Sending Emails from WordPress Sites

Sending Emails from WordPress Sites

Sending Emails from WordPress Sites

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Why doesn’t WordPress send emails without any configuration?

  • The easy answer is, it does… sometimes.
  • Some hosts and website work without any editing to the WordPress install or even the plugins to send emails from forms. It’ uses the PHP Mail function.
  • But some hosts don’t have that running or it is very ineffecting in sending email, so a plugin needs to be installed to send those emails

What is SMTP?

  • The default method of sending any emails is SMTP (simple mail transfer protocol).
  • It’s a way to send email from your website to your visitors through your email provider.
    • If you don’t have a dedicated domain email provider, you an also use Gmail, Outlook and other free email providers with a little configuration.
  • The basic information to send email through SMTP is
    • The server address : will be something like smtp.gmail.com

    • The username. Often it will be the full email address to send FROM : ie – something@gmail.com

    • The password for the account

    • The protocol to use and it’s accompanying port

      • 25 – basic, unencrypted SMTP port. This sends email from the site/app directly to the email server with no protection. It’s often restricted by many email servers and ISPs.
      • 465 : Another port that was used up until recently, but it’s not recommended any longer. It uses SSL ports but is actually now used for other types of internet traffic, and can be blocked or filtered by many ISPs and email providers.
      • 587 : The recommended port to send SMTP traffic. It uses TLS encryption which will ensure the email is submitted security.

      What plugins can be used to send emails from WordPress

      • Easy WP SMTP Plugin – my default SMTP plugin. Easy to confiure, it’s free, and comes with many preconfigured hosts like Gmail, Yahoo! and Outlook. Sends a test email to any email you wish to make sure everything work.
      • Mail SMTP Gateway Plugin – Another great SMTP plugin. This one has many options and can be tough for inexpreienced users to configure the eadvanced options.
      • WP Email SMTP Plugin – Another free plugins that has all the usual options. Some of the most popular included settings are from email, from name, mailer, return path, host, port, authentication, encryption, username and password.

What are your experiences or questions about sending emails from your website? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

Sending Emails from WordPress Sites

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Online Learning Opportunities

Online Learning Opportunities

Learning A New Skill In These Weird Times

This weird time has us looking to fill time that used to be spent going to movies, out to dinner, in longer in-person meetings or other recreational activities. 

So, with that free time, maybe it’s time to learn some new skills. 

On today’s BeBizzy Break Podcast we’re going to talk about some of the most popular online apps and websites. 

Learning A New Skill Online

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Online Course Websites

Coursera – https://www.coursera.org/

  • Huge selection ranging from business, health, computer science,

MIT Open Courseware – https://ocw.mit.edu/

  • Free courses from MIT professors and other educators
  • Business, energy, engineering, arts, math, science

EdX – https://www.edx.org/

  • 2500 courses from 140 institutions
  • Computer science, language, engineering, humanities, business

Stanford, Yale, Berkley and many more highly regarded institutions also have online opportunities. Search and check them out.

Programming/Technical

Other General Learning

 

What are your favorite places for online learning? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

Learning A New Skill Online

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Conduct Meetings with UberConference

Conduct Meetings with UberConference

Online Conferencing Use Had Recently Exploded

With so many kids and adults stuck at home for school and work online conferencing has gone to the next level. Now instead of just a few team members logging in and the rest joining in a conference room, 10, 20, and even more people are logging on to Zoom, Go-To-Meeting, Google Hangouts and other conferencing systems.

On today’s BeBizzy Break Podcast I’ll give you my recommendation for a video and audio conferencing system, UberConference.

Conduct Meetings with UberConference

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Pricing

UberConference has two pricing levels, $15/month (billed annually), and the best price ever, FREE. 

The primary differences between the two pricing structures are the number of attendees on each tier (up to 10 on free, up to 100 on Pro), and the use of a PIN (required on free, not on Pro). There are other small differences like a custom local phone number for pro, length of the calls, and more, but essentially the free system works like the pro in most cases.

Features

The feature list, even for the free plan, is impressive

  • Audio or Video conferencing. You can even mix the two.
  • Mobile apps for those using iPads, phones or Chromebooks.
  • Schedule as many calls as you need
  • Dial out to calls, or additional resources if needed
  • Free call recording
  • Screen share, and the ability to hand off to other users
  • Chat
  • Participant mute
  • … and more!

