Nominate a Nonprofit!

For the last few months, Smashstar Media has been providing “grants” to nonprofit organizations just starting out or going through a restructuring. These grants may include a website design refresh, new plugins or functionality, or a set number of support/development hours covered by our team.

For 2020, we want to do more to help. Every month, we’ll be promoting a local nonprofit on our website and social media. In addition to the promotion, we’ll be selecting nonprofits every month to receive grants from our team to refresh and modernize their websites.

Do you contribute to, benefit from, or volunteer for a nonprofit that could use our help? Fill out the nomination form below and we’ll see what we can do to help. If your nomination is selected, you’ll be notified by email.

Nominate a Nonprofit

for Smashstar Media’s Nonprofit Grant

Free SSLs for Nonprofits

We’ve launched our new WordPress Network – a place for small businesses and nonprofits to host their websites – tuned specifically for WordPress sites, and backed by trusted, well-vetted plugins. One of the benefits to a custom-designed network is that we have more control over domains, DNS, and SSL certificates (what you use to verify your domain and server to visitors – the green padlock shown in browsers).

All nonprofit sites hosted by Smashstar Media will receive free SSL certificates to protect their websites, allowing for not just better security overall, but protection for integrate payment forms and more. Small businesses will also benefit from reduced rates when adding SSL to their sites. Usually $150 annually, we now offer domain-validated SSL certificates for $50-100 annually.

Have questions or want to learn more? Reach out to our team and we’ll answer any questions you may have – support@smashstarmedia.com

Snapshot Pro

  • [Fix] Canceling a backup that is in progress will stop all future scheduled backups
  • [Fix] Resolve issues reported by RIPS
  • [Fix] After a backup restore the View Backup button is opening the home page
  • [Fix] The remote snapshots purging issues when multiple snapshots are at the same remote directory
  • [Fix] The managed backup restore issues with the WPEngine
  • [Improvement] Disable the backup restore on the WPMU DEV staging sites
  • [Fix] The managed backup restore issues with the Modern Events Calendar Lite table
  • [Fix] The snapshots are not getting cleared out in the S3 bucket when located at an S3 subdirectory
  • [Fix] An uneditable file in the WPEngine breaks the restore
  • [Fix] Deleting a local managed backup deletes the remote copy as well
  • [Fix] The restoration issues with the .acme-challenge folder
  • [Fix] The managed backups could not be activated in the WP v4.6.15 (Multisite)

Defender Pro

  • Improvement: Increased the frequency of Security Tweak notifications from daily to weekly.
  • Fix: Two-Factor activate/deactivate not working as expected.
  • Fix: Defender IP Lockouts was blocking Hub services.
  • Fix: Error when bulk deletes lockout logs, without selecting any.
  • Fix: Active Translation in General Settings was not using the language that had been set.
  • Fix: The first time you setup the Blacklist location, it doesn’t save.
  • Fix: Security Keys tweaks showing decimals in status.
  • Fix: Enforcing Security Header tweaks revert when you refresh the page.
  • Fix: Lockout duration in email notification now reflects the right setting instead of always in seconds.
  • Fix: Missing logs from the Audit logging screen.
  • Remove: WordPress REST API security tweak. This feature was causing many sites to break basic functionality so we’ve decided to remove it.
  • Other minor enhancements and fixes

Behold: Keyboard Shortcuts

With the recent release of WordPress 5.3, WP Core now supports keyboard shortcuts on macOS (and iPadOS)! Continuity between web applications reduces the learning-curve and hiccups when using different services. These changes bring WordPress more inline with web apps like Google Docs and Office Online.

We’ve included a short list of our most-used shortcuts below, but check out all the new additions by pressing CTRL + Option + H to see the full list.

Shortcuts below are listed for macOS (and iPadOS) – Windows shortcuts for Chrome and Firefox are similar, replacing the ⌘ Command key with Control.

