When It Comes To Web Hosting, You Get What You Pay For

For the past year or so, I’ve been in an abusive relationship.. with my web hosting company. I’ve been meaning to switch to another host for quite awhile now, but I always made up excuses (it’s too much work to move my sites, I don’t know who I should go with, etc).

But I finally pulled the trigger a few weeks ago and said goodbye to MediaTemple and their awful Managed WordPress Hosting. You see, my sites had become dreadfully slow, and despite talking to half a dozen support reps over there, no one could pinpoint the problem and kept pointing the finger back at me, blaming “bad coding” and other BS for the sudden slowdown, even though nothing had changed on my end, and that many of the issues I was having were on the backend.

Still, no one would listen, so I finally said “Fuck it” and did what I should have done ages ago and moved over to WP Engine. Ironically, I had done a post back in 2010 where I considered moving over to them, but their high price ultimately drove me away. And not wanting the headache of a VPS to manage, I ended up going with MT’s Managed WordPress Hosting offering when they introduced it.

That was a mistake, as they weren’t ready for prime-time, and dealing with their support team was an exercise in futility, as these guys would just read from a script and then point the finger back at you, often time wasting 90 minutes or more before admitting that “something might be wrong on our end”. Ugh.

So I made the move to WP Engine, and the difference is night and day. My sites load instantly, with no lag whatsoever. In fact, I saw our traffic increase by about 500 visitors/day on one of my sites, without any new posts or anything. Given that many times I’d get a blank screen when trying to access my sites, I’m guessing that we lost a lot of traffic when people would get a blank screen and go elsewhere. If this trend continues, that’s an additional 15,000 visitors a month.. In other words, an additional 180,000 visitors a year!

Needless to say, I’m frustrated that I procrastinated for so long, but I’m happy where I ended up, and the future’s looking bright. Sure, my monthly hosting bill is considerably higher than before, but like they say, you get what you pay for.

Are you fed up with your hosting company? Then make the switch to WP Engine today. In fact, they’re running a promotion right now where you can get 4 total months free off WP Engine this summer with coupon code: summersavings20. But don’t wait too long, as this offer expires at the end of July!

The Days Of Gaming Instagram Look To Be Over

Influencers are all the rage right now, with brands shelling out big bucks to get their products in front of them and their followers. But here’s the thing.. Their 60K followers, they might not be as real as one might expect.

You see, many people having been gaming Instagram for years, using a variety of tactics and tools to grow their following “unnaturally”. The most popular tactic is by liking and/or leaving comments on other people’s photos in hopes that they come back and do the same for you. But manually, that is a really time-consuming process, so companies started popping up offering automation tools.

The most popular of the bunch were Instagress and Mass Planner, which let you scour Instagram looking for accounts based on a specific hashtag or other qualifier and then do the work for you. It worked REALLY well, and a lot of people were able to grow big followings rather quickly.

Instagram let these sites operate in direct violation of their TOS for quite awhile, but they finally started taking action last month, forcing Instagress to shut down. And then just this week, they did the same thing to Mass Planner. Clearly, IG is making a statement that they’re not going to allow companies to openly violate their terms of service anymore.

While people reliant on these tools will likely move to another tool that’s still working, they’re operating on borrowed time, as there’s no doubt that Instagram is going to shut down all the sites out there offering services like this. And honestly, that’s a good thing, as brands aren’t benefiting by promoting their products on IG accounts with “fake” followers.

In the end, if you want to build your Instagram following, the best thing to do is post good content, use hashtags so others can discover your photos, and interact with like-minded IG accounts with the hopes that they do the same. I’ve been doing this for @GuysGab, and while it’s been a slow growth, it’s the right way to build a solid following.

Apple Introduces New, Cheaper 9.7-Inch iPad

On Tuesday, Apple announced a new version of its 9.7-inch iPad, and they decided to call it the “iPad”.. An odd naming choice that’s sure to cause some confusion in the short term, but we’ll let it slide, because there’s alot to like about the new iPad!

The updated iPad sports a 9.7-inch Retina display, 64-bit A9 chip, 8MP HD cameras, Touch ID, Wi-Fi and LTE, and 10 hours of battery life. And best of all? It starts at just $329 for a 32GB model ($429 for the 128GB model).

I’ve been using my trusty iPad 2 32GB LTE for years now, trying to get the most out of my $799 expenditure. But over time, it’s gotten slower and slower, to the point where it’s almost unusable anymore. But I couldn’t bring myself to spend the $$ on an iPad Air 2.

The specs on the new iPad are VERY similar, but with a price point that makes it accessible to pretty much anyone. This is huge, as Apple should be able to pick up a lot of new customers who have been put off by their high prices, along with people like me who can finally justify upgrading because the cost isn’t so great.

My only complaint? I wish they offered a 64GB version for $379, as my 32GB iPad is always at capacity, but I don’t want to drop an extra $100 for the 128GB when I really only need another 10GB or so to hold movies and other stuff. πŸ™

Will you be purchasing the new iPad?

