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Archive for the ‘Content Management’ Category

Bye Bye, Woozweb

I have been using the services of the french Woozweeb to monitor the availability and the performance of a few of my own websites since many years. A free Woozweb account allowed me to define up to five (later up to ten) URLs to be checked on a regular base (I don’t recall the exact frequency, but it was multiple times per hour). Woozweb would accumulate the responses, display a graph of response times as well as the latest HTTP response code, analyse the response headers, etc. Every so three of four weeks, I would check my account, to verify that the different providers were not failing to do what they promised: host a responsive website.

This should be part of your content management solution: after all, content isn’t worth anything if it is not available. So monitoring your site is an essential part of your CM system, even if you do so in a separate tool.

Although I received a mail to extend my Woozweb account just few days ago, an attempt to log into the site just showed a shutdown notice:

byebye-woozweb.png

I will be on the lookout for alternative solutions like Woozweb (suggestions are welcome). And remember: if you’re going to close down your service, make sure not to send out renewal notices after the shutdown!

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Google is big, in numbers. Google is big business, in numbers. Google embodies “search”, and we no longer know Altavista and the like from a good decade ago. So I pretty sure that, given the task, you could find “26 Crazy Facts You Never Knew About Google“, a nice infographic with a few tidbits about Google.

crazy-facts.png

But there are alternatives to Google, especially if you prefer a more private and less personalised search experience. OptiLocal presents an infographic comparing Google to DuckDuckGo.

I am a longtime user of Google, because of the quality of its search results. But I must admit that I’m no longer appreciating the barrage of “targeted” ads after any occasional search on websites that have nothing to do with Google, or so it seems. So I will be using DuckDuckGo the next weeks, and see what that gives in terms of results and in terms of how it feels…

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Here’s what I happened to see on April 17th, 2015, purely by accident, really – I wasn’t on the prowl for a example of bad website management.

20150417-smartbiz-content-curation-required.be

The titles in blue are links to news articles published on the site; the text below is the latest comment on said article. This shows that a spammer has been at work on this site for at least two years or so…

Note: the image just shows a small piece of the webpage – but to be clear: those comments were next to one another at that very moment. No doctoring of the image was necessary to see them as shown.

I know it can be hard to read every comment on your website, especially if your organisation publishes a news website – but if you do not handle such cases, then you’re likely to lose readers (like me!) who visit your site in search of interesting, timely news. Spam on your site, even if it’s just in the comments, means that the website and its authors do not care about their reader’s feedback. So you’re just pushing news bits on your site, without a bigger story? Even that looks like a (mild) form of spam to me…

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Toni Ahvenainen has had a busy year 2014, or at least, that’s what I think he had after seeing his “Year of the Alpha” website. Here is the essence of his year-long project:

Idea of this photo blog is to share minimum of 2 photographs every week (Wednesdays and Saturdays) taken with Sony Alpha camera system and a small diary like description go with it.

He has accomplished his goal of publishing at least 104 pictures; his counter is up to 130. In my view, he did a fine job: you can tell that he’s a “visual” person, with a keen eye (he’s a graphical artist and web designer).

(Click the picture to go to Toni's website)

(Click the picture to go to Toni’s website)

A blog is not the best way to publish photos, of course, so if it’s pictures you want to see, head over to his Flickr album (you’ll find the link on his “Photographer” page). But I love reading about how and why he made his pictures, and how he chose the shots for his blog. At times, he will make you think about your view of a photograph or even a photographic meme. That’s why I recommend reading his blog as well.

And no, you don’t have to be a Sony Alpha camera buff to enjoy the pictures ;-)

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I did not post on December 23rd, 2014, but nevertheless I am a bit proud that I managed to keep this blog / website alive for 15 years. Although started as an experiment, this site soon became important to me. Not because my readership is that large or important, but because it helps me reflect on what goes on in my life and in the world. Bacause it helps me think about the best way to formulate my opinion.

Anyway, the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Don’t expect any surprises (except, perhaps, the number of countries that sent visitors to this blog!).

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From “Mustapha Hamoui’s Geek Blog::

Like email, the personal blog’s technology is not owned and controlled by a company. It’s a decentralized technology that goes whenever you go. If you choose to follow a blog, no company like facebook can decide whether or not you can read its posts. So don’t hesitate to blog away. If you think blogs are dying, ask yourself: Are emails going away anytime soon?

Right on. And don’t you call email “exciting”!

Click to image to read about "The Blog as Literary Genre"

Click to image to read about “The Blog as Literary Genre”

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We all turn to the Wikipedia from time to time, whenever we need a bit of authoritative info about a subject. You may not have noticed it, but the “look and feel” of Wikipedia essentially hasn’t changed in a decade. As an encyclopedia the Wikipedia focuses on its content, and the accessibility of that content in terms of search and navigation. “Content” is also the focus you’ll find in most Wiki software, and the basis of the Wikipedia is of course Wiki software called MediaWiki.

Ten years is a long time in the history of the web, and things have changed since the start of Wikipedia. Ten years ago, personal computers were the only way to access the web; today, an ever increasing number of users surfs the web on smartphones, tablets, PC’s and smart TV’s. Ten years ago, producing information for the Wikipedia was essential to get it up and running as an broad encyclopedia; these days, I’m guessing there are relatively much more consumers than writers of Wikipedia content. Ten years ago, there was only a web interface to interact with the Wikipedia; today there are apps on all kinds of platforms to access all or parts of its content in a specific form on all those different types of devices.

Thus it should not come as a surprise that someone decided to apply the user interface lessons of the last decade to the Wikipedia: meet WikiWand.

The Dutch entry for "Thee" ("Tea") in Google Chrome on a Mac

The Dutch entry for “Thee” (“Tea”) in Google Chrome on a Mac

There are two ways to use WikiWand: you can either access the Wikipedia through the WikiWand website (just use the search in the top right corner), or you can install the WikiWand browser plugin (for Chrome, Firefox or Safari) and set it up to be your default way of using the Wikipedia. I’m currently trying out the website, and I must admit: it looks good, on my Mac as well as on a smartphone. The smartphone version is perhaps a bit too visual, putting all the pictures before the text of the lemma. But the navigation menu on the left allows you to jump to wherever you want, so many pictures are only a problem if you access the web over a slow (and possibly expensive) network connection.

The Dutch entry for "Thee" ("Tea") in Google Chrome on an Android smartphone

The Dutch entry
for “Thee” (“Tea”)
in Google Chrome
on an Android smartphone

That’s all good, but a question remains. WikiWand is a commercial enterprise. So how will they be making money, without “ripping off” the Wikimedia Foundation? That remains to be seen: WikiWand says it wants to add “contextually-relevant ads for textbooks, articles and courses”, with 30 percent of its profits being donated to the Wikimedia Foundation – but only the future will tell whether they can stick to that “education only” ad policy…

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