Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

Site SEO

Intro Search Engine Optimisation is an endless task. At the outset, WordPress is one of the most SEO friendly environments to develop a website. Adding SEO plugins such as All-In-One SEO enables even better SEO but there is no end to what can be done, often with diminishing returns. Site specific Content is king in the world of SEO. Google’s strategy for scouring the net favours good content. Artificial intelligence matches search phrases and serves the closest matches but also favours other factors such as how many other sites have linked to any given page – (backlinks). It used to be possible to “keyword stuff” but keywords in the header are largely ignored now. It is possible to build links yourself but Google recognises the quality of the sites from which those links come from and rates your site accordingly. So faking backlinks doesn’t work either. A lot more work can be done on the actual site such as building schemas for each page to help Google interpret each page.  Time consuming but this is one of the add-ons I offer to help build SEO. Google is constantly upgrading its “secret sauce” for rating sites – even employing real people to check that sites are what they say they are. There is a handbook for these real people to follow that is very detailed and if your site is rated badly you can drop in Google rating drastically. Any false SEO tactics on your site, misrepresentation, false backlinks or even

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

3 reasons you need a website

CredibilityWhen you give out your card, client refers you or someone looks you up in a directory – they will look for more information about you. Over 90% of your potential clients will look on the internet. Where else? FindabilityWithout a website no-one will find you when they search on the internet. A website with your location will mean local customers can find you. AvailabilityNot only can you advertise your opening hours but your website is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The talents and skills you offer can all be on display to anyone at anytime. Your contact page enable anyone to ask questions, book your services even allow customers to purchase or submit orders ReputationCustomer testimonials and case studies all show your ablities and your clients. A good website also allows you to refine your business brand as well as it’s image.   A well designed website is crucial to the growth of your business. First impressions are important. The first few seconds will tell if they stay or bounce off somewhere else. People will not recommend a business with a poorly designed business. Once you have a good website you then have scope to increase your business, be more visible, even add on-line services such as eCommerce. I’ll be listing tips and trick to ensure  an efficient website design and how to ensure it performs both for the user and for your business.

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

Membership Sites

Membership “Membership” means a lot of things ranging in complexity from just registering users on your site and perhaps requiring them to login, restricting content perhaps to certain levels of membership to full-blown subscriptions for premium content. I will evaluate your requirements and give you the best and most cost-effective solution. This might simply be allowing for users to be registered on your site so that they can subscribe to a newsletter (where you can deal with the administration of payments etc outside of your site). Add-on membership systems abound, but most will allow for setting up of regular subscriptions through PayPal and Stripe etc. Depending upon your site, you may need to integrate with your merchant functionality or perhaps a learning management system for premium course material. Most of these require some form of monthly/annual licencing which will require adjustments to your care plan to cover the extra licencing costs. The site development will also require extra work to integrate with your site’s functionality.

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

Windows for absolute beginners

I recently helped someone with a computer problem. They had been using a computer one way or another for about 10 years apparently. Yet, they referred to their “main screen” which was in fact their webmail (ie the gmail web site in a browser). Entered website addresses into their google search box and chose from the “found” list. Also didn’t know who Microsoft were and why they kept sending messages. If you are thinking “well d’uh” then read no further, but otherwise the rest of this blog might inform you. This user was not dumb, but had jumped into the Windows swimming pool deep end and doggy paddled his way around. If you read on, hopefully I’ll at least help you swim without splashing too much! Start up Lets start with the act of turning your machine on. Even this is not always obvious since it can depend upon how you shut down but lets assume that you have shut everything down and are starting from the real start. The first thing you will see depends upon the machine, but there is always some image or white on black text before Windows itself loads. At this point you can press a key to produce a system menu that can let you get into the actual BIOS (basic in/out system) setup not Windows but the “raw” mechanics of the machine itself. The key to press will vary, it might say briefly on the bottom screen otherwise enter your computer make and

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

USB, Bits and Bytes

USB1, USB2, USB3, 3.1, micro-USB, even bits and bytes – I’ll try to demystify these for you below. The term USB or Universal Serial Bus will be familiar to most of you as used by memory sticks (flash drives, thumb drives are the same thing), commonly about the width of your thumb and slightly shorter (though as these have developed, they have go shorter to the point where I now have one that sticks out less than 5mm from the slot). The main development has been in capacities, speed and price. 128gb* is the max currently at an affordable price of about £25 though 512gb is available for about £150 and 1tb for £600). If you see very cheap ones such as one I see now on Amazon UK 1tb at £26, they are certainly fake. I know this because I have bought an allegedly 128gb stick and failed to copy my 60gb of music onto it. How do the sellers get away with it? Because normally it will take months for many people to reach the actual limit of perhaps 1gb (if you’re lucky). I researched and found a free software utility called h2testw (you’ll find it if you google that, if not email me and I’ll send you a free copy). Essentially this runs a read/write test and compares with the alleged storage space and speed stored electronically on the device itself. USB standards have jumped several times. USB2 was up to 4 to 5 times faster than

