Stop losing your little black book. We have a safer place to keep your passwords!

Those of you that have been with us for a while will recognize this post; it’s a re-post from September 2014, and again August in August 2015. Some may not have seen it before, and it’s information worth repeating regardless.  I’ve tweaked it with some updated information so it is still relevant.  Please let us know if you have any questions; we can help you implement a password management solution if you are interested. It’s not that hard, and can really save your bacon.

How many passwords do you have?  Wait, let me rephrase that:  How many websites or applications do you have to enter a password into?  “What’s the difference” you might ask.  The difference is huge.

If you have one password (or maybe a couple) that you use for everything, you make a hacker’s job that much easier.  Once they get a password for one login, it’s just a matter of trying the same credentials on other popular websites.  And if all your passwords are the same, it won’t take them long.

Here’s another question:  How strong is your password?  How long will it take a hacker to crack it?  I challenge you to find out; chances are you’ll be surprised.  Head over to Password Game.  It will tell you how many days (or years) it would take for a hacker to crack your password, and has tips on how to create a strong password.  Here are some examples:

  • password = 8 characters = 0 seconds to crack
  • [email protected]$$w0rd = 8 characters w/ upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters = 4 hours to crack
  • zh4p!Wm^Sm72zAsvFz& = 19 characters w/ upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters = 144,883,728,284 years to crack

Now, you’re probably thinking “How am I supposed to remember multiple complex 19 character passwords?  There’s no way!”  Unless you’re Rain Man, you’re probably right. Nicole and I now have over 700 sites that require a username and password to log into.  I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m no slouch either.  I know for a fact I can’t remember that many passwords, let alone think up a unique password for each site.  Writing passwords down in a notebook is okay, right up to the point that it gets lost or stolen.

Time to call in reinforcements.features_3_centralize_your_data

We use a password manager from Marvasol, Inc called LastPass.  It remembers our passwords so we can get on with more important things in life.  We use one complex password that we both can remember to secure our vault.  On top of that, we have multi-factor authentication enabled by using Google Authenticator on our smart phones.  Not only would someone need to guess our super secret password, they’d need to have our fingerprint or phone’s passcode in order to get into Lastpass.

The data is stored in the cloud, protected by 256-bit encryption.  Passwords and sites sync between all our devices (phones, tablets, and computers) so we never have to worry about forgetting a login.  The best part? LastPass comes with it’s own password generator, which lets you define the length of the password, and which characters should be included (numbers, upper & lowercase letters, and symbols).  That’s how I came up with “zh4p!Wm^Sm72zAsvFz&”.

This isn’t a sales pitch.  You won’t find LastPass in our Affiliates section.  There are other password managers out there that perform the same basic function.  PC Magazine did a review on many popular apps which you can read about here.  Notice Lastpass is listed in the top two.

Take the time to evaluate your password situation.  If you use the same password (or a variant thereof) and someone nefarious figures it out, how much of your life are you going to lose?  Worse yet, if you’re using easy to crack passwords, or the same password on multiple sites, how much are you going to lose to hackers?

A few minutes of education and exprimentation, and you’ll be well on your way to a more safe and secure situation.

features_1_svgn lastpassfillmenu-1-e1383337960866 features_7_strongpasswordn

We welcome your questions or comments. Its simple...just click HERE!

WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan” Released

The latest major version of WordPress was released today.

Code named “Vaughan”, WordPress 4.7 includes a new theme (Twenty Seventeen).  It also provides an improved Customizer, PDF Thumbnail Previews, and the ability to set your own language of choice for the Dashboard.  Of course, there are more behind-the-scenes improvements as well, but unless you’re a developer, these won’t mean much to you 🙂

Visit the official release page for more details.

If you are one of our Maintenance Plan subscribers, I will be rolling out this update soon.  Please give me time to ensure that it won’t cause any issues with your existing site configuration.


 

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Deposit Photos Deal (AppSumo)

AppSumo Logo

AppSumo has brokered yet another deal with Deposit Photos. For $39, you get 100 royalty-free images, and the credit never expires!

Deposit Photos has over 40M images and vectors to choose from, so you’re sure to find something you like.

To read more, or take advantage of this limited time offer (and give us a small reward), click here.  Don’t delay, last time they offered this deal, it sold out in record time.

