Apologies to Lightening and Sandy..

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and I have to say my email inboxes are becoming a major problem for me – I just can’t keep on top of everything.

Last week Lightening sent me an Out Of Your Niche post. I got so busy late last week I totally forgot to post it.

Then this week Sandy from Fighting Fatigue sent me an Out Of Your Niche post. I was going to post them both yesterday but again, I totally forgot.

Today I am going to post both of them and I deeply apologise. I am going to find a way to get on top of all of this – a habit to get into so I can find things in my inboxes. I also have to go back to shutting down my email and focusing on what I’m doing because I keep getting interrupted with new emails and I drop what I’m doing to tackle those. The main reason for that is because I want to be able to help those I am hosting with their issues and problems as soon as they contact me, but this isn’t working out. Especially when I’m getting 50+ emails a day!

So if I don’t reply to your email right away please be patient. There’s only one of me. :) I do type fast, but there’s a lot to cover sometimes.

blog housekeeping, Get Out Of Your Niche

Changes To The Blog – An Announcement..

At this point in time Snoskred no longer has time to write paid reviews, and so you’ll notice a few changes to the disclosure policy which can be found in the beautiful graphic bar which runs across the top of the page there. I’m not saying this is a permanent change, just that right now given all the work involved in hosting blogs for people, creating graphics and moving blogs etc I simply don’t have the time or energy to do paid reviews.

Graphics

There is a new page in the navigation bar called Graphics. At the moment this contains a set of gorgeous (even if I say so myself) metallic RSS icons which are available for ya’all to download and use. More RSS icons will be coming, probably in color packs like greens, blues, pinks, reds, etc. You’ll notice in there that I mention creating header graphics for blogs – I do that for free if you’re hosting a blog with me, but if anyone wants one for their blog that I’m not hosting I’m happy to put it together for a small cost.

WordPress Blog Hosting

There is also a page up there for WordPress Blog Hosting, with a bit more info about what is included.

Advertise

In order to make room for these pages the Advertise page had to go. If anyone has queries about advertising just use the contact form to get in touch.

Back To The WordPress Training Wheels

It’s been a crazy few days here at Chalet Snoskred. I wanted to take a moment to make those changes to the pages today and also to make those RSS icons available to everyone. Hopefully I’ll be able to put together some more WordPress Training Wheels posts this week.

Any Requests?

Is there anything specific that people want a WordPress Training Wheels post written about? Say so in the comments. ;)

blog housekeeping

All Apologies..

Ladies and Gentlemen –

I have to let you know that I’m feeling unhappy. I’m unhappy because I am not Superwoman, and I am not able to do everything. I am not even Batman though I used to have a trusty sidekick but he seems to have vanished just lately.

There are a lot of things that I need to do every day just to keep my head above water. Then there are things I would like to do, things I want to do. One of those things I want to do is respond to comments when people leave them here on the site. I also want to make comments on the blogs I read. But time is my enemy. Recently I have not had time to do much commenting or responding to comments and I wanted to let you know that this might be something that I’m not going to have time for over the next couple of months.

Blogger Becomes A Nightmare –

You see, Blogger / Google have made some changes to their free blog system, the most annoying one being that people now cannot leave comments like they used to. Meg from Dipping Into The Blogpond has been writing a few posts about it –

It seems they have really screwed this one up – people are now not getting notifications that a comment has been left. And something has gone majorly wrong with photos as well. Blogger users are furious, blogging up a blogstorm – and the mass exodus to WordPress has begun.

A Cheap And Simple Solution –

That’s where I come in. I now offer hosting for WordPress at the bargain price of $5 per month, and I also offer to make it all happen without much effort on the part of the person moving. However it is quite a big effort on my part to do this, especially if the blogger has a lot of photos which they had on their old blog. I have to go to each photo and click on it, and then save the image to my hard drive, and then upload all the images to their new WordPress blog. There used to be a plugin that did this almost automatically but because something has gone majorly wrong with photos? That no longer works.

Out Of Time – Sometimes –

Do not get me wrong – I am happy and thrilled to be helping people to move away from Blogger and take control of their blogging. I enjoy the process – some parts more than other parts. I’m saying it takes time and some of that time I used to use for responding to comments here and commenting on other blogs. If you’re on Blogger and you want to move over to WordPress I’d love to help you do it, just use the contact page to get in touch.

