Archive for the ‘Metroblogging’ Category

Brief Updates from MBHQ

You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.

The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.

The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.

There are a bunch of other things we changed but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!

Love,
The folks at MBHQ

What I learned at WordCamp Montreal

Matt Mullenweg, WP founder, at WordCamp Montreal (photo by Eva Blue)

Matt Mullenweg, WP founder, at WordCamp Montreal (photo by Eva Blue)

After I posted my last blog about going to WordCamp Montreal, an ironic thing happened: my personal WordPress blog (buttontapper.com) ceased to exist. It’s back online, mostly, at the time I’m writing this, but a lot of my blogs have disappeared into the ether. Which I hope will serve as a warning to back up your own site weekly, if not daily, but probably won’t because, as we all know, people don’t like to do things until they learn from a bad experience.

ANYWAY, all that to say that I was going to be reporting on WordCamp on my blog, but since it got destroyed when my former hosting provider went AWOL, I ended up spending a good chunk of my weekend reinstalling WordPress, hunting down the files I’d lost, reinstalling old and new plugins, and otherwise jerking around on my site. Instead of reporting on WordCamp. I suck.

In an attempt to make up for the fact that I’ve clearly failed you all, I thought I would share some of the things I did manage to learn during my Saturday at WordCamp (Sunday was just way too hectic to make it to the SAT), and pass the wisdom of the crowd along.

The first talk I heard was CT Moore’s presentation on WP-MU (a version of which you can also find online at his website, Gypsy Bandito). He basically gave a quick walk-through on how to install the program, and an overview as to what it can do. If you’re going to be manipulating multiple blogs, whether on a single domain or across several domains, you should definitely consider installing MU. That’s what it’s designed for, as the name stands for Multiple Users. You can give admin privileges to lots of different people, let lots of people create blogs on your site, share admin privileges across multiple sites, and basically get a hell of a lot of blogs all managed under one system. It sounded pretty excellent, so I have been debating installing it on my own computer, but since I only currently own the domains for two blogs, that might be a bit overkill. Sure, I have to log into two separate interfaces, but it also helps keep them separate in my mind. If you had multiple blogs at one domain, this would probably be way more useful to you.

The second talk was actually a loose Q&A with Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress. Matt was in Montreal on vacation, so he didn’t want to give his usual “State of the Word” talk, but you can watch it online at WordPressTV if you’re curious. He’s been touring the various WordCamps throughout North America, and figured he couldn’t skip ours, even if it was during the final days of the Jazz Fest. Anyway, I thought he was super cool and had lots of good things to say about the WordPress community and how open-source software works, why it’s important to give back, and why people like Bill Gates will someday be giving their own software away for free. You should definitely watch the video, because he’s very optimistic and upbeat, and it’s nice to get that kind of perspective in a world that is so often cynical about community, and online communities in particular.

The last talk I stayed for was Brad Williams‘ WordPress security talk, which had lots of useful tips and tricks for keeping your personal site safe (with WordPress installed). I believe he said he would have all his tips online at his website, but I don’t think they’re online there yet. To summarize, you should:

  • Have a secure password, that isn’t based on dictionary words (duh, but how many of us really do this?)
  • Keep your WordPress files up to date with the latest plugins and WP installs
  • Make a different account your admin account, and delete the original “admin” user
  • Give your WordPress files a random prefix that hackers won’t be able to guess, instead of the default “wp-“

I think there were a few more tips that I’m forgetting, but those stood out as the most important and easiest to do, for starters.

There was quite a good turn-out for WordCamp Montreal, and if anybody else wants to share any insights they had or things they learned there, feel free to post those below.

Concordia Co-op Bookstore

Entrance to the Co-op Bookstore, 2150 Bishop

Entrance to the Co-op Bookstore, 2150 Bishop (photo by Laura Roberts)

As my first post on Metblogs, I’d like to give a shout out to my friends at the Concordia Co-op Bookstore. These guys and gals rock my world, as they’re one of the best independent bookstores in Montreal. Oddly enough, they seem to have trouble getting bodies in the store, despite their extremely unique selection, with an emphasis on sexy books, feminism and queer literature, political and DIY stuff, and just plain rad savings on day-to-day items like pens, notebooks and even flat-tire kits for your bike.

Honestly, it’s a no-brainer to shop there. Why? Because they ALWAYS charge below suggested retail prices on everything in the store! If you become a member ($10 FOR LIFE!), you’ll get even bigger discounts, but you DON’T have to be a member to shop here.

All in all, it’s a winning proposition. You can find new books, used books, and even textbooks there. If you’re an artistic type who makes zines or t-shirts, you can even consider their Artisan Consignment services to sell your wares. They’ve always got interesting events happening, which you can find out via their Facebook page, or through their email newsletters, and the people who work there are super friendly and kick-ass.

Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go to the Co-op Bookstore at 2150 Bishop, on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between noon and 5PM (their summer hours), and check it out!

Return

Hello everyone.  After a two year hiatus I’ve decided to return as a writer for the Montreal Metblog.  One of the reasons for leaving was the demands of a young family.  But the now older family is the same reason that I have decided to come back.  Seeing as how fellow Metblog authors, Zura & S, offer interesting tidbits of life in the city for everyone, I thought I would be able to offer interesting tidbits for parents.  Over the past year we’ve been exploring many of the cultural establishments of the city in order to expand the minds of our kids.  So after almost six years of living here, we are still discovering new and interesting places that I figure would be of interest to other parents and likely everyone. Montreal is a amazing city which continues to offer fascinating places to see and things to do.

It’s good to be back and I hope that what I have to offer will be of interest to you.

Hi Y’all

I’m the latest initiate to the Montréal Metblog roster.

