Special WordPress Themes You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

twinkittens

What do you do when you want a new WordPress theme for your blog and you don’t want to pay for it? I’ll tell you what I used to do: I used to search the web for free themes, then customize them to fit my website. This is how I got to this blog’s theme: I tweaked a free one.

Earlier this year I started another interesting project, which I want all of you to benefit from. I started my own free WordPress themes collection: WPThemesGalore.com. I only have six themes for now, but I’m planning to add more. Almost all of them are built with HTML5 and Boilerplate, which means that they are awesome in terms of code. Well, Boilerplate is pretty awesome, sites and applications built on it are fast, robust and adaptable. If you look on the Boilerplate website, you can see that even NASA, Microsoft and Barack Obama use it.

Here are some of my free themes. For the rest, please visit my website mentioned above.

Shades of Gray

shades of gray themeThis was the first theme I made. It was before discovering Boilerplate, therefore it’s the only one which is not built on it. Even so, it’s still a very good theme, it is fast and clean, perfect for showcasing lots of photos. I’d choose it for a photography blog or for a cooking website. It is also suitable for business websites: just use pages, not posts in WordPress and make it look more like a common website than a blog. I can help you if you want, just drop me a comment and we can discuss various options. If you only need little tweaks, I can help you for free. For more substantial changes, I’m available for hire.

Twin Kittens

twinkittensAs the name suggests, this theme works best for a site about cats. This is a HTML5 Boilerplate theme. It is responsive. This means it adapts to the size of your screen and to your device. It will look different on a big computer screen, on an iPad or on an iPhone. It adapts to the device, in order to provide maximum of comfort and usability.

If you like it but you don’t want to write about a cat, you can easily change the background to something appropriate to your site’s theme. Don’t you know how to do it? Just ask me!

Restless Traveler

screenshotThis theme is also based on HTML5 and Boilerplate. I am using a customization of it on my personal blog. I made some changes in order to have it look the way I needed. I like the sidebar to be on the right side, therefore I changed it. I wanted a special type of posts to have a different layout: there is a section named Travel Photo of the Day, where I publish my coolest photos with barely any text. I wanted those images to be BIG because I love them and I want my readers to love them, too.

Which of these themes do you like most? Would you use any of them for your websites? I’m happy to have your feedback and to see my themes downloaded a lot.

How To Install WordPress Using cPanel and Simple Scripts

modern-devices

If you followed my previous lessons on how to make a website, you should already have a domain name and a hosting account. You should also have your DNS servers pointing at your webhosting company. Now it’s time to start building your website. If you don’t know too much about web design and programming, the best solution is to use a CMS. CMS stands for Content Management System and it enables you design and maintain a website using only text editing skills. There are many content management systems available. Out of all CMS systems, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are the most popular, as you can see from this article.

I like WordPress. Here’s why:

  • It installs in only a few clicks
  • There are many great-looking templates for it (some of them are free, some others not)
  • It makes it very easy to optimize your site for search engines (on-site optimization)
  • It is easy to update. Whenever there’s a new version, you see a note in your WordPress dashboard which gives you the possibility to upgrade your site with only one click.
  • It is very flexible. Widgets and custom menus allow you to configure the site as you wish. Do you need ads is your sidebar? Drag a new widget to the desired location, put your ad code in it and you’re done. Do you want a special menu containing only certain pages? You can do that with a few clicks.
  • Did I mention it is FREE? Maybe I should have started with this point.

How to install WordPress

If you don’t have cPanel or other similar software in your hosting account, you’ll need to download WordPress from WordPress.org, upload it on your server via ftp, create a database and a user, associate the user with the database, then follow the steps required by the installation script. It may sound scary, but it’s quite easy. Anyway, if you don’t want to go through all that, pick a webhost which provides cPanel.

For this tutorial I’ve chosen Bluehost. I’m going to setup a new WordPress site. I already bought the domain name, I changed its DNS servers to ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com and I added it to my hosting account. If you entered your domain name in the form when you bought the hosting, it would have been already added to your account so you don’t need to do it again. All you have to do is log into your cPanel and click on WordPress in the Simple Scripts section, as shown in the capture below:

Installing WordPress on a domain hosted with Bluehost

Installing WordPress on a domain hosted with Bluehost

Other cPanel hosting companies provide the WordPress installation via Fantastico. It’s as easy to use as Simple Scripts, but you need to click on Fantastico in the main dashboard, then choose WordPress from the sidebar.

In Bluehost, here’s what you see after you click on the WordPress button (as shown in my picture above):

You see all your previous WordPress installs, if any, and a button for installing WordPress on a new domain

You see all your previous WordPress installs, if any, and a button for installing WordPress on a new domain

As you can see from the image, you have two options: to go for a new installation or to import an existing one. If this is your first site, you want a new installation. If you are moving your old WordPress website from another webhost, you can import your backup here. Anyway, this tutorial is about installing a fresh version of WordPress not about moving websites.

The last step to installing WordPress on your Bluehost-hosted domain

The last step to installing WordPress on your Bluehost-hosted domain

Now you’ll see a progress bar for your WordPress installation. This should take a few seconds. When it is complete, you’ll be given the login details for your freshly installed WordPress website:

Login details of your WordPress installation

Login details of your WordPress installation

Your WordPress website is now ready. These details will be emailed to you, so you don’t have to worry in case you forget to save your password. Anyway, I’d say the next thing you should do is to log into your WordPress admin dashboard and change your password so you can remember it later.

If you want, you can start publishing articles right away. WordPress comes with a default template which looks quite nice, so you can use it until you find a layout you really like. There are a few other customizations you can do to make your WordPress system even better, but that’s going to be another lesson. You should subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss it.

How to Make a Website in 30 Lessons for Beginners

How to make a website
How to make a website

Image credit: mikekorn (sxc.hu)

Since I’ve started to do web design for a living, many of my friends asked me to teach them how to make a website. They thought it must have been very complicated, so they were a bit skeptical about their abilities to do it, considering their lack of coding skills. I’m happy to say that I’ve been quite successful with some of these people. They are now able to run professional-looking websites, without having to take expensive web design or programming classes. It’s not so hard to design modern interactive websites. It requires some work, of course, but it’s mainly 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration (I don’t remember who said that first, but I like it and I find it true in most cases).

Creating a website is much easier these days than it was ten years ago. It is also much cheaper. If you don’t care about having your own domain name, you can even have a site for free. However, going free is not such a good idea, because that means you are building your website on other people’s property. What happens if one day Blogger or Tumblr or WordPress.com decide to shut down their free blogs service? You lose your site. All your work would have been for nothing.

In the following lessons I’m going to explain what elements you need to make your own website, where you can get everything from and how much it would cost you. Today’s article is about domain names and webhosting.

Lesson No 1: What You Need To Build a Website

The two things you can’t do without are a domain name and a webhosting account. We are going to see what they are and how you can get them.

