Archive for Websites

Why Facebook Needs to Look Out for Google Plus

Google Plus has been quickly growing and has shown that it has a lot of potential. I have actually been using Google Plus more recently than both Facebook and Twitter. There are many features that Google Plus has, but Facebook and Twitter either doesn’t have or some features that are offered but are not well implemented. Google Plus is a much simpler social network that doesn’t have all the extra non-sense that Facebook has but, isn’t essential to social networking like apps. In fact, this week Google Plus just got  games although I personally don’t use them on either network it may persuade people to join Google Plus since they are used to having games on Facebook. I like the fact that it is more minimalist and focuses more other the content than extra features like apps that clutter up social networks and distract the users. Facebook has so much extra on it that I have no interest in and gets in the way of me reading more interesting posts. Here are the killer Google Plus  features that Facebook needs to respond to and implement well, to prevent being out-done by Google Plus.

1. Circles

Circles allow users to group their friends (which is not shared with friends) and lets you choose who to share content with. For example, you may want to share information about a family gathering only with your family so you can just share that post with your “Family” circle. You can also share posts with multiple Circles as well making permissions simple and actually fun. Facebook and Twitter both have listing features to group friends but, they don’t let you choose who you can share posts with, but instead only lets you filter content. Facebook lets you choose to share with friends, friends of friends, networks and other limited groups but not the same way as Google Plus.  Google Plus gives you a lot more control over who can  see you posts and gives you more options for privacy that Facebook and Twitter’s lists just don’t offer. Also, circles on Google Plus are easy to use and very well designed; while lists are very primitive and not the least bit intuitive on Facebook and Twitter.

2. Photos

Pictures on Google Plus are well implemented and easy to use, mainly because they are integrated with Google’s Picassa Web Gallery which was already a well established service. Pictures on Facebook have always been a headache, it’s a pain to upload and  albums are limited to 60 pictures. It is for this reason that I post very few  pictures on Facebook. Twitter has third-party picture sharing services like Y-Frog and TwitPic but that’s only for single pictures, not albums of pictures which is fine because single photos are all  you need on Twitter since it is short form content. The other great feature of Google Plus pictures is that permissions can be set using circles giving users the same controls they have over other content over their pictures as well.

3. Hangouts

Hangouts are one of the most compelling features of Google Plus which allows up to 20 people video chat at once. Facebook has a video chat feature but it’s only for one-on-one calling. I’m not saying that Facebook needs a hangout-esque feature but, it is something Google Plus has that Facebook doesn’t. It is one of those features that can draw attention whether it’s something mainstream users want or not.

What doesn’t Google Plus have? Well, the main thing that Google Plus lacks  that both Facebook and Twitter have is a strong user base. As of the writing of this article, Google Plus has approximately 25 million users, Facebook has 750 Million and Twitter has 200 Million. This is largely because Google Plus is currently still in a private, invite-only beta test meaning you can only join if your invited. If you would like an invite, click this link! I am offering free invites to my readers, as of the writing of this post I have 144 invitations remaining, and if you join you should be able to invite people too and further grow the network by inviting your friends. I urge you to try this network it is a great new social network that really gives Facebook some good competition.  The other thing that Google Plus is missing, as is Facebook is a native iPad app, they both have iPhone apps that can be run at double size, but, a native iPad app will be very important as tablets continue to grow.  I think that Google Plus, as it grows, may be a real competitor for Facebook once it is given time to grow and Facebook will need to really innovate to remain relevant.

Facebook and Twitter, Beware of Google Plus

Last week Google launched Google Plus, and I got an invite yesterday and really like it so far. It has a lot of features similar to Twitter and Facebook like: messages, commenting, +1 (which is like the “Like Button” on Facebook.), chatting and much more. It also has group chatting which they call Huddle and there are also “Hangouts” which are group video calls which would be great for business meetings or any other video conference call. There is also Circles which allow you to group friends so that you can choose who can see content you share on Google Plus and who’s content you want to see. This is done by selecting a Circle on the left side of the stream which shows post just from the circle. You also can choose which circles have access to posts you put on Plus as well so you could choose to share something just with friends and not family or visa-versa.  Facebook and Twitter both have lists, which have similar purposes,  but, they are difficult to create, while circles are easy to make and intuitive to use.