Deposit Photos Logo

WordPress 4.5 & LIFETIME Access to StockUnlimited

SUlogo_black_258AppSumo is offering another of its fantastic deals.  This time, you’re getting LIFETIME access and UNLIMITED downloads from Stock Unlimited (stockunlimited.com).  Normally priced at $119/year, if you’re fast enough, you can claim this deal for $49.  One payment & lifetime access to over 600,000 images, with 10,000 more being added every month.

Don’t dally, the last I checked there were only 850 of these promotional packages left (out of 1,000)

We helped you out by spreading the word; please help us out by using our link if you plan on signing up for this great deal.  We get a small kickback from AppSumo from every purchase made.  http://www.appsumo.com/?r=UXWA


In other news, Wordpress 4.5 will be released sometime this week (Tuesday?). This is a planned incremental release, versus a security release, so don’t be in a huge rush to update. Our maintenance package subscribers can expect to be updated a week or so after the release, barring any major bugs.

There are several new features included with this release. For a full listing and explanation, check out this aricle from wpbeginner.com.

As always, let us know if you have any questions.


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New Year, New Look, New Features

The New Year is a perfect opportunity for a fresh start, and we’ve been taking advantage of that by adding new features.  Here’s what Nicole and I have been up to for the last month or so:

Site Refresh

It doesn’t jump out at you, but we completely redesigned Integrant Services from the ground up.  Instead of using Elegant Themes’ “Divi“, we’re using their latest and greatest theme “Extra“.  While it still uses the fantastic Divi Builder, Extra adds more modules and more features, allowing for even more flexibility.  We hope you enjoy it!

Redesigned Checkout

While we were at it, we streamlined how our shopping and checkout process works. What we had functioned fairly well, but had its own quirks and was becoming cost prohibitive with the extra features we required.  It also lacked any kind of guided product selection process.

Gone is the WooCommerce self-checkout.  In its place is a Gravity Forms-based Quote Builder.  This form will walk you through all our products and services step-by-step, asking questions the entire way.  Once completed, we will receive an email with the details of what you”re interested in, and can contact you with any questions we may have before preparing an invoice.

Our Blog Usability Assessment can still be purchased directly from our site via PayPal or credit card.

Integrant Service Quote Builder

Integrant Service Quote Builder

Invoicing and Payments

Speaking of checking out, we now send invoices for services rendered.  Some of you are still being charged automatically by PayPal, which is perfect by us.  However, most of our subscribers are receiving monthly statements that can be paid with a simple click of the button.

If you don’t like clicking a button to pay every month, we can also set up an automatic recurring payment via credit card or ACH withdrawal (eCheck).  Contact us and we’ll get you set up.

New Theme and Plugin Options

We just purchased a membership to WMPU DEV.  We can now offer the Upfront theme to our clients, as well as the 140+ premium plugins that WPMU DEV has.  For example, if you subscribe to any of our Maintenance Packages, you’ve already got WP Smush Pro installed and activated on your site.  This awesome plugin uses off-site servers to compress your images, without any loss of quality.  This means your pages load faster, and reduces bandwidth usage on your server.  It also make Google and Bing happy when they’re indexing your site, increasing your ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs).

Gold and Platinum Maintenance Package subscribers also have an updated Google Analyics plugin installed on their site.  Not only can you see the WordPress site stats, you can compare them to what Google Analytics is reporting.

That leaves roughly 138 plugins to look over.  Browse what WPMU DEV has to offer…if there’s something there that you think you’d be interested in, drop us a line.  We’ll gladly help you out.

Training

Last but not least, our training has moved:  Introducing LHIAA.com!

LHIAA stands for Learn How, Implement, Analyze, Adjust:

LHIAA and the LHIAA Method are the brainchild of Nicole and Brian Watt – co-owners of Integrant Services, LLC. With LHIAA you won’t just learn, you will implement and adjust each tool or process to fit your needs and make it a part of your personal or business system. Achieve results with LHIAA!  LEARN. DO. SUCCEED.

We are working on populating LHIAA with fantastic training you can actually use.  Free training that was previously available at Integrant Services has already been migrated over.  Paid courses, from detailed WordPress tutorials to Pinterest for Business, will be available soon.

2016 is shaping up to be a great year already!


 

We welcome your questions or comments. Its simple...just click HERE!

WordPress 4.4 “Clifford” Released

wordpressWordPress 4.4 was released yesterday.  You can read the full announcement here.

