The UK’s Biggest Reality TV Blog!

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Late last August, totally on a whim, Lisa and I threw together a reality tv blog called Unreality TV. I did a quick WordPress theme and some cartoon-type illustrations and we were live within a couple of days.

From September onward, Lisa spent her evenings blogging about the 2005 series of X-Factor. I approached the site as an experiment in Search Engine Optimisation, dividing up categories and giving pointers on how to make best uses of keywords in each post.

From these inauspicious beginnings, we continued to put on new posts diligently and keep the site up-to-date.

Now, almost a year later, it’s high season for reality tv shows in the UK: Big Brother is in full swing and Love Island has just started. Unreality TV has taken something in the region of 114,000 hits in June and at this mid-point in July, we’ve had 64,000 visitors. Traffic has been building month upon month and we’ve just opened the doors on our long-awaited reality tv forum.

We’re interested in taking Unreality TV to greater heights. Two things we want in the immediate future:

  1. Sponsors/Advertisers: We’d like the site to be earning a decent living so that we can concentrate on creating better content and forging better links with the reality tv industry. To that end, we may have to kill Google AdSense in favour of direct advertising.
  2. More visitors: We’ll be focussing on getting Unreality TV more visible and encouraging participation. The forum is in it’s early stages right now, but I’ve already started using it to point out other great reality TV writing on the web.

This part of things is definitely outside of the old comfort zone: getting this amount of hits so far has been amazing, but pushing it further is new territory for us. It’ll be exciting to see how things progress!

Ultimate Tag Warrior for WordPress

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Christine Davies has announced a new ‘vanilla’ version of Ultimate Tag Warrior for WordPress.

UTW is possibly one of the most useful plugins for tagging your blog content. For the uninitiated or the ignorant, tags are like keywords on steroids. They add another dimension to how you classify the posts on your blog. Sure, you can use categories, but too many categories clutter up your sidebar. Categories are broad.

Tags are specific to the post. They don’t show up in the navigation, but you can create a ‘tag cloud’ which shows frequently used tags in larger type and less-used tags in smaller type. They also tie in with the new breed of Web services like Flickr, Technorati and Delicious, all of which use tags to organise content.

Tags can offer a richer user experience whether linking back into the blog to display related posts, or linking out to Technorati to find additional material on other websites.

I prefer to use tagging internally to provide an alternative means of navigating the blog. I’ve used this recently on Unreality TV and will be using it on a forthcoming website, The Northern Ireland Guide.

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Tip: Adding Extra Blogs To Flock

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On first glance, the Flock web browser only seems to allow you to set up one blog account. If you’re like me and you manage more than one blog, this is a big limitation!

Fear not, there’s another way to add extra blogs. It’s hidden away in the options, but it’s there!

How to add additional blogs in Flock

  • First, go to Tools, Options
  • Click on the Blogging button (second from last) and the Accounts tab should be the first one to load.
  • Click on the + icon and the Blog Account Setup Helper will appear. You’ll need to give it the URL of your blog and the username and password to log on.
  • That’s it. Simple, wasn’t it?

I’ve been meaning to play with Flock for a while now, but never quite got around to it. I’m using it to generate this post and it’s all going swimmingly.

One of the big benefits of not being in the wp-admin area is that I’m not tempted to check my stats, comments and all that stuff that distracts me every day.

Anyway, more on Flock later. 

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WordPress.com allowing multiple users…

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…but apparently only from the WordPress.com community!

I got a weird message in my Gmail that someone had added me to their wordpress blog. They must’ve been testing of made a mistake, because they promptly removed me again!

Anyway, this prompted me to check in my own wordpress.com blog (the one you’re reading) – and the screenshot below is what I found. This feature seems to have appeared out of nowhere on the Authors & Users tab. Basically you type in the username of the other person, allocate the type of role you want to give them, etc and they get a confirmation email when you’re done. After that, you can log into the blog and add posts, or whatever your permissions allow you to do.

