Netbeans 8.2 Fonts Too Small

On my 4k monitor, the default fonts that come up on Netbeans are so small as to be truly microscopic, as in one needs an actual microscope (or at least a magnifying glass) to read them. Netbeans (when you can read it!) is very useful for website development, so this is not a trivial issue.

Here’s a sample:

See those three tiny tabs in the line above “Website-2018”? You’ll have to look closely to recognize that they are even there…. Yeah, I can’t read them either.

Searching Google for various solutions turns up a range of out-of-date solutions for older versions of Netbeans, and some that might work on other operating systems than Windows 10. Such as editing the netbeans.conf file. Tried that, no joy. Tried every other thing I could find in several hours of Google searches and experimentation with the proffered “solutions”.

The thing that finally worked to adjust font sizes in Netbeans running on Windows 10 Pro was changing the call for the actual program netbeans64.exe when it loaded:

0. If Netbeans is running, shut down Netbeans.

1. Make sure you have an icon in your System Tray for Netbeans.

2. Right click on the Netbeans icon in the system tray (usually at bottom of home desktop screen) to get a popup menu

3. Right click on the “Netbeans 8.2” option in that popup menu to get to Properties

4. Click on “Properties”

5. Within Properties, edit the “Target:” field to be something like the following:

"C:\Program Files\NetBeans 8.2\bin\netbeans64.exe" --fontsize 50

6. Click “Apply” and “OK”

7. Start up Netbeans by clicking the Netbeans icon in the System Tray.

From now on, your default Netbean fonts will be about 15 points, like this. There, that’s better!

I believe the –fontsize attribute of 50 equates to 50 pixels, but it may be something else. You can adjust that number to whatever font size is most comfortable for you by making that value a larger or smaller integer.

You’re welcome.

Now if anyone knows how to make the icons bigger….

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Crazy SEO Experiments: My Takeaways

Will Critchlow of Distilled.net and Larry Kim of Wordstream recently collaborated on a podcast called 10 SEO Experiments That Will Blow Your Mind. It’s an hour of information that’s well worth watching if you’re tasked with SEO or management of Google AdWords accounts.

I pulled out my takeaways from the video and started sending some of those to my clients via email, but soon realized it would be easier to refer them to this post.

What their experiments proved, and my SEO takeaways. I learned an extraordinary amount from their generous presentation!

  • In a title tag, “Ford cars & Ford vehicles” does not equal “Ford cars”. If a page is ranking well, it’s very hard to write better Title Tags than it already has.
    Takeaway: Google is not that good yet at recognizing that synonyms mean the same thing. Leave well enough alone.
    Takeaway: On the other hand, some title tag changes can work overnight to improve rankings.
    I can confirm this from personal experience.
  • Adding structured data results in a fast and strong uplift.
    Takeaway: Add structured data (microformats) — it will help rankings.
  • Using Javascript to show content? In their test, they disabled JavaScript and no products showed. When they had JavaScript enabled, you saw it correctly in Google’s fetch & render page. Tested removing the reliance on JS – split tested it – with JS disabled, things were worse. Data apparently goes through multiple pipelines within Google’s crawling process. Not every page gets JS fully rendered, so JS content is not always seen by Google. Google is stingy with its rendering time
    Takeaway: Be careful with requiring JavaScript to render important pages; Google does not see/index everything written using JavaScript.
  • Removing “SEO Text” – (extra text added at bottom of pages, list of cities, etc., solely for SEO purposes) Sometimes it does help rankings when one removes the SEO text, where low-quality text removed equals better rankings. But they did the same thing on a different site and had it drop.
    Takeaway: Removing crappy “SEO text” is a crap-shoot – you’d think it would help, but it often hurts.
  • Does the click-through rate impact your rankings?
    Takeaway: Just beat the average clickthrough rate by 3% in any spot in the rankings, and your page will get a boost in its ranking.
  • Rearrange the words in the title and see what happens to your click-through rate (CTR). CTR improvement is very valuable.