Items of note include the new theme Twenty Sixteen, oEmbed functionality, and many other behind the scenes enhancements.

If you are updating to 4.4 yourself, please make certain that your themes and plugins are not only up-to-date, but are compatible with WordPress 4.4.  A backup of your site is never a bad idea either 🙂

Customers that subscribe to our Maintenance Services will have this update applied in the very near future.  Please give us time to test it with your unique site.


We welcome your questions or comments. Its simple...just click HERE!

 

AppSumo Black Friday Deal

Integrant Services Coin CornucopiaEarlier this year, we shared an AppSumo deal with you that was simply fantastic:  100 Deposit Photos stock photo credits (that never expire) – only $39 (that’s 92% off!).  Many of you took advantage of this great offer (and we did too)!  If you missed out last time…get ready!

AppSumo has decided that this deal (and six others) were so popular this year, they’re offering them again, but for 24 hours only!  Starting Black Friday at 12:01 AM CST, until 11:59 PM CST, you can take advantage of seven of AppSumo’s best deals:

  • DepositPhotos: 100 stock photo credits (that never expire) – only $39 (92% off!)
  • Brain.fm: Lifetime access to the music engine that helps you focus better and sleep deeper – only $25 (83% off!)
  • KingSumo Giveaways: Grow your email list by setting up viral giveaways on your site – only $49 (75% off!)
  • Double Your Freelancing Rate: The business-in-a-box for any freelancers looking to grow their business – only $99 (66% off!)
  • Finish Your Damn Book: The definitive guide to launching your first non-fiction book – only $4 9(75% off!)
  • ClickMinded: Highly-rated SEO course to learn how to bring more traffic and more customers to your website as quickly as possible – only $149 (70% off!)
  • Sniply Freebie: Drive traffic back to your own site when you share content with 12 months of Sniply -Free! (worth $300!)

We’ve already mentioned that Deposit Photos is one of our favorites.  Another favorite we just got hooked on is Brian.fm.  I won’t bore you with the scientific details, but the software generates music that helps you sleep, relax, or focus, depending on your needs.  Nicole and I both agree:  IT WORKS!  Read more about it at brain.fm.

Integrant Services Fruit & Gourd CornucopiaYou could go straight to AppSumo’s site and take advantage of these deals, but we’d appreciate if you’d use our AppSumo affiliate link.  We get a small “Thank You” stipend from AppSumo for referrals.

Last, but not least, Nicole and I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the time, food, and the extended weekend (if you get one) together with family and friends.  We’ll be doing the same!

 


 

We welcome your questions or comments. Its simple...just click HERE!

Yoast SEO 3.0 Released

Yoast SEO 3.0You might notice something new as you craft a new post or page in WordPress, especially if you’re one of our maintenance subscribers.  Yoast SEO has released version 3.0 of their of venerable WordPress plugin, and it streamlines how you craft your content to become more search engine optimized.

The most notable change, aside from the way the Yoast looks, is the way snippets are designed.  Gone are the title and meta description fields; they’ve been replaced by the snippet editor. If you want to change how the title, permalink, or description look, you simply click and edit them in the snippet editor.

The Content Analysis is displayed prominently under the Focus Keyword field, making it easier to see what Yoast suggests to improve your post.  And with the new real-time content analysis, suggestions are provided on the fly, changing as you type more words, add images, or reference your keyword more often.

The stoplight feature is visible in multiple areas, and is also tied into the real-time analysis, so it cha
nges colors as your SEO improves.

I could repeat everything that Yoast has posted on their blog, but that doesn’t seem very efficient…follow the link to read the whole article and a full listing of improvements.


We welcome your questions or comments. Its simple...just click HERE!

Tech Tip: Create Your Own Search Engine

When we include images in our posts, they usually come from free stock image websites.  Unfortunately, we regularly use 10 sites, and it can be a pain to go from site to site searching for just the right graphic.

Then I found Google’s Custom Search Engine (CSE).

In a matter of minutes, I was able to take the 10 sites we regularly search for images, and add them into CSE.  I now have one link to visit, customized to the sites I want to search; Google returns hits from only the 10 sites I’ve defined.  Talk about a time saver!

CSE is free, and easy to use.  You can create your own custom search engine by going to https://cse.google.com, and signing in with your Google account.  Like videos?  Here’s a great one I found on YouTube that walks you through the process.