Domain Name

All websites have a URL address. You can imagine the Internet being a city, with websites instead of houses. Like houses in real cities have postal addresses where people can find them, websites have URL addresses. If you type the URL address in your Internet Browser, then hit Enter, you are taken to that specific site.

Domain names are regulated by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). They don’t sell names directly. There are other companies that act as ICANN accredited domain name registrars who sell them. Buying a domain name is a bit different than a real purchase. What you buy is the exclusive right to use that domain name for a specific period of time (usually for one year). At the end of this period of time you can choose either to renew your “ownership” for another year (which means you have to pay a fee again) or to let the name “expire” (which means that after a while it will become again available for anybody who might want it).

In order to pay for your domain name you’ll need a PayPal account or a credit card. Various registrars may provide other alternative payment options, but these two are probably the most common. You don’t need to have a company; domains can be purchased in personal name.

How to choose a domain registrar

I bought my first domain names from the first registrar I happened to find via web search. At that time I had a very vague idea about how websites work, so I was happy to see the registrar gave me one year of free hosting with my domain.

You should keep in mind that buying a domain name is not enough for having a website up and running. You also need web hosting (we are going to talk about this later).

The free hosting proved to be awful, so I moved my sites from there in less than one year. I wouldn’t recommend choosing providers based solely on freebies they give you.

Here are a few points to consider when choosing the registrar:

Automatic renewal:

If you fail to renew your domain name, you’ll lose it. Automatic renewal means that the registrar will automatically deduct the yearly fee from your PayPal or bank account you indicate them and extend your ownership before it expires.

24/7 customer support:

Various settings can be hard to find when you are a beginner, therefore it’s nice to have somebody answer your requests quickly. An active support forum would also be useful.

Price:

Prices for .com, .net and .org domains should be around $9-$15. If they are way more expensive, you should keep on looking. Some registrars have promotions and coupon codes, so sometimes you can get a domain name for less than $10. Keep in mind that different extensions have different prices. Here’s a list containing a few of the most common ones, with their prices.

Domain names prices at NameCheap

Domain names prices at NameCheap

The list above is from NameCheap, one of the most popular ICANN accredited registrars.

The first column, Registration, shows prices for domain names that are registered for the first time. For example, you just came up with an original name for your website and you want to buy it. In the second column you see prices for transferring a domain name from another registrar to NameCheap. If you are new to all this, transfer prices don’t matter, because you’ll be registering your domain name from new. The third column is interesting because you see how much you’ll have to pay per year after your first year is gone. If you want to buy a domain like myname.me, you’ll pay only $7.49 for the first year, but you’ll have to pay $19.99 for each subsequent year.

The following list is from GoDaddy:

Domain names prices at GoDaddy

Domain names prices at GoDaddy

You can see that if you want to buy the myname.me domain name from GoDaddy, you’ll have to pay $8.99 for the first year and $19.99 starting with the second year. This makes NameCheap better in case you want to buy a domain name ending in .me. Well, it’s not such a huge price difference, but I wanted to give you an example of how prices vary across registrars, therefore making it hard to say which of them is the best.

It is worth mentioning that both NameCheap and GoDaddy offer discount coupons, so you can save a few dollars if you find a coupon that works. If you go for NameCheap, you’ll also get free privacy protection, so I recommend you go with them.

Reputation:

You can search the web for “name of registrar + review”, but you’ll probably find mostly positive reviews. That’s because many registrars have affiliate programs which entitle people who send them traffic to get a commission each time a purchase is made. I use such affiliate programs on my site. You can use them too, if you want to make some money with your website, even if it’s only to pay for the domain name and hosting.

A more relevant search would be “name of registrar + forum”, because there are many people who discuss such issues in forums.

Convenience:

Some companies try to sell you additional services when you purchase a domain name. Arguably the most aggressive of all is GoDaddy. They show you at least two additional offers for things you don’t need before you actually get to see your domain in the shopping cart and pay for it. I started to be fed up with that. I’ve got almost all my domain names from GoDaddy but I’m strongly considering moving them to NameCheap, just to get rid of this annoying upselling.

Keep in mind that you can always move your domain name to another registrar, so it’s not worth spending too much time on this. Just get it from one of the big players such as NameCheap or GoDaddy. You can transfer it after a couple of months if you are not happy.

Here’s a form where you can easily check whether or not a domain name is available:

Check Domain Availability:

The above form is offered by Bluehost. They would give you the domain name for free if you host it with them. I recommend Bluehost to my clients who need a cheap and reliable webhosting solution.This is all for now. Go get your domain name and your hosting, then we are going to see how to link the two of them together and how to use cPanel to install WordPress and manage your website.

ZAGGfolio for iPad 2: Review of a Perfect iPad 2 Accessory from ZAGG

ZAGGfolio has a built-in bluetooth keyboard

Special May 2012 update: Memorial Day comes with 50% off for many ZAGG products, so now it’s the best time to buy those accessories you always wanted but didn’t quite afford. Click on the banner below to go to the discount page:

However, the ZAGGfolio for the new iPad which was just announced on March 7th is already available. Check out the ZAGGfolio for the new iPad here:




I’m a fan of naked gadgets, so it’s hard to motivate me to buy a cover or a case, no matter how many brilliant reviews it may have. I must to admit, though, that I’m impressed with the newest all-in-one iPad 2 keyboard, cover and stand, ZAGGfolio. ZAGGfolio is the latest creation of ZAGG, the well-known personal electronics accessories manufacturer. It’s the second time I’m impressed by ZAGG. A few months ago I was sure ZAGGmate was the best choice for turning the iPad into a mini-laptop. For the new iPad 2, ZAGGmate has a new name: it’s the Logitech Keyboard case by ZAGG. I still think ZAGGmate/Logitech is great, but ZAGGfolio is even better because it offers additional protection and comfort while on the go.

ZAGGfolio Features

Slim design, great protection:

The folio is made of carbon fiber. This makes it extremely tough, even though it is thin. The interior of the folio is made from microfiber, excellent shock absorber. The iPad is safe inside, even when commuting. As far as I see on the ZAGG website, the ZAGGfolio is available in only one color, a sort of dark gray or black. I wish they made the folio in purple or red as well, but I guess they want to stick to the serious registry with this one.

Built-in Bluetooth keyboard:

ZAGGfolio has a built-in bluetooth keyboard

ZAGGfolio has a built-in bluetooth keyboard

The virtual keyboard is nice, but it’s not good for speed typing. By using ZAGGfolio’s wireless keyboard, you can type pretty fast, with good accuracy. The keyboard can be paired with as many iPads as you wish, but it can be used with only one iPad at a time.
Being connected via Bluetooth, the keyboard remains connected to the iPad, even if you remove either one from the folio. The top row on the keyboard is dedicated to special function keys, which will make you more productive, because you’ll be able to access controls such as music, volume, search, copy and paste very fast.
The keyboard comes with a 510 mAh lithium polymer rechargeable battery. It has an impressive battery life which provides weeks of use between two charges. I find it nice that it has a charging light which turns off when fully charged. I don’t like to have my appliances plugged into the power supply longer than necessary. I don’t know how much money I save like that, but limiting unneeded energy consumption is good for our planet, so why not take care?

