Friday, October 17, 2008

Hosting blues

I'd written a long time ago about how I started working for Resonate Consulting and am running short of time leading to sheer neglect of this blog.

Actually a large part of my problems are from the incompetent hosting providers their site is hosted on. We have been trying to get them to release the domain (that WE paid for) for the last three months, and they have perfected a strange form of deafness that no matter how much we yell, our request just doesn't seem to reach them.

Its a really frustrating situation, and quite illegal I'm sure, but it doesn't help us, as we don't want to get caught in years of legal tangles with basically our professional identity online and our official email addresses hostage to their whims.

Wish me luck folks.....

Saturday, September 13, 2008 - Exhorbitant and Incompetent

In a world of professionalism, stands out as scammers of the worst kind. If you are thinking of using their imcompetent webhosting services, DON'T.

I have started working with Resonate Consulting for documentation and research. These are really patient and generous people willing to understand difficulties. Naturally, knowing my experience with running websites, they wanted me to update their site and add a blog.

Sure, I thought. Shouldn't take more than a couple of hours. This was two months ago. The backend opened a can of worms that I still haven't found the bottom to. This is obviously a shared hosting. These guys charge Resonate Rs.10,000/- a year for the hosting. And what does Resonate get for that price? Their html files served to whoever visits the site.

Problems? Where do I begin?

There is no way to access the home directory in the backend - the user doesn't have rights. I tried every folder I could think of and then some, and I still have to discover where the original files are. This means, I can't update the site.

There is no way to add a blog. I tried everything I could, and nope. Not happening. I can add a subdomain, but not a database. Surfing to that subdomain gives me a 400 error.

And support? Try the number on their site. Always busy. When you get through to someone, they don't have time to talk to you. Some dude there actually hanged up on me when I asked him what the package was for Resonate Consulting. Another time, when Vikram (one of the consultants at Resonate) called them up, they didn't even want to know what he wanted and simply asked him to email support. Those emails have not been answered to this day.

There is insufficient space for email, and some of the most important business email IDs bounce client mails unless they are emptied regularly. Upping the quotas doesn't seem to have much of an effect.

It just makes me mad to think of people being fleeced like that.

Now let's compare this with the hosting for my site that Mochahost provides me. I pay $89.10 for 2 years (about Rs.4,000/-) This is a fifth of what these guys fleecing Resonate charge me. For this amount, I have complete control over my site, databases, subdomains, etc. I have Fantastico for one click installs of common site softwares. If I run into problems, I have never needed to make a phone call - emails are addressed in a few hours - a day at the most.

So why in the world should anyone want to host their sites with such imcompetent resellers? Unfortunately, our requests to shift our site to another hosting and for them to release our domain for it are also not being answered.

I am trying to figure out what to do next. Probably consumer courts.....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

HDFC Bank Netbanking

I don't know what's happening with my HDFC account. I was unable to login to my netbanking account for quite some days, and the site seems to be down. Earlier in the evening, I was not able to access my account from an ATM either. Some system maintenance thingy. I wish they could have scheduled it better like late night or so.

Quite inconvenient and a source of concern, as I have issued out a few cheques and have no clue if my account needs more funds moved for them, or if the balance is adequate. I wonder who takes responsibility if my cheques bounce?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Has anyone experienced Technorati working perfectly?

Its a rather silly subject to post about, but my curiosity got the better of me.

I went to the technorati site to have a look if they had indexed that blog I was having trouble with (and this one) and I see:

Doh! The Technorati Monster escaped again.

We're currently experiencing backend issues and are working to resolve them as quickly as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Like this. Nice look, BTW. Dysfunctional for the site, but clean, aesthetic feel. Maybe the site is better down..... Don't believe me? See this:

Yesterday, it was an apology about some search and indexing problems they were having.

Almost all the time, there is someone or the other with blogs flagged for review, not indexed, links not indexed.....

This is of course idle curiosity..... I don't have a single blog that ever gets any traffic worth mentioning from there, so it doesn't really matter to me if they shut down the site on a whim. I never went there in the first place except for some occasional curiosity, but if you use Technorati for promoting your blog for more traffic.....

And curiosity gets me again. I'm wondering if anyone has experienced this place working like it was supposed to; and out of idle curiosity, what was it like?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How many backlinks do I really have?

Was just checking the back links for my blog Footprints on the mountainside, which is about my expereinces and reflections about my work in the outdoors and training. This was inspired by my recent problems with Technorati indexing my blog....

The more I looked into this, the more confused I got. Apparently, not only every system has its own ways of counting the links, but things differ within them as well. I tried different ways of looking at this. Each one had its own results and led me to different understandings on what these resources looked at, but little understanding on how many backlinks I really  had.

