The Politics of Blogging

My transfer from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is complete. Well, the transfer itself was completed within the space of a few minutes quite some time ago. However, installing a theme, the required plug-ins and tidying things up – that took a little while longer. But it’s almost done now. Apart from any bits or pieces that I may have missed. Feel free to let me know if you find anything broken. Continue reading “The Politics of Blogging”

The Mexile 2014

Every year, the magic pixies that power WordPress, crunch up the numbers and produce some facts and figures for their bloggers. Just to let them know how they are doing. Alas, my blog is clearly in decline. But I’ve know this for a long time. It all went a little downhill the moment I left Mexico. But I still enjoy it, so I’ll plod on for another year. Let’s look at the numbers anyway. It’s just a bit of fun rather than the whole story.

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My previous posts from 2012 and 2013 show that I can’t quite fill the Sydney Opera House as many time over as I used to be able to. With 37,000 visits in 2013, I would have filled the place for 14 consecutive nights. The year before, I had enough visits to warrant being measured against the Cannes Film Festival. Fifty thousand visits were enough for a dozen festivals, apparently. I post less these days too. Last years tally of 146 was down from 196 the year before. Now we are down to just 122 posts. I’ve become lazy. Or busy elsewhere. Take your pick. I’m clearly not controversial enough either. I obviously need to jump on an extremist bandwagon of some sort and stir a few people up!

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Normally, there’s a couple of posts from the current year that make it into the top five. Not so this year. My most popular content is all old stuff. I do wonder where all those people interested in the Mexican Psoriasis Cure come from though. I have noticed over the last twelve months that it’s one of the most read posts on most days. Weird. I know where most people come from though. Google and Steve Cotton. To be struck off Steve’s blog roll would be akin to being struck off the internet.

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Who is it that visits anyway? For the most part, a big bunch of lost souls who were looking for something else and quickly went elsewhere in search of it. Then there are the lurkers. Those people who like to have a little read now and then but prefer not to be noticed. Sometimes the lurkers say hello at an appropriate moment, sometimes not. I’m not criticising. I am a lurker myself on other blogs.

Then there’s the regulars. The ones who prop themselves up on my virtual bar and put the world to rights. Kim, once again, leads the list. For the third year running….a hattrick. There’s two new names there too. Norm has been around for what seems like forever. William (or should it be Bill, really?) is a relative newbie. Steve has less to say these days, but then there have been fewer posts. He still moves up one place into three.

This is all becoming a bit too ‘Top of the Pops’. Let’s finish this off. Many thanks to all of those who visited, whether you fled soon after or not. Hello to all you lurkers. You are noticed. Maybe only once a year with this review, but still. You count. And of course, the biggest thanks to all you who leave a comment. Whether it’s just one or a few dozen. It’s nice not having to talk to myself.

Merry Christmas

We celebrate Christmas for the twelfth time on this little blog of mine, and the time has come to offer the traditional seasons greetings. Over the last decade and a bit I have had people leave a comment from every continent bar Antartica. And visits, fleeting or otherwise from most countries on planet earth. My statistics page tells me that at least one person from 164 countries has passed this way since February 2012 alone. Most have been from the US, the UK and Mexico, in that order. But there have also been solitary sojourns from the likes of Sudan, Djibouti, Swaziland and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Even one chap or chapette from Iran. The Ayatollah got sloppy with his censorship!

This is very much a multicultural blog. Not only has it been the story of a Brit and a Mexican forging a life either here in the UK or over there in Mexico, but we’ve visited plenty of places inbetween and further afield. Then there are those varied international visitors offering their opinions on all that has been written. Yes, that’s you! May that continue for many years to come. Some people may choose to fear diversity, but over here we embrace it and enjoy the myriad of cultures, languages, foods and other stimulating treats on offer from every corner of the world whether we meet a thousand miles from here or just around the corner from Chez Denness. And it is in this spirit that Mrs P and I wish you all a truly…..

