Detect Theme And Plugins A WordPress Sites Uses

wordpress plugin detectorNew WordPress plugins and themes are released constantly. As I was looking at different layout ideas for a new site I realized I was using a time-saving tool some people might not know about.

To tell me quickly what WordPress theme and WordPress plugins a site is using I use Themestats. Even before you look at the source code you can look under the hood. I know there are lots of ways to do this but I’ve found this to be fast and painless for me.

I’ve discovered plugins I didn’t even know about this way. If you’re like me you tend to have the same several plugins that you use as a baseline for all your sites. I get it, but I know there are a ton of other plugins that would be appropriate for some of my sites.

But who has time to go exploring?

This is a better way to discover new plugins because seeing functionality or a look that interests you is exactly the time when you should dig into whatever is creating that feature, a theme or plugin, and if it’s a plugin it could be a big help potentially over many of your sites and clients’ sites, from now on.

Just as an example, I never knew till today that there is a WP plugin–Right Click Images Plugin–that disables the right mouse button clicks that would enable a user to easily save an image to his hard drive. Handy, and it took me seconds to dig in to find it.

Usually it’s clear simply from the list of plugins that Themestats gives you which plugin is responsible for the feature you’re interested in.

And though I’m more inclined to add a new plugin than buy a new theme, it’s good to discover nice new themes this way too.

Lastpass Review (Just Get It)

lastpass reviewAlong with rants about Internet marketing I try to regularly include pointer posts to tools and utilities that have made my life easier, if not changed it entirely. Today’s humble pointer falls closer to ‘life changer’ than it does ‘makes life easier’ and actually I’m not kidding about that.

Earlier today I was looking at Typeform to explore whether it can help me to put together some fast and simple lead-gen pages and quizzes for other email lists and websites I have. (Yes btw Typeform, if you haven’t played with it or used it–it’s another great tool with a generous free tier but I’ll resist going any further about it today!)

Anyway after a few a few seconds I decided Typeform was getting my email and we would get this party started. Then I did what I always do in these situations: I headed to the browser tab where I keep Lastpass(not an affiliate link) open at all times and typed in ‘Typ’ and within a second determined two things.

First, that I had already signed up for Typeform–who knows why and who knows when–and my login details were right there already in the form, filled out by Lastpass. The second thing I learned—affirmed existing suspicions really—was that when the AI comes I will be no damn match for it as even something as simple as Lastpass far outpaces my own memory, not just for the username and unique password that I’ve used to sign up for everything in the last 5+ years, but also even that I signed up for a given web site/service/etc. at all!

I know when I’m beaten.

Anyway, Lastpass is still working with me, not against me; i.e. it hasn’t sent any Terminators back from the future yet or anything, as far as I know.

If you haven’t used a password manager yet, can you just do it? Why? Because I said so, OK? Just trust me. I don’t ask for much. You can always stop using it if for some reason you end up thinking it’s a bad thing (which you will not).

The thing that will astound you when you do hook it up isn’t just that from then on you’ll have a way to generate unique 20-character passwords with numbers and symbols, and get usernames and the generated passwords saved automatically in your Lastpass account.

The thing that makes Lastpass SUPERNOVA is the ‘Inbox Importer’. This is Lastpass’ description of it:

Inbox Importer is a fast and hassle-free way to get started with LastPass and add all of your passwords and logins to your new vault. In just a few clicks, Inbox Importer scans your email inbox for existing accounts, resets and generates new passwords, and uploads them to your vault for convenient, secure access whenever you need to login to a website or app.

There is no way that you’d want to manually enter in un/pw combos for all your old accounts, going back years and years. Lastpass does that for you, even as I say the ones you don’t remember signing up for. I’d be very surprised if when I did this if it brought over fewer than 1000 sites with Login URL, username and password combinations. Are you kidding me?

OK right, maybe you have reservations about letting LP crawl your email looking for all the old login info. I understand, I really do. I know that the fact that I’ve had LP for at least 6 or 7 years now with no problems might not convince you, but I‘ll just throw it out there.

Remember that there is a time cost to trying to add hundreds or thousands of your old passwords to Lastpass. And if you have to do manually let’s face it: you won’t do it. That means you’ll stay with your current insecure passwords for your existing accounts. That defeats that whole purpose of this.

As you’d expect there are other features that I haven’t even gone into here, like giving you a secure pace to store sensitive info like credit card info, etc.

