Technorati authority for wordpress.com blogs

This has been bugging me for sometime now: how to display the technoratiy authority in a wordpress.com blog?

The chicklet provided by Technorati is, of course, working with Javascript, which means is useless for wordpress.com blogs.

Technorati has a rich api, but it requires some programming to use it. The solution cannot be programmatic, as we have no access to the .com blog code, and cannot employ external servers, because it is not a wordpress.com solution then.

After experimenting a lot with XSLT and producing an XSL document capable of giving the proper authority number for a blog, I dumped this approach, because, again, there is no way of incorporating the XSL solution in a wordpress.com blog.

I turned them to Yahoo pipes having in mind to transform the authority number into a feed and display it through a wordpress.com feed widget.

Since I am a newbie in Yahoo Pipes, I looked around for similar solutions and found the many pipes provided by engtech.

Then I was able to construct the one I wanted!

Ingredients:
a. You need to sign up in Technorati and get an API key.
b. You need to open a yahoo account (if you don’t have one already) and register for yahoo pipes.
c. Create a new pipe following the diagram below. The two points that you need to differentiate yourselves, are the API key (enter the one provided to you by Technorati), and your blog url.

d. Run the pipe and get the RSS feed url.
e. Enter the feed url in a wordpress rss widget, add the title of your liking and there you are!
You can check mine at the bottom of the sidebar. Of course, it need some formating to look like the real chicklet, but I will leave that for a future post.

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Readburner chicklets for WordPress.com blogs

This is not a how to blog, but, as it is still under construction, I will blog about all the little tricks I apply here, that might have some use for the rest of the wordpress.com folks.

Here is a little nice one.

Problem:

Readburner is a service that aggregates all blogposts shared in NewsGator Online, Google Reader and Netvibes.

By counting the number of shares, it creates a popularity list. In effect, this is a truly democratical social bookmarking system, without the hickups of Digg and its likes.

Readburner provides its users with some nice widgets in the form of little chicklets, that display essential statistical measures.

The chicklets come in three flavors:

  • Item of a specific user (i.e. his share page) registed with Readburner.
  • Items authored by someone.
  • Items of a specific source (say, a blog with many authors).

Readburner provides some javascript code that allows anyone to generate the chicklets for his part.

Now, I wanted to put such a readburner chicklet in my sidebar, but I stumbled on the usual wordpress.com problem: no javascript allowed.

Solution:

Since javascript is not allowed, we have to find a way of displaying the chicklet through pure html.

Let’s see what a chicklet is composed of:

  • an image (the colored rectangle of the chicklet)
  • a number (the counted items)
  • a link (the link to the relevant page in readburner)

As a matter of fact, the number is in the image, so we have to find just two things: the image url and the link url.

  • User.

( The number here is my number from the google reader shared items url http://www.google.com/reader/shared/11232096483858520222.

You have to figure out yours, and replace this one):

The required urls are of the following type:

Image: http://readburner.com/fire/shares.gif?user=11232096483858520222

Link: http://readburner.com/u/11232096483858520222

and the actual html code should be:

<a href=”http://readburner.com/u/11232096483858520222″&nbsp; target=”_blank” title=””>

<img src=”http://readburner.com/fire/shares.gif?user=11232096483858520222&#8243; alt=””/>

</a>

which produces:

 

  • Author:

Image: http://readburner.com/fire/shares.gif?author=Nikos%20Anagnostou

Link: http://readburner.com/u/Nikos Anagnostou

and the actual html code should be:

<a href=”http://readburner.com/u/Nikos Anagnostou” target=”_blank” title=””>

<img src=”http://readburner.com/fire/shares.gif?author=Nikos%20Anagnostou&#8221; alt=””/>

</a>

which produces:

 

  • Source:

Image: http://readburner.com/fire/shares.gif?source=webtropic

Link: http://readburner.com/source/webtropic

and the actual html code should be:

<a href=”http://readburner.com/source/webtropic&#8221; target=”_blank” title=””>

<img src=”http://readburner.com/fire/shares.gif?source=webtropic&#8221; alt=””/>

</a>

which produces:

 

To figure out the proper links for yourselves, first of course you have to add your shared items url in readburner. Then replace your name, blog name or user id in the above code and paste it in a text widget in wordpress.

