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October 18, 2011

Telestream Episode 6 – FINALLY Works with Mac OS X Lion

Picture of a lionAfter I upgraded to Mac OS X Lion several months ago, I was overall pretty happy. The one program that seems to have taken forever to update has been Telestream’s Episode 6.  Episode does video transcoding but it’s the best one I’ve seen.  I’m not a video production professional so Episode has many features I don’t use; however, it’s very intuitive and pretty fast.  But it didn’t work with Lion… until now!

I just received an email from Telestream

The new version is Episode 6.2.  You can’t upgrade it from Lion because previous versions crash Lion.  You have to download it from Telestream and install it.  Grab your Telestream login and go here to download the new version:

I normally don’t write about software updates but I know a lot of people are waiting for this, including me!

Here’s what the installation looked like

So far so good.  The installer opened.

Episode Package Installer Screen shot

Double clicking on the package installer works fine. Here’s the Introduction page of the installer.

Episode Installer

I need 204.2 MB of hard disk space. No problem. I just replaced my iMac’s drive with a 2TB drive.. hehe.

Episode Installer disk usage

Yippee! I’ve been waiting to see this for months. It’s installed, but will it work and not crash? Let’s find out.

Episode Installer completed

It works! Here’s the About dialog box. It’s nice to see my old friend working again.

Episode 6.2 About dialog box

I think Episode wins the prize for the software taking the longest to get Lion compliant. I didn’t mind too much as I used Handbrake while I waited for Episode. Now that Episode is back, I’ll have to compare it to Handbrake… but that’s another article for another day!

If you haven’t tried Episode yet, take a look at it. It’s really amazing software for transcoding video to distribution formats like MP4.

October 10, 2011

How to Reset the Mac OS X Lion Screen Zoom

I really like my Mac.  One thing I miss when I use my Windows computer is the Mac’s ability to zoom the screen with CTRL plus moving my finger forward or back on my magic mouse.  As you get older, your eyes start appreciating this feature a LOT! When I upgraded to Mac OS X Lion, I had to go to Universal Access and set this up by turning Zoom on.  Every once in a while, zoom turns itself off.  I suspect it’s another program doing this, but it’s easy enough to get it working again Related Site.  Here’s what you do: Step 1 Click on the upper left Apple symbol and choose “System Preferences” Step 2 Click on the Universal Access icon on the right as shown here: Mac OS X Lion Universal Access Step 3 Click on the “Zoom in Window” check box, then click it again to de-select it.  This resets it every time I’ve done it so it goes back to the normal zoom I use every day. Mac OS X Lion Universal-Access STEP 2 If you haven’t tried the screen zooming in Mac OS, try it.  You’ll like it!  If it stops working, try this trick to get it working again.  I don’t need to do this often, but it’s handy to know how to when you need it! Enjoy the Mac OS X Lion Screen Zoom!!

October 2, 2011

Out with Captcha – In with Dynamic Checkbox

I had a great tour of Reedge today. Reedge is a two year old company offering website testing on steroids. Wow is it easy and fun to setup a test!


Dennis (the CEO) gave me the tour and did a fantastic job of analyzing the website at One thing he pointed out was the optin form used a Captcha and that reduces the conversion rate. Captchas are popular but display hard to read text that frustrate users trying to submit a form. While Captchas do reduce spam, they also reduce submissions from customers and prospects.

Dennis suggested using dynamically generated checkboxes. He recommended this great page showing the pros and cons of Captchas versus checkbox

Because we don’t use wordpress, I had to write my own javascxript.

This isn’t a terribly difficult task; however, good developers “borrow” code whenever you can. I found this post from Jeremy Bililck from 2008 which basically had everything written for me 🙂

I just had to add some divs and formatting and server side processing to make it all work.

I have these CSS styles defined:

.displayinline {display: inline;}
.fontsize10pt {font-size: 10pt; }
#addcb {width: 20px;} 

This is the HTML to contain the checkbox and text shown to the visitor:

<div class=”fontsize10pt” align=”center”> <div id=”addcb” class=”displayinline”></div> I am not a spam bot. </div> 

Here’s the javascript to create the checkbox:

<script language=”JavaScript” type=”text/javascript”> var checkbox = document.createElement(“input”); checkbox.type = “checkbox”; = “verifycheckbox”; checkbox.value= “1”;

var div = document.getElementById(“addcb”); div.appendChild(checkbox);

checkbox.checked = false; </script>

All you have to do once the form is submitted is to check for the existence of form.verifycheckbox. If this variable doesn’t exist, the user didn’t click the checkbox so redirect them back to the form.

Pretty simple solution. This is much easier for a human visitor and spambots won’t see the checkbox.

I’ll monitor the performance of this technique and let you know how it goes on our live web site.