GLOBAL SHORTCUTS

  • Save your changes: ⌘S
  • Undo your last changes: ⌘Z
  • Redo your last undo: ⇧⌘Z
  • Show or hide the settings sidebar: ⇧⌘,
  • Switch between Visual Editor and Code Editor: ⇧⌥⌘M

SELECTION SHORTCUTS

  • Select all text when typing (twice to select all blocks): ⌘A
  • Clear selection: Esc

BLOCK SHORTCUTS

  • Duplicate the selected block(s): ⇧⌘D
  • Remove the selected block(s): ^⌥Z
  • Insert a new block before the selected block(s): ⌥⌘T
  • Insert a new block after the selected block(s): ⌥⌘Y

TEXT FORMATTING

  • Make the selected text bold: ⌘B
  • Make the selected text italic: ⌘I
  • Convert the selected text into a link: ⌘K
  • Remove a link: ⇧⌘K
  • Underline the selected text: ⌘U

Managed WordPress – 5.3

All hosted sites (Managed WordPress Hosted and Advanced plans) have been upgraded to this latest release. Self-Hosted sites will be upgraded individually between now and December 31, 2019. To prioritize or defer the update on your site, please reach out to our team.

What’s New

5.3 expands and refines the block editor introduced in WordPress 5.0 with a new block, more intuitive interactions, and improved accessibility. New features in the editor increase design freedoms, provide additional layout options and style variations to allow designers complete control over the look of a site. This release also introduces the Twenty Twenty theme giving the user more design flexibility and integration with the block editor. Creating beautiful web pages and advanced layouts has never been easier.

Block Editor Improvements

This enhancement-focused update introduces over 150 new features and usability improvements, including improved large image support for uploading non-optimized, high-resolution pictures taken from your smartphone or other high-quality cameras. Combined with larger default image sizes, pictures always look their best.

Accessibility improvements include the integration of block editor styles in the admin interface. These improved styles fix many accessibility issues: color contrast on form fields and buttons, consistency between editor and admin interfaces, new snackbar notices, standardizing to the default WordPress color scheme, and the introduction of Motion to make interacting with your blocks feel swift and natural. For people who use a keyboard to navigate the dashboard, the block editor now has a Navigation mode. This lets you jump from block to block without tabbing through every part of the block controls.

Expanded Design Flexibility

WordPress 5.3 adds even more robust tools for creating amazing designs.

  • The new Group block lets you easily divide your page into colorful sections
  • The Columns block now supports fixed column widths
  • The new Predefined layouts make it a cinch to arrange content into advanced designs
  • Heading blocks now offer controls for text color
  • Additional style options allow you to set your preferred style for any block that supports this feature

Introducing Twenty Twenty

Immediately available to all hosted sites – note that changing your theme will cause any customizations of your current theme to be lost. Contact our team to run a quick backup before testing out any new themes/plugins.

As the block editor celebrates its first birthday, we are proud that Twenty Twenty is designed with flexibility at its core. Show off your services or products with a combination of columns, groups, and media blocks. Set your content to wide or full alignment for dynamic and engaging layouts. Or let your thoughts be the star with a centered content column!

As befits a theme called Twenty Twenty, clarity and readability is also a big focus. The theme includes the typeface Inter, designed by Rasmus Andersson. Inter comes in a Variable Font version, a first for default themes, which keeps load times short by containing all weights and styles of Inter in just two font files.

Plugin Updates

All of our premium plugins (Forminator, Smush, Hummingbird, Snapshot, WP101, Hustle, and Smashstar SSO) have been updated to support this release. If you run into any issues with these plugins, please reach out to our team – support@smashstarmedia.com

Technical Notes

WordPress 5.3 adds support for PHP 7.4. Hosted sites will be upgraded from PHP 7.3 to 7.4 in January 2020. Our team will reach out if we find any plugins or themes on your account that do not support the change.

Our Managed WordPress + Managed G Suite connector (Smashstar SSO) will require an update to support the latest WordPress release. If you have an active maintenance subscription, this will be handled automatically with no action needed on your part.

