If you're looking for a way to hold your blog in your hands, BlogBinders.com offers a simple and clever service to turn your blog into an attractive, customized book. BlogBinders supports LiveJournal, Movable Type, and TypePad.
Later this week, we'll be unveiling a new redesign of the various Six Apart websites (Movable Type, TypePad and Six Apart corporate site). Hopefully, the changes that have been made will convey our desire to present all of Six Apart's websites in a cohesive and standard way. We've worked with the folks at Mule Design to make this redesign possible and, I think, you'll be happy with the results.
One of the coolest things about the redesign is that all the pages are generated through Movable Type. At a later date, we're going to be releasing a case study on just what we did so that our customers and users can get an even better idea on what can be done with Movable Type. Additionally, we're placing an emphasis on case studies and highlighting weblogs, so if you've been wanting to show off what you've done with our tools, we'll definitely have the space to showcase.
News and weblogs will appear throughout the sites -- just as they do today. And, Mena's Corner will continue to exist (with the eventual inclusion of a moblog element to document the growing company).
Rather than suddenly spring this redesign on our readers and customers, I just wanted to give a heads-up about relaunch so that we can prepare everyone and open the lines for feedback. We're constantly tweaking the site and this is going to be a 1.0 redesign. Feedback will be greatly appreciated once we've launched and we'll be certain to make tweaks and changes based on the comments we receive.
And don't worry, there haven't been any licensing changes or pricing changes. The design is all about organization, structure and information.
Google's just announced their AdWords API beta, letting you access the reporting system for your ad campaigns using a SOAP interface.
There's some terrific potential for adjusting content and campaigns to be even more responsive to results, as well as outputting reporting functions into a weblog format using publishing APIs like Atom and Metaweblog. We'll be on the look out for creative uses of Google's new service.
It's not just a cool idea, it's a good inspiration for other clever hacks using GreaseMonkey. Be sure to let us know if you've got a similar cool idea.
This is an older script, but one that we get asked about a lot: ljcrosspost, a Movable Type plugin to send your entries to your LiveJournal. Now that LiveJournal and Movable Type are both part of the Six Apart family, you'll get extra warm fuzzies when you use the plugin.
Photon, Daikini Software's popular photo uploading application for Macs running OS X, is now available as a completely free download. It's a great easy way to export your images from iPhoto to Movable Type or TypePad, and now there's no reason not to try it if you're on a Macintosh.
A simple but very useful new plugin for Movable Type: Arithmetic. If you need to add, subtract, multiply, or divide in your templates, or manipulate variables that you're working with, it's a handy addition to your plugin toolbox.
In another attempt to organize the growing number of professional bloggers, the Pro-Bloggers Association has just launched. Like the similar Media Bloggers Association, a non-profit association to help raise the profile of people who are publishing sites for a living can only help to increase the number of people who see blogging as a legitimate business opportunity.
Aine, a Movable Type user writes quite a nice post entitled "I'm an MT user, and I'm not ashamed." As I wrote in her comments, it's rewarding to see someone take the time to write positive words about our company in an honest way (calling out of strengths and weaknesses).
It's incredibly easy to rant when you're upset about a service or company. But, writing when you're pleased is something that does not occur as often as it should.
This reminds me of an experience Barak, Loic and I experienced last week on a business trip in Europe. We had a multi-city trip planned (Paris, Frankfurt, London, Paris) but had yet to book the various legs until we were already in France. So, Barak booked online through the Lufthansa web site. After dealing with a particularly frustrating and hopeless online booking system for about an hour, Barak reserved our e-tickets.
When we went to the airport to fly to Frankfurt, we were informed that Barak had booked three tickets under his own name (why this behaviour is even allowed baffled us). The person at the airport told us there was nothing that she could do since the e-tickets had been already issues and names could not be changed. The only option was for us to purchase two additional tickets with Loic and my name on them for the price that they currently cost.
Needless to say, this was incredibly frustrating and the idea of paying more and possibly not being refunded for the original tickets left us uneasy. The woman at the ticket counter, who was unable to do anything about a refund, did however give Barak the number of one of Lufthansa's managers.
Once Barak was able to get a hold of Lydia M., the Management Team Assistant, she was incredibly helpful and accommodating. Lufthansa is notorious for rigid and unforgiving customer service and Lydia proved the exception. She not only told Barak how to apply for the refund over the phone, but she sent an email to him with detail information on the process. When we landed, she had already done most of the work.
