Category Archives: General

MacPorts Commands

I use MacPorts to handle my installs of apache, php, etc. on my Mac. If you are using MacPorts on your Mac like I am, you may want to remember these handy codes to manage your MacPorts packages.

sudo port selfupdate

Update MacPorts to the latest version

port installed

List installed packages

sudo port upgrade outdated

Automatically upgrade outdated packages

With MacPorts, it really is that simple to install and then make sure you have the most current version. I love it, and I highly recommend it to everyone else.

Elgg SEO: How to Fix Your Title Tags

Update #1: My changes have been rolled into the current development version of Elgg, so they should be in the next release. So if you don’t want to implement these changes yourself, you should be ok waiting for the upgrade.

Update #2: The title tag for pages and files did make it into Elgg 1.5, but the blog title tag change got regressed somehow. If it was not an accident, then they did it on purpose. Either way, it is very amateurish in my opinion, which continues to be one of my complaints about Elgg. Anyway, you can still apply the fix below exactly as described, and it will work.

I’ve been writing about recently, and more importantly, how to improve it. I have said that Elgg needs some attention to SEO to be a serious solution. Even though Elgg developers have taken my suggestions recently, I couldn’t wait any longer and took it upon myself to dig into the Elgg source code.

My goal was to improve Elgg SEO by creating unique title tags within the content. I was able to create unique title tags for blog posts, pages and files, by adding the post title to title tag in the header, so that each title tag is formatted like this, “Site Name : Title.”

Here’s how you can do the same thing step by step.

To give your blog posts a unique title tag, go to mod/blog/read.php and uncomment line 38. Here’s how it should read.

$title = sprintf(elgg_echo("blog:posttitle"),$page_owner->name,$blogpost->title);

Now your blog post title tags should read, “Site Name: username’s blog: Post title.”

Next up is pages. To give your pages a unique title tag, go to mod/pages/view.php and insert this code on line 40.

$title = $pages->title;

Now your page title tags should read, “Site Name: Page title.”

Changing the file title tags was a lot harder, because there is not really a file view. You have to change it in the entity view. Up to this point, we have been modifying plugins files, which is fine because we are not modifying the core Elgg files. This means those changes won’t get erased by upgrading your Elgg installation.

But modifying the entity view requires modifying core Elgg files, so proceed at your own risk. To make the change, open up entitiesindex.php. Insert this code on line 40.

$title = $entity->title;

Modify line 57 to look like this.

page_draw($title, $body);

Then on line 60 insert this code.

echo $title;

Now your file title tags should read, “Site Name: File title.”

These were small improvements, but hopefully it will pay off in more search engine traffic to your Elgg site. I’ve submitted these changes to the Elgg code base here, here and here. Hopefully, the developers will consider integrating these improvements into the actual code.

I’ve tested this code, and it works. But I am not a developer, so if I’ve made any mistakes, I welcome suggestions for improvement. If this would be better done as plugin, I would love to have someone come up with an Elgg SEO plugin, as well.

End Mountaintop Removal

So this is a bit off topic, but it’s personal blog. Deal with it. This is too important of an issue to not say anything about it. I’m always amazed to see how much disregard humans can have for their surroundings. This applies to many things, but in this case, I am talking about the environment.

Mountaintop removal is something I am hearing about for the first time, but now that I am aware of it, I am completely sickened by it. Mountaintop removal is a radical form of coal mining where entire mountains are literally blown up — devastating communities throughout Appalachia, polluting drinking water and destroying rivers. How can we do this to ourselves? Does no one realize the consequences of this?  If we allow this type of destruction to continue, there will be nothing left, and nature will be a memory.

Check out this site, http://www.ilovemountains.org/, and see this for yourself. See if a plant near you is using coal from mountaintop removal mines. Then, make others aware of it. I am guessing that most Americans have no idea this is going on. The more public awareness we can create the better chance we have of stopping it soon.

I am very close to it, being in East Tennessee. It is happening in Kentucky, and according to this site, the Bull Run Steam plant, which is near me, is using this type of coal. I really hope something can be done.

Job Change

It’s probably safe to announce now that I am changing jobs. I have been with Mediapulse in Knoxville, TN for almost 3 years. I decided to change jobs a few months ago, and ended up getting hired by Scripps Networks to do front end development. Scripps owns HGTV, Food Network, Fine Living, DIY and GAC.

I’m really excited about this opportunity. At the same time, I’m sad to leave Mediapulse. When you put a lot of your life into something, it’s always hard to leave. Mediapulse is a great company, and I wish them all the best in the future.

Successful Hosting Not Successful at Keeping Their Websites Online

My web sites were down twice this week, and I had to contact tech support to get them back online. This is not a usual occurrence, but it was very annoying. This week I got an e-mail from my hosting company, Successful Hosting, entitled “Notification of Scheduled Maintenance.” Here is what the e-mail said:

Dear Valued Customer,

This is to inform you of a change window scheduled on Sunday October 28th, 2007, starting at approximately 3 A.M Eastern Time, and ending Sunday October 28th, 2007 at approximately 10 P.M Eastern Time. During this change window we will be moving all clients from Baltimore to our new Andover MA, Data Center. Please be aware that this is a client impacting event and there will be downtime during this move. We will make every attempt to get servers back online quicker than the window and will keep you fully informed during this move process.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this move. We are confident that this move will result in an increase to your overall client experience. Along with being hosted in world class data center in our Andover facility the new platform will offer greater stability, flexibility and extensibility to your hosted applications.