    Takeaway: How to change clickthrough rate without changing position? Tweak the order of the words.
  • Does dwell-time (aka “time on page”) impact rankings? Google does measure time on page. Are they using that info to jigger the search results?
    Takeaway: If you have a high bounce rate, your page won’t stay in the top results. If you have a low bounce rate, it will rise. Improve your content to improve your rankings!
  • What prompts Google to pick your content for its “featured snippet”? A third of the time, the snippet comes NOT from the first page. How does Google choose? Having snippable content and a good click-through rate is important to their selection.
    Takeaway: An unusually long “time on page” will sometimes make the “featured snippet” come from that page, regardless of its ranking.
  • Is there any relationship between social signals and ranking? Google doesn’t count the shares, but the search listings that have lots of links, also get lots of shares when on Facebook.
    Takeaway: There is correlation but no causation between Number of Facebook shares of a page and how a page ranks.
  • Is there any relationship between clickthrough rates and conversion rates?
    Takeaway: The higher the clickthrough rate, the higher the conversion rate will be. The “excitement” carries through.
  • How does “time on page” impact SEO rankings? Google does eliminate pages with low time-on-site.
    Takeaway: Increase your clickthrough rate. Increase your time on page. Don’t mess with things that are already ranking well – trying to get higher will likely have negative impact.
    Takeaway: Use one of 9 specific emotions to get people to click: Laughter, amusement, curiosity, awe, anger, fear, joy, empathy, sadness (see 41:14 on video)
    9 emotional buttons to push to get people to click

    Takeaway: Write headline copy from one of 4 specific person types: Bearer of Bad News | The Hero/Villain | The Comedian | The Feel Good Friend.
    The 4 viewpoints from which to write headlines

    Takeaway: Use this title Template commonly employed when making viral articles: (See chart at 41:42)
    Template for writing headlines

    Takeaway: Test a LOT of things. You need to test 10 Different headlines for the same ad.

    Takeaway: Familiarity increases CTR. Connect to prospects earlier in the pipeline. Write about stuff and get it out there to prospects BEFORE you try to stuff them into your pipeline.

Posted in Search Engine Optimization | Leave a comment

A terrific resource for word lovers

Sometimes my daily email from StumbleUpon really delivers. Today was one of those days! This website is a collection of wonderful phrases and words, for which there is no exact equivalent in English. Those of us for whom English is our native tongue are poorer for not having these words and phrases available to us. Continue reading

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New Quotes

I don’t usually read C.S. Lewis. I could never get into the whole Narnia universe; to me it seemed a silly premise and to mainly be a vehicle for him to proselytize his religion. It was clear he truly believed, and I respect that and his right to put whatever analogies to Christianity he wanted into his books. I just wasn’t buying what he was selling.

That said, occasionally Lewis expressed some actual truth so clearly that it still resonates with people today. Here is one such quote:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Continue reading

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Why I Don’t Use WordPress to Build Websites

While I’ve built a fair number of “brochure” websites of 10-20 pages over the years, I primarily do website development of bigger or more complicated websites. I’ve helped optimize websites having over a million pages; a typical site for me to work with has hundreds of pages, often many thousands of pages of content. However, I am also happy to work on smaller sites to keep my hand in!

I’m writing this post because I find myself explaining to people on the phone, over and over, WHY I don’t use WordPress to build smaller websites. If I am ineffective at talking someone out of it, I usually refer such people who insist on using WordPress over to my daughter’s design firm, Matlock Web Consulting. She’s a whiz at making WordPress sites and optimizing them as far as they can be SEO’d. She really knows her stuff.

Most people who HAVE WordPress sites, who know about SEO, think their websites are SEO’d to the max already because they have installed one of the SEO plugins. I personally like and use Joost Devalk’s Yoast SEO. What it does, it does exactly right.

