websites

The Easy Chicken - Backyard eggs in St. Louis, MO

My sister's family just started a new St. Louis-area business, The Easy Chicken, providing resources to those interested in raising chickens in an urban or suburban environment.

The Easy Chicken Logo

There are some potentially difficult and time-consuming aspects to keeping chickens in an urban environment: acquiring chickens, seeking permits or licenses from particular municipalities, finding a source for feed, coops, and other materials, and finding reliable information about keeping chickens healthy. The Easy Chicken's tagline is Backyard eggs made easy, and they have the easy part nailed down, as they'll help anyone through all the different steps, and provide all the necessary supplies (including guaranteed-to-lay hens!).

Aquinas and More Closing

Aquinas and More, a great Catholic store that had probably the best selection of Catholic goods available online, seems to be going out of business soon. This is unfortunate, because that means I'll have to go to Catholic Ripoff Supply more often (and their website needs major improvement). Ah well.

Aquinas and more going out of business.

For now until they run out of inventory, they're having a 20% off sale on almost everything.

3 million pageviews

Wow. Just glanced at stats for 2008-now on jeffgeerling.com, and it looks like I've passed 3,000,000 page views, with more than 1.6 million unique visitors (I didn't keep stats from 2004-2008, so I don't have data for that time).

Thanks for all your visits, and for helping me improve this site through your feedback! I've received over 1,500 comments and 1,000 emails over the course of 800 blog posts, 60 articles, 31 reviews, and 1,100 photos posted to this site. I've written over 40,000 words in the posts on this site (not yet enough for a novel), and I've written similar amounts for sites like Open Source Catholic and Midwestern Mac.

One of my greatest dilemmas is whether to consolidate sites like those into this site, or to try to keep Life is a Prayer more about personal things, marriage, family life, etc. Here's to another 40,000 words figuring it out!

Announcing Server Check.in - A simple, inexpensive website monitoring service

Server Check.in Logo

Midwestern Mac is proud to announce Server Check.in—a website and server monitoring service that is inexpensive and easy to use.

Server Check.in was built because, while there are some really powerful and flexible monitoring solutions out there, like Pingdom (we love Pingdom!), there aren't any really simple and inexpensive services that are better for individuals and small businesses who don't have a budget for more expensive and involved solutions, but still need to know when their servers or sites go down.

Server Check.in offers many features like free, unlimited SMS messages for outage notices, email notifications, and server latency monitoring. It will check on up to five servers or websites every fifteen minutes, and notify you when the servers and sites go down.

Sign up here for only $15/year—that's just $1.25 per month!

Catholic Memes

I meant to post this sooner, just never had time to get around to it... there's a new Catholic Meme site around, aptly named Catholic Memes. An example of what you'll find browsing the site:

Wonka Meme - Catholic Meme - Church teaching

There's tons more where that came from. The site is a bit like an expanded LOLSaints; whereas LOLSaints.com centers around the lives of the saints, and incorporates little snippets of info about each saint pictured, Catholic Memes puts the message in the meme. Some may call that a bit more shallow, but I think they're funny nonetheless—with a healthy dose of sarcasm!

HostGator Cyber Monday Deals [sponsor]

I got an email from HostGator yesterday alerting me to some really awesome deals for their web hosting services; for Cyber Monday, they're giving half off pretty much all their hosting plans:

  • Shared hosting: As low as $4.95 Now only: $2.48
  • Reseller Hosting: As low as $24.95 Now Only: $12.48
  • VPS Hosting: As low as $19.95 Now Only: $9.98
  • Dedicated Servers: As low as $174 Now Only $87

I've been using HostGator for a few of my less-trafficed websites for over three years now, and have had less than 10 minutes of measured downtime. I also use a cheap shared hosting plan to simply store backups of my other sites (they give you limited SSH access to cheap plans—which is awesome!).

I highly recommend HostGator; unlike most other low-cost hosts, their support team is top-notch, their plans are priced perfectly, and their servers (even for cheap shared hosting) are super-fast, compared to other hosts I've used (1&1, GoDaddy, Dreamhost, etc.).

Preventing Form Spam

Spam email folder - Gmail interface

There are many different techniques for preventing form spam on your website, and an important component of the battle against spam is your constant struggle between giving your 'real' users a good experience while preventing spammers and automated bots from spamming you and lowering the quality of the content on your website.

A Constant User-Experience Battle

Usually, the first thing someone will do after having trouble fighting spammers by manual comment/content moderation is place a complex CAPTCHA system on their forms. Something like this:

Spam CAPTCHA text difficult to read

Checking in at Church: Parish website development

Lisa Hendey

This presentation was given at the 2011 Catholic New Media Conference. Below are my notes on the presentation:

Why Bother?

  • Educate about the Church
  • Provide parish information
  • Outreach to interest groups
  • Build community

10 Best Practices for Parish Websites

From Craig Berry:

  1. Useful contact us page
  2. About Us/History Page
  3. Prominent use of Social Media
  4. Online Map/Directions
  5. Calendar of Events
  6. Weekly Bulletins

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