Category: Internet

General Web-related topics

Have a WordPress site? Get to know Gutenberg before it becomes the default editor!

I logged-in to one of my WordPress sites last week and got a notification of Gutenberg, a new plugin for WordPress. After reading that it will become the default editor (possibly the only editor) for WordPress sites, I was immediately interested.

I installed it and instantly loved what I found, though it does have a bit of a learning curve.

Take a look at The Complete Anatomy of the Gutenberg WordPress Editor for a great overview of all the fantastic new features, including the ability to easily add columns, tables, colored text, varied text sizes, text drop caps and a ton more. If you run your own WordPress site, I think you’re really going to love all that the new editor has to offer.

How to start using the Internet’s fastest privacy-first DNS service on your Mac

Nearly everything on the Internet starts with a DNS request. DNS is the Internet’s directory. Click on a link, open an app, send an email and the first thing your device does is ask the directory: Where can I find this?

Your Internet Service Provider usually gives you DNS entry info (or sets it up automatically) to use their own preferred DNS service so they can monetize it. And these DNS services are generally much slower than other DNS services out there.

Enter, a collaboration between Cloudflare and APNIC. The service claims to introduce a new DNS service that’s not only faster (they say 28%) at connecting you to where you want to go, but also does so with complete privacy. Unlike your ISP or other DNS services, they have no idea where you go on the internet and don’t try to track you for the purpose of selling this info to other companies.

Using the new service is simple:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Search for DNS Servers and select it from the Search box in the upper right corner of the System Preference dialog box.
  3. Click any numbers in the list and click the button to delete the existing numbers (you could write them down just in case you feel the need to go back to them for whatever reason).
  4. Click the + button to add a DNS Server and enter
  5. Click + again and enter (This is for redundancy.)
  6. Click Ok, then click Apply.
  7. That’s it—there’s nothing else to do.

Give a try. I set it up this past weekend with no problems. I haven’t noticed any significant speed increase, but I feel better knowing I’ve improved my chances of Internet privacy a little more.

Facebook adding “Unsend” feature to Messenger

“We have discussed this feature several times. And people using our secret message feature in the encrypted version of Messenger have the ability to set a timer — and have their messages automatically deleted. We will now be making a broader delete message feature available. This may take some time. And until this feature is ready, we will no longer be deleting any executives’ messages. We should have done this sooner — and we’re sorry that we did not,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement.

Via: TechWorm

So they got caught deleting messages from Zuck, give the “we’re sorry but it’s no big deal” statement, and say that everyone will be able to do this “sometime in the future.”

I’m not a big fan of the unsend idea, mostly because smartphones are so quick to post a notification that people see (at least) the subject almost immediately. Once a message is seen, there’s little point in the unsend anyway.

Invoicing for freelance designers

There used to be a ton of invoicing apps available before the iPhone came along and all the work was done on the Mac. But once everyone became a “road warrior” with a desktop, laptop and phone, the invoice app landscape all but disappeared in favor of expensive and complicated web-based subscription services.

I myself have been hanging on to an old Mac-based app because it’s simple, does what I want and still runs on the latest version of macOS. But the day is coming when it’s simply not going to run. The developer has switched over to a subscription-based web service that’s relatively expensive for my needs, and I have no plan to continue using it once the stand-alone app stops working on my Mac.

Zoho Invoice
When that does happen, the first replacement I’m going to try is Zoho Invoice. Yes, it’s a web-based service. But it appears to be a very simple one with plenty of flexibility built in. Zoho Invoice offers a macOS and iOS app, time tracking, multiple styles of estimates & invoice templates available and online payments are integrated (though I think they need to offer a larger variety of payment services than they currently do).

Zoho Invoice is a subscription service that costs… well, that depends. If you’re just getting started as a freelancer, you’ll be happy to see that Zoho Invoice has a free tier, with one of the few restrictions to the full service being a limit of five customers. The first pay tier is $9 per month for up to 50 customers, and it goes up from there. Given the list of features the service includes, I think it’s very reasonably priced.

If you’re in the market for a new invoicing app/service, give Zoho a try and let me know how it works out for you. I’m guessing I’m going to have to make the switch to something this year (probably the next OS update).

8 useful apps for $39.95 – Black Friday Sale runs through Dec 3

Eltima Black Friday Sale

Eltima’s Black Friday Sale runs through December 3 and includes 8 of their most popular apps (regularly $339.72) for just $39.95.

Included in the bundle are CloudMounter, Commander One, Elmedia Player, SyncMate, Folx, FlexiHub and two of my favorites—PhotoBulk and Uplet. Unlike many other Cyber-sales this year, this bundle includes the latest versions of the apps… and they’re actually all USEFUL apps, not one good app with 5 or 6 other junk ones thrown in.

