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Why are recipe websites so hard to use?

Looking for a good recipe for banana pancakes shouldn’t be this difficult.

A Google search for “banana pancake recipe” gives a whopping 52 million results – with some great results that are clearly SEO packed with keywords and stock images.

Google search results for “banana pancakes”

But when you look at what’s on offer you soon hit the problems that make it hard to find the recipe.

Problem 1: Popovers covering content

I choose the top result – it had a great image and the right words.

But soon after opening it I’m confronted with everything but a recipe.

Instead I see:

  • a popover to sign up for an email newsletter
  • a video ad fixed to the bottom-right of the page
  • a banner ad fixed to the bottom of the page

Unfortunately, this is fairly common – so I quickly find my way around closing each.

Banner ads, videos and newsletter subscriptions

Problem 2: Ads Ads Ads

I understand websites need to make money to run – and ads are an important part of this – but what we see now is more ads than content.

This website has an ad placed between every paragraph and image – interrupting the flow of content and making it hard to see what is an ad and what is content.

Ads every paragraph

Problem 3: Long form content

A trend in SEO has been “long form content” – the idea that you need a certain amount of content for Google to recommend your website.

Strangely, for recipe websites, this means people write their life story and load up useless stock images – making the recipe almost impossible to find.

For this website, you find the recipe half way down the page, after the authors pondering on how much they like breakfast and several stock images of pancakes.

And even then – the recipe is surrounded by even more ads.

Note how long the scroll bar is – showing how much content there is, other than the recipe!

Recipe website with recipe hidden half way down the page

Problem 4: auto-refresh ads and data usage

OK – we’ve now got our recipe and can start cooking.

You prepare the kitchen, but you should also be prepared for continuous internet usage as ads are auto-refreshed with new images and videos playing.

To put this into perspective – this website used a massive 20 MB of data to load.

But it didn’t stop there.

There was a content flow of data as the 10-20 ads refreshed.

After a few minutes it had used over 100 MB and wasn’t stopping any time soon.

Problem 4: Slow computer with high CPU usage

It’s no secret that ads are optimised for performance – their purpose is to get your attention and click.

But with all these ads loaded, after 5 minutes the computer is slowing down – making it hard to even use the website!

A quick look at the Windows task manager shows the browser is now taking more than half the available CPU power. This is not normal or acceptable for a website with such a simple task – deliver simple text content, with perhaps a few images.

Browser high CPU usage from content ad auto-refresh

What’s the solution?

I see two core issues with this website:

  1. SEO taking preference over content and user experience
  2. Overuse of ads

Unfortunately, this is only a problem for the users.

For the content publisher – this will be working well for them – they’re getting people referred by Google, staying on the website, and plenty of ad units displayed.

Google also benefits – it’s their ad network, they allow these ads to be loaded like this – even if it provides a bad experience for the users. Surely the people paying for the ads wouldn’t like this!

Google has made efforts to curb websites that offer a bad experience, but clearly not enough.

Ultimately what we need is Google to make a major step – like using page load size CPU usage as a core SEO metric.

This leaves the users being left to “vote by clicks” – don’t visit websites that abuse these systems. And when you find this, back right out ASAP to hurt both the content publishers and ad networks profits.

Google “Instant Answers” could end the Internet as we know it

We all do it – there’s a simple question and we turn to Google for an answer.

And it works … mostly.

But what if there’s no answer? What if it’s just unknown.

Unfortunately there’s many websites built around this to lure traffic. Quite simply – it’s click bait.

For example, a Google search for “rick and morty season 6” – a TV show that hasn’t yet made an announcement.

The first result looks promising – an authorative website, important keywords in the title and recently updated.

Google search results for "rick and morty season 6"

But as soon as you load the website you get the typical shoddy website experience:

  • banner ads that push the content below the fold
  • auto playing videos
  • ads beside and throughout the content
  • long form content that rambles without meaning

Pushing through all this, it becomes clear – they do not know the answer.

It was a trick to get you on their website, to stay there for as long as possible so they can build ad revenue.

But perhaps you missed the answer – so you scroll back through, carefully checking through the useless drivel. But only find opinions and speculation.

Even more questions

My question for these websites is – what makes you think this is OK?

