Mar 19

Help, my site shows “500 internal server error”!

What can be worse than having an online business and the site being down?
You feel the panic rising in your throat, because 1) it looks really bad, 2) you may be loosing potential customers and money, and 3) how the heck do you fix this SOON!

First of all, take a deep breath. Things like this do happen (luckily not often) and it’s not the end of the world. Secondly, it’s not your or your webmaster’s fault, but rather the webhost servers. You cannot fix this problem yourself unless your a tech whiz (calm down) , but you can call your webhost’s techical department to help you fix it, quickly.

Yesterday, this happened to one of my client’s WordPress site and they thought they broke their site. I googled the 500 internal server error and found out that it wasn’t uncommon and easy to fix (yay!).

So I called Bluehost (affiliate link) and the technician quickly found out what the problem was. Now that’s what I call excellent service!  Awesome, … except that he couldn’t fix it right away, because the servers were in Back up mode and running very slow. So I had to call back a few minutes later and sure enough, he was able to fix the problem in 5 minutes!

For some ‘unknown’ reason, the htaccess file was corrupt and showed lots of garbled characters. This could have been caused by installing and uninstalling the plugins I was trying out for the client (so be aware when experimenting).

How was the problem solved? Adam, the Tech, deleted the content of this corrupted file and simply copied the htaccess code from one of my other working WordPress sites and pasted it in the corrupted file. He saved it and yes, the site was back up again in a few minutes!

Here’s the link at “Ask Leo” where I learned more about the 500 internal server error.

Pfff, another webmaster problem solved!

Dec 31

Planning for next year

As 2011 comes to a close, many of us have been working on our plans for next year, setting goals to achieve more success than 2011, be it professionally or personally.

Some of the goals may be transferred from the old into the new year, because for some reason they were not accomplished. Life happens, so don’t be hard on yourself. Instead of seeing the incomplete goals as failures, make a list of your accomplishments, because yes, there must be some things you did right, even if they were not on your list!

You can do this twice a year (every 6 months) to break it down a little and make this task less daunting, but also not to forget anything. When you look at that list, you should feel proud of yourself and use it as a booster to encourage yourself to set new goals (next to the ‘old’ ones) for the following year.

This year, I wrote my list in the car during my vacation in Florida using a mindmap and it’s amazing how quickly it was done. I feel great, now that I know what I want to accomplish in 2012. I also know that new goals will be added along the way, but that’s okay. As a business owner you should be flexible  🙂

One of my plans is to gain more experience with social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) and how to use it for marketing purposes. Newsletter marketing is another item on my list. Why do this? Because I’m a lifelong learner, I want to know how things work, and I want to become an expert so I can better assist my clients.

Have you set your goals yet? If not, don’t worry and don’t stress yourself out. You can still do this! It’s more important to have a list of goals any time of the year and know what you want, than to stress about not having one by January 1st.

On New Year’s Eve, I’m toasting to your and my success in 2012!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Nov 30

Change is constant

In my college philosophy class I learned that the only thing that is constant, is CHANGE…

Well, there you have it! Another change for ADF International. I changed the look and functionality of the site to make our visitor’s browsing experience more pleasant, and hope to have achieved that objective too.

Besides a whole new look, we decided to be more of an expert in the things we really like to do and are good at, instead of being everything to everyone. Yes, this is well-known advise, but it still took a while to accept and implement it.

So what’s new? There is currently more focus on providing web and blogsite services (mainly using WordPress), with language and virtual assistant services next. Future plans include helping clients with their social media needs, so they can maximize the online marketing options that exist nowadays.

Yes, we are not the only ones who had to change, but anyone who wants to compete in the current online world will have to step it up a little, to stand out more.  We hope you like the new look and how we streamlined our services. Leave a comment to let us know how we are doing 🙂

Feb 17

Two cool, small business online time tracking tools

Over the years I have tried several tools to track my time when working on freelance projects. It’s by trial and error that I figured out what I really needed for my type of business. Small businesses want efficient, but economical tools and with the Internet the options are almost endless.

At first MyHours.com was okay to track my hours, but when I was applying it as a timesheet for employees, the limitations soon became obvious and I realized that I needed another, more flexible tool.

Since I love troubleshooting and doing research, I went online and found some interesting tools that offered a lot more features than My Hours.  Some were free (with limitations) and some came with a price tag that was still appealing to a small business owner. There was Traxtime, Slimtimer, Toggl, Timedoctor, but I finally decided to go with Paymo.biz.

Their free account is not (like most others) a trial, but gives full functionality of the application. Of course it has some limitations in regards to number of users or invoices to submit, but there are various pricing plans to fit the budget of any size small business.

The Paymo dashboard looks simple, but appealing and the fact that I could set up a free account with up to three users, manage client and project data, and submit a few invoices per month made this tool a good fit for my needs. I could track my own time and that of employees and contractors from any computer with internet access, create quick reports to save in PDF format, easily integrate tracked hours into an invoice and send the client a link to the invoice without having to attach in an email.

