Configure CyberSyn Plug-in for WordPress Sites

I keep saying “use an aggregation plug-in like CyberSyn” to get TCN content. What’s that mean, and how do you set it up?

Since TCN provides you with tips and articles to post on your blog, you need a way to move the text and graphics over to your site. You can always go to each article (linked on your Posts page), copy the text and drag the graphics to your Desktop to download them. Then you can switch over to your blog, paste the text in, reformat it as necessary, and insert the graphics. Nothing wrong with copy and paste, and working with the text a bit more in this way might make it easier to personalize each article.

But there’s an easier way. (Actually, I’m sure there are quite a few easier ways, and if you’ve come up with one, let me know.) For now, I’m going to explain how to set up the free CyberSyn aggregation plug-in for WordPress sites. It’s quick and easy to configure, and once it’s running, every new TCN post automatically appears in your blog as a draft post, ready for editing and posting. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to your WordPress plug-ins page, click Add New, and search for CyberSyn. When you find it, click Install Now, and then Activate.
  2. A new CyberSyn item appears in your Dashboard’s navigation sidebar. Click it to load CyberSyn’s General Settings page.
  3. Set the RSS pull mode to auto, make sure Link to source is unchecked, leave the Full text extractor URL field blank (CyberSyn fills it in automatically), and for now, select Disable feed duplicate control while you’re testing (you can turn it off later if you wish). Click Update Options when you’re done.
  4. Open a new browser tab and go to your TCN Account page. At the bottom of that page, in the Member Links section, Control-click the Apple Pros Members Feed and choose Copy Link, Copy Link Location, Copy Link Address, or whatever your browser calls it. (If you’re an ASMC member, copy the link for the ASMC Members Feed instead.) Make sure to get the right one, and ignore the Recent Posts Feed; it won’t work reliably, and I’m still figuring out how to get the unnecessary links taken off.
  5. Now that you have your RSS feed’s URL in the clipboard, go back to the tab for your WordPress site and click RSS/Auto Syndicator in the CyberSyn sidebar menu. Paste your URL (it should look like the one below, but with your memberkey) into the New Feed URL field and click the blue Syndicate button.
  6. On the Feed Info and Preview page, you should see the full text of the first post, along with the featured image for that post. If you don’t, or there’s an error about content being restricted, you probably have the wrong URL. Scroll down to the settings. I’ve highlighted the important ones below.
  7. First, although it’s not highlighted, do not select Extract full articles. It’s off by default and needs to stay off.
  8. For Syndicate this feed to the following categories select whatever local categories you want to associate with incoming posts. It would be a good idea to give them all a unique category, should you wish to work with them as a group later on.
  9. For Undefined categories choose Post to default WordPress category. Otherwise, CyberSyn creates new categories for you, which might not be ideal.
  10. For Maximum number of posts to be syndicated from each feed at once enter 10. In most months, we publish eight new posts, but some months have more when there are bonus news articles. Even if this number were lower, CyberSyn should still get everything, but it might take a few passes.
  11. For Posts status, choose Save as draft. This one is important, since it gives you the opportunity to edit each article, schedule them however you see fit, and remove the Facebook and Twitter teasers from the bottom.
  12. For Posts thumbnail, choose Generate from media attachment thumbnail so you get the featured image correctly.
  13. Finally, for Store images locally, select the checkbox so images are copied from your site and not merely linked to on the TCN site, which might cause them to disappear from your posts in the future.
  14. For all the other settings on this page, leave them at their defaults for now—you can always tweak things later.
  15. At the bottom of the page (not shown in the screenshot above), click Syndicate This Feed.
  16. You’re taken back to the main RSS/Atom Syndicator page. Select the checkbox next to your feed, and click the Pull Selected Feeds Now button.
  17. CyberSyn goes out and retrieves the content for your feed. Click Posts in the WordPress sidebar to see all your draft posts, and click one to make sure all the text and images are present and in the right places.

That may seem a little involved, but you have to do it only once. From now on, CyberSyn will automatically retrieve new posts added to your custom TCN RSS feed and turn them into drafts in your WordPress site.

