IP Geolocation and why it may be important

I frequently use something called IP Geolocation to find out where a user is located for forms, enquiries, or any log evidence of someone doing something to try to establish if they are who they say they are.

It does not work 100% but I would say it works in 99% of cases. The router or gateway you use that your network/ computer is plugged into has an address allocated to it by your service provider (BT, Talk Talk, NTL, etc). For most of us the IP address changes from time to time and is referred to as dynamic. They do this to make sure it is hard to run your own web server from home. If and when you reset your router, when it comes back online it will likely have a new IP address. You can find out what your IP address is by clicking on this link. Continue reading IP Geolocation and why it may be important

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Handling Spreadsheets in a website

(Introducing TablePress)

I am sure most of you are familiar with tables of data in WordPress sites and how to create one and populate it. I have recently been developing a Community Transport website which is nearing completion.  I have done one before, but this was some time ago.

One of the issues with publishing timetables is that the it can be done by simply publishing an image of the timetable. In most cases a JPG or PNG would do the job. It looks ok to people visiting the site, and if we also make a PDF version available as well so someone can download and print a high resolution version, it ticks all of the boxes.  Well not quite.

A computer cannot read an image

I frequently see people placing images on websites with text in them. That is fine for humans, but let’s remember that locally the website has a search function, and of course the whole internet works on search functions as well via Google, Bing and many others. But while a human can see what is in a picture, a computer cannot. You can only rely on what is in the Alt Text field for the image as a matching search string.

An image of a timetable is the same. So how do we get around this? One of the search considerations I made when approaching this new site was the ability for the public to search for their bus stop, or village. If you can search the site for your village, this will return when buses come through provided the time table is in text form.

Workflow

This is probably outside of the remit of a website developer, but one of the things I thought about was workflow from a maintenance perspective. Websites like plants die with no love and attention. So maintenance has to be really easy.

In this case the organisation had all of their timetables in Excel. I took the master sheet and generated PDF’s of each timetable. I then created additional sheets with just the timetable values in and exported each as a CSV (comma separated value) file. This is a very basic array of data that is commonly used in porting information from one system to another. The facility is built into Excel if you wish to use it.

Next I go into the website and load a plugin called TablePress. This allows me to import the CSV file and convert it back to a table. Once this is done, I can then add the table to a page. All remarkably easy and painless to do.

So if you want to add anything that is in a Excel spreadsheet into a WordPress website, take a look at TablePress. It is one of the best implementations I have come across, and in this case it takes out a lot of manual editing.

Catering for all

My final solution (provided I am not asked to change it) was to have a downloadable PDF timetable appropriately formatted. A text version of the same table, and a google map with the routes on.

For a short time you can see the website here, it should be published shortly.

http://wingrove-staging.uk/flittabus/

 

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Free images for your website

I have been making small numbers of premium Adobe stock images available to my client base. That offer is still open, if you want to take a look at the library which is huge with millions of images available.

I have also come across the following list of sites which offer free images. You need to check the details of each, but of the one or two I have looked at, they do look useful.  The article that led me to this was sitting in the dashboard of my WordPress site.    Continue reading Free images for your website

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Is my internet slow?

Or…   the Onion of Discontent

There are many reasons why an internet connection may be slow, some of them will be directly under your control, and others will be under the control of the equipment manufacturers of the devices used that the communications pass through. The extent of which is from the device you are using to the server at the far end of the connection. Various services providers share the responsibility of carrying the traffic. It is a complex picture to reconcile.

Where is the problem?

When trying to establish where a problem exists the first person you call is your service provider (BT, Talk Talk, Virgin etc). They will follow a fixed trouble shooting process which will try to prove that the problem is something you are doing, or have done or is within that part of the network you control. They adopt this approach because if nothing is listed as a fault in your area, then statistically it is most likely to be something at your end.

That will include your router/ hub, your phone wiring, the building materials used in your house, the location of WiFi access points, the list is large. They will not be as direct as that, however those are the implications. Continue reading Is my internet slow?

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Phishing Page

What is it?

We have all read about phishing trojans, but many of you probably do not know what they are or how they work. I came across one over the weekend while backing up a client’s website. My anti virus system prevented me from downloading the backup to my computer and warned me that one was present. As I was concerned about the security of this particular website I took it apart to find out where it was, and what it was doing.