To top things off, she sent Barak and email the next day that read:
Re our telephone conversation earlier today, please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience and added expenditure incurred due to an etix error. Please send me your original etix confirmation and your used/travelled etix. I will ensure your refund receives immediate attention.
It was incredibly refreshing to deal with such a friendly and helpful person at Lufthansa and her interaction with us not only made us happy for choosing to fly with Lufthansa, but also helped ease the annoyance we felt about the online booking service.
The power of weblogging enables us to point out the problems we have with services and companies (i.e. Kryptonite) in hopes for quick remedies and changes in policies and products. However, in order to be fair, it's important to remember to point out -- every once in a while -- when a company or a person at a company does something good.
Update: Jay recommended that I should encourage people to TrackBack to this entry with their own experience with great customer service. Basically, who has been your Lydia M and how has that affected your relationship with a company?
In following the Blog Business Summit online, I saw that Halley Suitt presented a talk entitled "True Voice: The Art and Science of Blog Writing" in which she cited Mena's Corner as one example of good corporate writing. Thanks to Halley for the compliment, especially since I've always believed that a strong personal voice is perhaps the most important element behind a successful weblog. Using Mena's Corner as an example makes me very happy since I try to keep it interesting.
That said, I do agree that it's probably better to write 12 posts rather than 12 paragraphs. I must say I'm guilty of verbosity when it comes to writing over here -- in fact, as a bit of trivia, the LiveJournal acquistion post was trimmed from 2,800 words to a measly 1,784. It's difficult to be succinct when there is so much back history to the news I post over here. And there is always such a build-up to our news that it becomes hard to write a post about 6 months of work in under 2,000 words. But perhaps that's the problem. If Mena's Corner suddenly goes bold in your news aggregator, the news shouldn't always be about funding or an acquisition. There's other things about Six Apart and weblogging that's worth mentioning.
Halley contrasted my early writings at dollarshort.org with my writings here. I took some time today to read through some of my old posts over there and see such a different person -- primarily that in 2001 I was not as afraid to portray myself as the odd card that I am. Even though I'm still peculiar, I try to hold back from writing these sort of posts now since they are often taken out of context and, as a representative for the company, don't want to seem too odd.
Still, we're an odd bunch here so that should show through a bit more.
If you're in Seattle today or tomorrow, you'll want to swing by the Blog Business Summit. I'll be speaking on Tuesday, and it's not too late to register if you've been procrastinating. The lineup looks very promising, and this is a nuts-and-bolts, practical conference focused on how to grow your business using blogs. If you're a Professional Network member, make sure to stop by and say hello.
Amazon DevCon is an event Amazon is hosting for their internal developers. The Amazon Web Services Developer Relations Team is live-blogging this excellent series of presentations on their Amazon Web Services Blog, which is powered by TypePad. There's also a Japanese version of the AWS blog.
The transcripts being posted are a must-read if you want to hear from the technologists who are influencing Amazon's developers. Niall Kennedy has collected some great excerpts from the presentations.
And if you're looking for a cool way to make use of Amazon's web services within Movable Type, the BookQueueToo plugin discussed earlier this week shows some best practices for integrating AWS into your weblog.
Steve Outing of Poynter Online says, "On Group Blogs, the Writers Come First". Steve's pointing out a design shortcoming in many group blogs, which list an author's name at the bottom of the post. While it's a subject that could certainly be debated, being clear about authorship of posts is an important consideration when designing a weblog with multiple authors.
Freshly Squeezed Software has just released PulpFiction 1.2, the new version of their aggregation client for Macs running OS X. There's a free trial if you haven't used the application before, and an upgrade version if you're already a PulpFiction user. New in this version is Smart Folders, enclosure support, and much more.
One of the coolest and least-heralded features of TypePad is the mixed-media templates, which let you combine photos and images into one clean layout. We've just revamped them completely to work better than ever and you can check out the details over on Everything TypePad.
