Category Archives: Blogging

Image Inject WordPress Plugin

If you’re interested in adding images to your WordPress posts, you could do worse than the Image Inject plugin.

First, yes a plugin that injects things into your WordPress install does sound a bit scary. But, putting the name aside, what it does is add a search box to your post editor screen. Simply enter your search term, and it will show you results from Flickr and Pixelbaby with a license that allows you to add them to posts. It even includes the photo credit and link, along with the creative common license.

Above, you can see the results of a search for WordPress. I spotted that photo and selected the size I wanted, and the plugin added it to my post. An easy way to add visuals to your blog posts!

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Lazy Spammer – Today’s Chuckle

You know you’re dealing with a lazy blog comment spammer when they don’t even bother to choose which message to use from the list they got somewhere, or which word variations to include in the message. Found in the spam filter today (And this is only a portion of the comment):

{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours
today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content
as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.

{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss feed} as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service.
Do {you have|you’ve} any? {Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know}
{so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe.
Thanks.|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make some plans for
the future and {it is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve}
read this post and if I could I {want to|wish to|desire to} suggest you
{few|some} interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}.
{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write next articles referring to this article.
I {want to|wish to|desire to} read {more|even more} things
about it!|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make {a few|some} plans
for {the future|the longer term|the long run} and {it is|it’s} time to be happy.
{I have|I’ve} {read|learn} this {post|submit|publish|put up} and if I {may just|may|could} I {want to|wish to|desire
to} {suggest|recommend|counsel} you {few|some} {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing}
{things|issues} or {advice|suggestions|tips}. {Perhaps|Maybe}
you {could|can} write {next|subsequent} articles {relating to|referring to|regarding} this article.

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Social Media Responsibility and Suicide Contagion

In the wake of Robin Williams death earlier this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how different people reacted, what they said on social media and this Freakonomics podcast about suicide.

The question I keep coming back to is this. If there is a demonstrable increase in the number of suicides after one well-publicized suicide, and that increase can be tied back to how that suicide is portrayed in the media, what kind of responsibility do we have when it comes to social media? Should we all be keeping the standards put together by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for safe reporting?

Truthfully, I don’t see why we shouldn’t be. You don’t know how many people are going to see something you put out there on Twitter or Facebook. I wrote a few things on my child abuse survivor site, that I know were only seen by maybe a few hundred people, but how many of them could be on the verge of being suicidal themselves? I simply have no way of knowing, and I hate to think that something I said about Williams death made suicide seem glamorous or like a good idea. But what if one of those posts had gove viral, and was seen by millions of people? Could I deal with the fact that, like the Academy, I was potentially sending the exact wrong message about suicide to millions of people?

The tweet was a sweet message, but it was also the last thing anyone with suicidal tendencies needs to see. What responsibility do I have to the people who follow me on social media? After all, I’m not a professional journalist, why should I pay attention to media ethics and stuff like that, I’m just a guy posting on a blog? Technology, and social media have made journalists of all of us. I may not have the audience of the New York Times, and I don’t have a codified code of ethics, but surely I have some responsibility to the small audience that I do have. In a situation like this, I think we’d all do well to stop and consider what we are saying about suicide, and who we are saying it to.

You never know who’s reading, and where their head might be.

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Deactivating AddThis

I’ve been using a couple of AddThis plugins on this site recently, in an effort to make it easier for folks to share things that they find interesting on the site, or to encourage folks to share or like the Facebook page, etc.

Tonight, however, I’m deactivating AddThis on the site. The reason? This article about tracking web visitors using canvas fingerprinting.

Rich Harris, chief executive of AddThis, said that the company began testing canvas fingerprinting earlier this year as a possible way to replace “cookies,” the traditional way that users are tracked, via text files installed on their computers.

“We’re looking for a cookie alternative,” Harris said in an interview.

Harris said the company considered the privacy implications of canvas fingerprinting before launching the test, but decided “this is well within the rules and regulations and laws and policies that we have.”

He added that the company has only used the data collected from canvas fingerprints for internal research and development. The company won’t use the data for ad targeting or personalization if users install the AddThis opt-out cookie on their computers, he said.

Arvind Narayanan, the computer science professor who led the Princeton research team, countered that forcing users to take AddThis at its word about how their data will be used, is “not the best privacy assurance.”