Geséende Kersfees, Gèzur Krishlindyet, Melkame Yeledet Beale, Gozhqq Késhmish, Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah, Felices Pasquas, Shenorhavor Dzenount, Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun, Poket Kristmet, Shuvo Boro Din, Zorionak eta Urte Berri On, Vrolijke Kerstmis, Vesele Vanoce, Feliz Natal, Nedeleg laouen, Tchestita Koleda, Gun Tso Sun Tan’ Gung Haw Sun, Kong He Xin Xi, Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth, Mitho Makosi Kesikansi, Srecan Bozic, Veselé Vánoce, Glædelig Jul, Vrolijk Kerstfeest, Merry Christmas, Gajan Kristnaskon, Rehus-Beal-Ledeats, Häid jõule, Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad, Maligayang Pasko, Hyvää joulua, Joyeux Noèl, Goede Krystdagen, Nollaig Chridheil, Gilotsavt Krist’es Shobas, Froehliche Weihnachten, Juullimi pilluartsi, Kala ChristouyennavV’ya pave mita tupara-pe, Barka da KirsìmatìvMele Kalikimaka, Shub Naya Baras, Kellemes Karácsonyi ünnepeket, Gledileg Jól, Selamat Hari Natal, Nollaig Shona DhuitvBuon Natale, Kurisumasu Omedeto, Sung Tan Chuk Hav, Wanikiya tonpi wowiyuskinv, Felice Festa Navititas, Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus, Linksmu Kalédu, Schéi Chrèschtdeeg, Nollick ghennal, Il-Milied It-Tajjeb, Meri Kirihimete, Shub Naya Varsh, Utzul mank’inal, Yá’át’ééh Keshmish, God Jul, Bagga Ayana Dhalehu Gofetatini Esenee gae, Wesolych Swiat, Boas Festas, Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi, Sumaj kausay kachun Navidad ch’sisipi, Sarbatori Bellas Hristos Razdajetsja, Buorre Juovllaid, Ia manuia le Kerisimasi, Hristos se rodi, Subha nath thalak Vewa, Veselé Vianoce, Vesele Bozicne, Feliz Navidad, God Jul, Ia ora i te Noera, Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal, Sawadee Pee Mai, Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun, Srozhdestvom Kristovym, Naya Saal Mubarak Ho, Chung Mung Giang Sinh, Nadolig Llawen, E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!

Did I miss anyone…?

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A Dangerous Blog

Is anyone else getting this when trying to visit my site? I hope not. I’m getting it sporadically, and in more than one browser. It’s annoying. I get the message – the blog is hosted at a WordPress domain, but I do of course link it to my own domain name. But I pay WordPress cash every year to map the domain. So I don’t expect problems. Although I know browsers, their add ons and other bits and bytes can do weird stuff. Maybe it’s just me. Still, I like the idea that it’s Obi Wan Kenobi warning users away from my blog. If you’ve made it here, welcome to the Dark Side…

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Dynamic Blogroll for WordPress

Blogger has a great feature which is the envy of many a WordPress user. Are you reading Mr Calypso? This one is, perhaps, particularly for you. Bloggers like to keep a list of their favourite fellow bloggers in the sidebar, but only Blogger provides a built in widget which is automatically updated to show the most recent post at the top. I have been promising to try and find a way to replicate this in WordPress for an awfully long time, without ever getting around to it.

I was pretty sure the solution would be a pretty simple RSS based widget. In the end the solution was exactly what I thought it would be. Not quite a simple as Google’s built in Blogger widget. But just as effective and truth be told, it’s not much work. Requirement number one is to choose a feed reader and load in all the websites/blogs that you wish to be included in your widget. I’ve gone for Inoreader but any reader will do providing it enables you to make a folder public with it’s own RSS feed. Quick tip – when adding feeds manually, make sure you hit the + button not the magnifying glass, which is what I kept doing. Much to my frustration. It won’t work.  Enter the URL of the blog and hit enter. Voila.