And if you want to read more stirring thoughts from Byrne Reese, our TypePad product manager, check out the interview about BookQueueToo and QuickLink, the two new Movable Type plugins that Byrne's released.
rel="nofollow"link attribute in order to alert their search spider that a particular link shouldn't be factored into their PageRank calculations. The Yahoo and MSN search teams have also indicated they'd support this new spec, and we'll be implementing and deploying this specification as quickly as possible across all of our platforms around the world. * For TypePad subscribers, implementation will be automatic. Links from commenters will be flagged automatically in the next update, which will be deployed within the next 24 hours. * For Movable Type users, we're shipping a plugin today to enable support on Movable Type-powered sites. The Movable Type website has full details, including a download link. * LiveJournal also plans to implement the specification for comments from other members who are not friends. If you'd like more information about how the process works, we'll be posting a complete overview on the Professional Network site. We'll also be discussing more about the increasing need for link semantics on the web, especially now that there are millions of people contributing content to the web every day. The
rel="nofollow"specification is not the end-all mechanism of stopping comment spam, but it's a significant step, and a good partnership between weblogging vendors and search companies. It's also a great example of the speed at which a new specification can be developed, implemented, and deployed in this medium.
rel="nofollow"attribute for comment and TrackBack links with our platforms. With the introduction of the new spec, it's worth reviewing the initiative for Professional Network members who'd like an overview of the entire effort. * What is
nofollow? The HTML specification allows
atags for hyperlinks to include a
relattribute. This attribute is used to specify a link type describing the relationship between the document hosting the hyperlink and the document that is the target of the hyperlink.
Doug Bowman of StopDesign has posted an in-depth tutorial, complete with downloadable templates and screenshots of the end result, explaining how to create a beautiful and functional photo gallery using Movable Type. The results are astounding.
It's nice to see that one of the tools used to help build the gallery is Photon, which Doug discovered here on the Professional Network. We've also got an overview post listing techniques for working with photos in Movable Type.
Jason Levine's published a useful how-to offering instructions and code for migrating from Manila to Movable Type. The export files work with TypePad as well, and preserve comments and images stored in the database.
Over at Simian Design, an extremely useful Simple Character Entity Reference. Great for keeping your masculine ordinal indicators distinct from your pilcrow signs.
EarthLink is one of the biggest ISPs around, and they've just launched their first corporate weblog, EarthLink Protection Blog. The TypePad-powered blog is an attempt to educate customers about privacy, security, and malware, and it looks like it's off to a strong start, with a personable voice and a variety of interesting contributors. Thanks to Steve Rubel for the link.
Byrne Reese is our product manager for TypePad, but he's also a true geek whom you might know from his work on such fan-favorite Perl modules as SOAP::Lite.
Byrne's just released two new Movable Type plugins, QuickLink and his updated version of BookQueueToo, so it seemed like a good chance to interview him about Six Apart, his code, and blogging in general.
One of the favorite web services for many bloggers is Netflix, and there's been a rise in interesting blogs around the DVD rental service lately. The most famous is Hacking Netflix, a TypePad powered blog which has become the focus for Netflix fans across the web. In part due to the success of Hacking Netflix, the company started its own TypePad-powered blog, the Rochi Report, with observations and reviews from Netflix's film reviewer James Rocchi.
For true film geeks, GreenCine offers a wide range of more obscure films, and their Movable Type-powered GreenCine Daily blog has been a core part of their community efforts for more than a year and a half.
Due to a power failure affecting all of Internap's data center, LiveJournal is currently completely inaccessible, and we're waiting on Internap for an estimate when power will be restored. Once power is restored, the service will be brought back up slowly so that we can ensure data integrity. We'll update this post with an estimate for when the service will be brought back up once we hear back from Internap.
A clever bit of hackery from the folks at Technorati just launched today: Technorati: Using Technorati Tags.
By collecting all the Flickr images and del.icio.us links tagged with a particular word, and adding in all the weblog posts categorized with that same word, they've created tag pages on a wide range of topics. You can browse popular tags or check out individual words, if you want to track a single topic such as LiveJournal.
Shutterbug, one of the most popular magazines for photographers, has just published a piece entitled "How Photographers Are Making The Internet Work For Them". Covering some of the basics of photoblogging, and providing links to a few prominent sites, it's a good introduction to this important community:
Photographic enthusiasts tend to be rather individualistic—it is just you and your camera and it’s definitely not a team sport. However, once a photograph is made, what do you do with it? Rather than just filing pictures in shoe boxes once they are created, it is natural for most to want to share their view and perspective of the world, that dimension of reality and life they find interesting. A photoblog serves photo enthusiasts ideally to satisfy a need to “use” what they produce with a camera, in a free, individual, unstructured space that is open to all comers.
Some of the sites covered include Jinky Art and A Walk Through Durham Township, both powered by Movable Type, and Always Curious, which is powered by Movable Type. There's also a nice mention of Photoblogs.org, the great photoblogger community resource, which runs its news blog on TypePad.
