Using Two Factor Authentication (2FA) For Better Security

Using Two Factor Authentication (2FA) For Better Security

What Is 2FA (two factor authentication)

In the most basic form, two factor authentication (2FA) is :

  • Something you KNOW – password, a PIN, answer to a security question
  • Something you HAVE – driver’s license, phone, last four of credit card
  • Something you ARE – face scan, fingerprints, voice

So realize it or not, you’ve been using 2FA for many, many years. Every time you enter a PIN for debit cards, or provide the last four of your social security number to bank, or even when you use a fingerprint to log into your phone, you are using a second “factor” to authenticate.

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Where Should I Use 2FA

Many “secure” web apps or websites offer 2FA as an option that has to be enabled. When you try to log into your bank or mortgage company you will often be asked a security question, have to enter a PIN, approve a security image, etc. But unless you enable 2FA in some places a simple password is all that keeps you and another user from your email, social media accounts or banking information.

How Does 2FA Work?

Traditionally on the internet or phone app, the user enters a password on the computer or device which triggers something to happen from the application. An SMS is sent with a code, you are prompted to engage the fingerprint reader, or it asks for another time-coded PIN from a secure authenticator application. The user than enters the codes, provides a fingerprint or other criteria and is logged into the application.

Of the more popular methods, SMS is the least secure. SMS can be intercepted, sometimes read on multiple devices, or in extreme cases even hijack the phone number.

Fingerprints are the obvious most secure. Virtually impossible to fake, fingerprints are with you pretty much all of the time. Make sure you read several fingers from both hands. On occasion users can injure specific fingers or in the most extreme circumstances lose a digit, which would make reading impossible.

Authenticator applications are becoming more and more popular in recent years. These apps run on your phones and reset a code every 30-60 seconds. When you try to log into the app, it will ask for a password, then ask for a six-digit 2FA code. You pull out your phone, open the app and find the appropriate code, enter it into the field on the app, and if the two match, you are logged in.

Possible Issues with 2FA

Well the most obvious is not having your phone or having it not usable. However, most services that use 2FA like Google and Facebook have “backup” codes. If you have the codes but not access to your device you can still authenticate. The danger of saving these backup codes is now you have an insecure printed code lying around, which sort of defeats 2FA.

Time is another issue. Most of us want access to information and entertainment now. Having to open an app, pull out a text, or even manipulate the phone for fingerprint reading can take precious seconds… but isn’t security worth that time. Think of the minutes, hours or even DAYS it would take to recover or repair a hacked account!

Authenticator Applications

Several times I’ve referenced authenticator apps in this discussion. These apps are fairly easy to use. When you turn on 2FA on your app or website, a code or QR Code will appear. You add a site to the authenticator, it will ask for the code or the QR scan, ask for a confirmation code, and you’re all set up! Below are some of the most popular authenticator for Android. Most are available on iOS as well and there are almost no differences in how these programs work.

  • Google Authenticator – The most popular 2FA app. If you use Gmail or GSuite it has very easy integration to secure your email and other Google applications.
  • andOTP – Free and open source it’s a very easy to use application with compatibility of Google Authenticator 2FA.
  • Microsoft Authenticator – Google’s biggest competitor
  • Authy – Probably the most popular app NOT created by Microsoft or Google, if you want to steer away from those to giants.

So how do I know if I can use 2FA?

Most sites that use 2FA have it listed in a security section of your profile. Simply looking there or through frequently asked questions will usually tell you if you are able to use 2FA.

There is a great list of websites and apps that use 2FA at TwoFactorAuth.org. This website has an organized list of sites and which types of 2FA they support. Some use SMS (texting), phone authentications, email or hardware/software tokens. This can be really helpful if you plan on using 2FA as part of the decision-making process.

Bottom Line on 2FA

Two Factor Authentication sounds scary. When you start talking about fingerprints and things of that nature people get weirded out by movies and potential issues. The bottom line is by taking a few extra seconds to log into your favorite apps, cloud storage and banking sites you could be preventing endless hours of trying to recover those accounts. Who hasn’t heard stories of hacked financial accounts, or hijacked social media logins, or changed email passwords with no way to recover because the backup email account was changed.

While 2FA won’t completely stop this activity, it will keep a vast majority of hackers from trying further. It’s much more cost effective in money and time to move on to an easier target than to dig deeper on to a secure accounts.

Take a few moments and test on something easy like Facebook. Then your email, then banking, then your website. You will feel better knowing you’ve taken some steps to be more secure.

Do you use 2FA? Send questions or comments to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Best WordPress SEO Plugins

Best WordPress SEO Plugins

If you have a WordPress website and are not using SEO, or search engine optimization, you are missing out on valuable traffic.

Whether your visitors are looking for a place to eat, a place to shop, or someone to perform a valuable service, just about all of them start with a Google or Bing search. According to an article on SEO Tribunal :

  • 93% of all experiences on the internet start with a search
  • Nearly half of all internet searches will be performed by voice by 2020
  • Nearly all results found on page one of searches contain at least one image on the landing page.
  • Almost 50% of all Google searched terms are for local results

So getting your SEO in order is a valuable way to increase your website’s traffic and possible sales/conversions.

