Category — blogging
Due to a recent rash of spam commenting, for the time being I have changed The Daleisphere’s comment settings to permit comments only from registered users. When leaving a comment you’ll be asked to identify yourself through any of the accounts shown in the graphic above – ie: by using any of your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo or OpenID accounts. Note: This is secure. Neither I nor Disqus gain access to your account details when you login this way.
Unfortunately I’ve had to delete hundreds of spam comments over the last few days. Hopefully Disqus will soon get a handle on whatever technique comment spammers are using and put a stop to it. Otherwise I’ll have to seriously consider moving to IntenseDebate. Sorry about this.
My first $100 in AdSense revenue was generated from my three blogs in approximately 10 months. My second $100 was generated in just over 3 months – from March 4 to June 7 2009. It took 327,383 served ad impressions to generate the first $100, 189,290 to generate the second.
As I described in my ‘Analyzing My First $100 from Google AdSense’ post, for this last three month period I dropped footer ads in lieu of what I hoped to be a more lucrative ad type – inline text ads. I was right. Some how I also benefited from higher per-click revenues (see details below) for the second $100 than I did for the first $100.
For the last three months each of my sites used the following three primary ad types (channels in AdSense parlance) – each as depicted in the image below:
- tower ads (120 x 600 down the right column);
- cube ads (250 x 250 in the middle column); and
- inline text ads (468 x 60 in-post text ads – below the title, categories and tags fields and above each post entry).
I was delighted to see that bing is driving traffic to the Daleisphere on only its second day of operation. Below is a clip from my Woopra dash-board showing the Daleisphere’s first bing referral (that I’ve noticed).
I find this particularly interesting because I do not recall ever seeing traffic driven from Live.com in the past. Until now 95% of my search engine traffic came from Google. Yahoo!, perhaps, drives 2%. I’m hoping bing refers more traffic in the future.
So far I like what I’ve seen of it. But I’m not ready to give up Google just yet.
I signed up for Google AdSense on April 4, 2008. It took several weeks to sort it out and to slowly integrate the ads into The Daleisphere and my two professional blogs. After some initial testing, I had them implemented by early June 2008.
Round about March 3, 2009 I cleared my first $100 in AdSense revenue! Whoo hoo! That’s $100 in 10 short months – roughly 30 cents per day.
No Text or RSS Ads at First
My biggest mistake, it seems, was to decide not to use the text-based Google Ads – like the ad you can now see at the top of this post (just under the Categories and Tags). I think blogs littered with AdSense text-ads look hideous. I wanted my ads to be presented tastefully. Hence, for the first 10 months I opted for image-only ads.
Note: My sites only became eligible for RSS Feedburner ads in January 2009. So no significant revenue came in from that source.
The most important benefit of changing to this widget is that it works! The other widgets yielded spotty results with too many fail whales.
The other obvious benefit is that it allows me to embed many more tweets in my sidebar than the others did – through a scrollable interface.
Performance: Occasionally it doesn’t work. The result, a black fail whale rectangle with nothing in it. While annoying, so far the black rectangle appears less often than the fail whales I experienced with the other Twitter widgets. Also, sometimes the black box turns into the proper widget if you give it long enough. Odd.
Flash: On the downside the widget requires Flash. As a result, it does not work with the iPhone. Note: There is an html version of the widget available – though it’s not as nice or useful.
Cost: Not including the original home-server cost (I had been using a $600 Dell desktop), it was cheaper to use DynDNS.com for my initial 3 or 4 domains. As I add new domains, the cost of DynDNS was about to become more expensive than Media Temple which allows me to host up to 100 domains for $200 a year.
Future Sites Planned: I have several websites planned for the future. I’m hoping one of those will take-off or get Dugg – where I’ll need the surge capacity that media temple can support.
Bandwidth Caps: As of August 2008 Rogers imposed a 95 Gig per month bandwidth cap. Unlike in the U.S. where a typical user accounts have 200+ Gig caps, the 95 Gig Rogers cap was attached to their highest price consumer account. I have bumped up against and surpassed that cap over the last few months (Rogers charges $2.95 per Gig above the cap). Note: Bell’s highest end consumer account cap is 100 Gigs.
[Update: As of April 18, 2009, the Facebook Connect glitch under Disqus discussed in this post appears to be remedied. As you can see, I have re-activated the Facebook Connect option on The Daleisphere.
I also note that commenters using Facebook connect have the option (when leaving a comment) to allow that comment to be posted back to their Facebook feed.
Finally, I have updated my ‘Why and How to Integrate Facebook Connect with Disqus’ post to reflect recent Disqus/Facebook implementation changes.]