Not even going to speak about Alexa here, since it has nothing to do with links....

Outside tools like backlinkwatch show about 263 links to this page. When I login to my wordpress dashboard, the Technorati Incoming Links Plugin finds links to me on Technorati (never mind that they have stopped indexing my blog), while google blog search shows no links to this blog...... My dear old wordpress thinks me linking to another post on my own blog is a link too and shows it as a trackback...... while this is misleading, I like the feel of something being happy to index absolutely every link I have that it finds....

Then for the Google thing..... The "External Links" in my Webmaster Tools thingy says I have 463 links pointing to my blog, but the index stats show one link.

Searching for my link on the net excluding my blog gives me these results-->

So now, I am just wondering when everyone will agree about how many links people have......

In the meanwhile, I have decided to let them do their job, and I will do mine.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Technorati mess

I really don't know what the matter is with Technorati. I rarely check what's happening with my blogs there, so it came as a surprise to see my blogs as having been pinged 23 days ago. This is of course nonsense. My blogs ping technorati (and half the world) each time I make a post.

Then I searched for it to see if anyone else has similar problems, but most of the posts I found were from two years ago. I emailed their support, and am still waiting for a reply.

I found some technorati post explaining how they were not indexing 2.3 version blogs because of some vulnerability, but my version of Wordpress is always the latest - I update the instant I come to know.

The strange thing is that out of my four blogs:

  • Footprints on the Mountainside seems to have vanished from their index, though it shows up complete with blog reactions and authority in my profile. This is a wordpress.
  • Life As I Find It is also a Wordpress, with much of the same everything (and on the same server), but it is fully indexed.
  • Adventures in India is a Postnuke I write to sometimes, and it is not even a blog, but fully indexed, though it shows some ancient posts as recent.... but I can live with that.
  • Nerd In Progress - this blog - is a Blogger thing, and it is indexed until 2 days ago.
  • My HTML website Wide Aware is also indexed (of course no latest posts) but authority 11 being registered.
I really don't understand what is happening. There seems to be no logical pattern. One Wordpress is indexed, one is not, one Blogger stopped being indexed two days ago, the Wordpress getting indexed is showing latest posts instantly. The Postnuke needs to be pinged, but indexes pretty fast too. The HTML site seems to be fine. It is not even as though there is a pattern with all my blogs having problems..... can't figure out where to start looking at this from.

Actually, I'm not sure I need to look at anything. I don't depend on Technorati in any case. I'm just getting hyper because I like everything to work. So I'm going to ignore it, and let Technorati figure their own life out, while I enjoy mine.

Update: I tried something different and discovered something interesting. I tried to claim my blog again. It wasnt' indexed, so it shouldn't matter, right? Wrong. Technorati wouldn't let me claim it, and finally directed me in the right direction...... straight into their FAQs.

The bottom line of the matter seems to be that this blog, and my other Wordpress blogs have been flagged for review (no clue why). The details of it:

When I try to find my blog in the Blog Directory, I get the Sorry :~( message.

Your blog may be flagged for review......

Getting the "There was a problem claiming your blog" message immediately?

If the system will not allow the blog claim to go further than the first step, then your blog has been flagged for review.....

Most recent posts not indexed AND "Last Pinged" date IS NOT updating?

If pinging Technorati manually does not work (After the really obvious suggestion of pinging it...)

If you are new to Technorati and claimed your blog, and you've tried pinging and the "Last Updated" does not change, your blog may still be pending review. If this is the case, please understand that it may take some time for the review and for indexing to continue for your blog. Claiming your blog puts gives your a higher priority in the review, so be sure to claim your blog!

Oh fabulous, so this takes me back to my loop. My blog is pending review and not cleared, so I must claim in, which is not allowed because my blog is pending review........

There are suggestions to contact support on each of these pages, and I have contacted support from each of these pages and for each blog separately, in addition to my earlier email...... Nothing from them so far except the automated email that my email was received, and the support staff has a lot of work to do.

Have I mentioned that I am sooooo not happy with this shoddy state of affairs at Technorati?

The Blog Development Challenge - Blog Growth - 2

This is part 2 of the blog growth challenge, where I began last month with this blog being brand new. This is the first post:

The Blog Development Challenge - Blog Growth - 1

I've been getting some traffic from stumbleupon and digg and very minute amounts from search engines. Posts are getting commented. One of the posts has 25 diggs!!! which is quite good by Digg standards though nothing like the avalanche that people talk about. This growth has happened in less than a month.

