SEO Tip #1: Identify Your Web Images

Posted by Gary K under: Search Engines.

This is a simple SEO [Search Engine Optimization] tip. The first for our list.

Please, PLEASE, identify your images every way you can.

For me, this usually means first creating a relevant file name. For example, 101303.jpg tells the search engines nothing.

This, however, says something about your photo:


That’s the title of the image that headlines this post.

Mayor John Ostenburg named his photograph “Laughing Buddha” when he sent it to eNews Park Forest for publication on his Web site. We determined that his name was relevant to the picture as well.

John considers himself a “Buddhist Catholic,” which we understand, believe it or not. But we wanted his picture to turn up in the search engines when people searched for the name “John Ostenburg.”

Search for John Ostenburg images and look what turns up first on Google.t

Identify your images carefully.

eNews Park Forest’s Happy Buddha picture of John.



The $500 Small Business Web Site/Blog

Posted by Gary K under: Business; Content Management Systems; Design; Education.

For a short time only, let eNews Park Forest Web Services design a Web page for your small business for only $500.*

Want a year of no-worry hosting? We are pleased to offer a year of hosting for the price of 10 months — that’s two months free!

Contact ENEWSPF today to give your business the added edge on the Internet!

* Hosting extra. Price includes a content management system/blog that you can easily update yourself, adding images, added pages and blog posts. ENEWSPF will show you how!



Very Busy with eNews Park Forest

Posted by Gary K under: Business; General; Portfolio.

I’m very happy to announce that eNews Park Forest is on schedule to surpass 47,000 visitors for the month of April, 2009!  This is absolutely incredible.

Now, we may be looking at exponential growth (If two people tell two people, 4 people know about the site.  If 1000 people tell two people, there are 2000.  If 2000 tell two people…, you get the idea).  That’s great, and it also creates a concern for bandwidth.  I just finished moving ENEWSPF to a new server so we could use 30 GB of bandwidth per month.  As this continues to grow, well….

On this blog, I would like to write about bandwidth issues and spammers.

More on that later.

Be sure to visit eNews Park Forest.



iDon’t Like the iPhone At All

Posted by Gary K under: Browsers; Business; Computer hardware; Operating Systems; Rant.


iWent shopping for a new cell phone yesterday.  My Treo 650 finally sprung a leak.  Up to now, that phone was simply the best phone I ever owned.  In spite of the numerous times I dropped it though the years, it held up solid.  The tone was always clear, and I love the Palm OS.

So, iWent to the AT&T Wireless store in Homewood, IL.  Very nice people, although iSensed the clerk who waited on me was losing patience after a while.  In general, the clerks at that store don’t have a great reputation for good customer relations.  Nevertheless, the clerk who worked with me was great.

iArrived with a printout from ConsumerReports.org of the best Smart phones.  The Samsung Blackjack II was rated the CR Best Buy. However, the iPhone 3G was in the corner by the window, all booted up and ready for play.  iAsked the clerk if iCould see one.

While waiting for her to bring out the Blackjack, iDecided to take a look at the iPhone 3G.  At $299, it was just within my budget, but not really what iWanted to spend.

iWent online with it.  Very slick interface, and an extremely quick load.  Opening the web browser, iDecided to load my most complex site, which happens to be this one, eNews Park Forest.  iOpened up the QWERTY keypad and began to enter the URL: www.enewspf.com.

That’s when the problems began.

iStabbed keys with my finger, only to see the wrong letter load in the browser’s address bar.  It took a good 3 or 4 minutes just to type in that simple URL.  Once iDid so, iWas pleased to see my page loaded — the whole page — much more quickly than iExpected.  It looked slick but tiny in that little screen.  iEventually figured out how to see larger areas of the page so iCould actually navigate.

The clerk interrupted me.  iAsked about the iPhone, and was told there would be a wait of 10 to 21 days for it to come in.  That decided the matter for me, but iStill felt drawn to that strange little tablet.  Perhaps iCould wait?

iAsked if there was a chance iCould transfer my data from my Palm Treo 650 to the iPhone.  Not a chance, the clerk said.  iWould have to enter all of my data into iTunes, and then upload it to the iPhone.

iThink not.  After more than a decade of Palm Pilots and Palm smart phones, iHave more contacts than iCan count.  iCould not see myself taking a few days out of my life adding contacts and calendar dates to a completely different system.

Battery life?  Apple may be optimistic, but friends who either took the iPlunge and bought this train wreck don’t get much out of the battery.  Having that much Internet in the palm of your hand takes a toll on the battery.

Could the iPhone be the phone of the future?  Time Magazine loved it.  iDidn’t at all.

So, enough with all this iNonense.