Why In The World Is CES Always Held In January?!

CES 2017

Every January, I make the trek out to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). And every year, I manage to get sick. Blame my crappy immune system if you like, but it seems like 3 out of 4 CES attendees end up getting sick after CES.

This year, I started preloading with Vitamin C, used liberal amounts of hand sanitizer at the show, yet despite my best efforts, I still managed to come home with some wicked congestion that’s just now starting to go away. Two friends of mine who were also at the show ended up with the flu. (Thankfully I got my flu shot back in October)

In fact, when I mentioned the fact that I was sick to one of the brands I work with, her response was, “sorry to hear you’re under the weather, literally every person in my office who went to CES got some form of the flu…”

Why is CES held in January?! To me, it seems insane to hold a show of this size (160,000 attendees this year) smack dab in the middle of cold & flu season. If they held the show in April or May, I think fewer people would end up getting sick. And it’d be much warmer to boot, as it was downright FRIGID this year!

Maybe there are some reasons that I don’t know about (product cycles, etc), so if there are any industry insiders out there with some insight as to why CES happens in January, please let me know in the comments section below.

I’m Starting To Regret Ever Upgrading To Office 2016

computer

As you’ve probably heard, this is your last week to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.. I’ve been holding off doing this update for awhile now, as I wanted the bugs to get sorted out and everything. But with the deadline looming near, I finally started working towards that goal this weekend. And the first step was making sure that all of my programs were compatible with Windows 10.

Unfortunately, Office 2003 has some issues with Windows 10, which prompted me to pull the trigger on Office 365 (something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time). Thankfully, the upgrade went off without a hitch, and I was up and running in no time flat.

I was most concern about Outlook, as that’s my lifeline to the world, and I’ve been using it for as long as I can remember. I backed up my e-mail prior to the update in case something went wrong (which was a LONG process, considering that I’ve got a 10MB+ PST file, with literally tens of thousands of e-mails spanning the past decade or more), but it imported everything automatically and I was good to go.

But when I saw the new interface for Outlook 2016, I was in shock, and not in a good way. The colors are awful (there are a few themes to choose from, but none of them are very good, and the Light Grey theme that was offered in previous versions of Outlook is no longer available), the fonts are hard to read, there’s way too much spacing, and it’s just a hot mess.

You’d think that they’d give users the ability to fine-tune the display options to their liking, but that’s not the case at all, with VERY minimal options to choose from. Microsoft support forums have threads spanning YEARS, with users asking for the ability to do things like this, and MS basically responds saying to submit a request and they’ll consider it. Considering that many of these requests are from 2010 and on, it’s clear they just don’t give a fuck.

Honestly, I’m a little perplexed as to why Microsoft is ignoring their customers, considering there are other options out there. I’m still in my 30-day trial, and I’m trying my best to make it work (spending way too much of my precious time trying to address various concerns). But in the end, if I’m not feeling it, I’ll likely either downgrade to an older version, or try Google’s offerings instead.

Functionality should always trump design. Especially when it’s bad design!

How Twitter’s Permanent Ban Of Milo Yiannopoulous Could Threaten Twitter’s Future

Free Milo movement on Twitter

If you have been on Twitter these past few days, you’ve likely noticed the #FreeMilo movement that’s currently going on, with people protesting on Twitter about the decision to permanently ban Milo Yiannopoulous over a “fued” with Ghostbuster’s star Leslie Jones.

The contretemps has been brewing all week, as Milo engaged in a barbed to and fro with embattled Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones over her Twitter feud with trolls who hated her new movie. When others started jumping into the fray and threw racism into the mix, rather than address the offenders, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey instead banned Milo, hence the #FreeMilo business.

Naturally, this got Twitter into an uproar, as there is MUCH WORSE happening on Twitter that’s being flat-out ignored by Twitter, including death threats and talks of violence against the police. Now Twitter can enforce any rules they wish, but they need to do so unilaterally, or else it breaks the trust they have with their community.

As it is, Twitter is struggling to stay relevant in the face of other social media platforms that are experience MUCH bigger growth (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc). So if users follow through on their threats of leaving Twitter and going elsewhere, it’s bad for business.

It should be interesting to see how the whole #FreeMilo drama plays out. I, for one, think that his account should be reinstated.. That’s my 2 cents on the situation.

Twitter Finally Lets You Share High-Quality GIFs

twitter-phone

Sharing animated GIFs on Twitter has been rather challenging, due to the fact that Twitter only let you share GIFs that were 5MB in size or less. As such, people would try and “optimize” their GIFs by taking out frames, removing colors, etc. Sadly, the results were usually pretty dismal.

Thankfully, Twitter has finally seen the error of their ways, and they have rectified this by increasing the size limit for GIFs to a whopping 15MB!

