Tag Archives: wordpress

Blogging for social sustainability – the why’s and how’s

WordPress.com blog's Add New Post Screen

In my first post on Social Sustainability, where I talked about the importance of sharing, I mentioned that I had been thinking of writing a post about blogging – well, here it is!

I know this will be the proverbial “teaching granny to suck eggs” posting but seeing as blogs are such a fundamental tool in your social media armoury, I couldn’t leave them unaddressed. In fact, there are so many things to write about blogs and blogging that I can see many more posts on the topic in my future. This brings me to a question – what aspect of blogging would you like me to write about next?

I’m going to start off though with a quick ‘why blog’ and then a discussion of whether to go for a hosted or a self-hosted blog (and the differences between the two).

I won’t spend too much time on the ‘why blog’ question – I’m assuming if you are reading this it is because you are interested in Social Sustainability – if that is the case, then you probably already know that the primary tool of social media is a blog. I wrote a bunch of posts a few years ago on the advantages of blogging for a business – here’s one to have a firkle through if you are still not convinced (read down through the comments as well to get full value).

On the question of whether to go for a hosted or self-hosted blog, I’m not going to make a recommendation either way – rather, I’ll list their relative advantages and let you decide which is more appropriate for you:

Hosted blogs (like WordPress.com which this blog runs on, and Blogger.com) advantages:

  • Speed – a hosted blog can be setup in a matter of seconds
  • Reliability – hosted blogs are very rarely offline (the last time WordPress.com had an outage was in June 2010)
  • Simplicity – hosted blog providers generally look after hosting, updating, security, spam and malware protection
  • Branding – hosted blogs now allow you to brand your blog with your own domain name (e.g. no longer tomraftery.wordpress.com, now simply tomraftery.com) and
  • Price – most hosted blog platforms are free

On the other hand Self-hosted blogs (such as GreenMonk.net)have these advantages:

  • Flexibility – With your self-hosted blog you can extend the functionality of the blog with themes and plug-ins
  • Ad free – most hosted blogs will display ads in your blog – with self-hosted, you can go Ad-free, or roll out Ads and benefit from the revenue yourself!
  • Cheap – although you have to pay for the hosting – there are free blog platforms (such as WordPress.org) you can download to run your blog and
  • Security – if you can control the country and hoster your blog is hosted with, you run far less risk of falling foul of spurious (or otherwise) take-down notices

One possible suggestion, if you are still undecided, is to start off with a hosted blog. If, after a while, you find the limitations of your hosted blog too frustrating, you can always export all your blog posts and comments and import them into a self-hosted one and go from there.

Either way, happy blogging.

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Photo credit Tom Raftery

Media buttons not displaying in WordPress.com Add New Post screen in Safari

I’m new to WordPress.com (though been a WordPress.org user since 2004) so forgive me if this is old news but the WordPress.com New Post dialog box doesn’t display properly in Safari (version 5.03 on OS X 10.6.6, at least).

If you look at the image below you can see that the Media buttons normally to the right of Upload/Insert are missing – in fact the only button displaying there is the Add Poll button.

WordPress.com Add New Post in Safari

WordPress.com Add New Post in Safari

Viewing the same screen in Firefox (version 3.6.13 on OS X 10.6.6) does display the buttons. Note also that under the Media menu item on the left, the Library and Add New items are correctly aligned in Firefox, but they are not in Safari.

WordPress.com Add New Post in Firefox

WordPress.com Add New Post in Firefox

One thing that the Safari screen does get right however is that it displays the Alt text for the buttons on rollover, whereas Firefox doesn’t.

One other thing I did notice (which is non-obvious, but helped by the appearance of the Alt text) is that while the media buttons don’t appear in Safari, if you rollover the space between the Upload/Insert and the Poll button, the functionality of the buttons is there, it is simply that they don’t display!!! How bizarre.

As I said at the outset, I’m new to WordPress.com, so if this is a well worn topic, forgive me – it is just new to me.

Moved to WordPress and new domain!

I gave up!

This blog was hacked again and the database taken down. As this is no longer my primary blog (and I post here infrequently now) I decided the best course of action would be to simply take it off my server and give it to WordPress.com to host (the chances of it being hacked there are remote!).

I have wanted to change the domain of the blog for quite some time as well so I decided to combine the two jobs into one.

I already owned TomRaftery.com and it was doing nothing so I decided to use this as it is a more appropriate url for the site.

