Posts Tagged Twitter

My suggestions for WordPress plugins

Here’s my suggestions for a great set of WordPress plugins. The descriptions provided here are from the plug-ins themselves, and the links go to the plugin page on WordPress.org. You can also go to your ‘Plugins’ area in your WordPress dashboard to search for and install any of the below plugins easily.

Bad BehaviorDeny automated spambots access to your PHP-based Web site.

Contextual Related PostsShow user defined number of contextually related posts.

Fast Secure Contact Form – Fast Secure Contact Form for WordPress. The contact form lets your visitors send you a quick E-mail message. Super customizable with a multi-form feature, optional extra fields, and an option to redirect visitors to any URL after the message is sent. Includes CAPTCHA and Akismet support to block all common spammer tactics. Spam is no longer a problem.

Fluency Admin – Give your WordPress admin the Fluency look, Fluency 2.4 is the latest update and is compatible with WP 3.1.x.

Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.

Jetpack by WordPress.com – Bring the power of the WordPress.com cloud to your self-hosted WordPress. Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users.

Simple Facebook Connect – Simple Facebook Connect is a series of plugins that let you add any sort of Facebook Connect functionality you like to a WordPress blog.

Simple Twitter Connect – Makes it easy for your site to use Twitter, in a wholly modular way.

WP-PageNavi – Adds a more advanced paging navigation to your WordPress blog

What plugins do you use on your WordPress-powered blog? Have any to recommend? Are you a plugin author and want to “plug” your plugin? :) Please feel free to leave a comment below!

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Must-have Android apps?

I initially had my list of must-have Android apps posted in my review of my Samsung Moment, but I thought they deserved a mention apart from my awful experience with that phone.

I’ve recently updated this list to reflect my current list of must-have Android apps, rather than the old list. Quite a few of my recommendations have changed. These are recommendations for Froyo and newer. So here they are, in no particular order, and now with Market links. Note that some of these application descriptions have been taken directly from Market where I feel the author has explained it better than I could. If you have an iPhone, feel free to check out my list of must-have iPhone apps as well.

aCar
An all-in-one application to track and manage your car: maintenance, fill-ups, fuel mileage, expenses, business trips and more.

Advanced Task Killer (ATK)
Simple, easy-to-use task killer that supports automatically killing tasks as well as force-closing unwanted system tasks.

Astro File Manager
In my opinion the best free file manager / file explorer program available for Android. Easy manage files on your device and SD card. Easy to use, free, and powerful.

Autokiller Memory Optimizer
An outstanding and powerful automatic task killer with manual-kill features and additional tuning for rooted phones. Does have some advanced tuning features, so novice users may want to consider ATK above instead.

Barcode Scanner
A fun little app for using the camera to extract human-readable info from 1D and 2D barcodes. Supports many different barcode formats and recognizes codes quickly.

Barcode2file
The natural compliment to Barcode Scanner. Save your scans in a text file or send them via email with a simple touch. Supports batch scanning as well.

Battery Indicator
A free, simple, no-nonsense application to display your remaining battery as a percentage in your notification area.

Battery Widget
This widget displays the battery charge level as a percent on the home screen and offers one-touch access to the Wifi, GPS, and Bluetooth power toggles

Data Counter Widget
A must-have for those who are on data-limited plans. This widget displays your cell and wifi data usage for the month (or another configurable period of time) as a home screen widget.

Dolphin Browser HD
Puts the stock browser to shame. Easy full-screen browsing with swipe access to plugins and gesture  support for quick access to your favorite websites. Supports a variety of plugins as well.

Eternal Legacy HD
If you’re a fan of the turn-based fantasy RPG’s (think Final Fantasy) you will LOVE Eternal Legacy HD. This one is NOT available on Market, but is available from Gameloft.  Check the link for actual phone compatibility.

Evernote
This is one of those apps that once you have it you’re not sure ow you got along without it. Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Since Evernote’s notes are synced to all of your devices via the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing them.

FBI Child ID
While the Android app is still in development as of  the date of this update, FBI Child ID is a must-have for anyone with a child that they are responsible for. You can store photos, identifying information, and have the comfort of having it with you whenever you have your phone. With the ability to send it to authorities with a few taps, FBI Child ID can save valuable time in the event of a lost or missing child. See the FBI’s official Child ID page for more information.

