Posts tagged Build

Earn With Useful #Marketing, How To Build Google-Safe Links, and More From #Pubcon 2014 by @mattsouthern

Jay Baer of Convince and Convert kicked off the final day of Pubcon as only he could, and luckily for him, three days in Las Vegas didn’t stop anyone from getting up early and packing the convention center. With the exhibition hall closed on the last day, that left a full day devoted to keynotes with some of the most prolific marketing personalities, and sessions with panels of experts in their respective fields. Morning Keynote: Jay Baer Baer spoke to a standing room only crowd about how marketing is harder than it has ever been due to the fact that […]

The post Earn With Useful #Marketing, How To Build Google-Safe Links, and More From #Pubcon 2014 by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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It Takes a Village – or at Least a Team – to Build Successful Websites and Apps

Professionals with ample cross-discipline expertise are as rare as unicorns with wings. It is more efficient and cost-effective to put a team in place with the skill sets needed to execute the process, in the correct sequence, from the beginning.

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Marketing Nerds Podcast – Episode 3: Zac Johnson on How to Build Your Brand Online by @johnrampton

When growing your business online you must have a plan. In Episode 3 of Marketing Nerds, Zac Johnson goes into how to build up your own personal brand online. When starting out to marketing yourself online you focus on what you’re awesome at.  You have to define everything that you’re going after. Zac teaches us every step that he’s taken to become a six figure blogger online branding yourself and your business. Zac Johnson has been making six figures online through his blog for 8+ years and teaches other bloggers and marketing professionals how to get started with his site, […]

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Friday Fun: Build A Drinking Game With Twilio MMS And Flickr API

You never know the true value of an app until it’s finished.

Twilio developer evangelist Matt Makai and I wanted to take advantage of Twilio’s latest feature, an API for sending picture messages. (See our API explainer if you don’t know what that means.) I pitched Cheer Up!, an uplifting image delivery service. It’d harness the Flickr API to deliver pictures of whatever you want on demand.

That all went out the window when we decided to use Flickr tags as the image retrieval system. People use tags for all sorts of reasons, and they don’t always make sense. As a result, the app only delivers the photo you want about 50% of the time.

We could work with that, though. Now we’re introducing Picture Roulette, an MMS application you can easily create for yourself. Type in a query of one or more words. Does the photo Flickr sends back look like your query? You win! If not, you take a drink. It’s a penalty game made possible by Flickr users’ tagging nonconformity.

It’s not what we expected to build, but it turned out to be a lot more fun. And at only two cents per picture message, it’s a very cheap thrill.

Here’s how to get Picture Roulette working on your own phone:


You’ll need a Twilio account, complete with a registered phone number and about $5 in funds. For very thorough instructions on signing up for Twilio, see my Twilio tutorial. You’ll need both your AccountSID and secret AuthToken for this project.

See also: My Fish Just Sent Me A Text Message

You’ll also need a Flickr API number. In the Flickr App Garden, choose to create a new app with a non-commercial license. Flickr will instantly deliver to you a key and a secret key. We don’t need the secret key for this project, but paste the key where you’ll remember it.

Finally, you’ll need a free-tier Heroku account. We’ll be using Heroku’s one-click-deploy button on GitHub, which makes it so you won’t actually have to do any hard coding. The button, which launched for GitHub last month, lets you create our GitHub app on your own Heroku account without cloning the repository.

See also: See What The Code Behind An App Does With Just One Click


On our Picture Roulette GitHub repository, click on the purple Heroku button on the Readme file. It should immediately launch Heroku.

See also: Developers, Check Your AWS Accounts For Bitcoin Miners

Once on Heroku, the app will prompt you to input your Twilio AccountSID and secret AuthToken followed by your Flickr API key. Heroku can’t launch an app that isn’t fully functional, and the app as it sits on GitHub isn’t fully functional without input from you. That’s because we know better than to put our secret key in a public GitHub repository. Right?

Click “Deploy for Free” and wait for the app to build. Sometimes it can take quite a while. Once all the steps have green circles next to them, click “view it” at the bottom of the screen.

If the app deployed correctly, it shouldn’t look very exciting. As the screenshot indicates, it will simply let you know if the deployment worked. Now, do as it says and copy the browser URL for your Heroku app—i.e., the URL in your browser window right now. No two Heroku apps can have the same name since they’re all stored in the same stack, so it’ll have a funny nature inspired name like “boiling forest” or “blooming spring.”

