The new share buttons in WordPress are much nicer!

I love the new share buttons in WordPress. The icons are very sharp and I love the new share/like counts for each post:

new share buttons

I am running WordPress 3.9.1 with the Twenty Eleven theme.

Readers from around the world with the WordPress Stats Map

One of the things I really love about WordPress is the statistics feature it gives me for the where readers from my blog are coming from. This is the map from the WordPress.com site that shows a “heat map” of where the visitors to this blog came from within the last 90 days. You don’t get this map in the JetPack stats screen, you have to go to the actual WordPress.com to see this map:

Readership Map

Responsive themes for WordPress, mobile, and JetPack

A while ago I switched to the Twenty Eleven theme and more recently I started using the JetPack mobile theme so my site looks very different in a mobile web browser. You can test my blog in your desktop browser and slowly shrink the window to see the responsive design in action. You gotta love WordPress and most of JetPack!

Here is a screen shot of my blog on an iPhone using JetPack:

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The WordPress subscription feature is awesome!

jetpackIn case you do not use the Jetpack plugin for your WordPress site you might want to consider it. The plugin is packed with some professional features. One of those really cool features is the Subscriptions feature. Not only is it easy to subscribe on a WordPress site – see my home page on the upper right for an example, the administration of the subscriptions is basically seamless.

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Upgraded WordPress and now using ImageMagick for images!

I just updated this blog to WordPress 3.5 and I also enabled the ImageMagick plugin for my image re-sizing for better quality. I don’t really post high resolution images (photos) but I figured I would check it out and see how it works. I then re-sized all of the images with the tool and saw little change – I am sure if they were photos there would have been a big difference. Here is a high resolution image that I sized with the new tool. The original image was 2848×4272, this was resized to 500×750.

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LeetPress – a great game review WordPress theme

A few weeks ago my youngest son Nathan and I talked about creating a game review blog. I figured this would be a great learning exercise for him and make “gaming” into a positive by applying critical thinking. The idea is he gets a new game on the xBox, Wii, iPad, etc and he has to write a review of the game in a notepad I gave him. So far he loves the idea and has written up some pretty impressive reviews. I do minor edits to his reviews but in general he does most of the writing behind them.

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Why your blog isn’t getting enough hits, top 8 tips!

I just read this blog post “7 Secrets to Effective Corporate Blogging” and I think this is also a great list for the regular bloggers like myself. As a matter of fact I guess I am doing their last tip right now by “stealing their idea” and adding to it, plus one more tip! I have been blogging for just over six years and I have seen a lot of hits on some posts and not nearly as many hits on other posts that I thought would be good reads. I have learned a lot over the years in this space and hopefully some of this information will be useful to other bloggers or newbies.

The biggest success in my opinion for any blog is the consistency of the content in the blog. This blog pretty much focuses on software development in many areas, collaboration, social, commerce, programming, administration, etc. basically whatever I do in my own time and my professional time around those areas. Over the years I have gained readers and lost readers.  I am definitely not an authority or generate 10,000 hits a day, or even a thousand hits a day in most cases; I do think I get enough readers to at least talk about what I think works.

So on to my “keys to success”, first and foremost get followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other site you have presence on. This will give you an opportunity to post your blog posts there. Many may find it annoying but many also look at those social networks to get news versus using a feed reader or visiting blogs individually.

Tip 1 – I find that scheduling posts between 4am and 5am Eastern Standard time is the best for me because I have many readers in Europe. Having your blog software automatically Tweet or share the post at that time is also a good idea. You want to promote your post URL between 8am and 10am in the different time zones. Studies have shown this is when most people read news on the internet.

Tip 2 – SEO can not be underestimated! Getting your post URL on the different social networks and then getting people to reply, like, Tweet or whatever will raise your SEO score on the search sites. A good example on my site are these two posts, they each get about 5-10 hits per day and a few are years old, the Eclipse preferences one was actually posted in 2007!

Tip 3 – Blog titles, very important. This particular post might get a lot of hits just for the title alone. The content may or may not work but hey, at least the title drove something. Many bloggers use “shock” titles to get a lot of hits but then the blog itself loses credibility over time.

Tip 4 – Stay consistent to your blogs purpose. Whether you blog about software or pickles make sure you stick to those guns. I use to post a lot of personal information in the beginning and found many liked it for the occasional read but it really didn’t build my readership. When I really focused on my specialty I started gaining hits.

Tip 5 – Use images and videos! Nothing makes a point like a picture or video. I may not be the most descriptive person with words so many times I just use a video or picture to help out. It also makes the blog itself a little more flashy. I may actually use too many pictures and videos…

Tip 6 – Your blogging software and the tools to effectively promote, attract, and publish your posts. It’s no secret I use WordPress as my blogging software. I used three different blogging software for this blog and eventually settled on WordPress. I feel the administration, the plugins, the templates, the community and the quality of the code is unparalleled in the free blogging software world. You can probably find “better” software but you will most likely have to pay for it or have it hosted.

Tip 7 – Promote, Promote, Promote. You have to have social presence and you have to promote your blog. Those Tweets, comments, mentions, likes, etc all work in your favor and could gain new readers. Use hash tags in Twitter so your post shows up in searches and other peoples lists. This is how you will gain new followers and readers.