To track time on my own computer a small desktop app was available for download and installation, eliminating the need of going on the internet to log in. Once connected, the app automatically synchronizes logged time into the account. Taking this a step further, there is also a free iPhone app to track time with your iPhone so now you don’t even have to be at your computer!

I really like Paymo and I’m still using it, however, forever browsing on the FreshBooksNet, I found another app review on one of my favorite blogs that looked more useful for tracking and invoicing my own hours. Freshbooks is very similar to Paymo, includes free and paid accounts and multiple users, however, since it was probably created after Paymo, it provides more up to date tools and is less restricted.

The best thing about Freshbooks is that I can offer my clients the option to pay their invoice online with a credit card or PayPal! And boy does it work! The first time I used it, my client paid their invoice the same day I sent it. Who would not love THAT! Needless to say: I was sold!

But it gets even better! You can also use Freshbooks as an accounting or bookkeeping tool and it integrates with other online tools such as Basecamp (project management), MailChimp (autoresponder), PayPal (to accept online payments), and more.

I also like being able to create an invoice for other units than hours. For translation projects I charge per word, if not a minimum flat fee. This applies to fees for web services as well. It is something I missed having in Paymo so I am very happy I found Freshbooks!

Even though I like and use both applications at the moment, each serving their own purpose, one for time tracking of employees/contractors and the other for tracking and invoicing of my own business services, I may end up switching completely to Freshbooks. Unless a better product comes along…

 

FreshBooks

 
Do you use or know of another time tracking/invoicing/accounting tool? Please, feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks for visiting today!

Jan 26

Moving files from old to new laptop

After all the energy involved in buying a new laptop, the next chore was waiting for me… personalizing the new computer, moving files & programs,  cleaning up the old one (to be used as a back up in my husband’s office).

I did some research on the Internet and found a lot of outdated tips written between 2001 to 2008 with only a few written in 2010. From all the information gathered, I followed the recommended steps to transition from the old laptop to the new one. I already knew it would not be an overnight thing, and boy, was I right. It took me about three months!

Here are the steps I took, most of which are based on a post of Popular Mechanics on how to move data to a new computer.

Old Laptop.

Get organized.

  1. Inventory which files, photos, videos and music you want to move, looking in all folders, including Downloads. You can also do a file search using the extension, such as .jpg (photos). Don’t forget your email and database files if you’re using a desktop program like Outlook.
  2. Get rid of duplicates, unless you have a good reason to keep.
  3. Organize files into folders, f.e. by project, year, topic or style for easy retrieval.

Back up.

  1. Save all your files to an external hard drive (HD) or a flash drive to backup and move (later). If you prefer, you can also burn them on DVD, but depending on the file sizes, that may take a while.
  2. Also back up your Internet browser bookmarks and favorites. Some programs (like Firefox) have backup features to make it easy to transfer.

List:

  1. the software you want to keep
  2. preferred software settings
  3. application or website passwords
  4. then follow the list for your New Laptop (below), before proceeding to the next step.

Clean up.

  1. Delete files, photos, videos, music no longer needed
  2. Remove software that will not be used anymore in one of three ways:
    1. Use the program’s Uninstall option
    2. Use Windows’ Add/Remove feature in the Control Panel.
    3. Use special software if the above options fail. You can click here to buy Perfect Uninstaller.
      Never delete a program’s folder and think it will go away! Parts of the software may forever reside on your HD if not removed properly and could cause the computer to malfunction.
  3. Upgrade to newer versions of the software that will still be used.
  4. If you are getting rid of the laptop, be sure to scrub the HD with a special (free or paid) program. You can donate or recycle the computer, just don’t let it end up on the landfill.

New laptop.

  1. Get rid of preinstalled programs you know you’ll never use (see step 2 above).
  2. Copy the files, photos, videos and music from the external HD to your new computer. If you had already organized in folders, it will be fast. If not, this is the time to create those folders!
  3. Install (upgraded) software per your list.
  4. Personalize your software with the preferred settings and passwords.
  5.  Import your bookmarks, favorites, and email or database files.
  6. Check your list to make sure you have all the files and programs you want to transfer.
  7. Take a deep breath. then go back to the Clean Up section of the Old Laptop list above.

Done? Pat yourself on the back, you did it!!

Again, as you can see from the lists above, this is not something you may be able to do ‘quickly’ as it takes time to do all the backups, lists, reinstalls, etc.  It took me about three months, but that’s because I could only work on this on the weekends. You can certainly do it all in one weekend if you take the time. Of course there is always the alternative to pay for a program or service that will take care of the above for you (faster). It’s your choice.

Do you have other tips? Feel free to add your comments below so others can benefit too.

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