I use the browser extensions on my computers and spend a lot of time inside the Lastpass browser on iPhone.

Any downsides? Here’s one: for some sites on iOS anyway, the username and password are not automatically filled in. I’m not sure why. In this case I have to go back to my Lastpass vault and copy first my username and paste it into the username field on the site, then do the same for the password. Is it a hassle? Yep. But this happens with just a few sites and in the larger scheme of things I don’t find it to be a big deal.

In closing it goes without saying that password managers are more secure than the way 98% of us are currently managing our passwords. Admit it, your ‘system’ has to be straightforward enough not to confuse you and I’ll bet you still have multiple tries for passwords for old accounts, most likely on a daily basis. I’ll admit it: I sure did!

But no more.

Save

Save

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Fake Word Generator

Marc Liyanage has a neat web-based tool that allows you to Create Fake Words. This tool is handy when looking for a unique Top-Level Domain (like I did with braxio.com).  The need for new business names is on the rise because nowadays many “businesses” are little more than websites that fulfill a need in one niche or another. Here’s an enormous problem though: too many people spend weeks (or even months!) searching for that “perfect” catchy business name. A fake word generator helps you come up with a catchy brandable name for your idea so that you can quickly move on to the hard stuff, which is getting the business actually going!

It’s not unusual for a single person to need a name for their one-person service business; freelancers and self-employed consultants seem to be rising quickly in numbers since the Internet has made it so easy for people to market their services online. In any case it’s nice to know that there is a tool that can very easily generate fake words that we can then register as domains if they’re available, and get on with the business of running our business.

Most dictionary words have already been registered, so using a fake word generator can be a big help!

10 Excellent Offline Backup Solutions

A good offline backup solution is a smart idea in case you need to restore files when you don’t have an internet connection, or simply to keep a physical backup in a secure location. In no particular order here is a list of ten ways to perform offline backups, and a few of them are free to boot:

Syncback SE allows you to schedule backups, and offers a one-click restore. You can do offline backups on open documents as well as different versions of files. Offers 256 bit AES encryption and advanced customization options. Windows only, optimized for Windows seven and Vista compatible. $30, with a free 30-day trial.

GFI Home Edition an excellent option among the free offline backup solutions we looked at, emphasizing ease-of-use for beginners, with a wizard-driven interface, while offering things like encryption and easy data-restore. Option for doing incremental or differential backups. Freeware, Windows only.

With Genie Backup Manager Pro you can backup your entire PC, including locked and open files, using US government certified Advanced Encryption Standard encryption security. You can schedule backups for preset time intervals and rotate different types of backups, backing up pretty much to any storage device. The price is $69, or $49 buys you the home version, which does not offer encryption. Windows only.

Retrospect offers offline backup solutions for both Windows and Mac, and even has a backup and recovery monitoring app for iPhone and iPod touch. Sold as server protection for business critical applications in addition to desktops and notebooks, but also backs up next, Solaris and NetWare computers using a Windows computer. Performs automatic incremental backups, and offer simplified management of backup media, via a backup Wizard. Free trial offer, with a range of retail prices from different resellers.

At around $300 Windows Home Server is an expensive offline backup option for people who might be more comfortable with a Microsoft product. It also functions as a central location for organizing all of your digital media and gives you and your family the ability to access the home network from anywhere.

For Mac users,Time Machine is obviously a very popular option, with a gorgeous and intuitive interface. Simply add an external hard drive and Time Machine makes incremental backups every hour, every day. It saves the hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for everything older than a month. Time Machine comes with Mac OS X.

Acronis True Image Offers both business and home/home office off-line and online backup solutions. The home version is $49.99 and offers continuous system and data protection, supporting a wide variety of storage media. An enhancement is now offered that allows restoration of your files to dissimilar hardware and dynamic disk support. The business version offers scalability to thousands of machines and integrated software deduplication. It’s an industrial-strength enterprise solution, starting at $1219.

ImgBurn is a free, lightweight CD/DVD/HD DVD/Blu-Ray burning application for computers running Windows. With it you can burn Audio CDs in the following formats: AAC, APE, FLAC, M4A, MP3, MP4, MPC, OGG, PCM, WAV, WMA and WV. Supports these image formats as well: BIN, CUE, DI, DVD, GI, IMG, ISO, MDS, NRG and PDI.

