My list of recommended WordPress Plugins

I had posted here a few days back that I had tried a large number of WordPress plugins, after moving my site to my own domain. I had also promised to post about the plugins I liked the most. Today, I am going to blog about them.

  • The first plugin that I want to discuss here is the Admin Drop Down Menu by Ozh. If you are using the default admin theme, then this plugin is a must use for you. The default theme WordPress admin theme allows you to visit a sub menu link only after visiting the corresponding top page. This plugin allows you to see and visit sub menus under a main menu item from anywhere in the admin section. By pointing the cursor over a menu item, the corresponding sub menu is shown below it horizontally. I had a little problem with the menu in Opera. I didn’t try it in other browsers. But this is not the plugin I am using right now. I will reveal the plugin I’m using later.
  • Another plugin I can’t live without is Pluginstaller by Henning Shaefer. The continuous installation and removal of plugins almost made me go crazy. That was when I found this excellent plugin. Pluginstaller makes plugin management really easy by replacing the default plugin manager of WordPress. Pluginstaller displays active and inactive plugins separately. It also hides the extra details about a plugin under a collapsible box, thus reducing the need for using the scrollbar. But, the biggest attraction I found in Pluginstaller was the ability to check and install updates to installed plugins and the facility to install plugins directly from the web or from your computer without using any FTP client. If you are a person like me, who loves to test different plugins, then this is a must use plugin for you.
  • I believe every website needs a contact form. Because, it is much better than directly displaying your email id. A blog is also a website and needs a contact form. I tried two contact form plugins. The first one was cforms, which did not work for me due to some reason. Hence, I searched for another one and found the Enhanced WP-ContactForm by Joost de Valk. It provides a basic contact form with built-in spam protection. It was more than enough for my purpose.
  • Another plugin used in this blog is No Self Pings by Michael D. Adams. This plugin prevents WordPress from sending pings to your own site. It thus helps reduce the time required for saving / publishing a post.
  • Now I am going to reveal the two WordPress addons that I like the most. The first one is an admin theme called SpotMilk by Sunghwa Park. From the very first day I started using WordPress, I didn’t like the default admin theme. But I didn’t know that it could be changed like the user end. The first theme I used was WP Tiger Administration by Steve Smith. It was much better than the default theme, but I removed it since it had some problem with the Admin Drop Down Menu. It was then I discovered the SpotMilk theme, inspired by the SpotLight of Mac OS X and Milk theme by Max Rudberg. I am using the black version of the theme included within the same archive, which can be activated by uncommenting a single line in the theme file. I also wanted an admin drop down menu that blended and worked with the new theme. After reading through the hundreds of comments in the themes page, I found out SpotMilk Admin Drop Menus by Andy Staines.
    You can find more admin themes at WordPress.

There are many more plugins that I use. I will post about them later. In the mean time, I hope you will try these excellent plugins and themes. Other posts in this series are

NB: Before you try any of these, please backup your wordpress database. If you are not sure how to do that, then it is better not to try these. Do it at your own risk.

No more ‘NoFollow’

I have decided to remove the nofollow attribute from the comment author’s url. Since the blog is very young, I have so far recieved only a hand full of spam comments. Hence I decided to use the wordpress plugin DoFollow. I hope this will encourage visitors to start commenting on the posts.

I hope this decision will not be misused and abused. If that occurs, then I will rethink whether or not to continue with this.

My first $100 month

Today I am very happy. The month I started using Adsense, which was almost eight months back, my net earning was just $60. From then on, my monthly earning showed a gradual increase. But I always had to wait for two months to break the $100 threshold. I have been waiting for this moment from the first day I started using Adsense. And finally last month, July 2007, I earned $101.04. During the first few days of last month, I doubted whether it was going to attain even the $50 mark. Fortunately, there was a substantial increase in my pageviews and clicks during the last two weeks which helped me to overcome the slow start.

I never expected it was going to cross the threshold this month. But by the beginning of last week of the month, I became hopeful and started waiting for the moment. The final update of a days net earning usually occurs after a few minutes past 12 PM IST. When I checked my balance at 11:45 AM, it was $99.98. The next fifteen minutes had been extremely thrilling. And when I next refreshed my account, I almost jumped with joy. And finally, the most happiest moment of my life as a webmaster arrived.

OpenID Enabled

Many of you must have noticed the OpenID field above the comment form. Yes, now the blog is OpenID enabled. You can login to the site and post comments using your OpenID. If you do not have an OpenID, I recommend you to get one. There are many free OpenID providers.

I had a little trouble configuring and setting up the WordPress OpenID plugin with my theme.

I am out of station for the next 3 days. Once I’m back, I’ll provide more information on how I configured it on my blog.

If you would like to know more about OpenID, then please visit this Wikipedia article and the official OpenID website.

