Thursday, November 11, 2010

Target text links but not images with css

Its been an irritating thing with css where you style your text links beyond the typical text-decoration:underline and your images seem to be married to it. It is quite impossible to target the look of text links in general irrespective of class without applying effects meant for text to your images, as you see under the tilted image above.

What looks good for your text links need not necessarily do your images any favours.

I am using a solution that should work for many modern browsers (not till IE8), so this is a catch.

Instead of a:hover{} I use a:not(img) a:hover{text-shadow:whatever;transform:something;etc:etc;} of course, this is going to create problems with a vast percentage of visitors still using < IE9, which apparently supports :not()

So, my workaround is to use CSS3 effects that IE is unable to render to style text links. If the effects are rendered, they are also not rendered on image links. Otherwise, I style them in a back up manner, which may not be my heart's desire, but will also not wreck the look of my images. One good way is to change the link color and use text-decoration.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Google Wave on Ubuntu

Long time no post, but I must write about this.

Google Wave is finally ready for the select few to try and provide feedback. I'm so in!!!

Its supposed to enable communication and collaboration at the same time. My favourite way for working and relationships. The idea itself tells me that sharing information and working together just got far easier.

What's more, I'm not on the standard windows-IE/Firefox combo, so I get to take a look and discover new stuff. So far...

Logged in, nice interface. Somewhat self-explanatory, though I'm certain nosing around is going to reveal interesting stuff.

There are two standard welcome messages, one of them with a welcome message and video tutorials which are "read-only" - already I get the feel of what it may mean to edit something landing up in my inbox....

This is what it looks like in Firefox on my Ubuntu:
Unfortunately, the video tutorials are not playing any sound on my machine in Firefox, but work fine in Google Chrome.... Is this a bug or what?

This is what it looks like in Google Chrome on Ubuntu (which is also a beta). Though in this case, Chrome is definitely working far better than Firefox for Wave. More space on the screen (which is a definite bonus when you are Waving). Plus the audio works....

Opera is currently not supported. Nor is IE (of course). Actually, better way of putting it is that Firefox, Chrome and Safari are supported.

The video is of Greg Product manager for Google Wave in Australia. He describes a Wave as "a shared space where you can discuss and work and communicate with friends and colleagues using text and videos and photos and maps and all sorts of interesting stuff..."

And so it seems to be from what I've seen so far.

Its rather simple. You click contacts to start waves, the navigation panel on the top left is pretty much like email and social networking mixed up and simplified.

I'm quite enjoying the simplicity and high usefulness which is something I've started associating with Google. Its still quite buggy, but very exciting. Watch out - This is going to take over online communications!!!

On the other hand, its also going to cause a wave of monitor upgrades. Anyone who is still using small screens for their computers is just going to.... want more real estate to Wave with.

Well... since this is a post about my first impressions and neither a review nor a tutorial, I guess I'll have to stop here and head off to Waving.

Will login with my Windows and take another look at the thing and post back later.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Google Chrome on Ubuntu and Linux and Mac

Oooookay, so lots of people are beginning using Google Chrome. Lightweight, fast and efficient. The all taste no clutter that we have expect from Google.

While windows users are trying out the new browser, Linux and Mac users twiddle their thumbs impatiently. If you are willing to go through a little pain at times, you could install development or beta versions. Of course, they will be buggy, but hey.... you'll become a part of the history of google by helping test out thier stuff.

Read more about it and see if this kind of a test drive is for you.

I have started using chrome from my Ubuntu Desktop, and so far, so good. nice look, fast and no major issues so far, but then I've hardly used it yet.

Stay tuned for updates.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Optimizing for Bing - the new challenge - 5 surefire strategies

The SEO scene reminds me of how people hate their stomachs and just can't accept them for being how they are, even if they are absolutely flat. They would just like them to be flatter, slimmer, whatever. Similarly, webmasters can get so obsessed with SEO (check out the comments and browse through these excellent blogs to see how much similar information there is that's all highly followed), that they are always on the hunt for that elusive tip that will skyrocket their traffic, double their page rank, or something. No matter how nice their site is, it is not good enough.

Such insecurity. I have a business, I talk with clients everyday, I am familiar with how they describe what they want, and its simple to write my site in a way that makes sense to them. This will translate into correct keywords, automatically, or I could look around and get to that same list after months of research. Even long tailed keywords just happen, when you write in a way that shows your familarity with your market.

I don't need a keyword research tool to tell me that more people are familiar with (and thus search for) the term "team building", while fewer will look for Organization Development. I know that from my conversations with clients. But its not as fascinating as using some gadget/software to validate what I know and waste time. Is it any surprise that there are more male voices on this front? (I have an association with men and a fascination for gadgets/software and such-like)

The behavioural scientist in me worries about this kind of 'disowning' of a part of the whole. Its as though everything negative gets projected to one aspect and disowning that aspect till fixed is somehow miraculously supposed to cure all ills. All my discontent about not being a millionaire is because the site isn't adequately SEOd, or I'd be more look better in that dress if it weren't for this paunch.

Now that MSN and Yahoo are married, there is going to be a new SEO scramble. Did a search on what the scene is like currently, and Many posts from 2004 and 2005 are being unearthed and landing up on the first page of search results. Incredible how long people haven't really looked at Search engines other than the big G for so long.

