Archive for January, 2007
Back when Blog Herald was acquired by its current owners, there was some confusion over who bought it. The company that bought it held the name of Bloggy-Network at the time, which was constantly confused with our Bloggy Network.
Over on the Bloggy Network blog there is now a post up talking about it.
During the recent acquisition of Blog Herald, there was a bit of confusion over the new owners. The company that bought Blog Herald was â€˜Bloggy-Networkâ€™, not to be confused with our very own BloggyNetwork.com.
The ensuing ruckus caused a lot of angry words to be thrown around, and in one unreported case, even a custard pie.
That has all been sorted out. Bloggy-Network has changed its name to Splashpress Media. The name â€˜Bloggy Networkâ€™ will be used by us and only us. And with that, this chapter is closed. We are happy with the result, Splashpress Media is happy with the result, and there are no ill feelings between the either of us.
If you love tracking your blog’s statistics, there is one piece of software that has had a lot of press, especially today, as Shaun Inman’s Mint gets an upgrade. Shaun talks about the changes on his newly redesigned site, as well as the upgraded design of HaveaMint.com. He also launches a site to track the extensions on mint called Peppermill.
What’s new in Mint 2.0?
- staggered loading of Pepper panes improving Mint page load time
- tons of interface and hierarchy refinements (including support for custom styles)
- improved pane tiling that reclaims wasted screen real estate
- css-based Visits graphs
- a bunch of tabs can now be filtered by timespan
- a new Domains tab added to the Referrers pane groups referrers by domain and sorts by the number of referrers from each domain
- Watched tab of the Pages pane has been expanded to display referrers of Watched pages
- Searches differentiates between image and web searches
Jonathan Snook makes a good point in his post, entitled “Pay to Upgrade?”, where he expresses his shock that everyone assumed this upgrade would be free. It does in fact cost $19 USD per license to upgrade, unless you purchased after January 1st, 2007. To get a whole new license, you are still looking at $30 USD a domain. So if you have ten sites, getting them to the new Mint 2.0, you are looking at between $190 to $300, unless you can get a special volume license from Shaun. Not cheap, but depending on how many Peppers, extensions, work with this new version, it might be worth it, especially for the RSS feed statistics.
RSS Feed Statistics?
One of the new additions to the included Pepper list is Bird Feeder, a tool that watches your various feeds.
From Shaun’s blog:
Your RSS and Atom feeds attract all kinds of colorful wildlife, Bird Feeder is a window onto that activity. It highlights subscription trends across multiple Feeds and clicks on individual Seeds. Whatâ€™s a seed? Thatâ€™s bird-ese for an article or link within a feed. Poo-tee-weet?
Bird Feeder is savvy (and a fan of Kurt Vonnegut apparently). Online aggregators usually provide the number of subscribers for whom they fetch your feeds. Bird Feeder takes note of this so numbers should be comparable to hosted services like Feedburner. It even integrates with an updated User Agent 007, adding an additional Readers tab so you can see which tools are being used to subscribe to your feeds.
A very interesting addition, and it says a lot about the types of features that can be added to the software. Not to mention, the new design looks pretty slick.
Check out Mint 2.0.
Ahmed, of Tech Soapbox doesn’t think so, as he writes about his experiences using the powerful marketing and promotion technique of e-mailing websites and writers who might be interested in his content.
My biggest site gets over 100,000 unique visitors a day. During its 6 year history, I have sent out at least 15,000 emails. No spam, nothing automated – every single one individually written. It was exhausting, but it paid off handsomely. The emails got the webmasters to my site, and the unique content compelled them to link to my site.
It brings on the question, is unique content enough to reach the higher echelons of blogging? If you want to get on Technorati’s top 100 list, does it take more than above par writing?
We have been told by so many sites that unique content will bring traffic, but I can agree that this might not always be the case. I guess traffic has to start somewhere and if someone doesn’t know about your site, they can’t read it.
What are your thoughts on this matter? And if you promote your content, how do you do it? E-mails like Ahmed or other techniques?
If you have downloaded WordPress 2.1, you already have the new Akismet plugin, but for everyone else, it is time to download and activate a new version of Akismet, one with some new features.
- Instead of just viewing the last 150 comments, you can now page through everything caught by Akismet.
- There was a performance bug which could cause the old plugin to be pretty hard on the DB when getting a ton of spam, now it doesn’t.
- You can now search the Akismet caught queue.