[Review] Publisher Spot

Publisher Spot

Today I am going to introduce you to the site Publisher Spot. Publisher Spot is an Ad Network Review site for helping out publishers select and rate the popular and major Ad Networks. One of the major mistake made by webmasters in monetizing their sites and the main reason for low earning from sites is the improper selection of the Ad Network. Some networks are known to work well with certain types of site/niche. For an established publishers, their extensive experience will help them select the best network. But for new publishers there is no way to know which is better, other than by testing out each ad network. If you plan to begin web development and marketing business seriously, then I advice you to try out each ad service to find out the pros and cons of each service. If all you want to do is to monetize your existing blog or site, then the best thing to do is to learn from the experience of others. Thats when Publisher Spot can be a great help to you.

Ad Network Reviews

At present there is extensive review and rating of about 15 most popular Adnetworks including Adsense, Kontera etc. Each review provides indepth details about

  • Main features
  • Publisher control over the ads
  • Available ad types and formats
  • Stats / Reports
  • Getting started with the new network
  • Payment (The most important part)
  • Referral programs

and much more.

Design / Navigation

The design of the site looks really good to me. It is simple and have easy navigability. I have always loved simple websites. The site also allow viewing the entries by rating/date. Also there is an advanced search feature which allows us to search for networks with features we want. With just 15 reviews, these features may not be that important. Lets hope that more and more ad networks will be reviewed and added to the list.

What I didn’t like

So far I have discussed why I liked the site. But there were some things that I didn’t like.

First and foremost, the usage of referral links in the reviews of Text Link Ads and Agloco. I think that is very unprofessional, because it gives the impression that the site is favoring certain networks. It would have been ok, if it was used only in “Visit Ad Network” link at the end of the review. But referral links, that stands out from the rest of the content, throughout some reviews looks very bad.

Also, there are two test entries in the reviews. Since the site is live, I think those reviews should also be removed. It shows lack of responsibility and concern.

Conclusion

A site like Publisher Spot looks really promising, but the success of such sites depends on its users. It is only when people rate the different ad networks from their own experience, the best network can be found out. Hence I strongly recommend everyone to rate the ad networks you have tried out, so that we can find out the best ad networks out there.

This entry was posted because Tyler Cruz, an internet entrepreneur and owner of Publisher Spot, was giving out a free link from his blog which is ranked 8,549 on Technorati. But the views posted in the review is of the author’s own opinion and is purely unbiased.

Migrating from WordPress.com to my own server

UPDATE : This is a very old post and I no longer provide blog installation/migration service. But if you want someone to install / migrate your blog, you may contact Ninja Blog Setup. They have both free and premium blog installation services.

wordpress installation service free wordpress blog

As many of you might be knowing, this blog is powered by the free and open source blogging platform ‘WordPress‘. Before I moved to my own domain, the blog was hosted at WordPress.com. Though the service was fast and good, I was dissatisfied. Because I was not allowed to upload new themes or plugins. Also, I was not allowed to edit the template files. I want to take blogging seriously. Hence I decided to take my own domain and move the blog over to here. Since the original blog was not much old and since there was only less than 15 posts, the migration went without any trouble. I am going to briefly explain what all steps I took for completing the transfer.

The two basic requirements for hosting your own website are the domain and hosting. The first step I took was to register the domain JoyceBabu.com. I registered the domain with bagfull, an Indian domain registrar. Their rate is lower than that of GoDaddy. I have already bought more than 10 domains from them and I like their customer service.

I already have a custom hosting plan with Wicks Hosting. Hence I decided to host my blog also in the same hosting account. Once the domain and hosting were ready, I changed the nameservers of my domain to point to my hosting server.

Now the third step was to setup the blog at the new server. I downloaded the latest stable version of WordPress (v2.2.1) and uploaded it to the server. To install the software I needed a MySQL database, which I created and the installation went smooth.

Once the blog was setup, the next step was to move my current posts and comments from the old blog to the new one. Fortunately, WordPress permits exporting the existing posts and comments from the admin interface. The exported file was imported into the new blog. Once that was over, I manually edited each post at the old location to point to the new location. Also I disallowed comments at the old location.

The final step was customization of the blog. Inability to customize the blog to my liking was the primary reason for migrating to my own hosting account. I spend one whole day searching for a theme for the new blog. My search ended once I found my current theme. The theme was not compatible with current version of WordPress. Hence I had to fix a few errors and made some small changes to the template.

Once the theme was fixed and uploaded, I started testing various plugins. I have tested over a hundred plugins and have found some really good ones. I will provide more information about that in my next post.

If you wish to create a new blog or transfer your existing WordPress.com account to your own domain and the above steps seems too much complicated to you, then feel free to contact me. I will do it for you, ofcourse for a small fee Wink .

