What Goes Better With Thanksgiving Pants?

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Thanksgiving is almost upon us and I know all of you are really excited about trying out your new Thanksgiving Pants.

Yes, there’s turkey and stuffing and potatoes and gravy and sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie and pecan pie.  But those are just so…traditional.

Thanksgiving Pants deserve something more!

Thanksgiving Pants deserve The Cherpumple!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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SEO Basics

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SEO process in picturesSearch engine optimization (SEO) is all about designing your website so that it receives a first-page ranking and, in turn, can be found by your target audience. You do this by developing quality, relevant content and optimizing your website’s structure. That may sound a little intimidating, but it really doesn’t have to be.

The Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide is a wonderful resource that covers basic SEO implementation using simple, easy to understand language. So easy, in fact, that I am using it to help me optimize my Weebly project website.

My top 3 SEO strategies are:

1. Using a responsive website theme from Weebly. Responsive web design is recommended by Google Developers because it serves the same HTML code on the same URL address regardless of the type of device being used. This means web crawlers can easily find your site without you having to do separate configurations for each device type.

2. Using the SEO Settings on the Pages tools in Weebly, and Google’s SEO Starter Guide, I have created unique page titles that accurately describe each page of my site so that users and search engines can tell what each page is about.

3. Using the SEO Settings on the Pages tools in Weebly, and Google’s SEO Starter Guide, I not only created “description” meta tags that provide an accurate summary of each individual page, I also added meta keywords relevant to the information contained on the page.

A word of caution though, if you are thinking of using manipulative black-hat SEO tactics to increase your ranking, think again. Things like keyword stuffing, or using unrelated keywords can result in a reduction of your website ranking.  It can also result in your website being removed from search engine results altogether.

Then you’ll not only have to clean up what should have been done right the first time, you’ll have to appeal to the search engine gods to pardon you and allow your website to be found again.

Coolest Thing EVER!

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Did you know you can export your bookmarks in Chrome and save them as an HTML file then upload that file to Drive so you can access those bookmarks from anywhere?!

YES!

Coolest thing ever!

Okay…coolest Chrome thing ever.

I mean, cuz yeah, I do realize that a Chrome bookmark tip isn’t nearly as cool as Stove Top Stuffing Pants…

But hell…what is?!

Domain Basics

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How-dns-works

In order for people to find the website you’ve worked so hard to create, you have to name it and put it somewhere.  How you name it and where you put it have a lot to do with the purpose of the website and the availability of the name.   I am currently designing a website whose primary audience is new caregivers.  I have named my site, created most of the content, and am working on a logo.  I want my domain name to be easily associated with the website so my first step is to check domain name availability.

Using the WHOis.net lookup tool I discovered that my first choices of caregiving411 and caregiver411 were already registered to someone else.  GoDaddy.com, LLC is listed as the registrar for caregiving411 and eNom, Inc. is listed as the registrar for caregiver411.  Other information I found with the listings included the creation and expiration dates of the domains, as well as contact information to report abuse.

Since I didn’t want to have to change the whole concept for my website I decided to add AL to the front of both options and discovered that both ALCaregiver411.com and ALCaregiving411.com are both available.  This meant I could keep my original concept in place AND narrow down the focus of my site which is a big relief since I’d bit off way more than I could manage.

Since this website is a class project, I don’t think buying a domain name or paying for hosting is important.  However, if this website was going to be the basis of a business or non-profit that would be looking for funding, then I think I would definitely want to invest in buying a domain name.  Not only does it look more professional without third-party advertisements, I would be also free of some free web host restrictions like the number of pages, file types, and storage limitations.

Again, understanding who the website audience is and what the website purpose is is key.

 

 

Privacy and the Internet

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As the article What does your internet profile say about you? points out, what we do online “will follow us relentlessly throughout our whole lives, with possible implications on the jobs or financial services open to use in years to come.”. That’s kind of a scary thought. After all, most of us have had an occasional “Here, hold my beer” moment when something seems like a good idea at the time or we’ve lost our tempers and said or done something we later regret. We’re human. Thanks to technology those moments can be caught online and kept alive, long after we’ve apologized, matured, and everyone involved has moved on.

 

Good marketers will tell you to deal with a negative brand issue once and only once. They will also tell you to focus on producing good content. As individuals, those same methods can be applied to our personal lives. Know what’s out there, don’t try and cover up, be honest, address what you can, then move on to better things. That’s the easy part. The more difficult side of this issue surrounds who has access to and how your information can be used against you.

The U.S. Constitution – the cornerstone of our democracy – doesn’t use the word privacy anywhere, BUT the right to privacy is certainly inferred within the Bill of Rights. We have expressly been given the right to speak our minds, to participate in peaceful demonstration, to practice the religion of our choosing, to express our grievances with the government, to be secure in our homes, to be free from search and seizure without just cause, and to be free from self-incrimination. So the question becomes, does the internet, and those using it, have an obligation to honor those rights?

Participants in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA exercised their right to demonstrate. Pictures of those participants were quickly circulated on Twitter and internet users were urged to call them out. Within hours, not only did users identify participants, they also demanded they be thrown out of school, removed from their positions in student organizations, and fired from their jobs.

In one instance, a man did lose his job.  In 2 others, people were misidentified and by the time corrections were made, the misinformation had spread, people believed what they read, and the threats against people who had done nothing had already begun in full force.

While that’s an extreme example, how is it any different than an HR Manager who simply Googles a name on a resume then simply judges that person by what they find?

