Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Close

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Don't Grinf*ck Me

You've seen the scenario play itself out a million times before. A client or coworker comes to you for advice; you offer your very best insights. The other person nods, smiles, thanks you, and agrees to put some of your ideas into action. But then you find out, hours or days later, the person not only ignored your advice but went against it.

You've been grinf#(ked.

The Urban Dictionary defines grinf*ck (noun form) as follows.
In business, when someone smiles and shakes your hand, assuring you that they have heard and will act upon your recommendation or concerns, when in truth you have already been ignored and dismissed.
I think the expectation of being grinf#(ked is why many of us are hesitant to take user satisfaction surveys when asked to do so by banks, e-commerce sites, etc. We suspect we'll get the nod, the sincere thank you—and see our suggestions ignored. (Have you ever dialed the 800 number listed under one of those "How is my driving?" stickers on the backs of trucks? Me neither.)

I'm not a psychologist (so if any specialists are reading this, please speak up here), but it seems to me that grinf**kery, in at least some cases, qualifies as a type of passive-aggressive behavior, meant to humble the advice-giver while bolstering the other person's authority. In other cases, grinf**king is just a byproduct of someone's opinion-gathering requirement. The person who asked for your advice was required to get a second or third opinion on something; there was never any intent to use that opinion to deviate from an already chosen agenda.

And then there are those who mean you no disrespect, but who simply feel embarrassed or timid about disagreeing with you to your face. These are well-meaning people who aren't trying to be disingenuous. They just don't like to appear disagreeable. Or maybe they're confrontation-averse.

Regardless of motivations, it seems to me we all have a duty to be honest and forthright in our dealings with clients and coworkers. We can always agree to disagree on things, if need be. There's room (or should be, in any organization) for honest divergence of opinions. Transparent, open debate of ideas is healthy and should be encouraged.

But don't be disingenuous. Don't camouflage dissent as agreement. Don't tell me one thing when you mean another. Don't deliberately mislead me into thinking you value what I'm saying, when in fact you intend to ignore what I'm saying. When I learn the truth, later, it does nothing good for our relationship.

Just be honest with me. Let me know what you really think. I can take it. I promise.

Don't be a grinf#(ker.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Google Plus Is Irrelevant

It's interesting to compare the social media sites on Google Trends to see how they're doing. Twitter and Facebook dwarf all the others, so I'm not going to dwell on them (but see discussion further below). What's fascinating is the comparison of Google Plus against Pinterest, LinkedIn, and challenger Wattpad. 
LinkedIn has been around longer than the others and has gained considerable traction in recent years, although it seems to be starting to plateau. What's interesting is that Pinterest and Google Plus both spiked in poplarity in 2011-2012, but Pinterest maintained its post-spike popularity whereas Google Plus quickly fell right back down to near-nothing. (This is all the more noteworthy in that if you Google "Google Plus," you get over 3 billion hits. You can't say Google Plus has no visibility on Google.) In the meantime, the tortoise in this race, Wattpad, has slowly overtaken Google Plus.

Naturally, Google Trends data should be taken with a bit of caution. Wattpad has an Alexa.com global rank of 1835, for example, while Goodreads (not shown above) is ranked much higher in traffic, at No. 280 worldwide, yet Wattpad outperforms Goodreads in a Trends graph (not shown) by a 4:1 margin. Clearly, interest is building in Wattpad, at least in Google searches. But it might not relate directly to site traffic.

I became curious about these relationships after a blog post of mine went to No. 1 on BigThink.com. The post in question garnered over 4,000 social shares. I was interested in seeing how the various social shares broke out: How do people share things? Which channels do they use?

The shares for the aforementioned blog (as of this writing) break down as follows:

Facebook: 3,600+
Twitter: 246
LinkedIn: 89
Google+: 64

The extremely poor showing by G+ augurs ill (I think) for Google's social platform. How can you claim to have a major social platform when not even two percent of people use it to share anything? Or is this another Mac vs. PC situation where the product with 2% market share comes from behind, over a period of decades, to overtake the category leaders?

I don't think this is another Mac vs. PC situation. I think Google Plus is finished.

I know many very smart people who think Google Plus is a great platform for various reasons. And it does do certain things well; the UI is less annoying (arguably) than Facebook's, at this point, and it integrates well with other Google offerings. (No surprise there.) But still, hardly anyone uses it, compared to the other major social platforms (look again at the above numbers), and it's not gaining popularity fast enough to keep up, so the inescapable conclusion is that Google (if it intends to keep G+ going) needs to remake G+ yet again, although who's to say another incarnation of it will achieve greater traction? Many would argue (and I would be among them) Google is merely flogging a dead horse at this point.

In the online world, as in the proton-based world, there's room at the top for, at most, two overdogs: Coke, Pepsi. GM, Toyota. Android, iOS. Chrome, Firefox. After the Top Two, all the other long-tail stragglers put together don't add up to much of a pie-slice.

This feels like a battle Google not only lost, but lost years ago (in 2011). If Google decides to walk away from G+, at this point, it won't come as a surprise to me. Its relevance is low and dwindling. The momentum simply isn't there. Even the mighty Google colossus (with its huge Gmail user base) can't move the needle on this one.

The social world has voted, and sad to say, Google Plus now very much appears to be (as some of us suspected from the outset) the answer to a question nobody asked.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Do Dashboards Have to Be Crappy?

