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Few Updates Recently

Few Updates for Several Months

Regular readers of this blog may be wondering why there’s been so few new posts in the past several months…

The reasons for our tardiness are two-fold: First of all I’ve been relocating my home and business to Aston Bay in the Eastern Cape. Secondly – blame the latest versions of WordPress, and above all the new text editor (TinyMCE 4.*).

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Goodbye Zemanta

WordPress.com Kills Zemanta Writing Assistant

WordPress.com stopped using the “Zemanta Writing Assistant” on 2 January 2014. The end of Zemanta was sudden. The only notification I found was a post by jackiedana on the WordPress.com support forum posted the same day the service was terminated.

“On January 2nd, 2014 we’re removing our third-party integration with Zemanta, which added some tools like a manual related content tool, and suggestions for tags and images”.

The only reason given was a statement that WordPress.com is working on improving the editor. I can’t help suspecting there were other reasons to kill Zemanta on WordPress.com

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Ads Free or Self Hosted

WordPress.com Ads Free Upgrade or Self Hosted WordPress

You don’t like the ads placed by WordPress.com on your blog. Should you take the Ads Free upgrade option, or instead choose to self host your WordPress blog?

ads free or self hosting thumbnail imageWhich is the better option to choose? The decision is subjective depending largely on what you want to achieve from your blog. Self hosting a WordPress blog provides a lot of options not available to WordPress.com users e.g. a wider choice of themes, whatever plugins and customisations you want, your own Google ads campaign.

But maybe you don’t need any of these options, you only want to have a blog free from advertising. Then the decision comes down to a few things only…

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Do You Use the Reader

How Often Do You Use the WordPress.com Reader

do you use reader featured imageI must admit, I hardly ever use the WordPress.com Reader. I used to go through the old Readomatic listings almost daily, sometimes more than once. I found lot’s of posts I enjoyed reading, and visited a lot of blogs. Since the demise of Readomatic, I hardly ever get to read other blogs.

Which is a great pity. The reader is actually very nice. With “Freshly Pressed” You can choose a grid of thumbnails, or a list of post teasers. It’s easy to select topics for articles posted with those tags.

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Trackback Settings Allow Spambots

Spam Comments Even When Comments Off

Spambots are able to bypass WordPress.com comment settings for individual posts and pages, and submit comments even when comments are off for the page. That’s what it looks like, on first impression anyway.

The spam looks like it’s a comment submission, the spammers name, and of course the outgoing link fields are filled in. The content is typical spam rubbish. These spam submissions certainly look like the spammer has bypassed the comment settings, and submitted a comment using wp-comments-post.php.

Looking closer, we see most of the time these spam comments are actually posted using WordPress trackbacks (pings).

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Auto Hyperlinks

Now we Get Auto Hyperlinks – Bad News

wordpress.com automatic hyperlinks thumbnail imageText gets turned into hyperlinks automatically. I just discovered this annoying thing that’s part of the latest version of WordPress used by WordPress.com – WordPress 3.5. Type the text for a URL and the darn thing turns into a hyperlink when published. That’s right, you don’t have to click on the link function in the editor, so no options to add target info and title… No options not to create the hyperlink…  Arrgghhh!

Maybe it’s handy for the terminally lazy, but it’s bad news for SEO. And what about the bloggers who write about malware and bad websites, and want to tell readers about these bad addresses? They don’t want visitors to click a hyperlink, just want to inform people about the bad address. With auto-hyperlinks the information becomes an active link!

For example, this hacker information “Exploit attempt on WordPress GD Star Rating plugin”

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Slow Time

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It’s The Slow Time for Blogs and Websites

slow time snoopy iconChristmas is here, and most bloggers and website owners will see reduced traffic for the next few weeks. People are on leave, kids on school breaks and this is the time of year to spend time with family. Businesses close in many parts of the world (at home in South Africa the 16 December is the traditional time staff get leave in all but consumer retail business).

As we know, most visitors to our blogs come during working hours. For those of us with business sites, potential new and regular customers are away from their offices. Even many on-line shop sites will see reduced volumes of traffic and sales at this time of the year. Christmas is a time people want to go to physical stores to select gifts, and all the other things to buy for the festivities.

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WordPress 3.5 Image Manager

New Image Manager for WordPress 3.5

The new WordPress 3.5 image manager makes a change. First seen on WordPress.com (except for those of us who used the beta versions of WP 3.5 on test setups).

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this new image manager at first. It looks good, and the thumbnails are a decent size – and they resize when re-sizing the browser window. It’s easy to use too. But initially there seemed something was missing – the image URL, or link to the image. (I should have looked closer – or worn my specs!)

Having got used to the image URL in the link field, from the earlier image manager, I was looking for “http” etc, right clicking the thumbnails and everything else possible, and not finding the link… Then finally, staring me in the face – well almost – tucked away in the bottom right hand corner is the link manager – you need to scroll the overlay.

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Fix Widget Position

CSS Fix for Text Widget Without Title

I previously wrote about using a Text Widget without a Widget Title or Name as a way to gain a small improvement in SEO for a WordPress.com blog (see WordPress Widget Headings) by using a lower order <h> attribute than the <h3> standard mark-up used by the theme.

Some themes play nicely when the title is blank by collapsing the space used by the title if it is missing. More themes however keep the space intended for the title resulting in a large blank space that spoils the appearance of the blog. This can be fixed fairly easily using CSS styles to reposition the widget content.

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Host on WordPress.com Network

Host Your Site on the WordPress.com Server Network

Would YOU like to host your site on the WordPress.com server network. Sorry, that’s a rhetorical question. There can be only one answer – YES. Well, if I’m reading the adverts correctly, it’s possible.

WordPress.com VIP Services

It seems there’s a whole bunch of things available for Self-hosted WordPress, from several different levels of hosting to a range of expert WordPress support services

wordpress.com vip hosting screenshot

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