We turn to (and rely on) the cloud to handle so much of what we need to do on a daily basis. If you log into a web-based email program like Gmail, you’re using the cloud. If you play a casual game on your smartphone that links up to an online account for updates and player profiles, you’re using the cloud. From the business side of the perspective, getting into this space might feel confusing and intimidating, but what if you could get into cloud computing for free?
That’s just one of the reasons why SkySilk managed cloud services should be on your radar. And better still, that “free” offer isn’t just for some sort of trial period. They’re offering it for free “indefinitely” with “no strings attached.”
Is It Really Free?
In short, yes, it really is free. When you head over the Custom Cloud Platform page on the SkySilk website, you’ll be presented with the opportunity to sign up for the beta program. This grants you “early access to free cloud resources now” but the sign-up window is only being offered for a limited time. So, yes, you get a 100 percent free Linux VPS while in beta.
All users who sign up for beta will receive one free VPS in exchange for providing feedback and collaborating with the SkySilk team to help them build better products tailored to you. This is a beta, after all, so they’re working out how best to serve their customer base. There are no strings attached and the free VPS comes with free cloud storage, custom cloud resources, and beta member only discounts.
What’s Included with the Free VPS?
Of course, the free virtual private server (VPS) that you receive as a beta member with SkySilk isn’t going to be completely unlimited and astronomical with its spec sheet. But it is perfectly adequate for getting started and is naturally an incredibly exceptional value at a total cost of zero dollars and zero cents. You get:
- 1 VCPU
- 512 MB of RAM
- 25 GB of SSD storage
- 12 Mb/s bandwidth
- 500 GB of monthly data transfer
While the free VPS tier does not include any automatically scheduled snapshots or backups, you can take manual snapshots and backups at any time at no cost to you. The service itself is a container-based Linxus VPS powered by ProxMox VE with triple-replicated SSD cloud storage, pre-distributed file system with Ceph, and enterprise-grade hardware and data center security.
SkySilk takes security very seriously, so you can always rest assured that your data is safe. This includes how payments are processed (credit card information is never stored or seen by SkySilk itself, relying instead on Authorize.net’s Customer Information Manager) and the physical on-site security for the datacenter facilities used by SkySilk.
What If the Free VPS Isn’t Enough?
Your business needs are going to vary, of course, so SkySilk offers at least two different tiers of pricing plans to address these needs. At the more affordable end of the spectrum are the standard paid pricing plans that start as low as $5 per month. Every plan is completely configurable so you can pick and choose the resources that you would like to have at a nominal cost.
For example, scheduled backups with a standard VPS are priced at 10% of your total VPS cost, while scheduled snapshots are priced at $0.02 per gigabyte of SSD storage.
At the next level, you find the premium VPS tier. These plans come with premium support and higher limits on monthly data transfer, bandwidth, and VPS resource use. Again, you pay for the level of service that you desire and SkySilk strives to keep their prices as affordable and as competitive as they can. With premium plans, scheduled backups and scheduled snapshots are included at no additional cost.
Applications and Tools
With the noted exception that you cannot use the VPS for cryptocurrency mining (or illegal operations too, I’m sure), you can utilize your SkySilk VPS for any number of possible usage cases. Indeed, they highlight several different Linux applications and developer tools that are perfectly compatible with the service.
These include well-known solutions like WordPress as a content management system, as well as Ubuntu, CentOS, OwnCloud, SimpleInvoices, Magento, SugarCRM, GitLab, Ruby on Rails, CakePHP and more. The goal is to provide these types of cloud resources so any business or developer can take advantage of and utilize private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud resources as they see fit.
The SkySilk Rewards Program
Wouldn’t it be nice if your hosting provider actually rewarded you for being a customer? SkySilk seems to think so and that’s why they’ve got the SkySilk Rewards Program. Every 100 SkyPoints that you earn are worth one dollar. These SkyPoints are earned on every transaction that you conduct on the site, including bonus offers like 500 SkyPoints just for signing up and 100 SkyPoints each for liking them on Facebook or following them on Twitter.
