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Soft-launch: Shrub & Co cocktail mixers

I just soft-launched this new site. Their product is not available quite yet but will be sold on the site soon. It’s a new kind of cocktail mixer – but also used for non-alcoholic drinks like sodas. Based on a traditional “shrub” : It is prepared with an acidic fruit base  pickled in vinegar and then sweetened with sugar and finally used as a mixer with spirits such as rum or vodka to make a rum-shrub or vodka-shrub.  

Shrub & Co elixirs add depth and complexity to your drinks with a clever combination of sweet and savory notes. Rescued from the obscurity of the colonial era and reimagined for today’s craft cocktail enthusiast, our shrubs enhance your favorite concoctions.

visit: Shrub & Co | Cocktail mixer


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QA the UI: Time Machine’s backwards ghost

Here’s something that’s been bugging me for a long time.

Now, I know the folks at Apple work hard to make the small details shine. I’ve had a couple acquaintances who have been involved with great hardware design there over the years. I have heard stories about the wonderful keyboard design (the super fast keyboard that I’m typing on at the moment). I’ve heard about the great lengths engineers went to to sync the sleep pulsing light of the Mac monitor and the Mac tower years ago. And the “sleeping heartbeat” or “breathing”  pulsing LED itself that is on many of the Apple products is a patent that took some skill to pull off (I think it is actually blinking really fast since LEDs don’t dim the way incandescent bulbs do). See “Breathing status LED indicator” patent that describes “The LED indicator is energized by pulse-width modulated electrical pulses” that my friend Jory Bell helped invent.


So why is this strange little UI element so backwards?

When Time Machine is operating the Finder window sidebar icon and the icon in the Mac menu bar spin in opposite directions.  If that pulsing light makes the “sleepy ghost” in the machine feel alive then this detail makes the machine seem like the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

While I’m at it – here’s a fun old screenshot of debug mode in mobile Safari showing Apple’s own store and how it generated 2 errors. That’s all cleaned up now I see but when the Debug Console was first introduced it  was fun to turn that tool on it’s maker.

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Crafty Cart WPEC theme

Storefront Themes - Premium WP-e-Commerce ThemesCrafty Cart was a great free WPEC (WordPress e-Commerce plugin) theme that I customized for a couple sites. But the developers seem to have disappeared so I’ve moved on to other WordPress ecommerce starter themes like those from Storefront Themes.

What I like about Crafty Cart is the playful design. It also features:

  • Simple product management options.
  • Fun and simple way to browse categories.
  • All the customizable power of the WordPress eCommerce system.
  • Want to try it out? See download link below.

Crafty was useful as a starting theme – as I mentioned I used it twice. It had some issues with IE and had a number of CSS cleanups to go through but came out well in the end. Let me briefly show some of the e-Commerce customizations I made.

Meeks Design Handbags craft eCommerce

My customizations on this site include making the product list only show image and name without price or ‘buy now’. I designed the logo and the over all “I’m busy crafting” branding that matches the aesthetic of the fabrics used in the products. This project included business card and other print collateral. I trained my client to use the site and manage inventory,  sales reports and other WordPress eCommerce features.

Sugar Petals cake decorations and food eCommerce

This project features a wholesale-only setup that only shows pricing to those that have applied and been approved for an account. The design started with their existing logo and created a new look that blended into their existing branding materials. I trained my client in how to accept new wholesale customers and manage a complex set of product and pricing tier options via the WordPress eCommerce coupons functionality.


Download Crafty Cart theme

Since it’s hard to find this theme online anymore, here’s a download link – this is the whole original theme but none of my customizations. This is still a great theme but one important feature that it is missing is a responsive design that makes it easier to purchase from a mobile device.

UPDATE: leave a note in the comments if you know of a WooCommerce theme that has a similar look to it….

Posted in WordPress, WordPress WooCommerce | Leave a comment

PayPal, Square and Stripe: more online payment options

A great new payment option is Stripe – it is a Payment Gateway which means you can sell stuff online, take credit cards on your site yet avoid any recurring monthly fees. I have not used it but hope to try it soon. Has anyone out there used it with WordPress? WPEC is often set up with PayPal Payments Pro but that’s $30/month so not a great option for smaller scale merchants.

Here’s a great summary of services that more or less copy Square – they take payments on a mobile phone. Article courtesy of David Pogue’s blog. He also talks about Square’s in-store payment system.

Intuit offers something called GoPayment, with a rather huge phone attachment and a complicated rate structure. It advertises a 2.7 percent rate, but the fine print reveals that you’ll pay 3.7 percent for reward cards, American Express and corporate cards.

A company called mPower is aimed at big companies that want the money to flow directly into their own accounts — not be deposited first into a holding account, as Square, Intuit and others do. PayAnywhere’s notable feature is that it takes the lowest cut of all: 2.69 percent.

And then there’s the elephant that’s just barged into the room: PayPal. Its rate is a hair lower than Square’s 2.7 percent, and its reader is a triangle instead of a square. The reader is more stable than the Square when you swipe the card, but it’s relatively giant.

via As Pay-by-Phone Advances, Square Takes Another Leap – State of the Art – NYTimes.com.


Read more and see fee options for other card readers for Stripe:

  • Innerfence makes it easy to accept face-to-face payments with your Stripe account.
  • CardFlight enables you to easily accept in-person payments in your own mobile application.
Posted in WordPress, WordPress WooCommerce | Leave a comment

SerialTeller: Serial Fiction Online


I recently redesigned this site that I launched last year. It features hover-based “teasers” and a Netflix-inspired interface. It’s got a modular custom content type that will grow as they add more serials. You can submit your own writing via a Gravity form so you don’t have to be a WordPress expert to update the content.

