Category Archives: Blogging

The new and improved ScribeFire

I love Firefox.

I have plenty of other browsers installed, some are good, some less so… but I’ve never found anything to coax me away from Firefox.

Believe or not though, this post isn’t about why I love firefox, but rather it’s addon capabilities.

There are a lot of smart folks who have produced a lot of smart addons that make my day to day life easier and more productive. (I’m sure most of those smart folks don’t read this blog, but if you do, THANK YOU!)

Specifically, the reason for my little ode to Firefox came about because I just installed the new version of ScribeFire.

I used to use ScribeFire back when it was called Performance or Performancing and for one reason or another stopped (I honestly can’t remember why). But I came across news on the newest release today and reinstalled it… and what a treat!

ScribeFire is a Firefox addon that provides you with full posting capabilities from any webpage.

Once you’ve set it up to talk with your blog (took about 15 seconds) you can create posts/notes/drafts/pages from anywhere! No more copy and pasting from one tab or window to another!

And the ScribeFire WYSIWYG is significantly better than any built in blog editor I’ve used before.

Other features from ScribeFire:

…categorize and tag your blog posts, upload images, set the timestamp of your posts, save works-in-progress as notes, post an entry as a draft, share your posts on social websites, and upload files via FTP.

You can also open multiple posts in ScribeFire at the same time, copy text from a website and preserve the sites formatting, copy text as a quote with attribution, supports common keyboard shortcuts, call up old posts in the ScribeFire interface, flip between code and design views, pull in images or video from flickr or youtube instantly and even promote your post via several social bookmarking sites right from the interface.

I love the fact that ScribeFire is tabbed and isn’t locked to the page you are on, so you can do some research, opening each source in a different tab, and then open ScribeFire and flip back and forth between all your sources, pulling what you need without interrupting your blogging interface!

A couple of funny things I did notice already (hey, nothing’s perfect right!?)…

  • Some tags, like heading tags, are absent from the interface and you will need to code them directly (not a huge deal).
  • If you accidentally use the wrong formatting somewhere, clicking the same button doesn’t UNDO it, you have to flip over to code view and delete the associated tags

All said this is a great addition to Firefox for any blogger and I heartily recommend giving it a try (I’ve only been using for 1/2 an hour and look what I have to say!)

This is the best lifehack/workhack tool I’ve tried out in a long time!

If You MUST Date WordPress

Target Date Keeper

photo by j.reed

Further thoughts on Dates within your blog (original post)

I’m no developer, but fortunately I can read php well enough to munge together what I need most of the time if I have enough examples of what I want.

And, in order to add the dates back here the other day, I had to go and figure out how to do it first which got me to thinking about different ways to incorporate a date within your blog…

How Do You Display the Post Date in WordPress?

Here’s the code:

<?php the_time(‘F j, Y’); ?>

You could mix up the variables of course, (this info was all dug up in the WordPress codex) depending on how you want it to appear:

  • l, F j, Y – Thursday, January 31, 2008
  • F j, Y – January 28, 2008
  • m/j/y g:i A – 01/31/08 4:38 PM
  • 1, j F Y – Thursday, 31 January 2008
  • etc.

How Do You Display the Last Modified Date?

While I’ve never used it, apparently WordPress has a built in merge code for displaying the date and time your post was last modified but only works within the WordPress Loop (the post generation code). So:

Published on: <?php the_date(‘F j, Y’); ?> | Last Updated on: <?php the_modified_date(); ?>

Would look like:

Published on: January 14, 2008 | Last Updated on: January 28, 2008

Adding to Your Blogs Byline:

In the end I decided to add the dates back where I had removed them from in the first place, in the post meta data.

In wordpress, I simply edited my template (Presentation >> Theme Editor), opened up the Main Index Template file and added this:

| <?php the_time(‘F j, Y’); ?>

Mixing it Up Within the Text:

While a little more work, you could also intermingle your posts date information right within your content:

CES was incredible this year, it started on the <?php the_time(‘jS’); ?> of <?php the_time(‘F’); ?>. What a great start to <?php the_time(‘Y’); ?>!

