TypePad To Start Using Akismet To Fight Blog Comment Spam

Yes! The folks at TypePad announced today they going to start using Akismet to fight blog comment spam! As a user of TypePad since 2005-ish, I've long been frustrated with how poorly TypePad's anti-comment-spam mechanisms have worked and have written about that, although granted that particular incident was now 3.5 yrs ago and things have improved a bit in that I'm not seeing quite as much spam. However, I've also turned on full moderation on the couple of remaining blogs I still have on TypePad.

All my new blogs and other sites are over on WordPress where I've been very happy with the anti-spam services that I get from Akismet. (And some day I'd like to move this blog and Disruptive Telephony over to WordPress, too - if only I can carve out the considerable time that will be involved with the move.)

I'm pleased to see TypePad moving this way. It may not be enough to get me to stop using full moderation on my articles... but hopefully it should mean fewer spam comments to look at in the admin interface.

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The Problem Of Trying Blogging From An iPad Using TypePad

Yesterday's blog post epitomizes one of the problems I have with creating blog posts on a tablet that work with TypePad, the service with which I started hosting this site way back in 2005.

All I wanted to do is have an image that was right-justified with the text wrapping around it. Instead I got this:

Rightjustified not

(Which has now been changed to be correctly right-justified, but through the regular desktop web interface, not to the mobile interface.)

In order to write more regularly, I've been trying out using the iPad as a writing platform. It's been working well for sites hosted on WordPress, but not so well for TypePad.

Because the TypePad app is fairly useless on the iPad, I wrote the post using Blogsy, a fairly interesting and useful blogging app for the iPad. However, try as I might, I could not get Blogsy to right-justify and wrap the image. The issue seems to be that Blogsy would only send to TypePad the <img> tag with this attribute:


Now this might be fine if the CSS for my theme on TypePad defined a class like that, but it doesn't. I tried multiple times to edit the raw HTML in Blogsy to add the simple inline CSS to the IMG tag of:


However, Blogsy kept removing that style attribute when sending it to TypePad. Now, maybe there is some setting in Blogsy that I couldn't find that would pass along CSS attributes... but if so, I have no idea what it is.

Trying other apps to correct the problem... as I mentioned, the TypePad app is fairly useless on the iPad. It is only an iPhone application and so while you can blow it up to take over the whole iPad screen, it is still an iPhone app and doesn't make use of the iPad's screen nor of its improved keyboard. More importantly, it only lets you create new posts - there is no way to edit or modify existing posts... so there was no way to get in and modify the post to add this style attribute to the image.

Next, I tried the "mobile" website for TypePad, but it doesn't seem to work so well on the iPad. I tried to get in and modify the post above and wasn't able to easily do so.

Finally I tried logging directly into the "regular" TypePad website on the iPad. It looked like it might work as I could get into the HTML view (which was the only view, actually) and add the style attribute. But when I went to try to publish the updated post, the Publish button didn't work.

In the end, I had to go to my desktop system and login to the regular TypePad web interface to make this change.

This is a perfect example of what I referred to in my "Barriers to Blogging" series as "Getting The Tools Out Of The Way". A whole chunk time spent... simply to get an image to be right-justified. :-(

Now to get the tools out of the way in this case, I may again search for a better blog post editor on the iPad. Another option, of course, would be to move this blog off of TypePad and over to one of my WordPress servers (where the tools work better)... but that's a much longer process. Still, it is another answer.

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Why Is India's Dept of Telecom Blocking All TypePad-Hosted Blogs?

typepad.jpgWhy is India's Department of Telecom blocking all blogs hosted on TypePad? What could they possibly accomplish by doing this?

Tonight Stuart Henshall contacted me on Skype IM to let me know he couldn't reach my Disruptive Telephony blog from Mumbai, India to read my recent post about Google Voice and SIP addresses. The site was very definitely up, so I asked him if he could see this Disruptive Conversations blog. Nope. Danyork.com? Nope. All of which are hosted on TypePad. Stuart could see my Code.DanYork.com site, but that's separately hosted on a standalone WordPress install.

Wondering if this was a block on all of TypePad, Stuart tried

(I just pulled those off TypePad's list of "showcase" blogs and gave them to Stuart to try.)

