Tag Archives: blogging

Crack Team 2.5

The server migration is complete and I’ve added lots of cool stuff. While this isn’t as drastic a change as when I switched from Movable Type to WordPress, it’s the biggest change since then. Here’s what’s new:

WordPress 2.3.1
I was way behind, but now we’re on the cutting edge. The upgrade includes tagging and auto-save, among other things. It also has a better visual editor.

Tarski 2.01
The latest version of this theme, which includes a new header image that nicely demonstrates The Crack Team’s plans for world domination. Most other changes are invisible to users. Mainly it’s compliant with WP 2.3 and supports tags. Of note to bloggers is an option to reverse your page title, so the post title comes before your site name. That’s good for search engine optimization.

Subscribe To Comments
When you comment on a post, you can request to be notified by email of any follow-up comments.

Social Bookmarking
When you view a single post, you’ll now see a row of icons to bookmark that page to del.icio.us, Facebook, Google, etc. Let me know if one you use is missing.

On longer posts I love to use footnotes, so this is great for me. You just wrap the footnote in double parentheses. For example1. Just make sure there’s a space before the opening parentheses.

Contact Form
I added a simple contact form; you can see it at the end of my profile page. It uses both CAPTCHA and Askimet to prevent spam. I know CAPTCHA isn’t foolproof, but as far as I can tell Askimet is. It’s saved me from over 5,000 spam comments since I switched to WP. If any author wants, I’ll set up a form for them.

In addition to the software upgrades and plugins, Inmotion keeps separate server logs for each domain and subdomain I host, and separates out webmail. This means AWStats will report more accurately. Granted, I’m sure I won’t want to see them since they’re artificially inflated right now. But that which can be measured can be improved.

Hopefully all this is useful and not just a novelty. If you have any suggestions, just leave a comment. Thanks.

  1. Here’s a footnote []

Coming Soon: The Crack Team 2.0

Yeah, I haven’t been terribly attentive to the site lately, and nobody else has been picking up the slack (you slackers!). The main reason is that I have been investigating upgrading the blog software, and I’ve decided on WordPress (what, you thought I ran out of things to say?).

For authors, the change will be pretty mind-blowing. I don’t anticipate it to a big adjustment, it will just be easier to do certain things, and will have a lot more potential for kick ass features. One of the WordPress idioms (or that of certain themes) is the “aside”. This is basically a real quick post, just 1-3 lines or so, to give people a heads up. We write some serious content here, and I’d like think that some of it is of journalistic quality (I won’t pontificate on the journal). But that also brings a certain intimidation factor, you feel like you have to write a whole article, edit it, proofread it a couple times, etc. Asides take the onus off the writing process, so you can just write stuff like:

X-Men: The Last Stand was outstanding. Yes, you should see it, and yes, in the theatre! Make it a good one!

See how easy that was? Let’s face it, you don’t need a whole review for a movie like X-Men; people on the fence just want to know it lives up to the hype (it does), and those on the other side of the fence won’t be convinced by your review. They also don’t read this blog, because it would steal time from reading GayCowboyBlog.com, and eating pudding. In short, an aside is something you might preface with “BTW…”. (In fact, putting any post in the BTW category – and only that category – will render it as an aside.) Asides can also have comments, so it’s a quick conversation starter. I’ve often said you should post anything you would email or forward to more than one person, and now that can include quick links.

“Pages” are another WordPress benefit. They are separate from posts, but just as easy to create, and perfect for more permanent content. A prime example is Agent (author) pages – each agent can now write his own bio, and include a link to his personal post archive. If you have Rhapsody, Netflix, flickr, or del.icio.us accounts, it should be easy to include content from those in your page… I originally envisioned this site as an awesome knowledgebase of things we thought kicked ass. Pages allow us to slap together an article collaboratively. Best Restaurants. Best TV Shows. Best Movies. Best Albums. Lists are simple and powerful, and as team members of The Crack Team, we have an obligation to the public to disseminate such vital knowledge. We are saving lives.

