Word Find

31 March 2009

Word Find is very similar to Boggle, except it's for one player.

A 4 by 4 grid is generated with random letters and you have to find as many words from the grid as you can within the time limit.

The time limit can be changed from the menu above, and also you can chose whether to build your dictionary as you go along or not.

As there is no dictionary file included you can build your own dictionary. Any word that's not already in your dictionary will be displayed at the end and you can chose whether to add it or not.

"Use letter scores" uses the scores for each letter as designated in the game Scrabble. The game will then record the high scores at the end of play.

Download now

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Why join forums?

30 March 2009

Forums are great places to show your expertise.

A forum topic is often started when they have a specific question or problem on there specialist area.

There are forums out there for everything - cars, music, programming languages, animals, etc.

Answering someone elses problem or question shows that you are good in your area of expertise, and that you know what you're talking about and that you should be chosen in that area of work.

Contributing in computer programming and website development forums allows me to show people that I know what I'm talking about and that I'm a trusted source if they have other website problems or needs.

As well as helping others and getting a good name for yourself, you can also use your forum signature to add a link back to your website.

Although this link may be a "nofollow" link, and so not give us any link juice, it is still a way to drive traffic to your website if other forum users are impressed with your answer.

Another method is to answer a forum question by linking to a blog entry or website page that answers the question. Find a question that you know the answer to - write a blog entry in which you answer the question - and then in the forum topic add a thread directing people to your blog or web page for the answer.

If one person finds this helpful, then it's likely to get you more traffic from other forum users as they know that this is where the answer is.

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Creating a dynamic sitemap or other xml file

29 March 2009

On a content management system you're likely to be creating and modifying your pages all the time. But what about the sitemap - do you also have to change this every time as well?

A lot of content management systems have a built in sitemap builder - but if you're creating your own content management system then you too will want to make your sitemap dynamic.

In xml you cannot call things from the database and pass in variables, and so the main file is going to be a php file.

So create your file as sitemap.php (or whatever other xml file you're trying to make dynamic).

At the very top of the document you want to tell web browsers to render this php file as an xml file.

To do this add the following few lines:

You should set HTTP header 'Content-Type: text/xml'

<?php
header('Content-Type: text/xml');
?>

The document is now an xml file that can handle php code and so you can carry out your database queries and stll echo the results in xml.

If you still want the file to be called sitemap.xml (or whatever the xml file is called) then you need to do something in your .htaccess file, like this:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^([^/]+).xml $1.php [L]

Now any file with an xml extension will display the same filename but with a .php extension.

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Facebook smileys - chat emotions

28 March 2009

A lot of you have probably used MSN Messenger before Facebook chat and so will be familiar with the smiley emotion faces that you can use.

Well some of you may also know that Facebook chat has similar smileys, but do you know them all?

Here's a list to get you started:

  • Facebook smile emotion
    :) or :-)
    Facebook smile
  • Facebook grin emotion
    :D or :-D
    Facebook grin
  • Facebook wink emotion
    ;) or ;-)
    Facebook wink
  • Facebook happy eyes emotion
    ^_^
    Facebook happy eyes
  • Facebook laughing eyes emotion
    >:o
    Facebook laughing eyes
  • Facebook cat smile emotion
    :3
    Facebook cat smile
  • Facebook grumpy emotion
    >:-(
    Facebook grumpy
  • Facebook sad emotion
    :( or :-(
    Facebook sad
  • Facebook crying emotion
    :'(
    Facebook crying
  • Facebook shocked emotion
    :o or :-o
    Facebook shocked
  • Facebook glasses emotion
    8) or 8-) or B)
    Facebook glasses
  • Facebook cool shades emotion
    8-|
    Facebook cool shades
  • Facebook tongue out emotion
    :p or :-p
    Facebook tongue face
  • Facebook woot emotion
    O.o
    Facebook woot
  • Facebook closed eyes emotion
    -_-
    Facebook closed eyes
  • Facebook worried emotion
    :/ or :
    Facebook worried
  • Facebook devil emotion
    3:)
    Facebook devil
  • Facebook angel emotion
    O:)
    Facebook angel
  • Facebook kiss emotion
    :-* or :*
    Facebook kiss
  • Facebook heart emotion
    <3
    Facebook heart
  • Facebook Pac Man emotion
    :v
    Facebook Pac Man
  • Facebook robot emotion
    :|]
    Facebook robot
  • Facebook face emotion
    :putnam:
    Facebook face
  • Facebook shark emotion (recently added thanks to Holly's comment below) - NEW!
    (^^^)
    Facebook chat emotion - Shark
  • Facebook penguin emotion - NEW!
    <(")
    Facebook
 chat emotion - Penguin
  • Facebook 42 emotion - NEW!
    :42:
    Facebook
 chat emotion - 42
    The reason behind the 42 Facebook emotion is from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where it says it's the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything".