As much as we as individuals must do our due diligence to manage our online reputations, shouldn’t those searching for information on us be required to do the same?

And without our express consent to a background check…should they be searching at all?

Online Learning

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Ballet Flats ResizedThis week we were provided a link to Web design training: the top 22 online resources on creativebloq.com and asked, “which ones seem like they would be most useful to you?”

OMG!

Giving me something like this is like setting me loose at the Shoe Station Annex Sale!

I’m attracted to some of the websites right away just because of the images and the names – in much the way I’m attracted to sparkly, brightly colored ballet flats which I can almost never wear because of my ridiculously narrow heels (the fact that God saw fit to give me narrow heels with these hips says he likes a good prank) but still…I have to try them on just to satisfy the little voice that’s whispering, “this time they’ll fit”.

That being said, the ones that jump out and catch my eye right off the bat are Rails for Zombies, Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby, Code Racer (which is no longer available), and Don’t Fear the Internet. They’re offbeat and reading further, they appear to add in some fun, some humor, and some learn-as-you-go interactive learning. I will definitely check these out.

Once I browse the sparklies, I move on to the basics. Google, Mozilla, Khan Academy and Udacity are like the workhorses of my shoe wardrobe.  They’re familiar and trusted.  Out of the four though, Google Code University is no longer being actively maintained and The Mozilla School of Webcraft courses appear to be moving from an interactive community to a read-only format.  Udacity offers some free courses and some 1-week previews of their more in-depth courses.  If you like what you see, then you’ll have to pony up the money to continue.

Khan Academy combines videos (that aren’t boring), practice exercises, progress tests and personalized recommended areas of study.  I’ve used several of their course offerings to brush up on neglected skills, supplement coursework, and as a study guide for CLEP exams.  And their MCAT prep, which is recommended by the admissions office I work in, has received rave reviews by our med school applicants.  Khan Academy is at the top of my quality and cost list.  Excellent content and it costs nothing.

The glory of education via the internet is you can watch a tutorial, ask questions in a forum, or go all in with a full-blown university level course. To get the most from an online education though, you should ask yourself what are you wanting to get out of it and how much of yourself are you willing to invest? Are you wanting a quick answer to an immediate question, a refresher course, or an introduction to a topic of interest? Are you looking for college credit on a flexible schedule? And, if you’re going totally online, are you disciplined enough to work on your own and meet assignment deadlines?

I’ve taken college courses that are fully online, as well as blended courses, like CA 260, where there’s a web component and an in-class component. I’ve had great and “meh” experiences with both. In my experience, the type of experience depends on the instructor and how well they use technology to create engagement.

For example, a blended course like CA 260 provides face time with the instructor, interaction with other students, and immediate answers when working on an in-class exercise. If it were totally online, I would still be able to get help, though not immediately so I might have to come back and finish up an exercise. I could also miss out on that human connection. I say could, because today’s technology allows for greater interaction. You can chat in real time via webcam, watch a streaming lecture, participate in forums and webinars, and even collaborate on projects.  Even something as simple as asking students to upload a photo of themselves so a name becomes a person keeps the human element alive.

You just have to invest the time and effort to find what works for you. And then you can learn whenever, from wherever, wearing whatever…even sparkly, brightly colored, ballet flats.

OH! SqHurl!

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I was researching resources for web design instruction to create a blog post for class but a subscribe box popped up while I was reading the assigned article so I said yes and then I had to verify my subscription so I went to my email and clicked the link and then I got a thank you email with a free eBook download and I saw something about self-promos and the voice in my head went, “OH! Stuff!” so I had to go look at that and while scrolling I saw these drawings with funny pop culture references and cool typography so I Googled spew bag challenge and I ended up with a blog post, but not the one I was originally working on.

Spew Bag Artwork - Gemma O'Brien

See more of Gemma’s work http://spewbagchallenge.tumblr.com/

 

The story behind the bags…

 

What’s a CMS and Why Does it Matter?

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Even though you may not have any interest in building your own website, understanding what content management systems (CMS) do should still be at the top of your “What I Need to Know” list.

Why?

Because your website should not be static.

Content will be added. Content will be changed. Content will be removed. There are also security and plug-in updates, as well as other technical maintenance that will have to be performed from time to time. Your CMS will influence how quickly and how easily those tasks happen.

If you do a quick internet search you’ll discover there are literally HUNDREDS of CMS platforms out there. There are also lots of knowledgeable people out there – THANK YOU THANK YOU – willing to share their technical expertise so you don’t have to research them all. More than one article I found placed WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal at the top of their recommended list.

Nitish Tiwari, a software developer, tech author, and contributor to opensource.com compared all three CMS platforms in his article, 3 open source content management systems compared. His comparisons were based on installation time and complexity, plugin and theme availability, ease of use, and customization and upgrades.

Overall, in terms of technical simplicity, WordPress has a clear edge over Joomla and Drupal. Installation is quick and easy, the number of themes and plugins is considerably higher, the interface is simple and uses language that is easy to understand, and when it’s time to update WordPress alerts and provides an “update now” button so it’s click and done! Tiwari did note that Joomla and Drupal allow you to manage a site to a greater extent because they provide lots of settings and controls to work with.

If I were recommending a CMS to a small business with limited technical skills and a need to get up and running quickly, I would have to say WordPress is the way to go. For someone who’s curious and looking to have a little fun combined with some learning along the way…Joomla sounds really interesting.

For a really nice visual comparing WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, be sure to check out The 2017 Beasts of CMS infographic below from makeawebsitehub.com.