“Mirage Men” Documentary Reveals Truth about UFOs

Domestic Counter-Intelligence Special Agents Blow Whistle on UFO Cover-ups

A new documentary film released this March, Mirage Men, tells the story of those who were employed by the U.S. government to spread lies and cover up the truth about UFOs.

For decades, ufologists and journalists have long suspected that the U.S. government has been covering up the truth about UFOs. Tantalizing new evidence reveals they have been right all along.

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A New Website for Symetrix Pro Audio

Symetrix.co got a major upgrade today! I’m happy to have had a hand in it.

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Essential WordPress Plugins You Should Install on Every Site You Build

Yeah, okay. I realize it’s a bit arrogant to try to dictate to everyone in the world what plugins they should install on their own WordPress sites. So, I come before you humbly to suggest that this suite of plugins is a pretty good place to start when creating a new site or improving an existing one. I’ve installed all of these plugins on many different sites over the years because I find them to be essential in almost every case.

In truth, I don’t have every one of these plugins installed on every one of my sites. Keeping installed plugins to a minimum should always be a factor in deciding which plugins to use. However, I do think every plugin on this list deserves to be considered in every WordPress project I do. You may prefer a different brand of plugin to any one you see on the list, and if that is the case feel free to ignore my rambling and go with what you know. The intention of this article is be a handy resource for newcomers and experienced users alike. With so many plug-ins out there, there might be a few on this list you never heard of or even thought of.

The same goes for me, too. If you would like to append this list, please tell us what tried-and-true plugins you find essential.

Thermal Exposure’s List of Essential WordPress Plugins

Essential Administration

Akismet – Essential Anti-Spam

AkismetThis one comes shipped with WordPress these days. Get a key and use Akismet. It works great, but note that it’s not 100% perfect.


Wordfence Security – Essential Security

wordfenseProtect your WordPress site from hackers. I’ve been contracted several times recently to fix websites after hackers had got a hold of them and the sites were blacklisted. Don’t let yourself be an easy mark. Also, DON’T use the default “admin” username for your admin role when setting up a new site, and DO pick a very tough password. This plugin can enforce the use of strong passwords for various roles.


BackupBuddy – Essential Backup

backupbuddyAutomated and Manual Backups for security and migration of your site. Useful for development when you need to copy a site from one server to another. BackupBuddy integrates with DropBox and other protocols to move your backups to an alternate safe place. You can set up multiple recurring schedules to back up the entire site, or just the database.


Enable Media Replace – Essential Media Replacement

enable-media-replaceAllows you to replace an image by uploading a new one and lets you choose between keeping the old name or using the new name and updating old name throughout the database.


WP Clean Up – Essential Database Optimization

WP-Clean-UpWordPress site slowing down? Clean and Optimize that database on a regular basis. Get rid of revisions and other clutter.


WP Memory Usage – Essential Monitoring


A gauge for your site’s memory consumption. Can help you track down naughty plugins.


Essential Website Configuration

Disable Comments – Essential Comment Control

Don’t want comments on your site at all? This will let you turn them off (or on) globally. Can be useful during site migrations to temporarily disable the comment engine.


Page Comments Off Please – Essential Comment Control

By default, newly created pages have comments enabled. This plugin turns that behavior off. Few things irk me more than having to go through a bunch of newly created pages and turn off the comments.


WPMU Login Image – Essential Login Screen Image Replacement

login-image-2100-afterThere are many plugins that let you replace the default WordPress image on the login screen. This is the one I prefer.


Erident Custom Login and Dashboard – Essential Login and Dashboard Customization

Similar to the Login Image plugin from WPMU above, this plugin lets you customize the Login screen and dashboard.


Mailgun – Essential Mailer

mailgunIf you find yourself wondering why all the email your WordPress site sends gets treated as SPAM, you need this plugin. This plugin requires a subscription to Mailgun (which is free up to a certain number of emails sent per month). If you’re on a shared host, your emails might be blacklisted for being on the same host as a known offender. If you’re on a dedicated server, you might know how damned-near impossible it is to setup a mailer that doesn’t get blocked. Say goodbye to sendmail! Mailgun becomes your mailer replacement and makes sure your emails pass muster from point A to point B. You’re welcome.


