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  • Why Storm Developers

    Storm Developers are dedicated in providing many resource such as digital products and services, This will be supplied by our team on our core developments or from our members who wish to sell or promote their own products and/or services with us. Our core team and community cater for many resources and support those who need it.

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  • PHPBB 3.3 Proteus - Now Released and Stable

    A lot has been going on at PHPBB, On the 6th January they have released the all new 3.3 Proteus with many improvements and bug fixes, The new phpBB 3.3 Proteus builds upon 3.2 Rhea and is a big step towards a more modern base while maintaining a clear update path. It is now shipped with Symfony 3.4, Twig 2, and jQuery 3.4. The improvements include, among others, support for Invisible reCAPTCHA, Argon2i and Argon2id password hashing, improved reset password functionality, and minor changes to the UI.
    The minimum supported PHP version has been increased to PHP 7.1.3 while support for PHP 7.3 and PHP 7.4 has been added. Fixed security issues in 3.2.9 are part of this release as well.
    Improvements on the all new PHPBB 3.3 Proteus release:
    Due to the BBcode parser you can now make use of the entire Emoji keyboard when posting on your community forums, from a cheeky smile to a much loved unicorn, they can liven up all of the posts and topics within your community website, PHPBB has also confirmed that you can use these in topic titles too.
    PHP 7 Support
    PHPBB have made many improvements to now be completely supported with versions 7.1 to 7.4, with these improvements you will notice there will be many performance advantages and better speeds.
    Clever Quotes
    PHPBB improved the quoting system to show a link to the quoted post and post author. The full time and date of the quoted post is now also available to get all the information in one glance.
    Easy Updating
    With their brand new installer updating will be easier than ever in phpBB 3.3! Upload a single folder to your board and all your files will automatically be replaced.
    reCaptcha 2.0
    With phpBB 3.3 now including the industry standard by using Google's newest and strongest API, you will have an even better protection against spambots than before.
    Improved Notifications
    With PHPBB completely refactoring the notifications system in phpBB 3.2, notifications now work faster and more efficiently. This change also reduces the posting time to be almost instantaneous.
    Font Awesome Icons
    Using CSS driven icons from FontAwesome, Now have more intuitive icons with retina quality all across phpBB as well as considerably improving the speed of page loads.
    Symfony 3.4
    Having introduced Symfony components in their previous releases, phpBB 3.3 has now upgraded to be built on Symfony 3.4 allowing them to use the latest cutting-edge developments.
    Even with all the hardwork PHPBB have put in they have now started work on 4.0 and will look forward to see what will be next, let us know what you think to the latest updates and has performance improvements worked for you.
    You can download the latest version here
    Go To Download

    Adobe unveils Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service

    Brands must put an end to the content chaos if they are to better personalise the customer experience, improve customer retention and ultimately establish market superiority. To help with this, Adobe has launched Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service.
    Today’s customers are more demanding than ever before. They have more choice, are better informed and are less loyal to brands than they once were. In response, brands need to get better at attracting and retaining customers, delivering the right message in time and on the right channel, platform or device.
    To help brands rise to this challenge, Adobe has launched its flagship content management system, digital asset management and customer communication application – Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service.
    Built on Microsoft Azure and leveraging AI capabilities powered by Adobe’s Sensei, the cloud-native solution provides customers with a scalable, secure and agile application that accelerates the delivery of personalised omni-channel experiences with PaaS-like agility.
    “Our strategy has always been to change the world through digital experiences,” said Paul Robson, VP of International at Adobe, speaking at the press launch. “Experiences have been at the core of our mindset and our philosophy... and experiences are at the core of everything that Adobe has done since founding the company.”
    Robson hailed the development as a game-changer for brands, saying that it empowers them to create radically transformed, market-leading customer experiences at scale and speed. “It supercharges their ability to deliver personalised experiences across multiple platforms, be it a website, mobile device, interactive streams, IoT or physical.”
    Adobe counts global brands such as Vodafone, Virgin Atlantic, McLaren and Three in the UK among its Experience Manager customers. By delivering the application now as a cloud service, Adobe now offers enterprise-level and mid-size companies a globally-available foundation that can be integrated into existing infrastructures.
    Pilot customers including mapping software company Esri, Under Armour and Adobe-owned CMO.com reported significant productivity gains, while halving the amount of time it takes to publish new content across the various digital channels.
    “Becoming an early adopter of the cloud service was incredibly attractive to us,” said Steve Schultz, head of marketing technology at Esri said at the launch. “Instead of dealing with large-scale deployments of software updates to our site, cloud service is constantly updating. We think this process of continuous integration offers huge benefits as the risk of errors occurring during deployments are far reduced.”
    Overcoming omni-channel challenges
    The launch of Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service comes at a time when brands are looking to overcome some of the key challenges to deliver stand-out customer experiences. In particular, businesses have large volumes of content that they need to store, locate and publish across a wide range of digital platforms. Furthermore, brands recognise that this content is unlikely to work if it isn’t personalised to the audience and their interests, especially given research has shown the average attention span of humans to be just eight seconds.
    At the same time, CMOs are keen to leverage customer data as best as they can to personalise the experience for their customers.
    All of this can make life difficult for brands, but they recognise that greater personalisation offers them an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition. Indeed, a Walker study found that by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. This study is supported by similar research from Adobe, which found one in three customers will move brands based on poor experience.
    Why is this important to CIOs?
    All of these challenges involve the CIO more than you might think. In the past, the CIO may have seen customer experience comprising everything from website development and email marketing to the bricks-and-mortar in-store experience to be the role of the CMO, or another part of the business. Once business decided what they wanted, IT would simply build and support it.
    This is changing thanks to new IT purchasing behaviours, a wish from leadership for CIOs to drive new business growth and career-driven CIOs increasingly coming from business background.
    With Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service, CIOs can finally deliver a technology solution that supports CMOs – and the business - at pace.
    “With Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service, CIOs don’t have to worry about building in down-time to accommodate version upgrades, and because it’s constantly updated, CIOs can relax, safe in the knowledge that the production environment is configured and constantly maintained and secure by default. 
    “These things combined mean that all CMOs need to do is ensure their teams are laser focused on delivering exceptional experiences,” said Jean-Michel Pittet, VP of Engineering at Adobe.
    Click here to read more about Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service.

