Archives for March 2007

101 Fantastic Freebies

I was excited to see that PC World has released the 2007 edition of their 101 Fantastic Freebies.  In the article, they cover ways to make your computer more productive, informative, secure, and entertaining with free software and services.  You can check them out by category or in alphabetical order.

For your reference, here is last year’s list (which seems suprisingly outdated).

WordPress Plugin: SEO Title Tags

SEO Title Tags is one of those plugins that I’ve come to heavily rely on for this website over the past few months, and has quickly become my SEO plugin of choice. It allows you to easily add title tags to not just your posts, but each of your pages, your homepage, your archives, your 404 page, and basically every page on your website.

I pretty much thought it had everything you could ever need, but version 2.0 was recently released, and now it features integration with the Ultimate Tag Warrior (UTW) plugin. Like everything else with this plugin, the UTW integration is easy to setup. Simply select the UTW integration box and a UTW Tags subscreen will be created where it lists all of your tags. From there, you can go in and create custom titles for each tag page.

To install, upload and activate it. Once that is done, replace the title in your header with the following:

<title><?php if (function_exists('seo_title_tag')) { seo_title_tag(); } else { bloginfo('name'); wp_title();} ?></title>

Now go into the Manage and Options panels and assign your title tags as you see fit.

Note: If you use the Add Meta Tags plugin, you’ll want to avoid assigning tags to your category pages and instead let the Add Meta Tags plugin do its work. Otherwise, have at it!

Thunderbird Release Candidate 1 Available

I’ve been waiting for awhile now for Mozilla to catch up to Microsoft Office 2003 (which I am currently using) in hopes of switching to open source, so I’ve been beta testing Thunderbird 2.0 since they announced their first beta version. Now it looks like they are confident they have gotten rid of all the bugs, as yesterday they made Thunderbird Release Candidate 1 available for download.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t include the tabs feature we were all hoping for (Thunderbird 3.0 hopefully!), but here are a few of the things you can enjoy in the new release:

  • Message Tags: Create your own tags for organizing e-mail. Messages can be assigned any number of tags. Tags can be combined with saved searches and mail views to make it easier to organize your e-mail.
  • Easy Access to Popular Web Mail Services: GMail users can now access their accounts in Thunderbird by simply providing your user names and password.
  • Updates to the extension system: The extension system has been updated to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier extension installation.
  • Visual Theme: Thunderbird 2’s theme and user interface have been updated to improve usability. Those who are comfortable with Microsoft Outlook will appreciate the similarity.
  • Folder Views: You can now customize the folder pane to show favorite, unread or recent folders.

If you’ve been waiting to make the switch from Microsoft Outlook, now is as good a time as any. In my experience, the release candidates are pretty stable, so I recommend giving it a try.

Opera Releases Version 9.2 Beta

According to Opera Watch, it looks like you can now download the new beta version of the Opera web browser. You’ll find some new developer tools, but the main new feature is the Opera Speed Dial, which is unique only to this browser.

I have a big problem with this release, as it appears they have also removed the Start Bar, which would pop up and give you access to your bookmarks and more whenever the Address Bar is clicked on. I don’t use Opera to often, but I definitely find uses for it. I will not be upgrading to this new version, as I want to keep my Start Bar.

If Opera is listening, hopefully they will at least add an option to activate the Start Bar for those of us that like it.

Download Opera 9.2 Beta

20 More Great WordPress Themes

If you’re shopping around for a new look for your WordPress website, Tickle In My Mind has posted a list of 20 Great Looking WordPress Themes.  You’ll find a lot of nice themes that can be downloaded for free, including Greenery, which would look great on a wide variety of blogs.   Back when I was looking for a theme for this website, I tried a few of these and would definitely recommend them to others.

Top 10 Free Windows Downloads

Lifehacker is at it again, providing an amazing Top 10 list of Free Windows Downloads.  As always, it looks like they’ve done their homework in creating a great list, giving readers an idea of which applications to download and what software they replace.  

For example, here is #10:

Top 10 Windows Downloads, #10: Replace WinZip and WinRAR with 7-Zip, a free open source file archive manager that can extract and zip up multiple file formats, from regular old .zip’s to .rar’s and .7z’s.

If you hate constantly clicking over to the next page to see the full list, you can also grab the whole list at a glance using this zip file. 

Great WordPress Video Guides

Hone Watson of ZePrez has created an awesome series of video guides that are designed to be like going to a WordPress seminar.   In the videos you’ll find tutorials that cover all the WordPress basics, and can be watched individually or in order.   Here are the topics covered so far:

  • What Is The Dashboard In The WordPress Admin Section And How To Use It
  • What Is The Keyword Title? How To Write The Keyword Title In WordPress
  • How To Write The Headline Title In WordPress For Better Search Results
  • What to Write In The WordPress Post Body For Maximum Search Results
  • How To Use And Select Categories In WordPress
  • How To Publish Posts To Your Website With WordPress 2.0
  • How to Save An Edited Post Or A Draft In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Save And Continue Editing Using WordPress 2.0
  • How To Use The Bold Button In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Create A Blockquote or Indent With WordPress 2.0
  • How To Create Italic Text In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Create Strike Through Text In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Create An Unordered List In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Create An Ordered List In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Use The More Option In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Create A Link In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Remove A Link In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Use The Remove Format Option In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Undo In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Use The Redo Option In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Upload Files and Images In WordPress
  • How To Browse All Your Uploaded Files Using The Upload Manager
  • How To Select And Use The Image You Want To Put In Your WordPress 2.0 Post From The File Uploads
  • How to Insert An Image With WordPress 2.0 From The Main Editor
  • How To Use Custom Fields To Set Up Your Paypal Button
  • How To Create A New Static Page In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Edit Or Delete Posts In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Edit Posts In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Search and Find Posts To Edit Using WordPress 2.0
  • How To Browse Posts In The Manage Posts Admin Section Of WordPress 2.0
  • How To Use Trackbacks In WordPress To Get Inbound Links To Your Site
  • How To Manage Comments In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Manage, Create, and Edit Your Categories In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Set Up Press It in WordPress For Quick Comment Posting On Interesting Articles
  • How To Manage Your Profile and Change Your Password In WordPress 2.0
  • How To Copy Text From One Website Into WordPress
  • Outdent WordPress 2.0
  • Text Editor WordPress
  • Custom Fields WordPress 2.0
  • Excerpt – WordPress Admin
  • Save As WordPress Draft Post
  • WordPress Store Items Export Ebay
  • WordPress Custom Google Adsense Plugin
  • WordPress Amazon Affiliate Link Post Plugin
  • The Value of Trackbacks

    The blogosphere has been in a debate over the past week as people discuss the value of trackbacks.    Steve Rubel feels they are dying.   Lorelle responds by saying:

    There have been a lot of discussions lately about whether or not trackbacks are “dead”. For the most part, this is in response to comment spammers using trackbacks to spread their spam. Blaming trackbacks is no different than blaming comments for comment spam. A good comment spam fighting tool like Akismet stops comment spam and trackback spam. By turning off trackbacks, I believe we are letting comment spammers win. Trackbacks continue to be relevant and important elements on the web.

    So, is the tracking dead or dying?  In my opinion, the answer is yes.  Trackbacks were originally intended as a way to extend the conversation.   Rather than commenting on the post, write a post on your site and do a trackback to their post. 

    Their are two main problems with this in my opinion.  Obviously, trackback spam has become a problem for some websites, especially those that aren’t using WordPress and their spam fighting plugins. 

    The second problem is the lost value of the trackback.  As mentioned above, this was intended as a way to extend a conversation between multiple blogs, rather than confining them to the comments of a particular post on one site.   What’s happening instead, is people are sending a trackback every time they link to a post, even if they aren’t adding anything new to the conversation.   This may be in hopes of getting more traffic, but it defeats the purpose, making it spam in my opinion. 

    The solution?  Well, responsible use of the trackback is the obvious answer, but there is no way to enforce this, so in my opinion the trackback is indeed dead. 

    Web Design: Optimizing Your CSS

    Cascading Style Sheets have been a crucial part of web design for awhile now, as they improve your websites performance by allowing caching of your websites style information, avoiding the need for a hard refresh every time a page is loaded. 

    I’ve spent the last few days cleaning up the code on this site, removing the center commands (for example) and moving them over to my Stylesheet, giving it a cleaner look and allowing me to make bulk changes easier going forward.   I’ve also been using a CSS optimizer tool called CleanCSS which I found via Daily Blog Tips.   For example, it would compress unneeded extra code and convert it to more managable code.   For example, instead of using:

    margin-top: 5px;
    margin-right: 6px;
    margin-bottom: 7px;
    margin-left: 8px;

    you should instead use:

    margin: 5px 6px 7px 8px;

    I was happy to see my code didn’t need to much help (which means I’m doing things the right way I guess), but it was very useful. 

    Top 10 Web Development Firefox Extensions

    I’ve been tinkering around with the design of this site over the past two weeks, and have come to rely on several extensions to help make things a little easier and faster.

    With that in mind, I’ve thrown together my 10 favorite web development extensions for Firefox:

    1. FireFTP – Turns your browser into an FTP Client. GMail Space is also a nice alternative.
    2. ColorZilla – Gives you the EXACT hex color code for a color you see on a website. Simply click on the eyedropper and the color you want.
    3. Web Developer Toolbar – Allows quick disable of Cookies, Cache, Javascript and other things by placing many Firefox options within your toolbar.
    4. Load Time Analyzer – Analyzes how long it takes for Firefox to load your webpage and provides a detailed report.
    5. Extended Statusbar – Opera style status bar that provides speed, percentage, time, and loading sizes.
    6. Measure It – Renders a ruler across your page, giving you exact pixel counts, etc.
    7. Total Validator – Validates XHTML compliancy and checks for broken links or spelling errors.
    8. FireBug – Debugs your code. (Includes CSS and Javascript)
    9. EditCSS – Places your style sheet into a side panel for easy editing.
    10. IE Tab – Embeds Internet Explorer within a Firefox tab, allowing you to quickly check how your site looks using Internet Explorer. Opera View allows you to right click any page and select View This Page to see how that page looks in Opera.

    Many people would probably drop ColorZilla to the bottom of the list, but I’m a visual person and when I see a color I like, I like to know the exact hex code, so I find myself using this one a lot. Any I missed?