How To Setup up a VPS for WordPress (Introduction)

How To Setup up a VPS for WordPress (Introduction)

In this series we will be going through the steps of setting up and optimising a virtual private server (VPS) for a large capacity WordPress install.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Setting up a new VPS – OS, User Accounts and Security
  • Setting up a firewall – Linux IPTables
  • Adding a Caching Server – Varnish
  • Further Optimisation – CDNs, Cloudflare

Introduction

Since quite recently we have been posting out quite a bit of content relating to optimising websites and their hosting, we are pleased to announce that over some time in the near future we hope to release a tutorial series on optimising a virtual private server or VPS for a WordPress install. The ensuing series will be aimed at both beginners and intermediates in the field of self hosting a web server.

We hope the series will allow you to firstly set-up and then optimise a linux web server of your own, and then later manage it by applying update and performing general web server maintenance. Throughout the series we will be using a VPS provided by Digital Ocean which means we will also be going through the process of installing and configuring a web server such as Apache.

How To Setup up a VPS for WordPress (Introduction)

Not only will this series cover the set-up of a web server we will also be covering managing and optimising a WordPress install, this will include plugins to speedup WordPress through the use of add ons such as W3C Total Cache and ensuring that a WordPress install is secure from intruders. Next we will discuss the use of caching servers such as Varnish, to serve static pages rather than dynamic pages.

We will be posting the next parts of the series throughout the next few months, and we will try to keep them to a regular schedule, although this will depend on whether or not we have to give time to other commitments. To keep up to date with the series you can follow us on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook or if you’d rather, you can subscribe to our RSS feed.

Verdun: An Online WWI FPS

Verdun: An Online WWI FPS

Verdun is probably one of the only currently available, realistic World War One first person shooters. The game is in early access and is being worked on by M2H Studios, who are an indie game development company based in the Netherlands. The game is running under the Unity engine, which we believe to now be the Unity 5 engine or at least M2H are supposedly planning to release the final game under the latest revision of the Unity engine. The gameplay encapsulates the allied forces against the German forces in good old trench warfare. As Verdun is based in World War One the guns are mainly bolt actions with the exception of some machine guns and semi automatic pistols.

However, Verdun is not your average point and shoot shooter. The game takes on a relatively realistic approach with many body shots from a bolt action rifle being a one shot kill and a couple of shots from a pistol being equally as deadly. This can make the game rather challenging for those accustomed to games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield where kills are often obtained from many shots wounding the body of an enemy.

Verdun: An Online WWI FPS

Overall my impression of the game is rather positive, the maps are great whilst also be historically accurate in terms of design and the gameplay somewhat atmospheric and immersive. My only gripes with the game at this moment in time would be that killing an enemy player seems rather dissatisfying as there appears to be a distinct lack of blood spurts and bullet wound textures emerging from the enemy players.

The rag-dolls whilst proving amusing after you’ve have blown someone sky-high with a grenade do not offer the same experience or immersion as the deaths present in games such as Call of Duty’s World at War. The addition of a few more sound effects mainly in the form of when a player is either killed or hurt would go along way. A few more character animations such as flinching when hit and possibly more “lifeless” deaths would also be a feature that I for one would quite like to see added to the game.

Your Trump Card for Child Safety

An iOS Spy App – Your Trump Card for Child Safety!

Are you ever concerned about the safety of your kid? Kids are so passionate about gadgets and smartphones nowadays that nothing fascinates them more, other than their brand new iPhone handset. In this age where street crime is on the rise, you must ensure that your kids are safe and are where they should be. To get some assurity regarding this, you can be relatively relaxed because an iOS spy app will let you do just that!

What is an iOS spy app?

A phone monitoring app is basically cell phone software that can be installed on any iPhone that you’d like to trace. When it comes to your kids, you have every right to ascertain their security by any means necessary, and using an iOS spy app will make spying on your kids absolutely safe and secure – your kids have no way of finding out that you are tracking their phones.

Which Spy App should you go for?

