Great Talk from Lorelle VanFossen

I have had reason to get right up to speed on WordPress of late. I took the opportunity to have a really good look around Weblog Tools Collection. Which is a great source of news and resources for those running their own WordPress install. But in the process I found a real gem.

I have been blogging on WordPress since April 2006. I started blogging and managing my content from scratch. I had little knowledge and had to teach myself most things. WordPress.com is a great place to do that as it is a controlled environment, the tweaking is limited. But I felt that it gave me enough to do what I wanted to do.

One of the disadvantages of this is that some of the cool stuff that you can do with JavaScript for example; you can’t do here. We have to wait for these features to be added over time. Other stuff you have to hack up and make it work. Such as the Skype button here on this blog. You end up being able to make a text box do just about anything.

But it would have been nice to have got some tips and tricks earlier. Which brings me to the gem that I found. If you have not heard of Lorelle and her blog Lorelle on WordPress, make it your business to. Prominent blogger and lover of all things WordPress. Plus she has her head screwed on. I have been reading her blog for ages. Lorelle attended and presented at WordCamp Dallas 2008. She offered to talk on

“whatever was left…”

It ended up being WordPress tips. I don’t care if you are new to WordPress or an old timer, there is something in her presentation for everyone. It is packed full of tips and tricks to get the best out of WordPress.com, or as she calls it “power blogging”. If you want some great ideas on handling your comments and back end generally you will find it here.

Thankfully someone thought to capture the talk on video and share it with the rest of us. Thanks Lorelle foLorelle on WordPressr all your tweaking of the untweakable and sharing it with the rest of us. It also reminded me that WordPress.com is an awesome platform. For the most part I am pleased that it looks after itself as it means I can just use it.

So here is the presentation, enjoy it and be sure to visit Lorelle’s blog and leave a comment. I know she makes every effort to respond and be active in her community.

Just as a side note when I checked out Lorelle’s blog while writing this post I noticed that she is going to be appearing on Jeff’s WordPress Weekly Podcast. Ironically Jeff is a listener of The Global Geek Podcast and an avid supporter of the show and friend of mine. The cool thing about Jeff’s show is that you too can be on it and talk to Lorelle yourself! So off with you and check out both those guys and make sure you say hello to Jeff for me. Check out The WordPress Weekly details while your at it.

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I Am Not a Terminal Blogger

Time BombIn the last 24 hours there has been a flurry of posts in reaction to an article on The New York Times, basically saying that the bloggers lifestyle is a fatal one. The article goes on to chronicle the recent deaths of a few more prominent bloggers and near misses from heart attacks mostly. In addition to the details about what it is like to be a corporate blogger and how much it is worth. They even mention a quote from Michael Arrington saying:

“This is not sustainable”

This may well be the case with the global giants such as TechCrunch, Gawker Media, ZDNet and others who are in a constant 24/7 race with each other to break the latest news. Even with a huge team and massive financial resources these guys don’t aways win. Yes it is nice when the little guy scores. Despite the fact that they will pretend that he didn’t.

Truth is that there is no point in trying to beat these blogging machines at their game. Why torture yourself? These machines have inside knowledge and get “tipped off” plus they do insane amounts of just poking to see if it moves and then speculate. Their reader numbers and influence makes people take notice regardless of the truth. A search for “rumor” on TechCrunch is a perfect example.

In addition if your a blog that has millions of page views a day and can generate a lot of traffic for companies, the fallout is that these are the blogs that are going to be sent emails about new start-ups, news or “insider information”. The “A-listers” are being used as another cog in the marketing machine. They are making money so everyone is happy.

I think that this means you can’t really have that great a relationship with your readers. Your too busy getting the next big story. Sure they might have a comments section and the “share this” plugin (or some variant) in order for you to participate in the “conversation” but they care more about you talking about them than they do about what you have to say.

In contrast I take a genuine interest in the communities around me. This for me has been the most rewarding part of blogging and podcasting. I actually allocate time and make a point of interacting with our community, especially with regards to the podcast. I have many listeners that are a part of my Skype contacts, twitter, Facebook not only as listeners but as friends. They all have something valuable to say and how much more valuable is that when they know that you have read it and responded to it. I care about them and the fact that they took the effort to say what they think.

But then I am not doing it for a living, maybe things would be different if I was. But to my thinking it is the community that follows you that matters, without them you don’t have much value. Either monetary or the satisfaction of knowing that what you are doing is appreciated. Some bloggers don’t even need this, they are happy with self contentment.