When you’ve reached a minimum threshold of 2,500 points (or a $25 value), you can redeem your SkyPoints for your choice of a Visa gift card, a credit on your monthly statement, or a variety of gift cards from such merchants as Amazon and Best Buy. There is no limit to how many SkyPoints you can earn at a time. Premium VPS customers earn 10X SkyPoints too.
To earn even more SkyPoints, take advantage of the referral program. For every new user that you refer to SkySilk, you get up to 2,500 SkyPoints too. And what’s more, the new users who join via your referral link will also get $25 in SkySilk account credit to get started.
Sign Up For Free Today
You likely will not be offered another opportunity to get a VPS for free any time soon. Many hosting providers might give you a trial period at no cost, but SkySilk’s offer is for an indefinite period of time. You should totally take advantage while you can, as there are no strings attached and you can choose to upgrade to one of the paid pricing plans at any time.
Just head over to the cloud platform page to enter your name and email address. They will require a credit card for security purposes, but you will not be charged anything until you choose to upgrade to a paid service.
Ask Lorem to Tackle Your Web Design and Development Projects
I believe it may have been Tim Ferriss of Four-Hour Workweek fame who said that you should focus on your strengths and outsource the rest. While working only four hours each week may or may not be truly attainable for most people, it is absolutely true that most small business owners find themselves strapped for time. They’ve got all these things they want to accomplish and not nearly enough time to address them all on their own.
And even should they decide that they cannot tackle all these projects on their own and they want to outsource some of them, the process of finding and vetting the right professionals to handle the job can also be remarkably stressful and surprisingly time-consuming. It needs to be easier and that’s where Lorem can come to the rescue.
Fast, Affordable Results
Whether your actual business is of the brick-and-mortar variety or it resides exclusively on the Internet, there is a good chance that you depend on your website as a critical component of your overall business. And there’s always more you want to achieve with it.
Even if you have some technical expertise and you could feasibly take on some of these web development and design projects on your own, you can oftentimes find yourself time-starved. As such, it makes a lot more sense to outsource these types of projects so you can focus on growing your business and handling the tasks that cannot or should not be outsourced.
The big appeal of a service like Lorem is that you don’t have to go through the complicated and sometimes challenging process of finding the right developer or designer to help with your one-time projects. There are marketplaces out there, but you can never be sure of their quality or expertise until you take the time to get to know the individual workers better… and that’s time you simply do not have.
Instead of sifting through dozens or even hundreds of proposals and pitches from innumerable freelancers and unknown entities, you can tap into a huge team of eager professionals at Lorem.
Before someone can join the team of Lorem experts, they must first pass through a “rigorous vetting process that tests their technical background, communication skills, and professionalism.” The net result is that only the top 3 percent of candidates are ever accepted, so you can have the confidence that you’re only working with the best. These are perfectionists who “bring years of experience to the table.”
In this way, you save a tremendous of time that would otherwise be wasted browsing and reviewing the profiles of so many potential freelancers for your one-time project. Wouldn’t you rather just hire someone you know can do the job and get it done? And get it done quickly and affordably too?
What Can They Do?
Just about anything related to your website and your online business, really. There is no monthly fee and you simply pay for your projects on an as-needed basis.
Because there are so many Lorem experts available at just about any hour of the day, you’ll get paired with someone whose experience and expertise best aligns with your specific project needs. Some potential projects include:
- Improve Google search rankings
- Set up a WooCommerce store
- Make a website design more mobile-friendly
- Update several plugins on a WordPress site
- Set up online payments through Stripe
- Add an online store to a Squarespace site
- Redesign the layout of a MailChimp email newsletter
- Configure Google Analytics for site tracking
- … and so much more
Whether you already have a specific project in mind or you have more of a general objective and you’re not really sure how to achieve it, a Lorem expert can help get you set up and on your way. If it has to do with your website or any other aspect of your online presence, someone at Lorem is there for you.
How Does It Work?
To get started with Lorem, you’ll need to first install the Chrome extension. This ties into the whole ecosystem and it’s how you will interact with Lorem experts, including dealing with payment.
