SitePoint Podcast #28: Artisanal BreadBy Kevin Yank
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Here are the topics covered in this episode:
RSS Goes Real Time with RSS Cloud
- RSS Cloud
- WordPress Just Made Millions of Blogs Real-time with RSSCloud (ReadWriteWeb)
- RSS in the Clouds (WordPress.com)
Should you host your own blog or forum?
- Patrick: The 5 Big Myths Of Social Media (Influential Marketing Blog)
- Stephan: NES Ringtone Pack (Charles Williams)
- Kevin: Blueprint’s compress.rb: A Walkthrough (Joshua Clayton)
Theme music by Mike Mella.
Kevin: September 18th, 2009. RSS goes real time with RSS Cloud, and the pros and cons of hosting your own blog. This is the SitePoint Podcast #28: Artisanal Bread.
Kevin: Hello, hello, and welcome to another SitePoint podcast. Just three of us today. It’s me and Stephan Segraves and Patrick O’Keefe. Brad is away speaking about WordPress and it turns out, by coincidence, that’s a lot of what we’ll be speaking about today. Brad should be back next episode but I think Patrick, you’ve got some travel coming up, is that right?
Patrick: Yes it is. Good guess. October 1st and 4th I’ll be at iZEAFest at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. From October 15th to 17th I’ll be at Blog World Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ll be speaking and doing a book signing there and then on October 23rd in Durham, North Carolina, I’ll be speaking at Social Media Business Forum. So if you’re within range for any of those events, definitely, let me know; blog comments, Twitter, whatever and I’ll be glad to meet up.
Kevin: Yeah. It would be great to get some face-to-face time with our listeners. What was that first one, Izea Fest did you say?
Kevin: What is that about?
Patrick: Well, it’s a conference that’s put on by the company iZEA which has some word of mouth marketing products, you could say. They’ve been somewhat controversial in the past but mainly I’m going because there is good quality of speakers, because I won a pass (that’s a big one)…
Kevin: That will do it.
Patrick: Yeah and because it’s at SeaWorld and it will be an interesting experience. Plus, it’s a very economical conference for the speakers involved and the quality of the programming. Even if I had to buy a pass which I again I probably wouldn’t have gone if I didn’t win it, but the pass itself you can get a 50% off. It’s only like $112. It includes a pass to SeaWorld, two conference days. It’s just really good value.
Kevin: Yes, especially if you live in the neighborhood that would be great. Without further ado, let’s dive into the show today. As I mentioned, we’re going to be talking a bit about some of the WordPress security issues and some of the lessons and questions that came out of it over the past few weeks. But first, let’s talk about RSS Cloud. Everyone’s really excited about RSS Cloud which is, as far as I can tell, it’s sort of an extension to the RSS 2.0 protocol that Dave Winer has come up with. And in fact, reading his notes about it, the idea and at least initial implementations of it have been around for almost as long as RSS has been around. But, he’s sort of getting back into it in the light of the popularity of services like Twitter. Now it looks like he’s trying to prove that the right way to run a service like Twitter is not to have a centralized service that’s going to go down every couple of days and that everyone relies on and everyone has clients constantly pinging to find out if there’s new content available but rather to change the model and 1) not have a centralized service. Rather, empower every publisher to run their own content syndication service and then rather than have interested subscribers constantly pinging to check for new content, have a subscribe/publish model where the interested party can just register. They’re interested in receiving new updates and then the publishing server will contact everyone who has subscribed when there is content available, pushing it out proactively.
What seems to have everyone really excited is that WordPress.com has gone and added support for this RSS Cloud extension to all of its RSS feeds. Many blogs all of a sudden are publishing in this RSS Cloud format. So the race is on for RSS feed readers. Things like NetNewsWire that I use and Google Reader that a lot of people use online. The race is on for these to begin supporting RSS Cloud. So guys, are you dying to get real time updates to your RSS feeds? That’s my question.
