April 25, 2018

4 blogging actions you must take urgently or repent later!

1. Give your blog or website an HTTPS cover.

Starting July 2018, Google will deprecate websites that do not have HTTPS security layer. If you do not have HTTPS implemented on your website, Google Chrome will give a message to the visitors that the site is 'not secure'. Other search engines and people will also feel that the website might not be secure enough.

If you have a free blog, check whether your blog's URL starts with HTTP or HTTPS. If the latter, you are already behind the SSL security layer. Wordpress.com and Blogger blogs already have this security cover.

Luckily, getting the HTTPS certificate for base level security is so simple and free. For more on this subject, you can visit these resources:


 2. Back up your data immediately; back it up regularly in future.

Though web hosts are getting more secure and sturdy, more and more reports are seen about data from websites being hacked, instances of sudden bad performance by websites, blackouts, data loss and other nasty things happening to small website owners and bloggers. Natural calamities such as heavy cyclones also have destroyed host servers in the recent past.

Some hosts are reported to be goading users of inexpensive plans to upgrade and if that is not done, giving poorer service. 

You yourself can sometimes take an action by mistake that may turn your website/ blog unusable, or corrupt or delete its data.

Don't think that your data is safe if your blog is on a free platform such as Wordpress or Blogger. No, it is not. In addition to other risks, there is also risk of their suspending your account if they don't find your content appropriate.

So, if you have not been backing up your data so far, start backing up your website/ blog's data right now.

3. Be discreet from now on. Delete all 'bad' content.

In the face of enormous pressure from government investigating agencies, web hosts and social media biggies often have to share customer data with them. Many governments have enacted laws that can be used by authorities to harass bloggers on slight provocation.   

Bloggers are also liable to defamation and charge of content theft. In many countries, religion is taken too seriously and anybody writing or drawing anything looking to belittle any religious saying or icon can face severe reprisals in the hands of religious zealots and fundamentalists.

Therefore, please remove content from your blog that would-
  • be taken as violating your country's laws;
  • provoke your government to invite action against you;
  • be taken as socially inappropriate or hurting religious sentiments;
  • invite legal action for defamation;
  • invite notices and legal action for using others' content.
Remember that you are also liable for comments posted on your blog by others! So, remove any abusive comments and comments that have bad links.

If you have linked to bad websites, remove those links or disavow those links.
    4. Stop using any tricks, whether for SEO or otherwise.

    Search engines as well as humans don't like to be fooled. Google has publicly said many times that it penalizes action that is meant to artificially boost a website's reputation such as paying to get backlinks.

    Many SEO 'experts' advise bloggers in general and specifically their clients to use tricks to get to the top of search pages. Some bloggers use other tricks such as inflating traffic figures to show one's influence, taking actions that would harm their competitors' blogs/ websites, starting controversies so as to receive huge traffic, etc.

    If you want to blog with a long-term goal, please avoid all tricks. In today's web world, tricks generally do not work; and if they work sometimes, they do not bring long-term success. If you already are using tricks to fool people or search engines, it is time to stop doing so, so that you do not repent later.

    Happy blogging!

    April 21, 2018


    Travel Hippies

    The blog helps solo travellers explore the offbeat places with detailed low-budget guides. It also features free travel and volunteering opportunities across the globe and some quirky travel hacks for  solo female travellers. 
    After my leaving a full-time job, the road-less yet purposeful travel has been my life and this is what reflects in my blog posts.
    -Purvi Kamaliya 

    April 17, 2018

    Pencil, an excellent software for drawing shapes, website wireframes, flow-charts

    We have been introducing good software and online tools to blogger friends, after testing them for various factors. The two most important aspects that we keep in mind before recommending a software is its being (i) free from harmful code and (ii) sturdy and dependable. Our earlier recommendations can be visited through this link: ITB recommended software

    In this post, let's talk about a free, opensource sketching tool, Pencil, that can make documents with different shapes. [Before we move further, let us be sure to download it from the official website; on the web old versions with limited features are available.]

    Pencil is very simple and highly resourceful for some simple tasks for which we do not need to buy expensive and hard-to-learn software.

    The tasks that Pencil can do beautifully and easily include:
    • Drawing flowcharts and similar diagrams. If you have MS Word or any other Office Suite installed on your computer, you can draw such diagrams on them. However, shapes do not always behave normally on Word etc when you try to place many of them in a diagram. Pencil has many more shapes too.
    • Drawing wireframe of a website. All website creators first make a sketch of the webpages (mostly the homepage or the theme/ template) which is called wireframe. This is very handy when you have to discuss the basic layout of the proposed website or blog with colleagues (or if you are a web-designer, to share with the client). If you are a blogger, you can make a quick wireframe  to tell a web designer how different elements on your blog should look like. 
    • Making any drawing that involves play of shapes and a bit of text, e.g. for tutorials and explaining layout of a place.
    • Making shapes for use for more complex works. For example, it is time-consuming to draw shapes in professional image editors such as Photoshop and Gimp. One can make shapes in Pencil and export them for use in those programs.
    We compared many other free or online programs of similar nature, but chose this one. It has some special features not available on others.

    Main features of Pencil sketching program

    • It is very simple. You just have to drag a shape/ button/ web-object (These are called stencils) from the sidebar to the 'document' pane. A number of templates with objects are also available on the web.
    • Different objects can be aligned against the page or with other elements.
    • Text can be overlaid on any object, and there is also a 'rich text box' which allows text to be formatted in many ways within a box.
    • You can import clipart directly from OpenClipart.
    • You can import any image by copying that image from any image-viewing or image-editing program or a webpage and pasting it on an open document.
    • It can save the drawing/ document in many formats such as PNG, SVG, PDF or as a webpage.
    • It is available for Windows, iOS, Android and Linux OSs.
    • Pages created by Pencil can have hyperlinks, that make it possible to show how an element works within a document.
    • Earlier versions had poorly laid menus. The new versions (The current one is v3.) are feature-rich and each object has a large number of options, some of which can be stored for re-use also.

    How to sketch with Pencil?

    There is no need for a guide as menus are intuitive and anybody who has worked on an image editing software or even online sketching programs would be able to work efficiently after some experimentation. However, if you are new to such programs, this is a quick starter:
    1. Download from the official website, and install.
    2. Click on 'Create a new document' that appears in the middle of the screen. 
    3. There is a collection of stencils on the left pane [if hidden, click on the button on the left margin]. It has many groups of collections. Click on any one object and drag it to the document. Work further on the document by dragging, reshaping, maneuvering shapes and so on. 
    4. Click on the 'Properties' button on the right margin. It will give numerous options whenever an object is selected. To change dimensions by exact number of pixels, use the options that come on the top bar of the screen.
    5. Complete the work. Save it for future use. 
    6. Export to any format that you want, by using the menu at the top left of the screen. If you want to export a part of the drawing to PNG, select it and right click to export it to an image.