Category: Technology

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Custom Button Icons for Apple’s iDevices

This is a guest post by Sarah Dolk of Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had some fun last night. I had read in a blog about how we can create a custom icon/button/logo for our business that Apple device users (iphone, ipad, and touch), can download to their desktop as an image bookmark, thus creating a simple link to our website for the device user. Wow. So I did it, and I'm going to tell you why and how. Now that Apple has been named the "Top Company in the US" (be it only for a few days this week), I would think that should spark more people to understand the importance of Apple's portion of the mobile market. Although a button can be created for any website on these idevices, the custom icon is more desirable, has a more "finished" appearance, and is much less likely to get accidentally deleted from the user's desktop, especially if it's attractive to the eye. The default icon created when there is no custom icon/button present on a website will be just a random square piece of the website's window. Here is a custom logo from the BBC and a default logo from the innkeeping.org website: How is this custom button good for an inn or b&b? Let me count the ways… 1 - Branding. Having people find your inn's website and download the visual image associated with your inn's website as a bookmark to their mobile desktop so they see it every time they are on that devise is priceless. It is a contestant reminder of your property. 2 - Saved for later. Even if you are not chosen right at that moment for a stay, you were saved for later and that may very well be…

Analytics: How to track social interaction

Perhaps you saw the articles a couple of weeks ago, indicating that Google had officially announced that its Google Analytics product was now able to track social media interaction. As the linked article mentioned, this is a welcome addition to the built-in capability of the Google +1 button to track clicks. However, this bit of news was soon overshadowed by all the buzz surrounding the (as yet, despite being enormous, and frequently discussed) beta of Google+ - the new Google social platform. We had seen the articles and sort of filed them away for future reference. A friend got in touch last week, however, asking how to implement this, and indicating that the information wasn't very clear. After reading the official documentation, we certainly had to agree. However, after a bit of testing, we were able to get it to work, and provide the results here, in case you'd like to use Google Analytics to track various social interaction on your website, blog, or whatever. What we're trying to accomplish To be clear, the objective is to add some JavaScript to our website, blog, or whatever, that will allow us to use Google Analytics to track when someone clicks on social media buttons on the page - such as a Facebook Like button, or a Facebook share link, or a Twitter follow or Tweet button, or any other similar item. For those who enjoy figuring this out for themselves, the documentation can be found here. For the rest of us, there are three pieces of code to insert (We haven't attempted to use anything but Facebook and Twitter - though the same principle would work with any; also Google +1 forwards data to GA automatically, so there is no need to do anything special for it), and of course a…

Need Page-load Speed? Your Secret Weapon is Here!

Let's face it, Google is obsessed with speed. But don't take my word for it, look here and here, too. So what can you do about it? Last week we came across an article noting a security product that "accidentally" makes web sites load 60% faster. We almost passed it by, until we saw that it arose from Project Honey Pot - which we had seen previously. In brief, Project Honey Pot is a project that studies how spammers and hackers operate, and applies that knowledge to defend against them. It turns out that in the process of studying security it was necessary to figure out how to really speed up page load times, so the security monitoring wouldn't slow down web sites they were monitoring. The result was CloudFlare. Five Minutes to Faster Page Loading CloudFlare is proud of their quick signup process. They show a video on the home page, and note that your signup will take less time than watching the video. The only thing you'll need is a way to notify your web hosting company of a change of two entries (your Domain Name Servers or DNS). Most commercial web hosts have a web-based control panel you can use to make these changes, and CloudFlare has a help page to guide you for many popular web hosting companies. If you use a content management system or blog system (like Drupal or WordPress) there may also be a CloudFlare plugin to help with configuration. Once you've created your CloudFlare account and notified your web host of DNS changes, it takes about 24 hours for the actual changes to take effect, then you're off to higher speeds - and while you're at it, much higher security, as well. There is a free plan, a Pro plan and an…

How to use Google +1 (and should you?)

Yesterday Google announced that the +1 button is now available for any website to use (just like a Facebook 'Like' button, or similar buttons). It raises two questions: Should you be using it? How do you use it? Both questions are easily answered - though most articles on the topic have not really dealt with them as much as emphasizing the "buzz" (no pun intended) or the absence of a "need" for another "Like" button. Should you use it? The short answer is "YES!" Yes, it is yet another social media thing. Yes it is similar to others. But get real. As Lisa Barone has pointed out, the practical effect of the Plus One program is to put everyone in the position of using the button, or being left out. The consequence of being left out is not known yet, but it seems likely that it will have an impact on search placement in some way. How do you use it? To use it you will have to create a Google profile if you don't already have one. If you have a login for GMail, iGoogle, or any other Google service, you probably already have a Google profile. The instructions to use the button are simply cut-and-paste, if you have access to your website. Copy the first line of code (below) and paste it either inside the <head> tags of your page or near the bottom of your page, before the <body> tag closing. Here is the code: <script type="text/javascript" src="http://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> Copy the second line of code (below) and paste it in the page where you would like the button to appear: <g:plusone></g:plusone> There are various options for the size and layout of the button, the link it should "like", and whether or not to display the count of "plusones".…

QR Codes: How to Get Started

The basics of creating and using QR codes [caption id="attachment_316" align="alignright" width="194" caption="Sample QR code linking to our Freeport Maine Bed & Breakfast"][/caption]There has been a lot of buzz recently about QR codes. Most articles tell you what they are (think of a bar code, that smartphones or other mobile devices can read, and usually link to a URL, an image, or some useful information), and give some ideas of what QR codes can be used for, or even how to make QR codes more attractive. But where does the non-technical person begin? One reason most articles don't really explain how to make your own QR codes, and how to use them, is that it is a very easy process. There, no need to feel intimidated! Try it yourself if you have a smartphone or other mobile device with a camera. Just activate your Bar Code Reader app, and point your device at the QR code in this article, and see what happens (you may have to download a Barcode Reader app, if you don't already have one). OK, What are QR Codes, Again? Others have described them in detail (see the two articles in the first paragraph, above), so we'll simply say that QR codes are like a bar code. You can scan or read them with a mobile device's camera, and they provide a link to something. You decide what the something is - that's why most of the articles are called "15 way to use QR codes" or similar titles - the possibilities are nearly endless. So, the way this works is that you put a QR code somewhere (on your business card, in a magazine ad, on a web site, T-shirt, billboard, anywhere in the physical world). The prospective user sees it, reads it via their…

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