News & Alerts

Understanding how to use this site

I have added a page under the main menu that shows you how to use this site. There are currently over 200 news/ self help/ information items on the site with hints and tips and 34 fixed pages. I realised that some of you visiting here may not be aware they are there because they cannot be located directly through the main menu.

They are news posts that are accessed through the news and alerts page. Each is categorised according to the content in the page and it’s relevance.

To help you get as much information as possible from the information on this site please see this page for more an explanation of how the site works. How to use this site. 

For clients of Wingrove-Media

If you have recently been working with me, and I have developed a site for you, or I am hosting your site you can sign up to a monthly newsletter using the form below:

After clicking Subscribe please check your email account and confirm your subscription

Please note that if you are not recognised as a client you will not be added to the mailing list. Most general articles on this site are freely available to everyone, I have made this available in the same spirit of many other developers who wish to help people, if only in thanks to those that have helped me in the past when I first started. The purpose of the content in this site is primarily targeted at my client base who have a specific implementation or are using specific services to support their website and email. 

Please check the sidebar for a list of articles, or search the site for something using the methods described in the sidebar. There is a category cloud in the side bar which is used to categorise posts. You can use this to narrow down your search.

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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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New “off the shelf” template for Child Contact Centres (NACCC groups)

I continue to be impressed by the Elegant Themes Divi template which has made many sites that use it a lot more interesting to use, and they all look very professional. Many commercial web development agencies are now basing sites on Divi, I am seeing it all of the time.

I am developing a new “off the shelf” package for NACCC groups that run Child Contact Centres throughout the UK.  Continue reading New “off the shelf” template for Child Contact Centres (NACCC groups)

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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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Even I get caught out sometimes

Just to show I share the same human traits as everyone else, even though I am fairly IT literate,  I thought I would share the following with you because it demonstrates that being cautious is often not enough.

IOS 11.0.3

My iPhone had been nagging me for some time about upgrading. I usually keep things up to date, and finally had some time and decided to go ahead with the update.  I have a MAC and backed up the iPhone into iTunes before proceeding, because I have been caught out before!

I have the usual range of weird stuff on my iPhone that gets played around with once or twice and then forgotten. But there are a handful of Apps I use all of the time, one of which is a password manager called FireBox.

I have had this for around eight years and it has always served me well. It was pretty basic, simple to use and not particularly glossy or elaborate. I keep or should say now; kept…. most of my critical passwords in there. For some years now I have not used the same password in multiple places unless it is for a simple login which represents no security threat if compromised.

I carried out the upgrade, and was presented with a message that some of the apps needed upgrading and to check in the Apps store, or contact the author. Wow, contact the author, that seemed like an odd request. Well it said contact the author, because the app was no longer supported by the new operating system.

There were only around 4 not supported, but one of them was FireBox. At this point panic starts to set in, but I did carry out a backup before I started, so I am covered…..

I start to research how to roll back the operating system. I find a way of doing it, download the old iOS, and before starting plugged my iPhone back into the computer. Here is where my problems started. On plugging my iPhone back into my computer, it backed it up again, and overwrote my previous backup. Only it is a different operating system now, and we have already established that FireBox is unsupported.

Bottom line, by the time I got the old operating system back on the iPhone I had nothing to restore other than a much older backup.

And the lesson of this sad tale

Don’t assume anything. I should have manually backed it up and stored the backup somewhere else.  The whole process cost me 2.5 days so far going around and restoring passwords from various places. My family tell me I worry too much about things, well this is one example where paying a little more attention would have been hugely beneficial.

 

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Home-Start Stories

I mentioned last month (see the article) that I had been working with Home-Start London, adding in a section called Home-Start Stories. These are slide shows that illustrate the work that Home-Start does from a client’s perspective.

In this case the process was led by the director of Home-Start London; Helena  Konneh. I had the relative easy job of preparing the stories for the web, powerpoint and video. Helena used social media (twitter) to encourage people to visit the website and see the stories. This is what happened. The formal launch was September 4th

Continue reading Home-Start Stories

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News sites and upgrades

It has been a very busy month, here are some sites that are in the late stages of development or about to be released.

Home-Start Carmarthenshire

This is one of the first sites to request a facelift to the new template I have developed for Home-Start websites. It is based on Divi too.  I have two other Home-Start’s pending an upgrade at the moment, if you are interested in getting your site upgraded let me know please. While upgrading existing sites, I can also add in new content if it is out of date.  https://homestartcarmarthenshire.org.uk 

Seniors Social

A new daycare centre being launched in November. The site is based on the Divi Template:  https://seniorssocial.org.uk

New Covenant Fellowship Church

Continue reading News sites and upgrades

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More on Fast Secure Contact Form

Many of the newer sites use Fast Secure Contact form. This plugin was withdrawn last weekend following the discovery that someone who had acquired it had attempted to manipulate it to show adverts for payday loans and other things. In this case it never got to the stage where it showed adverts, and everyone that has come back to me has confirmed their site has been upgraded to remove the advertising (or spamvertising as it seems to be called) code.

This is a great shame because the original plugin by Mike Challis worked really well and had a few side benefits from the earlier form manager I used about 6 years ago.

Continue reading More on Fast Secure Contact Form

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Using the Read More icon in the editor

This is particularly important if you are adding POSTS to your website and they are quite long. The icon highlighted in the image above is the Insert Read More tag.

You use it so that when your post is displayed on your news page, you only see the top part of it. When the “Read More tag” is detected the post stops being displayed any further and read more… appears as a link.

Clicking on the link causes the Post to open full screen in it’s entirety.

Why is that a good idea?

Continue reading Using the Read More icon in the editor

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MailPoet 3

I flagged up that MailPoet 2 was being superseded by MailPoet 3 and it was a complete rewrite. There seems to be something going on with MailPoet 2 that is causing problems on some sites generating lots of requests to a housekeeping function called CRON which is a background process running on the server. I have looked at several sites and they were all the same. Mailpoet creates too many requests for attention, which causes the server to no longer respond to requests.

It appears that some time during one of the later releases of MailPoet 2 this problem has been created, perhaps it is something to do with advising people version 3 is available.  The symptoms are that some housekeeping functions will fail to run, notably the backup, but there are no doubt other things as well.

Am I affected?

Continue reading MailPoet 3

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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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