But it only goes about 80% of the way toward full SEO, and that’s when it is actually USED! You have to USE the plugin, which means you have to understand what is needed in the various fields provided by the plugin. And you have to actually type text into those fields. Typically, that’s not actually DONE in practice on the WordPress websites I routinely review. So “SEO” isn’t really being done on such sites, even though a WordPress SEO plugin is in place! SEO is something you have to CREATE with every post in WordPress.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually like WordPress; my own blog you’re looking at now was built using WordPress. It’s just not possible to optimize (SEO) a WordPress site for Google, as you would a website that isn’t built using it. WordPress comes with certain constraints that make it so someone can only hit about 80% of the SEO points that a top-notch SEO firm would normally put into a website’s on-page optimization.

Don’t believe me? Here are five SEO points that you will likely have trouble with, building a WordPress website:

  1. Mobile friendliness: This is definitely a concern for SEO; Google has publicly stated so. There are some plugins that can make a WordPress site mobile-friendly, but they can be pretty clunky. Make sure if you go with WordPress, you go with a “theme” that is actually mobile-friendly and passes Google’s test for that here:

    Google’s Mobile Friendliness Test — note: my WordPress Blog passes this test.

  2. Slowness: Most WordPress sites (if they ever get big) will run very slowly compared to a site built without WordPress. The more WordPress plugins you have installed, and the more you customize your site, the slower it will run. Speed of a website is a confirmed SEO point — Google says they will favor faster websites. One of my clients built her site in WordPress despite my advice to the contrary; it’s a big site with a huge database and many plugins. These cause it to be slow, despite being on its own dedicated server, and despite using every tool at our disposal to speed up the server and delivery of the pages (tricks like caching the pages, using Varnish, using CloudFlare, etc.). Even with all that, pages still take six to eight seconds to load — which is ‘way too slow.
  3. HTML5 “Elements”: These are fairly new HTML5 tags (MAIN, ARTICLE, HEADER, FOOTER, ASIDE, NAV) which help Google to “see” the portions of the page you want them to focus on, and recognize them as either important, or not. These HTML 5 elements are not typically built into WordPress or its “themes”. They are, however, an important part of modern SEO of a website.
  4. Micro Formats: These are used as another SEO technique that helps Google figure out what pages are about. The technique for using these is covered here: http://schema.org. Micro Formats are a big part of modern SEO and are very poorly (if at all) implemented in WordPress and most WP themes. I have seen that WordPress is recently making steps in the direction of making limited use of Open Graph — another kind of Micro Formats. The best practice would be to use schema.org’s Micro Formats. They convey more information to Google about the nature of what is on the web page.
  5. Siloing See: How to Silo a Website if you don’t know about the old but still-effective SEO technique of Siloing (aka “page-rank sculpting”). If your plan is to have a small site of less than, say, 50 pages, your site probably isn’t going to be big enough to build silos and you could safely skip this point.

Another point I’ll bring up — although it’s not SEO related — is that many business owners I speak with come to me already wanting a website that they can add pages/pictures/content to, themselves. They’ve been sold (not by me!) the “Content Management” feature of WordPress or think that it may be important to them, or have been told it is important. The line I often hear is that the site needs to have “fresh content” added routinely.

That doesn’t mean the whole site needs to be built using WordPress! One can have a “news” section built using WordPress in which one puts fresh content daily, if needed and wanted, as part of an overall website built using HTML5 and CSS3 (not using WordPress). In other words, a WordPress blog can be an add-on to the site, instead of BEING the website. That’s a great way to have this component of “fresh content” as part of your website.

That said, in my experience, it is the rare client that will actually USE the “content management” features of WordPress. Most business owners don’t actually want to go through the learning curve required to be able to add content through WordPress, or to learn how to fill in the fields of the SEO plugin correctly. Instead, they want to hire someone to do this for them. Typically their Marketing Director or Social Media Director is given this responsibility. If the website owners are very lucky they will find someone who actually knows what he or she is doing in WordPress — and will actually do it!

But I’ve had many clients who have hired such people only to find (horrors!) that the person hasn’t got a clue, or simply can’t produce the volume needed, or has “other fish to fry.” It rarely works out. When it does, things are golden!

