Mamp, Backupbuddy, WordPress and the dreaded HTTP Error 500 Internal Server Error

I have been battling this issue for weeks and I finally got it sorted due to a really helpful article.

If a site needs work, once its been launched, I like to create a local version to edit rather than risk making any change to a live site.

My workflow for this has been to install BackupBuddy (An AMAZING tool for migrating and backing up WordPress Sites), Download a complete copy of the site and install it locally using Mamp Pro.

Recently at the end of the process I have been running into this error:

HTTP Error 500 (Internal Server Error): An unexpected condition was encountered while the server was attempting to fulfill the request.

After a great deal of resetting and messing around in setting I found this great article over on Mamp’s official blog.

It turns out that it is a PHP Memory issue.

The article, Increase the PHP memory limit with MAMP PROruns you through the exact process needed update the memory_limit in the PHP.INI file and you will be back up and running in 5 minutes.

You should note that as the article was written in 2009 the names of your PHP.ini files maybe different, at the time of writing this mine are:

PHP 5.2.17 php.ini

PHP 5.3.6 php.ini

As I knew I have my sites set to run the latter I just edited that file, but you can edit them both to be sure.

Highlighting in WordPress Menus, current pages and parent pages

This is another post written because I was struggling for a while with an issue, so I thought I would post my solution here.

Often on a WordPress site you want to have a menu that highlights the current page. Assuming you are using the WordPress custom menus, then WordPress is smart enough to add classes to the menu items that represent where they fit in the scheme of things.

For instance:

  • li.current_page_item = The page that you are currently on (Obviously)
  • li.current-post-ancestor = Any page above in the hierarchy of the current page

What threw me for a few hours was the use of underscore _ and dash – at differing times.

If you are having trouble I would suggest going back and checking these linking symbols.

For the record, I usually set the basic color for an unselected menu item: #nav li a{ color:#fff} and then I use the following with a feature color to cover the current page, the hover state and any pages that may fall into this like parents and ancestors:


#nav li a:hover,
#nav li.current_page_item a,
#nav li.current-menu-item a,
#nav li.current-menu-parent a,
#nav li.current-post-ancestor a  {
color: featurecolor;
}

Using less.js with WordPress

Over the last few weeks I have been reading more and more about speeding up your workflow by using augmented CSS.

For those of you not familiar with LESS, or {less} as its branding suggests, it is a ‘Dynamic stylesheet language’. Allowing you to use variables, mixins, operations and functions with in your CSS. There are plenty of article preaching the advantages of using less.

There are a couple of different flavours of LESS. Server side, an osx app (LESS.APP) and a client side alternative, using less.js.

Most of my work is with in WordPress on a development server, I decided that the best option for me was to use the client side less.js while developing sites and then compile the css stylesheet before launching a clients site.

The problem I ran into was that WordPress needs a Style.css file for the theme to be accepted. I tried installing the theme with this file and then swapping it out for a style.less file, however I kept running into issues and theme would break.

After googling and trying all sorts of things, @importing and all sorts of work arounds, I finally came up with a solution. I thought I would post it here in case there are others struggling with this.

In order for less.js to work it must be downloaded and installed on your server.

For non WordPress sites you can then in the <head> you reference your less file, followed by calling the less.js:

<link rel="stylesheet/less" type="text/css" href="styles.less"> <script src="less.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

For WordPress all you need to do is have a style.css as normal with all the theme information, and then a separate for for .less. We will call it main_styling.less.

As follows:

Style.css

/*
Theme Name:Your Theme
Theme URI: http://testing.com
Description: A Theme
Verision:1.0
Author:Matt Edwards
Auther URI:http://www.emptyhead.dev
*/

Then in the <head>:


<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="<?php bloginfo('template_directory'); ?>/style.css">
<link rel="stylesheet/less" type="text/css" href="<?php bloginfo('template_directory'); ?>/main_styling.less">
<script src="<?php bloginfo('template_directory'); ?>/js/less-1.1.3.min.js" type="text/javascript">

and its all up and running.

Hope this saves you some time if you were stuck where I was.