Given that Stuart uses "Airtel Broadband" in India, he did a quick search online and found this report in an online forum that Airtel was blocking TypePad! The forum included this response with a graphic clearly showing the problem:


The text says:

This site has been blocked as per request from Department of Telecom

And all I can say is:


I mean, yes, I know that India's Department of Telecom has been blocking VoIP calls since Feb 2009, so sure, I could maybe see an argument for blocking my DisruptiveTelephony site since I talk about Skype and other VoIP services (but would the Indian Dept. of Telecom really notice my little blog? Seems a stretch). But blocking Seth Godin? Come on!

Even better... blocking the National Geographic blogs? I mean... Hello? What has NGM ever done to India? And I guess there is the assumption that no one in India will want to read news from Marriott? Or from any of the 10s of thousands of other people writing blogs on TypePad?

Curiously, Stuart could get to the main page of www.typepad.com, something that others mentioned in the most recent posts to this online forum, but he couldn't get to any of the actual blogs hosted on TypePad.

So what's up? Why can't people in India read any of our blogs? (And TypePad folks, are you talking to the Indian Dept of Telecom about this?) It seems crazy for a country to block an entire hosting provider!

I'd say that "if you are reading this in India, please contact your government"... but obviously that's the point, you can't read this in India. I guess if any of you reading this outside of India can somehow clue people inside of the country to this problem, perhaps they can be asking questions of the Dept. of Telecom.

Meanwhile, if you are in India and you click on one of the links in my tweets and find it doesn't work... well... it was probably a link to one of my blogs on TypePad! (Not that you'll ever know, since you can't read this post.)

UPDATE - 3/9/11: Aswath Rao reminded me on Twitter last night that in this post I am only reporting that one ISP in India is reporting that the government of India has asked to block certain sites. His contention was that you could not jump to a conclusion that all of India is blocking access to TypePad. He is correct in that, although in IM'ing with Stuart Henshall he indicated that he had heard of similar blockage by other ISPs. Regardless, the point is that for at least some number of people in India, TypePad is blocked.

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Anyone recommend WordPress hosting providers that give out IPv6 addresses?

NewImage.jpgCan anyone recommend affordable hosting providers for WordPress that currently provide IPv6 addresses?

As I've written about before, I'm working on moving all my sites from TypePad over to WordPress and am currently evaluating several hosting providers. One new criteria I added to my list recently is this:

I would like my blogs to be available over IPv6.

Why? Simple. I tend to write across my various blogs on "emerging technology" issues. Much of the audience for my writing are the "early adopters" who are working with new technology, new toys... and generally working on the bleeding edge of communication.

As some of those folks (myself included) either move their networks to IPv6 or at least experiment with IPv6, I would like my sites to be natively accessible over IPv6 like many other sites are now available including Google, CNN, Facebook and more. Call me silly, but when I'm doing IPv6 testing, I'd like to be able to get to my own sites without going through a IPv6-to-IPv4 converter.

I also want to do this move once, because it's going to be a big enough pain-in-the-neck as it is, between the initial migration from TypePad and then pointing all the domains over, mapping them, etc.

I'm currently testing out Bluehost and in talking to their support team, they are looking to have some IPv6 options available next year... but I: 1) don't want to wait; and 2) want to be sure IPv6 addresses will be available. A2 Hosting offers IPv6 addresses, but only for their more expensive dedicated hosting offerings. I'm looking for someone who can provide more of a web hosting or Virtual Private Server (VPS) offering with IPv6.


SixXS offers a great list of hosting providers offering IPv6 and some of those look quite interesting... I just don't personally know anyone hosting on them.

There is, of course, one of the strong proponents of IPv6, Hurricane Electric, who offer a traditional web hosting offering... which might be okay, although I admit that I'm more partial to a system that gives me ssh access with ideally full root access. I can get that root access - and IPv6 - over at someone like RapidXen that goes to the other extreme and just gives you bare bones hosting, i.e. here's your server, here's your command line... have fun. (Which I can be fine with, although I'm not overly interested in being responsible for all the system admin of my system.)

So... with all that, anyone out there have recommendations for hosting providers where I can run WordPress with IPv6? (thanks in advance)

P.S. And yes, it's not 100% clear to me if WordPress plays well with IPv6, but then again, I know some people are doing it!

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C'mon TypePad, can't you catch this spam?