The tools detailed below and on the podcast are great if you’d like to do it yourself, but if you’re looking for something a bit more detailed, BeBizzy Consulting offers SEO technical and content solutions. Please give us a call if you are looking to take your website to a new level.

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WordPress Plugins Focused on SEO

WordPress has nearly 55,000 plugins in its repository. Finding quality plugins can be tough, but we talked about how to use and find plugins in a previous BeBizzy Break Podcast episode.

Luckily, we’ve gathered a list of the best and most popular SEO plugins in the list below.

Yoast SEO

Yoast is easily the most popular all-in-one SEO plugin for WordPress. It does a great job making sure your keywords, title and description fit within Google’s display guidelines. There’s also some intelligence baked into the plugin to check your page content to see if there’s duplicate content or if the content needs to be broken up into paragraphs or bulleted lists. A premium version is available that has free support, more insights into the content, and an automatic redirect system.

One word of caution. I have moved away from Yoast on several websites simply due to it occasionally conflicts with my Divi WordPress theme or some of the plugins I use. Yoast updates very often, as does Divi, so it’s tough to identify which one causes the issue, but on sites I update often, I no longer use Yoast.

Version:11.6
Requires:4.9 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.2
Released:11 October 2010
Downloads:183609447
Last Updated:09 July 2019
Ratings:
4.9
(4.9 star out of 5)


SEO Framework

BeBizzy Consulting’s choice for an SEO plugin where I choose not to use Yoast is The SEO Framework. One of the primary reasons I use it is an easy-to-use scale on the pages and posts dashboard which tell you with green/yellow/red whether or not your title and description are good, whether the page is indexed, and also deeper info like if the links on the post are follow/no-follow, if the page is redirected, or if bots are allowed to search the page.

Another reason I use SEO Framework is speed. It’s had some of the bloat that causes Yoast to slow down a site stripped out while still keeping the functionality. Extensions can enhance SEO by managing redirects, helping with Local SEO, article information, and een monitoring uptime.

Version:3.2.4
Requires:4.6.0 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.2
Released:29 May 2015
Downloads:822653
Last Updated:08 May 2019
Ratings:
4.9
(4.9 star out of 5)

FYI, The SEO Framework just passed the 100,000 installation milestone.


All in One SEO Pack

I had used All In One SEO Pack in the past and it did an acceptable job. It’s the original WordPress SEO Plugin and the dashboard is easy to use and follow, especially for new users.

Most of the features are available in the free version but there is a premium version with additional configuration options. It has most of the pieces available in the more popular Yoast and SEO Framework, but lacks a little on the deeper options, but a for a smaller blog or website it works great.

Version:3.1.1
Requires:4.7 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.2
Released:30 March 2007
Downloads:57994096
Last Updated:15 June 2019
Ratings:
4.4
(4.4 star out of 5)


SEO Pressor

SEO Pressor is an SEO audit and settings tool that helps identify and fix technical SEO issues. Use it to analyze Word Counts, Readability, broken links, schema building, and much more.

Download Link : https://seopressor.com/


SEO Squirrly

SEO Squirrly is rapidly becoming a player in the WordPress SEO arena. It provides great information on your pages, posts, WooCommerce products and more. There are some Assisted SEO features that help you find hidden keywords that generate traffic and has little competition. And the SEO Live Assitant analyzes while you create content and gives you real-time SEO tips. I’m considering using this on a new site I’m building to see a bit more live-action information.

Version:9.1.19
Requires:4.2 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.2
Released:08 January 2013
Downloads:2876701
Last Updated:17 July 2019
Ratings:
4.6
(4.6 star out of 5)


Broken Link Checker

Quite simply, this plugin analyzes the content of your website and looks for broken internal and external links. It provides an easy-to-use dashboard to fix the links or even remove them from your content.

Version:1.11.8
Requires:3.2 or higher
Compatible up to:5.1.1
Released:08 October 2007
Downloads:6781588
Last Updated:20 March 2019
Ratings:
4.2
(4.2 star out of 5)


Rank Math

Another up and coming SEO plugin that claims it “… beats the competition with hands tied behind its back.” Bold statement, but reviews and information are heading that direction. Easy setup, integration of Google schema/rich snippets, multiple keywords, search console integration and more.

And you can import from some of the other big SEO plugins to make the transition easy.

Version:1.0.29
Requires:4.7.0 or higher
Compatible up to:5.2.2
Released:19 November 2018
Downloads:515619
Last Updated:16 July 2019
Ratings:
4.9
(4.9 star out of 5)


There are literally hundreds of other SEO plugins, either a full-SEO suite or to do specific SEO tasks and analysis. It’s important that you do SOMETHING with your site’s SEO, either by yourself, or a professional.

If you are ready to start with your SEO strategy but don’t know where to start, give BeBizzy Consulting a call and we’ll start you on your way to getting found on the internet.

