Category: Technology

Free Business Ringtones | Professional SMS Tones

On the previous iteration of this blog, I had a very popular post by this same title…aparrently I wasn’t the only one looking for non-poppy ringtones.

Somehow during my move, I didn’t back up my SQL DB, so I lost the actual post. But, in anticipation for my HTC Droid Incredible arrival tomorrow, I was pulling all the MP3s off of my Blackberry so I can transfer them to my Droid. Here are the few tones I had listed in the previous post…some are ringtones, some are for text messages or MMS:

Business – SMS
Doraemon – SMS
Msg_Notice – SMS
Naruto – SMS
Piano – SMS
Silver – Ringtone

SInce I’ve had my Blackberry for about 2 years now, I’ve gotta kinda fond of a few ringtones & alarms. Well, I’m not so sure ‘fond’ is the correct word…maybe ‘accustomed’ is a better term. In other words, like Pavlov’s Dog, I’ve learned what types of emails or messages are coming in by which noise the phone makes. Therefore, I searched out copies of the default Blackberry ringtones, SMS and MMS tones, and alarms. Rather that link all 56 of them individually like the ones above, I’m including them in a 193kb .ZIP file.

Download the Blackberry Preloaded Tones Zip

Hopefully RIM won’t come sniffing around and make me remove the zip. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Add Max Width to WordPress Image Uploads

The core WordPress media manager does a pretty good job of helping folks to automatically manage their images. Depending on your setup, WordPress will look for the GD Image Library on the server (you can also set it to ImageMagick if you prefer…like I do) and resize your images, auto-create thumbnails, and perform other neat on-the-fly chores that would take awhile to do if you blog a lot.

The later versions of WordPress will take a large image and create 4 different images once you upload it: a thumbnail, small, medium, and large, along with the original. You can then select which image you would like to insert into your post.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been helping my Mother move from a Blogger blog to a new WordPress blog. She had been wanting the ability to have a wider “content” area and wanted a fresh new look. So, we found her a template that would work well for her and I modified it to fit her needs.

One of the issues we had, once we launched her new blog was image sizing. Sometimes she’ll upload images from her digital camera (which are really large) and other times she’ll grab smaller images from a Google search to include in her posts. It was confusing to her to not have all the size options each time she uploaded an image. See, if a photo is relatively small when you upload it, you won’t get the options for a small or medium image, only the original. Conversely, if a very large image is uploaded and she chooses ‘large’ or ‘orginal’ it may be too wide for the content area and essentially ‘break’ the layout.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. Locate your theme’s main functions.php file (typically found in the theme’s root directory), and add the following after the opening < ?php:

$GLOBALS['content_width'] = 800;

This will set the maximum width for uploaded images to 800 pixels. You may, of course, adjust as necessary. Now, when my Mom uploads an image, she always knows to choose the ‘original’ option, because it will never be ‘too large’ for the content wrapper…of course, she doesn’t know that this piece of code is in place…she just knows that it works. And, as they say, ignorance is bliss.

Redirecting Visitors on Unix Servers

There are many times when one may wish to redirect a visitor on his or her site. Say for example you used to have your blog a but now you want it in the root; you could redirect all traffic from the /blog directory back to the root / directory. Or, perhaps you’re moving to an entirely new domain; you could redirect all traffic from one domain to another. Like the first example, if you used to have webpages in a subfolder (like, /articles/article1.html) and you change your structure directory, you could redirect traffic from /articles to /entries.

One could come up with hundreds of reasons to redirect traffic and since there are so many reasons to redirect, there are a handful of ways to accomplish the redirection. The easiest and cleanest method is by editing your .htaccess file. The .ht (or, hypertext) access file is a directory-level configuration file that allows for “decentralized management of a web server1.” Incidentally, the file begins with a dot (.) because this is the default ‘hidden’ mode for *Nix servers. Anywho, the .htaccess file can do a lot of stuff and is very powerful, so always make a backup when editing the file and don’t erase things you find when you get there…always append, or prepend, and add a comment about what the code is meant for. (See #4 on Donnie’s list…in fact, read them all while you’re there.)

