Categories
Competitions Environment Media

INSS Social Sustainability Multi Media Competition

threeleggedstool

Technology Bloggers is pleased to support the Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS) Digital media competition “Visions of Social Sustainability”.

The overall goal of the INSS network is to produce a clearer, more applicable definition of social sustainability, and to create opportunities for engaging people in discussions about social sustainability. The network is made up of individuals from various jobs and professions to consider social sustainability, and aims to put people engaging with social sustainability in touch with one another to speed up and promote understanding of this important aspect of sustainability.

The competition is looking for creative explorations of what social sustainability means, how it is being pursued, and how it might be advanced further. The hope is that it will push forward discussion of social sustainability by bringing a broader range of voices into the discussion.

We would invite all readers to think about submitting an entry, give a voice to their ideas and push debate and action in a positive way. Technology Bloggers Editor Jonny Hankins is part of the team that have prepared the call, and through the Bassetti Foundation will help to promote the winning entry.

So why not get your camera or telephone out and have a go?

— Call For Entries —

Multi-Media Competition: Visions of Social Sustainability

What does social sustainability mean to you? Where do you see it in practice? And what are the ingredients for a more sustainable world?

In the past several decades, sustainability has grown into an important and all-encompassing priority for communities and nations around the world. While there is little debate that current patterns of development, production, and consumption are un-sustainable, there is less agreement about what a sustainable world looks like.

There are countless visions of sustainability, and the Integrated Network for Social Sustainability is interested in your vision of social sustainability in a short video or digital media presentation.

Eligible Entries

Amateur or non-professional artists/producers may submit one piece of work in any digital media format up to 10 minutes in length, including but not limited to videos, photo essays, games, and apps. Submissions may be produced using cell phones or other household recording technologies. Limited to one entry per person or group.

How to Submit

Submissions can either be sent directly to visions.of.sustainability@gmail.com or via a link to any large file hosting service (dropbox, hightail etc). Email us with any problems uploading or sending the files. To be considered for the competition, entries must be received by 5 pm EST on January 3, 2015.

Judging

All eligible submissions will be hosted on the INSS YouTube channel and website. The competition will be judged through public vote, and will be promoted through the member institutions of the INSS.

Winning Entry Publicity

The winning entry will be shown at the April 2015 INSS annual conference, where its producer(s) will be invited to present their work. The entry will also be hosted on the INSS website and promoted in other INSS communications. The Bassetti Foundation will promote the winning entry on its website and will seek international press coverage of the winning producer(s). 

Rules

  • Your entry must respect copyright. Any music, video and photos must be your own or used with permission and acknowledged in your description (royalty free or stock audio/photos are ok to use).
  • Your entry must not be owned by someone else (e.g. if you’ve entered into another contest and they now own it).
  • Your entry should be appropriate for a public audience in language and images.
  • Still image and/or graphic slide shows are also eligible, as well as any other digital format.
Categories
Competitions Environment Media Science Technology

Reports from the INSS Sustainability Meeting

As readers might know this weekend I attended the Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS) Meeting in Charlotte North Carolina. It was a great event, and I met a lot of great and interesting people, and over this week I would like to write a bit about them and what I learned.

The first is Adrienne Brown, a second year at Dickinson College in Carlisle Pennsylvania. She is currently participating in an application competition which involves answering a prompt with a two-hundred word essay and a two minute video. The organization orchestrating the web-based contest is the Arctic Climate Change Emerging Leaders Program Fellowship (ACCEL). This year they will be piloting an internship program with two positions, one in Washington DC and the other in Berlin, where the two student finalists will work on developing creative marketing strategies using media technologies.

The Arctic Today
The Arctic Today

Adrienne believes that there is a growing need to use technology to talk about important social issues, and as the popularity of social media platforms increase many social movements have started to use these technologies to market their cause to a particular audience. That audience tends to be young and motivated and therefore are a resource of human capital just waiting to be tapped.

To get the ACCEL internship students must gather public support for their essay and video responses. Essentially to demonstrate their ability to wield the powerful weapon of the internet to gain support and spread a particular message. Those who are stronger at encouraging people to act will theoretically get the most votes and present themselves as a good candidate for the position with the ACCEL. Once the public voting ends on April 13th the students who have collected the top ten amount of votes will move to the final round and submit a resume during an interview.

Adrienne feels strongly that the environmental field has not done enough with web-based marketing and is really excited for the opportunity to work on developing a public relations strategy for Arctic environmental issues. At the INSS conference she presented her video response and asked the network’s members to vote for her. Take a look at her essay and video and if you like the ideas presented follow the links and vote for her, and check out the other participants.

