent, yet more than I need for web and print graphics.