I also agree with what Steve Hodson said about the article. Steve detests the concept of the “A-listers” considers himself a realist and writes like one. Stating that there are plenty of bloggers (the majority) that are adding more value to the conversation by adding substance that the “A-lister” can’t because they are off getting the next story. And they are making a decent living doing it!

So for me the take home message is that death by blogging is not unique to blogging. There are plenty of individuals out there in many occupations that work too hard and forget about life. There are plenty that are dead as well. It is the corporate machine that applies this pressure or themselves. Sure follow the machine just don’t try and compete with it. Ignore the pressure and carve your own niche and community, make them matter and the rewards will come, if that is what you want. Add value to the conversation by providing substance, I get more by reading and hearing about reactions than I do the original story anyway.

I am going to let the machine do it’s own thing, kill em selves in the process and have an opinion about it when they do. I could even write for the New York Times one day.

Quick Screenshot Service

kwout logoFor some people getting that elusive screenshot can be difficult. Not only that, once you have it you then have to host it and code it into a web page or blog post. A service I found a few while back will make this job easy and quick, with some nice formatting and features as well.

The service is called kwout (don’t ask me to say it). When you arrive you are presented with a blank space to input a URL of your choice and some quick straight forward instructions. The process is dead easy to clip a screenshot and have it on your blog in quick smart. Enter the URL of the site or page that you want to take a screenshot of. A new page loads. select the specific area you want clipped and hit the “cut out” button on the floating toolbar. If you want a larger version you can specify exactly or use the slider on another floating toolbar. Essentially this is scaling of the image and it actually looks good. Scaling sometimes screws with an image to the point that it looks awful, this does not seem to be the case here.

From here you get presented with your cut out that you selected. You can change the border, corners and colours of the background. All this changes in real time and you get to see exactly what it will look like.

Next you can select a few options regarding sharing and decide if you want to post it to Flickr or Tumblr.

Copy and past the code and you are done. Another cool thing is that this service uses code and not JavaScript. That means that they work right here on WordPress. Here is the one that I created for the purpose of this post:

This is a great service in that it simplifies the process of getting a decent screenshot for a blog post or some other page that allows html. For people that can’t accomplish the rounded corners, borders and drop shadows it is a great option. Also, if you were in a flat out hurry to post something or on the road or at an internet cafe something like that and wanted a quick image or screenshot, this would do the trick and nicely.

One thing that my be a potential problem is that if you used the service you are at the mercy of that service, or indeed any service upon which you were relying on for content in your pages or blog posts. If the service disappears one day then so do your images. If they decide to change the terms of service or make the service a paid one then the availability of your images might also be affected. So my advice is to use wisely and don’t bank on things never changing. Although the ability to send the image to another service like Flickr does mitigate this problem somewhat.

Still a great way to get a nice fresh image that you can use anywhere.

kwout screenshot homepage

I Was Not Looking… My Bad

Well I am still as busy as, well as busy as you can be without spontaneous human combustion. No I have not updated the blog for a few weeks.  My family and I are still in the midst of some major stuff that we have to deal with. Until that is settled then I will be putting my energies into what I can afford. I am spending most time keeping The Global Geek Podcast churning along. I am afraid the personal blog has taken a hit. It does not please me at all.

The podcast has been doing exceptionally well and we have taken on another host. But we suffered a bit of a hit yesterday and we will be telling all in the next show. Tim and I did the show this week as Knightwise could not make it. I think we did okay but Knightwise was missed. Tim is helping me out a lot on the podcast and he has become a great on-line mate. I hope I can actually meet him one day. I was planning to get to Melbourne this year. That might still be on the cards but nothing definite as yet. I am hoping to go and meet Cameron Reilly (CEO of The Podcast Network). But we will see.

Now something that I will say is that I have been unable to get around here and check in on a few things. But what did give me the absolute shits was the fact that WordPress did some coding mumbo-jumbo and stuffed the blog. It looked horrible when I arrived. None of the formatting that I had done was viewable and it was set to default! So I had to go back in and redo all of it. Yes, I have fixed it now and all is good in the would of The Rooster. But I thought it a bit rich when you turn your back for a minute and the blog is rooted. Sorry it looked like a disaster. Damn, even Nick Bradbury was here! That’s like being caught in your dressing gown with guest arriving. Arrrgh!