Disqus is in the process of enhancing their Facebook Connect feature. However, for the last day or so, with the feature enabled, only logged-in Disqus users were able to leave comments on The Daleisphere and on my iMedia Law blog. Neither Facebook users, nor regular commenters could leave comments here.
I recently updated sections 4.6 and 4.8 of my ‘Why and How to Integrate Facebook Connect with Disqus’ post describing the changes that Disqus recently instructed me to make on the applicable Facebook developer pages to facilitate the latest enhancements. Clearly, they are not working.
For more information on the problem, I wrote a detailed description of Facebook Connect / Disqus problem here in the Disqus forums.
I will update this post when this problem is resolved.
If you notice any problems with The Daleisphere flowing from the move, or otherwise, I would appreciate your leaving a comment.
Thanks to Dave Zatz for his constant help and guidance before, during and after the transition. Thanks also to the helpful support folks at media temple for making the transition reasonably painless.
For those interested, here are a few helpful resources I used when making the transition:
- Getting started with your (gs) Grid-Service
- Backing up and Restoring Your MySQL Database
- (mt) Knowledgebase article: Setting up FTP in Filezilla
- (mt) Knowledgebase article: Dreamweaver 8 – Basic FTP Instructions
- Creating Your MX Records & CNAME Records for Google Apps: (mt) Media Temple
- New Hosting For Four Pillars – Media Temple
I discovered a terrific new web-based image editor called pixlr.com. It works like Photoshop Elements, Paint.net and other popular image editors – but from inside any browser, with nothing to install.
It’s free. No sign-up or user account needed. No downloads or installs required. It just works – instantly.
Remarkably, If you have Adobe Flash 10 installed, it works like a desktop app, but, still, in your browser. Load and save images from your PC via typical desktop pull-down menus. Press F11 to make it go full screen. It looks and feels like you are running a desktop app.
It works on the Mac or a PC – anywhere you can install Adobe Flash. This is particularly attractive for Mac users given that there is no useful image editor built into OS X.
Google’s acquired Feedburner back in June of 2007. Feedburner has since been integrated into the Google Adsense platform. Bloggers can now place adsense units into their RSS feeds. In order to take advantage of of this service I needed to migrate my three Feedburner feeds into the new Google adsense feeds system.
According to this Google/Feedburner FAQ, February 28, 2009 is the deadline to migrate feeds. After that users will no longer be able to access their Feedburner accounts.
The migration process is simple for regular Feedburner users.
I use the MyBrand service – see my earlier ‘Google Turned Feedburner into ‘Free’burner Without My Knowledge’ post. A few more steps are required to migrate MyBrand feeds.
General Migration Steps
You can initiate the migration process from inside of Google Adsense or Feedburner. I initiated the transfer from within Adsense.
Note: You’ll need to set up an adsense account before you initiate the migration.
- Click on this link to begin: ‘Move feeds to your Google Account’.
- Enter your Feedburner credentials into the following dialogue box:
The primary reason I switched from Intense Debate to Disqus, is Disqus’s integration with Facebook Connect. Below I describe why this is important. I then provide a step-by-step ‘how-to’ guide on how to integrate Facebook Connect with Disqus.
[This Post was Updated on April 18, 2009 to reflect the changes made to the setup process, both on Disqus and the Facebook developer pages.]
1. Why Facebook Connect is a Big Deal
Discussion via comments draws users back for repeated visits to their site while engaging them in conversation with the blogger and other commenters. Bloggers want traffic to drive more ad sales and, frankly, they want more people reading their content. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Users are understandably reluctant to leave comments on blogs. Most bloggers, including myself, require users to leave a name, email address and an optional URL. The reason for this, at least in my case, is to weed out spam commenters and to develop a sense of community among commenters. Requiring such information has the unfortunate side effect of dissuading most readers from commenting because they don’t want:
- the ‘sign up’ hassle just to leave a comment; and
- to provide personally identifying information.
Facebook Connect solves these two problems and provides other terrific benefits.
Earlier this month I described How to install Intense Debate in WordPress 2.7 blogs. In my ‘Why I switched from IntenseDebate to Disqus’ post [coming soon] I describe why I made the switch.
The Disqus installation instructions are out of date (written for pre WP 2.7 blogs) and surprisingly difficult to follow.
Happily, both Disqus and IntenseDebate mirror/sync comments within a blog’s databases (though there are still problems with threaded comments not retaining structure – see part 6 below). This makes it possible to switch back and forth between the two at will.
