Monday, June 28, 2004

Where one Gmail invitation went

With all the thousands of people hot to get Gmail invitations, it was nice to see that one of my favorite people got an invitation through Blogger Forum's Gmail exchange link.

Michelle Malkin, who is one of the best syndicated editorialists in the country, noted in her blog that she received a Gmail invitation courtesy of SpaceMonkey. Michelle noted that she had no idea the invitations were such a hot commodity.

A few words about Michelle from her site: "My column, now syndicated by Creators Syndicate, appears in nearly 200 papers nationwide. My first book, Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores (Regnery 2002), was a New York Times bestseller."

I consider Michelle to be one of the few sane editorialists in the country. She tells it like it is and has little patience with all the whiners and victims so beloved by the liberal press.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Spam-proofing your blog site

Nothing is more annoying than having your email accounts flooded with spam. Studies have shown that a large portion of spam comes from spam-bots that surf the Web looking for usable email addresses.

So, if you have on your site, you can bet that within days your Gmail account will start being flooded with spam. There are ways to avoid this. One is to use a utility that scrambles your email address so that spam-bots won't recognize it as an address. We have more information on this on Blogger Forum's Articles and Tips section. But there is any easier way posted in an interesting article on Thomas Brunt's OutFront. This can be as simple and rudimentary as replacing the "@" symbol with the unicode equivalent which is "&" plus "#64;". According to the article, even this simple ruse is enough to fool the spam-bots: "We tested several demo-version email harvesting programs and found that changing the '@' and '.' to their Unicode equivalents was sufficient to fool the spambots."

The article also suggests using "disposable" email accounts so that you can just dump the address when you get too much spam coming in. More Gmail accounts, anyone?

Monday, June 21, 2004

Plug pulled on

Dave Winer, back when he created Userland, also created a free hosting site for blogs on his own servers. He called the free hosting site which hosted about 3,000 blogs.

Yesterday, Dave pulled the plug on citing the amount of work he was expected to do for free and health problems. Still, users were very upset to find their blogs gone with no prior warning.

...bloggers who relied on were furious, saying they should have been warned about the cutoff. Their anger spread to other bloggers, too, including Elisabeth Riba of Melrose, Mass., who called Winer "an egomaniacal blowhard with his head in the clouds. So much for his vision of blogtopia."

Such slams had Winer shaking his head.

"This thing has been blown so far out of proportion," he said. "It's just unbelievable to me."
--Associated Press via wjla news.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Fun things for bloggers

Here's a fun thing from Flooble: a utility that creates a random blog for you. Don't feel like blogging today? Got blogger's block? Just go to this site and have it create a blog for you. Here's one that was randomly generated for us:

I honestly hate my uncle The Boz. On weekends he is a little demented, and yesterday he just intrigued me... I needed his years of training talking to someone about love of the European lowlands, but he answered:
"No kidding?! I was just learning about the European lowlands in class!"

At first I interrupted "DUDE!" and the next day I just ran away all of a sudden. After all, he *is* my uncle and I have to live with that...

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Gmail fraud on eBay?

It has been reported to us that some of the Gmail sales on eBay may be less than legitimate. According to one poster on the Blogger Forum, he purchased what he thought was a Gmail invitation and all he got was a link to us here on the Gmail Exchange forum.

Not a very good purchase since probably only about 10% of the requests for Gmail can be filled. Some people will do anything for a buck.

Incidentally, there are about 4800 listings in eBay under "Gmail" at the current time.

Friday, June 11, 2004

RSS coming back to Blogger?

Blogger stirred up quite a controversy when it decided to support only Atom for new Blogger users. That left quite a few people upset and unable to syndicate the more popular RSS. Politics, ego and quite a few non-technical reasons were seen across the blogosphere as the real push for Atom versus RSS.

Now, in what might perhaps be a change of heart, Blogger's owner Google seems to be entertaining the idea of supporting both Atom and RSS. This would indeed be the a way to keep Google in a neutral position as the feeds wars continue.

"According to an internal Google e-mail seen by CNET, the company has been considering the change and last month assigned at least one staffer to write a memo summarizing technical details relating to RSS. The request came amid a broader discussion touching on extending RSS support for new Blogger subscribers and Google Groups, which supports Atom but not RSS in a test version of the service."

New wave of Gmail invitations

Early Gmail users now have an new "Invite a friend to join Gmail" link on their gmail accounts. Gmail is now accepting a new wave of members and this is a pretty logical way to get it done while Gmail is still in Beta.

If you have a Gmail account, please take advantage of this offer and let some other folks in. The Gmail exchange thread at Blogger Forum would be a good way to distribute your unused invitations.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Your site's keyword ranking

There are many utilities and sites to help you focus on your search engine ranking. One such site is Top25Web which has a handy script to test your ranking in Google by search phrase or term. Here's how it works:

You enter a search phrase that you want to establish as highly ranked for your site. Let's say, for example, that your site or blog focuses on wine from the Napa Valley. Obviously you would want "wine" to lead to your site. However, that is probably never going to happen. What you would need to focus on are people searching for a combination of wine and Napa and concentrate your efforts on the search phrase "wine Napa" rather than "wine." Why? Because wine is too generic and broad a search for most sites to be able to ever cash in on. Even if your site is ranked 5 or 6, the odds are you would be off the first page of Google hits.

So, you concentrate on searches you can win and searches that will attract someone specifically looking for what you have to offer. If you determine you want wine and Napa and maybe some other key words like "tasting" and "body" and "bouquet" and "chardonnay" then you start to get the picture of what your site needs.

That is where utilities like Top25Web can be handy. As you start fitting your key words into titles, blogs, site description and so on, you then check to see how Google is placing you in relation to these terms. If after a few months a particular phrase is still not doing well but another phrase is, then you know that you need to make some changes and perhaps concentrate more on the phrase that is doing well.

For example, according to Top25Web a search on "Blogger" puts Blogger Forum as #17. However, a search on "Blogger Help" puts Blogger Forum #1 in Google search returns. Using this utility and others like it can help you see where your strong points are in key phrase searches and where you are weak and need some beefing up.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Dull blogs

I guess a case could be made for the idea that nearly all personal blogs are dull. In other words, about as interesting as talking to somebody in the grocery line. You're never going to see them again so who cares what they have to say.

This gets back again to what we call the "Cheese Sandwich" blogs. This term was coined in response to a particular personal blog that was so boring it actually bordered on funny. The particular blog was: "I had a cheese sandwich for lunch today. Do you like cheese?"

There is one blog that revels in it's dullness. That is, of course, The Dullest Blog in the World. Here's a sample from the last two entries:

"I was sitting down on one of the chairs in my house. My hand was resting on the arm of the chair. I started to drum my fingers on the arm, thereby making a barely audible sound."

"I was standing quite near to a wall. I turned my attention towards it for a few moments. Having done this for several seconds I turned away from it and carried on doing something else."

Here's our own:

"I started looking at The Dullest Blog in the World today. One eye began to go out of focus, so I stared out the window for a minute. I got bored, so I went into the kitchen and fixed a cheese sandwich. Do you like cheese?"