Posts Tagged with "technology"

Managing Social Network Accounts with HootSuite

2010 Sep 18   category: Technology   author:  

If you’re an active user of social media in your marketing campaigns – and most small businesses are these days – then you’ll certainly want to check out what HootSuite has to offer.

HootSuite enables you to track and manage an unlimited number of social network accounts from one console. Networks that can be handled include Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare and WordPress (currently only the .com service). Just being able to view all these accounts from one place is a huge advantage but HootSuite allows you to do much more.

Probably the next feature that will appeal to users is the ability to send updates to more than one account at the same time. Perhaps you have several twitter accounts and would like the same update to go out to more than one of them – easy to do with HootSuite. Simply create the message in HootSuite, select the accounts you’d like to update and send.

Of course you’ll be wanting a url shortening capability as you compose your updates. HootSuite uses url shortening, which includes two cool features. First, you can easily append parameters, such as Google Analytics tags or affiliate referral IDs, to the end of your urls before they are shortened. Different parameter sets can even be saved as presets for future use making their attachment far speedier. Second, any url shortened in this way can be tracked and the clickthrough stats viewed from your HootSuite dashboard.

Another powerful HootSuite feature that you might find useful is the ability to schedule your updates. Everything can be set up just as described above but instead of pressing ‘send’ you select a future time and date (months in advance if you like) and press ‘schedule’. At the appointed time your update will be sent just as if you’d done so manually. If for example you have a predefined calendar of events for which you wish to send out reminders you can prepare and schedule these ahead of time and eliminate the need to worry about when the next one is due.

Finally, you’ll most likely want to check out the automated rss based updates. Select the rss feed from which you wish to extract updates, the network accounts you want them to feed and the frequency with which you want this to happen and, hey presto, HootSuite will automatically generate those updates from that point on.

We strongly recommend a visit to the HootSuite website where you will find they offer a free, ad supported, version with a 5 social network limit which should accommodate most individual or small business needs. Simply sign up and get started. We think you’ll quickly be hooked once you start to see what HootSuite can do.

SEO using Web CEO

2009 Nov 14   category: Technology   author:  

Here’s a gem – Web CEO – outstanding SEO software that won’t cost a fortune. Indeed there’s even a free version that retains good functionality and has no expiration. They suggest that those who have benefited from the free version might like to help promote their software and as we liked it so much we decided to do just that.

We found Web CEO extremely useful and quite easy to use – there’s even a video tutorial, which might be a wise place to start. The SEO functionality of Web CEO is divided into four areas:

  • Finding Your Niche (keywords and site optimization)
  • Promoting Your Site (site submission, linking and ppc)
  • Analyzing Your Site (rankings, link popularity and traffic reports)
  • Maintaining Your Site (FTP uploader, site quality control and uptime monitoring)

We think you’ll agree that this is a comprehensive offering. Much of this is available in the free version but many people are also likely to find their pricing structure attractive. We encourage you to check it out via this link.

Upgrade to WordPress 2.7.1

2009 Feb 26   category: Technology   author:  

Each visit to the blog over the last few months has reminded me that i wanted to find out how to make our welcome post ‘stick’ to the top of the page.  Poking around the WP admin screens didn’t unearth this functionality and time typically didn’t permit wrestling with their quirky online help search results.  I was reluctant to keep blogging until this had been figured out and so you’ll see there’s been a hiatus.  When i finally gave priority to figuring this out it turned out to be perfect timing.

My recent visit was greeted by a message urging me to upgrade to WP 2.7.1.  I ignored that and delved into the help topics with a search for articles on ‘sticky posts’.  Apparently there are plug-ins that provide this functionality (do i trust plug-ins?) but luckily one article concluded with the comment that this functionality is now native in version 2.7.1.  Aah! time to upgrade to 2.7.1.

It went smoothly!  It helps to have some idea how the blog is configured – there’s the basic software, which will get upgraded, there’s a customized theme, which would need to be preserved and hopefully would work with the new version, and there’s the database of posts etc., which would also need to be preserved.  Knowing this, the upgrade instructions were easy to follow – backup all this just in case; copy these folders; copy only selected contents of these other folders; etc.  Hey presto! it was done and after a little login hesitation we were up and running again.

The upgraded version is definitely better.  A clearer layout in the admin screens was the most obvious improvement – the previous layout had somehow seemed ‘sideways’ for want of a better description.  Of course i quickly looked to find the ‘sticky’ option and after a slightly protracted search found it as a check box under the ‘Visibility’ edit menu.

I was, however, stumped for a longer period by the disappearance of spaces that formerly existed between paragraphs in my posts.  The old posts looked the same as ever until you came to edit them, at which point all those spaces closed up.  This must be their most frequent of upgrade FAQs because the help button available while posting quickly mentions that their ‘wysiwyg’ editor eliminates all html code not compliant with XHTML 1.0, including <br /> tags between paragraphs.  It encourages you to go to your CSS style sheet to format the paragraphs in a more compliant way!  Great! digging back into all that custom coding done when setting up the blog.  It didn’t really take that long to track down what was needed (CSS is great), it was just an unwelcome chore necessary before i could proceed to blogging.

Anyway here we are running 2.7.1.  WordPress software really is neat software that continues to improve with each new version.

Image Editing Software

2008 May 05   category: Technology   author:  

Given how much good free software there is in all categories it says something that we actually forked out money to purchase Paint Shop Pro® from Corel® (  Well alright, what it actually says is that, in the image editing category, decent software sophisticated enough for our needs does not come for free – and we were certainly reluctant to purchase the much more expensive but highly regarded Photoshop® from Adobe®.  That said, we have been more than happy with our Paint Shop Pro® experience and would like to give it due credit in this post.

Caveat: Our version of Paint Shop Pro® is 9.01, which is a few years old now.  The Wikipedia entry for Paint Shop Pro® (, notes some issues with later versions, including the installation of adjunct software (spyware?) named PSIService.exe, which runs in the background collecting licensing information and does not deinstall if the main program is deinstalled.  We find this quite nefarious and it would certainly give us pause were we considering an upgrade.

Overall we have found Paint Shop Pro® to be a very capable and reliable workhorse when it comes to editing images for our designs.  Our most intensive requirements arise when tidying up source maps and when applying special effects for our more quirky designs.   The editing capabilities have typically met or exceeded our requirements and in fact we’ve become more demanding as we discover all that Paint Shop Pro® can do (yes, we’re somewhat perfectionist).  For example, there are ten methods for adjusting brightness and contrast including: curves, gamma correction, highlight/midtone/shadow adjustment and histogram adjustment.  Another good example is our favorite tool for noise reduction, ‘edge preserving smooth’, which serves us well in removing jpg artifacts and enhancing the appearance of our map images.  This may not be the appropriate tool for other kinds of image but then there are the eight other noise reduction methods to choose from!

We really haven’t found any big drawbacks with this version of the software.  At times the program can become resource hungry, driven among other things by the size of the image being edited and the large number of ‘undos’ being held, but we have only very rarely found that it has become unstable.

So based on our extensive use of Paint Shop Pro® we heartily recommend it for digital image editing.  It’s hard to imagine many tasks it couldn’t handle but we do have far less experience with other image editors and would certainly welcome comments anyone experienced with the alternatives.