What Does It All Mean?

There may be a few changes here on the blog. There may be days when you only get the song of the day post. If this happens please do not panic, it just means I ran out of time to post. I am also going to be posting a few how to WordPress things for everyone who is moving over to it, which may not be of interest to those who don’t use WordPress.

If I Don’t Respond –

to a comment you leave, please do not take it personally. I am still reading all the comments and I appreciate them hugely, and when I do have time I certainly will try to respond to them.

The Time Is Now –

If you have been thinking about moving away from Blogger, the time is ripe my friends. You may notice a drop in comments to your blog simply because Blogger have made commenting like jumping through a bunch of hoops – or they have simply taken away the option for people to leave their URL. Many commentors will now steer well clear of Blogger because it is all too hard, or they feel annoyed that they can’t leave a link to their blog. And if you DO get a comment, you might not even know about it, because it seems the comment notification system is broken.

This Might Be Temporary –

But who knows what is next? The thing is, Blogger might be free, but you have absolutely NO control over anything that happens there in the future. If you move now, you can get started on building up links to your blog again. If you stay to see what happens and decide to move later? Any links you may get to your blogspot blog in the meantime will become worthless to you.

At The Very Least –

You should get a custom domain and use it with Blogger. That way if you choose to move, the links can move with you. Custom domains are available from many locations, I personally use Go Daddy and I recommend them. You can get a domain starting at just under $3US.

My Apologies –

If I could double the amount of hours in the day, I would. Until then, I apologise that I can’t get everything done that I would like to do. I especially apologise that I can’t comment on blogs as often as I would like. I’m still reading, though.

blog housekeeping

Oh! My Plugins!

You may have noticed that I put a page up with the list of plugins I use here on the blog.

Advanced TinyMCE Editor

Basically this plugin gives you much greater ability to change the look of your posts than you usually have in WordPress. It contains everything but the kitchen sink – from advanced color picker to add custom characters to tables. The best part is that it is fully customisable – you can remove any of the buttons for things you don’t use regularly. I love it!

Akismet

Akismet is the most well known of the anti-spam plugins available with WordPress. Basically it checks comments to see if they are spam. It takes information from other bloggers using the plugin as well, so spammers are pretty much screwed.

Unfortunately that means it can sometimes get it badly wrong – some bloggers who comment a lot around the place tend to end up in Akismet. That includes me – I’ve had to drag my own comments out of there from time to time. This is not surprising, because not all bloggers are as intelligent as you and I are, and they don’t take the time to visit someone’s blog and see if they are a real person who just comments a lot before marking their comment as spam.

And of course, let us not mention those bloggers who put people in Akismet just because they don’t like what they said in their comment, or they have a personal grudge against that blogger. Oh, we just did. Oops.

Akismet requires a bit of work from me as a blogger, I need to keep a close eye on it to make certain it is not putting legitimate comments into spam. However it does catch a lot of spam too, so it is worth using.

All in One SEO Pack

This plugin helps you when it comes to search engines. I can’t quite explain how but the guys over at the home of the plugin do a better job so visit the site and read about how it works. I like it but sometimes I’m too lazy to write the things myself so that is where the auto generate comes in handy.

cforms II – Contact Forms 2

This is a really important plugin and I highly recommend it. This does everything necessary to allow me to have the contact me page and for the messages sent using that page to get to me. You even have choices with how it looks. Pure brilliance.

Different Posts Per Page

This plugin allows you to set the amount of posts seen on different pages. Oddly enough exactly as the name of the plugin suggests! Go figure. ;) But it works a treat and it is much better than having everything on your blog at the same amount of posts you want on your front page. I have 4 posts on the front page, and something like 25 on all other pages now.

FeedBurner FeedSmith

This plugin basically works like a funnel forcing all options of reading your feeds into feedburner. That’s pretty important. I don’t have the technical terms to explain precisely why. It just is.

Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin is not just for Google – it creates a sitemap which Ask.com, Google, Live Search and YAHOO can all understand and access and it notifies those search engines when your site is updated.

