Categories
blogan

I’m Moving My Blog’s Email Subscriptions To MailChimp

To improve the quality of my email subscription service, I’m now using MailChimp. Those of you who have already subscribed to my daily1 blog updates should not notice a difference, other than getting the emails more reliably. It seems that emails might not have been sent for over a week. If you didn’t get any, you could have missed:

MailChimp provides an awesome service. They demand that emails be sent out only after double opt-in2 by all recipients. I believe that describes everyone already on my list. If you think you received this email by error or don’t remember signing up, please accept my apologies and feel free to click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.

Those of you reading this on my blog who want to subscribe, please use the handy dandy subscription button at the bottom of this post. Thanks!


  1. No more than once a day, and no email if there’s not a new post. 
  2. Sign up plus confirming email. 
Categories
blogan

Picture Reset

Christmas is over. Time to go back to the old profile picture.

I changed it nine1 places. I wonder if I forgot any. Let me know if you see my Santa hat profile picture anywhere.

1blogan.net, blogan.net favicon, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Quora, Disqus, Intense Debate, and Klout.
Categories
social media

Internet Content Plumbing Simplification

Inspired by Rafe Needleman’s content overload, I graphed my current Internet content plumbing with an eye to simplifying and improving it.1

I have two blogs: blogan.net and Exerslog; their content goes to FriendFeed, as do the comments I write on blogan (they are filtered from the entire comments feed by a Yahoo pipe). I don’t regularly update Exerslog and it no longer inspires me to exercise. Instead, it adds unnecessary overhead to activity I’d rather encourage and makes me feel guilty when I don’t update even though I have exercised. Time to shut it down, at least for now.

I used to write about others’ posts I read that I liked. Then I discovered Google Reader’s ability to share posts. I find Reader’s sharing easier than writing a blog post. The titles of the posts I share show up on the sidebar of blogan’s main page. I also pipe the shared posts to a Tumblr “tumblog.” I don’t like Tumblr because it makes the shared posts look like I wrote them. Google Reader provides a shared items page, so I didn’t need Tumblr for what I was doing. Good bye, Tumblr!

Unlike Rafe, I don’t use ping.fm to stuff status to various microblogging sites (Twitter, Identi.ca, Pownce, and Yammer) because I’d rather not start a conversation somewhere I won’t be watching. Instead, all my microblogging accounts pipe to FriendFeed, where I’d like the conversation to take place. Does this work? No. Time to get rid of the extra microblogging sites I don’t use.

I’ll keep Twitter because it’s where my social graph is. It works will with Alex King’s latest beta of Twitter Tools, which filters out @replies before displaying my tweets on blogan’s sidebar.

I have some miscellaneous sites: Amazon.com wishlist, BrightKite, and YouTube) that go to FriendFeed. I have virtually no activity on them, they self maintain, and it’s not worth documenting them, and not worth the effort of deleting their feeds from FriendFeed. Ignoring them is bliss!

I have a Pownce site that aggregates my blogan and Twitter streams. Pownce is another site I ignore and it can be removed.

Finally, LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace are special cases. I don’t particularly like them, but I have a lot of friends on them so I don’t want to ignore them. They don’t play well with the rest of the Internet, though; getting feeds in and out of them can be difficult. Even in the case where it’s possible, it’s not necessarily advised. For example, I have Twitter update my status on Facebook. The cultures on Twitter and Facebook are different; noisy chatter that’s acceptable on Twitter might be considered obnoxious on Facebook. I think I’ll remove the linking. Likewise, I can’t think of a reason to pipe my LinkedIn activity to FriendFeed. These three sites go back to being the islands I hate.

This is what my Internet content plumbing looks like now. This captures at least 95% of my online content reading, creating, sharing, and other social networking activity.


  1. Hat tip: Steve Rubel for tweeting Rafe’s article. 
Categories
blogging WordPress

The Disqus Experiment

Blogan.net is more an experiment than a platform for expressing my ideas. At least that’s the way it’s played out. It works for me. I have fun trying new cool things. If I have anything important (or not) to say, I have a place to say it.

It’s time to try a new comment system. I’ve chosen Disqus. Features I like:

  • Threaded comments. You can respond to a specific comment.
  • E-mail notification. I’ll know when you leave a comment and I’ll be able to respond via e-mail and have it posted here. As a commenter, you’ll have the same benefits.
  • Gravatar support. Pretty pictures of us. I don’t know whether I can control the ratings or get wavatars or identicons.
  • Comments can be edited. At least if you have a Disqus account.

