Google Blogger vs. WordPress, Blog Wars: Part 1 – The Test

August 23, 2007

I have recently gotten into blogging and in the process, wanted to determine which blog engine I felt was best. So I created a working blog in the following engines:

  • Google Blogger: AlongthePathto20.blogspot.com
  • Google Blogger, redirected to my domain: BlueDei.Blogspot.com redirected to blog.bluedei.com (either of these addresses go to the same place, my google blog)
  • WordPress.com (hosted on WordPress): AllThingsWeb20.wordpress.com
  • WordPress.org (installed on my subdomain): clear.bluedei.com
  • WordPress.com (used to test backing up a blog, this is the vanilla wordpress.com blog with just an import of my posts from my Google blog, AlongthePathto20): clearbluedei.wordpress.com
  • Vox blog: smmellott.vox.com
  • LiveJournal blog: smmellott.livejournal.com
  • TypePad and MovableType: didn’t create because they charge for them and I would have made a “free trial” blog but it wanted me to select a plan and put in my charge card info and I gather the free trial meant I could cancel it for free. So of course, I didn’t do anything with either of these.

You can go take a look at each of these to see how they look.

I have been actively customizing, testing and using the Google blogger blog: Alongthepathto20 and the WordPress.com blog: allthingsweb20 and the wordpress.org blog: clear.bluedei.com.

These 3 were my primary test cases and I have been copying any post I write to each of them. I have also been trying out their different features and seeing what they can and can’t do. So they are all highly customized.

The others I created for testing some particular feature (like redirecting a google blog to a domain name or testing the import feature of wordpress.com) or for trying some of the other, less popular blogs just to compare and see if they had something worth looking at. The vox and livejournal blogs I did very little customizing to. I mostly just set a template and posted a post and poked around.

I did not test ExpressionEngine, (someone commented they use this but I didn’t look at it, might be a Content Management System) TextPattern,(actually Content Management System) Joomla, (also Content Management System) Windows Live Spaces, or B2Evolution. Nor did I test Drupal, which is considerably more than a blog and worth a whole evaluation of its own (with the other similar tools, like Joomla) Those are actually Content Management Systems so are outside the scope of this test.

So now you have what I used for my testing. Go look at each of these to get a feel for what each is basically like. And stay tuned for “Google Blogger vs. WordPress, Blog Wars: Part 2 – The Results”

~Susan Mellott

Hello world!

August 23, 2007

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Doing the JibJab Disco

August 21, 2007

Star in Your Own JibJab! It’s Free!

Is this cool or what? It’s a bit of a waste of time, but a lot of fun. It will be better when they add more movies and things. I can see some possibilities, but for now it is just a fun thing to try.

Also, this link should take you to our video on JibJab. BTW, you can create a post/link directly from JibJab to Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, Typepad and several other Web 2.0 tools. And it generates html to add it elsewhere.

Thanks to Libraryman, from whom I shamelessly stole, even down to starring in the same movie. What can I say, it was the best one🙂

~Susan Mellott

Beyond Skype: Keeping up with the Web 2.0 World

August 21, 2007

Well I’m sure you all are getting as sick of the repeated speculations as to what really happened with Skype. So am I.

In many ways, it is unfortunate that so much has been written about the Skype outage, to the point that now that people are looking at it from a broader perspective, such as why did their communication fail, or how companies need to review their backup plans for situations such as these, either no one wants to read about it or it gets buried in the overwhelming amount of Skype related posts.

But the bigger picture is not about what happened to Skype as much as it is about how Skype tried outdated, 1.0 communcation techniques that failed miserably in the current 2.0 environment. Even in their ‘clarification’ post today on the situation, seems to sort of recognize they have a communications problem, but clearly doesn’t recognize why.

And forget this is about Skype. Think of it as about any company, in a situation that affects their users and how they communicate and handle the situation.