Patrick: Yes and no. I think that there are some times where I get frustrated with the feeds that seem to not show up for a period and all of a sudden there is 50 posts. I don’t know what that issue is. Sometimes it could be a site issue I guess. Sometimes it’s a feed reader issue. I don’t really know and I don’t really care. I just want it work. If this could help with that with better reporting then I like it. But to be honest, just from my usage now, I’m not totally interested in real live of the RSS updates. I check my RSS feed a couple of times a day. I’m not of those people who sits in there and refreshes it. So for those people, I think it’s a boon but for the rest, I don’t know if we’ll notice that much of a difference.
Stephan: I like it in theory but I just don’t see it being a competitive tool that we’re all going to use. I think there is going to be a set of people that use it and those that still stick to Twitter and things like that. I just don’t see it catching on with people who don’t have blogs.
Kevin: I guess the idea here would be that services like Twitter could spring up each with their own RSS Cloud server and then you could have a single client that would be able to subscribe to content updates from multiple services like these; all using the same protocol. So the person developing this client wouldn’t have to support lots of different APIs to talk to all these different services. They would all just speak RSS cloud which is kind of nice. The stumbling block for me is that you have to run your own server if you want to run RSS Cloud. WordPress has done this work for all of its users. Everyone who has a WordPress.com blog hosted by the folks at Automattic get these for free because Automattic went to the trouble of building their own RSS Cloud server that runs and accepts subscriptions to people interested in WordPress.com blogs and will send out these pings about new content being available. But if you’re running your own blog, and this is something that will be talking about later in the show, that’s one more that you need to set up now. Ideally, it would be part of whatever blogging software you were using but if you were writing your own thing, this is one more thing that you would have to write and host. I don’t know if people are going to go to that trouble. It seems to me that the polling model we have now is—its one of those cases where it’s not technically ideal but it might just be good enough. I’m not sure the benefit is so big that people are going to make this big leap.
Patrick: Right now there is a plug-in available for WordPress, RSS Cloud. A plug-in— I don’t know how easy that makes her or how hard that makes it. I would hope it would be easy but I think its only—the biggest shot at adoption is going to be through plug-ins. I think if you care about RSS Cloud getting spread then you need to write a plug-in for the top 5 blogging applications and more to help it spread.
Stephan: It seems clear that is going to happen.
Patrick: Do you think Kevin that this is kind of starting to bloat RSS, in what RSS was meant for?
Kevin: I think it’s quite a nice addition. It’s a single tag that all it does is adds your RSS feed, a single tag that says, “If you want to get real-time updates to this blog. If you want to be notified when this feed changes, here is how you do it” and it will say, either you need to contact me with an HTTP POST request on this URL” or whatever. It’s nice and simple in that way. I don’t think it’s a bloat issue at all.
Stephan: It’s vague to me on what the purpose is besides getting push, you know, versus checking your email. There are ups and downs to both of those.
Kevin: I don’t think this is solving the biggest problem with RSS. I think that’s clear. People aren’t screaming for this in relation to RSS. In fact, that’s why this feature has been proposed for RSS since the beginning has never really caught on. But Dave Winer who is working on this with renewed vigor seems to believe that this is a good answer to the problems with microblogging services like Twitter. It would be interesting to see if that catches on. It’s certainly not the only game in town. We have things like Identi.ca which they’ve gone and built their solution on top of the Jabber protocol, with federated servers and all this sort of— it’s a lot more heavyweight solution. Whereas RSS Cloud is much simpler. Well, let’s take something that works, something that there is a lot of good software out therefore are ready RSS and add one little thing to it. And maybe that is just as good a solution. We’ll see.
But speaking of hosting your own WordPress blog and the benefits and pitfalls that come with that, that’s the main thing we want to talk about this episode. Over the past few weeks, there have been some security scares for anyone with a WordPress blog but this isn’t an issue that is limited to just WordPress. I know for long time everyone who ran a bulletin board using software like phpBB was constantly living under the threat of a security hole in their open source, third party software being discovered and the hackers taking advantage of it before they could get around to updating their software. In the wake of these fresh attacks on WordPress blogs that have affected some pretty high profile sites, a lot of people are justifiably asking the question, should everyone be running their own WordPress blog? Or are there really good reasons to avoid it? Patrick, do you run your own software by and large?
Patrick: I do run my own software pretty much in totality. I don’t know that I use any remotely hosted services. I do use phpBB, WordPress, Nucleus CMS. I’ve run phpbbhacks.com which is the largest unofficial phpBB resource for about 8-1/2 years. It’s something that I’ve definitely I had to contend with for almost a decade.
