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I recently came across a discussion of helpful Firefox Add-ons for web designers.  I’ve tried several out.  Some I’ve kept, others weren’t my thing.

I wanted to share some of them for anybody who might be interested.

Favorite Firefox Add-ons

These are my current favorites.  I keep these active at all times, and use most of them a fair amount.

Firebug:  My favorite and probably most used Add-on.  If you work on web pages at all, you probably already know about this one.  If not, get it.

Firefox Sync:  Syncs  your Firefox bookmarks between multiple computers.  I was a huge fan of Foxmarks (I think that’s what it was called), but switched to this when they died off.

WiseStamp:  Add signatures with links to your emails automatically.  Works great for gmail.

Web Developer Toolbar:  Great for web development and picking apart web pages.

MeasureIt:  Pixel ruler for web pages. Handy to check height and width of elements on web pages.

There When You Need Them…

I don’t use these often, but they’re nice when you need them.

IE NetRenderer:  Enables you to get a screen shot of any web page as it appears in the different versions of Internet Explorer.  Nice when checking compatibility of a new website.

Page Speed:  Measures performance of your webpages. Add-in for firebug.

YSlow: Another performance measurement add-in for firebug.

ColorZilla: Eye dropper to pull color values from webpages.

Worth a Look

Some I don’t use, but others enjoy…

Operator: Reads microformats in pages.

S3Fox: FTP-like Client for Amazon S3 cloud storage.

Firecookie:  Firecookie is an extension for Firebug that makes possible to view and manage cookies in your browser

Clear Cache Button:  Adds a cache clearing button to Firefox

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WP Robot Autoblogging Plugin for WordPress

Over the last few years, I’ve accumulated a bunch of domain names.  Many of them are to protect some of my existing names.  Others are just names that I wanted to hold on to and use later.  Oddly enough, in the world of Cornhole there is a LOT of competition for domain names.  I might have come late to the party, but I feel like I’ve got a few that are decent.

I’d love to stick something on a bunch of these domains, especially the ones that I purchased to protect another domain.  It’s a heck of a lot more productive than a redirect, right?

I decided to purchase WP Robot to use for basic content creation on some of these sites.  I certainly don’t have the time or energy to product quality content, but I wanted to see how well WP Robot might be able to perform for me.

About WP Robot

WP Robot is an easy to use autoblogging plugin for WordPress that allows you to turn your blog on auto-pilot. Posts are created with fresh content in regular intervals that you specify. The posts created will be targeted to any keyword you enter and any topic you want. WP Robot can post content from many different sources, including Amazon, Clickbank, Youtube and eBay!

Using WP Robot to Create Content

I’ve been running WP Robot on a couple of sites now for about a month.  I wouldn’t say I’ve seen a huge increase in traffic, but I do feel like the content it’s finding is applicable to my website, and it looks like it should be good for me in the long run.

A good example is my “Outdoor Game Bargains” site.  It’s just a basic eBay affiliate site, so there’s not a lot of static content.  I figured WP Robot would be perfect to give this site a little bit more than just eBay feeds.  I wasn’t using the blog anyway, so it made sense.

Depending on the content of your site, I think WP Robot is a very versatile tool.  For my games sites, the YouTube module is great.  If your site has a topic that many people have written about, the Article module would help you create great content.  You can even have it change some of the language for you to avoid duplicate content penalties.  You get to set all of the keywords, remove certain keywords, and set percentages that the different modules are used.  I really like the Yahoo Answers and YouTube modules.

Like I said, I’ve only added this to a couple of my sites so far, but my results have been pretty good.  If you’ve got some extra domains, WP Robot might be a good way to create content and grab a few visitors.

I’m currently testing WP Robot on Outdoor Game Reviews & Outdoor Game Bargains.

Have you ever used anything similar?  Any experience with WP Robot?

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Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

Thesis WordPress Theme

I LOVE Thesis. I’ve been using it for all of my websites for about 8 months now. In the past, each new website meant I had to search the ‘net for decent WordPress themes. Most of the themes I found were ‘okay’, but never exactly what I wanted. That all changed when I found Thesis.

The best part of Thesis is the amazing SEO. There are a bunch of features to help you increase your site’s SEO built right in. There’s also a great admin panel that lets you choose your site’s fonts, colors, navigation, and more. All built into Thesis!

Once you buy Thesis, you own it, and you get all the future updates for free! That includes the new 1.7.

Thesis 1.7

So back to the NEW Thesis… There’s a lot to be excited about in the new Thesis 1.7.

  • Options Manager. My favorite part. I use similar templates for all of my sites, but I still have to go into Thesis and configure all of the options to make everything work. Not anymore! Thesis now has a way to have your options and import them into a fresh install. RAD.
  • New headline filter – It used to take some CSS trickery to remove the headline, but now it’s built right in!
  • Easy 301 redirects. Another of my favorite new features. I used to use a plugin called “Page Links To”, and now the same functionality built right in to Thesis!
  • New SEO controls and detail. As if the SEO benefits weren’t already great, they’ve added even more. Features for robots tags, categories, and tags. Deep SEO stuff.
  • Flexible new comment system – Gives you the ability to reorder comments, trackbacks, and the comment form.
  • Completely reorganized options pages.
  • Increased efficiency from every angle.
  • Include a slew of JavaScript libraries.
  • New home page controls – complete SEO control on your home page.
  • New hooks
  • Beefed-up internationalization
  • Improved core element defaults
  • Dramatically improved code quality

If you aren’t already using Thesis, I couldn’t encourage it more.  It’s saved me SO much time, and improved all of my sites.  Check it out!