To upload the site to WordPress.com I first created a blank WordPress.com blog (simply by signing up and verifying email – a 2 second job).

WordPress 15mb Import limit

WordPress 15mb Import limit

Then I went to my old site and created an export file (Tools -> Export) – this downloaded a 24mb xml file to my computer. When I went to the WordPress.com to do the import I spotted that the Import message read “Choose a file from your computer: (Maximum size: 15mb)”. Oops! – this was going to be an issue.

I thought about going into the xml file and manually editing it but when I opened it I saw it was over 400,000 lines long and I really didn’t want to mess it up so I thought again.

I checked the spam list on the site and I saw there were thousands of spam comments in there. What if I deleted them and tried again? I did and sure enough this knocked the xml file size down to 17mb – an improvement but still too large to import. What to do?

WordPress Blog Export options

WordPress Blog Export options

Then I had a brainwave (should have been obvious really) – what if I split the export into two files? So I tried it, I first exported all blog posts up until December 2006 and then I did another export of all the blog posts from January 2007 until the most recent post (November 2010).

This created two files of less than 15mb each which could now be imported. Would WordPress.com allow me to import two files totaling more than 15mb? I didn’t know but figured it couldn’t hurt to try, so try I did and it worked a treat!

Now that all my blog posts (and their associated comments, categories, tags, etc) were imported the next step was to associate it with the TomRaftery.com domain. This required me to update the nameservers for the domain to point to WordPress nameservers (after paying for the domain pointing service from WordPress). Then I had to set it as the primary domain for the site (see below).

WordPress domain management

WordPress domain management

The last step was to go back to the old TomRafteryit.net domain and set a permanent (301) re-direct on it so that people (and search engines) would be re-directed over here to the new TomRaftery.com domain – now safely hosted on WordPress.com servers.

So here we are. If you are reading this – welcome to the old blog on this new site. Thanks for taking the time and hopefully I won’t leave it so long to the next post!

WordPress app for iPhone/iPod Touch launched

WordPress launched it’s long anticipated WordPress app for the iPhone and iPod Touch this morning. See http://iPhone.wordpress.org for more.

I downloaded to my iPod and am writing this post using it.

The write screen seems quite bare. I don’t yet see how to add links, emphasis or photos to posts. I am sure the functionality is there I just need to look around more.

Ok there was some kind of bug when I was using this first and the bottom Menu bar was missing. I hit the Home button quitting out of the app and opened it again. This notified me that it had recovered a post (good, I thought I would lose it when I quit).

Opening the post now displays the bottom menu so I don’t know what caused the bug or if it will recur.

I still don’t see an easy way to create links in blog posts.

Adding multiple blogs is easy. The hardest part (for me) was being able to remember the passwords!

It is a free download. And they say it will be open source. Not sure where to download the code from yet. Will update this post as soon as I find out.

Audio player plugin not working in WordPress 2.5?

I use the Audio Player plugin on a number of sites where I publish podcasts, principally PodLeaders.com

The main reason I use it is to simply populate the posts with a Flash player for any podcasts which I post so people can listen to them onscreen.

However, since upgrading PodLeaders to WordPress to 2.5 the plugin has stopped working :-( It simply displays a blank where the Flash player should be.

I tried switching to the Default WordPress theme to see if the problem was theme related but it appears not to be as the problem also happened in that theme.

I downloaded another plugin, called Podcasting which is supposed to work with WordPress 2.5 but that didn’t seem to work either.

Does anyone have any idea where the problem might lie and what I’ll need to do to fix it?

UPDATE: Problem solved. Pete reminded me in the comments of this post to check my folder structure for the Audio Player plugin and sure enough when updating from 1.2.2 to 1.2.3 I had inadvertently uploaded the plugin folder instead of simply the contents of the plugin folder! Fixed now and working once more. Thanks Pete.

WordPress 2.5 RC1 released

I read Matt’s post about the release of a beta version of WordPress 2.5 this morning with great excitement (sad aren’t I?) and immediately downloaded it.

The screenshots Matt put up look great and I can’t wait to try it out.

However, then I had a rare moment of clarity. Waaaait a sec Tom. Let’s not go breaking the site just yet.

Often blog software updates break plugins and occasionally themes. I certainly had difficulties with this site the last time I upgraded.

Let’s not repeat that again in a hurry.