 Paul Cothenet has written a terrific blog called "The Laws of Shitty Dashboards," which resonated with me and apparently, also, with thousands of other people. How do I know? I checked my Twitter Analytics dashboard. I found that only two hours after tweeting Paul's blog, 7200 people saw the tweet and 1.8% "engaged" with it either by clicking through to the blog or retweeting (or favoriting) it.

I happen to like the Twitter Analytics dashboard, but Paul is right, most dashboards are only better than the alternative: an Excel spreadsheet.

Interestingly, many dashboards (including the one for Twitter Analytics) provide a data export button. When you click the button, you get to download your data as a spreadsheet. Thus, a dashboard is really just a skin over a spreadsheet's worth of data: a CSV file in an HTML party dress. I confess, I would rather look at the party-dress version. But that's not saying much. Nothing beats a spreadsheet for Ugly. Who wouldn't rather look at a web page?

What's wrong with dashboards? They try to do too much, basically. And in the process, they stymie and befuddle, rather than empower, the user.

Here are Paul's "laws," incidentally:

Law #1: Most software dashboards are shitty
Law #2: If it’s called “Dashboard”, it’s probably shitty
Law #3: If you don’t know what to take away from your dashboard, your users won’t
Law #4:  Not talking to users will result in a shitty dashboard
Law #5: I don’t need no shitty control
Law #6: Because it was useful in a Powerpoint doesn’t mean it’s useful on a dashboard
Law #7: Because it moves doesn’t mean it’s not shitty
Law #8: You probably don’t need a dashboard


Try to think of a dashboard that's truly great. (Hard to do, isn't it?) I gave up on Google Analytics a long time ago, precisely because the dashboard sucks so much. StatCounter isn't any better. The WordPress admin dashboard feels horribly cumbersome and disorienting, no matter how much I stare at it. And I stare at it a lot.

Most content management systems are fronted by a dashboard of some kind. They all suck. It's really not a question of which ones are good, but which ones blow the fewest chunks. The number of clickable elements is usually excessive; the UI is almost always cognitively challenging (too many clickable elements); the ratio of unhidden to hidden data too high.

I suspect dashboard designers take delight in "empowering the user" by giving the user access to dozens of things all from one screen. But really, does the user want to be faced with that many choices? Does the user need to see that much data? Might this not be a case of "less is more"?

Might most dashboards not need to exist?

Do we really need another one?

Please, before you design a dashboard, see if there's an alternative. Prototype some simple alternatives. Huddle with customers. Do usability testing. (But be careful to observe how people actually use something, in practice; don't simply ask users what's good and what's not good. User surveys can be garbage.) Oh, and don't forget to test your UI on an iPad and a phone. If it doesn't work well on a small screen, chances are it's not going to be better on a large one.

If it's truly all about the data? Mail me the spreadsheet. I'll have my macros get back to you.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How Automated Comments Work

Anyone who runs a popular blog knows that many Comments are posted by bots. But they often sound surprisingly human. How does that work?

The answer is, certain text-generating programs, like Manhood, exist that can be scripted to produce semi-random variations on templated sentences that a human provides.

The other day, a person or bot with e-mail address of nicolaspeach@web.de left a Comment at Author-Zone.com, only they messed up. The comment contained the entirety of the script they were using to auto-generate "plausible" messages. The script is pasted below. Scroll to the bottom for my comments on the comment-generator.

{
{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today,
yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if
all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot
more} useful than ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting. {Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss
feed} as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service.
Do {you have|you’ve} any? {Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know} {so that|in order
that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe. Thanks.|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make some plans for the future and {it
is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} read this post and if I could I {want to|wish
to|desire to} suggest you {few|some} interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}.
{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write next articles referring to this article.
I {want to|wish to|desire to} read {more|even more} things about it!|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make {a few|some} plans for {the future|the longer term|the long run} and {it
is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} {read|learn} this {post|submit|publish|put up}
and if I {may just|may|could} I {want to|wish to|desire to} {suggest|recommend|counsel} you {few|some} {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing} {things|issues} or {advice|suggestions|tips}.
{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write {next|subsequent} articles {relating to|referring to|regarding} this article.
I {want to|wish to|desire to} {read|learn}
{more|even more} {things|issues} {approximately|about} it!|
{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} {online|on-line} {more than|greater than}
{three|3} hours {these days|nowadays|today|lately|as
of late}, {yet|but} I {never|by no means} {found|discovered} any {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing} article like yours.
{It’s|It is} {lovely|pretty|beautiful} {worth|value|price} {enough|sufficient} for me.
{In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made {just right|good|excellent} {content|content material} as {you
did|you probably did}, the {internet|net|web} {will be|shall be|might
be|will probably be|can be|will likely be} {much more|a lot more} {useful|helpful} than ever
before.|
Ahaa, its {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious} {discussion|conversation|dialogue} {regarding|concerning|about|on the topic of}
this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} {here|at this place} at this {blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site}, I have read
all that, so {now|at this time} me also commenting {here|at this
place}.|
I am sure this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph}
has touched all the internet {users|people|viewers|visitors}, its really really
{nice|pleasant|good|fastidious} {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} on building up new {blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site}.|
Wow, this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} is {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious},
my {sister|younger sister} is analyzing {such|these|these kinds of} things, {so|thus|therefore} I am going
to {tell|inform|let know|convey} her.|
{Saved as a favorite|bookmarked!!}, {I really like|I like|I love} {your blog|your site|your web site|your website}!|
Way cool! Some {very|extremely} valid points! I appreciate you {writing this|penning
this} {article|post|write-up} {and the|and also the|plus the} rest of the {site is|website
is} {also very|extremely|very|also really|really} good.|
Hi, {I do believe|I do think} {this is an excellent|this is
a great} {blog|website|web site|site}. I stumbledupon it {I will|I am going to|I’m going to|I may} {come back|return|revisit} {once again|yet again} {since I|since i have} {bookmarked|book marked|book-marked|saved as a
favorite} it. Money and freedom {is the best|is the greatest} way to change,
may you be rich and continue to {help|guide} {other people|others}.|
Woah! I’m really {loving|enjoying|digging} the template/theme of
this {site|website|blog}. It’s simple, yet effective.
A lot of times it’s {very hard|very difficult|challenging|tough|difficult|hard} to get that “perfect balance” between {superb usability|user friendliness|usability} and {visual appearance|visual appeal|appearance}.
I must say {that you’ve|you have|you’ve} done
a {awesome|amazing|very good|superb|fantastic|excellent|great} job with this.
{In addition|Additionally|Also}, the blog loads {very|extremely|super} {fast|quick} for
me on {Safari|Internet explorer|Chrome|Opera|Firefox}.
{Superb|Exceptional|Outstanding|Excellent} Blog!|
These are {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {great|enormous|impressive|wonderful|fantastic} ideas in {regarding|concerning|about|on the topic of} blogging.

