AOLers’ Feedback

{Circa 2004}

From an old email …

…I can’t send anything on this maniacal system! When I went to KEYWORD TECH SUPPORT A O L Kentropolis came up and that’s how I found you. You’re what comes up for “tech”. Sorry I bothered you. By the way, regarding the 2 servers you suggested….aol will not allow Surfree’s page to be displayed. I was denied access to it. So much for “life, liberty, & pursuit ” Thanks very much.

Kudos to us!

Hi, My name is Mark Smith. When I was researching a problem I had with AOL, I by-chance came across your AOL email archive and subsequently your other websites making fun of AOL. I have to tell you that I greatly enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much at some of the most foolish problems that people have emailed too you and requested assistance in fixing. Especially when your not even affiliated with AOL. Now I suppose I should fess up that I am an AOL user, but completely agree with everthing you said. In fact I use AOL just to log on then minimize it and immediately open IE. If I didn’t use my parents AOL account, I myself would not use it. But I did not know that AOL could cause system instabilities which would probably account for alot of the unexplainable errors I have had in the past. But I didn’t not read anything about if AOL 8.0 causes problems like its earlier counterparts? I would be very curious to know if it does? Maybe I can use the information too coax my mother to finally switch. I appoligize for using your companies email tech support page to get this to you. I just felt that I had to give you a couple of pats on the back for being as gracious and patient in dealing with all the aol tech support that you have given out. Plus that I greatly enjoyed your website. Hopefully you can expand on it as you get the time. Thank you for the laughs and the valuable information. Mark Smith II

A Young Woman, An Inspiration



New Scam – DNS Services in Vancouver, WA

Just got this from a doctor client of mine, who could not find the part about not being a bill among all the content and layout indicating it was a bill.

Multiple Exclusive Invisible Private WordPress Categories? It Can’t Be Done. Here’s How I Did It.

My father always says “The difficult can be done right away; it’s the impossible that takes a little longer.”

So when I was told it couldn’t be done, I never thought of not trying and instead it became a challenge.

A WordPress client of mine needed to have several groups of pages and posts, each only visible to particular users.  And she didn’t want the expense of a multi-site or BuddyPress.  To be specific for point of example, it was a teacher’s site to be used by students of various classes she taught, and only students from a specific class would have access to the class content (posts, discussion, uploading of assignments, etc.).  Oh, and she didn’t want any of the class pages or posts visible to anyone except a member of a class, and only their class and no one else’s.

There is no plugin that does anything like this and no combination of dashboard settings will even come close.  Even geeks du force at the local WordPress user group just scratched their heads and said “it can’t be done”.  So I broke down the necessary process into the various conditions necessary to get this done, finding plugins for each, and hoping their combined functionality would fulfill the requirement.  And after researching and testing plenty of such plugins, I got it to work.  Here’s I how did it:

  1. I installed the User Role Editor plugin.  This enabled me to create a user role that could be assigned a user based on what group (class) they are in.  But this requires there to actually be groups, so …
  2. I installed the User Access Manager plugin.  This enabled me to create user groups (one for each class), associate it with a role (with their respective class in step 1), and assign permissions to groups on a page-by-page (or post-by-post) basis.
  3. I installed the Private Pages plugin.  This makes pages invisible to people not logged in, and is based on user role permissions, which is why additional roles had to be created, not merely user groups.
  4. I installed the Posts for Page plugin.  Because we didn’t want the categories  visible (not just the posts), we needed to list the posts on a page.  This plugin uses a shortcode to do just that.  This means I could create a private page for listing the posts of each category (associated with a class’s respective coursework).

Whew!  The kicker is that I had no idea for sure it was possible and so did not quote (and therefore did not bill) the client for it.  I’m glad I have bragging rights.  But the next time someone needs such a complex setup, they’re going to make at least a few mortgage payments for me.

Mind you, if you as a developer need to set this up yourself, you may not need all the plugins.  For example, if you don’t care about the visibility of the pages and posts in navigation and only want to content private (with a message saying you don’t have permission), you can skip the last two plugins above.

To recap, here are instructions how to use the system as I set it up above, the plugins having been installed and configured.

To set up a page and/or posts visible only to certain users

  1. Go to Users > User Role Editor and scroll down to Add New Role.  Set ‘Make copy of’ to whatever permissions you want to give them.  Once you Add it, you can tweak the permissions in great detail using the ‘Select Role and change its capabilities list’ on this same page.  (In this example, I tweaked the first class role and when I made new ones, I used existing customized class roles to ‘Make copy of’.)
  2. Go to UAM> Manage user groups and scroll down to Add user group.  I recommend naming it the same as the user role you just created, and then select that role under ‘role affiliation’ below.  (Don’t worry about the other settings unless you have a good reason to.)
  3. Go to Posts > Categories and create a category for all the content for a role/group (class in this example).  I recommend using the same name as above for consistency.  I don’t worry about the group affiliation (‘Set up usergroups’ setting) and it doesn’t seem to matter.
  4. Once you create the category, it will be listed to thee right, where you can copy the category’s “slug” to paste the next step.
  5. Go to Pages > Add New and before or after you enter any static content, you can add the shortcode for the posts in the category associated with the role/group (class in this example).  The code is [posts-for-page cat_slug=’xxx’] where xxx would be replaced by the category slog from step 4.
  6. Before publishing (or updating) the page, scroll down to Access and select the role/group associated with the page.