I wish I had written this post, but it says everything I would want to and so rather than repeat it, just go read P.R. 2.0’s post called “Crisis Communication 2.0 – The Skype is Falling“. Or if you prefer, here is the post on a white background (I don’t care as much for black background with white lettering if I’m trying to read something).

And I hope this doesn’t get buried in the continuing rehash of the Skype problem

~Susan Mellott

Skype – Their Outage explanation doesn’t make sense

August 21, 2007

We use Skype and we purchased the SkypeOut plan for unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada and we buy Skype minutes to call New Zealand since my husband’s family lives there. We also use it to talk to his brother in Italy and we use the video sometimes too, which is really nice.

I like Skype a lot and have been a strong supporter of Skype. And it has been very reliable. But I’ve always said that you can tell more about a company when it has problems and you can see how they handle them, than when everything runs smoothly. Every company has problems and there have been many times that what I thought was a good company, turned out to be bad in a crisis.

I took a cruise on Royal Olympic cruise lines to Greece and Turkey and I really liked their itinerary, their food and the ship (not my cabin, but that is another story). But I had problems with my luggage when I arrived and they were unresponsive and when we were to disembark, they had put me on a bus that gave me almost no time to check in at the airport and they refused to allow me to get on an earlier bus. Naturally, I ended up missing my plane and standing in the middle of the Athens airport crying (the trip was amazing, but was so exhausting that my reserves were absolutely shot). And they had just dropped me off at the airport and split. After much problems, I eventually got home.

But that soured me so much on Royal Olympic that I would have nothing to do with them, even though they had interesting cruises and had (after much hassle) offered me $500 towards another cruise. They have since gone out of business and I am not surprised.

Anyway, I think Skype dropped the ball on this and I think their post that they finally issued today on why they had the problems, just doesn’t make any sense to me. And not just to me. Just read all the comments on their post – it is up to 320 comments so far. Mauricio Freitas speaks on this in his post Skype Outage caused by Windows Update? Yeah, Right. As he points out: the Windows Updates run at 3am local time. So everyone’s PC does not reboot all at once, they would reboot as their own particular local time hits 3am. And by the time the update would take effect in New Zealand where he is, the outage would have already been in affect for a ridiculously long time. Also,Windows Update is delivered every second Tuesday of the month, and has been for the last three years so what makes it cause a problem this time?

The Microsoft Security Response Center blog posted a response to Skype who asserted it was caused by all the PCs rebooting from the Tuesday Windows update and basically said that they were in contact with Skype and there was nothing unusual with this particular Windows update and there was nothing in the update that would have caused any problems. They said “Fortunately, Skype has identified the cause. As Villu Arak notes, “a previously unseen software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm” was the cause, and they have corrected it.” That doesn’t say anything bad about Skype, but essentially says Skype found a problem in their software and fixed it.

But what does Villu’s statement mean? What specifically was the problem and what caused it to occur then and why do they feel it won’t happen again? I would not necessarily be able to understand a full explanation, but the beauty of the internet is that there are people who would and who would determine if what they said made sense and would work to fix the problem. But who can say one way or the other when all they say is that it was “a previously unseen software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm”. And there is a real concern about it being a P2P network model.

And as MyITForum says in their post on this, “Skype’s main development unit is in Estonia. Estonia’s infrastructure was targeted by massive denial-of-service attacks earlier this year. This tied together with the fact that a new Denial-of-Service exploit against Skype server software was posted to securitylab.ru just hours ago has created lots rumors about what’s really going on.”

Infoworld had a very good article called “Skype Users don’t Buy Outage Explanation. CSO, the resource for Security Executives asked some specific questions of ennifer Caukin, a Skype spokeswoman. The answers were weak, at best and she said there was no one in the U.S. who could answers the questions today (maybe tomorrow…?). The Skype Journal writes about this and has several thoughts on what Skype needs to do to address this correctly with its users. And Computerworld had a good article asking “Does Skype’s Windows update story fly?” (Thanks to Greg of Voip Spider for turning me on to this article.)

