Author Archives: BirthGeek

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We Bought A House

Category : Housing , Services

T&S Digital Holdings, LLC | Crowley | 682-292-8433


421 Owens St
Crowley, TX 76036

$1,325.00 / Month

For more information and to apply visit:

https://rent.turbotenant.com/properties/421-owens-st

Description:

Lovely inside and out, this home sits on an oversized, creek-side lot in a quiet and well kept neighborhood!

Inside: eat-in kitchen with oversized cabinets, bedrooms have walk-in closets and master has on-suite bath.

Outside: relax fireside or under the covered patio while the kids PLAY! 2 car garage with door opener, an 1 car fenced in car port, perfect for those with sport vehicles.

Pets welcome with pet deposit and monthly pet rent.

One year lease with the option for a two year rate lock in.

Details:

  • Type: Single family
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Pets: Cats, Small dogs, Large dogs
  • Square Feet: 1200 sq ft

Terms:

  • Deposit: $1,325.00
  • Min. Lease: One Year
  • Available:


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Takin’ Care of Business

Category : Apps , Tricks and Tips

I am a busy lady! I am sure is this true for most folks. For our family, we balance two full time jobs, one adult in school, two children, a house, two elderly dogs, one cat, one thriving home based business (aka my Side Hustle). Add to that my time devoted as the Chief Information and Financial officer for Texas Birth Networks and we have one crazy, hectic life. In fact, while reviewing my drafts for this post, it has taken me a solid 6 months to sit down and flesh out a full review of what I consider to be a pretty great product. As you can see I don’t have the time to just sit and wait next a computer for the next trending topic to share. Unfortunately, being the social media coordinator for so many different brands requires that I stay on top of trending topics and articles.

Because of our hectic schedules my most creative, productive times are between the hours of 10PM and 3AM. It may not be every night, but those are most definitely the times that creativity strikes me.  Funny thing is, most people aren’t up at that time of night. So I rely HEAVILY on being able to schedule text messages (thank you Android), emails, Facebook posts, and reminders . I am not afraid to step outside of native features, and use a third party to help me out. I have been using a third-party to schedule Facebook posts for close to 5 years now. However, as Facebook evolved I felt I needed more!
I needed to be able to schedule posts to more than just business pages and my personal wall. I needed to be able to schedule posts to events and groups. Sure the program I was using did schedule to groups, but it was cumbersome and often times I found myself unable to get it to work correctly. How am I, the resident geek, supposed to tell people to use a program that I have problems with? Most people like the RONCO style “set it and forget it” type of computing. I say that when just today I received a ticket at work because a lady was tired of seeing WiFi networks pop up on her iPhone. Technology confuses people, things need to be turnkey, and OBVIOUS. I went in search of something new.

I totally stumbled across PostCron. Now that I think about it, I like how the name is techy, but the interface is pretty simple. I literally click the picture of the page or event that I want to post to and schedule it out. Similar to that last program, PostCron will pick peak times or I can micromanage the time myself. After a couple of my homebirth midwives and placenta memes have gone internationally viral, I LOVE the image watermark feature. The program even has content recommendations. I can type in some keywords. It doesn’t automatically post, but totally gives me things to schedule so my business Facebook wall, Texas Birth Networks Facebook, and our 2016 Birth Roundup Event don’t go silent. Because we all know the only way to stay relevant on Facebook is to be actively engaging users. No new content, means no engagement. No new engagement means can mean anything from, no additional sponsorship dollars for cool birth related events or no tumble classes for the boy geek in training. Regardless, content continues to be king both on static websites and in the world of social media.

Additional PostCron paid features that I have utilized and LOVED are the bulk upload feature and the Instagram scheduler (available on Android). When in the throws of major event planning I need to make a lot of people happy – vendors, sponsors, attendees, and speakers, all need their piece of the PR pie . I am just one person though, and I can only utilize volunteers so much before they are done with me. For Birth Roundup 2016, I was able to upload over 100 vendor spotlight posts and over 20 sponsor posts with a simple excel CSV (comma separated value) sheet. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this feature and it is worth the $10 a month for me to save HOURS and HOURS of monotonous mind numbing work. I also utilized Birth Roundup to begin Texas Birth Network’s Instagram following. I was very grateful that PostCron was able to add this feature to their Android app. Yes, you read that right. I can schedule Instagram posts. That means that I can post to Facebook walls, events, and pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram from a single app. So much time was saved and I was able to schedule most of our social media posts from bed while nursing a baby to sleep, from the couch while watching Game of Thrones, and while on the road.

