Warning: Table './schoonz_drupal7/watchdog' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: INSERT INTO watchdog (uid, type, message, variables, severity, link, location, referer, hostname, timestamp) VALUES (0, 'php', '%message in %file on line %line.', 'a:4:{s:6:\"%error\";N;s:8:\"%message\";s:30:\"Function split() is deprecated\";s:5:\"%file\";s:63:\"/home/schoonz/public_html/sites/all/themes/zen/zen/template.php\";s:5:\"%line\";i:132;}', 3, '', 'http://www.schoonzie.com/', '', '54.234.228.64', 1413898269) in /home/schoonz/public_html/includes/database.mysql.inc on line 128
Schoonzie | Freelance Drupal Developer and Internet Marketer

PayPal Website Payments Pro for Australian Businesses

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According to the PayPal support person I spoke to earlier this week PayPal is planning to make their Website Payments Pro service available to Australian businesses at the end of year.

PayPal Website Payments Pro is PayPal's version of a payment gateway allowing you to process credit card payments without making customers leave your site. This service has been available to businesses in the US and UK for a few years now and with a bit of luck Australian businesses will also be able to use the service.

Website Payments Pro is a fair bit easier and cheaper to set up than a normal payment gateway because you don’t need to go through the hassle of getting an internet merchant account with your bank and then getting a payment gateway to process the payments from your shopping cart. The difference is that the payments will be stored in your PayPal account until you manually withdraw them, whereas with a traditional setup the funds go straight into your bank account.

However the main benefit that it gives Australian businesses is being able to sell in other currencies (like USD and GBP). Unless you're willing to spend a lot of money with the NAB, charging in anything other than AUD has been out of reach for most Australian businesses.


[VIDEO] How to use the Menu Attributes module for Drupal 6

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I just recorded this video showing how to use the Menu Attributes module for Drupal 6. I'm still getting used to recording so please excuse flawed delivery :)

I'll be posting a transcription with some screenshots later this week you prefer that way of learning.

You can download the module here.


Syncing Windows Mobile Phone with Google Apps Contacts and Calendar

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For those of you who are unlucky enough to have a Windows Mobile phone like me, you might be interested to know that you can now sync your contacts and calendar directly with your Google Apps account. All you need to do is enable it through your Google Apps account and then configure ActiveSync on your Windows Mobile phone to sync with the Google server.

Syncing Windows Mobile with Google Apps Calendar
Enable the Mobile Service

Syncing Windows Mobile with Google Apps Contacts
Enable Google Sync and get the instructions

There are also instructions on how to sync it with your iPhone or iPod Touch if you’re lucky enough to have one :).


Upgrading to Drupal 6 and a new blog design

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Over the weekend I upgrade this blog to Drupal 6 so I could take advantage of all the advancements that have been made in Drupal core and some modules that only have releases for 6.x. While doing the upgrade, I also decided that I'd create a new theme because I'd never really liked the old one.

I'm not much of a designer, so I took a lot of the images and CSS from the Admire Gray theme, by WorthaPost, which I love, but actually turned it into a Zen sub-theme because I really like some of Zen's unique features. I also took a lot of inspiration from CopyBlogger, ShoeMoney and ProBlogger for certain elements.

I still need to clean up a few things like the comments, but overall I'm really happy with how it turned out, except for my lame attempt at a logo which looks a bit dull and boring. If there are any designers that want to give some suggestions, I'm listening!


Speed up Windows startup time with Startup Delayer

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Startup DelayerI hate waiting the 3 or 4 minutes after logging into Windows for it to load all the background applications and become usable. It’s just such a waste of time. Most of the programs that load are ones that I use on a daily basis (Skype, SugarSync, PhraseExpress, etc) but don’t need to be used as soon as you turn on the computer. They aren’t actually that resource hungry but when they all try to load at the same time it slows down the time it takes to open applications that you actually want to use, like Firefox.

This is where Startup Delayer comes in.

Startup Delayer allows you to delay the loading of the applications that start when Windows does, and spread them out over a period of time.

To test it out I timed how long it would take Firefox to load normally, and then with Startup Delayer configured. It took 3 minutes and 40 seconds normally but with Startup Delayer configured it loaded in just over half of that at about 2 minutes flat.