DriveImage XML is an offline backup solution for Windows machines. With it you can backup logical drives and partitions to image files. You can schedule automatic backups and copy directly from drive to drive. The private, noncommercial version is free, while a five-user license of the commercial edition is $100.

GDocBackup for Google Docs exports all documents from Google Documents to local hard-disk. Runs on NET 2.0 / Mono (Win, Linux and Mac). Free, donation optional.

If you have any offline backup solution suggestions, please let us know about it in the comments.

A Better Voice Activated Software For OS X: Enhanced Dictation

As far as I’m concerned the voice activated typing software I’ve used for typing blog posts, e-mails, and anything else that required more than a couple lines of text has been replaced. For years MacSpeech Dictate was my tool of choice to quickly get a few hundred words typed up, without risking repetitive strain injury or tightness in my shoulders or neck. What am I using now?

Well if you’re on a Mac and you have the latest Version of OS X version 10.9 (i.e. Mavericks), you should know about enhanced Dictation. Simply pressing the function key twice quickly allows you to simply start talking and have your voice transcribed on the screen. There is an approximately 800 MB file you will have to download before you can start using the feature (see video below), but for me as someone who does not touch type, this is an extremely easy and fast way to record my thoughts. If you have used OS X dictation functionality before note that this new version is definitely improved in Mavericks: your voice no longer has to go to Apple servers. The transcription is done locally, which means the feature works off-line as well.

The real reason I am going to uninstall my MacSpeech dictate is because it is not supported by Mavericks, and there is apparently no way to cheaply upgrade. You’ll have to purchase an entirely new piece of software, and it’s not cheap. Luckily for all of us who use OS X 10.9, Apple has stepped right in with a solution that at least initially to me appears to be excellent.

Voice Activated Typing Software

Dictate voice activated typing softwareI have never been a very fast typist (or a fascist type for that matter), in fact I operate a keyboard in a fashion that might be called “touchhunting”. Lately if I’m writing something that runs more than 300 or 400 words I feel my shoulders and neck tighten up and I get more headaches than I used to. For the last several months I thought about getting some kind of voice-activated typing software but the prices seemed rather high and it was one of those things that I couldn’t justify buying because I didn’t actually need it.

A stumbling point for me was that Mac users are excluded from the apparently state-of-the-art Dragon voice recognition software, NaturallySpeaking. Last year though, MacSpeech licensed the NaturallySpeaking engine for its Dictate software.

After coming across another review of MacSpeech Dictate I thought to myself “It probably won’t get much cheaper and I’m probably going to buy it eventually.” Why not do it before the headaches get any worse and before my hands start to hurt? Hey, some rationalizations require more creativity than others do. Still, I was excited about my rationalization.

(BTW, IBM ViaVoice is another voice activated software option for Mac with a free trial and about the same price point as Dictate. I didn’t try it, but I’d love to hear opinions of it. I also looked for cheap or free voice recognition software for Mac but I didn’t find any.)

The base price for Dictate is about $199, but Amazon knocked about $30 off that. I recently got a MacBook Air (no, I’m not a fanboy, and that will have to be a different review) so the installation wasn’t as simple as it would have been if I could have loaded it right from the disk. Still, using the Remote Disk functionality worked entirely without problems for me.

Training the software was as easy as advertised as well, taking less that five minutes, and I was amazed at how, in my normal speaking voice and a pretty rapid clip, the software seemed to have no problems transcribing what I was saying immediately.

After a couple of days using Dictate, my honest impression is that it is physically easier for me to bang out 500 to 1000 words, but I don’t necessarily do it any faster than I do typing manually. Alas, the software I need to help me think faster may not have been invented yet.

I am impressed at how easy it is to make corrections verbally, on-the-fly, without ever touching the keyboard. The documentation actually encourages you to use verbal commands for corrections and punctuation, because actions like changing the location of the cursor and using the delete key can and do lead to unpredictable results.

Also, while I don’t have to try very hard to speak clearly, if I do make an effort to speak clearer, errors are a reduced to almost zero. Having said that, my wife points out that I say the “forget that” and “scratch that” commands quite a bit, so far.

I’ve used Dictate only with TextEdit up to now, doing blog posts. Obviously I plan to use the software to write e-mails and other applications too. Having read a few reviews on the net about voice dictation software, I see a general absence of information on users’ impressions with software of this kind after the first flush of enthusiasm with it. I think I will report back to Digital Media Minute readers after a couple weeks and maybe a month out.