Tip 8  – Comments are key. I actually lack in this space a lot. I don’t get a lot of comments on my blog because maybe I mostly post FYI or education like material. The better blogs out there actually get engagement from their community. I am always trying to get people to comment here but what I am finding now is most people comment on the social sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. So thank you to all who comment on this blog!

New Zurich header for my blog, thanks Chris Crummey!

From a previous post I said I wanted to have header images on my blog from places that I have traveled. This new image was actually taken by Chris Crummey but I was there and remember this scene. The picture is perfect for the TwentyEleven theme and when I saw Chris’s post of Facebook I had to ask if I could steal it. The angle and distance could not have been better for a header image – great picture Chris!

Twenty Eleven theme and 13 custom photos

As many saw last week I Tweeted about upgrading to WordPress 3.3 and I found out I had to upgrade to MySQL 5. The good news is I have been using MySQL5 with Drupal and a couple of other sites for a while. The upgrade process was seamless, I simply used the Export content and then import content feature from the WordPress Export/Import plugin.

After I installed everything I decided to change the look and feel and just use an out of the box theme, the Twenty Eleven theme. I then carefully went through all of my own photos from around the world and used them instead of the canned photos that came with the theme. In case you don’t want to hit refresh of my home page a hundred times, here they are:

Florida

 

Niagra Falls

 

Niagra Falls

 

Disney World

 

Germany

 

Las Vegas

 

Disney World

 

Old Forge, NY

 

Phoenix, AZ

 

Puerto Vallarta

 

Puerto Vallarta

 

China - Great Wall

 

China - Summer Palace

 

Akismet continues to save the day, every day!

This is a great plug-in, with an almost 99% catch rate it keeps the spam away from your site. I also use a basic math question on comments which has also helped; it prevents the post from even being posted by automated scripts. Since I started using this last year it has prevented over 1,200 spam comments from being posted.

Must have antivirus plugin for WordPress sites

Tonight I decided to poke around and see if there are any tools to remove malware scripts embedded into PHP and I found this very nice plugin for WordPress, AntiVirus.

The plugin has a utility that can be run daily to check all php files for embedded viruses. The report can be emailed to the site administrators. You can also run the tool manually and watch it do its thing…very cool. If this tool ends up being valuable I will definitely have to donate to this because it was a total pain in the butt to remove this code manually across all of the directories.

Features

  • WordPress 3.x ready: Design as well as technical
  • Detect the current WordPress permalink back door
  • Quick & Dirty: activate, check, done!
  • Manual testing with immediate result of the infected files
  • Daily automatic check with email notification
  • Whitelist: Mark the suspicion as “No virus”
  • Clean up after uninstall the plugin
  • English, German, Italian, Persian, Russian

What is SugarCRM anyway???

About a month before I left my old team I was potentially going to be assigned to work on the SugarCRM application integration within IBM so I got to spend a little time analyzing the package. Sugar is an open source customer relationship manager software package that basically competes with a few of the big boys – like Saleforce.com. The really cool thing about this software is it has a pretty good community around it and has all kinds of plugins and extensions available. You can even deploy it internally or host it in the cloud – one thing I think sets it apart from SalesForce. Your data will be internal and safe. So now lets dive on the code!

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Coding in the cloud is everywhere

As you might have been reading on this blog I created the site PlanetWebSphere.net and the site is based on Drupal 7. The exercise was for me to learn Drupal. What I really didn’t go into was how easy this site was to produce and how it was produced. In Drupal they introduced a concept call Views where you can create basically any block with text, html, or PHP. In PHP mode you have total access to the entire Drupal API including things like module, hooks, and database API’s. The screen shot on the right is actually a custom content view where you can simply write any PHP.That is the exact code I wrote for the left panel of “Feeds”.

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"Summer of code" programs and an ecosystem

Every year more and more projects get on with Google and their summer code contests. These initiatives are just the right thing to keep interest in a technology and get young (and some times older) developers involved with a framework, API, or general system. The benefit goes both ways, the institution grows the developer base and the contestants usually get nice prizes and some notoriety.

Here is a list of some of the “summer of code” programs you should check out. There are 175 organizations participating. I don’t see IBM, Lotus, or XPages in the list, which is a shame…

If you want to get involved with Eclipse then get with Chris here.

This is exactly what communities like Lotus and IBM need!

Why web based IDE's just make sense

Click to make larger

Today there are many applications and frameworks that allow development of the web site or application all from the web. You can publish things immediately or at a later date . Applications like Trelix, WordPress, and many other applications all have some kind of programming capability right within their admin tool. Some content management systems even allow you to add content right from the regular UI. So what is missing?

Well, something like Orion, that’s what is missing. Orion is basically the ever popular Eclipse IDE but is 100% web based. Take WordPress for instance. You can pretty much design your theme and code it entirely in the WordPress Admin panel, see the picture on the right. The problem is the editor is a basic text editor. They added a Documentation combo box for the common WP functions but the reality is the editor is not the greatest. Now, imagine if Orion was integrated into this system. You would get line numbers, color coding, and all of the other great things Eclipse brings to the table. Since WordPress is files based I actually don’t think this effort would be too hard – maybe this would be a great idea for a kick-butt WordPress extension!