January 31, 2006

Yahoo7?

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OK, not strictly blogging related but one for Australian readers…what’s going on with Yahoo.com.au, I visited the site this morning to find this:

International readers maybe interested however, because this is the first time I’m aware of Yahoo dropping its standard front page for a co-owned and branded site.

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Network bans Adsense ads over Google into China

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Personally I think this is daft, but here it is anyway: Blogger News Network Discontinues Google Ads.

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About.com and NBCOlympics.com team up to Blog 2006 Olympic Winter Games

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About.com and NBCOlympics.com have announced an agreement that will provide visitors with a unique view of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games from Torino, Italy, February 10 – 26.

Under the cross-promotional agreement, NBCOlympics.com will feature links to About.com content throughout its site. Likewise, About.com will promote NBCOlympics.com to its millions of visitors. Both sites will feature the “About Olympics” blog, written by About.com’s Guide to Europe, James Martin.

“Our visitors know they can depend on About.com for information that is broad in scope and rich in content,” said Scott Meyer, President & CEO of About.com. “About.com provides the perfect complement to NBC Olympics’ unparalleled coverage of the events from Torino.”

“Adding About.com’s content and the personal touch of the ‘About Olympics’ blog will be a great addition to NBCOlympics.com,” said Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics. “From a promotional standpoint, gaining exposure to About.com’s significant audience will broaden the NBCOlympics.com user base this February.”

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German ad boss apologises to bloggers

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The leader of a campaign to cheer up German citizens has been forced to apologise after dismissing blogs as “the toilet walls of the internet”.

The Guardian reports that Jean-Remy von Matt, the head of the leading German advertising agency Jung von Matt, fired off a furious internal email to colleagues after his “Du bist Deutschland” campaign was criticised by the media and in cyberspace by bloggers.

“What on earth gives every computer owner the right to exude his opinion, unasked for? … and most bloggers really just exude,” he wrote.

In his apology, von Matt wrote: “My mother taught me something,” he wrote. “If you make a mistake, apologise … I was agitated, and I wrote an email to my colleagues, who had worked hard for months on the campaign and deserved some encouragement against the criticism, justified or unjustified.”

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Blogger Arash Sigarchi sent back to prison

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Reporters Without Borders has condemned the imprisonment of blogger Arash Sigarchi yesterday, four days after he was given a three-year suspended sentence for “insulting the Supreme Guide” and “propaganda against the regime.” Sigarchi is the author of one of the chapters in the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents which Reporters Without Borders published last September.

Sigarchi’s imprisonment is “arbitrary” and confirms that a new crackdown on bloggers is under way, the organisation said, calling for the young man’s immediate release and urging the Iranian supreme court to reexamine his case and quash his unjust conviction.

The former editor of the daily Gylan Emroz, Sigarchi has kept a political and cultural blog (www.sigarchi.com/blog) since 2002. He was arrested and imprisoned for two months in early 2005 and was then sentenced to 14 years in prison by a revolutionary tribunal.
read more

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Winter Olympics Blogs to be banned

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The Japanese Olympic Committee is telling athletes competing at the Turin Winter Olympic Games not to write any blog posts during the Olympics because the Olympic Charter bans athletes’ journalist activities when the games are on, and violators will be disqualified.

(via TMC)

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January 30, 2006

An great alternative to Captcha’s for WordPress

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I’ve had to stop using WP-HashCash as the anti-spam filtering feature here at The Blog Herald (due to server issues and the load it was taking up) so I went on a hunt to find a new comment moderation feature, and after 3 days of having it in use (and only getting 1 piece of comment spam, that’s right: 1 entire piece!!!) I’m going to link to it: WP-Gatekeeper.

Regular readers would know that I don’t ever support the use of Captcha’s, because Captcha’s prevent people with visual impairments from posting comments, and I know there are a few regular readers out there who do have these disabilities. In fact, if you do use a Captcha’s on your blog, you are essentially putting up a big sign saying “F. U” to anyone who wants to post a comment to your blog who needs to use a third party reader program or similar due to their disabilities.

WP-Gatekeeper is similar to a captcha however it doesn’t use those crazy letter/ number image combinations, it uses a set of customizable challenges to readers when they go to make a comment, for example: how do you spell blue?. and I believe, because of the way it’s formatted that it is friendly to readers with visual impairments.

If you are a regular commenter at The Blog Herald you’ll be seeing these challenges when you go to comment. So far, so good on the spam front (touch wood) and if you’re using WordPress it’s definitely worth a look.

And if you need more information on making sure your blog is friendly for the visually impaired, drop on over to my friends at the American Foundation for the Blind and send them an email, I’m sure they’d be happy to help.

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New problems at Technorati?

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Darren writes over at Problogger about the problems he’s having at Technorati. Like Darren I get a fair few emails on this topic as well, but I guess because I can remember when Technorati was totally broken last year I look at Technorati the way its working now and see a glass half full as opposed to half empty. Sure, its still not perfect but they are doing a much better job now than they were, Dave Sifry listened to the criticism and responded. I’ve even gone back to using Technorati nearly daily after having sworn off the service previously.

Dave, if you’re reading this, perhaps you’d like to share what else Technorati is doing to improve services? Certainly I’ve had enough feedback to know that some sites aren’t being indexed, although I suspect this maybe 3rd party related (ie who they ping) as opposed to Technorati itself….

Are you having problems with Technorati? leave some comments and if Dave doesn’t respond I’ll email some of them across to him.

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Blogging without a MySQL database

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A new piece of blogware I haven’t heard of before: Thingamablog.

According to LinuxDesktop:

Unlike most blogging software packages, Thingamablog does not require its web-accessed files to reside on a cgi/php-enabled webserver, and doesn’t need a MySQL database. According to the project’s website, all that’s needed to set up and manage a blog using Thingamablog is FTP, SFTP, or network access to a basic webserver.

Listed Thingamablog capabilities include:

* Set up a blog in minutes via a wizard
* Maintain multiple blogs
* Manage thousands of entries
* Dynamically update blog content
* Write entries offline (for dialup users)
* Publish your blog with a single click
* Read news with an integrated feed reader
* Make posts from favorite feeds
* Create a unique layout with customizable templates
* Import news from RSS/Atom feeds
* Set up flexible archiving options
* Organize blog entries by category or date
* Save entries as drafts
* Define custom template tags

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Schwarzenegger staff briefed blogger prior to State of the Union

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Interesting times when bloggers get briefed and the MSM don’t.

Whilst I think its great that bloggers are getting this attention I will take to task something the blogger said:

Fleischman cautions that the work “shouldn’t be confused with the mainstream media.”

“I’m not objective,” he says. “I don’t pretend not to try and take sides. I think, by and large, Republicans are right and Democrats are wrong.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong…..

The only difference here is that Fleischman admits he’s biased, most of the mainstream media don’t admit to it and yet they are…we all are in some way.

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