There might be other cool features, check out the WordPress site (esp. themes and plugins) and let me know what you think. It may take some doing, but a lot more should be possible.

Also, I’ve started to set up “professional” blogs for various people, including Hulagun, Mystery, Masterchief, ThinkTank1, and myself. These are blogs to discuss serious topics related to your profession, and have domains like firstname.lastname.com. It’s stuff you want your name attached to, and while it probably could go here, I know that few of you who read this are really interested in my take on software development and its industry. If you are, good news, I’m creating a blog for that! And Hulagun will talk about design, Mystery, the entertainment industry, Masterchief, robotics, etc. Anyways, if you are interested, please tell me now whlie I’m setting things up.

Stay tuned for more…

Preventing Spam on MT 2.6

Getting a little fed up with cleaning up spam on the blog (although MT Blacklist helps a ton), I whipped up some SQL to turn off trackback pings and comments on older blog messages. I figure if nobody comments within 90 days of a post, it probably won’t happen by anyone I care to hear from. I’m using MySQL 4.1 and Movable Type 2.661, and this is what I did:

mysql> use your_mt_database_name;
mysql> update mt_entry
-> set entry_allow_pings=0 , entry_allow_comments=2
-> WHERE DATE_SUB(CURDATE(),INTERVAL 90 DAY) >= entry_created_on;

Just change the 90 in the WHERE clause to shorten or lengthen the comment/trackback grace period.

Oh, and don’t forget (like I did) to do a Rebuild of all files. Sometimes I forget this is static content.

Get Behind Me, Comment Spam

I’ve recently been attacked by comment spammers. This is where they post comments in your blog that advertise a product. The goal isn’t to get you to buy said product, it’s to increase their pagerank on Google (although a few might not be smart enough to realize this). It’s very annoying, and removing comments with Movable Type (MT), the software that runs this blog, is like a 5-click process (per comment!).
     This is why I am weeping with joy over MT-Blacklist. Since the evil, scum-sucking spammers want to increase their pagerank, they must use the same site name, which becomes the chink in their armor. You can now add that to your Blacklist and have it automatically blocked. Furthermore, a centralized collection agent processes MT comment notification emails, so users can forward spam to the list and have it automatically added to the master blacklist. Unfortunately, that part is down for reasons explained on the site (Perl hacker needed to optimize the collector; I’d consider it if I had the time). So for now, you have to update your own list, but some nifty catch-alls help out a lot. Like if you wanted to comment about any drugs that enhance your bait and tackle, you’d have to email me directly… and immediately.
     It gets even better! The plugin is really easy to install. And if it doesn’t block something, you can add it after the fact, and it will back-check your comments! It shows you what it’s about to delete, and even automatically rebuilds the site for you (although you can uncheck that box if you want).
     Thank you MT-Blacklist. Thank you.

Monetizing the Blogosphere

Jason Calacanis and Brian Alvey from Weblogs, Inc. hosted a panel about how to make money blogging. Someone took the trouble to type up a transcript, and if you have any interest in blogging or journalism – especially as a career – you’ll find it a very interesting read. Calacanis, who did most of the talking, sounds a bit like Quentin Tarantino. If you keep that in mind, you’ll find the transcript even more amusing.

An important point: Calacanis estimates that a good-to-great blog requires 5-25 posts a day, taking 4-8 hours. Not trivial. It also targets one subject and/or has a significant following, so for the time being (and the foreseeable future) CrackTeam.org won’t allow me to quit my day job.

Web resources from the discussion:

bOINGbOING – former cyberpunk magazine turned kick ass weblog
engadget – a gadget weblog under the Weblogs, Inc. umbrella
the social software weblog – another Weblogs, Inc. site
gawker – a weblog that?s famous for some reason (one of those NYC invented celebrity things?)
Feed Burner – a site for managing/manipulating RSS feeds. I seem to recall a negative connotation to it, like it can be unethically used to publish someone’s content without giving them proper credit.