I will tell more stories about the event and people involved as the week goes on.

Categories
Computers Gadgets Games Media Smartphones Technology

Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology

Last month the Northwestern University in the USA published a national survey entitled Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology. The report is available for free download through the Parenting CC Portal , but here I would like to take a quick look at some of the findings and questions raised and see if we can provoke some debate.

Multiple Screen Viewing
Multiple Screen Viewing

The study explores how parents are incorporating new digital technologies (iPads, smartphones) as well as older media platforms (TV, video games, and computers) into their family lives and parenting practices, and it gives an idea of how parents use and view this technology.

We should point out that this is a US based survey.

The 10 key finding could be seen as the following:

1 While new media technologies have become widespread, a majority of parents do not think they have made parenting any easier.

2 Parents use media and technology as a tool for managing daily life, but books, toys, and other activities are used more often.

3 Parents still turn to family and friends for parenting advice far more often than to new media sources like websites, blogs, and social networks.

4 Parents do not report having many family conflicts or concerns about their children’s media use.

5 There is still a big gap between higher- and lower- income families in terms of access to new mobile devices.

6 Parents are less likely to turn to media or technology as an educational tool for their children than to other activities.

7 Parents assess video games more negatively than television, computers, and mobile devices.

8 For each type of technology included in the survey, a majority of parents believe these devices have a negative impact on children’s physical activity, the most substantial negative outcome attributed to technology in this study.

9 Many parents report using media technology with their children, but this “joint media engagement” drops off markedly for children who are six or older.

10 Parents are creating vastly different types of media environments for their children to grow up in, and, not surprisingly, the choices they make are strongly related to their own media use.

Some other interesting points arise, such as that 40% of families are described as media heavy and spend more than 11 hours a day in front of the screen. Half of all families surveyed have 3 TV’s or more in the house. 40% of 6 to 8 year olds have a TV in their bedroom. 70% of parents state that having mobile devices has not made parenting easier with 40% stating that they have a negative social skills effect upon the children.

The conclusions are in some ways surprising though as the authors demonstrate evidence that parents are still more likely to resort to traditional means of entertainment as rewards and punishment, and they are convinced enough about the educational possibilities offered by so called new media to not worry too much about their negative effects.

An interesting read if you have half an hour, but comments and debate about the summary above would also be educational.

Categories
Charity Media News Social Media

The power of the social networks and the media

Many people take a very negative view of the media. In the UK, there has recently been a press standards enquiry, which looked into the unethical practices some media organisations (specifically newspapers) were using.

Many people also take a negative view of social networks. Twitter has been in the firing line a lot lately, helping to break super injunctions and spread rumours at amazing speed.

I think sometimes we forget that the press and social media can also be a force for good, and so in this article I am going to talk about something positive that only happened thanks to the power of the media and social networks.

The Story

Martha Payne is a nine-year-old girl from Argyll and Bute, (Scotland) who started a blog in May this year called NeverSeconds. On the blog she wrote about her school dinners, under the alias of Veg. She took a camera into school and photographed her school dinner. When she got home, she wrote about it, posted a picture, and then rated each meal.

She gave the food a rating out of ten on her ‘Food-o-meter‘ scale, detailed how many mouthfuls it took her to eat it, what courses it was (i.e. starter and main or main and dessert), how healthy (out of ten) she rated it, the price, and how many pieces of hair she found on it – and yes, one day she did find one!

Martha Payne's first blog
Martha’s first image on her blog – pizza, croquet, sweetcorn and a cake, a meal she rated 6/10 on her food-o-meter

Martha set up a link on her blog to the charity Mary’s Meals, with the aim of raising £7,000 for the charity, through donations from those who read her posts.

All was going well for Martha, until her blog featured in a local newspaper. Here’s what happened in Martha’s words:

“This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today.

I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.

Goodbye,
VEG”

So that was it. Martha Payne, a nine-year-old girl who ran a blog with the aim of raising some money for charity, and developing her language skills through writing about her school dinners, was no longer allowed to blog.

It was actually the local council that had told the school to ban Martha from posting, as they were unhappy with the coverage of the story in the local paper. It was alleged that the article had made catering staff fearful for their jobs.

The publicity generated from the local paper reporting on the blog helped Martha to reach nearly £2,000 in donations for Mary’s Meals, an amazing achievement, which is why it is such a shame that the blog had to be shut down.

A sad end to the blogging career of a little girl with good intentions.

But it didn’t end there.

