My Super Secret Twitter App Revealed: Rout

With all of the fuss over Klout dropping their score, I’ve decided to reveal my super secret Twitter application: Rout.  No longer do you need to fret over low social media ranking scores.  Don’t like your Rout score?  Generate another one.  My score is 65.  No, wait, it’s 87.  No, wait, it’s 15.  No, wait, it’s 3.  THREE?!!!  Whew, 96.  As you can see, I’m extremely influential.  Rout is powered by a highly scientific process called Picking Random Numbers From

Generate your Rout score here.

Ok, obviously, this is a joke.  What isn’t a joke, though, is that I have a super-secret Twitter application under development.  I’ve been delaying it due to bug fixes and paid freelance projects, but I think it’s finally ready for prime time.  Or, wide-spread beta testing, at least.  I’m setting November 1st as the release date, so stop back on Tuesday for the real announcement.  Until then, have fun generating Rout scores!

Server Moves, Birthday Parties, Exhaustion, and Hava Nagilla

On Saturday night, after the kids were in bed, I began moving and from our old host to our new host.  This meant first backing up all of the files from the old host’s servers.  (I usually keep backups locally, but they had gotten out of date.)  This alone took some time.  Then, I backed up the databases.  Finally, I restored the whole thing onto the new hosts’ server.  A connection string change (to point to the new database) and name server update later, and our websites were up and running.

If I make it sound like a quick job, however, it wasn’t.  I began work at around 9pm and went to bed at 1:30 am.  At this point, I had about 4 hours worth of file transfers to go.  Luckily, these weren’t essential files.  Had you been able to see at this point, you might have noticed photos missing in blog posts or images missing from the sidebars.  Still, the blog posts would have been readable and WordPress would have functioned just fine.

Since I didn’t need to be present for this file transfer to run, I left my computer on and went to bed, falling asleep at about 2am.  At about 5am, I was woken up by B.  She wasn’t feeling good (horrible headache) and needed my help.  I got her some medicine and she went back to sleep.  Despite my exhaustion, however, I just couldn’t fall asleep.

I finally fell back to sleep around 6am only to be woken back up at 7am.  I laid in bed for as long as I could, but sleeping in was not an option.  We needed to get ready for NHL’s birthday party.

There were several moments during the party where I found myself unable to focus and/or dizzy.  Many times when I’d have liked to have snuck away for a “short” nap.  (Short meaning telling yourself only 5 minutes and then waking up 3 hours later.)  After the party was over, I felt the crash come hard.  Still, I pushed off exhaustion.

As I sit typing this, B is sitting with the boys, trying to get them to go to sleep.  I’m thinking that I really should process some of the photos from the party for a blog post.  I just can’t think straight enough, though.  Instead, here’s B’s post about the party.  (Mine will come later.)

I won’t leave you empty handed, though.  Thanks to a recent gift from Mimi to JSL, I think the Hava Nagilla will be sung quite a bit in our household:


Hopefully, by the time you read this, I’ll be well rested and coherent.  If I am, then hava nagilla (let us rejoice)!

Aloha Friday: From Mobile With Photos

On Tuesday, I wrote about how I’ve switched off of using TwitPic and similar cell phone photo sharing services.  Instead, I set up my blog to receive and post the photos itself.  Already, I’ve had hidden Mickey photos from my grill, of items in my office and of special packages.  More photos will definitely flow in as I take them.  I’m loving that I don’t have to rely on the photo sharing services and can direct people right to my own blog instead of a third party’s website.

My Aloha Friday question for today is: Which (if any) Twitter/Mobile Phone photo sharing service do you use?  Would you be interested in setting your blog to accept the photos instead?

(As far as the latter question is concerned, my offer from Tuesday is still good.  I can set up anyone’s blog to accept mobile photos provided you are on self-hosted WordPress.)

Don’t forget to enter my giveaways.  You could wind Dinosaur Train Dino Poop and Hatchers or a Kung Fu Panda/General Mills gift pack.

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the McLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #90

How I Broke Free Of Picture Sharing Services

Three weeks ago, Twitter began to buzz about a change in TwitPic’s terms of service.  The change appeared to give TwitPic the right to sell posted photos to third parties without the approval of and without sharing the revenue with the person who posted the photo.  Needless to say, people didn’t like this and began moving to YFrog and other image hosting sites.  TwitPic attempted to explain the TOS change but this didn’t satisfy everyone.

I have to admit, I was one of those people who weren’t quite reassured.  I switched over to YFrog.  However, then I began to think.  YFrog said they would never do what TwitPic did, but how could I be sure.  Perhaps a year from now we’ll all be talking about some big scandal about new YFrog TOS changes.  Or maybe YFrog will go belly up.  What would happen to my photos then?