Yes, this post was created with Dictate voice dictation software, and creating it did feel a lot more like a relaxed conversation than an editing session. Stay tuned.

(This was not a paid review.)

Free Online File Converter

Mark this in the very cool utilities category – MediaConverter is a web based tool that will convert files from one format to another. The lists of files it can handle is impressive:

MP3 WMV 3GP AMR FLV SWF AMV MOV WMA AVI MPG MP4 DivX MPEG4 iPOD PSP OGG WMA AAC MP4 MPC MMF QCP KAR MIDI REALAUDIO FLAC JPG PSD DOC PDF RTF TXT ODG ODP ODS ODT SXW WK1 MDB XLS VOB

… and that is to just name a few! So now when somebody sends you a file that you just can’t open, check this online file converter site to see if they can do something with it for you!

For a one-stop solution for converting your files, supporting all the file formats listed above as well as Mpeg, Rm, Rmvb and others, as well as offering batch video file conversion, Click Here.

Beat Internet Filtering-The First Thing To Try

Just because Digital Media Minute is a friend of the little guy (who finds it inconvenient to not have Facebook open all day at work), here is the simplest possible workaround to bypass internet filtering if your employer is filtering specific sites: just add an ‘s’ to the http line and you might find access to the secure version of sites when there was no access to the standard version.

Caveat: your employer might be filtering sites by way of keywords, in which case this method won’t work. At any rate, even needing to beat internet filtering on your work computer may be less relevant moving forward as we increasingly do our own thing on our own devices, but until then an internet filtering bypass like this could come in handy. (h/t Lifehacker)

Digital Sculpting Tool

Digital Media Minute has done posts before on tools for making 3-D art including a slick 3D character creator, but take a look at Sculptris, a really impressive, free digital sculpting tool or 3-D modeler that you can use to make incredibly detailed and organic-looking 3-D figures. If you have ever wondered how the incredible figures that you see in video games and other places are created, take a look at this piece of software. I think that a fairly untapped market is to sell to people who might be interested in 3-D sculpture just for the sake of making cool models in 3-D without any further application necessarily. For Mac, Windows, Linux.

Class Design Tipsheet

Over at Dzone, Giorgio Sironi has a very nice list of generic class and interface design questions you should ask yourself before committing a new code artifact, relative to naming, structure, and length. I’ve posted a few pointers to articles at DZone lately; they remain one of the very best sources that I know of for serious programmers to get relevant, high-quality tutorials and articles on even the most obscure tips relating to web development and many other subjects. This class design tipsheet is just one of the many helpful resources that I’ve made use of myself in the last year by way of DZone.

3D Character Creator

The open source MakeHuman software lets you model photorealistic humanoid 3-D characters in less than two minutes, or so says the documentation. The GUI looks very friendly and you can export figures in 3D graphics formats that are supported by many different modellers and rendering engines. 3D character creation has never looked so simple.  We have done several reviews of software that helps you create characters in 3-D that are incredibly lifelike and which can in turn be useful in various applications, from game creation to simply making virtual sculptures for the creative fun of it. This is one of the best tools I have seen.

HTML Slideshow Generator

Dave Raggett has authored HTML Slidy, a cross-browser XHTML slideshow creator that runs like Powerpoint.  Wow, this is really slick and potentially fills a real need for people who for whatever reason don’t have PowerPoint and don’t particularly want to get it.

  • Just click on the window to advance to the next slide.
  • Each presentation is a single XHTML file.
  • It can be run offline.
  • It can incrementally display slide contents ie bullet points or layered images, for instance.
  • You can make an images and text scale relative to the browser window size. Very cool feature.
  • You can include SVG content by using the object element.

HDR Introduction

We have done posts before on high dynamic range photography-here is an excellent short tutorial on HDR. Included are sections on HDR processing software recommendations as well as image fine-tuning or tone mapping. Remember that HDR photography doesn’t require a particularly expensive DSLR camera, just one that allows you to manually underexpose or overexpose your photos. If you’re not really familiar with high dynamic range photography you should check out this article, absolutely stunning effects are possible with the technique. Now I’m just waiting for an iPhone app that will make it  possible to take HDR photographs on my mobile device. I guess I’m kidding, right?

