Last Friday, Anil Dash and I had a delightful conversation. I mean that delightful. Anil and I share many of the same passions: the web, media, user interface, weblogs.
Anil is a very congenial sort and was a prominent early weblog writer. He is now both a Vice President at SixApart and head evangelist for Typepad.
I have a deep and intimate acquaintance with SixApart's Typepad service, as a founding user in 2003 and now as the founder of the premier Typepad to WordPress rescue service.
The starting point of our call was clear. Anil is annoyed about my regular unfavourable postings about Typepad. I don't know if SixApart is annoyed about our rescue service itself - we've moved some pretty high profile sites in the last few months, some of which I am not even at liberty to disclose their names.
I had no idea how sexy ecommerce could be. Looking at Magento vs WordPress.
While developing the Foliopress WYSIWYG we decided to create the images management on the basis of Kae Veren's excellent KFM file manager. While we are totally happy with how KFM handles the images itself, we were unable to work with images uploaded via ftp.
Uploading images one by one through an image editor is fine, uploading twenty that way is annoying. One of the reasons to prefer WordPress over Typepad is that you do have direct access to the server via ftp. So this was clearly not acceptable. It wasn't even possible to change the file ownership of httpd via SSH (without root permissions).
Facebook desperately need $100 million. Just the kind of company I’d like to give access all the contact information for my family and friends.
I’ve been reading Jack Welch’s Winning.
Though Jack Welch is one mean and selfish man, Winning is a challenging and rewarding testament to Neutron Jack’s way of doing business. Welch’s philosophy of promoting the top 20% and firing the bottom 10% in a large company is unbelievably Darwinian, even cruel. Welch even runs his personal life the same way – at sixty years of age he writes about co-author and third Suzy "having taught me the meaning of love". Frankly, Welch has grown up children – it’s a bit late to be discovering love. Rediscovering would have been far more tactful.
But let’s leave the man behind and return to Welch’s Spartan philosophy of leaving the crippled employees on the mountaintop to perish in the night.
When you read his book, however, you can see how this would work in a company which hires just extremely competitive types. Such people enjoy seeing others thrown down the well. It’s a bit of the mob waiting for the witch to be drowned. Welch is appealing to primal nature here, the law of the jungle. The hunter who cannot run fast enough is culled from the tribe and the tribe is stronger as the weakest members can neither survive nor reproduce.
Imagine you are a simple businessman, who has his own website and you want to bring more traffic on your site. As you are familiar with Microsoft software for decades now, naturally you'll want to check out their online advertising system.
Here are some basic guidelines to make the experience less painful:
First pitfall - Don't even consider using Safari or any other browser except IE and Mozilla, adCenter website does not support other browsers. Their help center states that also Mac and Virtual machines are not supported.
Before he found out that all Mac browsers are banned, Alec, our creative director, spent several hours trying to get Microsoft adCenter to work with all of the browsers under Mac OS, including spoofing the user-agent. Futile, he assures me. You can't even view the System requirements page!
A lot of logos on the web look like they were run over by a truck. Blurry, jagged, hideous. Here's how to make your resized logos gorgeous and sharp.
The first point is to always save your graphics and logos as either a GIF or a PNG. Saving solid colour graphics and logos as a jpeg is a catastrophe and inevitably results in nasty digital noise. This sound elementary but I have had three trained graphic designers do this wrong, including a graduate of the Art Institute of California. The only one who knew the right answer (in what format to save a text logo) was our lead programmer, Peter.
For an example, one doesn't have to go further than the website of Royal Bank of Canada.
RBC logo: jpeg text buzz in action
Even billions of dollars won't save you from jpeg text buzz on your logos. Here are the jpeg jaggies in closeup:
Ever have the experience that you send someone the wrong message in Skype or worse yet, you send the right message but to the wrong person?
It happened to me today when I wanted to send one of my staff my client's contact info. Instead I sent him his own contact info.
But he was offline at the time. So the message showed as pending.
Is there anyway to cancel a pending Skype message?
I just found a great little utility to test backup systems.
These are the sorts of things you won’t notice until you’ve lost your original and for some reason your Aperture or iPhoto library won’t run properly anymore.
Of course, even a defective backup is better than none.
If you need to search and replace some text throughout your weblog, you should definitely be using Urban Giraffe's Search Regex. With Search Regex you can search and replace text in all the fields shown in the picture below:
If you are replacing some text, first enter the Search pattern and press the Search button. This will show you the results, so you can fine tune the pattern to get only the results you want. You also get a set of links to view and edit the post. Very handy.
We've just had to move another client's old site to a new one.
There are lots of inbound links but the page URL structure has completely changed for the better.
The client wants to rank right away.
What do we do?
301 the old site is the traditional answer.