There are all kinds of tracking apps but not all run on iPhone. An iOS spy app is a technically difficult app to create, so not all software houses venture into that. Xnspy on the whole is a pretty decent app and its geo-tracking feature is what makes it really special. If you suspect that your kids skip classes and hang out with friends instead, or simply want to keep tabs on your kids when they are out on their own, you can simply install Xnspy on their handsets once and after that you can remotely trace their location anytime and anywhere using GPS. The location of your child will be shown in the shape of a pointer on the map.

Your Trump Card for Child Safety

Not only that, Xnspy has an edge – you can also trace the location history of the iPhone user. You can see precisely where your kids went the entire day, and view the route they used to reach that location. So at the end of the day, you can check their location history to get a full picture of where they’ve been, along with time records.

Apart from the tracking features, Xnspy has other handy features including:

  • Spy SMS and e-mail
  • Spy calls
  • Record phone surrounding
  • View pictures and videos
  • Get instant alerts on specific words in SMS, contacts e ail IDs and SIM changes
  • Check web browsing history

Thousands of parents have opted for Xnspy because it not only traces Geo-Location, it also helps spying on other phone content as well. All iPhone models running on iOS 6.0 and higher, including the latest iPhone 6S, are fully compatible with this software. With Xnspy, your worrying days are over. So let your kids be on their own – why restrict them when you can check up on them at anytime? Xnspy is an iOS spy app like no other!

You can find Xnspy on the iOS App Store, the Google Play Store, or find out more on the Xnspy site.

My 6 Favourite Web Design Inspiration Sites

My 6 Favourite Web Design Inspiration Sites

There are all sorts of different websites and magazines people like to use for web design inspiration, but like most people, I have a few favourites. So, just incase you weren’t aware of some of these sites (which is unlikely), I’ll run through 6 of my favourite sites for web design inspiration (in no particular order). If you know any other websites which are particularly good for this sort of thing, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

  1. Dribbble

    Seeing as this is probably the most obvious site, I’ll show you this one first. Dribbble is one of the most popular places to find inspiration, not just for web design, but for almost anything: graphic design; fonts; icons; drawings; logos – you name it. It’s on Dribbble. What’s more, you can follow users who create things you like, so your Dribbble homepage shows specifically what you are looking for.

  2. CodePen

    CodePen is another great site for inspiration, although not so much for full page designs. This site is focused more towards CSS / jQuery snippets of code, such as experiments or creations people have made. Nevertheless, it’s fantastic if you’re looking for ways to spice up your site or think of creative ideas for templates.

  3. Design Fridge

    Design Fridge is another good source of inspiration for full site designs and snippets, along with articles, tutorials and other resources to help inspire you and improve your website.My 6 Favourite Web Design Inspiration Sites

  4. Themeforest

    The theme marketplace, Themeforest is another great source of inspiration, with WordPress, HTML, eCommerce and more themes available for purchase. As with most other sources of inspiration, it’s important you don’t just copy these themes (especially if you are looking for inspiration in order to submit to the Themeforest marketplace!), but it can be interesting to see the common trends and what sells well in order to give you some starting ideas.

    Of course, if you like a theme you see on Themeforest a lot you can just buy it! (While you’re there please check out my portfolio: themeforest.net/user/Septimus_fossett and Taylor’s portfolio: themeforest.net/user/Singularity_Designs)

  5. CSS Winner

    This site is a collection of websites that have been awarded for good design and CSS – so naturally if you’re looking for inspiration from exemplar, highly commended work this is a good place to start.

  6. CSSDeck

    Similar to CodePen, CSSDeck has a vast collection of user submitted CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and more creations, experiments and demos. It’s a great source of inspiration to scroll through the endless pages of items – you’re bound to come across something interesting!

And there you have it. 6 of my favourite sources for inspiration. If I ever get “designer’s block” and am struggling for ideas, a quick trip around some of these sites will soon set me back on the right track, even sometimes improving what I was already working on.

I hope you get similar use out of these sites, and if any of you have a Dribbble invite doing nothing… (joking!)

Finally, if you have any other inspiration websites that you feel should be included on this list, leave a comment below and if I like your sites I’ll gladly update this post!

