Category Archives: Web Related

Wufoo – Hosted Form Service

wufoo

I’ll be the first to admit that this free script solution isn’t the most full-featured form builder I’ve ever seen, but it is very simple and handy for it’s intended purpose. Sometimes however, you need a little more muscle. Wufoo is just such a muscle. It’s a great, hosted service that lets you manage and control forms without any programming knowledge or time commitment. After you create an account, you can then create and manage as many unique forms as you want; contact forms, questionnaires, event sign-ups, etc). All of it is done via wysiwyg editors and simple wizards. It then gives you the code to put into your site and viola, instant database driven forms. You can then log back into Wufoo and view, sort, export the results of your form at any time. It has a very simple free plan, but for bigger needs, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, but the price you pay is much cheaper than paying a programmer to build it by hand, especially if you need to administrate the results of the form. In the end though, the prices are very reasonable.

Features

Available on All Plans

* Built in Validation and Error Checking
* Ability to Style the Look of your Forms
* Subscribe to Entries via email or RSS
* Custom Confirmation Messages
* Easy integration into Your Web Site or Blog

Available on Paid Plans

* Access to Customer Support
* Upload Files with your Form
* No Advertisements on Confirmation Page
* Redirect to a Custom Confirmation URL
* Password Protection on Forms and Reports

Creating Web Contact Forms Script

Aaron Wall recommended this site in a recent TechCrunch comments thread, and I absolutely fell in love. I’m not much of a programmer, so I’m always bugging my partner to make me little scripts or do simple things for me when I need something, but this is the kind of thing that will help me be much more efficient and self-sustained.

Contact Form Generator

This site has a quick little wizard that will write and preview everything you need for a customized contact form. You enter where you want the form to send it’s contents (an email address), the subject of the email, and then you design the form with whatever fields you want. It writes up some php and gives you some code to embed in your site, as well as a php file to place on your server. It’s all very simple, and very fast. I love it.

I whipped up a little one and embedded it below to test it out.

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Download POP Gmail from more than one computer

One of the major downers when using Gmail as your primary email account is that you can only download emails to one computer using POP. You can set it to not mark items as read or move them to archive, but if you go from one computer to another, each trying to download emails to the hard drive, you’ll only get each email once.

However, there is now a found workaround.

When entering your email address into your mail client, add “recent:” to the beginning of the account name, (recent:name@gmail.com). Now, Gmail will allow this client to get all email in the past 30 days that it hasn’t already downloaded, regardless of if it has already been downloaded by another client or not.

It’s been tested, and found that it does not download multiple instances of a single email on one machine, and does in fact seem to be the Golden Ticket for getting all your email on more than one machine.

Final note: Using “recent:” will only grab the past 30 days worth of email, so this won’t help you with a two-year-old account getting archived emails downloaded, but it’ll help you going forward.

Here’s a link to the Google Group discussion forum where this was discussed.

Check a site at a repointed domain before DNS catches up

So, my friend Matt taught me a nifty trick this afternoon. I had recently uploaded a new site to a server, then switched the DNS settings over to it. It was going to take a while before the DNS propogated itself, and I didn’t want to wait (actually, I wanted to double check it was working before my client saw it). So, if you have a Mac, here’s how you force your computer to check an IP before it looks to its DNS settings.

1. Open terminal and type sudo mate /etc/hosts. (this will open the file in textmate)
2. When the file opens, go to the bottom of the file and start a new line. Enter the IP address of your new server, hit TAB, then add in the exact URL you want to point to that new address. I added mine WITH a www., so I can still look up the non-www URL and see how the DNS settings are propogating.

I’m sure people out there no a ton more about this than I do, but this is enough info that it worked for me, and I thought I’d share (as well as document it so I don’t forget.)

Get better at keeping track of affilliate programs

I’m definitely a amateur when it comes to PPC campaigns, but I still have a lot of fun with them. However, my wife likes to make sure I’m staying in the black and not venturing into the deep red of negative margins. When I heard about the new InstaCalc website, where you can build your own calculators, I headed over and made a little quick one to track profits on campaigns.

I’m sure there are easier ways to do this, and when you’re covering hundreds of campaigns, this would be ridiculous, but it’s still fun and somewhat useful, so here it is:

Using Robots.txt to Protect WordPress from Google

I’ve found several people lately talking about using robots.txt files to help their ranking in Google and get pages out of the supplemental index. Especially if you use WordPress, you can quickly start having way too many pages that just list out your content, using up link juice, while your posts themselves are sitting there without enough PR to get indexed. The Archives pages, any Tags pages, Categories pages, Feed pages… They add up quickly, all showing pretty much similar content.