You have touched some {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious} {points|factors|things} here.
Any way keep up wrinting.|
{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what
you guys {are|are usually|tend to be} up too. {This sort of|This type of|Such|This
kind of} clever work and {exposure|coverage|reporting}! Keep
up the {superb|terrific|very good|great|good|awesome|fantastic|excellent|amazing|wonderful} works guys I’ve {incorporated||added|included} you guys to {|my|our||my personal|my own} blogroll.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey}! Someone in my {Myspace|Facebook} group shared this {site|website} with us so
I came to {give it a look|look it over|take a look|check it out}.
I’m definitely {enjoying|loving} the information. I’m
{book-marking|bookmarking} and will be tweeting this to my followers!

{Terrific|Wonderful|Great|Fantastic|Outstanding|Exceptional|Superb|Excellent} blog and {wonderful|terrific|brilliant|amazing|great|excellent|fantastic|outstanding|superb} {style
and design|design and style|design}.|
{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone
loves} what you guys {are|are usually|tend to be} up too.

{This sort of|This type of|Such|This kind of} clever work and {exposure|coverage|reporting}!
Keep up the {superb|terrific|very good|great|good|awesome|fantastic|excellent|amazing|wonderful} works guys I’ve
{incorporated|added|included} you guys to {|my|our|my personal|my own}
blogroll.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey} would
you mind {stating|sharing} which blog platform you’re {working with|using}?
I’m {looking|planning|going} to start my own blog {in the near future|soon} but I’m having a {tough|difficult|hard} time {making a decision|selecting|choosing|deciding} between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

The reason I ask is because your {design and style|design|layout} seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something {completely unique|unique}.
P.S {My apologies|Apologies|Sorry} for {getting|being} off-topic but I had to ask!|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hey there|Hello|Hey} would you mind letting me know which {webhost|hosting company|web host} you’re {utilizing|working with|using}?
I’ve loaded your blog in 3 {completely different|different}
{internet browsers|web browsers|browsers} and I must say this
blog loads a lot {quicker|faster} then most. Can you {suggest|recommend} a good {internet hosting|web hosting|hosting} provider at a {honest|reasonable|fair} price?

{Thanks a lot|Kudos|Cheers|Thank you|Many thanks|Thanks},
I appreciate it!|
{I love|I really like|I like|Everyone loves} it {when people|when individuals|when folks|whenever people} {come together|get together} and share {opinions|thoughts|views|ideas}.
Great {blog|website|site}, {keep it up|continue the good work|stick with it}!|
Thank you for the {auspicious|good} writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
Look advanced to {far|more} added agreeable from you!
{By the way|However}, how {can|could} we communicate?|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hello|Hey} just wanted to give you a
quick heads up. The {text|words} in your {content|post|article} seem
to be running off the screen in {Ie|Internet explorer|Chrome|Firefox|Safari|Opera}.
I’m not sure if this is a {format|formatting}
issue or something to do with {web browser|internet browser|browser} compatibility but I {thought|figured} I’d post to let you know.
The {style and design|design and style|layout|design} look great though!
Hope you get the {problem|issue} {solved|resolved|fixed} soon. {Kudos|Cheers|Many
thanks|Thanks}|
This is a topic {that is|that’s|which is} {close to|near to} my heart…
{Cheers|Many thanks|Best wishes|Take care|Thank you}!
{Where|Exactly where} are your contact details though?|
It’s very {easy|simple|trouble-free|straightforward|effortless} to find out any {topic|matter} on {net|web} as compared to {books|textbooks}, as I found this {article|post|piece of
writing|paragraph} at this {website|web site|site|web page}.|
Does your {site|website|blog} have a contact page?