Hummingbird Pro

Hummingbird zips through your site finding new ways to make it load faster, from file compression and minification to browser caching – because when it comes to pagespeed, every millisecond counts.

Version 2.2 | November 6, 2019

  • New: Add translation settings
  • New: Option to disable WooCommerce cart fragments scripts
  • New: React based dashboard for Gzip compression module
  • Enhance: Asset Optimization RTL support
  • Enhance: Optimize Cloudflare checks
  • Enhance: Performance report recommendations
  • Fix: Asset Optimization reset settings will trigger a new scan
  • Fix: Database module clearing out entries that are cached
  • Fix: Page Caching errors when clearing log files
  • Fix: Translation strings
  • Fix: Database cleanup json syntax error

Smush Pro

Reduce image file sizes, improve performance and boost your SEO. Includes automatic CDN support for all images, configured and optimized by Smashstar Media.

VERSION 3.3.1

  • Fix: CDN incorrect calculation for image sizes attribute
  • Fix: Undefined index PHP notices
  • New: Integration with Envira Gallery
  • New: Integration with Avada Fusion Builder background images
  • Enhance: Compatibility with staging environment on WPMU DEV hosting
  • Enhance: SmartCrawl readability analysis compatibility
  • Enhance: Allow optimizing directories in root folder
  • Enhance: Error descriptions during optimization
  • Enhance: Detection of image sizes when “All” option is selected in Bulk Smush settings
  • Enhance: CDN detection of background images
  • Fix: Issue with CDN auto resize and Revolution Slider
  • Fix: CDN auto resize feature overwriting the correct sizes attribute
  • Fix: NextGen summary meta box layout
  • Fix: PHP warnings on NextGen integration
  • Fix: UI layout in NextGen integration
  • Fix: Lazy loading spinner layout issue
  • Fix: Compatibility with RT Media

Forminator Pro

Capture user information (as detailed as you like), engage users with interactive polls that show real-time results and graphs, “no wrong answer” Facebook-style quizzes and knowledge tests.

Version 1.10 | October 23, 2019

  • Add: Email routing and conditional emails
  • Add: Pre-filling forms with dynamic data using query parameters
  • Add: Hubspot integration support creating tickets from Forminator forms
  • Improvement: New pagination flow
  • Improvement: Ability to use {all_field} email merged tag to send only the non-empty fields
  • Improvement: Not clear that From and Reply to fields can be used as input fields
  • Improvement: Allow users to set custom required validation message for GDPR field
  • Improvement: Date format in Datepicker field support for custom formats
  • Improvement: Setting to optionally download the submissions based on the active filters.
  • Improvement: Add option to upload media files to Media Library
  • Improvement: Ability to change the quiz sharing message
  • Fix: Address apartment sub-field doesn’t show in email notification
  • Fix: Issues with visibility conditions
  • Fix: Hidden fields by conditions still calculated
  • Fix: Form can be submitted with “Require SSL certificate to submit this form” enabled and no SSL certificate
  • Fix: Conditions rule validation

Service Update – Fall 2019

What happened to the Summer update? Well, we were on a roll with some pretty impressive stuff, so we held the roll-out so we could polish what we had and push it even further. So here it is, our Summer/Fall super update! We’re excited to announce all of the awesome new things we’ve been working on that’ll be brought to the platform.

Managed WordPress Updates

We’ve been providing our Managed WordPress service to small businesses and nonprofit organizations for a little over a year now. Our team took a look at our offerings, what our competitors are offering, and most importantly what you want out of the service. We’re thrilled to announce the following additions to Managed WordPress:

Upgraded Plugins

Hummingbird Pro – Configures page caching and optimizes your site to run faster and serve pages to your visitors as quick as possible. This is now included with all Managed WordPress plans. Basic plans receive the basic Hummingbird plugin.

