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News, views, tips and tricks on Oracle and other fun stuff
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Oracle Blog World Exclusive

A blog world exclusive, that’s how Mark Rittman broke the news about Tom Kyte’s new beard. Now, the list of top ten beards needs to be updated.

By the way, on a completely different topic, I spent a good portion of the weekend upgrading my blog to WordPress 2.3. It has tags now. It also has a new look.

4 Comments | Filed in Oracle | Tags: ,


Find Out If Your Blog Is Usable, Accessible or Simply Good

Tom Johnson has a list of twenty usability tips for your blog. Does your blog follow these principles that distinguish good blogs from poor ones? I believe that mine does. Here is why. My blog:

  • Has a tag line that clearly identifies the topic of the blog: News, views, tips and tricks on Oracle, ColdFusion and other fun stuff. Although, the focus has been mostly on Oracle.

  • Allows comments and does not require readers to register before commenting. At one time, I turned comment registration on. That was before I discovered this WordPress plugin: Math Comment Spam Protection.

  • Provides the option to be notified of follow-up comments via e-mail and RSS, thanks to Subscribe to Comments WordPress plugin.

  • Makes it easy to subscribe to the blog’s feed by placing an orange RSS button in a highly visible location (the menu bar at the top). Moreover, the Subscribe Me WordPress plugin adds site subscription links to popular RSS readers, and Feedburner Feed Replacement plugin forwards all feed traffic to Feedburner.

  • Offers an e-mail subscription to the latest posts.

  • Has an About page to tell the reader who I am.

  • Has a Contact page to give the reader the option to contact me offline, thanks to the WP Contact Form III plugin for WordPress.

  • Includes visuals (graphs, charts, photos, blockquotes, videos…) in blog posts. Here is an example.

  • Has mostly short blog posts. Unless they are extremely useful or interesting, I do not have time to read long posts on other blogs and I figure other people do not have the time to read my long posts either.

  • Has subheadings for long posts. Here is an example.

  • Is generous in linking to other blogs and websites. Here is an example.

  • Clearly describes posts’ content in the posts’ titles. You judge for yourself.

  • Archives posts by category.

  • Has a search feature and with the Google Sitemap Generator plugin for WordPress, Google visits my blog very frequently, quickly making it searchable on the net as well.

  • Has a list of related posts beneath each post, thanks to these WordPress plugins: Ultimate Tag Warrior and ST Add Related Posts to Feed.

  • Does not have confidential, overly-emotional, rude, or unprofessional posts. I’m not an emotional guy anyway and I’m nice overall.

  • Has a “top posts” section in the sidebar (or bottombar) thanks to WP-PostViews WordPress plugin.

  • Has a “recent posts” section in the sidebar (or bottombar).

  • Has a “top commentators” section in the sidebar (or bottombar), thanks to Show Top Commentators WordPress plugin.

  • Has a sitemap or index page, thanks to Sitemap Generator WordPress plugin.

  • Has a URL that nearly matches the title of the blog. The URL of my blog is awads.net/wp, the title of my blog is Eddie Awad’s blog. Close enough.

  • Is refreshed with new posts on a regular basis. I used to post at least 4 times a week, but with two kids, a full time job and project deadlines looming, I try to post at least once a week on average.

And here are some additional usability measures I think are also important and worth mentioning:

  • Has a white background color. To me, It’s just more readable having dark text on light background.

  • Makes it easy to share posts Web 2.0 style, thanks to the Share This WordPress plugin and FeedFlare.

  • Publishes a full-text feed instead of a truncated one. Here is why I switched to a full-text feed and here are more thoughts about this subject.

  • Has useful and interesting content (at least to me). After all, what’s a blog without good content?

5 Comments | Filed in Tips, WordPress | Tags: , ,


Blog Comments

Just a quick note to say that some comment posts from my dear readers are being mistakenly caught by my anti-spam plugin and buried with hundreds of daily spam comments. This is getting out of hand and frustrating not only for me but for anyone who spends valuable time writing a comment just to find it disappear.

To solve this issue, and the issue of comment spam all together, I have decided to turn comment login on, which means that if you want to submit a comment, you will have to register first. I know this will bring the number of readers willing to leave a comment considerably down. But at least, this will make sure that your comment will not be “lost in spam”. Sorry for the inconvenience.

