Is Your WordPress Blog Ready for PHP5?

WordPress 3.2 is on its way soon. This version is scheduled to be the first WordPress release that drops PHP 4 support. The planned minimum supported version for the WordPress 3.2 release is PHP 5.2.

This means that your server must be running at least version 5.2 of PHP in order to install or upgrade to WordPress 3.2 and all the new features and fixes it will have.

How can you find out if your server supports PHP5.2? There are two ways:

  1. Find a free tool developed by WP community to check the server
  2. Contact your hosting company and ask them if their server is PHP5 ready.

Good news! Exploring Blogosphoere is WordPress 3.2 ready.

Before you find out the answer, do not upgrade your blog to WordPress 3.2.

Good luck blogging. 🙂

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Exploring Blogosphere Upgraded to WordPress 2.5.1

Today when I logined, there is a notice on the dashboard reminding me to upgrade to WordPress 2.5.1. I did the upgrade right away since my host company has one-click installation which allows me to do upgrade easily. The upgrade was smooth and fast. After that I started to wrote this post and I didn’t notice any difference.  WordPress 2.5.1 fixed some annoying bugs and improved performance. Here are some highlights from WordPress official site:

  • Performance improvements for the Dashboard, Write Post, and Edit Comments pages.
  • Better performance for those who have many categories
  • Media Uploader fixes
  • An upgrade to TinyMCE 3.0.7
  • Widget Administration fixes
  • Various usability improvements
  • Layout fixes for IE

Regardless, it’s always good to upgrade to the newest version. Try Wordress 2.5.1 out and tell your readers if there are any new bugs.

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Is Your Blog Reader-Friendly?

Reading blogs is part of my daily routine. I’ve stumbled upon many nice blogs with plenty of helpful information. I discussed blog reader-friendliness in my Sunflower blog last year. Here I would like to share my points with you again.

It’s the first impression for the visitors; therefore, it is critical to have a nice & simple template which matches the theme of your blog. The main colors should be selected very carefully as well.
Word Verification
Not many people like this because it wastes the readers’ time, although it can be used to avoid annoying comments spams and it is a personal preference.
A well-organized sidebar will definitely attract readers’ attention.
The Auto-linky and Chat-box are good examples to entertain and interact with the readers. Since not so many bloggers have these two features, make sure your commenting interface is easy to find and quick to load.
Ideal posts are are not too long and don’t have distracting spelling or grammar errors (I especially need to improve my grammar). In addition, don’t display more than ten posts on your homepage because the readers have to spend more time loading your blog.
Content is King
Without interesting content, it is hard to maintain regular readership. The question is how to make your posts interesting enough to attract your readers. I always find I am lack of inspiration 🙁

In summary, your blog is just like any other service or product in the market place. If you want to promote you blog and establish reader-loyalty, you have to please your readers (your customers) by making their reading easier, saving their time and providing more value-added information.

BTW, I don’t mean that my Exploring Blogosphere is reader-friendly enough. I am still learning and experimenting……

What are your criteria for a reader-friendly blog?

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How to Deal with Commenting Spam?

Today I checked my pending comments – 4689 spams waiting for me to delete! Wordpress only allow me to delete 25 spams/time. Let’s say 10seconds/25 spam, I have to spend 32 minutes (4689/20*10 = 32) to delete all these spams!! What a pain!!

Here is what I did to deal with commenting spams:
1. Turned off some popular post commenting function
2. Created a Comment Blacklist including those popular key words in spams
3. Created a Comment Blacklist including those IP of current spams

There are some drawbacks of the comment blacklist since readers might use same key words as those on the list. In that case, their comments will be marked as spam 🙁

Anyone knows any idea to deal with spam? Thanks!

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Blogosphere has been Upgraded to WordPress2.5!

ExploringBlogosphere has been waiting for WordPress 2.5 for a long time. Based on WordPress website, “The improvements in 2.5 are numerous: multi-file uploading, one-click plugin upgrades, built-in galleries, customizable dashboard, salted passwords and cookie encryption, media library, a WYSIWYG that doesn’t mess with your code, concurrent post editing protection, full-screen writing, and search that covers posts and pages”.

I will let you know my opinions about WordPress2.5 later.

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New 3 Column WordPress Template

If “Content is King”,  then “Theme is Queen”, because the first impression of your blog/site decides if visitors will stay to look around or leave right away.