Kevin: Especially with these WordPress attacks, WordPress has done a good job of making it really easy to update WordPress. When it comes to a PHP script that can be installed on just about any web host out there, you couldn’t ask for much better than the one-click upgrade that works on most hosts. Back when we were talking about phpBB which hasn’t seem much in the way of security holes lately. It seems like they’ve done a pretty good job of locking down that code. When you had to upgrade phpBB, you were sometimes making— hand-coding that changes for the updates because you had applied hacks and you couldn’t just drop the new code into place. It was a real pain and yet if you were serious about running a site with phpBB powering it, that’s what you had to do, right?
Patrick: It was, and at phpbbhacks.com, we had code changes and they were released by actually an author at one point who wasn’t part of phpBB but a hack author who had released code changes for each release and we’d have those at our site and they were a popular resource because you had to do that. I remember being on vacation and being passed with the latest version and there was a time where it was insecure and it wasn’t that they weren’t working on it necessarily but I was on vacation and the site was getting hacked and this included the database being wiped clean. Those are scary moments especially at that time when it’s mostly a dial-up connection situation. There is no high speed. You’re messing with these huge SQL files. You’re trying to make sure you have backups in place. And luckily I did, thankfully, to my host. But it’s a scary thing. phpBB 2 got better and phpBB 3 has been very solid. There really hasn’t been any major security issue.
Kevin: We have a blog post by John August here who compares running your own WordPress installation to baking your own bread. He says, “Yeah, you can go and you can get the flour and you can knead it up in your kitchen and most people, if they follow the instructions, can get a perfectly edible loaf of bread but you could also just go down to the corner store and buy a loaf of bread and for 90% of the people, that’s all they want out of their bread and that’s all they need out of their bread. So why go to the trouble of making your own?” He compares this to these software like forums and blogs and if you are in the 90% of people who only need what a hosted solution will give you, you should really avoid setting it up on your own hosting environment where you have to maintain it and stay on top of security updates and so on and so forth. As apt as this comparison is, it seems obvious that a lot of people aren’t taking this advice right now. Stephan, what do you think the attraction is to running your own installation of something like WordPress versus using a hosted solution?
Stephan: Going back to my history in blogging. I kind of wrote my own back in 2000-2001 and that was fun. It was like a little experiment and I think I still have it somewhere out on the Web Archive. And as time went on, I realized it was no longer a learning tool for me. It was more of—where I put my thoughts. So for the hosted solution for me, makes sense but then again having my own WordPress installation means I can do whatever I want to it without having—I can change code, I can change behind the scenes stuff because that’s my background. But then there are people that they don’t have any background in coding and they don’t need ever to look at the code. I think for the hacker, the guy who likes to get down and dirty and play in the code, I think that that’s the real attraction of hosting your own.
Patrick: There are a lot of advantages to hosting your own site. Just to name a few; advertising is one with a lot of these hosted solutions; you’re limited in your advertising. Now that doesn’t affect you if you’re just setting up a personal blog, but for anyone who wants to turn this into a business, obviously, that’s a consideration. Customization is a big thing as well. WordPress.com allows you a lot of plug-ins I know but there are restrictions on that. It’s a situation where if you wanted to do whatever you want to your site, you have to host it. Sometimes you want to do all of these things but you don’t have the knowledge and that’s a situation that I was in way back when where I just had to learn. I started doing things and I started messing with code and installing hacks. There was a time when I couldn’t install phpBB. I had to be walked through it three or four times. I figured it out from there and it takes some experience and some time to get to know the software and you need to have someone there who can take care of it. I think in this day and age, especially, you need to understand the full commitment but there are clear benefits to installing the software yourself. And also you shouldn’t take remotely hosted solutions lightly. You really need to investigate them and look into what they offer you and their access to your data and so on and so forth as well. So there are good and bad sides to both.