Still very few subscribers (like 5 or so)

As of now, the blog has:

  • 5 subscribers (average per day)
  • 31 posts and about 5 or so posts have comments.
  • 5 or so hits as search traffic
  • 0 direct traffic
  • Referrals:

Thank you all, my readers for supporting this new blog, and I invite your comments to make it even better.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

5-5-5-4-5 Traffic Tips

Here's a collection of the traffic and promotion tips that I use often and that work well for me. This first list is about posting in a way that promotes your blog:

  1. Write good content. This one is not as simple as it seems. Take some time to think about what you want to write, and what arre the things you could do to add value to it. You want to give your readers something they don't know. This is not about writing random posts about every trip you take, unless you can also share how they can have some of those experiences, what is different about this trip, information about the place and its quirks that most people don't know, etc.
  2. Write interesting titles - think of them as visiting cards for your blog. They appear in search engines, bookmarks and even in sidebar links of your own blog. If you read the titles you write, do you want to click through to find out what content they lead? Darren Rose (as always) has written an awesome post on how to choose a topic for your next post.
  3. Add tags to your post. Tags are all important. They tell technorati, readers, search engines, etc what your post is about. If you use wordpress, tag lists and clouds can work as an interesting way of navigating your blog. Recommended Tags is a plugin for wordpress that shows all your tags and click to add them to a post quickly. Blogger and other platforms show clickable lists. Be sure to use them.
  4. Take a minute to finish your post. Read it through, fix errors, take a break, take another fresh look. Do you enjoy reading? Change what you don't already.
  5. Link to good resources. Link to other bloggers. Outgoing links are not half as bad as they seem. If you are worried about pagerank, think of the traffic they bring. If you link well and reference people, they are curious about you and what you are (and what you see in them). Think of it as meeting new people and introducing them to those you know. You may know someone briefly, but when you introduce them to more people who like them, it is a step closer in your relationship too. They are just as likely to write about you.

The design of your blog:

  1. Keep it clean and uncluttered. Do you need everything there on your site? Do you need to have buttons to every social bookmarking site on the planet? Do you need to show that your blog has 20 readers? Get rid of it. Remove all distractions from your content (and your ads). Of course, some buttons to populat bookmarking sites are a great idea, but I find that it works better when they are in individual posts (and submit those urls).
  2. Keep your RSS subscription button clearly visible and encourage readers to subscribe. While you are at it, subscribe to my feed as well. Some people choose to have different small icons for different readers. I prefer to have one nice, orange, large one that clearly screams "RSS Feed". I don't really care whether people subscribe in Bloglines or Google Reader, so why should I devote real estate to that? What helps is a link to a post near it that explains why RSS feeds are a good thing, for those who don't know.
  3. Check your theme. Particularly check the styles you use. Ideally, your post should have one main headline, etc. See if the peripherals (sidebar, footer, etc) are using any tags you are using to emphasize stuff in your posts - they will dilute the impact of your titles and important content, and seem like duplicate content.
  4. Use images in your post. They catch the eye, and attract immediate attention to what you have written.
  5. Invite readers to comment on and share your posts if they like them.

These resources now have to do with getting your content out to people who want to read in the online world. Everyday stuff:
  1. Publish RSS feed and submit blot and feed to search engines and directories. This will take time, and sometimes you come across new places that don't have you, so keep an eye out, and submit where they don't have you whenever you find it.
  2. Create online social bookmarking accounts like, Reddit, etc. SumbleUpon is another great resource for promoting, as well as having fun. Get your account in Digg and Technorati. Submit your site once in a while, along with others. Use categories and tags carefully. Ask your friends (and family, neighbours, students, colleagues....) to submit/vote for your posts too.
  3. Get a Twitter account and post regularly. Get followers. Share your latest posts on your Twitter.
  4. Give away something for free that will carry your blog link along. (This is an oldie, but it works). On one of my sites, I share some simple instruction sheets for participants for white water rafting, and I don't know how many people have contacted me because of them. On a more effective scale, creating and distributing themes, plugins, and other stuff that people will find useful are good. Themes give you a link from every page, but I don't know how useful it is for either traffic or as a link. What we are looking for is people liking your content and actively posting about it, sharing it with others, talking about it....
  5. Write one "super-post" at intervals, and submit it absolutely everywhere - including news sites, if it suits. It helps if these posts (at least) have a catchy image to catch the eye of readers as soon as they land up.