I presume you know how to make a draft post public, but just as a reminder, you’ll want to cut out the Facebook and Twitter teasers at the bottom of an article before posting. Then, after you’ve posted, you can use those teasers with the link to the article on your site, to promote it on social media.

If anything isn’t clear in the instructions above, or if you have troubles, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Apple Tweaks iPad and iPhone Product Lines

Apple often adjusts its iPad and iPhone lineup in March, and this year’s changes make the selection more attractive and affordable while adding a new way to support the (RED) international charity. Let’s take a closer look at what Apple has done and what it means for you.

New iPad replaces iPad Air 2

The most significant of Apple’s changes is the replacement of the iPad Air 2 with a new 9.7-inch iPad model called simply “iPad.” This latest iPad is extremely similar to the iPad Air 2, and although most of the changes are for the better, Apple cut a few features so as to reduce the price to the lowest ever for a 9.7-inch iPad.

Physically, the new iPad is almost identical to the iPad Air 2, apart from being 1.4 mm thicker, which might cause problems for some current cases. More interesting is that Apple swapped the iPad Air 2’s A8X processor for the faster A9 chip, which should improve performance. The cameras remain mostly the same too, though photos taken with the rear-facing camera should be somewhat better, thanks to two improvements over the iPad Air 2’s camera: auto image stabilization to help avoid blurry images and a hybrid infrared filter to improve color accuracy and sharpness.

On the downside, the new iPad lacks the iPad Air 2’s laminated display and anti-reflective coating, which combined to increase screen clarity, particularly in bright light. You’d have to compare the new iPad against the more expensive iPad mini 4 or the much more expensive 9.7-inch iPad Pro to see if the screen change is a major problem for you.

The big win with the new iPad is price, which has dropped $70: it’s now only $329 for the Wi-Fi–only 32 GB model or $429 for 128 GB. The cellular models cost $459 for 32 GB and $559 for 128 GB. It’s now the least expensive iPad and what Apple expects most new buyers to purchase. It’s available starting March 24th.

Apple reduces iPad mini 4 price, drops iPad mini 2

The new iPad takes over the entry-level iPad spot from the iPad mini because Apple simultaneously dropped both the iPad mini 2, which had been priced at $269, and the 32 GB model of the iPad mini 4, which previously sold for $399. That leaves just the 128 GB iPad mini 4, and Apple slashed $100 off its price to bring it down to $399. Despite the price drop, unless you especially want the iPad mini’s smaller size or better screen, it’s probably worth $30 to move up to the new 128 GB iPad.

Paint the town (RED) with new iPhone 7 models

For more than 10 years, Apple has partnered with the (RED) international charity to raise money for the Global Fund to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. By offering products in the licensed PRODUCT(RED) color and donating a portion of the proceeds, Apple has raised over $130 million for (RED), making it the charity’s largest corporate donor.

On March 24th, Apple will start selling the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus PRODUCT(RED) Special Edition models in 128 GB and 256 GB capacities. They’re functionally identical to the existing iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models and are priced the same too, but they come in what Apple calls “a vibrant red aluminum finish.” It’s a strong color that’s a far cry from Apple’s almost pastel rose gold color choice.

And if you’d like a PRODUCT(RED) iPhone, but have a perfectly serviceable iPhone that you don’t want to replace, Apple now offers silicone and leather cases in the (RED) color—they’re not quite as snazzy as the red aluminum finish, but they’re similarly bright.

iPhone SE now holds twice as much

Last, but far from least, Apple has doubled the storage tiers for the 4-inch iPhone SE, so you can now purchase a 32 GB model for $399 or a 128 GB model for $499. This minor change is welcome for two types of iPhone users.

First, if you’re looking for the least expensive iPhone, the 32 GB iPhone SE at $399 is $150 cheaper than the 32 GB iPhone 6s at $549. And second, some people with smaller hands or pockets don’t like the extra bulk of even the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s/7, much less the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s/7 Plus. For them, the svelte iPhone SE is a perfect size, and it’s helpful that buying it no longer requires living with only 16 GB or 64 GB of storage.

If you have questions about which of these products is right for your needs, get in touch!