Kevin: At SitePoint we use WordPress. We host it ourselves in a couple of places. The sitepoint.com blogs, most people can’t realize because it is such a customized installation but it is WordPress running behind the scenes. We have developed our own plug-ins that integrate with the user database for our forums so you can use the same login to comment on our blogs as you do to participate in the SitePoint Forums. When this latest spate of attacks came out, we had a close look at it and although technically our code was vulnerable for a short time until we got the upgrade installed, the degree of customization that we had done to our site meant that the tools that hackers were using to take advantage of these security holes were protecting us to some extent. And that makes me think if you’re going to host it yourself, maybe you should avoid the really popular solutions like if you’re going to host your own blog, maybe there is something to be said for avoiding WordPress because it’s the popular one that’s going to get attacked and chose something a little more obscure.
Patrick: The problem with that is, you want something as good as WordPress and that’s not to say the other options out there aren’t as good. But I’ve used different things I came to WordPress. I didn’t start with WordPress. I started with Nucleus CMS which is a very good piece of software. I enjoyed it. I don’t think I was hacked once. Actually, I think I was hacked once at some point but I had a good experience with it. But I went to WordPress because there are benefits as far as the plug-in community which is tremendous, as far as the SEO benefits of the software which out of the box is solid. Just the entire support community around this software is excellent. That’s what drives people towards it. It is the quality of the software and then the quality of the community. It’s hard to find those two things in any other piece of software. I’m not saying anything bad about this offerings that Six Apart has has I’m sure they’re very good. Plenty of good, really great sites run them. But from my experience, from my time and money I put writing on my network, at this time, I chose WordPress and it’s hard to say, “Choose a solution that you don’t think is as good just because it’s not as widely used and it won’t be hacked.” That’s something that could be applied to a lot of technology yet you want to use the best piece of software.
Kevin: Yeah, definitely. Speaking about WordPress.com the hosted solution, I had a close look at what they offer and what the limitations are. If you are tossing up right now between hosting your own blog and hosting it in WordPress.com or even if you’re thinking about making the move one way or the other, what WordPress.com gives you is the WordPress software and a certain amount of customization that you can do depending on how much you pay them. So the free account you can chose from a selection of themes that they’ve set up in their system. You can’t install custom themes. You can’t install custom WordPress plug-ins either. What you can do is put widgets into your site. So the themes that they provide have these spots in them, usually in the sidebar, where you can add in your own selection of widgets. So you can have pieces of text. You can have your Twitter feed or your Flickr photos—whatever the case maybe. And they have a nice collection of widgets. And I know services like Blogger from Google offer the same sort of functionality—pick a theme and then add your own collection of widgets. With WordPress.com if you pay for a certain commercial level of support, you can then customize the CSS that’s applied to the theme and they have a particular theme called the Sandbox theme which is really for people who know what they’re doing with CSS. It provides a lot of styling hooks in the HTML code which still you are not able to modify but the HTML code is so rich with these styling hooks that you can then use your custom CSS abilities to make it look pretty much any way you want. If you need more than that, you are looking at hosting it yourself. How does that compare with the world of hosted forums, Patrick?
Patrick: With forums, it’s something that I get asked a lot is what software to use and what about these for mostly hosted sites. You can throw Ning into that category, Lefora, and there are tons of small ones and they all have their pluses and minuses but the two main things that I always tell people is first of all, make sure you can get your data out in a way that you can actually use. In my experience, the majority of remotely hosted forum solutions do not give you your data in a way you can use. So for example, if you give me a CSV file or a text database of my posts on your individual software like Ning. Ning isn’t something you can download. Ning is its own software. If you give me that, I have no idea what to do with that. I have to hire a programmer to put that into some database that I can use with another piece of software. Most people fall into that category. You want your data in something you can use like phpBB. From phpBB, you can convert to pretty much everything because phpBB is so popular that all the software has converters.
So being able to get your data out first and foremost is important because so many solutions don’t offer that and you think of leaving your posts in one solution forever. It’s just in this day and age, that’s not acceptable yet that’s how a lot of people jump into these solutions. They say, “Okay, it takes two seconds to get started. Let’s go.” They accumulate hundreds of thousands of posts, millions of posts, one day and they want to move off it but they can’t. So that’s the big thing. I think the other thing is for most people who want to control their online presence; you want a service that allows you to have a domain name. WordPress does that with their hosted solution if you pay a little extra. And many forum solutions do as well. But the importance of that is simply controlling the URL because if you are something.hosted-solution.com they own that forever. You cannot take that with you. Where if you own your own domain name, you can always take that with you in some form and can redirect those old links even with a catchall redirect rather than losing all the traffic.
