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WordPress Post Pagination

August 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Thanks to a couple of helpful sites [1, 2]: I have learnt that it is apparently possible to paginate a single blog post. Extremely useful for long blog posts. Of course, the actual tag “Next-Page Quicktag” is not actually found on my “Write Post” interface, so I have to insert the code for “Next Page” manually to get it done. This is not a big deal, but I do wonder why they have not just included it in the interface.

Something I just felt sharing, in case others wanted to know. I have been going through some of my older posts to get some pagination done. Just to make navigation easier. I hope it does not backfire and actually make me lose the few viewers that I had because they rather not click on the “Read the rest of this entry »” links or the links to the respective paginated pages of a single blog. I guess that is why some bloggers just put up with huge posts on the “front page”: easier to scroll than to click?

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Categories: Web (2.0)

Slow Blogging versus Speedy Twittering

April 1, 2009 1 comment

A bit late perhaps, but as I am chatting away with a friend who Twitters, I realize one of the benefits of Twittering over Blogging (or any other type of “authoring” really).

“Let me take an exceptionally educated guess: you not actually being a member of the Twitter community? Sounds great indeed; where do I (and, for that matter, the rest of the world) sign up?”

In your dreams and my nightmares. See, one of the principles of successful change management is to, as quickly as possible, achieve success. Reaching that milestone, no matter how small is it, will give people the feeling of being productive and useful. Reaching milestone after milestone, no matter how small they are, is an experience that strongly motivates people to (continue to) do things.

There are many times when I thought of something quick that I wanted to write about, but refrained from doing so because my mind went “I cannot just write stuff down. I will have to take my time and think about it, then write a draft, then spend quite a bit of time reviewing and rewriting that draft into a coherent and complete story”.

“Huh? When have you ever used that procedure for this blog?”

I am doing it even now. So the idea that I had to spend a lot of time to share what I felt was a very little nugget of wisdom was not exactly motivating. Which is kind of insane since blogging was the Twitter before Twitter! It was an easy outlet of whatever one wanted to say online right there and then, quick and dirty! Format be damned! But when blogging became a more serious activity for professionals, the people behind Twitter had to look for the next format where “quick and dirty” was the rule, no exceptions. By limiting it to 140 characters, they have successfully captured, no… abducted the “quick and dirty” feel and complemented it with the “repeatedly strive for quick achievements, no matter how small” concept.

No wonder they called it Twitter: it sounds and means something fast, whereas “blog” sounds slow and its definition reminds me of something slow. If there ever was an alien called “Blog”, you know it would be something big, fat, wobbling with multiple layers of whatever.

“Hey, leave the snark to me! Anyway, abducted is a strong word; I predict a new service that will have even a lower maximum limit of characters reaching great heights of popularity!”

Not an impossible theory. Still, how articulate can one be with even fewer characters? Wait, do I even want to know?

Wobbling Blogger Out.

Categories: Web (2.0) Tags: , ,

Improving WordPress’ Tag Surfer?

August 31, 2008 3 comments

Tags are cool. And WordPress’ Tag Surfer is very useful. A little less “automatic” than a recommendation system, but a promising high quality relevant content filter for sure. There are a couple of things about it that bug me, though. So for this blog post I will provide some of my complaints that may have also been expressed by others. So here they are (not necessarily in the order of importance, though)…
Read more…

Categories: Web (2.0) Tags: ,

The significance of Business Informatics

May 1, 2008 2 comments

Motivation: Exploring the significance of understanding the language of IT users and the language of IT-“builders” to improve the success rate of effective and efficient IT solutions.
Problem statement: Too many issues arise from having incompatible people trying to communicate with each other in different “languages”, resulting in less than desirable outcomes or even outright failures in whatever it is people try to achieve by using IT.

