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  • What is the difference? AI, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning

    No comments February 22nd, 2018 12

    In this article we are going to go over the key differences between these topics and clear up a few misconceptions surrounding them. We have heard a lot of talk about these subjects and as can be expected of buzzwords they can be a little confusing or even misleading at times.

    Artificial Intelligence

    Otherwise referred to as AI, the original term was invented by John McCarthy circa 1956. This term is used to describe any machine or computer that can perform human like tasks. Chatting, recognizing objects, etc. Common examples include chat-bots and virtual assistants such as Amazons Alexa, Siri from Apple or Google Assistant on Android.

    There are differences in the varying types of AI which we identify based on their intended use and abilities. A “general” artificial intelligence is any AI that is intended to do many different types of human like tasks. A “narrow” AI is meant to specialize in just one, or only a few very specific tasks. The common factor here being that these are human-like tasks.

    Machine Learning

    Machine learning is not AI itself but is a process in which AI is programmed. What is meant by this term is that a program is written in such a way as to learn on its own when presented with enough examples of how it should behave. In this way an often incredibly complex program can be created without needing to manually create massive amounts of complex code. Instead the rules are determined initially, and the program learns how to do its job through the process of analysis. Machine learning is dependent on feeding new programs huge volumes of data to learn from. Data is essential in order to make choices and assumptions based on past examples.

    If you have ever bumped into a captcha that asks you to identify a specific object in a group of photos, or maybe identify some difficult to read words in a handful of images then you have probably helped teach a bot to think for itself!

    Deep Learning

    Deep learning is a specific form of machine learning. There are others such as decision tree learning, inductive logic, reinforcement learning, etc. but for today we are just going to talk about this one.

    Deep learning is a bit of a buzz word lately, and for good reason. It is particularly interesting because it works similar to the way our own brains work. Using the model of a neural network, a program is written with algorithms that each operate like an individual neuron. Each one has learned a hyper-specific part of a larger body of processes and is intended to be accessed as a component of a larger collection. In this network of similarly small parts, individually each process may be very simple but as a whole the entire program can be highly intelligent.

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  • Build your own $35 Raspberry Pi Ad-blocker

    No comments February 21st, 2018 8

    Today we are going to learn how to block ads with a little open source software and a $35 Raspberry Pi.

    If you aren’t familiar, the Raspberry Pi is a dirt cheap single board microcomputer which has grown very popular in the maker community over the past several years. Due to its small size, cheap price and functional hardware specs this tiny computer has become a kind of swiss-army knife for makers and diy enthusiasts. There are multiple version currently available. I personally recommend the Raspberry Pi 3 – Model B as it is the most powerful at the time of writing this. These devices can be picked up online at many retailers such as this one.

    The software we are going to use today is called Pi Hole. Pi Hole is an open source project which intends to assign the task of blocking annoying advertisements to your Raspberry Pi instead of your computer. Effectually, by blocking ad content in this way Pi Hole hopes to speed up the users internet experience while also improving the quality of it. As a neat side-effect all the devices, smartphones, tablets, or anything else on the same network will also have their ads blocked. Meaning every device in the network is protected instead of needing to install software on each one individually.

    To start I am going to assume you have already purchased a Raspberry Pi and a microSD card of your own choosing.

    First, download Raspbian Linux.

    Install Raspbian onto your microsd as shown here.

    Place the card into your Raspberry Pi and plug it in.

    Once its connected to the internet and powered up enter the terminal so that we can update it. Once in terminal enter the following:

    sudo apt-get update

    Next we need to upgrade. Now type:

    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

    Now lets begin installation of the Pi Hole software. Enter this last part and hit return:

    curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

    The installation once it begins will warn you that this software is going to set up your Pi to act as a server and will therefore need to have a static IP address to function correctly. Select OK and continue.

    Next, it will ask you to choose your preferred interface. You can choose eth0 or wlan0. Your preference here is up to you.

    The next prompt will ask if you want to use your current network settings as a static address. Unless you want to change anything for your own reasons just go ahead and click “yes” again.

