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Archive for June, 2006

WordPress.com Connections Theme Header

If you have been annoyed at the lack of customization with your WordPress.com blog, or have avoided WordPress.com because of the lack of customization you get on your site, the WordPress.com crew have been working hard to fix that, and in their latest release they added the ability to add custom headers to the Connections theme.

That’s right, custom header images. You upload an image, crop it with their online photo cropping tool, and save it.

Here’s how it works: under Presentation, select the Connections theme and go to the new Custom Header Image screen. Upload a photo with the simple form. On the next screen, use the mouse to mark out the area you want to use as your header image. (Don’t worry, the width/height ratio is fixed so the picture won’t be squeezed.) When you have it just the way you like it, hit Save. You can then change the header font color for contrast and coordination. Jumping for joy is optional.

There is a possiblilty for them to add this functionality to all themes, but they want to limit it to the Connections theme for now to squash bugs, and see how well it works for users. So now to customize your blog on WordPress.com you have widgets to move your sidebar around and add new items, as well as this new customizable header for the Connections theme. Every month there is less and less reason to have my own WordPress install.

Categories: WordPress News

What Value is a Corporate Blogger

We are not even half way through the week, and the blogging world is a buzz with some recent developments of bloggers moving from their full time jobs to go into the world of startups. Rober Scoble recently left Microsoft, and Om Malik has decided to become only a contributing editor for Business 2.0 magazine. These are major shifts, and Business Week was left wondering: what is a corporate blogger worth?

Honestly, I knew Om Malik was doing something, but I never looked into what his job actually was. I just loved reading his site, so for Business 2.0 it did not help me want to get their magazine, but for Microsoft, you have a whole different story. Scoble was a big cheerleader for Microsoft, and I knew his connection with them. Many say he helped humanize the company, and give it a personality that it severly needed.

I love what Business Week says on the whole situation as these big names move onto working for startups:

It’s a bit of a paradox. The Internet has brought astounding tools of measurement into countless marketplaces, starting with advertising. And yet, when it comes to measuring the power or effectiveness of an in-house blogger, companies don’t know where to start. How much was Robert Scoble worth to Microsoft? On a bang-per-buck basis, how did he match up to the millions that Microsoft pays for advertising and marketing, both in-house and out? I’d say extremely high. But I don’t think there was any way to measure it.

But the fact remains, most corporations and media outlets haven’t figured out yet how to revamp compensation for the new age. Very few journalists, for example, are evaluated for customer relations. That’s almost sacrilege, the province of the advertising or marketing side of the business. But blogging is blurring the line between these domains. Perhaps the best way to measure the value of bloggers inside the company is to see how they fare when they leave. There’s a growing list of case studies out there.

As I continue to help out on a variety of blogs, I find that people remember the sites doing well or not more than they currently remember me, and so I don’t provide too much of the same customer relations that Rober Scoble and Om Malik provided their respective companies, but that is what made them so great, and probably will make them a big loss for the companies they left.

Categories: Blogging News

WordPress Theme: Double Header

One of the best three column themes I have seen lately, though it is simplistic graphically, it is still very interesting and I think it holds some promise.

This is the second public theme released under WPDesigner.com. The process of creating this one was rushed, but it came out better than I expected. The original width of the content area is pretty small, ideal for personal blogs. Therefore, I’ve created an extended version (wider). The wide version could be put to good use for Adsense and/or photo blogs.

Check it out at wpdesigner.com.

Categories: WordPress Themes

WordPress Plugin: Clean Archives Reloaded

A new update to the Clean Archives plugin has been released from Viper007Bond, called Clean Archives Reloaded. It uses moo.fx to create a cool effect for viewing archives.

The main code in this plugin was originally written by Sebastian Schmieg for the archive page of his “Blix” theme.

The code was later converted to a plugin by Shawn Grimes.

The drawback of both of these versions though was the sheer number of queries required (around 1 per month + 2 per post — it added up quick). So, I decided to make it cache the output so that it was only regenerated when needed and otherwise just pulled with 1 query from the database. I was also given the idea by Chris O’Rourke to use moo.fx to make the months collapsable as many people’s archives pages were getting rather long.

Check it out on Viper007Bond.com and if you want to play with a demo of it, just check out his archives.

Categories: WordPress Plugins

FTP Programs

A little while back Chris Tingom of Brainfuel asked what FTP programs everyone used, since he could not find one with an interface that suited him.

In the end he made a list of the software mentioned to him via comments on the post, and surprisingly to me, there was only one Linux tool mentioned.

Here are a few items from the list:

Windows

  • Igloo FTP
  • CuteFTP

Mac

  • Fetch
  • Transmit

*Nix

  • gFTP

Feel free to list your favorites in the comments, and if you use Linux, or even just know of a good FTP application for Linux, please let me know. Also, check out the original list for links to the applications.

