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| Security

Happy New Year - How's your patches?

It's about the middle of January of 2010 and in the news, Google was hacked by unknown's from China and Google is considering a few options, including a complete pull out of China. A large search engine in China (not Google) was defaced by the Iranian cyber thugs, Adobe was appartently targeted in the same attack as Google. And in other news the new BREECH report came out from the ITRC showing that overall while breeches were lower than the year before, the number of exposed records was higher. And as I write this article, this just came across my desk:

"Hackers have stolen the login credentials for more than 8,300 customers of New York's Suffolk County National Bank after breaching its security and accessing a server that hosted its online banking system. "
source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/12/bank_server_breached/

What does this have to do with your Joomla site? Everything. Today I am discussing patching and patch management with you. For the purpose of this article I am going to refer to my personal favorite work on patching from ProjectQuant - Measuring and Optimizing Patch Management: an Open Model. A must read in my opinion.

Read more ...

| Drupal
One of things we often do for our training clients is simplify the admin area for them. There is a module that allows users to manage their site via a clean, dropdown menu. It has proven so popular that companies such as Acquia provide it by default to all their customers:
Here's how to install it:
  • Step 1: Click here to download the latest version of "Admin Menu". Choose the top link under "Recommended releases".
  • Step 2: Extract the files into a folder on your desktop. The folder will be called "admin_menu"
  • Step 3: Login to your site's files via FTP and navigate to /sites/default/. If there isn't a folder called /modules/ here, create one.
  • Step 4: Upload the "admin_menu" folder to /sites/default/modules/
  • Step 5: Go to Administer >> Modules >> Administration menu and check the box.  
  • Step 6: Click 'Save Configuration" at the very bottom of the screen.
  • Step 7: Go to Administer >> Site configuration >> Administration menu and there are some settings you can edit.

Once you've followed those seven steps, your dropdown menu should appear at the top of the page.

Drupal Admin Menu

| Drupal

In this tutorial we'll show you how to place an RSS feed inside a block. You can then display that RSS feed anywhere around your theme. We don't need any extra modules this week as we'll be using the core Aggregator Module:

Setting up the Aggregator Module

First of all, we're going to set up the Aggregator module so that it can handle the RSS feeds for us.

  • Step 1: Go to Administer >> Site building >> Modules. Check the box next to "Aggregator" and click Save Configuration.
  • Step 2: Go to Administer >> click "By module" at the top.
  • Step 3: Find the "Aggregator" area right at the top and then click on "Feed aggregator":

  • Drupal Aggregator Module

  • Step 4: Click "Add Feed" along the top and enter the address of your RSS feed:

  • Drupal Aggregator Module

  • Step 5: Click "Save" and then "update items". That will load the latest articles from your RSS feed.

Placing the RSS Feed in a Block

Now that Aggregator is handling the RSS feeds for us, we'll go and place it into a block on our site:

  • Step 6: Go to Administer >> Site building >> Blocks. Scroll down to find the block with the same name as the feed your created in Step 4. Aggregator has automatically created this for you.
  • Step 7: More than likely, you will need to click "Configure" next to the block and choose a new title. Aggregator creates a default title of "[feed name] feed latest items".
  • Step 8: Publish the block and check to see how it looks on your site:

  • Drupal Aggregator Module

| Drupal

What is a WYSIWYG Editor and Why Do You Need It?

So your site users don't have to use code. Its as simple as that.

WYSIWYG stands for "What You See Is What You Get" ... if you select some text and click the "bold" button, that text will be bold. If you select some text and click the "italic" button, that text will be in italics. There's no messing around with HTML. That will be a relief to some of you and more particularly ... your clients and site visitors.

Installing the WYSIWYG Module

First of all, we're going to install a WYSIWYG module that will allow Drupal to install a range of different editors.

  • Step 1: Click here to download the latest version of "WYSIWYG". Choose the top link under "Recommended releases".
  • Step 2: Extract the files into a folder on your desktop. The folder will be called "wysiwyg"
  • Step 3: Login to your site's files via FTP and navigate to /sites/all/. If there isn't a folder called /modules/ here, create one.
  • Step 4: Upload the "wysiwyg" folder to /sites/all/modules/
  • Step 5: Go to Administer >> Site building >> Modules. Check the box next to "Wysiwyg" and click Save Configuration.
  • Step 6: Go to Administer >> Site configuration >> Wysiwyg and you should see a screen with several suggested editors. One option is TinyMCE and that is the example we will use:
Adding a WYSIWYG Editor to Your Drupal Site