    “Do you wish to install the web admin interface?” will pop up next. Leave it set to “on” and continue.

    “Do you wish to log queries?”, again leave it on unless you have your own reasons to change it.

    Now that you have clicked “ok” all the way through the install process and the installer will complete the process on its own. As soon as it is done it will present you with a chance to write down your password, and IPV4 address. Don’t forget to write this information down.

    Voila! Everything is done and you can connect your devices as shown below:

    The operating system of your device will determine which steps you should take to connect your devices to your new Pi Hole Ad-Blocker.

    Windows

    1. Right-click the Start button and select Network Connections

    2. Right-click your Ethernet or Wi-Fi network and select Properties

    3. Double-click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)

    4. Click Use the following DNS server addresses.

    5. Enter your Raspberry Pi’s IP address as the Preferred DNS server.

    6. Click OK and then, click OK again

    OS X

    1. Click the Apple menu and navigate to System Preferences…>Network>[your network here]>Advanced>DNS

    2. Click the plus sign on the left side and enter your Raspberry Pi’s IP address

    3. Click OK and then Apply

    Android

    1. Navigate to Settings>Wi-Fi

    2. Press and hold your current network and then go to Modify Network>Show Advanced Options

    3. Change the IP Settings to Static

    4. Enter your Raspberry Pi’s IP address under DNS 1

    5. Tap Save

    iOS

    1. Navigate to Settings>Wi-Fi>[your network here]>DNS

    2. Enter your Raspberry Pi’s IP address.

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  • 5 Ways to Convert Leads Into Sales

    No comments February 20th, 2018 8

    Leads on their own wont typically turn into sales just for arriving at your page. Often our visitors need a little extra help before we start to see a rise in sales. In the article below we are going to go over a few ways in which we can help improve our sales numbers online.

    Incentive

    Try offering a free gift, a time sensitive discount or a free add-on to their purchase. Everyone loves free stuff. Furthermore, when a deal is about to expire a customer who is otherwise on the fence may feel inclined to make their choice sooner rather than later.

    Return On Investment

    Don’t forget to remind your customer if or when your product or service has the potential to help them earn more. If your customer stands to gain from the purchase in this way its smart to politely remind them.

    Follow up

    Follow up emails, phone calls, letters, etc. can make a noticeable impact. Sometimes a customer may have remaining questions that can be addressed easily in a follow up conversation. Busy customers might need to be reminded, or have lost track of their previous intentions. Simply reaching out can have a great impact for a number of reason. Regardless, do your best not to lose touch and you will see a noticeable difference.

    Questions

    Ask questions. You can’t offer them what they are looking for if you don’t even know what they want. As a prompt to move the conversation forward questions are a great way to keep opening up the dialogue in a positive, friendly way. Concerns might come up or needs might arise that you cant possibly fulfill without asking what your customer wants. Just helping many people find what they want is sometimes all that’s necessary. It never hurts to ask and to listen.

    Find What is Painful. Remove it.

    Identify what a customer wants to achieve and then offer them all of the steps necessary to arrive at that goal. Remove every obstacle possible for them. Whenever possible provide solutions where you can. Ultimately, the closer they are to achieving their goal, the more likely they will be to complete their purchase and achieve it. The more likely their success, the more likely their purchase from you will be, and the happier they will be in the end.

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  • How can AI help my WordPress Site?

    No comments February 19th, 2018 10

    With the continuous growth of new AI plugins available for WordPress, there are a lot of instances where AI and machine learning is making its mark on the average WordPress user. In this article we will very loosely discuss a few places in which we are seeing common trends and potential instances in which we could see these new plugins growing into a part of our daily workflow.

     

    Communications

    Personal communication is a key component in any business model and the internet isn’t any different. Standing out from the competition is easiest when you can first identify yourself as a strong communicator and make a positive impact whenever possible. Chatbots have begun to take over mobile and desktop web applications in a lot of communications roles. When used well they can help customers to make the right decisions and find the products that they want. Beware though, they are only as helpful as their limitations allow. Not every customer wants to talk to your bot instead of a person. That said, like any tool it has a right way to use it, and a wrong way. When used well a chatbot or virtual assistant can be used as a powerful tool for lead generation and a way to showcase your most engaging content.

