Upgrading PHP 5.X to PHP 7 on Ubuntu 14.04 / Apache

I upgraded my DigitalOcean droplet today to run PHP 7, after a few hiccups this was the process that worked best for me.

1. sudo apt-get install python-software-properties
2. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php
3. sudo apt-get update
4. sudo apt-get update && apt-get purge php5-fpm && apt-get --purge autoremove && apt-get install php7.0-fpm php7.0-mysql php7.0 php7.0-json php7.0-curl libapache2-mod-php7.0 php7.0-opcache php7.0-xml php7.0-gd php7.0-bz2
5. sudo service apache2 restart

If you are using NGINX, swap step 5 above to:

First udate your NGINX fastcgi_pass directive to: fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;

then restart NGINX:

sudo service nginx restart

When you are all done type in php -v and it should say you are running PHP 7.

So far I haven’t run into any issues with WordPress or the various plugins I’m running.

There is a very noticeable speed increase across the board with WordPress as well!

Voice Activated Home Automation with SiriProxy & ioBridge

Siri Lighting the Fireplace

Siri Light my Fire

I’ve been using ioBridge & X10 for a couple years now to control some of my appliances / lights etc. in my apartment. ioBridge is a small module that allows you to web-enable your projects. Once you buy the control panel you can extend it with various boards, probes and sensors.

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Split Testing & the HelloBar

I’ve been using the HelloBar now for a couple months on both my clients sites and my own with great success. If you haven’t heard of it HelloBar is a simple web app that allows you to display a low profile bar on the top of your website (like the one on the top of this website). You can use this area to display small messages to push people to different areas or offers on your site.

I’ve never been one to overplan my marketing messages or copy, preferring instead to throw things against the wall and adjusting until something sticks. I’ve started exploring split testing more, as it’s a great way to compare multiple approaches analytically to get real data on what works and what doesn’t.

Split testing involves testing multiple options and recording the data to see which option preforms the best.

Split Testing the HelloBar

The first thing you need is at least two HelloBars setup in your account. You should create new bars for the test so the HelloBar stats are fresh.

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Create your Own Short URLs

Short URL services have become a critical part of sharing links around the web. These services take a long URL like https://www.markhodder.com/2011/02/create-your-own-short-urls/ and convert it to a smaller URL like http://mah.lt/s/6

Both links point to the same source, one just has fewer characters (17 vs 53)

These shorter links save precious space, which is critical when it comes to sharing them on Twitter. More then just making a link shorter, these services can also collect additional data, every time the link is clicked.

Information like how many people clicked the link, the countries they visited from and the source where the link was clicked. They even make it easy to update a link after it’s been shared. This allows you to point to a new source if the content has moved.

Why not use an Existing Service?

There are plenty of companies out there offering this service for free, or for a small fee so why take the time to create your own URL shortner?

The most obvious reason is that you are at the mercy of the companies you create your links with, if they are down so are your links. Even worse, if the company closes down your links could be gone forever.

Another great reason to create your own service is that you can create a more personal link. Instead of promoting a 3rd party company every time you share a link, you can be promoting your own brand.

Finally with some free tools, it’s relatively easy to get setup and creating your own URLs in no time!

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Dropbox – EASY Online Backup

Up-to-date backups are one of those nagging little things that you know you should be doing, but you never seem to find the time to do. Most people don’t take it seriously until after their first major data loss and they realize it’s start over or pay thousands of dollars to a data recovery service (yes most recovery’s start at $1,000 and up).

Enter Dropbox – seamless, automatic backup’s across computers and platforms (Windows, Mac and Linux). Dropbox has just came out of private beta testing and is now open to the world. Accounts are free for up to 2gb of data and $100 per year for up to 50gb of data (paid accounts coming this week). And if you thought that was good they also have some other great features such as versioning, undelete, photo sharing, web access to files, private sharing of folders among other Dropbox users and public file sharing (even with non-Dropbox users).

The possibilities for this little piece of software are amazing, with Dropbox anyone could easily:

  • Set up a private network with family members to share photos and documents
  • Set up a common drive for remote and virtual employees
  • Set up a home network to share music and photos between computers

This is by far the killer backup application for anyone looking for a feature rich, hands off, cross platform backup system that above everything else… just works.

Watch the tour
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WordPress Theme Lists

Looking for your next WordPress theme can be quite a challenge at times with all the different websites out there. Here are some great starter links:

A great starting point for your next great WordPress site!

WordPress Expand Text

This WordPress plugin allows you to create sections of text in your post or page which expand/collapse when clicked on. You simply wrap the special tags around your text, and set the ‘expand link’ (the link visitors click on to show the text). If your visitors do not have javascript enabled, the ‘expand link’ is not shown, and the text is displayed normally.

Get it, click here


Here is your text! Expanded and in a nice blue box, the box can be customized through CSS.