Look, I’m not particularly interested in tracking my readers. I am interested in having easy ways to help you spread the word about my sites, but there are plenty of other ways to do that. It’s not worth alienating those of you with privacy concerns, especially when I fall into that category myself!

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Good Resource for WordPress Database Management

Found this article the other day, and as I read through it, I discovered that even for a WordPress oldhead like me, there were some good reminders on using PHPMyAdmin to get database backups quickly, restore backups and more importantly a hood reminder about occasionally going and optimizing the database tables.

Hadn’t done that in awhile, and now that the databases on my sites have been optimized, they’re using less space and the site does feel just a little bit snappier to respond.

File it away, never know when it might come in handy!

http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/beginners-guide-to-wordpress-database-management-with-phpmyadmin/

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Early Impressions of LinkedIn Publishing

linkedinAs you may know, I decided to give LinkedIn’s publishing platform a try after it was opened up to me, and many others.

To further the experiment, I also pushed out links to just about every social network I could, pointing to the LinkedIn piece. I pimped it more than I usually pimp a post from this site, though I will admit there have been a couple of posts that I pimped just as hard.

The results were pretty mixed. The number of people who saw the link on the LinkedIn site is a bit higher than the number who would see it just through the RSS feed, but about the same as the number who see it on Twitter, and Facebook, though I can’t know how many people actually see it on Twitter. The engagement level, based on the counts from the share buttons on the site, was about the same as one of those posts I feel really strongly about here and share widely.

All in all, I’d say, in terms of reaching a large number of people, it’s about running even to having a blog for most people. Obviously, your well-connected influencers (as defined by LinkedIn) see much, much more traffic to their LinkedIn posts. For the rest of us, I think it probably helps reach some folks who don’t use Facebook, Twitter or RSS feeds, but it’s hardly a world-changer.

As far as a publishing platform, my opinion is a bit of a mixed bag as well.
Continue reading

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Wordfence Security Plugin for WordPress

One of the challenges of hosting your own site and using WordPress is security. As WP has gotten more and more popular, it has become a huge target for hackers of all sorts. I’ve had my own fair share of old installations getting hacked and causing problems for live sites, rogue files, brute force login attempts that create a denial of service, DOS attacks against XMLRPC, and so on over the years.

Recently, I came across a mention of a security plugin called Wordfence and decided to try it out. It scans your install for any changes made to the WordPress core, theme and plugin files by comparing them to the original from the WordPress codex. Sure enough, for the couple of placers where I had made some customizations, it noted those as changed files and warned me about them. It then let me mark those as safe to ignore, provided they don’t change again, which is nice. I’m always nervous when a security app allows the user to set it to ignore a file, and then that’s the file that gets corrupted, and it continues to ignore it. It even warned me about a corrupt file that I had missed about 8 folders deep when I was cleaning up that infection last year, so that’s also nice!

Eventually though, I got everything cleaned up and verified with one more scan!

wordfence1

 

 

Continue reading

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Broken Link Checker for WordPress

After 12 plus years of blogging, I’m sure that you can imagine that there must be a lot of links that I’ve shared that may not actually go anywhere any longer. That is true, but I never really knew how true until I grabbed a copy of the WordPress plugin Broken Link Checker.

I installed it over on my child abuse survivor blog, and out of curiosity I went ahead and let it do it’s things.

Sure enough, it found a few hundred broken links and presented them all to me in a list, like you see below.

brokenlinks

Now, as I ran through the list, I found some things that I could obviously just unlink in bulk. If the link was linking to a commenter that no longer worked, I went ahead and unlinked. No reason to be granting publicity to commentators who no longer blog, right?

Others pointed to things that were no longer active on the site, like forums or other such things, those also, I could unlink, but I also found something interesting. If I chose the option to Edit the URL for each link, it would search the WayBack Machine for a copy of what I l had linked to. That’s kind of cool. That let’s me point to an old copy of things that I had linked to even when the site is no longer online. It doesn’t always work, but I thought it was a fairly neat feature.

Now, the big question is, how much do I owe my readers in terms of going back and fixing those links? I haven’t answered that over there, let alone this site, which has much more content overall.