The news reached the council leader who was unhappy with the action taken, and as a result instructed senior officials to lift the ban.

Martha could blog again!

This was now a big story, and national media organisations were keen to publish their account of events. The Telegraph, The Guardian and BBC news were some of the most notable media organisations to cover the story. Most notable, the BBC article received well over 1,000 comments, and tens of thousands of social shares!

Going Viral

Martha Payne from NeverSeconds
Martha Payne – NeverSeconds Author

First it was just a story. Then it hit the media. Now it was the turn of Facebook and Twitter. Within hours of the BBC publishing their article, tens of thousands of people had shared it, and the NeverSeconds blog hit counter soared from a few thousand views to over a million! Martha was soon trending on Twitter.

The story was so inspirational, many people wanted to pay tribute to Martha’s fantastic work, and did so by donating to the charity she supported – Mary’s Meals. Martha smashed her £7,000 target in a matter of hours, as donations to the charity flooded in. Overnight, Martha became the top fund raiser for Mary’s Meals on the JustGiving website.

By the end of the week, (in just 4 days) donations had topped £50,000! This prompted even more publicity, as the media reported on the remarkable story of the girl who raised tens of thousands for charity, by writing about her school meals.

The NeverSeconds site hit counter now reads in excess of eight million and the donations to Mary’s Meals are over 1750% of Martha’s £7,000 target – currently standing at £123,969.32.

Martha has since been out to Malawi to see one of the projects her fund raising efforts went to help. For more information on her trip, have a read of this BBC news article.

Martha has been named as the Human Rights Young Person of the Year, for her outstanding work, and continues to blog over at NeverSeconds to this day.

The Streisand Effect

This story is a fantastic example of how the media and social networking can be a force for good, and encourage people to think of others. It is also a good example of the Streisand effect in action, the concept whereby attempting to cover something up, thanks to the internet, leads to that very thing getting greater publicity.

Smile today for the story of NeverSeconds 🙂

Categories
Gadgets News Tablets

What makes the new iPad different?

The launch of Apple’s latest third generation iPad, the interestingly named ‘The new iPad’, sees more revolutionary technological developments, as Apple updates its iconic tablet. In this article I am going to explore some of the exciting and innovative new features, which make the new iPad stand out from the crowd.

Retina Display

One enhancement that is currently getting a lot of attention is the innovation that is the new ‘Retina display’ technology.

The Retina display focuses on the increased clarity of large format display visuals. The new iPad features a sharply improved image capability which now has a 2048×1536 resolution screen and 44% improved colour saturation, with a superior 3.1 million pixels, within in its 9.7 (24.6com) display. Pretty impressive for a tablet PC.

The third generation of the iPadThis technology means that from normal viewing distance, the naked human eye cannot detect any pixelation, as the screen produced images with outstanding sharpness, colour detail and quality.

The improved display really enhances the viewing experience, and I think that it has set Apple ahead of its competitors, in terms of the quality of screen, at least for the time being.

The tablet is designed to show HD media, and with its new awesome screen quality, the viewing of text, photo and video is to the next level!

5MP iSight Camera

Aside from the Retina update, another key improvement is the 5-megapixel iSight camera – Apple are very creative with their names! The new camera features enhanced optics, auto white balance and a face detection features, turning your tablet into an outstanding digital camera. These updates have significantly improved the  picture and video capture performance. Match that with the new Retina display, and it means that you can capture and play media in outstanding quality.

Wi-Fi and 4G

In the latest model of the iPad, Apple have inbuilt Wif-Fi + 4G technology. This technology helps ensure the tablet is able to get a fast network connection, so you can get a seamless uninterrupted stream. Streaming online video is smoother than ever, and VoIP becomes a more viable method of communication.

Battery Life

Despite the outstanding screen display, the high quality camera, and the improved connectivity, something which many critics believe has let the new iPad down is its battery life. Like its predecessors, the new iPad can only handle 10 hours of media before it runs out of juice. The new features have been designed to be more efficient, however the battery life remains pretty much the same as before. Disappointing, or to be expected?

This latest release of the iPad has given techies a lot to be excited about, which is probably why many people queued for hours to get their hands on one, as soon as they were released.

Categories
Blogging How To Guides

Innovative ideas to spice up your blog posts

Change is inevitable, latest technologies, trends; methods are being introduced in blogging every day. Everyone has their own small tips and tricks to make the blogging experience more enjoyable and successful also. There is a lot of competition in blogging, to match that bloggers need to make more innovative posts, promote them and do many such other thing to be in top in the race.