SEMRUSH

A system that is NOT a plugin, nor is it free, is SEMRush. SEMRush is a monitoring service that looks at your technical SEO, content, keywords, social media accounts and much more. It will also check your backlinks, broken links, search console info and a whole bunch of other items that are helpful if you know what you’re looking at. If you’ve already started your SEO journey, SEMRush can take it to the next level. If you have not started and want BeBizzy Consulting to monitor and use this information to manage your SEO, please contact us and we can add it to our stable of managed SEO clients.

Have any questions or suggestions on WordPress SEO plugins? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Using UTM Tracking in Your Digital Strategy

Using UTM Tracking in Your Digital Strategy

UTM Codes are a great way to know where your traffic is coming from, regulate costs, and provide information to your and your marketing team.

But they can be intimidating if you’re not fluent in some web jargon or internet marketing terms.

Today’s podcast and blog post aim to provide some basic details on how to set up and use UTM codes.

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UTM’s use a few very specific keys to track where a client came from, if money was spent to get them, what keyword generated the click and more. The parameters used to build the UTM are “

  • Landing page URL – This is where you want the visitor to end up. This can be a product, blog post, home page, landing page or anywhere in the website.
  • The click Source (Twitter, Facebook, Google, newsletter link, etc). When planning your UTM the source will be where you plan on posting the UTM.
  • The click Medium (organic, paid, etc) – The medium is how the UTM will be presented to the potential visitor. Is it in a paid Google ad (paid) or a Facebook post (organic)
  • The click Campaign (if used, suggested to use an easy to identify name that’s consistent and changes as seasons, months, etc change)
  • The click Term or keyword(s) – multiple keywords should be separated by ampersands and plus signs.
  • The click Content – Use this to track different types of content that could all be in the same campaign. For example, fall2019 may include paid search, Facebook and a banner ad (video ad, text, static banner, rotating banner, etc)

Potential issues :

  • First of all, no spaces should be in your UTM. This will cause them to be read incorrectly, or possibly even not direct to the right landing page. To separate parameters of the UTM, use “&,=, +, -, _, and even %26 & %20.”
  • Mixing UPPER and lower case information in the UTM. Facebook and facebook are NOT the same thing to Google so they will actually be tracked as two different sources.
  • If you use email newsletter software some of them can add the UTM Medium parameter by default, causing you to double up if you use the the Medium parameter in building your UTM. Check to see if it’s added, and if so, leave it off your UTM that you submit.
  • Confusing how you use the Source and Medium tags – Source is the channel, Medium is the type of marketing.
    • Source : Twitter, Facebook
    • Medium : facebook_post (organic), facebook _cpc (paid)
  • What do the symbols in the UTM mean?
    • Question Mark (?) – This is placed right after the URL to indicate there is more information to be read by Google, the server, or other tracking utilities. There should only be ONE question mark per UTM.
    • Ampersand (&) – Yes, it’s called the ampersand. This will be used to indicate additional parameters after an item is identified. So an (&) will appear between each portion of the UTM.
    • Underscore (_) and Hyphen (- ) – This is used mostly in the parameter identifiers (utm_medium) or to separate items being tracked (facebook-cpc).
    • Plus (+) – Used to separate two or more words. This is used often in keywords.

UTMs can be a very powerful tool to finding out where your traffic is coming from and what marketing mediums are working (and which are not). Creating them can take a little time, but it’s really quite easy.

To create a UTM, use the Google URL Campaign Builderhttps://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

Or, you can download the spreadsheet I created to build the URL automatically by subscribing to the BeBizzy Break newsletter at the bottom of this page.

Do you have questions or suggestions regarding UTM’s? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter, or leave me a message the BeBizzy.com contact us page.

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Increase Site Speed By Decreasing Image File Size

Increase Site Speed By Decreasing Image File Size

Nothing Will Speed Up Your Site Faster Than Optimizing Images

Using a tool like GTMetrix.com will point out some obvious issues with your website. More often than not image size, compression and resolutions will be at the top of the list to fix.

On our first #WPWednesday episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast we talk about why and how you should be optimizing your images for better site load times.

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What Can Be Managed In An Image File?

Format

  • JPG – most common. Compressed using “lossy” compression, which means you lose some quality when you save the compressed file.
  • PNG – A “lossless” compression type but can be a larger file size. Works best of images using less than 16 colors (icons, logos, etc).
  • GIF – Used for small images and short animations. Images will lose quality due to this format’s limitations.
  • WebP – a fairly new image format for the web. It promises 26% smaller in size to PNG, and approximately 30% smaller than comparable JPEG images. However, WebP is not supported on all servers and browsers so your website could be displayed oddly to most users.
  • TIF – Highest quality image best used for commercial images and not used very often on the web

 Compression

  • JPG and PNG can both be compressed using various softwares. However, when you compress an image you will lose quality, so keep an eye on how that photos looks at various sizes that may appear in a responsive site before you implement.
  • Compression is a great way to decrease the file size of an image. For example :
    • 2000x1500 image recently used as a background on a website – 9MB uncompressed – 7 seconds to download on 10Mbit/s line
    • 2000x1500 at 30% compression – .20MB – close to ZERO seconds to download
    • That same 30% compression at 1000x750 size – .07MB and very little time to download

Responsive Websites

  • Sites that display differently based on the type of device and resolution automatically will sometimes need different sized images to display correctly. Unless you manually tell it what image to use the program (the WordPress theme) will determine this on its own. Keep in mind the sizes can range from a vertical smartphone screen all the way to a 50″ television.
  • For best results use a variety of image sizes, use WPMU’s Smush Pro, or look at your Google Analytics to see what types of devices are more likely to view the page.