Here’s the URL to our CSE that we use to search images.  The URL can be shared publicly, or made private so that only you can use it.  There is also code so it can be embedded in a website if you so choose.

If you have any questions, or need a little help, be sure to let us know!


We welcome your questions or comments. Its simple...just click HERE!

Change of Address Form: Blogger

Man PackingBeen chomping at the bit to move from Blogger to WordPress, but keep putting it off?  Is it because all your social media links point to “myblog.blogspot.com” and you can’t stomach the thought of losing that traffic?

If so, fill out that virtual change of address card and start packing.  Figuratively speaking, that is.

We recently found a reliable way to redirect external links to your blogger site.  For example, if your Pinterest pins point to “http://myblog.blogspot.com/2013/09/mypost.html,” they can be redirected to “http://myblog.com/2013/09/mypost.html.”  It works.  Really.

The method isn’t a secret.  It involves a WordPress plugin, a chunk of code inside your Blogger template, and someone that knows how to do both.

This is included as part of our Blogger 2 WordPress Transfer service.  Stop waiting and make the move today!


 

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The Best-Laid Plans

Of mice and men We had grand plans to simplify our business (and lives) by moving to an all-in-one solution for CRM, Project Management, Billing, Invoicing, and Marketing.  We reviewed over 100 solutions, tested 12, and even paid for and implemented one.  We ran into one small problem:

None of them worked as well as we thought they would.

Too expensive or too hard to work with.  Too slow or not reliable.  Missing required features.  You name it, we found issues with all of them.

Suffice to say, we’re back to normal.  What we have right now is working, so we’re sticking to it.  For now.

Our support portal is back to what it originally was:  https://integrantservices.freshdesk.com.  Links and contact forms on our site have been updated (retrograded?) to point to their correct locations.

Thanks for bearing with us during this exercise.  Be sure to let us know if you have any questions!

We welcome your questions or comments. Its simple...just click HERE!

the-best-laid-plans-of-mice-and-men-often-go-awry. (n.d.). The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved October 06, 2015, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/the-best-laid-plans-of-mice-and-men-often-go-awry

Tech Tips: Password Security & Strength

Those of you that have been with us for a while will recognize this post; it’s a re-post from September 2014.  Some may not have seen it before, and it’s information worth repeating.  I’ve tweaked it with some updated information so it is still relevant.  Please let us know if you have any questions; we can help you implement a password management solution if you are interested.

bigstock-the-concept-of-thinking-backg-33314345How many passwords do you have?  Wait, let me rephrase that:  How many websites or applications do you have to enter a password into?  “What’s the difference” you might ask.  The difference is huge.

If you have one password (or maybe a couple) that you use for everything, you make a hacker’s job that much easier.  Once they get a password for one login, it’s just a matter of trying the same credentials on other popular websites.  And if all your passwords are the same, it won’t take them long.

Here’s another question:  How strong is your password?  How long will it take a hacker to crack it?  I challenge you to find out; chances are you’ll be surprised.  Head over to Intel’s Password Game.  It will tell you how many days (or years) it would take for a hacker to crack your password, and has tips on how to create a strong password.  Here are some examples:

  • password = 8 characters = 0 seconds to crack
  • [email protected]$$w0rd = 8 characters w/ upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters = 4 hours to crack
  • zh4p!Wm^Sm72zAsvFz& = 19 characters w/ upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters = 144,883,728,284 years to crack

Now, you’re probably thinking “How am I supposed to remember multiple complex 19 character passwords?  There’s no way!”  Unless you’re Rain Man, you’re probably right. Nicole and I have over 250 sites that require a username and password to log into.  I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m no slouch either.  I know for a fact I can’t remember that many passwords, let alone think up a unique password for each site.  Writing passwords down in a notebook is okay, right up to the point that it gets lost or stolen.

Time to call in reinforcements.features_3_centralize_your_data

We use a password manager from Marvasol, Inc called LastPass.  It remembers our passwords so we can get on with more important things in life.  We use one complex password that we both can remember to secure our vault.  On top of that, we have multi-factor authentication enabled by using Google Authenticator on our smart phones.  Not only would someone need to guess our super secret password, they’d need to have our fingerprint or phone’s passcode in order to get into Lastpass.