But there are few things are which are evergreen i.e. fool proof methods to get success in blogging. Here are a few techniques that I believe are evergreen blog posts ideas which never fail:

A hand drawing a light bulb

Spice It Up – Add Some Controversy

Give your readers what they want; yes everyone wants some spice added to their life. So if you are looking for a good response then controversy is the answer. Write an article about hot topics, which people are opinionated about, therefore are likely to get drawn in, read your article, and then comment, hopefully with a fiery response!

Furthermore, if you post something which everyone likes then they are likely to share it with their friends, on their social network profiles. But being a professional blogger one need to know where to draw the line, do not post anything which hurts someones emotions and sentiments.

Be controversial, challenge beliefs and ways of doing things, but do your best not to offend anyone. A good way to do this is to stress that your view, or the perspective you are writing from, is just one view.

Be Honest – Tell a Story With a Moral

If it is a personal blog, share some of your life experiences, good or bad and let your readers know what you have learned from them. Everybody loves to listen to real stories, so your post will engage your readers and also encourage some to share similar life experiences in their comment.

Share Good Resources

Once in a while you can share a list of articles about popular subjects. You do not necessarily need to go in depth; just post a clean list, which will help your readers to find great resources that you too find valuable. In this you will please your visitors, and will surely find many coming back to your site in search of more useful content.

Talk About Others Also

Share with your readers what interest you. Share with them those interesting sites and blogs which you follow or read regularly. This post of your make them appreciate you more. This way you can ask for link back from the sites you have mentioned in your post.

Use Mix of Text, Images and Videos

It’s not advisable only to make text only post on your blog that tends to get boring at sometime. So add interactive images, even videos to make your post interesting. You can also record a video of the topic you want to share with your readers and use as your blog post. Saying your thing personally with your readers adds that personal touch to your post and builds more personal connection between you and your readers.

Happy Blogging!

Categories
Internet

Why does superfast broadband matter?

Technology Blogger has had many articles about broadband speeds, superfast internet connections, and how the general trend is that global internet speeds are on the rise, but the question is, why is that important? Why do superfast speeds matter?

Download and Upload

There are two types of internet speed, your download speed, and your upload speed. Your download speed is how fast you can receive data from the internet – how fast you can stream media, receive emails, load websites etc. Your upload speed refers to how fast you can send information to the internet – how fast you can send emails, upload media, update your status etc.

When people talk about broadband speeds on the rise, they are usually referring to download speeds, as most of us get a lot more from the internet than we upload. Both upload and download speeds are on the rise, but upload speeds are usually only around 10% of download speeds – depending upon your location.


So superfast broadband means that we can do things faster, we can download and upload content quicker than we used to be able to. But that does that mean?

More Going On

Faster internet speeds mean that you can be doing more things at once on the internet, with less lag or jitter. You can be on an online game, whilst streaming the radio, and in the background sending emails, all at the same time! You can have more internet hungry applications running at the same time, and the speed of your activities (providing you have adequate processing power) should be the same as if you just had one activity going on.

Improved Internet Call Quality

Faster internet speeds will allow for smother internet calling, with less lag and better quality. You will be able to chat with friend across the globe and stage a conversation as though they were there in the room with you. VoIP will be significantly improved, as faster speeds meant that the media you are sending out is of higher quality, and the stream you are receiving is better too.

Such improvements could significantly benefit businesses, as VoIP can significantly lower the cost of holding meetings with fellow colleges based in different locations, thanks to better, more affordable online conference calling.

Furthermore, improvements in internet call quality can make remote working more viable, meaning that employees can spend more time working and less time commuting, thanks to them being connected all the time. This can save time, money and office space, as more employees are able to work off-site.

Improvements in Healthcare and Education

As Rashed suggested in his recent article (Five changes in video conferencing for the next decade) improvements in internet calls could lead to an improvement in the provision of telemedicine, meaning that the best doctors can help patients from across the world.

There is also similar potential for education. The best lecturers and teachers will be able to educate far greater numbers of individuals from across the world, thanks to faster broadband speeds. Improvements in such technology could be very beneficial for those living in isolated communities.

Cloud Computing Becomes More Viable

Cloud computing has huge potential to cut costs, improve efficiency and improve data security, and superfast broadband makes it more viable! With faster broadband, more and bigger files can be stored in the cloud, meaning that files are less likely to be lost if one device fails, and are more likely to be accessible from any location.

Media Streaming

Streaming media from across the internet is smother, faster and more seamless with faster internet connections. You can watch online videos with less buffering, or even in high definition.