Or, what’s left of it. Getting mighty scant in here, I must say. Theories abound of an arch-fiend of some sort devouring a once vibrant local authorship, and spitting out bones in its wake. As such, I feel compelled to whistle nervously as I make my way through, collecting post ideas for firewood.  The good, the bad and the ugly of this city is what I’ll be pounding pavements to find and deliver. And, if I’m lucky, maybe there’ll even be a good story or two worth telling.

So, with a curt curtsey, and a hearty “pleased to be here”, the stage is set.

Hope you stay tuned.

Introducing The Hub

hub.metblogs

If Metblogs is a city, hub.metblogs is the playground. We kept hearing from people that one of their favorite parts of Metblogs was meeting and interacting with readers and writers from other parts of the world, as well as getting requests for more ways that readers could be involved besides just posting comments. We thought about this for a while and decided that with a network like this, a giant community area where folks from all over the world could hang out, post photos and videos, talk with each other, form groups, play games, send messages, and do about a million other things was probably a pretty fun idea. The Hub is that.

If you have any tech ideas or suggestions join this group and speak up. See you on hub.metblogs!

Come Blog With Us

moar.gifWriting for Metblogs has the potential to be the most rewarding experience in your entire life. It’ll make you rich, famous, good looking, will help you lose weight, make your clothes fit better, and get you a super good deal on a new car. It will make you the most well known person on the entire planet. Yes, each and every one of you. Really.

OK maybe not. Actually those are all lies, but it’s fun at least. The truth is Metblogs is the largest network of locally focused blogs on the web, covering almost 60 cities around the world and we’re looking to add a few new bloggers/writters/authors to this fine site. If you wanna know more about us check out this wikipedia entry but it’s kinda boring so I won’t waste time repeating it all here again. If you wanna write for us, here’s the scoop:

  • All author positions are volunteer. That means you don’t get paid.
  • You must live in (or very near) the city you plan to write about.
  • Anything you post must relate to the city somehow. That means you shouldn’t post a movie review, but talking about going to see a movie at a local theater is fine.
  • There’s no requirement for how much you can or should write, but we ask that if we set you up as an author you make about 3 posts a week.
  • You can post about things you love, you can post about things you hate. It’s entirely up to you

Additionally, because of our global network, there’s plenty of options for things you write to be read by people all over the world. Interested? Want more details? Post a comment and we’ll be in touch!

Terrible!!

No post here since May 3rd. That’s terrible. I must break that… whatever it can be called. Until this post, I have disappeared from the author list. And so has Andre, which is rather surprising to me. So few authors in Montreal.

Here’s a trivial subject: the weather! It’s been a terrible week of rain, clouds and low temperatures, well below what Montreal should get in May. Hopefully, it’s going to get back to normal next week.

On a personal level, I don’t have internet at home. It started as a nightmare, but I have come to appreciate Gmail’s filters which I use to forward messages to my phone. I’m also finding out WiFi around that city, that are way faster than what I used to have at home. I’m enjoying working in cafes and stealing people’s unprotected internet access. Last year, I discovered that the Old Port of Montreal offers free wireless internet access, I’ll have to go back down there at some point.

Looks like they changed the furniture while I was gone

Unless you are visiting us on a web browser, you might not have noticed that a lot has changed in the Metroblogging world over the past week. “Unfortunately” I was on vacation in Rome so I have been unable to comment about these changes until now. In addition to the new layout, you will now have the opportunity to rate our entries. The damage to our egos is expected to be fairly severe but I have been promised ample stocks of Prozac and Single Malt Scotch. Another significant change is that commenting will require signing up for an account. While this may seem to be an unneeded addition for Metroblogging Montreal, the situation in other cities has made this requirement necessary. This will also make it much easier to magically transform prolific/clever commentors into official authors. Yes, I now have that kind of awesome power (I think, I haven’t tried my new magic wand yet). The most significant change, by far, is under the hood. The Metroblogging sites are now powered by a homemade variant of WordPress. Those of you who posted comments in the old MT-“un”powered version have probably noticed how slow it was. Trust me, it was even worse when posting stories and this was not helping with our productivity. Some of our old authors have already expressed interest in contributing again.

Avis aux puristes de la langue

Notre projet de bilinguisation de Metroblogging Montreal avance bien, j’ai deja recu deux soumissions et notre invitation commence a etre publicisee dans d’autres carnets. De plus, certains de nos contributeurs s’en sont trouves encourages a ecrire dans leur langue maternelle.

Par contre il me reste un deuxieme probleme beaucoup plus tenace, celui des accents. L’utilisation d’accent n’est pas un probleme lorsqu’on lit ce blog sur un fureteur. Malheureusement, la majorite de nos lecteurs utilisent un aggregateur de fils RSS et pour eux, les billets ressemblent a ca:

Ma m??re au t??l??phone ce matin me conseille de ne pas trop sortir aujourd’hui… Il fait 40??C ?? Montreal me dit t’elle, (directement de Blanc-Sablon, sur la Basse-C??te-Nord, o?? il fait maximum 20??C l’??t??)! En effet, le site d’environnement Canada affiche une mise en garde pour Montr??al: chaleur et humidit?? accablantes. Comment passez-vous une journ??e si chaude?

Le probleme est localise au niveau de Movable Type, l’application qui sert a creer ce blog, et nous ne connaissons pas de solution autre que de passer a une autre application ce qui n’est pas une mince tache pour un reseau aussi etendu que le notre.

J’ai donc demande a nos contributeurs de ne pas utiliser d’accents dans leurs textes en francais. L’alternative est la “perfection” dans un format et l’abomination dans l’autre. En attendant, si vous connaissez une solution qui fonctionne avec MT 3.2, je serais heureux de l’entendre.

Merci.

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