Thursday, 31 July 2014

How-to: Configure and use Sender Policy Framework

We had a curious phenomena until recently in which email generated by the client's newly launched website was being rejected as spam by some members of its partner network.

After a diagnosis of the mail formatting, the suggestion was that SPF needed to be configured. You may realise that SPF is not a quality measure for sunscreen...

SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. It is an email validation system designed to prevent email spam by detecting email spoofing, a common vulnerability, by verifying sender IP addresses. SPF allows administrators to specify which hosts are allowed to send mail under a given domain by creating a specific SPF record. So far, so technical...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

How-to: Design for Dyslexia Part I

Dyslexia is a medical condition affecting the perception and decoding of symbols including text and digits, making reading, writing and spelling difficult. It is a learning disability unconnected with intelligence  - in fact most of the dyslexics I know are of above-average intelligence.

It is a common learning difficulty in a range of conditions which could affect as many as 15-20% of the population, could we but diagnose, measure and classify these conditions better.

Which, meantime, leaves us web-designers - and so many of use are web-designers now - with the challenge of designing for those with reading difficulties.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

How-to: Add users to administer a Facebook business page

It's been possible to create a Facebook page for a business or organisation for a while. It just wasn't easy to administer a page; hard to find controls, settings scattered about, not intuitive, not easy to find... you get the idea.

Want to add other Facebook users as admins or editors to a page? Take a deep breath...

Until the most recent make-over of Facebook pages actually produced an improvement! All the page settings have been pulled together in one place, where you can find them - and they're almost self-eivdent. How's that for a Facebook usability good news story?

Monday, 21 July 2014

How-to Create a Facebook business page

There's more than one type of Facebook page. Aside form a personal profile, complete with timeline and messages, you probably already know you can create pages for organisations, businesses and groups. They used to be called fan pages, but since Facebook went commercial, pages have gone beyond that.

These other types of pages still have to be attached to a personal profile, but from there you can create any number of pages.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

How-to: WordPress Sitemap Page Without Plugins

Having inherited development of a client's site, I looked at the amount of clutter my illustrious predecessor had built up and decided it was time for a spring clean. It ddin't help that some of the old plugins proved imcompatible by the time we upgraded Wordpress through six or seven versions.

I've come across recommendations for WordPress sites to function with a maximum of 10 plugins, for reasons of speed, flexibility, security and compatibility. Since we already had a site that was slow-loading, throwing errors and bulked up with plugins I hadn't a clue how to work, it seemed like a good idea.

Then I realised the site needed a site map...

Friday, 11 July 2014

How-to: Copy a site with Plesk Panel

In any systems or website development, there are a couple of golden rules. Always test your code before you promote to Live. Always have a development copy to work on; don't develop on Live. Make your mistakes in the development copy - where you can correct them in private.

In disciplined software development, you could have a number of site copies; local development, Integration site, UAT, Staging, Live; possibly more, possibly fewer, but always with Live separated from the messy business of development and testing. You can quality control your site and promote changes into Live when ready.

But you need to create a copy of the site to work in; whichever way around you do that is up to you, but the process will be commonly like this...

Monday, 7 July 2014

How-to: View and clear untrusted certificates on Firefox

Firefox is pretty good on security, such that when a site presents an SSL certificate that doesn't cross-match to the owner of a number of other properties, it throws a message:
This Connection is Untrusted: You have asked Firefox to connect securely to, but we can't confirm that your connection is secure. Normally, when you try to connect securely, sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are going to the right place. However, this site's identity can't be verified.
For untrusted certificates, you may choose to accept the connection by confirming it as an exception which Firefox then stores. Which is fine until you need to clear the exception and start over. Although Firefox isn't that intuitive about where to view those certificate exceptions and how to clear them...

Saturday, 5 July 2014

How-to: Understand Take-down Requests - Part 1

I had to submit my first DMCA Take-down request this week. I was quite sad. Not only did I have to resort to one of the worst pieces of legislation to come out of the US since the Second Amendment, but it also made me one of the establishment.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 1998: a poorly drafted, draconian piece of legislation foisted on the world by the music and movie corporates, proving that America really does have the best government money can buy.

DCMA is a standard process for US-based services and Internet Service Providers. United Kingdom-based ISP's have a different "DMCA Takedown" process (Cease and Desist) than those in the USA; see the Electronic Commerce Directive 2000 (if you have nothing better to do with your life).

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

How-to: Exclude items from Joomla search results

Joomla is a decent Content Management System for building websites. Among it's strengths, the very flexible use of modules, plug-ins and extensions. That is also a weakness when you have to go troubleshooting amidst a layered architecture of interlocking components.

Over on a client site (built by a third party), the discussion forum was supposed to be hidden behind the members' login wall.

So where to go to amend the search parameters?