Facebook
What can I say? Facebook app. Much better with recent improvements.

Hackers Keyboard
I don’t like Swype — It lacks some of the extended characters that I use and I’m a tap-typer rather than a swipe-typer. When I do inadvertently swipe my finger across the keyboard it tends to mangle whatever I was trying to type. For me, Hackers Keyboard is better — and free!

JuiceDefender – Battery Saver
A freemium, easy-to-use application to monitor and extend the life of your phone or tablet. Features widgets that give you one-touch access to status and features.

JuicePlotter
Great app to show historical data about battery life and usage, as well as a widget to show time-to-charge and time-remaining on your battery life. Very useful, and gets more accurate over time.

LastPass
A great password manager. LastPass web site. With fast and easy access to your LastPass password vault, the LastPass mobile app is a must-have. (Note: Requires a LastPass premium subscription – $12/year)

Lookout Mobile Security
Contains an anti-virus element, phone location, and backup/restore services. Excellent service for free, and a quite reasonable paid subscription service.

Meebo IM
A multi-protocol instant messenger for Android. Supports AIM, Facebook, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo messenger protocols.

Parcels
Track FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL and more right from your handheld. Also allows you to scan barcodes before shipping to be informed on their progress to the recipient.

PayPal
Handy for sending money via PayPal while on the go.

Spare Parts Plus
This is a handy utility for editing some hidden functions of your phone or tablet device. Settings should be changed carefully. The most useful reason for this app is enabling/disabling compatibility mode.

Twitter
It’s Twitter. Do I need to say any more?

Waze
Waze uses your devices GPS to not only provide turn-by-turn navigation, but also provides crowd-sourced traffic data to other Waze users  about traffic, delays, police presence, accidents, and other road incidents. Waze allows you to report a road incident with just a few taps on the screen, and Waze works well in both portrait and landscape orientation. (Thanks Jeff T. for the recommendation!)

WeatherBug Elite
Shows up-to-date weather information, forecast, radar (supports multi-touch), and more, with configurable widgets and “follow me” support. WeatherBug Elite is nice, but they do have the free WeatherBug app available too.

WordPress
A real must-have for anyone with a WordPress.com or self-hosted WordPress blog.

Z-DeviceTest
Handy app for testing various functions and sensors on your phone.

If you’ve read this far, you might also be interested in a list of apps specifically for rooted phones, yes? Well, here they are:

AdAway
Open-source ad blocker for rooted phones.

AdFree Android
Another ad blocker for root phones. For more information and to give feedback, visit the XDA Forums.

Chainfire3D
An intermediary OpenGL graphics driver which may increase video performance on some devices. Requires: Root, 1ghz+ device, Android 2.1+. See the XDA thread for more information and a list of compatible devices.

Samba Filesharing
A Samba server for your Android phone. Allows you to access your Android phone’s SD card over your network.

Titanium Backup
EXTREMELY powerful tool. Backup ALL apps, Market links, remove bloatware & MORE! Backs up your apps to your SD card and can restore them with their data even after a hard reset, factory reset, or even a new ROM install. It’s fantastic!

Have an Android app you just can’t live without? Please let me know in the comments below!

Last update: December 7th, 2011

, , , , , , , ,

7 Comments

Twitter Follower Count in PHP using Twitter REST API

Here’s an easy way to display the number of Twitter followers you (or another user) have in PHP using the Twitter REST API.

This was based off NealGrosskopf.com but was revised to use the Twitter API and not require a logged-in session.

First, declare the necessary functions:

<?php
function curl($url) {
  $ch = curl_init($url);
  curl_setopt($ch,CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);
  curl_setopt($ch,CURLOPT_HEADER, 0);
  curl_setopt($ch,CURLOPT_USERAGENT,"__YOUR_DOMAIN__");
  curl_setopt($ch,CURLOPT_TIMEOUT,10);
  $data = curl_exec($ch);
  curl_close($ch);
  return $data;
}

function GetTwitterFollowerCount($username) {
  $twitter_followers = curl("http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.xml?count=2&amp;screen_name=".$username);
  $xml = new SimpleXmlElement($twitter_followers, LIBXML_NOCDATA);
  return $xml->status->user->followers_count;
}
?>

Now, a simple function displays the count:

<?php
echo GetTwitterFollowerCount("__USER_NAME__");
?>

Replace __YOUR_DOMAIN__ with the domain of the page making the API call, and __USER_NAME__ with the name of the user you want the information on.