Step two is to create a folder by right clicking on the Subscriptions text in the left hand bar. Then drag and drop all your feeds into it. I just called mine ‘feeds’. Once you have done this, right click on your new folder and click on Manage Folders. You’ll get a pop up window, and your feed folder should be listed in there. To the right of the folder it will say RSS Feed, in between a couple of other bits of text. You’ll need to right click on that and Copy Link. Done that? Cool, then we’re done with Inoreader.

In WordPress, you now simply need to add an RSS Widget to your sidebar, and in the options paste the RSS link that you just copied from Inoreader. You’re done. You now have a dynamic blogroll and need to envy Blogger bloggers no more. You can of course customise your widget, choosing whether the widget displays content or just links and how many posts you want displayed. The maximum is 20. And of course you will want to bookmark your feed reader in case you want to go back and add some new blogs or delete some old ones. It is a slightly more cumbersome approach that with Blogger, but once done maintenance is pretty close to nil. Unless Inoreader goes belly up and disappears, of course.  There are some screenshots at the bottom to provide a little extra help. By the by, your blogroll will initially be dominated by a single blogger. Fear not, as new posts are published, this will right itself. Give it a day or two.

I have put my own dynamic blogroll into action. The usual suspects are there as far as Mexican based (or wannabe based) bloggers go. They need no introduction. I’ve also included Ian Visits, one of the most informative and interesting London blogs going. Ben’s Prison Blog is there too, although his posting has been significantly less prolific since release. The title of his blog also appears to be less than accurate these days too, althought the additional tagline of ‘Lifer on the Loose’ does go someway to making amends. I’ve even included a brand new blog, which is struggling to get off the ground. The author sits two desks down from me at work. The blog is titled EG Cramer. That sets a tone, with a double initial, doesn’t it? We’ll just have to wait to see if there is a potential Wodehouse, Rowling or Salinger in the making. I wish him well!

The Mexile 2013

A final look back at the year just gone. Every year, WordPress provide a run down of each blogs statistics, which make interesting reading. Here are the key features of the Mexile.

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Since moving back to the UK, I post much less frequently. My blog has become a more personal affair, with less direction. Quite frankly, it’s a blog with less enthusiastic input. And the stats show. Once upon a time, when my blog was still on Opera, I’d get as many visits in a month as I do now in the whole year. But still, it’s nice to know I’d get a decent run at the Sydney Opera House. It’d be nice to fill Wembley one day though.

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This list spells it out pretty clearly. Of the five posts that were viewed the most in 2013, three of them were written years ago when I was still in Mexico. A fourth has the word Mexican in the title. People who do visit my blog are looking for Mexican stuff. The top post only gained so many views, I suspect, because I was one of the first to post about an issue to an update of the Galaxy S2. The post ‘Hands and Knees’ is the only one of those three golden oldies that was on this list last year. The others are all new entries.

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This has always been the case – a largely US, UK and Mexican readership. It would be odd if that were not the case. There were visits from over 140 other countries in 2013. I do wonder though, over the years, have I had a visit from every country on the planet? Maybe. Who knows.

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The vast majority of visits come through search engines. But the powers of the Blogroll, especially Steve’s blogroll, must not be underestimated. More importantly, as we all know, life is about quality not quantity. And Steve serves up quality, both in his own posts and his referrals.

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Talking of quality, here’s the run down on who contributed most. Comments are nice. Conversations often become interesting. I learn a lot from them and I imagine others do to, from the comments here and on their own blogs. There’s more than learning though, there’s also friendship. Kim is renowned across the blogging world, at least the Mexican corner of the blogging world, as the King of Kommenters. He tops the charts here not just for the second year running, but the third. Maybe also the fourth and fifth, but I haven’t looked that far back. My new years resolution – comment more!

Forgive Me Pilcrow

For I have sinned. I strayed from the path, and experimented with Zoren. But I couldn’t quite get comfortable with the blocky look. I sampled Origin, a theme with so much promise. But let down by a frankly awful user experience when leaving or replying to comments. I lusted after Kent. The theme, not Clark. But alas, the $79 asking price was too much for me.