SO if anyone has tried out WordPress 2.5, how is it looking, what are the gotchas and how soon will a painless upgrade be viable?

Crashing Safari?

I have had isolated reports that since upgrading this blog to WordPress 2.3 and the theme to K2 RC2, this blog crashes the Safari browser.

I’m running Safari version 3.03 on my Mac and it doesn’t crash but I’m told version 2.04 does crash.

I have tried turning off some of the sidebar widgets but that didn’t fix it (maybe I didn’t turn off the right ones?) and I tried tweaking the theme but to no avail.

If there are any code junkies out there who have any suggestions on why the blog may be suddenly crashing some versions of Safari, I’d love to hear them so I can resolve this.

Thanks.

WordPress/FeedBurner lose my subscribers

my feedburner feed stats

Really odd but since I upgraded to WordPress 2.3 the number of subscribers to my blog has roughly halved. Today it is reading 632. It hasn’t been below 1,000 in at least 6 months never mind down at the 600 mark.

I realise that this is likely due to my moving to the newer FeedBurner (FeedSmith) plugin which required me to setup a new feed in FeedBurner but as you can see from the screenshot above, the old feed is reading 0 subscribers!

I put a 301 re-direct on the old feedburner plugin’s feed from this blog but what I am curious about is that the Subscribe address for this blog (tomrafteryit.net/feed) hasn’t changed at all. Do people subscribe directly to the FeedBurner feed address?

WordPress 2.3 upgrade breaks RSS feed

Sean McNamara alerted me via the comments on this blog that my RSS feed was broken (thanks a million Sean). I sorted that out this morning so it should be good again and Google Reader is certainly having no problem seeing my posts now.

So what happened? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure (!) but I think it had more to do with my FeedBurner account than WordPress, per se.

The sequence of events was along the lines of

Then I saw Sean’s comment. Uh oh! I went over to Google Reader and sure enough no posts for the last couple of days were present, d’oh!

I checked back my FeedBurner Plugin config and while all seemed ok, when I checked the “create a FeedBurner feed for …” link, it looks like that the updated plugin created a new feed for the blog.

This meant I had to head over to the FeedBurner site and set up the new feed from scratch – a considerable annoyance. All my stats on my old feed are no longer associated with the new one.

Strictly, this wasn’t a WordPress issue, more of a left-field issue associated with upgrading the FeedBurner plugin. However, the lack of support by WordPress for older plugins is the only reason I upgraded – triggering the loss of my RSS feed.

WordPress 2.3 gotchas (or got me's!)

Phew!

Finally done with that install – ouch! I wouldn’t want to go through that again in a hurry.

I hit several speed bumps in my upgrading of this blog from WordPress 2.2 to 2.3 – many of those could have been avoided if I had followed the instructions on the Extended Upgrade page instead of the Upgrade page!

Specifically, if you are upgrading, not only should you also upgrade all plugins before starting the blog update, but you should then disable all plugins before uploading WordPress 2.3.

I use the K2 theme on this site, so I checked it out, and sure enough there is a new version of K2 (K2 RC1) available for WordPress 2.3 as well. If you plan on upgrading to RC1, be aware that Michael Heilemann says in the release notes:

Because so many things have been upgraded since v0.9.6, a lot of the code hasn’t actually seen as much usage as the v0.9.6 code, and thus you should hold off until RC2 with upgrading if you like your stability over your ‘bling’

I decided to try out the widget functionality which comes with K2 RC1 but I came a cropper on a bug in the code and so reverted to using the less functional, but fully operational WordPress Widgets.

One of the biggest advances in WordPress 2.3 is the inclusion of Tags. This is fantastic news for anyone who hasn’t used tags up to now as it provides a simple way for them to begin. However, I was using a plugin (Ultimate Tag Warrior) for my tagging and this no longer works with WordPress 2.3.

WordPress 2.3 has the ability to Import existing Tags though (Manage -> Import -> Ultimate Tag Warrior) meaning all my tagging up to now hasn’t been in vain!

Ultimate Tag Warrior (UTW) had two great features:

  1. UTW presented you with a drop-down of all your previous tags when writing a post so you could easily chose one you had previously. This is missing from 2.3
  2. UTW had a Suggest option whereby it would scan the text of your post and suggest appropriate tags

Christine Davis, the author of UTW has already released plugins to fill in this missing functionality!

Other features added in this release of WordPress are highlighted here.