Thursday, September 13, 2007

Moving to another Blog -!!!

Just a reminder that I'm now only posting new posts on my blog: Clear Blue Dei. Please come visit me there!

~Susan Mellott

Monday, September 3, 2007

Moving to new blog at

Hi! During the course of testing many different blog engines, I ended up with 3 different ones that all had the same posts. Now I am trying to consolidate so I am moving to new blog at I just finished a 3-part series on which blog engine I liked the best. You can see the third and final post at my Clear Bluedei blog.

The results were that I liked Google Blogger best for ease of use, functionality and for when you don't have your own web host that you can install your blog on. And if you have your own web host and are technically inclined and enjoy playing around with ftp and html and unix and all, I like using your own self-hosted blog for the greatest functionality and control.

And I have set up my own blog on my domain so I plan to consolidate my blogs into one at some point and it will be that one. I also have one at that I actually would rather have closed down so that I would have had only my own wordpress blog and a google blogger blog, but I have the most people by far who read my blog so I am keeping it running in tandem with my own for the moment.

But this blog's hits have slowly dwindled to the point that I feel comfortable putting it on hold and redirecting everyone to one of my other blogs. I wish I could make my primary but everyone keeps going to and reading and quoting my so I'll keep it going also.

So please go to my blog for my new posts. I will keep this blog with all the posts thus far, but from now on will be posting only on my other 2 blogs (and hopefully just 1 at some point).

Thank you for visiting and please come check out my All Things Web 2.0 blog at

~Susan Mellott

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Las Vegas 1.0: Where's the free wireless access???

I am getting ready to leave for Las Vegas on Monday and I realized that the hotel where we are staying does not have free wireless access. In fact, it is rather expensive, especially since I am used to being able to go almost anywhere and get free wireless access. Fort Wayne is an amazingly progressive town and has had many free wireless access points for a very long time, as a matter of fact, it was nationally recognized as one of America's most "wired and inspired" cities (according to Mayor Graham Richards) and has many, many wi-fi hot-spots. Some of the more interesting hotspot areas include:

  • Headwaters Park
  • Freimann Square
  • Lawton Park
  • Several downtown restaurants
  • Allen County Courthouse courtyard
  • The main Allen County Public Library and all 13 branches
  • The Fort Wayne International Airport
  • and of course all the other common ones like MacDonalds, House of Pancakes, coffee houses, bars, restaurants, hotels, etc.

So I just assumed that I would have no problem finding a free wireless hotspot in Las Vegas (specifically, the strip). Buzzzz. Wrong. As near as I can tell, there are maybe 5 free hotspots on the strip and the strip is a couple miles long. The closest to where we will be staying is the Apple Store in the Fashion Show Mall which is across the street and down a "Las Vegas Block" from us. If you've been to Las Vegas, you know what a Las Vegas block is. It is about a half a mile.

There is also one at the Las Vegas Hilton (and in the Las Vegas Hilton Monorail station - why couldn't they have put it in some other monorail station?). Again, if you know Las Vegas, you know that *nothing* is close to the Las Vegas Hilton. So I could pay $5 each way to ride the monorail there, but that would be $20 for the two of us, just to get wireless access (although I do enjoy Star Trek - The Experience). There is supposed to be one at the Planet Hollywood/Aladdin hotel, which is a little farther than the Fashion Show Mall, but in the other direction. And someone thinks there is one by the hallway between Luxor and Excalibur which is at the far end of the strip. Oh yes, there should be one at the Wynn too which the same distance as the Fashion Show Mall, but on our side of the road. The Wynn is new since I was last at Vegas and I forget about it. But that really is about it! And in a town that is wall to wall hotels, casinos, restaurants and bars, I find that unbelievable.

And I really don't want to be lugging my laptop all over creation in 100+ temps, just to get to the internet. I don't want to, but I will. I can't imagine going for 4 days without logging in.

But I plan to make it as little as possible, which means I won't be posting much, if any, in the next week. And I have things I want to post! And I wanted to post about our trip.

I love Las Vegas, but it needs to get its 2.0 on.