I find it utterly nuts that WordPress don’t allow limited time free trials for themes. The Preview feature isn’t enough. I know from experience (ahem) that sometimes a nice looking theme just doesn’t work out once you’ve had a few days to get to know each other. Nearly $80 is a lot of money to spend on something you might not like a few days later. The number of free themes that are released compared to paid themes is disappointing. The number of decent themes being released, free or not, is very disappointing.

So I’ve returned to where I started. The Pilcrow theme. It’s not perfect. I don’t like the widget style. I wish the homepage showed excerpts with a little image instead of full blog posts. I wish the theme was a little wider. But in an imperfect WordPress world, this is the least imperfect theme. I’ve jazzed it up a little with a diamondy background. Which I will probably soon tire of and delete in favour of a plain grey background.

And I’ve planted my political allegiance for all to see. My current political allegiance. In an imperfect Britain, this is the least imperfect party. It is, of course, an awfully long way from perfect. A post will follow on this subject soon, I’m sure. Till, then, welcome back Pilcrow. Are there any dissenters who preferred the other themes? Critique and comments welcome.  No dirty protests though, please…

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WordPress Upgrades

I’ve been giving WordPress some love recently. I welcomed MyOpera users over to this side of the webosphere, and explained galleries too. But I have a few bones to pick with WordPress too. Most are minor, not worth even mentioning. But there’s one gripe I have which does irk though. WordPress.com is free and easy, but you can buy upgrades if you wish. And if you can afford them/justify the cost. There’s a range of upgrades, some of which are very useful, others of which are less so. The only upgrade I have purchased is Domin Mapping at $13 a year. That’s why my blog is at my custom domain, garydenness.co.uk and not it’s native wordpress domain of garydenness.wordpress.co.uk.

Videopress seems a foolish upgrade. Not only is it expensive, but it has limited space. Generous, but limited. Plus, if you don’t renew the upgrade, the videos you’ve uploaded disappear. YouTube is free, less limited and works just as well. Other add-ons, such as the Space Upgrade, Business and Enterprise upgrades are all also pointless for 99.9% of bloggers.

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But there are some interesting upgrades that I could be tempted by. The Custom Design upgrade, to allow me to play with the CSS would be great. I’d really like the No Ads upgrade too. They are $30 each. Or $79 if you buy a Pro pack. And then there’s the premium themes. But the prices! Who buys these upgrades?! I guess there must be enough bloggers paying up to make it worthwhile. But I’m convinced that keener pricing would bring in bigger profits. If Premium themes were closer to $20/$30 a go, I’d probably have bought one or two. If a Pro pack includes a Premium Theme and sold for $49, I’d be sold.

Alas, WordPress’ premium upgrades come with genuinely premium prices. So other than the Domain Mapping, I’ve kept my cash in my pocket. Are you listening Mr WordPress? I wish you were. I want to pay a fair price for a decent product, but you’re not delivering. Which is a shame. The latest Premium Theme to hit the collection, Kent, is fantastic. I love it. I’d buy it now. If it were $30. But it’s not, it’s $79. Crazy price. And I’m not buying. Which grieves me. The Mexile in Kent would be a great combo.

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Removing Featured Images From A Post

I like the theme I’m using for this blog, Fresh and Clean. It’s both of those. But I’ve head a pet hate since I switched to it. I enter in a Featured Image. This is so that, on the Home Page (where my recent posts are listed) it shows a small thumbnail to the side of the excerpt. To my annoyance it also then shows that image in full size at the top of the post, with no way to remove it. I’ve been living with it, because I choose a Featured Image in the post. I just prefer to choose where it is displayed. But crucially, in different browsers/RSS readers/devices, the image may or may not show in the post. This was more than a pain.