Flexibility:

ZAGGfolio - keyboard and stand for the iPad 2

ZAGGfolio – case, keyboard and stand for the iPad 2

If you want to use the ZAGG folio as a stand and remove the keyboard from it, you can. You can place your iPad on the folio stand and use the keyboard from a distance. If you prefer, you can remove both the iPad 2 and the keyboard from the folio and use them together, just like you use the ZAGGmate with keyboard. The keyboard will work with the iPad 2 in both landscape and portrait orientation. I’m not sure why I would like to have it working both ways with the keyboard, but maybe other people appreciate that, so I thought it’s worth mentioning it.

ZAGGfolio Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 19 ounces (539 grams)
    • Keyboard only: 11.5 ounces (326 grams)
    • Folio only: 7.5 ounces (213 grams)
  • Length: 9.75 inches (247 mm)
  • Width: 7.625 inches (193 mm)
  • Depth: .9 inches (23 mm)

What is included in the box: iPad folio, keyboard, keyboard battery, USB to micro-USB charging cable, user manual.


It’s hard to decide which is better: the Logitech Keyboard case by ZAGG for iPad 2 or the ZAGGfolio. I like Logitech a lot, but it needs additional protection. The back of the iPad 2 and the back of the keyboard case are exposed. It’s an easy fix, there’s an invisibleSHIELD for that. Nonetheless, ZAGGfolio doesn’t need any other accessory to be complete. It’s also more convenient, because you can have an iPad stand and use the keyboard from a distance.

As ZAGGfolio has just been released, there are barely any reviews out there. Yet, I believe positive reviews will appear as soon as the first units will start shipping and will arrive at their destinations. When I’ll buy my iPad2, I’m going to order a ZAGGfolio as well. It’s only $99 and you get a keyboard, a cover and a stand. It’s truly the all-in-one iPad 2 companion. If you get one before I do, I’d love to hear your review in the comments here. Thank you.

August 1st update: People who got their ZAGG folios reported that there’s an issue with the clasp: it doesn’t always latch properly. After my commenter, Mark, mentioned it (thank you again, Mark) I checked and found other people commenting on this. If you consider buying the ZAGGfolio, you may want to check out some more reviews. There are people who gave their opinion on ZAGG’s blog, so you can take a look before placing your order.
Interesting news: ZAGG is selling ZAGGsolo, which is the bluetooth keyboard, sold separately, without any case or cover. To see it, you need to go to “Accessories” on ZAGG’s website, then choose the second option.

How Did Our Ancestors Entertain Themselves? A Brief History Of Gambling

poker1

Since ancient times, humans needed food and entertainment. There are sources showing that around the year 2300 B.C, the Chinese were already using dice. Since then, gambling evolved into a multi-billion industry, thus becoming a major international commercial activity. Lotteries, casinos and bingo rooms are all common in our modern world. Most countries have their own lottery, accessible to anyone who wishes to get rich overnight with only a $2 ticket. As we all know what the odds of winning such lotteries are, you can imagine what an excellent revenue source the gambling industry is for the state. Additionally, the taxes in this industry are pretty high, thus making it even more profitable for the state.
The history of gambling in the US shows that this activity was regulated in waves, as it started to become a problem for the colonies, at least from the point of view of the financial backers of these colonies. Nonetheless, the Crown permitted lotteries to raise money for colonial ventures. Eventually, such lotteries were banned, as they were thought to rob England of money.

Gambling is associated with a spirit of adventure, risk taking and bold attitudes, so it has always been embraced by adventurous spirits who refused to obey orders from a higher authority. As this CNN article shows, luck and “balls of steel” are the secret of gambling legends.

Anyway, today’s gambling landscape is split between the real world and online facilities. There are thousands of websites like casino netbet, where people can open accounts and play their favorite games right from the comfort of their homes. Such websites can be an excellent source of entertainment, provided that their users are responsible and they don’t spend more money than they can afford. As a matter of fact, this is a safe way of pumping some adrenaline through one’s veins and a way of maintaining the alertness of the brain. Winning at games such as poker, backgammon and Black Jack is more than a matter of luck, as it has to do with your skills, knowledge and experience to a certain degree. You need to know the rules and to have specific strategies that can increase your odds of winning. Besides, the more you play, the better you understand the psychology of other players. Many professional bridge players and mathematicians are fans of this kind of gambling.

Unfortunately, there’s also the reverse of the coin, many people developing addictions that drag them into ruining their lives for the sake of gambling. Many times, these are poor, hopeless people who are desperately trying to make ends meet. They get attracted by the mirage of overnight riches, so they try harder with every single failure they experience. They always believe the next time is going to be their lucky one, so they have to play again in order to put an end to their misery. Actually, they are the casualties of an industry which is not bad in its essence, as it brings nice revenues for the state and quenches the adrenaline thirst of millions of people. Gambling has been here since ancient times and it’s going to be part of our society for many years to come, as it caters to one of the biggest needs of the human being.

4 Ways iPhone Spy App Can Boost Your Business Revenue in Days

Gratitude, empathy, ask, probe and confirm, preview, review, closing sales gently! God knows what other motivating words a sales manager uses to inspire and encourage his/her employees in order to boost company sales. May be “The Wolf of Wall Street” is the best movie to see for such motivational speeches. Isn’t it?

But what an ordinary sales manager does not do is that he/she does not make sure whether his/her employees are actually adhering to the given instructions or not. If you’re a sales manager, tell me honestly how much time you actually spent monitoring your employees after your regular motivational speech. Wait! I am not asking you to spend your precious time to physically monitor your employees, but you can use an iPhone spy app to monitor their activities remotely.

Let me tell you 4 ways how iPhone spy software can monitor sales’ employees remotely without even letting them know about it:

1. Listening Live

Employees often manipulate the absence of a manager on field and waste their time in useless gossiping or carrying out personal tasks.

But with iPhone monitoring, employers can listen live to their phone’s surrounding at any time they want and hence they can remotely keep a check and balance on their employees’ activities.

2. Location Tracking

Sometimes, sales people pretend to be working in the field but actually they’re enjoying at home or at some other place. Employers only get to know when the sales targets are not met at the end of the month.

But through iPhone spy software you can easily track your employees’ travel routes and current GPS location on a map remotely. It will certainly help the employers to achieve the maximum productivity level and firing the lazy doers.

