Tip: How to Recover Your WordPress Password

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | August 12, 2015

If you don’t log in often it’s easy to forget the password on your WordPress website.  Here’s how to recover your password.

  1. Find the login page for your site.  (It’s almost always something like” http://yourwebsiteurl.com/wp-login.php.”)
  2. Click “Lost Your Password?”

    Find the "Lost your password?" link.

    Find the “Lost your password?” link.

  3. Type your username (if you remember it) or your email address in the… well… “Username or password” box.
  4. Click OK and in a few minutes you’ll get an email message with a link that will allow you to create a new password.

This might seem like a funny way to operate but it’s a lot more secure.  I mean why doesn’t WordPress just send you your password?  Turns out WordPress stores only a strongly encrypted version of your password — so strongly encrypted even it can’t get it back out again.  So that’s why it asks you to create a new one.

Long as you’re making a new password make sure it’s a good one.  The good news if you forget?  Now you know how to create a new one!

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Update Sales Tax For Your Your PayPal Buy Now Buttons

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | August 11, 2015

 

PayPal Pay Now buttons

If you use ecommerce for local and in-state sales chances are you have to track and pay sales tax.  Here’s what to do if you use PayPal “Buy Now” or Add to Cart buttons on your website and your state or local sales taxes change.

Here’s how to set up your sales tax rates:

  • Log in to your PayPal account.
  • Click the Business Profile icon next to “Log Out” and select Profile and settings.
  • Click My selling tools.
  • In “Selling online”, click Update next to “Sales tax.”
  • Click Add New Sales Tax.
  • Choose the states for which you are setting up tax rates.
  • Enter a tax rate. Only click “Apply rate to shipping amount” if your state requires it.
  • Click Continue, or click “Create Another” to set up another sales tax.

Source: PayPal Help Center

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Why I Love Getting Dozens of Automated Emails…

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | July 23, 2015

I love getting good automatic messages

I’ve been getting dozens and dozens of automated emails this morning from sites all around the internet and… it’s making me really happy!

The message?  Simple.  From the dozens of sites I’ve built and maintain their software’s up to date enough to do their own security updates automatically.  And let me know that…

Your site has updated to WordPress 4.2.3

Howdy! Your site at [your URL] has been updated automatically to WordPress 4.2.3.

No further action is needed on your part. For more on version 4.2.3, see the About WordPress screen:
[your URL] /wp-admin/about.php

WordPress released their update to answer several security concerns.  By default recent WordPress releases have been configured to automatically keep themselves up to date.  And give you a little head’s up in email.

Aaah, the joys of receiving tons of nearly-identical messages from all around the internet.

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Still have Flash On Your Site? Fewer and Fewer People Can See It!

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | July 18, 2015

Every day more and more browsers block Adobe Flash

Every day more and more browsers block Adobe Flash

Adobe® Flash has been dying for years. Apple’s refusal to support it on IOS. People joke (and often worry) about Adobe’s frequent, sometimes daily “security updates.”   And it’s recently come to light that major companies and even governments have been using undisclosed exploits in Flash to spy on anyone they might not like!

Now, as WordPress SEO guru 

Flash is dead, bye bye!

Firefox is now blocking Flash by default. Flash was always a stupid idea, but in the off chance that you’re still using it on your site, you probably should stop for real now. I mean, we have animated GIFs for annoying content!

Follow the link to see the annoying GIF animation de Valk shared.

Do you still have Flash on your site? It might just be driving your old video player. It might be running an old slideshow. If your site’s old enough it might even be driving your entire website!

Used to be if you wanted visually interesting content on your website you had to use Flash.  But there have been native HTML solutions for years. Times change.  Time to upgrade.

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Email Marketing Results? Still Impressive!

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | July 16, 2015

There’s a reason just about every online marketing guru’s website dangles a “subscribe to our newsletter” popup: old-school email newsletters are still the most reliable online marketing method.