Exotic stuff (need to spend money):
  1. Hold contests and giveaways for writing about your blog.
  2. Pay for links/posts, etc. Unattractive, but hey, why not?
  3. Pay someone to promote your content. College kids should be good at this. Many of my students seem to live online.
  4. Pay someone to write articles (expensive, and rarely satisfies me)

Posting and interaction:

  1. Comment on blogs. The more you get out and read what others are writing and share it, the more you will meet new people. All bloggers want to know what the readers think. If you can write a comment that conveys that, it is very likely that people will follow through to your blog (don't forget to put in your url) to find out more about you.
  2. Link to posts you find interesting. This sounds similar, to the earlier point, but this is about you finding something interesting and talking about it on your blog (as different from referencing a resource). Find an initiative to applaud, something to criticize, contribute to, have a different take on, and link to the original post. Do trackbacks where you can.
  3. Submit posts to blog carnivals. This is one way of getting your good content acknowledged as well as a link. Host blog carnivals too. Increase interaction.
  4. Write articles and submit to directories.
  5. Write reviews and testimonials. If you have done a good job, the subject of your attention should be happy to showcase your writing on their site.

In the real world. Make your logo your style statement. T-shirts, caps, luggage(?), Why promote NIKE when you can do it for yourself? I know a friend who has his url engraved on his door. That's one url I will never forget.

So what are ideas that work for you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Digg, Reddit and in blogger posts

Adding Digg, Reddit, and whichever social bookmarking button you like to blogger posts seems to be difficult for many people. As you can see, I have today added these buttons.

For Digg, I used a piece of code floating around for a long time. It seems to be there on quite a few sites, so I don't really know whom to credit for it. Regardless, this is the code:

I replaced <p><data:post.body/></p> in the template with


<!-- DIGG -->

<div style='float:right; margin-left:10px;'>

<script type='text/javascript'>

digg_url = '<data:post.url/>';


<script src='' type='text/javascript'/>




And that easily, its done.

The smaller buttons I have added to each post (you can have Digg here too) what you have to do is:

  1. Find the buttons you would like to use, and upload them somewhere from where you can access them. You can use a site you have, or some free image hosting service.
  2. Note the links to the image files for each.
  3. Finally, create code like this for each service:

<a expr:href='&quot;; + data:post.url + &quot;&amp;title=&quot; + data:post.title' target='_blank' title='Add to!'><img border='none' height='20' src='' width='20'/></a>

<a expr:href='&quot;; + data:post.url + &quot;&amp;title=&quot; + data:post.title' target='_blank' title='Submit to Redit!'><img border='none' height='20' src='' width='20'/></a>

These are the two examples I have given, but really, you can do this to submit to any service you would like to submit to. Some popular submit urls for the commonly known services are:

  • Blinkbits
  • Blinklist
  • Blogmarks
  • Co.mments
  • Connotea
  • Fark
  • Feedmelinks
  • Furl
  • Linkagogo
  • Newsvine
  • Netvouz
  • Rawsugar
  • Scuttle
  • Shadows
  • Simpy
  • Smarking
  • Spurl
  • Tailrank
  • Wists
  • Yahoo

Promoting your blog for more traffic takes sustained efforts. I hope this information helps. Do let me know if there are any problems or if you need anything in particular.

Checking AdSense Earnings

Most bloggers I know seem to be obsessed with their AsSense earnings. Many use the firefox widget to have their current earnings right there in their browser. Others keep logging into their various accounts periodically.

It brings a sense of achievement to see them rising through the day, but really, how much time do we spend staring at something that will happen anyway?

Of course, some of my friends have shared that they can keep an eye on things and know that something is wrong immediately (including problems with the site, if pageviews are not rising). Other common reasons include checking the impact of their latest changes to the site and understanding patterns in timings when the site is most active.

I don't really have the capability to understand this too well, nor the time, so when I look at my earnings, its usually about staring at them with a little satisfaction (they seem to be growing slightly).

What do you see as a "good" frequency to check, and how do you think it benifits the way you do things?


Sunday, August 10, 2008

FLock - The Amazing browser

Thanks to the comment from i-hater on the Scribefire post, I downloaded the Flock browser. I had heard about FLock before, but hadn't really had the time or inclination to invest in discovering yet another browser.

After hearing such resounding recommendation from him, I downloaded the browser and here I am, making my post from this browser. Not just that, in the process of discovering my browser, I have added my gmail account to send emails from by default, my yahoo account, Facebook, Flickr, ......

I can blog, stay connected across many social networks, drag and drop links to share, read my RSS feeds...... and I haven't yet added a single anything. No add-ons, no nothing - this is what I have "out of the box".

Considering that I use this site to share my learnings about online life, there is no way I can't write about this. For a blogger, the ease of use and the sheer number of things at your finger tips is fabulous.
  • Share links across your networks - facebook, twitter etc.
  • Make blog posts easily
  • Get updates in your sidebar
  • Click email links to send emails from your gmail account
  • Upload tons of photos (1000 at a go) to Picassa, photobucket...
  • Its fancy, its fast.
Curious, go and see the full range of all they offer on their site and while you're there, download the browser. You can't afford to miss it.

