Favorite 5 WordPress Plug Ins

wordpresslogoWhen you think of creating a WordPress site, remember that’s just the beginning. Think of it as a blank canvas. Sure, it contains your site content. But now it’s up to you, to make it more engaging, to capture data and draw more followers. And it won’t happen without a little help.  This is where a few really good plug ins can help.

What is a plugin, you ask?

A plug in is a software component that adds a feature or benefit to your site. The open platform design of WordPress.org has allowed for the development of literally thousands of really great and completely free plugins and if necessary, more pretty inexpensive options as well.

How do you choose?

Before writing this post, I did a quick Google search on plugins. What I found was a head-spinning number of articles written with top 10, 20, 30, even 40 plugins.  How do you choose?

When selecting our site’s plugins, I wanted real-life experience to draw upon. I found user reviews to be really helpful. And of course, the idea that there are so many options also helps. If a plugin doesn’t work, you can just  find another.  My trials (and a few minor errors), lead me to these Favorite 5 WordPress Plug Ins:

  1. WordPress SEO – WordPress SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today for WordPress.org users. It incorporates everything from a snippet preview and page analysis functionality that helps you optimize your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between.
  2. Google Analytics for WordPress – This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics to your WordPress blog, adding lots of features, eg. custom variables and automatic click out and download tracking. Just copy your customized account code from your established Google Analytics page and paste it on the plug in page on your site. Done.
  3. Email Before Download – This plugin seamlessly integrates two popular plugins (Contact Form 7 and Download Monitor) to create a simple shortcode for requesting an end-user to fill out a form before providing the download URL. Once downloaded, the site administrator can track all downloads within the dashboard.
  4. Formilla Live Chat – Free Live Chat. No strings attached. You’ll see the chat tab on the bottom of every page on our site. We set the hours and man this chat ourselves. After hours, the chat icon changes to an email icon. Support? Awesome. We recently changed our URL and had questions about the switch. One email to these guys and I got a reply within hours – outside of regular hours. They also use their plug in so live chat is available on their site as well.
  5. Broken Link Checker – Checks your blog for broken links and missing images and notifies you on the dashboard if any are found. This plug in gives me peace of mind.  As your site gets bigger, your posts more frequent, the chances of broken links will increase. 

WordPress.org was created as, and remains a powerful blogging tool that  has evolved into so much more, I think primarily because of the availability of plugins. I’m certain that as my skills increase this list will change. For now, these Favorite 5 WordPress Plug Ins do exactly what I need them to do — help to make us look good.

 

LynnLynn McGinnis
Marketing Specialist
Lynn.McGinnis@CustomSystems.com

 

 

 

© Copyright Custom Systems Corporation 2014

 

Should You Upgrade to a Solid State (SSD) Hard Drive?

Spoiler alert! Yes.

At first, I didn’t see the big deal.  They used to cost too much.  Early generation Solid State drives (SSD) had impressive read speeds, but slow write speeds.  And the storage space was not large enough.  That has changed in the last year, as SSD write speeds, prices, and sizes look better and better every day.

So what are the advantages of using an SSD hard drive?  For starters, they are much faster than traditional hard drives.  They have no moving parts, the disks don’t spin, and are therefore less prone to failure.  They are light-weight, making your laptop easier to carry.  SSD drives also give off much less heat than traditional hard drives, so your PC or laptop uses less energy.

Replacing your old hard drive with a new SSD drive can also be very easy.  I purchased a Samsung EVO drive, which included a migration tool.  It only took about 20 minutes to move.  There are also disk copy products available like Acronis or CloneZilla.

After you install your new SSD drive (or if you have one already) remember to disable defrag.  Defragmenting your SSD drive is not only pointless, it can harm your drive.

Another scenario: We just recently began to implement SSD drives in our server  RAID array designs.  So far, we are only using them in RAID 1 configurations – as buying more than 2 SSD drives at this point can still add up to a lot of cash.   But vendors like IBM, EMC, and HP are currently working on new ways to use disk fail-over – which may even lead to new ways of looking at RAID arrays.

Questions? We can help. As always, we can provide your company with a free Network Assessment. Just call or click today.

AZS-4

Chase Reitter
Network Consultant
Chase.Reitter@CustomSystemsCorp.com

 

Access Control and Authorization with Windows Server 2012

WindowsServer2012Sta_Web Have you ever needed to set up permissions on a network resource and the only way to satisfy the conditions for permission was to create a brand new security group?  Windows Server 2012 is the answer.

Let’s say you have a file share (network resource) that should only be accessed by people who are both managers and members of the HR group.  You have a Managers group and an HR group, but the requirements specify a mix of the two groups.  I have run across situations similar to this many times and I am betting many other domain administrators have run across this as well.

Prior to Windows 2012, we might need to create another group that contains users who satisfy both conditions.  This generates the need to administer another group.  Too many situations like this, and you have a huge list of groups to cover every condition.  The more groups you have, more the need to manually control group membership.  To get around this situation, we may manually set unique permissions directly on the network resource.  So now the administrator must update individual access directly on the resource instead of in a group membership.  Either way, we now have another individual point to administer and document.  The larger the organization, the more complicated this gets.

Best practice is to use groups for access control as opposed to using an individual account.  This makes things easier because all you need to do to give someone access permissions is to join them in a group.  However, what happens to administration when we create a group to cover many, many situations of multiple conditions?  Server 2012 has a new feature that alleviates this situation and empowers the administrator.  Dynamic Access Control is part of the advanced authorization and access control technologies.  Dynamic Access Control includes the following new functionalities:

  • Central Access Rules – the expression of authorization that includes one or more conditions.
  • Central Access Policies –used to bring together multiple rules of authorization to be applied across servers in a domain.
  • Claims – a unique identifier for user, device, and resource objects in a domain.  This identifier can be included in expressions.
  • Expressions – joins multiple conditions of authorization together to define access permissions.
  • Proposed Permissions – allows an administrator to predict the results of their conditional access expressions without actually applying the change.

Given the example above of HR Managers, we could go about setting up access permissions to the network share in a few new ways.  We could do it directly on the network share where we would create an expression that has the conditions of being a member of both the Managers group and the HR group.  Or, we could do it on the domain where we would create a central access rule that contains the defined conditions for group membership.  We would then include the rule in a central access policy that we could apply across multiple servers in our domain.  To test this, we could use proposed permissions to see how this new policy affects our resources without actually applying the change.  We could take this one step further by using claims.  We could create a claim on individual user accounts that gives them a unique identifier.  We could then use the unique identifier to make an expression that specifies the user is a member of the HR security group and has the associated claim to determine access permissions.  Think about how many groups and cases of unique permission administration we could eliminate.

In order to support Dynamic Access Control, a new Access Control List (ACL) editor has been included in Windows 2012.  The Enhanced ACL Editor allows you to incorporate the expressions created with the access control/permissions of the network resource.  This is the tool that allows you to create and bring together all the topics presented above.

Put a 2012 domain controller in a test environment and kick the tires of this concept.  Afraid of what you might break?  That’s what we’re here for. Call or click today for your free, network assessment.

AZS-3

 

Craig R. Kalty (CCIA, CCEE, CCA, MCITP:EA, MCITP:SA, VCP)
Sr. Network Consultant
Craig.Kalty@CustomSystemsCorp.com
© 2014 Custom Systems Corporation