Works for me.

UPDATE: For some reason, count=1 broke, but it works with count=2. Either change to count=2 (to reduce the download size) or omit the count= parameter completely (but it can inflate the download size if you have a lot of followers.)

UPDATE 2: If you are using this to fire on every page load, make sure you don’t exceed the Twitter API Rate Limit. If you think you may, you might want to cache the results, else risk being blacklisted by the Twitter API.

, ,

3 Comments

Ten ways to advertise your website or blog that don’t cost money

Webmasters and bloggers are always looking for ways to advertise their sites and increase traffic. There are a lot of ways to do this that don’t cost a penny.
Here’s some of my suggestions in no particular order…

Produce good-quality content and have it indexed by the search engines

People want content, and content sells itself. If you’re searching for something, then come up with what you’re looking for, why not mention it with a link? Or, if you solve a problem with a piece of software, or find a bug, write about it. Certainly other people have run into the same thing, and they’re likely looking for the same thing you were. Help them find you.

This is actually a lot easier than most people realize — it only takes a few steps to set up, and the rest of the crawling is done by the search engines automatically. Don’t bother with sites that want you to pay to submit — you can do it yourself in a few minutes, and it doesn’t cost anything. Depending on your CMS software, you can likely find a plugin to help with generating and submitting your sitemap. Read more about it here.

Participate in forums and have your URL in your signature

An easy method if you’re already involved in one or more forums regularly. Simply edit your forum signature to include your site’s title and a URL. You can also do this with your email signature to hit the people you email as well.

Leave comments on other blogs and link back to your site

This is great when you can find a blog that’s related to yours, or has a post about a topic that’s related to something you’ve already written about. Simply post your thoughts on the issue, with a segue “I mentioned this at…” with a link. I have gotten a lot of traffic this way, though it relies heaving on the other blog having traffic, and catching people with your brief statement enough to make them want to click through. It can be done, and it works very well.

Link to other blogs from your own posts to generate “pingbacks.”

I’ve seen this done well, and I’ve seen it become spammy at the same time. When you link to another blog from one of your posts, (depending on the platform) the software will generate what’s called a “pingback“. This means it posts a link to your site at the site you linked to. It can be good to generate links to your site.

Post links to your new articles on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.

Again, can be very effective, can also be very spammy if not done correctly. You’ve written a great interesting article that you want people to read. Post a link on your favorite social-networking site — Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter to name a few — and people are sure to click on it, right? Just make sure they’ll find the story as interesting as you did, and avoid over-posting, or you’ll lose followers faster than you can create new posts.

Submit your RSS feed to aggregation sites like Facebook, Digg, etc.

Facebook has a feature in Facebook Notes that allows you to submit an RSS feed that will publish your posts as Notes. The new Digg also has a feature that will allow you to submit an RSS feed to be automatically published on the site. Many other sites also support this, and it’s a great way to have your new articles automatically pushed out there. There is a downside to this: People will read the article on the published site and may not click through to your site. Try including links to other posts inside your own to get those click throughs.

Personally email out links to articles that others would find interesting.

Email marketing is great, and has a very high click-to-impression ratio. This means that, for every person that looks at your link, a lot of them will click on it to read it. Now, be careful with this one, and try not to get spammy. Opt-in mailing lists are great if you can get people to sign up, and you will have a very low likelihood of upsetting someone that doesn’t want to get your emails (or worse — having them report you as a spammer), but if you know you have an audience, shoot them an email, but make sure it’s personal.

Consider Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a set of copyright rules that, among other rights, can allow others to publish your content providing they provide credit in a manner of your choosing. This can include a link back to your site. Interested readers finding these articles can see your authorship on them and click through to your site to see whatever else they might be interested in.

Participate in Link Exchanges and Blogrolls

If you know someone who has a website or a blog, ask nicely if they’ll post a link to your site on theirs in exchange for the same on yours. A well-placed link on another site can generate traffic from an interested visitor, and the other site will no doubt appreciate the same from you.

 

,

1 Comment