How Can You Change File Size?

  • Photoshop – industry “standard” but can be expensive.
  • PaintShop Pro – I’ve used this software for many years. Many Photoshop features but much less expensive.
  • GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program – FREE open source Photoshop clone has many of the same features and it’s the best price.
  • TinyPNG – WordPress plugin that automatically compresses files on upload.
  • WPMU Smush & Smush Pro – very versatile program that compresses images and creates multiple sizes that get automatically used where needed.
  • reSmush.it – Regarded as the best image compression WordPress plugin. Limits optimization to uploads lower than 5MB in size.
  • Optimizilla – free online image compressor. You can upload up to 20 images and it will create downloads of the compressed files.
  • JPEG Optimizer – another free online app that lets you select compression values.

Make Sure Your New Images Are Displayed

  • Upload and replace the current images. I suggest deleting the originals AFTER you make sure the compressed images are quality and are working correct just to save space on your site or server. It’s always a good idea of backing them up first just in case.
  • Clear your server and browser cache to remove any memory of the old file paths.
  • Check the site at GTMetrix again and see if anything else needs to be compressed.

What Else Can I Do To Affect Image Load Times?

  • Use a CDN. Content delivery networks are servers dedicated to sending cached media to your website. They are optimized to send this data quicker than your standard web server.
  • Use a host that has SSD hard drives. I was amazed on how much quicker my website loaded when I moved to an SSD from a standard hard drive.
  • Speaking of hosts, move from a shared environment to a VPS or dedicated server. That removes you from the pool of sites on one box that are running who-knows-what and sucking up all the server’s resources.

WordPress News

Have any questions or suggestions on editing your images to make your WordPress website load faster? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Should You Be Your Own Social Media Manager?

Should You Be Your Own Social Media Manager?

Are you the right person to be running your company’s social media?

Most of us in business for ourselves think we know our business best, so therefore we should be doing our own web content and social media management. But, many don’t really know what the “job” entails so it’s done poorly, if at all.

So to determine if social media is a job you can do yourself, or if it’s something we should be hiring a professional to do, I am joined by Kathi Kruse of KruseControlInc.com, who is the author of Social Media Manager Job Description: A Complete Guide 2019.

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underwear_gnomesSocial media seems easy.

Phase 1 : Create a page on Facebook or Twitter and post some stuff.
Phase 2 : ?????
Phase 3 : PROFIT

But there are potential issues, even if you know your business better than anyone else.

  • Time – You’re good at what you do, but marketing you business might not be the strong suit.
  • People that are not social – sales trainers and even sales people might not get how to deal with a sale funnel or lead generation. They are good at straight sales… someone comes in and buys from them face to face.
  • The sales team vs. marketing team conflict is real. Sometimes the two don’t work together to create a consistent message to potential customers.
  • IT people are usually not your social people. They make everything work, but can think differently than a general user.

Some additional functions of the job of the modern social media manager

  • Social is not in a silo. You have to know how to drive people to the website, but also how to handle them once they get there.
  • Landing pages, call-to-actions, email campaigns, and other things outside the “social” part of the job are now required.
  • Strategy is a big part of the job and can be very time consuming up front. If planned correctly and enough work is done up front it can minimize the
  • Engagement is probably the MOST important part of the job. There’s a payoff to engaging with someone who comments or likes a post on your Facebook or Twitter. Community management can make the user feel that you care. It should be perceived as a privilege to be able to respond publicly to a commenting client or follower.

Tips on being a great social media manager for yourself or another business

  • Kathi only plans posts a week at a time to allow response to changing conditions. It’s a great idea to do these all at once to create a story or consistent message, but if planned out too far it’s tougher to change if something isn’t working, something else works great, or an external issue can cause a distraction or message conflict.
  • Have a conversion strategy. A plan has to be constructed to pull that visitor or customer to a signup, sale, download or other destination.
  • Tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer can make scheduling posts an easy process.
  • Post Planner is a great WordPress plugin to automatically send your posts to social media platforms.
  • Canva is a great tool for creating very engaging images for your blog or social media posts.
  • Pocket can be used to save posts or information is a sortable tool to read and/or share later.
  • Feedly is an RSS aggregator to gather information from your favorite websites into one place. It’s great for reading important or entertaining articles, gathering post ideas, and keeping up with industry trends.

So now you know what can be involved with being your own social media manager. It’s not just simply posting an occasional photo, meme or clever thought. Time is needed to construct a strategy, plan your posts, and follow up with your engagers. Some times you are able to manage that additional job. But often, it’s more cost, and TIME effective to hire a consultant, or even to hire another person internally.

