Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

Next Level Microsoft: Goodbye Office & Exchange 2003

bannerIt’s hard to believe that 2003 was over ten years ago. It’s even harder to believe that some people are still using software from over ten years ago. Microsoft 2003 users are in for a big change soon; and a BIG surprise if they haven’t been taking note of all of the chatter about Microsoft ending support for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange Server 2003.

Earlier this month WSD gave our two cents regarding the end of Windows XP and we hope our readers took to heart the urgency of updating the software. As of April 8th, 2014, all support will cease for XP, Office 03, and Exchange 03, leaving those users who continue to use the software vulnerable to security threats, malicious attacks, and compliance issues.

Microsoft is doing their best to provide support and guidance for those making the shift. They’ve sent out plenty of friendly reminders and they now are offering a big promotion for Office 365, their latest software for Office platforms – Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. For businesses, if you sign up by the end of March you receive 30% off your invoice for the first three months. For personal use, you can try one month for free. Office 365 is entirely in a cloud – with Office 365 for the home, Office programs can be accessed from up to five PC’s and Macs and 5 mobile devices per household. For Office 365 for business, Office tools can be accessed unlimitedly.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 is offered to users three ways: online –  hosted by a service from Microsoft, offline – with the ability to run Exchange on your own servers, and as a part of Office 365. This versatility is wonderful for the range of those who use for Exchange, from home use to corporate accounts.

The versatility and availability of new software is the best gift Microsoft could give to those upgrading from 2003 software. Regardless of the time and energy needed to make the switch, it will dramatically increase your workflow and modernize your every day life.


About WebSight Design

WebSight Design is a bay area web design agency that offers a full range of services such as website design and development, mobile development, search engine optimization, PPC, website hosting, and more. Since 1995 we have built numerous websites for high-profile clients, our largest clients being real estate companies and realtors, as well as small business in the U.S. and around the world. Contact us now.

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Google App Misfiled Messages

Gmail_PNG_icon_512x512_px_size_by_ncrowAre you a dedicated Gmail user? Did the important email from your coworker never show up in your inbox? It and many other unexpected emails may be incorrectly placed in Trash, Spam, or other misleading folders.

An issue in Gmail was caused when a bug was found in a Gmail software update on January 15th. The issue was fixed on January 21st, so the week in between dates is when the damage occurred.

Actions such as deleting, reporting spam, starring, archiving, or moving to a folder, were incorrectly applied to a different message than the user implied. The affected users were those accessing Gmail from the Gmail Application in iOS, a mobile browser, and Gmail Offline.

By January 21st the Gmail engineers identified affected users and notified them of the issue. They also provided a list of users whose messages may have been misfiled during the week.

Gmail is sincerely apologetic and has assured users they have performed an internal review and are in the process of implementing to help prevent recurrence.

WSD’s advice to you – check your Spam and Trash folders for the dates above. Do so quickly – spam and Trash folders automatically permanently delete after 30 days. Also, check your inbox for the dates as well to make sure no messages intended for Trash or Spam are still hanging in your omnipotent inbox.


About WebSight Design

WebSight Design is a bay area web design company providing business clients with a range of web site design and development services. We also offer a full range of dedicated and virtual secure website hosting services. We are always quick to respond and value customer relations. Prevention of hacking, spam, and malicious activity on our servers is one of our highest priorities.

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Popular Hacks in 2013 & How to Protect from Hackers

data-security-hacker-password-security-breach-mobile-patch-theftHacking has played as much a role in 2013 as ever before. WSD takes threats to our clients very seriously and we take great care to ensure the highest level of protection from hacking available.

The term hacker typically conjures up an image of a teenager at a cluttered desk, surrounded by cigarette butts and lit by the dim light of four or five computer monitors. We imagine these savvy saboteurs as malevolent punks with nothing better to do than break into our most trusted sites and sell information to the highest bidder.

While this stereotype might be an accurate label for some within the hacker subculture, it is far from all-inclusive. Hackers have many different motives for doing what they do. Some, like the infamous “anonymous hackers”, consider themselves “hacktivists,” believing they hack to benefit the greater good. Best known for their endorsement of occupy wall street, these anonymous hackers have violated everyone from Sony to the Westboro Baptist Church in an effort to protest internet censorship and third party control. In these cases, they release user information to the public for free in order to expose what they deem as criminal acts.