W3 Total Cache – Essential Cache

W3TotalCacheThere are other caching plugins out there, and this isn’t an endorsement of one in particular so much as it is a reminder that you should be implementing at least some level of caching for performance sake. WordPress is inefficient and slow, plain and simple. This plugin is a bit complex for the inexperienced. Take your time setting up this plugin and get to know what each setting does. There are plenty of notes and tips built right into this plugin. The improvements with caching enabled are more than marginally significant.


Essential Added Features

All-in-One SEO Pack or Yoast – Essential SEO

allinoneseopackYou need some kind of SEO plugin. Take your pick.


TinyMCE Advanced – Essential Visual Editor Control

TinyMCEAdvancedThe default visual editor for WordPress might work for your needs, it might not. If you want more control over text formatting, get this plugin. It also lets you specify which visual controls users have access to, and that can be very useful if you have contributors who love to get a little too creative with their typography. I find it best to set it restrictive and only enable formatting features as requests arise.


WP Editor – Essential HTML-View Code Coloring

WP EditorThis plugin ads code coloring to the HTML-view editor window. Very useful if you ever expect to go sifting through the code view.


Contact Form 7 – Essential Easy Forms

contact-form-7This plugin makes it pretty easy to add a contact form to your website. The form fields it generates are un-styled for the most part, so you might have to customize them to your liking. In my opinion that’s a bonus.


Contact Form DB – Essential Form Capture and Storage

contact-form-dbIf you’re using the Contact Form 7 plugin, this one is essential for storing those form submissions over time.


Responsive Lightbox – Essential Device-friendly Image Pop-ups

responsive-lightboxMobile-friendly, responsive pop-up image viewers for your galleries and full-size images. Not skimpy on the options.


WP Better Emails – Essential Email Customization

WP-Better-EmailsCustomize WordPress generated emails. Add branding and additional information by adding your own email template.


WP Open Graph Meta – Essential Facebook Integration

When people share your article on Facebook, this plugin helps make sure the post is formatted correctly and the correct thumbnail image is displayed.


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Set up your own local domains for web development on Mac OSX

I do a lot of local web development, mostly using WordPress. I have written several guides, including:

This guide is an addendum to an article I wrote on setting up multiple subdomains back in 2010.

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Posted in Techno-babble, WordPress | 4 Comments

Check out the new Thermal Exposure video!

I wish I had more time to spend on marketing myself. This week saw the launch of the new Thermal Exposure redesign and the launch of my new video. Enjoy!

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Laughing Buddha Tattoo & Body Piercing Website

“Alex and Thermal Exposure have been such a huge help improving our website and jewelry sales. My website was old and outdated, and the online store was separate from the site which was confusing for our customers. With our new website that Alex created, everything is all in one place and looks AMAZING! We couldn’t be more pleased! And online sales have gone through the roof.  We sell jewelry and each design can have as few as 3 sizes to 16 sizes.  The online store is integrated into our websites home page now, which makes it easy to access for customers and easy to navigate for our staff. The look and ease of use is really helping our business grow. Adding and editing products has never been so easy! Along with an amazing look, easily accessible, modern website we also got superb Customer Service. Alex is friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful whenever we need him. The folks here at Laughing Buddha HIGHLY recommend Thermal Exposure for your web needs.  Alex also help me set up Google analytics which has been amazing for market research/development.”
– Michelle Hamilton, Laughing Buddha Tattoo and Body Piercing.

I’m very excited to have a working relationship with Laughing Buddha Tattoo & Body Piercing. As one of Seattle’s most popular tattoo parlors, I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to design a website that get’s SO MUCH traffic.

The great folks at Laughing Buddha are anything but typical. Michelle wanted a website that reflected the brand’s unique aesthetic while being warm and approachable. She also wanted to start selling more jewelry online. LBT has a marvelous collection of custom made body jewelry from artists around the world. Their old e-commerce “solution” just wasn’t cutting it.

Since we’ve launched the new website, Michelle reports that business is booming and “online sales have gone through the roof.”