Do you know the core of your small business?

Clackity NoiseI read a blog post today, it was a few years old and I just happened to stumble across it, but it hit me as quite profound. Something that could be applied to all aspects of life and particularly to small business.

The blog post was by Merlin Mann, over at Kung fu Grippe. If you haven’t heard of Merlin then I highly recommend you google or youTube him and watch just a bit of what he has to say. He is, for lack of a better term, a ‘productivity guru’. He goes to companies and helps them come up with solutions to make them work in a more efficient way. He is also witty and highly irreverent. Something I also enjoy.

This particular post was entitled “Making the Clackity Noise” and it is about his writing technique. Here is just a bit for you:

I’ve learned that my job is to just sit down and start making the clackity noise. If I make the clackity noise long enough every day, the “writing” seems to take care of itself. On the other hand, if there’s no clackity noise, no writing. No little stories. The stories may be in there, alongside God knows what else, but there’s no way to know. You must make the noise.

Merlin’s whole concept is to break everything down to its most basic sense. How do you write at a computer? You sit at it and make the keyboard make that clackity noise. You don’t need to read a book about writing, you don’t need a better computer or a new lamp, you just sit and make the noise and you are writing. It might not be good, but that will come with practice. For now just make the noise.

Imagine if you could break down the core concepts of your business like that. I make websites. That sounds complicated, there are all sorts of things to learn about and people to email and books I should read. NO Today I am just going to make websites. I am going to sit down and code away. I will probably learn a few things in the process and I will probably ignore an email from someone who wants me to subscribe to their newsletter but at the end of the day I will have worked at my core business.

Running a small business can be hard, trying to take care of everything yourself. The accounting, marketing and purchasing,  sometimes you can end a day and not actually have DONE what it is you DO.

Do you know what your clackity noise is? Will you do it today?

Please do yourself a favor and go and read the rest of Merlin’s Article.

Photo by: Striatic

Lynx brings angels to London (Video)

On the 5th of March an amazing advertising campaign took place in Victoria Station, London.

Unilever the company that owns the Lynx brand of personal deodorants set up signs inviting people to “Look Up”. Suspended at one end of the building was a giant screen projecting their image, looking up caused a virtual reality angel to drop right next to where they were standing, and interact with them.

An AMAZING marketing campaign, that drew crowds quickly. I am sure with those crowds also came some great word of mouth for Lynx.

Creating a viral advertising campaign: Jennifer Aniston sex tape

No my account hasn’t been hacked by porn posting internet trolls. This is the latest big budget, and when I say big I mean BIG budget, internet advertising campaign from Smart Water.

Jennifer Aniston hosts this mockumentary style video giving us an “inside view” of creating the viral campaign to end all viral campaigns. Taking memorable moments from youTube hits from the past 12 months, it both teases the genre and gives it exactly what it wants: Puppies, rainbows, dancing babies and even a guy being kicked in the crotch. (Sorry if that spoils the video for you.)

The master stroke, also discussed in the video, the decision to entitle it “Jennifer Anniston Sex Tape.” Although it rubs the risks of alienating conservatives out there, it does exactly what it sets out to do; Gets people talking. The video is quite well produced, its entertaining and gets the brand across, but had it been called “Jennifer Anniston’s Smart Water Video.” I wouldn’t be writing about it and neither would the 100’s of newspapers and blogs across the world. In fact right now if you google the title you would be hard pressed to find the companies website through the 1000s of news articles that are listed.

I think its a brilliant strategy, I had never heard of Smart Water, and here I am writing about it. Spreading the brand.

Imaging what your company could do with this sort of publicity? I know we don’t necessarily have the same budgets, but the ideas behind it, while brilliant, are not that difficult to replicate or surpass. Think about how you could create a viral campaign!!

Enjoy:

 

Simple seo tips for starting small business websites

A website, no matter how well designed, no matter how beautiful, in the long run is really only as good as its content. You can have the most technologically advanced website on the internet, but a $500 blog will always out perform it if it is providing more relevant and better quality information.