Which would look something like:

CES was incredible this year, it started on the 14th of January. What a great start to 2008!

Adding the Date To Your Ending Byline:

Byline basically just refers to your posts identifying information and depending on your template may appear (as is the case with this blog) below the post title, or at the end of the post content.

Same code, different location!

| <?php the_date(‘F j, Y’); ?>

And while we’re talking about it… stick this code into the copyright (*sidenote – I just tried to write that as ‘copywright’ and it took me a minute to figure out why it just didn’t look right!) that probably appears in the bottom of your template (in the footer!)

Copyright Date

Generally, if you have a copyright built into your blog template, it’s probably hardcoded. Now, I prefer to do everything online under a creative commons license, so I don’t have any copyright info on this blog, but if YOU do, save yourself the trouble of having to worry about updating dates every new year and stick to the following code:

Copyright & copy; <?php the_time(‘Y’) ?> <?php bloginfo(‘name’); ?>

Which would look like:

Copyright © 2008 Michael Valiant

I think that pretty much covers it! Can you think of any other GOOD uses for dates within wordpress?

** update: arg! I hate that wordpress tries to ‘Help’ with code sometimes… Just leave what I put in damn it! I’ve had to edit this post 20 times because wordpress seems to randomly change some of my html! I think I’ve got it now…

Building – or is that growing!? – Sprouts

I love what the team at sproutbuilder.com has put together. They’ve barely launched and have been struggling with server-load issues but the product is incredible (or remarkable as Seth Godin may say)

Basically, if you know what you’re doing (and I don’t!) you can jump in and create great flash widgets for your site in just minutes… it took me an hour to do the widget below!


There are a few things I really wanted to do, and the functionality simply isn’t there yet, but OMG! I am amazed at what these guys have accomplished with this…

It’s times like this that make me sit back and spend a couple minutes thinking about how I likely would have reacted if I could go back and tell myself (around 1980-85) about this product…

A time when I was using a Tandy 1000TX with 24 meg hard drive (I’d convinced my dad to upgrade from the 12 meg hd despite the salesman insisting we’d never need more than 12 megs of space!) and struggling to get my first 1200bd modem working so I could access a local BBS that had great .gif based games :)I never would have believed myself…

Go check out sproutbuilder today! (or take a look at their blog)

** update – having issues displaying the flash within wordpress… wondering if it’s just me :)

It’s Official, I’m Dating My Blog…

No, I’m not talking dinner and a movie.

If you look at the title of this post, you will now see a date stamp following my name.

Personally, I like not having the date stamp, but let’s call this an experiment.

And if it’s an experiment, we need some background and rulez…

Why Date Your Blog?

Why not you may ask? That’s the way they come after all right?

But did you ever stop to question why? What purpose does that date really serve?

I don’t think very much.

In most cases the blog date is just holdover from the ‘my blog is my online journal’ days (sort of like your little toes or nipples on guys; sure they may look good, but you don’t really need them any more!)

In some cases there’s a perfectly valid reason to date every post. For instance, if you’re using your blog as an online journal, or to report on niche news that may be date relevent…

I don’t think they need to be banned from blogs, but I also don’t think dates should be turned on as a default; in most cases it’s pretty much just evolutionary holdover.

Why Not Date Your Blog?

  1. It makes your blog look like a journal (which is perfectly ok… if your blog is your online journal!)
  2. Relevency

Relevency you ask? Yes, relevency.

The internet has trained us to consume content fast and fresh. And dating your blog is pretty much the equivelent of slapping each post with a ‘Best Before’ date.

One of the first things most readers do on a blog post following a topic search is look to see when the post was made. If the post is older than a couple of months, there will automatically be questions as to how relevent your content is.

In some cases this is good, but most of the time it just doesn’t make any sense. Why bother put any effort into SEO for your blog when you’re content is questionable after a couple of months anyway?