It is funny that I start such a post and claim that I am very attracted to this particular field of expertise while I have recently reconfirmed, the hard way, that my ability to simplify some IT concepts to non IT folks is still laughably bad. In my defense, what I am currently working on (and trying to convince others that it is significant) does not actually exist, as far as I know anyway, which makes explaining it in as few words as possible without confusing or scaring the hell out of the people I want to reach that much more difficult.

“Please, real men don’t make excuses. Stop your whining!”

Well, let us get to the meat of the blog post then. What is business informatics and why is it important? In a nutshell, every time you think of a product that requires users to do something with it on a regular basis, you need to make sure that that particular system is designed in such a way that they would actually not feel like throwing their PC’s out of the nearest windows while working on it!

“Well duh, then just ask them what they want.”

Indeed, we need to ask them what they want, but therein lies the real problem. In a lot of cases, they do not know:

  • What they want
  • How they want it
  • What is exactly possible

I mean, it is not like you are asking them to imagine and describe their favorite food or something. You are essentially asking them to tell you every little thing they (have to) do at work and how they would like to have that work and look in detail using “computers” (e.g. information systems). So on one side, we have people who have never documented what their daily work routine is like, down to details such as what they retrieve exactly and what they input exactly when and in what systems for what purposes. Fortunately, they should be able to do that on their own given enough time. The real problem is that they are mostly uninformed concerning “computer stuff” other than knowing how to log in Windows, browse through and store/retrieve folders, search stuff on Google, do the occasional chatting, download music and frequently honor adult websites with their presence. “Or people who have never spent more than 10 minutes playing around with HTML code but think blogging makes them IT savvy.” Oh, and did I mention they are clueless as to what they exactly want with work related software and how the GUI should look like on their computer screen? These things are normally only known after having worked with it for an extensive period of time, after learning how to work them, getting used to them and either do get used to do or realize that that is not an option. But when it has not been installed and used yet? Yep, no way that is going to happen for the common user. And why should it? They are not getting paid to understand and keep themselves up to date on the latest information systems and their effectivity, efficiency and user friendliness.

“So we’re banking on them having IT hobbies or something? Sounds risky to me.”

The other half of this dream team is the IT programmer, who is completely clueless as to what the future IT users do and why that is important, considering their daily work consists of programming features and modeling the occasional UML diagrams or whatever models they use to make that programming simpler to manage and program. They do not care or know how to care about business processes, they do not care or know how to care about users possibly (certainly actually) having to deal with a changing environment, a change of tools, a change of their daily routine. They do not care or know how to care about properly getting the right information out of users, properly documenting it in a format that said users can read back to provide feedback, give presentations in such a form that the IT users will not be confused with the slang or programming buzz, hold workshops to help the users prepare for what it to come and receive feedback to make it more user friendly, do stuff that makes the future IT user comfortable that this IT project is leading them to the IT system of their desires. And why should they? They did not sign up to be project leaders or managers, they are the technical workforce, the construction workers of IT systems. Their job is not to design a house based on what the customers want, but the ones that build it based on a construction plan. Nobody, least of all the programmer himself, would put a programmer in front of a group of business managers and operational users and have him explain these guys why the system rocks and how it will make their daily work easier. That is a car wreck waiting to happen.

So we have 2 groups of people: the future IT users who do not have a clue about IT systems and the IT builders who do not have a clue about business processes. Their goal is to get an IT system that not only supports, but also improves the efficiency and effectivity of the core business processes, which is largely carried out by the users. See the problem?

“Not for car dealers. Unless they are using their salesmen to repair the cars.”

Right, or use mechanics to sell their cars. Therefore, the solution is someone who speaks both languages but freaks out neither side. That someone is a Business Informatics professional. The guy who knows something about everything but not everything about something. The guy who simplifies complicated matters to the “layman” and specifies complicated matters to the specialist. And I am clearly not just talking about the design phase, but basically anything that involves IT and IT users, making things easier or more detailed for them. Indeed, I want to be that guy. I am going to be that guy.

“Yet here you are, just another blogger wasting his time writing about what you want to be, without actually being it.”