Mac Websites Walk of Shame. Shame. Shame.

I’ve been experiencing issues when I visit certain websites lately. Specifically, a few Mac-based sites like MacRumors, iMore, 9to5Mac and a few others. The problem is the sites load incredibly slow or fail to load completely—requiring me to reload the page two or more times. I’m running macOS Sierra and using Safari.

I switched to the Safari Technology Preview browser, and that helped a little bit, but not much. Pages still weren’t loading completely.

With all the discussion about privacy, tracking and ads on websites lately, which I mostly ignore because I know it’s out of my control for the most part, I found myself installing an ad blocker for the first time in a long time.

Ad BlockerRather than going with the most popular AdBlockers out there, I went with Ad Blocker from the Mac App Store. It’s a Safari Extension and a stand-alone app. One of the features of the app is a Website Inspector that runs a test to show you how long a page takes to load, the page size (in MB), number of Requests the site sends, number of ads, number of trackers and number of Social Media buttons & doodads it loads.

After installing Ad Blocker, I went to a variety of Mac-related websites I normally visit to compare it with my pre-ad blocker results.

My results were astonishing.

Without going into detail on each site, I’ve compiled a bunch of screenshots of the results below. Some sites are worse than others, but I think the results speak for themselves.

It’s also important to note that some of these sites load perfectly fine and appear in this list simply for context. Also, sites that subscribe to ad networks for their income often have no choice in the ads that appear and would love it if the Javascript-heavy, privacy-infringing, ad-tracking bloatware didn’t appear on their site… they just have no choice.

Ad trackers - macrumors

Ad trackers - cultofmac

Ad trackers - appleinsider

Ad trackers - bgr

Ad trackers - imore

Ad trackers - 9to5mac

Ad trackers - appleworld-today

Ad trackers - arstechnica-apple

Ad trackers - loop

Ad trackers - macdailynews

Ad trackers - macobserver

Ad trackers - macstories

Ad trackers - macsurfer

Ad trackers - osxdaily

Ad trackers - tidbits

As you can see, MacRumors was a major offender of ads and tracking, as was AppleInsider, BGR and iMore. The worst of them all, by far, was CultofMac with a whopping 349 ads and 43 trackers. Now keep in mind that what the software considers an ad or a tracker may not in fact be an offensive ad or tracker. If the site is a WordPress site, it has a tracker, and many sites offer aside items that show a list of popular articles on the site, etc., which typically show up as ads. But by-and-large, anything that shows up in the inspector’s results is something other than the content you went to the site to view.

For context, I ran the inspector on a few other sites. Apple’s homepage has no ads, no trackers, no social annoyances, and loads extremely fast. CNN and ESPN, two sites that are typically considered obnoxious by most users, are relatively tame in comparison to the Mac-related sites I tested (see results below).

Ad trackers - Apple

Ad trackers - CNN

Ad trackers - ESPN

The end result for me was that all the sites I was having issues with loaded significantly faster, and loaded completely the first time when running the Ad Blocker extension.

Sites like Daring Fireball (the clear winner and model website, in my opinion), Macintouch and SixColors manage to run their site profitably (I presume) without killing the end-user’s browsing experience (see results below). All three of those pages load virtually instantly and are a pleasure to read, with or without an ad blocker—which is why I whitelisted them in Ad Blocker.

Ad trackers - Daring Fireball

Ad trackers - Macintouch

Ad trackers - Six Colors

I want all of these sites to make money, it’s what keeps them offering up great content for free. But when it comes at the expense of the user experience, it’s self-defeating. If I don’t block the ads to make the site tolerable, I’m just not going to visit the site at all.

How to create engaging images for social media

Engaging social media images

David Ogilvy, the father of advertising, was famous for spending an inordinate amount of time on headlines.

Back then, social media didn’t exist. If it did, Ogilvy would probably give equal time to creating the perfect complementary image.

The blog has some great tips for creating social media graphics. The article is meant for non-designers, but if you’re new to social media marketing, it’s worth the read.

Find out what font a web page is using

FontFace Ninja extension
I recently came across an awesome browser extension that allows you to hover over text on a webpage and have the name of the font appear in an overlay. It’ll even show you the font size, leading and spacing amount.

FontFace Ninja takes it a step further by allowing you to click the “Mask” button to hide all the images, ads and bothersome clutter to allow you to see only the text on the page. The website has a great intro video to show you exactly how the extension works.

Rounding-off the feature list is a button that allows you to purchase the font you’re interested in with (this feature doesn’t work with all fonts, but they have a pretty good collection of providers for the feature).

FontFace Ninja is free and works with Safari, Chrome and Firefox. It’s perfect for web designers and developers!