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DNS toolbox for WordPress web developers


What’sMyDNS is a useful tool that helps you check how DNS changes are propagating across the world with a neat map view.

intoDNS provides a report on the state of DNS and mail servers of your domain. It also offers information on errors and suggestions about fixing them.

DNSstuff has a large number of free domain, IP, networking and email tools.

MXtoolbox – you can use this tool to check your MX records and solve email delivery problems.


BuiltWith – provides information about which platform a site was built with, as well as about web hosting, name server, SSL certificates, shopping carts, analytics, and many more.

WhoIsHostingThis is a webmaster tool that lets you discover the web host, IP address and name servers of any website.

HostingAdvice – In addition to revealing who is hosting a specific site, this tool will also provide user reviews and hosting plans information.


App Synthetic Monitor is a robust service for constant monitoring of website performance. It will require a login.

Down for Everyone or Just Me – this site checks if a website is down for everyone or just you.


GeooPeeker shows how your website look from different geographic location. It provides 6 locations for free and 6 additional locations if you buy premium.

ShotSherpa – you can choose up to 8 different destinations (from a list of 200+) to check your website from.

LocalBrowser promise to give you some real browsing (not only screenshots) from multiple locations. Unfortunately it did not work for me and some of the locations were not loaded either.

New Net Time Proxy offers you a list of anonymous proxies to access your websites. You should be careful when choosing one. There are also premium paid proxies.

Posted in Web Design | Leave a comment

Web designers toolkit: QA browser and email client testing

updated 08/2023

testingbot.com has desktop testing and real device testing. Most of the options are locked for the free trial, but will be unlocked in the paid version. $20 per month is for unlimited live testing and unlimited screenshots. It is pretty fast and it also has a screen reader feature for any ADA projects. My current primary QA tool.

Screenshots + virtual environment live testing: I used this for years. This is for VNC and also for screenshots and includes a separate responsive test tool. They’ll give you an hour of free testing for signing up so try it. I found it to be very very fast. You need a separate account for screenshots and for virtual environments but each account is unlimited use.

BitBar (was crossbrowsertesting.com)
Screenshots + virtual environment live testing. Their service allows for full control of a remote computer. They have a full range of platforms and browser versions. You can get 5 min free for a quick test. (update: no more free, now you pay by the minute based on a monthly minimum subscription with roll over minutes).  The interface is not as slick as litmusapp (which only tests emails now) but has many more features and now supports mobile browsers. Free trial. Free limited account (at least if you already had a paid account?) I wish they offered per-minute usage instead of only monthly subscriptions.

Great simple tool. Does a proxy  through WonderNetwork servers, capture screenshots with the Chrome browser (used to be called shotsherpa but adopted a more culturally sensitive name)


Saucelabs.com: Each of their browsers include dev tools like firebug. Lots of other advanced features like screen capture. Automated code testing and other pro features. Small free account available and pricing starts at $12/mo.

I have not tried this but looks great. free option for now…. this tool will fill out fields and generate screenshots throughout the process. 2022 update: no longer available….

Here’s a great list from Envato of web QA tools including Ghostlab

If you just want a screenshot of what you can see on your own screen check out this great (but older) list. Or this list of browser testing services.

adobe browserlab
UPDATE: BrowserLab shut down on March 13, 2013. Screenshots only.  (introduced mid 2009; still free – until april 2012 although they keep extending the free period). This is really impressive – my new main tool and it’s free. I wish it had a better interface – some simple buttons to allow browsing through one shot after another would save a lot of clicking. This is only for screenshots but it’s got a useful onionskin feature for comparing different browsers one on top of another for that pixel-perfect situation.


A PC app that has all the major browsers in it. (defunct)

A free app for PC that has all the IE versions within it. Even IE9 preview.


The other email client testing I’ve used is the Inbox Inspector from MailChimp. But you have to pay for each test — $13. Overall, MailChimp offers a great service and lots of really useful (free) articles on email marketing.

Email testing only.  I have not used them since early 2010. They offer unlimited tests — starts at $79/month. One advanced feature they have is being able to share a set of tests by publishing it live. That sets up a convenient way to dialog with clients. Their old browser service only covered 11 web browsers. They changed their focus to just be on email testing – they have spam testing and other email-specific features. Free account allows for ie7 testing only – but not sure if that’s only for existing accounts that have expired their monthly subscriptions (like me…). I don’t see a way to sign up for a free account. There is a Free trial.

Why fight with display inconsistencies when you can just take it from me? These were mostly learned form testing at Litmusapp.

  • Lotus does not like <br> tags to be lower case. keep it <BR>
  • Gmail wants every bit of CSS to be inline – it will ignore your body tag and your declared CSS styles

2015 update: and now there’s some great shortcut solutions—run the html through the “inliner” tool here: https://putsmail.com/inliner – just paste all the code into that box, client the ‘inline css’ button, and wait a moment for the code to process.