Hey that is harsh. As I said before, informing the public by simplifying otherwise complicated (IT) matters is an important task of a Business Informatics professional, too.

“Yeye, get to work!”

Well, this may not seem all that relevant nor interesting to your readers, but the next time you have a “who the hell designed this software in such an uneasy way!” or “Why does this not work the way I want it to work!” moments, you will be wishing you had a Business Informatics professional on the job!

Automated Download Scripts vs RapidShare: Cats!

April 25, 2008 3 comments

RapidShare wins the “Most Annoying Anti Download Script” award!

Ugh, for real? Yes, it is real.

Something tells me RapidShare hates automated download scripts more than any other service that provides free space for sharing purposes! I gotta say, this is either the best attempt to get me to go premium for any service or the worst attempt to get me to go premium for any service. It is so confusing that even I have not figured it out yet.

Anyway, since the verification code is 4 characters, I think the easiest way to do this is actually not to search for the characters with that particular cat graphic but the ones that do not look like it. That way, you only have to figure out which ones, usually just 1 or 2, are out of the ordinary and simply skip them.

Getting This Blogging Thing Down Pat!

April 20, 2008 1 comment

Motivation: As I am a more and more active blogger, I think it is only productive that I go and explore the ways of success with blogging, in order to improve the quality of my blog.
Problem statement: Unsure how to reach out to the right communities to add value. So time to see what I am doing right/wrong!
Findings: Overall, I score pretty OKish on most of those points. Except that I have not been very involved with the rest of the scientific blogging community, and, likewise, I do not plug my own stuff enough on other blogs.
Conclusion: In order for this blog to have more “success”, I need to mingle some more with my fellow bloggers and shamelessly advertise myself some more. I am unsure whether I feel like doing the latter, but mingling with the rest of the community sounds very productive to me.

Over at Nature’s Blog forum, I found an interesting reference to an article by senior editor of Wired magazine, Paul Boutin, who writes about ‘what a number of successful bloggers with successful nonblogging careers say are the ways to think about getting into the business of blogging’ in “So You Want to Be a Blogging Star?”

So let us sum them up and see how I am doing.

“You mean we, of course!”

Don’t expect to get rich.

Well, I got that one down pat, for sure!

“I am already happy if we don’t lose money over this!”

Write about what you want to write about, in your own voice.

Definitely check this one, too. And I feel I can truly write what I want to write about given that I am somewhat anonymous. And that helps with the unrestricted thing, but perhaps less in the credibility department. In addition, I can do more than express myself in my own voice: I have a special web based alter-ego to assist me with the writing and talking thing! Thus I have in fact two voices! Points for extra effort!

“I certainly deserve credit for the added value! In fact, without me, none of this would have been possible!”

Fit blogging into the holes in your schedule.

“Well, you’re a bum. So this one is pathetically easy. Which is pathetic.”

I cannot argue with that…

Just post it already! The hurdle that stops many would-be bloggers is fear of clicking the “Publish” button.

Hmm, I can say I have experienced this as well. I still got a bunch of drafts I have not posted because I feel they lack something. But it is also true that I regularly go back to published blog posts to modify them without any advanced warning. Hmm, what a dilemma.

“The signs of a low quality blog for sure.”

Keep a regular rhythm.

Check. I try to think up of some new relevant stuff to write and write about them as much as I think I can.

Join the community, such as it is. There’s an unwritten rule — actually, it’s written about a lot on blogs — that you should always link back to bloggers whose ideas you repeat, or from whom you get a cool link to another site.

Checking again. I believe proper crediting others is important. I therefore also reference the “intermediate” sources that lead me to the main source as well. Such as Nature’s blog forum thread in this case. And I have bookmarked a whole bunch of interest blogs that I like to visit and occasionally comment on just to join the fray.

Plug yourself. That’s what all the name-brand bloggers do. It’s not bad form to send a short note to a prominent blogger drawing his or her attention to a really good blog you wrote.

