Archive for the ‘MetroBlogging’ Category

Brief Updates from MBHQ

You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.

The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.

The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.

There are a bunch of other things we changed but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!

Love,
The folks at MBHQ

Introducing The Hub

hub.metblogs

If Metblogs is a city, hub.metblogs is the playground. We kept hearing from people that one of their favorite parts of Metblogs was meeting and interacting with readers and writers from other parts of the world, as well as getting requests for more ways that readers could be involved besides just posting comments. We thought about this for a while and decided that with a network like this, a giant community area where folks from all over the world could hang out, post photos and videos, talk with each other, form groups, play games, send messages, and do about a million other things was probably a pretty fun idea. The Hub is that.

If you have any tech ideas or suggestions join this group and speak up. See you on hub.metblogs!

Blogging with ScribeFire

I’m trying to simplify my blogging so I can spend more time writing instead of logging in, surfing around, navigating the blogging site, copying and pasting all over the place, clicking here, there, and everywhere, never mind waiting for blogger to login, which has mysteriously become strangely problematic. In the past, I’d tried ScribeFire umpteen times on my own blog, but it was more of a pain than it was worth. But finally, for me, it works. Not only was I able to attach my own blog easily, but writing a post is a breeze. It’s intuitive — at last! — and being able to add URL links is so much easier and faster.

Having successfully used it with my own blog, I wanted to add Metblogs to it. Ha! Took me a few kicks at the can to figure out I had to manually configure the sucker and follow this format when inputting the posting URL: http://example.com/wordpress/xmlrpc.php. Phew! The login took at last and now I’m posting my first ScribeFire-powered post on Metblogs.

The Hassle of Rating and Commenting on Metblogs

Metblogs is looking better and better, now that they’ve fixed that really-really-wide banner. It’s so much easier for us bloggers to use, and I think it’s nicer for blog visitors to read. But there’s one problem: it’s a bitch to leave a comment.

Oh, it’s no problem if you’re a Metblogger or a WordPress user, but what happens if you’re just Joe Blow who wants to leave a comment? Who wants to set up a WordPress account just to do that? I wouldn’t. It seems strange to me that the designers were unable to devise a sign-in sheet as easy for a commenter to use as Blogger’s or the old Metblog’s.

So for all you kind readers who would like to leave a comment, but understandably don’t need the hassle: rate it! Um, well, that’s what I thought….

Down at the bottom right of each post are 5 grey stars. You’ll notice as you mouse over them that they turn green. Just click on the desired star and boom, you have your desired number of lit up stars. Try it — when you move over the stars until you get to the fourth one, click it! (After all, doesn’t this post deserve at least 4 stars?)

Even if a comment is out of the question, at least we will know what you think of our opinions and writings. And isn’t that worth clicking a star?

You’d think so, or at least I did. After all, don’t we want to encourage some interaction between bloggers and readers? But after I wrote all that star stuff, I went hmmmm…..maybe I should sign out and see if a non-WordPress, non-Metblog user can rate it too. Nope. Heck no. Like way nooooooo.

Sorry folks, if you want to comment or rate a Metblog, you’re just going to have to become a WordPress user. Sucks, I know. But I don’t have control over the admin interface. Personally, I’d use anti-scam guns, of which there are plenty, and allow legit humans easily (the emphasis on easily) to leave a comment or rate a post.

The TTC and Metblogs Missing Visual Editor

I heard on the radio today that, starting in June, subway service will end 1.5 hours earlier — at 12:30 am instead of 2:00 am — because the maintenance staff cannot maintain the system in only 3 hours per night when the system is shut down. Poor dears. I wonder how the tough maintenance guys in New York manage to keep that system safe when it never shuts down? But seriously, how come over 40 years after the system opened, and over a decade after the major accident, do the maintenance guys suddenly decide they can’t hack it? Is management hoping to cut back on staff, or are the staff becoming so slow and lazy now, they’re less productive than ever?

So much for improving TTC service.

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On a totally unrelated note, what happened to the nice Visual Editor for Metblogs? I absolutely HATE writing with code cluttering up all my text. I bet it’s the fault of those people who insist on using Safari, a browser that seems to hate WordPress. Booo. Hissss.

[Update: I suddenly had the brilliant idea of strolling through the admin options and lo and behold, they’ve added a new one — “use Visual Editor” — but the default is NO. Fixed it. I’m happy now.]

A New Look, New Back End for Metblogs

Yay! Metblogs has moved to a saner platform. No more excrrrrruuuuuciatinglllllyyyyyyyy sllooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwww postings, where waiting is the name of the game. No more having to wrap one’s brain around a post with html tags all over the place and trying to proof it before clicking “publish.” No more wrestling with the blooming images. We’ve entered the 21st century, and we have WYSIWYG!!!

Can you tell I’m not a code fan? And definitely not a Movable Type fan. Now when you leave a comment, you won’t have to go drink a cup of coffee then come back to see if it took. You get instant verification. Well, OK, not instant, but speaking relative to the old format, it’s pretty instant!

I hope you all like the new Metblogs look, even with its early-incarnation weirdness. I know I much prefer the new back end. And now with a friendlier blogging platform, I urge anyone who was thinking they may, just might, be able to blog for Toronto Metblogs if it wasn’t for such a convoluted platform, to step forward. You can now. It’s safe!

What’s Happening in Pakistan?

karachi.jpg

So, another holiday season is upon us and things seem to get busy, real busy. I’m in Ohio again and haven’t been around the T-Dot to know what’s going on. What I do know is that Pakistan is under the radar since the assassination of former Pakistani President Benazir Bhutto. News reports even from the major networks seem to be conflicting and no one seems to know what really happened. Our friends at MB Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore have been blogging about the situation. First hand accounts, voices from the street and great pictures from the ground, pretty interesting read if you are interested.

http://karachi.metblogs.com
http://islamabad.metblogs.com
http://lahore.metblogs.com

Photo by Mudsi MB Karachi Flick group

“Traditional” Media Covers Blogging

Metroblogging Islamabad‘s ongoing coverage of the the Siege of Lal Masjid has attracted not just loyal Metroblogging readers but the “traditional” media as well. The Globe and Mail’s Mathew Ingram blogs about live-blogging and the live reporting by Islamabad’s authors.

He questions whether it’s journalism or not. You know what it is? It’s blogging.
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Islamabad Under Seige

If you haven’t seen it on the telly already, Metblogs Islamabad has been covering the chaos since the beginning.

Wikiepedia also offers some information on the 2007 Lal Masjid Operation.

More info:
Special Forces Assemble at Lal Masjid!
The Siege of Lal Masjid: Day 4 – Operations Intensify!

Blogtrotting: Guardian Angels on MB Vancity

Torontonians are familiar with the Guardian Angels. They’ve been here before, and actually set up shop in Toronto last year, amidst our growing (and still escalating) gun problem.

Seems like they’re on a recruiting tear in Vancouver as well.
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