See also: Heroku 101: A Beginner’s Guide To Hosting Apps In The Cloud

Now, navigate to your Twilio account and go to the Numbers tab. Click on your Twilio number and paste the URL into the Messaging Request URL field. Press save.

Try texting a word to your Twilio number from your phone. Wait about 20 seconds, and Flickr should send you back a photo of that word! Maybe.

How It Works

If you look around the Picture Roulette repository, you’ll notice that no document contains more than 50 lines of code. That’s because this Python application lets the Twilio API and Flickr API do most of the heavy lifting. It also uses Flask, a Python microframework, to hold everything together.

The heart of the program lies in Here, you can see where Matt imported the Twilio and Flickr APIs and set up three functions:

  • send_image is the function behind the Heroku app deployment. If your app launches correctly, this function makes a message display on the screen when you view it in your web browser.
  • _get_flickr_image is what makes the game stay fresh, even if you play it day after day. This function calls the Flickr API and tells it to browse the 25 first results by their tag. One of those results will randomly be sent to you. So if you keep texting “pumpkin,” over and over, you’ll get a different image every time. As people continue to load new images into Flickr, the 25 first tagged results will change over time.
  • _send_mms_twiml interacts with the Twilio MMS API. “TwiML,” stands for Twilio Markup Language, and is used as a set of instructions to tell Twilio what to do in response to a text to your Twilio number. In this case, the function tells it to return a photo message to the sender.

The bulk of the other files tell the Picture Roulette GitHub repository use the Flask framework to interact with Heroku so it can be easily deployed. You can also read about setting up any GitHub repository to deploy to Heroku in an earlier tutorial.

Here’s what it might look like in action. Maybe:

Let us know if you had fun with Picture Roulette. And if you’ve got suggestions for how we can make it better, you’re welcome to submit a pull request

Screenshots by Lauren Orsini for ReadWrite

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Use Twitter To Build Your Amazon Wishlist By Using This Hashtag by @mattsouthern

This week Twitter took another step towards facilitating consumer purchases through tweets by introducing the #AmazonWishlist hashtag. The new hashtag is integrated with Amazon’s wishlist-making tool, allowing Twitter uses to add items to their list by including that hashtag in a tweet. In order to use the hashtag you must link your Amazon and Twitter accounts together. If you’re not sure how, Amazon will prompt you to do it after going to this link. Once your account are linked then you can start adding items to your wish list. To do that, just reply to tweets that include an Amazon […]

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How To Build Soft Robots

If you’ve ever wondered how to engineer a flexible robot that can move like a flesh-and-blood creature, have we got some tools for you. Thanks, that is, to an open-source collaboration that has outlined exactly how to create and program such “soft” robots.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, released the Soft Robotics Toolkit that provides people with everything they need to know to build this squishy technology, including tutorials, example source code, descriptions of all the supplies required, links to suggested suppliers, and multimedia descriptions of how to build and control the robots.

Why Make Soft Robots?

The group defines soft robotics this way:

Soft robotics is a growing field that takes inspiration from biological systems to combine classical principles of robot design with the study of soft, flexible materials. Many animals and plants are composed primarily of soft, elastic structures which are capable of complex movement as well as adaptation to their environment. These natural systems have inspired the development of soft robotic systems, in which the careful design of component geometry allows complex motions to be “pre-programmed” into flexible and elastomeric materials…. The inherent compliance of soft robots makes them highly adaptable to a wide range of tasks and environments. In particular, they are ideally suited for interactions with humans, from assisting with daily activities to performing minimally invasive surgery.  

Soft robots are made of elastomer, a type of polymer similar to rubber. They can be programmed to perform behaviors such as grasping a human hand or crawling across the ground. Eventually, researchers say that soft robots may be instrumental in things such as physical therapy, minimally invasive surgery, and search-and-rescue operations.

By using soft robotics, engineers have created projects like a pneumatic glove for rehabilitating hand movement, a cardiac simulator that mimics the precise movements of a human heart, and a device for thumb rehabilitation. All these case studies can be found on the site.

Pick Up Those Tools

The researchers designed the toolkit to be a learning resource for high-school and university students interested in building soft robots. Two cohorts of Harvard students have used the kit so far. To provide others with the same opportunity, the researchers are now making the kit available to the world.

