Categories
Life

Why I still don't like Chrome

Last year I made an attempt to move from Firefox to Chrome – as much as I love Firefox, Chrome is a lot quicker in use. However, after living with Chrome for a few days, I’ve moved back to Firefox again.

There was always the issue over searching. I love having a little search box in the corner so that I can do a quick Wikipedia or IMDB lookup. The Chrome equivalent is not as convenient.

However, that would never be make-or-break.

I like the fact that Chrome, when synchronising bookmarks, now looks up the favicons and populates them (it doesn’t synchronise them as Xmarks does, though).

No, what finished off Chrome for me is the total lack of control or visibility with synchronising. Chrome has synchronisation of bookmarks, etc, built in. I therefore imported them from Firefox on one PC to allow it to transfer over to my other installations Sadly, after a number of days it had only made a vague attempt to synchronise a few bookmarks and not much else. All Google offer is a line on your profile settings page to show how many it’s synchronising. No control. Nothing else. Why weren’t my bookmarks moving across? I’ll never know. The thing is, on each machine I could have imported them from Firefox. BUT how can I trust Chrome to correctly then keep them in sync with each other after that? Simply put, I can’t.

I also don’t like the fact that Chrome has no way of displaying separators in bookmark lists.

Maybe I’ll try again later next year. Until then, Firefox remains my browser of choice.

Categories
WordPress

WordPress plugin review of 2011

2011 has been a hectic year for me and my WordPress plugins. I’ve learnt an awful lot – especially thanks to the excellent book Professional WordPress Plugin Development. As a result I’ve been re-visiting a lot of my plugins and vastly improving their code quality and capabilities.

I  also got rid of my first plugin – Organ Donor Register.

Plugins that have been given a fresh lick of paint are (in no particular order)…

You’ll notice they all begin with “Artiss” – another change which is part of a new re-branding exercise. Some of these, however, were modified early on and will be due a further update to bring them totally in line with current standards.

Existing plugins due for an upgrade in 2012 are…

Simple Feed List is to be re-written from scratch with feed duties being all “in house” rather than relying on WP’s built in RSS functionality (which appears to be rather flaky).

Artiss Facebook Link, Simple Twitter Link and Simple Buzz Link will all be merged into one new plugin, Artiss Social Link.

Android App Share, Simple Readbag List, Simple TTIW List and Simple Wakoopa List will all be merged into a single new plugin, the name of which is yet to be decided. It will also allow for other sites that provide XML data.

WP Plugin Cache will be abandoned (as all caching will be performed by individual plugins).

What all of this will mean is a reduction in the number of plugins, by merging a number of similar products. However, all are due to recieve the “full monty” of additions so, rather than adding the odd small feature, most should require minimal maintenance in future. Plugins such as Social Bookmarks and YouTube Embed, however, are likely to continue to have big changed applied to them.

If after this I find some time, I have a number of plugins that I’d like to turn my hand to, including a banner rotation plugin. There are a number available in the market but none that offer what I need (and I’m not being particularly needy either) – it was actually a user who asked me about this after coming across the same problem.

Categories
Life

Connecting a Samsung Galaxy S2 to an iGo/ThinkOutside Stowaway keyboard

I bought an iGo (ThinkOutside) Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard some years ago to go with my Nokia N95. However, since getting rid of the Nokia I’ve not had a device that would support it. However, after some tinkering I’ve managed to get my Galaxy S2 to connect to it.

Here’s how it’s done…

  • Open up the Stowaway and hold down Ctrl, Fn and Fn at the same time. The LED above the letter T should start flashing
  • On your Samsung ensure Bluetooth is active and within the Bluetooth settings select “Search for devices”.
  • After a short while the keyboard should appear on the list – select it.
  • A Bluetooth pairing request screen should appear (see image to the right). This asks you to enter a PIN – this pin is the number at the end in quotes.
  • On the Stowaway keyboard hold down Fn and type the numbers in. Finish with Enter.

The keyboard is now connected and every time you open up the keyboard in future and press a key, assuming Bluetooth is enabled on the phone, they should now connect.

The only issue you’ll experience is with key mappings. Letters and numbers work, as does the Enter key. You can move around the screen using the arrow keys without a problem. Numlock doesn’t work, nor does any of the shortcut options. Here are additional keys that do work…

  • Back – Fn and Tab
  • Home – Fn and Arrow left
  • Switch off / on – Fn and Arrow right

My final point is that although I’ve only tried this on my S2, there are probably other Android devices this works with – although Google say this will be different from phone to phone (more to do with the hardware support rather than just the OS).

 

Categories
Life

How to drive traffic to your blog with Artiss Draft List

I’ve just launched version 2 of my Artiss Draft List plugin for WordPress and if you’ve not tried it, it’s really worth a punt. In a nutshell, it lists on your blog any posts (and/or pages) that you have in draft. This can provide an ideal, and unique, way to promote posts before they are published. Output is in text so will be picked up by Google, adding SEO advantages (see below).

But let’s get back to the plugin. Once installed you have option to use a sidebar widget, use an in-post (or page) shortcode or even just manually call it via PHP. A new templating system allows you to define exactly how the results are output – yes, you can output a list of draft posts, but what about adding an author name, word count or date of last update? All of this is possible.

It’s all cached so takes as little resource as possible and you can even exclude certain posts from being included in the list (this is done in the editor itself). Finally, you can make sure that the list only includes drafts for a particular time period – for instance, any created in the last month.

Scheduled posts are not excluded either – these can be included and can be indicated via an appropriate icon.

So, how does this help SEO? Well, let’s take a live example from my site. I recently had a product review post in draft. Searching for that product in Google, gave the following result (click to see a larger view)…

As you can see all the top results in Google are for my site – even though the review hasn’t been published. Instead the fact that the text is in the list of drafts within the sidebar has already attracted attention to my site and getting me listed. Of course, this is quite an obscure product so don’t expect top billing in Google for anything as a result. But it does help with your SEO and it give your readers a helpful insight as to what to expect soon.

Download Artiss Draft List from WordPress.org.

Categories
Life

Noise Republic – their new album now available for download

Noise Republic, a rather fine rock band from Nottingham, have released their first album – Now Is Our Time.

The album was actually recorded in 2009 but other commitments and a change on the band’s line-up delayed things somewhat.

They’re not manufactured, write their own songs and play their own instruments – what’s not to like? Hell, they even designed the artwork.