Upgrade to WordPress 2.5 or stay in the dark, says Technorati

A short word of advice to fellow WordPress users. Not only is WordPress 2.5 so awesomely great that you should upgrade immediately, even if it was just for the beautifully refreshed admin area (after years of staring at the same old UI, it’s so good to see a new one!) but you should upgrade if you want to keep appearing in Technorati.

Good ol’ Technorati, one of the largest blog directories on the web, has announced that, due to some security issues with older versions of WordPress, you need to upgrade to the latest version in order to continue being indexed.

Because of this ongoing problem, we’re discontinuing processing crawls of blogs that exhibit common symptoms of being compromised. We strongly recommend upgrading your WordPress installation. Even if you haven’t been afflicted by a compromise, by the time you are aware that you have been a number of negative consequences may have already occurred (for instance, flagged spam by Technorati, Google or Yahoo!) — this has been reported by many WordPress users.

This will be interesting to watch, seeing as even large blogs like TechCrunch haven’t gotten around to updating yet. Many less techy users will have to wait until their hosting’s control panel updates the Fantastico scripts to contain the latest version of WordPress. Considering the millions of ghost town blogs currently listed on Technorati, I wonder whether this will become a huge Spring Cleaning of all the unloved, dead blogs across the web. This might just turn out to be a good thing…

So, go on, get off your butt and upgrade WordPress to the latest version, and tell those around you to do the same!

It's my blog's birthday: That Canadian Girl 4 years on

Cake!I find it hard to believe that this blog is now four whole years of age. It certainly wasn’t my first blog – the first would probably trace back to around 2000, but was a poor excuse for a blog. It was, however, the first WordPress blog where I actually bothered buying a real domain name rather than a borrowed subdomain on someone else’s dodgy hosting, and it’s the first time I made an effort to scrap some thoughts together on a somewhat regular basis.

The first post was something to do with There.com, an early sibling of Second Life, the kind of avatar-based online world I’ve never had much interest in. A random start, but a start nonetheless.

Now, four years on, I can hardly imagine my life without blogging. It’s shaped much of what my career has become, giving me the fun experience of writing for Shiny Shiny a few times and resulting in getting headhunted to become a corporate blogger for Taptu a year ago.

Since those days, blogging has become pretty mainstream, both to my pleasure and dismay. It’s great to see so many people picking up a hobby once reserved for nerds who knew how to clunk together some HTML and update pages manually. Unfortunately, so many people also get the wrong end of the stick. I can’t judge personal bloggers, because it’s entirely up to them to write how they like and when they like. It’s the marketers, the CEOs, the business people who’ve decided to pick up blogging – I wish I could lend them a hand, help them make sense of blogs, which are so much more than just an online marketing platform.

But at least, at the very least, they are picking up on these new technologies. You gotta start somewhere, after all. You fall over the first few times you ride your bike, but you learn. Hopefully, I can help these marketers stop falling off their bikes. (Oh now that was a funny mental picture for me. Was it good for you?)

So, four years then… I might not be willing to raise little sprogs of my own any time soon, but my blog, that’s my baby. Happy birthday, little one!

Looking back:

Brain in renovation: Thank you for bearing with us

Since my last post on the 20th, we’ve been having a whirlwind of a time! We went away for a week to a fabulous castle in Devon, which we lovingly named Castle Anthrax (if that isn’t self explanatory enough and you’re wondering why we’re wearing very silly costumes in some of these pics, then watch this clip or rent Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail.

I couldn’t tell you because Andrew worried that you’d come and nick our telly while we’re away. But now that we’re home and equipped with two barking mad security cats, now, I can tell you. And let me tell you, it was a blast of a holiday. No technology, just a bloody big fireplace and a jacuzzi on the roof of the castle.

You’ll tell me, it’s no excuse, you’ve been back since Friday, why haven’t you blogged since, you slacker? Well, partially because I’m just that, a slacker who wallows in her non-blogging guilt. But also because my brain power has been taken by some new and exciting project I’ve cooked up. More on this next week.

