Welcome to the ScarletFire resource page.
This is where I list all the great tools or services that I use, to make digital life a bit easier, including many which are helpful in putting this website together. Before I get started with those, here’s a great list of cycling related blogs I admire, either because of the story behind them (their motivation for producing the blog), or the quality of their writing, or just plain sheer informative content. They’re all great, check them out!
Cycling related blogs / Friends of ScarletFire
aka Phil’s Road Biking Blog. Hints, tips, pictures and reviews for new road cyclists.
Grimpeur HeureuxSportive Cyclist
For recreational road cyclists and sportive riders
Visit Sportive Cyclist
John’s Cycling Diary
Like me, John is a bit of a “born again” cyclist, having rediscovered the joys of cycling just a few years ago.
Visit John’s Cycling Diary
Website related resources
This site is based on the WordPress platform. It’s very easy to use, and very powerful. Oh, and it’s totally free. You can set up a free blog for yourself at www.wordpress.com, or host your own installation of wordpress, which gives you much more control. If you choose the self-hosted option, you’re going to need a good web hosting provider.
Website hosting – TSOhost
I’ve been with TSO host since November 2013, and I wish I’d switched to them sooner. They are totally awesome. Installing a fresh WordPress installation is a piece of cake with their one click installation option, and the servers are optimised for WordPress so you’ll get great reliability and speed from the site. Use code SCARLETFIRE for 10% discount when you sign up. *The links to TSOhost are affiliate links, which means they pay me a small percentage of the deal, for referring a new customer. Thank you so much if you use the links. I do not promote products or services in this way unless I’ve got personal experience of using them, and can vouch for their awesomeness.
Image editing with IrfanView
I’ve been a fan of IrfanView for around 15 years now. It’s an awesome little free program that I use as the default image handler on my Windows machine. In terms of helping out with the website, it makes it super fast to create cropped screen captures / screen grabs. It’s also very useful for batch processing a bunch of images, and can rename and resize, add watermarks, sharpen and all that stuff. It’s also useful for basic annotation, like drawing attention to parts of screenshots with a simple circle, box or scribble. Get IrfanView.
This is a really great web based alternative to photoshop, ideal for those little jobs where you just want to make a simple collage of a few photos. It’s quick and simple to use, and for certain tasks, it will become your go-to tool of choice.
Stencil has been a godsend for creating images for social media, and for blog posts. It’s even fantastic for creating images to use as thumbnails for my YouTube videos.Take a look at Stencil for yourself.
A bit like picmonkey and Stencil, but perhaps more template based, it includes many more ideas for producing content ideal for sharing via social media. My suspicion is that early adopters will find it useful, but if you’re late to this party, everyone will have already seen it all before elsewhere, and you’ll have lost the surprise factor. Visit Canva
File transfer (FTP) with FileZilla
Great, free FTP tool. Visit Filezilla
Code editing with Notepad++
On those rare occasions when I need to dip in to some code to edit something, this is a fantastic little utility, and free. Get Notepad++
My browser of choice is Chrome, and it has some pretty amazing apps available to make life easier. Here are a few you’ll be glad I told you about (if you didn’t know about them already). I guess most of them will also be available for other modern browsers such as Firefox.
I only recently discovered this one, and it’s quickly become something I use every day. You know how you use different groups of websites for different projects or tasks? For example, if I’m working on ScarletFire, I’ll have several tabs open – my WordPress dashboard, the site itself, maybe a hootsuite tab, some key forums I tap into, my facebook page and maybe a google analytics tab too. Later, I might go into shopping mode, and so I’d want tabs open for eBay, hotukdeals, Amazon and maybe one of those online voucher sites. One last example would be the various sites I use to monitor metrics and earnings. This would involve open tabs for Affiliate window, amazon associates, TSOhost affiliate programme, Adsense reports, etc. Here’s the cool thing with TabCloud. You can save each of those sets of tabs as a distinct, named group, which can then be opened en masse. Clicking on the app icon opens up the list of your TabClouds. Just click one and watch with amazement as all the tabs open up for you. Simple but amazingly helpful! Get TabCloud for Chrome
Affiliate links through Amazon, with Easy Azon (WordPress plugin)
You may already be aware of Amazon Associates – where you place a link on your site to products on Amazon, and when someone buys an item, the sale is tracked to you and you get a small percentage commission. It’s easy enough to create affiliate links using the Amazon Associates webpages, but it’s a slow process if you’ve got lots of links to make. Another thing – what about people in different countries? People in the US won’t want to buy from the European Amazon stores, and vice versa. Easy Azon creates links which automatically direct people to the correct Amazon for their country. This geo-targetting is really powerful. The plugin brings the Amazon search right into your WordPress dashboard and it’s so much quicker and easier to include Amazon links in your posts and pages. The plugin costs around $18. Money well spent. Get Easy Azon here. *This is an affiliate link, so I get some of the money if you buy this plugin. Thank you, in advance! I’ve been using the plugin for a month or so, and it’s paid for itself already in Amazon commissions.
Mobile apps I find useful
I’ll be adding details here of various must-have mobile apps that
distract me all day long help me be more productive.
I find this really useful for capturing ideas for blog posts. You can publish straight to your blog from the app, but generally I use it to create drafts, which I then tidy up on the main PC later before publishing. It’s also handy for checking site stats. The app benefits from an active developer community and it gets updated fairly often. I’m also a member of the android beta testers group, so I get to play with the updated version slightly before they go mainstream. To join that group, go visit the Google+ community. Get WordPress mobile
Buffer lets you post content to multiple social networks, and can auto-schedule them for you. Say you find an article that you think would bring some value to your readers, just share the article from your browser to Buffer, edit any comments you wish to add, and add it to the buffer. On the free account you can have up to 10 items queued up in the buffer, and can link to one account on each major network. You’d need to upgrade to link more accounts and have a bigger buffer. Works in your desktop browser and on your mobile. Visit Buffer
Call me old fashioned, but I still think RSS is a really great way to keep up to date and informed. For me, the emphasis is on quick access to a broad range of feeds. I’m not too bothered about dressing it up in a flashy, swishy interface (like the lovely Feed.ly). Just give me the content. I bought the pro version of GReader for the added functionality to download or stream podcast feeds. Get gReader | Feedly | The Old Reader | RSS | News
Social media tools (desktop, mobile, or both)
Hootsuite Social media is a great way to spread your message to your followers, but I would argue that people who use it most effectively, do so to listen to their audience in equal measure. Hootsuite is a great way to do that. You can set up various columns to monitor discussion on specific topics, or amongst specific groups of influential people you follow, and you can post across a whole range of social media accounts (not just twitter) Visit Hootsuite