Tag diamond mind web design

Don’t Be Like Bill

be-like-jayneYesterday was International Data Privacy Day. Ironically, 1 in 10 people reading this post probably had their data stolen yesterday through a malicious Facebook app. Maybe this one, maybe not — depends on which source you believe — but data-stealing apps are out there and being used constantly by unaware, or unsavvy, FB users.

You should avoid those apps-of-the-month, but if abstinence from FB apps just isn’t something you can practice, here’s a good rule of thumb to identify the bad’uns: If you are ON Facebook, and click on an app or post that then asks you to log into Facebook before continuing, you can bet the mud farm that it’s about to record and misuse your login and personal info.

Depending on how enthusiastic you are in populating your Facebook profile with personal data about yourself, and/or how lax you are with passwords, that info can give the bad guys the ammunition they need to impersonate you on FB, steal your identity, even discover and access your financial accounts. Trust me, if they aim to misbehave, you would be very surprised at how easy it is to do so once you have clicked and given them permission.

Missouri Sun Solar

It’s always nice to wake up and find one of your clients featured in an article on the front page of the local newspaper. (In a non-criminal fashion, of course!) In this case, our latest client, Missouri Sun Solar, was one of the businesses spotlighted in an excellent article by Thomas Gounley of the News-Leader, titled “Why Solar Power Is Finally Having Its Moment In The Sun.”

We took on this project in collaboration with our friends at High Tide Communications. The project entailed turning an existing static website into a customer-manageable WordPress installation, while keeping the look of the site as close to the original as possible, as well as moving the whole thing to a new web host. We also needed to ensure the new site communicated captured leads to the client’s CRM.

Here’s a screenshot of part of the new homepage — improved from the original, in our opinion 🙂 — and the best part is that the client loved their new site so much, they immediately hired us to do a second, similar project! So thanks to Mar’Ellen and Melissa at High Tide, and Jason at Missouri Sun Solar — it was a great collaboration.  Or, as they say in Firefly, shiny!

Microsoft Loves You! (More Than You Know)

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you upgraded to Windows 10 yet?  By all accounts, it is leaps and bounds better than the universally-reviled Windows 8, and keeps alive Microsoft’s odd/even string of cursed/decent operating system releases.  The best part is that it is free (supposedly) to current Windows 7 and 8 users, though we have yet to test this out ourselves.

The less-than-wonderful part? Apparently the new OS is none too shy about spying on your activity — nothing new for Microsoft in terms of browser usage, but their data collection has now expanded to include the contents of messages and calendars, apps and networks, some purchases, what you upload to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, and use of the sparkly new Cortana search assistant.

Of course, you can opt out of all (?) of this stuff during installation, or afterwards if you’re the kind of person who never reads those Terms & Conditions screens (which means 99.5% of humanity). After all, Microsoft would never, ever want to know things about their customers without permission, right? As they have stated, “real transparency starts with straightforward terms and policies that people can clearly understand.”

Here’s the catch: that “transparency” comes in the form of 45 pages of service agreement documents. And you can believe those docs aren’t written in the King’s English, either, but rather in the kind of techno-legalese that pretty much guarantees you give up reading after three pages or so.  This comment from a terrific Rock Paper Shotgun article pretty much says it all:

There is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes “real transparency.”

Why all of this data collection? Two words: targeted ads.  No different than the practices of Facebook, Google, Twitter, or any other “free” online service whose end game is knowing as much as possible about you, and therefore about what you would like to buy. So, buyer-beware, and user-beware, when it comes to upgrading. Oh, and if you happen to currently use some other browser than Internet Explorer (and by all that’s holy, you should), be prepared to have that overridden by the upgrade, as well. But that’s an article for another day!

Random Image Rotation – Sally Ride Google Doodle

I hope you all got the opportunity to check out the excellent Google Doodles honoring Sally Ride yesterday, on what would have been her 64th birthday. Sally was the first female astronaut in the United States, riding the space shuttle Challenger into space in 1983 and again in 1984. In addition to her inspiring career with NASA, Sally started a company helping to educate and inspire young people, with an emphasis on girls, to pursue careers in science.