Still, it’s nice to know that I can use this tool to find out just how bad things are, and try and correct some of the more egregious causes of broken links. For that alone, as well as the web archive search, I highly recommend this plugin!

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Flipboard Magazines as Google Reader Replacement

Since I’ve been playing around a bit with creating a Flipboard magazine, I’ve been giving this some thought. Now, don’t get me wrong, at it’s core Google Reader was an RSS reader, and there’s no way I could replace the simplicity of following 200+ feeds in Reader with following 200+ magazines on Flipboard. Reader also had a very popular feature, well back before Google killed it off in order to get everyone to start using Plus, called Shared Items.

Shared Items were a great way to follow a handful of people, who had similar interests to you, and see what kinds of things they were sharing. I could see Flipboard magazines being a similar way to follow a handful of magazines, and see what those folks are sharing.

I’ve been creating a few of my own to match up with my own websites. The thought process, again, is that if mobile users won’t come to the website, because they don’t browse the web, we’ve got to share content with them in the apps they use. Flipboard is one of those apps. So I can share, not only my own blog posts, but lots of other content as well, all within the app or from the web, and you, as a Flipboard user, can “follow” the magazine and get a glimpse at what I’m sharing.

View my Flipboard Magazine.View my Flipboard Magazine.View my Flipboard Magazine.

What about you, have you started “flipping” items to your own magazine in Flipboard? Share a link so we can check it out!

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Smartphones Are Changing How People See The Internet

Reading this latest article about the future of the mobile web, Smartphones: The silent killer of the Web as you know it, I’m struck by the difference between how young people interact with the web, and how us old veterans do it.

Young people don’t use tablets because they don’t see them as necessary for accessing the internet, since their perception is that apps are what makes up the internet. They’ve grown up primarily using their phones, not using laptops with Web browsers. To this generation, it seems slow, purposeless even to go from website to website in a single, sub-par Web browser environment when they can get rich app experiences right from their home screen.

Of course, this sort of information intrigues me in two ways. One, is that part of the reasoning behind using apps instead of a web browser has to be because using a web browser on a phone sucks. Partially that is because sites don’t look good at all at that size even with a mobile theme like the WordPress option I use for this site. It’s better, but not great. Another reason it sucks is because we’ve become so good at redirecting people using phones to an app instead of the website. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to click a link in a blog post on my phone to a news story, and have that site take me to the iTunes store to download their app, or redirect me to the mobile home page of their site instead of the link I wanted to read. It degrades the experience of using my phone to browse the web, so it’s no wonder people are much more likely to use an app instead.

This leads me to the second reason this intrigues me. If it’s true that more and more of the internet “audience” is using mobile devices, and only accessing the web through apps, what’s a website owner to do? As an independent, and unpaid, site owner I can’t pay to have someone develop an app for me. I’ve looked at some of the free “create your own app” services, and frankly, between very limiting licensing and very limited features, they didn’t really provide much of a resource. Not to mention that you still have to pay to be an Apple developer or Google Play developer if you want your app to be available in either of those places.

So it would seem that the only way to get your content in front of this growing mobile audience who doesn’t use a web browser, is to get your content into the apps they do use. This is why I’ve been toying around with various social networks, trying to get my content, and the other content I want to share, in front of this audience. I’ve been using the more traditional routes, posting to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, but recently I’ve also started to dabble on Tumblr and Flipboard, which seem to be a bit more popular among that younger, smartphone-using, audience. Over at my child abuse blog, I’ve already added a Flipboard magazine, and a tumblr blog. Both are an effort to get that content in front of smartphone users, and hopefully to get them to likewise share it. Over the next few weeks, I suspect I will be doing similar types of things here and on my other sites.

The bottom line is that I have my website in order to share ideas and information with other people, whatever the topic might be. If they won’t come to the site, I should try and get that same information to them another way. Developing my own app isn’t really an option, but getting the content into the apps they already use, is.

The trick is being able to also interact with people in those apps as well so that you don’t appear to just be auto-posting to a social network and dropping out like some spammer, which takes some time and effort, but ultimately that is the goal of all this sharing isn’t it, to spark conversations? So what if they happen in Tumblr instead of in the comments.

As I develop other tools for this site and others, I will be sharing that information, so if you want to use those services to get the content I’m sharing on your smartphone, or know someone who does, they’ll be able to do that.

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