Jul 23 2012

Essential WordPress Plugins

A lot has changed since I last listed my top WordPress plugins. Over the years I’ve been blogging and helping others set up their blogs, I’ve settled on the few must have WordPress plugins that are essential for any new blog.

Jetpack by WordPress
The company behind WordPress, Automattic, have compiled a collection of useful tools that is realized as the Jatpack by WordPress plugin. It’s really a plugin suite. Jetpack includes WordPress statistics right in your dashboard, social sharing widgets, WP.me short/tiny links, and other useful tools. In addition to all these features, Automattic is constantly added more add-ons and tools for this plugin.

Google Analytics
Even though it’s not been updated in a while, I still use Google Analytics so that I can track my sites’ visitors on Google Analytics. Even though the Jetpack by WordPress offers analytics, I’ve find Google Analytics to be more detailed in how it tracks visitors.

Google Sitemap Generator
Any plugin that helps search engines crawl your blog belongs in your toolbox. The Google Sitemap Generator does just that. This plugin creates a search engine friendly site map pointing out the most recent content on your site.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
I’ve been using Yet Another Related Posts Plugin for years. I can’t even begin to describe how this plugin works, simple put it magically detects similar blog posts on your site and creates additional links to them in the footer section of your post. This is a great plugin that helps your readers discover other similar posts on your site.

WPtouch
Now that more and more of your visitors are coming to your site using their mobile devices, such as the iPhone or Android phones, you may want to use a plugin like WPtouch. WPtouch creates a mobile device friendly version of your site.


Feb 13 2012

iOS Missing Feature: Multiple Device App Management

I have over 100 iOS apps in three different devices, an iPod running running iOS 4.2, and an iPhone and iPad on iOS 5. As much as possible, I always sync all devices to my laptop so that they all have the latest updates. I know that since iOS 5, apps and songs purchased from iTunes on one device will automatically sync to other devices. That said I still find that I have sync for other reasons, to transfer photos to iPhoto and sync a large number of podcasts I listen to. And perhaps, most importantly, I’ve sync to charge my device. One issue, definitely first world problem, I have with having multiple iOS devices is managing all the apps in the different devices. If I delete on app from the iPad, it doesn’t delete it from the iPhone. If I delete it from the iTunes on my laptop and I sync with a device that contains that app, it will copy it back to iTunes.

Another big issue is that you have to configure your app pages and folders on each device. If you spend an hour organizing your apps into folders and pages in one device you have to re-do it all over again on the second device. What ends up happening is that you’ll have two devices with the same apps in different pages and folders.

What I am missing from my mobile experience is the ability to sync, not only the apps and content of apps, but the meta-data about how I organize apps between iOS devices. I want to have the choice to clone how one iOS device organizes and layouts the apps to other devices. I would also like the ability to have different app layout settings, such as have the iOS device automatically put applications into folders based on the app category or my usage of the app. And of course, I would like to have a way to delete an app from one device and have it disappear from all other devices.


Jan 23 2012

The Mobile App User Half Life

Recently at a iOS development meet up the presenters from Qubop showed a powerful slide from their presentation that quantified the mobile app user life cycle. It is estimated that on average after one day of usage, 38% of the users will stop using a mobile application. After a week, the percent of users that will still use the app drops to 50%. After 6 months, you are down to 10% of users still using your app in some capacity.

Because of the half life of mobile application users, app developers are constantly updating their mobile apps. It depends on the number of apps you have on your phone, but if I don’t get the latest apps in a weeks period I would have 15 app updates waiting for me. I update one day and the next day there is another app ready to update. Because apps are updated so often, and they require the users permission to do so, mobile app users have are developing app update fatigue.


Nov 14 2011

jQuery Mobile + PhoneGap = Awesome Mobile Development Platform

I’m currently prototyping an iPad application and I’ve just found working with jQuery Mobile and PhoneGap to be a breeze for mobile application development. I’ve used iOS SDK before and I’ve experimented on test applications with Android and I’ve always found issues with both the iOS and Android development frameworks. I’ve also looked into cross platform mobile development toolkits such as Appcelerator Titanium and Sencha Touch but I found these were not of me at the time. Any of the aforementioned platforms and frameworks can be used to create a great looking and functional mobile application but I found that they each ask the developer to make a trade off.