Lucia’sLinkLove

Ah Lucia, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.. The trouble with being a do follow blog is that some spammy bloggers and spammers in general will drop by and leave a comment just to get a link back to themselves. They might say intelligent sounding things, leave long comments, or they might be lazy and just say “Great Site”. Yeah right. Tell me something I don’t already know! ;)

However if you use Lucia’s Linky Love, you can set the number of times someone has to comment before their link is made do follow. You can choose anything from 3-10 times. It is a great way of rewarding your regular commentors for leaving comments yet at the same time not giving links to spammers or lazy people just trying to build links to their site.

Maintenance Mode

This plugin allows you to put WordPress into maintenence mode if you need to take your site offline in order to update – and it allows you to put a page up to let people know how long the site will be down for. That page can be customized to suit yourself, also.

Very handy, especially if you have a test blog – nobody else can get in there at all, you can have a page that says “This is a test blog, visit the real blog at blahdeblah” yet you can login and work on the test blog.

pMetrics

pMetrics is a stats tracker. They give you a free 30 day trial of their full version tracker. I tried it out and liked it so much I signed up for a year at $19.95. The design of the tracking site is pure heaven on the eyes – it is the best looking tracker I’ve ever seen. Plus, the tracker works ok too! Though no tracker gives you 100% accurate results, this one is reasonably accurate. It has some great options like “spy” where you can see live tracking results from your blog.

Similar Posts

This plugin displays a list of similar posts to the post being read. It can be a great way for people to find more information on that topic – and an excellent way to draw people to other pages within your site. You can set the number of posts to show, as well.

Simple Trackback Validation

I’m borrowing the description of this one from the plugin page in my WordPress because it puts what it does better than I can – Eliminates spam trackbacks by (1) checking if the IP address of the trackback sender is equal to the IP address of the webserver the trackback URL is referring to and (2) by retrieving the web page located at the URL used in the trackback and checking if the page contains a link to your blog.

Sociable – AntiSocial Version

I’m using a hacked version of this plugin created by the great Andy Beard himself called “AntiSocial”. It includes no follow on all the links (to save your link juice for things other than social bookmarking sites) and it also has a few different options within it – for Sphinn and StumbleUpon which are two of my most used social bookmarking sites.

Subscribe To Comments

Enables your commentors to subscribe to comments – this is a wonderful thing. It means often discussions continue on longer than they would without it. And sometimes you will find months later someone will comment on a post and generate a whole new discussion. Brilliant!

TanTanNoodles Simple Spam Filter

I am seriously crazy about this plugin but The Other Half has modified it slightly so that it works better. The original version looks for certain patterns which are present in a lot of spam emails and it also allows you to put in words often used by spammers to make sure those words don’t get past the plugin again.

The spammers are always changing their methods in order to get their spam past filters like this. I noticed they were using a lot of different mis-spellings for common drugs but the actual URL to their site was always spelt correctly. The plugin did not seem to check URL’s for the often used words. So the other half modified the plugin so that words put in will be rejected whether they are in the comment itself or the URL entered by the spam bot. This means all the drug spam is automatically rejected now. I’ll have to get the other half to write a post on how to modify it sometime.

Between moving to WordPress on October the 9th and writing this on the 20th of November, TanTan has blocked 3631 spam comments. Because it blocks them before WordPress has to deal with them, this has saved a lot of load on my blog. Joe Tan explains a bit more about saving CPU cycles and load on the home page of this plugin, seen below. (the modified version is what you would get on your blog if you hosted with us, it is fantastic)

Where did they go from here?

This shows you where other readers went from the blog post you’re currently reading. At the bottom of any page on my blog below the comment box you will see “Readers who viewed this page also viewed” and then a list of any other pages they may have viewed.

WordPress.com Stats

Another stats tracker. You need an API key from WordPress.com in order to use this one. You can access it from within your WordPress Dashboard, which is very handy. Not that I check my stats anywhere near as often as I used to but I will generally land in there once a day because the stats give you a quick overview of referrers, top posts viewed, search engine terms and outgoing clicks for both today and yesterday. So it’s an easy way to see what is going on with my site at a glance.

wp-cache

Ok so I’m not the most technical of people. Better you read the site of the person who wrote it rather than listen to some garbled explanation from me. But simply put, it caches your blog to make your site faster. It can be really handy for me sometimes when I get a big amount of incoming traffic at once which does happen from time to time.