In addition, I began to think about traffic.  When B was at Disney Social Media Moms, she saw Chris Brogan speak.  She relayed some of what he said to me including that you should treat your blog like your home base and Twitter, Facebook, etc like outposts.  Perhaps it was time to move my “photos shared from my cell phone” operation back into my home base.  After all, wouldn’t it be ideal to drive traffic back to rather than

I already had a pretty decent idea of how it would work.  I would create a super-secret e-mail address used only for posting photos.  A script on would check this inbox for photos I sent and would make them into blog posts, uploading the photos and any additional text I provided.  Finally, an auto-tweet script would alert my Twitter followers of my uploaded image the same way that TwitPic or YFrog would.

While I’d have loved to have written the script myself, I decided to see if anyone had done a WordPress plugin.  Sure enough, I found Postie right away.  I figured others might want to do something similar with their blogs, so I’ll detail my basic steps below.   (NOTE: WordPress has a “Post By E-mail” feature, but you’ll see soon enough why I didn’t use this.) 

Step 1: Be Using Self-Hosted WordPress and install the Postie Plugin

None of this will work if you’re using Blogger or are hosted on  There might be some solution for you, but I’m not sure what that would be.  Sorry.  If you do have a self-hosted WordPress blog, add the Postie plugin from the Admin control panel.

Step 2: Create a Post From Cell Phone E-mail address

You don’t want to set Postie to use your publicly available e-mail address.  There are protections against just anyone posting to your blog (more on these later), but do you really want to chance it?  So have your web host set up (or set up via their control panel) some kind of super secret e-mail address.  Something like  Add that e-mail address to your cell phone’s contacts under a name like “Post Photo.”

Step 3: Configure Postie

In your sidebar, under Settings, click on Postie.  You’ll get a list of options to set up.  First of all, you’ll need to tell Postie just how to get to the e-mail inbox.  So give Postie the mail server, userid and password information.

Next, under User, you want to make sure that you’re the only one who can post.  This is where WordPress’s basic Post-By-Email function fails.  If a spammer were to guess the e-mail address, you might find your blog relaying a Nigerian prince’s pleas for help.  Make sure “Allow Anyone To Post Via Email” is set to No and set up the authorized addresses to be the e-mail address of your phone.  If you’re not sure about this, you could always send a TXT and Picture message to your normal e-mail address and see what e-mail addresses they come from.  (TXT and picture messages often display as two different e-mail addresses.)

Under Message, select the category that the messages should take.  I created a new one called Mobile Photos.  Text/picture messages received as e-mails can often contain signatures added by the providers.  (For example, “This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!”)  Obviously, we don’t want that posting, so go under Advanced options and any signature as a new signature pattern.  You don’t need the whole thing, just enough to for Postie to recognize it and not confuse it with your own text.  (e.g. Don’t add in “This message” lest it cut you off when your post should say “This message comes overlooking a beautiful landscape.”)

You can customize the template under Image and fiddle with the other settings if you wish, but the basic functionality is there now.  Now, you should be able to take a photo, send it to your blog and have it posted.  The only thing you’re missing is tweeting it.

For this, I turned to the Twitter Tools plugin for WordPress.  Sadly, this plugin required a prefix for tweets.  Something along the lines of “New Blog Post”.  Of course, I didn’t want my Mobile Photo posts to be called “New Blog Posts”, so I went into the code.  It turned out to be a simple fix to make it stop using prefixes.  (I actually set it so that a prefix of a blank space would result in no prefix used at all since the application errors if no prefix is used.)  Since I don’t want to assume that everyone out there is comfortable coding, I’d simply recommend finding a prefix you can live with or using another plugin such as Tweet This.

Once this is set up, you’ll be able to completely replace the functionality of those Twitter photo sharing services.  Your photos will remain under your control, you’ll drive more traffic to your site and you won’t need to worry about some random terms of service changes (at least not with this).

If given the opportunity*, would you set something like this up for your blog?  Do you see an upside to TwitPic/YFrog type services that my Post-To-My-Blog solution doesn’t have?

* If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, but aren’t techy enough to set this up,  I do freelance work on the side and might be able to help you out.  Send me an e-mail via the Contact Me form above.

Don’t forget to enter my Dinosaur Train giveaway.  You could win Dino Poop and Hatchers.

Aloha Friday: Changing Your Host

You may have noticed that and were down for quite a bit both this week and last week.  Unfortunately, our web host, Arvixe, has had some severe issues with their servers.  While I don’t doubt that they were working hard to get our web sites back up and running, having 67.5 hours of downtime in 2 weeks makes one think about other hosting options.

We haven’t decided to move just yet.  Even if we did, our hosting requirements are just specific enough to severely limit which hosts we can go with.  Since we use WordPress for our blogs, we obviously need PHP and mySQL.  However, I still like programming in classic ASP, so I need that.  This means a Windows host.  In addition, I need to be able to schedule tasks.  I’ve looked at a few options but so far haven’t come to a conclusion as to what we’ll do next.  (Besides making sure we have up to date backups.)

My questions for you are three-fold:

1) Do you backup your website regularly in case your current host goes belly-up?

2) Would the amount of downtime we’ve had make you rethink where you host your websites?

3) Where do you host your websites now?




Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #30

1 2 3 4