I like what Mike McGrath said on his comment to Skype Journal’s post: “

The great Outage of 2007 has some important lessons. The most surprising to me is that there are many folks out there that believe you have no right to complain about something that’s free. Does that mean I have no right to complain about polluted air?

Still, I like Skype and will continue to use it. I hope Skype takes this opportunity to understand the blogoshere’s reaction, good, bad or ugly and make some adjustments that will be good for everyone.”

Skype should had sent emails to every user of Skype (especially the paying customers) and continued to update with real information regularly. Now they need to answer the questions still being posed and answer them thoroughly. I expect nothing less of them, or of any company.

~Susan Mellott

Library Genius 2.0 Shirts are now Available!

August 19, 2007

In my post of August 8, I wrote about the very cool Library Genius 2.0 t-shirts that Kay Gregg and Sean Robinson of the Allen County Public Library created for the Learning 2.0 program for the library staff that the ACPL is going to kick off on Sept 19 when Stephen Abrams, VP of Innovation at SirsiDynix comes to speak on Library 2.0 at the ACPL. By the way, this talk will be open to the public. Here is a picture of Kay modeling the t-shirt.

lg2shirt.jpg

Well, everyone really liked the t-shirts and the icons and had been asking them where they could get one for themselves or for their own library’s learning programs. So Sean and Kay set up a store under Printfection/library2_0 where you can buy these shirts and some other styles like long-sleeve t-shirts and baseball shirts and others and also tote bags and aprons and mouse pads. They come in a ton of colors and there is a good discount for bulk purchases. They are cheapest in white, a little more in light colors and a little more than that in dark colors. You can see all the wholesale pricing options by picking style and color and then clicking on the pricing tab.

Helene Blowers, Public Services Technology Director for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) and creator of the Learning 2.0 concept, wrote about these shirts on her blog, librarybytes.com. ACPL sent her a shirt in appreciation of her work on Learning 2.0. Here is a picture she took of the shirt and buttons.

Sean and Kay are working on creating buttons for this also and they will put them in their store on cafepress (along with some other things like messenger bags and coffee mugs) since Printfection does not have buttons as an option. They already have the bags and coffee mugs there, but need to upload the individual icons to create the buttons. If you are interested in the buttons, check back on the cafepress store because they are working on getting them created right now.

Cafepress has a lot of options of different types of items, but Printfection is less expensive and offers wholesale prices also. I’d go to Printfection unless there was a particular thing you wanted, like the messenger bag (which I really want!). Or the buttons, since that is the only place to get them. It does appear they have a way to offer the buttons in batches, like of 10, or 100.

Also, other libraries, such as the Harris County Public Library are using the icons that Kay created for their own Learning 2.0 programs which is what Sean had hoped people would do. He wanted to be able to contribute to the Learning 2.0 program. You can read about this and their other ideas, initiatives and Learning 2.0 projects in the ACPL Innovation Through Technology blog. Many people in many libraries have worked on Learning 2.0 and Library 2.0 and have shared with each other to create great things.

Cooperation, collaboration and sharing. That’s what its all about!

~Susan Mellott lib

Automobile 2.0: The smart car is coming!

August 18, 2007

I just have to say that I really, really, really want one of these cars! You can see them at the Smart Car website. They cost under $12,000 for the basic model, up to under $17,000 for the Smart fortwo Passion Cabrio which is a tricked-out convertible model. I like the middle of the road model, the smart fortwo passion, for under $14,000.

smartcar.jpg

I’ve seen this car overseas and admired it and now it is coming to the U.S. The vehicle is designed to achieve 40 plus mpg under normal driving conditions and current standards. The top speed is 90 mph, which is plenty for me. Here is a link to the FAQ page on the smart car.

You can reserve a smart car for $99 which is applicable to your purchase of a smart car and is refundable any time.