I’m having {a tough time|problems|trouble} locating it but, I’d like to {send|shoot} you an {e-mail|email}.
I’ve got some {creative ideas|recommendations|suggestions|ideas} for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
Either way, great {site|website|blog} and I look forward to
seeing it {develop|improve|expand|grow} over time.|
{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I’ve been {following|reading} your
{site|web site|website|weblog|blog} for {a long time|a while|some time} now and finally got the {bravery|courage} to go ahead and give you a shout out from
{New Caney|Kingwood|Huffman|Porter|Houston|Dallas|Austin|Lubbock|Humble|Atascocita} {Tx|Texas}!
Just wanted to {tell you|mention|say} keep up the {fantastic|excellent|great|good} {job|work}!|
Greetings from {Idaho|Carolina|Ohio|Colorado|Florida|Los angeles|California}!

I’m {bored to tears|bored to death|bored} at work so I decided to {check
out|browse} your {site|website|blog} on my iphone during lunch break.
I {enjoy|really like|love} the {knowledge|info|information} you {present|provide} here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
I’m {shocked|amazed|surprised} at how {quick|fast} your
blog loaded on my {mobile|cell phone|phone} .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G ..
{Anyhow|Anyways}, {awesome|amazing|very good|superb|good|wonderful|fantastic|excellent|great} {site|blog}!|
Its {like you|such as you} {read|learn} my {mind|thoughts}!
You {seem|appear} {to understand|to know|to grasp} {so much|a lot} {approximately|about} this, {like you|such as you}
wrote the {book|e-book|guide|ebook|e book} in it or something.
{I think|I feel|I believe} {that you|that you simply|that you
just} {could|can} do with {some|a few} {%|p.c.|percent} to {force|pressure|drive|power} the message {house|home} {a bit|a little bit}, {however|but}
{other than|instead of} that, {this is|that is} {great|wonderful|fantastic|magnificent|excellent} blog.

{A great|An excellent|A fantastic} read. {I’ll|I will} {definitely|certainly} be back.|
I visited {multiple|many|several|various} {websites|sites|web sites|web pages|blogs} {but|except|however} the audio {quality|feature} for audio songs {current|present|existing} at
this {website|web site|site|web page} is {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {marvelous|wonderful|excellent|fabulous|superb}.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hello}, i read your blog
{occasionally|from time to time} and i own a similar one and i was just {wondering|curious}
if you get a lot of spam {comments|responses|feedback|remarks}?

If so how do you {prevent|reduce|stop|protect against} it,
any plugin or anything you can {advise|suggest|recommend}?
I get so much lately it’s driving me {mad|insane|crazy} so any {assistance|help|support} is very much appreciated.|
Greetings! {Very helpful|Very useful} advice {within this|in this particular} {article|post}!
{It is the|It’s the} little changes {that make|which will make|that produce|that will make} {the biggest|the largest|the greatest|the most
important|the most significant} changes. {Thanks
a lot|Thanks|Many thanks} for sharing!|
{I really|I truly|I seriously|I absolutely} love {your blog|your
site|your website}.. {Very nice|Excellent|Pleasant|Great} colors & theme.
Did you {create|develop|make|build} {this website|this site|this web site|this amazing site} yourself?
Please reply back as I’m {looking to|trying to|planning to|wanting to|hoping to|attempting to} create {my own|my
very own|my own personal} {blog|website|site} and {would
like to|want to|would love to} {know|learn|find out} where you
got this from or {what the|exactly what the|just what the} theme {is called|is named}.

{Thanks|Many thanks|Thank you|Cheers|Appreciate
it|Kudos}!|
{Hi there|Hello there|Howdy}! This {post|article|blog post} {couldn’t|could
not} be written {any better|much better}! {Reading through|Looking at|Going through|Looking
through} this {post|article} reminds me of my
previous roommate! He {always|constantly|continually} kept {talking about|preaching about} this.
{I will|I’ll|I am going to|I most certainly will}
{forward|send} {this article|this information|this post} to him.
{Pretty sure|Fairly certain} {he will|he’ll|he’s going to} {have a
good|have a very good|have a great} read.
{Thank you for|Thanks for|Many thanks for|I appreciate you for} sharing!|
{Wow|Whoa|Incredible|Amazing}! This blog looks {exactly|just} like my old one!
It’s on a {completely|entirely|totally} different {topic|subject} but it has pretty much the same {layout|page
layout} and design. {Excellent|Wonderful|Great|Outstanding|Superb} choice of
colors!|
{There is|There’s} {definately|certainly} {a lot to|a great deal
to} {know about|learn about|find out about} this {subject|topic|issue}.
{I like|I love|I really like} {all the|all of the} points {you made|you’ve made|you have made}.|
{You made|You’ve made|You have made} some {decent|good|really good} points
there. I {looked|checked} {on the internet|on the web|on the net} {for more info|for more information|to find
out more|to learn more|for additional information} about the issue and found {most individuals|most people} will go along with your views on {this website|this site|this web site}.|
{Hi|Hello|Hi there|What’s up}, I {log on to|check|read} your
{new stuff|blogs|blog} {regularly|like every week|daily|on a regular basis}.
Your {story-telling|writing|humoristic} style is {awesome|witty},
keep {doing what you’re doing|up the good work|it up}!|
I {simply|just} {could not|couldn’t} {leave|depart|go away} your {site|web site|website} {prior to|before} suggesting that I {really|extremely|actually} {enjoyed|loved} {the
standard|the usual} {information|info} {a person|an individual}
{supply|provide} {for your|on your|in your|to
your} {visitors|guests}? Is {going to|gonna} be {back|again} {frequently|regularly|incessantly|steadily|ceaselessly|often|continuously} {in order to|to} {check
up on|check out|inspect|investigate cross-check} new posts|
{I wanted|I needed|I want to|I need to} to thank you for this
{great|excellent|fantastic|wonderful|good|very good} read!!