You may not care about visibility in navigation, so some of this is not necessary.  However, if you want to shift between visible and invisible with the above setup, here’s how.

Making navigation links of private content visible (and invisible again)

  1. Go to Pages > All Pages and select to edit the page you need to change visibility.  (You can also click ‘Edit Page’ on the front end if logged in.)
  2. Scroll down to Access and find the role/group associated with the page.  If it is checked, it will become invisible except to them.  If unchecked, it will be visible in the navigation.
  3. Click Update and you’re done!

Please note this is being written months after installed and I’ve only worked with it a few times, so I may update this information with further tips or to correct inaccuracies.

Okay. I’m ready.

{deep breath}
It’s time to move my primary surfing from IE to Chrome.
Sorry, Bill … I’ll send for my things.

WordPress Update Fail

Automatic updating of WordPress has been failing (plugin updating is fine) on blogs installed in sub-directories:

Downloading update from…

Unpacking the update…

Could not copy files.

Installation Failed

Things tried:

  • removing the .htaccess file
  • deleting the updates area
  • repermissioning files
  • adding various blocks of code to config and htaccess
  • verified our FTP server was the ‘correct’ one.
  • tried localhost, direct IP address, host name and a dozen others.

This sort of thing has happened before, and we’re unsure if it’s a server issue or WordPress one.  Automatic install of new sites using cPanel works (with current version – 3.3.1).

It’s Official … TV on Decline

According to the Nelson ratings, this year shows the first year television ownership has actually declined.

Social Media Nearly a Necessity

Avoiding Facebook? Really?

{This was my response to a question on LinkedIn, namely if Facebook should be avoided because some customers may not be using it.}

My clients are often concerned about this, but in reality it is so rare their customers are not on facebook (with only ONE person of ONE client documented as a real case) that it would be silly to not play the social media game.

It would be like YOU not having a telephone because a handful of potential clients might not have one.  It just doesn’t make sense.  There’s almost no way to be “dependent” on it, worrying about people missing out, when it’s not going to be your ONLY medium.  Even if it was, some businesses only advertise on radio with promotions or other information.  That isn’t necessarily a bad decision either and should be seen as reaching a certain audience rather than precluding others. 

But Social media is used more than all other media combined by far, so it you INSIST on putting all your eggs in one basket, it may as well be something like Facebook.

Small Business Commerce Association (SBCA)


The person this was addressed to hasn’t been in business for nearly 10 years.  A short Google search will show this is a scam company, selling vanity awards.

Congratulations Ernie Reid ,

The Small Business Commerce Association (SBCA) is pleased to announce that Ernie Reid has been selected for the 2010 Best of Business Award in the Unclassified category.

The SBCA Best of Business Award Program recognizes the best of small businesses throughout the country. Using consumer feedback and other research, the SBCA identifies companies that we believe have demonstrated what makes small businesses a vital part of the American economy. The selection committee chooses the award winners from nominees based off information taken from monthly surveys administered by the SBCA, a review of consumer rankings, and other consumer reports . Award winners are a valuable asset to their community and exemplify what makes small businesses great. 

A copy of your press release is available on the SBCA awards website listed below. SBCA herby grants Ernie Reid a non-exclusive, revocable, license to use, copy, publish, stream, publicly display, reformat, excerpt, and distribute  this press release. If you desire, a 2010 Best of Business Award has been designed for your place of business and can be obtained by pressing the receive awards tab while retrieving your press release from the SBCA awards website. Additionally, a Web Logo proclaiming your 2010 Best of Business Award selection can be obtained through our website as well.

As an award winner, you have been assigned the following award code: 10-0FTNHD.

This code may be used to redeem your award benefits by entering it into the SBCA Awards Claim page.  Or, alternatively, you may use the following link:

Once again, congratulations on your selection and we wish you the best of luck in the future.


The SBCA Selection Committee


This email contains special information intended only for the owners or operators of Ernie Reid. To prevent further notifications and advertisements, please follow the steps outlined below. If you no longer wish to receive our emails please use the following link:

Or, you may send an Opt-Out request to the following address:

Attn: Compliance Manager
Small Business Commerce Association
548 Market St # 35785
San Francisco, CA 94104, USA