A few mote notes about .htaccess:

  • Always transfer your .htaccess file to the server is ASCII mode; binary will mess it up and could cause your server to operate incorrectly.
  • If you can’t see your .htaccess file, make sure your FTP server is set show hidden files. Also, as mentioned before, you won’t find this file on a Windows server…*Nix only. You can always try uploading abc.htacccess.txt and then renaming it once it’s on the server to simply “.htaccess” if you’re having trouble.

301 Redirect

To move a single page:

Redirect 301 /oldpage.html

To move your whole site:

Redirect 301 /

What if you’ve changed your site from .html extensions to .php or vice versa? The following will help you redirect one extension to another on the server-side; it looks for any .html extension and changes it to .php:

RedirectMatch 301 (.*)\.html$$1.php

Other Methods

Remember at the beginning of the article when I said that editing the .htaccess file was the “clean & easy” way of redirecting? Well, not everyone has access to their .htaccess file so there is an alternate method. You can *gasp* use a meta redirect.

Search engines don’t like meta redirects and most people don’t either. They’re clumsy and they’re not bullet-proof like the .htaccess method. Either way, it can be used in a pinch. For this method, we’ll open the index.html or index.php file (or header file, if you’re using SSI) and add a few lines of code:


<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="10; url=">

The content=”10;  tells the browser how many seconds to wait before redirecting…you could easily change this to meet your needs.

Final Notes

All of my notes above have the intent of creating 301 redirects, as opposed to 302s. A 301 redirect is meant to be a permanant change. If Google and other spiders see a 301 redirect in place, they will begin updating their records accordingly.

Conversely, if you create a 302 redirect, you don’t lose your search engine friendliness. Here’s a helpful image to help you see the difference:

So, there ya go; a quick run down on redirecting visitors on a *nix box. Any questions?

Overlooked Gmail Security Features

One of the features I’ve long enjoyed with Gmail (and other Google accounts) is the ability to see which IP address logged in last and at what time; if you’ve never noticed this at the bottom of your Gmail window before, take a peek next time you log in. It looks something like this:

Then, of course, if you click on the ‘details’ link, you can see a more detailed view of which IP addresses have accessed your Gmail account and what type of device it was. Further, you can set up alerts to email you if ‘suspicious’ behavior is observed. Pretty nifty.

I know my home & work IP addresses so I take a gander from time to time and which addresses have accessed my account to see if I notice anything out of the ordinary. To see this for yourself (assuming you’re logged in to Gmail), click on ‘Details’ at the bottom of the main window; Gmail will also tell you which IP address is currently logged in; this is helpful if you’re using a public network at an airport or coffee shop, for example.

In my next post, I’ll explain how Facebook is incorporating some similar security features that are rolling out this week.

Hosting: Shared vs VPS vs Dedicated

web hosting
In my line of work, I have the frequent task of helping clients choose a hosting provider. Usually, my clients are not IT people but, rather, they work in Marketing, PR, or are the CEO of a company, wearing all kind of hats. Thus, my task of explaining the differences to them can be somewhat painstaking at times.

There are three basic types of hosting (but you know that already because you’ve read the post title.) Allow me to break down the three in less-than-technical terms.


This hosting plan is the most common and the cheapest. Big name companies like Dreamhost, Bluehost, and Startlogic are some of the big players in this game. They take fairly good hardware (a fast processor, a lot of ram, and a Linux distribution like Ubuntu or CentOS) and then ‘partition’ the server into thousands of tiny little slices. They then resell those slices to individuals for a nominal fee…anywhere from $5 to $10 per month, usually.