- Longer timeout so it’s less likely to let spam through if you have a free key and the load is high. (With a paid key you always are in the priority queue.)
- The counters now update properly when you clear things out.
- A recheck moderation queue page on the WP moderation page to re-submit things in your moderation queue, so if gosh forbid Akismet ever were to go down you could have it recheck all your comments later.
- A new counter widget you can put in your sidebar to show a live count of your spam, see an example on Photomatt.net.
- It kills the open_proxy_check option in WordPress 2.0 that causes false positives.
- You can hardcode your API key in the plugin file to hide the configuration page and enable Akismet as a mu-plugin for WordPress MU.
- If Akismet is unable to contact the mothership, it now has much friendlier debug messages.
- And finally my favorite, you can now tell Akismet to discard spam that comes in on entries older than a month. (On the Akismet configuration page under Plugins.)
Check out the Akismet development blog for more details, and grab Akismet 2.0 from their download page.
Let’s hope it continues to get better and better. Thumbs up to the Automattic team for pushing out this new release.
We hear about a new technology more and more every day. Most people that blog understand what RSS is and what it means, but most of the rest of the world has still not joined the RSS revolution. They browse through sites, looking for content they like, and then bookmarking it. With no way of knowing the great new article you posted, they sometimes forget about your site completely. Expanding the market for RSS has been slow going, mostly because it isn’t understood.
I would like to see bloggers unite and work on comprehensive guides to explain RSS to the casual user, and how it can benefit them. This post is my addition to the newbies guide to RSS, a service that makes it easy to subscribe to websites.
What is RSS?
The initials used in RSS actually stand for different things depending on the technology being talked about, but all the technology has the same end goal: allowing easy syndication of content.
You might know them as RSS feeds, webfeeds, RSS channels, or by another similar term, but they are all the same thing. The letters have stood for RDF Site Summary, Rich Site Summary, and more commonly today, Really Simple Syndication. Basically what it all boils down to though is an XML file (see image) written in a certain way that websites and/or software can translate it back into readable articles for us, the subscribers.
Basically RSS is almost like subscribing to a newspaper. The content written on a blog gets delivered via RSS (newspaper) to your feed reader (mailbox). I will discuss feed reading options later in this post.
How is RSS useful?
I currently use RSS to track the content being added to many different websites. If I had to load up each of these sites independently in a web browser, it might take me all day, but using RSS, I can skim all the articles on hundreds of sites very rapidly, dismissing the ones I don’t want to read further, and carrying on to other sites and their content.
Another reason I like RSS is that it pushes the content to you. Once you are subscribed, your RSS feed reader will go and get you the latest posts. Depending on how you subscribe, that means being able to tell the software to get the feeds, and then reading them without an internet connection. Something that constant travelers will definitely enjoy.
How can I subscribe?
There is a standard icon for RSS now. Usually it is a bright orange color with a white circle and semi-circle lines coming off it to show how the feed radiates outwards. (example to the right.)
Clicking the icon will do different things for different web browsers, but the most important thing is getting the address it brings you to. Once you have found the address for their RSS feed, you can put it into your favorite feed reading software, and subscribe. Blogging Pro’s RSS Feed address is http://www.bloggingpro.com/feed/.
Here are a few different websites and applications you can use to subscribe to RSS feeds. Some are free, and some are not. I have probably only covered less than one percent of the available tools for managing and reading subscriptions, so search around to find one that fits your needs best.
If you are looking to offer an easy way to allow visitors to subscribe to any of the online services, RSS.Blogflux.com makes it really easy. You can add a button to your page that when clicked will give users the option of subscribing to one of a number of different services, including those listed above.
Try the one shown below to subscribe to Blogging Pro.
What are Full Feeds and Partial Feeds and What is better?
Just as the name implies there are people that only send out partial feeds, and there are people that send out full feeds. The difference being that partial feeds are usually just the first few lines or paragraphs of an article, while full feeds have the full text of the article. Partial feeds usually don’t have any images or other multimedia attached to them either, meaning that you will still have to go to the website where the article was posted to read the rest.
Some people believe that partial feeds are better because it forces the user to come to their website and view the content with their design and advertisements. Others believe that full feeds are better, as you will get more subscribers and there are increasing amounts of advertising services for RSS feeds to allow people to continue to monetize their content. The debate has been raging on for a long time, with no real resolution. It then comes down to personal preference.
