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A Constant Contact Software Anomaly

I recommend Constant Contact to my clients for creating and mailing out electronic newsletters.  I edit four newsletters,  and another couple of clients write and send out their newsletters themselves.

Yesterday (June 4) Constant Contact updated their system with code that is suddenly incompatible with Firefox browsers running the AdBlock Plus extension.  (Or, possibly, AdBlock Plus updated its logic rules.)

The symptom:

I logged into one Constant Contact account and searched for a user contact.  The search returned no matches.  I knew the contact was good, so I reentered the contact information and re-searched.  This time, the contact came back.  When I clicked on the link for the contact’s “Bounce History” I was dumped to a logon screen.  I could re-login and repeat the process over and over, but I could never get the bounce  information I was looking for.

I later found a problem with logging into Constant Contact and then clicking on “My account”.  Instead of seeing subscription information, I received a “unknown error” message.

The trauma:

Constant Contact tech support and I spend a lot of time on the phone together.  The problem occurred on all of my different machines using Firefox, but not when I used Internet Explorer.  The problem did not occur on Constant Contact’s tech’s machine when she tried using Firefox.  I was later told that Constant Contact was getting a number of calls from other Firefox users, but they could not reproduce the problem themselves.

The Work-Around:

Click on the down-arrow to the right of the Adblock Plus logo. Click on “Preferences” and then on the “Add Filter” tab. Add these three exceptions:

  1. @@||^$document
  2. @@||^$document
  3. @@||^$document

These lines keep Adblock from interfering with the information contained in the Constant Contact pages.

Through trial and error, I discovered that green listing the Constant Contact URLs (by clicking on the Adblock option to “Disable” ad blocking) “fixed” the problem I was having.  This disabling produced the exception lines I posted above.

I called Constant Contact back and told them what I discovered — the tech I was thankful. Now, of course, Constant Contact may take my information and change their latest update so as not to run afoul of the Adblock add-on. Or, they may have their  users disable Adblock checking.  Either way will keep me happy with Constant Contact!

By |2010-06-05T12:46:01-07:00June 5th, 2010|Product Recommendations, Tips and Resources|2 Comments

Flickr vs. SmugMug: My Judgment is Colored

Birthday Set Thumbnail from FlickrI have been using Flickr for posting photographs online for several years. It’s been a great place to upload photographs for my church’s electronic newsletter, and it’s been a handy place to share dog pictures and other personal visual memories.

I kept my Flickr account even after I stared using Facebook which comes with free photo galleries. The image quality on Flickr is an order of magnitude better than the fuzzed-up, blurry mash that Facebook offers on its photo galleries. Plus, the general public — not just your friends — can wander by your Flickr sets and find photos of things they’re looking for. I’ve enjoyed getting comments from strangers.

But, Flickr washes out and changes the color in some photographs I upload. I notice this fault more on images I have previously manipulated in Photoshop. It’s as if Flickr figures out that I have edited the photo and then tries to do more automatically of whatever editing I had done myself. This pale, over-whiteness of images is particularly annoying when I look at a slide show of my pictures.

This morning I uploaded a set of photographs of a friend’s birthday party to Flickr. Some of the photographs were noticeably bluer/whiter/lighter than they appeared in Photoshop on the same computer monitor. I went back and color-manipulated four images to increase the warmth of the light, and uploaded replacements, trying to make the people less glaringly Caucasian corpse-like. The results were better, but still there’s a sickly paleness on a lot of the faces.

On a whim, I decided to open a trial account on SmugMug. That’s a service which is used a lot by professional photographers — I set up a client with a site there just last month.

Damn! I notice a difference! The photographs on SmugMug are more appropriately vibrant and with the same tone I see in Photoshop. The clarity of the down-sized thumbnails are good, too.

Can you see the same difference? Check out the two slide shows. I suggest making them both full screen to see as much of each photograph as possible. (Remember, these are personal, non-professional photographs. Some are blurry and some show residue of the camera’s flash. That’s how they came out of the camera, and those faults are mine and not either Flickr’s or SmugMug’s.)

  • SmugMug Album. Click on the “Slideshow” button on the upper-right part of the screen.
  • Flickr Slide Show. Click on the “Slideshow” link on the third row down and toward the right side of the screen.

SmugMug has other advantages over Flickr. It offers a nicer layout of its photographs, and each set of photographs can be laid out in a different format with a different background. Plus, switching to the next photograph in an album is instantaneous on SmugMug but takes time on Flickr.

Of course, Flickr is significantly less expensive than SmugMug. Flickr is $25/year for a “pro” account while the comparable service from SmugMug is $40/year. My trial SmugMug account uses some customizations and strips out the SmugMug logo from my galleries, and this level subscription is $60/year.

Is the better photo image quality, flexibility in gallery settings, and overall professional feel worth $60 a year to me for my personal photographs. I think so. But, I have 13 more days to make that decision for sure.

By |2010-04-03T12:57:36-07:00April 3rd, 2010|Product Recommendations|3 Comments
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