Twitter: Curious about Apple’s new iPad and iPhone changes, including the snazzy PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 7? We have details at:

Facebook: Apple’s just-announced new iPads and iPhones promise faster performance and more storage for less money! And a lot more (RED).

Post, Don’t Link: Dispelling a TCN Misconception

I recently had a conversation with a TCN trial subscriber who had a fundamental misconception about how TCN content works. Since he was posting only to Facebook and was using Buffer to schedule those posts, he thought he could put his custom RSS feed from TCN into Buffer and have it post to Facebook for him. Bzzzt!

That didn’t work because what Buffer ended up posting on Facebook were links to the original articles on the TCN site, which are accessible only to TCN members. When his readers clicked any of those Facebook posts and were redirected to the TCN site, all they saw was “This content is available only to TCN subscribers.” Not good.

His core confusion was that he was using TCN articles like any other random post on the Internet. What makes the TCN model special is that you can treat our tips and articles as though you wrote them yourself. You can edit them, change photos or screenshots, and post them on your blog under your byline. They are yours to do with as you please (within our generous terms of service, of course).

Here’s the key fact to remember: The custom RSS feed on your account page (Apple Pros Members Feed or ASMC Members Feed) is there to help you load TCN tips and articles into your blog via an aggregation service, like the free CyberSyn plug-in for WordPress-based sites. You could also use it with a standard RSS reader like Shrook to save a copy of everything locally to your Mac. Once you have the articles, post them on your site, and when you link to them in social media, point those links at the articles on your site. Got it?

Any questions, just ask me!

Strong Foundations: Build on Your Blog

In future posts, I’ll be talking about the different ways you can reach out to clients and customers, but first I want to focus on what should be the foundation of any content marketing strategy: your blog.

It’s not sexy, I know, and it’s harder to think of and write a blog post (that’s what TCN does for you!) than it is to slap a link to an interesting article on Facebook. Here’s the thing: you always want to bring people back to your Web site, which has a huge benefit:

Your content doesn’t have to compete with anything else.

Whether we’re talking about Facebook, Twitter, or even email, anything you write will be merely a single raindrop in a raging river of distracting content (“Watch this kitten ride a horse!”). Even if you post a highly informative article with a compelling thumbnail and someone reads it, there’s always another post (“7 Celebrities Who Were Raised by Wolves!”) clamoring for attention. Or, more to the point, 100 other posts are pushing and shoving to get into that person’s head. The odds of them remembering what you’ve posted, or even connecting it with you, aren’t great. As the agency Simply Zesty wrote:

Think of your short term memory as an empty glass and the Internet and social media as extra water being poured into it. As you pour more and more water into it, the glass begins to overflow and the excess water spills outside the glass. In a sense, social media is this overflowing of information. If you’ve ever tried to take in the rapid influx of information from different social media streams, you’ll know that the majority of them are instantly forgotten about, your attention becoming selective as to what links or messages you check out. Many of these links are gone before we know it and therefore don’t register on your radar.

In contrast, your blog is a Zen-like oasis of quiet and calm reflection. Yeah, I realize that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. The goal should always be to get people back to your blog, where you control everything from the header to the footer and where the reader has a chance to absorb both what you’re saying and the fact that you are the one saying it.

Blogs have another unbeatable advantage over social media and email:

Blog posts stick around for as long as you want.

We talk about Facebook and Twitter streams because every post is almost instantly swept downstream as soon as you post it. That’s why it’s a good idea to post the same thing multiple times — engagement goes up because so much of your audience won’t happen to be watching the river when your twig of a post sweeps by. Social media is the very definition of here today, gone tomorrow. Except that it’s more like, “here at coffee break, gone by lunch.”

Blog posts may not compete with diamonds in the forever category, but they’re solid and stable, and if you put some thought into what you’re posting (or go back and edit periodically), you can keep much of your blog’s content evergreen. That’s useful because:

  • A blog full of content makes you look good. You’re productive, helpful, and reliable.
  • You can reuse old blog content in social media and email, reducing the need for new content.
  • Blog posts can answer frequently asked client questions so you can just send links.

There are, of course, plenty of other content marketing-related benefits to having a blog on your Web site, but I’ll stop for now. If you have questions about any of this, or if you’ve discovered a particular win from your blog, let me know!