I also tried http://premailer.dialect.ca but that tool was not as good – some design elements didn’t show up correctly in Gmail.

Posted in Web Design | 8 Responses

International transfer fees, PayPal/Xoom vs Transferwise

Starting October 19 TransferWise is offering a new, lower-cost option to transfer money. They call it the “send money from balance” option and it requires setting up a bank account internal to your TransferWise account. In other words, you’ll be storing money in TransferWise and not having money just pass through TransferWise. TransferWise lets you hold money, without fees, in 53 currencies. Until now, transferring money from another bank — or one of the many other possible funding sources for a TransferWise transaction was the only option.

TransferWise continues to be a great value and now you can save even more money—if you take the time to set up a bank account with them. You can transfer money from your current bank account or PayPal account and have it ready in your TransferWise account for when you need to transfer your money to any of the many international destinations they support. PayPal accepts TransferWise via “COMMUNITY FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK”.

Here is an example of the pricing difference for sending money from a TransferWise bank account versus sending money via ACH bank account. And the 2nd part of this side-by-side comparison screenshot shows the new lower fees.

In this example, $305 US is worth 501.51 Bulgarian lev if you opt for the new “send money from balance” option … that’s just a little bit more than the 498.96 that you get if you do an ACH transfer.

And as a comparison from the competition — this screenshot shows an international transfer in PayPal. In the app PayPal is using Xoom — they bought Xoom in 2015. Xoom used to market itself as an alternative to Western Union— enables sending money to people around the world.

In this example Xoom is adding $4.99 to the $300 transfer – so $304.99 is only going to yield 479 BGN.

If the recipient has a PayPal account then you could transfer directly within PayPal but the fee is very high: 5% transaction fee plus a fixed fee based on currency received

I don’t see Bulgaria listed in the table of fixed fees but fees seem to be about $2 US.

Posted in Online Payment Processing, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

YouTube vs Vimeo for embedding videos on your WordPress website


YouTube is the biggest place to promote your videos – so they get discovered when people are surfing around on Youtube watching related content. So it’s good to have a presence there and it’s easy to embed any Youtube video onto your website or other social media. There are some useful options when embedding a YouTube video but there will always be a link back to Youtube when so that’s not the cleanest experience.

The player will never be really clean and distraction-free. If your goal is to keep viewers on your site it’s not the best option.

  • YouTube embeds suffer from 2 main opportunities for viewers to be distracted or sent off-site 1) when pausing the video and 2) after the video has finished playing
    • The title of the video and the YouTube logo will also link over to the YouTube website
    • These user interface elements of the video player can not be turned off (there is no option to remove the title)
    • there used to be an option to remove “related videos” (URL parameter is set to “rel=0”) but Google stopped supporting it in 2020
    • This “rel=0” option will now show related videos from YOUR channel, instead of showing competitors.
    • So it’s still good to use this option but the related videos from your channel will open over on youtube.com when they are clicked.
    • there is no guarantee that YouTube will support this feature long term since it goes against their advertising-based business model

other notes:

  • YouTube videos can’t be used as a background video on a website
  • No limits on the number of uploads
  • Great for SEO and SEM
  • Great analytics
  • Auto-Embeds on WordPress – and works with any website CMS
  • There is no “pro” version of YouTube for creators. Don’t get confused by the YouTube “Premium” – that is only for users to avoid seeing ads and allows saving videos in the mobile player and other ways to use the app that make it feel more like NetFlix and similar streaming services.
    • So you might get ads showing sometimes on an embedded YouTube video.


A free Vimeo account let’s you embed a clean player and you can be sure there will never be any ads. But it still links back to Vimeo via their logo at bottom right. A big limitation of a free account is how much you can upload: the maximum is 500MB per week (5GB total account storage) and 10 files per day.

A paid account gives you more customization options: you can display your logo and colors on the video player  – or opt for no logo and much more minimalist player: starting at $7/mo

  • Vimeo offers more privacy options than YouTube
  • Paid users can restrict video embeds to their own websites—and even disallow videos to be viewed on Vimeo.com
  • Vimeo allows replacing a video with a newer version without having to change the video URL or stats—something that you cannot do on YouTube
  • YouTube offers more in-depth analytics — Vimeohas basic analytics — this is important to businesses who want to dive into what videos are working, how long people are viewing videos, and where traffic is coming from.

A Sampling of Embedding: YouTube vs Vimeo



This sample includes the new “Enable privacy-enhanced mode.” option.