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

Windows 10 revisited

Windows users were being pressured to upgrade to Windows 10. It was free to install because Microsoft wished to change their income stream so that users will pay small amounts, to add extra functions to built in different applications. Most individual and small business users seldom buy Windows at all, they usually wait until their existing computers need replacing and get the current version included with their new model. Microsoft are trying to create a market similar to Android on tablets and phones where the income stream is from small apps. Perhaps eventually to create a subscription scheme whereby Windows is leased on a monthly basis like Adobe now do with PhotoShop and their other offerings – to use them you must subscribe to monthly payments. When these stop so does your ability to use their products. Microsoft officially ended their Windows 10 free upgrade program on July 29th 2016, approximately a year after the operating system was released and just days before the Windows 10 Anniversary Update arrived. Windows 10 is now running on 400 million active devices as of September, thanks in no small measure to that free upgrade offer. There are still a lot of Windows 7 and 8 PCs out there, however. For those that did want to upgrade but didn’t get around to it, there are still a couple of known ‘loopholes’ to get a free Windows 10 upgrade which Microsoft hasn’t bothered to close, even months after the offer formally ended, for instance for

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

The Turing test and support desks

Back in 2014 it was news that a chatbot had passed the Turing test. Way back in the 50’s Alan Turing (“father of modern computing” and he of ‘Enigma’ etc) proposed a test which translates today as two people chatting via text or a messaging window. If one were actually a computer (ie a chatbot) and it wasn’t possible to tell who was the real person, the computer (manifesting as chatbot) could be considered as having passed. Of course this doesn’t mean that it’s suddenly going to become our Artificially Intelligent overlord (although apparently chatbots on Twitter gain followers more quickly than humans); it just means that someone has devised a good set of rules that seem natural. In fact the case I am talking about was an entity called Eugene, modelled on a 13-year-old Russian schoolboy with English as a second language. So any observers would probably be more forgiving of little idiosyncracies. Most such chatbots are easy to get into loops; e.g.”Whats your name?” Eugene, ”How do you spell that?” How do I spell what?“Your name?” Eugene… So what has this got to do with support desks? I’d like to propose the opposite test – when does a support “chat” fail the Turing test. We have all had dealings with Asian help desks and their varying effectiveness. On the plus side they allow support to be provided 24/7. I recently changed web hosts for my 20 some websites and email. It was, to my surprise, fairly straightforward. Despite

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

Virus Checkers – Which

A short google for “best free virus checkers” will usually come up with AVG. Most years this is one of the best, but more recently the popups to upgrade to the paid version are more insistent and appear obligatory (but are not). Windows Defender is the Microsoft virus checker which you already have but it has a middling score in virus detection rates. In my early years of computing Norton Utilities was a must-have set of tools and worth paying for, but many of its functions (such as undelete) are a native part of windows now and few remember the days without the recycle bin. Norton Anti-virus seemed equally attractive but it gradually got larger and more cumbersome and interfered with other programs until I gave up with it. Sophos was my favourite for a while, then Kaspersky (because it was good and, firstly, free with the OU then with Barclays)  but now I use Webroot because it had a good deal for 3 devices and it had the top score for a while. It also has a password manager system which I am wary of using because I don’t want to get stuck with a virus checker that I can’t change because I’ll lose all my passwords. I had a client who had a ransomware issue – he had a screen demanding money to decrypt all his personal files. Fortunately it was not very good ransomware, in that all it had done was to add “.crypt” to the end

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

Virus checkers – Why

Firstly, a bit of background. Virus is an emotive term that conjures up images of plague and pestilence when in fact, as far as computers go, its just software. Sometimes little more than a practical joke or a demonstration by a mischief maker that says “look what I can do”. Other terms can confuse but essentially they are all software, programs designed to do something unbeknownst to the person whose computer has been “infected”. Some terms are listed below: Trojan: the virus is in another program that might wait before running or infect you whan you install the other program. Malware: just bad software in general, possibly hijacking your browser with a different search tool that forces more advertising or even takes you to web sites that may actually load a virus onto your computer. Adware is another term referring to software that pops up adverts or takes you sites you haven’t actually chosen. Not necessarily harmful but always annoying. Worm is a standalone piece of software that spreads itself and may at some future point carry out some harmful action RAT – remote access trojan that allows the creator (or someone else) access to your computer. phishing – a virus or web site that deceives you into entering your password etc All still software- a real virus can be airborne or transmitted on contact, in food etc, a computer virus can come  from a web site (usually by clicking on a dummy warning such as “Your Registry needs cleaning,

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

Security and backup, backup, backup

You may feel pressured to update your version of Windows because, you are told how support for older versions will cease… That doesn’t mean your computer will stop working, far from it. Although my Win 98 computer is dead now, I still have two XP computers that whir along just fine. Why? Because I have applications that only run on XP, the development has long since stopped yet I still need those programs. The main potential problem with MS ceasing support is that some of their upgrades plug security holes. Usually (but not always) these are bugs in new features that need fixing. Sometimes, however, they are long hidden issues that might only recently have come to light. The only example I can remember like this is the ‘heartbleed’ bug, very serious for Facebook, google and anyone with large databases of public information. Not an issue for the individual, and mostly that is the case for you. I say, mostly,  but you should always be prepared and back up since other things like disk failure etc can still happen. What can actually happen if you have a security issue and how can it be avoided? For most computers; an up-to-date virus checker and maintained firewall will prevent security problems. These are unlikely to cause you problems, what you need to be concerned about is what precautions are needed if your computer fails. For personal documents and photos held on your machine? Back them up in at least two different USB

