Categories
Current Events

Fake Steve Jobs is Unmasked

Turns out Forbes columnist, Daniel Lyons, was the one behind Fake Steve Jobs’ blog. Brilliant timing too (heh), his satirical novel written in the voice of Mr. Jobs is due to hit the shelves in October. He was outed by a reporter at the New York Times who received an advance copy of the book for review.

Categories
Office

The Journey Begins – Consolidating multiple blogs to WordPress

Over the years I have maintained blogs on a number of different platforms. I started in 2003 with Blogger moving later to TypePad and finally to Movable Type hosted on Yahoo Small Business. In order to simplify my life, I set out to bring them all together into a single domain. What follows are my notes on the process and what I learned along the way. This is a work in progress, check back for updates as I continue down this path.

Preamble: Why WordPress? Why did you leave Yahoo Small Business?

Short Answer: TypePad is a great place to start blogging and Movable Type on Yahoo Small Business is a pretty good solution for the more advanced user. I had played around with WordPress but basically I wanted to get down in the weeds with WordPress and I would never do that unless I made it my primary blogging platform.

Long Answer: I needed to redirect all my traffic from cavitate.net to everwas.com. I have a number of links coming into the old domain so I wanted to use an .htaccess file to set up permanent redirects and preserve the search engine rankings. Yahoo Small Business doesn’t allow .htaccess so that cinched it.

Those that know me know that I’ve been a huge fan of Movable Type (I used to work at Six Apart). I actually gave the MT4 beta a try just to see what it was like but when I had problems with the installation reading the MT-Static directory correctly (yes I did fiddle with the permissions) I ran out of patience. Frankly, I was itching to try a WordPress installation just to see what all the fuss was about. When it installed immediately and I began to play around with the template files, I was immediately impressed with its speed – no more rebuilding!

Right, on to the journey!

1. Exported all my TypePad entries and saved them to my desktop.

2. Exported all my Movable Type entries and saved them to my desktop.

3. Downloaded and installed WordPress into my new hosting account at Laughing Squid.

4. Modified my DNS entries to point to the Laughing Squid name servers (they only provide hosting, no domain name services). I then waited a couple of days for the new DNS entry to propagate. Once I confirmed that I was able to reach my WordPress site via everwas.com, I got to work building the new site.

5. Downloaded the Underscore Permalinks plugin. Because TypePad and Movable Type write their URLs with the underscore (_) in between the title words instead of the (-) that WordPress uses, activate this plugin before you import any of your old posts to preserve the trailing links on the url. This is important if you want to later use .htaccess to preserve your links. (oh great, I just read this!)

6. It’s also important to preserve your old directory structure. Use WordPress’ Options > Permalink area to match your existing directory structure for your individual posts. Mine is [/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html] for example. There are a number of resources which you should read carefully before you begin. The WordPress Codex page is a good place to start. Be sure to read the bit about running an SQL Query on the wp_post table in order to preserve the entire length of our URL.

After the permalink structure is changed and the %postname% dashes have been set to underscores, an SQL Query must be run on the wp_post table in the WordPress mySQL database. This is because every Movable Type installation has a different %postname% length cutoff point. On the contrary, WordPress displays the whole URL. Before running this SQL query, replace “15” with the number of max characters in the %postnum% for the particular MT installation.

UPDATE wp_posts SET post_name=SUBSTRING(post_name,1,15)

You can find your Movable Type %postname% length settings under “Basename Length” under Settings > New Entry Defaults in MT 3.2x.

Now you’re ready to import your old posts!

7. My Blogger entries were the oldest. WordPress has a built-in importer which you can run from within WordPress. When you run the importer, it’ll ask for your Blogger username and password, Google will then ask if you want to grant access to Blogger from WordPress. Once you do that, it’ll pull everything over. Both Movable Type and TypePad entries imported easily (seconds!). Now I had all my text in one place. Comments and Trackbacks made it through with the URLs preserved. All was gravy. [I did have one false start but you can use Justin Watt’s excellent WordPress Suicide plug-in to delete everything and start over]

Now my only problem is that all the images were now getting pulled from their original location. I needed to re-publish all these posts to point to their new home. There’s probably a better way of doing this. I could just upload all images to a location on my new host and run a SQL Query to replace their old hostname with the new but I took a manual approach in order to re-visit my earlier posts and re-format my images to fit the new template.

Images

8. Blogger: I saved all my images by going to each blogspot post and right-clicking on them and saving them to a “blogspot” directory I created on my hard drive. I think Blogger also offers FTP access but I only had a few posts with images so it didn’t take too long.

9. Movable Type: I simply FTP’d into my Yahoo Small Business account and pulled down everything in my Images directory and saved it to a “mt” directory I created for them.

10. TypePad was a bit more difficult because they don’t allow FTP access. I had to basically pull down each file using the TypePad File Manager to view the graphic in my browser window and then right click to save it. I saved all my TypePad images to temporary “typepad” directory.