Installing TinyMCE

Now we're going to install the TinyMCE editor itself:

  • Step 7: Click on the "Download" link or go directly to http://tinymce.moxiecode.com/download.php
  • Step 8: Download the latest TinyMCE to your desktop and extract the files. The folder will be called "tinymce 2". Rename this to simply "tinymce"
  • Step 9: Login to your site's files via FTP and navigate to /sites/all/. If there isn't a folder called /libraries/ here, create one.
  • Step 10: Upload the "wysiwyg" folder to /sites/all/libraries/
  • Step 11: Go back to Go to Administer >> Site configuration >> Wysiwyg and screen we saw before should now look like this:
Adding a WYSIWYG Editor to Your Drupal Site
  • Step 12: Save these settings and now when you go to edit an article, you should see a fully-fledged editor:
Adding a WYSIWYG Editor to Your Drupal Site

| Drupal

Why Block Spam Comments?

MollomIf you site is new, this might not be too much of a problem. However, as your site grows, it will increasingly be seen as a valuable target for spammers. If they succeed in placing links on your site, they may get a couple of benefits:

  • Search engines may rank the spammer's site more highly
  • Unsuspecting users may click on the link and visit the spammer's site.
Perhaps the best solution available for Drupal sites is Mollom - a module created by Drupal's founder. It automatically filters out spammers who try to register, comment or contact you.

Install Mollom to Your Drupal Site

  • Step 1: Click here to download the latest version of "Mollom". Choose the top link under "Recommended releases".
  • Step 2: Extract the files into a folder on your desktop. The folder will be called "mollom"
  • Step 3: Login to your site's files via FTP and navigate to /sites/default/. If there isn't a folder called /modules/ here, create one.
  • Step 4: Upload the "mollom" folder to /sites/default/modules/
  • Step 5: Go to Administer >> Site building >> Modules. Check the box next to "Mollom" and click Save Configuration.

Setting Up and Enabling Mollom

  • Step 6: Go to Mollom.com and create an account.
  • Step 7: Once you have logged in to Mollom.com, click "Manage sites" in the upper right menu.
  • Step 8: Select "Add subscription" to create a new key pair for your website (or "edit subscription" to access a subscription for an existing site tied to your account).
  • Step 9: Go back to your Drupal site and visit Administer >> Site configuration >> Mollom.
  • Step 10: Enter the key pair that you created in Step 8.

Once the module is active you can log back in to Mollom.com in future weeks to track how much spam has been prevented on your site.

| Drupal

Why Add a Sitemap?

I'll be honest and say that I don't believe sitemaps improve your ranking in search engines. However, they do make sure more pages get indexed and that they get indexed more quickly. This article presents evidence that the difference is astounding:

  • Google with a sitemap: 14 minutes
  • Google without a sitemap: 1375 minutes
  • Yahoo with a sitemap: 245 minutes
  • Yahoo without a sitemap: 1773 minutes

How to Add a Sitemap to Your Drupal Site

  • Step 1: Click here to download the latest version of "XML Sitemap". Choose the top link under "Recommended releases".
  • Step 2: Extract the files into a folder on your desktop. The folder will be called "xmlsitemap"
  • Step 3: Login to your site's files via FTP and navigate to /sites/default/. If there isn't a folder called /modules/ here, create one.
  • Step 4: Upload the "xmlsitemap" folder to /sites/default/modules/
  • Step 5: Go to Administer >> Modules >> Administration menu and check the box next to "XML sitemap" and click "Save Configuration".
  • Step 6: After saving you'll presented with more options. Checking all the boxes would be a good choice.
Drupal Sitemap

Submitting the Sitemap to Search Engines

Drupal Sitemap

| Drupal

In this tutorial we'll show you how to place a Twitter feed inside a block. You can then display that Twitter feed anywhere around your theme. There are many different Twitter options out there but most have a couple of limitations:

  • They post tweets as nodes rather than in a block.
  • If they post to a block, they require very complex setups normally involving creating Views.

Thanks to Expedition Post, we're going to suggest a much simpler way to show tweets in a block on your site. They've created a script that is very cleverly called "Twitter Block".

Installing Twitterblock to Your Drupal Site

  • Step 1: Click here to download the latest version of "Twitter Block".
  • Step 2: Extract the files into a folder on your desktop. The folder will be called "twitterblock".
  • Step 3: Login to your site's files via FTP and navigate to /sites/default/. If there isn't a folder called /modules/ here, create one.
  • Step 4: Upload the "twitterblock" folder to /sites/default/modules/
  • Step 5: Go to Administer >> Site building >> Modules. Check the box next to "Twitter Block" and click Save Configuration.