Voice Recognition Typing


In this short series on voice-activated typing software, I started by going over my initial thoughts on whether or not I needed it, as well as my hesitation because of the price. I also had serious doubts about voice-recognition typing because “keyboard recognition typing” had worked for me for 20 years, albeit uncomfortably. As someone who does not touch type I had to ask myself if the neck and shoulder stiffness that I feel after half an hour of hunt-and-peck might go away if I simply decided to learn once and for all…

I did go ahead and buy MacSpeech Dictate despite my reservations and I’ve been very, very happy that I did. It was one of those things that, once I spent the money, all the abstract doubts about getting it in the first place faded away. It is just so much easier now to write. I find that banging out 500 or 1000 words is so painless and easy physically that I am able to explore thoughts verbally with ease, undistracted. I don’t know how much money that is worth to me, but I have a feeling that over the course of years it’s going to be a lot more than the $170 or so that I spent on the software.


I also cannot say honestly whether or not it’s improved the quality of my writing-in the end I seem to spend as much time as ever editing to make something with which I am happy. Even the editing process though is handled verbally (very well I might add), so that painstaking attention to detail doesn’t mean painful attention to detail in the form of back spaces, deletes and minor edits in a process that always seems to give me a headache after about an hour.

I had a small epiphany when I tried to use the software without the included headset as it was clumsy and a minor inconvenience, in my opinion. To my surprise, the results seem to be exactly the same, at least in the case of a voice-recognition typing software I’m using.

So I have one more thing to add now that I’ve had this dictation software for a few weeks. The method that I have found works best for me is to not look at the screen at all as I speak. I force myself to go for five or 10 minutes at a time just talking. Waiting for the text to catch up with your voice leads to going back and making small corrections and breaking the flow of your thoughts. Not only does this draw out the process, it’s not necessary. My fear initially that mis-typing by the software could leave me with a bunch of gibberish, unable to reconstruct my thoughts. I found that this is not a problem. Speaking whole sentences at a time actually leads to much better voice recognition by the software so that there are fewer corrections, and it also allows your thoughts to flow more naturally. So that’s the point this final little post on voice-recognition typing. In the end, simply trusting the software to follow you instead of making any allowances are all (except speaking reasonably clearly, of course) is both easier for you and helps the software achieve maximum accuracy.

Voice Typing Software


I’ve been using MacSpeech Dictate for a week now and I have two things to report that I didn’t know when I did my initial review of this voice activated typing software.

On about day three I was sitting while holding the headset that is included with the Dictate software as I spoke into it. (I wore the headset on my head for about a day until I got tired of the way it felt and simply started holding it like a microphone.) I had read reviews of dictate that warned that the MacBook Air default microphone was not of high enough quality to run voice recognition software, so I had not even tried to use it without the headset.

Well lo and behold I removed the headset from the USB port and started talking again and I saw no difference at all in my results. It was a quiet afternoon in my room with only the sound of the air conditioner as ambient noise. Still I was surprised: I spoke no louder and at the same speed.


So what difference does this make? Well since I’m using this voice recognition typing software in conjunction with an ultra-portable laptop, my little content creation machine just got a little more portable. Less to carry, faster to set up. The whole experience is cleaner. If the computer is sleeping I simply open it, hit one button and start talking. As rarely as I’m hit by inspiration I can’t afford to fool around.

By the way I haven’t changed any of the default microphone settings to try and improve the performance of the software. Indoors, when it’s quiet, I haven’t really had to. Now that I don’t have to wear an obnoxious headset while I’m dictating I feel more inclined than I did before to see how this works in public, in a reasonably quiet place I assume.

Is this such a big victory when the end product is no more than I could create by typing? It’s probably too early for me to really judge whether writing this way produces content that is of a different quality than I create when I’m typing, good or bad. But my initial feeling is that it is a lot less effort to write this way, and I don’t just mean physically. On some subjects it’s very easy to just talk and talk quite easily, and I have never had so little barrier between thinking and getting words down as I do now. As someone who does not touch type I can’t say that the ease of speaking isn’t matched by the quick competence of a touch typist for whom typing is akin to breathing. I can say that not having to sweat over getting a thought down before I forget it is a huge improvement, for me. The process of getting it all down feels practically unmediated, with no pen, keyboard or anything else involved.

With voice typing software I suppose I am seeing the actual speed at which I can create, as the process now happens via an entirely unobtrusive technology. It’s the speed at which I can talk. If the keyboard has always been a bottleneck for my thoughts, I am pretty sure I don’t think any faster than I can speak. For me there is something that feels like liberation in all this.