If you want to give them all a go simply copy and paste this into a Facebook chat:

:) :D ;) ^_^ >:o :3 >:-( :( :'(

:o 8) 8-| :p O.o -_- :/ 3:)

O:) :-* <3 :v :|] :putnam:

Facebook Smileys

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Twitter Remote and MyBlogLog

27 March 2009

Twitter's Twitter Remote and Yahoo's MyBlogLog are two javascript applications that can be placed on your website or blog to show recent visitors to your website or blog.

MyBlogLog, a service owned by Yahoo, is a social network where you can join groups communities and also add friends/contacts.

MyBlogLog requires a YahooID and then will allow you to show every way of communication - Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and lots more social networking and web 2.0 websites.

Twitter's Twitter Remote doesn't require any additional signing up, but as long as you have a Twitter account you're ready to use.

MyBlogLog requires a line of JavaScript be placed somewhere on your website or blog entry. The JavaScript doesn't display anything on the page, but just records anyone who is currently logged into YahooID and has a MyBlogLog account as viewing your page.

On your MyBlogLog page it will show who has recently viewed your blog or web page. MyBlogLog applications are also available to place on your page so that it will show on your page who has recently visited it.

Twitter Remote is a piece of JavaScript that, again, is placed on your web page or blog entry and as long as the page visitor is currently logged into Twitter Remote it will show their face on the Twitter Remote, along with a few basic stats and some links to Twitter.

If you're not currently logged into Twitter Remote then you can login by clicking a link on the Twitter Remote. A small box will appear asking for your details, and then this will keep you logged in for every web page or blog entry that you visit from then on that has the Twitter Remote on it.

So down to the question at hand - which one, Twitter Remote or MyBlogLog, should you place on your page?

I have seen them both in action and my conclusion would be - use both (if you have the space).

If you have space on your website and you have a Twitter account then Twitter Remote will be a great way for visitors to get involved and also gives them a reason to return to your website and get their Twitter profile some more publicity and hopefully will gain them more Twitter followers.

MyBlogLog doesn't have to show anything on the page and so is well worth having on your website and blog entries. It will take a little bit of time to set it all up with all your different social networks, but once done it's a great way to get your links out there.

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Days alive calculator application

26 March 2009

Using Visual Basic (VB6) I have developed a calculator that will work out how many days you've been alive.

The application may be seen as quite useless and pointless - but at the same time if you're trying to work out how many days you've been alive, then it's perfect!

To use the calculator to find out how many days you've been alive all you need to do is enter your date of birth and click "Calculate".

It will show your date of birth, today's date and the number of days in between (the number of days you've been alive).

If you find this application useful, or if you find any problems please let me know any feedback.

Download now

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Writing copy for email newsletters

25 March 2009

First of all, people don't often read emails.

Some people receive at least 5 or more email newsletters every day, and when they have 20 or more other emails as well they're likely to just delete the email newsletters and get on with the other work they have.

The email newsletter subject is the single most important thing, as if the subject isn't of interest there's no way they're going to open this newsletter as apose to any other email that they have.

The subject needs to be:

  • Eye catching - but not all in capitals
  • Rewarding (giving something to the email reader) - but not in a spam like way
  • To the point - only mention what the email actually has to offer

Once the email subject has done the job f getting the client to open the email now you have the job of trying to get them to actually read some of the content, rather than scanning and deleting.