I {definitely|certainly|absolutely} {enjoyed|loved} every {little bit of|bit of} it.
{I have|I’ve got|I have got} you {bookmarked|book marked|book-marked|saved as a favorite} {to check out|to look at}
new {stuff you|things you} post…|
{Hi|Hello|Hi there|What’s up}, just wanted to {mention|say|tell you}, I {enjoyed|liked|loved} this
{article|post|blog post}. It was {inspiring|funny|practical|helpful}.
Keep on posting!|
{Hi there|Hello}, I enjoy reading {all of|through} your {article|post|article post}.
I {like|wanted} to write a little comment to support you.|
I {always|constantly|every time} spent my half an hour to read this {blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site}’s {articles|posts|articles or reviews|content} {everyday|daily|every day|all the time} along with a {cup|mug} of
coffee.|
I {always|for all time|all the time|constantly|every
time} emailed this {blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site} post page to all my {friends|associates|contacts}, {because|since|as|for
the reason that} if like to read it {then|after that|next|afterward}
my {friends|links|contacts} will too.|
My {coder|programmer|developer} is trying to {persuade|convince} me to
move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked
the idea because of the {expenses|costs}. But he’s tryiong none the less.
I’ve been using {Movable-type|WordPress} on {a number of|a variety of|numerous|several|various} websites
for about a year and am {nervous|anxious|worried|concerned} about switching to another platform.
I have heard {fantastic|very good|excellent|great|good} things about blogengine.net.
Is there a way I can {transfer|import} all my wordpress {content|posts} into it?
{Any kind of|Any} help would be {really|greatly} appreciated!|
{Hello|Hi|Hello there|Hi there|Howdy|Good day}!
I could have sworn I’ve {been to|visited} {this blog|this web site|this website|this site|your blog} before but
after {browsing through|going through|looking at} {some of the|a few of the|many of the} {posts|articles} I realized it’s
new to me. {Anyways|Anyhow|Nonetheless|Regardless},
I’m {definitely|certainly} {happy|pleased|delighted} {I found|I discovered|I came across|I stumbled upon}
it and I’ll be {bookmarking|book-marking} it and checking back {frequently|regularly|often}!|
{Terrific|Great|Wonderful} {article|work}! {This is|That is} {the
type of|the kind of} {information|info} {that are meant to|that are supposed to|that should} be shared {around the|across the} {web|internet|net}.

{Disgrace|Shame} on {the {seek|search} engines|Google} for {now not|not|no longer} positioning this {post|submit|publish|put up} {upper|higher}!
Come on over and {talk over with|discuss with|seek advice from|visit|consult
with} my {site|web site|website} . {Thank you|Thanks} =)|
Heya {i’m|i am} for the first time here. I {came across|found} this board and I find It {truly|really} useful & it helped me out {a lot|much}.
I hope to give something back and {help|aid} others like you {helped|aided} me.|
{Hi|Hello|Hi there|Hello there|Howdy|Greetings}, {I think|I believe|I do
believe|I do think|There’s no doubt that} {your site|your website|your web site|your
blog} {might be|may be|could be|could possibly be} having {browser|internet
browser|web browser} compatibility {issues|problems}.
{When I|Whenever I} {look at your|take a look at your}
{website|web site|site|blog} in Safari, it looks fine {but when|however when|however,
if|however, when} opening in {Internet Explorer|IE|I.E.}, {it has|it’s got} some overlapping
issues. {I just|I simply|I merely} wanted to {give you a|provide you with a} quick heads
up! {Other than that|Apart from that|Besides that|Aside from that}, {fantastic|wonderful|great|excellent} {blog|website|site}!|
{A person|Someone|Somebody} {necessarily|essentially} {lend a hand|help|assist} to make {seriously|critically|significantly|severely} {articles|posts} {I would|I might|I’d} state.
{This is|That is} the {first|very first} time I frequented your {web page|website page} and {to this point|so far|thus far|up to now}?