Not so fast says Eric Ward who is one of the masters of link building, having built links by hand for longer than almost anyone else on the internet and for more large corporate clients than any individual I know (there are some SEO companies working fairly stealth with portfolios of almost 100 big names):
I wouldn't 301 it yet. First I'd run a backlink analysis on the old site and then visit each site linking to the old site, and for those that look exceptionally trustworthy and legit, ask them personally for a hand edit to change the link from the old site to the new site.
Frankly for a website with thousands of backlinks, that's just not a realistic option. Well for Walt Disney or some of Eric's other clients perhaps it is. But what should the rest of us do?
We have some campaigns out there on Google AdWords for which we now have some very nice organic rankings.
At the end of each month we like to calculate the number of sales of PPC versus organic for a Canadian life insurance client.
Most of our PPC results have a gclid parameter in them so it's clear as day. It's almost certain that a clean result like this one is organic:
While this is definitely PPC:
What about this one with &rlz= in the URL parameter?
I couldn't tell. The long strange string smelled like PPC to me.
It out to be nothing of the kind. &rlz= is the string that Google uses for identifying users of Google Chrome:
SSL plugin that suites your needs. You can setup URIs that must be handled by WordPress only through https.
Features three Es:
- Easy to install
- Easy configuration
- Easy to use
- Get (download) the plugin
- Unzip the contents
- Copy the whole directory into your WordPress plugin directory (usually located in /wp-content/plugins/)
- Go into Plugins management in WordPress back-end and activate plugin
- Go into Options -> SSL in your WordPress back-end and setup the plugin
Make sure that you have HTTPS available on your server with correct certificate, else you can disable your whole website. If this happens to you you’ll need to disable this plugin directly through database.
Check "Secure URLs with SSL" and type-in URIs you whish to be accessed only through HTTPS.
You can use "*" as wildcard for some URI, if you type it after "/" it means that all URIs under this URI will be accessed only via https, if there is no / it takes all URIs under this URI, this URI including.
We recently rescued a complex and older weblog Uncoy.com from Typepad and moved it to WordPress with absolutely zero broken links or posts.
Why do we write rescue? First of all Typepad is a truly awful platform for anything but the most basic weblog.
- images look terrible
- CSS is difficult to alter
- stats are a joke
- tech support is a close tie for the worst on the web
Secondly, it wasn't easy. SixApart make it really difficult in fact. It's only easy if you are ready to accept:
- broken permalinks
- missing comments
- disappearing images
Making the move work involved:
- special plugins on export and import
- collecting all the images via a special script
- adding a special plugin to prevent WordPress from breaking comments in your post
- installing a plugin to allow you to keep categories at root level (not easy in WordPress, perhaps the only plus of the Typepad system is that categories default to the root directory)
- adding a special plugin to allow you to update your permalinks easily (the Typepad permalinks are terrible)
- creating archive templates which match the Typepad setup
- adapting a theme to suit the setup of your Typepad weblog (if you have a relatively complex layout)
The detailed steps are below - the list above is just the executive highlights.
Was it worth it:
The day my weblog was finally out of the hands of Typepad and safely into WordPress was one of the happiest days of my online life.
I wish you the same success. But buckle up - the going gets rough:
I don’t know how many hard drives you have but as a photographer and filmmaker I have over a dozen hard drives, scattered across three computers.
It used to be enough just to pair up some hard drives and move a few files around.
No more. Each computer needs its own backup drive/system.
I’ve just been through cleaning up duplicate backups and freeing up about five drives.
While doing so, I had to come up with some principles of backup, which I will call the backup manifesto. Here they are:
Sift CEO Ben Heald
So these guys over at Sift Media are heading for £3 million of advertising revenue this year. Probably worth hearing what their CEO has to say about online publishing. The first question is a bit silly:
What levels of participation inequality do you see from forum and community users? What can publishers do to tackle that more effectively?
Ben Heald takes a valiant stab at it:
You probably get about 10% of the audience that you are sending your emails to, contributing to the content in some way.
I don't think usage levels have changed that much. It matches the dynamics of a conference, where out of an audience of 100 people, you will get ten asking a questions and one or two people speaking to you after the presentation. I don't think that will change. We won't all become avid contributors to forums. Some people just want to take stuff.
His answer is basically right - participation will not be level - but at the end he goes seriously astray: "Some people just want to take stuff."
I was reluctant to try mobile internet. I was worried that mobile internet on my Macbook would:
- be clumsy in use
- cause unexplained crashes
- require lots of troubleshooting
- be unreliable
Well unfortunately my concerns were justified.
Over the last few days since I picked up my trial Vodafone modem at A1 in Vienna, I've had to:
- restart my Macbook a dozen times to get the modem running again
- endure Skype flaking out on me six times while speaking with both clients and staff
- hard restart the computer after kernel panic
- uninstall and reinstall the VodafoneMCInstaller.2.09.01.00 five times
- spend hours finding and diagnosing the problem
This post is to help you avoid these issues and to enjoy troublefree use of your modem.
The question is if we need to tell WordPress not to ping again on update? Also, is this WordPress ping listaccurate?