Thursday, September 11, 2008

6 Must-Have OsCommerce Contributions

OsCommerce is a widely used open source shopping cart application that has a very active community of developers and contributors. There are hundreds of modifications, called contributions or add-ons that accomplish just about everything that you might need in an ecommerce storefront. OsCommerce is good for ecommerce start-ups because it is well supported through it's forums and can be set-up and run with minimal coding knowlege, and of course the low cost of an open source package.

Out of the box, OsCommerce is pretty stripped down. It's major drawbacks are search-engine unfriendliness and a presentation layer (user-interface) melded with the business-logic layer. Adding products can also be a real chore, especially if you have a large number of them. Here are the contributions I'd recommend adding to any OsCommerce installation:

Simple Template System (STS)
This powerful contribution separates presentation and business logic layers by creating a customizable templating system.

Page Cache
Because STS can generate a large number of database queries, especially in large stores, caching pages can greatly reduce server load.

Ultimate SEO URLS
Rewrites URLS (using apache mod_rewrite) based on product categories, product names and manufacturer names. Great for SEO!

Header Tags SEO V 3.0
Allows customization of page title, meta description, and meta keywords for product, category and manufacturer pages.

Easy Poplulate with Product Attributes
Allows upload and download of your products using a spreadsheet rather than the clumsy admin interface.

Define Content
Allows you to define text content areas in your pages that can by edited using a tinymce interface in the admin area.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Commission Junction Settlement

I'm posting an email I just received with the rest of the bloggers. I've never been a big fan of PPC Arbitrage, AKA SPAM, but did have an account with Commission Junction and a couple of ads up on parked sites for the heck of it.

For those of you who don't know, PPC Arbitrage is the activity of promoting a website that consists of links to other websites. The website owner makes money when people come to his website and click on the links to these other websites, who pay him a certain amount of money per click. The website usually has no valuable content itself, because if it did, the viewer would be less likely to click one of the links to leave the site.

Apparently Commission Junction didn't do enough to squash to hackers and scammers that naturally flock to PPC Arbitrage, AKA SPAM, AKA "trying to get something for nothing." Not that spamming isn't a lot of work, but it's not really "productive" as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, here's what went down:

Settlement Recovery Center v. ValueClick settlement

RE: Important Legal Notice Regarding Commission Junction’s Affiliate Network

If you joined or were a member of the affiliate marketing networks operated by ValueClick, Inc., Commission Junction, Inc. and/or Be Free (collectively, “Defendants”), between April 20, 2003 and the present, you may be a class member in Settlement Recovery Center et al. v. ValueClick, Inc. et al., No. 2:07-cv-02638-FMC-CTx, a lawsuit which is pending in the Central District of California. The Settlement Notice informs you of the Court's certification of a class for settlement purposes; the nature of the claims alleged; your right to participate in, or exclude yourself from, the class; a proposed settlement; and how you can claim an award of advertising credits under the settlement or object to the settlement.

The proposed settlement will resolve claims that Defendants failed to adequately monitor Commission Junction’s Network for the use by third parties of software that does not comply with Commission Junction’s (“CJ”) Publisher Code of Conduct and that is intended to steal or divert commissions from publishers on CJ’s network (“Non-compliant Software”), failed to adequately monitor or prevent third parties from engaging in the theft or “hijacking” of commissions from Advertisers and Publishers on CJ’s Network, and failed to make sufficient disclosures regarding the existence of Non-compliant Software and commission theft, resulting in losses to both advertisers and publishers on the CJ Network.

The proposed settlement will provide a monetary recovery to eligible class members. For class members that currently maintain an account on the CJ Network will receive payment through payments or credits deposited or applied to their CJ accounts; eligible class members that no longer have accounts on the Commission Junction Network will receive a check for an equal amount.

If you are a member of the class, your legal rights are affected by whether you act or do not act. You should review the Settlement Notice as soon as possible as there are several important deadlines that you must meet to take certain actions in connection with this proposed settlement. In particular, the deadline for filing an objection or excluding yourself from the proposed settlement is September 30, 2008. For further information, please refer to the Settlement Notice.

For a copy of the Settlement Notice, click on the link, or visit the case website at

Thursday, July 24, 2008

phpBB Admin Control Panel (ACM) Login Problems

The phpBB Administration Control Panel works a little differently than other content managment systems, so there can be some confusion when trying to login for the first time. If you attempt to navigate directly to the directory that holds the administrative files , i.e., as you would with other open source applications such as Joomla or OsCommerce, you'll run into problems. It will appear that you are engaging in a valid administrative login sequence, but even with the correct credentials, you will be unabale to login.

The problem is that phpBB requires you to login at the front-end, click on the link at the bottom of the page labeled "Administration Control Panel," and then reauthenticate yourself in order to gain access. Once you learn this little secret, login is no problem.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Content Managment Systems

What is a Content Management System or CMS? It is adminstrative software that allows a business to add, edit and delete text and images from their Website without the knowledge of HTML or web programming.

The interface is a lot like a word processing program such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. There is a learning curve involved, but a Website built on a Content Managment System is perfect for a small business without a technical person on staff, but who wants to keep their Website fresh with new and updated material on a frequent basis.

Good Content Management Systems are database driven, feeding the data into the presentation layer, or user-interface templating system.

There are many good Open Source Content Management Systems out there, which can help you acheive a professional looking and easy to maintain web presence. Let TP Designs help you choose the best Content Management System for your Website.