PodPress has Vanished!

WordPress is the platform of choice for most podcasters running their own sites. One of the reasons for this is that it offers the most support and available plugins make it a powerful solution. In my opinion the most essential plugin for the podcaster is PodPress. However it appears that PodPress has vanished and is now a parked page at GoDaddy.

I just could not believe that such a successful plugin could be abandoned so I did some digging and it appears that the developer Dan Kuykendall went to Disneyland 18 days ago and forgot something rather important. It would appear that on the 26th of April their domain name expired. Do’h…

That is the conclusion that I have come to, anyone else know any different?

If however, the developer has jumped ship and abandoned development then I will be very surprised. If for nothing else than the fact that no one else has taken over the project.

One good thing until everything is sorted out is that it appears the download links are still operational from the WordPress extend site.

I certainly hope that PodPress is here to stay, I know I value the project as one of the best podcasting tools out there. Seriously though, GoDaddy start sending out emails at least 6 months before your domains expire, just don’t ignore them. Or change your renewal details to automatic renewal. But then it seems that it doesn’t matter how many reminders some people get.

Thanks Dan for your hard work and I trust that you have just forgotten to renew your domain.

UPDATE: I am not sure what the go is, but during the course of writing this post MightySeek is back up and “un-parked”. I also noticed that the whois has changed and the domain that expired in 2008 is now 2009. So perhaps suspicions were in fact true and we had a domain glitch eh? Yey, is all I can say.

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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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Akismet Just Broke Another Record

Over the course of the last few days the comment spam has been increasing at a phenomenal rate. I worked out that by this afternoon I was receiving spam at a rate of one every 15 minutes. Not much you might say. But you would think so considering these are the “comments” that make it through Akismet and into moderation! Not the total volume.

This for me is a real issue as I have all comments moderated. So I am getting a bucket load of crap with some that might be legit comments.

The reason for this sudden spike is unknown. Did the spammers find a new exploit, their pay rate go up, bots smarter? Who knows. But you might like to know that I am not the only one. Seems that Akismet broke a few records today:

Akismet Graph 310507

This Graph represents the Spam to Ham ratio since the beginning of Akismet.

So far today 8,818,521 and counting, it is only going to get worse. 95% of all comments today are spam. At least that explains that the spammers are working harder than usual. I was beginning to think it was just me.

Interestingly, ham has seen a jump in the last few days as well. Might have something to do with the fact that there are some big stories breaking. Or is it that people are getting more involved in the conversation? I hope that it is the latter.

I can sit here and moderate my comments and train Akismet to be able to better identify spam. But it must be worth their while to keep doing this despite the fact that most bloggers are doing the same. So really one of the best weapons is our readers!

If you notice that a blogger has missed some spam and it has ended up in the comments. Don’t click it! Leave the blogger a comment or email and let them know; so they can remove it. If no one clicks the damn stuff then there won’t be any point in spammers trying to post it. Only a fraction of it gets through, here: make that none. So all that effort for bugger all success, make no mistake they are making money (a lot of it!) and you the clicker are paying them!

Akismet is a great service and it 99% effective, check out the stats for it. But not perfect, I don’t think one thing on it’s own ever will be. Just do us all a favor: if you are looking for porn, Google it and don’t click comment spam. Thanks.

callto:user Skype Links Hack for WordPress.com Users

When I was rebuilding this blog with a new theme and looking at the presentation and such I revisited the ability to use call:to links for the blog. Users of WordPress.com will know that many scripts and certain links are blocked. A callto:”user” link is one of them. But this blog has that capability now thanks to a workaround.

The old iteration of the blog listed my user name for Skype in a sidebar contact box. My actual username is: gonzo_001… the username was not a great choice considering what I do now. I choose the name when I first got Skype. I started blogging a while after that but started to build my contacts and did not want the hassle of changing my user name. But I wanted people to be able to contact me on Skype from my blog, minus the stupid user name. So with a little help from good mate Tim King we figured out a work-around for the fact that callto: links are blocked on WordPress.com blogs.

Believe it or not I am not going to spell it out for you. I am sure those that want it will be smart enough to figure it out. A hover will give it away, you are on your own from there. But it is a simple hack really and not really a hack as such because it uses a very simple technique and if you are a blogger you may well do it everyday.

I have voicemail so if you whack the “call me via Skype” button (sidebar button not the one in this post) to test it out to see if I got it to work, leave me a message! I really don’t mind talking to you and telling you exactly how it is done either. So feel free to test it out.

Once you have it figured out create a button and save the button as an image. The Java Script that the wizard generates will not work on WordPress.com blogs. Then upload the image to your blog and complete the coding required. Now you too can receive calls via your blog. Or if you wish you can have it as a chat button instead, this will open a Skype chat with yourself and whoever clicks it. I guess you could get creative as well and make your own button or have good friends that are graphic designers…

All the possible functions and types of links required for them are listed on the Advanced Skype Links, part of Skype Help.

Thanks goes to Tim King for the lateral thinking and the button that you created for The Rooster’s Rail. I should say as well that it would be good if WordPress.com considered allowing this type of link.

Add Platial Maps Widget to Your WordPress.com Blog

As you can see there have been a few changes around here. I found some motivation from somewhere and decided to update the widgets and ended up with a whole new look. I am still working on a few things but if you find something that isn’t quite right let me know. Since I was editing the widgets for the new theme I came across a new widget for WordPress.com users. It looks like I got the hop on the WordPress guys on this one as they are yet to release it.