Once you’ve got the Chrome extension installed, the way that Lorem works is actually really simple, really fast, and really easy to understand. You’ll start by launching a chat session where you describe the project you have. Usually within five minutes, you’ll be paired with a Lorem expert who will then chat with you in real-time to discuss any further details.
Lorem boasts that they have “a few hundred experts online at any moment,” so you don’t have to wait around for applications or pitches. Your time is invaluable and you want to get started right now, and that’s a big reason why Lorem is so appealing. After the details have been determined, the expert will provide a price quote outlining what is involved. The actual chat itself costs nothing.
Most jobs are in the $25 to $250 range, but obviously there will be some individual variation there. No additional fees or charges are added. The rate quote you receive is what you will pay, and you only pay when you are satisfied with the results. The expert gets to work, asks for feedback along the way, and then you approve and pay for the work when it’s all done. Super easy!
Put Your Mind at Ease
Running a successful small business is hard enough. You don’t need the added stress of finding the right people to handle your one-time design and developer projects. Lorem experts can do everything from customizing Shopify stores to backing up WordPress sites, integrating MailChimp with websites to adjusting page layouts to match a PDF.
Most projects can be completed for $25 to $250, making Lorem a fast, convenient and affordable way to get the job done. Sign up and mention Zac10 to get 10% off your first project on AskLorem.com!
Get started today and you’ll see results sooner than you might think.
Posts Table Pro Makes Dynamic WordPress Tables Easy
Many of us use WordPress to power our various websites, particularly our blogs. It’s easily one of the most robust, flexible and customizable content management systems available on the Internet today. Perhaps you use it to run your online store, packed with plenty of great products. Maybe you have a resource website. Or maybe you’ve got a blog with hundreds or even thousands of blog posts.
That’s all great, but it can sometimes be difficult for your website visitors to actually find what they’re looking for. A much more powerful yet remarkably easy-to-use solution to this common conundrum is the Posts Table Pro WordPress plugin by Barn2 Media. You’ll never use the default archives again.
What Is Posts Table Pro?
With the Posts Table Pro plugin for WordPress, you’ll be able to generate dynamic tables inside your WordPress posts and pages with nothing more than a simple shortcode. As a blogger, the most obvious application here is to make it as easy as possible for your readers to find exactly the blog content that they’d like to read.
By default, WordPress lets you organize your content with categories and tags, but the default experience of the end user leaves a lot to be desired. Have you ever gone to a blog and just looked at the default category page? All you get is a list of posts in that category arranged in reverse chronological order and that’s it. There’s no way to filter them by tag or to search for keywords only within that category.
The way that the Posts Table Pro plugin works is almost like providing readers with a similar kind of posts table as you see within your WordPress dashboard. Depending on how you choose to configure this table, they can see the categories, tags, date, excerpt and more associated with any given post, filtering by tags and categories, choosing the number of entries shown, searching for keywords and more.
Outside of blogging, this plugin is just as suitable for document libraries, directories, online stores, books and music, event listings and more. All sorts of different websites can find this plugin beneficial.
Setting It Up
The initial installation and activation of Posts Table Pro works exactly the same way as with any other WordPress plugin. Download the zip file, go into your WordPress control panel, choose to upload a plugin from the Plugins page, select the zip file, and activate the plugin. Then, navigating to the corresponding settings page, you can enter your license key.
Don’t worry about being confused over some fancy control panel. The settings page for this plugin looks like the rest of your WordPress admin dashboard. Just work your way down this single page of settings and configure the plugin to how you’d like it.
I wouldn’t say there is necessarily a learning curve to this plugin, per se, but it will take some time to familiarize yourself with all the different options and features you can use. Thankfully, the extensive knowledge base really does cover all the bases, and the settings page is filled with contextual “learn more” links throughout to guide you through the process.
For instance, it is from the settings page that you will define what columns will be shown in your table. I misinterpreted this settings field at first and put “5” for five columns. Clicking the “read more” link next to the field, though, is how I learned the names of the available columns, which I then entered as a comma-separated list. Simple and straightforward.