If you'd like to start a photo blog yourself, you might want to check out our notes on Working with photos in Movable Type, Rannie Turningan's tips on photoblog thumbnails, or TypePad's mixed media templates, which let you combine photos and text, in addition to TypePad's built-in support for photo albums.
Brian Bailey has some great tips on Building a Better Blog on his TypePad-powered blog, Leave It Behind. Each one of them is well worth following.
IR Web Report, a site focused on investor relations, explains why corporate boards should blog. In short, in the era of Sarbanes-Oxley and increasing disconnects between corporate boards and shareholders, anything that encourages transparency can be a big win for both sides.
Blogging is a more honest and inclusive way of communicating on the Web because it is difficult for any one party to dominate the discourse. Shareholders would be able to comment on Web postings by directors and other commentators. They would also be able to post comments on their own blogs and have these linked from the board's blog. Anyone with a right to have their say as a shareholder would have an opportunity to do so.
Despite having a lot of different types of people around the office here at Six Apart, one thing that many of our staff has in common is being Apple geeks. Really big Apple geeks. So, it's good to see Brad Choate getting interviewed by MacCentral about the goodies announced at this year's Macworld Expo.
As pointed out in our Professional Network Introduction to LiveJournal, the Atom feed format and API are supported in Movable Type, TypePad, and LiveJournal, and Atom is fully extensible. For a look at some of the ways Atom can be extended, Nokia's LifeBlog, which integrates with TypePad, makes use of a set of posting extensions (PDF document) which are discussed over on the LifeBlog weblog.
Leslie Orchard has a great perspective on the GM blogs that have recently launched. Having a background in working with promotions in the automotive industry, Leslie's got a lot of praise for the surprising openness of the new effort. There's a lot of good choices that are worth emulating by other high-profile business blogs.
Amongst all the other announcements of this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Gizmodo scores a coup by being the first blog to interview Bill Gates. Like all the Gawker blogs, Gizmodo's powered by Movable Type, so we're especially proud of the Gizmodo team for being the first blog to get time with Microsoft's Chief Software Architect.
Keep your eyes peeled: Technorati is promising to announce the winner of their developer contest today. Good luck to all the entrants.
In a week of milestones for both our company and the whole weblog medium, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention one of the most remarkable: Bloggers made the cover of Fortune magazine.
Though it sounds like a lyric to a hip-hop song ("we're blogging on the cover of Fortune"), both of our co-founders Ben and Mena Trott are among those pictured in the magazine. And the article itself lists blogging as the most important technology trend to watch in the coming year. We can't help but agree.
In a similar vein, there's a nice follow-up to the naming of weblog pioneers as PC Magazine's People of the Year last month, as the MIT Technology Review blog has reminded everyone of their past accolades for the teams and acknowledged the omission of Paul Bausch from their original TR100 listing.
There's been lots of press coverage of our acquisition of LiveJournal, but one of the most interesting is the SiliconBeat interview with Mena and Barak. Silicon Beat is the Movable Type-powered weblog covering tech news for the San Jose Mercury News, and the phone interview with our President and CEO was recorded to an iPod and then uploaded as an audio file to annotate the blog post.
The audio's a little scratchy, but it's fairly distinct from some of the other press coverage. Many of the other most popular articles on the story have been based on the Reuters report and the Associated Press' take on the acquisition.
Wondir is an interesting service for asking and answering questions on the web, and now there's a simple way to ask and answer real-time questions on your TypePad weblog.
Just follow the simple steps outlined on the Wondir blog, and you can add a scrolling Wondir display to a TypeList on your sidebar. Wondir's instructions come complete with screenshots, and the display instantly becomes active once displayed.
Dave Pell, publisher of the popular Davenetics and Electablog weblogs, has just launched The Blog Blog. There's a lot of metablogging sites out there already, of course, but given Dave's record, this should be one to watch.
(Re-)Introducing LiveJournalMost of you are probably familiar with LiveJournal, but it might be worth reviewing what it is and how it works for those of you who haven't had a chance to take a look. As you might know, LiveJournal is a hosted journal service that's similar to TypePad in some ways. However, LiveJournal is strongly focused on community, and members tend to post more frequently, less formally, and with messages that are targetted just to friends and family whom they've allowed to view posts. In short, it's not that far from Mena's vision of tightly-knit bonds in weblogging. It's a fascinating and diverse community, and a lot of that breadth shows up in the publicly-available statistics that you can find on the site.
So, yes, the rumors were true. Six Apart did indeed acquire LiveJournal. We've assembled a number of links that should answer all the questions and give you all the information you'd need.
