Facebook broken? Facebook not loading?

14 October 2009

If you're finding Facebook really slow to load, or Facebook isn't loading at all, or maybe Facebook is broke, there is still a way for you to login and check.

For older mobile phones that need a different view of Facebook, rather than the normal web browsing user, it goes to a different website address - http://m.facebook.com

Although it's the phone view of Faceboo and functionality and usability is cut down, you can still access the mobile view of Facebook on your desktop or laptop computer.

The mobile version of the Facebook website is a lot faster to load, doesn't need javascript to be swtched on, and is hopefully just a tempromental way for you to check your Facebook while the normal Facebook is not working.

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Building a Keyword Ladder

24 September 2009

A keyword ladder is working backwards from your goal when it comes to keywords.

The aim is to optimise your website for the keywords that you want to be found through search engines, but not necessarily diving straight in at teh deep end - but starting at the bottom of the keyword ladder and working your way up.

For example - being a website designer, I want people to type in website design and be top - except with all the competition that is highly unlikely.

Instead you need to build a keyword ladder which will have other key phrases that will also do me good if found.

So the longer the search term, the less results there will be - therefore less keyword competition.

So after "website designer" my next key phrase would be "freelance website designer".

"Freelance website designer" still has my initial "website designer" in there and so will benefit me overall, but having the extra word just cuts down the keyword competition and so gives me more chance of being found.

Again I can target my results more and aim to optimise for "freelance website designer swindon".

Now that I'm using a geographical location the results should be cut right down.

So my keyword ladder would be aiming to get a lot of traffic for "freelance website designer swindon" once that's top (or close to), then I'll optimise my website more for "freelance website designer" and once I'm on the first page of Google and getting plenty of traffic for that search term then I'll work on optimising my website for "website designer".

Although the more keywords in your key phrase means there will be less competition, it will only be drawing in a small percentage of your goal keywords.

Including your main keywords is lower steps of your keyword ladder is a big benefit as when it comes to optimising for your main keywords you've done a lot of the work already.

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From a design to a website

23 September 2009

Hopefully when designing your website you used a design package (like Adobe Photoshop) that uses layers.

The best way to now get that design onto a web page is to cut up the layered image into all the parts that you need.

Now when writing your HTML you should write it in a way that works with the layers so you can have a background image on a <div> tag, for example, and then have another <div> tag within the first <div> tag with the next layer up of the overall image.

As a lot of parts from the overall image may have a transparent background be sure to save them as either a .gif or a .png file so that the image has transparency.

If there's content areas within your website's design be sure to have a top to the content area, a middle slice of the content area and the bottom part of the content area.

Having the content areas in 3 parts means that you can write as much content as you want and the middle slice of teh content area can have a background repeat of repeat-y - then the content area box will stretch with the amount of text that you write.

Also for accessability reasons the end user will be able to increase the font size and it will just increase the content area's box size as well rather than having the text continuing outside of the content area and looking messy.

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Starting to design a website

22 September 2009

When it comes to start designing a website it's best to start on paper.

You can always go online and look at other websites for inspirations and ideas, but to design your own website the easiest way is to start drawing it on paper.

Drawing designs is a lot quicker and easier and enables you to get more ideas out there quicker, and draw up a few different ideas - rather than designing straight onto the computer using a design application (such as Adobe Photoshop) which is much more time consuming.

Once you're happy with your paper version - then you can take your time to put your design into digital format and mock it up on the computer.

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Can receive emails, but not send them

21 September 2009

If you're setting up an email account and you find that you can receive emails, but not send them, you'll first need to answer the following questions:

  • What Operating System do you have on your computer? (Windows XP, Windows Vista, etc...)
  • What email client are you using? (Outlook Express, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007, Thunderbird, etc...)
  • Do you have a Firewall on your computer at all? (Windows Firewall, Windows Defender, Zone Alarm, etc...)
  • What error messages are you receiving?

With these answers your problem should be able to be diagnosed easily.

A few common reasons could be:

  • Your Firewall might be blocking some Internet activity and causing emails not to be able to send - check that your SMTP port is allowed through the Firewall
  • Outlook Express (and older versions) are not compatible with Windows Vista
  • You may need to tick the "Use secure authentication"
  • You may be trying to use the wrong username and password combination for your email account

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Dynamic style sheets using PHP

20 September 2009

Sometimes you may have the need to create a style sheet using values from within a datebase table, or you may need to pass variables into the style sheet.