September 14, 2011

Thesis and DAP: Different Menus for Different Users

A client I’m working with needed access control for his WordPress website. I use the Thesis Theme for WordPress with Digital Access Passfor access control. The site I’m working on needed 3 menus: – Not logged into Digital Access Pass (DAP) – Logged in with limited access – Logged in with full access The site isn’t selling products, we’re just using DAP to control access to different parts of the website. We’ve setup two “products”: – Investors – Clients Clients have access to everything investors do. This access control is setup in the products area of DAP. The problem was trying to display different menus based on if the user was logged into DAP and if they were, show the correct menu for that user type. I setup three menus in WordPress for each of these states. As you edit each menu, you’ll see “post” in the URL to get the Menu ID you’ll need later:

Wordpress Menu ID

WordPress Menu ID

I use the Menu ID so I can edit the menu and not worry about having to change the custom_functions.php code. Next you’ll need the product ID’s within Digital Access pass. Navigate to the DAP > Products > Manage and you’ll see “Product ID” as the top entry for that product:

Digital Access Pass Product ID

Digital Access Pass Product ID

Now that you have the product ID and menu IDs, you’re ready to add a custom function to Thesis. Edit your custom_functions.php file:

function custom_wp_nav() { 
  $session = Dap_Session::getSession(); 
  $user = $session->getUser(); 

  if ( !Dap_Session::isLoggedIn() && !isset($user) ){ 
     wp_nav_menu( array('menu' => '6' )); //Main Menu (not logged in) 
  } elseif ($user-&gt;hasPaidAccessToProducts("3")) { 
     wp_nav_menu( array('menu' => '5' )); //Client menu 
  } elseif ($user-&gt;hasPaidAccessToProducts("1")) { 
     wp_nav_menu( array('menu' => '7' )); //Investor menu 
  } else { 
     wp_nav_menu( array('menu' => '6' )); //Main Menu (not logged in) 
add_action('thesis_hook_after_header', 'custom_wp_nav'); 

So we can see in the code above, the MenuID’s are used in the wp_nav_menu function calls and the ProductIDs in the “hasPaidAccessToProducts” DAP function call. Here’s what each menu/user state looks like: Not logged in

Not Logged in - Menu ID 6

Not Logged in – Menu ID 6

Logged in as “Investor”

Investor Menu ID 7

Investor Menu ID 7

Logged in as “Client”

<img class="size-full wp-image-318" title="Client – Menu ID 5" src="" alt="Client – Menu ID 5" width="585" height="27" srcset=" 585w, http://2dfki13vyv203m3zxk2nuxio.wpengine.netdna-cdn oxycontin×14.png 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 585px) 100vw, 585px” />

Client – Menu ID 5

This was a perfect solution for the website we were building as we weren’t selling tons of products and only using DAP for user management for two different access levels. Of course we get all of the benefits of using DAP like being able to send emails to each type of user, etc. If you don’t have Thesis and Digital Access Pass, you can find them here: – Thesis Theme for WordPressDigital Access Pass I hope this code example can help a few people. Let me know if you have any better ways to do this or suggestions for improving it.

July 31, 2011

htaccess Generator for IP Addresses

I was looking for a way to secure my <a href="http://www.wordpress this”>WordPress sites easily. Since my server only has a few IP addresses and I don’t want to buy and install SSL certificates for each web site, I was looking for an easy way to secure my WordPress Admin area.

Using htaccess files to secure your web site

I’m a big believer in using sever-side security tools. You can easily add an .htaccess file to any Apache web server web site for quick server-side protection. This is a simple text file used to tell Apache how you want to secure your files or folders, among other things you can use .htaccess for.

The two main ways I use server security is to restrict by user authentication or IP address restrictions. Because user authentication involves a username and password, unless I control the password, I don’t know if the user actually is using a secure password. I suspect people are creating better passwords these days, but if you don’t have a tool to help you remember passwords, people generally create passwords that are easy to remember…and easy for hackers to figure out!

If you like to use passwords, I highly suggest using this online site to generate REALLY good passwords: GRC’s Perfect Passwords

I will take a random selection of the middle row to generate REALLY secure passwords.

I prefer using IP address restrictions for security

Even as good as GRC’s passwords are, I still prefer using IP addresses to restrict users from my admin pages. This approach is great if you have a static IP address but you do need to keep updating the .htaccess file with updated IP addresses if your IP address changes. I needed an easy way to re-generate that .htaccess files.  There are a few htaccess generators online but I wanted something customized for me so I wrote one this afternoon.  You can access it here:

Here’s what it looks like:

This htaccess generator is very simple to use.  You enter in a list of IP addresses (one per line) and what action you want to take and generate the code, either to ban the list or only accept that list of IP addresses.

After you run the code generator, just copy and paste the generated code into a text editor and save it in the folder you want to protect.

I store the list of IP addresses in a cookie in your web browser (NOT on my server) for six months.  The next time you come back to re-generate your htacces file, your list of IP addresses will still be there.


You can use the htaccess generator for your web server to protect or exclude a list of IP addresses quite easily.  If you have a dynamic IP address, you may need to keep updating your .htaccess file, but this generator makes easy work of that.  It’s a lot more secure than just letting anyone have a crack at your wordpress admin area!