As I said, I am using Google Reader. The other services might have some slight variations in the url schemes, I did not bother to check. Please do for yourselves.

Good luck and ..happy sharing!

WordPress.com: get more juice out of it

Let me start by stating that I love wordpress. I love it as an open source project, as a blogging platform, as a business model (.com, that is) and as a community, in general.

I started working with WordPress in September 2006. By the February of 2007, I already wanted to migrate to my own hosted installation. I run one ever since but, yet, for this blog, I chose to return back to .com.

The hosted wordpress gives a lot of flexibility. The most important  capability you have in a hosted wordpress, one not found in wordpress.com blogs,  is that you can run javascript and flash for plugins, ads, widgets, or your own hacks.
The support for plugins is critical. There are  so many of them out there, I am sure someone   can make your wildest blog dreams come true.

The downside is that you have to take care of updating and upgrading, figure out how to deal with high traffic, malevolent attacks and lots of other things that keep a sys admin awake at night.
Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but, certainly, one has more work to do with a hosted wordpress.

When I decided to start this blog, I wanted to avoid this extra hassle. I have my greek blog to experiment with, it works fine, I am happy with it, but that’s about it. Doubling the hours I spend for sys admin tasks, won’t make me a better blogger.

So I turned back to wordpress.com and started looking for things that can ease the restrictions that the default offering entails. Here is what I found:

a. Themes
With wordpress.com you get a limited number of themes, most of them not to my taste, but with an extra 15$ per year you can buy the CSS upgrade. Having access to the css file, allows you to play a lot with a theme’s look and feel.

It is not a trivial task, but lots of people with a little guidance may utilize the option.  Most  will find it easy enough to change fonts and colors while, with a little bit of extra effort, some borders, paddings and margins can be tackled too.

A CSS guru,  playing with positioning, dimensions, background image properties etc,  can make the theme look entirely different from  the original. To learn CSS, you can start here.

b. Media
WordPress.com gives 3Gb of storage space per blog and, given the falling prices of storage,I predict  this is going to go up. Yet, this amount of storage suffices for one to live his whole life and never  ‘consuming’ it, provided he follows a clever media storing tactic : upload images and photos to the likes of flickr, picasa or imageshack. Upload videos and sound file to any video hosting site.
While wordpress.com supports only Youtube, Google Video and DailyMotion for the time being, there is one more extremely useful  option (still beta): vodpod.
comes in two flavors: as a firefox plugin (it didn’t work with FF3 though, till the time of writing) or as a simple bookmarklet.
With the vodpod  you can insert any video in the wordpress editor.  So, if you have lots of videos of your own, first choose a video hosting site, upload the videos there, and then with vodpod embed them in your posts. Check my post with the video of Matt and you will see that it is actually coming from blip.tv.

Saving media in external sites is a good practice anyway. Avoids single point of failure. If I choose to export the blog and transfer it elsewhere, the media links will work immediately without having to move a single file.

c. Feed
Now, this is a tricky one. Most bloggers would like to have a feedburner chicklet to display their feed subscribers. Provided they have a feed ‘burned’ in feedburner, this is perfectly feasible with wordpress.com: you can copy the chicklet code in one of the text widgets provided and it will work nicely.
The problem is that, in this way, you do not actually redirect your feed to feedburner. Two feeds exist seperately: the default one, and the one constructed by feedburner, which meanr that there are two different feed urls also.
To have a unified feed would require an plugin such as  that one is not allowed to install. Remember? No plugins can be installed by users in wordpress.com blogs.

This means that your standard wordpress feed address is still there for people to use and will ‘lurk’  underneath the feed icon in the address area or a toolbar.
Those subscribed to the standard wordpress feed will not show in the feedburner chicklet.
There are no technical means to remedy this (not to my knowledge, at least) but one can apply some psychological techniques: use a feed icon of your own (same process as the chicklet above) and place it as close to the top of the page as possible. Grab the attention of the visitor. You can perfom a heatmap test to check whether your feed icon is visible enough. Use feng-gui to produce a heatmap. Here is an example of mine.

That’s about it.  Tell me whether you found it useful.

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