3. Financial Management

 

Most organizations offer an official phone service for sale workers to ease their communication with the customers. However, it has been seen that sometimes employees also use their official phone facility to accomplish their personal tasks and ultimately mobile bills are borne by the organization itself.

Here, your monitoring app such as FlexiSpy review will definitely be helpful to employers as they can see their employees’ call history, view/received SMS and internet history to ensure that official phones should only be used for professional purposes.

4. Geo-Fencing

Afraid of sales people revealing company’s confidential details to your competitors? Well, this will not be possible if you’re consistently monitoring their online and offline activities. For online monitoring, effective iPhone spy apps provide various features such as call recording, Skype messages, Viber messages and Gmail activities.

Moreover, you can create danger and safe zones for your employees. Your monitoring application will notify you at once whenever they enter any danger zones.

So now you don’t have to fear about your monthly sales targets not being met! Just get a powerful iPhone monitoring app and make your employees work efficiently.

Website Redesign: So Many Options, One Possible Choice

redesign my websites

redesign my websitesI decided to redesign all my websites as soon as I have a little time. I took a look into the best website design practices in 2014 and I can tell you there are a few trends I love and I’d like to implement them all. Unfortunately, I must choose one concept or another and stick with it, so it’s going to be hard.

When browsing through the samples on the site I mentioned earlier, I noticed a list of features every good website should have and I can say I agree with it. That’s what I’m going to follow as a frame for all sites. Regarding the trends in design, I’d surely make all my sites responsive, using the “mobile first” approach. Infinite scroll could be a great idea for my travel blog, but for this one, I’d rather choose something with a big slider on the front page and a list of the main categories with 2-3 excerpts from the latest posts for each category. Since this is a site that’s meant to help people solve various problems, I think it’s important to be easy to navigate to your desired information. Infinite scroll is more for entertaining site, the ones you read more for relaxation and less for learning how to do various things or how to solve various problems.

Regardless the design trend I’m going to follow, I want a big call to action on all the sites. This is what I did wrong until now: I didn’t want visitors to do anything, I was just happy they were here, reading my posts and leaving awesome comments. I should have thought to retain them somehow, on an email list, so that I can keep in touch with them each time I have interesting stuff to show them.

What do you think? How would you like this website to be redesigned? I’m open for suggestions, so don’t be afraid to have your say in the comments! Thank you!

Cool Methods For Passing Your Time In A Pleasant Way

time passing methods

If you are the kind of person who works hard from 9 to 5, chances are you want to relax and enjoy your life for the rest of the day. It basically doesn’t matter how you pass your time, as long as you enjoy what you do. Freelancers, however, may not be so willing to waste their precious hours or minutes, as they always calculate how much money their time is worth, thus thinking that if they spend the time in useless activities, they actually lose all the money they don’t earn during all that time.

What do 9 to 5 workers do in their spare time?

I asked a few people I know who work regular jobs and I’ve got various answers. Some prefer to work on their hobbies, others enjoy meeting friends for a chat and a drink, others relax watching TV and eating popcorn. Some others play computer games. I can somehow relate to this category of people, as I was quite an avid player myself a a few years ago. One of my Canadian friends spends a lot of time on Red Flush casino games. It’s somehow cool to play such games, although I would trade them for Bridge at any given time. Bridge is a game where luck has very little influence on the result, while poker, slots, craps or Blackjack are mainly games based on luck. If you don’t get lucky hands, you can be the smartest person in the whole world and you are still going to lose.

Why do something, anyway?

Humans are social beings. It seems that we are inclined to go out, meet others and interact with them. We are also competitive spirits, hence the need of playing games in which we compete against our peers. We like to be the best, we like to be admired and envied by others and, most of all, those of us who believe in luck hope a day will come when they are going to win the big pot at some game, so that they can quit their 9 to 5 job for good and relax somewhere, on a deserted beach in Asia or in Latin America.

Do you believe in luck? Do you buy lottery tickets each and every week? Have you already won and quit your job, and you are reading my article from one of those pristine beaches we all dream about whenever the weather gets too hot to work?

What Do You Do When You Are Not Busy At Work?

pac-man-191110-m

pac-man-191110-mHave you ever heard the saying “games for receptionists” when talking about online arcade type games or board games? This may sound funny, but when your work is to sit all day long on a chair and wait for people to come in or for the phone to ring, you need to do something to make the time pass faster. Of course, you can always read a book, but that requires focusing, so it’s easier to just find some cool games and try your skills at shooting ducks or your luck at playing slots or poker.

Types of Games People Play

Many companies allow their employees to play online games or use social networks in their spare time at work, provided that they do their job properly. If I think about my former work places, I remember most receptionists loved to play Miniclip type games. They were able to let letters or bombs drop on the screen and form words for hours without showing any signs of boredom. One of them was a big fan of Sokoban, the game that provoked so many people from my generation to think. I still smile when I remember the little guy pushing crates in those mazes, hoping to place them in the right position.

People in the research and IT departments were rather fans of strategy games. Electronic Arts was the company of choice, as their games were extremely popular and highly interactive. This was also one of my favorites. It’s funny that, many years after I stopped playing, I became addicted again with a game called Plants vs. Zombies. The surprise was that EA was the producer of the game. It seems I like their style, that’s why I’m always attracted to their games.

My colleagues in the marketing department were rather inclined towards entertainment like this free cleopatra slot game. Actually most people I knew tried to find and play only free games online. It took a long time before they discovered paid games you can play in the network with players from all over the world like Warcraft or Heroes of Might and Magic.

Now I have this question for you: have you ever played computer games at work? If the answer is yes, can you tell me what kind of games were your favorites?

 

 

Tips on Working Smarter and Saving Time

tips for working smarter

Time is money in the workplace. There’s just no two ways about it. If you’re wasting your time with inefficiency, the company as a whole suffers. Making sure you’re working smarter and saving time in everything you do will help you to get more done, which translates into the company making more money. There are quite a few things you can do to make sure you’re more efficient in the way you handle yourself around the office. Here are a few ways you can get more done in a shorter period of time.

Make the Time for Responding to Communication

tips for working smarterMost people have about four different ways others are trying to get in touch with them. Whether you’re being asked to jump in on some web conferencing, answer a phone call, respond to an email or reply to a text, people want to talk to you all day long. If you stop everything you’re doing every time you get interrupted by one of these devices trying to grab your attention, you’re not going to get a lot done. Even if you do get a lot done, you’re not going to provide very good quality work. Instead of trying to multi-task, which is a human impossibility, you should ignore or turn off your devices while you’re working on something important, according to Smead. No one trying to get in touch with you will be upset that you’re not always available for calls or email interaction. In fact, if it’s a client trying to get in touch with you, they’ll be happy to know you take your work so seriously that you cannot be disturbed while you’re engrossed. If you absolutely cannot turn off your devices, you might want to create a different ring tone for anyone you have to pay attention to whenever they call.