I use Uberconference for my calls when I can’t use, or don’t want to use Go-To-Meeting. It’s a very full-featured, cost-effective system that can be started immediately, is easy to set up, and can be used long after this work-from-home is over.

Have experience in UberConference or another favorite conferencing app? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

Conduct Meetings with UberConference

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Best Methods for Sharing Files

Best Methods for Sharing Files

How Can I Share Files With Clients and Co-Workers?

Sharing files in an office environment is often easy. There’s often different email rules set up for internal sharing, an easy to use shared server environment, and company-provided usb thumbdrives.

But what if you need to share files with a customer, or now that you’re working from home and not inside that hardened corporate firewall? We’re talking today about some of the things you can use to share files without being on that safe company system (including VPN’s into the system)

Best Methods for Sharing Files

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Ways to Share Files

There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of ways to share files with co-workers and clients. Remember that you still have to get passwords to the end user, so sending that in the same email could be a security issue. Here’s just a few ways to share files:

  • Thumbdrives – Keep in mind there are some issues regarding thumbdrive safety so make sure the drive is yours and you have formatted it prior to transferring files. Also, some computers are locked down to getting files from thumbdrives.
  • Password Protecting – Microsoft Office and other files allow you to password protect the files prior to saving or sending. In Office click on File – Info – Protect Document –  Encrypt with Password
  • Zip & Protect – Similar to password protecting. Just add to a compression folder and add a password.
  • Google Drive – Save files to your Google Drive, and from there you can share the folder out via email or a shared link.
  • SendSafely – Two-factor authentication, expiration controls, even an Outlook plugin with “dropzones” for teams. Free and various levels of subscriptions.
  • DropBox or Sync -File sharing sending links or allowing a login. I use Sync which allows you to see when the file is downloaded and also to encrypt and password protect them better than Dropbox.

These have different levels of cost and security, but all will work. Some require direct access like a thumbdrive, and some are easier to hack than others. Some are easy to set up, and some might require some working with clients and co-workers setting up and sharing.

The important thing to remember is if you really need something to be secure, make sure you can control the source, encrypt end-to-end, and see who views/edits the file. Budgets, financial data, secure company data and items like that need more security than an birthday announcement. Think in advance and be safe!

What are your favorite ways to share files? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

Best Methods for Sharing Files

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Anticipating Technical Challenges Working From Home

Anticipating Technical Challenges Working From Home

Technical Challenges Working From Home

Working from can present some very unique, and possibly unforeseen challenges for companies and workers. It’s easy to say that events like the coronavirus outbreak can be handled just by sending workers home with their laptops, but what about phone calls, secure company communications, other household members, etc?

On today’s episode of the BeBizzy Break podcast we talk about these and other challenges you should at least be aware of when working out of the office.

Plan For Technical Issues Working From Home

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Non-Technical Issues

Before you decide, or your boss decides for you, that you will be working from home due to coronavirus or anything else, there are some non-technical issues that need to be checked off. 

  • Do I NEED to be around other people?
  • Do I have a place to work uninterrupted or will I be surrounded by daycare kids, vacuum cleaners or anything else?
  • Do I have the motivation to still get up on time, still get “ready” for work, and still do my job?

If these can’t be overcome, perhaps you can still come into work but be put in an office or other small space, but you will have some familiar surroundings.

Potential Technical Issues

Now on to the meat of our discussion today, preparing for working from home technically.  Some things you need to consider :

  • Phone Calls – Is your phone system ready to provide easy forwarding to cell or home phones? Do your employees have plans available to handle increased minutes?
  • Bandwidth – Most of us don’t have unlimited fiber or T1 lines into our homes, so an increase in bandwidth could cause traffic jams on the residential superhighway. With large number of people working from home will flood the pipes with VOIP calls, online video and audio online meetings, email, screen sharing and everything else that uses bandwidth. 
  • VPNs – VPNs are a great way to stay safe online, and some companies use them to connect offsite users with servers and applications that will only run “inside” the building. Some things to consider with VPNs are the technical capabilities of the users to install and use the VPN, the support side, the capacity of the VPN server, and more. 
  • Subscriptions to Meeting Platforms – If your business requires meetings does it have the financial stomach to purchase meeting and other subscriptions to facilitate these meetings? 
  • Equipment  – if you’re not going to provide computers and other gear to employees to work from home how are you going to ensure their gear is worthy to be used? Is it free from virus and malware or do you need to clean or even purchase/install software? Are these computers used only by the employee or is there a potential for clients and coworkers to see things they shouldn’t see like shopping sites, games, movies… or worse?
  • Passwords & Security  – All work gear should require passwords. Do you have password managers that can be used on other devices? Can two-factor authentication (2FA) be used outside the office in the form of USB keys, authenticator apps or text message?

