Monthly Archives: January 2012

Stopping the Spam Robots – Captcha and Re-Captcha

I don’t like CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) . Most of them are difficult to figure out and sometimes – especially with Google – I have to try four or five times to get it right. But the spam robots must be stopped, so CAPTCHA  is one of the better ways to deal with them. You can learn all about CAPTCHA at

I prefer something easier to navigate than the CAPTCHA images, so I  use a math spam blocker instead which I obtained from these fine folks in Denmark. It poses a simple math test (see image left) and has done a great job of blocking those spam robots. I was getting over 50 spam ‘comments’ a day; now I don’t get any.


If, however, you prefer the more traditional CAPTCHA, I can recommend this plug-in.

If you would like assistance with protecting your site from robot spam, Contact Us.

Congratulations, Robert Lemon!

In a field of 500 authors, Robert Lemon has been honored as Advantage Media’s 2011 Author of the Year! Robert’s book, Now is Your Time, draws on his own experience and understanding. Robert received the Airforce Achievement Medal Award, from the Secretary of the Airforce for his achievements in the Air Force. He has been recognized for achieving and surpassing productivity goals in the US Postal Service and in 1988 he founded Believers In Christ Ministries, a non-profit organization based in Miami FL. He received the Speaker Hall Of Fame award from the Professional Speakers Network in 2003 and went on to receive an award in 2004 for his documentary, “Vision To Victory Field Of Dreams” based on his mentoring experiences with NFL and college athletes. That same year, Robert received the Federal Employee of the Year award for his service to the community through the USPS. We were very pleased to work with Robert to remodel his website at Robert is available for speaking engagements through The Keynote Group.

WordPress 3.3.1 Upgrade

The newest release of WordPress is a security update for WordPress 3.3 which features improved performance and ease-of-use. WordPress now supports drag-and-drop uploading as well as built-in support for many of the most popular features that formerly required plug-ins.

Virtual Websource recommends updating to the latest release of WordPress, primarily for security reasons but we believe you will enjoy the vastly improved dashboard as well. And media handling has been greatly improved.

As always, updating WordPress requires that you perform a complete backup of the database and all plugins. But you do backups at least weekly anyway, right? Right??

Prior to upgrading, ensure that all your plug-ins are compatible with the new release of WordPress. This can be a major issue if you have not been upgrading regularly. Often plug-ins don’t get updated regularly – sometimes they are dropped all together and will not work on the most recent WordPress release. We once upgraded a client from 2.9 to 3.3 and the entire site was killed!

Which points up another really important concept – all sites should have a development site where all changes are tested before they go live, including WordPress upgrades. If you don’t have a development site, talk to us about it today.

Virtual Websource is offering a special WordPress Upgrade package for only $50 which includes full backup and plug-in evaluation. Contact Us today to take advantage of this offer.

Handling Blog Comments

You will notice that few comments appear on my blog. It’s not that I haven’t received comments – I receive several comments every day, especially on the Typography blog post – but the vast majority of the comments do not contribute to the blog. Unless the comment offers something of value to the readers of the blog, I don’t approve it. Typically these comments are something along the lines of “Thank you for your blog posting. It’s a very nice blog.” Certainly a nice sentiment, but it doesn’t offer any value. They are almost always from someone at a company trying to promote their own website by having links to their website on someone else’s blog. It is important to have links on other websites and offering comments on other people’s blog is a good way to do that – but there must be valuable content in the comment to make it worthy of reading and following the link back to your site. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time.

A useful comment would be something along the lines of, “I have received a great deal of positive feedback on my website by using the techniques recommended in this blog. My website’s typography looks much more professional and refined and my readers have commented that it make it easier to read. Another great resource I’ve found for typography is (website address.)” This is a comment I would approve. Even a negative comment such as, “I disagree. I think it’s ridiculous to spend that much time just making the typography look pretty – the readers come to my website for information, no to ooh and ah over a pretty website.” At least it’s an expression of opinion that is relevant to the topic and will, hopefully, generate more discussion.

Comments are resources for your blog. If the writer of the comment has typos or grammar errors, correct them before approving the post. Their errors would reflect badly on your own blog. Of course, you do not allow comments to appear on your blog until they have been reviewed – it is much too dangerous to allow people to add content to your website without your approval.

Blogs collect a lot of spam. There are filters such as Akismet (no longer free except for personal websites) or Mollom that help reduce it, but it is just a fact of life that blogging will include processing spam. Even if Akismet or Mollom don’t consider a comment to be spam, does it add value to your blog? You still have to do some manual filtering, though it will be much less than without the filter.

Typography and Web-Safe Fonts

Typography represents one of the great challenges in building an engaging and dynamic website. The greatest challenge lies in the fact that there are very few fonts a web designer can use that will be properly presented to all users. Fonts will only be properly displayed if they are installed on the user’s computer. If the designer opts for a beautiful font but the font is not installed on the user’s computer, the computer makes its own decision on what font should be used in the place of the specified font which may provide extremely disappointing results.

In this case, the design can – and definitely should – provide a list of fonts to use in decreasing order of desirability. This greatly enhances the possibility that the page will be rendered in an acceptable fashion, especially if one or more of the so-called web-safe fonts are included in the list. These are fonts that exist on the vast majority of computers – the nearly universal fonts such as arial, verdana, courier, and georgia. These fonts exist in one of just a few variations on pretty much every computer available, although the names may change between various operating systems.

There are work-arounds. Google fonts provide a much larger list of fonts available, but the fonts typically look a little odd. They’re just not presented well. In addition, there are some other services that will allow you to use fonts hosted on their servers. Most of these charge for that service. I can’t honestly speak to the quality of presentation because I haven’t tried them. Extensis and Font Agent Pro are the two dominant players in the field. If you have experience with these or similar services, please leave a comment, describing your experience with them.

Virtual Websource prefers to use the websafe fonts in more imaginative ways. By playing with the spacing, sizing, and other characteristics of the 15 or so web-safe fonts, a wide range of typographic presentations may be generated. An excellent resource for viewing and obtaining the style sheet control codes to generate those results may be viewed at Go view their displays and be prepared to be impressed.

For assistance in improving your website’s typography, Contact Us.