The data is stored in the cloud, protected by 256-bit encryption.  Passwords and sites sync between all our devices (iPhone, iPad, computers, etc) so we never have to worry about forgetting a login.  The best part? LastPass comes with it’s own password generator, which lets you define the length of the password, and which characters should be included (numbers, upper & lowercase letters, and symbols).  That’s how I came up with “zh4p!Wm^Sm72zAsvFz&”.

This isn’t a sales pitch.  You won’t find LastPass in our Affiliates section.  There are other password managers out there that perform the same basic function.  PC Magazine did a review on many popular apps which you can read about here.  Notice Lastpass is listed in the top two.

Take the time to evaluate your password situation.  If you use the same password (or a variant thereof) and someone nefarious figures it out, how much of your life are you going to lose?  Worse yet, if you’re using easy to crack passwords, or the same password on multiple sites, how much are you going to lose to hackers?

features_1_svgn lastpassfillmenu-1-e1383337960866 features_7_strongpasswordn

Know What You’re Paying For

Currency Question Mark Integrant ServicesWe’ve had a recent influx of customers that have been burnt by their previous web designer.  For some, a substantial amount of money had been paid, but they couldn’t stand the sight of their site when it was ‘finished’.  Others liked the design of their site, but had no idea how to use it because they were used to another platform.  Sometimes it was a combination of both.  In all cases, the designer stopped responding to emails once they decided the site was “finished”.

This makes us sick.

Please, know what you’re getting before paying someone for ANY service.  Contact the designer if their site isn’t clear about what you’ll be receiving.  Stay in touch with them through the design process, and be clear about what you want, especially if you’re not getting what you’re asking for.  Save those emails just in case you need them for ‘clarification’ later on.

Here at Integrant Services, we try to be as transparent as possible.  You not only get a customer information form for pertinent account information, but a graphics design questionnaire as well.  This gives us insight as to what you’re looking for as we craft your new site.  Did I mention that we have a secure customer portal for you to submit your information through?  It’s not for us, it’s for you:  We don’t want you sending usernames and passwords through email.  Yes, we care that much.

We also think our terms of service are plainly worded and easy to understand, as are the descriptions of our products & services.  And if you ever have a question about anything we offer, we encourage you to ask first, buy later.

We always do our best to keep our customers happy, and knock on wood, we have yet to have a complaint.  Mainly because we love what we do, and what we do is help you.

Have a horror story you want to share?  Something you need to get off your chest?  Leave us a comment…we’re good at listening too! 🙂

Be a visible demonstrator

If you’re a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, you may be hindering your sales without even knowing it.

Many times I’ve used the Demonstrator Locator to find information on some of our customers (like demonstrator number for shopping links), only to get zero results.  If I can’t find you, chances are no one else can either.

The Demonstrator Locator uses zip codes to display the closest demonstrator to a customer.  If yours is wrong, you’re probably missing out on business.  Likewise, the Demonstrator Directory uses portions of your name and address to allow others to contact you.  If you meet a potential customer at the store and give them your married name, but still have your maiden name on file, the Directory isn’t going to work either.  So what’s a demonstrator to do?

The first step is to make certain your information is current in your Stampin’ Up! profile.  Log into your demonstrator account, click on My Business, then My Profile.  On the right hand side, click Edit My Profile.  Make certain your name, address (including zip code) and phone number are accurate.  Save your changes.

Next, you need to authorize Stampin’ Up! to release your information to those that are trying to find you.  Back at the My Profile screen, on the right hand side, click on the Referral Policy Agreement.  There are two portions: one for the Demonstrator Locator, one for the Demonstrator Directory.  Make certain you’ve accepted both agreements, then click submit.  If you have any questions, be sure to contact demo support.

You’re done!  Now that customer that’s looking for a demonstrator close to them will see your name.

Sticky Posts

 

Yellow-Sticky-Note

Ever found yourself wishing you could keep a post ‘on top’ or at the beginning of your blog?  Maybe a welcome message?  You can…the sticky posts option is built right into WordPress!

In order to make a post ‘sticky’, either create and save a new draft, or choose which existing post you’d like to use.  On the ‘All Posts’ view, hover over the post you want to make sticky, then click on ‘Quick Edit’.

Wordpress post Quick Edit

This will expand a view many of you haven’t seen before.  It allows changing many of the settings of a post (or many posts using the ‘Bulk Actions’ drop down) without having to edit the post directly.  As you can see, one of the options is ‘Make this post sticky’.  Check the box, and ‘Update’.