Reset iOS Devices Before Passing Them On

If you have an old iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch that you want to sell or give away, you don’t want to leave any of your apps, data, or personal information on the device. Luckily, Apple makes it easy to reset to factory defaults. Go to Settings > General > Reset (all the way at the bottom) and then tap Erase All Content and Settings. Enter your passcode, confirm the erasure (twice!), and then type your Apple ID password. After all that, the device restarts just as though you’re taking it out of the box for the first time.

Restore Files from Time Machine for Peace of Mind

You are backing up your Mac’s data, right? (No? Really? Open System Preferences > Time Machine and set up backups to an external hard drive. We’ll wait. Otherwise, the question is not if you’ll lose data, but when.)

Backups are essential, but many people don’t realize that there’s something even more important: the capability to restore your data in case of a catastrophe. All too often, people believe they’re backing up, but because disasters are rare, they don’t realize the backups aren’t being made properly until it’s too late. And even if your backups are good, you don’t want to learn how to restore while you are stressed out about possibly lost data.

Follow along, then, and let’s restore some data from your Time Machine backup together, so you both know that your backups are working and that you’ll be ready should you need to resort to your backup.

  1. In the Finder, select the file or folder you want to recover, or if it was deleted, the folder that previously contained it. (For this example, we’ll practice with the iTunes Library.itl file that stores data for iTunes; it’s in the iTunes folder inside your account’s Music folder.)
  2. Choose Enter Time Machine from the Time Machine  menu in the menu bar. (If you don’t see this menu, open System Preferences > Time Machine and select the checkbox for “Show Time Machine in menu bar.”)
    Your selected window moves to the center of the screen, whose background blurs, and copies of the window stack up behind it, each indicating a previous backup.
  3. Find the version of the file or folder that you want, perhaps a backup from a few days ago. You can do this in one of two ways:
    • Click the arrows to the right the windows to move back (the top arrow) or forward (the bottom arrow) in time. For each click, Time Machine jumps to the most recent backup in which the files shown in the window were different.
    • Use the bars on the right side of the screen to navigate to a particular backup. As you hover over the bars, they expand to display the date of each backup; click a bar to jump to the state of the window at that point in time.
  4. Because we’re just practicing here, we’ll restore to the Desktop instead of the original location. Right-click or Control-click the item you want to restore and choose Restore “filename” To from the contextual menu.
  5. Time Machine switches you to the Finder and opens a Save dialog. Navigate to the Desktop by pressing Command-D, and then click Choose, after which Time Machine restores the file to the Desktop.

If you were really restoring a corrupted or deleted file, you could instead just click Time Machine’s Restore button, which is even easier, since then Time Machine restores the file to its original location. If a file with the same name exists, the Finder prompts you to replace the existing file, keep both copies (which renames the existing file with “(original)” at the end), or keep the original (which cancels the restoration).

That’s it! Try restoring a few more files and folders to the Desktop until you’re comfortable with Time Machine’s interface, and when you’re done, trash everything you’ve restored to the Desktop. To check that your backups continue working properly, restore some files once a month or so.

Twitter: You may have Time Machine backups, but are you sure they’re working and that you know how to restore data? Learn how:

Facebook: The first step in protecting your Mac’s data is to make Time Machine backups. But even more important is making sure your backups are working correctly and that you know how to restore files and folders in the event of a catastrophe. Hop over to our site for step-by-step instructions on how to restore data from Time Machine.

Extend iPhone Battery Life with Low Power Mode

There’s nothing worse than your iPhone running out of juice at an inopportune time. Starting in iOS 9, there’s a Low Power Mode that’s offered to you when the remaining battery charge drops below 20%, and it’s automatically disabled once the charge rises to 80%. You can also enable Low Power Mode manually in Settings […]

Enable Wi-Fi Calling to Improve Call Quality

If you use AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint in the United States with an iPhone 6 or newer model, you can turn on a feature starting in iOS 9 that enables your iPhone to send calls over a Wi-Fi network (and thus the Internet) rather than relying on spotty cellular coverage. It’s especially useful in […]