None of these issues are insurmountable if your business is flexible enough, but in the case of some these could provide significant obstacles to allowing your employees to work from home. Review your policies, equipment and processes, and when the smoke clears from this virus scare, maybe it’s time to do an analysis to see if this work from home thing should be made permanent, or if it’s better to have everyone under one roof.

What are your thoughts on working from home? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

Plan For Technical Issues Working From Home

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

10 Reasons You Should Be Using GSuite

10 Reasons You Should Be Using GSuite

Why I Don’t Manage Email Accounts

For the first few years of hosting domains at BeBizzy Consulting I issued each customer one email address, with more available for additional cost. 

I quickly realized this was a mistake, as well over 50% of my support issues were getting email to work correctly instead of building and maintaining the websites I currently host.

There is so much to manage when hosting your own email, or email for other companies. Domains zone files, uptime, security, blacklist management, password issues, email setup on a wide variety of applications and platforms, contact lists, webmail… my head hurts just thinking about it.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out there were services that were not only inexpensive, but WAY better at keeping email flowing and basically always working. The first considerations were Office 365 either through a provider, Microsoft itself, or a domain registrar like GoDaddy, Zoho mail or another CRM as a host, or just running your own email server on a spare server or computer lying around.

Or better yet, use Gsuite by Google. Gsuite is just a more full-featured Gmail.

https://gsuite.google.com/

10 REASONS YOU SHOULD BE USING GSUITE

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

The 10 Great Reasons to Use GSuite

  1. You get an email address at your business name
  2. Relatively east to set up.
    • Create the account, verify the domain with a file upload or DNS change, and adjust the MX zones with your registrar or hosting company.
    • You can easily upload a contact list, or even import email from another provider if some pre-work is done correctly.
  3. Total control of the environment through the admin console. Turn on/off apps, access, virtually anything for any users.
  4. You can get your email from virtually anywhere, just get an internet connection. I get my email from my desktop, a Surface laptop I carry to meetings, Chromebook, smartphone, browser, it doesn’t matter. In regards to apps and programs, there are tons of great smartphone and Windows/Mac apps that will get email, especially if you use Gmail/Gsuite. I happen to use Outlook because I needed other Office products for a couple other clients who needed pivot tables and more.
  5. 24/7 world class support via chat, email or phone. If you are a paid Gsuite user you can get help any time, and pretty much anywhere.
  6. 2FA – Two Factor Authentication to protect your accounts and admin info. Have a code saved on a single mobile device or acknowledge a login. Enter a code from Google Authenticator or a text message. It’s all there automatically to protect your personal data.
  7. The Google Docs office suite works well with Microsoft Office products like Word, Excel and Outlook. Not for advanced stuff like pivot tables and special formatting, but basic spreadsheets and documents are easily read, created and shared in Google Docs.
  8. Access to a wide selection of apps to use across your environment including calendars, project management, CRM,  Google Hangout communication and more!
  9. The Google Drive file sharing, collaboration and other benefits – Need to collaborate on a spreadsheet or presentation? Or need access to a directory with all the same images? Google Drive makes this easy, and cheap compared to Dropbox and other services.
  10. It always works. I’ve had my Gsuite accounts for well over five years, and I can think of maybe twice where the mail was down for minutes, not hours or days. It just works.

A few things to be aware of when using a service like Gsuite

  1. As with any email server (or any other server for that matter), security is always an issue. Since Gsuite is accessible virtually everywhere, be cautious about using good passwords, two-factor authentication (2FA), recovery email address and other measures to make sure no-one is getting in or administering your email.
  2. Speaking of being available everywhere… you and your employees will be getting at email from pretty much anywhere you can think of. Their phones, their laptops, their tablets, friend’s computers, public devices and unprotected networks. Browsers will ask to save passwords and inevitably will be saved on unintended devices. Have some policies and measures set up to handle these instances to change passwords, delete “approved” devices and more to keep everything safe.
  3. If you don’t want everyone to have access to all tools and apps in the Gsuite system it will take a bit to set up and manage. It’s still easier than the old days of managing an Enterprise server.