    If any of this sounds like something you would like to try out, feel free to check out any of these WordPress Plugins.

    Another key component of communications is recommendations. If you have ever used Amazon and seen the recommendations based on the purchases you have made or the products you have recently been interested in you might already be familiar. This type of use can really be a great tool for stimulating interest and increasing sales. Simply by getting the right products in front of the right customer you can really make an impact in your sales.

     

    Security

    A constant concern of every webmaster is security. With newer and smarter security tools, old threats can be avoided or diminished. Threats such as brute force attacks can be identified and interrupted. With machine learning malware can be spotted and suspicious files or behaviors can be monitored. Being able to engage, identify and react to a threat is becoming easier partially because of common developments in AI. By developing tools that can keep a watchful eye for suspicious activity and react when the need arises, the whole of the industry keeps moving towards a safer future.

    If this sounds intriguing to you check out plugins such as Quttera.

     

    Automation

    The last category that needs to be addressed is automation. AI can replace a lot of the repetition in your daily work. There are plugins to automatically write meta descriptions by scanning an image and determining which words would describe it best. There are even tools meant to find stock images rapidly while you type out the content of your newest newsletter or blog. These tools can help you save time and energy searching for relevant imagery. There are also layout plugins available. These can give suggestions based on user interactions. For instance if a button might have more success a little lower down on the page, or a body of text is too long and isn’t being read.

    Ultimately, there are a ton of new tools available to us and more are coming. We can look forward to a lot of great things in the near future.

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  • 8 Simple Ways to Improve Your Online Traffic Without Even Mentioning Email

    No comments February 16th, 2018 23

    As a smaller business its often hard to exist in the same market as so many of your bigger competitors. Without huge budgets and stacks of resources its difficult to drum up new ways to drive traffic towards our sites. Without traffic we can’t create leads, without leads we can’t create sales and without sales we won’t be very successful. This article will cover a few ways to help improve your web traffic.

    Facebook

    I bet you knew that Facebook could be used as an advertisement platform but did you know that you can use it as a way to return traffic that have already been to your blog or website? Installing Facebook tracking pixel on your site will allow you to remarket your brand to as few as 100 previous visitors.

    Twitter

    Twitter, much like Facebook has a pixel that once installed can be used in the same ways. Twitter unfortunately has a higher minimum on their services. Twitter provides service targeted towards 500 people and up.

    Fix your headlines

    Studies have shown that the vast majority of people will only ever read headlines. Focus your energy on making them better. They should be the best part of your ads.

    Blog more

    Seriously, blogs do increase traffic. There are plenty of successful people who swear by them because of this fact. The best way to maximize your blogs exposure is to leverage them across your social media accounts. Make sure your social media accounts are all sharing your links and spreading awareness about everything on your blog.

    Blog Exchange

    Find bloggers who write about similar content. Find others in your same industry and are about the same size. Reach out to their editors or site admins. Ask if they would be interested in featuring some of your articles in exchange for featuring some of theirs. It could be a nice way to expose your brand to new traffics.

    Contribute to other sites.

    Forums are a great place to help others. So is YouTube. Make and share content to help others while you share your brand and inevitably people will come back to you.

    Consider producing a webinar.

    Round up a few guests or maybe just do one by yourself and teach about something you know a lot about. Any topic could work if done well.

    Start a Podcast.

    Podcasting is a great way to generate interesting content and also demonstrating your own expertise. A customer that finds you this way is likely to trust you a lot more than one who just follows an advertisement or finds you by accident. Consider interviewing someone with a larger fan-base.

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  • What is VPN? Why use it? How do I get it?

    No comments February 15th, 2018 14

    The internet is still a pretty unsafe place. Hackers and other criminals are stealing information all the time, governments and big telecom companies are trying to pry into our browsing habits to control and capture what information we access. There are a whole host of unsavory things out there and a VPN is an effective tool to help protect you from it all.

