Top five reasons why WordPress is the best “Press”

wordpress-logoWordPress is arguably known as one of the leading content management providers. It’s recognizable, compatible, and free to use – covering all of the online basics and plenty more. But for whatever reason, there are still website owners opting for a buggy competitor, or sticking to basic HTML for their web-viewing needs. As the Internet changes, however, it’s time to stick to a uniform, reliable source, and WordPress fits that bill.

Still on the fence? Check out the top five reasons WordPress is a better website content managing system than your current provider.

5. It’s User Friendly

Whether a beginner or a WordPress expert, the program comes in a simple, easy-to-use package. Updates notify users when they’re necessary, pages are labeled with large tags, and the navigation section provides a descriptive layout of all available actions. New features even come with descriptive tags so users can learn any adjustments with ease. The content management system (CMS) also has a sleek, simplified look so no tasks are bogged down or lost in the action.

4. Free, One-click Upload

When hosting outside of WordPress, the program is as easy to upload as a single click. Even for those without website building experience can do it. Just sign in with your host, upload, and start building pages. As for those who do host with WordPress, the CMS is already available, saving a whole two seconds of work.

3. Unlimited Options with Plugins

Want to upload an RSS feed? A signup box? Social media accounts? A page view counter? There’s a plugin for that … and for hundreds of other add-ins. Just upload and customize to create a completely unique website. Store your content in cloud storage, or stick to design-related features. Best of all, they’re free to use and have the ability to completely makeover a website.

2. Shows Site Data and Traffic

One of the best WordPress abilities is that it compiles and keeps track of all website hits. See where viewers came from (including referrers and keyword searches), how many clicks came in each day, as well as how that compares to the previous month. Over time, charts will show how traffic changes, and how posts affected those differences in numbers.

1. There are Hundreds of Free Resources

Can’t figure something out? Just perform a Google search to see what the experts have to say. Because WordPress is so widely used, there are entire websites dedicated to helping others fix their design, formatting, or other WordPress issues – free of charge. Just ask and search to receive access to thousands of free WordPress CMS tips.

Qwiki becomes Yahoo!’s 11th acquisition under Marissa Mayer

Yahoo-acquires-QwikiYahoo! recently announced that it has acquired the New York startup Qwiki, bringing the total number of acquisitions under the tenure of Marissa Mayer to 11. Originally a video search engine web platform since 2010, Qwiki shut down its web platform early this year and launched a social mobile video app after its iPad version of the app got about two million downloads.

After moving migrating back to New York from San Francisco, the company adopted the new focus in an effort to work with media brands such as ABC News. Qwiki works by organizing your photos and videos by date, location, and time of day and clumping it all together. It selects a song from your iTunes library based on your listening behavior, adds media, and allows you to edit the filters and captions before rolling a minute-long Qwiki with all of your iOS device’s camera roll. According to the founder and CEO, Doug Imburce, Qwiki was never intended to be a video-sharing app, but rather, a storytelling app.

What The New Acquisition Brings to Yahoo!

QwikiAs it has done with most of its acquisitions, Yahoo! will not kill off the brand. Instead, it will continue to support the app while the team joins the company in New York to reimagine the company’s storytelling experiences.

The mayor of New York city, Michael R. Bloomberg was also kind enough to comment on the new acquisition saying: “Qwiki is a great example of the momentum in New York City’s booming tech sector. While the company was started out west, they relocated here to be a part of our surging tech community… We congratulate them on their partnership with Yahoo!, and hope they continue to grow and thrive in New York City.”

Since taking over as CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer has spearheaded the acquisition of nearly a dozen startups that cost less than $100 million. These include Alike, Astrid, GoPolloGo, Jybe, Loki, Milewise, OntheAir, Snip.it, Stamped, Summly and now Qwiki.

What’s next for Yahoo!? As of this writing, Yahoo!’s Tumblr blog was updated with the news that the company had acquired Xobni, an address book app creator, bringing the total number of acquisitions by Mayer to 12.