Other options


  • https://videopress.com/ 
  • $9 / month or $99 / year
  • VideoPress via Jetpack Premium is a WordPress-native video hosting solution with a clean interface
  • https://jetpack.com/support/video-hosting/


  • https://wistia.com/
  • Free account adds their logo
  • Paid account starts at $100/mo – Add your own branding to the video player
  • extensive analytics – visually see when audience members are leaving your video
  • A/B testing
  • integrate calls to action
  • Better security – harder to download videos
Posted in Web Design | 1 Response

Tips for Business Owners to Design a Logo

Have you ever come across an organization that has no logo? No? This is because there aren’t many companies that operate without a logo. A logo has a massive impact on customer’s perceptions of your brand. So, naturally, you would want your logo to stand out from the crowd. But the question here arises, how to get there in the first place?

Guidelines for Designing a Stunning Logo

Before you opt to have a logo made for yourself, you first need to understand the important basics of designing a logo. Logo designs are critical for forming customers’ perceptions of your brand and its products or services.

Understand why you need a Logo

Businesses are just like dating. You want to attract customers and make them fall in love with your brand. Therefore, you should think of your logo as your dating profile’s picture. This picture will make people take an interest in you and want to learn more about what you have to offer.

A logo is an essential part of the business, and one wants to ensure it is done right. All your branding material, documents, website, and everything will have a logo on them. It will stare back at your customers, so make it count. A professional logo can communicate what your brand stands for and help you create a first great impression.

The Competition

Checking out the competition does not mean stealing their inventions. Instead, it means borrowing their ideas and reinventing in a way that speaks out your own vision. Check out what is already out in the market, what works well with customers, what mistakes you should avoid that others have already made.

While stalking those businesses, think about ways you can develop better ideas and how you can be different from them. Their color theme, design, and size all have to be studied.

Choose your design style

Choosing your design and style comes next. There are a lot of different elements attached to this area, like colors, shapes, graphics, and many more. When thinking about your company’s logo, you should pick a design that sets well with your brand. There is no one style that applies to everyone; it varies from company to company.

You can either go for a classic design on your logo that has a better-staying power. Or you may opt for trending looking logos that may work well in a given situation but quickly gets outdated. Modern and minimalist designs are a clean style that uses more whitespace and few details.

Find The Right Logo Maker

If you are not going to hire a professional logo designer like me, consider other options:

  • Inexpensive online forums for mostly-overseas designers like Fiverr
  • Pre-made logos (and other brand elements – some include the domain name also) brandbucket.com
  • Free online web-based tools like Small SEO Tools. This logo designer has organized its template collection into different categories.
  • Logo Maker Pro has advanced coloring tools that cannot be found in other programs. You just need to enter your business name, industry, logo style, color palette, and the tool will take care of the rest.    
  • Canva is a free logo maker tool, but some designs can only be accessed after you pay. The tool comes with a drag and drops design function, which works really well with online business owners. They can even create their social media posts using Canva.

Posted in Design | Tagged | Leave a comment

Can I pay for just 1 month of JetPack/Akismet for WordPress

that’s alot of pending comments — but I know almost all are spam

With 1,846 pending comments I decided to let JetPack check them all for spam – they no longer offer a free version but it’s only $3.50/month. Or so it seemed – as I was trying to sign up it seemed the only option was to subscribe yearly. I struggled to find a way to switch billing to monthly.

Solution was to click on the “trash” icon in the checkout:

…and that took me to this page that had an option to switch to monthly payments.

I still am having a hard time getting it to work so I may have updates to share on how to get an older Akismet API to process via the “Check for Spam” button in the Comments Admin. I am getting “Akismet Error Code: 10403”

other spam filtering plugins for WordPress do not check existing comments to see if they are Spam

update: I have an Akismet API that dates back perhaps 10 years. the API key used to be attached to many sites back when the free option was more available. So it took a lot of back and forth with support to finally get my API unblocked and sort all the spam. As usual, there were a few gems buried in the pile of spam, proving once again that Akismet works well.

Posted in Web Design | Leave a comment

Privnote vs PrivnoteS and other site imitators or possible phishing

The 2 sites are very similar looking.

I noticed a client was using https://privnotes.com/ (note the plural “s” in there) and not https://privnote.com/. – I am not sure if this is actually a problem but I found a blog post that suggests being wary of imitations:

https://privnotes.com/ has empty links to social media in the footer so that is one clear indication that it’s not the “original” service.

Google is allowing ads for the imitation site but you can see the “natural” listing for the original site below:

What is PrivNote? It is a free website that allows you to send private/secret notes. It requires no password or user registration. Just write your note get a link, copy and paste that link into an email (or IM). When the recipient clicks the link for the first time, they will see the note in their browser and the note will automatically self-destruct; which means no one (even the original sender) can read the note again. The link won’t work anymore.