Are you using, or thinking of using GSuite? Send your comments to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

10 Reasons You Should Be Using Gsuite

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Great Website Hosting : InMotion Hosting

Great Website Hosting : InMotion Hosting

Choosing Your Website Host is Critical

There are so many pieces to a great WordPress website. The WP version, PHP, theme, plugins, images, content, videos… all contribute to the website’s performance.

But even if everything is optimized as much as possible, if your server isn’t performing, the site will still not serve as quickly as possible.

I’ve tried many server hosts in the last decade, and my favorite so far is undeniably  InMotion Hosting.

InMotion Hosting

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

A Little About InMotion Hosting

Joining me on the BeBizzy Break Podcast toay was Robert Hood, Assistant Product Line Manager for both WordPress and Dedicated Hosting.   

InMotion Hosting is a hosting company based in Virginia Beach, VA. They do have satellites in Los Angelas and Denver.

Support Is a Focus for InMotion

  • Agents are trained by agents who have been on the support floor for months, even years.
  • Agents are continuously trained to support new issues or to better handle customer requests.

Some technical info

  • All hard drives are Samsung SSDs
  • Intel-based CPUs
  • CentOS operating systems. No Windows support at this point. 
  • Redundant, secure server locations in Los Angelas and Virginia.
  • Caching – NGNIX
    • NGNIX is a proxy-cache, so the site is served from memory instead of the hard drive. 
    • NGNIX can be turned on or off.

What Are People Looking For In A Server Host

  • Price
  • Technology
  • Support – they are there 24×7, 365 days.
  • Uptime, as for most hosts is 99.9% uptime goal.
    • Dedicated staff of support people watching the server environment at all times controlling 

Hosting Types

Hosting is similar to where you live. 

  • Shared Hosting – Apartment. Communal system sharing resources like water, power, trash. You are dependent on everyone else on that server to be responsible for bandwidth and malware.
  • VPS Hosting – Townhome. Technically connected, but your own water, power, privacy, etc. Your site can still be dependent on others being responsible, but you are insulated a bit.
  • Dedicated Hosting – Private home. You have control over basically everything. You have your server resources, your bandwidth, etc.

Support Types

  • Basic Support
    • Available 24×7 – 265
    • Handles almost 95% of the issues you encouter
  • Advanced Product Support (Robert used to be the manager of this support team)
    • Junior system admins
    • Higher degree of training
    • Assigned to VPS-3000 customer or dedicated box
    • They have resources available to help, but generally an agent owns an issue from start to finish; no hand-offs.
  • Paid Support Teams
    • WTR Team – Website Transfer Team
      • Get some time with that when you spin up a new server
      • Available at later times for more transfers
  • Managed Hosting Team
    • For-hire system admins
    • Bye per-hour or subscription programs 
    • Help with setup, custom configuration, advanced issues.

My experience with InMotion Hosting has been incredible. They are competitively priced, have updated technology, and superior support. If you’re looking for a better host for your WordPress site, InMotion Hosting is my recommendation. 

Where are you hosting your website? Leave it @BeBizzy on Twitter!

InMotion Hosting

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Speeding Up Your WordPress Site With WP-Rocket

Speeding Up Your WordPress Site With WP-Rocket

What is WP Rocket?

WP Rocket is a caching and optimization plugin that takes the code, content, images, videos and other pieces of your website and finds a faster way to present them to your website visitors. That can be storing them on their computers or on a CDN (content data network). It can be combining or moving CSS and javascript files to minimize the time spend processing the code. It can be reducing the number of calls made off the server to Google or other sites.

WP Rocket does all of this, with about ten minutes of setup and a few bucks. Speaking of a few bucks… if you want to purchase WP Rocket, go to bebizzy.com/rocket and get started today!

WP Rocket

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

How Can WP Rocket Speed Up My Website?

There’s only so much you can do technically to increase your website speed. Load times are based on server response times, bandwidth, hard drive speeds… and then it’s down to the software. 