Tonight’s blog entry, aside from a (totally insincere, can you tell?) apology for not writing in nearly two weeks, it’s my first opportunity to play with the freshly-released WordPress 2.5, which has a lovely and swish new user interface. Thank you Mr. Mullenweg, we lurve you!

This is all we’ve got time for today, folks, but I’ll be back later with some more of my insightful babble. For now, back to your knitting, origami swan making or whatever it is you people do with your evenings!

Good night.
Mrs. Vero S. Pepperrell
Queen Bee in your Bonnet

WordPress 2.3: Pretty much painless upgrade

Wow, well this was a pretty easy upgrade! I managed to make it as much of a pain as possible for Andrew; forgetting to disable plugins, upgrading from a pre-widgets theme, and being a whinge-bunny.

But now it’s done, with that new swish “Tags” feature at the bottom of the post. I love the ease with which I can tag posts, and I bet that tag cloud (currently at the bottom of the sidebar) will grow to show just quite how nerdy my blog posts are…

Great job, WordPress team!

WordPress 2.3 now released

If, like me, you’re using WordPress, you’ll be pleased to hear that version 2.3 has now come out of the oven. It’s upgrade time!

Matt MullenwegSome highlights: Tagging now comes as default (so no need to faff with third-party plugins), notices when plugin updates become available, automatic non-www domain forwarding, old post slug forwards to the new one if changed (Halleluia!), some improved post management and a big handful of ubergeek features. All in all, some pretty exciting changes!

It’s so funny to see that the very adorable Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, is even throwing a WordPress upgrade party at his place tomorrow. Shame, San Francisco is a bit of a trek for me. Cambridge upgrade party anyone? 😉

Automattic's free WordPress.org stats

There are tons of stats packages out there, but if all you’re looking for is a quick peek at your most popular blog posts, referrers, outbound clicks or search engine terms, they’re sometimes a bit heavy.

WordPress.com has some great basic snapshot stats, which were missing from the self-hosted WordPress.org install. Finally , Automattic has made them available for WordPress.org users as well.

I’ve used Google Analytics, AWStats, CrazyEgg and Webalizer, each for a different blog-related purpose, but this integrated Dashboard stats package is bound to very quickly become the one I rely on most for quick stats.

I’m considering using Mint in the near future for another project, but if anyone has suggestions, recommendations or warnings against any stats package, do let me know!

Which type of stats do you find most accurate: log analysis tools like AWStats or Javascript-based scripts like Google Analytics? Or both to complement/complete each other??

Like my new look?

It may be a month late, but here’s my yearly new look. This morning, Andrew offered to create a new WordPress template for me and I simply couldn’t refuse such an offer. I knew exactly what style I was looking for and chuwy provided the image the template was built upon. If my memory serves me right, which it rarely does, I believe we’re now on to version 5 or 6 for this blog.

We’ve now put to rest the green template some lovingly called the “Did you get your inspiration from the Windows XP default background?” and others the “wow you’re so web 2.0” design.

After the jump, I’ve put up one last screenshot of the green tree template for posterity’s sake.

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New plugin: Technorati tags

Using categories for blog posts is a nightmare: You start off with a generic category name, then you’re tempted to split it into multiple categories, at which point you realise said category contains 428 posts begging to be reorganised. So you promptly give up on reorganising the categories and go play Wii, or eat a cookie, or something.

So I’ve adopted a new little plugin for WordPress called SimpleTags. It makes it easy to add Technorati tags to the bottom of a post, and can also be used to create a tag cloud. Sure, tag clouds are oh-so-2006, but they’re also an interesting way to see what I’ve been blabbing about recently.

We’ll see about the tag cloud later, since I’ve got a stinking head cold, which makes it hard to even keep my eyes open, but the plugin was drag and drop, so that’s in use already.