We bought a new Scion XB a couple years ago, which I also love (its name is Squeezle🙂. We are lucky we got one when we did because they discontinued the original XB and made a new one that is not nearly as cool. And we have a big Dodge Ram truck since we live in the country and get firewood and all.

So we just don’t need another car and certainly can’t going buying everything we want. But I have some serious hots for this car!

~Susan Mellott

Skype – It’s not the Problem, it’s how They Handled It

August 18, 2007

Skype appears to be starting to become available. I have been able to access it consistently for several hours. But it is hard to find out how many people are still without Skype and if you cannot get Skype yet, please send me a comment so we can keep track of what the real picture is.

Skype has not been forthcoming at all with what the problem is and there is much speculation that it was caused either by the planned maintenance that took place right before Skype went down, or by a hacker attack or both, through an opening while performing the system maintenance. Here is a good article by PCWorld on why people feel it could have been an attack and it says:

“eBay attributes the outage to a problem in a Skype networking algorithm, but code has been posted to a Russian security discussion forum that could supposedly be used to knock the service offline in a DOS (denial of service) attack.

The code, which was published anonymously, appears to be capable of forcing Skype’s servers to freeze up, said the discussion forum site’s editor, Valery Marchuk, in a posting to the Full Disclosure security discussion list. “Reportedly, it must have caused Skype massive disconnections,” he wrote.”

Even though Skype/ebay denies either of these and is blaming it on a “software problem” (could they be any more vague?), they are both not unreasonable scenarios. Skype is only going to quell any rumors if it gives a good and specific reason as to what happened. They can, and obviously would, say whatever they felt was the safest and less likely to frighten customers away. And that is not unusual, that is what any company would do.

Look at 365 Main when the big outage hit San Francisco a couple weeks ago. Rather than saying they didn’t have proper power backup systems (UPS), a company representative said “Someone came in sh*tfaced drunk, got angry, went berserk, and f**ked up a lot of stuff. There’s an outage on 40 or so racks at minimum.” ValleyWag had a good article on this with lots of interesting links.

While Skype is not updating us on the situation, you can go to the original post on the Skype blog about Skype login problems and read the comments to see what is going on with people in different areas. And here is the latest update at midnight GMT August 18 on the heartbeat.skype.com official Skype site. Basically, it says “We are pleased to announce that the situation continues to improve. The sign-on problems have been resolved. Skype presence and chat may still take a few more hours to be fully operational.” I wonder if all the sign-on problems are now resolved. There are about 4 million users online at this moment. That is less than usual, but some may not have tried to get back on so it is hard to tell.

Skype has been really reliable and this is a rare occuraence, but I think that Skype did a very poor job of keeping people updated. Many people didn’t even know there was a general Skype problem and spent a lot of time trying to figure out why their Skype was not working.

Skype has everyone’s email address that uses Skype and they could have easily sent out emails to everyone stating the situation and giving regular updates (and specifics on what they are finding wrong and what they are doing to correct it).

People say “Skype is free so who are you to complain?”. Well, many, many people actually pay for Skype, believe it or not, and use it for their businesses, their help desks, their contacts and their phone system. I am a paying customer of Skype. At the very least, they owe it to the people who pay for their service to provide a better communication than just a couple posts on their heartbeat website saying nothing more than Skype is having problems and they are working on it.

According to GigaOm’s post on Skype Groans and SIPhone Gains: “The company saw a 400% increase in traffic this morning, with 4 times increase in sales, calls and downloads of its Gizmo Project software. “It is interesting to see that voice callers are transitory,” Michael Robertson, founder, SIPphone wrote in an email.”

Yes, voice callers ARE transitory. And people who change to Gizmo Project, or use Jajah or any of the other ways to make calls, very well may not go back. And while you can say that these may not be the paying customers, people who use Skype for free today, are the paying customers of tomorrow. I used it for free until I decided it was good and I wanted to expand what I could do. And I recommend it to other people who do business in other countries.

