saris-notions

Friday, 21 September 2012 17:55

Downsizing for Geeks: Image Optimization

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Image optimization is crucial for any website owner. Image optimization improves your SEO rankings, saves you bandwidth, and improves the appearance and usability of your website.

Before loading any image to your website, take some time to edit it first. Websites are all about appearance, and there is nothing worse than having a photo on your site that looks like it was taken straight from your point-and-shoot and loaded onto the web. To really make your photos “pop,” use any of the several free tools available online, some of which don’t require you to install anything onto your computer.

For example, Picmonkey.com is an online image-editing tool that allows you to upload any image and apply user-friendly editing techniques to improve the appearance. You don’t have to register or create an account. Picmonkey allows you to crop, rotate, adjust the exposure and color, sharpen the image, and even resize it, all for free. (Not to mention the multitude of image effects that are available!)

Another free tool for editing photos is Picasa, which can be downloaded from Google for free. Picasa is a photo management program that also comes with great photo-editing features similar to those of Picmonkey, such as giving your photo a nice museum matte or drop shadow border.

After briefly editing your photo’s appearance, the next step is to resize it. Having a large image (e.g. 2MB) uses more bandwidth, a service that most website owners have to pay for. The more bandwidth you use, the more expensive it is to maintain the website.

Using Picasa, you can reduce both the pixels (visual size) and the size (i.e. image weight in MB/Kb); however, there are many other services that can resize your image. Picmonkey, mentioned earlier, and Yahoo! Smush.it™ (www.smushit.com) are free online services for image size reduction that don’t require you to download software or create an account. Reduce the size of your image and you’ll save yourself money and bandwidth.

Of course, Photoshop (Adobe Creative Suite) is the industry standard for photographers and web designers--it is the leading software available, albeit, with a steep learning curve.  Our preference for design and photo optimization, this is what we utilize 99% of the time.  However, sometimes that quick photo edit to pop into a website or on a blog doesn't warrent hauling out the big tools!

Resizing your image also reduces download time for users. Although many users have access to high-speed Internet, there are still many that don’t. If the page doesn’t load quickly enough, or the user can’t find the info they’re looking for, they’re likely to bounce back to the search results. By reducing the image size, your page loads faster and provides a more comfortable experience for the viewer.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 13:28

Funky links? Perhaps you're Mal-adjusted!

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Protecting your computer against malware is vital to keeping your personal information, files, and other private data safe on your device. Malware is malicious software that encompasses viruses, worms, spyware, Trojan horses, and adware. Protect your computer against malware with antivirus software in order to have a safe and secure Internet experience.

Antivirus software often comes already installed on computers, but can also be downloaded from secure websites for free (such as CNET: http://download.cnet.com/windows/), or paid directly from the software manufacturer website or big-box store.

Most importantly, Brian Rodenz, of Click Start, LLC , stresses the importance of you knowing what antivirus software you’re running on your computer in case a scam virus pops up asking you to pay for protection that you already have, thus exposing your computer and personal information.

There is little difference in regards to performance and reliability between paid and free antivirus software. Freeware performed within one percentage point compared to paid software when it came to finding known malware on a computer, according to a test done by PCWorld. Some of the biggest differences are found in the user experience—easy-to-use interface, technical support, comprehensive security tools such as parental controls and identity theft protection. Heavy tech users will each have their own personal favorites, as well—dependent on the “bloat” that they bring to the speed your computer operates, in addition to effectiveness (i.e. Brian currently swears by Eset Nod32 @ $50, while, as of this writing, Sandra prefers Kaspersky @ $64.95).

There are many free and paid antivirus programs that you can trust to protect your computer and web-browsing experience. Products such as Avast Free Antivirus, Avira AntiVir, Microsoft Security Essentials ranked among the top five free antivirus software, while Norton Antivirus, BitDefender, and Avast Pro Antivirus scored in the top five paid software, according to PCWorld. Be sure to not have two antivirus programs installed and operating on your computer at once—they are counterproductive and do not work together well. It may seem that having two together would “double your protection”, but this is counter-intuitive in most cases. However, some programs will, in fact, work well together (Kaspersky and Malwarebytes).  Confusing?  Give Brian a call and he can personally tailor a solution for your home or business needs. (Did I mention he makes house calls?!)  It is an ambiguous and daunting task to try to come up with a “one size fits all” solution, and someone with his background can make this a less complicated process.

You can prevent malware from entering your computer while surfing the Internet through online safety checks. Web browsers such as Internet Explorer and Chrome constantly run these checks against links and websites you visit and will notify you if you are entering a reported attack site or forgery. For additional protection, you can download software that specializes in this such as WOT (Web of Trust), McAfee SiteAdvisor, and AVG Linkscanner. Keep your software updates to help close security holes.  Always keep Windows, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, and Sun Java updated.  Updates are there for a reason and that reason is to keep your computer secure.

 

Padlock With Keys by Petr Kratochvil (photo credit)

Thursday, 06 September 2012 15:39

Creating a Facebook Cover Photo

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When Facebook changed their image settings to having a "cover photo" at the top of the page, many people have been left wondering how to get the perfect size image to fit, without multiple attempts at resizing, re-uploading, etc.   PicMonkey, www.picmonkey.com is a perfect and FREE solution for both business and personal sites!

So simple, just go to their website, and choose "Create a Collage" from the left side of screen.

Pick the second option on left, then look for FB Cover as shown below.  Simply upload your images by browsing to them, play around and add some text, or special effects, Save, and immediately you have a perfectly sized cover photo for Facebook.

pmPic Monkey--Great tool for creating Facebook Cover Photo!

 

At a later date we'll talk about some of the other amazing PicMonkey options, but one thing is certain, this is a easy way to spend a lot of time playing with the different textures, light effects, and options!

Friday, 10 August 2012 16:31

Finally!!

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It has only taken 6 months, but here it is!  We've had such a busy year and lots of exciting new features rolling out, we've not had time to fix our own leaky faucet--our own site. 
More features coming soon, including a client portal and support ticket system.  We hope to continually grow to meet the needs of our clients!

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