2 Comments | Filed in WordPress | Tags: ,


Bring your old posts to life

By using the following two plugins, I was able to increase the page views on my blog by almost fifty percent. If you have a WordPress blog and don’t use these two plugins, you’re missing on features that can make your blog more useful and help your readers find your old posts a lot easier.

Ultimate Tag Warrior

This plugin allows you to add tags either through the Write Post page, on posts using an AJAXy box, or in posts using a special syntax. From the Write Post page, you can also get suggestions for tags using Tagyu or Yahoo.

You can see this plugin in action here on my blog. At the end of each post there is a list of tags that describe what the post is about and also links to posts that share all or some tags with the current post. Clicking on a tag lists all posts tagged with the selected tag. For example, click here to view a list of all posts tagged with sql. There is also the tag archives page that lists all tags in a tag cloud format. Moreover, the tag search page is a quick and easy way to list posts for a tag or a group of tags.

Landing Sites

This plugin checks if a visitor has come from a search engine (like Google or Yahoo for example), and uses their search terms to display links to related content on your blog. This plugin also allows you to display targeted and relevant advertisements only for visitors coming from search engines.

To see it in action, click here to search Google for oracle firefox extension. On the Google search results page click the link to this blog. When you land on the relevant post, you will see the welcome message with the related links and ad on the top of the post. The welcome message is only shown when a visitor reaches the blog from search engines.

Combined with quality content, the two plugins will definitely increase the page views on your blog and help visitors find posts that otherwise are buried deep in your blog archives.

Download:

Comments Off | Filed in WordPress | Tags: ,


Weekend Spam Harvest

Here is my blog’s spam harvest for the weekend:

My blog spam

Most of the spam comments start with:

  • Very good site. Thanks for author!
  • Your site is very cognitive. I think you will have good future.
  • Great website! Bookmarked! I am impressed at your work!
  • HI! I love this place!

And then followed by tens of links to you know what…

What have I done to deserve such love from spammers? :( I’m sure I’m not alone.

Thank you Akismet.

6 Comments | Filed in WordPress | Tags: ,


I’m upgraded and updated

It is Sunday night and I’m sitting next to my wife Jasmine on the sofa in front of the TV. Jasmine is watching “Big Love” on HBO (a series about a guy who is married to three wives, poor guy!), and I have my laptop on my lap, trying to write some thoughts.

Well, I finally did it. I upgraded my blog to the latest WordPress version (currently at 2.0.2). And while I was at it, I also switched to a new WordPress theme. I hope you like it. I wanted to avoid changing the look of the blog, but the old theme was not compatible with WordPress 2.0. Moreover, I used a few new WordPress plugins, you can see all of them here.

Speaking of upgrades, take this simple example:

select nvl(nvl(nvl(null, null),null),4) from dual

What’s wrong with it? Well, having an “upgraded” database version, from 8i to 9i for example, gives you the option to write it like this:

select coalesce(null,null,null,4) from dual

Upgrades are good. But hey, upgrades are not as simple as they sound. Heck, I spent all Sunday afternoon and evening upgrading my simple and small blog. How long will it take to upgrade, not one, but multiple Oracle databases and make sure that nothing breaks in the process. Testing an upgrade is often the most time consuming part of the upgrade process.

8 Comments | Filed in Oracle, Technology, WordPress | Tags: , ,


A Blogger.com Alternative

If you’ve been looking around for a free blogging platform to publish your great ideas (or move your current blog), and you like to try out something new and different, wordpress.com may be what you’re looking for.

Previously, in order to get a blog on wordpress.com you had to have an invitation. But now it’s open to the public. I like WordPress, in fact this very blog is powered by WordPress.

On another note, It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow here in the US. So, enjoy your turkeys everyone and have a safe Holiday.

4 Comments | Filed in Interesting | Tags: ,


My WordPress Plugins

I like WordPress. I used to be a big Blogger.com fan, in fact, I still have my old blogspot blog. But, since I moved to WordPress, I realized how limited Blogger.com was and how amazing WordPress is. The fact that you can extend WordPress with the use of plugins, makes this blogging package even more powerful. Here is the list of plugins I currently have installed on this site: Continue reading…

1 Comment | Filed in Personal, Technology | Tags: ,