For more information about PostCron check it out here: http://ssqt.co/Ch3c

Are you a busy Boss Lady such as myself? What do you do to help stay on track, and keep relevant with your online presence?


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The Human Rights Campaign Nobody Talks About

Category : Uncategorized

Human Rights – Read any list of trending topics and you will see at least ONE article about human rights. The topics might range from LGBTQ+, political, or even birth related. However, the human rights campaign that most Americans have no clue about, but effects EVERY SINGLE person in America is Net Neutrality. What if I told you that big corporations like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner were holding the information you see hostage? People get riled up enough when they hear that their cellular data is being throttled after they reach a threshold, but what if I told you certain websites were being slowed to the point of not loading until a ransom was paid?

When the average person hears a topic related to the tech forum immediately tune it out. I hear everything from, “I am not very technically inclined” to “I really hate technology” or even “I am not that great with computers.”

So what is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the notion that Internet Service Providers (ISP), like AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, et. al are essentially utilities and should remain neutral in managing internet traffic. In layman’s terms, I should be able to get to Netflix just as quick as I can get to the New York Times or Facebook without intervention from my ISP. In the past, it has been rumored that ISPs were throttling or slowing speeds to certain bandwidth hogging sites to discourage use or to at the very least free up some speed for other people. Net Neutrality says that cannot happen. It says that every bit of information that is transmitted via any ISP is to be treated equally.

This is not hypothetical

In blog posts dating back as far as 2013, Netflix began to index how their service faired on different ISPs, and after rumors of a Comcast/Time Warner merger Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for prioritized service in February of 2014. This meant essentially Netflix gave into Comcast’s ransom demands to ensure their service would play smoothly for those customers with Comcast internet. “The ISPs aren’t seeking to get paid, they’re seeking to get paid twice: once by you, and a second time because you are now their hostage and the companies you want to do business with have to get through them to get to you,” said Digital Rights Activist, Cory Doctorow (The Guardian 2014).

I don’t have Netflix though. Why do I care?

Let’s take a look at what we use the internet for besides social media and streaming media. The voters registration, birth certificates, driver licenses, water or electric connection. Yes, in America those items can usually be requested in person, but think about other necessities that are becoming harder and hard to come by in print: news articles, encyclopedias, even whole libraries are now housed online.  Cory Doctorow, has held for many years that access to the internet is a basic human right. “The internet is only that wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press in a single connection. It’s only vital to the livelihood, social lives, health, civic engagement, education and leisure of hundreds of millions of people (and growing every day). (The Guardian 2008)” In fact, in 2009 the French government agreed, stating that until convicted in court a person accused of piracy under the Creation and Internet law (HADOPI) could not be stripped of their access to the internet.

While, Net Neutrality does not deal with disconnecting people from the internet it definitely deals with censorship. Censorship, as defined by the ACLU is: “the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others.” For instance, China’s version of the internet has been described as a reverse black hole for information. Nothing gets in, but some stuff gets out. This is a country where the internet is so censored that pages we take for granted like, Google are blocked. Why? Because Google provides information juxtaposed to the government’s ideology.

So what would happen if one day Google lost favor in America? If Yahoo News posted an article not in direct alignment with Verizon’s marketing, or a hashtag appeared on Twitter chronicling the failures of AT&T. Bad PR is not always good PR. Without Net Neutrality an ISP in one of those situations could easily divert traffic from those sites by simply slowing traffic down to a crawl. They wouldn’t be blocking access, but they certainly would be limiting it. Because let’s be honest, who has time to wait for a pageloads of 30 seconds or more?

Why are we still talking about this?

In 2015 the FCC, after at least a decade of debate, ruled that the internet was a utility. They ruled that the internet was as essential as a phone, water, power, and natural gas.  AT&T was nonplussed with this ruling and has taken their fight to the higher courts; Yesterday the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled again that the Internet is a utility. These are HUGE victories for every person in America. Because it means while capitalism is alive and well, that those corporations are not immune to human rights infringement. It means that the rights of the people are being placed over the returns of stakeholders and that the original ideologies of our forefathers are being upheld. It does not matter your race/color or creed/religion. It does not matter your sexual orientation, economic standing, or immigration status. If you are in America these rulings pertain to you! This IS the very reason why I love the law. Checks and balances, the voice of the people being heard, and the victories that result.