Shared hosting is OK for your brother’s blog, a super-simple website without complicated eCommerce transactions, and the occasional calling-card website. The price is right and smaller, simple sites like these don’t require a lot of system resources to run. Where shared hosting falls short is when you have an application (or string of applications such as PHP) that need a lot of RAM to run the site. This can happen if you make a lot of custom MySQL database calls or if you’re uploading & serving lots of photos. Since shared hosts typically ‘oversell’ these servers (meaning, they sell more slices than ‘the math’ says they should, expecting some clients to use MORE than their slice but most to use less, the server can quickly get bogged down. It’s not uncommon for these mega hosts to have 1,500 or more ‘slices’ on a single server…which is too many, no matter how you cut it. More often than not, I like to stay away from shared hosting.


VPS, or Virtual Private Server, is the mid-way point between shared and dedicated, as you may have guessed. In this case, the larger server is still ‘sliced’ into pieces, but rather than sharing and pooling resources, each virtual slice acts like it’s own server. It has it’s own OS, it’s allocated it’s own amount of RAM that it doesn’t share with others on the server, and–unlike shared servers–virtual servers can be independently rebooted (this really comes in handy when recompiling PHP or other server-side languages.)

In my opinion, the biggest advantage to VPS is that one has root access (meaning that they can do absolutely anything they want to on the server…install programs, allocate resources, and as I said, it typically has a guaranteed amount of RAM. Because VPS servers have come down so much in price (ranging from $50 to $150/month), many resellers use a VPS to resell accounts to clients and host their sites. The major players in the VPS game are, MediaTemple, though my personal favorite as of late is WiredTree…their level of customer support is second to none.


Finally, Dedicated servers are upper-echelon of the hosting world. Priced anywhere from $135 to $750, depending of the configuration, these servers power the most highly trafficked and CPU / RAM intensive sites. These servers are highly configurable and vary based on which host you go with. You can configure them with multiple hard drives, several CPU units, redundant power supplies, a custom amount of RAM and even the speed of the connectivity port. Dedicated servers are often housed with hosting providers who have extremely fast connections to the internet (close to a backbone), providing great transfer rates between the server and client. Dedicated servers have become more of a commodity over the past few years as prices for components have dropped significantly but would still be considered ‘overkill’ for the vast majority of websites out there.

Other Considerations

Another thing to ask yourself if whether or not you want a managed setup or whether you plan to act as your own administrator. Managed sites offer greater flexibility. Your team is available to help you recompile PHP, install software, keep the OS updated with the latest version and security patches and you have a support team to help you when you can’t figure things out on your own. This is almost priceless for someone who has little or no knowledge of server administration, has little time to learn, or for someone who wants to learn, but needs help along the way. The best hosts will not only help you with you questions but will also help teach you along the way…in their eyes, if they can teach you how to perform a task on the server, you won’t need their help next time. And if you’re a geek, you’ll really enjoy having root access after awhile.

Conversely, unmanaged servers require the admin to install and update everything: the OS, PHP version, MySQL support, anti-virus program, FTP programs, Mail programs…everything. Who has time for that? While you’ll be charged a premium for Managed support, after your first support ticket, you’ll appreciate the nominal fee.

On a side note, here’s a great Linux command-line cheat sheet that has helped me out multiple times.

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to hosting. Beyond the types of hosting, there are thousands or even tens of thousands of hosts who claim to specialize in different areas in an attempt to boost their organic search results. Some hosts claim to be great for hosting WordPress blogs while others target geographic markets. At the end of the day, the best choice is to decide which type of host you need, do some research to narrow your possible choices down to a handful, and then check their knowledge base out as well as their Twitter feed. Knowledge bases are online help centers that attempt to cover questions that are asked repetitively; sort of like a FAQ but in much greater detail; if a host has an amazing online knowledge base (like MediaTemple, for example) that’s a good sign that they’ll offer great real-time support as well. I mention the Twitter feed because every host will have one and customers, pleased and otherwise, will be sure to make their voices heard. Read the replies to their twitter account…are people thrilled with their support and service or is it a myriad of complaints? WiredTree’s twitter account, for example, is laden with great comments which was a deal sealer for me. One can have the slickest website in the world, but if they don’t have quality support, they’re not worth paying for…even if it’s free!