To do this you will need to create a dynamic style sheet.

A few uses of a dynamic style sheet would be:

  • Within a CMS where the user can pick their own colours
  • When you have different areas within your website all with different colour schemes
  • When your website has accessibility functionality that allows the website user to change font sizes

And any other reason when it's easier to just have the one dynamic style sheet, rather than writing multiple style sheets and selecting teh correct one depending on user selection or area of the website being viewed.

To create a dynamic css style sheet you will need to have your style sheet as a php file, so for now we'll call this "style.php".

On any page that uses the style sheet you will need the following as normal (but remember it's .php not .css)

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/css/style.php" />

Or if you wanted to pass a variable into the dynamic style sheet, like a colour scheme for that page you'd do something like:

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/css/style.php?colour_scheme=<?php echo $colour_scheme; ?>" />

On the dynamic style sheet (style.php) the first few lines have to be

header("Content-type: text/css");

This basically tells the web browser to render this file as a css style sheet.

On the dynamic style sheet you can just add your styles as usual, until you want something dynamic at which stage you'd need to call it using php. Here's an example using the colour_scheme variable we used above.

if ($_REQUEST['colour_scheme'] == "blue")
echo "color:#0000ff;";
echo "color:#ff0000;";

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Voice chat coming to Facebook

15 September 2009

Facebook is said to be getting voice chat functionality soon.

It's not actually going to be built by the developers of Facebook themselves, but instead it's being built b a company in Boston called Vivox.

The functionality, once made available to all, will enable you to have a voice chat to anyone on your friends list.

The way things are going, soon Internet users won't actually need any other website other than Facebook...

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Tag a friend in your Facebook status

15 September 2009

Now you can tag a friend in your Facebook status.

Start by typing @ and then your Friend's name, like @Joe Bloggs.

As you start typing your friend's name it should show you a drop down of friends to pick from.

The status update will then turn this friend's name into a clickable link so that others that are reading your Facebook status will be able to click through to your friend's Facebook profile.

All the time Facebook is becoming more and more like Twitter, and using this @ tag is just another step in the Twitter direction.

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2 games to play when I'm bored

14 September 2009

When I'm bored I'll always turn to the Internet...

I've recently been introduced to 2 highly addictive online games which are great to kill any boredom I may be experiencing.

The first game is called Bejeweled 2 - a simple, easy to pick up game where you need to join gems of the same kind to make them disappear and so score points.

  • Get 3 gems in a row to clear them.
  • 4 gems in a row to turn them into a power gem - which will be a glowing gem, and where put in a row will cause it to explode.
  • Or 5 gems in a row will gain you a hypercube - which will be a white glowing orb type piece, when used will get rid of every gem on the board with that same colour.

Bejewled 2 can be found at - www.popcap.com/games/free/bejeweled2

The second game is called Panda Pang.

Panda Pang is in Japanese (or a similar foreign language) - but basically if you click the top link on the main menu it will start the game.

Using your mouse you need to click to shoot what looks like fried eggs (but in green and blue).

When shot a few times the alien shape will divide into 2 more of the same shape, just a bit smaller than the original.

Once all the alien shapes have been shot away then the level is complete and you progress to the next level.

Using the power-ups available you can upgrade your gun, gain yourself a shield, pause all the alien shapes from moving, speed up your Panda, blow up all the alien shapes to their smallest fomr (not always a good thing) or re-generate all your gun's power to full.

Panda Pang can be played for free at - www.zeronews-fr.com/flash/pandapang.php

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Visual Basic 6: Check directory or file exists

12 September 2009

When opening files or directories from within a Visual Basic application you need to check that the file or directory exist, rather than crashing the appliaction and returning un-necessary errors.

The following 2 functions I use to see if the file and directories exist.

The functions will return the value "true" if the file or drectory do exist, and "false" if not.

Public Function FileExists(filename As String) As Boolean
    On Error GoTo ErrorHandler
    FileExists = (GetAttr(filename) And vbDirectory) = 0
End Function

Function DirExists(DirName As String) As Boolean
    On Error GoTo ErrorHandler
    DirExists = GetAttr(DirName) And vbDirectory
End Function

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