Meet Smarter, Not More Often

Meetings can be a big drain on your time. As such, you need to be smart in how you’re handling yourself in your meetings. Smart Company suggests doing more than just concentrating on the meeting itself, but also looking for alternatives to meetings. Using web conferencing is a great way you can streamline what you need to accomplish in meetings simply because you can go right from one meeting to another without having to get up from your desk. You can talk with people throughout the world without having to pause for anything more than initiating the next meeting. Schedule all of your meetings in a block and make sure you run the meetings efficiently, so everything is covered as quickly as possible and you can move along to the next one. If possible, make sure someone else is taking notes and have them provide you with a summary of everything that was covered in the meeting. This way, you can simply concentrate on the discussion and you won’t have to waste any time pausing to jot something down.

Minimize Your Downtime

The last thing you want to do is to schedule your day within an inch of its life, but you also don’t want to have big gaps of time where you have nothing going on. Instead, you should create a flexible schedule so you have less downtime scheduled into your day, according to Reliable Plant. Make sure you create your schedule by priority. If you have a potential for something to overlap in your schedule, make sure the thing that would suffer is something of a low priority, so you can slough it off until a time when you can schedule it back into your day. If your schedule doesn’t overlap, don’t push off the lower priority stuff, but get it done and find something else to fill your schedule. You’re much better off ending your workday early than you are in taking big breaks throughout the day. Just remember how difficult it is to come back from any break and you’ll understand why.

Organize Your Thoughts

Any time you’re going to need to speak with someone, you should take a little time to organize your thoughts. Tips on Career and Money suggest writing down talking points prior to any conversation. The last thing you want is to get off the phone with someone and realize you didn’t bring up something important. Not only is it embarrassing to call back and try to bring up the point, but it’s unprofessional because now you’re encroaching on someone else’s time. Have a clear cut goal in mind before you ever dial someone’s number. This way, you can stick to the script and make sure you’re saying everything you need to say. If you’re not sure what you’re looking to get out of a conversation, it’s not as important as you might have thought and you should just call when you have something real to talk about.

Popular T-shirt Trends You Can Cash in on Now

tshirts

Everyone loves a T-shirt, but selling yours means you have to come up with an idea for a shirt that people will want to wear on a regular basis. The good news is that many of the ideas that will help you to sell shirts have already been thought up. Taking advantage of different trends in the marketplace allows you to sell more shirts without betting the farm on an idea you came up with on your own. Following a trend is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re going to sell shirts. Here are a few trends you can get on board with right now that will help you to sell as many shirts as you want.

Go Green to Sell More Shirts

tshirtsThe green trend is not going anywhere any time soon. People are more willing to make a purchase based on the knowledge that the purchase will go to help with a green initiative, or simply that their purchase helps to show off their dedication to being green. If you’ve been thinking about how to make t shirts, consider coming up with a graphic that announces the wearer is involved in a green initiative. A good example of a catchy slogan to encompass this idea is “this shirt is a future car cleaning rag.” Anything that shows the wearer intends to not only wear the shirt for a long period of time, but will repurpose the shirt afterwards, is a good idea when looking to sell more shirts.

Hawaiian Print Shirts Are Flashy and Fun

It used to be that a prerequisite for any beach vacation was to purchase a Hawaiian shirt. This vacation trend has fallen by the wayside in recent years, but now the trend is to wear these flashy shirts as a part of regular fashion. The modern day hipsters like to wear anything they consider to be ironic, so a Hawaiian print shirt falls squarely into this category. When you’re creating a shirt using this kind of design, you may want to include a graphic that pokes fun at the very design of the shirt. This announces to everyone who sees the shirt that the wearer is being ironic by wearing the flashy shirt. This is a very hip trend, but it is not likely to last for very long. The best-selling Hawaiian-style print shirts include one solid color and a single color overlay. White is generally the color for the overlay.

Being Novel Is a Design That Sells

Novelty shirts are highly popular right now. These include everything from outdated cultural references to long dead band names. Even old political campaign slogans have been identified as a good idea for how to make t shirts that will sell. The best way to present the novelty shirt is to have the graphic be the centerpiece of the shirt. Having the shirt itself in a solid color with the graphic in the center of the shirt will help the graphic to stand out even more. When making a graphic for an outdated shirt slogan or band name, it has become quite popular to make the graphic itself faded. This makes the shirt appear as something the wearer has possessed for decades. The well from which you can draw on for these types of T-shirts is seemingly unlimited in potential. There are so many classic sources of ideas for you to draw upon that you should never run out of ideas.

Seasonal Shirts Are Always Popular

T-shirts were originally sold to the public as undershirts or shirts to be worn during the summer. These days, T-shirts are worn practically year round. The idea is to come up with a cadre of shirts for every season. Beach scene shirts are highly popular. To create seasonal shirts, think about the types of activities people enjoy doing during that season and then create shirts with scenes of these kinds of activities on them. Make sure the color of the shirt itself conveys the season. Summer scenes are best with bright colors or white. Winter scenes are best with darker colors or black.

You can even combine trends by incorporating outdated, or vintage, graphics with seasonal shirts. These are popular with a growing section of the public. By staying in tune with the current trends in the marketplace, you can develop T-shirt ideas with sales potential. You don’t have to go to the fashion shows to find out what the latest trends are. All of the information you need is available to you through magazines and on the Internet. Make sure you’re constantly checking in on these trends so you won’t ever get behind the times. This will help you to prevent losing money on an outdated idea.

The Latest Poker Apps for Social Media Today

poker2

poker1I’ve always enjoyed card games. In my childhood, I used to play a lot of them with my friends. I even remember how my father taught my brother and myself how to play poker. It was so much fun! We never played for real money, we just used beans instead, but even so, the thrills were still there because all we wanted was to play and win and have fun in the process.

These being said, fast forward a few decades and here we are, in an age when people interact with computers and mobile devices more than with other humans. We sit around the dining table, having breakfast together, but staring at our tablets rather than communicating with each other. We check our mobiles while dancing with our partners, we use mobile apps to order food or taxis and we can’t live without being connected at all times.

Back to poker, I discovered I can still play a lot of it, even if my friends are all too busy. I found some cool poker apps for social media and I want to share them with you. I’m not going to write in-depth reviews of any of the apps, my intention is to gather all them together in this post which will serve me as a reference later on.

Gambino Poker

This app is cool, it features amazing 3D tables and it offers you the chance to play with people from all over the world. It works straight inside Facebook, so you can stay connected with your friends while enjoying the game. You can play only with the free chips you get daily or you can buy more chips if you want some more adrenaline rush.

The app works on both Android and iPhone, but you can play it on your laptop or desktop computer as well.