Make this post sticky

That’s it!  From here on out, this will be the very first post visible on your site.  Posts published after this will be appear below the sticky post.  You can have more than one sticky post, and should you want to ‘unstick’ the post, simply follow these instructions again and uncheck the box!

Let us know what you think…do you find these hints helpful?

TinyMCE Advanced = Font Family Changes

Last week I alluded to introducing a way to change font sizes, font families, and more when editing a post or page in WordPress.  For those that have been asking for that functionality, your patience has paid off!

WordPress uses TinyMCE, a JavaScript ‘what you see is what you get’ (WYSIWYG) front end visual editor.  There are dozens of configuration options, most of which aren’t enabled by default.  In order to enable these options, you would normally need to code them in.  If you’re like me, you have better things to do, but if your curious, dig through the site at http://
www.tinymce.com/wiki.php.  Don’t blame me if your eyes cross and you get a headache though.

The good news is that there is a plugin titled TinyMCE Advanced, developed by Andrew Ozz, that makes configuring some of these options very easy.  Our current maintenance plan subscribers can get this plugin installed for free; just ask!  If your not one of our customers, to install, log into your WordPress site, navigate to Plugins, then click on Add New.  Add New
In the search box, type in TinyMCE Advanced, hit enter, then click on the title of the plugin.  Once the screen loads, click on Install Plugin, then activate the plugin.  Once activation is complete, navigate to Settings / TinyMCE Advanced.Settings

From here, you’re presented with the editor settings.  This is a live preview of how your toolbar will look when editing a post or page.  Not only is there a drop-down menu added to the top of the toolbar, you have four rows to use, instead of the default two.

Editor

 

Below this is the Unused Buttons area:

Unused Buttons

You can add, remove, and reorder any of the buttons in the editor.  If you want to add a feature that doesn’t exist in your editor, simply click and drag from the Unused Buttons area to where you want the button on your toolbar.  Likewise, if there are buttons you don’t want to see, you can drag them down to the Unused Buttons area.

Move Button

 

 

Here’s my customized final product.

TinyMCE Final

 

If you want the same options as I’ve selected, you can copy the code below (courtesy of the TinyMCE Advanced ‘code’ button).  Click on the Import Settings button under Administration at the bottom of the screen, and paste the code in.

{"settings":{"toolbar_1":"bold,italic,underline,strikethrough,superscript,subscript,hr,wp_code,blockquote,bullist,numlist,alignleft,aligncenter,alignright,alignjustify,link,unlink,table,undo,redo,wp_adv","toolbar_2":"fontselect,fontsizeselect,forecolor,backcolor,outdent,indent,pastetext,removeformat,charmap,emoticons,searchreplace,wp_help","toolbar_3":"","toolbar_4":"","options":"advlist,menubar","plugins":"anchor,code,insertdatetime,nonbreaking,print,searchreplace,table,visualblocks,visualchars,emoticons,advlist"},"admin_settings":{"options":"fontsize_formats","disabled_plugins":""}}

Now you can change your Font Family, Font Sizes, and more!  You may notice the font selection is limited; there are ways to add more fonts to choose from, but that is a decidedly more advanced topic.  Should you want specific fonts, contact us!

 

 

WordPress and the Kitchen Sink

I know, the title sounds like the beginnings of a fable, but its true:  Wordpress has a kitchen sink.  You may not fit a lot of dishes in it, but its just as indispensable as the iconic fixture in your kitchen.

If you don’t know what the kitchen sink is (in relation to WordPress), its the second row of icons in your post or page editor toolbar.

 

Kitchen Sink Before Integrant Services

Press this button!

 

Kitchen Sink after Integrant Services

And get this row of icons!

By adding the kitchen sink, you now have access to the following: change the font size, underline, justification (of text), and font color.  Paste as text is useful if you copy and paste information from Microsoft Word, or from another web page; it removes the formatting style that was associated with the original copy.  Clear formatting will reset any special formatting of the text you have selected.  The ‘Omega’ symbol allows you to insert a special character, followed by decrease and increase indent, undo and redo, and a complete list of keyboard shortcuts.

I hope this helps some of you that may not have known these functions existed.

Stay tuned, soon we’ll share a way to include different fonts and font sizes in your post editor!

