News and Thoughts

A New Generation of Content Management Systems That Don't Use MySQL

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Simplify, Simplify - H. D. Throreu
There's a perception that even WordPress is too complex. Platforms like Ghost promise to be "just a blog." With that as a background, here's some modern flat-file CMSs. I also tried to get some feel of the ecosystem surrounding each by seeing if they had a means of displaying an RSS feed on the site.


First impressions: kept telling me I was logged out, fairly frustrating.
Seems to have about 100 plugins, but no RSS feed display.
Most of the other sites have separate public facing and administrator-facing sides like Joomla or WordPress. Typesetter just adds a toolbar to the public side for the administrator. This is much like Drupal's interface.

 I'm always being asked about SEO and how to get ranked better. Here's an overview of how it's done: 

Nine Steps to Successful SEO and Two Free Hints

First: Create a real website that can actually be found. Not a facebook page, not an instagram following, or other social media. On these platforms, you’re a squatter, nothing more. You also need a website with actual content, not flash or javascript. Some point-and-click website builders create beautiful websites that are all but invisible to search engines. If you want to see what your website looks like to search engines, pull it up in a browser and do a “view page source”. That’s control-U in Firefox and see if you can read the key text of your site. If so, thats a good start.

Second: Install Google Analytics. Some web companies won’t let you do this and try to get by with their own lame statistics. Google Analytics is the standard by which others are judged. You’ll find more help and information about GA than anything else, so it’s the best first cut. Why do we install this? Because you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Objective measurement takes all the emotion out of the rest of the process.

tsa badges medAs you'll recall from my last email, I was in Nashville the last week in June. My stepdaughter participated in the National Technology Student Association competition. She placed in the top ten for her event and we're very proud of her. The TSA is a student organization with chapters in many middle and high schools in the US and several foreign countries. The students construct projects individually or in teams on topics like Animatronics, Digital Photography, Digital Video, Web Design, Software Development, CNC fabrication, CAD design, and dozens of other areas. I volunteered to help judge the Software Development competition. There were 44 teams competing at the Nationals. Some of the projects were clearly learning exercises to help the students learn the basics, but about a half dozen projects really blew us away. One group wrote web-based software to manage a Boy Scout Camp and was actually in produciton. Another was a graphcs program to generate texture maps for games and 3D renderings. Another detected screen flashes that could trigger epileptic seizures and blanked the screen. The winner was a project to help people learn to spell words in American sign language. It was browser-based and presented the user with the sign language alphabet. The user would select a letter to practice and the learning program would turn on the webcam. The user points the webcam to a plain wall and signs the letter. The software then snaps a photo of the user, does edge detection and a statistical comparison to the reference and tells the user if they signed the letter correctly. It was truly amazing for high school students to create software this sophisticated. I was impressed. If you have a chance to support or volunteer with organizations like the TSA in your community, I encourage you to do so. Just my brief time with these remarkable young people was very rewarding.

One of my long-time favorite websites, has been off the air for five days now. I don't care how great your website is, if it's down, nobody can use it. I was talking with a prospective client yesterday and she asked about uptime. So I logged into the monitoring service we use and pulled the actual statistics for one of our long-time clients. Over the last week we're at 100%, last 30 days 99.99% and the lifetime of when we've hosted them is 99.94% So I think we (and Amazon Web Services who runs our servers) is doing pretty well. uptime chart

We've used Mandrill from Mailchimp for years for our transactional email. We've recently changed to SparkPost. I made a video so others can learn how to as well:


I’ve used Mandrill from Mailchimp for years to do the transactional email for my Joomla sites. It was free up to 10,000 emails a month and worked great. But now it’s a $20 a month add on to a $10 a month mailchimp account. If you divide that by the number of emails I actually send, it’s cheaper to drop them a postcard. Are there alternatives?

Yes, mailchimp recommended Sparkpost. I’ve been using them for a month or so and I really like them.

Let’s walk through how to set up Sparkpost with Joomla.

In this article and it's corresponding video, we try to answer two questions: What should be in a basic website? and How much does one cost? Clearly you all have websites, but if you have a friend or colleague that doens't please pass this along to them. Thanks!

This is another in our educational video series we're doing over at the This one's about "Do Websites Work for Small Business?" Hope you enjoy. Pass it along to your colleagues who may be a bit fuzzy on some of these points. 

Know a friend, colleague, family member, or arch-enemy that needs a new website? Refer them to us and if we do business with them, we'll gladly give you a finder's fee. Generally at least enough for the corn dog special night at Sonic. We appreciate working with all our clients and like to show that appreciation for good word-of-mouth in a tangible way. 

How'd you like a free month of hosting? Of course you would! And now it's easy! Just write a review of OpenFace Systems on Google, Yelp, or any other major review site, send us proof and we'll knock a month off your hosting. So help us and we'll help you. It's a win-win!

Ok, a horribly mixed aphorism, from "If a tree falls in a forest and there's no one to hear it, does it make a sound?" But if your website somehow goes off the air, who gets notified and how? We subscribe to a website monitoring and updating service called It enables us to update most of the components on most of our clients websites from a central dashboard so I don't have to log into each and every one every time there's an update to JCE. Part of the service also monitors the websites. Every five minutes their program goes out and visits the home page of each site. In the event that one's unavailable, I receive an email immediately and can take action. Is the service perfect? No. I occasionally get an email about a site being down, but then I visit the site and it's fine. Sometimes network glitches happen and it triggers such a false alarm. These are few and far between, and better to err on the side of caution.