Break the email up using headings.

The headings will tell the reader what they're going to read about in this section, if it's of no interest then the reader may go to the next heading and so on.

If the first section does not catch the reader's attention then this may be the delete point of that email.

Make sure you place the most important stories at the top, as these are more likely to be read (or quickly scanned).

Don't make emails too image heavy, as by default most people have images turned off until they chose to view them.

The copy of the email should be short and to the point - and then always offer links to a website where they have the option to read more if they chose to do so.

Never put lines and lines of text. Blocks of text will be dismissed because they look too time consuming and boring.

The chances are that within an email the reader will only click on one link and will then not return to the email newsletter, but will stay on the website and explore until bored and then you've lost them altogether.

Readers love bullet points and numbered points as this shows short lines and not massive blocks that they have to read.

Writing copy for emails is quite a challenge because every user is different, and if they don't even open the email then the whole email goes to waste.

Only send the email newsletter to those who have chosen to receive it and make sure it is of interest to these people.

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Use the right pictures online

24 March 2009

They say a picture can paint a thousand words - and so why not make every word count by using the correct picture.

Always make sure that you have permission to use the picture:

  • Don't pick a picture of Google Images and just use it
  • Ask permission if the picture is not yours
  • Do not break any copyright laws
  • Use your own original pictures
  • Do not use any offensive, pornographic or racist pictures
  • Buy pictures legally from websites like iStockPhoto.com

Once the picture has been chosen you also need to put it in the correct place. Place the picture next to relevant text. The picture means nothing if it's just stuck on a page to make it look colourful and pretty. If there doesn't need to be a picture then don't add one just for the sake of it.

Never use a picture instead of text unless there is alternative text for the picture so that users with pictures turned off can still see what the picture was going to be of.

Keep consistency with your pictures - all have a set theme, set placement on the web page, set width or set height - don't mess up your website with untidy designs caused by pictures all over the place of different sizes.

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Web8 game

23 March 2009

Web8 is a game I invented.

It has similarities to Soduku, but instead of a 9 by 9 grid it's a circle with 8 rings and 8 rows in each ring.

The aim of the game is to fill in every area on the grid and then hit the "Check Answer" button.

When starting a new game the grid will randomly select some areas on the grid and will fill in a random number.

After clicking the link please next click "Download", "Save as", or something similar (as web browsers may vary). Save it somewhere on your computer that you will remember and then give it a go.

The user interface isn't beautiful - but the game functionality should be there. If I get some good reviews then I will think about developing the interface and submitting to online download websites.

Just remember - if you ever see this in the future - I made it first!

The game was built in a programming language called Visual Basic 6 (VB6) to anyone who's interested.

Download now

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Website analytics are always useful

22 March 2009

Even if you don't analyse your website's analytics in depth it's still worth recording them.

"Why?" I hear you call - these analytics can tell you so much about your website, even just at a quick glance.

For instance, having a look at a line graph quickly you're always going to see the peaks - as these really stand out. Look at the date's of these peaks and you'll then know when your website gets the most visitors, you can then aim your marketing towards this time of year (Mothers day, Fathers day, Christmas, Easter, etc.).

If you go to your website's bounce rates you will see what pages visitors enter your site on and then leave immediately. From this data you can check the search engine description and page title that is being given and see if it's actually of relevancy, because if not - this may be why people don't stay on your website and explore.

Look at your percentage of website exits next. If it's an external payment page then it's hard to tell whether they left your website to go to PayPal or World Pay to pay, or whether they didn't like your pitch page and so just closed the website.

If they left because they didn't like a pitch page then this means you need to offer them something more, or word it differently to try and make some sales.

You can see what keywords and key phrases are being used to find your website and so you can optimise for the keywords that aren't currently in this list - or those that are just a bit further down the list and not getting such a high percentage of click through rates.

Links to your website should also be shown as referral websites. This can show you which social network is generating the most traffic for you, or what websites your visitors are also interested in.

These website analytics can show so much information and can help you to tweak the pages for the best results and hopefully improve the amount of sales.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) specialists will also ask to see your analytics so that they know what's working, what's not and will then recommend the next steps.

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