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Own Your Content

Category : Tricks and Tips

“We may terminate or suspend your account and your access to the Services at any time, for any reason, and without advance notice.”

Did you know that when you use free services like WordPress.com, Blogger, or even some paid services like Etsy, you do not own your content? Meaning that if for any reason Blogger or Etsy or whomever deems your content, obnoxious, offensive, or otherwise in violation of their terms of service, the service provider has a right to pull your content and shut down your site. Until recently, stories of blogs and stores being shut down was an urban legend.  That was until February 2015 when it happened to my own sister.

So here is the scenario, my sister’s best friend, Kate made custom wedding toppers on Etsy. During peak times Cherry Red Toppers was producing 100 cake toppers a month. They were BUSY. Kate was forced to hire an assistant. This was when my sister was hired.

Ashley’s job was to answer Etsy messages and to assist customers in ordering their custom toppers. Since each topper was 100% custom made to order you can imagine that there were quite a few people who needed assistance. The CherryRedTopper username and password was provided to Ashley and she answered for Kate. They went on like this for several months. Until February, when a “non-delivery concern” sparked Etsy to require an in depth analysis of Kate’s design process. Etsy requested the following information:

  1. All shop info
  2. The names of everyone involved in any aspect of my shop from ideas to creation to shipping,etc
  3. Location of shop, identities of photographers, shipping locations, etc
  4. Photos of everyone involved in the shop
  5. Detailed description of how all items are made
  6. Length of time to make each item
  7. Every material used – and photos of raw materials of all everything involved with making the item
  8. Where materials are purchased plus proof of purchase of materials: photos or scans of receipts
  9. Photos of all tools and equipment
  10. Photos of all work spaces
  11. Photos/graphics of all patterns used for items
  12. Photos of a step-by-step process of how everything was made

Because Etsy 100% owned Kate’s content, they suspended her store until ample justification was provided. During part of her justification process it was revealed that Kate had, had another person answering her messages. Etsy felt this was a violation of their policy and demanded that Ashley be added as an employee of Cherry Red Toppers. Once added, to the account Etsy was once again angry because now Ashley’s personal account had been added ipso facto. Kate shared that several times her store was reactivated one day, only to get a scathing email and another suspension the next day. After several attempts to satisfy rather lengthy requirements Kate turned in the towel and closed her once lucrative store. This is where the story gets interesting. Because Ashley’s account was associated with Cherry Red Toppers she has also lost her *BUYING* privileges. Yes, that is right. Etsy does not want her money any longer. After years of purchasing her account has been terminated, PERMANENTLY. Think it is too good to be true? Here are links to stories that sound have the same air of lunacy.

http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/etsy-closes-azreals-accomplice-cites-policy-infringement-6368406

https://kristenferrell.wordpress.com/tag/etsy-shut-down-my-shop/

https://kristenferrell.wordpress.com/tag/etsy-shut-down-my-shop/

Hello,

We appreciate you reaching out to us. I regret to inform you that Etsy has elected to revoke your account privileges permanently.

We do not make such decisions without great consideration, but a history of transgressions in a related account has brought us to the conclusion that our relationship must now come to a close. Our Terms of Use state that: “We may terminate or suspend your account and your access to the Services at any time, for any reason, and without advance notice.”

You can review those Terms here: https://www.etsy.com/legal/terms-of-use

Because ***** is connected to CherryRedToppers which is no longer eligible to sell on Etsy, we’ve elected to discontinue our relationship with ***** as well.

We ask that you or an agent acting on your behalf do not create new accounts on Etsy without prior express permission from Etsy Admin. We also ask that you close any and all active Etsy accounts. Accounts created or used without permission will be terminated without warning.

This letter should not be construed as a waiver of any rights by Etsy, Inc.

We wish you luck in your future endeavors.

Best,
Anne
Etsy Trust & Safety
http://www.etsy.com/guidelines

I tell this story frequently. It drives home the message to OWN YOUR CONTENT. As the saying goes,  “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” These companies are not providing MILLIONS of dollars of man hours, server space, etc out of the kindness of their heart. Everything provided to you for free has strings attached. INCLUDING but not limited to complete deletion of your content. Here is a link to the Blogger content policy. On the surface it seems innocent enough, but notice the Adult Content and Crude Content warnings. Many of my clients are in the birth field. They regularly posts pictures of births. These images are often powerful, but could be construed as Adult and sometimes Crude (Shocking or Graphic). While Blogger provides a couple examples the content still 100% up to interpretation, and thus could be destroyed without your consent.