SerialTeller is devoted to serials drawn from all areas of fiction ranging from science fiction and fantasy, to mysteries, thrillers, and romance.  Serial fiction has been around for hundreds of years and has been the basis for some of the greatest works of literature known to man including those created by Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


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PayPal Payments Pro vs PayPal Payments Advanced for WPEC


There is a new, lower-cost option coming for the WP e-Commerce Plugin. It launched in April 2012 and is called: “PayPal Payments Advanced” and it will soon be a great option for WordPress ecommerce.

Up till now you had to pay the full “PayPal Payments Pro” $30/month fee. But soon this new $5/month option will give you almost all the same features. WPEC does not support this new gateway yet but I think soon we will see more integration for “PayPal Payments Advanced”. There is an option to use PayPal’s API to set up a gateway now but there is a greater efficiency in waiting for the community to fully support ongoing maintenance of that gateway.

As far as I can tell now,  “PayPal Payments Advanced”  will not give the fully seamless experience that “pro” offers. PayPal will have some of its branding on the checkout page. Here’s the screenshot that PayPal provides in their API PDF.

If users choose to fill out this payment form they stay on the store site.  If they click “pay with my PayPal account” the go off to paypal.com.  So this is not as professional of a solution but it’s close and for smaller stores it will be a welcome choice.

“PayPal Payments Pro” also gives you Virtual Terminal but you can get that same functionality via Square Up for no monthly fee (and they don’t even charge a fixed fee beyond the 2.75% as long as a physical card is present although the forthcoming PayPal Here will do the same at 2.7%). I look forward to the day that Square offers an online payment gateway but no word on that yet.

PayPal Payments Pro vs Website Payments Pro

Now one thing to keep in mind is that the names of these PayPal accounts are very confusing. “Website Payments Pro” used to be the name and now it’s called “PayPal Payments Pro”. Not to be confused with the simpler (older) WPEC gateways “PayPal Express Checkout” and “PayPal Payments Standard”.

Here’s their explaination regarding the name change:

…we’ve dropped the word “website” from our U.S. product names. In the same way that Apple did when it dropped “computer” from its name in 2007 to represent its move beyond the Mac to a comprehensive consumer electronics company, this name change represents our move away from our online heritage to the future of PayPal and the multi-channel nature of payments in the new retail environment.


Note: Website Payments Pro includes Direct Payment, Express Checkout, and additional PayPal solutions and tools, such as Virtual Terminal, Fraud Management Filters, and reference transactions.

Posted in WordPress, WordPress WooCommerce | 3 Responses

Flickr widgets for WordPress

many of these plugins need your Flickr API to work. It will look something like this:

Slickr Flickr
This is my favorite—very fully featured for the active Flickr user or just someone who wants to embed Flickr into WordPress. Displays Flickr photos as a gallery or a slideshow that is NOT the Flickr slideshow widget. Many other features: shortcodes, multiple galleries, sidebar widgets, various standard Flickr sizes and orientations.

simple but does not seem to show title. seems faster than the other one we were using. it is live now…

this is nice and simple but only shows the latest one. Or you can set it to show a few but it has limited sizes.

Awesome Flickr Gallery
this looks promising but i didn’t play with it yet. try it out and let me know.

see also:

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arisalomon.com – my new photo site

Today I’m launching a new site to feature my fine art photography. It will give me a chance to focus this site on my WordPress website business and related graphic design work. I’ve got some more content to shift around so let’s just call this a soft launch – a secret between you and me.

Have a visit over at arisalomon.com.

Here’s my new logo for my photo work – these business cards arrive monday here at my hotel at the Fotofest conference.

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New Site: Greenbelt Alliance

Last week I launched a new client project – rebuilding a large site for  the Greenbelt Alliance. It was a complex project that spanned the last 8 months or so and included alot of stakeholders and a complex planning process that intersected with a revamp of their long term strategies.

We used WordPress (of course – and after my training they are now WordPress experts) and customized the presentation of events and people in a variety of contexts. Many landing pages were customized with  the amazing Page.ly MultiEdit plugin that allows the client to edit the various pieces of these multi column landing pages with featured content via easy-to-manage, custom built shortcodes.

Donations, subscriptions and other CRM actions is integrated with Convio’s services via act.greenbelt.org.

Protecting Open Spaces & Creating Vibrant Places: Greenbelt Alliance brings people together to protect what people love about the Bay Area and to make it an even better place to live.  Learn more .

You don’t have to be a WordPress expert in San Francisco to have a site like this for your business or non-profit. Just contact HelloARI Design and I can give you  a free demo of how easy it is to use WordPress to streamline your online business presence. 

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Tether Relaunches iPhone Version

Tether Relaunches iPhone Version

Tether is an application (2 apps – one for your Mac/PC and one for your iPhone/BB/Andriod)  that allows you to share Internet access from your phone to your  laptop (or other wifi device)  using your smartphone’s data plan. No need for jailbreaking or paying extra for WiFi hotspots or data “tethering” plans.

I have not tried it yet but will soon – I wish I had know about it before I gave up my unlimited data plan. They have had a real battle with the AT&T/Apple corporate control … But they came up with a innovative technical solution. Reminds me of how the clever Dropbox guys hacked OS X core to get their amazing technology to “just work”.

Tether’s new version for the iPhone is purely based on HTML5 and creates a completely wireless connection over AdHoc. This circumvents the need of buying the application directly from Apple’s App Store and allows any iPhone or iPad with a data connection to allow tethering.

via Tether Relaunches iPhone Version | Tether.

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