What I did was

  • Removed all applications that I didn’t want to load in the first place like the iTunesHelper, QuickTime Task and all those other apps that I didn’t ask to be there.
  • I then pushed the non essential applications back down the time and spread them out evenly over a period of 2 minutes (with a 2 minute delay before any of them start).
  • I also added Firefox to the startup routine so that it would load as soon as I logged in, without waiting for me to click the icon in the quick launch bar.

That’s it.

Do you have any tips to cut down the amount of time you’re left waiting for your computer?


Taking another look at the image module

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Image handling in Drupal is a hot topic. Most users agree that there should be a solution in core but there are so many different cases that it’s unlikely that one general solution is going to cut it. I’m not here to debate one way or another because I’ve built sites using Imagefield + Imagecache and others using just IMCE and TinyMCE, but one module that I haven’t explored for a very long time is the Image module.

When I started using Drupal in version 4.6, the Image module was pretty much the only solution. Since I couldn’t get it to work the way I wanted back then, I’ve pretty much avoided it since. When I decided to try it out again this week (because IMCE doesn’t yet work with the Wysiwyg API) I was pleasantly surprised. It integrates nicely with TinyMCE and works very well with Image Resize Filter. It also makes sense to store images as nodes when they’re added to the body text, especially for non-technical users (even when I thought it was a bad idea in the past).

I don’t want to fuel any debates about which image solution is the best, but if you haven’t checked out the Image module in a while it’s probably worth your time. Drupal has come a long way and modules that you might have sworn never to use again back then may have also changed a lot as well.


Introducing the Menu Attributes module

206 comments

Over the Christmas break I decided that I’d had enough of hard coding theme functions to add attributes to specific menu items in Drupal, so I finally took the time to write a module that would do the heavy lifting. The outcome is the Menu Attributes module.

All the module does is give you the ability to add attributes to the menu item <a> elements, but this has been something I've wanted in Drupal for a long time now.

The main reason I wrote the module was to add the rel="nofollow" attribute to certain menu items (learn why you should be using nofollow to direct PageRank to high value pages), but it made sense to allow users to set other valid attributes as well. So far I have included the Id, Name, Target, Rel, Class, Style, and Accesskey attributes which can be added to any menu item. If you think other attributes would be useful, let me know I’m happy to consider including them.

In the next couple of weeks or so I’ll be releasing an update to include an admin page so that you can choose which attributes are available on the menu form so as not to overcrowd the form with items that you’ll never use.

It’s worth noting that the actual attributes are stored in the menu_links table in the options field of the menu item itself so no new databases are needed and no additional processing done when building the menu. The one drawback of this is that there is no way to mass reset the attributes you’ve set using the module, because it is stored alongside other attributes that are set by other modules.

If you’ve got any other uses or feedback for the module, I’d love to hear them in the comments.


Use nofollow to stop leaking PageRank to low value pages

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Leaking PageRankUsing the rel="nofollow" attribute is a fairly simple SEO technique that can usually be implemented very easily and will give you a little bit of an advantage. If you’re working hard to build links to your website, it’s a shame to waste some of the PageRank flow through your website onto pages that you are not interested in ranking in the search engines, like your contact page, or your privacy policy. These pages are important to have on your site, but aren’t going to bring you a lot of search traffic.

This is a fairly easy tactic to implement on most sites, just go through and add the attribute rel="nofollow" to the links to low value pages in your navigation, and throughout the body of your site. When I do this I don’t nofollow the links to the sitemap or any links from the sitemap. It’s useful to pass a little bit of PageRank even to low value pages and the sitemap is the easiest way to do that.

If you want to get tricky, you can really direct the flow of PageRank through your site so the PageRank flows through a path through your site from the homepage. For sites with only one or two products / services you can nofollow links to all but those pages from the homepage and then decide where the PageRank should flow from those pages. For large E-Commerce sites, I prefer to pass as much PageRank as possible to the category pages, and then through the category pages to the individual product pages.

Remember, like all on-page SEO tactics, the rel="nofollow" trick won’t help boost your rankings or traffic if you don’t have a good link building strategy behind it. Don’t think that this, or any other on-page tactic, can replace good old fashioned link building.