You will notice in the sidebar widgets that there is now a Platial Mapkit widget available. Add it to your sidebar and it will show a mini map of the starting location that you specify when you set it up. Cool, but it gets better, you can add places with placemarks and readers can add their own with comments. Tag placemarks, add users as buddies and more.

Platial Mapkit Widget SampleThe Widget displayed is the one you see here. My options have been included but you can make yours up to whatever you wish. You will have to create an account if you wish to use the widget in your blog. I have also added a placemark for the approximate location of this blog’s HQ, so you can see what they look like.

The map is powered by Google Maps and therefore includes either a map view a satellite view or a mix. As well as zooming in and out and all the usual Google Map goodness. I also noticed a Google Earth link on my homepage map I set up on Platial to take a look at it.

I have not added the widget to this blog, I’d rather keep the lines that I do and not stuff it full of other stuff. Plus it is another thing I have to keep track of if it was here. Although the map I created is available to view, you can see it here. Platial is not only open to WordPress.com users but all bloggers and site designers. So if this is your cup of tea then take a look. The design is simple and to the point and the size is good for a blog, it will fit most if not all blog sidebars. I had not heard of the service before now but it looks pretty good and a bit of fun.

WordPress.com users need to click the link on the widget when it is selected in the set-up. The link is in the text “Making maps at Platial is free”.

Create an account and configure it as you wish. It is fairly simple and straight forward. You can edit these settings easily after you have joined as well so don’t worry too much if you make a mistake.

The last bit is a bit tricky, since I had no “instructions” from the guys here at WordPress I had to work it out. The widget asks you to type in the “Platial Map Id:”. This is the last digits that you see at the end of the Bookmark for your map widget that you have created. That is the Map Id that you need to enter into the widget field and hit submit.

Once that is done just slide the widget into place on your sidebar and save the changes and your done. WordPress we have maps!

Platial Screenshot

WordPress.com Adds Audio: Not a Podcasting Platform… Yet

I learned today that WordPress.com has added the feature of both uploading audio files and a player. This potentially means that WordPress could be used as a podcasting platform. The only stumbling block at this point is the RSS feed.

You can now upload a file of up to 25MB onto WordPress. Not bad, but for our show it is short of the file size that we need. But for a lot of podcasts it might be enough, or you could decrease your bit rate to get the file size down. The other thing that has been added is the Audio Player WordPress Plugin. It is a common player that you would have seen before that works very well.

Consider also that unless you purchase more space then you only have 50MB allocated to you as a WordPress.com Blog owner. It won’t take long to use that up as a podcaster (our shows average 32MB each). So there is added cost there as well. But don’t make the assumption that you are restricted to the 25MB limit on file size, or that you have to buy more space here on WordPress.

There is nothing stopping you having the files hosted elsewhere and playing them from your blog here. You might have a server to host files. To demonstrate this I have embedded last weeks Global Geek Podcast that is hosted on The Podcast Network. You could have a file anywhere on the Internet. But just make sure that you host the content and are not leeching it from some poor blokes server! Some consider this theft, as well as bad form. The same as you should not embed photos on your blog unless you host them. But remember files don’t have to be hosted here to be played in the on-line player.

Okay so what is stopping WordPress.com from being able to be the “home” of your podcast? Probably the most important thing of all. You can either host the audio file here or somewhere else right. So that is the restriction on file size out of the way but once you place that file in a player on your blog you need it recognized as an enclosure. If it is not then a podcast it isn’t. The enclosure is what is needed for things like iTunes and feedreaders, “pod-catchers” in general to be able to download your podcast for the user. If it is not an enclosure then it won’t be “seen” by the RSS reader or aggrigator. By definition the audio file not being an enclosure is not a podcast, but an embedded audio file in a web page. Or “streaming audio” in other words.

I have had one file that I linked to here on the blog; recognized as an enclosure. Once, then it has never happened again and I don’t know why not. I sent a support request to WordPress.com and got nothing back. I did nothing different to what I would normally do. Go figure.

Not only that there is no micro-management of RSS on WordPress.com. You can’t tell it what to do, we are at the mercy of the guys at WordPress. They do a good job though, I have never had a problem. But you need this to be able to manage the podcast. The feed is crucial to the success of any podcast.

So while we are able to have fun with a player and be able to upload files now, which is great; we can not look at WordPress.com as a viable cost effective means to host a podcast. It may be something they are aiming for, right now though we have a cool player and that is all. As cool as that might be the file needs to be recognised as an enclosure, once that happens we are nearly there. Next is the RSS… then we might be podcasting here on WordPress.com.

As promised here is The Global Geek Podcast #034 :: Looks are Everything. Check out the Show Notes, links to everything we talk about can be found there. Plus I blog there as well as here through the week.

Nice player eh? Apparently a movie player is coming. Now, I have to figure out how to use the operators to get the colours to match the blog theme…

Snap Preview Additional Features on WordPress

I have just noticed that the great guys and or girls at WordPress have just added Snap Preview to the Blog Roll  and Links on the right. The other thing that has been added is Snap Preview for Commenter’s URL’s.

This is a top job and I like the addition. After all it was something that I suggested. I suggested that it be added to the comments because it is then not only a tool for visitors but also for us authors. Plus I think the Blog Roll deserves it as well, after all they are outgoing links. This place just gets better all the time, damn I love WordPress!

So don’t forget to include your URL into the space provided in the comments so that we can all have a look! See my previous entry on snap for details and information about how to turn it off if you don’t like it.

The Rooster on: Snap