To say your content has the “release date” and “everything you need to know” – then put people through a mountain of useless information and no clear answers.

At very least you could say at the start “we don’t know – no one knows”.

How to find an answer, but it will hurt content publishers

A worrying trend has been happening with Google search – where they will take website content and present the relevant information in the search results.

We see this in our search results as “people also ask”. Where we see instant answers to the question and other similar questions.

This is great for people searching for answers, but it could start a downward spiral for the internet.

Could this undo the free and open Internet we know?

When traffic to websites decreases, publishers have less incentive to produce quality content.

Less quality content, reduces the value of the internet and gives more power to internet giants like Google.

This creates a monopoly – where the voices of few are heard – because the people that control what is found online, also control what is created.

Classic Editor / TinyMCE – How to automatically insert Non-Breaking Space using Ctrl + Shift + Space

A non-breaking space allows you to add a space between two words that prevents an automatic line break (line wrap) at its position.

They’re commonly used where amounts, such as dollars are separated using a space or when typing a brand name.

When using Microsoft Word it’s as easy as typing Ctrl + Shift + Space – but it’s not at easy in an HTML WYSIWYG editor such as in WordPress.

However, with the following PHP filter you can make TinyMCE (also known as “Classic Editor” — NOT the new Gutenberg editor) automatically create a non-breaking space when using the Ctrl + Shift + Space key combination.

If you’re not sure where to place this code I highly recommend you read How to create a WordPress plugin for your custom functions.

function itsg_tinymce_nbsp( $settings ) {
$settings['setup'] = <<<JS
[function(editor) {
var down = {};
editor.onKeyDown.add( function( editor, event ) {
down[event.keyCode] = true;
});
editor.onKeyUp.add( function( editor, event ) {
if ( down[16] && down[17] && down[32] ) {
editor.execCommand( 'mceInsertContent', false, '&nbsp;' ); // inserts non-breaking space
}
down[event.keyCode] = false;
});

}][0]
JS;
$settings['entities'] = '160,nbsp,38,amp,60,lt,62,gt'; 
$settings['entity_encoding'] = 'named';
return $settings;
}
add_filter( 'tiny_mce_before_init', 'itsg_tinymce_nbsp' );

Excel wont allow insert new rows

Problem

In an Excel document, you’re unable to insert a new row.

The ‘Insert’ option is greyed out.

Solution

This issue generally happens for two reasons –

  1. the document is “protected” (locked or restricted) or
  2. table formatting has been applied to the whole table.

Method 1: the document is “protected” (locked or restricted)

  1. With the Excel document open, open the ‘Review’ tab
  2. In the ‘Protect’ group – if you see ‘Unprotect Sheet’ the document has been “protected” – you will need to click the icon to unlock the document

Method 2: table formatting has been applied to whole table

Excel has a built in wizard allows you to apply formatting to your table.

However, if you apply the formatting to the whole table – you’re unable to add new rows.

To fix this:

  1. With the Excel document open, click anywhere inside the table
  2. In the top of the ribbon open the ‘Table Design’ tab – if you do not see it, these steps will not resolve your problem
  3. In the ‘Properties’ group, click on ‘Resize Table’
  4. Select the range that holds your table data
  5. Click ‘OK’ to apply the changes

Word 2016 – How to keep whole table together on one page

The following steps show how to format a table in a  Word document so that the table does not split across multiple-pages (when it can fit in one page).

For example, the table at the bottom of page 1 has split into page 2.

  1. Select all rows in the table – but clicking inside the table then the cross-arrow at the top left of the table
  2. In the ‘Home’ menu, click on the ‘Paragraph’ settings icon
  3. Open the ‘Line and Page Breaks’ tab
  4. Tick ‘Keep with next’
  5. Click ‘OK’ to close the window
  6. The table should now be on its own page

 

Help! The table is still split between two pages!

If the table is still split between two pages – try disabling the table row setting ‘Allow row to break across pages’.

  1. Select all rows in the table – but clicking inside the table then the cross-arrow at the top left of the table
  2. Right-click in the table and choose ‘Table settings’
  3. Un-tick ‘Allow row to break across pages’
  4. Click ‘OK’ to save the changes.