Um, TypePad ... isn't this a fairly obvious spam comment on my blog?  I mean... when the name includes "seo company" and it starts off "Lorem ipsum"....


As I've noted, I've been increasingly unhappy with aspects of TypePad's service... and the increasing number of spam comments that are getting through the "filters" TypePad has makes me wonder if the comment spam filters are being maintained and updated.  If this kind of thing continues, I think it's only going to drive me and others increasingly over to WordPress...

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Recommendations for a WordPress Hosting Provider?

wordpress.jpgAt the very severe risk of opening myself up to endless spam comments from a zillion people trying to get me to buy their hosting services... I want to ask you, dear readers and friends, a simple question:

Who do you recommend for hosting WordPress sites?

For some time now I have been unhappy here on TypePad... many reasons, some of which I've written about and others that I started writing about earlier this week... and then SixApart dropped the news that it had been acquired - and I seriously wonder what kind of investment TypePad will really get. But that's for another post...

Anyway, I'm finally gearing up to bite the bullet and move over to WordPress, a platform I use daily and have become extremely pleased with. I looked at WordPress.com and in fact have a couple of smaller experimental blogs there... but it is too limiting for someone like me. So I need to go self-hosted.

Type "WordPress hosting" into Google, though, and you get a zillion entries... everybody and their brother, sister, mother, father, aunts and uncles seems to be in the game.

In doing some research, I'd narrowed it down to a few services... and was pleased to see them listed on http://wordpress.org/hosting/ when I found that site.

Here's what I want:

  • EASY INSTALLATION - I want to just make a couple of clicks and have WordPress up and running... I don't want to download it, set up MySQL, do the Apache config, etc. Been there, done that... I'm looking to write, not administer.

  • MULTI-SITE - I have a network of blogs... I need a hosting provider that supports WordPress 3.0 in its full MultiSite usage.

  • EASY UPDATES AND PLUGIN INSTALLATION - WP 3 has all sorts of great ways to update the system, install plugins, update plugins... I want to use all that WP goodness. (I don't want to be waiting for a provider to have the latest and greatest version available. I want to get it all direct after install.)

  • DOMAIN MAPPING - It goes without saying that I want to map all my various domains to WP in MultiSite mode.

  • BACKUPS - While I'll make my own backups, I want the provider making backups, too.

  • COMMAND LINE - Having said all the "easy installation" stuff, I do want to be able to ssh into the server and muck with it if I want or need to. In fact, I'd potentially like to be able to run python scripts for Tropo apps on it. I may want to run other software, too.

  • RELIABILITY, SCALABILITY, SECURITY, STABILITY - It should go without saying that I want all of these traits in a hosting provider, too.

  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORT - I work for a company that provides hosting for communications apps. We provide an insanely high level of customer support (in fact, we call our teams "Customer Obsession Teams")... our team have set a high bar for me personally... so I'm looking for a provider who can give a high level of rapid response, assistance, etc.

And naturally, I don't want it to cost an enormous amount. I kind of like what MediaTemple offers... although some of the others out there have better pricing... what do you all think? If you do self-hosted WordPress, who do you use? Why did you choose them? Any other criteria you would add to my list above? (Feel free to email me if you don't want to post public comments.)

Thanks in advance... and naturally I'll be chronicling my move from TypePad over to WordPress... from everything I've read there are parts of it that will be potentially quite painful. :-(

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TypePad users: How to Re-Enable Twitter Sharing After the OAuth Change

As a TypePad user, I discovered today that any new posts I made on this blog or Disruptive Telephony were NOT being shared on Twitter after I published them.  It turns out to be that the connection to my Twitter account needed to be fixed... presumably related to Twitter's OAuth authentication change.  I'm guessing that I set up the linkage to my Twitter account back when TypePad first provided the capability - and undoubtedly provided my Twitter account name and password.  That kind of authentication to Twitter was no longer allowed as of August 31st.

If you find yourself in this same situation, here's what you need to do.  First, go into your overall TypePad account settings and go to the "Other Accounts" page.  If you have a problem, you'll see some text in red that says something like "Action Required" (unfortunately I didn't take a screenshot of it) in the area shown in this screenshot next to your Twitter account name:


If you do not see any red text, and just see green checkmarks like are in the screenshot, you are all set - your Twitter sharing should be working perfectly fine.