That’s right, you can now share high-quality GIFs without sacrificing quality or anything.. Now this update does come with some restrictions, like the fact that it’s only available on the desktop version of Twitter. If you’re on mobile or use a Twitter client like TweetDeck, Buffer or Hootsuite, you’re out of luck.. For now at least.

So what are you waiting for, it’s time to get on Twitter and start posting away! πŸ™‚

Why Don’t Printers Come With The Necessary Cables?!

Brother Laser Printer

For years now, I’ve been using an ancient HP LaserJet 1100 printer that was passed down to me and had to be hacked together in order to make it work with modern computers. But until recently, it was working just fine, so I left well enough alone.

Unfortunately, the printer started acting up recently, jamming like crazy, toner issues, etc. And rather than try and fix it (again), I decided to just bite the bullet and buy a new laser printer for the home office. After doing a lot of research, I decided on the Brother HL-L2340DW laser printer, which got extremely high marks (with over 2300 reviews on Amazon) and only set me back $109.99. In addition, replacement toner isn’t too expensive at all.

So I placed my order, opted for the standard free shipping, and figured I’d get it in a week or two. TWO DAYS LATER, my new printer gets delivered!

I quickly opened the box, read through the setup instructions, and realized that I needed a USB 2.0 Cable (A-Male to B-Male) in order to set it up. (Brother claims that you can set it up over WiFi, but even they suggest that you should use the cable for the initial setup) I figured I had to have one of these cables in my office, as I have TONS of cables strewn around. Nope. πŸ™

Now I could have ordered the cable from Amazon (for like $4), but that would mean waiting another week for it to get here. Radio Shack wanted $26 (and they wonder why they’re going out of business), and Best Buy wanted $19. But Walmart had one for $3.35, and it was available for same-day pickup. So I jumped in my car, went to the store, and found the cable. Only in store it’s labeled at $14, so I had to get the cashier to do a price adjustment for me.

Get back home, get the printer setup relatively easy, and I’m off and running. But it makes me wonder, why don’t printer companies just include the cable themselves? If I’m paying $3.35 from Walmart, you know the real cost of the printer is probably around $1. So just include it, raise the price of the printer by $1, and save everyone the hassle and headache.

What am I missing here?

Facebook’s Latest Algorithm Change Isn’t The End Of The World For Publishers

Facebook Ads Aren't Dead

Facebook recently announced some changes to their algorithm that have publishers across the web screaming bloody murder. Essentially, these changes are going to specifically promote content that was posted by the friends and family of users, rather than showing things from brand pages and other sources that people have ‘liked’ or ‘followed’ in the past.

Now as someone who spends a considerable amount of money on Facebook ads (to grow the number of followers on our page, Boosts are for chumps), I was naturally concerned about this as well. But here’s the thing – If you produce good content, people will share it. And when people share it, it creates a viral effect that can’t be stopped.

Some of my marketing friends disagreed. Until I showed them a MASSIVE spike of traffic that we got from Facebook, to the tune of about 225K visitors over the course of two days.

FB-Traffic_1

You can click the image above to see a more detailed view of our Analytics from those days, but as you can see, the traffic went from 771 the day before to 150K the following day. All thanks to a post on Facebook that got shared over and over again. Eventually, some people with massive followings started sharing it, and that took things to a whole other level!

And for those who still don’t believe me, look at the following screen shot:

FB-Traffic-2

As you can see, Facebook (mobile) drove most of that traffic. (The fact that so many people browse on mobile these days is a story for another day, but needless to say, it’s important that your site is mobile friendly or responsive.)

So the point I’m trying to make is that Facebook is far from dead for brands and marketers, it just requires rethinking your strategy. Simply sharing every post you make isn’t going to get you anywhere. But create compelling posts that people will want to like, share and comment on will ensure that they get seen by as many people as possible on Facebook.

Food for thought.

Facebook Rolls Out New Like Button That Lets You Choose From Various “Reactions”

facebook-reactions

For the past year, Facebook has been testing out a more comprehensive ‘Like’ button, one that lets you express your emotion about a post. Facebook is calling these new buttons Facebook Reactions.

With Facebook Reactions, you now have the choice to ‘Like’, ‘Love’, ‘Haha’, ‘Wow’, ‘Sad’, or ‘Angry’ a post. So now instead of “liking” a sad status update, you can respond with a sentiment that feels a little more appropriate.

Facebook-new-likes-buttons-express-more-emotion

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook Reactions are about letting people express empathy, but I think there’s more going on behind the scenes. For the past few weeks, we’ve noticed that Likes and Shares haven’t been generating nearly the traffic that they once did (eg. 100 Likes = 1000 post reach?!), and FB said that this was part of an algorithm change. With these new reactions in place now, we’ll be monitoring our pages performance and see if we can discern any changes.

To use the new β€˜Like’ emotions, either hover over the old ‘Like’ button (desktop) or long-press the ‘Like’ button (mobile), and a range of emotions will appear. Simply click the one you want to express about the post, and you’re good to go.

What do you think about Facebook Reactions?