How To Show Thumbnail Images in Advanced Typepad Template Excerpts

If you use advanced templates with Typepad, you might not be getting optimized images in your excerpt listings. In my case, the main index page was using “thumbnails” that were sized via CSS but in fact were the full size images. This slowed down the page load time for sure.

In the Typepad settings there is a way to enable thumbnails in excerpts, but this only works for built-in templates and themes. If you use an advance template, you may have to enable this behavior yourself.

First look at this code, it is the excerpt code from my advanced template, it shows the image and the content.

<div class="entry-body">
  <MTEntryPhoto>
    <img src="<$MTEntryPhotoURL$>" class="excerpt-image" alt="Article Excerpt Image"/>
  </MTEntryPhoto>
  <$MTEntryExcerpt$>
</div><!-- .entry-body -->

The main thing to notice is the img src “<$MTEntryPhotoURL$>”. This is replaced with the URL path to the image. This is also the problem, because the link goes to the full size, original image.

After much searching I found this page which explains about Typepad’s ImageLink object. Two things are most interesting here: the 4 different sizing renders (pi, wi, hi, si), and the Valid Sizing Specifications grid.

Pay attention to that grid, because it defines all the sizes and rendering Typepad can do for you.

In my case I wanted the thumbnail to be 250 pixels wide using the “wi” scaling. To apply this sizing to the image in my advanced template, I made one small edit to the above code:

<div class="entry-body">
  <MTEntryPhoto>
    <img src="<$MTEntryPhotoURL spec="250wi"$>" class="excerpt-image" alt="Article Excerpt Image"/>
  </MTEntryPhoto>
  <$MTEntryExcerpt$>
</div><!-- .entry-body -->

Notice the bit added to the MTEntryPhotoURL tag: spec="250wi".This should be obvious what it does, it sets the “specification” (spec) of the image loader. You must use the options available in the grid or the image won’t show up.

When done correctly, Typepad should load the 250px image instead of the original image.

If you look at the URL of the image now, you will actually see the “250wi” appended to the end of the URL.

For reference, here is a copy of the sizing grid:

  pi wi hi si
16
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MediaFire Discontinues Desktop Sync

Mediafire Discontinues Desktop Sync

I don’t know who is in charge over at MediaFire, but the last couple days have seen some scary messages. Firs this:

Mediafire Desktop Sync

Then a few days later I started getting a more “official” notice.

Mediafire shutdown notice

On July 30th, 2016, MediaFire will stop supporting desktop syncing through MediaFire Desktop.

I took a quick look online and it seemed that MediaFire had already swept their website for any mention of the desktop tool. No blogs about it, no notices, nothing.

I emailed support about it and got this response:

Hello,

Thank you for contacting Mediafire. Currently we are in the process of deprecating Mediafire Desktop and will no longer be supporting Desktop and the software will no longer work after July 30. At this time we do not have an alternative for syncing your files. We are in the process of updating our website to improve many of its core features.

We appreciate you choosing MediaFire.

So it would appear they have no plans for desktop sync. This makes no sense to me whatsoever. Their sync tool functioned perfectly well enough, it had the screenshot tool and everything. I could share files, get my direct download links from the Explorer context menu, etc. Then this!

Well this simply won’t due. With no information about an upcoming better tool, or even 3rd party tools, I immediately removed their sync software from all my devices and signed up for Office365 for Business.

Bye bye Mediafire, you will not make me try to manage all my files through a browser interface where it takes 8 seconds to get a folder listing and I can’t press a letter like “T” to quickly go down to files starting with “T”, and every other trick desktop browsing brings me. I’m not going to edit files with your online editors, nor download them to edit and have to re-upload again.

This is a horrible decision on their part and I don’t see the logic in it. Either they are planning something secret and won’t tell people, or they really think people want cloud-only, browser-based file storage. I know I don’t!

That’s a shame.

When you readers decide to switch to Office365 too, you’ll get 1TB of storage, plus all the MS Office apps, cloud features, and ability to share with other users. Click here to take a look.

The Best Web Hosting for a Business

There are a million articles on the Internet about who is the best webhost, or who is the best web host for “some specific purpose here“.

This is not an article about the best “free” host or the best “cheap” host or the best host for web developers. This is about the best host for a small business.

Some of the subtle differences between these different types are as follows:

  • A free webhost might be fine for throw-away projects or quick tests of things but a serious business does not want to be on one of these. They usually leave their marketing on your site, show popup ads to your visitors, and tend to be very slow with saturated servers.
  • Some free hosts are directed toward writers and bloggers, such as Tumblr, Hubpages, Squidoo, and many others. A business is not generally looking to do blogging, so these types of free services are not the best choice. Some free hosts are perfectly good candidates, such as Wix, Moonfruit, and Weebly, but you are still limited in some ways and will soon need to upgrade to paid features anyway.
  • Web developers typically want “bare” servers with no software, and with full control. Hosts like these offer VPS servers and require the most know-how to configure and set up. They may also choose so-called “cloud VPS” servers which are even more controllable, to the point of completely deleting and creating new servers on the fly. Sites like Digital Ocean, VULTR, and Linode host these types of virtual servers.