Congratulations, Michelle. Here’s to your continued success!

Check out Laughing Buddha Tattoo and Body Piercing right now!


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WooCommerce Authorize.Net DPM Error: This transaction cannot be accepted. (Check your server’s UTC Time!)

If you’re using WooCommerce’s Authorize.net DPM (Direct Post Method) plug-in for handing off credit card transactions to Authorize.net’s payment gateway you may run into the following error:

Error: This transaction cannot be accepted.

Error: This transaction cannot be accepted.

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Posted in Resources, Techno-babble, WordPress | 5 Comments

ClearSign Combustion Corporation Branding Case Study

“ClearSign chose Thermal Exposure from among several companies to help design and develop our visual identity. Since that time we have expanded their role to include corporate videos, website design and hosting and branding and messaging. We continue to be delighted with the quality of work, attention to detail and value for money that Alex and his team provide. The work product from Thermal Exposure is highly creative and professional and we believe it sets ClearSign apart from other companies in our space.”
– Geoff Osler, ClearSign Combustion

It’s been nearly two years since I was first contacted by ClearSign Combustion Corporation to build them a website. I’ve known the CEO, Rick Rutkowski, since we worked together at Microvision over a decade ago. (Nearly all of my new business comes from referrals or repeat clients.)

ClearSign Combustion Corporation has some spectacular technology that can greatly improve the efficiency of external combustion engines (like those found in large boilers, power plants, refineries, etc.) by controlling flame characteristics with high-voltage/low-amperage electrical fields. Wow! This is some real Jetsonian stuff, and it’s cool to see in action.

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Neah Power Systems’ PowerChip and PowerPlay Fuel Cells Video

After the success of the video I produced for ClearSign Combustion Corporation, I was contacted by Neah Power System’s CEO, Chris D’Couto, to produce a short video for Neah Power.

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Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription Renewal Trouble

What happens when your Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription is suspended due to a lapse in payment?

I found out recently when I attempted to update my Credit Card info with Adobe. I was in the process of switching Credit Unions and updating all the credit card info on file with all the different services I use online. I had some trouble with Adobe’s Creative Cloud website because after I deleted the old credit card on file, Adobe’s website wouldn’t give me a chance to add a new credit card.

If I had added the new credit card first, before deleting the old credit card I likely would not have had this problem. For the life of me, I couldn’t find a place to add a new credit card on file for the next time Adobe’s billing cycle would come around.

Today, while attempting to open Fireworks, I was greeted with a dialog box from the Adobe Application Manager.

Adobe CS6 Creative Cloud Membership - Renew your subscription

Clicking the link to the “Subscription Manager” does NOT take me to the subscription manager. Instead, it took me to my Creative Cloud File Manager page:

Files : Adobe Creative CloudNot very helpful.

Next, I clicked on the avatar in the upper right and went to my Account Settings and clicked on:

My subscriptions and services

From here, I could see a notice that my Creative Cloud membership was suspended and was able to update my CC info. (The screenshot above is shown after I successfully updated my CC info and renewed my membership to Creative Cloud).

So, after my Credit Card was successfully entered, I tried to open up FireWorks, again.

I was greeted with the same screen as before.

Adobe CS6 Creative Cloud Membership - Renew your subscriptionThis time, I clicked “Try Again”. The next screen looked like this:

Adobe Application Manager Thank YouI hit continue and got this again:

Adobe CS6 Creative Cloud Membership - Renew your subscriptionGreat. Okay. I guess I need to wait a while.

15 Minutes later… Same problem.

30 Minutes later… Same problem.

Okay. Reboot the computer.

Same problem.

1 hour later… (Just enough time to write this blog post)


So, give it time.

My suggestion for Adobe (If you’re listening): Fix this.


Thanks to commenter Chris for pointing out the actual workaround.

If you click on ‘Licence this software’ it will give you the opportunity to sign in again, and the loop was broken for me. Services restored.

Adobe License This Software Stuck in Activation Loop

Subscription Activated

Subscription Activated! You’ve broken the loop! Click “Close” and your software will launch.

Posted in Reviews, Techno-babble | 12 Comments