I´m taking a Social Media Break

Social media is something that can help to develop and maintain a couple of things when you use it the right way. A proper social media strategy combined with the right things to say and publish can boost your business. Social media can also keep you in contact with the people you like and maybe even help you make some new friends. Social media is a great thing and that´s why millions of people use Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social media sites.

I decided to take a two months social media break starting today until end of October. “Are you crazy?” some might ask. “This guy is completely nuts” some might say. Why can I quit using such a great thing as social media? The answer is pretty simple.

The amount of time social media takes is too high whilst the benefit it provides is too low

Dealing with social media doesn´t just mean writing content for it it also means consuming it. You need to read what others have to say and also interact with them. Otherwise it doesn´t make sense to me. And this can be very time consuming and become a strong factor of interference of your daily work.

On the other hand some say there is a lot of qualified traffic coming from social media and it is a great channel to communicate with your audience. While this might be true for some or even many it´s not true for everyone. And so it´s potentially not true for me. When I look at my web analytics there is just a small number of visitors coming from social media channels and I had never someone who told me “I found you on Twitter (or Facebook etc.) and I´d like to make (serious) business with you”. XING is something different because I made some very good business contacts via XING but that´s a different story anyway.

I see that as an experiment. Maybe I will return to the social media community after two months, maybe I will stay away for longer. Anyway I´m keen to see what effects that will have (positive and negative likewise) to my daily business and my private life. So from now on until end of October you will not read any Twitter updates from me, nor will I post any stuff on Facebook or provide any useless or useful information on Google+

And there is another reason why I want to get rid of any interfering stuff for the next two months…but that is also another story 😉

How to fix a possible vulnerability issue with Tim Thumb

Thanks to mobile devices like my iPhone and iPad I received a message in my holidays concerning a vulnarability issue with the TimThumb image resizer script that is used in my themes. Check this blog post for more information.

Due to the fact that I´m on a holiday trip I cannot update my themes in short term so I provide this little workaround to you.  Either you open the file timthumb.php which is normally located in the /lib/scripts or /tools/scripts subfolder of PRiNZ themes (depending on the version you have) and look for this line

$allowedSites = array(
'flickr.com',
'picasa.com',
'blogger.com',
'wordpress.com',
'img.youtube.com',
);

remove the entries in the array so it looks like this instead

$allowedSites = array();

This should fix the issue. You can also download a newer version of TimThumb here and replace the whole old file with it. This is untested by me but it should work. Always make a backup of your old files before you change something. I guess it also makes sense not to use TimThumb in your themes options and use the WordPress own post thumbnail function for the image handling. I will update all my themes when I´m back from my vacation.

Download the new TimThumb version here

DER PRiNZ is official Sponsor of 2011 WordCamp

I´m happy to announce that I am an official sponsor of the WordCamp 2011 in Cologne which takes place on September 24th. Unfortunately I cannot attend this year due to other priorities.

branfordmagazine.com is coming home

Since a few days I´m the official owner of the domain branfordmagazine.com. Finally this annoying story came to a good end. The previous owner of branfordmagazine.com sold the domain along with some other related stuff such as the ebook “Sites that Soar” and some other related domains for a reasonable price. I think everybody is happy now with this solution. At least I am 😉

For the time beeing the domain will be redirected to this website. Maybe I will continue a special site for BranfordMagazine – by far my most popular premium WordPress theme – in the future.

This means the era of “the un-official BranfordMagazine website” is over. Welcome to the official home of BranfordMagazine, WyntonMagazine and other fantastic premium WordPress themes.

To celebrate this you can use the promocode theonlybranfordmagazine and save 50% on every theme purchase.

This offer is limited to max 500 purchases and until July 15th 2011

New DER PRiNZ Website is up to come

It´s springtime and this means it´s time for something new and exiting to grow. That´s why we are working on a new website for DER PRiNZ. In a few weeks we plan to launch a brandnew designed, fresher, more userfriendly and multi-lingual online home to meet the requirements of our international audience.

The site will be completely re-designed with a clear focus on the content and without too much “mumbo-jumbo”. It will combine both – our current English themes website and our regular German business website  – under one domain and brand. Step by step we will provide almost any content of the site in German and English language.

Video Tutorials

Another great feature for our theme buyers will be the new video tutorials that we are working on. They will show how to setup the most important theme features for beginners and advanced users. We plan to launch the first videos right after the launch of the new website.

See what´s up to come…

Stay tuned and follow us on twitter, facebook or via newsletter to grab the latest information.

Beware of pirated WordPress Themes

A few months ago I wrote an article about how downloading themes from the wrong source can harm your site and can become quite expensive. Today I received a serious warning about a non-offcial download of an older BranfordMagazine version that is infected with malicious code.

Siobahn, a writer over at WPMU.org informed my about the fact that she found a version of BranfordMagazine at wordpressthemesbase.com which is infected with a base64_decode in the footer.

I was already aware that wordpressthemesbase.com does provide an old version of my theme without any permission or authorization by me but I didn´t know they provide an infected version. I already tried to get in touch with them weeks ago and asked them to remove this version from their site but I didn´t get any feedback.