If you’re interested in hiring someone internally, Kathi Kruse has also posted a great article on questions to ask before hiring a social media manager in-house.

Do you do YOUR company’s social media, or have questions before you hire or do you own post? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

How To Choose and Use WordPress Plugins

How To Choose and Use WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins

One of the biggest benefits of using WordPress to build and manage your website is plugins. These small pieces of code can greatly increase the functions and benefits of your WordPress site, but it’s not without some risk.

John Overall of WP Plugins from A-Z joins me on the BeBizzy Break Podcast Episode #85 to discuss WordPress plugins and a few other subjects.

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Some Basic Info on WordPress Plugins

Plugins are really just compiled code that can easily be installed and used on your website. Most are very small and only get loaded when they are used on a page. However, some, like Woocommerce and some contact form plugins are very large and often load on all pages whether they get used or not, so be careful on how many you install and run.

Currently there are nearly 55,000 plugins available in the WordPress repository in just about any function you can imagine.

The repository contains links and information to free plugins, with paid plugins available directly from the developer, CodeCanyon, and a variety of other places.

How to Select a Plugin

Searching for a plugin can yield hundreds of potential suitors for the job. Some detective work and maybe even some “live” testing may be required to find the right plugin.

John has set up some “sandbox” websites that only serve as test beds for plugins and themes. This is a great suggestion, or you can use a development area for the actual site if you have that available to you.

It’s not recommended that you test a plugin on a live site unless absolutely necessary. It can cause the site to not display correctly, or be totally down.

And also be advised there are three different types of plugins in regards to cost, free, premium, and freemium. Free is free. No cost, just download and use. Premium will cost you up front before you install. Large, often popular plugins like Gravity Forms are included in this model. The third is “freemium” where you will be given the plugin for free for a short time, then you have to pay to use it after the trial period.

Potential Issues Installing Plugins on Your Site

Before we go too far, this is a great time for me to snap in my weekly plug for backups. Back up your site BEFORE you install any plugins or themes just in case.

Like anything you install on a website, plugin code can cause some undesired results on the website. Collisions with other code can affect CSS, some themes, the working of other plugins, and even the dreaded “white screen of death” on your WordPress site.

Also, free can come with some security issues. While the WordPress repository does a great job of monitoring and screening plugins before they get into the wild, sometimes malware finds a way into a plugin. This also can occur on paid plugins, but it’s less of a chance.

Really what is comes down to is a couple of things.

  • When was the plugin last updated.
  • What versions of PHP or WordPress has it been tested with.
  • Read the reviews to see if the plugin was well-received by other users.
  • John suggested typing the plugin name into Google followed by the word “sucks”.

Keep in mind, WordPress is a free CRM. Out of the box it is very secure, but as you add themes, private code, or plugins you can open it up to potentially being exploited.

When asked if there is a number of plugins that is too many, John responded with “No.” It comes down to if all of the plugins can run well with each other, causes the page to load slowly, and can harm the user experience.

Go-To Plugins That We Use on Every Site

I use several plugins on nearly every website I develop. John also has a list of about ten or so plugins that go on his sites.

  • Wordfence : security plugin that has a free or premium service. Even the free version does a great job of locking down the site
  • UpdraftPlus : A GREAT backup system that allows you to back up to the WordPress install, a Dropbox folder, an FTP location, and several other options.
  • Gravity Forms : Versatile form builder
  • A CDN plugin – I use a CDN to make the website load faster for the visitor.
  • MainWP : I manage dozens of websites, so MainWP is very useful to track updates to all of the plugins.
  • WPMU Smush Pro : great image optimization plugin

Some Final Thoughts on WordPress Plugins

  • Don’t be afraid to use them.
  • The will save tons of time.
  • Don’t be stuck on the free version.
  • Don’t get married to a plugin. Sometimes you have to move to a new, better plugin.
  • Don’t be afraid of the research to find and implement the right plugin.
  • Listen to shows like the BeBizzy Break Podcast and WP Plugins from A-Z to learn about good, and bad, plugins.

WP Plugins from A-Z and Other John Overall Projects

If you are managing a WordPress website for you or for clients I would encourage you to add John Overall’s WP Plugins from A-Z to your rotation. He reviews five or so plugins on every episode and gives some real-world ratings on whether that plugin will be useful.

At JohnOverall.com he also serves his development, hosting and recovery clients.

Have any questions or suggestions on WordPress plugins? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Why I Left Dropbox for Sync

Why I Left Dropbox for Sync

What are Dropbox and Sync?

    • Both are cloud storage systems
    • They ideally take files you create, edit and save to your local computer, tablet or smartphone and push them to a central storage on the “cloud” where they can be saved and edited on other devices or even by other users.
    • Some other examples include :
      • Box.com
      • Google Drive
      • Microsoft OneDrive
      • NextCloud
      • Amazon AWS
    • Not meant to serve as a full backup of the operating system for computers or devices.
      • Carbonite
      • Crashplan
      • Livedrive

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Why leave DropBox?