    Windows 7 End of Life - what your business needs to know

    Today marks the official end of Microsoft support for Windows 7, marking the end of one of the company's most widely-used software suites.
    First released in 2009, Windows 7 marked a crucial step for Microsoft as it looked to recover from the awfulness of Windows Vista, and saw major steps forward in terms of power and usability to become still the fastest-selling OS of all time.
    But with millions of PCs still estimated to be running the now-elderly OS, what do you need to know about updating your business from Windows 7?
    RIP Windows 7 – Microsoft’s best operating system ever? When does Windows 7 support end for businesses?
    Windows 7 End of Life starts on January 14, 2020 for both business and consumer users. However Microsoft actually ended mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015, after which new features stopped being added, and warranty claims were no longer valid.
    Since then, Windows 7 has been in an "extended support phase", where Microsoft has still been providing patches and updates to make sure security issues and bugs are fixed.
    But this is now ending, with Microsoft encouraging users to upgrade as soon as possible. 

    What can my business do next after Windows 7 End of Life? 
    Despite Microsoft's official support ending, this doesn’t mean Windows 7 will stop working after January 14 2020 – as you’ll still be able to use Windows 7 for as long as you want. 
    But it does bring in a number of new issues, mainly that Windows 7 won't be patched to protect from any new viruses or security threats going forward, meaning your business could be left vulnerable to any new or emerging issues.
    And as we've noted previously, if a large number of people continue to use Windows 7 after the End of Life date, that could actually prove to be a big incentive for malicious users to target viruses at Windows 7.
    So, while Windows 7 will continue to work after January 14 2020, your workplace should start planning to upgrade to Windows 10, or an alternative operating system, as soon as possible.
    Steps for your business to take after Windows 7 End of Life
    With this in mind, if your business is still using Windows 7, probably the best option to consider is to upgrade to a newer operating system.
    There are a number of options on the market today, both in terms of newer versions of Windows, or other providers, but if you want to keep it simple, the best thing is to upgrade to Windows 10.
    This is the best option for a number of reasons - primarily in that both operating systems are made by Microsoft, so the upgrade process is relatively easy, especially if you are updating a large number of office or workplace devices in bulk.
    Staying with Windows also means there should be less disruption for your employees, with most popular Windows 7 programs have been  updated to work on Windows 10. The two operating systems also have several similarities when it comes to layout and interface, and in many cases you can keep your files on your PC.
    However you need to remember that until you are upgraded to the new version, your devices will be vulnerable to threats looking to exploit any unsupported security flaws lurking in Windows 7.