The one drawback I see as compared with Scribefire is the lack of labels/categories to select from to add to the post, which (if I know my habits) runs the risk of me not using some suitable tags I already have, and creating some similar ones .... in short, a categorizing mess waiting to happen, unless I leave that blank and then edit them after logging in, which kinda defeats the whole purpose.

Shout Stories

After a break again.... I was out of town, on a training programme, I'm back with a new idea.

This one is to shoutstories. I was on a trip of reading what people do, and I realized that one of the most attractive things I found was stories with a personal connection that procide me with insights I can apply in my life as well.

Talk of vicarious learning. But why not? People look for all sorts of things in blogs. Why not look for inspiring personal learning experiences. This leads me to research the impact of personal sharing on leaders.

I invite you to help me in this endeavour. If you have posts you share your experiences of learning in, do share them here along with any insights related with them. If you haven't, its a good opportunity to try and help a fellow blogger as well :D

Saturday, August 2, 2008

How to pay online MTNL bill

MTNL now allows you to pay your bills online using the billdesk service. Its really quite simple, but I can explain for whatever its worth.

Go to the MTNL Selfcare page. You don't need an account or anything. Just be sure to have a copy of your bill (or know your customer account number), and either your login for your online account, or your credit card.

In the form provided, fill in your details - your landline phone number and customer account number, and hit view details.

The results should display your current outstanding amount. Fill in the fields for contact details, and opt for online payment.

Then, it is simply a matter of selecting mode of payment, logging in to your online bank account, or adding credit card details, and submitting until done.

Just be sure to follow instructions exactly as given.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Difference between RTGS and NEFT

As more and more people are turning to online banking out of sheer convenience, there is this whole dust cloud about what exactly is the difference between RTGS and NEFT transactions.

I am not a banker, but highlighting some of the differences I know:
  1. RTGS is Real Time Gross Settlement. NEFT is National Electronic Funds Transfer
  2. RTGS goes through the Reserve Bank NEFT is between banks.
  3. RTGS happens real time during the working hours of RTGS (09:00am to 03:30pm from Monday to Friday and 09:00am to 11:00am on Saturdays) - instantly - the benificiary bank transfers the funds to the individuals account within two hours. NEFT transactions are recorded and processed as batches 6 times a day (9.30 AM,10.30AM,
    12.00 noon, 1.00PM, 3.00PM and 4.00 PM) from Monday to Friday and 3 times during Satudays (9.30AM, 10.30 AM and 12.00 noon)
  4. RTGS is recommended for sums of money greater than one lakh rupees. NEFT transactions have no limits.
  5. NEFT transactions are limited to rupees and remitances can't be made to foreign banks.
Regardless of what transaction type you opt for, there is certain information required in both - Account name and number, bank, branck, IFSC code of the receivers branch, and of course, the amount to be paid.

I hope this helps.

For those who understand such things, and to find out about charges levied on the transactions, this is an excellent resource.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Free softwares for PCs

Since this is a blog about this Nerd in Progress who is a freebie fan, I thought I MUST share this blog with you guys - Free software mission. Enough of paying for everything you put on your computer. There are loads of free softwares that will do most of the work for you without destroying your wallet.

This site is so in keeping with what I do here, that I just couldn't resist writing about it. Where's the connection between learning to be efficient in online life and freeware? Uh... unless you are rich (not me), you don't want to buy something or the other each time you get on a new learning curve. Its what you do that matters, not what you use to get the job done. And there are many softwares out there you don't need to pay for.

What I really like about this site is the personal challenge element. Those of you who follow my other sites already know that I'm a sucker for people putting themselves on the line. So here you have Jonny Karp, a blogger like you and me keeping his computer running on completely free stuff and sharing his findings with us. The variety is amazing and I particularly enjoyed some of my favourites being appreciated. Let me not spoil your suspense. Go over and see what its about.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Passwords manager

The one thing that makes my life perfect in the online world is the software Roboform. I use a lot of accounts in many places - discussion forums, emails, blogs, websites, webhosting, advertising, social netwroking...... and they only seem to increase.

In a world where stolen passowrds are not impossible, I like to use complex passwords that are unique to each site. However, its not all that easy. Remembering them was a pain. Taking them along while travelling, etc was worse. Remembering them when I change them......

Even keeping a handy text file had its dangers and inconveniences until *drumroll*

RoboForm: Learn more...