Vine continues to explode after Android release

vineNow that Vine for Android is a few weeks old, users are finding more and more uses for the six-second video app. Owned by Twitter and essentially creating the video form of tweets, Vine is taking the app market by storm. At a year old, Vine even topped Instagram for the most downloaded app among Android users. And the more users that are signing up for the app, the more uses that have been found for this handy little app.

In fact, it’s being used for almost everything. Entertainment, creative resumes, just-for-fun posts, even educational ventures, like sharing recipes or cooking instructions. By using the record feature only when it’s necessary (for instance, to show ingredients or important work history), viewers are able to fill in the gaps between shots. This cuts down on share time while creating unique and creative effects. The hold-when-necessary also provides a unique GIF-like appearance, showing the effect of jerky camerawork without giving viewers motion sickness.

Using the Vine

Because of its unique features – which include sound, stop motion, time restraint, and the ability to share directly to social media sites – Vine has been used for a number of creative video ventures, even more so than its competitors. Reporters are even using the app to share news events as they happen; while video can be recorded, emailed, and posted online, but why not upload a Vine recording directly to Twitter? This feature allows the timeliest of news to be shared while eliminating minimal technology delays.

Like Twitter, users cite one of the biggest perks is the time restraint. Users are becoming far more creative with their time without the ability to drag out pictures or instructions. For instance, with cooking-related Vine videos – ingredients are shown in sequence, along with the recipe in progress, until the final project is reached. During a cooking show, a viewer would have watched 30 minutes of program to see the finished product. But with Vine, instantaneous cuts down on all of the in between nonsense, like rambling or commercials.

Whether you sign up for Vine for a creative new way to explore social media or you’re looking for a trendy way to share information, this app seems to have something for everyone. Just click, record, and share.

To find out more about Vine or to start creating your own stop-motion videos, check out the app on Android and iOS.

Prepare for the upcoming Google Reader shutdown with 5 alternatives

Google ReaderIn an effort to consolidate its services, Google Reader shuts down on July 1, 2013. The rise and growth of Google+ has seen a bunch of shutdowns and we can expect to see more as the company looks to focus more on its key products.

With Google Reader gone, it is time to look for alternatives for subscribing to RSS feeds. Here are five alternatives that should help you get everything – well, nearly everything – you got from Google Reader.

1. Feedly

Feedly, under the project called Normandy, had been preparing for a Google Reader API clone since the shutdown for announced, and you now have an alternative that should help you seamlessly transition from Google Reader to Feedly. The Feedly service is supported on iOS, Android, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. This Feedly blog post shows you how you can make that seamless transition and ensure you do not miss any updates from your favorite blogs now that Google Reader is gone.

2. NetVibes

NetVibes opened a new home for millions of Google Readers recently by offering a dual dashboard-and-reader combo which, unlike other alternatives, is powered by its own real-time RSS engine that is completely independent of Google. NetVibes comes with an ecosystem of over 260,000 apps and feeds, social search, syncing across multiple devices, and works on iOS, Android and desktop browsers.

3. NewsBlur

This is a personal news reader runs on iOS, Android, and on web browsers. It is a free service with premium subscriptions if you want to support growing services and unlock a few restrictions. The service offers four RSS feed views which are Original, Feed, Story, and Text. Original offers readers the original design and typeface of a given site. The Feed view is the plain old RS feed you are used to. The Story view shows individual blog posts one at a time, and the Text view shows the original story’s extracted article text, which may not be 100% perfect.

4. FeedDemon

For Windows users, FeedDemon will continue to offer its services which includes keyword tagging, Feed Watches, the ability to search feeds, and the ability to automatically download audio podcasts.

5. Google Currents

It’s not all bye-bye from Google. Google Currents is another excellent alternative available on iOS and Android devices which turns your blogs into an attractive, shareable and favoritable magazine. It is able to aggregate your content into categories to help you better enjoy your content.