Furthermore, internet TV and other similar services become more viable than ever before. In the last quarter of 2011, Virgin Media reported profits of £48 million, which it is believed is mainly down to faster broadband speeds encouraging more users to user its TV and internet services.

Virgin Media's logo

More People Online

Every day thousands of new people around the world make the leap and go online. For every extra person on the internet demanding resources, the whole system slows down a little. However with superfast broadband, more people can be online with less of an effect on speeds. In large offices, more employees can be connected, with less of an effect on the speeds received. This is also true in households, more people can be downloading media, whilst it not affecting others on online games.

Your Speed

Superfast broadband is very important and is revolutionising the way we do business and live our lives. The question is, how fast is your broadband speed? Are you likely to benefit from the things I mentioned above, or do you need to think about switching provider? Try testing your broadband speed and comparing it to what you are paying for; could you be getting a better deal elsewhere?

Categories
Computers How To Guides Internet

How to choose the right laptop for you

After my recent post on how to be a smart online buyer, I thought why just help people get a good priced product, as a good price doesn’t always mean good value.

As a laptop is something most people probably buy online, and as it is also something that often costs a lot of money, I thought why not help people choose which is best for them. Maybe in the future I will do the same for mobile phones, digital cameras and who knows what else!

What is it going to be used for?

The main thing you have to work out is what is the laptop going to be used for? Do you need something that can cope with 3D HD gaming, or are we just looking at text editing, emails and the web?

The more you want to be able to do with your laptop, the greater ability it will need to have, meaning that it is more likely to need a higher spec, and therefore probably a more costly speck.

I only really use the internet

If most of the stuff you do is online, then you probably don’t need a very high spec laptop – just a good internet connection. If you laptop is mainly used for blogging using an online system like WordPress, Blogger or TypePad, playing your favourite online games, typing emails using an online webmail service, and socialising using Facebook and Twitter (I should point out other social media sites are available ;-)) then you might want to look into Chromebooks – or low spec laptops.

The Google Chrome LogoGoogle says that Chromebooks are ‘nothing but the web.’ They run a 100% cloud based operating system, meaning that all your data, settings etc. are stored online, safe and secure in the cloud. This means they only take secconds (literally 8 or 9) to boot up, meaning you are off and working/playing in an instant.

Here is how Google describes Chromebooks:

“Chromebooks are built and optimised for the web, where you already spend most of your computing time. So, you get a faster, simpler and more secure experience without all the headaches of ordinary computers.”

Chromebooks are very fast as they need no virus protection, have no background processes slowing them down, neither does it need updates, since all of that happens in the cloud, basically everything runs from the browser.

If you don’t want a Chromebook, you probably only need a really low spec laptop, so that could be very cheap. Regarding operating system, if you like pretty styles, then go for Windows7, as that it stable and also ‘looks good’ avoid Vista, especially on low spec laptops, as it can really slow them down – XP and 2000 are also good.

It’s going to be a family laptop

If you are looking for a typical family laptop, where some of the kids will want to play flash games, but they will also need to do their homework, and the adults want to be able to check their emails and social profiles for updates, then you are probably going to be looking for a pretty standard PC.

To make sure it is quick and doesn’t slow down you would probably benefit from a dual-core processor. Dual-core means that the computer possess more than one CPU. Extra CPU’s means that you can process data faster, therefore your laptop will run quicker.

In order for your extra CPU’s to be effective, it would be a good idea to have at least 1 gigabyte (gb) of RAM, and preferably 2.

Windows7 would be perfect for family usage, as would XP. 2000 may look and feel a little dated, and Vista is likely to cause you a lot of grief!

I edit photos and run games and watch online media

If you like to have a lot open, and often are found editing photos, playing CPU intensive games, and watching HD videos, then you probably need a pretty powerful processor, along with a decent sized hard disk, a good amount of RAM, and a dedicated graphics card. Screen display resolution is also likely to be important, as if you like HD, but have only a standard screen, you can’t display HD.

Intel make a type of processor called i3 and another called i5. These are very well designed processors and run very well. If you see i3 or i5 on a PC, it is probably going to be a good one. Photo editing and gaming can be very hard disk space hungry tasks, so I would recommend getting at least a 250gb (preferably a 360gb) hard disk. With a laptop, short of getting an external hard drive, there is no easy way of expanding the amount of space you have.

This type of user would benefit best from 4gb of RAM, and a dedicated graphics card – this basically means that the graphics card is a separate component within the PC, which has it’s only memory and processing unit.

I do all of the above and more, and I do it all at the same time!

