Sep 292011

Ok, well this is going to be a little boring (and seemingly pointless) for some, yet extremely useful for others. I’m writing it down for personal reference. As for me, this is extraordinarily useful stuff. Get ready for an excel / open office lesson. If you want to start an eCommerce business, the most important concept for you to understand is that you must have control of your data. I cannot stress enough the necessity to be able to manipulate your data. Chances are, if you are trying to learn how to start an ecommerce business, the tips outlined in this article (and in the next article on how to use VLookup) will seem confusing and/or pointless. Stick with me as there’s a method to my madness. I didn’t build an 1.2 million/year business from scratch without a few tricks! Follow along as I work on doing it again!

If you are operating a webstore, you will likely have thousands of products. The initial launch for my soon-to-be released site will contain approximately 2000-2500 products. The initial launch will only reflect a small number of the products that will be for sale in the future. Keeping track of everything you’ve got selling is going to be absolutely essential.

You can manually upload one by one, adjusting price one by one, adjusting everything manually one by one. It will work. And when your suppliers raise prices 5% good luck to you. When a collection is discontinued and you have to delete it all by hand, one by one good luck to you. We have computers now. Fucking use them.

Losing control of your data can be a terrible time drain. A prominent developer I used to work with would always say, if it can be automated, automate it. If it’s a repetitive task, automate it. No exceptions.

Ok, excel. And a little of open office. Why? Just because both have some advantages. Obviously most sites call for .csv files – In which case you really have to use excel. Open office is good too. Let’s discuss some common problems for eCommerce merchants.

Problem 1
You have a file full of images. You need those images to be listed in an excel spreadsheet so you can match them up with MSRP, items specifics, UPC, Cost, Sell Price, etc. This is absolutely essential if you hope to upload products to your website in bulk.

I have 2000 images. They are named Product.jpg, Product2.jpg, Product3.jpg and so on. How can I get this list into excel without typing each item individually?

Step one, prepare to dust off those ms dos skills you haven’t used since the 90s.

Go to file, run, and type “cmd” – This will pull up the dos menu.

Type “Dir c:\(your file location) > c:\(your file location)\filelist.txt

This creates a text file for you with a list of all the files in the folder.

Now, look in the (your file location) folder and you will see the filelist.txt file. Open it. Select All, Copy. Them go to Open Office and open a new spreadsheet and Paste in the contents.

A “Text Import” windo will pop-up. You will need to look at the “Separated by” section and make sure the “Space” box is check. Also, check the “other” box and add a “.” – This will make sure the .jpg from the filelist will be dropped into a separate column. Last, click the box next to “Merge delimiters” – this will set up the formatting nicely so you will have one column with just the product code.

Now that you have this list, you can combine it with some other powerful features – namely, VLookup. How to use VLookup will be the subject for the next post.

A brief bonus tip. You have a section on a bulk upload file calling for a link to the image location on your ftp. You have uploaded all your products as .jpgs in ftp:\(your location)\product1.jpg…product2.jpg…product3.jpg etc. Now you want a list in the spreadsheet.

Use the & function. In your spreadsheet, build the link. Have column A say: http://www.(your location) Column B will be the part number (or image names list – that we just learned how to extract!) Column C will be “.jpg” (which may or may not be necessary depending on what data you currently have). Last you need Column D for the formula. Type “=ColumnA&ColumnB&ColumnC” That’s it!

One last tip about spreadsheets. If you have created a list with a formula, and then you go to copy and paste it to another spreadsheet, you may lose the data. To circumvent this annoyance, copy and past first into a blank text file, then copy and paste again to the other spreadsheet. This will preserve the order.

AUTOMATION is key. If this doesn’t make sense to you feel free to ask. If you have encountered this sort of problem (like I do all the time), this info. could be quite helpful! I certainly hope it is! Next up, VLookup.

Sep 032011

So here is another brief sub-post to my How To Start an Ecommerce Website Series

Make Firefox 6.01 look and Act like Google Chrome

This is an issue I noticed before but have not wanted to deal with. I was correct in assuming it would be very annoying but there are some great benefits.

Firefox plugins are generally much better than Chrome. As a developer, you may want to use Firebug (the most popular and useful development tool for look/feel design of websites. Firebug only works in Firefox. As an SEO you may want to use SEOquake – and the Firefox Version is much easier to use than the Chrome version. With KeePass for storing passwords, Using the plugin KeeFox works flawless, whereas the Chrome equivalent was very buggy.

This stems from the fact that Firefox is really Open Source. Chrome claims to have some kind of open source functionality through something called Chromium, but in actuality that’s not really how things work.

So the dilemma is this: I prefer Chrome in many ways, but I figured it might be possible to “fix” the issues I have with Firefox, since overall I believe Firefox to be a superior browser.