Have not mastered this one yet. I am not into directly advertising my blog posts. I find that somewhat sleazy. On the other hand, plenty of sites that are made exactly for this purpose, and would be happy to allow such self plugging. I just have not made up my mind to join them just yet.

So there we have it. Conclusively, I think I can somewhat score pretty well. And I am of course content with my blog and the posts in it. Even though the amount of visitors may be low. I guess I am not doing it for the success anyhow.

“I should think so, because you’ve never had any. Which would make that goal a little bit odd, to say the least!”

Categories: Web (2.0) Tags: ,

Multiple Gmail Accounts: Where is the Privacy?

April 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Problem statement: a very annoying “feature” in Gmail’s multiple account management may cause some serious privacy issues when you do not know about it and handle accordingly.
Motivation:As a fervent user of Gmail and a supporter of Google, I still need to spread the word of this privacy “loophole”.
Findings: Multiple Gmail account management in Gmail does not quite protect your privacy.
Conclusion: Make sure you manually switch to different Gmail accounts if you wish have your main Gmail account hidden.

Now, Gmail is a great (e-mail) service. Good user interface, lots of space, everything sounds good. Heck, Google even allows you to have multiple accounts. That is good, right?

“Right.”

Right, as with multiple accounts, you can e-mail in different environments accordingly. For instance, you could have a Gmail account solely for

  • Online Non Serious Chatting using a random addy like onlinebuddychat (at) gmail.com
  • Online Adult Chatting using a random addy like 20F_USA_blonde (at) gmail.com
  • Professional business using your real name addy like FirstnameLastname (at) gmail.com

*I am not related to these accounts, but I guess there is no need to have them tracked by spambot just to make a point, so I replaced @ with (at) to slow that down.

Indeed, these three different group of contacts never have to meet. That is the power of different gmail accounts. Even better, Gmail lets you forward all the incoming mails to a different e-mail. In this case, you could let all of your e-mails be forwarded to your real addy so you do not have to check up on all of them for e-mails individually and manually. Great, right?

“Right.”

Right, it is user friendly and it has a high degree of manageability from one point of access.

Even better: you can assign a main account and give permission to let that account send e-mails from the other accounts. That means you can have multiple accounts, have all those accounts send mail to one account, and send emails from that one account using the addresses of the other accounts. Fantastic, right?

“Right.”

Wrong. You see, when you use your main account to send e-mails through your other accounts, people can see both gmail addresses!

Note: when you’re sending with a different ‘From:’ address, your Gmail address will still be included in your email header’s sender field, to help prevent your mail from being marked as spam. Most email clients don’t display the sender field, though some versions of Microsoft Outlook may display “From yourusername@gmail.com on behalf of customaddress@mydomain.com.”

This “feature” utterly destroys any privacy you might have had with multiple Gmail accounts. To avoid that, you need to manually log into the other accounts. In this Google Groups thread, you can see a Google employee named Sarah (title: Gmail Guide Yellow) explain this:

Certain spam filters look at the authorized IP addresses for a given domain when deciding whether to accept mail. If mail comes from a Gmail IP address, but the headers indicate it was sent by a non-Gmail address, some domains may refuse to accept it. Using the Sender field helps to ensure that we can deliver legitimate messages to domains using a variety of spam-prevention measures.

However, there are examples given in that thread to avoid this spam problem. So this is not an impossible task to avoid for Google. I refuse to believe that even if I did not see suggestions proposed in that thread and elsewhere. And even so, allowing users to decide for themselves to take that risk of not having their e-mails sent through using their secondary accounts is still better than having your main address revealed every time you use that to send e-mails using the other addresses.

Till that time: only use this feature if you do not mind having both accounts involved revealed to the receiver of your e-mails. If not, sign into your secondary accounts individually/manually to send these e-mails. If you use something like Outlook to send e-mails using Gmail, you can switch accounts there without this problem.