UPDATE: the PrivnoteS site was confirmed to be fake and has been removed: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2020/06/privnotes-com-is-phishing-bitcoin-from-users-of-private-messaging-service-privnote-com/

But that’s not the half of it. KrebsOnSecurity has learned that the phishing site Privnotes.com uses some kind of automated script that scours messages for bitcoin addresses, and replaces any bitcoin addresses found with its own bitcoin address. The script apparently only modifies messages if the note is opened from a different Internet address than the one that composed the address.

Posted in Web Design | 1 Response

Transfer 7gig-10gig files online Free

I have been testing options for how to transfer large video files from one computer to another.

This is a simple option that needs no download or setup but the files time out after a few days: https://www.sendtransfer.com/

more options:

  • Google Drive is the winner – it offers 15GB of free space: But that 15GB limit includes not only your Google Drive, but also your Gmail account (includes all messages and attachments), Google Photos and more
  • Box.com – 10GB of free storage – the free version is a bit buried but you can sign up at:  https://www.box.com/personal
  • Dropbox only offers 2GB free. But it has a robust way of syncing between machines – it can push and not just pull files. It also allows sharing via an instantly-generated URL, you don’t have to share using their system but you can do that also.
  • OneDrive (by Microsoft) includes a free tier that offers 5GB of file storage
  • iCloud Files: 5GB free. add users to a file via their email, phone, etc. You can’t copy a URL and send like Dropbox (I usually prefer that method since you have easier control over revoking access by just moving the file around)
  • Firefox Send: up to 2.5gig free with end-to-end encryption and a link that automatically expires
  • SFTP is very cost-effective but requires some extra steps to set up.
  • NAS – also alot more setup but great flexibility and lots of storage for heavy users. (Synology DiskStation, QNAP TS-251B, Drobo, Etc.)

Other notes: https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-to-send-large-files-for-free/

I like this detailed how-to on using Google Drive or OneDrive or Dropbox: https://m.wikihow.com/Send-Large-Files-to-Another-Computer-Using-the-Internet

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Braintree cancels $50,000 “Ignition” promotion

Braintree is no longer offering their fee-free $50,000 promotion. They called it “Ignition” and it let any new account process the first $50,000 without any fees — no 2.9%+$.30 standard transaction fees. Braintree is a full-stack payments platform that makes it easy to accept payments in your app or website.

Their blog post announcing the offer is still up and is very confusing. Their FAQ doesn’t mention the change.

I even see ads still being run by 3rd party vendors:

Here is the announcement mentioned the end of this offer to waive processing fees from Braintree via twitter:

and their original blog post from 2014 introducing this offer: https://www.braintreepayments.com/blog/ignition-first-50k-on-us/

Today we’re launching our Ignition program, waiving the fees on the first $50,000 in processing for any U.S.-based startup … you don’t have to sign any contracts or make any commitments.

Braintree offers a good product that is easy to integrate with Gravity Forms, WooCommerce and many other payment systems. But their communication on this issue is lacking.

Update: from the support team:

The stoppage of the promotion was not an issue / error. Braintree stopped offering the Ignition Promotion on November 2016 and the blog post you mentioned is from 2014….Braintree needs to cover costs associated with the service we provide – for this reason, we no longer offer the Ignition Promotion or any kind of free processing limit or free processing period….
Merchants that were onboarded on the Ignition promotion and haven’t reached the full promotional usage amount will still be credited back for the processing fees until they reach the promotional limit they were onboarded with.

Our standard pricing is 2.90% + $0.30 per transaction. For verified charitable 501(c)(3) organizations, pricing is 2.20% + $0.30 per transaction for Visa, Mastercard, Discover, JCB and Diners Clubs cards, as well as Venmo and digital wallets, and 3.25% + $0.30 per transaction for American Express cards.

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How to set up free domain redirect using HTTPS

Nowadays it’s common practice to add SSL to even the simplest site. Google.com and many browsers are prominently featuring “not secure” messages and hint that they will make these message more prominent over time.

It’s easy to redirect one domain to another but the tricky part is if you already are using HTTPS and you just want to stop using your domain and forward it to another domain — you can’t use the basic “domain redirect” services from common domain registrars like GoDaddy or Namecheap.

The domain forward will work for HTTP but not for HTTPS. You will either get an error message saying the site is not secure or your HTTPS domain won’t load at all.

The solution is to set up full hosting and add an SSL certificate and then set up the redirect. Got other solutions in mind? please leave a comment below.

Common Redirects:

  • 301, “Moved Permanently”—recommended for SEO
  • 302, “Found” or “Moved Temporarily”
  • Meta Refresh
redirect via Namecheap

redirect via GoDaddy
Privacy error

Posted in Web Design | 1 Response
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