Archive for March, 2008

Take regular breaks from work with this iGoogle gadget

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Maintain your work balance
It’s fairly well known that long stretches at the computer without taking a break are unhealthy and often unproductive.

If you’d like something to remind you to take a break from work, and you use iGoogle, then try this work balance timer.

It’s a simple, free, customisable tool that counts down a specified number of minutes, then warns you when it is time to rest. It also informs you when it is time to start working again (d’oh!).

If you don’t use iGoogle, you should consider it as your home page. There are thousands of applications that you can install on your browser, which you can then conveniently access from any computer.

MediaWiki and SEO #2 – robots.txt

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

MediaWiki Flower
If you are using MediaWiki as your CMS, you’ll need to ensure robots.txt is configured correctly on your site.

Search engines don’t like seeing duplicate pages, and if you don’t configure robots.txt, MediaWiki will give the search engines exactly that, via its “random” and “search” functions. This can lead to your pages being incorrectly marked down, or not indexed at all.

To prevent this from happening, create a file, robots.txt, with the following content:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /wiki/Special:Random
Disallow: /wiki/Special%3ARandom
Disallow: /wiki/Special:Search
Disallow: /wiki/Special%3ASearch

where wiki is the directory of your MediaWiki installation.

Place this file in the root HTML directory of your web server. You can verify that the file has installed correctly by visiting http://your-web-server/robots.txt.

This fix prevents your MediaWiki based web site from being marked down incorrectly due to duplicated content.

MediaWiki, CMS and SEO #1 – META tags

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Supernifty uses MediaWiki as its CMS. There are many advantages to this arrangement, mainly the simplicity of use, and the advantage of a familiar Wikipedia style interface for users.

However, there are disadvantages. One being that there is no way to include custom meta tags in your wiki pages. Also, there appears to be no way to make the title that appears in the title bar different to the heading that appears at the top of the page.

META tags: All the SEO guides mention them. Although historically they were quite important, their relevance now is debatable. But, you never know. Some search engines still look at them, in particular, the description meta tag.

Title tag: Search engines look at this. So, you want a descriptive title, but not necessarily a huge headline on your page. By default, in MediaWiki the title in the title bar is the same as the title on the page, and the title in your URL. Bummer.

A MediaWiki extension was written to address this problem. Install this extension, and you can set:

  • Any meta tag
  • A different title on the title bar (for the search engines) to the one that appears on your wiki page (and wiki URL).


Audio Tuner 0.7 released

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

A new version of Audio Tuner is available for download.

The main improvement is streamlining the update process. Click “Help->Check for updates” to download the latest and greatest version. In this latest update, it automatically looks for new versions on start up, and will show you what has actually changed in the software.

This update also prepares the application for tracking downloads. I’ve had a huge number of downloads of which I can only track a small percentage. That is set to change.

I still have lots of things to implement to make this software the best instrument tuner on Earth, but if you have suggestions or ideas, please pass them on.

Plans for the future include a Mac version and a Symbian (Nokia) version. Is there much demand for these? Let me know.