This is a short introduction to writing  the very first page for your website. What should you write, and how should you approach this and what does this have to do with search engine optimisation?

The text on the front page of any website is one of the most important ways to improve your ranking on Google and other search engines. That doesn’t mean you have to limit it to a boring page with a brief introduction, but it does mean that you need to think about what you will include on your front page. The idea is to create a well-written introduction that explains who you are, what you do, and why people would be interested in coming to your website.

Years ago you may have been advised to write with as many keywords as possible, stuff them in there, but the technology behind Google and other search engines has improved to the point where it can recognise real content and ranks it higher than keyword heavy but irrelevant writings. Your front page should give readers real a peek at who you are and what you are about that you will then expand upon in other pages or sections of your site.

The reason behind creating a smart, well-written opening page for your website is twofold:

First, you want to give visitors to your site the information they need as quickly as possible. Chances are, if they were able to got to your site with no search involved they already know something about you, but you need to grab their attention long enough to make them want to keep reading.

The second purpose is to give Google an opportunity to correctly determine the relevance and content of your site so that it can correctly assign your site to appropriate searches. The text on the front page of your site, along with other factors, is what Google uses to determine your ranking and who will see your link.

If you want to make sure you give the right first impression, there are a few things you will need to know:

  1. Think about what search terms you want to rank for:
    Do you want searchers to find you when they look up the term “Melbourne Bookshop”, “Painting Books”, or something else altogether? Think about the three or four of the most important words you want to be found for. These ideas should help you come up with your opening text. They will also help with other important elements such as menu titles, headlines and other key pieces information you will want on your site. These are referred to as keywords, and will be one of the ways that Google can figure out what you are about.
  2. Use keyword tools.
    Some of the tools that are available online that can tell you what words and phrases people are searching for. I would suggest starting with the Google keyword tool Often, big companies will spend large amounts of money trying to purchase what they consider to be the best keywords. For example, some of the larger airlines got into a bidding war over the best listing for “discount airfares.” However, one company got wise and instead changed their keyword to “cheap flights”, and found that their traffic increased dramatically. The reason? Customers don’t search for “discount airfares”; they search for “cheap flights”. Understanding how your customers phrase what they are looking for can save you a lot of time and money when developing your site.
  3. Aim for 2% – 4% keyword density.
    You may be surprised to find out that it should be only about 200-250 words, with they keywords repeated no more than 4 to  6 times.
    While terms like “keyword density” and “search engine optimisation” may sound a little intimidating, the truth is that it only takes a little bit of careful editing to help as many people as possible find your page. We already know that the more people see your page, the more opportunities you’ll find!

One final tip – if you don’t already have one, you may want to consider including a blog on your site. As with your front page, you will want to make sure that your keywords occur frequently in blog postings, another way to keep your search ranking high. Blog postings don’t need to be super detailed- as little as three to five hundred words posted weekly can make a big difference in your rankings. Just be sure that the topic you have in mind is related to your core business, or at the very least of interest to your prospective customers. Not only does this keep visitors coming back, it also tells Google that your site provides helpful and relevant information.

The more time you spend developing and refining the text on your site, the better your rankings will be. Don’t forget that your site should be dynamic, a living breathing online presence, so change the information on your page regularly as you come up with new ideas and information on your site. With the right information, your Google ranking is sure to show results!

Photo by: Maria Reyes-McDavis

Facebook Sponsored Stories, should your business be in on this?

As Facebook grows in popularity (understatement) and you acquire more friends, it is quite possible that you will miss many of their status updates. Each time you check in you only see 20 or 30 of the most popular or recent posts.

If someone checked into Starbucks and enjoyed buying a latte 3 hours ago you may very well miss it. This is where Facebook Sponsored Stories come in. It allows a company to pay to have an area that will repost any content in which your friends have mentioned their brand to make sure you don’t miss out on this information. Taking advantage of the theory that internet marketing really is just word of mouth on steroids.

I know people are going to be up in arms about their content being used for advertising with out their permission but it is only visible to people who were able to see it in the first place. Just a little more visible. So is it wrong or not?

