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16 posts from January 2011

Suggestions for an Offline Blog Editor for the iPad?

on the plane

Have any of you iPad users come across a decent offline blog editor for the iPad? I haven't yet... so I thought I'd post a note. Here's what I want to do:

  1. Start writing a blog post when I'm somewhere without access (such as on a plane).

  2. Add some degree of formatting and add in links. Potentially add in pictures as well.

  3. Save that blog post and work on another blog post.

  4. When I finally get somewhere with network access, be able to either hit "Publish" and have all the posts be posted... or at least open up each local copy and press "Publish" to have the post be posted.

On this last point, I want the app to be able to use the various weblog APIs to be able to upload the posts directly to my weblogs.

I'm interested primarily in using plane trips as a time to be generating content. I do this all the time on my MacBook Pro using the offline blog editor MarsEdit, and love to use it for writing posts. The problem is that while MarsEdit is truly an awesome editor, the reality is that the airlines keep shrinking the space you have. It's a whole lot easier to bring out the iPad and write on it than it is to bring out the full size MacBook Pro.

I've tried a number of different apps, but so far not found what I'm looking for. There are some great blogging apps but they seem to assume that you will always have a connection. The WordPress app for the iPad is the closest I've seen, because you can create local drafts offline and then upload them... but that assumes you are using WordPress everywhere, which I'm unfortunately not yet doing.

My approach thus far has been to write up text in Evernote on the iPad and then copy/paste that into the web interface for one of my blogs. While that works, it's not as seamless as I want. I've tried a few of the HTML editors, too (because I write most of my posts in HTML, anyway), but again haven't found an ideal app yet.

Any iPad users found anything like this yet?

Image credit: wader on Flickr

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Watching Cairo Burn... And Egypt Go Offline...

We truly do live in amazing times. From my home here in New Hampshire, I could watch the amazing footage coming out of Cairo, Egypt, courtesy of the Al Jazeera English live video stream:


Incredible pictures... and an excellent job when I listened by the Al Jazeera anchors and staff as they tried to make sense of what all was happening.

Even more so as the Egyptian government seems to have severed all connectivity to the global Internet! Hundreds of stories have been written about this today, but the simplest illustration may be this chart attributed to Arbor Networks:


Internet connectivity into Egypt simply.... ended, outside of a few scattered pockets of connectivity.

The saga in Egypt will continue to play out over the hours and days ahead... it's a crazy time there right now... I do hope it all works out without too much chaos, but we'll see...

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What Obama Said Last Night in SOTU Speech, Versus What America Heard

Fascinating piece on the New York Magazine site today showing the Wordle cloud for the text of President Obama's State of the Union (SOTU) speech last night... versus what NPR found people remembered in a survey after the speech. Click on the image below to see the full text and images... and also check out the original NPR article, too, which breaks down the word clouds by political affiliation. Amusing to see.

obamasotu2011wordles.jpg P.S. I should note that the White House also has a blog post up with this word cloud... well, at least the first one! ;-)

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Watching ReadWriteWeb Content Scrapers in Action - Via WordPress Pingbacks

Admittedly it's been fascinating to watch the content scraping in action...

Last night the great folks at ReadWriteWeb wrote about one of my blog posts (about Node.js) in their "ReadWriteHack" channel. How did I first find out?

One of the spammy sites that scraped RWW's content sent a pingback to my blog post!

In WordPress, which I use on, a pingback comes in as a comment... and over the next few hours I received more and more... I'm still getting them now. I've visited several of them and they are the typical content scraping sites - they take someone's legitimate high-quality content and surround it by various ads (and without any links back to the original article)... hoping you will find their site first. These are the kind of sites that Google needs to keep working on devaluing (and they are).

You can see here some of the ones I've already killed as spam:


Now, I'm sure this is not all of the sites scraping RWW's content... I can see many other links in a Twitter search that certainly could be spammy sites, too.

I do wonder whether these sites wanted to send a pingback or whether they just installed WordPress and kept the default checkbox checked:


It very well may be that they do want the pingbacks, as they would appear as legitimate comments on my site which might then drive traffic over to them. They might be trying to game SEO, but WordPress sets all the comment links to rel='external nofollow' which will kill any SEO value.

Regardless... it's been interesting to watch... and, frankly, as a content creator myself, sad to see. But it is just another facet of this world of online content we live in today...

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Will OnSwipe Give You A Flipboard For Your Own Blog?

Viewing this post and video from TheNextWeb today, I couldn't help but wonder if OnSwipe will be like Flipboard for your own blog? The video makes me think it is perhaps some type of WordPress theme that would reformat your content for an iPad in a similar fashion to all the various themes that will reformat your blog for a mobile browser like the iPhone.