    Upgrading your business to Windows 10
    If you want to upgrade to Windows 10, then you'll need to contact Microsoft, who can examine your current subscription level and then take the process further. 
    That can either be with Microsoft itself, or one of its certified partners - so if you're looking to go it alone, it might be worth getting several quotes for the process.
    It's worth considering that as your software improves, your hardware will need to do so too, as Windows 10 may struggle to work well on your old Windows 7 machine. 
    Here are the recommended specs Microsoft suggests for Windows 10:
    Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver Display: 800 x 600 resolution   For more on upgrading your Windows 7 machine to Windows 10, check out our comprehensive article on How to use Windows 10. Upgrading your entire device fleet is another option, and although it will be pricey, having a new top-of-the-range model to allow your employees to get the most out of Windows 10 carries many benefits.
    Several firms do offer supporting tools to help with this transition, including Dell, which provides a migration service for business customers to get their Windows 7 machines moved to Windows 10.
    If your business does choose this route, be sure to back up all your files before making the switch, and ensure you have all software updates and security patches installed on the new devices. 
    Check out our pick of the best laptops for business in 2020 Should I upgrade my business to Windows 8?
    Despite the name (and numerical upgrade), we're not recommending that businesses upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 . 
    Although Windows 8 is more recent than Windows 7, and still enjoys full Microsoft support, it may not be too long before that version too enters its End of Life stage.
    Even though it may save money, we say your business will be much better off postponing this future stress by upgrading to the much better Windows 10.
    Read more about the benefits of Windows 10 in our full review  Windows 7 End of Life: sticking with Windows 7
    For those who are really unwilling to let go of Windows 7, there is always a more extreme option - but it may cost you. Microsoft has confirmed it will be offering Windows 7 Extended Security Updates, which will continue to deliver updates and patches for Windows 7 business users after January 2020.
    However, these extended security updates will cost money on a per device basis, and it's not cheap.
    For support for Windows Enterprise users using Windows 7 for the first year after the End of Life date (January 2020 – January 2021), the cost is $25 (around £20, AU$35) for each device.
    This rises to $50 per device (around £40, AU$70) for year two (January 2021 – January 2022), and $100 (around £80, AU$140) for year three (January 2022 to January 2023). It appears that at the moment that Microsoft is hoping by 2023, Windows 7 use will be small enough to stop offering the extended security updates.
    As this is a per device cost, businesses with numerous PCs running Windows 7 will soon find this very expensive.
    If they are using Windows 7 Pro, then those prices are even higher, with $50 (around £40, AU$70) for year one support, $100 (around £80, AU$140) for year two and $200 (around £150, AU$280) for year three.
    Windows 7 End of Life: switch to Mac
    If your business is ready to move on from Microsoft's software, then Windows 7 End of Life could be the ideal opportunity to switch to Mac.
    Today, many common business programs for Windows are also available for Mac, including G Suite and Office 365, although you may need to purchase new licences, or such for an alternative if not available.
    Macs also offer a thorough security suite to help protect from cyberattacks, although the old myths that Apple devices don't get viruses is sadly not true.
    The downside of moving to Apple is that it's the most expensive option. Apple’s products are notoriously expensive, so expect to pay a lot if you make the switch. 
    Apple currently offers MacBooks for business starting at $1,099/£1,099, and iMacs starting from $1,049/£1,049.
    However, Mac computers tend to age better than Windows PCs, so while you may spend a lot now, your new Mac should last you a long time.

    YouTube signs three top gamers away from rival Twitch

    YouTube has signed deals with three of the biggest gaming stars in an effort to boost its presence in the live-streaming space.
    Rachell "Valkyrae" Hofstetter, Elliott "Muselk" Watkins and Lannan "LazarBeam" Eacott will exclusively screen their games on the Google-owned platform.
    They were all previously active on Amazon's rival service, Twitch.
    YouTube said more than 200 million users watched video-game-themed content on its platform every day.
    "Most people are used to thinking of the streaming wars in terms of Netflix and its rivals but this is also playing out in gaming," said Will Hershey, chief executive of Round Hill Investments.

    The top four platforms for streaming games are:
    Twitch YouTube Mixer Facebook Gaming YouTube has not disclosed how much each star will be paid to dedicate themselves to its service. But combined, the three gamers have more than 21 million subscribers.
    YouTube's head of gaming Ryan Wyat said: "Gaming on YouTube just had its best year yet [and] 2020 is poised to be even better than 2019."
    Gamers on the service earn money via subscriptions and donations from their fans, as well as adverts. YouTube takes a cut of each.
    Gaming wars
    Twitch remains the dominant force in live-streamed gaming, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the hours spent watching the activity. But it has lost other talent in recent months.

    Most notably, the gamer Tyler Blevins, known as Ninja, signed a deal to leave Twitch in August 2019 and joined Microsoft's Mixers, a much smaller service..
    Ninja - who rose to fame for playing Fortnite - had 14.7 million followers on Twitch before he jumped ship.
    "Almost every week, we see a new content creator sign a multi-million-dollar deal for streaming," said Mr Hershey.
    Facebook is also active in this space. It launched Facebook Gaming in 2018 to allow users to stream their games to other users of the social network.
    YouTube's new recruits
    LazarBeam has the biggest following of the three players signed by YouTube.
    He already has 12.3 million followers on YouTube. In 2019, his channel was its eighth most viewed.
    The Australian joined YouTube five years ago but saw his subscriber count soar in 2018, when he started making videos of himself playing Fortnite: Battle Royale.
    American Valkyrae had nearly one million followers on Twitch, where she was also best known for playing Fortnite.

    She said she now planned to "venture into other areas of content and grow my brand even further".
    Muselk, another Australian, began making gaming videos while studying for a law degree.
    He has eight million YouTube subscribers and is co-owner of Click Management - a talent agency for digital game creators.
    "Live-streaming is an incredible opportunity to both grow my channel as well as have even more meaningful interactions with my audience," he said.