Keep in mind that it is also often extremely difficult to get an organization to create effective promotional materials, relevant videos, relevant website content, relevant social media posts, or relevant blog posts. You can waste money by the suitcase-full on marketing and promotion that just doesn’t connect with anyone or make the phone ring, because effective surveys weren’t done first. (Contact me if you want proof.)

Whenever I build a website (without WordPress) I make it a point to offer fairly inexpensive additions and alterations to the website, afterward. Because time does fly by, and websites often need changes over time. It is usually ‘way cheaper to have the people who built the site make the changes you want, for you. Unless, of course, they’ve gone out of business or moved into doing something else, or won’t talk to you any more. I can only speak to how WE do it, which is: send us an email with what you want changed, and we’ll do it at our reasonable hourly rate, quickly and efficiently. We’ve been at this for nearly 20 years and aren’t going to disappear on you.

Having someone you trust, who can handle adding new content for you handles the whole “content management” point. It’s NOT necessary for most websites, to have a content management feature.

Takeaways

  1. There are valid SEO reasons for not using WordPress to build your website.
  2. The more you know about SEO, the more having your website in WordPress ought to worry you.
  3. If you have a WordPress site, learn to use the Yoast SEO plugin, and actually DO USE IT.
Posted in Opinion, Search Engine Optimization, Web Design | 1 Comment

Rest in Peace, Yahoo Directory

As of today, if you go to http://dir.yahoo.com (the familiar URL of the Yahoo Directory) you are redirected over to a directory called “Aabaco Small Business”, https://www.aabacosmallbusiness.com/.

Yahoo was quite the directory in its day. We have recommended getting a listing in it since about 1998. Listings used to be free, then they got greedy and started charging $300 ($600 for “adult” sites) per year for a listing.

If you have been advertising in the Yahoo Directory, you can still log in at Aabaco because they’ve kept your Yahoo username and login intact. Who knows for how long. With new branding comes a new broom and the sometimes overwhelming desire to use that new broom to sweep clean….

The great thing about the old Yahoo directory, which predated Google, was the human-edited nature of the directory. You couldn’t just submit a crap site, pay for a listing, and expect to get into the category you wanted. Oh, no. It had to pass a review by paid human reviewers (not volunteers, and not biased as the old DMOZ directory editors were). It often happened that some websites were just too crappy to get into the Yahoo Directory.

Hopefully Aabaco will keep up that tradition — but I’m not counting on it.

Here’s an idea for a directory that might work. Let’s call it the “Yeah-What Directory”. Start with a few hundred known websites: Google, Bing, AOL, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. Now create short abstracts of the sites, such as this:

Google

This site is where you can find pretty much anything on the web. Great maps, too! They also offer free analytics of your website traffic, other tools for webmasters, and free email (Gmail).

Now comes the fun part:

If you are an average marketer or website owner, and you want to add your site to the nice little core of sites already in the directory, you would be required to review ten of these sites already existing in the directory (randomly given to you to review) before you can add a site for others to abstract and review. Your reviews can be as short or as long as you want. The reviewers themselves will be reviewed, which will mostly prevent the “group think” and “unwisdom of the crowd” from piling crap on sites that don’t deserve it (think “Fox News” being given one star by leftists, and “Huff Post” being inundated with one star reviews by conservatives.) By reviewing the reviewers, what I mean is, “JoeBlow14″ seems terribly harsh here in this review. I’m going to give his review 1 out of 5 stars.”) Enough of that, and his reviews are ignored.

So – there you have it – the next billion dollar idea on the web. I’m giving it away here, free of charge, on the interwebs. I wonder if I can count it as a tax deduction…..

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Gone Mobile

It’s been a while since I updated my blog to reflect anything going in my current life. I aim to remedy that now.

In May of this year we decided to move out of the house we’d lived in for the last 20 years, on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, into a mobile home, and go mobile for a couple of years. We’ve started another blog, Roaming the Backroads, which I invite you to visit, detailing our travels.

We are still working, mind you, but we are doing it from the road. We are NOT retired. Our clients can depend on us to continue with our ongoing projects and new projects as they come along will get done.