Below are the five Doodles covering aspects of Sally’s life and career, as well as a “behind the scenes” video by the artist/animator of the doodles, Olivia Huynh. You may have noticed that the Doodles loaded randomly each time the Google home screen was refreshed.  This random image rotation effect can be accomplished with a small bit of Javascript, and we currently make use of it on several websites. If this effect is something you are interested in placing on your site, give us a call at (417) 496-9905.






A Kaleidoscope Of Mathematics

With the passing of troubled, yet undeniably genius John F. Nash, I felt like sharing this opening track to the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ by James Horner. Soundtracks are fast becoming a lost art, sadly, but inspiring works like this still pop up now and again to fire the imagination.

If you have not seen the movie, a Ron Howard rendering of Nash’s life as a Nobel Prize-winning mathmetician who struggled with schizophrenia for many years, I highly recommend it. In fact, you should watch it at least twice to really appreciate the nuances in the plot and the acting.

If you enjoyed this, seek out the rest of the soundtrack — you won’t be disappointed!

Lip-Synching FTW!

Anyone who knows me at all will have known that it wouldn’t be long before I posted something from the early ’80s! (Boy, that was a convoluted thought.) For those of you who weren’t around at that time, well, you missed out on something truly special, musically-speaking. The early ’80s was, and is, a treasure trove of so many wonderful songs and bands that it still pays dividends today, even thirty years later.

One of the bands I completely missed back in those days was Altered Images, led by the lovely waif from Scotland, Clare Grogan. Probably best known for “Happy Birthday” (included in one of the first scenes of Sixteen Candles), they weren’t around for too long, only putting out an EP and three albums, but during that time managed to run the gamut from punk beginnings to synth-and-bass New Wave. Here is a tune from their last album, sung “live” on Top Of The Pops, ca. 1983.

Yes, it is cliche to say that every song from the time had a saxophone break in it — though most did, ha! — but how many can you say had a trumpet solo? This next song did, and a heartbreakingly lovely one at that. Easily my favorite Altered Images tune, and a lovely but sad way for their career to end, as they broke up after this album (“Bite”) came out. Ach, but we miss ya, lassie!

You’ve Got (a) Deal! Verizon Buys AOL for $4.4 Billion

In our never-ending quest for all things ‘Net-nostalgic — and because the ‘Net isn’t that old, a lot of them refer to AOL — here is the latest: Verizon has agreed to purchase AOL lock, stock, and 5-bazillion-CD-cache, for $4.4 billion.

Sounds like a ton of money, but maybe not so much when you consider AOL was at one time valued at well over $200 billion. Then again, for a company almost no one under the age of 25 actually knew still existed, maybe that’s not such chump change after all.

In any case, here’s a terrifc “chat history” of AOL’s up/down/up again timeline from Mashable.com:

Powell Release Jazzes Up WordPress

Like jazz pianist Bud Powell, the latest release of WordPress (4.2) adds a bit of impressionistic flair to the old standard melodies. Upgrades to the Press This app and added ability to embed external media make writing and publishing so seamless and smooth, it’s like having a self-playing jazz piano at your fingertips. Watch the promo vid here:

Have You Checked Your Website for Mobile-Friendliness Yet?

Igoogle-mobile-friendlyf not, now would probably be a good time! Use this link to find out how Google sees your site:


Simply put in your website address, and you’ll get a return page after a few moment’s analysis. If your site is good, it will look like ours. After yesterday’s “Armagoogle” deadline (okay, I stole that), if your site is NOT mobile-friendly, you may have already lost ground in your company’s page rank.  And if you haven’t yet, it’s only a matter of time — the web is a big place, and Google is determined to serve mobile search users only pages that can be accessed and used by mobile devices.