    Google Phases Out Cookies

    Google is to restrict the number of advertising cookies on websites accessed via its Chrome browser, in response to calls for greater privacy controls.
    It said that it would phase out third-party cookies within the next two years,
    Cookies are small text files that are used to track users across the web.
    It comes as a study suggests that many cookie consent pop-ups are flouting EU privacy laws.
    Justin Schuh, Google's director of Chrome engineering, said in a blogpost: "Users are demanding greater privacy - including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used - and it's clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands."
    Third-party cookies, which follow users from site to site tracing their browsing habits, have also been banned by Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla.
    Websites will still be able to use their own first-party cookies to track users.
    The move comes as Ireland's data protection authority investigates Google's online advertising business and the practice of real-time bidding for online ads.
    'Dark design' tricks

    Meanwhile, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University College London (UCL) and Aarhus University have conducted a joint study into the use of cookies.
    They analysed five companies which offer consent management platforms (CMP) for cookies used by the UK's top 10,000 websites.
    Despite EU privacy laws stating that consent for cookies must be informed, specific and freely given, the research suggests that only 11.8% of the sites met the minimal requirements of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) law.
    Instead they were found to blanket data consent options in complicated site design, such as:
    pre-ticked boxes "burying" decline buttons on later pages multiple clicks tracking users before consent and after pressing "reject" Just over half the sites studied did not have "rejecting all" tracking as an option.
    Of the sites which did, only 12.6% made it accessible through the same or fewer clicks as the option to "accept all".
    Quantcast, the largest company analysed, typically asks for permission to share data with 542 different companies, explains study co-author Michael Veale, from UCL.
    In response, the firm told the BBC: "Our default recommended settings grant equal prominence to the "I Accept" and "I Do Not Accept" buttons, and do not pre-select choices for any data processing purposes. While we strongly encourage that these defaults are used, website owners ultimately retain control over the customisation and presentation of their properties.
    Crownspeak, another CMP provider, said that its default configuration was also set up to enforce prior consent.
    The researchers estimate it would take, on average, more than half an hour to read through what the third-party companies are doing with your data, and even longer to read all their privacy policies.
    "It's a joke and there's no actual way you could do this realistically," said Dr Veale.
    "Consent should always have been a clear positive action, laws on tracking have been unenforced for a decade and the result is regulators not knowing where to start to cope with the scale of the widespread illegality."
    When the GDPR came into force in 2018, it "hugely upped enforcement powers and clarified what 'consent' meant, leading many to expect industry to pay close attention", explains Newcastle University law professor Lilian Edwards.
    Prof Edwards said there has been "limited effort to enforce the cookie rules" over the last decade and no post-GDPR fines have been made in the UK or Ireland, even though regulators can fine companies up to 4% of their global turnover.
    "The problem is that getting large fines through post-GDPR is proving a very long process," she added.
    Tracker blockers can be downloaded to protect web users.
    Browser extensions such as Privacy Badger, created by digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, entirely block data trackers.
    Part of the study's research team also created Consent-o-matic - a tool which users can programme to remember their consent rejections and apply them to new sites.
    But Dr Veale says: "I want to see a web where users don't need to distrust sites in the way they need to now, for personal privacy and computer security."

    IPS - Mutlipur 1.0.5 Released

    Multipur 1.0.5 has been released for the Invision Power Suite, the updates cover the updates from 4.4.3 to this includes various style fixes and including fix to the 2 Factor Auth pop up window that didnt appear correctly has now been sorted. This now displays correctly.
    Coming into the future will be some update which will see changes to some of the settings you can make to the theme which some are in testing on our core website to see if they are working as they should do.
    The update are now in our marketplace including the IPS marketplace.
  • 11 best hidden Windows 10 tricks

    Your guide to the secret start menu, screenshots and a useful battery-saving tip.
    Whether you've been using Windows 10 for years or have only recently upgraded, there are plenty of new and old tips, tricks and hidden features to learn that will make using your laptop every day faster and smoother. For example, finding the secret Start menu and saving battery power with a simple trick.
    Microsoft doesn't typically publicize its hidden features the way Apple does, which can make it more difficult to know how to get the most out of the machine you use day in and day out.
    Even learning how to upgrade to Windows 10 for free can be tricky. You'll want to do this ASAP, by the way, since support for Windows 7 ended in January. So no matter which Microsoft, Dell, HP or other Windows 10 rig you have, these clever tips will help you stay organized and get more done. And here's everything you need to know about the Windows 10 Nov. 2019 update.
    Minimize all windows except the active one
    If your desktop screen has gotten too crowded with open windows, you can quickly minimize them all except the one you are currently working in.
    Just click the title bar of the window you want to remain open to select it. Then, hold the mouse down and move the window back and forth quickly -- shaking it, essentially. After a couple of quick shakes, all other open windows will minimize, leaving only the one you've shaken open. Neat, huh?  
    Open the 'secret' Start menu
    You know that to get to the Start menu, you hit the Windows icon at the bottom left of the screen or on your keyboard. But Windows 10 includes a lesser-known second Start menu that makes accessing important features like the Command Prompt, the Control Panel and the Task Manager much easier. You can access it two different ways, either by pressing the Windows key + X, or right click the Windows icon/Start button. 

