virtualDavis

\ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs\ Blogger, storyteller, flâneur. G.G. Davis, Jr's alter ego…
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Geek Tweak: How to Find Broken Links

How to Fix Broken Links

How to Fix Broken Links

How do you find broken links on your WordPress blog? For a couple of years I was a fan of Broken Link Checker. This plugin works like a charm. Plug it in, activate it and rest assured that it will chug away in the background digging through your website’s links and identifying “link rot” so that your digital domain can be as tidy and user-friendly as your white picket fence domain. It’s a simple set-and-forget way to find broken links.

Broken Link Checker is a good plugin to monitor and remove or nofollow dead links in your website. It has the ability to monitor almost any part of your website, including your posts, pages, comments, blogroll and the custom fields. The plugin is not only limited to links that doesn’t work but also detects missing images and redirects. Broken Link Checker can even prevent search engines from following broken links and let’s you edit the link directly from the plugin’s page without manually updating the posts. (Themecrunch.com)

Sounds perfect! In many ways it is/was. While I remain a fan of this simple and reliable way to find broken links, I’ve deactivated it across all of my WordPress sites on the advice of my developer. Why? It turns out that same diligence that makes it a dependable and thorough tool to find broken links also strains our server. Big time. After being throttled repeatedly by my hosting company for overwhelming the server, my developer narrowed down the problem to the plugin.

You have a plugin installed called Broken Link Checker. It spams your domain with HTTP requests and can cause worker processes to be spawned. ~ Zach Russell

Tools to Find Broken Links

We disabled the plugin and the problems have (apparently) abated. But we still needed to be able to find broken links, so Zach proposed these alternatives:

  1. Online Broken Link Checker We recommend that you… [this] tool to check for your broken links. It’s not a plugin, and won’t make the server unhappy.
  2. Integrity (for Mac OSX) An even better solution… would be an application that you install on your computer.

I’ve been trial testing the Online Broken Link Checker and it certainly works well. But it’s self-initiated (read easily overlooked, postponed, etc.) which is obviously less desirable than a diligent digital gone working away in the background. But it also doesn’t overwhelm the server which is good, er, essential. I haven’t experimented with Integrity (now that’s a funny phrase taken out of context!) or its premium cousin, Scrutiny yet. Soon perhaps. Unless I can divine a better solution to find broken links?

Root Out Link Rot

I know I’m not alone with this blogger challenge. How do you find broken links on your blog? Do you use a website-based plugin to monitor and mend link rot? An independent web-based service like Brokenlinkcheck.com? Or maybe a standalone application like Integrity or Scrutiny?

Pinterest Hacked: Semi-Nude Fat Loss Pics Posted

English: Red Pinterest logo

Pinterest Hacked: Semi-Nude Fat Loss Pics Posted (Credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been trimming the girth for a year or two, but this is too much! Semi-nude fat loss pics have swallowed up virtualDavis on Pinterest. Over night. Not cool. Fortunately a friend apprised me of the violation, and after purge, purge, purging the semi-nude fat loss pics (read, affiliate advertisements by an unscrupulous hacker) I’ve dug around to discover I’m not alone.

One board “Weight Loss: Loose Weight Fast” had 76 pins! (And, clever spammer, I think you meant, “Lose Weight Fast”, nest pas?)

And another…

Pinterest Hacking Pandemic?

Pinterest Hacked

Pinterest Hacked

Hope not, but a good wake up call to pincers and Pinterest that they are vulnerable and need to be proactive. Here’s their official advise for dealing with boards or pins on your account that you didn’t create:

It’s possible someone got into your account. You should reset your password to secure your account:

  1. Click the profile menu then click Settings
  2. Click Change your password…
  3. Type in your old password
  4. Choose a new password – make sure it’s complex!

After you’ve reset your password, you can delete any pins or boards that were added to your account. Unfortunately, we can’t restore deleted boards or pins. If you have trouble resetting, try from http://pinterest.com/password/reset/ (Pinterest Help Center)

Pinterest Lessons Learned

At least some fat loss affiliate programs cater to (or tolerate) unscrupulous spammers. The kind who target creepers obsessed with semi-nude women. Fat semi-nude women.

Pinterest needs to develop an easier, quicker, smarter interface for deleting multiple images at once. This should not be hard. Git’er done. Please.

Mean people suck. And they make us calloused, which also sucks.

Semi-Nude Laugh Therapy

I’d be remising in closing this grumbly post without returning to my all time favorite analgesic. Humor. So let’s wrap with an example of the lighthearted souls who don’t take these sorts of “crises” too seriously.

