Oh no, I just locked myself out of my server

lock_open_solid_1I had just installed a nifty firewall I found on the Internet, and dang it, I locked myself out of my server. OK, those weren’t the exact words I used, but you get the picture. My name is Bob (real name hidden for fear of ridicule) and I had just leased an insanely fast NVMe server from Hostirian.

Fortunately, they offer IP KVM which allowed me to remotely disable the firewall and gain access to my server again. Whew!! Managing a server is so much easier when you have some great tools at your disposal.

For more information about Hostirian’s dedicated servers, click here.

Two free Softaculous scripts that will make your life easier

Softaculous V3Open source software, like the scripts offered by Softaculous, is widely used by companies in a broad range of industries from retail to wholesale, and from finance to automotive. Why? Obviously free helps, but many of these scripts are used by millions of businesses for reasons other than cost. They improve productivity, workflow and a myriad of assorted value-add functionalities across multiple industries.

Over 400 free scripts are available via Softaculous

No, you don’t need to know any code to install these scripts. Softaculous scripts can typically be installed with just one click. We obviously can’t review 400+ scripts here, but we will discuss a couple of popular scripts that are designed to make your life much easier (more in future newsletters).

If you’d like a full list of the scripts that are available via Softaculous, head on over to our Cloud Website page. We’ve divided these scripts into categories like e-commerce, blogs, gaming, ad management and others. Each of these categories can be expanded to display the scripts that are in that category. Each of those is linked to extensive information about that script, including reviews, screenshots, ratings and features.

1First up, an e-Commerce script called PrestaShop

“The PrestaShop e-Commerce Solution was built to take advantage of essential Web 2.0 innovations such as dynamic AJAX-powered features and next-generation ergonomy. PrestaShop guides users through your product catalog intelligently and effortlessly, turning intrigued visitors into paying customers.”

We’ve selected to feature PrestaShop based on it’s popularity and rating, as it has scored 4.52 stars out of a possible 5 from 2452 voters. What we hear quite frequently from entrepreneurs/solopreneurs are queries about launching online stores. What differentiates PrestaShop from other shopping programs is its front and back office features. 

Front-office

  • Featured products on homepage
  • Top sellers on homepage
  • New items on homepage
  • ‘Free shipping’ offers
  • Cross-selling (Accessories)
  • Product image zoom
  • Order out-of-stock items
  • Customer subscription & user accounts
  • Payment by bank wire
  • Google Checkout module
  • Cash-On-Delivery (COD)
  • Pre-configured for Paypal
 Back-office

  • Unlimited categories & subcategories, product attribute combinations, product specs, images, currencies, tax settings, carriers & destinations
  • Real-time currency exchange rates
  • Inventory management
  • Unlimited languages & dialects
  • 100% modifiable graphic themes
  • Newsletter contact export
  • Alias search
  • SSL encryption
  • Visitors online
  • Customer groups

Of course, if you’re selling to a local market, you wouldn’t need unlimited languages and dialects, but good to know that’s available. Being pre-configured for PayPal is huge, simply because PayPal is a highly recognizable payment solution trusted by millions worldwide.

On the flip side, you’ll likely have to purchase several (often expensive) add-on modules to integrate different software programs to add functionality to Prestashop. If you have limited tech knowledge, you might consider investing in a web developer to help you through the rough spots. The good news is that once it’s set up, day-to-day operations are a breeze.

2Next up is a customer support script called osTicket

“osTicket is a widely-used open source support ticket system. It seamlessly integrates inquiries created via email and web-based forms into a simple easy to use multi-user web interface. Easily manage, organize and archive all your support requests and responses in one place while providing your clients with accountability and responsiveness they deserve.

osTicket is an attractive alternative to higher-cost and complex customer support systems; simple, lightweight, reliable, open source, and easy to setup and use. The best part is, it’s completely free.”

osTicket ranks 4.6 stars out of 5 based on 225 voters, essentially because it simply works AND it’s free.

Its features:

Web-based Platform : osTicket is a web-based multi-user customer support platform. No local installation required. Access it anytime – from anywhere.

Customer Portal : All support requests and responses are archived online. User can login using email and ticket ID. No user account or registration required to submit a ticket.

Autoresponder : Configurable automatic reply sent out when a new ticket is opened or a message is received.

Email Integration : Tickets can be created via email, online forms or phone (created by staff). Flexible configuration and mapping.

Role-based Access : Control staff’s access level based on assigned groups, departments and teams.