    Public networks are where a lot of attacks happen. Notoriously, criminals lay traps found freely on public networks. Working remotely might be opening you up to a whole lot of nasty things. Your personal information, your companies private information, your financial information and your job are more often at risk than you are probably aware.

    So What Is VPN?

    A Virtual Private Network (otherwise known as a VPN) is a slick method in which a person like you or I can avoid the booby traps that seem to be everywhere now. They have become a standard security practice for many people in various industries but there is a real need for more people to learn how they work and how to protect themselves. Too many people are still vulnerable to easily preventable security threats.

    VPN’s have become the gold standard with big corporations for 2 simple reasons. VPN is not just effective, its also cheap. Because it is a dedicated connection and encrypted, even if a thief was able to capture some of your data in an attack it still wouldn’t make sense to them because they simply wouldn’t be able to decrypt it. Furthermore, a personal computers IP address is replaced by their VPN providers IP address. Meaning your browsing habits, your downloads (yes, including torrents) and what videos you watch are now anonymous. Want to watch a new episode of a TV show in another country but keep getting warnings like “This content is not available in your country.”? Simply switch your VPN to one with an IP located in that country and voila. All of the regional videos with none of the hassle of being geographically located within that countries borders.

    How to get a VPN.

    Establishing any connection with a VPN is essentially the same. You would connect to whatever network you wish to use and turn it on. That is basically it. Everything else is done for you by the client software. Companies like ASPnix offer premium VPN service for between .13 and .14 cents a day ($50 a year). The service just runs in the background. Most users don’t bother to turn it on or off again. There isn’t any change in speed or performance so nothing is really lost by staying safely behind the VPN all of the time afterwards. I use it myself and can’t say enough nice things about it.

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  • Stay Ahead of SEO in 2018

    No comments February 14th, 2018 16

    This article is intended to talk a little about SEO and some best practices I recommend. As the year moves on we might revise this post a few times. Check back again in the future to see if its changed and please chime in below in the comments if you would like to contribute at all.

    A key focus in Google’s algorithm will always be On-Page SEO. Because of this it is a great place to start in an article like this one. This type of SEO is necessary to provide context. Organizing your content and making it easy for visitors to navigate to other relevant places on your site will always be important.

    You can start by making compelling and descriptive titles. Although it may seem like a good idea to stuff as many keywords in as possible, be aware, the user experience must not suffer in exchange. Try and make use of simple descriptive keywords to gain the attraction of actual people and not just Google and its crawlers. Don’t forget to make descriptions and meta- titles.

    Headlines
    Would you read a newspaper without headlines? Don’t neglect this. Practice writing attractive headlines for everything. Headers and sub headers also give a lot of the context to your website. Try and use the H1 as often as possible for the header.

    Internal Links
    A little focus on helping users navigate better is certainly a necessity.

    Be Ready for Mobile Users.
    Mobile users make up 60 percent (or more) of the traffic on the internet right now. Some people have even voiced a concern that in the very near future Google will probably prioritize mobile friendly sites over the others.

    Furthermore, reducing image sizes, optimizing videos and making certain to design your page with responsiveness in mind will do nothing but positive things for your page and its traffic. Faster loading time can make a big impact.

    HTTPS is Here to Stay.
    SSL certificates are easy to install and there are free options like Lets Encrypt available. Google has been clear about how it plans on penalizing those who refuse to embrace it this year. With no real drawbacks to using it, there isn’t anything to lose. In the end your visitors and customers will feel safer on your website. Trust is especially valuable in E-commerce and that is what matters.

    Make Content
    The last thing you should do is make sure that you are making continuous original content. Even if your site has great search rankings if you don’t have any content people wont stay long or they will pass right on by you.

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  • How to Install Lets Encrypt

    No comments February 13th, 2018 37

    If you haven’t considered adding SSL encryption to your webpage yet, you should. SSL encryption has a lot of benefits to consider and really no reasons not to. If making sure your visitors feel safe seems important to you, or if SEO results matter much to your site, then you probably should follow along with this very simple tutorial. This article is really meant to walk you through how easy it is for anyone to set up.