Stephan: Well I think one other thing about hosting your own solution versus having a hosted solution somewhere is security is it’s a false thing with the hosted solution somewhere off site with Tumblr or someone else. It’s false security because they’re just as vulnerable to a hacking attack as someone that’s hosting their own solution. And it just depends on how on their toes they are. If they’re kind of slacking back and not really paying attention, someone comes in and just wipes out all the Tumblr accounts, well, you just lost your blog. And there is no recourse. What are you going to do? If someone hacks my blog because I wasn’t paying attention to the updates, then I really can’t blame anybody but myself, right?
Kevin: You can assume pretty much that a reputable service is going to be doing a certain level of backups. So that in the worst case, like one that you had described, Tumblr would be able to recover from a backup that it might be 24 hours old but your content is coming back. Whereas, if you host it yourself, people get lazy and maybe you don’t keep backups for a month or so and you assume that your web host is doing that for you but when things go wrong, they point to the clause in the contract that said, “We’ll make a best effort but we can’t guarantee it.” And, they’ll say, “Actually, yeah, your backup stopped working two months ago because of something funky in the way that you set up your site being incompatible with our automated backup systems.”
Stephan: The great example against that is Ma.gnolia. Because everyone expected that to be an easily retrievable set of links, “Oh, we have your backups.” No, they didn’t have anybody’s backups and those people were screwed. It’s not fair to the people that are putting their stuff up there and expecting a service.
Patrick: I would say that no service is immune to this.
Stephan: No, I’m not trying to single out different people. I see that the security that people feel when they’re on a hosted service because they expect other people to be watching over it but at the same time, they’re just as vulnerable as I am to a WordPress…
Patrick: Yeah, and that speaks to having access to your data. Not trusting someone to back it up for you. If you’re paying a remote host, even if you’re paying a host, it’s still no guarantee. A lot of the remotely hosted solutions probably don’t guarantee backups either. So, it’s just as important to have access to your data and to be able to back it up yourself and something I feel like I should say or we should say is that, it’s not as scary as it seems. There is always a breakout of this sort of thing. A popular piece of software gets hacked and a lot of people didn’t upgrade probably when they should have. And then the whole quality of open source software or of installing your own software gets called into question. It happens every four, six months or more but if you take the time to learn the software and don’t hack it up like crazy. Don’t modify it to insanity where you’re not comfortable with it. Use the basic software. Figure out how to install it and upgrade it and how to monitor upgrade notifications through the software, through RSS, through email, wherever. Go ahead and install those upgrades. Most of the time, you are going to be perfectly fine. This rash of WordPress hackings at least when it caught news it was September 4th or 5th. According to Matt Mullenweg, it didn’t affect version 2.8.3 which was released on August 3rd. So you’re talking about a month in between a release and all this rash of hackings, supposedly. Even if it was a few weeks after. If you want to run your own site, just monitor those upgrades and make sure they get installed and you’ll be fine.
Stephan: WordPress lets you know when you log in, so I don’t know.
Patrick: In WordPress nothing is easier. I’ve used a lot of different software and WordPress is the easiest to upgrade of any of them. And I never even use the automatic upgrade because I only need to have a copy of the files on my computer. I always download it and upload it. So call me old school or whatever but its still is very quick and easy to do. Coming from that phpBB system we’re used to have to install code changes for it to take two minutes literally is a joy first and foremost. So it’s just something where you take the time to invest in your site if you want it to be around.
Kevin: The irony for me is that the thing that as you say for vanilla WordPress installation that you setup yourself upgrading it is a one-click affair and you’re reminded every time you login and it’s a no-brainer. But the reason you choose to run your own WordPress installation is because you want to customize it. You want to write your own plug-ins or you want to install third party plug-ins and inevitably what happens is that WordPress will tell you, you need to upgrade for security reasons but your plug-ins are not compatible with that new version or the plug-ins you’ve written yourself won’t work in the new version and you need to take the time to upgrade them. So it’s ironic to me that the thing that you need to do most, keep your own WordPress installation up-to-date, is often going to be hampered by this competing priority you want to keep your custom WordPress installation customized. Is there a solution?
