When I have time I like to browse the Google web site and check out their Adsense blog and forum. Recently one of the things I learned about was a much better way to integrate their search results into my site template. I’ve been using Google’s search option on my biggest board for years because it gets around the “stopwords” issues and let’s people search for software version numbers like “6.5″ and “XI R2″ which are not indexed by the standard phpBB search process. The side benefit is that I also get paid when people click on the paid links that appear in the search results. Let me talk about that for a bit and then come back to the search page revisions that I made. More…
August 31, 2009
August 30, 2009
My wife forwarded this link to me earlier today because she knows I love LOVE gadgets. It’s a company that is making a dual-screen laptop.
I don’t mean a dual-video laptop, which most are today. I have my laptop hooked up to an external monitor in my office and can display different content on each. That’s not what this laptop does. Instead, it carries around it’s own second screen so I don’t need an external monitor! That may not be very practical, it’s probably heavy, and I’m sure the battery life sucks.
But still, I want. One. Now.
Dual Screen Laptop coming soon.
August 27, 2009
I updated to the most recent release of Wordpress this morning. One of the features that had caused me to delay my upgrade was the post revision feature. I do a lot of revisions as I work on posts, and I really don’t care about keeping notes along the way. It just clutters up my database with unneeded content. I am not an editor. I don’t want to keep a history of changes made over the life of a post. Some of my posts exist as drafts for months and go through dozens of writing sessions before they’re ready to be published.
So as I was going through the upgrade I did a bit of reading on the web and found an article that discussed an option named WP_POST_REVISIONS that can be added to the Wordpress configuration file. The setting cannot be configured via the Admin panel which I think is an oversight. However, it is quite flexible. More…
August 21, 2009
Recently I had someone suggest that I look at a service from ShareThis.com. What I found after reviewing their service was that it would allow me to add a flash pop-up menu to any page of my board. This menu provides an easy way for people to promote my site for me, which is about the cheapest form of advertising there is. The pop-up includes links to Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of other “social” sites, and I’m sure the service provider intends to add more as they become available. However when I started researching what it would take to put ShareThis on my boards, I ran into a slight bit of confusion. Their terms of service page said this:
Registration. In order to have access and use of the ShareThis Widgets, registration is not required but is strongly recommended.
Yet in order to “get the button” they required me to register. When I sent a note to the support group, I was told that they no longer offered a “no-registration” option for their service. Why do they require me to register at all? In order to provide analytics and reports that show how many people are sharing content from my site, they need to have a unique identifier for my account. Since I’m not (at this point anyway) really interested in more reports and analytics, I decided to pass.
Now that I knew what to look for, I quickly found AddThis.com. It seems to be the same type of service but they offer an option that does not require me to register in order to use it. I spent a few minutes looking over their site and quickly selected the options and format that I wanted to use. I already have a toolbar with various icons at the top and bottom of my topic pages, so it was really easy to add one more icon to the mix. Here is the final product in action:
With this new icon, when someone sees a topic they like they can easily add it to their favorites, their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any of the other social media sites supported by the service. How hard was it to add this code to my site? Not hard at all. More…
August 9, 2009
Google Adsense Replacement
On my largest board I have only ever had content ads on the bottom of the page. For the most part the ads worked quite well; when we started talking about cheese in one topic we started seeing ads for cheese on the bottom of the page. But cheese isn’t what my board is about, and I’m thinking that I have enough activity to do something different.
My current sponsor program allows each sponsor to share the banner space on the top of my board. Initially it was one banner for a set number of calendar days (weeks). Now it’s a shared space with rotating banners so I can easily add (or remove) sponsors from the rotation. But I think the concept of renting out the space on a more dedicated basis might have merits and that’s where my next experiment is going to go.
This is not a new idea; many boards do it. But the implementation in my case might be a bit different. What I am considering launching (probably around the end of this year) will be a text-only forum sponsorship. The existing sponsors will retain the banner space at the top of the page, so there will only be one banner on the page at any given time. But by offering text ads on a per-forum basis, I hope to attract sponsors that are interested only in part of my board as opposed to the entire thing.
I plan to start out with the exclusive weekly booking for this new feature. For one thing, that makes life very simple. Every single page view for a specific forum will show the sponsor for that forum. The booking starts on a specific date and ends on a specific date. By doing this the billing becomes quite simple, and the coding is easy as well. If the program works, then I can expand it. If not, I don’t think I will go back to Google, but will look for some other alternative.
The bottom line is that the bottom line for Google has reached the point where the cost of having it (user opinions, page load times) isn’t providing enough benefit in the form of income to continue using it. It’s time for something different.
August 2, 2009
Most discussion board software packages include a “private” message feature. One of the first things I did to phpBB2 was rip that feature right out. I had my reasons, and the resulting board has been active for more than seven years now so it has worked out okay. In fact it was earlier this year that I got my first question about why the feature was even missing.
At the same time there are valid reasons for folks to want to send a message to another board member without posting in public. Over at the phpBB2 Refugees site I got more immediate and vocal feedback. (Note: that link requires a login to the phpBB2 Refugees board.) As a result, the feature is in the process of being updated to include some new features. It has also been renamed from the “private” message system to the “personal” message system instead. Why is that? More…