WordPress.com Multi-User mode

I’m probably nitpicking, but I’d have preferred to add users from outside the community. Surely an existing member already has a blog? Anyway, I don’t see much benefit to that! I’d like to add someone who’ll contribute to my blog rather than someone who’ll have split blog loyalties!

Anyway, I just checked the WordPress.com blog, and nothing’s mentioned there, so this is either in stealth mode and just been released, or it’s been available for ages and I’ve just not noticed. What do you think?

Bet that I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and it’ll be gone. Things like that always happen me….

Dreamhost Update

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Well, it’s only fair to report that my problems with Dreamhost have now been resolved. Not entirely to my satisfaction, but at least the site’s live again.

There still wasn’t much information forthcoming about the reported exploit in WordPress, so I deleted all the remote files at Dreamhost and re-uploaded WordPress. Disabled any plugins that might have included email functionality, etc, etc and changed the passwords.

To make sure I wasn’t violating any terms of service or whatever, I emailed the support guys and told them what I’d done. I asked them to leave the site live to see if the problem would manifest itself again.

Dreamhost support responded to say that they were happy with this course of action and would leave the site alone to see if this happened again. They also advised that after any perceived security breach I should change my access passwords, which I’ve done.

So I’m happy for the moment….

Dreamhost Hosting Sucks – Big Time

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Pissed off this evening. Well, for the past three evenings, ever since the underwhelming Dreamhost shut down the Scribble Designs website. I came home from work to receive the following message:

Your script found at /server-path/index.php (your WordPress installation) has been exploited and was being used to send out spam emails through our system. We have disabled the script to help prevent our servers from being used for this purpose, as it is adversely affecting the stability of our mail system. Please do not re-enable it until the security hole has been fixed (you can go to http://www.wordpress.org for upgrade instructions). We thank you for your attention to this matter.

That’s my business website, fools! Why’d you shut it down? WordPress doesn’t generate email spam, does it?

Well, it doesn’t bloody seem to. I googled for a solution, hit the support forum and the WordPress Codex. Nothing.

I emailed back, asking for an in-depth answer. Why my website? What led you to diagnose this problem and pinpoint my website? Was a plugin at fault? What response did I get:

You’ll need to contact the authors of wordrpess for more information on patching the software. We do not provide support for third party scripts.

Don’t provide support for third party scripts??? You just offer a one-click install of the damned thing. You’re reknowned as a WordPress/blog hosting company. The guys at WordPress actually recommend DreamHost. They know WordPress well enough to diagnose a blog as a source of spam, but not well enough to advise of a solution. Hmmmm.

Oh yeah, and I’m sure Matt Mullenweg loves to wade in and intervene in individual support calls. Hi Matt! I’m having this problem with Dreamhost…..

So, as of right now, I’m a web designer without a website, all thanks to those lovable chimps at Dreamhost! No straight answers. No fault resolution. Oh, and did I mention that their servers are running at a snail’s pace at the moment?

Do I get my money back when I decide to move to another – better – host? I’ll keep you posted.

Itching To Try WordPress 2.0

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The WordPress dashboard on my hosted blogs has gone nuts this past few days with details of the forthcoming 2.0 release. I’m on tenterhooks. Don’t think I’ve been this excited about a software release before!

Let’s face it, WordPress is emotional software. How many people use it every day to pour out their lives or to earn a living (I’m talking Pro-Bloggers here)? I know I’ve come to rely on WP and not a day goes by when I don’t use it in some fashion.

In an ideal world, I’ve love to test the Release Candidate and give something back to the community, but life’s just too busy at the moment. Maybe in the future. Actually, I’d maybe give a hand doing something with BBPress, if I had the time to spare. That’s another project I’d love to play with. Someday.

Anyway, WP.com has whetted my apetite, so I’m dying to have a play and upgrade my sites. I’ve even got a testblog that I can destruct-test it on if needs be….