Below I provide a step-by-step guide for integrating Disqus within a WordPress 2.7 blog. I first make some preparatory recommendations. Then I describe the steps needed to set up with Disqus, download and install the Disqus WP plugin, how to import your historical comments into Disqus and, finally, how to reclaim straggler comments.
Since listening to this net@night podcast back in May 2008, where Amber and Leo interviewed Daniel Ha, the founder of the Disqus, I have been interested in implementing this kind of a community-oriented, commenting/discussion system on my blogs.
Early on, I had compared the feature set of Disqus and its competitor, IntenseDebate (“ID”), and Disqus’s feature set and looks won. Concerns surrounding the ability to import, export, sync and otherwise control my comments, held me back. I was not going to join any system where I lost ownership/control of my users’ comments.
In the interim, both Disqus and ID have added dynamic comment importing, exporting and synchronization features. I became comfortable that I would not be locked into any commenting system if/when I chose to leave. Scot Jangro’s December 30, 2008 post, ‘Comment System Review Redux’, compared the the two systems afresh and gave me substantial comfort that ID’s feature set had evolved to near parity with Disqus (see other comparisons: inquisitr.com | Mashable).
But the clincher came on Sept 23, 2008 when Automattic, the owner of WordPress, purchased IntenseDebate. (See: Matt Mullenweg’s comment – IntenseDebate’s comment – Disqus’s comment). I expect Automattic to integrate IntenseDebate’s community comment / discussion system into the WordPress core at some point. So, as a WordPress user, it seemed a no brainer to go with IntenseDebate.
[January 23, 2009 Update: Despite what I wrote above, I ultimately switched to Disqus not long after implementing Intense Debate. In my ‘Why I switched from IntenseDebate to Disqus’ post [coming soon] I describe why I made the switch.]
IntenseDebate’s WordPress Plugin features are discussed here. The newest WordPress Plugin (v 2.0.18) has been completely overhauled, making the installation and comment import/export/sync process much easier than it was.
Below I describe why I installed ID. I then walk you, step-by-step, through the IntenseDebate installation process in WordPress 2.7.
[Update:As of December 14, 2008, the final release of WordPress 2007 is now out.]
I happily installed WordPress 2.7 RC 1 on my four WordPress sites yesterday. A ‘Holy Grail’ feature I have wanted since I started using WordPress a few years ago is finally here – core auto-upgrading (see below). And it works – Yippee!
For a good summary and description of what’s in WordPress 2.7 I suggest listening to Episode 48 of the WordPress Podcast where (starting at time index 39:13) core developer, Mark Jaquith, walks through the new WordPress features.
For years, every time a new WordPress version came out, I always sighed. It has been such a pain to update. I’d frequently let many versions slip by without installing them.
Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon upgrading my four WordPress installs from v. 2.5 to v. 2.7. No longer!! Upgrading the core now takes just seconds. To do an upgrade all you need to do is select “Upgrade” from the “Tools” menu (see picture below), then click on the “Upgrade Automatically” button:
For weeks now I have had a persistent problem with my wishhh.com service. It was taking an inordinate amount of time to connect to the service (sometimes as much as 2 minutes or more). After ruling out every possible issue, I decided to upgrade my Apache server to the latest release (version 2.2.10). I’m delighted that the upgrade solved my problem.
I had installed Apache server three years also and made only a few changes to its configuration files since. Being a bit rusty, I searched for an online ‘how-to’ upgrade guide. The only guide I found was Evaria.com’s upgrade tutorial here. It was helpful but a little bit for my tastes. I followed that tutorial and took notes along the way. This post fleshes out the details a bit further.
Note: This post describes my upgrade from Apache version 2.0.54 to the latest version 2.2.10 (as of December 1, 2008). If you are upgrading from a different version, you’ll need to make adjustments to the instructions below to reflect your specific circumstance. If needed, you can view my server specs at the end of this post for.
Before you Begin
- Gather Your Info: Information on the latest version of Apache HTTP Server can be found here.
- Download the Package: Before de-installing your current version, be sure have the latest version at the ready. You can download it from one of the mirror sites linked into here. I downloaded this ‘Win32 Binary without crypto (no mod_ssl)’ .msi installation file was:
- Upgrade Info: Basic upgrade information can be found here. Unfortunately, I could not find step-by-step upgrade instructions on the apache.org site - hence this post.
Two of my concerns related to how the WLW cropping tool works and how the the watermarking functionality works. This post demonstrates what I want/need out of a cropping/watermarking tool compared what the cropping/watermarking functionality in the latest WLW tech preview build provides.