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Wordpress-Versus-Weebly

Weebly versus WordPress

Since Weebly Site Builder websites have been added to the T&S Digital Service catalog, we have had a ton of questions. The one we get most often is: which is better Weebly or WordPress? The answer is 100% dependent upon your needs and skill level.

What is Weebly?

Weebly is a WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) drag and drop website builder; meaning if you can work a mouse you can build a website. Elements like picture location, text blocks, font styling & colors, payment processing, and more are just a click away. Weebly is literally that easy.

 

What is WordPress?

Originally designed for bloggers, WordPress is a free software referred to as open source.  The possibilities are virtually limitless: Want a slider? There’s a plugin for that. Want to add a store to your website? Contact form that links to your newsletter service? Manage your lending library? Make a copy of your website? Notify people automatically of new content? WordPress has FREE plugins for all of that and more. There is HUGE community of amateur and professional programmers working non stop to constantly improve the software and increase it’s capabilities.

Pros and Cons

Obviously every system has it’s ups and downs, there is no one size fits all for every person, business, or application. So what are the pros and cons of each?

Weebly

Designed for the lay person to quickly and efficiently design a website, Weebly has an excellent, user friendly system. They take the technical support burden off the user, and place it on the Weebly team. While there are some opportunities for minor HTML changes, the vast majority of it is taken care of on the back end, and unavailable to the user. Packages start as low as Free and go up, on a per feature basis. Weebly has taken care of the space issue imposed by some web hosts, and offer unlimited pages and webspace.

Because of the streamlined user interface, the opportunities for Search Engine Optimization could be better. Blogging is available, but is not as robust as WordPress. Expanded features such as e-commerce do come at a monthly cost.

 

WordPress

While the initial software for WordPress is free, the space to store and setup WordPress is not. Hosting packages range in prices from $3 to $10 a month, depending on a variety of factors. Since WordPress is open source, if you can dream it, they probably have it available. Once the initial costs have been covered there are generally no additional costs. WordPress has a large variety of free themes and plugins to choose from so customizing a site can be as easy as clicking a button to install a new piece of software. The original purpose of WordPress was blogging, and that is what WordPress does best. The filesystem and organization also allows for robust Search Engine Optimization. Additional free plugins are even available to assist in the tricky task of being listed on the front page of Google.

There is a learning curve to using WordPress though. Depending on your skill set a professional may need to be hired for initial setup. Technical support is the sole responsibility of the end user, but is provided in the shape of forums. With literally thousands of laymen using WordPress, 9 times out of 10 the answer can be found with a pointed Google search.

How do the two compare?

 

Dallas-Fort-Worth-Weebly-White Dallas-Fort-Worth-Wordpress-Design
Learning Curve
Ease of Design
Technical Support
 Space Limitations
Adding Features
Cost
Search Engine Optimization
Blogging
E-Commerce
Content Portability

In Conclusion

If you are the type of person whose strengths lie in thinking outside the box, in learning by watching YouTube videos and researching problems via online forums and articles then WordPress is probably a good choice for you. If you are the type of person who is generally satisfied once you have your website up or even believe in the idea of a completed website, WordPress is for you. If you are the type of person who regularly likes to update the look and layout of things, who prefers technology to be point and click, or would prefer a more simplified solution, Weebly is your best bet.

Check out Weebly Plans at T&S Digital

Do you have a WordPress or Weebly site in need of professional help? Check out our  Website Refresher Packages


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Dallas-Fort-Worth-Wordpress-Design

WordPress Update 4.2.3 Alert

Automatic update emails have been rolling out this week. If you got an email with the subject, “Your site has updated to WordPress 4.2.3,” then you are currently running the most up to date WordPress software on your website. If you did not receive an email, you may want to double check that you are running the latest WordPress version.

Updating WordPress keeps your site secure, fixes bugs, as well as introduces new features. The latest release was WordPress 4.2.3 on July 23. That release addressed 2 security issues, and 20 bugs in the system. For more information on those issues and bugs visit: https://wordpress.org/news/2015/07/wordpress-4-2-3/

To update your site manually, login to your Dashboard → Updates and simply click “Update Now.”


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Birth-Geek-Photo-stack

Is your site running at peak performance?

