It’s not even funny, but still it made me laugh…. A little.


Because there is a large part of truth in it…

You gotta have a QR code generator!


As you might know, with Shortcut Media, we are in the business of making print-media interactive. What does this mean? In a nutshell, we combine print-with-mobile trying to add more value to the print version. As a reader, simply point your phone to any page and the corresponding mobile page will show up.

One way of doing that would be by using QR codes right? It has an URL baked inside and the readers use a scanner to access those pages. We don’t really like QR codes because they are ugly, use up space and quite error-sensitive.

You might know that with our service we offer something much more elegant thanks to the  image-recognition technology by kooaba, our mother company. That way, the publisher can add content to any page without having to worry about QR codes and URL’s in an early stage. Oh, and there are much more advantages because linking offline-to-online is only the start of our service…

The problem though, is that – regardless of how beautiful our service is,  not every publisher is familiar with it and many of them are still starting out with QR codes. Those publishers are our prospects. Therefore we published a page that offers you to make your own QR code.

For this I used Google Charts. It took me about a day fiddling around to have everything working. The page itself is still a bit ugly and especially the ‘converting-part’ sucks, but right now it should be fine to go out as the (in)famous MVP.

To wake it up we add some AdWords on it for one week. Let’s see if we can get some publishers signing up for a demo. I did some analysis upfront so we have a nice benchmark to see if the effort is paying off.

The most famous beach ball in the world.


Famous in this case isn’t that flattering….

Don’t get me wrong here, about 1,5 years ago I am completely converted to Apple-everything and I love my Mac-stuff but more and more, I catch myself staring at this beach ball lately. Often moments before I start hitting cmd-tap and force close-downs while studing the effect on my activity monitor. Things I used to do quite often when working on my Windows machines, but not on my Apple….

But it has to be me because as far as I know, Apple just works right? Well, compared to Windows it does, but in reality it still has its flaws. Everyone that works on a Mac is well acquainted with the Beach Ball of Death. Even people using it only for – lets say – Facebook need to buy a new Air every two years.

Anyway, at least its a nice loader image and it has a reference to the old Apple logo. So here is my little tribute to the ball. Still, I would rather not see it that often.

Maybe it’s Apples way of telling me that I need to upgrade my hardware to the new MacBook which – by the way – I like very much.

Apple drops after executive position activity


I said in this post that one should start paying attention when you see things changing at the top level of the company. Well, it’s happening. Not sure what to think of it, but to me it is a sign not to let the guard down. Already the price is below 591 USD at the moment of writing. Still, I’ll sit on my share because I’m mostly a fan, but fan or not, once it goes below the 550 I am out.

In a meantime read what John Gruber has to say about Forstall leaving the company.

Should you get rid of your Apple stock?


Honestly, I just recently bought one Apple share (at USD 665). Yes, even after Steve Jobs has left us. The main reason is the trust I have in the sales of apps via their hardware. This gold-mine will be up and running for a while. Still there is no tablet-market but only an iPad market, and millions of iPhone users emerge daily.

Though, I have started to get my doubts since the patent wars begon even in 2011, continued this year with Samsung (/Android) and will continue in 2013. Apple always was in the position to sue everything around them. But they didn’t. Although, not on a level they do now. They had bigger fish to fry. Making innovative products for example.

But their aggressive legal steps made me wonder if there was something troubling them. And then it hit me. Could it be possible that Apple’s pipeline is getting a bit empty? Slowly I’m proven to be right…

Apple has nothing left to sell?

The iPhone 4S came out. Nothing revolutionary. Nothing special. Just an overpriced upgrade of that what already was great. The main feature SIRI was (and still is) half-baked. Something that isn’t typically Apple that rather ships products that ‘just work’. Now the iPhone 5 is there. Same problem. Nothing new plus half-baked features (the famous maps-gate). And then there is the gossip around a possible smaller iPad…. Excuse me? Steve Jobs would turn around in his grave. Trying to compete with a ‘cheap’ version in an existing market…

What I wonder why there are still no Apple Smart TV’s. Or Apple cars, or very well designed refrigerators with fancy features and great apps on the door. Or even office phones that people are able to work with, connected to your other Apple devices.

Will history repeat itself

If so, you rather get rid of your apple stock this year still. There might be an upswing for a couple of months to come but will it stay? The question is, when Apple is loosing its mantra of making out-of-the-box products that simply work perfect into shipping half-baked products will the fan-club be as large as it is now? If people are going to be beta-testers anyway, why would they choose for the very expensive Apple?

If you want to be as arrogant as Apple, you have to be lightyears ahead of the rest. But the gap is closing. Not because of patent infringement, but because of lack of innovation on Apples side.

If you don’t have any cards left in your hand what do you do? You try to sue the competition! You try to milk the cows!

Currently Apple is the most valuable company in the world and this will not change overnight. Me, I just bought my first iPhone (the number 5) and this proves at least on a very small scale that the products are still attractive.

Buy, sell or hold

To anser the question if you should get rid of your stock I can only say this. I decided to keep sit on it for a while. My share already went down 30 bucks since I bought it, but hey, as long as it stays above 550 I keep it.

Let’s follow product development for a while and see what it is that will come next. If great innovations are staying away, management is changing too fast and people are getting a bit tired of Apple  you might want to consider some put options at one point. Just Remember where Apple came from. Not even 10 years ago prices were below USD10.

How much more up can it go? You never know right? I think I am going to search for companies that are now what Apple was a couple of years ago rather than hoping it will rise to the 1000 USD per share and earn a 40% profit…. One of those companies – not completely comparable of course – is Facebook. I would actually advise to change your Apple stock into Facebook stock. They had their beating, and now it’s waiting for them to come out with some sort of genius advertising system. Preferably outside their FB network, using this very valuable information they have to the max. I believe Facebook has potential to rise up to a couple of hundred bucks per share. It could go quite fast – if they play it smart. Oh, and please, don’t get rid of your Google stocks. Those guys are simply amazing!!!

Should you care about profiling?


This post is a short preview about a subject I have been thinking about quite a lot lately: Targeted advertising. Should you care about the fact that Facebook is selling your profile to advertisers? Or Google?

I’m not quite sure to be honest. The fact is that we (as consumers) have been a victim of targeted advertising for quite some time already. This game was played long before Google or Faceook. It is only now that ‘digital companies’ such as the ones mentioned before can build ‘profiles’ until a level that was unthinkable before. And what do they do with it? Serve an ad based upon the location you have been? Show some ads that might be relevant because you liked Nike on Facebook. Or even worse; Throw in some banner of hotels because I googled for ‘Hotel in Wherever’. Is this wrong?

In the past, even during my studies, at least ten years ago, I had websites running that gathered profiles. I am talking about the period before AdWords, and before Facebook. It wasn’t a big thing back then, nor were there clear rules or at least people didn’t bother much… I had tens of thousands and I knew a lot about those people. Age, Gender, Where they lived, what they liked (within a certain context (horses)), Email etc.

It was (and still is) so easy. But I pulled the plug out of my websites and deleted my databases. (In a later post, I will tell you all about the sites/projects I had back in 2003).

Facebook is worth a lot of money right!?! Well, at least we (the people) are worth a lot of money to advertisers. Lets pretend that I am an advertiser and: “I want to reach people that are located in Zurich, work in technology and are over 24 years old….

And thus, this advertiser reaches me instead of my mom. Is this bad?

I guess it is if you look at unethical parts of markting in a broader perspective but besides that, I don’t think so. At least I won’t get bothered with advertisements of baby-day care because I never Googled for it or liked Pampers on Facebook.

 

Shortcut Media AG is a fact


Together with two partners, we founded a new company called ‘Shortcut Media AG’. The company offers an ‘Interactive Print service’ to publishers of printed media (eg. Newspapers and magazines).

Shortcut Media is a spin-off/sister company of kooaba AG.

You installed WordPress! Now what?


You managed to install WordPress on your fresh domain. I can remember that my first successful installation was very satisfying and I couldn’t wait to turn it into a real and personal website. I can remember installing tons of plugins (features/options) and different themes (designs). I googled and I searched and tried all kind of cool stuff just to see if I could do it.

Before you start doing this, I recommend you to sit back and relax for a moment. I want you to realize that the hardest thing of owning a website is creating content, and not to create a website.

You might think that your website is empty, boring and ugly at this point  but you should rather look at it as clean, fresh and untouched.

Altering the structure, the design or all the options is not the biggest challenge here. For the moment, stay away from tag-clouds, twitter-feeds, social plugins and god knows what, that might look cool to you at the moment. It only will be a waste of time. You have to approach it with a plan, or rather: In the right order.

One thing I recommend you to do before anything else is to go to your WordPress Dashboard, click on ‘settings’ and ‘perma links’. ‘Perma’ is short for ‘permanent’ and it defines the URL (is web-address) of your blog-posts and pages. By default, the location (the web-address / URL) of your blogs or pages is someting like this: www.yourdomain.com?p=12
In terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), URL’s like that won’t help you very much because they hold no information at all.

Forget all the technical stuff mentioned above, all you need to know is that you should change this setting so that Google will show your website more often in the search results.

Change the settings under common settings to ‘post name’.

Instead of www.mydomain.com?p=12 the URL’s will look like www.mydomain.com/title-of-my-post.

Much better for search engines!

 

 

Get started with WordPress on your new domain


WordPress is a free to use software to create your own website. It has been here since the beginning, and found a way to maintain populair amongst large user groups.

Anyone can setup WordPress in just a couple of clicks. You don’t even need to own a domain name for yourself, but simply use a free subdomain (mysuperblog.wordpress.com) to start your own blog in 3 minutes. And of course, many people did.

As a result, there are many, many poor, empty and deserted WordPress blogs published on the web. It doesn’t do the WordPress image any good. You might think that it could be a bit unprofessional to use WordPress this for your own (company)blog, since all those amateurs choose for WordPress. You might think (or one might tell you) to rather build your own website/blog from scratch, but please don’t. Think of it like this; just because many people write poor stories and business-plans in Microsoft Word, that doesn’t mean that MS Word is an unprofessional text-editor. You are not going to built a new text-editor because there is so much crap produced with it right? WordPress is used by the most famous and professional blogs/websites of the web, such as Mashable and The Wall Street Journal.

WordPress has become more than just an easy-to-setup-blog. WordPress has become a framework that you can make as complex as you choose to. Hundreds of thousands software developers made so called extensions or plugins that can be used on WordPress.

I have made quite some websites with WordPress in the last couple of years. Varying from quick and dirty fun-stuff to complex, multilingual dynamic platforms.

You won’t need any developing knowledge to get started with WordPress. Just follow some simple steps and you have your site up-and-running in somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes.

After that, take depending on how much you like it, you can customise the website to any level. Choose to learn some real web-programming or simply install available plugins to enhance your website with extra features. Change the design of your site by creating your own theme, or simply use one of the thousands pre-designed themes available on the web.

WordPress was originally designed for people to create their blog, but it evolved to much more than that. It offers basically an all-round CMS-tool to create whatever kind of website that can be maintained via a web-based interface where you can change the content and design of your website. And you don’t even need any real computer skills.

I am doing this for many years, but I also noticed that it is sometimes hard to find some good guidelines that help you get through the installation process for people who simply don’t know anything about it. Why do I do this? Because it’s fun and I wish I had a guide like this 10 years ago 🙂

This guide will go through the process step by step, starting with the installation of WordPress.

Everything you see on this website is described in my guidelines. It starts with the simple installation (this guideline) and along the way it will become quite complex. Whenever I want to change something on my website, I will document this and share my experiences.

First steps

I assume you have a domain name and a hosting package. If not, I recommend Site5 (and please don’t take GoDaddy) and order your stuff. Shortly you will receive all information you need to get you started.

First, you need to get ‘a’ site online because your domain is empty. I will use WordPress for my complete website (static information pages, blog, feedback forms etc. etc.) simply because it is easy, flexible and fun.

4 little steps to have your wordpress up and running

  1. Download the WordPress files to your computer
  2. Upload the wordpress files to your website (= web-server)
  3. Create a database that WordPress can access
  4. Follow the WordPress installation wizard on your website

Download the WordPress files to your computer

First thing you need to do is download the latest WordPress version to your computer. WordPress is completely free.

Download the latest version here: xxxx

WordPress consists of a bunch of files and directories. When you download them, they are delivered in a compress file (.zip). Make sure that you unpack them after downloading.

(Tip: Copy them from your download folder to a place where you want to store your website. In my case it is “Tom > Websites > madnessofone.com > current” Of course you can choose whatever location to keep your files. You can even leave it in the default download folder, it doesn’t matter but I wouldn’t recommend that. I have learned to consistently make backups of your files. I use the folder ‘current’ to store the files that are currently ‘live’ and I make backups every time before I change something to the ‘current’ files and put them in a folder named after the moment of copying for example ‘2012-09-01 5:50’. When working with websites, sometimes everything can get messed up and all you want to do then, is go back to how it was 3 hours ago.)

Upload the wordpress files

Now put the WordPress files on the server of your domain.

If you are unfamiliar with FTP uploading, then read this short article first. It explains how to establish a connection with the server that hosts your website in order to add or change the files of your website.

Uploading your wordpress might take 10 minutes or more, depending on our internet speed. To start uploading, open up Cyberduck (for Mac users) and drag all WordPress files in the ‘public_html’ directory of your domain.  Alternatively, you can choose to place your wordpress blog in a directory. (“public_html/any_folder” > resulting in “www.yourdomain.com/any_folder”)

Create your database

The next step is to create a SQL database. This sounds more complicated than it is. Just follow the instructions, and accept that you have to do this.

Open your internet browser (for example Google Chrome) and surf to your domain-dashboard. Here you control the fundamental settings over your domain/website. Those things are independent of your actual website (the files) itself (such as email, subdomains, databases and other techy-stuff).

In this example I use Site5 which I like and recommend and in my case, the location of this domain-dashboard is http://madnessofone.com:2082. If you do not host at Site5, these numbers (“:2082”) might be different but regardless, most decent hosting companies offer direct access to a domain-dashboard (also called ‘control panel’).

(Note. Please don’t go for GoDaddy.com. Although they are one of the largest hosting companies in the world, they will make your life complicated. Also, they are not cheap because you will have to pay for everything separately. For example, at most hosting companies you simply have access to all e-mail options and database stuff. With go-daddy you have to buy an extra ‘email package’ to be able to create email-accounts on your own domain and as far as I know, databases are not included as well. Also, I experienced a lot of trouble when installing software on their servers (such as Magento)).

Anyway, you need to add a database in order for WordPress to work. A databse is nothing more than a bunch of Excel Spread-sheets kind of files that store information. One database has many of those sheets called tables. Don’t worry, all you need to do is to create an empty database and give wordpress access to it.

Look on your domain-dashboard for the group ‘databases’ > ‘manage database and users’ and click on it. If you use Site5 you will find a form, which allows you to create a new database (it has the ‘pre fix of your username’).  Give your database a name (I always choose ‘wp’ for wordpress intstalls, which in my case become ‘madnesso_wp’) and click on “Create databae and add user”

Choose a username and password and make sure that your remember them. In my case it was:

Database name: madnesso_wp
Username: madnesso_user
Password: (do not give this to anyone)

Now you are all set to go.

Follow the WordPress installation Wizard

If your files are uploaded, go to your  domain name. I uploaded the files into the main directory (public_html) and therefor I simply can surf to the domain-name is registere (www.madnessforone.com) and if all went well, you should see something like this:

A screen telling me there is no config-file. No worries, we haven’t given wordpress the info it needs. Config is short for Configuration, and that is  tech-language for files that hold central and crucial information such as the username and password to your database (the one we just created). Your website needs this information in order to continue (note, this is pure privately. This is not a connection as you are used to with for example Facebook or Twitter. Nobody but you, will hold this information. This is not shared with the ‘organtisation’ Wordrpess).

Click on continue and after that on ‘lets go’. Give the database name, user and password. Leave the host and the pre-fix as it is and click on the button.

If all goes well, you can run the intstallation. Click on the button to go to the next form. Fill out some more simple stuff untill the point you can login in. Login, and you will end up on your WordPress Admin Dashboard. Here you can manage everything of your site. This is your CMS (Content Management System).  From this point on, you actually have a website live, and this is what it looks like:

Check it out yourself and (open a new tap/window of your browser) and go to your website.

I have been writing this article in Word because my site wasn’t live yet. Now it is. I copied this article to a new (and my first post) and published it.

If you are completely new with WordPress it will cost you some time to get used to all the options. Take your time, I promise, it’s not that hard. Also, feel comfortable with the fact that your website/blog is ugly and boring at this point. That is all part of the game. If this was your first install and you got away with it in less than 3 hours, you did pretty well.

Just click around a little on your WordPress Dashboard and wait a while before installing plugins. Plugins are fun but they can waste a lot of time to and mess can potentially mess up your website.

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