“We intend to continue to develop the material on the website, and are inviting soft robotics researchers, educators, and students from other institutions to get involved in using and developing the resource,” Dónal Holland, visiting lecturer in engineering sciences at the Harvard SEAS, said in an email interview. “We hope for this to spread far beyond Harvard.”

They are now talking to educators in the U.S., Ireland and Brazil about how to use the toolkit, he said.

Of course, creating soft robots isn’t for everyone—some projects require equipment such as a vacuum chamber and centrifuge. Although the site provides explicit technical details, some hobbyists may lack the skills to model their own softbots.

But researchers are optimistic that students of all ages can use the toolkit to learn about soft robotics. It may also serve as a resource for the soft robotics research community at large, providing others with details and information that’s not easily available elsewhere.

“By pooling this information, we hope to advance research in the filed by allowing people to build upon each other’s work rather than reinventing the wheel,” Holland said. 

Photo and video courtesy of Harvard SEAS

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5 Profitable Ways to Build Links to E-Commerce Websites by @venchito14

There had been much discussion on whether or not link building should be given importance in the coming years. Repetitive questions have been asked on forums and Q&A sites if SEOs should stop building links for their websites. My answer for those questions is complex. Yes and no. Yes, because links are still valuable in the eyes of Google. The search engine giant uses it as a big factor in their search algorithm to determine the relevancy and authority of a website. No, because we’re not only building links in this age of digital marketing but we’re earning them. Great content, positive user experience, […]

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Baidu To Build Computer Cluster 100X More Powerful Than The “Google Brain”

Bloomberg reports on an interview with Andrew Ng, the chief scientist of Baidu, China’s largest search engine. Andrew Ng, who founded the Google Brain project at Google in 2011 and now is at Baidu, said that Baidu is working on building out a computing cluster that will be 100 times more…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Friday Fun: Build Your First Chrome Extension

Google Chrome is the most popular Web browser in the world. Part of its appeal comes from its ability to let you fully customize your browsing experience with a slew of extensions. Extensions are small, lightweight programs that personalize your Chrome installation with new features.

You’ve probably already downloaded an extension or two. But did you know it’s almost as easy to build your own? Chrome extensions are written in a relatively beginner-friendly language—JavaScript—and require only two files to function.

Since they’re so easy to build, there are currently more than 53,000 extensions in the Chrome Web Store, ranging from productivity tools to stupid entertainments.

Today’s Project

Today we’re going to build a Chrome extension that isn’t particularly useful, though it’s sort of funny. We’ll be transforming Steven Frank’s Cloud to Butt Plus extension, which edits every Web page you visit by replacing the phrase “the cloud” with “my butt.” You can judge the results for yourself.

With Frank’s permission, we’ll be creating a derivative work out of his Cloud to Butt GitHub repository in order to build a “find and replace” extension of our own.

Since I rarely build a coding project that isn’t trolling my coworkers in some way, my example envisions the Web the way my Paleo editor Owen Thomas probably sees it. The Paleo diet puts carbohydrates off limits, so I decided to make his dietary choices simple by making “bread,” “pasta,” and related taboo foodstuffs less appealing to him on the Web.

My finished extension is on GitHub for anyone who wants to use it. Here’s how it works.

Anatomy Of An Extension

Extensions piggy-back off of existing Chrome functionality to add new features. This means anyone can build an extension using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, without having to learn to work with Chrome’s native code. As the Chrome Developer site promises:

If you’ve ever built a web page, you should feel right at home with extensions pretty quickly.

That’s quite an assertion, and it certainly depends on the complexity of the extension you want to build. Still, all you need for a basic extension are these:

1. A manifest.json file. Here, .json stands for JavaScript Object Notation. This manifest file stores metadata about our extension and shows Chrome how to use it. Every manifest file includes the extension’s name and description for Chrome Web Store browsers. After that, it declares dependencies, permissions, and any browser actions the extension will perform.

2. A JavaScript or HTML file. Here’s where you write the program detailing what your extension does. In the example the Chrome Developer site gives, it’s popup.html, a page that delivers cute cat photos to extension-users. For more complex extensions, it’s a JavaScript file containing a program that delivers the meat of the extension.

3. An icon. Actually, this is optional, but it’s helpful and certainly looks cute when your extension is installed. For best results, save an icon as three square images at resolutions of 16px, 28px, and 128px.