Placing Your Twitter Feed in a Block

Now that Twitter Block is set up, we'll go and place it on our site:

  • Step 6: Go to Administer >> Site building >> Blocks. Scroll down to find Twitter Block.
  • Step 7: Click "Configure" next to the block and enter your Twitter username and password:
  • Drupal twitterblock Module
  • Step 8: Click "Save Block", publish the block and check to see how it looks on your site:

  • Drupal twitterblock Module

| Joomla

This walk you through will help you with adding an image rotator to your Joomla powered site.

We're going to recommend the "Flash Image Rotator" by Joomlashack. It's a free module that allows you to rotate up to 15 images with some pretty nice features.

Here's how you use it:

  • Step 1: Visit Joomlashack.com and download the free Flash Image Rotator. *You must be registered and logged in to see the download link (register here)
  • Step 2: In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Install / Uninstall and upload the file.
  • Step 3: Upload the images you wish to use to your joomla_root/modules/mod_flashrotator/js_flashrotator/img directory via your favorite FTP client, or by using NinjaXplorer (we have a tutorial on doing that here)
  • Step 4: Go to Extensions >> Module Manager. Find "Flash Rotator" and enable it, publish it to your preferred module position, and set the parameters.
  • Step 5: Go to your frontend and view your newly installed image rotator!

SORRY: Joomlashack no longer have this product available.

| Joomla

google-analytics-logoIn our beginner classes we recommend Google Analytics as a free and accurate way to count people visiting your site. Here's how to install it:

  • Step 1: Go to http://www.google.com/analytics and login. If you have any kind of Google account, you can use those same login details.
  • Step 2: Click “Add Website Profile” and you'll see a screen like this:

Add Google Analytics to a Joomla Website

  • Step 3: Enter your domain name and click "Finish".
  • Step 4: Take the code that Google will give you. Copy this code and paste it into a text editor.
  • Step 5: Login to the administrator area of your Joomla website.
  • Step 6: Go to Extensions >> Template Manager.
  • Step 7: Check the box next to your template and click "Edit" in the top-right corner.
  • Step 8: Click "Edit HTML" in the top-right corner.
  • Step 9: Scroll all the way to the bottom of the file until you find this at the very, very bottom:
    < /body >
  • Step 10: Go to your text editor, copy and paste the code directly ABOVE
    < /body >
  • Step 11: Click Save and you're done!
  • Step 12: Go back to http://www.google.com/analytics in subsequent weeks and check the number of people visiting your wonderful website!

| Joomla
  • "What happens if someone makes a mistake in an article? How can we roll back to a previous version?"
  • "We have a legal requirement to track the articles that appear on our website - how do we do that?"

The answer is "versioning" and there's quite a few solutions out there. Over the last few weeks I've tried all the available versioning extensions available for Joomla and one stood head and shoulders above the others. Its free, its easy and its called "Content Revision". Here's how to set it up:

  • Step 1: Visit Galore.co.za and go to "Galore Content Revision".
  • Step 2: For Joomla 1.0, download that version. For Joomla 1.5 you'll need to download the component and also the plugin.
  • Step 3: In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Install / Uninstall and upload the files. If you're using Joomla 1.5, go to Extensions >> Plugin Manager and make sure the plugin is published.
  • Step 4: Go to Content >> Article Manager and edit an article.
  • Step 5: Go to Components >> Content Revision >> List New Changes. The change you just made should appear in the list.
  • Step 6: To see the changes, click on the number in the "CR ID" column. You'll be able to see the "Before" and "After" Versions.
  • Step 7: If you want to roll back to the previous version, make sure you are on the "Before Save" tab and click the green, circular arrows in the top-right corner.

| Joomla

This week we'll walk you through how to enable Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URLs in Joomla.

This mystical feat requires no extensions!

Here's how you do it:

  1. Go to the Administration area of your Joomla site and Global Configuration (or in the menus, site >> Global Configuration).
  2. In the 'Site' settings, on the right you will see 'SEO Settings', click on the 'Yes' radio button to enable Search Engine Friendly URLs

That's it! You have just enabled SEF URLs for your site. However, if you would like to clean up the URLs even more, read on...

To shorten up the URLs ever more, follow the next steps:

  1. Select 'Yes' for the option to use Apache mod_rewrite *ONLY if you are on a server that uses Apache (which will most likely be the case, but if you're unsure check with your hosting company).
  2. Go to your joomla_root directory and locate the file named htaccess.txt and rename the file to .htaccess (notice the proceeding dot . ) This can be done either via FTP or your hosting control panel.

