Rickety Review #1

The Rickety Review #1
Periodically I publish the Rickety Review to summarize what I’ve learned running my blog.

Post Frequency

My first Rickety post was about my Zion Vacation and was published May 16th, 2008. It was followed by another post the same day, then one the next day and one on the 22nd. More posts followed on 26th, 29th (two), 30th, and 31st. It was near the end of May I decided to post once a day, which I have have done since. At first I wanted to see if I could actually post once a day for a month. When June was through and I had met my goal I was surprised that it was easier than I had thought but still hard. I find with a goal it needs to be either daily, weekly, or monthly. Every other day doesn’t work well because the days fall differently each week and it is hard to remember. Anyway, after a successful June I decided to keep up the daily posts. If I have two things to blog about on the same day I write the extra post but wait until the next day to publish it. If I go on vacation I write the posts ahead of time and use the WordPress auto-publisher to make them public.

Theme Changes

I replaced my original theme with one designed by Andreas Viklund. The WP-Andreas09 theme is a full width, 3 column theme with a fluid central column and comes in 14 different colors. I redesigned the theme to use one predominant color, blue, and replaced the plain color banner with 36 banner photographs that randomly change on a full refresh. Although a fluid central column makes it difficult to place photographs in the text of a post I still like the design.

Widgets

I am using five widgets on my left sidebar. The first three are the usual Search, Subscribe, and Recent Comments. A text widget allows me to add the image and link to jesuschrist.lds.org. The WP-Stat widget by Lester Chan displays my WordPress blog statistics including general total statistics.

On the right sidebar I am using seven widgets. The first two are text widgets to display my dofollow logo and a photograph of yours truly. Then the usual Blogroll, Categories, and Archives. I finish up with two more test widgets that hold the latest of my starred Google articles and various rankings.

I have played with other widgets. Some didn’t meet the XHTML 1.0 Strict standards so I eliminated them. For example, I had a poll in the sidebar for awhile but I wasn’t able to fix the code so that it would pass validation.

Plugins

I use four plugins:

  • Dofollow. This disables the rel=nofollow attribute in comments.
  • Google XML Sitemaps. Generates a sitemap which is supported Google.
  • WP-EMail. Allows people to recommend/send my blog’s post/page to a friend.
  • WP-SpamFree. An anti-spam plugin.

I have experimented with several plugins but they either were not what I expected or they didn’t meet standards. I like to keep the number of plugins to a minimum.

Pages

The DoFollow page is intended to grow a directory of DoFollow blogs. Feedback and FAQ are standard fare that need no explanation. LDS is where I am compiling statistics about the LDS faith in a compact format. This is nifty because the pages drop down to a second level. And lastly the usual About.

Summary

There is nothing new here but it does keep a record of the evolution of my blog. This is not all the changes I have made, for example, I installed Zen Photo to manage my photographs. However, I will discuss this in another Rickety Review. It appears I have stabilized for now and I am using the same processes from day to day. This greatly speeds up my writing now that I have less technical work to do. Just today I got my website approved to try Woopra Beta. It will be interesting to compare Woopra with Google Analytics in an upcoming Rickety Review. I will keep experimenting and responding to feedback to improve the blog and make it less rickety. Or is that more Rickety?
Rickety signature.

Rickety Blog Statistics

I have a few friends that have shown an interest in my rickety blog statistics. This post is for them. Looking at the most popular posts you can see that four of the five are about family or friends so it is understandable that they would rise to the top.
Google Analytics and snapshots of popular posts.
The five post popular posts:

  1. Bear Lake Trip
  2. DoFollow
  3. Nephi Overnighter
  4. Dan at the Bountiful Temple
  5. Ward Campout 2008

Countries with the most visitors:

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. United Kingdom
  4. India
  5. Canada

States with the most visitors:

  1. Utah
  2. California
  3. Texas
  4. Washington
  5. Illinois

Cities with the most visitors:

  1. Kaysville, UT
  2. Hill AFB, UT
  3. Layton, UT
  4. Midvale, UT
  5. Draper, UT

Top referring sites:

  1. osmossis.blogspot.com
  2. blogcatalog.com
  3. www.blogged.com

Browsers:

  1. Firefox 77.7%
  2. Internet Explorer 17.1%
  3. Safari 4.6%
  4. Opera .4%
  5. Netscape .2%

Operating Systems:

  1. Windows 56.8%
  2. Linux 37.5%
  3. Macintosh 5.5%
  4. Not set .2%

How to not NoFollow

U Comment I FollowThe NoFollow attribute

When you comment on a blog and leave your own blog address you will get a backlink that search engines will pick up that will help you to increase your ranking. However, many blogs use the NoFollow attribute to make search engines ignore your backlink. They do this by including code like this:

href="http://www.rickety.us" rel="nofollow"

You can see it in a blog’s comments by using your browser’s “View Page Source” command. Blogger and WordPress both have NoFollow turned on by default, as do many other blogging platforms. Some blogs delay removing the NoFollow by a measured number of hours and others require a certain number of comments. I call these type of blogs restricted DoFollow.