Where to Find Free Images for Your Themes

Where to Find Free Images for Your Themes

It’s a common problem that faces web designers, especially those who sell themes and templates on sites such as Themeforest. Having decent images will definitely help to sell more copies of your design, but that means you need to find royalty-free images which are safe to use in commercial projects. Normally, for better quality images, you’d have to spend money on sites such as iStockphoto, in some cases having to pay even more for extended licenses.

They’re sometimes hard to find, but there are a few sites which offer royalty-free images for free, with a requirements that you either ask for permission from the authors if you are using the images commercially, or attribute them and so on. These can be useful, but if you would rather have images with no hassle and no copyright concerns, then you can visit some sites that offer 100% free images, for use in anything. In this post, I’ll show you some websites from both of these categories.

Stock.xchng

First of all, let’s take a look at stock.xchng (that’s the name, not it’s web address – see sxc.hu). You have to create a free account, but you can download any of over 400,000 free images available. There’s a huge selection of photos available, and they’re all free. Of course, you get similar images from iStockphoto showing up mixed in with the free results, so be careful. Also, you need to be careful to check the licenses for each photo, as the different authors have different requirements and limits on how you use their photos.

Unsplash

Unsplash is a fantastic Tumblr site, offering 10 new photos every 10 days. Unlike Stock.xchng, you don’t need to make an account, and there are absolutely no restrictions on the images. They’re 100% free, suitable for commercial use, or in other words – “do whatever you want” with them. Specifically, their licensed under CC0 which simply confirms that the images are completely free. You can subscribe on Tumblr to make sure you always get the new images, and you can even submit some of your photos.

Where to Find Free Images for Your Themes

Gratisography

Gratisography is a site with a nicer, more modern responsive design. Once again, all the images are completely free for any use, and “free from copyright restrictions”. You don’t need to make an account, and all the images are even high-resolution. In fact, I was going to use an image from this site for the featured image of this post, but the resolution was too high for this WordPress installation to handle!

InterfaceLIFT

I often use this site to find images. Technically it’s a wallpaper site, but they are free and very good quality images available in almost any resolution for any device. You don’t need an account to download the images, but it is optional. However, you do need to be careful with copyright and licensing as most images require at least attribution and are not available for use in commercial projects – but I have seen some Themeforest themes use images from this site. Even if you don’t use pictures from this site for your theme, the images still make fantastic wallpapers!

These are the four sites I like to use most often when searching for images. There are endless uses on websites, a good example is fullscreen background images for items such as Under Construction templates. When making themes for commercial sale, you need to be careful. While it’s often fine to use images in the live previews of items, you need to make sure you’re allowed to do this as you are technically ‘selling’ the images although not directly. If you want to be extra careful, I recommend using images from sites such as Unsplash or Gratisography that offer copyright-free images.

Good luck finding images for your themes, and remember to be careful with copyright!

Create a Basic CSS Stitched Effect

Create a Basic CSS Stitched Effect

I know this has been done before lots of times, but this is a quick and easy effect done in CSS, which can help spice up your designs. Although I can’t think of a reason to use it myself in the ‘metro’ and Flat-UI trends of today, but just in case you want to give your DIVs a retro makeover, this is the tutorial for you.

HTML

There’s very minimal HTML for this tutorial. All we need is a DIV, with the class stitch. You can put whatever text, inputs, images or anything you like inside the DIV.

[blockquote]
<div class=”stitch”>
Web, Tech & Gadgetry
</div>
[blockquote]

CSS

Because it is a relatively simple design, there is little CSS needed. Of course, you can customise most of the options, such as the background colour, font styles and more. Also, it’s worth noting that in the featured image of this post and in the downloadable version of this tutorial, a little extra CSS is used to give the paper-styled background image.