You should now have nice clean URLs that are human readable.

If you find that upon trying to visit links in your site's menus you are getting 404 errors, you can simply go back to your configuration area and set the 'Use Apache mod_rewrite' option to 'No', and rename your .htaccess back to htaccess.txt Your issue should clear up after.

Additionally, should you wish to add a suffix after your URL (.html for example), you may select the third option in the SEO Settings 'Add suffix to URLs'.

As always, if you need any help with this feel free to post in our forum for support if you are a member.

| Joomla

This week we're going to walk you through adding a commenting system to your site, the easy way!

We're going to be using the 'Disqus Plugin for Joomla' by JoomlaWorks. It's a free plugin that allows visitors to comment on your articles in designed categories and/or menu items using the popular Disqus Comment System.

Here's how set it up:

  • Step 1: Visit Disqus.com and sign up for a free account.
  • Step 2: Visit JoomlaWorks.gr and download the Disqus for Joomla plugin.
  • Step 3: In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Install / Uninstall and upload the file.
  • Step 4: In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Plugin Manager >> Disqus Comment System for Joomla! (by JoomlaWorks), and add your Disqus subdomain name to the Plugin Paramters (this will be the name you added to the 'short name' field when you set up your Disqus account), assign the categories/menu items you would like to allow comments in, and enable the plugin.
  • Step 5: Start adding comments to your site!

There are quite a few really nice features you can further enable, such as shared login for Facebook and Twitter, and the ability for visitors to post their comment to their twitter feed, thus taking your commenting system to a 'social networking' level! These features and more can be enabled within the Disqus settings and managed in your account at disqus.com

 

| Joomla

This week we'll walk you through how to set up a file download manager on your site.

We're going to use a component called RokDownloads

Here's how you do it:

  1. Download the RokDownloads component from Rocket Theme.
  2. In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Install / Uninstall and upload the file to install.
  3. In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Components >> RokDownloads >> Configuration and set your preferences for the root download folder and other settings, and click Save.
  4. Click on the 'Manager' link and set up your folders and upload the items you wish to offer as downloads on your site.
  5. Create a link to your downloads as either a 'File Layout' offering a direct link to a file, or a 'Folder Layout' presenting a particular folder of files. Don't forget to have a look at the many options available in the Advanced Parameters for the link.

| Joomla

When this tutorial was originally published, we recommend a certain Paypal Donate extension from the JED. However, since then, that extension has been removed from the JED.

Thankfully we have created a Paypal Donate extension which has even more features. The download and tutorial can be found here: OSDonate!

| Joomla

This week we'll walk you through how to set up a little bit of extra security that will hide your Joomla Admin area from prying hackers and bots, requiring authentication to log in.

We're going to use a plugin called jSecureAuthentication.

Here's how you do it:

  1. Download the jSecureAuthentication plugin from Joomla Service Provider.
  2. In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Install / Uninstall and upload the file to install.
  3. In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Plugins and open the System - jSecure Authentication
  4. Enable the plugin, and on the right in the parameters insert your Key in the field - this will be your 'secret' key to use for authentication when accessing the Joomla admin area.
  5. Save the changes and log out of the admin. To get to your new admin area you will go to http://example.com/administrator/?secretkey (don't forget the ? before the secret key)

Using this plugin you can also set a custom redirect so that if someone were to try and access the default admin area at /administrator you can customize the message.

*We'll take this opportunity to remind you that while this is another step to help secure your Joomla site, it is no replacement for keeping your Joomla core files AND your extension files up to date. Make sure you're running the most recent versions in order to have the most secure site.

| Joomla

Social bookmarking and networking sites are very popular these days, and a must for those who wish to share their content with the broadest audience possible. Allowing your visitors to share your content with those in their 'network' is a great way to market your site.

This week we'll walk you through how to set up a tool to allow quick sharing of your articles in the most popular social bookmarking/networking sites.

We're going to use a plugin called Share This

Here's how you do it:

  1. Download the Share This plugin.
  2. In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Install / Uninstall and upload the file to install.
  3. In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Plugins and open the Share This plugin.
  4. On the right there are parameters allowing you to choose which services you would like to have displayed. Over 35 of the most common sites are included. You can also change the color and location to match your site.
  5. Enable the plugin, save the changes and start sharing your content with others.

One reason we recommend Share This over the alternatives is that its very discreet. Other bookmarking plugins take up a lot of space but Share This has only a small link that pops-up to reveal more options. There's a demo available here.

 

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