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Codeigniter Country Drop Down List Form Helper

Firstly, I create a helper and name it as MY_form_helper.php. This file will go into the application/helpers directory. I have extended the Form Helper as I will be using the country drop down select box in my forms.

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Spam Email Alert – Your account has been suspended – Twitter

You might receive an email similar to the one below. This is a spam email to make you click on a link that looks like it will take you to Twitter’s website, but actually redirects you to http://mexico.cnn.com/redirectComplete.php?url=//twitterfreeoffers%2Eus%2Etc/965gs

Twitter Account Suspended Spam

Your twitter account [email protected] has been suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service. Your account was suspended for aggressive following and tweeting. Following large numbers of users and tweeting too much in an attempt to attract attention to your own account can be annoying to other users and is a violation of the Twitter Rules http://twitter.com/rules. Suspension of your account will be effective at anytime. To avoid permanent suspension just complete our twitter free offers below. Click here to complete some offers.

Always hover over suspicious links and look at the browser’s status bar. You will see the destination link at the bottom left hand corner of the web browser. Keep safe.

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Facebook Warning Signal : Keep Your Account Safe

Every now and then, Facebook gets a bit naughty and tries to push its limits. The recent image recognition feature that was rolled out without warning is one example. The following is a case that I’ve seen on both Facebook and Google. From time to time, visitors will see a page like this…

Facebook Keep Your Account Safe Low Protection WarningFacebook thinks that my account’s protection is low! In the RED :( Oh my God! I need to do something about this. What should I do? Give my phone number to Facebook. Yes! Yes! That’s how I’ll keep my account safe

In my opinion, Facebook is just hungry for personal information. They can’t stay satisfied with all the information that we’ve already given, and they want more. Yes, using mobile verification one can restore a hacked account and all that rubbish. The point here is the warning signal. “Your Protection (Red Bar) Low

While social media can be helpful and fruitful, we should also be aware of how much control they possess over our lives. I love Facebook for its core idea (bringing together your social network on the internet) and it’s for FREE! My only concern is the naughty tricks that they pull.

Solution
Just click on the Not Now link to bypass this splash page.

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Google Search Shows Captcha Request – Thinks You are a Robot

Suddenly from this morning onwards, I’ve been getting this strange screen for most Google searches. I’ve never seen this is in the past and I’ve already seen it about 5 times today!

Google Search Captcha Request

To continue, please type the characters below

Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network. This page checks to see if it’s really you sending the requests and not a robot. Why did this happen?

I’m using Google Chrome as my browser and always search using the omnibox. Any suggestions?

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Top Tip : Research, Before You Make a Sales Call

How many times have I got a call from someone saying, ‘Hi Mr.Vel, how are you doing today?’ and ‘Good! Good!’ or ‘That’s great!’ after I’ve said ‘I’m OK’? The funny part is that I am sure, these cold callers would say the same ‘Good! Good!’ even if I said, ‘I’m not well.’ Quite often, web and SEO companies call me to say that they can help me get to the top of Google! I find it interesting.

The cold callers often say that they have researched our business and they found certain sure shot strategies for us. I love to tease and turn down the motivation of these kind of cold callers. Instead of answering their questions (perfectly crafted by someone claiming it to be the best approach to convert new customers), I question them! I make them admit that they know nothing about my business. What satisfaction :)

Anyway, the point is, through cold calling you might get 1 in a 1000 people to convert into a customer. Let me assure you that through thorough research and analysis, you will convert a lot more.

  1. Know the demographics of your lead / potential customer
  2. Find out what they might not have and that what they would like to have
  3. Gain some real insight on that particular ‘requirement’ of your lead
  4. Come up with a offer that is hard to refuse
  5. Finally, get creative when calling or emailing the lead. Most people can sense a cold call in the first 2 seconds.

Happy Selling…

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Supercharge Your Website – eBusiness Tips For 2011 – Part I

How does your website support your business? Is it just a pretty thing floating there, up in the air? Is it a three volume novel where you describe each and every detail about your business? Or, is it the key player behind all your marketing activities?

The internet is constantly evolving and consumers are a lot smarter than ever before. February, Yellow Pages sent out their bulky telephone directories. Does anyone care? Not a single copy of the directory has been touched in my apartment and at least in three other apartments that I know of. What would you do, as a consumer, to find a decent restaurant? Would you spend five minutes flicking through the printed directory or just Google up the word ‘Restaurant’ suffixed by your locality name? Now, imagine someone looking for your products and services. Are you geared up to gain a new customer or lose them to your competitor?