I ended up with a Palm Centro.  I did look at the Samsung Blackjack II, but that thing was even larger and heavier than my Treo 650, and it looked, well, ugly.  Additionally, the Blackjack does not use the Palm OS, but a Windows system, and that would involve hours of my life transferring data.

When the deal was done, I ended up with a phone smaller and lighter than the 650 I was hauling around all these years, and I like it.  I don’t want the entire Internet in the palm of my hand.  I’ve said for years that I just don’t want to be that connected.  I need some “me” time, away from these fascinating machines.  And the deal was right.  After the mail-in rebate, my total out-of-pocket is just over $80, much less than the $400 I spent on the Treo a few years back.

It took 10 minutes tops to upgrade my Palm desktop software, synch the phone, and transfer my data to the new phone.

So, it’s back to Palm.  You can have the iPhone.

Or, you might want to try the iRack:



Should I Joomla?

Posted by Gary K under: Content Management Systems; Design; Hosting; Web design.

Sometimes clients are looking for an easy solution for a web site they can maintain themselves, or at least one that allows them to easily submit new content for a web designer to style and add to a site. Clubs and organizations, especially non-profits, can benefit from such sites. For these, the perfect solution is a content management system (CMS) like Joomla.

I have had much experience with Joomla. Take a look at eNews Park Forest for a very complex, well-developed site created to provide news for residents of Park Forest, IL, and surrounding suburbs.

One of the best selling points of Joomla is that it is Open Source, free. You pay only for hosting and a domain name. If you ask a web designer to set up your site — and perhaps your should if you don’t know PHP and MySQL — you pay for time. This could run anywhere from three hours for a simple install to eight or ten hours for installations that are more complex and require more styling.

Joomla is very robust. You can do some incredible things with it, and you can do some incredibly boneheaded things with it.

Let me explain.

A base install of Joomla is very efficient, offering minimal drag on a MySQL server and code that is web compliant out of the box. So, you will start with a good PHP site and a solid MySQL database. If you go to Joomla.com, you will see there are many components and modules to add. Some of them are good, some of them are written using horrible code. These can break a site or cause many CPU-overloads which web hosts will complain about. There’s nothing worse than trying to open your site, only to see the words, “Account Suspended for CPU-Overload.”

Never, never, under any circumstances should you add a statistics counter to your Joomla installation, e.g. Joomlastats or BSQStats. They will horribly bloat your database and may cause CPU-overloads.

If you do add components that require you to change your template, e.g. add a CSS-include or some Javascript to your template, make sure you note this somewhere. If you remove the component, you’ll want to clean up your template so you don’t end up calling files that no longer exist.

That may sound like simple advice, but it’s easy to get lost with very large installations.

For more, I’d advise you to register at the Joomla Forum, start reading, asking questions, and experimenting.
One final piece of advice, I’d recommend setting up a backup site for every live site you install. It’s too easy to make a horrible mistake in Joomla (inserting a comma in the wrong place in your .htaccess or PHP.INI files, or in one of Joomla’s many PHP includes) and finding your site gone. This is even an uglier feeling than the Microsoft Windows infamous “Blue Screen of Death.” In these situations, you will see a blank white screen in your browser with a few lines offering minimal details about your PHP error. A good host can help you repair your mistakes, but it’s better to understand and learn what you did wrong.

All in all, however, Joomla is well worth the time investment.

Welcome aboard. Joomla’s a helluva ride.



Is Your Business On Google Maps?

Posted by Gary K under: Business; Marketing; Search Engines.

If you’re not already, you should be on Google Maps.  You can get a free listing for your business, and you should take advantage of that.  The more you can do to draw attention to your business, the better.

It’s easy.  To start, go to Google Maps.  You’ll need to sign up for an account with Google if you don’t have one already.  That’s free as well.  Don’t get me wrong.  If you want to advertise with Google, you’ll have to pay.  However, Google has many free services the better.

Once you have signed in to Google Maps and are on the main page, look on the left at the bottom and add your site down here:

Add or Edit your business: Learn more »

Then follow the simple steps Google sets out for you.   You can even add coupons to your listing, and you should do that too.  Give people an excuse to come to your business.



What Color Is Your Browser?

Posted by Gary K under: Browsers.

I get a lot of questions about browsers: “Which one is the best?” “Why can’t I view items on this or that web page?” “My computer freezes when I go to the New York Times! What’s going on?”

The answers to these questions are never easy, particularly regarding some who can’t view web pages correctly, and there can be a million reasons why someone’s computer may freeze when visiting certain sites in the Internet. Sometimes we misinterpret the cause when we see something happen. “This happened when I visited the New York Times. Therefore, they’re the problem!”

Not always the case. In fact, the NYTimes is a rather solid design, and this is the case with many, many other pages online.

