Welcome WordPress 3.6 — and HTML5

The up-to-the-second version of WordPress hit the Internet today. It's Christmas and Bastille Day all in one. Put on the party hats ... and start brewing coffee. The count brings us to WordPress 3.6, and true to WP upgrades it's named after a jazz master. This time, it's Oscar Peterson, the great Canadian pianist and "maharaja of the keyboard." (Yes, they've already used Monk. Geesh.) New elements include a built-in HTML5 media player accommodating native audio and video embeds. This is … [Read more...]

Entropy, links & redirects

"Entropy requires no maintenance," said the noted agnostic mystic Robert Anton Wilson. But your links do. People throw around the term entropy, to physicists' horror. It's hard to discuss accurately without getting into thermodynamics -- fun! -- but the pop-science bottom line is clear enough: Entropy increases. Things fall apart. Anyone who's owned a web site for a while knows that perfectly good links often go bad. 404 bad. Weird redirects bad. Strange spammy landing pages bad. We've … [Read more...]

Curses! Dealing with 4-letter words

I used to work for an entertainment industry trade publication, written for the good people of Hollywood. For a fairly conservative paper, it had a liberal commonsense policy on profanity: If the word occurs naturally, use it. If the quote includes the word fuck, use it. If there is no good reason to swear in print, don't. "It's not a family newspaper," was the saying on the copydesk. This worked out well. I think I set that policy ages ago, and I continue with it on my own blogs. I … [Read more...]

The tao of Dash Rip Rock

Unless you're famous or incredibly well connected, it's lonely work starting a blog. Especially before the search engines acknowledge you're there. The traffic comes in single digits, no one comments and there are only a couple of posts to show for all your efforts setting up the site. The temptation is to slide and wait for the action. It could be a long wait. In the early stages it's important that new bloggers write as if they had a large enthusiastic audience. Make every word … [Read more...]

Writing alt tags that matter

We all know about alt country, alt rock and now even alt classical, but what about alt tags? A little background: The alt tag (or alt attribute -- the proper name) replaces web site images for someone not able to view them. Such as blind people or dumb search engines. Alt tags are found in the html code that controls display of graphics. The tags were designed as an aid for people with text-only browsers or those with crappy dial-up connections who turned off the slow-loading graphics. … [Read more...]

Fear of blogging: The lay of the land

I once had a client seeking better visibility for his landscaping web site. He was a good guy, in the country a few years out of Israel. The landscaper showed me beautiful color images of his work, spread out there on the kitchen table. He didn't have the budget to upgrade his web site, which was a mess. I suggested doing a simple blog. One with a minimalist WordPress theme designed to show off images. I'd done something similar for an interior designer the year before. He hated the … [Read more...]

SEO black hats: Out of style

To me, amateur SEO is a bit like amateur dentistry. Or amateur hair styling, if you prefer. In all likelihood, nothing good is going to happen, and quite possibly something really bad will happen. Every now and then I have a client or friend who experiments with some hot new SEO technique. Never once have I seen one of these DIY efforts succeed. Most jailhouse SEO advice out there is outdated or dangerous or just plain stupid. And even if it were good advice, most non-pros wouldn't know … [Read more...]