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Most of our members will already know that subscriptions to our Joomla template club are priced using US Dollars. In an effort to make our life a little easier and process our accounts faster, I've just changed our prices from USD to AUD.

What does this mean to our customers?

The difference in USD and AUD at the moment is very minimal and has been for the best part (or perhaps more) of the last 12 months. The currency change will only mean an extra few dollars across all of our subscriptions.

Current exchange rate for USD to AUD is sitting at $1 AUD is worth $1.03 USD.

What does this mean to us?

The benefit to us ( I hope) will be considerable given that we will now be dealing solely in Australian dollars which will make our accounting processes a lot more transparent. In addition to this, we will also avoid Paypal's (how shall we put it?) "creative" conversation rates when making a withdrawal from a foreign currency. This will actually improve our bottom line and allow us to give more back in the way of coupons.

Please note: This is a trial change and we may or may not revisit this further down the track.

Coupons? Did someone say coupon?

As a sweetener for this low impact change in our system you can grab a 20% discount off any subscription by using the coupon "USDTOAUD". This coupon will be valid until Monday morning Australian time.

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Stay up to date with our releases.

As a little reminder if you want to keep track of our Joomla template and extension releases there are two key places to look:

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Last week I announced a new partnership with Siteground as our preferred hosting providers. One of the key features of SiteGround's feature list for me is their focus on server security.

Server security, as you are probably aware, is an important but often misunderstood and overlooked part of running a website. There are a number of solutions out there for hardening a Joomla website and while most security experts will agree that making a Joomla website secure needs to be a multi-pronged process, nothing beats a secure hosting environment to begin with.

I recently had the chance to talk to Valeri from SiteGround to find out more about how SiteGround goes about securing their servers. Valeri was the key developer of the free SiteGround jHackGuard plugin which as you will read below is part of the SiteGround arsenal in their fight to keep your website secure.

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Reflections on Joomladay Sydney

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On the weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Sydney Joomla day. This was actually was the first day long Joomla event I've attended and it was from my perspective a hands down success. It's great to meet folk that I've only ever spoken to via twitter and to spend more time with some of the local Melbourne Joomla crew too.

Joomla is about people.

I've heard people say this before and I must admit, it always sounded like hyperbole. However this Joomla day really helped me to see that Joomla at it's core is about people.

Even though I communicate (via keyboard) every day with people on our forum, via email, skype and twitter, nothing beats talking face to face with other Joomla users and in particular users of your own product.

When you are knee deep in code or design, it's easy to forget that the end user is a complex human being with a myriad of intellectual and emotional processes that drive their experience. Sure enough some of that emotional complexity comes through in (some) users' forum posts or emails, but on the whole, we miss the majority of the non-verbal communication that happens when typing is the medium of communication.

Meeting face to face with users is key to understanding the impact that your product has on your users and really helps to place that work in a real world context. And I must say that I am genuinely humbled by the feedback I get from our users and love seeing how they put what we build into practice.

I was also completely chuffed to hear Andrew Eddie say that our templates "put him in touch with his inner Joomla." That sort of off the cuff and in the moment comment is priceless.

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As most of you will know Joomla 3.0 was released a few weeks ago. This release marked the end of life of the Joomla 1.5 series of Joomla and barring any major security issues that may pop up, it is unlikely that we will see another release in the Joomla 1.5 series.

Given that maintaining packages across three versions of Joomla is a somewhat staggering task and that we will (hopefully) start to ship a Joomla 3.0 version and quickstart of the next Joomla template we need to draw a line in the sand in regards to support for Joomla 1.5. This will free us up to focus on some more progressive development of our templates, extensions and framework.

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We are pleased to announce that we have recently partnered with SiteGround to deliver hosting services for the JoomlaBamboo website. In fact, we moved servers a few months ago but I wanted to hold off on the blog post as we put the new server through it's paces.