In a post answering the question Does WordPress Email Marketing Actually Work? business tech blogger Brenda Barron says yes.  Emphatically!

You should read the whole post yourself but three excerpts — a quote, a chart, and a list — make the case that mailing list marketing is effective and no more difficult than blogging or social media marketing.

“Phrases like 40 times better, 4,300% ROI, 50% more leads, 33% lower cost etc. is nothing to sneeze at. This is enough to demonstrate that email marketing works and that it should be a part of every company’s marketing efforts.”

Mailing-list marketing has a very high response rate

Mailing-list marketing has the highest response rate

And she makes the case that effective email marketing is neither a dark art nor rocket science!

Some Last Minute General Tips for Email Marketing

  • Include sharing buttons in the email. Give them a reason and a way to share your content.
  • Make sure the email opens correctly. You only get one chance at this. If it doesn’t open on the first try they’ll likely trash it.
  • Use an interesting headline. It doesn’t have to be overly catchy. It just needs to give them a reason to open it.
  • Focus on mobile. Your emails should be targeted to their mobile devices. The design should be responsive. Take the smaller screens into account when you send out images, use fonts that are easy to read, and test your templates on your own mobile device before sending out your first newsletter.
  • Use personalized promotional mailings.
  • Automate your email marketing. Use tools to help you as much as possible.
  • Build nice forms and strategically place them on your site for the best performance. Every site is different so it might require some experimenting.
  • Entice readers to join by giving them something free.
  • Send emails that are value added and have a purpose.
  • Keep a consistent schedule. This will train your readers to look for your newsletters and they’ll be even more likely to open them because they’re expecting them.

Source: Brenda Barron, WPMU.COM

Make the case well enough, in fact, that after helping dozens of clients promote their own mailing lists I’m finally decided to take the plunge myself!  (The cobbler’s children are always the last to wear shoes!)

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Salmon Bay Technology — a great local IT solution

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | July 6, 2015

indestructible

Here at Real Basics we build, fix, and maintain websites. We’re proud of the work we do. We love doing it too.

Something we don’t love is managing IT and intra-office computer technology.  Exchange and other mail servers?  Desktop and laptop security?  Printers?  Servers?  Routers, modems, and switches?  PBX and wireless phones?  Cloud computing?  We’ve done it before.  We could do it again if we had to.  But we wouldn’t be proud of it and we wouldn’t love it.

So we believe we serve our clients best by referring them to our friends at Salmon Bay Technology.  We like their affordable, reliable small-business back-office solutions.  We particularly appreciate their expertise in email and cloud services and are impressed by their knowledge of

Give them a call at (206) 905-9520!

Salmon Bay Technology - IT Solution

Salmon Bay Technology

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Three hosting companies I’m recommending

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | June 4, 2015

hosting-recommendations

Last month I un-recommended one particular hosting company.  After some careful research I’m recommending three others.

All three companies are well regarded in the industry for speed and service, and not known for either limiting service to get you to upgrade or for other sales-driven annoyances.

SiteGround.com

SiteGround (https://www.siteground.com/web-hosting.htm)  The basic StartUp package would be good for your crisis management site but if you’re planning to have more than one site then their GrowBig package isn’t that much more expensive and it’s got… well… room to grow big!

Dreamhost

DreamHost (http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting)  They don’t have “special” introductory offers but then they don’t nickel and dime you later.  Their basic shared hosting is great — I’ve used it for years.  I haven’t tried their more expensive but theoretically more reliable dedicated WordPress service.  I don’t think you’d need it, but do read their materials just in case.

Site5.com

Site5 (http://www.site5.com)  Their hostBasic and hostPro are comparable in service to SiteGround’s StartUp and GrowBig packages.  I’m not (yet) personally familiar with Site5 but they keep showing up at or near the top of (uncompensated) industry recommendations.

Semi-disclamer: I’ve always been reluctant to recommend hosting so this is a bit of a departure for me.  I receive no commission or bonus from any of the companies I’m recommending in this post or any other previous posts.  BUT am evaluating setting up affiliate links where if you followed a link from my site you’d pay the same amount but I’d receive a small commission.  If I do join any affiliate programs I’ll disclose my relationship in future posts.