Is it something your company should be taking advantage of??

Will Googles algorithm change ruin your sites ranking?

Google latest algorithm change has been rolled out in the last few days and this time it is focusing on, what it calls, internet spam.

It is going after news aggregators and sites that scrape content and post it on their own site.

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, released a post on his blog earlier this week stating:

“we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content.” http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/algorithm-change-launched/

Although it is stated that this should only affect 2% of searches it has already been felt across the internet. The guys at e-webstyle are claiming that their blog has dropped from a SERP ranking of 6 down to about 27. Although in my opinion they are producing decent content.

So now is the time, more than ever before, to be producing great and unique web content, and making sure that your site is not just copying and pasting articles from across the internet.

Good Luck

WordPress- A video overview for actors websites

The content on a website is really the most important part, because of this I now use wordpress for all of my actors websites. It allows actors to quickly and easily update everything, from the text, resume, photos, audio and video.

Rather than trying to describe how it works, I have put together this short screencast of me using wordpress to update the emptyhead website.

I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any questions just drop me an email: matt@emptyhead.com.au

Jeff Bridges on TRON: Legacy: ‘This technology means I’dnever have to work again’ | Mail Online

An amazing article about the making of Tron-Legacy and the technology involved.

It’s also a little scary…. Will actors actually be replaced one day? Let’s hope not.

Jeff
Bridges on TRON: Legacy: ‘This technology means I’d never have to
work again’ | Mail Online
.

Xanadu – the musical in Australia

In 1980, Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly starred in the pop culture phenomenon “Xanadu”. Now, the musical version of the film is coming to Melbourne’s Docklands opening on March 3rd, 2011, and then going on to tour nationally. The musical earned three Tony nominations in the United States, where it played for more than 500 performances beginning in 2007. The musical earned critcal acclaim, with The New York Times reporting that “There’s so much silly bliss to be had,”.

If you never saw the original Xanadu film, you will be pleasantly surprised by the infectiously fun soundtrack, featuring hit songs ‘Magic’, ‘All Over The World’, ‘Suddenly’, ‘I’m Alive’, ‘Evil Woman’, ‘Have You Never Been Mellow’ and ‘XANADU’. The soundtrack was composed by pop-rock favorites Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. The original movie has been brilliantly adapted by Douglas Carter Beane who won one of five 2008 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Book of a Musical.

The shows Australian producer, Mark Pennell (also known for Sweet Charity and Countdown: The Musical) has lined up a cast of local performers to star in the show. Cast calls from Pennell told potential cast members “If you can sing and skate and don’t mind wearing lots of blue eye-shadow, we want to hear from you.”

The movie itself follows the dreams of a struggling artist who dreams of opening a roller disco. While the original movie took itself a little more seriously, Xanadu the Musical is a tongue in cheek spoof of the disco and roller skating antics of the late seventies and early eighties. Producer Pennell says “It is a crazy show.A complete spoof of the movie and that whole era. We hope everyone buys into the madness of it all.” To bring audiences the true Xanadu experience, the Grand Xanadu Marquee is being constructed in Melbourne. The Marquee is reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil portable venues, and will seat 2000 audience members. While the venue is new to Australian theater goers, the show is designed to be fast paced and exciting, drawing viewers into the glittering years of the 70’s and 80’s.

The lead role made famous by Olivia Newton John, Goddess Kira, is being played by Aussie favorite Christie Whelan, with Sam Ludeman playing male lead Sonny. The role played by Gene Kelly in the movie, Danny (god Zeus), will be played by John McTernan. Equally notable are Kira’s two sisters, played by Susan-Ann Walker (Calliope) and Ally Fowler (Medusa).

Theater goers who enjoyed other musical hits like “Mamma Mia” will find Xanadu the Musical to be well worth the tickets. Tickets are priced for true theater lovers, well below other popular musical experiences. The performance’s references to 80’s style and culture make it a fun trip down memory lane, and the show is suitable for viewers of all ages. Go grab your leg warmers and show us your biggest hair, then take a trip to Xanadu.