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  • WordPress plugins

    Posted on January 5th, 2012 Alan No comments

    I love WordPress.  I use it for all my web sites.  Most hosting services offer it for free.  I manage three  primary WordPress sites.  My own blog, laketravislacrosse, and laketravisparents.

    Below are plugins I recommend for WordPress

    Members highly recommended for collaboration.
    NextGen Gallary for simple photo management.  Can be used to rotate through images.  I use it to highlight VIP sponsors.
    iFrame. WordPress doesn’t allow iFrames for security reasons.  This plugin supports iFrames which are necessary for embedding things such as a Google Form or PayPal buttons.
    AWPCP for Classified Ads
    Exclude Pages From Navigation.  I found this plugin searching how to remove pages that showed up in the Classifieds Menu created by the AWPCP plugin.   Previously, I had made pages private to keep them from showing up in the menu which is related to the theme I am using.  Now with this plugin I have better control of whether a page should be on a menu or not.

  • Confluence for collaboration

    Posted on August 4th, 2011 Alan No comments

    My company is standardizing on Atlassian products such as Jira (for issue tracking), and Confluence for Wikis and collaboration.   I have yet to use a system that works better than a simple blog with categories, pages and RSS feeds.  I mean what is better than subscribing to a Page, Category (or tag) and contributing to the comment thread of a post you are interested in.

    So far, I’m finding Confluence’s support for blogs leaving much to be desired.  Starting with the fact you can’t subscribe to feeds with many readers since they require authentication and many (such as Google Reader) don’t support authenticated feeds.

    Here is one option that uses a proxy

    I tend to agree with Scott that a wiki without RSS feeds is a non starter.  Email notifications?  I find it funny that Confluence promotes itself as a solution for email chaos but then offer it as the primary mechanism for notifications.

  • I’m moving my Blog from TypePad to WordPress

    Posted on February 11th, 2009 Alan No comments

    After almost 6 years I am looking at moving my blog over to WordPress from TypePad.com.  I feel TypePad is always a  little  behind the curve in functionality.  It took them a while before they supported Pages.  They do not support category/label feeds unless you have a Pro account and you have to jump through some hoops to make it work even then.

    I’ve been using FaceBook lately and was excited to learn that I could get FaceBook to automatically pull in as notes, my blog posts.  I really only want to pull in general posts and not my geeky programming posts which is why I really want to be able to specify a category feed.  I think  this is something TypePad should include in my Plus account which I pay $71.60 per year.  Other services offer it for free and you don’t have to do anything, the feeds are just there!

    The last straw was when I contacted TypePad support to share my views on this and got a less than satisfactory response.  Their support has always been pretty good though the answers were often unsatisfactory (we don’t support that, maybe one day).  I stated I felt the category feeds should be a basic feature and they replied they would be happy to pass my note on to their engineers for suggestions on future improvements.   This isn’t an improvement, it is a sales/marketing issue.  Yeah, I’m just starting to feel like a number with them and feeling I can actually get a better product with an opensource solution!

    My hosting service LunarPages, which I love, offers to install WordPress for free which I did and I was able to import my TypePad blog without issue.  I’m not done yet, and I still have a bit of work to do but I think I’m going to be happy with the switch. I never did set the domain mapping in TypePad so I have more work  to fix all the links and links to images.

    TypePad doesn’t offer FTP publishing which Blogger offers.  I don’t feel like I truly have control of my own content, until now!


    Here  are some useful links:

    Painless switch from  TypePad to WordPress

    How to move from TypePad.com to WordPress.com

  • Microsoft RSS Platform

    Posted on February 3rd, 2006 Alan No comments

    I’m keeping an open mind regarding the new Microsoft RSS Platform introduced in IE 7.0. It will be a standard component of Windows Vista.  I’m perfectly happy having the OS maintain the feeds store and helping with synchronization and letting applications focus on the display of content.  After all, the SocialDynamX software never was a true RSS aggregator.  It basically served as a consumer of a service, just as Microsoft is suggesting applications do in their new platform.  The service in FM Radio was the local Userland Radio server running on the PC.  We simply picked up the data locally from Radio using XML-RPC.