It’s worth noting that even if you nofollowed all links to a certain page on your site, it doesn’t mean that the robots won’t crawl it; it just means that they won’t pass any ‘credit’ for those links. If you don’t want a page to appear in the search engines ever, you’ll need to do that through your robots.txt file.


Changing the default style set in Word 2007

111 comments

Word 2007 Document Icon If your company creates a lot of documents, forms, white-papers, etc it’s very handy to have a specific Word style set that matches the rest of your company branding so all your documents are consistent. In this post I will go through the steps on creating your own style set and deploying it through your organization using Word 2007. If you are using a different version of Word, the process will be very similar, but the clicks might be slightly different.

If you don’t know what styles are in Word, chances are you’re wasting a lot of time formatting your documents. Styles basically allow you to name certain types of text and apply that formatting over and over again. It also allows you to change the formatting of the style and it will apply it to all instances of that style throughout the document. Oh, and if you’re still creating headings by just increasing the font size and changing the color of normal text, then for the sake of anyone who has to edit your document in the future, learn to use the styles feature.

Creating your own style set in Word 2007

You can create your own style set in Word by simply modifying the normal styles and setting your new ones as the default. To modify the styles, simply download this document (.docx | .doc) which contains most of the different styles you’ll need to modify. To modify each style, simply right click on the style in the ribbon snd click modify.

Modify current style in Word 2007

Once you’ve modified all the styles and you’re happy with it, simply click the “Change Styles” button and select “Set as Default”. From now on each new document you create will have all those styles available by default.

Set default Style Set in Word 2007

Making sure everyone in your organization is using the same style set.

Now that you’ve got a nice style set to use, you’ll want to make sure everyone else in your organization is working from the same style. Simply send them a copy of the styles document that you created (based on the downloadable template above) and ask them to:

  1. Open the document and make sure they’re looking at the new styles
  2. Save the style as a new Quick Style Set by clicking Change Styles > Style Set > Save as Quick Style Set.... Choose a nice name for the style (e.g. Schoonzie) and from now on this style set will be available to apply to any Word document you open. Just click Change Styles > Style Set and choose the style set you just saved in the step above.
  3. Make that style the default style set that Word uses by clicking Change Style > Set as Default so each new document you open will use that style.

That’s it, you’re all done. If you’ve got some nice styles that you have created in Word, I’d love to see them, just email nick at schoonzie dot com.


Time tracking with Toggl and RescueTime

50 comments

It's a clock... to represent timeSince Alborz mentioned it last week I decided to write about the apps that I use to track time spent on each client and overall productivity.

RescueTime – Find out where you’re wasting time

RescueTime is a great little application that logs how long you spend using different applications and visiting different websites. This is all sent back to your RescueTime dashboard, where you can tag applications and websites, and give them a rating from -2 (very unproductive) to +2 (very productive). It then uses these ratings to calculate your overall efficiency score (on a scale of -2 to +2) and compares you to the average efficiency score of everyone else using RescueTime.

Pros

  • Free
  • Doesn’t require any day to day input, just some occasional tagging of applications
  • Runs in the background
  • Low resource footprint
  • Really nice reports

Cons

  • Can’t really separate time spent for different clients or projects
  • Privacy concerns?

Toggl – Time logging made easy

Toggl is a very simple and easy to use time tracking service with a very nice desktop application (built on Adobe AIR so it’s available on Windows, Mac, and Linux) that allows you to track what you are working on with a single click. Although it takes a bit of work when getting started to remember to change tasks or stop the timer, it’s totally worth it once you’ve been using it for a while.

Pros

  • Accurate tracking of specific projects and tasks
  • Desktop app available
  • On / Off simplicity
  • Reports that allow you to see how much time you spent on each project

Cons

  • You have to manually tell it what you’re working on

So with the combination of RescueTime and Toggl, you should be able to accurately show where you’re spending your time. If you’re lazy or don’t really need to log the time you spend on projects, you can probably do without Toggl, but there is no reason not to install RescueTime to start collecting information, even if you don’t open the dashboard for a while.

 


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