    • Dropbox was failing to provide some basic needs on my side.
    • Worked great when the size of the directory was small, and I would still recommend it for many needs.
      • https://bebizzy.com/dropbox
      • Sharing/collaborating with partners on files
      • Storing photos off-site and getting them off your devices
      • Working with some online resources to easily save backups to Dropbox since it is considered one of the leaders in cloud storage
      • You can comfortably fit local files on the same hard drive as your operating system

So why Sync?

        • https://bebizzy.com/sync
        • Price
          • For 2TB of storage I was paying $199 per year on Dropbox
          • For 2TB of storage on Sync I paid $96
        • Works better on attached storage
          • I have a second hard drive on my PC. Dropbox had SEVERE difficulty changing the location of my Dropbox folder to anywhere except on the C-drive.
          • Sync let me point where I wanted and it “synced” up immediately.
        • File ownership
          • This storage one is important for one reason… IT LET ME OWN MY FILES!
          • Dropbox works really well with cloud-based storage with nothing on the local machines.
          • However, I’m a believe in the 3-2-1 backup system (3 backups, 2 different types, 1 is offsite) and Dropbox did not play well with local storage on a directory located on an attached hard drive of 650GB. Sync had NO problems.
          • So to leave Dropbox, instead of a button that downloaded everything, I had to open each directory, sometimes two or three folders deep due to size download restrictions, and download a zip file of the folder, and unzip it on my computer.
        • Shared file tracking
          • Dropbox has no method of tracking whether or not a file shared to a partner, client or anyone else has been accessed.
          • Sync has a checkmark when sharing to notify you when the link has been followed, although nothing is documented when a file has been downloaded. But at least you know it got to them and they attempted to get to it.
        • Better Two-Factor Authenticaion
          • Dropbox does a great job of asking for a code texted to you when an attempt to log in is done.
          • Sync has an email version of that, but also works with Google Authenticator, which is a phone app that provides a changing auth-code. Both are good, but I like the Sync version a bit better.

So maybe it’s just the new toy, or possibly I just outgrew Dropbox. But Sync.com is really doing exactly what I needed in my cloud file storage.

I can get to them from multiple computers. I can save a copy locally on a second hard drive. I can tell if a client has at least clicked the link and went to the file or directory. It’s encrypted and protected by two-factor authentication. And it’s 1/2 the price of Dropbox.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from using Dropbox. It’s a wonderful tool, works well with backup solutions, is familiar to many business people and clients, and works… most of the time. If you want to check it out, go to https://bebizzy.com/dropbox and sign up.

But if you need/want more from your cloud storage, explore other options including Sync.com. Sign up at https://bebizzy.com/sync.

Have any questions or suggestions on going paperless? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Why & How To Stop Using Internet Explorer

Why & How To Stop Using Internet Explorer

Back about a month ago it was announced that Internet Explorer security flaw allows hackers to steal files.

Security researcher John Page has revealed an unpatched exploit in the web browser’s handling of MHT files (IE’s web archive format) that hackers can use to both spy on Windows users and steal their local data.

The vulnerability affects Windows 7, Windows 10 and Windows Server 2012 R2 and allows some access to computer files by sending a simple command such as a CTRL+K (open a duplicate tab) or a Print command.

Page posted details of the exploit after Microsoft reportedly declined to roll out an urgent security fix. It instead said a fix would be “considered” in a future release. While that does suggest a patch is on the way, it leaves millions of users potentially vulnerable unless they either turn off Internet Explorer or point to another app that can open MHT files.

So, first… remove IE unless it is completely necessary for your job. Some government agencies, financial institutions, insurance companies, etc have websites or applications that ONLY work on Internet Explorer. Which is scary since it’s government info, your bank, CPA, insurance industry or other entity that stores private information.

But what are you supposed to use as a replacement? There are dozens of options, and we’re going to talk about a few, starting with the big three, and a few others.

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Market Share

I remember the old days (dating myself) when Netscape emerged as a new, robust applications that provided access to the World Wide Web, instead of BBS’s, usegroups and the all-powerful AOL. Microsoft came in a few years later and the two battled back and forth over market share.

IE finally finished Netscape off with IE6 with Windows XP, and at one time IE owned 90% of the browser market. Firefox started the new browser emergence, then Chrome began it’s climb to the top of the browser heap.

Now, every social media application like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have in-app browsers and there are literally dozens of others which serve specific cases.

The most recent browser market share data in the US from Stat Counter : http://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/desktop/united-states-of-america

Basic Security Policies Regardless of Browser

  • Make sure you’re using the most recent version. Windows update, Chrome updates and others should be installed when possible to avoid an exploit.
  • Turn off Flash! Uninstall Flash! Never visit sites that require you to use Flash! Get the picture how insecure Flash is/was/forever will be?
  • Learn to see if the lock icon appears letting you know you’re visiting secure sites. This is very important if you’re making purchases or providing secure information
  • Use a password manager instead of storing passwords in the browser. Lastpass, Dashlane and others are cost effective and do a great job on computers and smartphones.
  • Clear History Periodically : erase your tracks every once in a while to keep anyone from snooping on where you’ve been.
  • Turn off autofill if you really don’t use/need it. It could be used by others with access to your devices to see what sort of sites and information you’ve been searching.
  • Use a VPN – A virtual private network encrypts traffic from the device you’re using to access the internet (computer, smartphone, etc) and routes through to a point where it joins the wide network. By encrypting traffic through your networking equipment, ISP’s devices, DNS routing equipment and other endpoints you’re tracks are covered up and you cannot be tracked.