Issues about Disqus that concern me:

  • No import feature. To keep all the old comments visible, I end up with two different commenting systems on Blogan.net. Supposed, this will be fixed “real soon now.”
  • No useful export feature. Yeah, I can export the comments into XML or RSS. That doesn’t do me much good unless I can also the import that into WordPress’ standard comment database. If I decide I don’t like Disqus, I may end up walking away from the comments that get posted using Disqus.
  • Spam filtering. I have had good luck with Akismet and Spam Karma 2. I hope this is just fear of the unknown instead of a real problem.
  • No control over no-follow, at least not easily. I know of only one commenter that knew and cared that Blogan.net has (had?) no-follow turned off.
  • Comments can be edited. (Yeah, I know — I listed that as a feature I like.) After a certain time period, I’d like the comments to stick.
  • Less ability to edit. I don’t have the same ability to edit my comments I have as the administrator of Blogan.net. How do I easily upload pictures, what HTML works, what doesn’t? I guess some experimentation is in order.

In short, I’m (temporarily?) leaving an underutilized commenting system that works to experiment with an unknown that might increase comments here on Blogan.net.

What do you think? Try leaving a comment. Can you edit it? Do you have a Disqus account?

Update. Okay. I’ve spent a little more time with Disqus. Time to update my lists. Pros:

  • Daniel Ha, who trolls the Disqus support forums and writes the Disqus blog, also watches Twitter and responds quickly. He also has a new follower on Twitter.
  • Comment consolidation. All the comments I leave on Disqus-enable blogs appear on my Disqus community page. It will be easier to follow the conversations I’ve joined.

Cons:

  • Strange markup. The Disqus editor does not do markup like WordPress. Disqus puts an entire comment in a single <p> tag. Attempting to create paragraphs by hitting the return key twice result in <br><br> instead of closing the paragraph and starting another one. This prevents me from easily styling my comment’s line and paragraph spacing to match the rest of my blog.
  • Documentation. Disqus’ documentation isn’t there, yet. I haven’t found a way to search the forums, either.

The experiment continues…

Update. Not anymore.

Categories
blogging

Update Your Blogroll Automatically

I used to use WordPress’ built-in blogroll capabilities. No more — it was too much work. My blogroll now updates automatically to always show the feeds I’m reading. Here’s how you can do it, too:

  1. Set up Google Reader as your RSS reader. I suspect other online readers would also work, but I know Google’s does.
  2. Create a tag to apply to each feed that will show up in the blogroll. Being quite the original, I used blogroll.
  3. Apply this blogroll tag to those feeds you want in your blogroll. If you read a lot of feeds, this can take some time. Use it like I did to delete feeds that no longer update or that you don’t really read anymore.
  4. From Google Reader, select Settings > Tags and make the blogroll tag public, then select “add a blogroll to your site.” I chose the “none” color scheme so I could style the appearance myself. If you are putting your blogroll on a Blogger blog, you might want to select one of the pre-styled versions.
  5. Cut and paste the code from the previous step to display where you want it. WordPress has widgets (or the K2 Sidebar Modules that I prefer) and Blogger has template settings to configure your blog’s appearance.

That’s it — you’re done. Next time you subscribe to a new feed, decide whether you want it displayed on your blogroll. If you do, apply the blogroll tag and it will automatically show. Delete a feed from your reader and it’s gone from your blogroll. No additional work is necessary.

Categories
General

Clutter Begone

Blogan.net was looking cluttered so I made a few changes:

  • No more ads. The money I was making (not much) wasn’t worth the visual distraction. They’ll probably come back later, but they’re gone for now.
  • No more Snap Shots preview. Josh Bancroft gave me a week before I tired of them. it took about four. Guess I’m slow…
  • No more little icons under the post titles. Even the text information is simplified.
  • I flitted between two and three columns, but with all this other junk gone, I’m down to two. I don’t have anything to put in the third column.
  • No more daily Twitter digests. If you want to follow my tweets, join Twitter and follow me there. For now, I’ll display my latest tweet on the top of my sidebar.

Those who follow my blog using its feeds will probably notice only the last change. Those who visit should also see faster loading.

Categories
blogging

Light Blogging

I blame it on Tumblr and Twitter.

Categories
blogan

Subscribe to brentlogan.com

You can subscribe to the following feeds for brentlogan.com:

When reading individual posts (click on a post’s title to view an individual post), you will be given the option to subscribe to that post’s feed. Look for and click on the orange RSS feed icon to subscribe.

Categories
blogging

100,000 Spam Comments/Trackbacks

Yesterday, blogan.net received its 100,000th spam comment or trackback. Thanks to the combination of Akismet and Spam Karma 2, I don’t have to deal with very many of them.

Life is good. ;-)

Categories
blogging family

Dancing in the Rain

Dancing in the Rain

Blogging has been light as we’ve been enjoying my sabbatical. So far, we’ve toured parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South and North Carolina, and Tennessee.

The weather in Charlotte is a little extreme right now, but perfect for dancing in the rain.