Now, I literally go around the web merry as you please, doing my own thing, hardly noticing when I login to sites, because the Roboform toolbar just sits there happily in my browser and shows up any logins I may have to the site I am on. If I don't, I register, login, and save it with literally one click. So the next time I go there, I breeze through with a click or so.

The best part is the whole thing is secure. I can passowrd protect my list of passwords, so anyone using my computer without it can't use my accounts automatically.

I can create safe notes, form details to fill in with a single click and such things that earlier used to end up with me typing the same old stuff over and over.

Tried creating social bookmarking accounts to promote your site? Or multiple emails you have to check for various purposes...... the applications are literally endless, and this one tool is going to change your life.

Wordpress 2.6 released

If you are thinking of creating your new blog, look no further, really, Wordpress rules. With a strong community of developers and followers, wordpress offers tremendous functionality and versatility in both looks and features.

Its famous three step install skips you through the set up process and before you know it, you are elbow deep into the stuff you really want to do rather than spend time setting things up.

Of all the softwares I have used, and I have used quite a few, Wordpress wins hands down. I literally learn to use this one software, and I can create sites, blogs, galleries, discussion forums..... no one said it has to remain limited to blogging.

Its sheer ease of use makes it simple and tempting to publish updates regularly, and its management of multiple levels of users keeps life happening for multiple contributors. Most of the time with my clients, lower access levels are not so much about limiting access and authority as it is about limiting the number of confusing choices and damage potential. Wordpress works very well for this.

I have literally made sites so static from it, that no one would guess that its actually running on a blogging platform.

Finding themes is a snap. I think wordpress probably has the most number of themes available. AND if you can't find something that suits your fancy, its pretty easy to convert an existing theme into a wordpress theme. Maybe I'll write a post about that eventually.

Finding plugins to do pretty much anything you wish is a snap too.

I'm finding this so strange to be writing about wordpress on a blog hosted on blogger, but then, what do I do, this is my backstage with my website work, so to say.

The only downside I have seen with wordpress is that it is pretty demanding on a server - like any classy creature. Fancy bikes inhale fuel, pretty women are expensive and handsome men are .... well .... demanding. Let's not lose track here. Point is, this is the expense for using wordpress. If you don't watch out, your first date with digg will bring the shutters down. However, like most things in wordpress, there are plugins to the rescue, and some pretty efficient cache plugins should do the job easily.

So, quit working hard, work smart.

Commenting on blogs

It is an important part of being a blogger to read and comment on other blogs. It helps you keep in touch with what other bloggers on your subject are up to, brings in new ideas and learnings, and helps you broaden your views and develop new perspectives about your own subject.

This is important because as we continue to write, we exhaust the things we originally wanted to say, and begin to get repetitive. Naturally, repetitive is boring. Also, unlike a book or a website, a blog is an evolving publication. Nothing here is frozen for all time, and it is a log of your own evolution as a person interested in the subject. Perhaps to be compared with a magazine with fresh issues each month to catch the readers interest.

Not evolving makes YOU boring. You don't want that.

Why comment? Remember the excitement you feel when someone comments on your blog? Well, other bloggers feel that too. Sharing the impact of the post on you is the easiest way to connect with an author. Connecting with other authors helps you build relationships in the online world, which mean a whole load of new things - links to your blog, references to you, blogging relationships, reputation, advertising income..... you get the people interested in you as a person, and you can get them to do a whole load of nice things for you.

Another way is of course to write about what they are up to on your blog. This needs some relevance to what you are up to. For example, we are now talking about blogging and commenting. Have you been to Darren Rose there has a fabulous way of writing about blogging in a way that leads to development of our skills and its really easy to read.

If you are interested in earning from your blog, look at John Chow's blog. Again, many useful tips and references that will help us.

So how do you go about reading and commenting on blogs? One way is to keep an eye out when you read something and look for opportunities to get in touch with the author. Now, inane comments are only going to irritate the author, but if you can share something others would want to know, people get interested in you quickly.

As an author for example, I enjoy knowing what my blog does to you. Do you feel happy, sad, irritated, inspired, challenged.....? When I go to other blogs, reading such comments give me an idea of the writer's relationships with the readers. Other comments I enjoy knowing is when you bring in a perspective that I hadn't thought of or add information that is not included in the original post.

Very often, and interesting comment makes me follow through to the commenter's link. I expect to find more of what I found interesting there. If nothing, I will follow links in comments on my own blog to see who is interacting with me. Never mind the search engines, even the kind of interest you can generate with this is quite high.

So if you want to do this actively, how do you go about doing it? What I usually do is I plan a post I would like to write, and search for blogs related with it as a part of the research. It gives me a good idea of the kind of approaches to the subject, as well as provides me the opportunity to interact with other writers on it. Then, I write my post and link to resources I found interesting and comment on the others sharing my experience of their posts and adding anything of value that occurs to me.