~Susan Mellott

Google Blogger vs. WordPress, Blog Wars Part 2: The Results

So as you know from my first post on this "Google Blogger vs. WordPress, Blog Wars Part 1: The Test", I am reviewing and evaluating several different blog engines, with an emphasis on Google Blogger and WordPress (.com and .org). You can see my previous post to see the different blogs in action. And I'm sure this is going to be a large post, just reviewing the Blogger and WordPress blogs, so I will have a "Google Blogger vs. WordPress, Blog Wars: The Other Options" post following this one where I'll talk about the other blogs I looked at. But for all intents and purposes, it came down to Blogger and WordPress (2 ways).

I wanted to decide which type of blog would work best for my needs and which one I would recommend to others. It turned out to not be quite that simple. Each of the 3 main blog engines (Blogger, hosted Wordpress and self-hosted Wordpress) had some serious advantages and some serious drawbacks. So as it turns out, rather than recommending one above all others, I will give an overview of each, what is good and bad about them and why and for whom I would recommend each particular one.

And to make a long story short, I recommend Blogger for people who want someone else to host their blog, don't want to pay for a web hosting service and/or who want a quick and easy blog that takes hardly any maintenance or technical know-how.

For people who want the all-around best solution, who have their own web host and like to get 'techie' (and know how to do installs, use unix and ftp, etc), it's definitely WordPress from This is the most flexible, you have the most control over it and your data and it will do almost anything you want if you find the right plug-ins or code. But you have to have the know-how and desire to use it and it is only as good as you make it. And you have to have somewhere to install it like a web hosting service.

Google Blogger: I personally give Google Blogger the edge over hosted WordPress for anyone who doesn't have their own web host and/or wants an easy and quick blog. I think it is good for:

  1. Anyone who doesn't have a lot of programming, moving files, installs, bits and bolts of how things work experience
  2. Anyone who wants an easy setup with the most features for a blog hosted by the blog provider and the most options for adding plugins and html code easily.
  3. Anyone who wants to have their own domain name, but use a blog hosted by the blog provider. In other words, who wants to buy a domain name like say, (costs about $10/yr) but doesn't want to have their own web hosting service where they can put and maintain their own data and blogs (costs about $10/month). Redirecting is free in Blogger, it costs $10? (10 credits) in
  4. You might want to have commercial usage on your blog.'s term of service prohibits 'commercial usage' (although its unclear to mean exactly what they mean). It appears OK on a Google Blog (see this post from the Blogger Help group).

Google Blogger has the most features, the most choices and the ability to add html code easily including that using javascript. That means that when you find something you like (like say Odiogo, which is the text-to-speech widget you see at the top of my posts on my google and personally hosted wordpress blog), you can add it to your blog posts very easily. You cannot add Odiogo to a hosted blog because it doesn't allow javascript. I've run into several widgets that I wanted to add to my blogs, but could not easily do it in You can easily redirect it to your own domain name so when they type either your original blog name or your domain name, both will go to your blogger blog. It is an easy, attractive and flexible blog engine. It doesn't have as nice a built-in statistics page as wordpress, but you can use Google Analytics (which is nice, but isn't real time) or any other stats tools like ActiveMeter or Sitemeter or ShinyStat (or I'm sure there are others) to keep track of it.

The one thing that seems to keep a lot of people from recommending Google Blogger is that it does not allow you to back up your posts. Therefore, if anything happened to Blogger, you could lose your data. Also, you can't move the data to another google blog if you wanted to. And looking at the hacks to backup your data, there really isn't a good way to do it. Except...

What you can do is to create a blog and import your blogger data into your wordpress blog. It is very easy in to import posts and comments from other blog engines, basically just point and click. Then you can export the data from your wordpress blog into a file of your own. You can't reload that file back into Google Blogger, but you have all your data and can recreate it in wordpress easily. Which is better than losing it all. And if you use a redirect to your own domain name in Blogger, if something happened, you could change the redirect to point to your Wordpress blog (for $10/credits per year, I believe). It's a work-around, but I tried it and it works just fine.

There is some concern about losing your rank if you move (which I don't totally understand about rank and all yet) but here is a post that explains things you can do to help with that, called "Moving from Blogger to Wordpress without Losing Traffic and Page Rank" (Actually, when I qit blogging on all my blogs and switch to one (, I may have to figure out what all this means.) Also, as I understand, Blogger (as would be expected) integrates very well with Google Adsense, which I gather is a way to make money from your website, with advertising, I guess.