11. Starting with my oldest post in February 2003, I overwrote any entries for the old images and replaced them with a new one. I took the time to re-format them to fit the new template and if I found any dead links, took the time to update them. Call it a walk down memory lane, it was amazing to see how much things had changed! I’m working through the entries slowly but surely so if images are missing, that’s why.

12. Added the MyBlogLog sidebar so I could see who’s visiting my new blog.

13. Changed my Feedburner settings to read from my new xml file over at everwas.com using Feedburner’s FeedSmith plugin. I’m keeping the old feeds.feedburner.com/flashpoint address for now until I think through what I want to do about the existing RSS subscribers. If anyone knows a transparent way to take advantage of Feedburner’s domain mapping so I can move to a Feedburner-hosted everwas.com/feed url without interruption, let me know!

14. Modified .htaccess to redirect www.everwas.com to everwas.com.

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.domain.com$ [NC]

RewriteRule ^.*$ http://domain.com%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

Also specified this preference in Google’s Webmaster Tools so all search results strip the www off the url.

15. Yay! It looks like I can do future posts! Yahoo Small Business doesn’t provide cronjob access so this was a limitation I’m glad is behind me.

16. Open hosting account on Laughing Squid for cavitate.net so I can set up a .htaccess file. Move DNS mappings to point to Laughing Squid DNS servers. Wait several hours for new settings to propogate.

17. Create .htaccess file in root of new cavitate.net directory to permenantly redirect all traffic to cavitate.net/flashpoint/foo.html to everwas.com/foo.html. Mine is simple:

Redirect 301 /flashpoint https://everwas.com

Redirect 301 / https://everwas.com

18: Added Google Analytics plug-in. There are several but I chose this one from Semiologic.

To Do:

  • add favicon
  • Modify <title> on default template
  • Update Blogroll
  • add Blog Business Summit badge
  • add microid header to verify blog on claimid.com
  • update facebook profile
  • update flickr profile
  • update delicious profile
  • update upcoming profile
  • update linkedin profile
  • update Plaxo Pulse (wow! the new Pulse page looks good!)
  • update Yahoo profile page
  • update LastFM profile
  • update Yahoo Videos profile
  • update You Tube profile
  • update vox profile
  • add everwas.com to Google Webmaster Tools
  • add robots.txt file
  • update twitter profile
  • update yelp profile
  • add everwas.com to Yahoo Site Explorer
  • create sitemap using Chris Peason’s xhtml sitemap generator, submit to both Yahoo Site Explorer and Google Webmaster tools and add an entry for it to robots.txt
  • Configure Archives Page
  • Write About Page
  • message flashpoint members in MyBlogLog of new site
  • Create Widgets page for all the dynamic crap I’m always adding into my index page
  • install wp-chunk plug-in to shorten long urls in comments (so it doesn’t mess up layout)
  • install sociable plug-in for sharing with delicious, digg, and technorati
  • install Alex King’s popularity contest plug-in to display most popular posts in side bar
Categories
Home

We’re the Nicholsons

Six Apart featured a few of our Flickr photos on their new microsite promoting how blogs can be used for a holidays. I like what they wrote about Julia’s photo under “Melanie’s Music Recital.”

What’s Scoble Reading

We’ll get <meta> on you today. Here’s a link to Robert Scoble’s Blogroll.

Categories
Office

Working towards a new metric

Back in August, Mary Hodder riffed on the shortcomings of Google’s PageRank and Technorati’s incoming links algorithms for ranking blogs.

Counting links is very much like counting subscriptions to magazines in order to sell ads, as far as comparing it to a number not reflective of what is actually going on with the media it’s meant to reflect. Link counts alone are an analog media model, but online media is dynamic, and what is digital often has the possibility of getting much closer to finding smaller, more granular, and more interesting ways of perceiving things, that are much more interesting, and orthogonal to legacy media models counting eyeballs.

Mary goes on and puts forth several new vectors of influence that could be harnessed to feed into a new type of ranking. At the core of the criticism though is that any kind of “ranking” is going to be imposed from above (either from an algorithm or an editor) where as blogging as an activity and medium is from and for the masses. This point is brought up by Terry Heaton in the comments.

While the time and age of links are an important factor to determining the freshness of a blog’s authority (someone should not get too much credit because of a racy picture, funny meme, or scoop that they posted 3 years ago), the relevance and ranking of the blog and blog post to the community at large is important. The only way this can be measured is by measuring how the blog post is used with the community. I can think of a few items of interest:

  • text of the link to the post compared to tags & categories of the referring post
  • number of links to the post divided by number of links to the blog from the referring site
  • number of links to the post divided by number of total links to other posts & blogs within the referring post
  • text of tags associated with post on social bookmarking services such as del.icio.us and My Web 2.0

An important point made by Danah Boyd is that a lot of the brute force ranking engines out there today are not taking into consideration the blogrolls on systems such as Microsoft Spaces or TypePad which are random links to recently updated blogs on the network and not votes of quality or relevance. Another important point to keep in mind is that any list that is automatically generated from algorithms is going to be prone to gaming – that’s just human nature (for a hilarious account of how one guy hacked MySpace and gained 1 million friends in 24 hours, see Samy is my Hero). I think both of Danah’s observations stress the importance of editorial oversight in any new engine used to crawl and rank the blogosphere.