There are many ways of finding such blogs. Blog search engines, technorati, regular search engines are some. There are commenting softwares that make this much easier for you. They are able to search for blogs on a subject you specify that are open to comments. Comment Kahuna and Fast Blog Finder are two free examples. There are possibilities to look for page rank or no follow on links, etc, but their greatest strength is having a list of commentable blogs quickly lined up fo ryou.

While some bloggers frown on the use of such softwares, the real reason of the frowning is people leaving random comments on blogs that add no value and only spam links. If you are willing to read the posts and make an effort to comment in a way people would enjoy reading, the only difference the softwares bring in is that of removing places you can't comment on from your searches.

With judicious planning of the comments you make, it is possible to build links, relationships and a reputation in the online world.

Friday, July 18, 2008

ScribeFire review

I use ScribeFire to post on my blogs. Its quick and convenient and allows me to post to all my blogs from my browser. So if I find a site that is interesting, I can staay with that site as I write about it.

If you are a blogger and don't have scribefire, you are missing out. Go get it now (I'm assuming you are already using Firefox - If you aren't, get THAT first).

Anyway, I have recently experienced this problem with ScribeFire where the posts I publish are filed as pending review in my WordPress (not here, of course). Blogger works fine.

Additional whines:

  • I have include a lack of a list of available tage/autocomplete, so I risk creating unnecessary and duplicate like tags for my posts.
  • Shows some strange errors after closing its blogging window about the API of my platform or similar. To date, I haven't figured out any problem this has created beyonf the inconvenience of clicking away those alerts.
  • Having the blogging tool at my fingertips all through my browser experience tempts me to post more often because of sheer accessibility.
  • Much of the good bits work - copy pastes (including media), uploads via API or FTP, etc.
  • Picks up Urls and stuff from the browser or clipboard making linking much easier.
  • Posts to multiple platforms LiveJournal Xanga Windows Live Spaces Performancing Tumblr MySpace b2Evolution Splinder
  • Is extremely convenient an dsupports the objectives of a blogger.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Blog Development Challenge - Blog Growth - 1

As you can see, this is a new blog. It began with 4 Tips for Getting faster on a computer five days ago.

It deals with good blogging and growing in online skills, and I am going to use this blog itself to show the effectiveness of what works. Periodically, I will be updating changes in statistics and charting changes in them.

As of now, the blog has:

  • 0 subscribers
  • 5 posts
  • 0 search traffic
  • 0 direct traffic
  • 0 referrals
..... pretty much everything is fresh - clean slate. Let's see how this situation evolves.

Emotion and writing

If you look at great content around the net, it contains emotion. Why is it so? It is because emotion connects people. It helps us the writer's perspective and reaches out to us. We respond how we are addressed. If someone speaks to you in terms of data, you tend to respond similarly. If someone shares their feelings, you interact on the level of feelings. It is really difficult to not do this.

So, when you find a writer writing from the heart, you tend to listen, respond, agree, disagree from your heart. That person becomes "real" to you, and the connection you feel makes you feel acknowledged by the writer, even if you don't ever communicate directly with each other.

This works for all communication. Be it in life, online, or reading a book.

So how does knowing this help you?

The next time you write an email, a blog post or comment or anything, share your state of being and you will find your reader interested in what you have to say. Its not easy and doesn't happen like a switch, but the more you make an effort, the more you will find yourself experiencing the impact on your writing and in the responses you get. It takes time, effort and courage to open your heart, but its worth it.

It isn't great writing that has emotion, but writing that has emotion becoming great.

What does your expereince tell you?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Started mobile blogging

I always wanted to get a shot at mobile blogging. Not that I enjoy typing on that tiny thing, but because I could share whenever I wanted to. This is how I did it:

I have a Gmail account, so I went to gmail on my phone and downloaded the application for my phone. This makes it easier for me to access my email account.

Then, I sent an email to

The reply to this email contained a code that I had to enter along with the usual image verification.

I got some blog autocreated for my mobile.

Then, I shifted the preference from my mobile publishing to that blog, to this one.