The prediction is that the next couple of weeks are going to see a new rash of SEO tips and Tricks for Bing. I am no expert, but here are definite tips I can predict, which will end up coming as new and old mixes:
  1. Content is King: Bing likes fresh content (as though Google and Yahoo didn't, but it will be presented as an insight)
  2. Good design and clear site architecture (in all its forms). Some will call it optimizing certain pages for certain keywords, structuring categories on blogs, directories on sites, optimally named files and permalinks.....
  3. No duplicate content: Cannonical urls
  4. Build links. Be generous in linking out (hopefully to the guru that gave you this advice)
  5. Encourage return visitors through encouraging comments, sign ups for newsletters, subscriptions to RSS feeds, etc. Create community, conversation, etc
and so on.

The truth of the matter is, no matter what search engine you optimize for, you are going to end up focusing on the same things. You will have an epidemic of self-proclaimed SEO experts writing posts which sound so similar to others, that its tough to keep track of who said what.

Wouldn't be surprised to see a few links to advice from Matt Cutts (never mind that he's with Google), since the rising star of Bing is yet to step into the spotlight. I don't ahve anything against Matt Cutts, and his advice is always sound, but it gets irritating to have echoes of the same few people (echoing each other) and their often similar sounding advice coming up as fresh content all the time.

In fact, Matt Cutts on content and spam, SEOBlackhat and Avinash Kaushik on Analytics are probably the few who come up with surprises.

On my part, I am not doing anything much at the moment to optimize for Bing. Let me see if there is something outstandingly different that I have to do that will kill my traffic if I don't other than submitting my site there. The way I see it, its the job of a competent search engine to keep track of content, and its our job to manage our sites as we see fit. Chasing search engines is only going to lead to obsession.

Nowhere on the Bing site are any instructions that their spiders are incapable of handling regular sites. In fact, I added my site to the Webmaster Tools they have, and it was happily indexed and providing data on my links already. Not as fancy as Google, but definitely faster, and seemed far more accurate. Why do I need to fix, tweak and optimize something that seems to be fine?

Okay, I don't make huge amounts of money online, but hey, my traffic pays for my site and brings me enough clients in the real world to not worry about ads paying for my coffee. That's impressive considering that I never go hunting for clients in the real world, and simply deal with the ones I get approaching me on their own.

If you are getting seduced by all the posts coming up on SEOing your site to bits, do keep a sense of perspective, and remember that all those tips are unlikely to speak of a single thing you haven't read before, unless its an individual's name, or promoting some product or service or book. Chill out, and let the bloggers do their thing and get traffic for their site. Do what you can, and enjoy yourself all through. You loving your blog will go a far way to getting traffic than you constantly trying to 'fix' it.

Afterall, if you can't love your space for what it is, warts and all, who will?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Wordpress 2.9 - the votes are in

The Wordpress site has just released the results of the survey on media features for Wordpress 2.9.

While the results are complicated, and best looked at right there, what I found intriguing was the number of features people found desirable, and the dilemma about including them in the core, distributing them with the core release as cannon plugins, or developing cannon plugins but keeping them in the repos for optional download.

The strength of Wordpress is its sleek efficiency, which will not remain so sleek, if things keep getting added to it, and the package keeps bulking up. Not everyone uses every feature, obviously. Most bloggers don't need exotic media stuff to blog. Yet, who would dispute that it would be fabulous to have the ability to work with media more efficiently? I dare say many bloggers will begin using it once they find it available by default.

Also, the more things added to the main distro, the more complicated it will be in terms of continued development, testing, updating..... that much more code to wade through, compatibility to ensure and functionality to be tested before each release. It is going to hold meaning in terms of manpower and skilled resources.

Its an interesting dilemma - functionality, but how? Increased function, or minimum bulk and high efficiency.... will be interesting to see how the decision flows.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Quick SEO Tip

You hear about things like long tail keywords, Wordtracker, Hittail... and you begin research on how to get those three and four word phrases into your content so that you may benefit from the highly targetted traffic they could bring you. Loads of effort, all to the good.

There is one quick and easy way to also look at your site content to find tweaks that help.

Login to Webmaster Tools and look at your search queries page. Here, you find data about the searches your links showed up for, and the searches they got clicked on for.

If you see, you show up for far more searches than those that convert (get clicked). So what is happening between that particular cup and lip?

What is happening is that you are appearing on the results page, and the results around you are getting clicked, and you are not. What it basically means that your title and description showing in the search results is not working to get attention.

Quick fix:
  • Search for those terms you appear in the top ten, but don't get clicked for.
  • Replicate the search.
  • Which is that page of yours that's showing up?
  • Look at your neighbours. What do their links read, what does their description read? What does yours say?
  • How can you change your page title to make it more interesting in that page when it appears there?
Edit. Done.

You don't have much control over the descriptions in Google, as they often are excerpted from the content relevant to the search (which actually works just fine for our objectives). However, changing the title will help you seem more capable of answering whatever it is the search is inquiring about.

Google Gods bring no rain

I wonder what is happening with my websites. All of a sudden, the traffic has gone down like....
Visitors are like....
I wonder what in the world is happening. Its happening on my other sites as well, but okay, I'd been fiddling with the design there. This one, I've done nothing but post.
On the other hand, this blog is largely neglected, and I've made changes here too. But its going up. Searches I've done before show me sites I've never seen before. Page ranks for many sites that were healthy earlier, including mine are 0.
What in the world is Goodle up to?
Some say its a new update. I say its not working. Not for my site well being, or my searches finding me what I want.

Anyone else going through the same? Anyone have a clue?