WP-Polls & WP-Polls Widget

Yay for polls. Basically it allows you to have polls but there’s a lot of functionality within this plugin. It does a lot of stuff related to polls. :)

WP AJAX Edit Comments

Found at one of my all time favourite blogs, the Reader Appreciation Project, this plugin enables your commentors to edit their comments after posting them. I find this to be much better than the “preview comments” type plugins. My commentors have used this option 37 times so far!

Youtube Brackets

Makes it a lot easier for you to embed you tube videos. ;) Read the site below for more info on that.

blog housekeeping, wordpress

Upcoming Movie Reviews

After the recent negativity I feel the need to take comfort in some of my favourite stories. I’m going to have a movie spree.

Jane Austen

Some of you may not be aware of this but I am a huge Jane Austen fan. Back in August I purchased a copy of Mansfield Park. I already had Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and the BBC Miniseries of Pride and Prejudice.

Shakespeare

I am also a huge fan of Shakespeare and here on the blog I have already reviewed William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. Later today I am reviewing something a bit unusual in relation to Shakespeare, and over the next week or so I hope to review many of the Austen titles mentioned above. I’ve wanted to review them for some time but I didn’t have the right program to take screenshots. And now I do, so sit back, relax, and get ready for some reviews with screenshots galore. ;)

blog housekeeping

A Quick Note About Comments And Spam

Just so you know – when you post a comment and get a message from WordPress telling you –

Sorry, your comment has been blocked because it contains one or more of the following words: cool.

Please confirm that you really want to post this comment. Note that if you post this comment, it may not show up immediately because it might get flagged as spam and/or moderated.

All you need to do is click on the “Yes, post my comment” button. You simply have to prove you are human, and not a computer script. Okie dokie? You don’t need to go back and edit your comment. :)

This is a part of the TanTan Noodles spam filter – which as of right now has caught 325 spams since the blog has opened – 234 of those since my post on Friday.. I’ve taken a few of the words out but there are a few like “cool” and “sorry” and “great” and “nice” which appear in a lot of spam and they will trigger the filter which then asks you to prove you are human. It tells you what word it is concerned about, so you might just want to avoid that word in the future, but once you click the yes post my comment button your comment will be posted and everything will be fine. ;)

You might want to test it out on this post – use one of the words in a comment and then go through the process.

Back in about 30 minutes with today’s post.

blog housekeeping

A Quick Note About Blog Spam

Right at the bottom of the page, there is a little Akismet icon which tells you how much spam Akismet has caught. However a lot of the spam that arrives here Akismet never even sees it. I’m using a great plugin called TanTan Noodles Simple Spam Filter. It works by taking a lot of the common words used in spam and checking comments to make sure those words don’t appear. If you use one of the words in my spam filter, you will see a message from WordPress which says –

Sorry, your comment has been blocked because it contains one or more of the following words: upskirt.

Please confirm that you really want to post this comment. Note that if you post this comment, it may not show up immediately because it might get flagged as spam and/or moderated.

You then have to manually click on a button to confirm you are human and not a spam bot.

Why am I mentioning this? Obviously because I don’t want you to be surprised if you get that message. Though I think it is unlikely you will be using the words in my spam filter as most of them are drug names and pr0n related words.

I am also mentioning it because on top of the 60+ spam comments caught by Akismet, TanTan Noodles has caught – 91 spam comments. I checked it this morning and 40 of those were from today alone. If you’re on WP and you’re not using the TanTan Noodles plugin, I highly recommend it.

I don’t know why the spammers do it – I just don’t get the point. But while they do it I am grateful for these plugins. I was very anti-Akismet before moving to wordpress after some bright spark put ME in the Akismet spam bin and I kept landing in there when I made comments. I don’t like the idea that one or a small group of people can classify someone as spam, it is open to all kinds of abuse. However now I understand how it works and that I can pull comments out of there easily I’m ok with it. I just have to keep on top of it regularly.

Those of you on Blogger using word verification – you can turn it off and keep your commentors happy, because you’ll never get spammed the way WordPress users get spammed. You don’t need word verification to protect you on Blogger.

blog housekeeping

Welcome To My New Home

I’m hoping you made it here safely.

You may be seeing this on the feed but when you click to the site you may not be able to see the site yet. Never fear, it will happen sometime over the next 24 hours.