 

WordPress 4.3 – Coming Soon

WordPress 4.3 has been in development since version 4.2 was released in April, and is due to be released sometime soon (tentatively August 18th).  While it contains a number of improvements, some of them you won’t even  notice.  WP Beginner wrote a good article, based on a Beta version of 4.3, describing the upcoming changes.  You can read their full article here.

If you’re one of our maintenance plan subscribers, you’ll be upgraded as soon as we make sure there won’t be any conflicts with your existing installation.  If you’re not a maintenance plan subscriber, be certain that your blog is backed up prior to upgrading.

WordPress: Make it your first choice

WordPress.org logo photo Integrant Services

We subscribe to marketing emails by Derek Halpern, successful entrepreneur and founder of Social Triggers.  In one of his recent videos, Derek talks about Building An Audience, then Selling Stuff.  Six minutes into the video, he said something that really resonated with us:

“How do you build an audience?  I believe the best way to do it is by starting and growing a blog.”

If you want to watch the video to see what he has to say, you can see it here.

While Derek’s statement in itself isn’t revolutionary, what he goes on to say makes perfect sense and is what prompted me to write this post for our “Audience”.

WordPress is one of the only platforms that allows you to build and grow an audience, yet maintain ownership (and control) of your content.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms own your information.  And if you want to advertise further, you have to pay them to do it.  TypePad, Blogger, and other blogging platforms also make it difficult to get your original content back.  Ever try to retrieve one of the original files you uploaded in TypePad?  It’s not easy, and it’s been renamed by TypePad, so good luck picking it out of a lineup.  And perish the thought, but what if a blogging service closed its doors?  Years of your hard work down the drain.  Even if you had a backup, it wouldn’t contain your images, just your posts.

That’s why, when we started our business, we chose a self-hosted WordPress blog.  Its also the only platform we support.

You might ask why I specify self-hosted WordPress blog.  Here’s a blurb I wrote a while back that explains the differences in WordPress:

If you are researching WordPress as a blogging platform, you might wonder what the differences are between WordPress.com, WordPress.org, and Self-Hosted WordPress.

  • WordPress.com is a blogging service provided by Automattic, Inc.  They offer free and paid plans to host your WordPress blog.  The happiness engineers at WordPress.com manage the server, therefore limiting what plugins and functionality can be added to your own blog.  Wordpress.com also expressly prohibits Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) based companies from using their blogging services.  Those found violating their fascinating Terms of Service will have their accounts suspended.  A forum that discusses MLM blogs on WordPress.com can be found here.  Stamin’ Up! is considered by WordPress.com to be a MLM, and some of our customers have had their accounts suspended.
  • WordPress.org is the basis of all things WordPress.  Here can be found plugins (extending functionality of your blog), plugin support, themes, etc.
  • A Self-Hosted WordPress site is owned and managed by you (or us, if you choose).  It requires you to own or obtain your own domain name (www.mysite.com), a hosting provider, and to install WordPress on your hosting provider.  While this might sound overwhelming, it really isn’t.  We can easily guide you through the process of securing a hosting provider and your own domain name.  Our Setup and Transfer services include installation of WordPress on your new site, so all the difficult work is taken care of for you!  The best part?  You own your site, can display what you want, and design it to be as simple or complex as you’d like.

With a self-hosted WordPress blog, YOU own your content.  Pictures, files, and even the words belong to you.  You can back it up, restore it, move it, and even delete it.  Upload an image and the file name stays the same, so you can find the original later if you want it back.  WordPress is extremely flexible, and has tens of thousands of addons (plugins) that extend its functionality.  If you can imagine it, there’s a way to do it.  Basic blog, photo gallery, e-Commerce store front…it’s all possible.

THAT is why we only support and recommend self-hosted WordPress.

By the way, if you’re already on another blogging platform, its not too late to move should you choose.  Your entire blog can be transferred, and I happen to know a company that does that 🙂

Pricing Changes & New Products

Integrant Services Independence Day Product AnnouncementsHappy Independence Day from Integrant Services!

We’ve made a few changes over the last month or two, and wanted to make sure everyone knows!

Pricing Changes
  • Gold Maintenance plan no longer automatically includes our Backup service, and has been reduced to $34.95 / month
  • Platinum Maintenance plan no longer automatically includes our Backup service, and has been reduced to $54.95 / month

These changes will not affect current subscribers.  However, you are welcome to cancel your existing maintenance plan and enroll in a new plan if you choose.