If you can never seem to find a laptop that is powerful enough for you there are a few options available to you – sadly, they area all rather expensive ones!

The first would be to get a powerful MacBook. MacBooks are notorious for their high specs, stable operating systems and therefore lack of time spent loading.

The second would to be to buy a quad-core i7 spec laptop. Most MacBooks run off core i5 and i7 processors anyway, however Windows also performs very well when being run on a core i7 machine.

The intel Core i7 proccessor badgeA dedicated graphics card is a must for this type of user, and 4-8 gig of RAM is recommended. Depending on how long you want to keep your laptop will determine how big your hard disk will need to be. My advice would be that if you are likely to want to keep the same laptop for any more that 4 or 5 years, get a terabyte hard disk.

Another option would be to have a custom built laptop. These can sometimes work out cheaper, but you need to be cautious, as if you, or whoever is building the laptop aren’t 100% sure of what’s what, then you could face compatibility issues.

Certain processors work better with certain types of RAM, certain operating systems require certain types of graphics cards, and certain hard disks are needed in order to be compatible with the rest of the machine. Basically certain part of the laptop will naturally work well together, however if you custom build your laptop, you might have 8gb of RAM, but the problem is, your processor finds it hard to deal with that type of RAM.

Other things to consider

When choosing a laptop, it is also important to consider things like who it’s made by. Different firms have different reputations for the quality of their laptops, but also consider the quality of their customer service. If their automated calling systems drive you mad, then it may be wise not to buy one of their laptops.

Furthermore, consider your other devices like cameras and phones when buying a new laptop. Some devices may not be compatible with your operating system, or you may need to get some new camera cables if your current devices can’t plug in to your new laptop.

Connectivity is another important factor: does your laptop have inbuilt Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or infrared? If you are forever connecting to mobile Wi-Fi, or your phone to download pictures, then it would be useful to have such functions inbuilt.

An inbuilt webcam and microphone can be very handy if you are often using programmes like Skype to talk to friends on the internet.

Also don’t forget the battery. If you barely use your laptop when you are away from a plug, then the battery is probably not of much importance to you, however if your laptop battery is important to you, you may want to avoid second hand laptops. Laptop batteries from second hand machines can often be less powerful and last less time than a normal battery would.

The right laptop for you

Getting the right laptop for you can be crucial in making sure that you get value for money, as a laptop with spare capacity is a waste of money, as is a laptop that cannot perform to the standard you need.

If you need any more help in choosing the right laptop for you, drop a comment below 🙂

Categories
Blogging WordPress

Must have WordPress plugins

Many blogs like to publish a list of their favourite plugins. This often helps readers find new, exciting plugins that they too can use. Therefore I have decided that I should do the same on behalf of Technology Bloggers. Here is my (Christopher Roberts) list of ‘must have’ WordPress plugins 🙂

User Role Editor

In no particular order, my first must have WordPress plugin is User Role Editor. This is a very useful plugin if you run a blog with multiple users, as it allows you to change account type (e.g. contributor, author etc.) privileges, and even create whole new types of account.

A great example of when I have used this plugin is when Matt has been helping me with some ‘behind the scenes’ coding. I needed help to fix some bugs, so I created a new user account type called ‘Matt’. I then changed Matt’s account from ‘contributor’ status to ‘Matt’ status. Matt was then able to fiddle around with the plugins and blog code, whilst not being able to change any comments, posts or pages. When he was finished, I changed his privileges back to ‘contributor’.

You could also use this plugin to give users extra abilities, for example you could let them moderate comments, or upload media. All contributors by default WordPress settings can’t upload media, a real issue for a blog like ours. A quick user role edit later and everyone can now add pictures, video and music to their posts. 🙂


CommentLuv

CommentLuv is a really great plugin which enables you to give a little bit extra back to your commenters, by giving them a link back to one of their most recent posts at the end of each comment.The CommentLuv LogoI have written about CommentLuv before, so I don’t intend to go into any depth about it here. If you want to know more check out my post on why you should use CommentLuv.

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (GASP)

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (or as it is also know, GASP) is one of the very best plugins you can use to combat spam.

Here at Technology Bloggers we get hundreds of comments every month, but I am sure that we would get thousands more if we didn’t have such a good spam filter. Of the comments that we get I would estimate that around 10% are spam. If Technology Bloggers stopped using Akismet and and GASP, then I think we would see our comments double, but the extra ones would all be spam.

GASP places the tickbox (or checkbox for my American friends) that you see underneath the comment box. Logged in users need not worry about this, but users who are not logged in will need to make sure that they tick this box (and they will be prompted if they don’t) in order to make sure that their comment is approved.