I’ve discovered the cure. It’s not a Universal WordPress cure. Different themes work in different ways. But whatever the theme, you’ll have to go to Appearance > Editor. From there, the code you’re looking for might be in content.php, layout.php or style.css. You’re hunting down a bit of code with ‘featured image’ in it. I found this in Fresh and Clean, and I deleted it.

<?php
// Get, resize and display featured image
if( of_get_option(‘blog_single_thumbnail’,’1′ ) == ‘1’ && has_post_thumbnail() ) { ?>
<div class=”post-head-image”>
<div id=”post-thumbnail”>
<img src=”<?php echo aq_resize( wp_get_attachment_url( get_post_thumbnail_id() ), wpex_img( ‘blog_post_width’ ), wpex_img( ‘blog_post_height’ ), wpex_img( ‘blog_post_crop’ ) ); ?>” alt=”<?php echo the_title(); ?>” />
</div><!– #post-thumbnail –>
</div>
<?php } ?>

This solved my problem. Of course, there’s a downside to this. It’s removed the Featured Image from all my posts. I broke my blog. Now I have to go back and replace the images manually into every post. Sigh. Still, going forward, at least things will work as I want them to.

Creating Galleries in WordPress

How to create a gallery in WordPress in six easy steps. 1. Hit the Add Media button. 2. Click on the Create Gallery option. 3. Upload the images you want to add to your gallery. 4. Hit the Create Gallery button in the bottom corner. 5. The next page will have this column over on the right hand side. Do you want the gallery to be given a bit of a mix up each time someone refreshed the page? Check the Random Order box. More importantly, right underneath that is a drop down box to allow you to select the type of gallery you want. I prefer the Tiled Mosaic. Just hit the Insert Gallery button. 6. Need to make changes? No problem. When you’re back in the post writing screen, your gallery is just a big box in the text area. Click on it and two little buttons appear in the top left corner. One will delete the gallery. The other will take you back into the Gallery Editing screen.

The block of images below are messy. The Gallery feature is probably better suited to photographs than to bland screenshots. Just click on one of the images though, perhaps the first one is the the best place to start, and you’ll see a nice shiny carousel open up the gallery. It works very nicely.

Welcome to WordPress

I recently, as in ‘two days ago’, faced the blue screen of death. A reformat of my hard drive beckoned. I’ve had to do this many times before. I dare say I’ll have to do it many times again. This time wasn’t terribly traumatic. Time consuming, yes. Traumatic, no. Traumatic would be the time I had a sudden HDD failure in early 2006. I lost a whole load of blog posts (my blog was a self produced and hosted creation back then) and several months worth of photos.

Today, all my photos are on Flickr. I did that within days of that 2006 HDD failure. Heck, I put everything in the cloud. Google’s ‘Not As Evil As The Rest’ Empire has its flaws and security/privacy issues. But I have allowed it to consume my digital life. My music collection. My mobile photos are backed up to Google the moment they are taken. I don’t bother with MS Office or any of the free variants, and just have Google Drive installed with their office suite readily available for online or offline use. My browser is Chrome and plugged into Google to save all my bookmarks and browsery stuff.

As for my blog. That was the first thing I moved onto a hosted platform. I had used Opera’s browser for years. They had a blog service called MyOpera. The community was brilliant, and I still keep in touch with a select handful of characters I met there. I stopped using the browser when it hit version 10 and broke, and Google brough out Chrome, which was slick. I stopped using MyOpera for blogging in 2009 after I had whored it doing paid posts to the extent it had become a virtual disease unto itself. I later got caught doing those ads, and was banned. Such is life. The $20,000 I earned before that happened was worth it….!

But I discovered yesterday that the fat lady had cleared her throat. She’s gonna start singing in March. The Opera experience is coming to an end. MyOpera is shutting down, and its users need to find a new home. There’s lots of genuinely good free blogging services out there. None match the built in community of MyOpera. But the platforms themselves are better, in my opinion. Tumblr is quirky, dead easy and fun. Blogger is incredibly versatile and can’t be beat when it comes to customisation. But WordPress is the most professional of the free services. It’s my choice and my recommendation. A recommendation I have passed on to my Opera friends.

