Getting Opinions: Poll Plugins for WordPress Blogs

While everybody that blogs really likes to get comments to find out what people think of your writing, a look at the statistics you get from the plugins I looked at last time, will tell you most folks do not say much. In fact, most of them do not say anything at all. But there are other ways to find out what they think. One of those ways is to use a poll. There are a lot of polling agencies out there, but if you can’t afford to hire AC Nielsen or Gallup, you can use one of these plugins to at least get an idea.

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Who’s watching? Statistics Plugins for your WordPress Blog

Not a good day at all. A late post today, shorter than I was planning, because my ISP went out twice, for hours each time, in less than 15 hours. This will teach me to wait until the last minute to finish writing a post. Well, okay, it probably won’t teach me. But this one is finally done.

One of the things everyone writing a blog wonders is if anyone is reading. The best way to know that from the huge amount of comments you get when you post your wonderful words of wisdom. Unfortunately, most of the people that visit your blog do not leave any comments. This is true even on busy blogs, a fact is a comfort for those of us that do not get many comments, but it does not really help find out what folks are reading. So let us look at what the prolific plugin producers have given us to find out this information.

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City of Heroes Issue 14 Beta

I have mentioned before that I play the MMO City of Heroes. I have been playing it since the first day it was offered for sale, and the only reason I signed up that late was I had somehow completely missed its existence until about 2 weeks before that. But I have been there ever since. And on occasion, I have been picked to participate in the closed beta testing of new issues (The name of the free updates that NCSoft puts out). This occurred a couple of weeks ago for the next issue, number 14: Architect.

I was quite surprised to receive the email. I had been sick for a while and not playing much at all on the live servers. And I had totally missed the fact that the Closed Beta was even going on. I am obviously not always the most observant person about some things.

I was not one of the people that has been eagerly anticipating the Mission Architect, I had some vague ideas about stories I might make, but I have not been planning anything special. But that did not stop me from logging on to the Test server and checking out it out.

It was much more and less then I was expecting. Almost complete control over the text and dialogue of the missions you create, the ability to use the character creator and player powers to make custom creatures to place in your missions, and the ability to create almost every kind of mission available in the game were all pretty much as I expected. But much more fun than I had imagined.

I found myself immersed in creating a storyline, finding the right maps, adjusting powers for the custom creatures I made, getting the text and dialogue right. Hours slipped by very, very quickly. And it was a lot of fun while I was doing it. Except for when my custom characters kicked my butt.

Issue 14 has now entered open beta testing, which means that a lot more people are now on the Test server, trying out the changes in PvP combat, additions to the Arena, and the Mission Architect. The first two things do not really interest me that much, I occasionally do some PvP, but not enough to have an opinion on those changes. But the Mission Architect is a huge change to the game. And I find myself looking forward to it hitting the Live servers, to see what comes out of it.

If you left City of Heroes because it was boring, or there was not any new content, here is your chance to create what you want to see. Or just look through what others have created and see how you like it. But a word of warning, the custom characters that the players come up with? They are much, much tougher than the normal mobs in the game. And that is on the lowest power setting.

Are you tough enough to take them on?

Making Your WordPress Blog Safer

After I wrote my post on plugins for increasing your blog’s security last Thursday, I sent it out on Twitter, shopping for readers. I do that because it is nice to think that someone may get something from the effort I put into writing the posts. Well I got a response on Twitter, from @blondishnet,  about it being better to use other methods, like modifying the .htaccess file, to tighten security on your blog, rather then using plugins.

I think I finally managed to convince her that I did agree with her point, but I was not writing these posts for the kind of person that was able or comfortable with doing that kind of thing. I am trying to point out plugins that are easy to use and add functionality for people that are not technically inclined or even tech-phobic. That may seem somewhat strange, given the plugins are for software used on the “intrawebs”, but the fact is, the web is so ubiquitous these days, all kinds of people use it.

But since I do agree with her, I decided today to put up a few links to other places where you can find information about making your blog more secure.

Links for improving your security

  • Blog Security – This should be your first stop. A lot of articles, covering all levels of security. Including a security scanner that can run some basic checks of your blog.
  • Geek Ramblings – An article discussing some of the things that Blog Security talks about. The comments are also useful reading.
  • Webmaster World – A very informative thread on the forum there about various ways to secure WordPress. A lot of it is very technical, so it is definitely not for everyone.
  • Make Tech Easier – Another post about making your blog more secure. With more good information in the comments.
  • guvnr – An excellent video tutorial, along with notes on the post, for making your blog much more secure. If you are at all willing to try something new with your blog, follow along and secure it with these instructions.