Many of the settings can be left at their defaults if you’d like or you can dig in and start changing everything. This includes everything from excerpt length to whether you’d like to enable “lazy load,” from setting the post limit (how many posts are included in the table) to how the table contents are sorted. You can choose the position of the search box (or choose to hide it), and you can set whether you’d like to cache table contents and how frequently the cache should be refreshed. It’s a lot, but it’s all very easy to understand.
Table in Action
The best way to understand just how intuitive and practical this plugin can be is to see it in action. I created a new page on my blog to test it out, but you could just as easily insert the table shortcode into any existing post or page too. In this way, you could add images and text, just as you would with any other WordPress content. For the purposes of this demo, I only put the shortcode for the table.
In this first shot, I left the default settings for filters, number of entries shown, position of the search bar (top), position of the total entry count (bottom), and position of the page numbers (bottom). For the columns, I opted for the image (which pulls the corresponding featured image), the post title, the category, the content (the first 15 words of the post; the length can be adjusted), and the publication date.
You’ll notice the up and down arrows next to every column except image. This allows site visitors to decide on ascending or descending order for those columns, an option you can take away from them in the settings if you prefer. For this default demonstration, I allowed the table to list all of my blog posts.
What’s really great about this plugin is just how easy you can customize it. The basic shortcode is how I got that first table, but I can add in parameters such that the table only includes specific categories, tags, IDs, post types, statuses, dates, authors, or custom field values. In this example above, I defined that the table should only include posts that had the “vlog” tag associated with them.
As a result, the table only shows the blog posts where I talk about my weekly vlog. But the customization can go much further than that.
Here, I combined the “vlog” tag parameter with the parameter to only include posts in the “Destinations” category, which I use for travel content on my blog. When I did this, only posts that met both criteria were included in the table. In defining these parameters, you can use the associated slug for the category or tag, or you can enter the specific corresponding ID, which you can find through your WordPress dashboard.
For both tags and categories, you can list multiple entries in the shortcode too. If you separate multiple entries with commas, then those commas act like “or” whereas using a + symbol acts like an “and.” You can use commas or plus symbols, but not both.
If you would like to stylize the look of the table, you can do that with your own custom CSS, but that’s not a function that’s baked into the plugin itself.
How Much Does It Cost?
The Posts Table Pro premium WordPress plugin by Barn2 Media is available in three different licenses: the $79 personal license is good for one site, the $129 business license is good for 5 sites, and the $279 agency license is good for up to 20 sites. That’s for an annual subscription, which includes new features, security updates and customer support.
It should be noted, though, that once you’ve downloaded and activated the plugin, it is yours to keep. However, you will need to maintain an active subscription if you want to receive updates and support, which they highly recommend you do.
Build Your Website or Blog for Free with SITE123 Site Builder
Designing a great looking website doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive or overly complicated. In fact, you don’t need to spend a single nickel and you don’t need to have any specialized coding skills whatsoever to have a clean, responsive web design, complete with built-in SEO tools and fancy features like integrated Google Maps, Soundcloud integration, website passwords and even e-commerce functionality. This is the promise of SITE123 and they say they can do it for free.
The Easiest Website Builder
Positioning itself as “by far the easiest free website builder” around, SITE123 is meant to be as accessible as possible to all users, regardless of technical expertise or experience.
While web design might feel like an incredibly daunting and intimidating proposition for a lot of people, SITE123 makes it easy for anyone to have a professional-looking website up and running literally in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is decide on the type of website you want to have, customize the options to suit your preferences and enter your content.
SITE123 is casting its net wide with its browser-based solution. This is great for entrepreneurs and freelancers, for instance, who want to have a great online presence without the potentially huge expense of hiring a professional designer to come up with a completely unique design. All you have to do is work your way through the easy-to-follow wizard.
Easier Than Drag and Drop
You’ve likely come across some other site builders where the interface is designed to be drag-and-drop. You choose the elements you want to have, you drag them into place, and then you can move them around or resize them, adding the details (like text and color) accordingly. That’s far easier than raw code, of course, but it still adds a layer of complexity that can be confusing or frustrating to use for some people.
