Tim Yang’s Weblog

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FeedBlitz: Import your Bloglet email subscribers for more control

Aug 2005

To understand why I think Feedblitz.com is so great, you need to know a bit of history. Both Feedblitz and Bloglet.com are services for bloggers to offer email subscriptions to their blog posts. Bloglet has the distinction of being the oldest blog-to-email service — it goes so far back that when it started, RSS wasn’t invented yet and it catered exclusive for the Blogger.com crowd. But Bloglet development stalled years ago. Till this day, it doesn’t have email address validation of subscribers and subscription admins don’t have any control over their subscriber base. You can’t delete badly-typed email addresses and you can’t export your subscriber list. Bloglet subscription admins are basically trapped with Bloglet.

Which is where Feedblitz comes in. Feedblitz gives me the chance to finally dump Bloglet and move all my subscribers out to a service that does have email validation and gives me some control over the subscription feed. You can tell Feedblitz to login to Bloglet and grab all the information out of your account, including the list of all the subscribers. I just managed to rescue all my Bloglet subscribers! Given the size of the userbase of Bloglet, I don’t know why no one had thought to do this before. It’s long overdue.

So I am now offering blog-to-email subscriptions again — but this time using Feedblitz’s email form:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Hey, spammer, back at ya: howto bounce spam

Aug 2005

I wrote an article in two parts about taking an active role in spammer rejection by bouncing spam back at them. It’s published at tipmonkies.com.

Hey, spammer, back at ya! Bouncing spam, part 1 and Hey, spammer, back at ya! Bouncing spam, part 2.

Section targeting for AdSense allows you to ignore on-page content

Aug 2005

Ah finally, Google rolls out section targeting for Adsense. Just because I’ve got the word ‘blog’ in my title and in my first header, Google always seems to think that it should deliver ads on blogs, even though not much of my content is about blogs or blogging (well ok, except for this post).

Now with section targeting, with a couple of comment tags, I can tell Google to read the content of this or of that to determine what context of ads it should deliver. I can also tell it not to read the blogroll, the menu and the header and the footer so the text in those sections are not taken into context.

Adsense optimised theme and theme-config panel for Wordpress coming soon

Aug 2005

Mark at weblogtoolscollection.com is asking if there are any Wordpress themes out there that are optimised for Adsense. Well, there’s going to be one soon. Ozh and I have been working on something for a couple weeks. It grew from an Adsense-optimised design to a full-featured theme with built-in utilities (no plug-ins required).

It does not make sense for themes to come without optimised Adsense positions and colours for two reasons. First, making money from blogs is now more prevalent than not. It is no longer a point of differentiation, it is a point of parity (or at least it should be). Second, there are so many blog advertising services for publishers vying for real estate that designs are starting to look like a cross between women’s fashion magazines (more ads than editorial) and Dr Frankenstein’s pet project.

Theme designers need to take ad-space into consideration and take charge of ad-placement before their theme users get their grubby amateur hands on them. Designing themes with ad space built in will stem the trend of poorly-optimised and ugly ad-placement and re-direct it toward more measured and more aesthetic layouts.

The theme we’re working on is taking a bit longer because now there are so many features (we keep getting ideas for more every day). We’ve even got a single admin control panel to simplify the configuration of everything from the feed url to Adsense IDs. No need to open the theme editor any more. Geez, whoever heard of a theme with a config panel? Bizarre! ;-) Ozh will probably release the whole thing as a standardised themekit for theme-developers to add the same features to their themes, along with the theme config panel.

Watch this space.

tagifieds.com - an open-ended bulletin board with tags

Aug 2005

Written using Ruby on Rails, Tagifieds.com could quite possibly be a work of genius. I haven’t decided yet. It’s still too new and I haven’t seen the full potential of it yet. In the “About” section, the creator insists that “It’s great for online classifieds, recipes, reviews, rants, scrapbooks, and useful information of all kinds.” Yes, it can be used for all those things, but I’m not sure whether this is the perfect format for any of them. It is a bulletin board, but more in the sense of the corkboard kind with all its chaos, not like the online kind which is often known as a forum. All the posts appear on the front page. And without categories, it may be hard to browse for things — you have to use the search function instead.

Most popular feeds at Rmail

Aug 2005

Randy has published a list of the most popular feeds that are being subscribed to via his RSS-to-email service. I chuckled when I saw that an RSS blog (Randy’s) is one of the top ten for email subscription. Apart from that rather obvious observation, I can’t contribute much else, except that I noticed significant numbers were subscribed to Chinese-only blogs. This got me to thinking: how many of the popular online RSS feed readers support multi-language interfaces? Bloglines.com is one. Yahoo and MSN of course do (they’ve supported Chinese interfaces long before they had RSS feed readers). But Newsgator.com, Pluck.com and Rojo.com do not.

Godaddy.com has RSS feeds

Aug 2005

I’m subscribed to Godaddy.com’s RSS feeds for their domain auctions. Great stuff. I just learned that Portugal.com is up for sale for USD4.5million. And on the other hand the owner of Michaeljacksonisdead.com wants USD175,000 for that. I’m going to keep these RSS feeds subscribed just for their amusement value. As an added bonus, I learned from the sale of thechokinggame.com (USD$500) of a strange new trend that American kids are getting into - choking each other to see who passes out first.

Akamai News usage index

Aug 2005

Akamai is tracking the number of people who are consuming news from news sites like CNN and BBC around the world. And its providing the numbers on its news usage zeitgeist page. In the last 24 hours six out of seven news site visitors get their news from American sites.

Online social tagging is not about sharing

Aug 2005

A landmark study from the HP research department finds that social bookmarking is less about sharing than we thought. A large portion of the tags on del.icio.us used by the study group to describe documents on the web were self-referencing (ie mycomments) or for self-organising purposes (ie toread). As an example, in the last 15 days, over 30,000 links had no tags in them, suggesting that they were less for sharing than for self-tracking. But this was not a study of motives, but rather of finding out how links were used and how they were being described. Probably the next step is to distribute a qualitative survey via del.icio.us to its users, asking for information to provide insights into motives of tagging.

Gizmo Project – Skype’s new competitor

Aug 2005

I’ve been playing with the new Gizmoproject.com. It’s a Skype-type VOIP software available for both Mac and Windows that pretty much has the same features.

The main difference between the Gizmo Project and Skype is that it is built on open SIP standards. That means that if the local VOIP network in your city was built on SIP too, you’d be able to use Gizmo Project on it (well at least in theory). In addition, VOIP users will benefit from the ability of VOIP competitors to easily enter the market — lower prices, better features. Gizmo also benefits from more competitors since it will be easier for them to find partners who can give it the lowest prices so it can compete with Skype. That’s not the same as open source software, which Gizmo Project is not. So don’t expect third party GPL plugins any time soon.

What I’d like to do now is to find other people with both GizmoProject and Skype installed so I can hold conversations and compare the clarity between the two.



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