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Visual Aid: Why Responsive Mobile-First Design

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | June 2, 2015

Stephanie Walter makes the case for mobile-first web design with a visual metaphor of pouring water into different size containers.

Illustration by Stephanie Walter

Illustration by Stephanie Walter

She based her work on Brad Frost’s Responsive Strategy post. Like all great instructional illustration her graphic doesn’t explain everything (see Frost’s post for that.) Instead she communicates the idea… well… graphically in a way that makes you want to know more.

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GoDaddy Shared Hosting: Slower than a First-Generation Thumb Drive?

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | May 3, 2015

Image via Tumblr user Optimistic Overanalyzer

Image via Tumblr user Optimistic Overanalyzer

I have a very tough time speaking ill of others but I’ve concluded that GoDaddy is no longer a good choice for WordPress website hosting.

Some time since the beginning of they year they began throttling their cPanel/Linux disk I/O down to one megabyte per second! This is very slow!  To a point that, as forensic computer scientist Dr. Neal Krawetz put it recently…

This is slower than a USB-1 thumbdrive! You know, the old USB drives where you copy a file and then go get some coffee? With USB-1, you get 12MB/s at full power and 1.5MB/s at low power.

This is with their “Deluxe” hosting. If you upgrade to their “Ultimate” package you get… 2MB/sec I/O!

I run weekly backups and updates on roughly 50 websites spread across a wide range of hosting companies.  14 of those sites are hosted at GoDaddy.  Beginning around February of this year backup plugins started timing out before completion. BackupBuddy, InfiniteWP, and other backup plugins I’ve tried all fail more often than they succeed. Consequently for those 14 GoDaddy clients (and, incidentally, *only* those clients) I’m reduced to logging and using cPanel home-directory backups!

Nor do I seem to be alone in this. Jeremy Trask at BackupBuddy said recently in a response to a trouble ticket I filed:

As I noted previously, we have particularly seen a recent spate of reports like your[s] with Customers on GD who suddenly started having problems and when we check the logs we can see that the disk write speed is very poor and their backup would never have worked before if that had always been the write speed – we know what type of constraints hosts apply and the effect they have and sudden changes of behaviour with nothing else changing always point to application of more aggressive constraints and this is almost invariably disk i/o based on the log characteristic and the fact that this is easy for them to apply when they have the right technology in place.

So really we know pretty much exactly what is happening (whether or not a host wants to own up to it) and in fact we have been observing this sort of degradation in hosting for a while and that is why we are introducing additional options for Customers that are experiencing these type of problems. So from your logs we can certainly help you and it helps us validate our new options.

This is particularly embarrassing for me because I actually like GoDaddy’s ease of use, their low prices, and their exceptionally responsive tech support team.   Even more embarrassing as until recently I cheerfully recommended them to my clients!

But!

If they can’t serve files any faster than an 18-year-old thumb drive (and their tech support mention this throttling is a head-office decision they have no control over) then no amount of pretty interface, ease of use, low price, and fast support can make up for it.

 

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Message Control On Platforms You Don’t Own

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | May 3, 2015

Yesterday on my Facebook page I unfavorably compared GoDaddy’s “Deluxe” hosting speed to a 1996 USB thumb drive.

Today on my Facebook page?  Well, I did mention GoDaddy so Facebook helpfully decided I might be interested in…

Facebook posted a GoDaddy ad on my page one day after I harshly criticized GoDaddy!

The ad Facebook ran on my page after I harshly criticized GoDaddy a day earlier!

Thanks but no thanks!

There’s nothing wrong, by the way, in posting on Facebook. Not at all!  And it’s really not that big a deal.

But!

When you post on other people’s platforms you really have no control over what else they might choose to post there too.

Good reminder, though, that the only place you really control your message is on your own website.

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