I am going to wait and see how this plays out before I recommend Skype again. I have always said that you can tell more about a company by the way they handle problems, than by how well they do when there are no problems. Every company has occasional problems, its how they are handled when they happen that makes the difference.

~Susan Mellott

No Skype yet (Infoworld article to the contrary)

August 17, 2007

Well I got up this morning and despite my hopes that Skype would be up, especially since it was partly up last night, no such luck. I did see it briefly flicker on this morning (for about 15 seconds), but essentially it is completely unavailable for me.

Interestingly enough, in my Skype Yahoo News feed, there is a big headline from Infoword that says Outage of Skype’s VoIP Service appears to be Over. Uh, I don’t think so. Upon reading the article, it goes on to say: “At 3:53 a.m. GMT, Skype seemed to be operating normally, with users in Asia able to log in, view their contact lists, place calls, and send messages.” OK, I gues they should have said the outage seems to be over in Asia, because it sure isn’t over in the U.S.

Skype has been posting short updates on its Skype Heartbeat blog. The latest was at 11am GMT. They are really not giving a lot of information at all in their posts. They certainly are not giving any indications what the problem is, although they are quick to say what the problems aren’t, as in this from the latest post: “Finally, we’d like to dispel a couple of theories that we are still hearing. Neither Wednesday’s planned maintenance of our web-based payment services nor any form of attack was related to the current sign-on issues in any way”

I’m sorry, but when you make a big deal about Skype being down for planned maintenance the night of the 15th and on the 16th everything is broke, I’d tend to look a what was done during the maintenance because as any programmer or computer person knows, if something goes wrong, you try to figure out what was changed and that is a good place to start. Skype did mention on one of its updates that there was a deficiency in an algorithm (whatever that means).

The VoIP Guides blog says “The Real issue was because of a deficiency in an algorithm within Skype networking software. This controls the interaction between the user’s own Skype client and the rest of the Skype network. We at VOIP Guide feel, the issue was related to authentication algorithm used on their P2P network which uses a very speculative “supernodes” technology. If anyone of you have read our very interesting article on “skype supernodes and vulnerability“, you would probably know how insecure skype could be.”

They go on to explain more about this. Unfortunately, their link to the article on skype supernodes and vulnerability does not work. I did find this article of their about the issues with supernodes.

They have a pretty decent site with a lot of information (if you can get past all the advertisements). They also mentioned Jajah software as an alternative to Skype and I have heard of Jajah as well as Gizmo Project. From the sound of it, Jajah may be easier and quicker to use, especially for a quick, short term solution.

If this keeps up (Skype stays down) then I will have to check these out and I will post my results then.

And it seems that Infoworld retracted its previous statement and has released an article saying that Skype problems may continue throughout the day.

~Susan Mellott

Skype is Back! Well, up and down…

August 17, 2007

Skype is up again! Well, it is fluctuating on and off but it appears to be getting there. Skype Heartbeat issued this statement at 2:15am GMT saying essentially that they are working on the problem and feel they are making progress (could they say any less and still issue a statement?).

I’m going to bed and hopefully it will be good to go tomorrow morning. And I do have to say that I think Skype is in general a very reliable piece of software. I can’t remember it going down before. But the problem is that so many people rely so heavily on Skype now that Skype going down is like losing your entire phone service.

I got an email from someone who said that their business phones were run completely through Skype and they are having to try to contact people (and be contacted by people) completely through email until this gets resolved. But I’m betting it will be fixed when I get up (fingers crossed).

And if people doubt that Skype is a major player and extremely important to people, just because of my posts on Skype being down, My first Skype post was #27 on the Top Posts on WordPress.com today and my All Things Web 2.0 blog was #5 in the WordPress.com list of fastest growing blogs. Ah, the fame! It will be back to reality tomorrow though🙂 So Thank You Skype for that, anyway🙂

Susan Mellott


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