Fixing the Address Bar to do a Search in Google

This is a bit trickier for me since I am writing from China through a Proxy server. The solution was made easy by Installing the Foobar add-on. This transforms your Address bar into a Google Search similar to Chrome.

Fixing the Layout

Firefox is VERY busy, whereas chrome is sleek and minimal. First I added the Movable Firefox Button. This allowed me to move the bright orange Firefox down from the top left corner, into the position where the Google Wrench is located.

I then Right Clicked the Firefox button, navigated to Options, then Toolbar Layout.

I removed the Google search bar, having replaced that functionality with the address bar. I re-arranged everything to my liking. Moved the Stop/Reload button to the left hand side, set my bookmarks bar to be below the address bar, and moved my plugins into place to the right of my address bar (left of the firefox button).

Next, I added a skin to make the appearance more like Chrome – I found one that slims things down a lot which is my favorite feature of Chrome. Shine Bright Was the best option I could find for this. While it’s not 100% perfect it’s pretty good. Below you can view my screen-shots to view the results side by side:

Now that you see how to make it look basically the same, you need to change a few more things to get the functionality to work the same.

Changing the way Firefox Tabs work to act like Chrome

I have seldom felt like more of a geek for caring about something so silly, but I can’t believe how annoyed I was by how the tab system works in Firefox. I pictured my parents listening to me complain about all the issues I have with tabbed browsing in Firefox, and realized they probably hadn’t even realized there could *possibly* be that many problems with something so simple. They would have just learned to accept the system “as-is” and move on with their lives.

Well not me. And apparently not a LOT of other people. For the last step in the process of converting Firefox into Google Chrome, you will need to join 1 million+ people and download Tab Mix Plus.

This program actually handled all of my issues with Firefox Tabs – but it took a few adjustments to the settings.

First, install the plug-in and pull up the options menu. Then:

(1) Go to “Events – Tab Opening” check “Open tabs next to current one” (Check it in both places). Under the second, put a check next to “Change opening order.” Also check “Open duplicated tabs next to original.

(2) Go to “Display – Tab Bar” Set “New tab button” to “After Last tab.” Set position to “Top (Above Content).” Set “When tabs don’t fit width” to “scrollable, with buttons on right side.”

The way tabs scroll is ridiculously bothersome to me. As you can see in the image above, I normally have a LOT of tabs open. The Firefox, Scrollable tab bar is so annoying since it only shows a very small number of tabs. Scrolling is annoying!

To fix this, next navigate to the “Tab” tab under “Display.” There you can set the “Tab width.” Make it 30-250 and you will achieve the same functionality as Chrome, where tabs just keep getting smaller and smaller as you add more.

(3) Another benefit to Tab Mix Plus is you can now click on a tab, and open a new tab right next to it. In Chrome I used this feature all the time. In Firefox for some reason all new tabs would always open at the end. With the adjustment we did at the beginning you should have fixed this problem. However you will want to make sure Under the “Menu” button, “Tab Context Menu” you have a check next to “new tab.”

This will allow you to right click an open tab in Firefox and add a new tab immediately to the right.

There are loads of other options in Tabs Mix Plus and loads of other add-ons to Firefox. If you know anything good, leave me a comment.

Sep 022011

A 3 Part sub-post has found it’s way into my “How to start an eCommerce Website” Series.

Post 1: KeePass, KeeFox plugin, Importing your current saved browser passwords.
Post 2: KeePass, Integration with Dropbox.
Post 3: Changing All your existing Passwords to more secure, randomly generated KeePass passwords.

Well, like you, I was hoping this feature could be automated. After extensive searching, I have found no way to do this with complete automation. Simply because you must actually interact with each website and change the password.

This is also an opportunity to organize your passwords. Create folders and sub-folders to make it easy to find what you are looking for. If you have multiple accounts with the same site, group them together. Group like items together – like social media sites, email accounts, personal accounts, etc.

Here’s the fastest way to do this:
1. Using KeeFox, Load each site on your list with your current, browser-saved password.
2. Find the Account Setting and Password Change
3. Under Tools, go to Generate Password. Next click Preview.
4. Copy and Paste the 1st Password, reset your password on, and then modify your listing in KeePass and Copy Paste the same Password. Save.
5. Repeat.

This might take about 1 hour per 60 accounts so if you go fast it won’t be too painful. Once you are done, all new passwords you create will be handled with KeeFox and KeePass with ease!

With a program like KeePass and a little organization, you will save yourself hours of time fumbling through notepads of passwords, trying to remember what you used for what. If you simply reuse the same password to simplify things, you might be in for something worse. If someone hacks your password on some obscure site you forgot you signed up for, then tries that password in your facebook, gmail, BANK ACCOUNT … and it WORKS? Do yourself a favor. Get organized, be safe, and actually improve your productivity for LIFE. Set this shit up.