When you make it here, please leave a comment to let me know that you can access the site.

You might also want to mention what you think of the new look. I like it, but I am biased. ;)

There is still some work to do on the sidebars and a few other little things like the background color when you leave a comment. Keep checking back over the next few days. If you find any errors can you please shoot me an email.

You can register as a member of the site by clicking on Join This Site, just under the Subscribe icon. Registering means you will not have to enter in your information every time you want to leave a comment.

Today is Tuesday Think Tank day, and I would be posting that before going to bed in a few hours if I were not utterly exhausted. It will be posted tomorrow, which will be Wednesday here but it will be Tuesday somewhere in the world I’m sure.. ;)

Later this week I will talk about the inspiration for the color scheme and the process of changing to WordPress that should have been simple but turned into a trip to Las Vegas with Satan without any cash to get a hotel room or bet on roulette. In other words, very little sleep – or fun – was had by all.

It has been a long week of struggling with code, struggling with servers, struggling with plugins, struggling with importing the blog from blogger only to find that the permalinks were not the same, and having to work out a fix for that. And now, there’s going to be a long couple of weeks going back and editing every post individually – because there is no simple way to bring the photos across, and I figure I might as well redo the categories at the same time. The theme was the simplest and easiest thing we did – it was also the first thing we did. Each time we got a problem sorted, a new problem appeared. The Other Half’s holidays disappeared into a void of trying to make this blog work. I cannot tell you the amount of hours it took. Far too many for something that should have been simple, right?

Still, we survived it with only one major meltdown by me earlier today when I felt like giving up entirely, and now here we are. I am sure I will look back on this one day and laugh, but it’s going to be a long time.. I love the blog design. I’m not as keen on WordPress as I was when I started this process, though. It is better than blogger, but a technical nightmare I hope to wake up from in the morning. Please, let me wake up from a decent nights sleep and let everything be working!

Edit to add – Ok, for now I am turning the math plugin off, until I can work out what is wrong with it. If you had a problem with it can you please comment with exactly what was happening? I edited it to be simple numbers only because I did fail maths and I didn’t want it to be too much work for people..

I’m off to bed – I’m putting the blog into the capable hands of Sephy once he wakes up, and he’ll approve your comments. It is only the first comment which needs approving, after that you’re all set. ;)

blog housekeeping

Important – Your Attention Please

I am about to move the domain to the new blog, this may mean you are unable to access the site for the next 24 hours or so – it may work right away, it depends.

Those of you with the feedburner feed, you will not have to change anything.

Those of you on the old blogger feed, you may find you get a few messages from me saying the blog has moved over the next few weeks, just to remind you to go and pick up the new feed.

I hope to see all of you at my new home shortly! When you get there, can you leave a comment to let me know you got there ok?

This may be the end of the internet as we know it.. ;) hehe

blog housekeeping, moving forward

A Quick Bloggy Update

If you commented over the last week, I’ve just finished replying to all the comments. Apologies for the delay – it’s been a huge week of learning WordPress for me.

I have a test blog up and running and it looks fantastic – no, you’ll have to wait till I launch it ya’all! WordPress is much simpler than I expected and after just one day of playing with it I’m feeling very comfortable – and about ready to flick the switch over to the new blog. I’m going to take some time to play with it. I’d say next Monday will be the moving day.

Let me now admit how terrified I have been about this process. Several times over the last few days the voice in my head has been screaming “RUN AWAY run away! Stay with Blogspot, don’t switch to WordPress. You’re not smart enough. You don’t have the technical knowledge for this”. Well that’s a load of baloney. I am smart enough, I do have the technical knowledge. It turns out all my fears were simply because I did not know how things worked – and now that I do, I can honestly say WordPress is simpler and easier to use than Blogger is.

I did not know how easy it was to modify templates – it is a snap. Just yesterday I was considering paying some big money to get my own unique template built. I completely believe you have to invest in your blog and I’m happy to pay for something that is great and that I was happy with and would never want to change. However I can take a good looking template and switch the colors, change the graphics, just tweak it to suit myself.

I was worried about plugins. I was worried about security. I was worried about a lot of things. Now, I have faith in myself that I can deal with whatever happens. Confidence is a great feeling.

Back in a few hours with a CD review. ;)

blog housekeeping, wordpress