FavePersonal 1.1 – new look, old feel

Welcome to the new look of mamchenkov.net!  Before I tell you the long story, here is a customary front page screenshot (because, practice shows, it won’t look anything like that in a few days).

So, now for the long story.  First of all, why, why the change?  As always, for a number of reasons.

Continue reading “FavePersonal 1.1 — new look, old feel” »

Upgraded to WordPress 3.4

WordPress 3.4 was released a few days ago.  I didn’t have the time to take a better look at it, but once I read through the new features today, I got excited.  Theme options preview and embeding tweets are the two sweetest features.  Here is a test for the tweet embed.

Which features are your favorite?

Social networking reshuffled

OK, now that I’m almost sure that new setup for social networking works, I can give you guys an idea of what I had and how I changed it.  In case you’ll notice any differences between this description and the actual behavior, or if you have any suggestions on how to improve things, please let me know.  Without any further ado …

In my previous setup, I used Twitter as my social glue.  Everything was synchronized with Twitter – my Google Reader, Evernote, delicious, a few RSS feeds, Foursquare, Flickr, YouTube, etc.  Periodically (once a day until recently, now weekly), my tweets were automatically aggregated into a blog post using Twitter Tools plugin for WordPress.  This allowed me to make sure that I had a record of my online activity synced back into my own blog, something that I own, cherish, and backup.

That setup had a serious drawback.  Not everyone is on Twitter.  A lot of people are using Facebook these days.  And while in my previous setup there was an automatic push of tweets to Facebook, it wasn’t ideal.  Tweets are more limited than Facebook posts – in length, previews, and formatting.  Which means that even though something was synced to Facebook, I wasn’t taking a full advantage of Facebook.

From now on I have a different setup.  I’ll still use Twitter as my social glue, but I won’t be limiting myself to only Twitter.  I will push content independently to Facebook and other social networks when appropriate.  I will try to keep Twitter in sync by posting directly to several social networks simultaneously.  My tweets will still be aggregated at my blog on a weekly basis.  But there won’t be any automatic synchronization between Twitter and Facebook anymore.  The con of this setup is that not all content will get pushed everywhere. But it is, I think, fairly compensated by a pro of having tailored content and format for each social network.

Either way, nothing is set in stone yet. And even if it was – things move and change way too often, and I’m just trying to keep it real.  Let me know if notice any issues with these changes, and, especially if you know how to make things better.

P.S.: Yes, if Twitter and Facebook had better integration in terms of links, photos, videos, and locations, none of these would have happened.  “Blame Canada!” (c) South Park.

Trying out Social 2.5

A few days ago, Alex King announced the release of the new version of Social plugin for WordPress.  It’s one of those that can broadcast your blog posts to Twitter and Facebook.  But not only that.  It can also synchronize Twitter re-tweets and replies and Facebook shares and comments back into your blog, as comments.  Now that sounds pretty interesting.

I’ve installed the plugin and connected it to both Twitter and Facebook easily – no need to create your own apps or anything like that.  But given that I already have some sort of synchronization between Twitter and Facebook, I wonder how weird things will go.

This is a test post.

Update #1: Social plugin seems to work really well.

Update #2: Disabling broadcasting to Twitter from Twitter Tools plugin should decrease the amount of dups posted.

Updated #3: It is still not obvious how to keep the synchronization between Twitter and Facebook while avoiding dups.

Site speed improvements

Here is a partial screenshot from Google Analytics that shows how much improvement in site speed the recent move to the new server brought.  We are back at the previous “normal” levels – 10 seconds per page load on average versus 45 seconds, and that’s before any kind of server tuning or optimization.  In the next few days, when the dust settles a bit, I’ll optimize the server configuration a bit and everything will be even faster.

 

New day, new server

As you might have noticed, all sites that I was hosting had a bunch of problems recently.  Mostly, they were very slow.  I’ve spent some time tracing the issue with the technical support of my hosting company, but we were unable to pinpoint what was the exact issue.  The slow downs were coming and leaving randomly, they were not limited to any specific website or browser or network or time of the day.

Finally, I decided that enough was enough and that something has to be done.  So I arranged for another hosting.  For the last couple of days I’ve been moving the websites to the new home and now I am almost done.  As you can, hopefully, see, the new place is quite a difference.   Everything is flying fast and I have plenty resources still.

The works aren’t completely finished yet, but most of the stuff is moved and the dust should be settling now.  If you notice something that still misbehaves, please let me know and I’ll jump on it.

Monetizing the blog with paid links

Long-time readers of this blog know that once in a while I attempt to monetize this blog. I haven’t built this site to earn me money, but, on the other hand, I’ve spent thousands of hours on building, updating, maintaining, designing, and programming this over the years. It’s nice to get some money out of it once in a while.

So far, I’ve tried the following:

  • Google AdSense. Which is still here and which I tweak from time to time. This is the easiest way to cover my hosting fees. However it does just about that.
  • Banner ads. This is are much more profitable, but it’s hard to find advertisers and the whole thing with following up on payments, banner placements, statistics, etc is just too much overhead for me.
  • Consulting. As well as other side services. The money are good, but there is no constant stream of work. And anyway it is somewhat disconnected from the site itself. The blog is merely a point of contact, nothing more.
  • Donations. These are still here, but they don’t work too well either. I’ve received only a couple of those.

Today (or, in fact, yesterday), I decided to try something else. Every week I am bombarded with the offers to place a text link relevant to the content into one of my older posts. I’ve never thought about it seriously before. But something changed recently. Maybe the offers went up, maybe the links got better. Doesn’t matter. I decided to give it a try.

Of course, this being my personal website, carrying my own name, I am going to be careful with what I accept and what terms. I will check the links before agreeing. And I will be checking them periodically afterwards as well. No SPAM, and only content-relevant links. I will also add a tag ‘paid link‘ to any post that contains the link for which I was paid.

So far, I have two posts with paid links and considering the money, I think these should work pretty good. Let me know what you think in the comments or directly.

Happy birthday, CloudFlare! Thank you for IPv6

Yesterday I received some very good news from the service that makes this website faster for people all around the world – CloudFlare.  In summary: it is CloudFlare’s first birthday since they went public, and to celebrate this they implemented an extremely easy to setup IPv6 gateway service.  Anyone using CloudFlare can enable the IPv6 gateway either for the whole domain or for specific hosts, and it only takes a couple of clicks.  Of course, I’ve done so and used a few testing tools around the web to confirm that my website is now accessible via IPv6 also.

Thank you, CloudFlare!  Happy birthday!  And please, by all means, keep doing what you are doing.

Continue reading “Happy birthday, CloudFlare! Thank you for IPv6” »

PHP upgrade, server downtime, and WordPress wierdness

I’ve upgraded the server to PHP 5.3.  The packages just showed up as alternative (php53) in the list of available upgrades and I was having troubles with earlier PHP versions, so I went for it.  It didn’t go quite as easy and simple as I expected.  Apache started crashing often.  It took me a few re-installs and configuration tweaks to fix these things.  It looks like now it’s fine.

As a side effect, I noticed a whole bunch of posts titled “Auto Draft” showing in the front page of my blog.  I wasn’t working with WordPress at the time, so it was strange to see new empty content posted.  Apparently, it’s a somewhat known issue with WordPress 3.0.  While I was trying to get rid of the empty posts, it seems I deleted a few posts  of mine own from the last couple of days. Maybe they will still show up.  Maybe not.

Anyway, I apologize for all the inconvenience.  If you notice anything else misbehaving, please let me know.