Patrick: That’s a good point and here is what I do. If an upgrade comes out and they say something about security in it, I install that upgrade as soon as I can. What I do is I make sure all my plug-ins are up-to-date and then what you can do is you can easily disable all of them and enable them one by one. I have really not run into many plug-in issues. I know some have. I think by and large, it has turned out okay for me. I think you can disable the plug-ins and re-enable them one by one. When security pops up, security is always the priority. If they say, it’s a security upgrade, you need to install it. If they don’t, you can wait a week or two and let plug-ins be upgraded because oftentimes that’s when new plug-in versions will be released, right after a new release of WordPress or right around that time. So you install those new versions. You disable the plug-ins and you just enable them one by one and I think for the most part, it will go well. Yes, that’s the benefit of having WordPress is customization but at the same there is obviously a security responsibility as well. So you have to balance those two things but I find that the WordPress plug-in community tends to be pretty strong.
Kevin: I guess the more you can stick to these well supported plug-ins that are actively maintained the better. But a lot of these plug-ins, they’re left alone after a while. The author loses interest or goes on a holiday and suddenly you’re faced between the choice of running an insecure blog or running a blog where your blog is all about polling people, posting polls and suddenly the polling plug-in that you rely on is not compatible with the new WordPress version…
Stephan: And its kind of like what I was—I was running a blog and I was using the AsideShop plug-in which gives you the little asides, just a single link or whatever and if you click on it, it lets people comment on the link. I like the functionality because I didn’t always have time to post a full post but I had a little short blurb and link. That’s what I wanted to post. That plug-in after the 2.8.1, I think, update just stopped working. In fact if you activated it, it killed WordPress. So, I had to disable it and I lost the biggest functionality of my blog that I used and now, I stopped blogging for a little while and I’m trying to get back into it because my method of blogging was taken away because someone doesn’t update their plug-in.
Patrick: But here is what you have got to weigh that against I think. If you want WordPress.com do they have the asides plug-in, could you do that?
Kevin: No. No.
Patrick: So here is the question then. You probably used customizations or you might. Maybe you only used that one plug-in but a lot of people use more than one where not all the plug-ins are going to be incompatible that’s why you do them one by one. So you’re still taking advantage of those customizations. But like I said, weigh it against the hosted solution, would you be using this on WordPress? Would you have access to this on WordPress? Yes, you may have to do without it for a period but security always takes precedent. So if you have to disable that for a little while. You say, “I’m sorry, we have disable this.” You get on your hustle. You get on the WordPress forums. You ask for a poll plug-in that works and you make it work. If you’re not a programmer like I am, you have to hustle and you have to make it work and that’s just what running a web site is about, especially if you’re not a programmer.
Kevin: Going back to the bread analogy. Once upon a time, most people did make their own bread because we didn’t have supermarkets yet or the bread that you could get that other people would make for you was just nowhere near as good as the stuff that you could make yourself. And over time, mass-produced bread has gotten better. We’ve seen the same thing happening in the progress that we’ve made from the days of phpBB where you would have to hack files by hand to keep your customized site up-to-date, to today, where WordPress even heavily customized with tons of third-party plug-ins still supports a one-click upgrade that often and most often will not break anything. So over time, I think these automated solutions for keeping your site up-to-date, whether it’s the one click upgrade in your customized solution or whether it’s the types of widgets and level of customization that you can get in a hosted solution like WordPress.com, these things are getting better and better and so requiring us less and less to bake our own bread. Is that fair to say?
Patrick: Wow, analogy crazy.