    Create an event without opening the Calendar app
    Windows 10's latest update lets you quickly add events to your Microsoft calendar directly from your Taskbar -- without actually having to open the calendar at all. Here's how to do it: 
    1. On your Taskbar, click the box with the time and date in it in the right corner. 
    2. Click the date when you want to schedule an event. 
    3. Enter the event name, time and location. (If you have multiple calendars, click the down arrow next to the event name field to choose the one you want to add it to.) 
    4. Click save. The event should appear in your Calendar app across your devices. 
    Take a screenshot
    I know, it's a basic one -- but it's amazing how easy it is to forget how to take a screenshot on your laptop or desktop when you don't do it often. 
    There are at least eight different ways you can take a screenshot with Windows 10. If you want to capture and save a picture of your entire screen, the easiest way is to hit the Windows key + Print Screen key, and that picture will be saved to the Pictures > Screenshots folder. 
    To capture just one part of your screen, hit the Windows key + Shift + S to open a tool called Snip & Sketch, which allows you to click and drag to create a screenshot, which is saved to your Clipboard.
    Open items on your Taskbar with keyboard shortcuts
    If you've pinned programs to your Taskbar at the bottom of your screen to create a shortcut, you don't have to click the icons to open them. Instead, use the keyboard shortcut Windows key +  [Number key], with the number key corresponding to the position of the program on the Taskbar. For example, Windows key + 2 will open the second item on the Taskbar. 
    This is especially useful if you're typing furiously and don't want to lift your fingers from the keyboard. It may feel more natural to reach for the Windows key.
    Figure out how much space apps are taking up
    Computers start running slower as they grow short on space. One quick way to speed them up may be to get rid of apps that take up more space than they should, especially if you don't regularly use them.
    To see how much space an app uses, navigate to Settings > System > Storage. Click on the drive you want to search (likely the local storage, "This PC"), and click Apps & games to see a list of apps installed on your machine and how much space they are taking up. You probably won't get rid of your browser, but you might find that a game you haven't played in years is some good dead weight to drop. 
    Get rid of ads in your Start menu
    When you run Windows 10 with default settings, you may sometimes see apps on the right side of your Start menu. Microsoft calls them "suggestions," but they are actually ads for Windows Store apps you can buy. 
    To get rid of the ads in your Windows 10 Start menu, go to Settings > Personalization > Start. Toggle the setting called Show suggestions occasionally in Start to the off position. 
    Shut down background apps
    Apps that run in the background can receive info, send notifications, and stay updated, even when you aren't using them -- which can be useful, but can also suck your battery and your data, if you're connecting via a mobile hotspot. 
    To control which apps are running in the background and save some battery power and data, go to Settings > Privacy > Background apps. To stop all apps from running in the background, toggle Let apps run in the background to Off. Or, you can choose which apps to run in the background individually by going down the list on the same page. 
    Use background scrolling
    With Windows 10, you can scroll up and down on any window -- even if it's not the one you're directly working in. This is a useful tool when you have a lot of windows open that you want to look through at the same time -- for example, if you want to open new sub-menu options in new windows to save you time clicking back and forward on the same page. 
    Try opening two programs -- say, an internet browser page and a notepad or Word document. Arrange both on the screen so you can see at least some of the text on each. While you are in one window, hover your mouse or use the touchpad to move to the second window, and scroll. Even though you aren't active in that window, it should allow you to move up and down the page. 
    The feature should be on by default, but if it isn't, go to Settings > Devices > Mouse, and toggle Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them to On. Then you can place your mouse over a window that's in the background and use the scroll wheel to scroll. 
    Show file extensions in File Explorer
    Microsoft hides file extensions by default, which makes life difficult for people who need to look for specific types of files, like JPEGs and JPGs. To see file extensions in File Explorer, do the following: 
    1. Go to the Search bar at the bottom of the screen, and type in File Explorer Options, and click it. (There are a number of other ways to get here too, but that one seems fastest.)
    2. In the window that pops up, click the View tab. 
    3. Uncheck the box that says Hide extensions for known file types. Click Apply, and OK. You should now see file extensions for all files in the File Explorer. 
    You can also use the File Explorer Options menu to choose to show empty drives, hidden files and folders, and more. 
    Cut down on distractions with Focus assist
    It's frustrating to try and get work done when you keep getting interrupted with notifications. You can determine how many you get with Focus assist, a tool Windows 10 added in the April 2018 update. 
    Set it up by going to Settings > System > Focus assist. Choose from three options: Off (get all notifications from your apps and contacts), Priority (see only selected notifications from a priority list that you customize, and send the rest to your action center), and Alarms only (hide all notifications, except for alarms). 
    You can also choose to automatically turn this feature on during certain hours, or when you're playing a game. 