To those who decide to walk this path, I welcome ye to WordPress. It’s a fine new home for your literary masterpieces/entertaining epics/rambling waffles. It’ll take a while to settle in, figure out where everything is kept and to feel truly at home. But I’m sure if you have a good play around, you’ll soon pick up what you need to know. If you get stuck, there’s a section to add comments below, just like in MyOpera. I’ll be glad to help out if I can. But I’ll try and help out straight away. Here’s a quick list of Eight Helpful Hints to start getting the most out of WordPress today….

Archives

One thing you’ll probably do straight away is import all your old posts from MyOpera. There’s instructions on doing that here. Once your bits and bytes are on WordPress you might want a way to access your archives. There’s a couple of ways to do this. You can add a Calendar or an Archive widget in the sidebar. But they are difficult to navigate. My preferred method is to create a page, imaginatively called Archive, and just type [ archives ] into the text area, but don’t leave spaces between the brackets and the text. You can look at my Archives page, or the image below, to see the result. Every post in a list. So easy to search. I wish it showed the dates, but you can’t have everything.

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Shortcodes

Are you wondering what the deal is with that [ archives ] code? Opera used BB code, if I remember rightly. And you could play with the CSS – I used to do that a lot. Those days are over amigos. WordPress isn’t the most customisable platform, unless you want to shell out of a $30 upgrade to access the CSS. But you can still add stuff. The way to do this is with Shortcodes, as described here.

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Rotating Header

You can customise the header image of your blog though. Every theme has a different sized header, so make sure you’ve chosen a theme you’re happy with before you spend too much time playing with the header images. The best bit here is that you can upload a whole load of header images and have them set to rotate. So everytime someone visits your blog, there’s a new picture at the top to greet them.

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Mosaic Gallery

There’s lots of ways to add images to WordPress, but the Gallery function is excellent, particularly the Tiled Mosaic option. Upload a whole selection of photo, choose the option to create a Gallery then tick the boxes as shown below, to create something that looks like this.

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Future Proof Images

Although I often upload images to WordPress, most of the time I embed photos from my Flickr account. The problem here though, is that if you change theme, and your new theme has a different text box width, then your old images are now the wrong size. There’s an easy cure for this. See the code below. You can see what I’ve done in red. The top set of code is the original. The bottom is the code I publish. It’s width is set to 100% and I’ve removed the height tags. That photo will now fill my text area no matter what theme I use.

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Upgrades

There’s lots of ways you can spend money on WordPress upgrades. I’ve been tempted to buy a package and remove the ads, but never taken the plunge. But there is one upgrade I have always paid for. The custom domain name upgrade. I do remember from my MyOpera days that the inability to have a custom domain was a source of frustration for many. The wait is over folks. Go get yourself your own fancy domain name today.

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Kill Spam

WordPress comes with Akismet built in, to combat spam. But it is far from infalliable. I regularly get blanat spam getting past Akismet’s sensors. No one likes spam. There’s an easy cure for this though. See the image below. Right at the bottom is the key section – make sure you check ‘comment author must have a previously approved comment‘. By checking this box, every comment on your blog by a new user will go to the Pending tray.  And it’ll stay there till you mark it as Approved or as Spam. You’ll only have to do this once per user, providing they log in to make their comments under the same name each time.

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Publicize

Ok, so WordPress doesn’t have the tightly knit community that MyOpera has. But you can overcome that. You probably have communities built elsewhere. Probably Facebook. That’s where Publicise comes in, sending your posts to your Facebook wall as fast as you can publish them. It couldn’t be easier.