But is it purely a theme for WordPress? Or is it a hosted service? That's not clear from the video... and you can only sign up to be notified of the beta whenever that will happen.

Regardless, I definitely like what I see here! Being a heavy user of the iPad, I'd love to present my content in a format like this...

The Next Web / OnSwipe Interview from The Next Web on Vimeo.

What about you? Would you like a service or tool like this that took your existing content and made it look awesome on the iPad?

UPDATE: In the comments to TheNextWeb article, founder Jason Baptiste (shown in the video) says this:

We no longer and won't be offering the Flipboard look with OnSwipe. That was a technology demo we did previously as PadPressed.

Too bad on one level as I definitely like the look, but yes, it does conflict with what Flipboard already offers. It will be interesting, then, to see what they come up with...

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Google: We *will* kill search engine spam! (and devalue content farms)

SPAM Shrine
What is Google going to do about the perception that there are more "spam" sites in search results? What will Google do about content farms?

On Friday, Matt Cutts at Google published a great piece entitled "Google search and search engine spam that is worth reading for all involved in online content creation. Somewhat predictably, he starts out pointing out that in truth there is less spam in search results than there used to be... but then he clearly accepts the "perception equals reality" mantra and lays out what they are looking to do about it.

This part was interesting, particularly the last line:

To respond to that challenge, we recently launched a redesigned document-level classifier that makes it harder for spammy on-page content to rank highly. The new classifier is better at detecting spam on individual web pages, e.g., repeated spammy words—the sort of phrases you tend to see in junky, automated, self-promoting blog comments. We’ve also radically improved our ability to detect hacked sites, which were a major source of spam in 2010. And we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content.

This issue of people copying others' content continues to be an annoyance to me, particularly because content scrapers keep scraping a lot of Voxeo's old content. Anything that can reduce the value in people doing that is a win by me!

Similarly, there are a great number of sites out there operating as "content farms" that just spew out large quantities of low-grade content with the idea that they will increase your SEO/search engine results. Matt Cutts takes them on, too:

As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content.

For those of us who are actually spending the time to create quality content online, this is definitely good news.

He ends with a note that Google does not take into account whether or not sites run Google advertising when it is taking action against those sites. I'm inclined to believe them on this point, because at the end of the day, Google's a pretty geeky, hard-core technology company... and Search rules.

It's good to see Google come out with a clear statement like this... and I look forward to seeing what actions they take.

And for us who are creating online content, it's important to monitor whatever changes they make so that we don't wind up inadvertantly having our content somehow devalued amidst the changes.

Image credit: arndog on Flickr

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The FIR "Podroll" - *other* marketing/PR podcasts to listen to

FIR PodrollOn the January 17th FIR episode, Shel Holtz mentioned that he'd cleaned up the sidebar of the FIR site to make it both more readable and useful. Indeed he has and you can see the results at:

The most interesting part to me, though, is that if you scroll down the page toward the bottom of the sidebar, you come to the FIR "Podroll" listing other PR podcasts. Shel updated it and confirmed that all of these are active podcasts. While I knew most of them already, there were a couple that were new to me and so it was good to find out about them.

If you are looking for great audio content to listen to while you are traveling, working out or whatever, do check out the list!

P.S. And of course you can check out all the other aspects of the updated sidebar, too... :-)

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Beautifully done video celebrating IBM's 100 year history

Yesterday IBM put out a beautifully done video celebrating their 100th year of operations. It's very obviously professionally done (unlike many of the other videos I mention here), but I really like how they tell the story of the 100 years through 100 different people.

Well done, IBMers, and congrats on the many, many milestones that made up your history!

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Have You Ever Seen A SignUp Form Quite Like This? (

Signup forms... we've all seen them... probably made them... but have you ever seen one quite like the form to sign up for the beta of

Beta | Loggly.jpg

Yes, it takes me back to my childhood days and Mad Libs, but isn't that a much more fun experience than the standard form full of fields?

Kudos to the Loggly team for doing something different in the sea of signup forms!

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MLK Day And Celebrating One of the Great Orators of our Time

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the U.S. and while there are many reasons to celebrate and commemorate the life and message of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for communicators there is perhaps a particular aspect of King to reflect upon, namely his tremendous oratorical skills. Over on today, Andrew Dlugan analyzes MLK's most famous speech in "‘I Have a Dream’ holds 5 lessons for speechwriters and the post is well worth a read.

If you haven't listened to that speech in a while, it's worth the 11 minutes:

As a public speaker myself, I admittedly stand in awe of King's mastery of oratory.

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