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

How I work

Build it and they will come? Unfortunately not. A web site is not so much a product, more of an organic process, it must be built, for sure, but to be seen by search engines it needs to be active.  My workflow means that I build the site that you want and, for a small monthly charge I not only host it but keep it active with small changes that you request and regular security checks and updates to keep it safe and alive. I also establish a relationship with you. I send you regular reports summarising the activity on your site,  number of views, how many are new etc (and if you ask I can let you have a further breakdown on each site page and where access has come from). I develop using WordPress, some +35% of the web is built using this content management system or CMS.  Actually, the web was always and is still HTML (now HTML5) it is just extra functions that make it do fancier stuff like galleries, store and organise your content (stuff), that WordPress does for you (via php and javascript mostly). WordPress is Open Source which means that, it is not a commercial enterprise pleasing shareholder and prone to takeovers and even going out of business.  Being open source means that, rather than being coded by a bunch of random geeks, it has a well disciplined team of hundreds of wizard programmers who take WordPress places it needs to go, handle

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Delia Wallace Virtual PA

Ok I’ll come clean, she is my wife. That being said she was no walkover in creating her new site. She had high expectations and lots of feedback from her clients and work colleagues. We worked on a fairly minimal theme but pretty. It is a simple static web site that enable those interested in her services to find just a little more background and hopefully get an idea of Delia’s personality. In summary showcasing some of her art as well as the personal assistance she can offer online. deliavirtualPA.com We decided that the need was for a minimal yet functional look. Branding was a tough one, Delia’s love of art made the idea of something of her own as a logo seem a good idea. Her Nautilus shell was right-sized and pastel coloured and so I think works well on a minimal white background. The use of a script font was a choice to de-formalise somewhat. Too much looks gimmicky in my opinion but we feel we’ve struck the right balance here. A picture of Delia herself looking her usual happy self, rotated slightly, again to deformalise, adds a balance to the otherwise spare home page. Keeping the home page uncluttered is helped by the ‘click here…’ linking to the About page which, although it is on the menu the link in the text gives a flow to the background information being presented on the page. The other pages are more typical of such subject matter though the motifs

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

Passwords

I’ll admit there are sites I don’t bother using a good password, where I’ve been forced to “join” when all I want is some information. But if you need to give them ANY confidential information, especially payment info (even if they’ll always be sending to YOU), if its personal use a good password. Surprisingly, writing it on a post-it and sticking it yo your screen (at home that is) is probably as safe as anything, I mean is a burglar is at that point he could probably get all the personal details he wanted without even turning your computer on. Still, if everything else is secure, you should be a bit more circumspect about your on-line security too. Never use anything too obvious (“password” is one of the most common passwords!), avoid personal info that can be found elsewhere such as your birthday, maiden name etc.  For websites where I won’t be entering personal data I’ll uses a non-obvious but memorable password, perhaps the same one. I have lost nothing if such a site gets hacked. Once they starts to need personal data (and if this they ask for details they don’t actually need in the name of greater security or perhaps just for their marketing, don’t use the real data, give a false birthday etc). I often take the web site and apply my own recipe to it that make it hard to guess. How to remember them all? Since most problems with stolen details happen on-line you can

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Pat Bell Websites - Perth Articles

I need a new computer

I have been asked to recommend a replacement computer three times in the first fortnight of this year. So I thought I’d summarise what I think are the salient points to consider. The portability of a laptop means you can work anywhere but you can save as much as a third (specification for specification) by buying a desktop PC instead. Mac or Windows PC? It doesn’t matter too much these days in terms of functionality but again spec. for spec. a Mac is much more expensive albeit possibly more reliable. However, as a computer professional I have always found the proprietary nature of everything Apple makes for a lack of flexibility and a drastically increased cost with anything related. OK I’ll hold my hand up, “I don’t like Apple” I can’t frig about with their devices as much as I can non-Apple stuff. Actually, as an update to this post, since I wrote this I have had two separate clients with Mac issues. For many the main problem is usability, they were used to a PC and the Mac is very different. However, as I told them, in a couple of months, probably much less, they will be wondering how they ever even used Windows. Macs are more reliable both software and hardware, which is probably why I have less experience of them. The software isn’t perfect, most of the problems, though, seem related to conversing with the outside (my recent support related to Mac eMail not reading IMAP folders

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Acknowledgements

Icons by dDara from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0
Icons made by Pixel Buddha from www.flaticon.com Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash Beach Image by  Gregory Culmer Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com Icons made by fjstudio from www.flaticon.com Icons made by Pixelmeetup from www.flaticon.com Icons made by Darius Dan from www.flaticon.com  
This product includes GeoLite2 data created by MaxMind, available from https://www.maxmind.com.

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