    Affiliate Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Ever since the 4-Hour Workweek was released, everyone seems to have the same goal.
    To wake up in the morning, open their laptop, and look at something like this:

    Passive income.
    That’s the dream, right?
    Make money while you sleep.
    For 99% of people, affiliate marketing is how they get started.
    The idea behind it is that you promote other people’s products, often through an affiliate network, earning a commission if people actually end up buying thanks to your marketing.
    It’s based on revenue sharing. If you have a product and want to sell more, you can offer promoters a financial incentive through an affiliate program. If you have no product and want to make money, then you can promote a product that you feel has value and earn an income from it as an affiliate marketer.
    Today I want to dive deeper into what affiliate marketing actually is, what sides there are to it, and how to get started.  So, let’s dive into my affiliate marketing guide.  Ready?
    The best definition of what affiliate marketing is can be found on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income:
    However, Wikipedia talks about 4 different parties that are involved: the merchant, the network, the publisher, and the customer.
    Other definitions talk about 3 parties instead of 4.

    I will explain all 4 parties in a second.  But, when it comes down to the actual marketing, there are 2 sides of an affiliate equation: the product creator and seller and the affiliate marketer.
    Therefore, affiliate marketing can be seen as the process of spreading product creation and product marketing across different parties, where each party receives a share of the revenue according to their contribution.
    It’s not just the promotion or just the product creation that defines who you are as an affiliate marketer.
    You can be both the creator and the marketer and still profit from the underlying idea of sharing revenue.
    Now let’s look at all of the parts of a successful affiliate marketing system.
    The Merchant: Sometimes also known as the creator, the seller, the brand, the retailer, or the vendor. This is the party that creates the product. It can be a big company, like Dyson, who produces vacuum cleaners.
    Or, it can be a single individual like Mariah Coz, who sells online courses to female entrepreneurs.
    From solo entrepreneurs to startups to massive Fortune 500 companies, anyone could be the merchant behind an affiliate marketing program. They don’t even have to be actively involved. They just have to have a product to sell.
    The Affiliate: This party is sometimes also known as the publisher. Affiliates can also range from single individuals to entire companies.  An affiliate marketing business can produce a few hundred dollars in commissions each month or tens of millions of dollars.
    It’s where the marketing happens. An affiliate promotes one or multiple affiliate products and tries to attract and convince potential customers of the value of the merchant’s product so that they actually end up buying it.
    This can be achieved by running a review blog of the merchant’s products.  For example:

    (This is why I’m broke is one of the most popular affiliate network sites)
    The Consumer: The customer or consumer makes the affiliate system go ’round. Without sales, there aren’t any commissions to hand out and no revenue to be shared.
    The affiliate will try to market to the consumer on whatever channel they see fit, whether that’s a social network, digital billboards or through a search engine using content marketing on a blog.
    Whether the consumer knows that they are part of an affiliate marketing system or not is mostly up to the affiliate.
    Some choose to let their consumers know and more and more affiliates tend to be transparent about their marketing being incentivized financially, but others don’t.
    They let the tracking system work in the background, where the customer can follow the purchase process just as usual and the affiliate still ends up being paid a commission.
    The consumer will not typically pay a higher price to the affiliate marketer, as the cost of the affiliate network is already included in the retail price.
    The Network: Only some consider the network part of the affiliate marketing equation.  But, I believe that an affiliate marketing guide needs to include networks, because, in many cases, a network works as an intermediary between the affiliate and the merchant.
    While you could technically promote an online course someone has created and just arrange a direct revenue share with them, letting a network such as ClickBank or Commission Junction handle the payment and product delivery puts a more serious note on your affiliate marketing.
    Sometimes, affiliates have to go through an affiliate network to even be able to promote the product.  For example, this happens if the merchant only manages their affiliate program on that network.
    The affiliate network then also serves as a database of lots of products, out of which the affiliate marketer can choose which to promote.