SiteGround knows Joomla

SiteGround is a well known supporter of Joomla and has been offering specialized Joomla hosting services for many years now. They currently host more than 80 000 Joomla websites and have proven to be a reliable, secure and specialized Joomla hosting provider. That's why we chose them in the first place.

A faster website

If you've noticed the tremendous performance burst in the Joomlabamboo website, now you know the reason. As of the last month or two, our website has been generously hosted for free on their platform and we're nothing less but extremely pleased with the service we receive from them. In fact this increase in speed has translated in to a significant bump in traffic.

Decrease in page load time.

The graph below highlights the change in average site speed for Joomlabamboo. As you can see there was a significant drop in page load times for the month of August and while the average is still a little high for my liking much of that is down to on-page and template optimisation.

(As a disclaimer, our previous server setup was a well tuned VPS, while our current setup at SiteGround is a dedicated server so you would expect to see an improvement here. But in Google's new world order shaving a second or two off page load can mean the difference of a front page vs second or third page result.)

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Increase in traffic around the same time.

The new server was switched on on the 2nd of August and the high point on the graph below reflects the number of visitors we received for the month of August. The graph is a little deceptive but it represents around a 25% bump in traffic. There are a few factors that go towards traffic spikes of course, but it's undeniable that site speed is a big factor when it comes to google ranking and organic site visits.

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JB Type is now Joomla 3.0 ready

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Our free Joomla typography plugin is now available for Joomla 3.0 and now also comes with built in syntax for the Bootstrap glyph icons. You can download JB Type over at the JB Type plugin page.

Some new icons.

In anticipation of making the move to Bootstrap in the next few months, I have also included some of the bootstrap glyph icons into the array of icons available with the plugin.

Although the new fonts will work out of the box in Joomla 3.0, if you want to use the new icon syntax in Joomla 2.5 or Joomla 1.5 you need to ensure that you have the Bootstrap css and assets loading on the page.

Adding bootstrap to Joomla 2.5.

Thankfully @phpRoberto has put together an excellent little plugin that will do this for you in Joomla 2.5. So to use the new icons in Joomla 2.5 you need to install JB Type as well as the twitter bootstrap plugin for Joomla 2.5.

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Rewriting our JB Library plugin has been on the cards for a long time and so just in time for the release of Joomla 3.0 - well ok, close to the release of Joomla 3.0 - I'm happy to say that JB Library version 2.0 is now available.

This version is a complete rewrite of the original codebase and contains a number of improvements, enhancements and code optimisation. You may not notice much in the way of new features but this version of the library will play alot better with other extensions and work more efficiently when it comes to controlling jQuery and mootools on your site.

New Features include:

  • joomla 3.0 compatible
  • Rewritten and optimised code base
  • Script loader for controlling load order of scripts.
  • Adds option to use jQuery cdn version of jQuery
  • More control over replacing the mootools library
  • Joomla 1.5 and Joomla 2.5 / Joomla 3.0 now packaged separately.
  • Added jQuery 1.8 versions

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Our fourth free Joomla 3.0 extension is the free Joomla Twitter module, jTweet. If you missed the announcement regarding version 2 all those months ago, jTweet v2 features a ton of new features and improvements, including drag and drop templating, new theme options, intelligent iterface and more.

You can download the jTweet module here.

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JFlickr is a free jQuery driven Flickr module that easily adds images from flickr to your Joomla website.

Here is an example ...

Some of my favourite photos taken from my very own Canon 7d.

{loadposition flickrstream}

No Need for JB Library or the framework ...

Please note that as of Joomla 3.0 JB Library or the framework is no longer a requirement for this module. So you should be able to happily install this module and Joomla 3.0 will take care of the rest.

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JB Maps now Joomla 3.0 compatible

Our simple and free Google map module is now available for Joomla 3.0. If you haven't used the module before check out the way we used it in the Ascent Joomla template demo.

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You can download JB Maps from the JB Maps feature page.

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