Many hackers are not so generous. These profit minded individuals search for exploits within popular networks and sell them to the highest bidder. However, sometimes the highest bidder may be the very company they just exploited. Facebook, for example, claims to offer around $500 to any hacker that finds a compromising security issue (though in the case of this Facebook hacker, they didn’t). With more and more companies offering such rewards, hacking has become equally more appealing. In such an age, WSD aims to be the best possible anti-hacking support in even the worst possible situations – a hacked website certainly falls in the latter category.

The hackers of 2013 have been proud to unveil their latest. Just this past year they have hacked popular sites like Apple, Twitter, Yahoo Japan, and even the United States Government’s organizations such as the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Department of Homeland Security and perhaps the most newsworthy, the NSA–Edward Snowden at the lead. How do they get into these high level organizations? They take advantage of vulnerabilities in low level applications like Messenger or even Microsoft Excel. Through these weak spots, they gain access to and release user information on all levels, from magazine subscribers’ credit card information to top level banking officials’ home addresses; a terrifying prospect indeed.

However, we are far from defenseless. Though hacks are becoming increasingly present in our popular culture and in our day-to-day reality, there are ways to protect one’s-self from attacks. Along with improving passwords and being careful when roaming the web, staying secure can involve extensive review. We at WSD provide website security audits as a service to ensure that our clients’ sites are as secure as possible. We monitor our hosted websites 24/7 so any potential security breach is caught immediately and dealt with efficiently. Most importantly, stay informed and be careful; though the hackers can be powerful, with a little effort and a trusted web development agency we can make their jobs much more difficult.


About WebSight Design

WebSight Design is a bay area web design agency that offers a full range of services such as website design and development, mobile development, search engine optimization, PPC, website hosting, and more. Since 1995 we have built numerous websites for high-profile clients, our largest clients being real estate companies and realtors, as well as small business in the U.S. and around the world. Contact us now.

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The End of an Era: Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP

windowsxpAlas, Microsoft has announced its cease of support for Windows XP and Office 2003. Windows XP was launched in 2001 as Microsoft’s first consumer-oriented operated system. A year after XP’s launch, Microsoft introduced it’s Support Lifecycle policy, which includes 10 years of support (5 years mainstream and 5 years extended) of their product.  With this policy in place, it is time that Microsoft retires support for Windows XP.

Windows XP has been one wild ride in the OS world. With all operating systems, there seems to be the typical list of issues. However, XP’s list was almost never ending with a large focus in compatibility and performance issues. XP had a rocky beginning with a rough competition (Windows 2000 and the still much used, Windows 98), so much that Microsoft had to work to convince users to update. Driver support and performance did not match the previous Windows 95, and gamers in particular, were not making the switch.

Regardless of its rocky start, Windows XP has lasted, becoming the first and only PC operating system that has lasted ten years. Over time, Microsoft made continual improvements, and at its peak, XP was used by more than 80% of desktop users. Nevertheless, all things must come to an end. XP has not kept up with modern developments, the technology is dated, and it is slowly killing developers.

With support ending on April 8, 2014, it is time for users of XP to move on and upgrade to Windows 7. The migration process can be a long and grueling one, so we suggest if you and/or your business runs on XP, to start 8 months ago.. (but really, start now!). Microsofts announcement claims, “…the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from business case through full deployment. To ensure you remain on supported versions of Windows and Office, you should begin your planning and application testing immediately to ensure you deploy before end of support.”

What happens if you don’t make the switch? You run the risk of being exposed to security issues, as there will be no new security updates after April 8, 2014. Support will cease; if you do run into a problem, there will be no assistance. Also, new hardware will stop supporting XP and if forced to get new hardware, you will be forced to use the latest Windows OS and Office. It may seem daunting now, but if you wait…you will be sorry.

Here’s to Windows XP…you were around long enough!

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The Mistakes Behind Healthcare.gov Launch

healthcare.govA month ago, the United States was alarmed and alerted of what happens when a website is not thoroughly audited, tested on all platforms, and checked for traffic and security issues. When healthcare.gov launched, the site developers failed miserably on sufficient testing before launch. Healthcare.gov is the home of Obamacare, where millions of Americans are expected to enter personal information to then enroll in a health insurance option. With so many people’s personal information on the site, one would think the security plans would be checked over time and time again. However, this was not the case. A CBS exclusive news report exposes, “A deadline for final security plans was delayed three times over the summer, and final top-to-bottom security tests were never finished before the launch.”

