Now Hosted on WPEngine.com

I just finished the process of moving my blog over to WPEngine.com! I was becoming very frustrated with the speed of my site and knew WP Engine could fix my load speed issues. As you can probably tell the website is already loading much faster! If you are looking for top-notch WordPress hosting, I highly recommend them.

You may have also noticed I switched to a different theme. I’m planning on working on my blog more this winter, including adding the ability to push all mobile photos I take directly into my blog. I really want to start blogging more and new features like that will help. Stay tuned for some big updates to Strangework.com!

Fresh New Look for Summer

StrangeWork.com is sporting a fresh new look! I haven’t switched the theme on this site since I launched it in 2006, so it was long overdue. I decided to go with a very clean minimal style using the Genesis theme framework. In fact I’m running the default child theme for Genesis. I plan on tweaking the design to give it my own personal touch, but for now I’m really enjoying the clean look. We use Genesis for a lot of WordPress projects at WebDevStudios and I’ve really come to enjoy working with it. It’s a pretty solid framework so if you haven’t tried it out I highly recommend it.

I’m also starting up a new WordPress Tips and Tricks Newsletter so if you are interested be sure to sign up!

Startup Weekend Indianapolis Set For September 12-14 2008

By StrangeWork.com: Startup weekend is coming here to Indianapolis! I guess I should say “going there” since I just moved to New Jersey.

Startup Weekend Indianapolis has been scheduled for Friday September 12th through Sunday September 14th 2008. You can register online if you plan on attending.

I’ve participated in two Startup Weekends to date, but only for one night each time. As luck would have it I should be back for that weekend. I’m flying back to attend the MotoGP race in Indianapolis with my Dad the weekend after.

I’m looking forward to the event and can’t wait to reconnect with some Indy Techies!

Don’t think I’m not keeping an eye on you guys!

How to: Stop WordPress Comment Spam

By StrangeWork.com: I’ve been receiving a lot of spam comments on my WordPress blog recently. I decided to increase my defenses and stop comment spam once and for all. Using the below three plugins you can virtually eliminate WordPress comment spam from your blog!

All plugins work with WordPress 2.5.1

Akismet – Most blog owners know of Akismet. Akismet is an excellent comment spam filter developed by the creators of WordPress and comes pre-installed on a WordPress blog. Akismet is 100% free for non-commercial use but does require an API key provided by their website.

Simple Trackback Validation Plugin – This plugin checks if the IP address of the trackback sender is equal to the IP address of the webserver the trackback URL is referring to. Basically if the trackback was sent by a spam bot, this plugin will detect it and block it.

Bad Behavior – This plugin is a PHP-based solution for blocking link spam and the robots which deliver it. Bad Behavior works with other link spam solutions by acting as a gatekeeper, preventing spammers from ever delivering their junk, and in many cases, from ever reading your site in the first place.

Using this three-pronged plugin approach will stop 99.9% of your comment spam. Now you can enjoy a spam free blog!

Get Organized with the WordPress Todo List Plugin

By StrangeWork.com: Have you ever come across a topic you wanted to blog about, but didn’t have time to write at that moment? So you put it off and come back to it later, right? Of course, but what happens if you forget about the original topic you wanted to post about? I’ve had this problem a few times, so decided to find a plugin to help me out. Enter the WordPress Todo List Plugin.

WordPress Todo List Plugin Screenshot
The Todo list plugin is a great way to help organize topics you want to write about. With it’s simple interface you can easily add and manage your own Todo list. The plugin also displays on your dashboard to help keep your Todo list fresh on your mind.

For easy access I created a bookmark directly to the add new item page for quick additions on the fly.

I highly recommend this plugin for anyone wanting to get more organized with blog topics.

BlogRush.com: Not Ready for the Blogosphere

By StrangeWork.com: I’ve decided to remove the BlogRush.com widget from my sidebar. If you read my earlier post on BlogRush then you’re familiar with what BlogRush is.

BlogRush.com LogoI gave BlogRush 2.5 weeks to show me some results. What did I get you ask? 3 hits. 3 HITS!

Now I understand I don’t post as much as some of the bigger blogs out there, but 3 hits seems a little low for a “Rush” of blog traffic.

I also was not a big fan of their dashboard. For almost a week the dashboard page had “under construction” banners everywhere. I think overall BlogRush isn’t quite ready to be a mainstream widget. Will they get there someday? Maybe, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Looking for a good alternative? Jeff did a great write-up on CLIQin.com, which now has real estate on my sidebar.

How To: Setup Native Tagging Support in WordPress 2.3

By StrangeWork.com: I recently upgraded my blog to WordPress 2.3 and made the decision to switch my tagging system over to WordPress Native Tagging. Prior to my blog update I used Ultimate Tag Warrior for tagging. WordPress 2.3 makes the switch from Ultimate Tag Warrior to Native Tagging extremely easy! Just follow the instructions below:

STEP 1: Import existing Ultimate Tag Warrior tags into WordPress 2.3 database

1. Login to your WordPress Dashboard and navigate to Manage > Import.

2. Select Ultimate Tag Warrior and follow the instructions to import your tags. WordPress does all of the work for you.

Simple as that! Now let’s integrate our WordPress tags in to our existing theme.