Akismet then helps us out by throwing any user written/generated potentially spammy comments into the spam folder. We can review these and it is then much easier to sift through and fish out any good comments which may have got caught up.

Akismet is good, and very useful, but if you really want to stop spam, I would always make sure you have GASP.

ReplyMe

I have written an article about ReplyMe before, giving an explanation of what it does, who uses it and why it is useful. To briefly sum it up it is a plugin which sends commenters an email when someone replies to their comment, helping to improve the blog’s community. For more information please check out our ReplyMe article.

The ReplyMe (Plugin) LogoPrettier Trackbacks

Some themes present trackbacks just the way you want them to, other themes unfortunately don’t. The way I like trackbacks is the post title linked to the article that sits amongst the comments. Our current theme shows some text from the article too, which can look good, but often doesn’t.

Prettier Trackbacks displays trackbacks the way I like them, and with a bit of editing/tweaking, you can make it show them just about anyway you want!

Move WordPress Comments

The next plugin on my list is Move WordPress Comments. Have you ever had someone comment in reply to someone else, but they forgot to hit the reply button, or have you ever done it yourself? If the answer is yes, then this plugin is a very useful one indeed!

What the Move WordPress Comments plugin does is put a few extra details an options below comments in the dashboard and on the blog. These details are the comment’s number, the post number and the parent comment’s number.

If the commenter has published their comment on the wrong post, just simply change the post number and click ‘move’ and the comment will shoot off to the correct post.

If the commenter has published the comment in reply to someone, but hasn’t joined the comment to the parent comment, then all you need to do is scroll up to the parent comment and find out what number it is. You then take the parent comment’s number, put it in the reply/child comment’s ‘parent comment’ box and click move.

Confused? Check out the images below 🙂

A comment isn't threaded onto it's parent
The second comment is in reply to the first, however it is not threaded - to solve this just take the parent comment's number and then put it in the 'Parent Comment' box on the reply comment and click 'Move'
A threaded comment
Et voilà! The reply comment is now threaded under the parent comment!

Digg Digg

Digg Digg is a really great plugin if you like to make your blog ‘social media friendly’! At the top of every article Technology Bloggers displays Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook buttons, so that you can easily share our content.

Technology Bloggers Digg Digg Social Media Share Buttons
Technology Bloggers social media share buttons, as provided by Digg Digg

This is all thanks to Digg Digg which gives you more social media buttons and options than you could shake a stick at! If you want to create a social media friendly blog, Digg Digg is one of the best plugins out there!

Top Commentators Widget

WordPress’s Top Commentators Widget is definitely one of the best plugins I have ever installed. It gives you the ability to thank your commenters by adding a widget to the sidebar (or in our case the footer navigation) of your blog, which displays your site’s top commenters, however you like!

Top Commenters Screenshot - as it appeared on the 17th October 2011It has loads of easy to customise options. You can choose how many commenters get shown, how long names can be before they are replaced with an ellipsis. You can also choose if names are hyperlinked, show the individuals Gravatar, how big that avatar is, whether an award icon is shown by commenters with more than a certain number of comments, how often the list refreshes, etc.

There are more!

Listed above are some of the very best plugins I have ever used. Despite this, there are many other great plugins that I haven’t included, for fear of making this article university paper length! Lets save them for another time.

So, what plugins do you use? Why do you like them? Are you going to try any of the plugins above? Do any of them look interesting/useful?

Talk to me below 🙂

Categories
Blogging WordPress

Must have WordPress plugins

Many blogs like to publish a list of their favourite plugins. This often helps readers find new, exciting plugins that they too can use. Therefore I have decided that I should do the same on behalf of Technology Bloggers. Here is my (Christopher Roberts) list of ‘must have’ WordPress plugins 🙂

User Role Editor

In no particular order, my first must have WordPress plugin is User Role Editor. This is a very useful plugin if you run a blog with multiple users, as it allows you to change account type (e.g. contributor, author etc.) privileges, and even create whole new types of account.

A great example of when I have used this plugin is when Matt has been helping me with some ‘behind the scenes’ coding. I needed help to fix some bugs, so I created a new user account type called ‘Matt’. I then changed Matt’s account from ‘contributor’ status to ‘Matt’ status. Matt was then able to fiddle around with the plugins and blog code, whilst not being able to change any comments, posts or pages. When he was finished, I changed his privileges back to ‘contributor’.