    The first step is logging into your account at ASPnix.com. Once you log in you should see the Client Area. To advance just click on My Services Tab.

    Click on the blue “manage” button.

    Scroll down until you see the Login to cPanel button and click on it to begin.

    Now that we are in cPanel just scroll down until you see the security options.

    Then click on Lets Encrypt SSL

    Go ahead and click “+Issue” and click next afterwards.

     

    There you have it, a simple FREE option to install SSL certificates for yourself. These simple SSL Certificates are really perfect for most uses and if after you use Lets Encrypt you still want more out of your SSL, then consider upgrading to any of the paid SSL services available.

     

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  • 6 of the Weirdest WordPress Plugins on the Internet

    No comments February 12th, 2018 36

    For fun we are reviewing the top 6 strangest WordPress plugins around. They might not help improve your site much, or add to your productivity today but they will certainly give you a chuckle.

     

    Asteroidshttps://wordpress.org/plugins/asteroids-widget/

    In case you or your visitors need to blow off a little steam there is always Asteroids Widget. This clever little gadget gives you the chance to blow up the content of your page by shooting holes in it. Fans of the original asteroids might get a kick out of zooming around and blasting your text to smitherines.

     

    Barrel Rollhttps://wordpress.org/plugins/barrel-roll/

    This plugin will actually cause your page to do a barrel roll. When any user on your site types in “do a barrel roll” they will get a surprise. The entire page will roll a full 360 degrees. If thats not strange enough the creators specifically ask that you reach out to them and send them fan poetry.

     

    Hello Darthhttps://wordpress.org/plugins/hello-darth/

    Fans of the dark side might enjoy having Darth Vader quotes invade a little of their space. When active it will randomly select Darth Vader quotes (courtesy of IMDB) and will place these quotes in the upper right corner of the admin area.

     

    Captcha Garbhttps://wordpress.org/plugins/captcha-garb/

    Looking for a fun alternative way to prove your visitors are in fact real live people and not bots? Try out Captcha Garb, with it you can upload your own images and turn them into puzzles to be solved. If you are not feeling too creative you also have access to 58 puzzle images which are provided for you.

     

    Shoot the Zombiehttps://wordpress.org/plugins/shoot-the-zombie/

    Release the zombie apocalypse on your page! When in use a simple shortcode allow you to reveal a button which when pushed bring the dead to life on your screen. Once a zombie pops up you will need to shoot it.

     

    Never Gonna Give You Uphttps://wordpress.org/plugins/never-gonna-give-you-up/

    The most ridiculously useless wordpress plugin award goes to this one. When activated it ads the lyrics to the famous Rick Astley Song to the top corner of the admin page. In other words installing this plugin is in a way like rick-rolling yourself.

     

    I hope you enjoyed these, and in case you didn’t already know ASPnix has excellent fast and reliable Linux and Windows Hosting, featuring simple WordPress installation, high reliability, low prices, and honest service. Consider them next time you build a webpage.

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  • SmarterMail Upcoming Maintenance

    No comments February 9th, 2018 31

    This evening, Friday the 9th at 10PM MST we will be performing an update to the SmarterMail service on our primary SmarterMail server. This update closes out all the bug and issue reports that we had open with SmarterTools!

    • Domain’s DKIM setting shows enabled when it is disabled
    • Outlook no longer displays 550 errors when sending a read receipt
    • Added some missing translations
    • Importing a contact from a VCF file does not properly identify potential duplications

    Many additional non-customer facing fixes that improve the performance and stability of SmarterMail.

    During this time, our incoming gateways will process and hold any incoming email and deliver them once we have completed the update.


    All dates & times are listed as UTC.

    Scheduled Date: 
    Scheduled Time:
     
    Max Outage Duration: 1 hour


    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our support department.

    Thank you again for choosing ASPnix as your web hosting provider!

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