Of course since Google Plus is currently in a private beta test right now, so there aren’t many people on yet but, it has been growing a lot and I think that it will continue to grow with the even more new features that I’m sure are coming soon. It is a great social network but, there are two things that I want to be added to make Plus even better.

1. iOS Application: There is already a Google Plus application for Android and rumor has it there has been one submitted for approval for iOS so hopefully it will be coming soon.  In the meantime, there is a HTML5 mobile site but, there’s no push notifications, huddle or Hangouts all of which would be great to have on iOS devices.

2. Social Media Integration- I would also like it if I could post all my tweets in Google Plus like I do in Facebook, and also do the same with pictures I post on my Flickr Stream. One thing Google can do is merge Buzz and Google Plus since Buzz already has those features.

But this is a great new network which will give Facebook an Twitter a run for their money. The video Hangouts are a feature that Plus launched with that Facebook didn’t have until they recently announced a partnership with Skype bringing video chat to Skype. However, they still don’t offer group video chat and not nearly as compelling as hangouts. I highly recommend Google Plus and if you can get an invite, give it a try and see what Facebook, Twitter and all other social networks need to compete with.

Go Daddy Hosting Issues

When I decided it was time for me to move web hosts, I first signed up for Go Daddy, I thought that they had a good reputation and were similar in price to my old host.  However, once I signed up, I began to see issues. First, they try and charge you for everything, private domain registration, which was free with my old host, cost $10 per domain per year! Also just to get a forwarding email address costs $3 per year for a package of email addresses. Then, the other big issue was the control panel. Oddly enough, email accounts are in the account panel.  It was totally counter-intuitive, and just didn’t work. Going back to email, you get 5 packages of 100 email addressses with a totaly of 100 MB to share with them. First of all, this is not nearly enough email storage and this is a ridiculous way to do email.  That is just outragious and  so difficult to set addresses up. There are also 2 control areas that are completely disconnected, the Account controls and the hosting control panel. Domains also cost much more on Go Daddy and I have heard, that when you search a domain they register them and make them unavailable, while this is not confirmed, it is a very bad practice.  Go Daddy does have some good feature like the hosting connection that lets you install many content management systems from the control panel but, it takes much longer than a manual install and is not worth putting up with the many disadvantages.

Facebook’s Privacy Issues

By now most people have heard of Facebook’s  issues with their privacy settings when they upgrade the site and cause people’s profiles to become public despite users specifying they want their profiles private.  They have also made chats public, for a brief period of time and Facebook has also been trying to control more web content by connecting to other websites and publishing other content on Facebook, they do this through Facebook Connect and by having other websites adding Like Buttons to many sites on the web.  In the most resent update, they also make you connect your interests (Music, movies, etc) to fan pages, which is something that everyone doesn’t want to connect to. This has caused a major out cry in the community of journalists and standard users as well. These issues caused Leo Laporte to delete his Facebook account live on his TWIT Live video stream. People have established May 31st as “Quit Facebook Day”, but today Facebook has crossed the line in another way.

This afternoon, a radio station posted links to a Wiki How article on how to permanently delete your Facebook account, and video of Leo Laporte deleting his Facebook on TWIT Live. Minutes later, Facebook decided to censor them disable the station’s Facebook page. When Leo found out on while he was doing his live radio show he told the audience to post the link on their profiles and about half of them reported that the post has been removed! Facebook eventually stopped deleting the posts but, just the idea of Facebook deleting content because it was anti-Facebook is wrong, espcially when there are already plenty of other anti-Facebook pages on Facebook.

Facebook has been involved in less than ethical activity in the past month and need to change their privacy and censorship issues. Facebook needs to make their privacy intentions clear and regain the trust of their users. Facebook is also trying to forcefully connect all your web activity to your Facebook profile, which some people don’t want because they want to keep some privacy with their web life. The  privacy settings they should implement is that everything is private unless the User chooses to make some content public. They also absolutely need stop censoring people’s content on Facebook, yes it’s their site but, it is our right to freely criticize things we find unjust. If Facebook doesn’t change this quickly, they will loose the trust of their users and many users will quit Facebook.  I like using Twitter for public updates but, it is also nice to use Facebook for private c0mmunication with friends.