  • Microsoft’s RSS Platform

    Posted on February 1st, 2006 Alan No comments

    The What

  • River of News

    Posted on December 30th, 2005 Alan No comments

    Not sure why any news aggregator worth its salt would make users choose between the so called "River Of News" or NewsPaper views, and supporting folders to organize your feeds.  Support both! "River Of News" works for me at times but I often prefer the folder view.  Often, bloggers refer to nearby posts and if I’m behind on my reading (always), I want to be able to focus on a single blog’s posts.   The folders also allow me to read certain "types" of news depending on my mood.  I have a folder titled "People" that I read most often.  A "News" folder is often optional reading for me and I often empty it without reading it.  Same with my "Technology" and "Entertainment" folder.  Even a newspaper has sections of news.   You have your Front Page, your Metro, your Sports and Lifestyle.

    Other opinions: 1 2 3

  • Is one blog enough?

    Posted on December 27th, 2005 Alan No comments

    I often review whether to branch off onto other blogs for more targeted subjects.  I thought categories with RSS feeds might be the solution but they aren’t.  Too many categories and it’s too much to ask people to select and subscribe to them.  I use categories for my convenience.

    I’m considering posting programming related posts on another blog.  I don’t mind mixing personal stuff with technology/software related stuff but specific posts and links about C++, C# or WSDL, SQL etc. I think I would be better filtered out from my main blog.  If I ever WERE to have a significant following that seems to be the logical split in my targeted audience.

  • Many paths to information

    Posted on December 21st, 2005 Alan No comments

    I enjoyed subscribing to Tim Hussey’s blog while it lasted. He has a lot of good stuff to say.  It was the first feed I tried that had embedded ads. I’m not going to criticize the practice or the business of placing ads in RSS feeds. Certainly it is the author’s prerogative. However, with so many feeds to choose from, I choose to not degrade my experience by having to navigate through ads. Seems to defeat the whole purpose of using an aggregator to "save time" in consuming information.  As long as there are alternatives, I also will make it a policy to not subscribe to feeds containing ads.  The blogsphere is great isn’t it?  So many choices it starts working like the Internet infrastructure itself, many paths to getting to the same place; or in my case, the same information.

  • TypePad service outage

    Posted on December 19th, 2005 Alan No comments

    I’ll join the chorus of TypePad customers wishing to support Six Apart in the aftermath of the recent outage.  Granted, I don’t run a business using TypePad.  I don’t even have a loyal following that I know of.  My blog is written for myself and I can withstand a few days of down time.  But I agree with Brent and Robert that no technology or service is fool-proof.  I knew when I signed up for digital phone service with Time Warner that I couldn’t expect the reliability of the land-line SBC phone system.  Just two weeks ago, some bonehead technician came to disconnect a neighbor and managed to disconnect my Cable TV, Phone, and Internet access.  It happened in the evening and it was restored by the following evening.  My first reaction was to get angry and demand some type of compensation.  But I quickly cooled and chose to cut them a break.  Recently, Barton Creek Mall here in Austin had a power-outage blamed on a squirrel!  It’s a company’s response that should be judged more than isolated incidents (assuming they are isolated and not reoccurring).

  • Newsgator Online

    Posted on December 14th, 2005 Alan 5 comments

    I’ve switched my online news aggregator from Bloglines to Newsgator.  First, I wanted to try it out and compare it to Bloglines.  I like the interface better, especially in how you mark things as read.  I’ve swithched for good.  I mainly switched so that I can continue using RSS Bandit and get the benefit of syncing between it and an online news aggregator (supported in latest RSS Bandit release)

    Warning, when you export your subscription list from Bloglines in order to import into Newsgator, you’ll want to edit it and remove the high-level "Subscriptions" node, otherwise all your subscriptions will be created inside a folder called subscriptions.