Done. This post is made from my mobile

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

10 Tips to an earning blog

  1. Write regularly
  2. Spend some time once in a while to look at your earning, but don't obsess - spend that time in working toward getting traffic
  3. Invest your traffic and income efforts among various services - don't put all your eggs in the google basket. Try other ways of monetizing your content or getting traffic like Direct-link-ads, Linkworth, Chitika, Payperpost, Sponsored Reviews or any of the many programmes out there - these ones work very well for me.
  4. Create a schedule and stick to it - come rain or sunshine.
  5. Divide your time between content, presentation, promotion and income management - in that order.
  6. Brainstorm for perspectives that could add fresh value and meaning to your blog
  7. Interact with other bloggers and respond to the comments you get
  8. Use your social networking profiles to create an interest in yourself and share your blog as another way to know you.
  9. Add a reference to your blog in your signatures on emails and forum posts and links when you comment on other sites or share videos, etc. If you have photo albums, use your link as a watermark on the most interesting photos.
  10. Don't get hooked to any one of these and keep your mood flowing and presence relaxed on your own blog, as well as other places you frequent online.
Promoting your blog for more traffic is an art and a science. Losing sight of either will not help.

Monday, July 14, 2008

RSS and other feeds for dummies

I am not going to try and change the "dummies" status, so don't expect me to talk about the usual versions, and XML and what nots. What I am going to do is tell you how it can make your life easier.

So, you clicked on some RSS link because it was attractively presented, found a whole load of code and probably thought that something was wrong with that page. You probably haven't even progressed to noticing that RSS links everywhere seem to do that. Never mind. The site is working just fine, and you see that bizarre code because you are seeing it in a browser and not in a feed reader. Or you may be wondering what the fuss is about.

Why should you bother to do that?
  • Because it is there...... the world seems to know something you don't and you don't like that? - joking. Read the rest.
  • You have important things to do with your time and really can't go around checking what's new and where.
  • At the same time, you do enjoy the content on those sites and hate to miss it.
  • You wish that you didn't have to keep running after information.
  • You wish you had one place to see what's new everywhere you frequent
All excellent reasons, and I am going to tell you exactly how you will be able to use the feeds to bring happiness and convenience in your online life.

Basically what an feed does is lists all the latest content on a site. So go with my train of thought for a bit... I know it is unfamiliar.

You go to different places on the net all the time, and see all kinds of stuff, and can't practically go to every site you like everyday. However, with the feed, its like the site coming to you. Get all the sites you like to come to you at a rendezvous point you decide, and read everything that's new at once.

So how do you set this up? Decide on a Feed Reader first and create that rendezvous for those sites. There is enough choice to suit the pickiest of people, but if you are a sensible person, you will be even more wary whether you want to get into all this.

A quick and painless way is to use Google Reader. When ever you go to a site you would like to stay in touch with, look for the RSS button.

Right click >> copy >> Google Reader >> add subscription >> paste

Done. No mess, no fuss.

Sites that offer Feedburner Feeds will allow you to subscribe by email, so you can get latest posts right into your inbox without worrying about how to figure out RSS.

Or an even better way would be to get Firefox or Opera and add all the feeds you like to the live bookmarks - they will be able to provide the latest on the site without needing you to visit it.

Then, read the feeds. You will find yourself pleasantly surprised that it is not as esoteric as it seems. Go ahead, try it NOW. Hit that orange RSS button, and enter a whole new life of convenient reading.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

4 Tips for Getting faster on a computer

Most people I know drive me nuts waiting for them to do something on a computer. Ok, so I am fast, but that really is no excuse for anyone to do things so slowly and painfully that their productivity is changed (or rather unchanged).

I am considered to be a wizard by my offline friends, simply because I am so fast. Of course, I am Nerd in Progress, but hey, what I know, I go all out for, which helps me get into learning the next thing.

Some suggestions I think will halve the time you spend on the computer, or double the things you can do in it.
  • Make friends with the "enter" key. Each time you fill in something and then move your hand to the mouse, and then find the button and so on..... you could simply be moving your right pinkie and getting done with it already.
  • Make friends with the "tab" key. A job for your left pinkie. fill in one form field, hit tab and the cursor jumps to the next - again, a massive time saving in locating the mouse, clicking, locating the keyboard, etc.
  • Use the fingers you have. It takes practice, but honestly, its not all that hard. Chatting is good practice that is fun as well. Pecking away with two fingers and looking at the keyboard, then looking at the screen to see if there are no mistakes is time consuming. With a little practice, you can write as I am writing now - with my fingers spread over the keyboard so that no matter what key I want to hit, there is a finger near to do it. no need for absolutely classic ten finger typing, but more than two would be nice, and if you try, you will find other fingers entering the effort voluntarily.
  • This is a progression from the previous one. Once you begin engaging all your fingers, you will find your typing speed going up on its own, as each finger learns its "job" soon, you will stop typing letters and will be typing words - much like speaking. This is a good time to look at the screen and type, only looking down at the keyboard if stuck, or a mistake happens.
It would be interesting to see if someone can time themselves and then track the time needed as these changes take hold.