Also, if you start with Blogger, you can choose later to go to WordPress. You can't go the other way because Blogger doesn't have an import or export function. For the life of me, I don't know why.

WordPress on This is the most middle-of-the-road bet. It doesn't really do anything as well as any of the others (except for import/export) but it doesn't have anything really wrong with it either. Many people would recommend it over Blogger. But it seems that it is mostly because Blogger doesn't provide a way to back it up and my work-around takes care of that, in my opinion. One thing that I really like about is that they provide an easy to use stats page that tells you how many page views you've had each day, which pages were viewed, how people got to your site and what they clicked while there. The one thing it doesn't tell you is who actually viewed your site. You have to use another stats package like sitemeter or ActiveStats to see that. And Google Analytics will not give you as much information using as it would if you were using Blogger because it requires some code to be added that you cannot add to blogs.

This appeals to all the people that Blogger and would be a better choice if:

  1. You really want to be able to export your data and import it back into Wordpress easily, or want to be able to import posts/comments from other blog engines.
  2. You plan to go to a WordPress blog that you host yourself and you just want to get started now with and then import your posts and comments into your own hosted WordPress blog.
  3. AND you don't plan to have to have commercial usage on your blog.'s term of service prohibits 'commercial usage' and you are supposed to use (your own hosted site) if you do...
  4. UNLESS you are a big business and want wordpress to host your blog using their VIP Hosting Service that costs $600 to setup and $300/month hosting fee. If you have that kind of money, you can decide if that is worth it. Briefly looking at it, I would think not. For that kind of money, you have many, many options. But if you have that kind of money for a blog, I doubt that you are reading my post :)

As I said before, has some drawbacks. It is not as flexible as Blogger. There are things you want to add that you can't (but you can in Blogger). You can't use javascript and you cannot have any commercial usage or you run the risk of being shut down. You also have to pay to redirect your blog to your own domain name (this is something you very well may want to do at some point) and for many other things too, like more upload storage space or the ability to customize your css or unlimited users.

Self-hosted Wordpress from This is, in my opinion, the very best option for:

  1. anyone who is 'techie' (understands files, uploading, ftp, unix, etc) and
  2. who likes dealing with the bits and bolts, likes installing, maintaining and customizing their own blog and templates and all and
  3. who has a host server to put their install on.
  4. who wants to be able to do pretty much anything they want to their blog, wants to add all sorts of plug-ins and who wants to really 'pimp their ride'.

Self-host Wordpress offers the most options and is the most flexible of any of the choices. Really, it is about the only option I've found for being able to have total control of your own blog, outside a CMS (content management system) like Drupal, which is extremely more powerful than just a blog engine and requires a lot more knowledge and programming know-how.

Some drawbacks of it are that you have to have a host to install it on (either your own, or from a web service that costs about $10/month) and you have to install and maintain and customize it yourself so you have to have some experience with these things and you have to want to do it or it will just be a hassle and frustrating. And your blog will only be as good and functional as you make it. It comes as basically vanilla and you have to add everything to it.
You also have to be sure your host is stable and has good backups in case something happens. The other blog engines are as stable and well-backed up as and can make them so it doesn't vary so much. But your own host system can be very good or very bad, depending on who you are going with.

Also, I tried exporting from my blog to import into my blog (as if I had a problem with my web host and had to move) and it didn't move my extra pages (like about me and books I am reading). Nor of course, any of my plug-ins or customization. So it is important to save your plug-ins and files. Since they are just files on a server, you can back-up any or all of it any time you want.

Here is an article that talks about the differences between Google Blogger and self-hosted Wordpress from that has some good information. It is part one, but for the life of me, I can't find part two. It still has good info.

So to me, it comes down to Google Blogger for flexibility and ease of use vs. self-hosted wordpress for control and customization. And that is a choice that depends on what you are looking for and how much you want to do.

I will post my reviews of the other, less well-known blog engines in my next post on this subject.

-Susan Mellott

Thursday, August 23, 2007

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

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:

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 blog: allthingsweb20 and the blog:

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 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 also found this one called InstantSpot after my testing. I know nothing about it but may set up a blog on it to test it. Then I'll update this list with my Instant Spot blog.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Doing the JibJab Disco

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

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

Monday, August 20, 2007

Skype - Their Outage explanation doesn't make sense

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 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

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Library Genius 2.0 Shirts are now Available!

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.


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, 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