With jQuery Mobile, you develop your mobile application with HTML5 and JavaScript/jQuery. With jQuery Mobile, all of your UI is written in pure HTML5 tags with the correct CSS classes and attributes. jQuery Mobile is built on top of jQuery so many web developers can immediately start being productive with jQuery Mobile.

Everybody has an idea for the next great iPhone application. The top reasons I’ve heard from people, including from developers, as an excuse for not getting started is that they don’t have a Apple computer, they don’t want to learn another programming language, they don’t have time, etc. jQuery Mobile invalidates all of these excuses. You can use Firefox or Chrome to test your jQuery Mobile application, you develop using plain HTML5 and JavaScript, and most it’s easy to pick up.

Because a jQuery Mobile application is just a HTML5-based web application, if your an run it on your iPhone or other mobile device using the native web browser. On the iPhone, when you run a jQuery Mobile application the browser will take up a small portion on the screen for the navigation buttons, bookmarks, and other controls of the browser. One way to claim all of the screen real-estate is to create a native application, that is where PhoneGap comes in. PhoneGap is a native shell around a web application, such as those developed in jQuery Mobile. With PhoneGap, you can turn your jQuery Mobile application into a full fledged native application.


Apr 28 2011

Random Thoughts April 2011

Google Buzz is more Safe for Work (SFW) than Facebook in the sense that it looks like a a typical GMail account and the URL to access it also resemble GMail’s URL. Employers don’t typically block personal email access but do block networking sites. Its so easy to switch between Google Buzz and GMail.

Gutenberg died broke, his problem was that when he invented the printing press he printed the Bible. Ben Bernanke learned that lesson and instead of printing religious tomes he prints cold hard cash.

Between easy and hard, you’ll see a lot less competition if you go for what is difficult and you’ll see a lot more adoption if you make easy what was once hard.

First they seized crack warez sites and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a cracker. Then they came for the torret sites and I didn’t speak out because I don’t pirate content. Then they came for offshore online gambling sites and I didn’t speak out because I don’t play poker. The they came for my blog and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Reading about the recent Dropbox security issue and I realized that I have more valuable and personal information in the cloud than in my home. I have family pictures, calendar events for contacts, tax documents, inner most personal writings and journal entries, and much more on Google Docs, Dropbox, Yahoo Mail, and whatever other cloud service I use. Yet police agencies do not require a warrant to access that information but they do to come into my home and conduct a search. The search warrant is now obsolete. Google and other online services has made the search warrant obsolete.

It was recently reported that the US State Department is developing a mobile phone panic button, probably in the form of an app, for pro-democracy activists in foreign countries to erase a phone’s contents when they have are detained by the secret police. At the same time, the US Department of Justice and California’s Supreme Court have upheld the right of police to search the contents of a detained person without being arrested or having a warrant. Police are using digital equipment that can read all of the data in a phone in minutes at the point that police has stopped someone. Welcome to the future of pre-crime proactive policing.


Jan 24 2011

Missing Feature: The Mobile Device Self Destruct Button

I use Apple’s Mobile Me service. I got the first year subscription as a gift a little over a year ago and I recently renewed the service for another year. I don’t use the email or calendar service in Mobile Me much but one feature that is worth its price is the Find My iPhone locator feature. This feature lets you track the location of your iOS device, it lets you put an alert message on your iPhone or iPad, and it lets you ring the iPhone (even if it’s on vibrate or silence mode). I’ve used it once when I lost my phone under the couch and I couldn’t find it. It also lets you lock down or even wipe your missing iOS device of all personal and identifying data.

Apple's Mobile Me

Apple's Mobile Me

All mobile devices, from phones, tablets, and to laptops should have a built it self destruct feature that when activated would destroy all data on a compromised device. It is my belief that a phone is a very intimate and personal device, there is so much personal data in my phone from private contact lists, to confidential business emails, to other dubious activities that I may or may not be involved in.

In addition to having the ability to destroy incriminating data from a mobile device, such as an iPhone or iPad, I want the ability to program rules into the phone. Such as if the phone has not been unlocked in over 24 hours, or if the attempted to unlocked more than three times, if it activated with a given specific code, if it is located in a known police or government building, etc.

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone