Photo Puzzle Ads

I’m attempting a new website promotion concept that you may just want to check out. It’s called Photo Puzzle Ads, and the idea is to allow webmasters and businesses to advertise their websites or services by purchasing pieces of a puzzle. When someone purchases pieces of the puzzle, they become visible for everyone to see, and link directly to the person’s website.

You can find it, along with more details, at puzzle-ads.warkensoft.com Feel free to check it out and let me know your thoughts on it. I’d love to hear your opinion. You may even want to participate!

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Daily Jokes for Your Website

One of the more difficult aspects of running a website, is finding content that your visitors will find useful, and hopefully will keep them coming back. One way in which you can accomplish both of these goals is to run a daily joke or humourous article on your site. Doing so will both provide fresh, new content on a regular basis, as well as giving your website visitors something to come back to. The difficulty is finding and maintaining a regular list of jokes and humour.

This is exactly what The Occasional Joke blog is hoping to provide. This blog is offering it’s readers the opportunity to syndicate the daily jokes onto their own blogs and websites. Anyone running a PHP enabled site can syndicate the latest Occasional Joke to a page on their own site, with just a brief bit of code.

There is also a WordPress plugin developed specifically for people wanting to run Occasional Jokes on their own WordPress blogs as well.

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FormContact 1.0 Plus

The FormContact 1.0 system will allow you to handle most Form-To-Email functions required by a website. It can be set up to take all the submitted form data and convert it to a readable email format. It can be customized to send users to a “thank you” page once the form data has been filled out, and certain form fields can be marked as being required in order for the form to be completed.

It also has the added ability for sending an automated response to the person who fills out the form. Different responses can be used for different forms, and can even be personalized to the user, based on form fields they enter.

Click here to read more about the person who created these resources and is offering them for you to use.

Requirements: PHP

Features:
Form Submission
Convert form submitted data to an email which can be received by the webmaster.

Destination Email
Set one or multiple recipients of the email generated from the form data.

Required Fields
The form can be set up to require certain fields to be filled out before a successful submission can be made.

Followup URL
Send your website visitors to a “Thank You” page once they have successfully filled out the form on your website.

Automated Response
In addition to emailing the form data to the webmaster, the FormContact system can create a customized email response to be set back to the user who filled out the form, based on what data they have entered into the form. Excellent for followup of clients, adding that small extra touch of connection to let them know that they have been heard, and will be contacted further shortly.

Download: Click Here

Website Hosting

If you’re looking for somewhere to host your own web creation, we would highly recommend DreamHost. Offering 167 Gig’s of storage space, 1.6 TB of bandwidth, PHP, MySQL and a host of other features, they’ll most likely be more than adequate for your website needs. And with a 97 day money back guarantee you can’t go wrong! Visit DreamHost for more information about what they offer.

And now, we’re offering $50 OFF coupons as a special benefit to our website visitors. Click here for more information.

Email on Updates

You may wish to join our mailing list to receive email notifications of new things we add to the site. This includes new free php scripts, and other items that might be of use to you. Enter your email address and click submit, if you would like to receive these notifications.

You will receive a verification email from us, asking to verify whether or not you wish to receive these notifications. Be assured, we will do our best to keep your information confidential.
We will not distribute your email address to anyone else.

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CSS Book Review – In search of the One True Layout

Using CSS to layout and design an entire website can be frustrating if you don’t know all the quirks and hacks for all the different browsers, needed to format your pages in a specific way. In addition to this, there is usually a plethora of ways to solve any given CSS problem, not all of which are the most efficient.

For the most part, websites follow fairly basic guidelines when it comes to design. This is partly due to the nature and limitations of a browser screen and partly due to the way in which people naturally read a screen or page. As such, it would make sense that a general set of guidelines for the design of a site could be found. Unfortunately, as standardized CSS is a relatively new technology, the guidelines and best practices in it’s use have not yet been completely set. There are many ways to use CSS in the design of a page, to achieve the same results.

An even greater problem is the fact that CSS still has some shortcomings when it comes to the separation of design and content. While working with CSS for the layout of a site, one must still work within the confines of the HTML code of the page and that is where the problem exists.

Solutions to this problem do exist, and one of the best found so far is entitled In search of the One True Layout. This article lays out in detail, the best ways in which to get around the problems of Total Layout Flexibility, Equal Height Columns and Vertical placement of elements across grids/columns.

Written in 1995 by Alex Robinson and regularly updated since then, the online book is complete with CSS Coding Examples, CSS Best Practices and numerous solutions to design related CSS problems. This is recommended reading for ANY designer or developer, interested in understanding some of the better ways in which to build sites using CSS.

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Strongbad on Website Design

This little clip has been around for a while, but it’s still a great demonstration of what NOT to put on your website. Courtesy of http://www.homestarrunner.com/
[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail51.swf” height=”300″ width=”400″ /]

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$50 Hosting Coupons

I currently have two types of coupons for people signing up with Dreamhost.

  1. The “50 Dollars Off” Coupon
    If you sign up for a year or more of hosting, you can use this coupon to get $50 off the total cost. Just enter WARKENSOFT50 as your promotional code when you sign up. Essentially, that could take your cost down to under $4/mo for the first year.
  2. The “Waived $50 Setup Fee” Coupon
    When you sign up for monthly payments (instead of paying for a year at a time) Dreamhost will want to charge you a one-time $50 setup fee. You can get that fee waived by entering WARKENSOFTXSETUP as your promotional code when you sign up.

What They Offer:

  • 167 Gig’s of storage space
  • 1.6 Terrebytes of bandwidth
  • 3000 email accounts
  • A free domain name
  • Unlimited MySQL Databases
  • Hosting for unlimited domains
  • And that’s just the starter package, all for just $7.95 a month
  • And if for some reason you don’t like it, you can cancel within the first 97 days!

If you decide – within the first 97 days of your time with us – that DreamHost isn’t for you, we will gladly close your account and refund any payments you’ve made to us within those first 97 days.*

One of the most important reasons that I recommend hosting with them is that they have a VERY easy website setup process. Once you’ve signed up, all you have to do is choose a domain name and then walk through their automatic installer. For the look and feel of your individual site there are hundreds of different themes to choose from, many of which are included with the initial installation. And I have fifty dollar coupons to give away!

So if you’re looking at the possibility of starting up your own website, I recommend you click here to see what DreamHost has to offer. And don’t forget to use one of our coupons!

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Where to Start with PHP Programming

I’m going to start this tutorial with an assumption. I’m going to assume that you, the reader, already have access to a PHP enabled server. My specialization is programming, not server setup, so I’ll leave that part out of this. If for some reason, you DON’T yet have access to a PHP enabled server, or you are wanting to install your own, I recommend hosting with DreamHost. They’re VERY good, offer great PHP server support and are very inexpensive. Click here for more information on how to START building a website.

First off, a little discussion about the nature of PHP. PHP is a server side scripting language, which means that it runs stuff on the server, and returns the results of that process to the web browser of the person who ran it.

Example: When somone on a website clicks “Submit” on a contact form, the server receives the data but doesn’t inherently know what to do with that data. This is where PHP comes in. If the data is submitted to a PHP script on the server, that script can then take that data and email it to someone or stick it in a database.

A PHP script can be as simple as a single line of code to do a math calculation, or complex enough to run an entire website. The format of PHP code is similar to C but in my opinion, is much more forgiving.

A Little About Style

One of the most important lessons to be learned by any coder, even before you really get into much of it, is code documentation. In my opinion, one of the worse problem with many coders is that they don’t know how to document their code. This will be a pain both to you when you want to go back and edit something, and to anyone else who needs to use your code. I can’t say this strongly enough. LEARN TO DOCUMENT ALL YOUR CODE! I’m not talking so much about pages of documentation in addition to the script you are writing. Rather, I’m talking about writing out in the code itself, what you’re doing with each statement or set of statements. You will appreciate it in the future, when you come back to a script and want to figure out what it does, and other programmers who may use your work, will also bless you. It’s also a pretty key factor in getting hired in this industry. If an employer knows what they’re doing, they’re going to have someone look through your code to make sure it’s well formed and not going to cause their other programmers headaches.

Keys to Good Style

  1. In Code Documentation
    As I’ve mentioned above, get in the habit of writing plain text explainations for what you’re doing in the code you’re designing. It’s not difficult to put in a bit of text before a segment of code to explain what you’re going to be doing.
  2. Clear and Appropriate Variable Names
    While coding, you’re most likely going to be declaring variables. (Variables are like boxes of information stored in memory) The more clearly you name your variables, the better off you’ll be later, and the less likely you are to run into conflicts or confusion.

Some Examples

Well, let’s take a look at some PHP Code now so we get the feel for what we’re looking at.

A standard PHP script will be enclosed in tags like this:
<?PHP
# Some php commands here
?>

There are some variations of this as well. For example, some servers will allow you to simply use <? instead of <?PHP. Usually though, it’s good form to use the full <?PHP for clarity.

Now, let’s take a look at some examples of good code documentation and bad code documentation.
Poor Code Style:
<? $x="Some text"; $y="some more text"; $z=$x.$y; echo "Combined text variables = ".$z ; ?>

Better Code Style:

<?PHP
# Declare some text variables
$text_1 = "Some text ";
$text_2 = "some more text";

# Combine the two previous variables into a third variable
$text_combined = $text_1 . $text_2;

# Print out the results
echo "Combined text variables = " . $text_combined;
?>

Output:
Combined text variables = Some text some more text

Both of these examples would print out the same result to the browser, but you’ll notice that in the second example, I’ve added line breaks in appropriate places, used more appropriate variable names, and have added comments before each segment of code. (comments are denoted in PHP by a # sign at the beginning of a line) You could even go so far as to add comments to the very beginning of the script, explaining when it was made and what it’s purpose was. See this example…

Better Code Style:

<?PHP

# Sample PHP Programming Script
# Designed Nov. 18, 2005
# Used on "Where to Start PHP Programming" as an example of good
# programming style.

# Declare some text variables
$text_1 = "Some text ";
$text_2 = "some more text";

# Combine the two previous variables into a third variable
$text_combined = $text_1 . $text_2;

# Print out the results
echo "Combined text variables = " . $text_combined;
?>

So what do you think? Still want to be a PHP Programmer? I hope so… It can be a lot of fun.

In the next few tutorials we’ll start going over some of the basic programming structures and commands that you’ll be using as you start coding. You may also find it useful to get a book like the one I’ve recommended at the top of this page. These tutorials will give you the basics and help you to get started, but if you want to get into more complex coding, a book like this one is the way to go.

PHP/MySQL Programming for the Absolute Beginner

** Author’s Note: More tutorials will be coming as soon as I get time to write them. If you have a suggested topic or article that you would like to submit as a tutorial, I’d love to work with you on it.

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Text Link Advertising

Did you know that one of the most effective ways of marketing your website is through text links from other relevant sites? I’m not talking about being linked to by someone who has a thousand links on their “Trade Links With Me” page. Rather, I’m talking about strategically placed text links coming from another site with content relevant to what your own site contains.

Two Reasons Text Links Are Effective

1. Google PageRank
If you were unaware, Google, the largest search engine currently available, places a high priority on the number of links coming to your site. Not only that, but these links must also be relevant to the content of your site. If you have a site about dog-food, and you get someone with a site about cars linking to you, it’s not going to be particularly helpful as far as your Google PageRank is concerned. Google (and many other search engines are following their lead) looks at both the relevancy of the page linking to you, and the text of the link itself.

2. Visibility and Value
The internet is cluttered with flashing ads, banners and advertising graphics of all kinds, and people are reacting. They are becoming more and more desensitized to these types of stimulus, to the point where often ads and graphics are not even noticed. Also, more and more software is being developed to block this type of external advertising. Relevant textual links on the other hand, are becoming more and more valuable as people seek to find information specifically related to the content for which they are searching.

Read the rest of this entry »

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All About Website Hosting

So you want to build a website, and you’ve heard about website hosting, but you’re not sure what it’s all about. This tutorial is for you!

Simply put, your website host is the company or person who stores your website, and makes it available to be viewed on the internet. This person usually has a computer that stays connected to the internet, and is set up to allow people to come and browse through the information that you have placed on your website.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Website Traffic and Statistics

A key component in building and maintaining a successful website is the ability to keep track of how many visitors are coming to your website. You want to know where they are coming from, and which pages they are looking at and finding most useful.

Often, in order to keep track of these traffic statistics a webmaster will use some sort of script or program which monitors visitors and creates reports based on their needs. These scripts can range in size and complexity from a simple hit counter on a page, to a fully integrated data-mining application. They can also range in price from free unsupported scripts, to thousands of dollars for an integrated system. In many cases though, the first option is relatively useless, and the second is unnecessary (and usually outside of the budget). As is true with many things in life, the best solution is usually somewhere in between.

So what does a good traffic or website statistic monitering system require?

Read the rest of this entry »

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