There we have it, 5 Google Reader alternatives that you can use to ensure you are updated on what’s new on your favorite blogs and online destinations.

A non-programmer’s first adventure in iOS app development

1024Ever since the App Store opened, I have had the desire to create an iOS app. I have a bunch of ideas, but I am not a programmer and don’t know an ounce of coding needed to make an app. I can make the artwork for an app, but I don’t know what to do with it.

I have tried a few apps that claim to help you make an app with no success. I have successfully completed the generic “Hello World” tutorial that every book seems to have. Speaking of books, I’ve bought a few to try and learn how to use Apple’s Xcode code development software. Never read them. I even tried the Stanford course in iTunes U for developing apps, but I couldn’t understand it.

So, when I recently came up with an idea for an app for my son and decided to attempt to make it myself I had no idea what I was doing. The app was a very simple concept and I was shocked that there is not one like it in the App Store. I figured it is such a simple app I would try to make it myself. How hard could it be?

Actually, it was not as hard as I expected.

Getting started

I wanted to create a simple typing app. It would have a keyboard and an erase button. A child could type and erase what he/she typed. That was it. No ads, no saving, and no printing. I called it “Junior Typer”.

I started by downloading Xcode from the Mac App Store. I installed it and I could figure out the basics of getting the app started. I set it up and then I was presented with the interface. I knew a little about the interface from completing the “Hello World” tutorial, but not as much as I thought. I searched the internet and found a ton of tutorials that gave me enough information to do what I wanted. I built the app and ran it in the iPad simulator. To my shock, it worked!

A few of the sites that helped me out were:

Of course, Apple’s developer forums were a huge help too.

Visual improvements

Now I needed to improve the appearance of my app. I designed artwork for the splash screen, the icons, and the app itself. As I said earlier, that is the easy part for me (I’m an art teacher and freelance illustrator).

I also wanted to do some customization of fonts in the app. After searching for the answer online, I decide to start exploring Xcode. After a while I finally found what I was looking for. I always tell people if you get stuck just start poking around. You usually find what you need and might surprise yourself.

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Submitting to the App Store

Now I had to decide if I want to spend the $100 to join Apple’s developer program and actually submit my app to the App Store. It would be a small – no, tiny – fish in an enormous pond. However, I figured I am not the only parent looking for this type of app. Plus, there is that old saying, “You have to spend money to make money.”

I decided to go for it. A word of warning here: if you are using an Apple ID to sell books through the iBookstore (which I do) you must use a different Apple ID to join the developer program. Since you need an email address for this, you might need to get a new email address too. I learned this the hard way, although Apple quickly helped straighten it out.

Dealing with rejection, and a second attempt

After a week of waiting, the app was rejected for being too simple. Too simple? That was the main feature. I appealed, but my appeal was denied. After a call from Apple and discussing the app with them I went back to the drawing board. I was already working on some new features in case the appeal was denied so I was ready for a new submission.

I was added features to change font color and size, and the ability to change the background color (again with the help of forums and tutorials, although at this point I was starting to learn the basics and gain some footing). I hoped that would be enough and I resubmitted. I am happy to say it was accepted this time and version 1.1 with some graphic modifications is now awaiting approval! It might be approved by the time you read this.

Conclusion

Developing this app was hard work and actually a lot of fun. Getting it accepted was a rush that I am still excited about. I am already planning on trying a second app with my brother. If it is successful you’ll read about it here. In the meantime please check out Junior Typer. It is just $.99 and something I think any child will love.

An introduction to mobile app testing

Testing Apps

By now, it should be evident that smartphones are the next big thing. The explosion of consumer apps can be seen in just about every industry. Location intelligent mobile commerce apps, magazine apps, real-time trading apps, and gaming and social networking apps are just a few of the industry verticals experiencing this shift.