This is another good example why it is important to download themes from their original source. Only on the original developers website or store you can be sure to get the right version. Proper themes directories (and there are many proper ones out there) will always link to the developers website instead of providing the download on their own site. This also assures you always get the latest versions.

Especially when it comes to premium themes you should be warned if you get a free version of a theme that normally isn´t free.

Reccomendations

  • Do not download and use the version of Branfordmagazine over at wordpressthemesbase.com – It´s infected with malicious code.
  • Always use the original themes source (developers website) to get clean themes and proper support.
  • Don´t download any version of BranfordMagazine or any other of my themes from any other site than this. If you find a free version of one of my themes be sure it´s not an official one and it will not be supported by me at all.
  • Let me know if you find anorther source where PRiNZ themes are offered for free – help me to keep my themes free from mailicious code that harms others websites.

Further Readings

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

I wish everybody some relaxing days at the end of the “old” year and a fantastic start into 2011. For me 2011 will become an exiting new challenge starting my own full time business as a WordPress expert, Webdesigner/-Consultant and online Marketeer.

You can expect some cool new premium WordPress themes coming up in 2011 here at DER PRiNZ and some useful updates for the existing themes. Since I will be full time focused on this I will be able to provide more, faster and better support for my themes.

There will also be some little facelift of this website (may become a re-design at the end ;-)) and I will add a “Showcase” area where you can present your own website build on one of my premium WordPress themes.

If you haven´t purchased a PRiNZ premium WordPress theme then you should hurry up and grab the christmas promo and save 25% off the regular price. This offer will only be valid until 25th of December.

The discount code for the PRiNZ x-mas promo is: prinz-xmas-2010

[btn text=”Go to the Shop” color=”red” size=”big” url=”http://www.der-prinz.com/purchase” p=”true”]

Web Amateur tries to damage my Reputation

[info_box style=”notice”]The content of this article is outdated. Meanwhile I´m the owner of the branfordmagazine.com domain. This article remains just for information.[/info_box]

It takes a while to make me angry. Normally I´m a straight guy who keeps cool blood. But I am getting angry if someone with obviously very little knowledge of web development first takes my work for her own benefit and then starts trying to damage my reputation such as Aisling D´Art tries to do with her website she formerly called “The UN-Official BranfordMagazine Website”.

Facts and Fictions

Some years ago when I released the first version of BranfordMagazine Mrs. D´Art was a big fan of it and started to write and sell an ebook that was kind of a “how-to” for my theme. That was OK and I promoted her book on my website as an affiliate partner. But I didn´t stopp my continuous development and released new and better versions.

Then came the day when Mrs. D´Art didn´t want to continue updating her ebook anymore. She started to provide old versions of my theme on her website which was ok with me as well (although she never asked or at least informed me). But she also started to run a campaign against me telling people only the old versions of my themes are stable ones and the newer ones are buggy and cause errors. This is obviously driven by missing knowledge and a lack of information because it´s simply not true.

In one of her articles she tells people why she wouldn´t buy a PRO version of my theme. She claims it uses faulty code but she…

  • Never tried a PRO theme (so how can she judge?)
  • Compares an older (non PRO) version again (4.x)
  • Gets error messages that are based on her own mistakes when installing the theme

Since a few days her site quit using the old BranfordMagazine version since it doesn´t seem to be compatible with WordPress 3.0. This is also not true. I tested several versions from 2.0 to 2.6 (the latest version Mrs. D´Art reccommends) and they all work without any issues. In fact she really reccommends not to upgrade to WordPress 3.0!

[…] ignore the “Update to WordPress 3.0 now” messages. Unless WordPress comes out with a patch for the problem affecting Branford and several other themes, updating means breaking your theme.

In this article she really blames WordPress for not working with some (potentially old) themes and expects a “patch for the problem”. I just can´t believe this. How can she dare to claim the issue is up to WordPress? Come on Mrs. D´Art…times are changing and the web is not a static place. It continues developing and sometimes old stuff needs to be deprecated. You don´t use an Internet Explorer 5 or Netscape Navigator 4 anymore, don´t you? And if, at least you don´t complaint about it does not support CSS3.

Final Thoughts

Well to me it´s an incredibly cheeky and unreasonable attitude if somone never has developed something on her own, benefits from the work of others and then starts to trash them. When I first released BranfordMagazine I took “Mimbo” by Darren Hoyt as a coding basis. I also took elements from the former “Revolution” Theme by Brian Gardner and combined them to one new theme. I never made a secret out of it. I also mentioned that always in the themes footer and credited Darren and Brian. That´s the least I can do. And the least I expect if someone who benefits from the work of another.

The fact that she seems to have issues with the old themes versions and the new WordPress (and potentially some of her users as well although the themes did not cause issues on my testsite) is another good example why you should always check out the original source of a theme or plugin to avoid trouble. Only at the original authors website you can be sure to get the original stuff and professional support. Even if it might cost some money, at the end it´s less expensive then dealing with issues and unexperienced supporters.

