Yesterday I bought a brand new netbook (a Lenovo Ideapad S10) to bring with me when I travel. I was a little annoyed that it didn’t come fully equipped with Microsoft Office. I’ve been an Office user since the day I had my first PC (yes, I’m a PC) and never really thought there would be free and reliable alternatives to this Microsoft best-seller. Then I googled the term “office open source” and found a site that’s most likely going to change forever my “relationship” with softwares…
New Blog Design
Every 6 months or so, I like to get a new blog theme for my blogs. I was way overdue with this one as I hadn’t updated it since May 2008. As usual when looking for an original WordPress theme, I went directly to Smashing Magazine as they always have the best looking designs for whatever you might be looking for. After digging around the website, I finally found what I was looking for: the ColorPaper theme designed by FTL.
I was inspired to write this post by my friend Debi and the brand new Twitter account she created. Debi is the Director of Marketing at CrownAir Aviation, an aircraft maintenance company out of California and when she learned about Twitter, she thought it would be a great new social networking tool for her company so she started using the @crownair username.
Do you use Craigslist to generate traffic to your site? If not, you’re missing out on some free qualified visitors. What I’m going to talk about here is totally white hat SEO. It will not improve your SEO rankings. It will just bring some extra visitors to your site for a short period of time.
TechCrunch as a very interesting post today about why Google employees quit. Google’s HR department interviewd a group of ex-employees and asked them why they quit the company. Read some of the authentic posts to the thread below and think about it for a minute. I love how some of them are so sad they quit MicroSoft for Google, thinking it was gonna be the promised land. By the way, I still stick to my prediction that you will hate Google within a few years from now.
I have several Twitter accounts and even though I mostly use my personal one, I do have a few niche websites for which I set up independent accounts. For my franchise website www.FranchiseBrief.com, I really thought I would be able to get the @franchise username because I assumed no one in the franchise industry knew about Twitter yet. I was wrong! @franchise was already squatted and I had to go for the @franchisebrief username.
The History Of The Internet In 8 Minutes
From its birth in 1957 to today, here is a short video that tells us the story of the Internet. Don’t expect to know it all… check it out!
This post was inspired by a tweet from Lorelle, my favorite WordPress expert. Lorelle’s tweet was saying “Make WordPress’ search function suck Less” with a link to this post. I had WordPress search issues in the past and found a few solutions and I thought I would learn a little bit more from this post, but I didn’t.
Basically this post was about manually tweaking your search.php file, which improves the WordPress search feature but it still doesn’t make it a good search feature. The main problem with the WordPress search feature, besides the irrelevancy, is that if you have a large blog of a few hundreds posts, then there is not much you can do to speed up the search.
I don’t pretend to be an expert about WordPress (I’m actually far from that!) but I do think both solutions I will talk about in this post are much better at delivering very good search results for your WordPress blog. By “good search results”, I mean results that are delivered quickly, that are relevant to your search query, and sorted by relevance.
The wpSearch plugin is like having your own custom search engine on your blog. wpSearch is based on “Lucene“, a full-featured open source text search engine. wpSearch is fast, and relevant, which is pretty much everything I need from a search engine on my blog.
To set up wpSearch on your blog, simply download the plugin from here, then upload it, set permission to 777 (very important), and activate the plugin from your admin panel. After activating it, you will have to build the search index database, which may take a while (about 5 posts/second) if you have many posts on your blog. That’s all there is to it. Now check your search feature and you will see a huge difference in the results you will get. The relevancy will be so much better that like me, you’ll want to blog about it ;-)
Adsense For Search
Adsense for Search (AFS) is now my favorite search feature for my blogs for 2 reasons: for one it is the best search engine you can get; and two, you can actually make money from it. Even though I hate Google as a company, I can’t deny that their search algorithm delivers the best you can get from a seach engine thus far.