Defender Pro – Our classic Defender plugin has gotten a significant upgrade: all premium features (admin lockout, spam prevention, file scanning) are now standard – yes, you read that right – with all Managed WordPress plans. Basic plans receive the basic Defender plugin.

WordPress 101 [beta] – by request from almost all of our clients, we’ve added WP101 to Hosted and Advanced plans. WP101 provides walkthrough videos and explanations of the WordPress basics – Page vs Post, modifying menus, etc – as well as some more advanced how-to’s. As this is new for us, we’ll be slowly rolling this out and expanding the video library throughout the rest of the year.

Smush Pro – You can now optimize even MORE images! That’s right, we’re including Smush PRO with all MWP Hosted and Advanced plans. Say goodbye to image placeholders while full-res images load – you’re pictures will be served over our CDN and optimized for the proper device they’re being loaded on.

Updated Dashboard

This summer, we completely overhauled the backend of our site management system, which means (you guessed it) another Dashboard update! We’ll begin testing our updated Managed WordPress Dashboard with select clients this fall, and plan to roll out the upgrade to all clients and sites by the end of the year. Our new system allows you to view your bill, subscriptions, add-ons, and even manage email accounts for your staff/employees. I’m personally really excited to see what you think. Contact us if you’d like to join the beta for MWP Dashboard 3.0.

Single Sign On

Yes, finally! We heard you, and to be honest we wanted this just as much as you did. If you have Managed G Suite through Smashstar Media, you’ll be able to sync your G Suite and WordPress users seamlessly. You’ll now find your website listed in the Google App switcher, which will open and automatically log you into your website!

For clients that have more than one account (website) through us, you’ll be able to access all of your sites with a single account. This can also be mapped to G Suite, Office 365, and even Salesforce! If you’d like this added to your existing site, drop us a line and we’ll get that set up for you.

Other Announcements

New Emails

We’ve migrated the Smashstar Media team from our proprietary email solution to Google’s G Suite this month to accommodate modern spam filters, large email attachments, and shared Drive links from our clients.

IMPORTANT: All website page addition, change, or deletion requests should be sent to team@smashstarmedia.com – this will forward to everyone in development who will ultimately be doing the work. All other requests should be sent to info@smashstarmedia.com. Questions regarding bills should be sent to billing@smashstarmedia.com. Emergencies (website down, email down, domain issues) should still be reported as soon as possible by texting or calling 508-556-0444.

Expanding Our Team

I don’t think I ever wrote about the people making all this magic happen. As you may or may not know, Michael Bean joined in one way or another almost a year ago. Mike handles all accounts, billing, and general business operations (doing all the hard stuff, and I’m forever grateful).

This summer we also added Ryan Burque and Lindsey Gravel to the team. Ryan will be taking on a lot of our development tasks, from updating sites to provisioning new servers and domains. Lindsey will be handling new client on-boarding and leading our Customer Success department. If you don’t hear from them over the next month, feel free to reach out and say hi – mike@, ryan@, and lindsey@ …smashstarmedia.com.

Upcoming Events

Sturbridge Community Bonfire

Oct 3, 2019, 4-8pm — We’ll be attending the Sturbridge Community bonfire this October 3, from 4-8pm. Come join us and several other local businesses for food, games, live music, and a ton of fun. We’ll have swag and goodies for anyone that stops by our table!

WordPress Bootcamp

(Date TBD) — We’ll be hosting a WordPress Bootcamp for existing and potential clients, as well as anyone else that wants to learn the basics of WordPress. We’ll cover best practices, how to add content, managing themes, updating menus, and even talk about some really helpful plugins.

G Suite Bootcamp

(Date TBD) — As we’ve added G Suite to our lineup, we figured it would be helpful to go over the basics of starting, managing, and maintaining a Google environment. We’ll cover all the basics, as well as best-practices, things to avoid, and all the cool things you can and should be doing to make the most of the subscription fee.

Well that was a lot – as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to myself our our team with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have. We’re always happy to talk and help out.

Evan Jensen
Owner, Lead Developer
Smashstar Media