 

Is Whispersync the Bundle I’m Touting?

For ages I’ve been touting the incredible merits of an audio book / ebook bundle. I’ve conjured. I’ve ranted. But nothing. At last, this.

Now you don’t have to put a good book down… Switch back and forth between Kindle book and the Audible audiobook without ever losing your place. (www.audible.com)

Audible claims that Whispersync for Voice fans are consuming more books, and reader’s / listeners’ are pleased with the enriched experience. I’m guardedly optimistic. And interested in your experience. Off to poke around and see what the punditry is saying…

iPhone 5S: Doodling Skeuomorphism

Don’t fret, friends, this isn’t an iPhone 5S perks and burps post. We’ll leave those to the gadget gurus. I’m actually pretty content with my iPhone 4S, but my 2 year contract is up (Or nearly up? Better check that!) and there are a couple of intriguing new iPhone 5S gizmos to tempt:

  • iPhone 5S has a better camera (real value to me)
  • iPhone 5S has a fingerprint sensor (hmmm… dubious/potential value)

But the most exciting iPhone-y newness getting hashed and rehashed in the scuttlebutt-o-sphere isn’t the iPhone 5S at all. It’s iOS 7. And the prospect of both wrapped up tidily together? Hmmm…

This software looks nothing like the old iOS. It’s all white and clean, almost barren… Above all, it completely abandons Apple’s formerly favorite design principle, skeuomorphism, in which on-screen things depict real-world materials… iOS 7 is more efficient to navigate, because nothing on the screen is eye candy; everything is a button, so you spend less time hunting for things.

Furthermore… Siri… responds faster, has a more realistic voice and understands new kinds of commands (NYTimes.com

If only Siri could massage my shoulders. Of course my bride already resents Siri’s intrusions into our otherwise monogamous marriage, so massage could prove dangerous. I retract my wish and unrub the genie. Safe?

Honestly, the real inspiration for this post is the totally un-tech-geeky iPhone 5S doodle above. Genius! And learning about skeuomorphism is the icing on the cake. Perhaps you need a little help with skeuomorphism? I did. Try this super helpful skeuomorphism sketchnote by Eva-Lotta Lamm.

Skeuomorphism Sketchnote by Eva-Lotta Lamm

Skeuomorphism Sketchnote (Credit: Eva-Lotta Lamm, Core77)

Pinterest Interest

Pinterest Interest? virtualDavis ponders Pinterest...

Pinterest Interest? virtualDavis ponders Pinterest...

Are you on Pinterest? Still trying to resist the way you resisted Facebook?

Watch out, because it’s a slippery slope. When your invitation comes and you say, “Okay, well, maybe I’ll just try it out…”

You know, kick the tires, maybe even zip around the neighborhood with the roof down and the music blaring?

Don’t do it. You’ll get hooked. Pinterest. Is. Addictive.

And that’s why it’s exploding. In the good way. Out of start-up obscurity and into the gotta-be-on-it rocket that is flashing through the interwebs.

After being largely ignored for the first months of its existence, Pinterest is now being mentioned with increasing frequency… It is easy to see why Pinterest is attracting such a buzz. All measures of its growth are phenomenal. (Street Journal)

Phenomenal is the right word, but it lacks the necessary whizbang to accurately convey what’s happening with this rather straightforward social media concept

The premise behind Pinterest is for users to gather, organize, and share things they find on the Web, such as home decorations, clothing, and food. The end result is curated pinboards that are meant to help friends discover new items or get inspiration. (CNET News)

According to Mashable‘s Zoe Fox, Pinterest drives more online t than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn. Beginners’ luck? That’s pretty formidable competition.

[Pinterest] now beats YouTube, Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace for percentage of total referral traffic in January… Pinterest accounted for 3.6% of referral traffic, while Twitter just barely edged ahead of the newcomer, accounting for 3.61% of referral traffic. (Mashable)

You know how long it took Twitter

to get traction? You know how long it’s taken to get to this point. I suspect that the quirky crew over at Facebook are getting whiplash responding to the ticklish breeze they keep feeling in their hair, like something sneaking up from behind. Can you sneak fast? Okay, so maybe Pinterest isn’t sneaking…

Facebook reigns king of referrals, accounting for more than one-quarter (26.4%) of traffic, 4.3% of which comes from Facebook Mobile. After Pinterest, Facebook is experiencing the most referral growth, gaining almost one percentage point in December. (Mashable)

So Facebook isn’t giving up ground just to swig down electrolytes, but Pinterest’s mad dash out of the starting gates is noteworthy. Whether or not they can sustain this pace for the endurathon is another matter.