There are two different ways to integrate tags into your theme. The first is a Tag Cloud:

STEP 2: Add a Tag Cloud to your existing themeTag Cloud Example

A tag cloud is a simple widget that displays your most popular tags. The more topics under each tag the bigger the font is in your cloud. An example image is shown.

1. Open up the page you would like to include a Tag Cloud on. Typically this is added to your sidebar.php file.

2. Add the below code:

<?php if ( function_exists('wp_tag_cloud') ) : ?>
<li>
<h2>Popular Tags</h2>
<ul>
<?php wp_tag_cloud('smallest=8&largest=22'); ?>
</ul>
</li>
<?php endif; ?>

There are many different ways you can customize your tag cloud. WordPress has compiled a nice list of available actions that you can use. View Tag Cloud Doc

STEP 3: Add related Tags to each blog postRelated Tags Example

Another commonly used method is to list the tags for each post directly below the post.

1. Open up the file you would like to add your tags list to. Typically this is added after each post so you would need to edit single.php and index.php

2. Add the following code:

<p><?php the_tags(); ?></p>

There are many different ways you can customize your related tags. WordPress has compiled a nice list of available actions that you can use. View Related Tags Doc

Tags are a crucial part of any blog. If your not currently using tags take some time this weekend and get them setup. You’ll thank me later!

Upgraded Blog to WordPress 2.3

By StrangeWork.com: After reading Jeff’s WordPress upgrade post I decided to take the plunge and upgrade my blog to WordPress 2.3. As always WordPress has made this process extremely easy. Simply follow their online instructions and you shouldn’t have a problem.

One small annoyance, which was changed a few versions ago, is the removal of the Post Preview Pane located at the bottom of the posts form. WordPress 2.3 does include a Preview >> link, but I hate opening new windows just to preview a post. Here is a quick hack to get the Post Preview Pane back:

Open up your post.php file from your wp-admin directory.
Navigate to approximately line 72 and find the following line of code:
include(‘edit-form-advanced.php’);

Directly underneath that line, add the following code:

?>
<div id=’preview’ class=’wrap’>
<h2 id=”preview-post”><?php _e(‘Post Preview (updated when post is saved)’); ?></h2>
<iframe src=”<?php echo clean_url(apply_filters(‘preview_post_link’, add_query_arg(‘preview’, ‘true’, get_permalink($post->ID)))); ?>” width=”100%” height=”600″ ></iframe>
</div>
<?php

Save your changes to post.php and upload. Easy as that!

WordPress 2.3 has added some really slick new features including native tag support, plugin update notifications, and a few new SEO URL updates. It appears all of my plugins ported over without issue, but be sure to check your plugins before upgrading.

I also have the dashboard bug that Jeff posted here. Apparently it has something to do with using Google Blogsearch rather than Technorati. I’ll see if I can find a hack to switch it back to Technorati, because that is a feature I’ve always enjoyed.

* UPDATE
I found the hack for incoming links.

If you want to get Technorati results back change:
“http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch_feeds?hl=en&scoring=d&ie=utf-8&num=10&output=rss&partner=wordpress&q=link:”

on lines 11 and 12 in index-extra.php to
“http://feeds.technorati.com/cosmos/rss/?url=”
and
“http://www.technorati.com/search/”

I recommend everyone take the plunge and get upgraded!

How To: Remove nofollow from WordPress Comments

By StrangeWork.com: I decided to remove the nofollow code from my blog comments. Nofollow is an attribute that can be added to links to discourage comment spam. I use Akismet to block spam comments, which works about 98% of the time, so why penalize good comments from reaping the SEO benefits of outbound links on my blog?

I used the dofollow WordPress plugin. You can download the plugin here:
http://www.semiologic.com/software/wp-fixes/dofollow/

To install upload the dofollow plugin folder into your plugins directory and activate the plugin through your WordPress Plugins admin panel. Easy as that! Now readers of my blog who post comments will receive a good inbound link to their site. I wonder if this counts for good karma points?

How to Get More Blog Traffic: BlogRush.com

By StrangeWork.com: After reading Jeff’s post about BlogRush.com, I decided to give it a shot. To be honest this is the first I’ve heard of BlogRush.

BlogRush.com LogoBlogRush is basically a widget for your blog that shows related blog posts from the blogosphere. So what’s the benefit? BlogRush will display your new blog post links inside their widget on other related blogs. In theory this should send a surge of traffic to your blog whenever you publish a new blog post.

It seems most smaller blogs aren’t seeing as much of a surge in traffic as they would like. BlogRush launched to the public about a week ago, so this really doesn’t surprise me. This type of widget takes time to build a strong user base. I’m sure MyBlogLog faced the same scepticism when they launched, but look how mainstream they are now.

I’m going to give BlogRush some real estate on my sidebar. I’ll be sure to post a follow-up with my BlogRush stats once I have some solid numbers to share.