SITE123 works differently in that you get to pick between a number of pre-configured designs and layouts through more of a point-and-click kind of interface. The “live” preview of your website or webpage appears on the right as you navigate through the multi-tiered menu on the left. What you see above is an example of a homepage that I worked on for the purposes of this review.
I was able to simply and easily choose the website name, customize the text for the title and slogan, and select from a huge library of royalty-free images to use as the background. In going through the available layouts, I found several that made it easy to integrate a video as part of the design too. While you may not have quite as many options as some other site builders, this also allows for a greater level of simplicity and approachability. The same holds true for the various pages you want to have your website.
A great way to catch a glimpse into how the SITE123 free website builder works are with the three-minute video they posted on YouTube. It offers a quick overview of several of the key features and interface choices for the site builder, so you’ll know what to expect before you decide to build a website of your own.
SITE123 Offers All Kinds of Websites Tools
What’s really fascinating about the SITE123 system is that it can be used to power a wide variety of websites.
Regardless of the kind of website you want to run, you have access to a huge wealth of features, including free hosting, free SSL/HTTPS encryption, unlimited web pages, email accounts, 24/7 website support, and access to a gigantic image, icon and video library that you can use to populate your website as you see fit. This “gallery” tool is incredibly useful and easy to use too.
Based on the type of website that you are interested in building, you’ll be presented with a slightly different set of options and default layouts. The tools that integrate into a photography website, for example, would not be the same as the ones used for promoting and selling tickets for an event, or the kind of website you might want to have to host your CV and portfolio.
I was surprised to see the online store among this list of options, as e-commerce usually comes at a cost with most other providers. With SITE123, you can quickly and easily set up an online store that is always open and ready to accept orders. Simply populate your online store with your products, and you’ll be able to manage orders and handle customer inquiries with ease.
SITE123 Even Has Full Blogging Capabilities
Yes, you can use SITE123 to create a blog too. Remember that you get access to a great library of images and videos, as well as the ability to host unlimited pages on your account, making it a great option for a blog. The site is automatically responsive and search engine optimized too.
The interface for managing your blog posts is kept simple and straightforward. You can see the thumbnail image and title along the left, the publish date and time in the middle (including the ability to schedule posts), and the buttons along the right to edit, delete and change the visibility.
Within each individual blog post, you are similarly offered a simple but very robust WYSIWYG editor. Here, you can assign the title, date and time, as well as post tags. The image can come from the royalty-free gallery or you can upload your own. The short description is the meta description that shows up on your homepage and in search engine results, and the long description is the blog post itself.
As you can see, you have access to full formatting tools like bold, italics, bullet points, blockquotes and so forth. You can also easily insert images and videos, adding links and changing other properties as you see fit. One feature that I found helpful was that when you click in an empty paragraph space in the editor, a small “plus” symbol appears on the left for “quick insert.” Clicking on this reveals a floating toolbar to insert images, videos, tables, unordered lists, ordered lists and horizontal lines. Handy!
Is It Really Free?
The site builder itself is completely free and it really does come with free hosting too. The catch is that your website can only live on a SITE123 subdomain and you are limited to 500 MB of storage and 1 GB of monthly bandwidth. You can have theoretically unlimited pages, but they need to fit within the confines of your account.
If you wish to map your website to your own custom domain, you will then need to invest in at least the $9.80/month premium plan. This removes the SITE123 floating tag and upgrades you to 10 GB of storage and 5 GB of bandwidth, as well as providing you with a free domain for a year and access to e-commerce tools.
Beyond the free and premium plans featured on the pricing page, there are also options for even higher plans too. These generally increase the amount of storage and bandwidth you have, but there are some other notable upgrades too. For example, while the $9.80/month plan gives you e-commerce, you are limited to 10 orders per month. Each successively larger plan increases that number. You can also add more mailboxes, unlock additional languages, remove the SITE123 footer tag, and leverage more advanced e-commerce features.
Go ahead and take SITE123 for a free test drive first. It costs you nothing to get started and you can have an account in a matter of seconds. This really is the easiest and most robust free website builder around.
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