The problem may be your browser.

The problem almost lies with the so-called 2nd class browsers: WebTV, AOL’s proprietary browser, AT&T’s proprietary browser, Comcast’s proprietary browser, and so on. 2nd class browsers are generally those built by Internet hosting companies by teams that, while competent, are simply not as good as the teams of individuals behind the major browser companies: Firefox (for Windows and Macs), Internet Explorer 7 (The version number here is important. If you’re still using Internet Explorer 6, upgrade ASAP), and Safari for Macs.

If you are using WebTV, you may be stuck. The prognosis is not good. The reality is there may be many web pages you cannot load properly. Yes, web designers should be more understanding and design for WebTV’s browser, but most do not even consider doing so.

If you are using AT&T, Comcast, or AOL, you’re in luck. You don’t have to use their browser!!! That’s right. All you have to do is establish your Internet connection, and then you can surf with any browser you wish. My personal preference for Windows or Mac is Firefox, however, you can use Internet Explorer 7 if you must, or Safari. But the point is, you are not bound to the corporate, 2nd class browser. You have a choice.

Just some simple things to consider. Why not use the best?



Yahoo Won’t Take The Bait

Posted by Gary K under: Business.

Bill Gates and Goons on the SimpsonsThe Chicago Tribune is reporting this evening that Yahoo Inc.’s board will reject Microsoft Corp.’s $44.6 billion takeover bid. I’m actually glad to hear this. Yahoo’s board concluded “the unsolicited offer undervalues the slumping Internet pioneer, a person familiar with the situation said Saturday,” according to the article.

However, as with all things Microsoft, this one could get hostile:

The decision could provoke a showdown between two of the world’s most prominent technology companies with Internet search leader Google Inc. looming in the background. Leery of Microsoft expanding its turf on the Internet, Google already has offered to help Yahoo avert a takeover and urged antitrust regulators to take a hard look at the proposed deal.

If the world’s largest software maker wants Yahoo badly enough, Microsoft could try to override Yahoo’s board by taking its offer — originally valued at $31 per share — directly to the shareholders. Pursuing that risky route probably will require Microsoft to attempt to oust Yahoo’s current 10-member board.

I’m reminded of the Simpson’s episode when Homer started an Internet company (“Where’s the ‘Any Key’?”). Near the end of the episode, Bill Gates showed up and bought Homer’s company, Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net.

Marge: Bill Gates is here.
Homer: Bill Gates? Billionaire computer nerd, Bill Gates? Oh, my god… oh, my god… Get out of sight, Marge. I don’t want this to look like a two-bit operation.
Marge: (grumbles)
Bill Gates: Mr. Simpson?
You don’t look so rich.
Bill Gates: Don’t let the haircut fool you. I’m exceedingly wealthy.
[quietly] Get a load of the bowl-job, Marge!
Bill Gates: Your Internet ad was brought to my attention, but I can’t figure out what, if anything, Compuglobalhypermeganet does, so rather than risk competing with you, I’ve decided simply to buy you out.
Homer: I reluctantly accept your proposal!
Bill Gates: Well everyone always does. Buy ’em out, boys!
Bill Gates’ lackeys trash the room
Homer: Hey, what the hell’s going on!
Bill Gates: Oh, I didn’t get rich by writing a lot of checks! [insane laughter]

Pure poetry.

I’m with Yahoo on this one.



Met With A Potential Client Today

Posted by Gary K under: Business; General; Web design.

Had coffee at Panera Bread in Matteson, IL, today with a friend who is also a potential client. Joe has an intriguing concept for a web site.  The client is working with two other individuals, one who does “Trinkets n’ Trash” promotional items.  Joe and another business partner do consulting work.

The challenge is to combine all of these ideas into one Web site.  The desire is to take advantage of the Internet to increase sales of the promotional items, and increase regular clients for the consulting business.

I don’t know how all of this well gel into a single Web site yet, but the idea has a ton of potential.

More later.



Improvements to eNews Park Forest

Posted by Gary K under: CSS; Design; Portfolio; Web design.

eNews Park Forest signup page

One of my most important projects is eNews Park Forest, a news site for the Park Forest, IL, area.

I use PHPList to send announcements of new issues and breaking stories. Today I simply want to showcase the email sign-up page, located here, which is the newly styled sign-up page for the site.

One can either sign up for eNewsPF.com email announcements from inside eNewsPF.com (“Get eNews Alerts” on the main menu), or by going directly to the URL listed above. When one adds an email address from inside eNewsPF.com, one still ends up on this page for verification of the email address.

It’s nice to see the two applications play so nicely together.

Finally, I added the background gradient to the whole site today. I just like that look on my web pages.

Again, just happy with the new developments.