I {amazed|surprised} with the {research|analysis} you made to {create|make}
{this actual|this particular} {post|submit|publish|put up} {incredible|amazing|extraordinary}.
{Great|Wonderful|Fantastic|Magnificent|Excellent} {task|process|activity|job}!|
Heya {i’m|i am} for {the primary|the first} time here. I {came across|found} this board and I {in finding|find|to find}
It {truly|really} {useful|helpful} & it helped me out {a lot|much}.
{I am hoping|I hope|I’m hoping} {to give|to offer|to provide|to present} {something|one thing} {back|again} and {help|aid} others {like
you|such as you} {helped|aided} me.|
{Hello|Hi|Hello there|Hi there|Howdy|Good day|Hey there}!
{I just|I simply} {would like to|want to|wish to} {give you a|offer you a} {huge|big} thumbs up {for the|for your} {great|excellent} {info|information} {you have|you’ve got|you
have got} {here|right here} on this post. {I will be|I’ll be|I
am} {coming back to|returning to} {your blog|your site|your website|your web site} for more soon.|
I {always|all the time|every time} used to {read|study} {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} in news papers but now as
I am a user of {internet|web|net} {so|thus|therefore} from now I am using net for {articles|posts|articles or reviews|content}, thanks to web.|
Your {way|method|means|mode} of {describing|explaining|telling} {everything|all|the
whole thing} in this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} is {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious}, {all|every one} {can|be able to|be capable of} {easily|without difficulty|effortlessly|simply} {understand|know|be aware of} it, Thanks a
lot.|
{Hi|Hello} there, {I found|I discovered} your {blog|website|web site|site} {by means of|via|by the use of|by way of}
Google {at the same time as|whilst|even as|while} {searching for|looking for} a {similar|comparable|related} {topic|matter|subject}, your
{site|web site|website} {got here|came} up, it {looks|appears|seems|seems to be|appears to be like} {good|great}.
{I have|I’ve} bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
{Hello|Hi} there, {simply|just} {turned into|became|was|become|changed into} {aware of|alert to} your
{blog|weblog} {thru|through|via} Google, {and found|and located} that {it is|it’s} {really|truly} informative.
{I’m|I am} {gonna|going to} {watch out|be careful} for
brussels. {I will|I’ll} {appreciate|be grateful} {if you|should you|when you|in the event you|in case you|for those who|if you happen to} {continue|proceed}
this {in future}. {A lot of|Lots of|Many|Numerous} {other folks|folks|other
people|people} {will be|shall be|might be|will probably be|can be|will likely
be} benefited {from your|out of your} writing. Cheers!|
{I am|I’m} curious to find out what blog {system|platform}
{you have been|you happen to be|you are|you’re} {working with|utilizing|using}?
I’m {experiencing|having} some {minor|small} security {problems|issues} with my latest {site|website|blog} and {I would|I’d}
like to find something more {safe|risk-free|safeguarded|secure}.
Do you have any {solutions|suggestions|recommendations}?|
{I am|I’m} {extremely|really} impressed with your writing skills {and
also|as well as} with the layout on your {blog|weblog}.
Is this a paid theme or did you {customize|modify} it
yourself? {Either way|Anyway} keep up the {nice|excellent} quality
writing, {it’s|it is} rare to see a {nice|great} blog like this
one {these days|nowadays|today}.|
{I am|I’m} {extremely|really} {inspired|impressed} {with your|together
with your|along with your} writing {talents|skills|abilities}
{and also|as {smartly|well|neatly} as} with the {layout|format|structure} {for your|on your|in your|to your} {blog|weblog}.
{Is this|Is that this} a paid {subject|topic|subject matter|theme} or
did you {customize|modify} it {yourself|your self}? {Either way|Anyway} {stay|keep} up the {nice|excellent} {quality|high
quality} writing, {it’s|it is} {rare|uncommon} {to peer|to
see|to look} a {nice|great} {blog|weblog} like this one {these
days|nowadays|today}..|
{Hi|Hello}, Neat post. {There is|There’s} {a problem|an issue} {with
your|together with your|along with your} {site|web site|website} in {internet|web} explorer, {may|might|could|would} {check|test}
this? IE {still|nonetheless} is the {marketplace|market}
{leader|chief} and {a large|a good|a big|a huge} {part of|section of|component to|portion of|component of|element of}
{other folks|folks|other people|people} will {leave out|omit|miss|pass
over} your {great|wonderful|fantastic|magnificent|excellent} writing {due to|because of} this problem.|
{I’m|I am} not sure where {you are|you’re} getting your {info|information}, but {good|great} topic.
I needs to spend some time learning {more|much more}
or understanding more. Thanks for {great|wonderful|fantastic|magnificent|excellent} {information|info} I
was looking for this {information|info} for my mission.|
{Hi|Hello}, i think that i saw you visited my
{blog|weblog|website|web site|site} {so|thus} i came to “return the favor”.{I am|I’m} {trying to|attempting to} find things to {improve|enhance} my {website|site|web site}!I suppose its ok
to use {some of|a few of}
\


It seems the person forgot to close off the script with a closing brace: }.  Instead, there's a backslash. (See it? Its the final line.) This caused the entire script not only to fail but to be inserted as raw code into the Comment.

The pipe character, "|", groups together alternative words or phrases to be substituted or cycled-through. This script contains numerous individual scripts for individual messages. Somehow the person posting this mishmash managed to post his entire script collection.

Thanks, dude. You're really on top of things.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A Caution about Killing Apps with Task Manager

I just encountered a situation with Firefox that's distressing and potentially dangerous (but for which I discovered the workaround).

I'm a heavy user of Firefox (and Chrome) and often finish the day with Firefox eating 2 gigs of RAM or more. It sometimes runs out of memory and crashes. I know of no answer for that. Avoid using AJAX-intensive sites? Not easy to do. Keep fewer tabs open? Yeah. Thanks, Mom.

Many times, when I notice Firefox slowing down (because it's been open a long time and is using huge amounts of memory), I deliberately crash it with Task Manager, then restart it. Bringing it down with Task Manager is quicker than waiting for Firefox to exit normally.

But therein lies a danger.