Create a Basic CSS Stitched Effect

[blockquote ]

.stitch {
width: auto;
display: inline-block;
background-color: white;
padding: 25px;
margin: 10px;
color: #CCC;
font-size: 21px;
border: 2px dashed rgba(204,204,204,0.5);
border-radius: 10px;
box-shadow: 0px 0px 0px 6px white;
font-weight: normal;
}

[/blockquote]

And that’s it! As I mentioned earlier, it’s a very simple but effective technique. If you wanted to be more adventurous, you could make this effect look much more realistic and ‘retro’, but if you want it to look minimal and keep things simple, this is the best option for you. Enjoy!

You can download this completed tutorial from Dropbox.

Upgrading to PHP 7 on CentOS 6

Upgrading to PHP 7 on CentOS 6

After only recently realising we were running PHP 5.3, a release that came out a good seven years ago, we thought it a good time for an upgrade. Unfortunately due to CentOS’ stance on long term support, rather than the bleeding edge, this task at first proved quite difficult. As of now for CentOS 6, and I believe CentOS 7, there is no readily available package for upgrading to PHP 7.

Much to our luck we eventually came across an article going over the details of setting up PHP 7 on a CentOS Virtual Private Server (VPS), I’ve included a link to said article at the bottom of this post.

Installing PHP 7

Installing PHP 7 went surprisingly smoothly. The first requirement was to remove what was the currently installed PHP Apache module. To do this we entered the following command:

yum remove php*

Upgrading to PHP 7 on CentOS 6

The above command removes all installed packages beginning with PHP, before you do this we do very much recommend you take a backup of everything first just in case anything goes terribly wrong.

The next step involves downloading the latest version of PHP 7, which at the time of writing this article is PHP 7.0.2. The following command downloads the latest PHP repository to your current directory:

rpm -Uvh https://mirror.webtatic.com/yum/el6/latest.rpm

The final step assumes you will be using PHP for a standard WordPress installation:

yum install php70w php70w-opcache php70w-mysql

If everything has gone as expected a simple restart of your Apache server should result in a working PHP installation. To check whether PHP 7 has installed correctly we’d recommend running the phpinfo(); function.

Conclusion

As we use Cloudflare to aggressively cache our blog’s pages, upgrading to PHP 7 had very little impact on our frontend performance. Those of you who aren’t currently using a CDN or some form caching should see their page loading times half.

Having said the above, our WordPress admin is certainly much more responsive.

Links

https://webtatic.com/packages/php70/

Star Wars

Star Wars Battlefront

Many of us will have fond memories of growing up with Star Wars: Battlefront on the good old PS2 – and now, with a new generation of Star Wars on the horizon, the legacy (finally) continues. The new first-person-shooter from EA is expected to go on sale around the same time as the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but a new trailer hints at a full reveal of the game at Star Wars Celebration, in April 2015.

Here’s the trailer everyone’s been talking about:

As you may notice, this is exactly the same trailer as the one which was released last year – so don’t get too excited. The only difference is that this latest trailer mentions the reveal date for the new Star Wars: Battlefront, in April 2015.

The game is expected to be available on all major platforms, including PC, Xbox One and PS4.

Here’s another video released by EA, which shows some behind the scenes footage:

This video is a bit more interesting, as it shows the incredible attention to detail which has gone into making the new version of Battlefront. The team has scanned the models used in the original Star Wars films and even visited the locations in order to make the game as realistic and accurate as possible. Judging by the early in-engine footage seen in the video above, the quality looks amazing.

 

“Above all, it is our passion for Star Wars which will bring this legacy to life, like never before.”

Star Wars

As the quote from the team suggests, the passion they have for Star Wars should really help ensure this title is of good quality – hopefully this will make them put in a lot of effort and care to ensure the latest version of Star Wars: Battlefront is a game to remember.

The video ends with a rather fitting quote from Yoda – you guessed it – “Do or do not. There is no try”.

We can’t wait to find out more about this game in April – hopefully our patience will be rewarded.

7 Web Design Ireland Trends for 2020

7 Web Design Ireland Trends for 2020

2019 has been a jam packed year with many ups and downs, we had Brexit, the rise of Donald Trump and the loss of Carrie Fisher from Star Wars. However, since it is only a couple of days until we spring into 2020. Here are seven of the top web design trends I expect to see in the next year.