Mobile adoption has been experiencing exponential growth in the last few years and the trend does not seem to be stopping. This means that mobile apps will continue to become ever more critical to the success of businesses and companies. As such, what steps are you taking to prepare yourself for this technological revolution that is already unfolding?

One way to do this is to make sure your mobile apps are optimized and ready to go when users need them.

Apps on Mobile

According to a recent study, 60 percent of mobile users will only give your website or app three seconds to load otherwise they will abandon you. If you thought this was tough, then consider that out of those users, 43 percent do not intend to ever return to your app or site – EVER.  How then can you ensure that your app works the way its supposed to on multiple OS platforms? Should you test in-house or outsource? Can testing increase app store ratings? What are the challenges of app testing?

Lets get some answers to these questions…

Functional Testing

This includes checking the screen real estate, finding device specific bugs, normal use test, and idle run test. Exploring the application in a number of devices will help in locating usability problems. Device specific bugs can be identified as such when they are not reproducible on a desktop browser.

It is also imperative that you test battery usage by running the application 6-12 hours using an automated testing tool.

Usability Testing

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This includes testing the functionality, layout & design, as well as the application interaction flow. This level of testing tries to make sure the user can complete tasks easily and without becoming frustrated.  Usability testing will also include ensure that apps are not crammed with so many features that they leave the users feeling overwhelmed. The goal should be to focus on immersive use that allows users to gain mastery of the content as opposed to quick hits that dilute app usability.

Load, Performance and Localization Testing

Performance issues such as crashes and hangs are common user complaints. These need to be addressed early before consumers divert to competitor apps and services. Your app should also support features unique to specific markets.

We can be sure that mobile apps are not going anywhere anytime soon, which means that when you spend time perfecting your app through testing, you are not losing anything but investing in the future of your company or business.

Earn rewards for traveling with Ride

rideFor every mile that’s traveled, Ride, a free app, will give you points. Yes, really. Earn 4k points for a free RedBox rental, and up to 80k for $20 at Amazon – and virtually every increment in between.

Simply travel and earn – a program that provides its users something for nothing. No surveys answered, airline tickets purchased, or social media shares required. All you have to do is move, and they keep track of how much distance is traveled. Walking, driving, trains – it’s all covered. So long as you’re moving, Ride is keeping track.

Sound too good to be true?

What’s the Catch?

Even though it doesn’t run off of GPS, Ride is still a bit of a battery drainer. (In order for it to work, the app has to be open in one’s phone background.) It’s also unclear just how it supports itself, since there are no fees or ads. They could be selling location information (though that’s data that sounds like it wouldn’t net much profit), but in a world where smartphones are already on the grid, it’s not exactly a privacy violation.

Another downside is flying, where users could potentially earn a killing in miles. Because airplane mode just doesn’t cut it for air traveling standards, phones have to be completely powered off. This means Ride, along with every other point-earning app, can’t keep track of your location. It’s unsure whether or not Ride calculates the change in location, though that would certainly be a viable solution.

In Use

On average, a little more than two points is earned for each mile traveled. This means, depending on how much one travels, a reward can be earned in as little as a couple of months. Sure this may seem like a bit of a wait (especially vs. reward apps that have a much higher point ratio), but when the miles are already being traveled, why not tack on an added bonus? And considering the only requirement is keeping the app running (shut it off when staying put to save battery life), the decision to use it becomes even easier.

Whether frequent traveler or one who moseys into the grocery store once a week, Ride is a great app for earning outside rewards. Free to use, and virtually maintenance free, consider using Ride today for an added boost to all your errand traveling trips.

Head to TheRideApp.com to get started.

Meet the new Google Maps

Google-Maps-Preview

If you were at the Google I/O (or weren’t), you are probably aware of the major redesign changes that were launched for Google Maps.  One thing you will quickly notice is the approach that Google has taken to provide a more intuitive interface that takes away the clutter and leaves you with a clean and clear way of exploring neighborhoods and other destinations.