Sep 022011

A 3 Part sub-post has found it’s way into my “How to start an eCommerce Website” Series.

Post 1: KeePass, KeeFox plugin, Importing your current saved browser passwords.
Post 2: KeePass, Integration with Dropbox.
Post 3: Changing All your existing Passwords to more secure, randomly generated KeePass passwords.

So, You’ve read How to Manage all your online Passwords with KeePass Right? Now it’s time to learn about a cool way to sync your passwords on multiple computers with Dropbox.

If you are unfamiliar with Dropbox, check it out – there are a lot of these syncing programs available and dropbox is one of the best. It’s a great way to share larger files across un-networked computers. Videos especially!

This will allow you to access your saved passwords securely from any computer (of course you need dropbox to be installed first). If your primary computer ever crashes or is stolen, this is an absolute MUST! But it’s also useful for home and office computers – desk and laptop computers – tablet and whatever etc. Dropbox is super cool for many reasons including 2 free gigs of cloud storage – but make sure to check out some of it’s surprise abilities – one of which is How to sync with KeePass!

Now all you have to do is Move your database file to your dropbox folder. The file will have a name you assigned with a .kdbx ending – ex: Database.kdbx You can also go to file, save-as, and point the file path to dropbox.

Now you can open KeePass on your other computers and have all your stored passwords at your fingertips! Just remember the one MASTER password and you are good to go.

A quick note, KeePass will not update passwords while open. You will need to close and re-open it in order for the sync to take place. This may affect you if you forget to close and re-open KeePass after adding new Passwords. One computer may be missing certain passwords. It could be annoying if you are not aware so keep that in mind.

Next we’ll talk a little about organization of KeePass Passwords and how to go about resetting all of your existing passwords which you already Imported to KeePass from your Web Browser.

Sep 022011

What is KeePass?

A 3 Part sub-post has found it’s way into my Starting an eCommerce Website Series.

Post 1: KeePass, KeeFox plugin, Importing your current saved browser passwords.
Post 2: KeePass, Integration with Dropbox.
Post 3: Changing All your existing Passwords to more secure, randomly generated KeePass passwords.

KeePass is an open-source way to manage all your passwords securely. With my plans to launch a new website, it became clear that my old system to keep track of passwords was outdated and slow. Yes this is a social media marketing blog and yes i will talk more about social media marketing tactics as this new website comes together. One thing you might find when you get into marketing an eBusiness is you will require a LOT of accounts and a LOT of passwords.

KeePass is a program, locked securely with 1 master password, that can interact with your web browser to input and remember all your passwords.

It doesn’t stop there however. KeePass (is it just me or does anyone else notice it looks like Keep Ass? Maybe not my favorite choice for a URL), will create a randomly generated, 20ish character, unique password for every site and store this password for you securely, so you don’t have to remember it.

Gone are the days of using the same password over and over on multiple sites, running a daily security risk of identity theft or worse. With the Master Password, KeePass will take care of the rest.

Download the Firefox Keefox plugin and you will be set. You can load passwords into KeePass as you go, randomly generating new, unbreakable passwords. The plugin will auto-fill the information when you load a website that has a stored password. A quick aside, there is a chrome plugin that is supposed to do the same but it didn’t work for me.

But – What about all your existing saved passwords. I have literally hundreds, used with all kinds of accounts from email, blog platforms, analytics, seo tools, social media sites, etc. etc.

Exporting your current Passwords

Get started by exporting your current passwords into KeePass.

How to export your browser saved passwords into KeePass

(1) Download Web Browser Passview and run WebBrowserPassView.exe. This will pull up all your saved passwords from chrome, firefox, internet explorer, and opera.

(2) When the window with all your passwords pops up, select all the items and save as a .csv file (don’t choose the save for KeePass.csv file because there are some tech problems with the new version of KeePass).

(3) Open KeePass and create a new database. Next, go to file, import, and for format select “Generic CSV Importer.” Navigate to the location you saved your .csv file and click ok.

(4) You must then re-arrange the field order to match the output provided by WebBrowswerPassView. The correct order is:

URL, (Ignore), User Name, Password, Title, Notes, Custom 1, Custom 2, Custom 3, (Ignore), (Ignore)

(5) Click the refresh button and everything should now line up correctly with the KeePass fields.

(6) Click Import! When finished, you will see one odd entry. This entry will have the User Name of “User Name”, a Password of “Password” and a URL of “URL”. Locate this entry and delete it. This is a header from the .csv file that is unimportant to us.

(7) Permanently delete (hold shift and press delete) on the .csv file you created at the beginning.

You can now let KeePass and KeeFox take over and autosave all your passwords securely!

Next, Check out hoow to combine KeePass with Drop-box to sync all your passwords from any computer. And Finally, Changing All your existing Passwords to more secure, randomly generated KeePass passwords.