So yesterday, which was Saturday, I woke up to find all my sites were down. My guess was that they started the server move a day early, but I had no way of knowing because I never received any notification of this. I went to the company forums to find out, but I had to have an account to view the forum and to post. I registered for an account, and then received notification that a moderator would have to approve my registration. So I waited for for my registration to be approved.

Once my registration was approved five hours later, I was able to login to the forums where I found the posts stating that they decided to move the scheduled maintenance up one day to Saturday instead of Sunday. This notification was not posted until 1:30 PM on Friday, October 26th and no e-mails were sent out, so if you do not check the forums you would have no way of knowing this is the case.

So to recap, they notified us that our sites that were hosted with them would be down for 20 hours on Sunday, then they decided to change it to Saturday one day before without notifying anyone. So their plan for the move is to unplug all the servers, move them to a new data center, plug them back up and turn them on, while all the sites and e-mail on those boxes is down. WTF? Isn’t there a better way to do this? I don’t know much about hosting, but it seems that would be the case to me.

Well, once their clients started to complain in the forums, they decided to moderate that thread so that no one could post in it unless it was an update on the status of the move by one of the mods or it was a client saying something positive. Again, not a good decision in my opinion. I understand the need to keep the forum productive so that updates can be posted, but it is not a good move to piss your clients off and then censor the negative reactions.

So I resigned myself to the fact that my sites were down, and there was nothing I could do about it until 10PM. Throughout the night, the mod kept posting updates saying that everything was still on track to be back online by 10PM. I questioned that after this status update that was posted at 6:55 P.M EST.

1)the truck is currently located: 1-2 hours away

2)approximate time it will take to arrive and unload: 1 hours

3)approximate time it will take to re-assemble/re-rack the servers?
2 hours

As far as I can tell, we’re still on schedule to meed the 10:00 P.M deadline.

So if you add this up, they are saying it will take 5 hours to complete the process. With 3 hours left, how could they be on track for 10PM? Well, as it happened they weren’t. I checked up until 12AM, and things were not back online yet, so I went to bed. When I got up, things were back online, but not until 2:30 AM apparently, going by the posts in the forum.

So things being as they are, there is not much to be done at this point. I am extremely displeased with the way this went. I don’t think it could have gone worse. But they have said this is a one time move that will greatly improve performance, so what can you do? Well, we will see if things improve. If my sites continue to go down like they have this week, I will be looking to move.

Recent Site Launches – 10/5/07

We have launched several sites this year that I worked on. I didn’t design these, but I built all of them. I haven’t been linking to any of them or added any of them to my portfolio yet. I’m sure will get around to updating my portfolio again soon. Hopefully. Anyway, check them out and leave feedback if you are so inclined.

  1. Blount Chamber
  2. Blount EDB
  3. East Tennessee Graphics
  4. NTRCI
  5. SC Capital
  6. East Tennessee Economic Development Agency
  7. Wagner, Myers & Sanger
  8. Hallsdale Powell Utility District
  9. Gatlinburg Dept. of Tourism

Update: I moved this to a permanent page here. You can now go there to see the running list of site launches.

Formerly Known as Design by CSS and SEO Profile

Today I am announcing that I am taking my SEO blog and my Web Design blog and combining them into one. The reason why is that I found myself wanting to talk about things other than SEO and CSS. I also found myself not wanting to maintain the two different blogs. So I decided to combine both blogs into one and rename it. This way I can talk about anything I want to in addition to marketing and design. I also eliminated all previous attempts at branding, and am simply branding the new blog under my own name since they were always personal blogs to begin with. All the same content that existed before is still here. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks.

No Boston PubCon 2007?

Okay, so I’m going to guess and say that it looks like there will be no PubCon in Boston this year. I know that the Boston PubCon is not really an annual event like the Las Vegas PubCon, but I went to the Boston PubCon last year. I really enjoyed it, and I was hoping there would be another one this year.

Last year’s was in April though, and I remember that by February it had been announced. Now that we are in February, and it has not been announced yet, I don’t think it will be unless they are planning it for sometime later than April. With the big one most likely being in Vegas again in the fall, I don’t think it will happen. I imagine that Webmaster World will be putting all their energy into that one. Well, maybe I will go to that one this year since it is supposed to be the best one.

I wrote about my experience at Boston PubCon last year, here.

SEO Profile Redesign

If you are not reading this blog through a feed reader, then you may have noticed the redesign. I just did it today, live on the site, in case you were clicking around on the site while it was going on.

It’s not very fancy, but then neither was the old one. I wanted to redesign it because I just recently started blogging more and I was getting tired of the old design. Plus, the blog has been live for over a year now, and I believe you should redesign your site every 1 to 2 years to keep it fresh. Anyway, I hope you like it. If you have any thoughts either way, let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

I’m Not Doing SEO Right Now

I haven’t spent a lot of time on this blog since I launched it. I think there are only 42 posts here right now. I guess that is because I’m not really doing any SEO right now. Most of what I do involves putting together web sites for the company I work for. Part of that includes things most people would consider SEO, but I’m not really actively doing it.

I am actively doing SEM, but for my own stuff. So I guess that counts. I do read many SEO blogs everyday, so I keep track of what is going on. I think the SEO world is changing though. SEO has become more about marketing and less about keyword placement and things like that. I think that is a good thing. You have to look at the overall picture, and not just one part of it.

Anyway, since I signed up for the Review Me service, all of my posts have been paid reviews. I like that I can make money through this site, but I don’t want it to become a collection of paid reviews. That said, I have another one to write. Shoemoney is paying for a review on my site, and I would have done that one for free. So next up is a post about Shoemoney.