I was noticing that Firefox seemed to be issuing duplicate mouse events. For example, I would click someone's Follow button on Twitter and see the button quickly toggle twice, back to Follow. Usually the button will just change to Followed. But sometimes, it would quickly blink and go back to Follow as if I never clicked it. That's because when you've followed someone, the button (after changing to Followed) will go to Unfollow when you hover over it. It becomes an Unfollow button in the hover state.

What I saw happening is Follow changing to Unfollow and back to Follow in the blink of an eye. This was my first tipoff to duplicate events being fired.

The second tipoff was that when I single-clicked in the header bar of the browser, it went to fullscreen (maximized), something that should happen only if you double-click the header bar.

I went to Task Manager and found two instances of Adobe Flash Player running. As soon as I killed those (with End Task) and reloaded my browser pages, the duplicate-event-passing stopped.

So the lesson is: If you kill Firefox with Task Manager, be sure to kill Flash as well. Otherwise a zombie copy of Flash remains, and can interfere with event-passing later on when Firefox is running again. (Apparently.)

The reason this duplpicate-event stuff is dangerous is that when you pay bills online, some sites need you to be careful not to click a Submit button twice by accident. You could issue two payment requests.

I'm sure there are other hazards associated with duplicate events; but you get the picture now.

Be careful killing Firefox (or any app) with Task Manager. You can leave zombie processes running, and they can have unwanted side effects later.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Are You Up to Speed on Microdata?

Today's post is reblogged (with permission) from Author-Zone.com.

Do you have a web site? Do you care about Google search ranking? Do you tag blog posts with keywords? Practice safe SEO?

Well, everything you know is about to change. But first a bit of backstory. Not long ago, Google announced the official end of its Authorship markup program. best known as the scheme that allowed people to appear with their G+ picture off to the left in a highly structured "rich snippet" search-result. Google talked about the death of the program here.

The even bigger news, though (already well known to hard-core SEO geeks but still making its way out to the hinterlands), is that Google will increasingly rely on semantic hints in HTML markup (hints that you need to be sure are there) when indexing web pages. The hints can be RDFa, or microformat-based, or microdata-based (using the schema.org schema). The latter is "recommended."

According to Google, failure to use any of these hinting schemes will not adversely affect page rank, nor will using them affect rank. But let's be honest here. It's pretty clear that your pages are unlikely as hell to show up in cosmetically pleasing rich-snippet format, on any Google page, if you've neglected to use microdata in your markup. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to understand that eventually, if your site isn't using microdata (and everyone else's is), you're going to be at a disadvantage in certain situations. Extrapolate that however you wish.

What do you have to do to get microdata into your content? Basically stand on your goddam head and count backward to infinity. No rich text HTML editor I know of has built-in support for microdata (and yet, this support is clearly needed in all rich text editors, going forward). Who'll get there first? I have no idea. It's wide open. I expect the tooling situation will change, quickly. But in the meantime, you have only a couple of options for making your site's pages microdata-savvy (read: super-Google/Bing-friendly).

The first option is really a workaround, not a solution; and that's to head over to Google Webmaster Tools, where you can manually train Google to know where the key itemtypes and itemprops are (or should be) located on your site's pages. Once you've registered your site with GWT, flip open the Search Appearance item in the command tree on the left edge of the page, then start clicking around.

That's good enough as a right-this-minute workaround, but it obviously doesn't leave your site with different markup than it had before. And that's where Option No. 2 (the stand-on-your-head option) comes into play: Insert microdata yourself. By hand.

Mind you, this is not something a human being should have to do without proper tooling, and frankly, until tooling arrives I think you'd be crazy to invest a lot of time in marking up your stuff by hand. But to give you a quick visual idea of what kind of markup I'm talking about, here's what needs to happen to, say, a blog post. First, the entire post needs to be wrapped in an article tag with microdata inside it, like so:
<article itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" id="post-410" class="post-410 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-uncategorized tag-font tag-legibility tag-readability tag-reading-comprehension tag-serif tag-typeface"> <!-- CONTENT GOES HERE --> </article>
I've highlighted microdata in peach so you can get a taste of the deliciousness. (Blech!) The headline for your peach piece needs to be wrapped something like this:
<h2 class="entry-title"> <a href="http://author-zone.com/serif-readability-myth/" title="Permalink to The Serif Readability Myth" rel="bookmark"> <span itemprop="name">The Serif Readability Myth</span></a> </h2>
If you've got a byline, it needs to look something like:
<span class="date-time"><a href="http://author-zone.com/serif-readability-myth/" title="1:15 am" rel="bookmark"><time itemprop="datePublished" content="2014-08-29" class="entry-date" datetime="2014-08-29T01:15:55+00:00">August 29, 2014</time></a></span> / <span class="author vcard"><a class="url fn n" href="http://author-zone.com/author/kasmanethomas/" title="View all posts by Kas Thomas" rel="author"> <span itemprop="author" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person"> <span itemprop="name">Kas Thomas</span></span>
And the content itself should begin with:
<span itemprop="articleBody"><p>I’ve been involved in publishing all my life, and like many others I’ve always accepted as axiomatic the notion that typefaces with serifs (such as Times-Roman) are, in general, are more readable than [ . . . ]
Don't use curly-quotes; those are a WordPress artifact. So as you can see, this stuff is butt-fugly, not at all intuitive (unless you're a taxonomy geek), and clearly not something an unaided human being should be doing by hand. It's a situation that very obviously calls for better tools, and right now we have [crickets chirping].