The three pictures below show the differences between the source picture, what I want/need, and what the WLW Cropping tool gives me.
This picture is used in my So You Think You Can Dance (Season 4 – Top 20) post.
1. Source Picture
The source picture was taken with my Canon Powershot SD 1000 camera from my Dell W2200HD Plasma TV. The larger image (click on left thumbnail above to view the source) is 2592 x 1944 pixels and 1.8 MB in size– way too large for a blog.
I’ve been using Windows Live Writer (WLW) since early April 2008 (see post here). For the most part I’ve been delighted with it.
[June 26 2008 Update: I de-installed the technical preview and reverted back to the older WLW release. The "Open Blog Posts Much Slower" WordPress bug was driving me to distraction.]
A new (unnumbered?) WLW ‘technical preview” version came out recently (download here – see details here). I downloaded it and have been using it for a couple days. Unfortunately, this version has solved a few problems and introduced new one’s. I describe the benefits and problems below along with my wishlist for a few new functions.
New Technical Preview Benefits
Refresh Theme Option is Faster: This is not exactly something I need to do often but when I use the View/Refresh Theme function, it is faster than before and it doesn’t stop to ask me the annoying question (can it make a temporary post?) that it used to ask.
Structured HTML Formatting: When you look at the HTML source code WLW ads structures to it. This is terrific. It makes it much easier to find my way around and edit the underlying code. Note: There is also a handy new ‘Source’ access tab along the bottom.
Other: There are new image border styles, but so far I haven’t used them. There is a built in word counter (you need to turn it on in the options – more details are here).
For months now, I have been hearing good things about the offline blogging tool Windows Live Writer (download). Two weeks ago I was listening to Leo Laporte and Paul Thurrott‘s most recent Windows Weekly podcast (No. 53) were they once again were singing its praises. Since ‘The Daleisphere‘ just set sail, I decided to give it a whirl with my new blog.
After two weeks, I’m sold! Compared to the WordPress editor, this is one fantastic piece of kit.
In this post I describe some of the key benefits that convinced me to switch, include links to online demos, describe the WLW add-ins I’ve found useful so far and list some areas that need improvement.
Untethered Blogging: WLW has untethered me from the net. Previously I had used the WordPress editor and/or the WYSI plugin-editor exclusively. This meant I needed to be online to write posts. Now I can write my from anywhere, on any computer, at any time, whether online or off. So far I’ve written most of my Daleisphere posts on a lazy-boy recliner in front of the TV!
Until two days ago, I was blissfully unaware of the fact that Google had purchased Feedburner back on June 3, 2007 and in the process made two of its key services, FeedBurner Stats Pro and MyBrand, available to bloggers for free (see announcement).
[February 3, 2009 Update: Google has integrated Feedburner into its Adsense platform. See my new post ‘How to Migrate Feedburner Feeds to Google Adsense’.]
FeedBurner Stats Pro provides bloggers with detailed statistics about how often their RSS feeds are being used, which posts are being read/accessed the most, what feed readers are being used etc.
MyBrand allows the blogger to use a blog-branded RSS feed URL (in my case http://feeds.daleisphere.com/thedaleisphere) rather than a Feedburner-branded URL (eg: http://feeds.feedburner.com/thedaleisphere even as Feedburner continues to manage the feeds in the background. The obvious advantage of MyBrand, aside from the branding aspect, is that bloggers are no longer locked into Feedburner and can seamlessly transition their feeds to a competitive service without requiring their readers to update their feeds. (More details here)
[March 29 Update: The Final 2.5 Release is now available for download here]
So far I’m impressed!
There has been some controversy over the new design. They’ve moved some commands/menus around, removed some superfluous options, updated the dashboard and a few other odds and sods. So far I think it is intuitive, elegant, attractive and easy to use. Heck, its downright purdy! Installation was easy. All of my plugins and themes but one (see below) work fine. In the five days I’ve used it I haven’t experienced a single glitch.
So, why The new blog?
I’ve been a blogger for years now. My video game law and imedia law blogs were created to promote my legal practice. Occasionally I’d sneak in posts like this one, or this one, or this one, that were decidedly not about law at all.
As I drilled down into my Google Analytics stats, I noticed that the popular posts were frequently the ‘snuck in’, non-legal, posts. So, I thought, why not create a blog just for those kinds of posts? And The Daleisphere was born.
Focus & Approach
New authors and playwrights are taught to write about what they know. The Daleisphere will be about what I know – topics within the ‘sphere’ of ‘Dales’ interests and influence (see below), but decidedly outside of the topics covered in my professional blogs.