Phishing

Phishing refers to a form of identity theft, it is where credentials like a user name and password are compromised, often without your knowledge. Other than reading about them, I had not come across one before. This one relates to stealing the credentials to access someones email address and email password.

I turned off my anti-virus (not recommended if you do not know the risks) and downloaded the zipped folder containing the files into a special area on my computer and then inspected the files. Two files contained code, one was a web page. Only one of the files was being flagged as the one containing the Phishing Trojan, the file contents were very simple, they packaged up the information and sent out an email to two recipients.  Continue reading Phishing Page

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Colour inspiration

Palettron.com website
Click on the image to visit the website

I am currently working with a group that have independently created a logo. The logo contains a set of colours that to my eye are not naturally harmonious. The relationships between some of the colours don’t work for me, the problem is I cannot say why.

I have to add here, like most people from an IT/ Engineering background, I should be the last person to question someone’s colour choice. My wife frequently comments on mine, as does my daughter. Continue reading Colour inspiration

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Be seen (by Google)…

I have just finished working my way around 100+ websites and backing them all up. I also check them to make sure the infrastructure is up to day. There are a couple of interesting observations that are worth noting, particularly if you are new to editing, or struggling with updating your website, or don’t like updating it for some other reason.

All of the points raised and guidance are included in a downloadable document at the end of this article.

1). Google Searches.

Before I start checking a site I perform a google search on the entity name (not the domain name) to make sure it comes very close to the top, if not at the top of the first page on Google. I have never had any problems getting people to the top of searches without paying a penny. But there are things you need to do to stay there, and stay fresh.

Download some tips

2). A picture paints a thousand words

Well in web terms it doesn’t unfortunately. I have seen lots of examples of people placing images, such as posters on their home pages. Posters are generally a graphic stored as a PDF, JPG or PNG file. It is an image file. Humans can read and interpret images. Google and computers generally cannot.

Download some tips Continue reading Be seen (by Google)…

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Facebook Feed

I have recently been around all of the websites and backed up everything locally on my systems. I do this generally every three months and also check the site infrastructure to make sure everything is up to date.

I can see some people prefer to use Facebook for news rather than the news page on the website. This is understandable for two reasons. Your audience if it is under 35yrs is more likely to be active in Social Media than the group that is above 35yrs. In practice it is a good idea to add news to the site and to add entries to your facebook group page linking them back to the website by copying the link to the news item on your site to Facebook.  Here you fix two problems. One is the duplication of news, you don’t want to write everything twice. The other is catering for two audiences.

Continue reading Facebook Feed

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How is my site doing?

On all of the sites I have published, they contain a Google Analytics token. This causes every visit to be logged by Google Analytics. I can grant access to your account on request, it contains a lot of information about how many site visits, which countries did they come from, where did people go, where did they go to next, how long were they on the site for, how did they reach the site etc etc.  There are people that specialise in accessing and manipulating Google Analytics data for a living, so there is much much more than most of us need to know.

I have recently come across a plugin called Google Analytics Dashboard for WP that can be configured to connect to my Google Analytics account and pick up the statistics for your website. Once set up, you can login to your site and see a panel on the dashboard that contains a set of configurable views.  You can see an example below from Prestwood Village Association website. There are twelve different sets of data presented and different timelines can be selected.

It is one of the most useful plugins I have come across for internal marketing analysis.

If this is something you would like to have available on your site then do the following:

Login, go to Plugins and click on Add New and search for Google Analytics Dashboard for WP. Install it and activate it. Then contact me and I will link it to your GA Account. After I have done that, it is always available everytime you login.

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Adding a signature to webmail

I  had a question about how to add a signature to webmail. A signature allows you to pre-compose part of your message, and for this to be added to any standard email. So in other words you do not need to write the end of your email each time.   This is a feature that is in Thunderbird, Outlook and many other mail programs. It will be buried in the features somewhere. At the end of this piece I will tell you where you can locate it in Outlook. For now this concentrates on Webmail.

What is Webmail?

Webmail is simply an application that runs in your browser and allows you to access (send and receive) email. It is very basic, but will meet most people’s needs without having to splash out for a mail program. Everyone in my hosting has access to this. Continue reading Adding a signature to webmail

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