WordPress developers? HTML rich-text tooling geeks? Open source community? Content management vendors? We need your help. This situation calls for immediate action. Lots of people could use lots of great tools. Please help us out. I can't stand on my head and count backward much longer.    

Want great tips, news, and resource links in your inbox? Sign up for the Author-Zone Newsletter!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

How to Get JavaScript to Work in a WordPress Page

Why does it so often happen that the things you thought were going to be easy turn out to be hard, and the things you knew were going to be hard turn out to be easy?

Case in point: I wanted to get a bunch of RSS feeds onto a news page at Author-Zone.com, and did. (See my previous post about the great free HungryFEED plugin for WordPress.) But the various feed items were not in date-sorted order, because the individual feeds were added in no particular order (and who knows which feed will update at which time anyway?).

What to do. What to do . . .

I thought it would be doable (but hard) to parse out the dates from the 70+ items manually (with JavaScript), then sort the items, and redisplay them. "Redisplay them" means first you remove all the DOM elements in question, then add them back to the page in sorted order. Fortunately, that turns out to be easy. You can call remove() on a node to vanish it from the page. But if you capture a reference to the node before doing that, the node will still exist in memory after it's been removed from the DOM. So you can then just add it back in to the page using appendChild() on a given target node. No problem.

The greater problem turned out to be how to get WordPress to accept JavaScript inside a page or a post. Turns out the rich text editor will stomp on embedded scripts pretty badly. This is a known sore point for WordPress users. And as with so many content management system problems (involving dynamic page assembly), it turns out there's a workaround, but it's the kind of thing that's not at all obvious and could drive you crazy for a solid day if you're not working with a partner who already has hit such snags and found the cure.

The magic workaround is to, first, put your script in a file and place it somewhere on the site on a public URL. Then reference that file from a script tag, and make your call to the file's main method inside a commented-out section of page (so the rich text editor ignores it) with CDATA wrappering (so the browser doesn't parse it either), with appropriate JS comments (double-slash) so the JS parser doesn't get confused by the CDATA directives. Like so:

<script 
src="http://author-zone.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/myscript.js">
</script>
<script>// <![CDATA[
<!--
reorderItems();
//--> ]]></script>

I know, it seems weird as hell that the JS parser doesn't choke on the <!-- line. Apparently it treats it as an undefined quantity, but since you're not using that undefined "thing" for anything it doesn't trigger an exception. But guess what? It works! That's the main thing. The garblesnarble works. And (perhaps because I pasted the above lines AFTER the shortcodes in my WordPress content page, not in the <head> section of the page) the call to reorderItems() occurs after the DOM is safely loaded, hence there's no timing issue of woops! I can't mess with the DOM until after onload-time.

With this magic incantation in place, my script finally worked and the RSS feeds get date-sorted in real time no matter which feed updates first. I set HungryFEED's cache timeout to 3600 seconds, so the feeds are pulled once an hour. Unfortunately, it means that once an hour some unlucky soul gets to be the first person to request a fresh version of the page with all-updated RSS feeds (and there are 70+ feeds, so it's a lot of feed-slurping); wait-time up to 90 seconds. (Ugh!) It all happens on the server, though, with no AJAX. Once the feeds update, the content is static for the next hour, and during that time, the Author-Zone News Page loads in about four seconds, which is tolerable.

If you're a code geek and you want to see my code for date-ordering a bunch of feeds, the 40 lines of code are shown below. The first function is admittedly fugly. It hard-parses a bit of feed text to get the date string on the end, which will be something like "August 30, 2014, 3:23 pm". Fortunately, JavaScript is such an ace language that you can hand such a string to the Date() constructor and you'll get a real Date object back! Once you have that object, you can (again in genius JS fashion) multiply it by one to convert it to milliseconds-since-the-dawn-of-time. A number! Perfect for sorting!

The rest of the code is not terribly interesting. I loop over the nodes of interest and collect them into an array along with date-as-number. Then I sort using a custom comparator function (an inner method). Then I have to loop over the nodes-of-interest and remove them from the DOM. Then I have to loop again to add them back to the DOM in sorted order, and voila! Sorted RSS feeds.


function getDateFromItem(item) {
    var d = 
      item.
      getElementsByTagName('div')[1].
      innerHTML.split(/<\/b>\s?/).
      pop();
    return 1 * new Date(d);
}
function reorderItems() {
    var rootClassName = "entry-header";
    var rootNode = 
        document.
        getElementsByClassName(rootClassName)[0];
    var cl = 
        document.
        getElementsByClassName("hungryfeed_item");
    var r = []; // scratch array to hold nodes, dates
    // loop over nodes of interest
    // & push them into r[] as [node,date]
    for (var i = 0; i < cl.length; i++) {
        var item = cl[i];
        var d = getDateFromItem(item);
        r.push([item, d]);
    } 

    // we need this comparator function to 
    // sort the array on Date 
    function comp(a, b) {
        var aa = a[1];
        var bb = b[1];
        return bb - aa;
    }
    r = r.sort(comp);  // sort on date using comparator 
 
    // remove all news feed items!
    // they're shown in random order!
    for (var i = 0; i < r.length; i++)
        r[i][0].remove();
    // add them back, in date order
    for (var i = 0; i < r.length; i++)
        rootNode.appendChild(r[i][0]);
}
reorderItems();  // do it