Now the main concern about Adsense For Search is that you have to rely on Google to crawl your website to index your new posts. Some people won’t use Adsense For Search for this one reason. Yes, you have to wait for Google to crawl your site and index your pages but how much does that really matter in your case? I mean, is it that important to you that your post must be foundable immediately after being published?
Besides, one benefit of Adsense For Search that I have been able to verify on all my blogs is that when AFS is implemented on your site, Google will come visit you quickly and more often. I haven’t done scientific tests on this, but I was able to notice it on many occasions. Most of the time, when I publish something on my blogs, the post is picked up by Google within hours, sometimes within minutes.
To set up, AFS, you will need a Google Adsense account.
WordPress just released version 2.7 of their software and I have to say that it is one big update! Although there is not much change in the overall functionalities, something that changes is the overall layout of the admin panel. The WP team has spent a lot of time and put quite a bit in the way of resources towards making things both look and work nicer. This release doesnâ€™t contain any security fixes that I am aware of, but it definitely feels quite a bit faster. Well, at least in my rather unscientific tests, it does. Your mileage may vary, of courseâ€¦
As usual when you update, there is a risk of screwing something up. What I always do before updating is exporting all my post. This way, I know that if there is a problem during the process, all my posts will be safe somewhere on my PC.
If you’ve updated to a previous version before, you may have encountered issues such as not being able to login for example. As I was able to verify before, the most common problem comes from the plugins.
The best way to avoid any problem with you plugins is to access your server and rename your plugin folder, right before updating WordPress. For example, I rename my plugins folder to “plugins-old”. Then I update WordPress, update my database and when this is done, I go back to my plugins folder that I previously renamed “plugins-old” and rename it “plugins” again.
My hosting company, DreamHost, automatically creates a new “plugins” folder when I update to a newer version so I always have to delete this one first before renaming my folder to “plugins”.
Doing so avoid losing all your plugins or having to reactivate all of them individually. Hope that will help some of you.
Twitter Background Image
The other day I was looking for a new background image for my Twitter page so I did what any normal person would do, I googled it… I thought I was going to be overwhelmed by the amount of websites offering such a service; I mean, how many of these are there to pimp your myspace page? But I was wrong, there is no good site out there that offers good and original Twitter wallpapers.
That’s why I decided to post about this so if like me, you’re looking for a theme for your Twitter page, you may want to check out some of the following sites.
UPDATE: I recently created a website called TwitBackgroundImages.com where I will try to upload Twitter backgrounds as often as I can. So hop over there, and check them out!
This is my personal favorite. Paul Anthony offers us what he calls “26 awesome backgrounds for twitter fanboys (and girls)”. I really like this site because it gives original templates with the matching color codes so you can also customize your designs colors.
French entrepreneur Fabrice Epelboin says that like me, he was looking to personalize his profile page on Twitter but he couldn’t find a good website. Unlike me though, he has design skills so he was able to make his own. He has 2 PSD files to download. They are really worth the look.
This website offers 5 PSD files of Twitter backgrounds that you can download and tweak to make your own using an image editor. I’m no designer so I couldn’t use this but you might be able to do something out of it. If you’re a designer, you can also submit your Twitter designs to the site.
This blog post tells you how to create an original Twitter background template using PowerPoint. From the author: “Who wouldâ€™ve thought that the presentation app used to lull audiences to sleep could also be used to create an appealing Twitter background? The process is fairly simple and only limited by your imagination and Twitterâ€™s 800Kb upload limit.”
A few PSD files to download and tweak. Not really interesting.
This designer actually offers her free services to design Twitter background images for you. She also have a few original wallpapers to download. Definitely worth a look.
Three Twitter wallpapers with the Twitter bird on them to download.
If you’re a designer you may want to visit CronCast to get the Twitter background guidelines. From file dimensions to color palettes, he tells you eveything you have to know on the specifics of creating your own Twitter wallpaper image.
Any other sources that you know? Please share them in the comments. Oh by the way, follow me on Twitter ;-)