Wondering why this change is happening? It’s not exactly sudden, as Google has been marking pages as mobile friendly, or not, for a few months, but this news out of the wireless cellphone service world, coming just one day later, seems like it might be the first dot in a much larger picture.

According to the article from Business Insider, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, Google will now be offering a “pay-for-use-only” data service for cell phones.  And while it may be limited at first, if there’s one thing that has proven true over the past 20 years, it’s that Google sees the big picture better than anyone. It’s not that difficult to speculate that more dots will be coming.

In the meantime, if you need help with your website’s mobile-friendly status, call Diamond Mind Web Design at (417) 496-9905, or fill out our brief Contact Form.  We will be glad to assist you!

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

Like it or not, it had better be, and soon. Google is making a major change to their ranking algorithm, beginning next week on April 21st, that will strongly affect mobile search results. If your website is already mobile-friendly, great! You’re ahead of the curve. If it’s not, though, what will this algorithm change mean for you?

bblootsWell, let’s say you’re pulling Page 1 search result rankings for “brown barbaloots”, but your website is not mobile-friendly. After April 21st, if a search for “brown barbaloots” is made from a desktop computer, you’re likely (but not guaranteed) to still be in the same position. But if the search is made from a mobile device, expect a significant drop in your search rankings.

According to Google, “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” What this boils down to is left unsaid: Users won’t be getting non-mobile-friendly-website results.

Don’t let that be you! If you are unsure about your website’s mobile-friendly status, use this handy tool provided by Google for that exact purpose. Simply put in your URL and Google will analyze your site and return its verdict. If it turns out to be a thumbs-down, what next? Depends on the site, as there are several possible options, including a redesign, a retrofit, and a new mobile-only site. If you need professional advice or help with moving ahead, call us at (417) 496-9905, or fill out our Contact Form.

Ding! Dong! The IE Witch Is Dead!

ie-deadWord from the Internet world — and very welcome word, I might add — is that Microsoft is finally doing away with Internet Explorer, and replacing it with “Project Spartan”.  The new browser is rumored to be something along the lines of Firefox or Chrome; in other words, a piece of software that actually works as it should!

Of course, nothing so widely in use as IE will ever really be dead, or at least not for a long while. But I can heartily say that I look forward to the day when I will no longer have to program a website to look and work right on every other browser in the world, and then re-program it all to work on IE alone. So you could look at the end of IE as a mercy killing — with the mercy going to we web professionals!

In keeping with our recent them of AOL-related posts, here is a funny article from Today.com’s Money division titled “Goodbye, Internet Explorer: 7 tech things we miss from the ’90s“. Don’t forget to watch (or listen) to the included video on dialing up AOL from a 56k modem. Ah, the sweet old sound of Internet surfin’ freedom!

SEO Myths Demystified

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Straight from the horse’s mouth — actually from Cyrus Shephard at The Moz Blog, which is even better — comes this article, titled “10 SEO Myths That Friggin’ Tick Me Off“.  Definitely worth a read, whether you are a purveyor of search engine optimization or a recipient of its decidedly NOT mythic results.

Here is the entirety of #8, “SEO is all tricks”, because of all the myths listed herein, this is the one I have to deal with most routinely. I have added some real-world translations after each:

“Tricks” is what professionals call bad, manipulative SEO that gets you penalized. The problem, I believe, is the first thing any developer or marketing manager hears about SEO is something close to “put more keywords in the title tag.”

If that’s all SEO is, it does sound like tricks.