Zynga Poker

This is another cool app where you can quench your thirst for poker. The more you play, the more experience you get inside the game, thus being able to unlock various rewards and bonuses. I’m still to unlock anything, but I have hope I’ll become a better player if I stick to it long enough. If you invite your friends to play, you can earn chips so you don’t have to pay for them. This app is also available both in iTunes and Android Market.

Appeak Poker

poker2This app has a clean graphics but it’s less spectacular than the previous ones. The good thing about it is that it’s very easy to follow the game play, so it’s perfect even for beginners. I think I can call myself a beginner, so I’m probably going to use this app a lot for improving my skills and for gaining more experience. The only currency available in this app is play money, which I think is a great thing. I’m not quite ready to spend my real money on games, although I heard it’s possible to make quite a nice living on poker, if you’re good at it.

If you know about other similar apps for Facebook or for mobile devices, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. I’m always looking for new things to try. I might even get my nephew, Alex to make a poker app for Facebook. Who knows, we might get rich!

Taking Your Business to the Streets

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Running a small business often requires you to think outside the box or, in this case, outside the store. If you have a product that you sell, whether it is a delicious type of food, a special handmade craft, or carefully grown fresh produce, moving it from an interior store to an outdoor market can be an excellent way to boost sales on days that are conducive to big profits. While you might not want to conduct most of your business this way, you can find a few days a month on which your sales can increase simply by making your sales location portable. Variety is good business.

Where to Set Up

The first place to look is for any sort of open air market that takes place in or near your city. These usually happen on weekends and usually get started in the morning, so you’ll have to be prepared to spend your Saturday and/or Sunday morning working, but the profits can really outweigh the inconvenience in these cases. Many cities have a weekly market or a farmer’s market at which vendors set up booths and tables and sell their wares to passing customers. You can register for one of these tables by contacting the organization that runs the market. Even if there is a fee involved for having a selling space, it will probably be quickly offset by your increased sales. Most people who visit the market are likely to pass by your table and this is a great way to get your product out there and attract new customers. Also, keep some business cards available on your table for customers to take with them, so that they can buy more of your product later at your store or from your website. And getting the message of your business out to as many possible customers as possible will mean long-term profits in the long run.

How to Set Up

Once you have your location and days planned, you need to make sure your retail stand is ready to handle a large amount of sales in one day, and that you are prepared to take payment from all your new customers. You should invest in a portable credit card reader, which will allow you to take credit and debit card payments even if you are not connected to your usual cash register system. These can often be attached to tablets or even smartphones, allowing you to run your transactions remotely and still receive electronic payments. Since not everyone carries cash, and those who do will be limited in how much cash they have to spend, taking electronic payments will greatly increase the likelihood that people will buy your product and that they will buy more of it.

Setting up shop outside your usual physical store takes some preparation, but its good business and the profits can make it very worthwhile. Make sure that you always comply with your city’s regulations in regards to sales in public areas, and that you are always prepared with necessities, like a cash box, enough cash change, and a means by which to give customers receipts. Then enjoy your new way of not only selling your product, but also attracting new customers, and the profits it will reap for your business.

Good Link Building Can Boost Your Site’s Authority

SEO

September 2013 update: LoudLaunch is a scam and you shouldn’t pay for any of their services. They failed to pay their business partners.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It comprises a set of measures aimed to “broadcast” authority signals to search engines. When search engine spiders visit your website, they look for such clues that tell them “Hey, look! This site is an authority in such and such an area of expertise, so it should be ranked first!”

Websites need SEO in order to be found in searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo or other similar engines. Just developing a website and filling it with content doesn’t help much, if you want it to be visible. This is where SEO companies come into play: they evaluate your website from the SEO standpoint, then they make a report which shows the strengths and weaknesses of your site. After that, they take the weak points one by one and fix them. For example, if very few other sites link to yours, you may need an SEO link building campaign to strengthen your authority on the Internet.

Following this example, click here to see how Loudlaunch was rated number 2 Best Link Building Company in Canada, in March 2013. When it comes to SEO and most of all to link building, you need to be very cautious when you choose a company to use. A wrong move from your SEO provider and you’ll sink in Google as if you never existed. Good link builders know very well Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, for instance. They will make sure everything they do complies with these rules, so your website won’t get penalized because of unacceptable practices. They will permanently stay alert and up to date with the latest news from search engines. If they are really outstanding, they will find creative ways of making other webmasters mention your website and link to it from theirs.

What do you think? Is link building a must-have or can can one do without it just as well?

Where Are You Now, 25 Years Later?

How to find people onlineJust when I thought I discovered what’s missing from the internet, I found out my idea has already been done. To start with the beginning, it all started when my best friend said she wanted to find some of her school mates for the 25 years after graduation reunion. Those people were not on Facebook, they were not on LinkedIn, they were nowhere to be found online. The means of finding people who don’t have social network profiles are next to zero, at least so we imagined. So, just when we thought we found the Holy Grail, the missing piece from the online puzzle, I came across a website which promised not only to find any person, but to show you who’s searching for you online.

The Zip code database at MyLife.com is probably huge. I typed in a few friends of mine and I got a result each and every time. Then I searched for myself. After a few seconds of retrieving information from the internet, a profile of myself was displayed on the screen. I was curious to see what they had about me so I clicked on the profile. Nothing was revealed, I was invited to sign up in order to be able to access the information. So I did. The profiles are visible only for paying members. I chose not to pay, although the fees were quite small. I didn’t have an urge to find somebody, so I was happy with the access to services for free members.

What you can do in MyLife when you’re not looking for people from your past

The website features a dashboard enabling you to manage all your communications from one place. You connect your Twitter, your Facebook, your AOL, your Yahoo and your Gmail account, then you can check them all at once, read and reply to messages without having to leave the site. This is pretty cool, if you are addicted to a few of those services.

Another thing you can do is browse a list of people organized by zip codes. If you want more than the name, however, you need to go for one of the paid memberships.

If you are single and bore, you can try their Quick Match Singles service. You take a short quiz, then you are presented a list of matches. This service is for people living in America only.

Anyway, I’ll tell my friend about MyLife.com, maybe she manages to find her colleagues. I hope she does. I’ll be back to tell you the story.

How Hard It Is To Make Security Badges For Your Building?

Business cards


Have you ever had to wear a Security badge when you entered a building? If you did, you probably noticed it’s not just a simple piece of plastic. Many badges have a magnetic stripe on them, which triggers the opening of the doors. That’s why they call them security badges after all: they should allow you access where other people can’t go. Another type of card looks just like a plastic coin, but it includes something which makes doors open. That’s the kind of thing I have for the entrance door in my building. It’s annoying that I need to keep it handy when I come home, but it helps lower the theft rate.

