Category: Blogging

Conferences can be fun!

I am back in Cork after the Eventoblog conference in Seville over the weekend.

Now I am helping with last-minute preparations for the it@cork conference. It is on this coming Wednesday and it is going to be a real ‘wow!’ event. Apart from the incredible speakers that are lined up, the delegate list is like a who’s who of the techosphere in Ireland. The networking opportunities are going to be superb.

If you plan on going and you haven’t registered yet, do it asap in case you unwittingly miss out!

The Eventoblog conference was great. I didn’t understand most of the talks (my excuse is that they were in Spanish!!!) but I had a fantastic time meeting the Spanish blogging community and the social events which were laid on were excellent.

I’m slightly less terrified about moving to Spain now!

[Disclosure – I’m the Chair of the it@cork conference organising committee]

WordPress 2.3, K2 RC2 crashing Safari 2 resolved

Since I updated this blog to WordPress 2.3 and K2 RC2, I have been having reports that the blog crashes Safari (but only Safari 2, not Safari 3).

Today I think I sorted the problem.

I switched the blog from using the native WordPress’ Widgets to manage the sidebar to using K2’s Sidebar Manager and now the crashing seems to have stopped.

I’m not sure why the WordPress Widgets was causing the blog to crash Safari 2 but if you are having this problem, try switching to using the K2 Sidebar Manager.

It worked for me.

Monster threaten legal action and ask me to blame someone else!

I was going to hold off on blogging this but since Damien has already mentioned it I thought I’d add my experience.

I received two emails directly from Monster’s Business Development Manager John Burns today. In the emails John said

i want you to delete my name from your blog that is open to the public….

He went on to add

You are putting my name at risk and my character on your blog, remove it ASAP or i will proceed with the legal advice i was given.

You have already damaged my name and caused great embarresment to me.

Please take this very seriously.

John Burns
Business Development Manager

I received several other emails from John where he tried to recall the spam he sent out yesterday but as Michele noted, that only works with Microsoft Exchange within an organisation.

To make matters even worse, incredibly, in the recall efforts John once again exposed everyone’s email addresses by not using the bcc field.

The real kicker for me though was when John left me a voicemail on the one hand threatening me with legal action, and then on the other hand asking me to

take down what you have put up about me, remove my name and replace it with somebody else’s immediately… I will definitely be taking this forward

Remove his name and replace it with somebody else’s? Just who’s name would John have me use instead?

I’m sorry but does this guy have no sense of responsibility for his actions at all. Not once, at any point did he apologise for spamming me, not once did he apologise for harvesting the data from the it@cork members’ directory and then he asks me to put someone else in the frame while he threatens me with legal action? Unbelievable.

I’m sure John is a nice guy but if he had only put his hands up, accepted he was wrong and asked how he could right what he had done, this would never have become the growing embarrassment it is to Monster’s already poor reputation.

UPDATE – Daithi has created an hilarious re-mix of the voicemail – check it out

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.

Donncha in Photo exhibition

Mallow Camera Club are holding an exhibition of photographs in Mallow Town Library for charity for the next three weeks and fellow blogger, photo blogger and WordPress lead developer, Donncha O’Caoimh will have one of his photos in the exhibition for sale – well done Donncha.

Head along if you get a chance, it is for a good cause.

Adblock – love it or hate it?

I wrote a post the other day talking about a blogger who stopped all Firefox users from visiting his site because they may have the Adblock plugin installed!

Adblock is a plug-in for Firefox which allows you to view sites on the Internet but avoid seeing the ads they display.

I am a big fan of Adblock (as I have mentioned several times on this blog) and so was surprised that in the comments of my previous post, several people I respect came our strongly against Adblock saying things like:

I can understand how he feels if his business revenue depends on ads

I do get irritated when I see people using AdBlock. As a web-developer I see it as part of the contract of using a website. We give you free content and you get to see some adverts

and

I’m very much against Adblock myself. I installed it once and it provided one of the worst web expierences ever. Adblock was presenting white areas where there would be ads, a lot of webpages looked very naked as Adblocked skwed the natural appearance of the site.

I would love to see Adblock and other ad blocking extensions illegalised but it’s never going to happen.

My attitude is quite different.

I read hundreds of websites per day. The majority of these sites I read through my RSS reader so even if they are displaying ads, I don’t see them. To the commenters, if you truly believe that people should only view your content if they also read your ads, you need to either stop publishing RSS feeds or start publishing ads in your feed.

As to the point that his business revenue may depend on Ads – if so, then stopping all viewers who use Firefox is only going to hurt his revenue, not help it. Firefox users are, in general, more tech literate and therefore are more likely to link to your site. Banning them from your site will only reduce inward linkage, drop you in search engine results and decimate your ad revenue.

As for the point of making Adblock illegal because it affects how sites are rendered, I think I can safely ignore that one 😛

Ads (especially Flash based ads or graphical ones) slow down the loading of sites and therefore waste my time without adding any benefit to me (I haven’t blocked Google Ads as they are non-intrusive, text based ads).

I have never clicked on an ad on a website and I have seen plenty of them (non-blocked Google Ads and when I use browsers other than Firefox).

According to Google Analytics, Search Engines account for 73% of traffic to this site. The majority of people who do click on ads are, I suspect, one off visitors to a site who land there from a search. This demographic doesn’t use Firefox, doesn’t use RSS and has never heard of Adblock.

For people who use the web all day, every day Adblock is a boon. It vastly speeds up your browsing experience, eliminates distractions (think flashing blinking ads) and cleans up the content on the page.

For ad publishers, Adblock makes you site far more palatable to the small demographic of users who know how to deploy it. This demographic wouldn’t click on the ads on your site in any case. And this user, is far more likely to promote your site for you, thereby driving traffic to it.

What do you think?

Site owner blocks Firefox users!

I saw this story on Techmeme this morning and I simply couldn’t believe it – but it is true!

A guy called Danny Carlton has decided to block ALL Firefox users from his site because:

The Mozilla Foundation and its Commercial arm, the Mozilla Corporation, has allowed and endorsed Ad Block Plus, a plug-in that blocks advertisement on web sites and also prevents site owners from blocking people using it. Software that blocks all advertisement is an infringement of the rights of web site owners and developers. Numerous web sites exist in order to provide quality content in exchange for displaying ads. Accessing the content while blocking the ads, therefore would be no less than stealing. Millions of hard working people are being robbed of their time and effort by this type of software

Now, you will be aware that not all Firefox owners have installed Adblock but no matter, Danny is blocking them too. As he says himself:

If you are offended by the Mozilla Corporation’s endorsement of dishonesty please contact the Mozilla Foundation and ask them to stop empowering internet theft.

This is so silly as to be laughable. Either the guy is trolling looking for links (you won’t find any here Danny) or he really is a tad challenged!

In the first place, as Mike Arrington notes

I wonder why he continues to provide a full content feed, sans ads, at jacklewis.net/weblog/atom.xml (and it has been reposted here). Those users are “stealing” his content, too. What about them? Perhaps he’ll now turn his attention to the evils of RSS.

and in the second place, there are adblocking plugins available for Internet Explorer, as well as Firefox.

Will Danny now block Internet Explorer users from accessing his site too?