Final Words

One thing you will notice about these sites is the amount of overlap. They all talk about good passwords, protecting your plugin directory, changing your admin name, and other things like that. The reason they overlap is they are all covering the most basic things you should do for security. If you are not comfortable doing most the things that are talked about and explained in the various places on the list, you should at least do the most basic.

And add some plugins like the ones I looked at last week.  A couple of them will help do some of the things mentioned in the articles, others help in different ways. They are not the best ways to keep your words safe, but every little bit helps.

Some bias from the Washington Post

So the Washington Post has an article up today about the fact that several of Bush’s appointees for U.S. Attorneys have not offered their resignations and do not plan to. Very much is made of the idea that “While [Obama] pledged bipartisanship during his campaign, replacing the cadre of mostly conservative U.S. attorneys would signal a new direction.”

The idea seems to be that Obama must keep these attorneys in place, or he is going back on his word. After all, the only reason that he could possibly want to replace the current U.S. Attorneys is for political reasons. And it isn’t like other Presidents have replaced all of the attorneys when they took office. Oh wait,

When President Bill Clinton took office, he fired all U.S. attorneys at once, provoking intense criticism in the conservative legal community and among career lawyers at the Justice Department.

President George W. Bush took a different approach, slowly releasing several of the prosecutors but keeping in place Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, while she pursued terrorism cases and a politically sensitive investigation of Clinton’s pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.

So I guess it has happened a time or two. And while it is true that Clinton asked for resignations from all the attorneys at once, the writer left out a few things. As David G. Savage pointed out way back in March of 2007, the Clinton administration backed off from their initial effort and, to quote one of the fired attorneys, Tom Corbett, “It was how the message was delivered more than what actually occurred.”

By the end of his first 2 years in office, Clinton had replaced 89 of the 93 U.S. Attorneys. Way more then Bush’s total of 88 of 93 by the end of his first 2 years. But exactly the same as Reagan’s total of 89 of 93 in 2 years.

Reagan? Yes, Reagan, he also removed the U.S. Attorneys that Carter had appointed. And Carter did the same. It is in fact a tradition that when a new president takes office, all U.S. Attorneys offer their resignation. And the new president eventually accepts that resignation and fills the position with his appointee.

As of right now, according to this Baltimore Sun article from March 9th, 42 of the Bush appointees have resigned and Obama has said that the other 51 can stay for now. And some, like Patrick Fitzgerald of Blagojevich fame and the Scooter Libby/Valerie Plame case, and many others, are going to remain in office. This is also normal, as mentioned in the Post article, Bush kept the U.S. Attorney for Southern Manhattan when he took over, just as Clinton kept on some from the prior administration, which was completely ignored in the article.

It seems that the best way to answer the question asked by the Washington Post in their article, is to read the article in the Baltimore Sun. Of course, it would hardly do for the Post to tell people that. Especially since the Sun article is a much more balanced one, presenting more actual facts with less innuendo about what Obama has done and may do.


Securing Your WordPress Blog with Plugins

Keeping your information secure on the Internet is a never ending battle. You need to keep your OS, anti-virus, anti-adware, and anti-spyware all up to date. And your WordPress blog is not an exception to this. So today will be a look at the various plugins available to help increase the security of your blog.

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Earmark, earmark, who has an earmark?

With all of the noise about the bloated spending bill, especially from the “conservative” GOP, I was curious about exactly who was asking for all that money. How to find out? Google of course. A quick search using Republicans, earmarks,  and spending bill returned quite a few hits. Several of the links are to older stories, or stories about the President signing the bill today.

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Closing arguments on the way

I have been following the Minnesota Senate race for the last few weeks. Well, I guess it is actually months now. It has certainly been a long process, but it is really hard to complain too much about that, since they have been following procedures that need to take into account millions of votes.

There has not really been much on the court procedures the last few weeks, with most media having moved on from the election after Obama’s inauguration. But the one place I have been seeing some very good coverage is at Talking Points Memo.

Their coverage has been very thorough, covering court proceedings, and getting outside opinions on what those proceedings may mean. And they have followed the happenings outside of Minnesota as well.

To be fair, other new sites have articles on Minnesota as well. Both Politico and Huffington Post have articles on occasion. But only when something very distinctive happens. The day to day coverage at TPM helps keep the other articles in perspective. It is too bad that other places do not provide that kind of coverage for more stories.

Re-Tweet: More Twitter Plugins for WordPress

I knew when I did my first post on Twitter plugins that there were more of them out there and I would have to do another post. And in the last two weeks, that it looks like the number of them has exploded. So with the knowledge that keeping up with the writers, here are a few more plugins that will help you integrate your blog and Twitter.

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