Read more about this at Earners Blog, and at Shoemoney. Both of these guys got a huge increase in traffic after they instituted a simple exclusion rules. Each have a different list that worked for them, so check out each post and make sure you read the comments, that’s where the real gold is at Shoemoney‘s site.

Update Company information in Google Finance

A client of mine is a publicly traded company, and while looking at their company information in Google Finance, I noticed that the “Company Summary” had some inconsistent information. I wasn’t immediately sure what to do to correct it, but soon found the correct place. If you would like to change any information about a company in Google finance, they list the sources of their data here:

http://www.google.com/googlefinance/faq.html#remove

It’s a list of email contacts for the source or partner of their information.

Specifically, here is the useful info.

I’m concerned about content I’ve located in Google Finance. Would you please change or remove it?
If you see something wrong, Google and our partners want to know about it. Here’s the appropriate contact info for various Google Finance features and the corresponding content partner.

  1. News — http://news.google.com/intl/en_us/about_google_news.html
  2. Blog results — http://www.google.com/help/about_blogsearch.html
  3. Public Company data — Reuters webmaster.reuters@custhelp.com
  4. Private Company data — Hoovers update@hoovers.com
  5. Mutual Funds — Morningstar dataquestions@morningstar.com
  6. Anything else, including crawled data and photos

Setting up WordPress

WordPress has become the blog engine of choice these days as it’s super easy to set up, unbelievably flexible, and best of all, free. I’ve set it up for myself, clients, and friends probably over 30 times. Each time I get a bit faster at it, and each time I try and make sure I remember all the little, simple things you can do to make the most of your new blog. Here is my quicklist of don’t forgets. (for this tutorial, I’m assuming that you’re hosting your own blog, and it is not a wordpress.com hosted solution.)

1. Get yourself some hosting. I use
bluehost
(aff) because it is amazingly quick to get started, they are super cheap, their sites run very fast, and they’re incredibly responsive whenever I have a problem. They also give you a free domain for using their service, so you don’t even have to pay for your domain…

2. While bluehost(aff) offers 1-click installs, I always recommend people just go and download the newest version of the software from WordPress. You’ll get the most recent version with any security issues patched. Download it here.
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Earners Blog Review

Part of getting better at things, is knowing where to look for the information. And for me, getting even better means consistently reading as much as I can from people who really understand whatever it is I’m trying to improve at. One of my hobbies is Internet Marketing. While I’m by no means even a hack Internet Marketer, I’m learning as much as I can, and am constantly trying new things. Someday, I hope my day will come, but for now, I consume as much information as possible. And where I look is EarnersBlog.

I stumbled upon this site very recently, and I think I’ve already read every post that’s been written. I’m constantly checking my feed reader, hoping for new posts, and always reading the entire post. I use Google Reader, and for every post that comes in, I find myself hitting “V” to open the full post in another window, allowing me to read it all (note: his feed does not post the entire article, which is why I go to his site to finish reading). I normally get annoyed by this, but I’m glad in the case of EarnersBlog as it allows me to keep valuable posts open in my tabs so I don’t forget about them, and can continue to go back and read over things again. So far, I’ve found these posts to be very valuable:

$800 a day with Yahoo Answers: The title says it all. Answer people’s questions with concise, helpful answers, but take advantage of the opportunity to include your own affiliate links. And honestly, the better your answer, the more chance you’ll have to convert. Everybody wins (unless you’re lying to point people to your affiliate products, which isn’t very nice, but that’s up to all of us to find our comfort zone. I’ll keep to suggesting things I believe in.)
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Using Textile

I find Textile somewhat frustrating. I’m not really sure it’s better than HTML, because I have to learn so many random codes now. While it may be simpler than HTML, I’m not really sure it’s any easier to learn, especially since HTML actually uses tags that make sense semantically. For instance <strong> makes sense to me. I don’t have trouble remembering that. *strong* seems faster, but only once I’ve memorized it.

Anyway, I have to use it often, so here is my list of resources:

Textile Resources:

http://www.textism.com/tools/textile/
This site will take standard text, or textile input and output it as HTML. This lets you play with textile and dial in exactly how your site will look. This is great if you know HTML and are trying to learn textile for wikis or other CMS that requires textile input.

http://hobix.com/textile/
This is just a big list of tags ordered logically, with their HTML equivalent and a preview of how it would render.