So I thought I would stick my head around the corner and check in. But expect on again off again blogging for the next month or so while I get things sorted out. Keep listening to the show and reading the the podcast blog as that is where I am trying to focus while my time is limited. I will let everyone know what the heck is going on when I can, at the moment it is a bit hush hush…

Plans are to blog about a few tech things over this week. I have found a great application for recording Skype and a few other cool tools that I am using with the new PC. But I am not saying when because I don’t want to jynx myself.

Blogging, What Blogging?

Clock MosaicJust wanted to drop a quick post while I was waiting for a download, and that is about as much time as I have had this last week!

Yes, the blog has been a bit quiet over the last week. A lot of it has had to do with the amount of time that I have had. In addition to that I also maintain the podcast blog and without fail I try to get a few things posted there each week. Precious little left for here.

This last week has also been a turning point for my family and myself. We have made a huge decision with a lot more to follow. I am not prepared to let people know what is going on right now, but in time I will. This decision will possibly mean that there will be even less time for me to blog here. But I am going to do my best to get some personal blogging done here as I can.

I know no one is likely to be hanging out for what I write here. But just to let the regular listeners know that I am still around and kicking… just very busy. I am going to try to get some things up over this week though.

The file I am downloading is this weeks podcast. I am late and very tired. Not sure that I’ll get it out by tomorrow which is a bummer. I am not about to cut corners to do it either. So bear with me!

Well I had better get into editing this show and at least get most of it done!

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds :: Flickr

Need a Ruler?

Sometimes it is the tools for simple things that are hard to find. Not only that the ones that you do find are not what you want, are not free and might come tangled up with some other nasty apps that you did not count on. Pixel Ruler fills the void of needing to get image sizes just right for your blog or webpage or whatever else you are thinking of.

Pixel Ruler has all the functions that you need. It is small and one of those tools that is good to have because you never know when you might need it. There is not much to it. It works in all applications. You can choose between vertical and horizontal measurement, naturally. There is a maximum measurement of 1300 pixels, but that should cover most possible situations. Not sure why but you can choose between a number of skins as well. This virtual ruler measures in pixels, but as you would know this is preferable to actual size such as mm or cm.

I used to use an actual ruler on the screen to measure the optimal size for images. Might sound stupid, but I did not know this tool existed. It is less important now with the wider body that I have for posts. But larger screenshots on the old theme were a pain, they would not have been with Pixel Ruler.

Pixel Ruler is Free and comes from Mioplanet where you can find other great applications to make your life easier.

Pixel Ruler Screenshot

– Thanks for the Tip Tim

Blog News and a Bit More on Splogs and Spam

First up I am sorry I have been quiet the last week or so. In honesty I have been doing a lot more posting on the podcast blog lately. I find it a constant battle to split my time. As well as trying to decide if a story should go there or here. It is important that I keep both sites current and active.

Today I added the MyBlogLog Widget. I joined the service last night. Adding the widget was easy thanks to engtech’s advice and a bit of tweaking from my side. It added a bit of code that had to be removed. I am enjoying the fact that you can see “who” has been here and actually having a look at their profile on MyBlogLog. You can see mine there as well. For those who host their blogs elsewhere there is also some nice statistics services that you can implement with a Java Script snippet. So join the community and appear over there in the widget.

I also noticed today that WordPress have upgraded their Blogger importer. Good for those that are wanting to move house to WordPress.com. This is especially true since it would appear that if you have a Blogger blog then you are probably living next door to a splog.

In the wake of my spam rant the other day I noticed that Steve Rubel posted some interesting stats on spam. These stats are from the ebiquity group and their latest spam analysis. Notable facts that leap out for me:

  • 53% of all pings are spam
  • 56% of blogs that ping are spam
  • 51% of Blogspot Blogs are spam
  • 99.7% of .info domains are spam

That last one is a shocker. I know that engtech has blacklisted this domain from commenting on his blog, not surprising. Now to my thinking; if this is the case, why not get rid of the domain? If I was a serious blogger or otherwise I would definitely not use the domain after a bit of research. The legit ones that are there? Why not give then a discount at Godaddy or something to get a better domain? Silly logic I know because what I am suggesting doesn’t work that way. I know that, so don’t flame me okay. But what the heck is it good for? Then again that would just force the splogs to move on and infest some other domain. At least this way we know where they all are and blocking the domain is an effective method of preventing comment spam.