View Random Posts on The Deets

For those of you who can’t get enough of The Deets, you now have an easy way to find warmed over content from the past using this random post thingy:

http://www.thedeets.com/?random

Clicking that URL will automatically take you to one of the 1162 and counting posts on this site.

I’ll get around to adding a button to the site when I’m good and ready.

If you’re running WordPress, here’s the plugin.

Top Posts for May 2007

Interestingly, all of the top posts this month were related to local going’s on.
That’s pretty cool.

Three of the posts were inspired by reader suggestions (or submissions, in the
case of FUH2 Stillwater Style). That’s cool too.

Site’s Running Better Now

The pages load times on The Deets over the past few days have been painful, as if the server was approaching the peak of Everest with a piano in tow. I finally had a chance to look into why this was happening and figured it out.

The left column used to have a feature called “Recent Posts from Friends” or some sort of similar term. It used an RSS aggregation service called FeedBlendr to pull together the recent posts from around a dozen sites into one single feed, and the “blended” feed was then syndicated onto this site.

Apparently, FeedBlendr hasn’t had enough fiber in it’s diet lately, so The Deets was becoming backed up when the page load reached the FeedBlendr request. FeedBlendr would eventually get it out with some squeezing, but it was a painful process.

So, FeedBlendr is gone.

It’s worth noting that the problem may not be with FeedBlendr but with one of the feeds I has mixed in the blendr. That’s something I’ll check out on another day.

While digging around, I noticed the Flickr photos in the upper right-hand corner of the site didn’t have dimensions in the HTML code, so the server didn’t know how much room to set aside for the photos until they loaded. Fixed as well.

Back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Browser Issues

If you’re using Internet Explorer 6, you may be having a few issues with the homepage on The Deets right now. This is caused by posts that are larger than 500 pixels wide, and the Aaron Landry post fits the bill. Things will go back to normal when than leaves the homepage, which should happen one post after this one. I’m too lazy to fix the post, and IE 6 is quickly becoming obsolete – especially amongst elite Deets readers.

If you’re using Safari, you may notice something weird about maps at the bottom of recent posts. I’ve added a new plugin called GEORSS that allows me to at coordinates to geographically relevant posts, plotting them on an associated map. I believe the posts can also be repurposed on other mapping related sites like Platial. However, Safari people are out of luck for now because the maps aren’t rendering correctly for you. If you’re a web geek and have a chance to peak at the source code, let me know if you notice the problem. I hear it’s a DIV tag issue, but haven’t had a chance to fix it yet.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

12 Days of Blogging: Lessons Learned

Technology Evangelist is now 12 days old! We think we’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are a few things that come to mind:
1. Movable Type – the blogging application we chose – was not designed for Windows Servers: Yes, it will, but it takes some work.
2. Movable Type could be search engine friendlier: Here’s an article outlining a few tweaks worth considering:
3. RSS Syndication is poorly understood. We don’t think many people understand what they can do with an orange XML icon. Clicking the icon doesn’t really help explain things either, although it could be explained using XSL (note to self). TopRank Blog has information on why it’s important to have RSS feed icons (aka. Chicklets) on your site, and provides a script to create the chicklet codes for you.
4. We hate Truncated feeds: Some of us use Bloglines. Others use Google Reader. Still others prefer Feedblitz. Regardless of how we read our feeds, we all agree that we want to read the entire posts rather than just the first 200 characters with a link to the site for the of the story. That should be straightened out tomorrow. In May of this year, there was some chatter about “to truncate or not to truncate” RSS feeds. I figure people will visit our site through a combination of links on other sites, search engines, bookmarks, and RSS feeds they find interesting. Will we add ads to our feeds? Probably. I think that beats forcing readers to click over to our site in order to serve ads to them.
5. Google AdSense Integration: Easy to set up. Andy Hagans has put together a Monetization Makeover of PSPFanBoy over at Performancing.com to help explain ad placements. Interesting stuff. The link to AdSense’s heatmap is particularly valuable.
If Google AdSense wanted to make things even easier, they could provide ad insertion instructions on their site for common blogging platforms like Movable Type.
6. Del.Icio.Us and Yahoo MyWeb Bookmarking Integration: I noticed that Threadwatch added bookmarking links for del.icio.us and Y! MyWeb to their blog posts. That??????s a brilliant tactic. Articles that are bookmarked more often receive more visibility on social bookmarking sites, so making it easy for people to bookmark your posts makes a lot of sense. They used JavaScript for their links. I took a different approach to coding the links that allows me to include the code on individual posts, archive pages, and the homepage. If you’re interested, here’s the code I put after the comments code (my apologies for using an image to publish this):

The single quotes around the link is key. Without that, the post title will break after the first word.
This should work with other blogging platforms by swapping out the variables with the appropriate permalink and title codes.
7. Professional Blog Design: Thanks to Cat and Raheel for their graphic design help. The site looks great. Like it or not, graphic design plays a big role building credibility. Stanford University has studied this for Consumer Reports, and found that:

“…nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.

We hope our site’s graphic design gets people to stick around long enough to judge us on our content.
That’s it so far.
We’d love to hear comments about our design, RSS feeds, advertising integrations, etc. Don’t be shy.