WordPress Jetpack Review

As you know I have a self hosted WordPress blog which suites me down to the ground being the fact that I like to change things and also have full control over my content rather than having to adhere to terms and conditions.  That being said though WordPress hosted blogs come with so many features out of the box that its self hosted installation doesn’t and when I saw Jetpack there was the answers to my problems.

While it’s a bit of an exaggeration because you can achieve the same results by installing a number of plugins but who really wants to do that if you can get away with installing one.

The features that come with this plugin are:

  • Simple, concise stats with no additional load on your server. Previously provided by WordPress.com Stats.
  • The WP.me URL shortener.
  • Hovercard popups for your commenters via Gravatar.
  • Easily embedded media from popular sites like YouTube, Digg, and Vimeo.
  • For the Math geeks, a simple way to include beautiful mathematical expressions on your site.
  • A widget for displaying recent tweets. Previously provided by Wickett Twitter Widget
  • Your readers can easily share your posts via email or their favorite social networks. Previously provided by the Sharedaddy WordPress plugin.
  • Your writing will improve thanks to After the Deadline, an artificial intelligence based spell, style, and grammar checker. Previously provided by the After the Deadline WordPress plugin.
  • and many more to come!

Now I must admit I installed it just to try it rather than really wanting to use it as I thought if it holds the features WordPress.com uses there must be something in there and after about a month of using it, it has been great.  The stats are no longer complicated and too much information to bother checking, as my previous plugin for that gave me details about every single user and I wasn’t really interested in that I was more interested in how they got to my blog and what articles interested them.  I can’t say I was that worried about what screen resolution they were using and operating system although very interesting facts.

The other feature that really sticks out for me is the proof reading, I know my written communication isn’t the best and that I have really enjoyed using Windows Live Writer but this jetpack gives better spelling and grammar checking than its offline counter part, so for that very reason it has got me back using the backend of my WordPress blog to produce content.

What I will say about this plugin its nothing exciting however what it does offer it is very good at and in my opinion it is a must have for any blog.

Any plugins that you really like or recommend let me know in a comment.

Empire Avenue My Thoughts

When I saw Empire Avenue on Lockergnome.com I have must admit I was undecided about linking my social networking tools to a third-party site, however I took the plunge with the blog and Twitter thinking this is public anyway and it seems quite a good idea.

Is it a social network?  While there is no getting away with it, it is and it’s the first one really of its kind where it is encouraging users to produce on-line content and comment on each others work.  Which if you read my post about CommentLuv I am trying to get more communication flowing through this blog.

As you can gather from the out set I was sceptical and not really willing to give it a try just thought it was going to be another one I sign up and leave alone, and I have to admit I was wrong and I have only been on here for about 3 hours all in all of actual work on the site and I have already seen benefits.  The major one is you meet new people, these people might not even be in the type of area you’re in, the other one for me is it now gives me a reason to blog and produce content.

I won’t say it is the stock market because it isn’t but this site gives you or at least it gives me the feeling that the content I produce is making a difference and it gives me the feeling of importance in the fact that it is like running your own company on the stock market, but obviously it done in eaves and not really currency.  In time I am sure this novelty will where off and I might not bother with this site any longer, but for the time being I am producing content and its going out to a wider audience because of it.

So for anyone with a small audience base on their blog I have to say give this a try to for those that have a following why not give it ago and watch it help you, as in my short space of time playing I have had conversations with people on the platform itself and have gained extra followers on Twitter, so it can’t be half bad.

Let me know your experiences with Empire Avenue and your link and who knows I might buy some stocks in you!

If you haven’t given it ago yet and want to its free and if you use my link here you get an extra 2,000 in currency to start off: http://empireavenue.com/?t=nq8dj8q2

Do you consider a Professional Manner while on the Internet?

While looking around at new features to put into my blog or plugins that made enhance the experience, I started to reflect on the way in which I use the internet and how I portray myself.  This was brought about by considering all the information that could be taken about me mainly from this blog, and the major factor for me at that time was Twitter.

Now in the beginning when I started using Twitter I used it merely as a tool to post the links to blog posts to try to get them out to a wider audience, and although Twitter can be great for that I didn’t have a wide enough base to utilise it properly so what was aimed as just a marketing tool than just become my own personal update service (Which is what Twitter was originally intended for).  As I was reflecting on this I had to stop and think because it suddenly dawned on me yes I was keeping the blog relatively professional however was a keeping Twitter that way as it is now so closely linked to my blog.