The Steps of Moving Web Hosts

Last week, I moved all my websites from 1and1 to my new host, Host  Monster, this is a very long process and will take several days. These steps are generalized steps that would apply to  all hosts not just 1and1 or Host Monster. I will give you this warning now, if you need to have your sites up, wait until it is less crucial because no matter what you do there will invariably be some down time.

Old Host Steps:

  1. Download All Files from your Server using FTP
  2. Export Any Databases you have using the Admin Control Panel
  3. Take Note of Email Address Mail Boxes you want to keep

Domain Options:

Option 1: Transfer Domains (May Take Several Days)
  1. Unlock Domains from the Original host
  2. Transfer Domain to New Host
  3. Enter  Authentication Code
  4. Wait for Transfer to Complete

**Please note that the domains may be down for most of the transfer process removing access to websites and email on those domains***

Option 2: Keep Domains with the Old Host and point their DNS servers to Your New Host (May take up to 24 hours)
  1. Select  Domain
  2. Select DNS Settings
  3. Enter the DNS Sever or Name Server (Find the information from the new host)
  4. Wait for the server to transfer

**Please note that the domains may be down for most of the transfer process removing access to websites and email on those domains***

New Host Steps:

  1. Create FTP Account
  2. Upload files to new server using FTP
  3. Point Domain(s) to the respective folders
  4. Import Databases
  5. Create Email addresses

Clean-up Steps:

  1. Delete old Email addresses from Old Host
  2. Delete files from Server
  3. Delete other data
  4. Cancel Hosting account if your not keeping your domain with your old host

Features Every Website Should Have

Now that, i listed the old, outdated features that should be left off all new websites, I thought it would be good for me to write what every website should include. This list is important because these features make websites more useful to the viewer and this information is necessary to have up in order to run a successful website.

    1. About Me/Us Page

Since, the internet can be a place of anonymity and  anyone can really make a website an about me page is very important because it gives the viewers information about you and could help they have more reason to believe you. Otherwise, you could be mixed in with anyother generic website on the internet that has no credibility at all! This is just as important for a company so visitors can believe the credibility of your site and possibly do business with you.

    1. Contact Form

One of the best parts of the Internet is having the ability to contact people directly. I don’t recommend having a direct link to your email address because then it could be very easy for spammers to contact you and flood your email with junk. Forms also allow you to organize the information you receive.

    1. Mission Statement

A mission statement is very important for businesses but, is also important for personal websites, because they give the visitors the goal of the site. This is just another step in making your website look more professional and more trustworthy.

    1. Copyright Statement

Although this not crucial it is good to let everyone know the license on the content and how they can use it. If you don’t want to put it under all rights reserved, then you can use Creative Commons giving the visitor more freedom with your content.

Those are the main things that every website on the Internet should have. I hope that if you run a website and don’t have these that you will add them. There are some other things that I recommend however, I think these are mandatory while the others are more optional.

Things That Should ALWAYS Be Left Out of Websites

Now that Yahoo has shut down Geocities, earlier this month, there are several elements of website design that originated in the early days of the Internet that are now, in 2009, out of date and should not be included in websites anymore. Use of these make websites look unprofessional and out of date. I recommend that if anyone who is reading this article has a website with any of these, I highly recommend removing them and making their website look much better.

    1. Animated GIFS

Yes, they were entertaining to put on your website 10 years ago but, now, they are just lame and don’t belong on any websites in 2009.

    1. Guestbooks

Another old method of getting feedback from people but now, it is just outdated and ridiculous.

    1. Hit Counters

I don’t know why people wanted to put their number of hits on their front page to start, it is just unprofessional. Now, you can just use Google Analytic to track your hits and get much more information that a simple page counter from 1995

    1. Basic HTML Pages

Basic HTML websites just look horrible and have been made obsolete with the invention of CSS and other modern design languages

Now that those features are posted, I really hope all webmasters will take them out of any of their current websites and most importantly leave them out of any new websites they are making. These features are annoying and out of date and need to leave the internet forever!

Vimeo, A better video sharing site!

As I mentioned in the most recent episode of The Weekly Spin, Youtube took down my account without warning. Although I contacted them, I have not gotten a reply back but, now I decided it would be better just to switch video sharing sites. I looked around, and realized Vimeo has the best options and has the best player. The biggest advantage is that there is no length limit unlike Youtube’s 10 minute limit which is a major pain. Vimeo also allows you to post HD video and have a very clean and well designed player.