Unfortunately, healthcare.gov is a perfect example of the exact opposite of what needs to happen when launching a site. The site’s server capacity should have been prepared for an influx of traffic on a first day of launch, especially when dealing with millions of citizens across the US who are already frustrated with their health care options. This was supposed to be ease and effortless for these people; instead, users were getting messages like, “please try again later,” and “please wait,” when visiting the site.

Already a security incident has been filed; a man registered with healthcare.gov and received another person’s eligibility letters, which included their name and address. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services replied, “An incident involving the personal information of one consumer was reported…and we took immediate steps. We identified a piece of software code that needed to be fixed and that fix is now in place.” Very shocking that a site with this level of importance and privacy would even come close to a launch date without being 100 percent secure. A thorough risk assessment should shave been completed at least 60-90 days prior to launch.

The most obvious failure of the healthcare.gov launch was the lack of a pre-launch test of the site. It is a must to navigate the site like a user before launch – take note of glitches, confusing navigation, and slow loading pages. Even now, a month later, the site owners have yet to fix all of the faults; the site is taken offline every night from 1 AM to 5 AM for repairs.

At WebSight Design, each of our sites is comprehensively audited weeks before launch. All details of the site are tested including forms, navigation, and internal and external links. We provide enterprise-ready PHP applications with a high level of reliability, performance, and security. WSD also offers a full range of dedicated and virtual server hosting solutions with a server support team with over 25 years of combined experience; we know how to effectively prepare the site to withhold the the influx of traffic on a launch date and throughout time. Our number one suggestion? Find a trusted source for website design and development for a smooth site launch and continual security.


Instagram Ads & How They Affect Your Social Media Campaigns

instainstagramadsDepending on which way you look at it, either you are thrilled about the announcement of Instagram advertisements, or you are far from thrilled. If you are the latter, you scroll through Instagram to take a break from real life and gaze into the multitude of pictures of those you follow doing all of the things you wish you were doing – wine tasting, sandy toes on a beach, playing with puppies and kittens..the list goes on. The thought of a “buy this, click this!” picture interrupting your day dream disgusts you. However, If you are the former, you most likely you spend your days in marketing, advertising, and/or PR, and the announcement of Instagram ads came of no shock to you. From the moment Facebook acquired Instagram, we all knew it was coming.

At the beginning of the month, Instagram announced “you may begin seeing an occasional ad in your Instagram feed,” to users in the United States. Just on Friday, Instagram posted it’s first ‘sponsored post’ (shown in the image to the left) – revealing that the ads will show up identical to others’ pictures, with the small difference of the word “Sponsored” taking over in the top right corner where the time stamp usually lays. The idea of these ads are to be as visually stimulating as the rest of the photos on your feed – filters included. Instagram is rolling out the first of the advertisements with brands who are already on Instagram – Levi’s, Lexus, Ben & Jerry’s, Paypal, Macy’s, and General Electric. With Instagram and Facebook being on the same team, this gives Instagram even more data to see who you follow and what you like – to better find ads that are congruent with users tastes.

As most advertisements on social media platforms, users will have the option to hide the post from their feed and report back to Instagram if they do not like the specific ad or if they find it offensive. Instagram reminded users on their blog  “As always, you own your own photos and videos. The introduction of advertising won’t change this.” This is in response to the addition of the the sentence “You agree that a business may pay Instagram to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions without any compensation to you,” to their terms of service last December, causing an uproar from users who didn’t fully understand the addition of the sentence.

If you are neither thrilled about or dreading Instagram advertisements and are thinking to yourself, “this doesn’t affect me,” then I ask that you get one thing out of this post – social media is becoming more important in major search engine algorithms that affect the entire SEO and local search landscape. That being said – if you own a business or promote a brand, you must be active in social platforms, engaging with fans and customers, developing relevant content, and using analytics to drive better marketing decisions. We know this can be overwhelming and daunting, if you are stuck or unsure what direction to take, contact WSD. We utilize best practice SEO and social marketing to increase our clients’ web sites’ visibility within various search engines. Read more about our internet marketing services.


About Us

WebSight Design is a bay area web design firm created in 1995. We create and manage websites for large firms as well as businesses of smaller sizes. We also specialize in Search Engine Optimization, social media management, hosting, app development, and more.