    10 Ways to Get More Users on Your Forum

    Web forums have somewhat fallen by the wayside with the advent of social media, but they haven’t died off completely. Quite the contrary; they have simply become inclusive, tight-knit communities centered around common interests. On Facebook you can have a wide net of social acquaintances. On Twitter you can build a community of people with similar senses of humor and interest. On LinkedIn you can build a professional network. It’s all based around social aspects and similarities.
    On forums, you have widely disparate people who might never otherwise have met, associating around a central core interest. You can have people from around the world, of all ages, posting together simply because they all like the same thing.
    Reddit, for example, is a huge web forum with a somewhat exotic way of displaying content. Various subreddits bring together players of specific games, fans of specific TV shows, workers in specific industries, and hobbiests of all kinds. You can think of other web forums as individual subreddits, in a sense. Bodybuilding.com has a massive forum full of people, with over 13 million members, but they’re all brought together by a shared interest in health and fitness. Gaia Online has 26 million members and over 2 billion posts on the board, all centered around various forms of teenage nerddom, from gaming and RP to TV and crafts.
    Of course, not every forum is a Reddit or a Gaia. Most forums measure their users in hundreds rather than millions, and end up getting only a handful of posts per day. They have trouble attracting new users, because it’s hard to advertise a community as something worth joining when so many broad spectrum social networks already exist. With the demands on everyone’s time and the lack of immediate value to give, how do you convince users to join your forum and, more importantly, participate?
    1. Create a New User Onboarding Campaign
    On pretty much every forum software ever made, users have to register via an email address. This means you can add in a mailing list drip campaign to give them some introductory information, welcoming messages, and some additional value.
    What should go into this campaign? That depends on your forum. The number one thing is to be topical and casual, as if you’re reaching out to the user to help them get used to the site. This will help them feel more comfortable and at home. If you can explain some board rules – including social cues they might not be able to pick up from a casual browse – you can make their transition from new registrant to active user much smoother.
    Ideally, you will point out a few locations on the board they can go for certain types of information. Tell them where they can go for a tutorial, where they can find discussions on various topics, and how they can participate. You want to inform them of how they can get value out of your forum, and where they can go to bring value in.
    If you have a novice-centric section area for Q&A and newbie questions, promote it. Likewise, if you or any other admin or moderator is willing to chat one on one for informational purposes, include their contact information in the email. It helps anyone who may have questions know where to go to get answers.
    2. Encourage Participation and Sharing
    Bodybuilding’s forum is great about this one, but it can also apply to any topic that has a growth over time metric that can be measured. Using weight loss as an example, encourage people to post their progress logs. Establish a protocol; make a post with your basic information and various metrics that should be monitored for progress, like weight, muscle mass, weight lifting capabilities, diet, and so forth. Then set up daily or weekly progress reports, where the user can come in and post about their experience that day or week, and how their numbers have changed.
    Take the same concept and apply it to business; you can have weekly traffic stats, revenue, SEO strategies, and so forth. It’s all case study data and it’s all tangible progress.
    The best part is that this has a wide range of benefits. It helps new users have something to do and some reason to return – to keep updating their logs. It helps hold them accountable for their mistakes and helps crowdsource improvements. It brings a community in to participate in making everyone’s life better.
    3. Be Active and Helpful Personally
    As the owner and admin of the forum, you are in a position of authority. You’re a big part of the reason people have come to the forum. Communities these days tend to gain respect because of the people in them.
    People will come to this community for many reasons. Some will come looking for help or for advice. Many will come to engage with and network with influencers, and as the owner of the community, you are one such influencer. People perceive that your attention has value, and that means you’re going to have people vying for your attention.
    If you’re not around, if you never post, people will lose faith. They came to interact with you and other influencers, but if you’re not around, they feel like they get less value out of posting on your board. The more you can participate, the more people will be willing to stick around and engage with you.
    4. Promote Users
    You can also give tangible incentives to your users. One thing I like to do is create a promotional section. Usually forums tell their users that they can’t just use the forum as advertising, as a way of minimizing how many people drop in to post a promotional message and leave.
    By creating a promotional section, people can be attracted by the potential to leave their marketing message there and gain users from your forum. I like to gate it behind a certain number of posts, so users have to participate before they gain access to the benefits.
    Then, in addition to allowing users to promote themselves to each other, I like to establish a weekly or monthly rotation of site-wide promotion. Depending on the activity of the forum, pick a user whose business you want to promote for the week or the month, and promote it. You can make a sticky thread, you can post about it on your site, and so forth. It’s free advertising for your users, and it comes with engagement on your board as an entry fee. This gives your users a chance to be hooked.
    5. Hide Value from Guests
    I know I’ve registered for many a forum in my day just to see content that I know exists but that is hidden from guests. I needed to register in order to see it, but it was referenced in external sites – blogs and other forums, mostly – so I knew it was there.
    The problem with this is that it’s an incentive to register, but not an incentive to post. You still need to combine this method with other tricks to get people to do more than just look at the one bit of content they wanted to see before they go away. Usually, a weekly content digest to their email can help keep them coming back to see interesting things, and that can get them to comment and eventually become an active participant.
    The caveat here is that you cannot hide ALL of the value of your forum away from people. If no one knows there’s value there, no one will be interested in registering just for a look. You need some publicly visible sections with value and activity, so people don’t have to gamble their time on value.
    6. Use Your Forum For Value
    Once your forum has been built up, you can draw from it for value to your own site, which will often be value to the people you’re drawing from as well. When a user has successfully used your community to grow a business and recorded the logs for all to see, you can take advantage of it by writing a case study about their business to post on your blog. You can contact them for an interview, you can provide followed links to their site, and you can in general benefit them and get yourself valuable site content in the process.
    This has the added benefit of getting you a link in return, most likely, as well as promoting your forum. People will see the public success story and realize that they, too, can join the community and start the process to reaching success.
    7. Gamify the Board
    There are a lot of different ways you can add gamification to your site. Gaia Online goes all out with flash-based minigames, monthly events, and a whole avatar dressup system that appeals strongly to younger folks. For more matured, laid back groups, you can do something like add custom user titles for reaching posting milestones, add posting and activity-based achievements, and have badges for users that they can publicly display. Heck, even Reddit and Imgur have these sorts of trophies for participation.
    Now, you can only pull this off if your forum is a somewhat casual experience. If you’re a top-end professional board for corporate types, you probably won’t be able to add silly games on top of what is supposed to be serious discussion. Use your best judgment and don’t be afraid to decide a program was a failure and should be retired.
    8. Actively Moderate Your Forum
    Nothing is worse than coming across a forum and seeing very little other than recent spam posts. If your board allows bots access somehow, or if old accounts are compromised, bots can take over and spam it. If you don’t actively take care of it, you’ll lose users and it will be virtually impossible to recover.
    Moderation is important for more than just spam, however. You also need to keep slapfights between users to a minimum, keep hate speech and other such vulgarities down, and generally make sure your board is a pleasant place to read. Arguments and discussions are fine; insults, threats, and doxing are not.
    9. Prune and Add Boards
    A lot of times, communities will evolve over time. Reddit is perhaps one of the most active about adding new boards, because any user with sufficient karma can add a new subreddit. Other boards are active about removing old, dead discussion areas and adding new ones.
    The idea is simple. If a sub-section of your forum gets no activity, it’s not drawing in users. You might as well hide it or move it to an archive, if there’s valuable content in it, so that it’s not giving people a false impression. Meanwhile, you should be opening up new discussion areas for topics that are emerging as hot topics and trends. This helps foster new discussion and draw in new users.
    10. Start a Referral Program
    Referral programs are one of the oldest and most effective ways to get new users to a community. By giving people incentives to get new users in, you get a larger community and a more engaged community. It can also tie into the gamification, if you decide to go that route, or it can simple result in monetary incentives by way of monthly gift card drawings or merch.
    You’re going to have to confront the problem of fraud, however. It’s difficult to determine when a referral is real, which is one of the big problems with affiliate marketing. The better the incentive to referrers, the more you will have to combat fraud. I’ll leave the solution to that up to you.