Who’s propelling its rise? 18-34 year old upper income women from the American heartland. (TechCrunch)

Hmmm… So not just bored teenagers party shopping.

To get to the bottom of what motivates Pinterest’s throngs of users, you first have to realize who those users are… Female… women tend to like to shop more than men do. You could easily define Pinterest as a way for people to “window shop” for anything that interests them… It’s a social shopping experience, disguised as a website full of interests. (TheNextWeb.com)

Brad McCarty may be right, but in my experience, there are plenty of gents aboard the good rocket ship Pinterest and more and more every day. Maybe there are male window shoppers too? Or maybe McCarty’s oversimplifying.

At heart, many of us are collectors. Stickers. Friends. Hats. Wine. Cars…

And many of us are voyeurs, happy to peak over the fence at the neighbor’s backyard digging project only discover he was planting a persimmon tree, not installing a hot tub.

In short, we’re curious hoarders on the lookout for inspiration. Is it any wonder that Pinterest has become the next runaway favorite? And with news a little over a week ago that Pinterest has partnered with Flickr “improve photo attribution” it looks like the visual floodgates may be opening. Happy pinning!

New Tech, New Wants

A Sony WM-FX421 Walkman, for stereo cassettes.

Sony WM-FX421 Walkman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Technology creates our needs faster than it satisfies them. (Kevin Kelly)

My Monday morning muse for your ruminating pleasure is actually not mine at all. It’s a quotation from Kevin Kelly’s 1998  New Rules for the New Economy. No longer new, of course, but if you missed out before you’ll find that it’s still relevant and eerily prescient. And did I mention that the blog version lives on his website? And that it’s free?

According to Kelly, we’re hurtling forward, inventing technologies to satisfy our desires and — in the process —  discovering new desires.

Our wants are compounding exponentially… technology creates ever new opportunities for those desires to find outlets and form. (Kevin Kelly

Although the illustrative example, a $50 Sony Walkman (remember cassette tapes?), seems practically ancient, I can’t help but transpose an iPad or even a Kindle Fire.

When a merchant sells a consumer a new Sony Walkman for $50, he is in fact creating far more demand than he is satisfying–in this case a continuing and potentially unlimited need for tape cassettes and batteries. (Paul Pilzer)

Transposed for the digital age:

When a merchant sells a consumer an iPad, he is in fact creating far more demand than he is satisfying–in this case a continuing and potentially unlimited need for digital products (ebooks, videos, games, apps, etc.), physical accessories (from practical screen protectors and card readers to fashion carrying cases), non-physical accessories (warranty extensions, maintenance contracts, customer support, etc.), software updates/upgrades, and–let’s be totally honest–hardware upgrades because sexy new models with more memory, faster processors, longer lasting batteries and retina displays are the MSG that keeps consumers coming back for more!

With writers, publishers, editors, agents and booksellers wandering the Wild West known as the Post-Gutenberg Paradigm, it’s more evident than ever that technology creates more demand than it satisfies. Increasingly tech-centric publishing and storytelling is catalyzing an avalanche of new non-book formats to satisfy consumer demands. New options are invented daily, and yet we’re only beginning to glimpse the world of storytelling possibilities around the corner. Technology is simultaneously sating and creating new demand, seeding storytelling innovation and inventing new consumer desires… Suppose I’m bullish on storytelling in the digital age?!?!

Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part III

Welcome to kindle fire

I ordered my Kindle Fire late Thursday morning and it arrived Friday, charged, linked to my Amazon account and brandishing a batch of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

Okay, so I made up the last… But my Kindle initiation was almost that perfect.

Of course, honeymoons don’t last forever, and three days of drive-my-bride-crazy-intensive-Kindle-Fire-field-testing later I’m ready to share my first impressions of the Kindle Fire. This post follows up on “Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part I” and “Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part II”, but my review doesn’t depend on first reading those posts, so if you’re heart is racing because you’re a mouse click away from investing two hundred clams in a K-Fire, skip the back story and scan, read, consider the following. Read the rest of this entry »

Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part II

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  Amazon founder J...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Time to swap Amazon.com $199 for a Kindle Fire. I’ve to discover firsthand what makes it sexy and/or clunky. I have cast around for reviews, but now it’s time to understand what this increasingly ubiquitous device is all about. While I wait for the brown truck, you can catch up on my journey so far… Read the rest of this entry »

Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part I

Kindle Fire: Out of the Box

Image by Brian Sawyer via Flickr

I’ve decided that I need to understand the Kindle Fire. I’ve borrowed, dabbled and delayed. So far it hasn’t been love at first sight. Not like my bride’s iPad, for example. I love it. Crave it. Waiting for next gen to own my own. Happy fortieth birthday, virtualDavis! Perhaps…

But the K-Fire is here to stay. For a while. Until its sexy progeny dethrone it. K-Fire’s adoption rate alone has been staggering, so I need to test drive this chunky Technicolor gizmo posthaste. I’m placing my order tonight, and I’ll dish up pick-nits and plaudits aplenty soon. Stay tuned.