Real SEO makes every part of content organization and the browsing experience better. This includes:

  1. Creating content that reverse engineers user needs (in other words, figuring out what your users want from you and giving them more of that)
  2. Making content more discoverable, both for humans and search engine crawlers (yes, you still need to use search terms within your content)
  3. Improving accessibility through site architecture and user experience (making sure your users can actually find what they are looking for on your site)
  4. Structuring data for unambiguous understanding (don’t have a page titled “Fruit” that talks about cars)
  5. Optimizing for social sharing standards
  6. Improving search presence by understanding how search engines generate snippets
    (putting succinct summaries where they need to go)
  7. Technical standards to help search engines categorize and serve content to the right audience (making your meta tags do what they need to do)
  8. Improving website performance through optimizations such as site speed (exactly as said)
  9. Sharing content with the right audiences, increasing exposure and traffic through links and mentions (getting your stuff listed and linked to from other places)

Each of these actions is valuable by itself. By optimizing your web content from every angle, you may not even realize you’re doing SEO, but you’ll reap many times the rewards.

To sum up, search engine optimization isn’t rocket science, but it does require some technical knowledge of how the Web works, some marketing skills, and some plain old common sense.  At Diamond Mind, we have all that stuff in spades, so give us a call when you need help with your SEO!


Assign A Legacy Contact For Your Facebook Page

facebook-redFacebook now lets you assign someone to take over your Facebook page in the event you pass away or otherwise become incapacitated.  This is actually some useful news from FB — a change from the usual, certainly.  Read more about this addition in this article from CNN, (inaccurately and over-sensationally) titled “Facebook Now Lets You Post When You’re Dead.”

Your legacy contact will be able to write a pinned memorial post, update your profile and cover photos, respond to friend requests, and even download all of your prior posts and photos if you so choose. They cannot log in as you, remove any prior posts, photos, or friends, or read any of your messages. And Facebook will require them to verify you are dead, if that is the case.

A morbid subject, yes, but one that several of my friends have already had to deal with.  I would suggest you take advantage of this option now, rather than make your loved ones do it later.  To read more about memorializing Facebook accounts and legacy contacts, click here.  BTW, you can also do the same for your Google+ accounts, not that anyone cares… 🙂


Anthem Breach Affecting 2 Million Missouri Residents

Yes, another data breach, from another big company. In case you haven’t figured this out by now, your personal identity data is no longer safe online. Think that’s an overstatement?  Try this list on for size:

  • Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield
  • Target
  • Niemann Marcus
  • Michaels
  • Dairy Queen
  • UPS
  • Home Depot
  • Goodwill
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Jimmy John’s
  • KMart
  • Staples
  • Sony
  • The list could go on and on

In case you’re wondering what that hacker is holding, it’s called a “floppy disk”, which were in use the last time data encryption laws were updated.

Image courtesy of chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

All of these companies have suffered data breaches recently, in each case losing thousands, if not millions, of customer data sets to hackers. That data, depending on the case, could include your name, address, SSN, credit card number, birth date, telephone, email, and so on. With so many hacks occurring, odds are your information was included in one.

One of the most interesting things in the news about Anthem is that insurers aren’t required to encrypt consumers’ data under a 1990s federal law that remains the foundation for health care privacy in the Internet age.  This seems kind of strange at first, but consider that any law dated from the 1990s is as outdated as AOL dialup, and REALLY needs to be updated.

Regardless of who is at fault, Anthem is at least attempting to give aid to the 2,000,000+ Missourians affected (and those in other states as well), by providing 2 years of free credit monitoring and identity theft repair through AllClearID. To read more about the hack from Anthem, click here to visit AnthemFacts.com. I highly suggest you sign up!


Dialup Internet Access — Still Alive And Kicking

You know, I think I still have a few of these!
Image credit: usna.edu

This article from my web host, titled “CyberLynk Discontinues Dialup/ISDN Internet Service After 20 Years“, got me to thinking about the old days of 56k and whether or not anyone still uses a phone line and a modem to access the Internet.  Turns out, they do!

Although I couldn’t find accurate statistics on current-day usage, a poll taken back in 2012 by the Pew Research Center found that 3% of Americans still used dialup. That may not sound like much, but it still means millions of people have to wait for that scratchy buzz and hum before surfing the ‘Net.