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    • Both are unique in there own right, it all boils down to if you want a community or just a blog or maybe even both, for me a blog is a blog and this is mainly to share out views and topics for people to see where as a forum more than 1 person can engage in a conversation rather than it be left in small comments area, they both stand out pretty well and both have the pros and cons. for me it would be a forum as i feel content flows better.
    • I have been on a shared server many times and find that resources can very quickly get eaten up, i do love having private cloud servers or dedicated which gives you the best overall performance, shared and resellers (still sometimes shared) can be a good starting point but always plan ahead as the website expand and gets busy. Cost wise there is so much competition with hosting now that some dedicated can be at very competitive prices these days even dedicated cloud servers which can expand on resources on the fly. there is cheap servers on shared/reseller but just remember sometimes you get what you pay for unless you know the web hosting provider are trusted and have a decent reviews / feedback.
    • As mentioned in a related article, shared is awesome if it's reseller - which seems to be the highest quality of shared.
    • It seems to have the most power.  Well, what I mean - are those hosting reseller plans offered.  Well, they're not just for making money - but also seem to be the fastest.  Anyway, who as tried them - either to resell, a better shared experience, or both? O.K., to be honest, I'm cynical of non-reseller shared hosting, opting for a VPS.  However, I'm not sure if a VPS is a better experience than reseller - or just the same. What about the cost? As you'd expect, reseller, from what I gathered, is more expensive than non-reseller shared and requires a monthly payment - as with a VPS.   However, though, I think bottom level reseller programs are cheaper than the bottom level VPS normally.
    • Wix is a premium solution - but WordPress is not, unless you working from the WordPress.com website.   Anyway, since these guys are the only competitors it seems, what do you feel sets them apart?  Which would you choose? Well, from some given info, it's noted that much more is available with WordPress - but lesser stuff on Wix is way easier to work with.   For instance, there are less plug-ins and themes for Wix - but it's a sure thing they will work!  Also, with Wix - unlike it's competitor, you can design a theme from scratch pretty easy - and also customize themes - on the fly. Conclusion Wix is a better solution for newbies - wanting to dive right in.   However, it could bore intermediate or advanced web developers - because - well, they like messing with stuff - if you know what I mean! 😉

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