Excel 2016 – How to force force value in formula

Problem

One of the more frustrating features in Excel is its ability to automatically change a cells format – based on it’s content.

For example – a cell a currency will automatically change to text.

This often breaks formulas with Excel suddenly deciding that a cell contains text and not numbers.

This is even more frustrating when it happens in report templates where you end up having to look for and fix the error every time you run the report.

Solution

Fortunately there’s a simple solution – wrap the cell reference in the VALUE function.

The VALUE function will force the cell contents to be a value regardless of its formatting settings.

For example – instead of =SUM(B2:D2)) you would have

=SUM(VALUE(B2:D2))

How to calculate percent of total using Microsoft Excel

In these examples we’re going to show how to calculate the percent of a total using Microsoft Excel.

The basic formula to do this is

Part / Whole = Percent

You then format the cell as a percent.

Example 1: Percent using row total

If you already have the total (for example as the bottom of the row).

  1. create a SUM formula
  2. start with the value – e.g. B2
  3. divide by the TOTAL – e.g. B6
  4. format the field = e.g. C2 – as a percent

For example

=SUM(B2/B6)

Example 2: Percent using row sum

If you don’t already have the total – you’ll need to do two sums – for the total and then the percent.

  1. create a SUM formula
  2. start with the value – e.g. B2
  3. enter a forward slash /
  4. create another SUM formula
  5. select or enter the full total range – e.g. B2:B5
  6. format the field = e.g. C2 – as a percent

For example

=SUM(B2/SUM($B$2:$B$5))

 

[SOLVED] How to fix Google Chrome flagging FileZilla as malware/virus

Problem

When downloading FileZilla using Google Chrome, the download is flagged as a virus – and the download is prevented.

Failed - Virus detected

Solution

FileZilla is bundled with other software to help offset the cost of maintenance.

Unfortunately this software partnership has a history of including adware and other undesirable software.

Google Chrome has prevented the download because it has detected something undesirable.

To get around this – you can download the non-bundled installer by clicking on the ‘Show additional download options’ link on the downloads page.

Or you can go directly to the page at https://filezilla-project.org/download.php?show_all=1

The downloads found on this page do not include the bundled software.

How to uninstall Meet Now in Windows 10 taskbar

The Windows 10 October 2020 update introduced a new feature – Meet Now.

For the casual observer it’s easily overlooked – but for others it’s another annoying icon that sits in the taskbar.

What is Meet Now?

Meet now is a shortcut to create or join meetings in Skype on Windows 10.

It is NOT spyware or malware.

It’s a very small and insignificant update to the Skype software that is already bundled in Windows 10.

Removing Meet Now does little more than removing the icon, as Skype will still be installed.

How to remove Meet Now in Windows 10

Option 1: hide the icon

The quickest and easiest option is to just hide the icon.

Meet Now will still be available – but it won’t be shown in the taskbar.

This way Meet Now will be easily available in case you need to use it in the future.

To do this click and drag the Meet Now icon into the ‘hide’ group.

Option 2: hide the app

This option will tell the Meet Now app to hide itself.

It’s still running – and you won’t be able to restore it.

  1. Right-click on the Meet Now icon
  2. and choose ‘hide’.

Option 3: use a registry setting

  1. Press Windows + R on your keyboard to open the Run window
  2. Enter regedit and click OK
  3. For the current logged on user:
    1. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
    2. Right-click on Explorer and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value
    3. Name it HideSCAMeetNow
    4. Set its value to 1
  4. For all users
    1. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
    2. Right-click on Explorer and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value
    3. Name it HideSCAMeetNow
    4. Set its value to 1
  5. Restart the computer

Option 4: use Group Policy

If you administer several computers using Active Directory you may want to use Group Policy to disable the Meet Now feature.

This can be controlled using the ‘Remove the Meet Now icon’ setting found under

User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar

This option will also work on Windows 10 Professional computers by:

  1. Press Windows + R on your keyboard to open the Run window
  2. Enter gpedit.msc and click OK
  3. Go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar
  4. Double-click on ‘Remove the Meet Now icon’
  5. Set the feature to ‘Enabled’
  6. Restart the PC