Interestingly, we can also see a future glimpse of where maps may be going. Google has modeled a few cities around the world in 3D letting you enter the third dimension and get a new perspective of the world. This feature is similar to Apple’s “Flyover” function of its own mapping service but Google definitely know how to create buzz for it and deliver a much more intuitive experience.

Improved Search in Maps

Google Maps Screenshot

Of course, the ultimate ability of maps is to be able to search locations and get the exact information you are looking for. Though not quite your Knowledge Graph experience, the new Google Maps takes search a notch higher by letting you get better results when you search for restaurants, hotels, and world attractions. However, that is not the end of it. Google wants a more personalized experience in all of its products that you use, and this includes the new maps. As you use the search feature, Google Maps will be able to learn about your likes, favorites, and destinations, and this information, yes you guessed it, will be used to recommend places and destinations.

Info Cards

Google has added a new feature to help both businesses and you, get the right information to you. When you click on a business, an info card comes up below the search box with the business’ address, directions, web URL, phone number and hours of operation. Rather than having to navigate out of Google Maps to get all this information, you now have everything you need inside the maps interface. Again, the more you use maps to search for businesses, the better the maps become at recommending places and venues with the option of writing reviews.

Images

Google seems to value the use of images in most of its products and Google Maps is one of these tools where images really shine and give you a whole new perspective in search. At the bottom of any location you search, you will see a scrolling menu of images that you can click through to enjoy a photo tour. These images are pulled from Google+, Picasa, and Android phones from owners. Google also contributes its own sets of photos. Google seems to be particularly interested in user-generated photos where it is able to pull up several photos of the same building but during different times of the year and through the eyes of different photographers to give you an amazing photo tour.

Directions in Maps

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We all love to get driving directions when looking at maps. But how about directions when using different transportation options such as public transit, walking, biking or flying? Google now brings this ability to the new Google Maps allowing you to compare the different directions and see which is the quickest and readily available.

Clearly, what Google is doing with maps is very similar to what it has done with search results – personalize our experiences. When you click on search, you are now presented with localized and highly personalized results rather than from results across the globe. Google Maps seem to be taking the same direction.

You can try out the new Maps with the following link: http://maps.google.com/help/maps/helloworld/desktop/preview/

Teaching kids how to code with programming games

computer codeIt comes as no surprise that computer coding is a viable life skill. Computer programs, video games, and virtually everything else runs off the stuff, and knowing how to write said instructions can turn into a lucrative career. The problem, however, is that there just aren’t enough coders to keep up with the booming rate of technology. At least that’s what the development companies are telling us. While there’s a huge demand for their products, there aren’t enough workers who can create them.

While, for the time being, software developers are working overtime, the companies have come up with a virtually fool-proof plan for the future: teaching code to kids.

Through apps, games, and other fun-related activities, kids old enough to hold a tablet are learning coding basics. By tackling this subject early on, there’s a better chance future generations will produce more coders. And, even if a majority doesn’t turn into software-writing pros, they’ll still hold the basic knowledge of binary and other computer controlling lingo.

The Lack of Learning Curve

But just how hard is it to learn these skills? For those of us with a basic understanding of HTML, it’s hard to tell if code is similar to learning-another-language hard, or reorganizing-mumbo-jumbo hard. Presumably, however, it’s several steps above the former. Not only does coding require the knowledge of computer language, one also has to know how to combine and adjust codes to achieve specific outcomes. While, when learning another language, various sayings can achieve the same meaning, the same is not true for computers.

It’s also likely true as to why there’s such a shortage of programmers in the status quo. If it were easy, everyone would do it. However, software company execs say with the release of these games, kids (or adults) are able to have fun while learning basic commands and combinations.

Some top-ranked programming games include:

Whether you’ve got a child at home or you’d like to try out these brain-teasing apps yourself, coding games are a great way to learn a new skill … and while having fun in the process.