For me, I like full feeds because I can download the full text of the articles to my FeedDemon software and read it while on a long trip or when I visit family that doesn’t have Internet. (Crazy isn’t it? Who doesn’t have Internet these days…)
For many of the Blogging Pro readership, we have WordPress currently installed, and so don’t forget to check the WordPress Codex under syndication for RSS related plugins.
If you want to track many websites quickly, easily, and sometimes needing access to new posts and content while not able to connect to the Internet, subscribing to RSS feeds is probably the easiest, and best way to do so. I highly recommend it, and I think that if the technology continues to expand and is presented in an easy to use and understand way, we will continue to see more people adopting it, and thus subscribing.
I am sure you have all noticed I don’t cover as many themes as I used to, and that is mostly because I have been waiting to see something that felt “new” and interesting. Well, with CLI 1.0, I have found such a thing. I would never use it as my default theme, but if I was going to have a theme switcher, this would be one I would include in that list. It is a fun to play with theme that emulates a command line interface.
Created by Rod McFarland, it is so much fun to play with.
Check it out on Themes.WordPress.net.
A little more than a week ago, Drupal 5.0 was finally released. It is a pretty revolutionary release for the Drupal team, and it also marked their sixth birthday. With over 492 people submitting contributions to 5.0, they seem to still have a strong community behind them and continue to make waves in the content management world.
Two important changes include:
- Web-based installer: added web-based installer that checks run-time requirements and that supports pre-made install profiles or distributions with better support for database table prefixes. It is also localizable.
- Core theme: introduced a new default core theme, called Garland (and a fixed width version Minnelli). Garland uses the new color module to change the theme’s entire color scheme on the fly.
Garland has received much attention since people were able to get their first sneak peak of it. It actually found its way to WordPress.com quickly after Drupal mentioned its intentions to include it as their new default theme. Let’s just say the Drupal folks were not happy. You can still find articles referencing the craziness over their great new theme if you do some searching.
Check out Drupal 5.0, you might just be surprised at how far it has come.
Steven Campbell of NoEnemies has created a plug-in much like Hello Dolly, but instead it shows lines of lyrics from the almost famous WordPress video by Devin Ream. It is called It’s Called WordPress Plugin.
Thereâ€™s been tons of hype over Devin Reamâ€™s video, and everyone seems to love it. This comment sparked this plugin, and I thought it would be a funny alternative to the Hello Dolly plugin that ships with WordPress. When installed, it will display a random line from Devin Reamâ€™s song in the upper-right hand corner of the WP dashboard. Thanks Devin for the content! After you download, upload to wp-content/plugins/, click on Plugins in the WP Dashboard, and activate â€œItâ€™s Called WordPress.â€
Check out the video as well as the lyrics it uses from Devin’s site. It is something fun, and a great way to support and remember the hard work that Devin put into his music video.
I try to stay away from posts that talk about blog optimization because there are so many of them, but after reading the one on Search Engine Land, I just couldn’t help but mention it. There are too many great points on it that are straight forward, and written in a way that everyone can understand and benefit from.
Here are the first two, and in my opinion they are some of the best in the list:
1) Dump The Default Template – Looks Count!
I cringe when I see a blog using the â€œout of the boxâ€ WordPress or MovableType template. Hire a designer to create a unique look for your blog, or at the very least, take advantage of some of the free templates available and customize it a bit with a unique logo or a slight color upgrade.
2) Just Say No To Bad Color Schemes
While a hot pink with lime green color scheme might be your favorite, consider what your readers will be expecting. That color scheme might work perfectly on a teenage gossip site, but would look extremely out of place as the corporate blog for a menâ€™s suit company. Likewise, gamers would think nothing of a black background on an Xbox 360 blog, but it would look horrendous on a parenting or pregnancy site. So while you should experiment with colors to find a good mix for your blog, keep in mind user experience and their expectations.
Check out all the points over at Search Engine Land.
Download Squad has written up the complete post-install checklist for WordPress 2.0.x blogs, and it covers things like disabling the visual rich editor, and permalinks. A great resource for beginners looking at getting WordPress running better than its “stock” configuration.
Now select the Permalinks tab. To help increase your search rankings, most SEO folks suggest that you change the permalinks structure. By default, your posts will appear as (or similar to) www.example.com/?p=1. The following Custom structure will have your pages appear similar to:
Custom structure: /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/
Read all their tips at Download Squad.
Note: Many of these tips should also work and be very helpful for new WordPress 2.1 users as well.