The answer was No! I know longer tend to care about my tweets and whether they look professionally correct Twitter is now to me just a social tool that I happen to post my blog links on.  Of course there is a problem with this in its very nature, you might say something on Twitter that would go against someone in the professional world and with it being so closely linked to the blog there is no getting away from it.  Stop and think would be the name of the game in this case.

That being said on reflection is it something that people need to worry about?

In my own personal opinion it is becoming an increasing concern now that potential employers do look on the internet to find out as much as they can about people.  That being said, as long as you’re using nicknames you should be fine along with the fact that it is a personal blog so there for it is full of my opinions and views on topics that matter to me.  In my case I feel that I don’t need to worry about it too much.

How do you feel about leading two separate lives on the virtual world as well as the real world?

I personally hope to keep it to one life on the virtual world for as long as possible.

Chromebooks Will They Suite You?

While doing some maintenance to the blog and seeing my ads coming up quite a few times I notice there was a huge number of Chromebook ads, no surprise there as the ads are served by Google.  It made me think about my recent rethink to what computer I want next due to the fact that my desktop is now getting a bit long in the tooth and whether a Chromebook could be a good addition to my collection.

Now first a foremost I am a Google Chrome user as well as having an Android so being worried about Google and whether I want to use them isn’t a problem, however after being sat here for a while I started to really think about the way they would need to be used.  I do like the concept as it is all in the cloud however that does limit you, what happens when you haven’t got an internet connection?  Yes Google are working on certain application working offline but that being said most things will not as it stands.

The other point is yes it boots fast but from what I can see everything that will be available in the OS is a available in the browser because that is all the OS really.  Which than led me onto the question of the fact you would be limited by the software you could use, and surely it would a security risk as every Chromebook would be exactly the same so when an exploit is found it can be used and will hit everyone on them.

I can see the appeal though being the fact that it is only a browser it gives you near enough instant access to the internet and your work, if you loose it everything is linked to your Google Account so you won’t loose it and you will always have the most up to date version of your work.

To be honest, other than curiosity I can’t see myself using Google’s new offering even though it does seem cool because you can achieve exactly the same with a Windows, Mac or Linux machine just that they will take a little longer to load but do so much more and less restricted. 

What do you think will you be getting yourself a Chromebook?

Businesses in Schools

Well sat waiting to go to work today the main headline BBC news were on about was the need for guidelines on how businesses can sponsor and run courses in schools.

While the report went on they talked about the fact that these companies were just marketing their product and although I can see that was wrong.  The example was natwest running a personal finance course to sixth form.

Now baring in mind the age of the people in the class they should be able to see through the marketing.  That being said should school be commercially influenced or be a safe haven from the marketing bombardment we see every where else?

My view would be its fine as long as its useful to the pupil and that they are old enough to understand the branding and marketing plugs. So don’t think it should be a guidelined subject just left up to the teachers digression.

What are your views?   

ICloud Good or Bad Idea

I don’t know if you have had your head in the clouds of late but it seems that there is at the moment a huge attack on the gaming industry where hackers are targeting the game developers networks.  Starting off with Sony then Nintendo and latest being Codemasters website.

With that in mind Apple have decided to release a new product called ICloud.  Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of ICloud well if I was an Apple user anyway.  It gives me the ability to sync all my devices with each other giving me seamless access to my most important data no matter which machine of mine I am on, whether it be my IPad, iPhone, or Mac (if I had any of them).  I really like the idea and it seem like a reaction to the Google Chrome OS that will be launched this month, but is it really a good time for both to be launched at this time.

Yes there are always going to be hackers hitting one thing or another but at the moment hackers are in the news so will people want to take the risk of their data being taken?  I would say that if any company is launching a new online service it might be wise to delay the launch with the negative publicity to data safety in the news.

What are your thoughts on this matter feel free to comment?

Safari for Windows

Now after posting an article on Google Chrome and it’s privacy issues that you can find here I decided to give the other major Webkit Browser ago and that is in the form of Safari.  Now I know Safari can be a lot like Microsoft’s offering of Internet Explorer in the fact that it is shipped with the operating system a lot of people just use it (This being in the case of Mac users).

If I am honest with you I really like the feeling of Safari even on my Windows XP machine and it has some nice little features such as reader which means that it takes all the ads out of the page you are reading so you don’t get distracted from what you are reading.  Along with a spelling and grammar functionality built in.  Ok this isn’t ground breaking as a lot of browsers have spell checkers in them having said that though, I haven’t seen a grammar checker in place inside a web browser.

The overall feel of the browser is quite nice and brings in the 3d effect on the new tab screen and it does seem very much graphic orientated being able to flick through your history as if it was flicking through windows in Vista or Windows 7.