Head to the iOS or Android app store to check out more programming games today.

Echofon for Firefox dies after Twitter API changes – Here’s how to get it back

In case you’ve never heard of it, Echofon for Firefox was an add-on for Firefox that allowed users to interact with Twitter without going to the official Twitter website. Available as a small pop-up window in the browser’s status bar, Echofon was a convenient and minimalist way to compose tweets, replies, and browse Twitter.

The last version of Echofon for Firefox ever released, version 2.5.2.
The last version of Echofon for Firefox ever released, version 2.5.2.

As of October 2012, Echofon for Firefox was officially discontinued by its developers so they could focus on versions of Echofon for mobile platforms (iPad, Android, and iPhone) instead. This wasn’t the end of the world, though, because Echofon would continue working as long as Twitter API 1.0 was still active.

With this foreboding message, Echofon for Firefox stopped receiving updates.
With this foreboding message, Echofon for Firefox stopped receiving updates.

Since this article exists, I think you can guess what the problem is: As of June 12, 2013, Twitter API 1.0 has been officially shut down, which also killed Echofon for thousands of users.

Users were left with this simple message when they opened Firefox today:

Can’t login to Twitter. (410 Gone (account_verify_credentials))

I wouldn’t be writing this article if it was all bad news, so here’s how to keep Echofon for Firefox working after the Twitter API change.

Patched Echofon saves the day for Twitter API 1.1

When I opened Firefox today and noticed that Echofon wasn’t working anymore, I immediately assumed the worst. Doing a quick Twitter search for “echofon firefox” confirmed my suspicions that my beloved extension had officially died.

However, something useful popped up in my search: Apparently, someone had patched Echofon and updated it to use Twitter API 1.1, which replaced the dead API 1.0. Rather than blindly run this updated extension, I took some time to do a file-by-file comparison between the patched version and the official version to make sure nothing nefarious was happening behind-the-scenes.

What I found were fairly minor modifications, and none of them appear to be malicious. Based on my findings, I decided to try the patched version for myself.

(Please note that I am not a computer security expert, so do not take this as a “seal of approval” or anything. Using 3rd-party software of any type, especially patched software, comes with piles of inherent risk.)

The tragic part about Echofon’s demise is that it ultimately comes down to some very simple code modifications:

// const TWITTER_API_URL    = "api.twitter.com/1.0/"; // old and busted
const TWITTER_API_URL    = "api.twitter.com/1.1/"; // new hotness

Without further adieu, here’s how to switch over to the patched version of Echofon.

How to install the patch

  1. Download the patched version of Echofon. The latest version of the patch appears to be “6”.
  2. In Firefox, navigate to your Extensions page. You can find this by navigating to the big Firefox menu, then selecting Add-ons. In the Add-ons window, click Extensions in the sidebar. You can also use the convenient shortcut Ctrl+Shift+A to access this menu.2013-06-12_12h46_53
  3. After navigating to the Extensions tab in the Add-on window, locate a gear icon in the top right corner. Click it and select Install Add-on From File…2013-06-12_12h48_07
  4. Locate the file you downloaded in Step 1 and open it
  5. Restart Firefox

After following those steps, you should see that Echofon for Firefox is again alive and well.

Performing your own analysis

If you want to independently check out what’s been changed in the patched version of this extension, comparing them is actually quite easy. Firefox extensions are packed as a .xpi file, which is actually just a compressed .zip folder. Just rename the file to .zip and you can extract it to your local computer.

By extracting both the patched version and the official version, I was able to use a great tool called Beyond Compare to perform a full directory comparison and analyze the modifications that were made to the extension.

Comparing the contents of the patched extension to the official extension
Comparing the contents of the patched extension to the official extension

Is there any chance of an official updated version for API 1.1?

I’d say it is very unlikely.

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Techerator is an excellent source of tips, guides, and reviews about software, web apps, technology, mobile phones, and computers.