Here are seven of the top web design Ireland trends I expect to see in the next year.

1. Greater emphasis on UX frameworks

User experience plays a huge part in how we use the web on a day to day basis. This experience needs to seamlessly transfer across devices, be it a laptop or a smartphone. With smartphones pretty much reaching parity with desktops for page views, the checkout experience needs to be just as polished as its desktop counterpart, Web designers Ireland is giving more emphasis on UX frameworks.

2. Rise of Material Design

One of the biggest web design trends of 2019 was flat design. I expect this trend to continue into 2020, albeit with a twist. Design guidelines such as Google’s Material Design will become mainstay. In my own opinion, having a consistent design ethos across our sites is a great way of giving visitors a good experience. learn more about Google’s Material Design at https://www.templatemonster.com/blog/google-material-design/

7 Web Design Ireland Trends for 2020

3. SVG Animations

As smartphones and other mobile devices become more capable thanks to faster and more efficient CPUs, web designer Ireland will have more options when it comes to animations. It will be possible to make animations more complex and more elegant.

An advantage of SVG is that it doesn’t make any HTTP requests, this results in faster rendering times – a factor most important on mobiles.

4. Flex will show some muscle

Flex has been around for awhile now, however, it hasn’t as of yet fully taken off. This has mostly been because of cross browser compatibility, rather than lack of interest. In 2017 I would expect this to change, since flex makes it so much nicer and easier for designers to create simple and lightweight grid systems in CSS.

For those new to flex it may take a little while to get used to, but I can assure you that you’ll love it once you get to know it. You’ll soon be wondering why you ever used anything else.

Yet to try flex? Here’s a great tutorial.

5. Greater accessibility

Responsive design is great for cross device compatibility. However, its purpose serves the device and not the consumer. In 2017 I think we will see a shift towards accessibility becoming a greater factor of design. An example of this could be providing a solution to those hard of sight. Such solutions may include greater emphasis on contrast and typography.

6. Accelerated Mobile Pages

As much as this may not be a trend for 2017, since AMP was already around in 2016, AMP will continue its rapid adoption. We may even see other non-article based pages start using it. Such a technology may prove useful for speeding up mobile browsing on commerce sites.

If you’re unfamiliar with AMP you’ve probably already come across it when looking at the news on your phone. AMP strips out all of the bulk and leaves behind a functional yet lightning fast version of the same page. This yields faster page loads and lower data costs.

7. Bigger, bolder typography

2017 will see the return of bigger, bolder typography. Websites will make a greater effort to incorporate typography within the overall design.

I hope you enjoyed reading my list as much as I enjoyed writing it. What are your favorite Ireland web design trend predictions for 2020?

SnapPower Charger

SnapPower Charger: USB Chargers Built Into Power Sockets

The latest gadget hit to make its way to Kickstarter is called SnapPower. The concept behind SnapPower is to have a USB charger built into conventional wall socket that can be used to charge any device, from your phone to your tablet and just about any other device that is powered via a USB cable. SnapPower is being created to solve an ever increasing problem, and that is our desire to own more and more gadgets and with more gadgets come more power adaptors. The issue with conventional power adaptors is that they are required for charging many of today’s devices, and are often not available to us in the most convenient fashion and can occasionally become misplaced.

The huge advantage of the SnapPower Charger is that we would be able to charge any of our USB based charging devices using a power outlet in any one room in our homes, without having to look for that ever elusive power adaptor. In itself the SnapPower Charger is hugely advantageous around the home, but its possibilities would be almost endless if it were to be mass adopted in a more commercial setting. For example, if you were going away for a bit and happened to forget your adaptor but had a spare USB cable, you could simply charge your devices from a power outlet in a hotel. Of course the added benefit of this is you wouldn’t have to carry your power adaptors around with you, but simply the USB cable.

The picture above shows just how practical this invention really is, as it doesn’t interfere with any other devices in your home as it is of course connected via its own socket, and therefore there are more free power outlets available to you should you need them. More information on the SnapPower Charger can be found on its official Kickstarter page.