As for speed it doesn’t seem as fast as Chrome however I haven’t really tested it out and only time will tell.  The other negative point I have for Safari is the fact it seems to use a huge amount of RAM compared to other browsers, it is sat up at 229,608 K with one tab open in comparison Firefox is sat at 69,280 K.  That being said having been mainly developed for a different operating system to Windows it would be interesting to see what Mac users think of Safari and whether it is a resource hog or not on there system.

What are your views on Safari do you like it?

Blog Success do you want it?

While sat waiting to go to work I have been thinking about the Blog and my aims and concerns for it.

When I started blogging I will opening admit it was to use my hosting but mainly to jump on the band wagon in the hope to make money.  After a year on regular blogging I realised I’d missed the era that I really make money.  The way forward to make money was to have a service or produce video content both of which I wasn’t that interested in doing.

So my decision was to keep the blog going as it is and just use it to get things out there with my views, whether it be on products and services to what was in the news.  Trying to get my blog out there to more people.

However now with the latest Twitter out break in the news and people taking to people to court.  It has kind of put me off getting the blog out there too much because I am not a lawyer or journalist to know all the laws to make sure all my posts are within the law.  Not that I think I post things that will get me into trouble but it has been food for thought and whether we are actually able to use freedom of speech.

What are your views on this? 

Online Services and Who’s Responsible for its Security?

In the news over the last 48 hours we have seen two different types of security breaches on online services and that lead me to wonder where does the responsibility lie for these breaches?

The first one was Google Mail where certain people were subject to a phishing attack the other was the Sony Network.  Now to me its obvious where the responsibility lies in both cases but what I was after is others opinions on this as our lives are increasingly going online and the information is being held by other people.

The Google Mail case for me isn’t Google’s problem as their security hasn’t been breached in a sense, due to the fact that the user has responded to a phishing attempt aimed at them.  The problem then becomes with these attacks on individuals does the company in question step in, while in this case even though I know it isn’t really a breach of Google’s security I believe that Google has a social responsibility to do something about these attempts.  What also complicates the responsibility in this case is the fact the attack was sent via email which is what the service that is being provided is also another complication.  Should the spam filters have caught this attempt?

The Sony case however I believe is completely down to Sony to sort out as it is an attack on their entire network.  Where these attacks come from I don’t know as I haven’t looked into it enough and I would be very much interested to know why Sony are being targeted so much of late. 

To conclude I think both these attacks on the different companies illustrate just where the barrier is for the responsibility of care is whether it is the companies responsibility or the end user, that being said it is not an exact science and it would look good on companies if they took actions to stop future attempts which I am sure both companies are doing.

Let me know what you think.




Google Chrome Thoughts on Privacy and Much More

If I’m honest I used Google Chrome when it was in beta before it came out about all the information that it could be leaking back to Google and then I promptly removed it from my system, the trouble with me is I haven’t got anything to hide but I don’t really like people looking over my shoulder.

As far as web browsers go Google Chrome is up there it first came to our PC and its main selling point was speed and if I am honest it still doesn’t disappoint.  The reason for this is being on Web Kit technology as oppose to the other engines that Firefox and Internet Explorer uses.  I don’t know the ins and outs of it however the Web Kit engine seems that little bit faster and is also what Safari is based on all be it that the port across from Mac to Windows hasn’t been the most successful move for the browser as I feel it uses to much memory on the Windows version.

However back to the point, after the beta testing and when the privacy issues came to light with Google Chrome I took it as an opportunity to go back to Firefox and to be honest that was where I stayed until now.  The reason for that was I felt that Firefox is just that little bit too slow even version 4, along with that Google Chrome gives you so much space on your screen for the actual website your viewing.

I had a eureka moment though as regards to privacy, if Google is in fact logging your browser movements, does that really matter?  As long as it isn’t taking anything that makes you identifiable, because the truth is no matter where you go on the internet you get cookies left behind which can tell that website that you have been there before.  They are also used across sites, for the ads on the site in order to target you.  So if Google are taking information from you are they taking away anything you wouldn’t already have given away?

I slowly came to the fact that if they were doing anything other than the normal data you would be giving away, then they would of been asked to change the code under the data protection act.  So should you have concerns about the privacy issue?  I would say no, and they are probably not even harvesting that much data from you, you will certainly not be identifiable.

Now with the Google Chrome OS out which is basically a bigger version of Google Chrome you will find there will be a lot more extensions available for Google Chrome which Google are now calling apps.  I will say that they are applications in some cases as you can get a fully functional version of TweetDeck using it.  That leads me onto another matter of do we do to much inside our browsers, are we relying on the internet and one program too much but that is for another day.

So what are views and comments on Google Chrome and its privacy issues?