Just in case you wonder how those badges are made, you can find idea here, but I can tell you upfront: they are printed on special printers. It’s just that simple and it can be quite fast. There are high speed printers which can produce as many as 1000 badges per hour. I have no idea how much a machine like that costs, but I guess it’s expensive. For companies who need only a limited number of badges, it’s probably better to outsource their production to a Badge maker. There is an entire industry revolving around security measures, from Badge maker devices to ID card accessories, strap clips, badge holders or even chains and lanyards. I’m impressed that one can even print badges that come with RFID encoding, IC chips or security lamination. These things used to sound like science-fiction not so long ago, do you remember?

Probably because these are easier to get, are why more and more buildings require residents to use cards or badges. I’m not a very big fan of these security systems, because I feel like my freedom and it is restricted to some degree, but who am I to say this? I’ve never been robbed after all.

Get More Exposure For Your Brand With Event Marketing

Event marketing


Event marketingEvents are fun, but that’s not their only purpose. Companies organize or sponsor events with PR objectives in mind. They usually aim to create or increase awareness for a brand, product or service. The idea is to get as much coverage as possible for the money spent. You can see event sponsorships everywhere around you. For example, have you noticed in sports competitions that there are banners displayed at the location of the event? Or maybe you’ve noticed that sportsmen wear shirts branded with the sponsor’s logo. National festivals, sports competitions, music festivals, exhibitions, all these are great opportunities for companies to get some exposure by becoming sponsors of the event.

The role of Event Marketing Companies is to enable such actions. They can help a sponsor company with the logistics of collecting information from the event location. They can shoot the whole event and streamline it on the internet. They can take professional photos. They can write press releases and send them to journalists. Event Marketing Companies will also help you monitor the post-event press coverage, so you can see what your ROI was.

Event Marketing is a big deal. It can really provide a lot of publicity for way less money than traditional TV and print ads. Organizing and marketing an event is not a simple job. It requires a lot of time and effort, in order to achieve the objectives without spending more than what you have budgeted. This is why so many sponsors and event organizers make use of third parties to help them with everything. It’s cheaper to get this kind of support instead of hiring staff to do everything and buy the needed equipment.

Are you a business owner? Do you use sponsorships as part of your marketing plan? Do you handle them by yourself or are you rather willing to outsource them? If you want to know more about the services provided by such companies, you can click here.

Save Time And Money For Your Business With Conference Calls

ZAGGfolio - keyboard and stand for the iPad 2


As telecommuting starts to be more and more time consuming, business owners have realized the advantages of allowing their team members to work from home. It’s also true that there can be downsides to this approach. Productivity might be lower, because of various temptations that could prevent a person from doing their job in a timely manner. However, for companies that choose to allow their staff to work from home, conference calls are a must, in order to stay connected and to make sure everybody is on the right track with their work progress.

Why conference calls? Because, like in real face-to-face meetings, there are situations when input from the team members is required, and all other members need to be able to hear it and to give feedback right on the spot. I work from home myself and I can tell you a conference call is better than an exchange of emails with everybody on cc. Of course written communication is also needed, just in case people forget what has been agreed during the meeting, but it can’t replace direct dialogue.

In order to organize a conference call, you need somebody to provide you with the service. I know Skype does provide the possibility to have voice calls with more than two parties involved, but video is not available unless you buy the premium subscription, which I don’t know the cost of off hand. Maybe it’s more convenient to go with companies that have in their offer pay-as-you-go plans or monthly minute plans. I haven’t studied the offers in detail, but I can tell you such services come pretty cheap, at only a few cents per minute. If you have to organize a conference with thousands of people at the same time, like a launch event or a business presentation, you can choose an operator assisted conference call. The operator will make sure all the technical details are in order. She will handle the call for you, so all you need to care about is focusing on your message.

If you are interested in this topic, you can see more ideas here.

What Is SEO And How Can I Get It?


My friends come from various walks of life. Some of them are artists, others are doctors, writers or lawyers. They don’t quite understand what I do for a living, so this article is written for them, because I want to make it a bit clearer about what SEO is, and how long it may take to have people actually visit the site when they are coming straight from search engines.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is the science which teaches you how to arrange information on your site in order to make the search engines understand that it is relevant to particular key phrases. This doesn’t mean SEO only focuses on writing for robots. It also makes sure your text or posts, are written with the human visitor in mind. However, you can write brilliant articles, but if your keyword doesn’t appear once on your page, how on Earth can the search engines associate your website with that particular keyword? And why would you need that, anyway? Well, because it’s free, targeted traffic. It’s exactly the kind of public who would buy your product and they just come to your site without you having to pay anything.

Nonetheless, there’s the time factor you should strongly consider: SEO doesn’t perform wonders overnight. It may take many months and years to build the authority of your website, making search engines recognize you and rank you higher, and causing people to come back to your site over and over again. You could imagine SEO like a beanstalk which grows and grows for a long time before you are being able to enjoy the fruit of it. Speaking of this illustration, did you know there’s an SEO services provider which is called “beanstalk”? It may sound funny, but you can have a look at their website, because they explain a bit more about what SEO is about and how they work in order to avoid sites being penalized by the search engines. Penalties are not to be overlooked, they are serious and could be permanent, so it’s better to avoid any bad practices and over-optimization that may lead you to lose rankings and traffic.

Whatever route you may choose for your website’s SEO, you’d better read the Google Webmasters Guide. It is free and you can find it by doing a simple search in Google. It will explain to you what they consider as quality, when it comes to websites. After you read it, we can discuss it, if you want. I’d be happy to.

Five Great Tips for Getting More Traffic to Your Site

Website traffic tips


Website traffic tipsYour website is useless if there are no eyes seeing it; and making it more visible to lots of people may or may not help your ROI. In order to make the most of your time and money, what you need is targeted traffic. You want specific visitors on your site, not just to increase web site traffic for the sake of it. After you attract potential customers, you need to give them products to view, evaluate and hopefully buy. However, that’s another issue. In today’s article, we are going to focus only on getting targeted traffic to your website. Here are my tips for you, and hopefully you’ll come back here and comment, telling me how much your traffic has increased as a consequence following my advice.

1. Do keyword research for the main topic of your site. A good tool for estimating search volumes is the Keyword Estimation Tool for Google. It is free and very easy to use. Make a list of 10-20 keywords which have the most amount of estimated traffic, then use them in your articles.

2. Write long articles. The more you write, the more chances you have that people will find you on Google for various searches. This is not to say you should write nonsense to space. Always make a point and give useful information to your readers.

3. Join one or two social networks and be active. Being active doesn’t only mean making lots of friends. It also means giving them interesting information, helping them and socializing with them on a daily basis.

4. Join the most important discussion forums in your niche. Try to establish yourself as a specialist. If you’re good, people will follow you. They will visit your site, they will subscribe to your newsletter, they will even buy your products. Being an established specialist usually pays off.

5. Join Quora. It is a great source for knowledge and has huge traffic. Use it to your advantage. Find questions related to your articles, answer them and leave a link for people to be able to read more about the respective topic on your page.