Building Manifest.json

At its very minimum, a manifest file needs only to include a name and a version. At 17 lines, ours does a little more. (Here’s the full thing in one place.)

This part includes all the metadata:

  "manifest_version": 2,
  "name": "Caaaarbs",
  "version": "1.0",
  "description": "Paleo's best friend.",
  "icons": {
    "16": "images/carbs16.png",
    "48": "images/carbs48.png",
    "128": "images/carbs128.png"

Manifest_version refers to the version of the file format we’re using. Chrome requires that you use version 2, so that’s what we’ve indicated.

Next comes the extension name, version, and description. These are really up to you.

After that, I listed out the extension’s icon sizes. First, I picked an image that I thought fit my extension—a royalty-free vector graphic of a croissant—and then sized it in Photoshop three times. Now, Chrome automatically puts the correct size of the icon where it is needed.

Here’s the rest of the file:

      "matches": ["*://*/*"],
      "js": ["myscript.js"],
      "run_at": "document_end"

These are the content scripts that make the extension tick. The first one here simply indicates that my extension will do its thing on any website. Under different circumstances, you could edit the asterisk wildcards to limit use of the extension to particular pages—you know, like

The second line indicates that manifest.json will read in the extension’s underlying program from a JavaScript file named myscript.js. That’s where the whole “find and replace” function lives.

Finally, the third line instructs my extension to run after the full page has loaded in the browser window. If it ran before I brought up a site, some of the words I want to find and replace might not have loaded yet!

Building Myscript.js

This file may be 40 lines long (see it here), but it’s mainly home to two JavaScript functions. In programming, a function is a reusable bit of code that performs a specific task.

The first function, called walk, executes an action that JavaScript programmers refer to as “walking the DOM.” DOM stands for Document Object Model, which is a code-based representation of a Web page and every element—text, images, form fields, and so forth—on it. It sort of resembles an upside-down tree, with a single trunk at the top and a bunch of ordered code “branches” below.

The walk function explores the whole tree, starting at the trunk and moving down to the end of the first branch, then back up until it finds another branch to examine. Basically, it’s crawling all the data on the page to locate the textual elements.

That’s where the second function, handleText, comes in. When walk finds some text, handleText scans for the words we want to replace, and then replaces them wherever it finds them.

How does it know which words to replace? We specified that this way:

v = v.replace(/\bbread\b/g, "caaaaarbs");

This is one of the five lines that specifies the words I want to swap out. You can choose any number of words for substitution, though each one will need a line like the one above. (It’s not the most graceful program ever written, but it is straightforward.)

Some technical details, for those who are interested: “v” is a variable that stores a temporary copy of “textNode.nodeValue=”—i.e., the text in a particular text element called “textNode.” The function v.replace rewrites the text in that element by replacing the first string (everything inside the parentheses before the comma) with the second string (the word “caaaaarbs”). The first string in the example above is a dense bit of code that identifies all text matching “bread” and then instructs the function to replace every word that is a match to this one.

At the end of the function, the temporary value stored in “v” gets copied back to “textNode.nodeValue” and then written into the code representation of the Web page—which then displays your change in the browser.

Uploading to Chrome

Collect your manifest.json, myscript.jpg, and your icons in a new folder by themselves. Now, navigate to chrome://extensions/ in your browser window.

Now, click the checkbox to put Extensions in “Developer Mode.” This will give you a few more options regarding what you can do with your extensions.

Click “Load unpacked extension…” and navigate to your Chrome extension folder. If all is well, it should upload without a hitch. If it returns an error, there’s most likely a syntax error in your code, so check it and try again.

Success! The image above shows my extension among others I’ve installed.

Now check out all the code to my extension on GitHub, clone your own copy, and make your own find-and-replace extension. I used this to prank my editor, but the possibilities are endless! You could prank your family or friends, too. Or you could even—gasp—use the find-and-replace action to create something useful! 

In any case, I’d love to see what you build. Tell us all about it in comments.

Engineer Jack Lawson contributed to this article. 

Top photo by Darren Harve; all screenshots by Lauren Orsini

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Training SEO: 3 Tips To Build Your Team’s Skills – Search Engine Land

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Training SEO: 3 Tips To Build Your Team's Skills
Search Engine Land
When building an SEO team, it's important to have a clear training plan which allows your team to continually reassess and improve their skills after they've completed basic training. Here are three key approaches that can ensure your team hits the SEO …

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