Showcase Saturday: Slim Theme

Published on Apr 30, 2011   //  Showcase Saturday

One of the many great things about WordPress is its sheer versatility. It can be almost anything to anyone, thanks to the huge array of modifications built upon the same kind of framework. Themes are a great way to utilize that versatility.

One of the newer themes to emerge on the scene is the Slim Free WordPress Theme. A prominent feature here is a built-in color picker, allowing you to customize the colors scheme to fit your needs quickly and easily. Another big bonus is the Javascript image slider in the header. This can rotate through images in the header area.

Going through the rest of the features on the Slim Free WordPress Theme, you’ll find that it has a built-in gallery style template for showcasing photos, drop down menus, integrated related posts, widgetized footer, and featured posts on the homepage.

For more information, including some screenshots, check out WP Explorer. That page will also contain the free download link to go along with this Creative Commons licensed theme.

In The Sphere: Candidates and Mental Health

Published on Apr 29, 2011   //  In the Sphere

Every week, we take a virtual stroll around the ‘net to find some interesting blog posts. Here’s this week’s eclectic selection.

Joseph Planta starts us off with his interview with Trang Nguyen, the Conservative candidate from the Vancouver Kingsway riding. Canadians will be choosing a new prime minister on Monday, so I encourage you to listen to all of Joseph’s interviews on the matter.

Raul Pacheco reminds us that next week is also Mental Health Week. While other health-related causes like fighting cancer certainly deserve our attention, we shouldn’t forget about the importance of that organ between our ears too. And we need to remove the stigma that surrounds these kinds of issues.

Melody Fury recently did some traveling in Barcelona where she found a store called Happy Pills. It may look like a boutique pharmacy from the outside with its bright white walls, but the “pills” inside the bottles are actually candies. Is this really an appropriate way to market to children? Does it create for a pill-popping culture?

Trent Hamm knows a thing or two about what it means to make and save a dollar. That’s part of the reason why he prefers to live rural: the cost of living is a lot lower than living in the city. It’s not just about the money, though, as he has other reasons to prefer the rural lifestyle over the urban one.

Mark Nichol demonstrates that the English language really isn’t all that “English” at all. That’s because we adopt many words from many different languages and Mark provides no fewer than 12 examples. Aardvark is an Afrikaans word, pistol is Czech, and amok is Malay.

Marketing 101: Sponsored Tweets

Published on Apr 28, 2011   //  Marketing Tips

Internet marketing takes on many different forms. You see the usual banner ads. You see affiliate offers promoted on a variety of sites via landing pages and blogs. You may have also seen advertising through social networks.

If you’re looking to reach the largest possible audience while retaining a good deal of control over your costs, Sponsored Tweets is something that you might want to add to your marketing mix. The service is not new, but it is among the best when it comes to Twitter-based marketing.

Basically, you can write your own custom sponsored tweet and then you can select the Twitter users that you would like to see send out this tweet. If you are a river rafting company, you’ll likely want to target adventurous Twitter users in your area. If you’re a restaurant, you’ll want to target the foodies.

The main service allows you to pay on a per-tweet basis (the price depends on the popularity of the Twitter user), but you can also set up opportunities on a CPC basis. Go to Sponsored Tweets for more information; it costs nothing to sign up and look around.

WordPress Wednesday: Simple Top Commenters

Published on Apr 27, 2011   //  WordPress

A blog without comments is like sports without commentary and television without viewers. Audience members add a great deal to the overall value proposition, which is why it is important to encourage comments on your blog.

One way to do that is through the Simple Top Commenters Widget. There are other plugins available that serve a similar purpose and go by similar names, but it’s the combination of simplicity and robustness in this offering that helps it stand out.

After installing and activating the plugin, you can go to the options panel from within your WordPress admin dashboard. Once there, you can define the title of the widget, choose the date range, activate links to commenter URLs, decide whether or not to display Gravatars, and opt to hide the total comment count.

If you want the sidebar widget to integrate better with your blog, you can additionally edit the CSS, customizing it to suit your needs. More information, including screenshots and the download link, can be found at TentBlogger.com. The same site contains more WordPress plugins and themes too.

Business 101: Political Posters and Pamphlets

Published on Apr 26, 2011   //  Business Topics

As you may already know, Canadians all across the country will be heading to the polls on Monday, May 2 to elect a new federal government. This includes not only the prime minister, but also the candidates for each of the individual ridings.

What does this mean as a small business owner? During a recent visit to Pho Thai Hoa in Vancouver, we noticed that there were political posters on the windows and doors of the Vietnamese restaurant. They were endorsing a particular candidate from a particular political party.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with being vocal about your political views as an individual, it may be questionable whether a business should be taking the same approach. Is the assumption that the owner(s) will be voting for this candidate or will the entire staff be voting this way? Is the business encouraging you to vote the same way?

Whatever the case, the explicit endorsement of a particular candidate may win over fans who have similar political views, but it may also have the opposite effect on potential customers with differing views. Whether or not you choose to have posters and pamphlets for a candidate is completely up to you, but realize that there are both pros and cons to doing this when it comes to the long-term success of your small business.

Great Gadgets: Iomega SuperHero for iPhone

Published on Apr 25, 2011   //  Gadgets

Great Gadgets: Iomega SuperHero for iPhone

Sometimes, the most important gadgets are the ones that you might forget to buy and use in the first place. We focus a fair bit on the smartphones we choose, but what about all the precious data that they contain.

For this reason, you might want to invest in the Iomega SuperHero Backup and Charger for iPhone. On the surface, it looks like a rather simple dock, but it could prove to be an absolute lifesaver. You see, all you have to do is plug it into a wall outlet like a regular charger and it’ll top up the battery on your iPhone or iPod touch.

The kicker, though, comes from the “Backup” part of the SuperHero’s name. This is because it has an SD card slot in the back. Each time that you put your iPhone in the Iomega SuperHero, it will automatically backup all of your contacts and photos. If your iPhone or iPod touch gets stolen, it can then restore that data to your replacement device.

The Iomega SuperHero Backup and Charger comes bundled with a 4GB SD card to get you started, but you can upgrade that card if you need more storage. Find the Iomega SuperHero on Amazon for $59.99, including free Super Saver Shipping.

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