If you do see the red text, it's a click-able link that will take you to the Twitter OAuth authentication page where you can approve TypePad's access to your Twitter account.

Next, you need to go to EACH of your blogs where you want to share your posts out to Twitter and check the box next to your Twitter account again.  It seems that when your Twitter account is disconnected, the connection is removed from each of your blogs.

To get to the Sharing screen shown in the screenshot below, you need to go into the Dashboard for each blog, click on the "Settings" tab on the top and then the "Sharing" tab on the left side. Then you can check off that you want to share posts on Twitter:


Unfortunately I found you do have to do it for every blog that you have on TypePad. Not a huge deal for me, since only 4 of my blogs are on TypePad, but it could be more of a pain for others.  In the end, though, all my blogs are now once again sharing blog posts out to Twitter.

Hope this helps some of you...

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Frustations with TypePad: Hideous trackback URLs - and inability to easily link between sites

typepad.jpgFor over 5 years, I've been a paying customer of TypePad and use TypePad's blog hosting service for my 5 main blogs (this one, Disruptive Telephony, DanYork.com, Blue Box and Seven Deadliest UC Attacks). In fact, you'll note that one of those, danyork.com, is what I use as essentially my home page on the Internet. Beyond that, I have about 10 other blogs on TypePad that I've used for various projects, experiments, etc. (Once upon a time the Green Mountain Curling Club site was in my TypePad account. It's not anymore... someone else took it over when I left Vermont.)

Overall, I've been very pleased with TypePad's service. It's generally always worked... no major outages... quick and simple to put up new sites, complete with domain mapping... support has been relatively quick.

But I'm finding myself increasingly hitting limits or encountering challenges with the site - and I'm starting to think about potentially moving my sites... although the headaches involved with doing that make it fearsome to contemplate. Over a couple of posts I want to outline some of the limits I've run into and perhaps find out what other TypePad bloggers have done to combat those issues.

Linking Between Sites

Perhaps my greatest frustration with TypePad right now is the difficulty involved with linking between sites within my own account on TypePad. For instance, today I wrote a post on my Blue Box Podcast blog that linked to two different posts (here and here) over on my 7 Deadliest UC Attacks blog. Given that I have referenced those posts on one of my other sites, I would like to have some mention of that reference on each of the 7 Deadliest UC Attacks posts.

Essentially, I want a trackback or pingback from the one new post to the two old posts.

You see, I guess I've gotten spoiled... WordPress just makes this trivial and automatic. For instance, over on Voxeo's blog portal, here's a post in one blog (Voxeo Talks) that references a post on a different blog (Emerging Tech Talk). Look at this second post... down there in the comments is the reference from the newer post:


What did I have to do to have this cross-blog linkage happen other than link from the new post to the old post?


WordPress tries to send Pingbacks and the pings "just show up" on the other older posts. I don't have to think about it... I just link and it happens.

In contrast, here are the steps I had to go through to link my posts in TypePad.

  1. Go to each of the old posts and find the Trackback URL - which involves scrolling down to the end of the post to find something looking like this:
  2. Copy the Trackback URL- For each post to which you are linking, copy that big ugly Trackback URL.

  3. Switch back to your new post - Either in the web interface or in an offline editor like MarsEdit (what I use).

  4. Open the Trackback field and paste the URL.

  5. Repeat the above steps for EACH post you reference.

  6. Publish your post.

  7. Approve the Trackbacks in the target blogs - For your own sanity, you pretty much have to run comment moderation if you blog is even remotely popular. The result is that Trackbacks get stuck in the moderation queue. So you have to go into the admin GUI and approve the trackbacks:
  8. Repeat the preceding step in the admin interface for each blog referenced - In my case, the two posts I referenced today were both in the same blog, so I could go to one admin interface and approve them both. In cases where I reference posts across multiple blogs, I have to switch to the admin interface for each blog and approve the trackback. Not difficult to do... just tedious and extra time I have to spend.

So... eight or more steps in TypePad - versus zero steps in WordPress.

Can you see the frustration?

What I want is that if I link to a post in one of the other blogs that I own, then there should be some link automagically created back to my new post.

Hideous Trackback URLs

The existing process might be a bit easier if the TypePad Trackback URLs were easy to create. Consider this Trackback URL from WordPress:


And then look at this one from TypePad:


What is simple about the first one? Easy, it is just the blog post URL with "/trackback" added on to it!