The free account, that I have, limits you to upload 500 MB per week. This concerned me at first however, I was able to upload my whole video library that was on my youtube account and used less than half of my weekly allowance. I think it would be great if your left-overs could roll over but, I guess for now if you don’t use it you loose it. 500 MB is about 1/2 a gigabyte so, unless you are making a lot of high definition video, this should be fine. It was no problem for me at all! There is a pro account called, Vimeo Plus, for $60/year where you get 5 GB of upload each week which should satisfy the pros. Also, with Vimeo Plus you get no wait time for transcoding while with a free account it takes about an hour to encode the video. All these features are great and put your videos in a beautiful player that looks very slick and professional. The only dowside to Vimeo is that it is not as popular as Youtube but, it is really a great player and great way to share your videos online. I will now be posting all my personal videos on my personal vimeo and I have moved all my Video Blogs to Vimeo as well! This is a great service and I have tried other services like Blip.Tv, Viddler and others and vimeo is the best of them all!

Squarespace, Advanced and Easy-To-Use Blogging

Although I said WYSIWYG design is pointless Squarespace, has proven to be the best implementation of WYSIWYG and what I hope future blogging platforms will evolve to in the future. Squarespace is a subscription service that lets you run a full-fledged blog without having to run a server and manage the CMS. However, you do not loose control of the site and have a lot of power over the design of the site and is easy to use,

Squarespace has a back-end that is really just the same page as the front page but, with loggin in, you gain access to all the administrative controls. Like many blogging platforms, there is a dashboard to manage all your siute functions and everything you expect it to. The big winner is templates and design, you can use templates but, from there you can just drag collums to be wider or narrower and change colors with a few clicks. It also has a library of other additional tools that allow you to add integration to social networks, add photo gallerys, web forms and much more! These additional tools let your site be more flexible than your average blog and lets you do exactly what you want with it. Squarespace also can keep sites stable even if there is a spike in traffic, assuring your site won’t go down if you are dugg or slashdotted! Squarespace makes running your website easy but, maintains all the power for the advanced users.

Plans start at: $8/month and go as high as $50/month depending on features. I would definitly consider to migrate to Squarespace if the price goes a bit lower because and if they allow multiple sites on one plan but, I do like how you can import existing blogs and exporting if you no longer wish to use Squarespace. I have used the trial and am very impressed and think if they add those requests i mentioned I would seriously consider switching!

7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers

To be honest, when I first got started blogging I had no idea what I was getting into! But, now that I have blogged but, now that I have done it for a while, I want to share some of the best blogging practices. I think that blogging is a growing trend and I want to advise new bloggers what the best practices are.

1. Write What You Know
If you don’t write what you know then your posts sound phony and then people will loose trust in your site and you will loose readers.

2. Write About What You Like
This is probably the most important part because if you aren’t enjoying blogging then, you will just be going through the motions and won’t enjoy blogging at all. However, if you write about what you like blogging can be a lot of fun!

3. Stay in Tune To Current Events
If you know there is going to be a big event, and would be of interest to your target reader or just a lot of people then it would be a good idea to do a post about it. People are more likley to look for current events than anything else which could help boost your readership.

4. Don’t Write Attack Posts
This is a simple concept that can save a lot of fighting by simply not attacking other bloggers because that causes Flamewars and makes everyone involved look bad and make the reader want to look else where to read.

5. Fully research the Topic, Then Write
Writing without researching occurs a lot in blogging especially when people are writing passion-driven articles and the writer does not think to investigate the other side of the argument. I am not claiming that I do this on every post I write, but I do if I am unsure about a topic or facts. Not research is yet another error that can cost you readers.

6. Accept and Listen to Feedback

I highy reccommend having a feedback email address or contact form on your site so readers can send you feedback because they will give you suggestions and feedback that can help you refine your blog and also help you be a better blogger. Sometimes, the feedback may be tough to reader but, if you work through all that and take all the feedback with a grain of salt, you will become a better blogger in the big scheme of things.

7. Write in Your Own Words

Many people try and use over-complex vocabulary and flowery language in their posts to seem more sophisticated, but, I think blogging is a lot more enjoyable if you use your own writing style because readers will pick up on that and will feel like you are reading it to you instead of some rich author and makes your blog more appealing to the everyday reader.

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