Photos & Images are the number one reason why websites load slowly. Even a large background image will kill a website’s load time. Everybody loves photos, and in this day and age of digital photography image sizes are getting bigger and bigger. This allows for some extremely clear photos. While high resolution photos are great for editing and printing purposes they can be detrimental to websites. Not only do they take up quite a bit of disk space on web servers, they also take forever to load.  So how do you avoid this pit fall? Resize your images.

Images should never be loaded directly from your digital camera or even your smart phone these days. Optimal image size is between 100kb and 700kb anything more than that and you are asking for slow page load times. To put this in perspective the average high resolution image ranges from 1024kb to 3078kb or 1 – 3 Megabytes in layman’s terms. That is 10 to 30 times larger than the optimal size. Slow pages are not visited frequently or very long by potential customers. So how do you resize your images? The answer is before loading them to your website.

Relying on your website to resize images is not the best way to optimize your images. Often websites will create multiple copies of when resizing images. This can be bulky and a disk space hog. While it solves the problem for your page load time; it creates a separate problem of taking up room that you could be using for other things. Remember you pay for your webspace, ultimately bulky images are clutter that are costing you money every year. This is why I suggest resizing your images before uploading them to your website. This can be done with software on your computer or there are a number of sites that will do it for you. In fact I used www.imageoptimizer.net to resize the image above from 7000kb to 608kb before using it in this email. I found the website by Googling, “photo size reducer free.” It was one of many that popped up in the search results.

The bottom line is that anything displayed on your website effects your page load time – everything from background music to images used in blog posts. In order to keep your website working at the peak of performance be sure to keep those files small.


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Birth-Geek-Photo-stack

One thing everyone can do to increase SEO

You have a website. What now? Now, you need people to visit. Sure your friends and family have all stopped by for a quick glance, but you need strangers to find you, too. Odds are these strangers will find you with a search engine of some sort: Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. But how do these search engines find you?

Each of these search engines utilize algorithms that account for how many people are visiting, how many people are talking about you, what you are talking about, and several other things. Playing these factors up is called Search Engine Optimization, and people pay big money for experts handle to their SEO for them.

One thing everyone can do to help increase SEO for their website: name your pictures purposefully. So many websites will have images names starting with DSC or IMG. This does nothing but make your website blend into the crowd. For obvious reasons you want your website to stand out and images named birth-ball.jpg won’t cut the mustard here, either. When I build websites I like to name images based on keywords like location and subject matter followed by what the image is. So in the case of our birth-ball.jpg, Midlothian-Labor-Doula-Birth-Ball.jpg; Now that stands out in a crowd. Not only will Google recognize all of these keywords as associated with your site, but with the added benefit that it gives Pinterest users a good starting place to pin your images.


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Dallas-Fort-Worth-Google-Apps

Build Your Business with Google Apps

Ever wonder how people have those awesomely professional email addresses that reflect their actual domain name? Google Apps now makes it easier than ever to do that.

  • A custom email address is key to continue building your brand and it’s included when you setup your Gmail account.
  • In addition to Gmail for Work, each user gets 30GB of online storage with Google Drive that works with all file types and syncs with all your devices.
  • Host video meetings with your coworkers and customers using Google Hangouts. Save money and time on travel by connecting from anywhere at any time.
  • The admin controls allow you to setup and manage your users easily and safely, so your data always stays safe.

Find out more at: http://goo.gl/7cPCRI


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Dallas-Fort-Worth-Carbonite

Carbonite Partnership

I’m excited to announce that T&S DIGITAL is now a Carbonite Silver Partner. Carbonite is a leading provider of hybrid and cloud backup solutions.  Thousands of families & businesses across the country, and around the world, trust Carbonite to back up and protect their critical photos and files.
As a Carbonite Partner, I’ll be able to provide you with award-winning, secure and reliable data protection. Carbonite offers personal & business plans that protect any number of:

-Desktops & laptops
-Servers (physical & virtual)
-Databases & live applications
-Hypervisors
-NAS devices
-External hard drives

Plus, Carbonite just released a new product, the Carbonite Appliance. It’s the simple, secure hybrid data solution that’s complete with on-site data recovery and automatic cloud integration. It’s designed to protect business’ most important asset: data. Bare metal restore for an unlimited number of servers, within the storage limit, helps you preserve “business as usual.”

I’m happy to discuss how Carbonite can help protect your family & business from downtime. Feel free to browse plans at: http://partners.carbonite.com/tsdigital
I’m also available via email at tsdigital@seanandtiff.com