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community
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I’ve been moving websites a lot lately, so I’ve been finding dead links like crazy.  I’ve been moving all of my websites from GoDaddy Hosting to HostGator hosting (which I’ll write about soon).

Running the Thesis WordPress theme on HostGator resulted in having 2 different 404 pages.  One is the default Thesis 404 page, which is okay, but the other one is an obnoxious HostGator 404 page that is basically just a HostGator advertisement.  I love HostGator, but that’s a bunch of crap.

Changing the HostGator 404 Page

This part is pretty easy if you’re familiar with the .htaccess file.

In theory, it should work to add the following to your .htaccess file:

ErrorDocument 404 /new404.html

“new404.html” would be the address of your 404 page.  I haven’t been able to test this, though.  Now that I want to break my pages, I’m having a hard time doing it…  Let me know if that code doesn’t work, please!

Changing  the default Thesis 404 Page

I don’t really mind the default 404 page that Thesis uses, but it could be more helpful.  I made a couple quick changes to mine to help explain to users how to find the content they were looking for, or to get back to the Home page.  Check out the 404 page for my Washers site.

All you need to do to make some changes is to add a few lines of code to your Thesis custom_functions.php file.

Here’s what I used:

/* Custom 404 Hooks */
function custom_thesis_404_title() {
?>
The Page you requested is somewhere here.
<?php
}
remove_action(‘thesis_hook_404_title’, ‘thesis_404_title’);
add_action(‘thesis_hook_404_title’, ‘custom_thesis_404_title’);

function custom_thesis_404_content() {
?>
<h2>Lose Your Way?  Don’t Worry!</h2>
<p>Let’s get you back on track!<br /><br />
If you know what you’re looking for, please use the search box on the right.<br /><br />
Otherwise, go ahead and start over at the <a href=”http://www.washergameplayers.com”>Home</a> page.<br /><br />
Thanks for visitng <a href=”http://www.washergameplayers.com”>Washer Game Players!</a></p>
<?php
}
remove_action(‘thesis_hook_404_content’, ‘thesis_404_content’);
add_action(‘thesis_hook_404_content’, ‘custom_thesis_404_content’);

Basically, this function uses hooks to remove the default 404 page, then replaces it with your new content.

I had to add in my own H2 tags for a headline, as I have the headline tags removed from my Thesis Theme.

I found the 404 info on a couple of websites, then altered it work for my site.  For more info, check out:
http://www.shoutmeloud.com/customizing-thesis-wordpress-theme-404-error-pages.html
http://www.sugarrae.com/thesis-tutorial-custom-404/

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PhpBB3 to Coppermine Bridge

A great way to make the phpBB forum even better is to link it with Coppermine. Coppermine is an open-source photo gallery you can use on your website. It may not be the prettiest or most feature rich option, but it’s really stable, and does most anything I’ve ever needed it to do.

One cool thing you can do with Coppermine is create a bridge that will create a single log in for your forum members. It’s a really easy mod, and well worth doing if you’re running both of these programs.

I’ve been using this on my Cornhole, Washers, and Outdoor Games forums for a while now.  It works great, and the single log-in is really nice.  There isn’t a ton of support for this, so hopefully you get it to work on your first try!

Steps involved

  • Execute an SQL statement
  • Replace a phpBB3 file
  • Delete forum cache file
  • Change some phpBB3 ACP permission options.
  • Replace a few Coppermine files.
  • Run the Bridge Manager

Link to Mod – Bridge Coppermine <-> phpBB3, v0.9.0

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I recently had a mod move a topic and leave a shadow topic in it’s place.  The intent was to move the topic to our area for deleted topics, but the shadow caused it to remain visible.

I wanted to delete the shadow topic without deleting the original topic.  A little bit of digging around helped me find the answer…

The Moderator Control Panel

I honestly had no idea that the MCP even existed, much less what I would need it for, but this case is a perfect example.

To delete a shadow topic, navigate to the forum containing the shadow topic, and use the Moderator Control Panel to select and delete the topic.

That’s it!  Easy enough to do, it’s just a matter of knowing to use the MCP to get it done.

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I routinely use two separate Google accounts.  One for personal use, and one for business.  This was a huge pain until just recently when I discovered a great way to switch from one to the other.  I now use a Greasemonkey script called “Google Account Multi-Login.”

This script basically replaces the “Sign Out” link on Google pages with a pull-down menu of your accounts. To change to a different account, you simply click the menu and select the account you’d like to switch to. A few seconds later your new page is loaded, and you’re in your other account. Simple as that!  Passwords are stored, and there are basic options to add or remove accounts.

If it’s purely Gmail accounts you’re concerned about, there may be a second option for you. There’s  a Firefox Add-on called Gmail Manager that lets you manage multiple Gmail accounts and receive new mail notifications. It also allows you to view account details – including unread messages, saved drafts, spam messages, labels with new mail, space used, and new mail snippets.

I wasn’t as impressed with the Gmail Manager, but it mostly depends on your individual needs.  If you have more than one Google account, I’d highly recommend trying out the Google Account Multi-Login.

Related Links:

Lifehacker Article
Gmail Manager Article
Multi Login Home Page
Gmail Manager Addon

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