Protect your privacy, Hide your identity

Today I am going to blog about how to browse the web anonymously. Most of the people think that their identity cannot be found out just by visiting a site since they are not directly giving any. But it is not true. When you visit a website, your IP (Internet Protocol) Address is available to the website which can be used to identify you. When we visit a website, most of the sites keep a log of visit details like your IP Address, Location, Browser, Operating System etc. This is the reason why, you can’t vote twice in the rating systems. When you search Google, they keep a record of your searches for researching searching behaviour. There are many instances when we would like to and times necessary to keep our identity safe.

Worried? Don’t be. There are several methods to circumvent these problems. Some are

  1. Web Proxies – Recently, when Indian ISPs decided to block Blogger, proxies came to the rescue of Indian bloggers and blog surfers. Proxies act as a link between you and the site you visit. When you request a site through a proxy site, your ISP passes the request to the proxy server, thinking that you are visiting the proxy site. The proxy then makes a request to the website you want to view. To the website, it looks like somebody from the IP Address of the proxy server is visiting the site. Also many of the proxies allow you to block cookies and scripts thus giving your better security.
  2. TorOpera – TorOpera is a software bundle that contains Opera, Tor and Privoxy. The main advantage of TorOpera is that it is portable, hence you can use it directly from your pendrive. You can use it directly without installing (which normally needs administrative privilage). Tor can be used to operate network servers so that their exact location is unknown.
  3. JAP Anon Proxy – JAP is another proxy system designed to protect your online privacy. JAP is written in Java and is platform independant, free and was designed to be easy to use. JAP sends requests through a cascade of encrypting mixes (Mix Cascades), run by independant organizations, and thus hides the origin of any connection. Users can select which operator to trust. This is not possible in P2P anonimity networks like TOR, as the anonymisation proxies are also anonymous.
  4. xB Browser – This is another free, anonymous web browser that allows you to surf internet securely and anonymously, bypass firewalls and internet censorship. The biggest advantage of xB Browser is that it requires no configuration or special knowledge and it is also portable. Also, xB Browser is Open Source too.

Some interesting sites

  • Scroogle – Scroogle allows you to search google anonymously. Scroogle randomly selects its IP Address when you search google and also deletes the cookies set by them. Hence your identity and search behaviour is protected.
  • BugMeNot – Many sites have a very bad policy of allowing us to view their contents only after registering with them. BugMeNot is a service that allows you to overcome that limitation. You can get valid usernames and passwords for most of the popular sites at BugMeNot. They also have IE and Firefox plugins.
  • BrowserSpy – BrowserSpy provides us with a lot of information about our computer and browser. You will be amazed by the amount of details you were providing to sites you were visiting, believing that you are anonymous. It can also be used to test whether the tools mentioned above are working or not.

Blackle – The Black Google

In January 2007, a theory was was proposed in ecoIron that a black version of Google will save 750 Megawatt-hours of energy every year. This was based on the the article by Energy star that a white pixel needs more energy than a black pixel. According to the article, a white pixel needs 74watts of energy wheras a black pixel needs only 59 watts. With 200 million queries made each day, Mike of ecoIron proposes that the difference will be very large if google decide to change its background to black. Initially there was skepticism that this will affect the readability of the pages, which is not entirely correct. For printed media, which is a reflective media, a light background will be more readable. Hence you need highest contrast to decrease the strain on your eyes. But for computer screens, too much light can give headaches and visual trails. Hence a dark background is much more suitable for reading, as far as computer screens are concerned.

Ofcourse, Google did not hear this. But somebody else did which lead to the starting of Blackle.com. The site is powered by Google Custom Search.

If you are into web design and development, then this article by Vorlath will tell you the importance of using a dark coloured background over a light background.

Money Ethics – Do the right thing

Today I am going to introduce you to a website that deals on a variety topic.

Have you ever felt that someone has cheated you on money? Did someone buy you something for which you were made to pay? Did your best friend borrow your most precious watch and failed to return it? Did your neighbor’s son broke your expensive vase and you want your neighbor to get a new one for you? Did someone ask you for bribe to do their duty you? Do you wish to keep something a secret which will cause another person a huge financial loss? Have you ever faced a situation in which money and ethics clash and you are not sure what you want to do?

If you have ever faced a situation similar to the ones above and is undecided and confused on what to do, then CNNMoney has a blog named Do the Right Thing where professional advice will be provided by Jeanne Fleming, Ph.D. and Leonard Schwarz, authors of the forthcoming book “Isn’t It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check?”. The blog already have some interesting topics covered. It really help you in looking at a problem from a different perspective. I personally feel that their answers are really good ones.

So are are you in a crisis? Do you feel cheated? Are you confused? Then stop thinging and visit http://moneyethics.blogs.money.com and ask your question and relax.

BTW, you can contact the authors of the blog at the email address right_thing@moneymail.com.