Work out new aspect ratio for images (aspect ratio calculator)

This is a short post that will show you a great, and free, online tool to help you work out how to re-size an image without breaking the aspect ratio. This is a useful tool for when you want to change the size of an image to make it fit a specific space on your blog or website and don’t want to distort the image, or the video.

I have a number of sites where I find that I need to use stock images or other freely available images on the internet to illustrate an article or a post. One of the common headaches that I have with this occurs when I want to resize an image. This isn’t usually an issue if you have some image editing software on your computer that allows you to resize while preserving the aspect ratio of the image….. but what if you don’t, or if you want to scale up the perfect video that you have to illustrate a post, or you only have one length (height or width) defined and you want to calculate the missing value for a particular aspect ratio?

This tool Aspect Ratio Calculator provides a simple solution to this issue.

It is a simple form where you can enter the width and height values for your original image, and then simply type in either the length or height that you want to convert the image or video to, and the form will give you the new values.

aspect ratio calculator

To break it down further, lets say that you have an image that is 1600 x 1200 pixels, and you want to decrease the size of the image to fit into a space that is only 600 pixels wide – simply go to the tool above and enter your original dimensions on the left hand side. Then you would type in 600 in the width section on the right hand side, and the form would then automatically calculate that you image would need to be 450 pixels in height, in order to preserve the aspect ratio of the image.

Using BR tags Vs P tags…..and (my) Common Mistakes

Newcomers to WordPress will probably default to writing their Posts and updates using the ‘visual editor’ tab in the Post page.

The Visual Editor is a godsend to newcomers as it handles all the markup and code for you and it provides easy to use buttons that allows you to format your text and your post with a simple click. Want to turn something bold, easy, just highlight the word and press the ‘B’ button. Want to align your text, easy, just click the buttons that allow you to align your text. Simple

WordPress Visual Editor:
visual editor in wordpress

The Visual Editor is not without its pain points however, and you will probably soon find yourself in a situation where you want to start writing your Posts directly in the ‘Text Editor’ tab in WordPress and start adding your own tags to control formatting.

When I first started doing this I got into very bad habits with regard to using P (Paragraph) tags and BR (Line Break) tags.

I used to add a ‘P’ tag between the paragraphs in the hope that it would control and create paragraphs, and I rarely used line breaks. My Post would usually look something like this:

I am using a P tag below to attempt to create a spacing between this line
<p>
and this line. What an idiot.

So how should I use BR tags and P tags in my WordPress posts?:

As a general rule the P tag is a block level element, and should have an open tag and a closed tag around the content, like this:

<p>This is a much better example of how to use a p tag</p>
<p>As you can see, the P tag is open and closed around the content that I want to turn into a paragraph and this paragraph is separated from the one above</p>

The BR tag can be used within a block element (like P tags) or on any line of a web page to force a line break. Using a BR tag will force the next piece of content or text to start on the next line. Example below:

This is a line of text to show a BR tag in use
<br>
And this text is on a new line because I used the BR tag

And here is an example of P tags and BR tags:

<p>This is a line of text to show a paragraph where I want to force a line-break in the middle of it, here comes the line-break now
<br>
And this text is on a new line because I used the BR tag above<p/>

Hopefully that helps someone out there. This is basically a name and shame post for myself, highlighting and sharing some of the dumb habits that I found myself doing as I was learning this stuff from scratch.

Where to find ‘word count’ in Microsoft Word 2007

Okay, so this is a real ‘back to basics’ type post. Almost embarrassing, but I’ll probably forget this again in the future at some point so why not leave it here as a reminder.

Background:

I was recently working on launching a new content site and had commissioned some articles from elance. I used to try and write all the articles for my mini-sites myself – this is great practice and really forces you to think about the content that you are producing on your sites. It forces you to think about your audience and what value you are providing via the content that you are creating. Also, if it gets zero traffic, then you only have yourself to blame.

The down-side of this is that it takes ages, it restricts your ability to scale, and if you want to work on more than one site at the same time then it can takes days or weeks just to get some core content up. So I turned to elance to commission some high quality articles. I figured that spending a $100 or so on some articles would give me the time to revise and tweak my site whilst I was waiting for the content to arrive.

Word counts and content:

So when the day came and my content arrived I wanted to know how many words were in each article, to ensure that I had received articles at my desired length.

When I opened the articles in Microsoft Word 2007 I was instantly confused, as I used to simply go into the ‘Tools’ menu and select ‘wordcount’ to get an accurate wordcount of each article…..but in Microsoft Office 2007 the Tools tab no longer exists.

To my shame, it literally took me 20 minutes clicking through each menu and dropdown looking for the wordcount function, until I noticed that it has been brought to the forefront in Microsoft Word 2007 and is visible at the bottom left of the window.

See the screenshot below, hopefully this will help anyone else who gets stuck on the same issue.

Where to find word count in Microsoft Word 2007:
How to find the word count of an article in Microsoft Word

Why is my WordPress blog not indexed?

Another very basic post, but if you are brand new, and I mean ‘brand new’ to wordpress it will hopefully save you some time.

In your early days of experimenting with WordPress you may wonder why your blog is not indexed in any of the search engines. Indexing can take time, but one of the first things you should check is whether your blog is even visible to search engines.

Annoyingly, when you first install WordPress it automatically sets your blog default as “I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors”. So no matter how kickass your blog is, or how unique your content is, it won’t get indexed in any search engines.

The good news is that this is easy to change. When you are satisfied that you are happy with the content on your blog and you are ready to unleash it on the world, simply follow the steps below to make your blog visible and accessible to search engines.

  1. From your WordPress dashboard go to ‘Settings’ (usually found in the bottom left section of your dashboard), and click on the ‘Privacy’ link.
  2. On the ‘Privacy’ page you will see 2 radio buttons under a title that says ‘Blog Visibility’. If you have just installed WordPress then you will notice that the “I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors” will be selected. Simply change this by clicking on “I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Bing, Technorati) and archivers”
  3. Click Save

Told you this was a simple, and very basic level post – but this is an easy thing to overlook for newcomers to WordPress. Hope it saves you some frustration.