Believe it or not, some 2+ million folks still subscribe to AOL’s dialup service!! I have to wonder how many of those are not even aware that they’re still paying for said service.  Boy, thinking about the days when the only way onto the Web was through AOL sends chills of horror up my spine.

Most (though not all) of dialup usage is typically found in rural areas, where broadband is only available if you can afford satellite access. Of course, we’re talking about the U.S. here — I’m sure the figures are much, much higher in other parts of the world, if there is even Internet access at all.

The one thing I believe that will finally kill off dialup, even in rural areas, will be the overarching presence of smart phones — once everyone can get on the Web via their cell phone provider, even the small screen sizes won’t be as much of a hindrance as the achingly slow “speed” of dialup…


SEO Trends for 2015


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Interested in where SEO (search engine optimization) will be heading this year? Well, the good news is that Google (and one would assume Bing and Yahoo, as well) continues to put more and more emphasis on actual, real, and useful content. Useful  being the key word here (pun intended),

The object that web designers and business owners need to keep in mind is providing a good user experience, and apparently that now includes what content is being served to your users. Does it dovetail with your business? Does it impart some worthwhile knowledge?

Not sure what kind of content you need to be adding to improve your SEO? Why not just ask your users? Use surveys and/or social media to find out what they want, then give them more of that. (Or so said The Kinks, anyway.) For more on this subject, see this article titled “What You Need To Know About SEO Going Into 2015” by Sujan Patel. For help with your SEO, call Diamond Mind Web Design!


What The Heck Is Bounce Rate, Anyway?

1417819234964Let’s face it, SEO (search engine optimization) isn’t the most exciting subject, and it can be very technical in nature. Add those two together and you come up with something that isn’t easy to explain to clients! Still, most semi-savvy business owners know that Google Analytics is the best way to examine your website’s traffic, and have at least heard the term “bounce rate“. But what is it, really, and why does it matter?

This article, titled “What Is Bounce Rate, Is It Important, And How Do You Lower It?” does an outstanding job of putting the subject into layman’s terms. Fellow web designer Ariel Rule over at the Elegant Themes Blog breaks bounce rate down into those three methods of examining it, and gives readable, succinct answers to each. And in case you are wondering, the answers are: 1) “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).” (as defined by Google), 2) yes, and 3) you’ll have to read the article, and/or call us, to find out!

Let The “I Hereby Declare…” Nonsense Begin!

10734305nIf you are a Facebook user, you’ve probably experienced this more than once: Facebook announces they are making changes to (some/any) policy, and suddenly a spate of posts pop up everywhere with folks announcing that they hereby declare they aren’t putting up with this $#&%!  By God, Facebook can’t do this, and they can’t do that!  Well, guess what? Facebook is making another policy change, so you can expect yet another round of nonsense to begin.

Why do I call it “nonsense”? Well, firstly, to expect Facebook to make changes to anything that are not to Facebook’s advantage in some way, shape or form is just ridiculous.  Facebook is a business, not a gift from Mark Zuckerberg to all of us wonderful people out here, and as such, is in business to earn money. Every policy change they have ever made is a step towards making more money, and every change they ever will make will be the same.

Secondly, by signing up for an account on Facebook, you agree to their Terms & Conditions, and no amount of “I hereby declare…” legalese, no matter how many times you post it, is going to override the fact that you agreed to abide by their rules. Period.  Next time you’re in the grocery store, try this: Pick up a loaf of bread, state “I hereby declare that I will not pay for this bread!”, and walk out.  Okay, so it’s not a perfect metaphor, but the end result is the same — you’re wasting your time and breath.

You, and only you, are in charge of how much you share on Facebook, and with whom you share it. If you don’t like what Facebook does with your information/posts/photos/whatever, then don’t share that information! Again, you are given the tools by Facebook to be “social”, but only on their terms, whether you read them or not. In any case, I highly suggest that you carefully review all of your privacy and security settings. If you need more information, you can start here: Facebook Privacy Basics. Or, if you have specific questions, we are always glad to help!