Serendipity 0.8 released

The Serendipity team has announced the immediate availability of the final release of Serendipity 0.8.

Serendipity is a fast growing PHP-powered weblog application that is rapidly growing fans in the blogosphere. The new features include

* Support for Smarty Templating
* Improved installer with new “Simple Installation” mode (reduced configuration options)
* Redesigned Administration Panel, Authoring Suite and Administration suite have been merged into one, new Item “Personal Configuration” has been created [Read more…]

Retired UK Diplomat in trouble over blog comments

A retired British Diplomat, now chairman of a Scottish local council, has come under fire following comments he made on blog that were derogatory about the locals.

Peter Hinchcliffe, former UK ambassador to Jordan has outraged residents in the Berwickshire hamlets of Hutton and Paxton with comments that included referring to a local home as “sewage cottage” and other members of the community as “simple country folk”.

The Scotsman reports that Villagers want Hinchcliffe removed as local community council chairman because of “insulting” remarks in Huttonian, his personal blog.

Google to launch RSS advertising?

More changes have been announed to Google’s Adsense today, including new sizes and image options and the much talked about sites targeted ad placements.

But in an interesting development, it appears that Google may be preparing to bring Google Adsense advertising to RSS feeds with Chris Pirillo pointing to a feed here that includes Adsense ads in its feed. Google has a previous track record of trialling new features on selected blogs prior to their official launch.

The move, if implemented by Google, could potentially see an upsurge in RSS advertising in a way that Adsense currently popularised advertising on many blogs.

(in part via Steve Rubel)

Update: Scoble has confirmed that Google is definately testing RSS feeds.

Blog slayer: Microsoft and the future of SixApart

bill and menaDuncan Riley> On 2 December 2004, software giant Microsoft entered the blog market with MSN Spaces, a free, simple to use blog tool that allowed Microsoft users and others world wide to get their blog up and running within a matter of minutes. Despite its simplistic approach to blogging and limited customisation options, big media took notice and within the first month leading computer magazines were giving the still beta service the thumbs up.

In its first month, Microsoft’€™s Bill Gates claimed that Spaces had 1 million users.

In February Microsoft properties including MSNBC announced built in functionality exclusive to Spaces users.

In early April 2005 MSN Spaces is officially launched with the news that the service now has 4.5 million blogs and Volvo is signed up as the first major service sponsor. The official launch includes the integration of the ability to post to Spaces through the MSN Messenger program, used by an estimated 150 million users world wide.

By the third week of April, reports in the Wall Street Journal indicated that Spaces now had over 7 million blogs as was increasing at around 100,000 users per day. At its current rate of growth Spaces will become the first (predominately) English speaking blog service to officially reach 10 million blogs hosted by the middle of May 2005, and still this figure will be less than 10% of all MSN Messenger users.

But why is this all relevant to SixApart, the company behind MovableType, TypePad and LiveJournal? think Netscape.
[Read more…]

Blogpulse takes the lead in blog tracking field: 10m blogs tracked

Intelliseek’s BlogPulse became the first blog tracking service to exceed 10 million blogs tracked over the weekend.

The service, which was launched this time last year, now has the largest number of blogs tracked amongst blog tracking services, with competitors PubSub and Technorati currently tracking 9.7 million and 9.25 million blogs respectively.

According to a post from Sue McDonald at the BlogPulse blog, of the 10 million blogs tracked, 31% have been active (has new posts) within the last 30 days, 44% active in the last 60 days and 51% active within the last 90 days.

BlogKits launches 2005 Blogger Survey on Advertising & Blogs

Blog advertising company BlogKits is looking for bloggers to participate in its 2005 Advertising & Blog Survey.

The survey looks at blogger perspectives about advertising on their blogs, including specifics about what they use, what they like, what they don’t like and much more.

“Up till now, bloggers take what they can get, not what they want,” said Jim Kukral, Founder of the BlogKits BlogMatch Network. “The survey we’ve put out puts the blogger’s opinion in the forefront, giving them the power to tell the world what they want in regards to advertising on their blogs, not what the advertisers want to give them.”

For those interested the survey is located here.

New reality blog competition launched

The concept of “reality blogging” emerged last year with some mixed success, but seemed to disappear for a while, but now its back with a new competition thanks to Urban Honking.

The Ultimate Blogger is a 6-week competition between 12 people to be the best blogger in order to win a $500 dollar prize package. Each week consists of two challenges and two eliminations. The person or team that wins the challenge is safe, forcing the other players to vote someone out of the game. The last blogger remaining will be crowned The Ultimate Blogger and wins the prize package.

Google under fire for excluding blind bloggers

Google is under fire from blind bloggers due to the implementation of a “captcha” at Blogger on April 12.

Google’s visual captcha requirement means that blind bloggers can no longer sign up for accounts without sighted assistance.

In an email to the Blog Herald, Joanie writes that “…the reason I am writing [to] you about this is because bloggers are not aware of this issue, and my writing about it in the blindness corner of the blogosphere is not enough to let people know that what seems like a great way to reduce spam is also a way to keep blind computer users from blogging…”

More information is available here. The case highlights the need to be mindful that in the rush to block comment spam and spam blogs, bloggers and blog hosts need to be aware that tools such as captcha’s can also block legitimate users from commenting on a blog, or creating a blog in the way it was intended.

BlogMatrix launches new vblog and podcast hosting

BlogMatrix has launched a free browser based solution for the sharing and uploading of video blogs and podcasts

“Everyone can start podcasting and videocasting today”, said David Janes, founder of BlogMatrix. “We’ve made it even easier to share video and audio files – just create an account and start uploading; it’€™s all in your browser”.

BlogMatrix supports uploading popular video and audio formats directly to its website.

“BlogMatrix’s unique bandwidth and storage solutions allow us to charge prices that range from free to cheap. We still recommend that users download Sparks! as their podder software to simplify recording and sharing. However, anyone wanting to upload videos or podcasts can now simply take advantage of our online solution. The great thing about the BlogMatrix Service is that we make everything, from recording to formatting to sharing either extremely easy or automatic.”

ACLU assists High School Drum Major disciplined over blog post

The American Civil Liberties Union has become involved in the case of a Hartftord, Connecticut High School Drum Major who faced disciplinary action over a post on his SixApart LiveJournal blog.

Daniel Gostin was stripped of his drum major position, given an in-school suspension and barred by school officials from participating in music-related extracurricular activities and performances for the remainder of the year.

Fox 61 reports that Lori Rifkin, an ACLU staff attorney representing Gostin, contends the actions violated Gostin’s free-speech rights. In a letter Wednesday, she asked schools Superintendent Doris Kurtz to reinstate Gostin as drum major, expunge his disciplinary record and allow him to resume participating in musical activities. The letter also stated that the post contained no threats nor did it contain any other statements which would interfere with the ability of school administrators to maintain order and discipline at the school.