Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

SendGrid Improves Email Marketing Editor Experience

The SendGrid Design Editor

SendGrid, a MailChimp competitor, pushes forward with new marketing campaign enhancements

While I may be an old dog with decades of experience utilizing websites for marketing purposes, I'm more like a newborn puppy when it comes to email marketing. Until a couple years ago, I never utilized email campaigns or email newsletters in hopes to get more visits to my websites. My current email marketing service provider is MailChimp, but there is another customer communication platform that is on my radar, Colorado-based SendGrid.

This week, SendGrid announced a new editing experience for SendGrid Marketing Campaigns. The new email marketing editor addresses familiar pain points for marketers who previously had to choose between the convenience of visual design and efficient editing of code.

“Savvy, time-starved marketers crave elegant visual design tools that also allow them to quickly and safely edit HTML,” said Steve Sloan, Chief Product Officer at SendGrid. “With the enhancements made to the SendGrid Marketing Campaigns editor, marketers no longer have to choose one or the other. They are now equipped with the tools to choose their own path when editing for flexibility and efficiency, empowering them to drive high engagement from their campaigns.”

New flexible editing options give marketers the ability to edit in code, design view, or a mix of both, minimizes the risk of unwanted changes to custom HTML and delivers time savings and efficiencies. The improved editing experience benefits SendGrid customers whether they send campaigns via Marketing Campaigns or create API triggered templates through SendGrid’s delivery platform.

Powered by Battery: The Ryobi Electric Riding Lawnmower

Ryobi-RM480E

A few weeks ago during my visit to the local Home Depot, I came across the Ryobi RM480E, an all-battery powered electric riding lawn mower. Ryobi claims that you'll get up to 2 hours of run time or cut up to 2 acres on a single charge. This quiet, smooth battery powered riding mower houses three high-torque brushless motors to support the mower's blades and drivetrain.  The RM480E's uses four 12V lead acid batteries instead of lithium-ion which given the choice  and given the size of the mower  so they're not lithium).

The mower itself has a 38 in. cutting width with a 12-position deck height adjustment. Cutting height ranges from a minimum measured at 1.5 inches to a maximum of 4.5 inches. The mower is capable of cutting in three modes: side-discharge, mulching, and bagging.

I have not reviewed the Ryobi RM480E myself, but overall the mower has received favorable reviews. However, most reviewers recommend that if you have around 2 acres or more you should stick with a gas mower. After 2 acres of mowing, the RM480E will likely require an overnight charge before you can continue cutting the rest of your acreage. The best Ryobi RM480E reviews I've read so far are written by Pro Tool Reviews as well as Paul Sikkema over at Today's Mowers.  For the best video review, check out the review by Tools In Actions (embedded below).

Article first appeared at Powered by Battery.

WordPress 4.8 introduces four new widgets

New WordPress 4.8 widgets

WordPress 4.8 is named "Evans" in honor of jazz pianist and composer William John “Bill” Evans.

WordPress 4.8 is now available and introduces users to new content management tools including three media widgets covering images, audio and video. The "Evans" release also includes link improvements, an updated text widget that supports visual editing, and an upgraded news and events section in your dashboard. 

When Matt Mullenweg announced the release of WordPress 4.8 he mentioned that this new version was built with you in mind. While the updates seem minor, he indicated that users will find that the improvements intuitive enough that "you’ll welcome [the changes] like an old friend".

New Widgets for WordPress

As mentioned, Wordpress includes three new media widgets and one rich text widget. Below is a description of all four widgets:

1. Image Widget

Adding an image to a widget is now a simple task that is achievable for any WordPress user without needing to know code. You simply insert your image right within the widget settings and see it appear automatically.

2. Video Widget

You can now add any video from the Media Library to a sidebar on your site with the new Video widget. WordPress gives examples of how this widget could be used including "to showcase a welcome video to introduce visitors to your site or promote your latest and greatest content".

3. Audio Widget

Despite the increased popularity of video in content, interest in podcast creation is making its own comeback. WordPress sees their new audio widget being welcomed by podcasters, musicians, and avid bloggers. Users just need to upload their audio file to the Media Library, go to the widget settings, select your file, and the page is ready for listeners.

An End of an Era: Mollom End-of-Life Announcement

Mollom Logo

Sometimes I get too nostalgic over computers or software that I once used in my daily life. I remember my first computer (the Commodore Vic-20), I remember my first programming language (BASIC), and I remember my first spam filtering software for user generated content (Akismet). But nine years ago, a new spam filtering service originally intended for Drupal called Mollom emerged and I quickly forgot about the other spam blocking software.

I was first introduced to Mollom by Dries Buytaert via an invitation to beta test the service on my websites. After installing Mollom, the amount of time I spent moderating anonymous comments for potential spam was significantly reduced. In less than three years, Mollom had blocked more than 100,000 pieces of spam on one of my websites. Along the way, Mollom was acquired by Acquia and would record blocking over 13.5 billion spam comments worldwide since its inception.

It was a good run for Mollom but unfortunately the end is near. An end-of-life announcement has been placed on the Mollom website notifying users that Acquia will no longer be supporting the service after April 2, 2018.

As of 2 April 2018, Acquia will no longer actively support or maintain Mollom. After that point in time, the Mollom service will no longer be available. If you still have the Mollom module enabled on your site at that point, either all comments will be approved or all comments will be denied depending on how you have the Mollom module configured . We suggest disabling the Mollom module in advance of the end-of-life date.

Joomla 3.7 Offers Seven Significant Improvements

Joomla 3.7

A more feature rich Joomla! has just been released.

This week, the Joomla! Project announced the release of Joomla 3.7. This new release in the Joomla! 3 series features over 700 improvements to the popular content management system, including many features which "make administration of Joomla! Web sites easier and more feature-rich, as well as several security updates". The following are the seven biggest new feature improvements I found in Joomla 3.7.

1) Custom Fields

Administrators now have the ability to add Custom Fields to their articles, users, and contacts. Extension developers can also use this feature within their own custom Joomla! Extensions. With Custom Fields, there are now 15 different field types that can be utilized to structure more complex content entry systems which in-turn allows content authors to easily enter their data in a standard manner and display it consistently for site visitors.

2) Multilingual Associations Component

The Multilingual Associations Component allows administrators and authors to easily translate content from one single, unified interface. 

3) Improved Workflow

A category, article, or menu item can now all be created in one step from within the menu manager.

4) New Backend Menu Manager

Intended for sites where multiple people are accessing the Backend/Admin-side of the site is the ability to easily manage the admin menu with the new Backend Menu Manager. Now one can can create custom menus for the Backend just like you can for the Frontend. This feature allows site administrators to control which users can see what admin menu options

5) TinyMCE Improvements

More can now be done with the included rich-text editor including new buttons to easily add menu links and contacts.