CDNs and optimized code definitely help but eventually you’re down to leaning on more involved 

Features

  • Basic setup was done in about 10 minutes.  Advanced setup, configuration and testing can take additional time, but all options are pretty much toggled on/off.
  • Page caching
    Really decreases page load time by serving up indexed and cached items.
  • Preloading
    Because the crawler simulates a visit to preload the cache, the indexing of your website by search engines is instantly improved.
  • Sitemap loading
  • GZIP Compression
    WP Rocket compresses HTML, CSS, javascript and other code to optimize it by decreasing the size.
  • Browser Caching
    Modern browsers can look for the same photo, video, HTML code and other pieces of a website faster locally that it can sending requests to a website. WP Rocket helps optimize that.
  • Database optimization
    WP Rocket helps clean up databases and make them run more efficiently.
  • Google fonts
    Decreases the requests for unused fonts by only grabbing what is needed to properly display on the site.
  • Remove query strings from Static Resources
    Improves load time and testing scores by removing query strings from CSS and JS files.
  • Lazyload images and videos
    Images and other content doesn’t load until it becomes evident the visitor wants or needs them.
  • Defer Javascript
    Load JS files at the bottom of the page unless necessary elsewhere. This speeds up the page by not loading code before visible items.
  • CDN
    I have mine connected to my Stackpath CDNs, but Cloudflare and other URLS are easily inserted in the settings.
  • Works with eCommerce

Pricing 

All pricing for WP Rocket is on an annual basis to keep updates and support access. You could allow the plugin to lapse, but as WordPress, PHP versions, your themes, your other plugins and more advance the plugin may not work as intended and also become a security issue.

  • $49 for one site
  • $99 for three sites (annual)
  • $249 for unlimited websites

Some other features

  • Works for multi-lingual sites
  • Works in multisite environments
  • You can turn on and off features to connected users with a simple toggle button
  • All features of the plugin can work on mobile without additional programming or configuration.

Support is email support. Only sent one ticket but got a response in about two hours, which is decent.

If you’re looking to speed up your WordPress site, I can’t recommend WP Rocket enough! Head over to https://bebizzy.com/rocket and get signed up.

Do you use WP Rocket or another caching pluging? Leave me comments @BeBizzy on Twitter!

WP Rocket

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

My Favorite Apps and Plugins – Episode #100!

My Favorite Apps and Plugins – Episode #100!

We made it! Episide 100!

I’ve always hoped we would reach this milestone, but it seemed so far away. But here we are, the 100th episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast!

On today’s podcast we will discuss the apps and plugins I use on a daily basis for general business, WordPress and podcasting. 

BeBizzy's Favorite Apps and Plugins

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

Links to previous podcast posts on my favorite apps and plugins.

Favorite Applications/WP programs I use on a daily or weekly basis. You, or someone you work with or know, may find some of these very helpful. 

Keep in mind a few of these may be affiliate links… it won’t cost you any more, but I will make a few dollars off the referral, so thank you!

General Apps

WordPress

Podcasting Gear

We’re always looking for new and different plugins and applications to test and review. Have one? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

BeBizzy's Favorite Apps and Plugins

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

My Favorite Internet Memes from 2010 – 2019

My Favorite Internet Memes from 2010 – 2019

Internet memes have exploded in the last decade.

Since social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have integrated into our culture it makes sharing cute or entertaining photos and videos about as easy as possible, making some people and other things famous for good, and some bad, reasons.

8cdIt started with things like the ROFLcopter, the Hamster Dance and “All your base belong to us,” and we’re now at Baby Yoda and a blonde lady screaming at a white cat.

And while these images and videos seem simple and easy to create, it’s really tough. So think about that while you’re planning your social media strategy and think “we need to make this go viral.”

It’s tougher to do than you think. Sometimes the best thought plans fail, and the simplest, most innocent photos catch fire and become huge.

So just sit back and enjoy the last ten years of internet memes. And if you have one we missed, send it to me @BeBizzy on Twitter or our Facebook page!

Before we get going too far, Weezer loaded their “Pork and Beans” video with a  bunch of popular internet memes. And it’s a catchy tune.

The Best Memes from the Last Decade

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast

The Best Memes from the Last Decade

by BeBizzy Consulting | BeBizzy Break Podcast