Archives for the category "Blogging"

5 Most Recent Entries in "Blogging"

Popsicle - A Free Wordpress Theme from Heraghty.net

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We've created another Wordpress theme called Popsicle, which you can download for free from our web design site.

Popsicle is based loosely on the design of the Heraghty.net website.

The theme comes in five different colours. The demo shows just one of the colours; to see the others you'll need to install the theme to your own Wodrpess blog.

Upload the Popsicle files to your themes folder, and you’ll automatically see a management page in Wordpress. From there, you’ll be able to choose between the gray, green, brown, pink and blue versions.

Download the Popsicle Wordpress theme.

Movable Type 4 - A Whole New CMS

I've always been a fan of Movable Type. It was the one of the first blogging tools, and the most user-friendly blogging tools.

From a great start about 5 or 6 years ago, the company behind Movable Type, Six Apart, then made some errors. Notoriously, they began charging for the previously free tool. While they improved the interface and functionality over the years, these aspects still lagged way behind those of WordPress.

For example, MT's editing interface was anything but WYSIWYG. The publishing/updating process remained relatively slow and clunky. And its comment spam handling was pathetic.

For me, the most annoying aspect of MT was that it took a lot of hacking to convert it to a full CMS that my clients could use. Nevertheless, hacking MT exactly what I did for clients because, despite all these shortcomings, MT remained the most user-friendly interface. I could show clients quickly how to publish news pages to their sites, for example, without any mumbo-jumbo about "loops" or "modules" or "mambots" or "joomlets" (okay, I made that last one up).

With the recent release of MT4, some of my criticisms have been addressed. MT 4 is free for personal use and, unlike previous versions, you can download the app without registering. Upgrading from 3.x is a cinch.

The big new concept is "pages", letting you add pages to the website, in the style of your blog entries. I haven't tried this feature yet but, hopefully, it will remove a lot of the hacking work I mentioned earlier. The editor has also improved -- finally, it's WYSIWYG, and has an upload images button.

On the downside, while the interface has improved in some ways, overall I'd say that it's not as attractive as previous versions. The extensive use of light text on a black background, including in the app's header, was a bad mistake. I'll see if I can CSS that out.

The solution may lie in another feature I'm eager to try: using template tags on the MT interface itself. If I understand this correctly, this feature will allow me to customise it for clients. Again, I don't know how that will work yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Update: I take it all back. They've included a feature called "Widget Sets". Now what the hell is that?! Why confuse users with unfamiliar jargon?

Mediajunk Recommends...

I don't do "blogrolling" and don't normally recommend other people's blogs.

But I recently discovered the blog of Paul Bucheit, formerly of Google -- and author (almost single-handedly, I'm told) of Gmail.

If you like dipping into my blog every once in a while, I suspect you may also may enjoy dipping into Paul's.

p.s. You may also enjoy lounging in the sun on the roof of Hotel Del Mare in Marina Grande, Sorrento for nine days in June/July, listening to Pink Martini. (I know I did.)

Next week: Mediajunk recommends a good dentist in North Dublin.

Firefox Performancing with Movable Type

I've created this entry using Performancing - a Firefox plugin that lets you create blog entries via a WYSIWYG editor that runs in your browser.

Since I'm creating this post directly in the browser, I don't have to login to my Movable Type account via the web, so I don't have to wait for it to load.

Another advantage is that the editor has all of the basic formatting capabilities you'd expect - bold, italics, quote, bullet points, insert image, etc. On the downside, however, I've just noticed that the HTML "b" and "i" tags are used rather than "strong" and "em", so I've had to switch to HTML mode and change these manually.

Hopefully these issues will be resolved in the future or -- better yet -- maybe we'll be able to add custom XHTML tags to the editor.

While there are other ways to get a WYSIWYG editor for Movable Type, they involve adding a plugin to MT itself. For example, MTEnhancedEntryEditing uses TinyMCE's nifty feature set - but I've found this problematic when using IE (and so have others). It works fine in Firefox however.

If you are an MT user and decide to use Performancing, take note of the following:
  • You will be asked for the URL of your MT publishing API. This is not your mt.cgi URL; it is your mt-xmlrpc.cgi file (this is in the same directory as your mt.cgi file).
  • You will be asked for your API username and password. The username is your regular MT username but the password is not necessarily your MT password.
  • To check -- or reset -- your MT API password, log in to your MT account, go to >System Overview > Authors > Your Name, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for the "API Password" field.
Anyway, after writing all that, I still don't know if my Performancing plugin is working! I guess it's time to press the "Publish" button and find out...


Update (5 minutes later): Hmmm... I'm not so sure about Performancing after all. It added a "Powered by Performancing" tag and link to the bottom of my post (which I have just deleted). Is that link going to appear in every post I make with Performancing? That's spam!

I understand that the makers would like something back but, hey, I think a blog post evangelising the plugin (my original intention) and a link back to their site is enough.

Secondly, my paragraphs have become pseudo-paragraphs -- created using double BR tags, not P tags. This looks ugly in source code, but it looks even uglier in my Textile-2 enabled Movable Type interface.

Sorry Performancing, after an exciting start, you now get the thumbs down. Someone's bound to make a better blogging plugin soon.

Social Media Optimisation (SMO)

Five or six years ago, when Google was emerging as "the next big thing" on the internet, I had many conversations with Gerald Adams of Vision Consulting about the importance of being listed high in Google search results.

As Gerald used to put it, "where you show up" in Google was becoming crucial. We weren't the only people to understand this; soon search engine optimisation (SEO) was born.

Gerald and I also discussed the importance of "where you show up on other websites". This related practice has finally got a name too - social media optimisation (SMO).

For a phrase that was coined only a few months ago (in a blog entry by Rohit Bhargava), the SMO meme is spreading rapidly; already it has a wikipedia entry.

Bhargava lists 5 rules of social media optimisation, and commenters have weighed in with more suggested rules. Expect to see "SMO skills" appearing in web marketing job advertisements soon.

Mediajunk is No Longer Updated

Visit Michael Heraghty's current blog at User Journeys

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Mediajunk was Michael Heraghty's blog from 2002 to 2010, with articles on usability, UX, SEO, web design, online marketing, etc. More »

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