Most people who are familiar with either company will probably prefer to read my Mena's Corner post and Brad's FAQ posted at LiveJournal, which discuss some of the same points, but also talk about the motivations that inspired us to go forward with the acquisition. If you're a techie or a blog professional, you can look at the Professional Network introduction to LiveJournal.
Wow. This has been a long two days.
So yeah, we know that there's been an elephant in the room, sorry it took two days to announce that yes indeed, Six Apart did acquire LiveJournal. It has been hard not to react to all the questions and comments but we needed to finish all the legal documents and close the deal officially before we could say anything.
Finally I can spend some time talking about why we did this deal, what it means for LiveJournal users, what it means for Movable Type and TypePad users and for Six Apart and Danga. I hope that I can even dispel some crazy rumors.
As my posts tend to be pretty verbose, I'll first link to a FAQ that should answer a lot of questions that people may have. Once you've read it, please take the time to read the rest of this post so you can get a more extensive look into the deal and its makings.
Blog 360 will work with clients to develop proprietary blogging strategies, from creation and marketing to sponsorships and advertising, geared to increasing relevance among target audiences. Blogging provides a unique and highly effective platform to connect with key constituents and audiences who are more difficult to reach via traditional marketing and public relations.
Every weblog community likes to have its own awards, and Indian bloggers are no exception. Thus, The IndiBlog Awards. With categories including best sports, science, humanities, and topical weblogs, in addition to the requisite Blog of the Year, it's one to watch for people who are interested in blogs from the subcontinent.
About.com (which is itself published using Movable Type) has a useful post covering 4 Basic Questions About Copyright and Weblogs. Though legal issues can be complex, and newer approaches to copyright protection such as Creative Commons licenses aren't covered, it's a good introductory guide if you're concerned about the legal obligations of publishing a weblog.
Perhaps it's time to start a "Blogger Gets Fired" story-of-the-week award. This time, it's the BBC, talking about the Looming pitfalls of work blogs. There's the usual mention of high-profile cases of people getting fired, but little talk of people who've gotten promoted or hired because of their weblogs, and the topic of companies developing blogging policies or using blogs for business purposes are omitted.
Khoi Vinh's new design for Subtraction has gotten a good amount of well-deserved attention. It's an elegant and spare design that's very distinct from most Movable Type weblogs, and Khoi does a good job of explaining some of the thought behind it for those who are looking for inspiration.
We've just published the Six Apart Guide to Combatting Comment Spam. It's a fairly comprehensive document (also available in PDF format) that lists a lot of the techniques and tactics available for fighting spam, along with specific information on using those techniques with Movable Type. There's also a comparison of each technique's strengths and weaknesses, along with links to plugins which implement each strategy.
We've collected all of our recommendations in a single section within the document for easy reference, and we plan to keep updating the document as needed. We're eager to get the Professional Network community's feedback on these suggestions as well, so feel free to link and TrackBack to this post if you have suggestions or additional resources.
Ben Hammersley is at it again, this time with Crossposter for Movable Type, a clever little script that will grab posts that you've written on various weblogs and reposts them all to one central blog.
If you participate in a number of blogs, or are concerned with making sure one of your audiences is aware of all your writing, regardless of where it was originally published, this should fit the bill.
For example, if you have a group install of weblogs on your intranet for each project or workgroup, Ben's script could be used to create weblogs for each person at the company, just by retrieving their posts from the blogs they participate in.
Back for their fifth consecutive year, Nikolai Nolan's weblog awards, The Bloggies, have just been relaunched. As with all awards, especially those for weblogs, they reflect the tastes of the subset of the blogosphere that participates in a certain community, but they should be fun for everyone who participates as a judge, nominee, or winner.
Kevin Lawver will be the instructor of a Eclectic Academy class on Blogging with Movable Type. If you or someone you know is just trying to get up to speed with the system, it should be worth checking out. The class is US$20.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just released a new report on the state of blogging, with 8 million adults saying that they have created blogs. (No numbers are listed for teens.) There's a wealth of useful statistics all available for view as a PDF download.
Nick Finck over at Digital Web has assembled a survey of web experts' favorite web companies to work for, and we're glad to see Six Apart on the list, joining some of the biggest and best names on the web.
Congratulations to noted technology columnist Dan Gillmor, who has moved on from his former role at the San Jose Mercury News to focus on participatory journalism. As part of his new focus, he's launched a TypePad site where he's discussing the thoughts and ideas behind his new role, as well as the conversations going on around the topic.