A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

Posts published in the Hacks category:

Save Thousands of Dollars In Five Minutes or Less With My "Secret" Coupon Hacks

Previously, I wrote a post about secret eBay and craigslist hacks that will save you thousands of dollars online.

But what if eBay and craigslist don’t have the product you want, or you would really prefer to buy a new product? That’s when it is probably time to shop retail. How do you get ridiculous discounts at retail? I am going to show you a few tricks I have used to save on everything from Newegg.com computer purchases to any American Airlines flight (even the cheapest ones!) (more…)

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"Secret" eBay and Craigslist Hacks That Will Save You Thousands of Dollars Online

You probably already know that you can save a lot of money by using websites like eBay and craigslist. Most “how to save money” blog articles tell you you can save money by using these sites, but don’t go into a lot of details. I want to change that by showing you exactly how I have used these websites to save tens of thousands of dollars on everything from a 50″ plasma TV to Ralph Lauren sheets.

Using the methods I’ve outlined below can save you a thousand or more dollars on as few as two or three purchases. In most cases, you won’t spend more than an hour or so doing the research — meaning these methods are absolutely worth the effort. (more…)

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Apache redirect non-www to www while keeping http and https intact

I have no idea why this is so hard to find on the Internet, but it took me over an hour to piece together this solution.

Scenario: A client has a site where the SSL certificate has been purchased for www.[hisdomain].com, so https://hisdomain.com/ shows a certificate error. Also, for SEO purposes, he wants requests for http://[hisdomain].com to redirect to http://www.[hisdomain].com — if you don’t implement this in Apache, Google indexes [hisdomain].com and www.[hisdomain].com separately, with different PageRanks, so you don’t get the full benefit of those linking to your site.

Oddly, there are lots of tutorials on how to turn HTTP requests into HTTPS, and lots of tutorials on how to translate stuff from non-www to www, but no tutorials that combine the two. (more…)

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Open-source, free PHP breadcrumb link script

Last night, I was working on the new Simpli website. The designers who did the website had a Javascript that created breadcrumbs at the top of each page (you know, those links that say Home > Section Name > Page Name). I thought it was really silly to do that in Javascript; plus, the code was hard to modify and had a bug in it that was difficult to fix since the variables were named (I am serious) a, b, foo, and bar. Ugh!

I searched and found this free PHP breadcrumb script, but it didn’t do some things that I wanted — namely, if the visitor is on the index page of a section, it shouldn’t link that section name (since the link would be to the same page the visitor is already on.) Also, I wanted the final breadcrumb to be the page name if the page wasn’t an index page (for instance: Simpli Hosting > About Us > Our Datacenter, instead of Simpli Hosting > About Us for the Our Datacenter page.) That script didn’t offer that.

Also, even though I had “convert underlines in page filenames to spaces” and “uppercase the first letter of every word” enabled, they didn’t actually work. So I fixed that too.

Since the original author released the PHP breadcrumb script free of charge, I will release my modifications free of charge, and document my modifications below.

Here is the script: breadcrumbs.phps

You use it simply by including it in the page, and it will output the breadcrumb based on the directory structure of your site. For instance, a directory structure of http://www.simpli.biz/FAQ/Colocation_FAQ.php will generate:

Simpli Hosting » FAQ » Colocation FAQ

Change the $topLevelName and $separator variables to change the text in the first part of the breadcrumb (in this case, “Simpli Hosting”) and the separator between each breadcrumb (in this case, ».)

The key here is that if you’re on the page http://www.simpli.biz/FAQ/index.php, it won’t print “index” and it won’t link “FAQ”. However, if you’re on http://www.simpli.biz/FAQ/Colocation_FAQ.php, it will link FAQ to http://www.simpli.biz/FAQ/index.php.

This script does assume index.php is your directory index in every directory, and it does convert underscores in pages to spaces and uppercase the first letter of every word in the breadcrumb. If you don’t want it to do this, you can comment out the lines in the code that do that. See if you can figure out which lines do that.

This script is free to download, free to use (public domain), but there is no support. If it works for you, great! If not, hack it till it does. ๐Ÿ˜‰

One catch: My modifications use $_SERVER. If you use $HTTP_SERVER_VARS, you will need to global $server and change $_SERVER to $server in the MPBCDirIndex function.

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Exposing the Twitter XML API with PHP

Recently Robert Scoble was complaining about how hard it was to add all of his Twitter followers as friends automatically. I figured it should be pretty easy to script. Well, it should be, but Twitter makes it unnecessarily complicated.

First, the Twitter API is marginally useful, but doesn’t let you actually do much besides passively read and post updates. I used the followers list XML and created a PHP script that snarfed the XML and put it in an associative array. My intent was to create a new followers page where you could check a box next to each follower (with a handy “Select All” button as well) and one-click to add those followers as friends.

Unfortunately, Twitter does not expose the login portion of the API, and just going to http://twitter.com/friendships/create/[follower ID number] without first going to the friend’s page redirects you back to your Twitter home page — even when you’re already logged in to Twitter! This is really broken — the Twitter API should let you work with their URLs.

Since Twitter’s API is completely useless for adding friends, and their interface doesn’t seem to allow for going directly to a URL to add a friend, I am stuck. However, I am happy to release the PHP code I wrote so that others can play around with Twitter’s API.

I grabbed the XML parser from a page on php.net — this is actually very useful to parse ANY XML document into a multi-dimensional associative array in PHP. My source code works. Right now it takes your username and password, sends that to Twitter, gets a list of your followers and displays them in a table, along with the correct link to add that friend (which, of course, doesn’t work because Twitter won’t accept it.)

It is my hope that Twitter will make their URLs and API much more useful in the future so that this sort of thing becomes easy. My script goes a long way toward making that possible on the client side, at least.

My source code
The XML parser I used

See the script in action! (Enter your Twitter username and password to get a list of your followers.)

This script is free to use, borrow, tweak, and hopefully will spur the Twitter developers into action and make them realize the importance of creating a better API.

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