And while we’re on the topic of SEO, while writing this I did some searching to see if there were any conversations going on around this topic… T

There arent! so you may very well be hearing it here first (and i really would LOVE to hear what YOU have to say on the topic, so leave a comment below or look me up on twitter or your prefered network).

BUT… I did find a recent related SearchEngineLand article by Aaron Wall; and I quote:

Everything you do has a chance to provide a clean or dirty signal of relevancy to search engines and searchers.

And I paraphrase:

  • Dates convey irrelevant information
  • Dates suggest old, stale news

So When Should You Use a Date on Your Blog?

I would say the only time you should use a date on your blog is if you know it serves a purpose. Of course, this should be the philosophy guiding pretty much everything you do online…

But unless you are running some type of news service, I would rather see the date worked into the content when necessary, not earmarked on every single post just for the sake of “Just ‘Cause”

So, you said something about an experiment?

Here’s the deal…

I removed the dates from my blog in November. And since then, my incoming search engine traffic has risen by about 100%, especially from Google.

Now, this site is still relatively new and I do put a little effort into SEO once in awhile, so I would naturally expect my search traffic to increase…

But there was a definite jump starting in December and I want to know how much of that may be due to dating my blog (or not dating it as the case may be).

So at least for awhile, you’re going to see some dating going on around here.

Now With More Audio

I just added OdioGo to my blog and would love to hear what you think of the service!

I’ve always gotten a kick out of listening to computer voices try and read things I type in, so on one hand I’m enjoying the service for purely selfish reasons. :)

On the other hand, its a great way to provide extra content and better accessability options to your blog. And it’s completely free. (With a little inserted advertisment of course, but I think that’s a fair trade for the service.)

It’s like having an instant Podcast:

http://podcasts.odiogo.com/michaelvaliant-com/podcasts-xml.php . (Just copy this link into your favourite podcast client to recieve my blog in audio format; or click on any of the links on the audio player at the top of each post for more options.)

My Odiogo home page can be found here:

http://podcasts.odiogo.com/michaelvaliant-com/podcasts-html.php .

I’ll write again once I’ve had a chance to comb through the features a little more, but I have to say I’m completely impressed so far!

What do you think?

Robot Voice

Now with more Robot!

** Updates -

Wow! The audio was ready and available within seconds! Very impressive.

Unfortunately I will need to be more careful with punctuation now. Periods are VERY important when a computer is reading back your writing. :)

(Img by DRP)

Dates on a Blog?

Has the need for dates on a blog outlived their necessity?

Are they simply a holdover from the online journal days that don’t really have a place on a modern blog.

Reasons NOT to use dates in a blog:

  • A date DATES your post. People have been trained to look at the dates in a post; even knowing this I still find myself looking. And what happens if someone finds one of your posts in the search engines that happens to be more than a month or two old? Chances are they won’t read it, or will only scan it quickly. It will be PERCIEVED as dated material, regardless of whether or not that actually matters within your subject matter.
  • Duplicate Content! This is bad! Take wordpress for example. By default, most templates will offer a date based categorization of all your posts. If you click on a particular month you will be taken to a paginated section containing all the posts from the specified month. These are the same posts that can be found under the pagination on the main page of your BLOG, or from the Categories pages, but now under yet another URL. Remove this as soon as possible.
  • People don’t search by date. Check your Stats. I doubt any of your date category pages have had many hits. People don’t care what you wrote in June of 2006. They DO care what you wrote about the particular topic they are searching for and you should therefore only offer category based options and a search bar.

I think we general date all our posts on our blogs for no better reason than the fact that most blogging software (or possibly even ALL blogging software) uses dates as a default. It’s a holdover; done not on purpose, but out of despondance.

We don’t date all our pages on our website (except maybe within a Google Sitemap), so unless you’re actually recording an online journal, stop using dates!

A single copy write date in the footer of your blog will suffice.