Big Three

e-logo.0

Microsoft Edge

  • Internet Explorer’s replacement from Microsoft.
  • It probably came pre-installed on Windows 10, or one of your Windows 7 or Windows 8 updates.
  • Built-in Cortana integration which enables specific information to be displayed when certain websites are visited.
  • Reading Mode : turns off distractions when enabled so you can just read the page text.
  • There is a Microsoft Edge version for smartphones, tablets and other operating systems.
  • Microsoft has promised an “IE-Mode” which will open a familiar Internet Explorer look and feel in a separate tab
  • There is also a version of Edge that will be built on the Chromium, the same open-source web rendering engine that powers Google’s Chrome browser.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/microsoft-edge

1200px-Google_Chrome_icon_(September_2014).svgGoogle Chrome

  • The browser market leader by a HUGE margin
  • Tons of extensions which extend the browser’s utility by offering website developer tools, notifications, marketing assistance, password managers and a whole lot more.
  • Tab Pinning – Have a site you visit almost every time you go online? Pin the tab and it will always be there.
  • Incognito Mode – Need to browse a site in private, meaning you leave no trace in browser history? Open a new browser instance by hitting CTRL + SHIFT+ N in Windows, or COMMAND + SHIFT + N on your MacOS.
  • Syncing Chrome with Your Google Account – Get access to the same settings, bookmarks and extensions by logging into your Google account in Chrome.
  • Of course you can download and use versions of Chrome on all Android and IOS devices.

https://www.google.com/chrome/

firefox_logo_2017-100742591-largeMozilla Firefox

  • A distant second place to Google Chrome
  • According to speed tests Firefox Quantum browser is currently the fastest browser available (May 2019)
  • Like Chrome, there are tons of extensions that add to functionality.
  • Great malware and SPAM protection. Firefox turns a blood-red color when you go somewhere you’re probably not supposed to go online.
  • Private Browsing – similar to Chrome’s Incognito mode, private browsing deletes cookies, passwords and all other traces you were on the web.
  • There are versions of Firefox available on all Android and IOS devices

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/

Other Browsers

  • Opera : Opera has been around since 1995 but apart from a very dedicated group of users, has never gotten traction. It is built on Chromium and is thought of as a more secure version of Chrome.
  • Safari : The default browser for all IOS devices it is used by Apple and Mac users unless they select another as a default. A huge negative is it is not available to PC users (unless you know a few tricks), which took out a majority of the computer market. Like IE, Safari got buried as Chrome use soared.
  • Chromium : the open source version of Chrome, Chromium has appeared on Linux distributions, and is also used as the backbone to other specialty browsers. It works similarly to Chrome but is thought to be a bit more secure.
  • Brave – created by the same developer that created JavaScript, Brave is very new to the browser game, launched in 2016. It is a very minimalistic browser, which enhances its speed and security.
  • Maxthon : A browser popular in China. The most ringing review I could find of Maxthon was that it was a good choice to use if you preferred the layout of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Ugh.
  • Tor : built for users to access the internet anonymously via the Tor network. All traffic is encrypted so tracking is impossible. As an additional layer of security the user is routed through the TOR network which bounces the traffic through a series of relays before emerging on the open web.

As a web developer and an “experienced” technical professional, it is great reminiscing about the history of Internet Explorer and what it has done to move the internet toward what we have today. But like MySpace, Hotmail, AOL and the Blackberry, Internet Explorer is something we should no longer use. There are plenty of great replacements that take a little bit of effort to install and configure, but security, speed and utility makes the time spent worth while.

Have any questions or suggestions on your favorite, or least favorite internet browsers? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Is It Time For A New Business Phone System? Try Jive!

Is It Time For A New Business Phone System? Try Jive!

Still using your old regular phone system or mobile phone for you business?

Traditional phone systems… well… suck. They are running on technology that really hasn’t changed much in 20 years, have a definite limit on sound quality and reliability, are expensive, and are very rigid on what they can do.

VoIP systems, or voice over IP, are a very modern, versatile way to bring your phone system in the modern world, and Jive is emerging as a leader in the space.

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What is Jive?

While Jive has been a leader in VoIP for nearly 15 years and customer satisfaction scores are at or near the top at all times, they really got traction about a year ago when it was acquired by LogMeIn, a screen sharing and conferencing system that has also acquired GoToMeeting and other systems. The addition of the Jive phone system has added a vital link to the LogMeIn experience.

