If you are new to blogging or don’t know much about hosting a blog on your own site vs. blogspot or even wordpress free services, you can check out my rundown from last year that will give you the basics. There are a few changes of specific info from then, but just a few.
I am really diggin’ WordPress 2.5. Kevin Bussey said he hated it over on Marty Duren’s blog, but I think he just hates change. He’s such a stick in the mud, he probably still likes his worship with all hymns and just the 1st, 2nd & last verse sung to a Hammond B3 Organ with the vibrato wailing.
Anyway, 2.5 is awesome in a lot of ways, but I’ll just tell you a few of my faves.
- The Visual Editor is MUCH better and you don’t have to do the shift-alt-v thing to get the extra buttons.
- In the Visual Editor, you can post media to your server by uploading pictures, audio or video. I’m still using flickr and podpress for most of this, but I am experimenting and have found hosting the pictures on my own server is a little easier and a lot more flexible than it used to be.
- Big fave – You can embed video from Youtube or other similar hosting site via the Visual Editor. WordPress used to really not like you embedding streaming video. You used to have to write it in the html side of the code and publish it immediately. If you ever changed anything in the post, the video would quit. This makes obsolete the embedify plugin that I was previously using to do the same thing, but it only worked with Youtube (I think – I never tried it with another service).
- The plugin page will check if you need to update your plugins and will do it for you with the click of a link, rather than forcing you to overwrite a file with ftp.
Well, those are just the top vote getters at the moment.
I also want to give you a new list of plugins that I am using. Joe Kennedy put up a list and it reminded me of a lot of changes that I have made in this area, so here they are:
- Akismet – The anti-spam plugin that comes with WordPress.
- All in One SEO Pack – This plugin is a Search Engine Optimization tool that will hlep your posts get found and, hopefully, read.
- Angsuman’s Feed Copyrighter – Inserts a copyright tag at the bottom of your post when read in a feedreader.
- Anti Spam Image – This plugin is no longer available on its host site, but might be found if you search for it. It puts the number/alphabet image input box by the comment section to keep spam programs from filling my comment section full of offers for porn and medications without a prescription. Very necessary, in my opinion (The plugin! Get your mind out of the gutter). Other plugins offer similar options.
- Bad Behavior – This is anther anti-spam plugin that monitors ip addresses for frequent attempts to access and post to your site and shuts them down cold. When it is working, it rocks. Unfortunately, it sometimes messes up, like the time it shut me out of my own blog and I couldn’t even log in to the editor. It’s not doing that right now, but it is corrupting my category tables or something, so it is in time out (deactivated) for behaving badly. Hopefully, an update will patch it up and let it get back to shutting down spammers. I’ve just upgraded to the latest update (Monday night), but it is still living up to its name, so it is still in time out.
- Countdown Timer – This is a fun little plugin that lets you count down to something that you might be writing about. Our big trip to Vietnam was the last thing I put up. The downside is that the time and date function don’t work right, so you have to figure how far it is off (I think about 2 hours behind) and set your event for the appropriate wrong time so it will show the right time. A little high maintenance.
- Feed Statistics – Most of our blogs are read in feeds, but they aren’t counted by Statcounter codes that we embed in the page. This plugin lets you see some information about how many people are grabbing your feed, and which posts they pick up.
- Google Sitemaps – This plugin creates a sitemap for the Google to pick up when it scans your site. That’s beneficial, because it helps Google decide if your post is relevant to searches that others are performing and this will cause relevant searches to rise in the search results.
- inline RSS – One of two rss feed scrapers that David Phillips installed to scrape the feed of my photoblog and put the titles as links in the sidebar of my blog. If you need help, ask him. He’s pretty cheap tech support. I don’t know which of these scrapers is actually doing the work, but I’ll link to the other one when it comes up. (This is all alphabetical, you know.)
- Maintenance Mode – This plugin allows you to stop others from accessing your site while you do upgrades or mess with the template.
- Move Comments – Allows you to move comments from one post to another. This is handy if someone says something brilliant but it relates to another post.
- PodPress – Plugin that turns your blog into an audio or video podcast. It’s awesome and easy.
- Slashdiggalicious – This puts a bunch of icons for social networking sites that allow a reader to post a link to your article to those sites.
- Subscribe to Comments – Allows readers to subscribe to emails updating them on comments posted to an article you’ve written. This is particularly helpful for people who are wanting to follow a discussion, but don’t want to check back all the time.
- ToDo List Plugin – Let’s you create a ToDo list in the dashboard of your blog, so that you can keep up with stuff that you want to do, like modify some part of your template.
- WordPress Stats – Keeps track of hits, etc. for your WordPress blog. Doesn’t track IP addresses, if you need that sort of thing, you still need Statcounter.
- WordPress Automatic Upgrade – This plugin will walk you through an upgrade of WordPress software when it comes out. It works very well, and you don’t have to be a geek to upgrade your software. By the by, upgrade your software, because not upgrading it leaves security breaches that can expose your blog to hacking.
- WordPress Database Backup – Creates a backup of all your data so if something goes wrong and your host accidentally wipes out your blog, then you can reload it and not lose everything. I have been close on several occasions and have lost a few things that weren’t backed up. Nice to have everything else still here.
- WP-RSSImport – The other scraping plugin.