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I hope some of that helped out! 🙂

Mexile Reloaded

I tried, really I tried. But I just couldn’t quite completely, irrevocably fall in love with Zoren.It had it’s plus points. But it was just too cumbersome, bloated and space-wasting. We had to part. So I went looking for a new theme. I’m not sure there is a theme I am totally happy with. Pilcrow was great, but I can’t bring myself to go back to a theme with such a narrow post. This one will have to do. It’s simple, and clean. Utilitarian, almost. All the fancy stuff cut out. It has a plain-Jane menu. A raft of new headers to go with my favourite old headers. Image-less sidebar. And a homepage with excerpts rather than the full post. Opinions? Like? Prefer? Detest?

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Flickr Blogging

If I were a pure ‘stats junkie’, I’d use Flickr not just for my photos, but to blog from to. I get far more exposure there than I do here, or on the Mexile proper. Check out the screenshot above. Only twice in the last month did I get fewer than 200 views. Eight days saw more than 1,000 visitors. One day topped 3000. Th rest were mostly between 600 to 800. It won’t be long before I hit half a million views in total.

I might experiment one of these days, and write a blog post to upload with a photo. Just to see if it increases views on that photo and whether I get much interaction from visitors. I’d be interested to see what happens. I won’t make a habit of it though. While you can blog from Flickr, the comments system is a bit meh, and the whole operation is nowhere near as slick as WordPress. But perhaps I should try and utilise those views more, given my desire to monetise my blogs. Perhaps just adding my web address to each photo I upload.

Zoren

It’s time for a spring clean of the Mexile, Mexican style. In other words, about five months late. I’d been using the Pilcrow theme on WordPress for years. I liked it. Still do. It’s clean, slick and just plain old looks nice. My only complaint was that it’s a little too narrow. Which made my photos a bit small. I often look at new themes, and preview them. And dismiss them. My most comment complaint? They’re too wide.

A narrow theme works well with the text. A wide one works well with the images. There has to be a happy compromise somewhere. Pilcrow has a text width of about 480 pixels. Zoren, 800 pixels. I’m guessing my ideal compromise would be somewhere in between. I think 600 pixels would be just right. Alas, there are no themes I’ve found with a text width of around 600 pixels that I like.

Zoren is nice and clean, and I’ve added a dozen photos for the rotating banner at the top. All taken by yours truly over the last couple of years. I’m not so keen on the huge info bar across the top of each post. An excessive, unnecessary and space wasting bar. It also includes the comment link. Comment links should be at the end of the post. That way, people leave an intelligent comment when they’ve finished reading the post, rather than an uninformed diatribe before doing so. In theory…

I’m going to give Zoren a run for a few days. Maybe a week or two. Just to see if it grows on me. If it doesn’t, then Pilcrow may yet make a return. Feedback is hugely appreciated. What do you think of the change? Is it easier on the eye? Easier to read? Is the comments link placement a deal breaker?! Vote!

LiveFyre

I’ve played with a few different commenting systems on this blog. I may finally be ready to settle on one I like. Things kicked off with the standard WordPress comments that are built in. A solid system, but it’s a little bit vanilla. I switched to Disqus almost immediately. I like Disqus and have used it on various blogs for years. But Disqus really didn’t seem to like the theme I’m using. Or there was some other issue. I switched it off quickly. It simply didn’t work.

Next up was Comments Evolved, previously known as Google+ Comments. It was slick, good looking, integrated with Google+ like a dream, and allowed users to sign in using Google, Disqus, WordPress or Facebook. One flaw – it separated all those comments into four different conversations. That’s a pretty big flaw. But I put up with it.

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I’ve now installed Livefyre. It’s one of the more recent entries into the commenting platform world. I like: slick look, the ability to sign in using Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Open ID or just as an anonymous guest, the editing box to allow commenters to easily add bold, links, images etc., the @ to bring people into the conversation, the easy Follow button and the SocialSync facility to ensure any comments made about a post in Facebook or Twitter are brought into the original post.

I don’t like that you can’t sign in using WordPress. Or Disqus. But especially WordPress. The SocialSync needs to be made way easier to implement. The Admin Dashboard is messy. But the pros outweigh the cons. Give it a test drive…