That's it.

So if I am linking to a previous post on a WordPress blog, I have to just visit the page once to get the URL of the post (or get the URL from another post) and then simply append "/trackback" to the URL to send a Trackback over to it. I never have to go back to that page. I never have to look down to the bottom of the post to find the Trackback URI. I just add /trackback and go on with writing. Easy to do after the fact as well - you never have to visit the page again.

Now, again, with WordPress supporting Pingback automagically, I don't need to use Trackbacks within my own site... but if I want to - it's easy to do.

The TypePad Trackback URLs, on the other hand, have no pattern I've seen... I must go back to the post page, hunt for the URL at the bottom of the post and copy/paste it back.

Again... not hard to do... just time-consuming.

In the end, I want to run a network of blog sites - and quickly and easily link between them as I post new content referencing older posts.

TypePad really needs to make this easier.

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Using TypePad Connect now to let you comment with your accts from Twitter, Facebook, OpenID or more

Earlier this week I enabled "TypePad Connect" for this blog and my Disruptive Telephony blog so that you can now sign in when commenting using your "identity" from TypePad, Twitter, Facebook, OpenID, or many others. Nicely, you can also, of course, simply enter in your name, URL, etc. like you always could before on this blog. The difference is that now down above the comment field you should see this:

If you click on the "more..." link, you will be taken to a site to choose the account you want to use:


I'm particularly pleased about the ability to support OpenID, something I've written about both here and over on Disruptive Telephony, although that's not particularly surprising given Six Apart's support for OpenID in the past.

There's a larger story to be written here about TypePad Connect and how it is part of the greater battle going on both with regard to your "identity" across blogs and also where your comments are stored. The Read/Write Web had a great article on the topic a year ago when TypePad Connect first came out. For me, since both this blog and DisTel are already hosted on TypePad, the issue about having your comments reside on TypePad's servers is irrelevant, really, since they already are. Another time, though, I'll write more on the larger story.

In the meantime, feel free to leave comments through being logged into those services (and saving yourself filling out the form).

For those wanting to know more about TypePad Connect, there is a video on the main page and also previous TypePad blog posts in November 2008 and January 2009 that go into more detail.

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Blogging from the iPhone to WordPress MU works - sort of

As you can see in this screen capture, I am using the WordPress iPhone app and it IS working to post to the Voxeo blog site that runs WordPress MU... However, as shown in that image, the app is confused about the names of the different WPMU blogs. It gave all four of them the same name, even though I went to different urls. I can though post to the different blogs. It is just a UI issue in the app. Maybe in the next version. Pretty cool, I have to say.

UPDATE (a few minutes after posting the text above): Now I posted this blog entry from the TypePad iPhone application, since this Disruptive Conversations blog runs on TypePad versus WordPress or WordPress MU. A couple of thoughts on that experience:

  • Using the TypePad iPhone app is clearly for just jotting a quick note and sending it up to your blog. Presumably I'll get better at iPhone typing, but still, I can't see me writing a length post.
  • More to the point, I didn't see any way to either control formatting in the iPhone TypePad app. Now perhaps I can enter raw HTML... I didn't try that, but I'm not really keen on that given the limited input capability on the iPhone.
  • Similarly, I saw no easy way to enter links... the links in the text above were added when I writing this text in MarsEdit and editing an already-published post.
  • I did not have any image formatting choices that I could see... I couldn't align the image on the right (as I did here) or change the scale. The image was inserted at the top of the post with my text below it.
  • The TypePad iPhone app cropped my image to be square. Now, when I was adding the photo to my post in the app, I could "move and scale" the application, but there seemed to be no way to scale the screenshot down so that the whole screenshot would fit in the area. Everytime I scaled it down, it would pop back up to its full size (and maybe this is just because I'm an iPhone newbie).

Now those are issues with the TypePad app for the iPhone, but it looks like the WordPress app for the iPhone has similar issues. (Now maybe I need to learn more about what other options there are... perhaps I am missing some way to access other commands.)

Having said all this, it's definitely very cool to have the option to post from either TypePad or WordPress to my various blog sites. I don't see me using it too much when I have another option available... but I could see it being great for posting to the blogs while traveling.

What do you all think? Have you used either of these apps? Are there commands I'm missing?

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