You could also use this plugin to give users extra abilities, for example you could let them moderate comments, or upload media. All contributors by default WordPress settings can’t upload media, a real issue for a blog like ours. A quick user role edit later and everyone can now add pictures, video and music to their posts. 🙂


CommentLuv

CommentLuv is a really great plugin which enables you to give a little bit extra back to your commenters, by giving them a link back to one of their most recent posts at the end of each comment.The CommentLuv LogoI have written about CommentLuv before, so I don’t intend to go into any depth about it here. If you want to know more check out my post on why you should use CommentLuv.

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (GASP)

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (or as it is also know, GASP) is one of the very best plugins you can use to combat spam.

Here at Technology Bloggers we get hundreds of comments every month, but I am sure that we would get thousands more if we didn’t have such a good spam filter. Of the comments that we get I would estimate that around 10% are spam. If Technology Bloggers stopped using Akismet and and GASP, then I think we would see our comments double, but the extra ones would all be spam.

GASP places the tickbox (or checkbox for my American friends) that you see underneath the comment box. Logged in users need not worry about this, but users who are not logged in will need to make sure that they tick this box (and they will be prompted if they don’t) in order to make sure that their comment is approved.

Akismet then helps us out by throwing any user written/generated potentially spammy comments into the spam folder. We can review these and it is then much easier to sift through and fish out any good comments which may have got caught up.

Akismet is good, and very useful, but if you really want to stop spam, I would always make sure you have GASP.

ReplyMe

I have written an article about ReplyMe before, giving an explanation of what it does, who uses it and why it is useful. To briefly sum it up it is a plugin which sends commenters an email when someone replies to their comment, helping to improve the blog’s community. For more information please check out our ReplyMe article.

The ReplyMe (Plugin) LogoPrettier Trackbacks

Some themes present trackbacks just the way you want them to, other themes unfortunately don’t. The way I like trackbacks is the post title linked to the article that sits amongst the comments. Our current theme shows some text from the article too, which can look good, but often doesn’t.

Prettier Trackbacks displays trackbacks the way I like them, and with a bit of editing/tweaking, you can make it show them just about anyway you want!

Move WordPress Comments

The next plugin on my list is Move WordPress Comments. Have you ever had someone comment in reply to someone else, but they forgot to hit the reply button, or have you ever done it yourself? If the answer is yes, then this plugin is a very useful one indeed!

What the Move WordPress Comments plugin does is put a few extra details an options below comments in the dashboard and on the blog. These details are the comment’s number, the post number and the parent comment’s number.

If the commenter has published their comment on the wrong post, just simply change the post number and click ‘move’ and the comment will shoot off to the correct post.

If the commenter has published the comment in reply to someone, but hasn’t joined the comment to the parent comment, then all you need to do is scroll up to the parent comment and find out what number it is. You then take the parent comment’s number, put it in the reply/child comment’s ‘parent comment’ box and click move.

Confused? Check out the images below 🙂

A comment isn't threaded onto it's parent
The second comment is in reply to the first, however it is not threaded - to solve this just take the parent comment's number and then put it in the 'Parent Comment' box on the reply comment and click 'Move'
A threaded comment
Et voilà! The reply comment is now threaded under the parent comment!

Digg Digg

Digg Digg is a really great plugin if you like to make your blog ‘social media friendly’! At the top of every article Technology Bloggers displays Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook buttons, so that you can easily share our content.

Technology Bloggers Digg Digg Social Media Share Buttons
Technology Bloggers social media share buttons, as provided by Digg Digg

This is all thanks to Digg Digg which gives you more social media buttons and options than you could shake a stick at! If you want to create a social media friendly blog, Digg Digg is one of the best plugins out there!

Top Commentators Widget

WordPress’s Top Commentators Widget is definitely one of the best plugins I have ever installed. It gives you the ability to thank your commenters by adding a widget to the sidebar (or in our case the footer navigation) of your blog, which displays your site’s top commenters, however you like!

Top Commenters Screenshot - as it appeared on the 17th October 2011It has loads of easy to customise options. You can choose how many commenters get shown, how long names can be before they are replaced with an ellipsis. You can also choose if names are hyperlinked, show the individuals Gravatar, how big that avatar is, whether an award icon is shown by commenters with more than a certain number of comments, how often the list refreshes, etc.

There are more!

Listed above are some of the very best plugins I have ever used. Despite this, there are many other great plugins that I haven’t included, for fear of making this article university paper length! Lets save them for another time.

So, what plugins do you use? Why do you like them? Are you going to try any of the plugins above? Do any of them look interesting/useful?

Talk to me below 🙂