I can’t promise you heaps of traffic, but you’ll definitely see an improvement if you follow these tips. I’m using them myself and they work pretty well.

Cell Phone Spying: Good or Bad?

Mobil phone spying: moral or immoral?I just came across a topic which I only thought possible in James Bond movies: cell phone spying. My first thought was that it’s horrible. Then I encountered a different opinion: there was a parent who thought mobile spy technology could actually be a life saver for naive children who could get in trouble if they do things without parental supervision. Another person who stated such software was useful was a business owner, happy to be able to monitor how her employees behaved during client meetings. While I don’t have a problem with being aware of the employee behavior, I believe they are entitled to know their boss is watching their every move. It’s not an awesome way of managing a team either, but at least it’s not sneaky like spying on people without their knowledge.

It seems it’s not difficult at all to get this spying thing up and running. You buy a special software, which as far as my research shows, can be as cheap as $39, you install it on the cell phone you want to spy on, you restart the phone and you’re good to go. All text messages and voice calls are tracked and recorded. You can access the data by logging into a special website provided to you by the software vendor. Depending on how much you choose to pay, you can even get the GPS position of the phone at all times, so you know precisely where its owner is. The program operates in stealth mode, which means it can’t be detected even if you browse through the apps currently running on your phone. There’s even a possibility to listen to and record phone surroundings. It’s like you were wearing a microphone on you round the clock. Well, maybe if you don’t take the phone with you to the bathroom, there’s at least one area where your privacy is still intact.

If you think you’re smarter than the person who’d spy on you, find out that those vendors offer complete privacy for the buyer. A purchase like this won’t appear on your bill as such, so no member of your family or employee could accidentally come across this piece of information.

What’s your take on mobile phone spying? Would you use it?

Can one spy on their family members, friends or employees just like that? Is it moral or immoral? Is it an intrusion in the privacy of your beloved ones or simply a method to make sure nothing bad would happen to them? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below, so please, tell us what you think.

 

I Write the Books, But Who Makes the Covers?

99designs book cover projects

No-Mouse Microsoft WordRegular readers of this blog probably remember I started a Kindle book series: The No-Mouse Guides. The first book in the series was published in October 2012. Since then, I had the next one almost ready and sitting on my hard disk until today. I’ll let you know when it becomes available and most important, when you can get it for free. I enrolled it in the KDP Select program, which allows me to choose four or five days when I give the book for free.

Today’s article is not about getting freebies from Amazon but about book covers. I designed the cover for this series myself and I believe I did a pretty good job. If you like it and you want a cover for your book, you can contact me. I can make you three design proposals and you pay only if you like at least one. However, if you’re really picky, you might not be satisfied. In this case, my friend, I have another idea which could work better for you.

One of the newest services provided by 99designs.com is book cover design. You can get hundreds of design proposals made by the website members, but you only pay for the one you decide to keep. This service starts at $299 and it is very easy to use: you fill in a briefing form, upload whatever photos or other materials you want to be used for you cover, then you launch the contest. Designers will submit their work, you see it, choose what you like, then you are handled the high-quality files and the full copyright for the work. As an example, Tim Ferriss paid $314 for the cover of his new book, Becoming Superhuman, and he got 476 designs in his contest. Less popular writers would get less proposals, but it’s still more than what you can expect from one single freelancer.

99designs book cover projects

Start a Design Contest now for your choice of wonderful and unique designs at 99designs.com. If you don’t like it, you can have your money back.

WebSelf or Web Designer? Which One Would You Hire?

WebSelf prices

One of the ways I’m making a living is to provide web development and training for customers. From this perspective, I can tell you clients are of two categories: “awesome WordPress user” and “can you do it for me, please?” For the second category, I have a tip: try WebSelf. I’ll explain this in a little.

Everything technical is a challenge for such people. Even copying an article from Word and pasting it into WordPress looks like brain surgery in terms of envisioned difficulty. This is nothing to be ashamed of. These persons are usually very good in their trade, they just don’t have the brain tuned to learn technical skills. They would rather outsource what keeps them from doing more of what they really enjoy.

I discovered this neat tool today. It is called WebSelf and it helps people make website with step by step guidance, without having to learn anything more than what they already know. WebSelf looks pretty cool. I’ve tried it myself and I bet you can make your own website in as little as 10 minutes, a website which will look like developed by a pro. For instance, if you have a small business and you only need a website to serve you as a virtual business card, you can do a pretty good job with this online site builder. Of course, it won’t save you from having somebody design a logo for your business, but that’s significantly cheaper than building a whole website.

Here’s a screenshot from the dashboard: you can see it comes with options of adding effects to photos. I applied the mirror effect in this one. Other available effects are Shadow and Polaroid. If you want plain and simple photos, you can check the Normal option.

WebSelf - online website builder

The best feature of WebSelf, in my view, is that it can help you make an online store. An e-commerce website costs anywhere from $1000 up, so that’s a great help for a startup, to save that money for something else.

The tool is free to try for 14 days. After that, you have to choose one of the paid plans or you won’t be able to keep your website. These are the plans as of April 2013, in case you want to know. As you can see, you get a domain name with your plan. During the trial period, the site will have an address like http://mywebsite.webself.net.

WebSelf prices
How does this look? Would you go for an online website builder like this instead of paying a web developer to build and look after your website? If your answer is yes, that’s great, go for it! If you believe a web designer is better, you know where to find me!

How to make the PayPal button change on hover

How to add hover state to PayPal buttons

How to add hover state to PayPal buttonsIf you use PayPal to sell products or services on your website, you probably noticed that Buy Now buttons don’t change on mouse over. I believe it’s much nicer if they did. The project I currently work on require PayPal buttons, because it’s about selling services directly on a website. Defining buttons was pretty easy in PayPal. I was even able to replace the default button with an image I created, which I think fits better the look and feel of the page. Then I noticed the hover had no effect and that upset me a little, because I wanted the buttons to change color when hovered.

This is what I did and what you need to do too, if you want buttons that do something to draw attention:

  • Generate the button via PayPal, then copy and paste the code on the page
  • In the code, look for the following line: <input type=”image” src=”path_to/your_button.png”  border=”0″ name=”submit” alt=”PayPal – The safer, easier way to pay online!”>
  • Add onmouseover and onmouseout instructions just like this: <input type=”image” src=”path_to/your_button.png”  onmouseover=”this.src=’path_to/your_button_on_hover.png’;” onmouseout=”this.src=’path_to/your_button.png’;” border=”0″ name=”submit” alt=”PayPal – The safer, easier way to pay online!”>

Save your page and you’re done. Don’t forget to upload your two button state images on the server. You can use ftp for that.

Note: the “onmouseover” instruction is needed for the button to return to its initial state when you move your mouse off it. If you skip to add this, your button will remain “hovered” permanently once you put your cursor over it.

Do you want to see such buttons in action? Check them out here.

 

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