Removing NoFollow

When I used to remove NoFollow from my WordPress blog I used the DoFollow plugin by Denis de Bernardy. I no longer remove the NoFollow attribute. This is purely an effort to reduce the number of plugins I use. Note that links placed in the body of the comment will still be NoFollow but the website listing typed into the website box will be DoFollow. Of course there is really no DoFollow attribute but if the NoFollow attribute is removed, the link is automatically followed.

Detecting NoFollow

The way I prefer to detect NoFollow is to use the Firefox SearchStatus plugin. Once loaded, when you go to comment you will see links that are NoFollow in a pink box. Very useful.

Finding DoFollow

There are a number of DoFollow directories that list DoFollow blogs. The problem is that restricted DoFollow blogs are mixed in with the the good unrestricted blogs. In some directories there are even some NoFollow blogs that slip through. Now that gets really annoying. So for a time I kept my own directories. With the SearchStatus plugin, when I came across DoFollow blogs, as I read the comments I would add them to my directory. Just surfing by a blog’s homepage that has Recent Comments displayed, Stylish will display the true colors of a commenter’s link.

A more direct approach is to use Google Image Search for “U Comment I Follow” (with the quotes). You might even want to make sure that the same text is displayed in your alt tag when you choose a DoFollow image for your blog.

Update

I have discontinued using the dofollow plugin to reduce the number of plugins I use.

What Rick Needs

Using Google search for amusement

Searching for What Rick Needs

Here is something I found amusing. I saw it on Titania’s blog a few days ago. The idea is to search on Google with your name first and then needs, for example Rick needs. I tried using Rickety needs but the results were nonsensical. Here are the first ten Rick needs that Google listed when I searched on Wednesday:

  1. Rick needs a massage.
  2. Rick Needs YOU!
  3. To run a strong race Rick needs our help, including financial help.
  4. Rick needs to be cloned.
  5. Rick needs bail money.
  6. The only weight Rick needs to be trying to deal is to see if NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, Atkins, Slim fast and Weight Watchers will let him be the spokesperson for his next rap album.
  7. Rick needs to borrow your engine hoist.
  8. Rick‘s cool but he needs to open up more.
  9. Rick needs to tag the load instead of letting the guy wire tag it for him.
  10. What Rick needs now: partnerships with ad agencies that want to deliver big, beautiful graphics to their clients.

Amalgamating What Rick Needs

Now try and connect the ideas of all ten results together in one sentence. I have numbered the part of the sentence that matches the search results. For example, in the sentence below to pay is the essence of search result number 3, including financial help.

Cool (8) Rick needs you (2) to pay (3) for his massage (1) with bail money (5) to help him lose weight (6) so he doesn’t need an engine hoist (7) to lift him but he really should tag himself (9) before he is cloned (4) or produces any graphics (10).

If you try it yourself, share your results in the comments.

Results may vary by location and could be skewed by personalization based on your web history. Results may not amuse and are not insured by the FDIC. No animals were harmed during computations and all-electric search engines were employed to protect the environment.

Blog Makeover

Yesterday I made the switch from my old blog to a new location and a new theme. I took the blog out of www.rickety.us and exported my posts to a new database. To redirect I wrote the following code in the index.php:

<?php
header( 'Location: http://www.rickety.us' ) ;
?>

Of course I began to alter the theme immediately. I made 24 new banners and used the rotator script to randomly change the banner. If you refresh the page the banner will often change. Once I have seven more banners I can change to displaying a different banner for every day of the month. I can do this by changing the code from:

mt_srand((double)microtime()*1000000); // seed for PHP < 4.2
$rand = mt_rand(0, $i); // $i was incremented as we went along
header('Location: '.$folder.$files[$rand]); // Voila!

to this:

// A different banner for each day. Make sure you have 31 banners.
$when=getdate(date("U"));
header('Location: '.$folder.$files[$when[mday]]); // Yeah!

To test this I added seven more geese banners and that is why when I switch from daily banners to random banners you will more often get geese on a refresh.

This new theme is fluid and handles widgets better than the old theme. A link to where I got it from is in the footer. Tell me what you think of the new theme. Do you like it better than the old one?

Wiki Tables

Consider this sortable wiki table. What is the easiest way to create it and maintain it? Here is how I do it:

  1. Use a spreadsheet such as Excel, OpenOffice Calc, or Google Docs to compile the data. I like to use Google Docs so that if needed I can share the spreadsheet online. A spreadsheet is simpler to use than a wiki table, duplicates cells easier, and totals columns. Where there are blank cells, use a non-breaking space (&nbsp) to maintain table integrity.
  2. When the spreadsheet is finished, export the data as csv. In Google Docs the csv data appears in another tab in my Firefox browser.
  3. Select all the csv data and paste it into the window of a CSV Converter. In the Convert Special Characters section select Do not convert (table contains code). Click on the Convert to MediaWiki! button.
  4. Copy the wiki table to your wiki edit page. Add in your wikitable sortable, cellspacing, border, and background color, etc. Don’t forget to add the sortbottom class before the totals row.
  5. When updating your article, put the changes in your spreadsheet and convert as before but do not replace the wiki table header. You will have to re-type the sortbottom class as this is replaced each time. If someone else updates the wiki table directly, don’t forget to update your spreadsheet.

With a large wiki table of membership records, by updating in a spreadsheet the totals are calculated for you which makes for easier going than to update the wiki table directly.