But we have had to make some severe adjustments:

1. We got rid of about 95% of everything that we owned. We had a huge garage sale, with 2 trailer loads of stuff and 3 pickup loads of more stuff, all of which sold for pennies compared to what we paid for it. And we took many loads of stuff to the dump, and burned many other loads of stuff. What we have left is either packed into the motor home with us, or in a tiny storage locker. We got rid of almost ALL of our paper — 99.9% of it is gone. We scanned in what we needed with a high-speed scanner. We got rid of almost all our clothes. We used the “Konmari” method as outlined in this book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was mostly painless, and we now mostly only have things left that “bring us joy.”

2. We moved into a 36-foot diesel pusher motor home – a “Classic, High-Tech Edition” 1987 Beaver Marquis with exquisite oak cabinetry everywhere inside. It needed a lot of work to fix leaks and seals and so on, but we just tackled one thing at a time until the list was done to make it road-worthy and livable.

3. We traded in our un-towable Rav-4 Toyota car on another car that is light and tow-able by the motor home (a cute red Chrysler PT Cruiser we call “The Toad”) – this required installing a Roadmaster tow package on it that cost nearly a third the price of the car itself. It lets us tow the car behind the motor home with almost no worries.

4. We hit the road on August 10th, 2015.

5. We got married (in Las Vegas, baby!) on the 2nd of October in a private ceremony. That was a long time coming — I first asked Marie to marry me in the spring of 1973, when she was 17 and I was 19. There’s been a lot of water under that bridge….

We have high-speed internet connections through Verizon 4G most of the time, on an unlimited data plan, so that we can work on the road. It’s about as fast and reliable as the internet we had on the ranch. When we pick campsites, we depend on an ap to tell us whether we’ll have coverage. So far it’s been quite accurate. The ap is called “Coverage” and we recommend it.

We have a built-in Onan generator that runs on propane, to provide 6500 watts of power when we are sitting out in the middle of nowhere (as we are now) “boondocking”, as it is called. We brought our big computers with us, but only half our monitors. It’s been a struggle to adjust, but I think we’re there. I no longer miss monitors 3 and 4 every time I turn on my computer. And I no longer feel like I should have sold the big computer and downsized to my laptop.

I’ve been taking a lot of photos.

Here’s a photo from the wilds of New Mexico yesterday near Truth or Consequences – where it has been raining.


Rain near Truth or Consequences, NM, October 2015

We’re on our slow way to Florida to visit with children and grandchildren around Christmas-time, taking plenty of time to work between “travel days” and stopping to see the sights at places like the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Arches National Park. A few days ago we were chatting with Navajo knappers (aka “chippers of obsidian or flint arrowheads”) at Four Corners National Monument, about where they get their obsidian for the arrows. Apparently they’ve been trading with people who live near the obsidian fields close to Bend, Oregon. This trade has been going on for many centuries, as it turns out. Currently they get boxes of it by pickup, from people who want finished trade goods in exchange. Or they drive up to Oregon and buy it directly or harvest it themselves from the lava flows.

We’ve been de-compressing, simplifying, and very much enjoying life on the road.

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Garden Surprise

We haven’t done a thing yet this year in our garden to prepare for planting anything.

So it was a pleasant surprise to find some escapee poppies, left over from our experiment last year of growing one planter of mixed flowers. These were growing amid the cedar chips we have down to discourage weeds between the planters.

escaped poppies

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Truth – an old definition

I try to read articles written by historian Victor Davis Hanson, as they show up in my feeds. He seems to hit the nail on the head quite a bit more than other columnists I have followed. (While I admire Charles Krautheimer, he often seems cranky.)

Now I’m in the middle of Hanson’s book Carnage and Culture

where I am learning way more than I ever wanted to know about ancient Greece and Persia.
Continue reading

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Simplifying

We are simplifying here. Getting rid of things we don’t need and don’t particularly want. We started with coats. Our coat racks were overflowing with coats that we hardly ever wore. So I went through mine, Marie went through hers, and we are sending a bunch of them to Goodwill or the local thrift store. A few old ratty ones we threw away. Felt good! Continue reading

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