Archive for February 2013

Simple Mail List – abandoned, but still useful

February 27th, 2013 — 9:05pm

I recently had a need for a low cost / free mailing program. Something web based, that would allow users to subscribe, then allow an admin to send out messages to the list pretty easily.

With a little searching, I stumbled upon Simple Mail List – a great looking tool, just what I needed. Written in php and mysql, and free, it was the perfect fit for my needs.

Or so I thought. Turns out Version 2 of SML is “beta”, and development stopped several years ago. Many (basic) features were not implemented, or are buggy. After installing it, and discovering all the issues, I decided to tough it out and hack up the code, finishing the features I needed.

So now I have a working installation, at least sending emails, and performing the basic required functions. Since this software is basic, it is ok with me that it’s abandonware. That’s the term for software that has been abandoned by it’s original writers. Since the software in this case is still under copyright, I can’t fix it up and “sell” it, and probably can’t even redistribute my fixes.

This highlights a problem most webmasters will face when they “go cheap”. There’s a real risk that the time and effort invested in a free software product will be wasted when that code is abandoned, bugs aren’t fixed, new required features go undone, or major security holes are discovered and go unpatched.

So be wary of using software without a business model. If the programmers can’t sustain the development, eventually they will move on to other projects.

Comments Off on Simple Mail List – abandoned, but still useful | Programming, Projects

Stale social media

February 20th, 2013 — 3:08pm

I recently (today) came across a vendor website that had their latest tweets – here’s was the latest:

12/23/2012 22:18 - Happy Holidays from all of us here at Company X. May the new year bring happiness and joy.

Ok, it’s late February now. It’s fine if they decided not to bother with Twitter, but at least take it off the site. The bottom line is, if you are going to do social media, do it regularly. Seeing stale posts like this will make prospective clients wonder if the company is still a going concern.

If you try a venue, like Twitter, and decide it’s not really working, at least post a “signoff” message, with a link, so people know you are know longer actively using the account. Better yet, just pick the social media outlets that work for you, and get in the habit of posting there regularly, at least once a week.

Ironically, the company in this outdated twitter message had other news to post over the last few months, but for some reason, didn’t bother sending it to twitter. In the meantime, their site showcases an embarrassing social media misstep to potential customers.

Comments Off on Stale social media | Social Media

Foray into SEO

February 7th, 2013 — 9:10am

After years of avoiding any direct “search engine optimization” as a service. It always seemed like a “snake oil” business – with unrealistic promises and expectations the norm.

However, I’ve recently started using some tools to “dig in” and get some valuable reporting and analysis of websites. This allows me to make recommendations and changes, while avoiding any guarantees about search results.

My main tool is SEOMoz. This program scans the client site (and competitor sites), and gives a lot of data from which I can offer suggestions to my clients. It also keeps historical data, so we can see any I’m still in the early stages of this service, but so far the feedback is good.

Another good tool is Google Webmaster Tools. This can give you some insight into how google sees your site, any errors or issues it encounters, etc. Checking this area once a month is a good way to keep your site humming along, and hopefully climbing the search ranks.

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