Month: August 2008

A Few Blog Changes

After being ill and feeling wretched for the last couple of days thanks to a horrible stomach bug (my wife had it too), I’ve managed to do a bit today.

(Of course the nice thing is, my online income hasn’t changed while I’ve been ill.)

The bit I’ve done where I actually feel productive (although not made any more money by doing it) is to make a few changes to the blog mainly by pottering around the web.

#1 – I’ve added links to some online experts in the sidebar.

#2 – I’ve added yet another plugin called Brians Threaded Comments. This allows visitors to make a comment about other people’s comments and have it neatly bundled in a thread. Of course, people can make a comment about your comment and so on.

It’s an old plugin (things get old rapidly online don’t they?) but seems to still work okay, and looks correct in FF, IE and Opera. If you spot any oddities, please let me know.

#3 – I’ve added yet another plugin called Show Top Commentators although I think that should be commenters* not commentators**. It’s probably a close call…

Anyway, the plugin shows the top commenters over a period of time which I’ve set to 10 commenters and 3 months at the moment, but I might change that. There are a few different versions of this knocking around, but the best one I could find is by Carsten Albrecht.

It works as you’d expect it to without you having to mess with PHP code, and without it overriding any of your default CSS settings. Very nice. And of course it encourages people to post to get a (rolling) permalink in the home page sidebar right back to their site. Stop posting comments and after a while, you drop off the list. I really like that idea.

#4 – I also found another plugin that I’ve wanted for a while now but couldn’t find because I guess I used the wrong search terms. It’s called Configure SMTP by Scott Reilly and allows you to use SMTP to send mail from your WordPress blog rather than the default php mail function which is getting more and more difficult to get through spam filters nowadays.

As I’ve said before, even though I have both DomainKeys and SPF enabled on my domain, some email still doesn’t get through. That’s why I use AuthSMTP.com on mail critical applications such as my support desk. And that’s where I’ll now also be using AuthSMTP.com – on my blog.

So the little carrier pigeon email message you get when you leave a comment (and Subscribe to Comments – another great plugin) will hopefully get through.

Can you tell I like plugins that make my blog “sticky”? You should too, it will help your internet business.

Finally, the icing on the cake for me (and I really hope this plugin works) is Extra Sentence Space again from Scott Reilly. What a wonderful find. I’ve always disliked that HTML by default did away with the second space after a full stop (period if you’re from the US). I got fed up of manually inserting non-breaking spaces just to get that extra space back. This plugin puts the second space back again and makes your writing online as legible as your writing offline. Fantastic!

Or is that just me?

Enjoy.

-Frank Haywood

* One who makes or writes comments.
** An expert who observes and comments on something OR a writer who reports and analyses events of the day.

Posted by Frank Haywood in internet business

Another Email Consumption Update

Okay, I think I now have a solution for me which keeps me informed by the people who need to inform me, while cutting out all the noise from emails.

The goal is to give me more time to work on my internet business by cutting everyones biggest time consumer – email – down to next to nothing.

I have a Skype account that very few people have access to.  My closest friends online, who are just as busy as me and don’t do idle chatter, my developers, and my students.  I might hold one conversation a week average through that medium.

I have my support desk via TicketDesk Pro which has given me back 90 minutes a day of my life by cutting support time down from 2 hours to 30 minutes.  Most of the regular questions have the answers inside the Standard Responses (SRs).

I now have a private forum by which I can communicate with my developers, and where everything is recorded for all projects.  No more hunting through emails.

So that I don’t have to keep checking it every 30 minutes or so, I’ve created a unique email address where all notifications of new posts or responses from the private boards are sent to.

I’ve set up PopTray with just that one email account.  I’ve set it so that a double click on the PopTray system tray icon opens the private forum in my browser, and a middle click opens up the PopTray mail window where I can delete the new notification message.

And that 3-way punch seems to be working really well.

#1 – A Skype account that very few people have access to.
#2 – TicketDesk Pro to handle customer issues.
#3 – A private forum with email notifications picked up by PopTray.

I’m not sure if this exact set up would work for you, but it means that for me I can now largely ignore my email as the people that really need to get hold of me can.  I’ll leave this in place for another couple of weeks and then I may at last be down to checking my email once a week.

Maybe a variation of this would work for you and you can get a whole chunk of your life back.

-Frank Haywood

Posted by Frank Haywood in internet business

A Personal Update

I’ve been largely missing the last couple of weeks.  Only those customers asking for support will have really seen much of me.

There are two reasons.

#1 – I’ve been helping Alex Jeffreys get his new site together, and it’s taken a lot longer than either of us thought it would.  This is because Alex wanted to test out a few things, and so we had to take a bit of care over how the site was constructed, and more specifically the site flow.

#2 – My mom found out that her breast cancer had returned, so I’ve been very distracted and pre-occupied with that.  She had an op to remove the cancer and seems in good spirits.  A body scan (results came through yesterday) has revealed that there are no secondary cancers detected, but she’ll still have to go through radiotherapy and chemotherapy anyway.

It turns out that for the last 3 years since her last lumpectomy, she’s been taking a drug called Tamoxifen which has no benefits in her case.  They couldn’t (or didn’t) test at the time, but it appears that it has no effect on suppressing cancer for her.  It doesn’t work for everybody.

So two weeks ago they put her on a different drug called Irimidex which they’ve tested on her cancerous cells they removed and can see that also has no effect.  The only one that has proved positive for her in tests is the so-called wonder drug Herceptin.  She’s been told they’ll put her on that during or more likely after chemotherapy.

So it’s good news all round really, and a bit of a relief for us all.  Hopefully there’s just 6 months of her feeling very ill due to the chemotherapy, and she’ll be okay.

Time will tell.

On a much lesser note, I’ve been so distracted with other things that I just a few moments ago realised I wasn’t feeling very well myself.  Now I look back over the last few days, all the warning signs were there, but this time I didn’t notice.

I guess it’s just a “summer” bug (it’s just been announced that summer in the UK is on a Wednesday this year), but it’s scrambled my brain, made me ache all over, and generally made me feel very tired.

So I’ve just had something hot to eat, half a pint of orange juice, a couple of ibuprofen and I think I’m going to take a nap.

Just one of the many benefits of working from home…

-Frank Haywood

Posted by Frank Haywood in Personal

Direct Deposits From ClickBank

I’ve just spotted that ClickBank will now do direct deposits into your bank account.

Heaven!

No more cheques. And one less thing to worry about in your internet business – no more LOST cheques.

There are a few provisos, like your account has to have been open for 90 days and you must have received at least 3 paper cheques first, but if you’re in that position the upgrade is easy to do.  All you need is your bank account number and sort code, click a confirming link in an email, and that’s it.

You can read about it here and here.

-Frank Haywood

Posted by Frank Haywood in internet business