Categories: Blogging Tools

ProBlogger Paternity Leave Plans

Darren Rowse is getting ready to receive his first child into the world, and as all other parents out there know, it can be a crazy time for the family. Darren has let it be known that he is planning on taking around two weeks off, and has set in motion a plan for his sites while he is gone.

He has always been great at keeping things moving forward. I am not sure if he needs any help with his content blogs, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. If you are looking for some extra exposure and blogging practice, maybe shoot Darren an e-mail to see how you can help while he is gone. I got my big break by being a guest writer for his Laptops Blog when he went away on vacation before.

It looks like he has Problogger.net suficiently covered though by using a variety of blog filling methods:

  • Aaron Brazell from Technosailor will continue to do some posts in my absence. He’ll probably write a few more than his normal one post per week column.
  • One Question Interviews – yesterday I sent emails out to a number of fairly high profile bloggers asking them to participate in a ‘one question interview’. I won’t reveal the question at this point but it’s one that allows them to answer with anything between a one liner and a more comprehensive post. So far I’ve had a number of great responses from bloggers that I admire. I’ll be posting these responses throughout the week or two after Mini’s been born.
  • Guest Posts – I’ve also got a couple of other one off guest posts lined up from regular readers. One has come from a comment that a reader left that I thought should be elevated to the main blog and another is something a reader submitted especially.
  • Miscellaneous Posts – there will be a few other miscellaneous posts scattered among the interviews and Aaron’s posts. Some I’ll do as advance posts, others I’ll write as normal between all the baby things that I’ll be doing. My own contributions to ProBlogger will be a little lighter than normal but I’ll still be here.

Sad to say that I have not got the interview question yet. It must have been lost in the e-mail server or something, right Darren?

Categories: Blogging News

Feedburner and TypePad now Friends

Feedburner and TypePad recently announced a partnership which will allow TypePad users to easily transfer their RSS subscribers to Feedburner’s service, which will give them stats and thus a better understanding of their readers. This is the first major partnership from Feedburner, but no doubt there will be others.

To connect your weblog’s feed to FeedBurner, sign in to TypePad and visit the freshly redesigned Feeds page under the Configure tab for your blog.

feedburner-screenshot.gif In designing the feature we’ve tried to make it as simple and straightforward as possible. When you choose to connect your weblog to FeedBurner, we ask you to provide your FeedBurner username and password. (We only use this for the setup transaction, and we don’t keep it around in our database.) You can then choose to either connect your blog to an existing feed you’re managing, or choose to create a new feed.

The change for your readers will be transparent. If they were previously pulling your feed from TypePad (regardless of the flavor of feed they were pulling), they’ll be automatically redirected to your feed on FeedBurner. You don’t even have to republish your blog – all the magic happens behind the scenes.

Many in the WordPress.com community are wondering if something similar will eventually happen for them, but no word on that yet.

Six Apart’s Announcement and Feedburner’s Announcement.

Categories: Blogging Tools, Movable Type News

WordPress Theme: Shantia

WordPress Theme ShantiaNofie Iman has released a new WordPress theme called Shantia, it is a nice two column theme that is heavily modified from Kubrick.

He notes:

This is my second WordPress theme named Shantia. A few month ago, I’ve made Audyasha. Slightly modified version of the default WordPress theme based on the famous Kubrick. I’ve also posted this at WordPress support forum. Nothing special. Just added some small stuff like:

  • added top navigation
  • all-sidebar template
  • show random post
  • show smilies on comments textarea
  • included template for guestbook, link, and archive page
  • included live preview plugin
  • fresh, simple, minimalist, fast loading too

It is very slick, and I love the modern minimalist look. I never would have guessed it started out as a Kubrick modification. Check it out at Nofie Iman’s site.

Categories: WordPress Themes

WordPress.org is Down

11:02AM EST
I just went to WordPress.org and got a funny message:

WordPress.org is taking a lunch break.

I don’t know what they are doing, or why they are down, but I hope they get everything resolved soon. Could they be working on improvements to the site? Or are they just resetting servers? I guess we will have to wait and see.

12:03PM EST
Well, it is back up. I guess it really was just a lunch break. No new news on the site. Everything seems to be just fine.

Categories: WordPress News

User Interface Nitpick: Forward or Back?

One of the things that are not consistant with all blogs out there is how we page through our archives. I use “previous entries” as my way of going back and “next entries” as a way of going forward, but for manay blogs, if I landed on page two of your blog, I would not know what to click to get me to the front page as there is no standard when it comes to this.

Some people like to reverse the whole previous and next links, meaning that as you click next, you are going further back into their archives, and if you click previous, you are going to more recent posts. That to me seems counter intuitive.

Elliot Back does this on his site and is a great example. If you started on his second page, would you know which link to click to get to the front page without looking at what URL the link is actually pointing to?

Should there be a standard in place? Which do you use, and why?

Categories: General

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