Easy to use audio player

The Cue  audio player provides an audio player widget with a dynamic playlist – delivering a fully responsive player for your posts, pages and widget areas.

The main site of the plugin is here. (I am not an affiliate seller.)

Download the free basic version of the plugin and you’ll likely find all you need.

The full version includes a cool audio player in the footer area of your website that keeps playing when people navigate away from your page (so long as they are still on your website).

Re the default audio player in WordPress…

To custom code the width of the inbuilt / default WordPress player use this code in your CSS (I suggest you use a CSS plugin such as this one to add CSS code).

The width can be pixels or a percentage (i.e.: 50%) of your page width.

.mejs-container.svg.mejs-audio {
width: 250px !important;
}

Have fun, and keep your WordPress questions coming in.

Why LinkedIn has lost its way

When LinkedIn first surfaced as a professional networking site in May 2003 it was well-regarded and attracted truly professional people. The people one might want to touch base with, but have zero chance in normal day-to-day circumstances.

When LinkedIn first surfaced as a professional networking site in May 2003 it was well-regarded and attracted truly professional people. The people one might want to touch base with, but have zero chance in normal day-to-day circumstances.

It was like Facebook, but with a touch of (noun) je ne sais quoi. The site  attracted people who did not share photos of what they were eating, didn’t state the bleedin’ obvious and one really could join the site knowing you’d be rubbing digital shoulders with fellow professional around the world.

It was a site that often featured interesting conversations.

Today though, it has slipped somewhat to become quite pedestrian. And just like Facebook one finds people sharing banalities along with those ridiculous posters (see below). Why do people feel the need to share such stupid things. It’s meant to be a professional networking site.

LinkedIn should not be the place for these pointless posters featuring hackneyed phrases. And frankly I can’t hide them fast enough from my timeline.

I’m so over seeing them, along with blatant self-promotion and sales pictches that I am weening myself off the site altogether (along with Facebook).

And then there are the requests to connect on LinkedIn sent be people one doesn’t know, and who are not even in the same or related business.

Since LinkedIn started I have opened and closed two accounts. I am now on my third, and I can’t see that lasting much longer.

The only real positive experience I have had from being on the site is a welcome approach from Microsoft late last year to work for them as an editor on one of its news sites in New Zealand. Great job, poor timing.

Below, as seen on professional networking site LinkedIn moments before this post was published.
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Lack of property listings keeps pressure on prices

For the time of year, the number of properties listed for sale is at a 20-year low,  says Peter Thompson, managing director of Barfoot & Thompson.

With so few properties on the market, those that are listed should attract a lot of interest, and should, says Thompson,   “ensure that prices remain solid”.

Sale prices achieved at the real estate agency last month were down on the all-time highs seen in the last quarter of 2015, with the current median price being $760,000, down 5 per cent on December — but 8.6 per cent higher than the same time last year.

During January  the firm sold 893 properties, most sales were in the outer southern and northern suburbs of Auckland.

In January, of all the properties sold by the firm, 20.7 per cent went for more than $1 million, and the number of homes sold for less than $500,000 represented 28.6 per cent of its sales.

A report from Bayleys says the Auckland market has taken a breather over the last 3 months. Even so, the time to sell all inventory is sitting at just 10.3 weeks against a long-term average of 24.5 weeks. An indicator of strong demand.

Tenancy disputes

Figures released by Tenancy Practice Services show landlords across the country lose an average of $1800 in disputes with their tenants — around five weeks’ rent — every year.
Landlords in Auckland are losing an average 5.6 weeks’ rent, in Wellington it’s 5.8 weeks and Canterbury, 4.8 weeks.

Body corporates

Calls are growing for body corporates to be more transparent. Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye wants to hear apartment owners’ concerns via her website betterbodycorporates.nz.

According to reports, worries raised by apartment owners include a lack of pre-purchase disclosure and allegations of the manipulation of proxy votes at body corporate meetings.

Kaye wants the Unit Titles Act changed, and  intends to produce a report to put in front of her ministerial colleagues.

Stonewood Homes

Stonewood Homes New Zealand went into receivership this week. KordaMentha has been appointed receivers to the company, as well as Stonewood Homes and Sterling Homes. Independently owned Stonewood franchises are not affected.

Affected homes will be completed under the Master Builders guarantee.

Best rate
This week’s best fixed rate is from HSBC, offering 3.95 per cent for 18 months.

Call for lower mortgage rates

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says population growth in New Zealand accounts for much of our current economic growth (such as it is) — which is perhaps why the government is not keen to cut migrant numbers and take the pressure off the demand for  housing.

Around 5000 people settle in New Zealand every month, with many spending money on housing, furnishings, clothes and cars. Tourism is masking the downturn in dairy income.

But it is the push for economic growth that’s key here, and lower interest rates is one way to achieve that. In line with many economic commentators, Tuffley expects the Reserve Bank to cut the OCR in June to 2.25 per cent   to boost economic growth —  that should translate into  cheaper loans  as the floating mortage rate should drop in tandem.

Tuffley also says any slowdown in the Auckland housing market due to investor loan-to-value ratio restrictions and tax rules was caused by a knee-jerk reaction.

Having got to grips with the new rules, investors — foreign and domestic — are easing back into the market. As I mentioned in a previous column, the first quarter of this year is a window of opportunity for first time buyers.

Over at the BNZ, its chief economist Tony Alexander says pressure on Auckland housing will continue for the foreseeable future with the population growing 3 per cent a year, and housing construction failing to meet demand.

He is 50-50 on whether the Reserve Bank will extend the 30 per cent deposit rule for investment properties outside Auckland. It all depends how hot the regions get.

Fixed rates
In my opinion the current crop of fixed rate deals from the larger banks are pitiful. The best two-year rate is from the TSB, offering 4.29 per cent.

HSBC has the best five-year rate of 4.99 per cent and it has also just announced a rate of 3.95 per cent for 18 months – but there are strings attached.

if you are looking for a stop gap six month rate, the ASB is among those offering 4.85 per cent.

All up, the current fixed rate deals are higher than they should be, the banks can do better.

January sales
There were 5048 residential sales across New Zealand in January, up 4.3 per cent on January last year according to the Real Estate Institute.

The national median price for the month was $448,000, down 3.7 per cent on December’s figure. Strip Auckland sales out of the data and the national median price falls to $361,250.

The institute’s CEO Colleen Milne says first time buyers are heading to Hawkes Bay and Taranaki to get more for their money.

Canterbury

Fewer people are looking for rental properties in Canterbury, according to Nick Tuffley of the ASB. He says rebuilding work has peaked,  and “prices are settling”.

Auckland property prices dip

For the first time in more than a year Auckland property values have dropped in price — to an average $928,921.

For the first time in more than a year Auckland property values have dropped in price — to an average $928,921.

Property valuation firm QV, part-owned by the government, says its House Price Index shows the cost of home in the Super City went down half of one  per cent during January, and that average values for residential homes across the country dropped 0.3 per cent.  Prices similarly dipped in January 2014. Continue reading “Auckland property prices dip”

Make your website smartphone friendly

In this week’s WordPress Tips & Tricks podcast I re-look at the Profile Widget Ninja plugin that has been updated to allow you to alter it to fit in with your theme’s colours.

Well worth looking at if you want a cool looking profile of yourself or your staff on your website.

And here’s a theme well worth looking at if you want to simplify your website.

Smartphones are it. If your website doesn’t work well, or look good, on a smartphone you are missing out on a huge audience. Time to fix it.

Wondering about how popular podcasting is getting? Check out this latest Rajar listening survey here.

Your WordPress questions are always welcome.