As the recent valuation of Weblogs Inc pointed out, the industry is grasping for a transparent way to rank and evaluate a blog’s influence. The term de jour seems to be that we need to measure a user’s “engagement” with a site and that follows from a blog’s “influence.” Who ever can come up with this golden metric will be the Neilsen of the blogging age and to a great extent will control access to funding and influence. The race is on.

Categories
Current Events

Blogs by Mail

I was listening to the This Week in Tech (TWiT) podcast this morning and Dvorak called the whole Web 2.0 conference “groupthink.” Yes, the hype meter was turned up higher than last year and at $2,800 a pop, the conference weeded out the starving developer types and favored the MBA & Biz Dev folks which many view as not in tune with the central message. Was AOL’s purchase of Weblogs Inc. an attempt to purchase some Web 2.0 juice? It looks like we’re headed back to the echo chamber debate (it seems like this debate comes up every year, right after all the October conferences) so and I’m looking forward to a visit with my relatives in Tennessee for a reality check.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to bring what’s going on in my online world to the wider world of my offline friends. Qoop is a cool service that will print & bind your blog (beta) or Flickr stream. Last year I gave each of my inlaws one of those beautiful, hardcover bound iPhoto books. Another cool idea is a subscription service that turns each of your blog posts into a “meatspace” letter which gets sent to your internet-challenged grandparents.

Sifry’s State of the Blogosphere

It’s time again for Technorati’s quarterly summary of the what they’re seeing and the numbers just underscore the fact that blogs are here to stay. Some highlights:

  • The number of blogs continues to double every 5.5 months
  • Technorati now tracks over 14.4 million blogs and 1.3 billion links
  • That’s a new blog every second or 80,000 blogs/day
  • The number of posts/day has increased to 900,000/day
  • That’s 10.4 posts/second
  • About a third of all posts are self-tagged or categorized
  • 12,000 new tags or categories are discovered each day

Facinating stuff from the folks that have their finger on the pulse.

MSN to compete with Gawker & Weblogs Inc.

Now we know why Microsoft was seen on the job boards looking to hire bloggers. MSN’s new service, Filter, aims to take the best of the blog posts and highlight them for their readers. Slate (now owned by the Washington Post Company) was Microsoft’s last big effort at content creation and for that effort they brought in Michael Kinsey from US News & World Report to get things off the ground and give it an editorial vision.

Filter currently has microsites on Lifestyle, Sports, Music, Technology, and Television. I don’t recognize any of the names behind the Filter sites but they have written professionally in the past. Over time, it will be interesting to see if these sites get any kind of centeral editorial voice or if they evolve on their own.

Categories
Office

comScore Measures the Blogosphere

Over the weekend comScore Networks released a market research report (pdf) on the growth and scale of the blogosphere. The report was unique in its methodology. Rather than extrapolate from a self-selecting sample of users that may or may not realize they are visiting a blog, comScore’s survey and measured actual behaviors of its permission-based panel of over 2 million internet users. Full disclosure, the report was co-sponsored by my employer, Six Apart.

Some highlights:

  • 50 million or 1 out of 6 Americans visited a blog during the first quarter of 2005
  • Blog readership has grown 45% over the past year
  • Blog readers are more likely to purchase online than average internet users
  • Blog readers are more likely to come from wealthier households

Nick Denton of Gawker Media (the other sponsor of the study) expands on the last point.

There’s only one measurement that matters, however, to media buyers at the ad agencies. comScore found that, while 37% of internet users had annual household income in excess of $75,000, 41% of blog readers were in that top band.

That may not sound like much of a difference. But based on their age profile alone, one would expect blog readers to be poorer: 32% are between 18 and 34, compared with 24% of the general internet population. Youth, with wealth, is, to advertisers, a rare and desirable combination.

Coverage by MarketWatch here.
Coverage by Red Herring here.
Coverage by MediaWeek here.

Blogs on the cover of BusinessWeek

It’s going to be another busy week – BusinessWeek has a lengthy cover story on why companies need to pay attention to blogs.

Go ahead and
bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to
them, because they’re simply the most explosive outbreak in the
information world since the Internet itself. And they’re going to shake
up just about every business — including yours. It doesn’t matter
whether you’re shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney
in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone,
or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a
business elective. They’re a prerequisite.

At the same time BusinessWeek Online launched five new blogs (powered by Movable Type) at Blogspotting.net