Until then, consider these Kindle Fire pros and cons posted by O’Reilly Media’s Joe Wikert (@jwikert).

Kindle Fire Pros

  • Form factor “It’s nice being able to wrap your hand around the entire device and the lighter weight is a big plus for the Fire.”
  • Meets the needs of typical consumer “Consumers who want a cheap tablet are OK without all the bells and whistles of the iPad…”
  • Connection to Amazon content “Connectivity to Amazon’s ebooks, video and audio content is second to none with the Fire.”

Kindle Fire Cons

  • Connection to Amazon content “As easy as it is for Fire users to access Amazon content it’s just that difficult to access anyone else’s… my next tablet will not be locked in to one provider’s content.”
  • Awful for the early adopter/tinkerer “.if you’re buying it to root and open it up you’ll be disappointed… [For example] some of the apps in the Android Market simply won’t run on it…”
  • Auto-updates “How in the world can Amazon think that forcing OS updates on every Fire owner is the right thing to do? … Really stupid.”
  • “Silk” browser “It turns out the browser isn’t that fast… in my totally unscientific side-by-side testing, the Fire almost always loaded pages slower than both my iPad and my RIM Playbook.”
  • Missing a “killer” app “Amazon should have invested some money with the developers of apps like Zite and Flipboard to make sure they were available when the Fire launched.”

(Kindle Fire pros and cons list via Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog.)

Everything Wikert has listed makes sense to me, but the most likely complaint likely to endure is the Amazon-centric content bias. I imagine the browser will get supercharged, and app developers are already following the consumer flood. But Amazon intends to exploit and nurture the content bias. No surprise there. And with millions of satisfied, well-trained consumers eager to gobble up Amazon distributed content, it’s no surprise that Bezos & Company aren’t eager to give away their monopoly.

Are you pleased or disappointed with your Kindle Fire? Share your experience in the comments below or Twitter, Facebook, Google+. And as soon as I’ve gotten my greedy paws (and eyes) on a Kindle Fire I’ll dish up my own Kindle Fire Pros & Cons. Now, let’s see how lickety-split Amazon Prime can hook me up…

Print Books: Purge or Hoard?

Although I love my print books, e-readers, in one form or another, have become my primary reading device over the last few years. I barely touch my print books, although they are still beautiful and important to me. But they sit on my bookshelf as a decorative and intellectual art form… When I voiced my reluctance to ship my books, one of my editors, horror-stricken, said: “You have to take your books with you! I mean, they are books. They are so important!” The book lover in me didn’t disagree, but the practical side of me did… In the end, I decided to leave 80 percent of the books behind, donating them to bookstores and even throwing some old, tattered volumes in the garbage. Readers, what would you have done? (NYTimes.com)

Books

Image by henry… via Flickr

Old news. Familiar question. Sort of…

I just returned from the Writer’s Digest Conference where the question of jettisoning or clinging to print collections came up several times. No consensus, but an interesting question.

This winter/spring is “out with the old, in with the new” time for me, so I’m lightening my load in as many ways as I can. My 2012 word-of-the-year? Agile. I’ll revisit this in the months ahead. Am I throwing too much too fast for you to follow my line of reasoning? Yes, I am. Concept still jelling. Actually the concept and the conviction have jelled, but I’m still sorting through how to explain my mission. Dump nonessential baggage and travel light. Simplify. Cut the crap. Chase the dream… As you can see, I’m still in beta on this!

Nick Bilton‘s July 27 post, “Print Books: Should They Stay or Should They Go?” cuts right to the chase, and I suspect that his decision to pare print down to 20% of his collection will be an increasingly common phenomenon.

I’m not there. I like digital, but I’m a sucker for ink and paper and bindings. I’m passionate about marginalia-filled white space and flattened relics which tumble out of books instantly transporting us back to an orange poppy in Big Sur or a teenage romance. I’m not ready to swap my bookshelves and floor/windowsill/desk stacks for a slim digital facsimile. Not yet. Purge I will, but not the books. Not now.

What about you? Do you feel the urge to purge?

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