Collision Avoidance : Ticket locking mechanism to allow staff to lock tickets during response and avoid conflicting responses.

Ticket Assignment : Assign tickets to a staff or a teams. Assignment notes are logged as internal notes.

Ticket Filters : Apply conditional rules to route incoming tickets to the right departments or staff members, and action triggers.

Service Level Agreements : SLA support allow you to track tickets and due dates without the hassle. Get overdue alerts and notices on missed due dates, and priority escalation.

Ticket Transfer : Transfer tickets between departments to make sure it’s being handled by the correct staff.

Due Dates : Set due dates on individual tickets and overwrite default grace period. Get overdue alerts and notices on missed due dates.

Alerts & Notices : Staff and clients are kept up to date with email alerts. Configurable and flexible settings.

Dashboard & Reports : Get system overview and basic historical statistics on tickets count and status per department, staff and help topics.

Canned Responses : Predefined responses for frequently asked questions. Ticket variables supported for personalized responses.

Internal Notes : Add internal notes to tickets for staff. Activity logs let you see events or what actions have been taken, when, and by whom.

Attachment Support : Allow web or emailed attachments. Configurable file type whitelisting to enhance security.

Email Templates : Manage and configure email templates used for auto-reply, alerts, notices and responses. Ticket variables supported for personalized messages.

One review by a Guest says, “It just worked out of the box. It does all the basics extremely well and is highly stable and reliable. I have a small support team (including contractors) and this product does all the things I need and does them very nicely. Highly recommend you give it a try, I am confident you won’t be disappointed.”

Other than being FREE which obviously helps keep your cost down, it offers enough features to run a decent sized business support department successfully.

About WordPress Dashboard

The first thing you usually see when logging into WordPress is the Dashboard – a great way to get updates on your website statistics and more.
In the main area of your dashboard you will find widgets, which hold some news and basic information about your site.
-Drag and drop to position them however you would like
-Roll them closed by clicking the down-arrow icon in the far right corner by the widget title
-Some widgets have configuration options which can be accessed by hovering over the title bar and clicking on the configure link that appears.

In the upper-right hand corner of the screen you will see a couple of pull-down tabs labeled Screen Options and Help.
-Clicking on the Screen Options tab brings up customization options for your dashboard. It is here you can turn off and on the widgets you may or may not want shown at any given time.
-The Help tab provides information about those customizations, as well as links to documentation and support.

In the side bar you will find links that provide easy access to the different areas of your site.
-When the menu item is selected, a list of sub-menu items will appear below it.
-Hovering your cursor over any other items will also display their respective sub-menu.
You can click any of the options on the sub-menus to easily access any of the sub-sections of your site. 

Now to familiarize yourself with the Main Menu items:
-The Dashboard: Receive statistics and updates regarding your site
Posts: Create and manage the posts on your blog, as well as the tags and categories managing them
Media: Managing the media content library for things like PDF’s, videos, images, and audio files
Pages: Creating and managing pages on your site
Comments: Used to manage your visitor’s feedback
Appearance: Choose your theme, set up widgets, create custom navigation menus, etc.
Plugins: Extend the capabilities of your website, and lets you manage, activate, and deactivate them
Users: Allows you to view and manage all the site’s users, as well as allow you to edit your own profile
Tools: Provides tools to use for your site as well as options for importing/exporting content
Settings: Bulk of your sites options will be maintained here. The site’s name, privacy, and permalinks can all be configured here.

Lastly, at the very top, you will find the Admin Bar. Check out our article on that for further information regarding it.

The Admin Bar of WordPress

If you are logged in as the admin for your site, you will see a grey bar at the top of your screen; this is called the Admin Bar, and is only visible to anyone that is logged in.
The Admin Bar provides various options and easy access to your site.

When logged in as Admin, the admin bar will have the following items:
-A WordPress icon that contains information about WordPress, along with support and contact forums.
-If you have multiple sites on a network, you can access them under My Sites which gives you quick links to bring you to the dashboard for that site, a new post page, comments, or the site itself.
 The option next to My Sites is the site you are currently, which lists similar options to help you navigate through your site
The Chat icon (which will look like a messaging chat bubble) will take you directly to the comment page for the current blog, and shows you the number of pending comments that need to be approved.
-At the end of this chain on the left side is the + New icon, which takes you to the corresponding page you select in the list that drops down.
-The right side of the admin bar is your profile name and avatar. Here you can either edit your profile or log out
-Lastly is a small search icon, which you can use to search for any post or page within your site.