So my mom’s bread is always better than store bread. That’s just saying that, that’s just the way it is and it will always be but I think everything will continually get better. I think both solutions are there for the audience they serve. I think WordPress.com is a very good solution for probably most people but it all comes back to I guess that same analogy where you need to weigh your benefits and if you understand what it means to keep software up-to-date and everything that that entails and you want what you can receive benefits-wise by hosting your own site then go for it. It’s all about effort and commitment. Nothing can be done by flying by the seat of your pants; not managing a community, not managing the software. If you don’t have a tech guy then guess what? You are the tech guy and that’s a role that I had to jump right into because I have nobody. I don’t have money for anybody. So, I learned what I needed to do to get by. I can’t write any code, no. But I can fix the occasional PHP error and I can mess with plug-ins a little bit. And I can upgrade software and I can run a backup system. It’s all about learning what you need to get the job done and if you can’t do that, then yeah, go with a hosted solution.
Kevin: Sounds like your mom makes artisanal bread which is what this blog post calls it. Like the extra special bread that its worth going to the trouble to get.
Patrick: Well, it’s made with love so come on Kevin.
Kevin: There you go. And if you want to run an artisanal blog that’s made with love then maybe you just have to put up with the headaches that come with it.
Let’s close off the show with out host spotlights, guys. Patrick what’s your host spotlight?
Patrick: Well my host spotlight is an article by Rohit Bhargava who is an author, all around social media—I don’t want to say expert guru—but a very smart guy. I met him at Blog World last year actually so that’s another reason to come out. But he wrote an article called the 5 Big Myths of Social Media published on September 15th. It’s on his blog, Influential Marketing blog and he discusses five of the myths he encounters the most in his practice and he works at Ogilvy. The five are: you need give up control; two, it is all about going viral; three, someone needs to be managing it fulltime; four, everything has be to open, transparent and public; and five, measurements just include soft metrics. And he goes into the details as far as what those five mean. But it’s definitely a well worth reading article for anyone who is into social media especially anybody from a corporate perspective.
Kevin: Stephan what’s yours?
Stephan: Well, I have a little tool for all you phone, ringtone junkies. Charles Williams, a blogger web junkie kind of guy released a set of NES ringtones including Duck Hunt, Super Mario Brothers, and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. Its 99 ringtones from those six NES games. There is a list of them. It’s pretty sweet and it works with the iPhone and they have other phones as well. I’m not sure if it’s legal or what not. It hadn’t been taken out. It’s been up for a few weeks.
Kevin: Wow, our new community manager, Raena at SitePoint was in a meeting with us yesterday and she had customized her instant messaging program, Adium. She had found a pack of sounds for it with Super Mario Brothers sounds in it. It was hilarious. I definitely am going to show this to her because I think she may just want to change her ringtone.
My host spotlight, I’ve been researching a topic that I’m giving it Web Direction South in a few weeks. And it’s all about CSS frameworks. The granddaddy of CSS frameworks one might argue is Blueprint. Blueprint CSS is what most people call it. It’s a library of CSS styles that you build on top of or assemble together to build a web site. It can save time over building your own CSS styles from scratch. A lot of people have complained about Blueprint CSS’s code because it forces you or has in the past forced you to use class names that were presentational. So you had to use CSS class names like
"span-17" and things like that. That people who cared about the class names in their HTML code really didn’t like. But they’ve actually listened to this feedback and this is something that a lot of people don’t know yet but Blueprint CSS these days comes with a Ruby script. You feed it a little configuration file. You tell it, my class names that I want to use are this; and this is what they should mean in terms of the grid that Blueprint sets up for them and it spits out a customized, compressed version of the Blueprint stylesheets using your own custom class names. So you can use things like header, footer, sidebar, things like that and Blueprint will apply the appropriate styles to those class names instead of forcing you to use the ones that people hate so much. There is a great walkthrough about this that I’ll point to you in the show notes. It’s by Joshua Clayton the lead author of Blueprint. It’s called Blueprint’s compress.rb: A Walkthrough. It sounds scary running a Ruby script to customize your CSS code but if you’re using Blueprint at all, this is a set of instructions that really anyone can follow. I think it makes Blueprint a lot more relevant in the face of a lot of the criticism that has been leveled against it in the past.
So that brings our show to an end. Let’s go on the table guys.
Patrick: I am Patrick O’Keefe of the iFroggy Network. You can find me on Twitter @iFroggy.
Stephan: I’m Stephan Seagraves and you can find me on Twitter @sseagraves.
The SitePoint podcast is produced by Carl Longnecker and I’m Kevin Yank.
Thanks for listening. Bye-bye.
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