Today I spent a lot of time looking for a new 3 column WordPress template. After I installed this Tech-O-Crunch Theme, I started to tweak the HTML codes and CSS and used PhotoShop to edit the header graphic. I like the clean & nice layout and the white & wide post area – very Web 2.0 🙂

Do you like my new template? 

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WordPress Vs. Blogger

A couple of my fellow bloggers have left comments asking me if I like WordPress more than Blogger. Based on my experience, I would say that both WordPress and Blogger have their own advantages and disadvantages; below I will discuss this topic. WordPress here refers to free WordPress blogs, not those with custom domains like Exploring Blogosphere. Blogger refers to free Blog*Spot blogs.

The new Blogger is very simple and easy to use, especially for beginners. You can use drag-and-drop template editing to edit page elements such as pictures, feeds, HTML/Java Script, adsense, link list, etc. You can change your template and tweak HTML codes if you wish. However, there are not very many Blogger templates available on the net. You have to spend plenty of time learning HTML or pay someone else to do it for you.

On the other hand, WordPress has many free templates (Themes) for their users. WordPress also has more features, such as blog stats, feed stats, categories, etc. You can edit the blog header image easily by entering the image URL, and arrange the sidebar by using the sidebar widget. It takes a little extra time to get familiar with all these features for the first time users. Once you master it, you will have more fun.

Therefore, if you are interested in learning new stuff, WordPress is a better choice. If you just want to share your daily ramblings with friends and don’t want to handle possible tech issues, go for New Blogger. Anyway, Blogger is owned by Google. It’s not likely that Google will let it down; although, Blogger has its own issues. Plus, there are more Blogger users participating in the weekly MeMes 🙂

Blogger or WordPress? What’s your opinion?

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Disappeared Visual Editor

Since I upgraded Exploring Blogosphere blog to WordPress version 2.1.3, I’ve found that the visual editor disappeared.  I didn’t solve this problem until tonight when I searched the WordPress support forum. Here is the thread of this issue. For some unknown reason,  the visual edit button just becomes invisible after WordPress version upgrade.

If you have the same issue, here is what you should do: go to Users -> Your Profile -> enable the top checkbox “Use the visual editor when writing” -> Update the Profile. The visual editor will show up again. It’s just a small button; however, without it, your WordPress blogging experience won’t be as enjoyable as it should be.

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About Blogger Custom Domain

If you are a BlogSpot blogger, you can get your own domain name and still host your blog on for free. However, there are a few unsolved issues when transferring you Blogger blog to your own domain.

Before I started Exploring Blogosphere, I’d tried to use this domain name with my blogspot blog, but I found that it’s not worthwhile. The main reason is that the process is not as simple as it should be, and the result is not what you want.

After registering your domain, you’ll need to create a corresponding CNAME record for that address, associating it with A CNAME (Canonical Name) record is an entry within the DNS (Domain Name System) that specifies where a user can find your web pages. You’ll use this to associate your custom domain with your blog. Each domain registrar has different ways to create CNAME records. After I completed the DNS setting based on the instructions provided by Google, I found that worked fine, but simply didn’t work. I did an online search and discovered that it is a known issue in Blogger Status. Blogger is trying to but has not solved this problem.

So if you want to have your own domain, you should either start a brand new WordPress blog like Exploring Blogosphere, or wait untill Blogger resolves this issue. Or otherwise, you will be annoyed and frustrated. 🙁

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WordPress Upgrade to Version 2.1.3

FYI, the latest version, WordPress Version 2.1.3, was released to the public on April 3, 2007. You can visit and read the Detailed Instructions or How to Upgrade in Five Steps.

My hosting company, DreamHost, provides one-click installation, so I don’t have to worry about anything – It’s a critial feature to consider when you select a web hosting service. I’ve completed the upgrade process, but my WP/Admin is still showing 2.1.2. Maybe something wrong with the one-click upgrade sofeware?

I’ve submited a support ticket and will keep you informed once I solve this problem.

Update: DreamHost replied back that the one-click installer was pushing out the wrong files. So I reinstalled it and now I am in WordPress 2.1.3. 🙂

Note: Just in case you don’t know the version of your WordPress blog, check the footer in your dashboard after you login WP/admin. Please note that your blog template version might not show as 2.1.3 because the template version usually only changes if it’s a major update such as 2.2, on minor updates such as 2.1.3, it stays 2.1.

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