It’s never too late to rethink your website and online marketing strategy. Majority of businesses wouldn’t have got it right, the primary reason being investment of money and time. A rock solid strategy requires a professional touch. Find an agency that can handle online marketing as a whole and not just a designer who is good at designing pretty layouts. A beautiful looking website is just the start of your ebusiness process. You need to promote the site through various online and offline channels in order to gain visitors. After you’ve got the visitors, you need to present them with relevant content and a compelling reason for them to buy your products or services. Through the buying and after sales stages, you must create a strong impression that will make your new found customer recommend you (reviews, word-of-mouth, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.) to others. The same process will apply to the next wave of customers who will visit your website.

Remember, if you don’t do it, someone else will!

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Facebook Redesign – Usability, Eye Tracking & Financial Motives

Last week, Facebook rolled out a newly designed layout for users’ profile pages. Just as always, the new profile design has been greeted with warm and cold reactions from Facebook’s 500+ million users. While most social media experts and commentators would argue that the new design improves usability and user experience, very few would notice the subliminal financial motives.

Jakob Neilsen summarises in his blog

Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.

Webpage F Reading Pattern Eyetracking

The moment I saw a friend’s new profile layout, the first thing that caught my attention was the column of ads along the right hand side. I had to voluntarily accept the new profile design to be able to demonstrate my case. The following is a screenshot of my profile using the old layout. I’ve shown the F pattern over the layout.

Facebook's Old Profile Design

All elements of the profile page seemed to be in good balance. The Facebook wall got the best position and spanned well across the visible (focus) area. The advertisements were placed to the far right and wasn’t really obtrusive. Then came the “yet another” Facebook redesign. Only this time, the design seems contrived.

Facebook's New Profile Design

The F overlay on the profile screenshot has been placed on the same position as it was on the old version of the profile design. The profile image has been moved to the left and the advertisements have been made prominent. They are so prominent that they are hard to be missed.

Is it bad? No! At the end of the day, Facebook is offering a free service to it’s 500+ million users. They need to monetise in order to keep going. So what if they sell our details and data to their advertisers? The best we can do, is to say less on Facebook.

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Re-Visiting the Sheep – Singraven, Netherlands

I was delighted to see these sheep, enjoying the last of this year’s warm days. During my Autumn European tour, I had the opportunity to re-visit one of Netherland’s beautiful places: Singraven. There is a very beautiful traditional restaurant there, where once stood an old water mill. I had clicked a cool shot of these sheep, last winter. The photo can be seen below. The sheep posed like professional models!

sheep-again-from-denekamp

snow-sheep-from-denekamp

If anyone visits the Netherlands, they should check out at least one of its many water mills. Absolute beauty!

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Best Way to Sell : Scare or Help The Consumer?

I lost my debit card and had to walk into a branch of the Bank of Scotland to withdraw some money. The cashier took her time to verify my details and asked a few questions with regards to recent transactions. She then asked if I live in a rented or owned flat. I replied, ‘Rented.’ By then, I knew what was coming next: Household Contents Insurance!

I went through the usual, ‘No Thanks.’ She then said with great concern, ‘What if your flat was on fire? We can insure all belongings like your TV, Computer, Furniture, etc.’ I said, ‘My owner has got an insurance on the house and I don’t really have many belongings.’ The next thing that she said is what shook me, ‘So, if your flat was on fire, you will be able to replace all your belongings by yourself then?’ To this I nodded Yes and she turned out to be quite unhappy by the fact that I turned down her proposition.

Fear as a sales tool might have been great a few years ago, but not anymore. Consumers are not to be treated as idiots. I sell websites, ecommerce solutions, and marketing to various businesses. Never do I say to a prospective customer that their business might have to shut down if they did not trade over the internet! For some businesses, the earlier might be true, but to scare the customer is like insulting their intelligence. So, thank you BOS!

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Facebook Instructs me to “Help a Friend” – Consider it done, Sir!

What’s wrong with Facebook!? I log into my page and see this on the right hand side menu.

Facebook "Help a Friend"I accept and understand that Facebook is a free service and no one is forcing me to use it, but the Help a Friend and Reach Out to Say Hi features sound a bit too strong. Help a Friend, in need of what? Friends!? Weird.

Do we control social media or does social media control us? Looks like social media dictates what we should be doing. Facebook used to have some stronger message like ‘…you should suggest friends for your new friend…’. Glad they changed it to something less strong. Hail Facebook! :)