New Products
  • Backup Service:  Now a separate offering, and can be added to all maintenance plans.
  • Premium Hosting:  Managed hosting designed specifically (and solely) for the WordPress platform.  Lighting fast, super secure, and surprisingly affordable.  Daily backups included.  For the serious blogger that needs the best.
  • Graphics Services:  Basic & Deluxe site headers, text & graphic buttons, watermarks…you name it, we can design it!  Want it in print?  We do business cards, media labels (for your catalogs) and return address labels as well!

Again, Happy Independence Day!  Nicole and I hope you have a safe and relaxing holiday weekend.

SNAP, Part 2 (Facebook)

Facebook-Logo-On-Fire Integrant ServicesOn June 1st I introduced you to the Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP) plugin, and promised I’d cover the individual settings in more detail. Let’s talk about settings unique to Facebook.

While editing a post, scroll to the bottom of the page until you see the SNAP section. You should see your Facebook account, along with several options.  First, things first; make sure the box next to Facebook is checked. Otherwise your post won’t get sent to Facebook.

The next option is to schedule a publishing time for your Facebook post. It defaults to ‘immediately’, which is in relation to when your blog post is published. If you schedule your blog post to publish at a certain time, that’s when it will publish to Facebook. If you want to publish your post immediately, but delay publishing it to Facebook, set a time here.

The next section of options deals with how your post looks on Facebook. At any point you can click on the “what’s the difference” link for a visual reference. Selecting ‘text post’ won’t include your blog post, and you’ll have to type what you want to say in the ‘message format’ box. Same for ‘image post’, only it includes a photo.

The third option, ‘text post with attached blog post’ is the most common. It comes with its own two options, and like before, you can click the link to see the differences. I’m partial to the second option, attaching the blog post, but you should experiment to find what works for you.

Facebook CaptureThe ‘message format’ box is where you put text or links that appear at the beginning of your Facebook post.  Here is an example of the last post I published.  The words to the right of the picture come from the body of the post (or your SEO plugin).  The words above the picture come from what is put into the ‘message format’ box.  TIP:  Use the message format to add words that are different from your post; the example I’ve shown is NOT a good way to do it.  This is a good place to convince your readers to click and visit your blog.

If you don’t feel like including anything special every time you post, there are a few shortcuts you can use.  Typing %TITLE% in the block will display the title of your post when it publishes.  %URL% will include the web address of the post.  %CATS% will include the post categories, and %HCATS% will include the categories as hashtags.  You can incorporate these into a sentence as well, and save it as default in the SNAP settings.  For example, “A new post %TITLE% has been published on %URL%.  %HCAT%”

After Capture FacebookI decided I didn’t like the Facebook post I’ve used here as an example, so I deleted it from our business page.  Using the ‘Re-post to Facebook’ button in SNAP, I sent out an updated version.  I changed the wording so it didn’t sound the same as the embedded post, and included %HCATS% and %HTAGS% at the end.  You can certainly tell the difference.

The final two options are pretty simple.  Leaving the ‘Images to use’ box checked will result in SNAP deciding what gets sent to Facebook.  For those that are in the habit of using a Featured Image, it will generally choose that one first, and if there isn’t one, it will try to use one from the content of the post.  You can also uncheck the box, and choose a specific photo.  Leave the ‘URL to use’ box checked.

Hopefully you find these tips useful.  Stay tuned…in our next segment, we’ll be covering Twitter settings!

Stampin’ Up! Category ID Changes

Stampin’ Up! changed the IDs for most of its categories.  This important for you if:

  1. You’re a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator – and –
  2. You have links to Weekly Deals, Clearance Rack, etc. on your blog.

Links that go directly to your store, such as Shop 24/7, aren’t affected.

The two most common links are listed below.  Simply replace the ### with your Demo ID, and when clicked, customers will be taken straight to your store.

If you’re a maintenance plan subscriber and want us to update these links for you, just ask!

Weekly Deals:  http://www.stampinup.com/ECWeb/ItemList.aspx?categoryid=100100&dbwsdemoid=###

Clearance Rack:  http://www.stampinup.com/ECWeb/ItemList.aspx?categoryid=100300&dbwsdemoid=###