And as I already mentioned in a comment on Mrs. D´Arts Site: “You do your job and I do mine”. But please Mrs. D´Art, stopp telling things that are based on ignorance and a huge lack of knowledge…and are simply not true!

Further reading

  • Downloading a Premium Theme from the Wrong Site can be Expensive

Downloading a Premium Theme from the Wrong Site can be Expensive

When you goolge for “WordPress Themes”, “Premium WordPress Themes” or even “Free Premium WordPress Themes” you will get a huge result list with hundreds of websites. Because WordPress is such a popular plattform with a huge community there are so many people providing Themes and plugins for free or even paid. There are also some sites that provide premium themes you normally have to pay for for free…but beware of the shadows.

Worst Case: Malicious Code can Kill your Site

Most people are unaware of the dangers in using sites that provide pirated software (a theme or a plugin is also a piece of software). An example from Intego, an internet security firm, reported alerts about Trojan horses in pirated copies of both Apple iWork-09 (Jan 22, 2009) and Adobe Photoshop CS4 (Jan 26, 2009). Trojans and other viruses can seriously damage your system. But we don´t talk about iWork and Photoshop, we are talking about WordPress themes. Who would infect a theme with a virus? To be honest: I don´t know but it´s the cruel truth that such things do happen. Your home PC might be secured by an anti-virus software (which is never 100% save) but what about your webspace?

If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t…

I have seen WordPress sites crashing because there was malicious code in a footer or header file. It was encrypted and an unexperienced user would never recognize it as malicious code. Sometimes it “just” displays “buy Viagra” Links all over your site and sometimes it saves lots of data to your server and exceeds your quota. Your site will go down.

Missing Functions and no Support

These examples are really the worst case and although they happen they don´t happen too often. What is much more annoying and may be more expensive at the end is missing functions and support. Imagine BranfordMagazine. This theme used to be available as a free theme for some years. But when I developed it further and it became more and more professional and popular it simply was not possible anymore to provide a theme and an outstanding support…all for free.

Well I could have continue providing the theme for free and stopp providing support but I feel that´s bad practice and I like to support people with the advanced functions and features of my themes. I´m always proud when someone was able to launch a great looking website based on my themes and I´m happy when my customers are happy. In order to keep the good support (or even make it better) and contiue development I decided to charge money for my themes.

Also very important is continuous development. The web is no static place. It´s moving all the time. Recently WordPress 3.0 was released and it comes up with a whole bunch of fantastic new features. If the development wouldn´t continue, my themes were still usable with the new WordPress version but they wouldn´t make use of the new features.

You still might find places where you can Download copies of my themes, especially BranfordMagazine, for free. But be aware that these are older versions that are missing great functionalities and are not supported by me.

Support the Authors because they support You

Theme and plugin authors – no matter if paid or free – contribute their piece of the cake to the WordPress community and that´s an important piece. Authors of premium (paid) themes and plugins usually put more effort into the design and development of their product. And they usually provide a much better support via email, comments or support forums.

Free themes are absolutely OK and there are many good ones out there. But if you find a premium theme for free that is usally a paid theme, you should be on your guard.

If you are a private blogger you might use a free theme and customize it by yourself because your requirements are not so high and you like to customize it on your own because you have time to do it. But if your requirements begin to grow – maybe because you are running a business – you may ask for seomething that stands out of the crowd and is well supported because you can´t wait for weeks until a problem is solved. If you then have downloaded a “premium” theme from a source that was not the original author because you wanted to save a few Euros or Dollars (or Shekel or Yen…) you might find yourself in a situation that can become much more expensive because you need to hire someone to help you.

Final Thoughts

I think it´s just fine to pay a fair ammount to get a great product and support. So you always should make sure you get a premium product form the original source to avoid issues. When you decide for a free theme or plugin you should always pick them up at the WordPress theme directory or plugin repository. Always think twice before downloading software, themes or plugins from a source that is not the author or WordPress.org and always remember:

If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t…

Further Readings

New Theme features coming with WordPress 3.0

Are you also counting the days until WordPress 3.0 will be released? There are many great features that will be introduced in the new release of WordPress and PRiNZ Pro Themes will be updated to support those features and more.

New features

Here is a list of all new features that will be included in the upcoming version 5.1 of BranfordMagazine and version 2.1 of WyntonMagazine. Both versions will be released as soon as WordPress 3.0 is out.

  • New and fancy jQuery powered optionspanel (you will love it)
  • Automatic integration of the prettyPhoto image script (a beautifull Lightbox clone)
  • Alternative (or better optional) widgetized footer area (4 additional widget areas). Can be switched on and off via the optionspanel
  • Support for new WordPress custom menus – Create your own navigation with pages, categories or external links and use them together with the default navigation or without it.
  • Support for custom backgrounds – Color or Image, fixed or scrollable, it´s up to you
  • Support for custom header image – Change the logo in seconds without touching code

The new theme versions require WordPress 3.0 and are not compatible with older versions. So update your WordPress as soon as possible.