The last category I simply call a business host. They are not free and limited, but they are also not 100% in your control with zero limitations and require a lot of know-how.

A business host is the middle-man hosting company. These are typically in the “shared server” category or VPS category and give the owner some kind of control panel to manage the server.

Some benefits of a good business host include:

  • Upgraded, fast, SSD hard drives. This allows the server to process files a bit quicker, often improving performance.
  • Automatic backups by the hosting company. Usually daily, weekly, or some other arrangement.
  • A control panel. The most well-known is cPanel which provides dozens of utilities for managing your server from backups to email to FTP to installing software.
  • Built-in spam and virus scanning, as well as additional security measures.
  • A free domain name with purchase. If you are starting a new website, they will often have a free domain along with the package.
  • Often these hosts advertise as having unlimited bandwidth and storage and so forth. Surprisingly, as you go up in server cost, you actually get more and more limitations. Nevertheless, they will prevent excessive overuse, even though it says unlimited.
  • They often come with Google Ad credits, sometimes hundreds of dollars worth! A perfect way to test advertising once your website is built and see if you can drive some traffic to the business.
  • Your account will come with the ability to host multiple websites and subdomains. You won’t be stuck with just “example.com” but you can also host “store.example.com” or “someotherexample.com all on the same account.

The list could go on and on but you get the point. These business-class hosting companies offer servers in the middle between free and limited and bare bones developer servers.

For a non-programmer and developer they will give you just enough power and hand-holding to where you could get a site set up without having to hire someone. The tech support of the host can also you help you.

This leads me to my recommendation for the best business-class host. I currently use InMotion Hosting for all my clients.

I’ve gone through a few hosts on my road to InMotion but for the past 5 years they have been quite solid. They have all the features I mentioned above, including SSD drives, 24/7 support, backups, control panel, $250 ad credits, free domain, one-click software installs, host multiple websites, and much more.

InMotion offers VPS servers and other packages but specifically I’m talking about their Business Hosting plans called Launch, Power, and Pro. These are the types of accounts I’ve been talking about. For just around $8 to $16 a month they are quite affordable for any business to maintain.

If you start with the lowest plan you can click to upgrade when you’re ready and climb all the way up the ladder of server power.

I used to promote a few other hosts but have since stopped simply because quality and support have dwindled. I won’t mention names but they are quite well known. I’m not out the bash them but I definitely choose InMotion over all of them at this time.

If you really do want something free and fast, try Wix, Weebly, Moonfruit or some other. If you are a developer, stick with Digital Ocean, VULTR, Linode, Ramnode, or even Amazon EC2 or Microsoft Azure.

If you are an everyday business wanting more than free and limited, and less than an empty, bare server, give InMotion Hosting a look. You will see InMotion promoted on this site, not because they are random ad links, but because I specifically chose them to promote because I use them and support them.

I hope that helps you!


Convert Network Solutions CSV Product Exports to WooCommerce CSV Imports

This post will eventually detail everything you need to do to export Network Solutions products into WooCommerce formats for importing.

I wanted to start this post now even though it’s unfinished, so I can collect some feedback if this sort of thing is something more people are needing. There are no automated tools out there right now but I am working on automation in the form of PHP web scripts that will help convert the product exports from Network Solutions into CSV files that can be imported into WooCommerce.

So far I have scripts to help me parse out "simple" products, as well as "variable" products and their "variations". The way Network Solutions handles these data types is far different then how WooCommerce does, and they require a LOT of work to convert. I have something like 15 pages of notes on converting the various types, and 3 PHP scripts to parse the CSVs for some more advanced data manipulation, including the use of Network Solutions’ XML export as well.

Using my scripts you can automate the import of ALL your product images into Woo, as well as automate the creation of the Woo attribute and attribute_data columns for variable products and variations.

Using my notes and a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel you can rename columns, remove those you don’t need, recreate a proper product category structure in Woo styling, handle hidden or disabled products, create shipping classes from Netsol extra handling charges, and much more.

At this time these scripts and tools are not refined enough for the general public, but I can do this on a consulting basis if you would like to hire me to do this for your business. Feel free to contact me about converting your Netsol products to Woo imports.

In time I may release a more comprehensive automated scripting tool to do this for you.

 

More to come…

Please let me know if you are interested in these converting tools.

Fix Yahoo Mail Missing Contact List

I’ve seen some posts online from people who claim to be missing their Yahoo mailing list tool. For some strange reason, Yahoo Mail collapses the contact list area, preventing you from creating a contact list, or group, or mailing list, or whatever you want to call it.

When you have a list created, it does show up, but if you don’t already have a list, the text box that lets you create a new one is gone. This is the case in Firefox, Chrome and Opera as well.

missing

The solution is simple! Go into your contacts, and select ONE contact. You should now see the “Assign to Lists” button, click that and create your list.

assign list