By itself, Jive is a full-featured VoIP system that can be used by nearly any business setting from a single-seat to a call center controlling tens of thousands of agents.

What’s Needed to Get Started?

Odds are you already have everything you need to get started with Jive. The softphone uses your computer or a mobile device to handle the calls. Because it’s all done over the internet, no phone lines, accounts or equipment is needed. Calls get routed from a number you get provided to any/all devices with the softphone installed.

To customize the experience an IVR can be put in place, customized hold music and more to get a very professional appearance to your potential or existing clients.

VoIP phones are available, and plug into the network jacks instead of using phone wiring, which means you can take the phone and softphones with you when you travel, move offices, or just want to be somewhere besides your office.

What’s Included with Jive?

Jive comes with over 80 included products including

  • GoToMeeting
  • GoToWebinar
  • Softphone apps
  • A suite of reporting applications
  • Auto attendants
  • Custom hold music
  • Call recording
  • And so much more!

Support?

24x7 support is available for Jive customers whether you’re a single seat, or giant call center. Three “tiers” of support are available, like most phone and other systems, with level 1 handing basic questions and account issue, and tiers 2 & 3 available for more complex and networking issues.

Jive does offer customized integration when you first sign up for the service, and a dedicated account manager is assigned to larger clients to make the launch as easy as possible.

How Can You Get Started with Jive?

To get started with Jive , the best way is to contact Dallin McEwin directly. Either follow this link to send a message, call 385-206-3863 and mention the BeBIzzy Break Podcast, or email dallin.mcewen@logmein.com, and Dallin will get your phone system on the launch pad.

Have any questions, comments, or suggestions on Jive or another VoIP solution? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Using Hold Music To Influence Customer Behavior

Using Hold Music To Influence Customer Behavior

Ever been on hold?

Like… FOREVER on hold?

At the time I started writing this article, my time on hold with my bank is 38 minutes, 13 seconds. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions based both on the situation and maybe the music.

How Much Thought Goes Into Hold Music?

A lifetime ago I was the manager of a large customer support group for a regional ISP (Internet Service Provider). On a normal day hold times were in the low single digits and often were nearly zero.

However, there was a time in the infancy of broadband DSL service where the Code Red virus and other worms caused a huge spike in issues and hold times. Way back then there was no consideration of the types of hold music being played, and the hold times jumped to nearly a half hour. Customers were furious, as were the technicians, who spend the first five minutes on a call calming down a client instead of fixing the issue. (hold time – now 43:06).

But as I sit here on hold and typing this post I started to think, have modern call centers put thought and effort in the hold music to manipulate client behavior?

How Casinos Use Sound, Scent and Sight

It’s a well known fact that casinos have mastered customer manipulation. There are no clocks and minimal windows to make sure you lose track of time. Scents are pumped into the casinos to cause certain reactions. Lighting is carefully controlled to make the machines and other games “pop.”

But sound is a huge part of the “game” as well. An article on how the sound of slot machines can manipulate players was published in 2013 by the Washington Post.  The main theme of the article was how slot machines use sound to think you’ve won when in reality you’ve won only a portion of your wager. You may have bet $1, but maybe you hit a sequence that only paid out $.25, but the sounds are very similar to winning $1 or more. A computer scientist even called the term the “Awww Shucks Effect.”  (Awww shucks, still on hold. Now 51:52).

Do Call Centers Choose Music To Affect Behavior?

Being a DJ for over a quarter century I can attest to using music to manipulate behavior in night clubs and wedding venues. Beats per minute and sound energy can do some amazing things when used correctly.

So doing some very quick internet searches while on hold I was able to find some articles on why you would like “some” music on hold. An article on using music to improve customer retention states 52% of callers hang up with silence within one minute, 13% with just music, and only 2% if there’s music with some information.

In another article on what customers think of hold music a callers stated “I was on hold to Primus yesterday and they were playing LCD Soundstystem… when did corporate music get so cool?” (And… disconnected at 58:15!)

But the same article re-enforces the point that music and other sounds can cause different reactions. One client wanted a way to opt out of “bad” hold music. Another was happy the hold music was the Cheers! theme.

If You Never Answer The Call, Music Means Nothing

But my question still stands… are call centers using hold music to manipulate behavior? No one really comes out and says it, but I did notice a change in the music style and other pieces of the puzzle. The beats seemed to be slower the longer I was on hold, which in a night club is used to calm things a bit with slow songs or just reset the BPM. There were no voiceovers after the first 10 minutes so I didn’t have to listen to “we’ll be right with you” or a sales pitch. The music wasn’t popular music so I could ignore it while still “hearing” it.

All of this created, I guess, a satisfactory experience. But it still came down to this… THEY NEVER ANSWERED MY DAMN CALL/QUESTION! You  can have all the best music and other behavior modifying features in your technology, website, or call center, but if you don’t handle the customer, it’s meaningless.

I guess I’ll go into the bank building and ask my question when I run to the post office later today. Since I’m doing things from the 70’s today, maybe I’ll grab a newspaper and stop at the arcade for a game of pinball.

 Do you have information on using music to manage call centers? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!