Time to Learn SEO Again

SEO starts to sound exciting once more. It could have been a year or more since I gave up on SEO because I just find it hard to understand. I once believe that knowing keywords and inserting them strategically in an article is SEO already. It was wrong, completely wrong. Keyword density wasn’t enough.

The problem with SEO is that there are so many people who claim to be experts. Tools and tips that these people recommend are either complicated or doesn’t work–at least for me. Some are just downright confusing that eventually made me stop caring much about driving traffic to my site. As long as I can write and post an article then I am already fine with it. Screw traffic.

But we need traffic and SEO drives blog traffic. Just this week I read The Next Web’s article titled SEO Simplified For Short Attention Spans. It is probably the most interesting article I have read about SEO to date. Maybe I have short attention span or maybe the explanations the article presents do make sense for someone who has given up on SEO. Or maybe it has something to do with my recent return to article writing, thanks to oDesk, which made me get interested about it again.

This week I look forward to spending time in front of our desktop and start all over again. The plan is to start looking into META and ALT tags which are the things I have ignored but could actually impact my site’s visibility. Wish me luck.

***

First accomplishment was changing from ugly permalinks to pretty permalinks.  It pose a bit of challenge as the Dashboard is deceiving. It appears that it is a matter of just clicking on the radio button and save changes but it is not. The web.config.xml needs to be updated as well and WordPress.org forum has answers that could confuse further so below are two short steps to cut the chase.

Pretty permalink, ugly permalink, How to make pretty permalink work

How to change from ugly to pretty permalinks.

The original web.config.xml file contains the following below. Use an FTP client to save the file to your desktop.

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<configuration>
<system.webServer>
<rewrite>
<rules/>
</rewrite>
</system.webServer>
</configuration>

To make the permalinks work, what needs to be done is just to change the content to:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<configuration>
<system.webServer>
<rewrite>
<rules>
<rule name=”WordPress Rule” stopProcessing=”true”>
<match url=”.*” />
<conditions>
<add input=”{REQUEST_FILENAME}” matchType=”IsFile” negate=”true” />
<add input=”{REQUEST_FILENAME}” matchType=”IsDirectory” negate=”true” />
</conditions>
<action type=”Rewrite” url=”index.php?page_id={R:0}” />
</rule>
</rules>
</rewrite>
</system.webServer>
</configuration>

Overwrite original file by uploading it back to your WordPress directory. Bingo, pretty permalinks!

Source: http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Pacman-Algieri fight. And we need to be in Batangas for free cable.)

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Write About Writer’s Block

Writing and Driving

Illustration by MIke Kline as posted on Flickr Creative Commons page.

 

A day left before August ends and it’s me – 0, writer’s block – 1. No reason, just excuses. But this tweet from @AdviceToWriters uplifts me:

Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all — CHARLES BUKOWSKI

On a traffic-free day I arrive early at work and when it happens I either read or write in the car. These past few days I drafted some but never had the time to polish my ideas, one of which is again about hitting the dreaded writer’s block. But I didn’t post it for fear that it will soon become the biggest among my tag cloud. So thank you @AdviceToWriters I learned another tip from you. Yes, anything to write about is probably worth writing.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Had a good run, had good breakfast.)

Editorial Abstracting

I am still re-posting my old articles and I found out that exactly five years ago I was waiting for my editorial abstracting jobs to be loaded. It was one of the toughest writing jobs I ever had.

How to Quickly Align Text From PDF to Word

The afternoon schedule of my kid has given me the time to continue reposting old blog posts that I have saved using Feedfabrik. Without this application I would have lost everything I wrote since 2006 when I made a boo-boo during a WordPress upgrade about two years ago. (It’s a blessing in disguise though as I have discovered a LOT of embarassing grammar lapses.)

Copying and pasting, however, from PDF to Microsoft Word creates an alignment problem which I have been patiently dealing with for weeks already. Realizing that I have barely achieved a significant percentage of repost–my Feedfabrik proof PDF file has more than 1200 articles–I finally turned to the internet for help. Someone out there must have had the same issue. I was right.

Thanks to Superuser.com, I found the answer to my problem. And it’s a very simple one.  Shown below is a screenshot from my MS Word that shows the same set of text from my PDF file.

Don’t mind the excerpts, I’m about to edit it.

Upper half of the picture is how it appears when text is pasted directly from the Feedfabrik proof.pdf file.  Looks easy to align, right? But if there’s a thousand pages to deal with, trust me, it will drain anyone out.

The lower half of the picture is the way to go and it’s done using a neat trick from Superuser.com which I simplified below.

1) Copy text from PDF.

2) Paste text on Google search box (I assume this will work with any other internet browsers).  Do not worry about the length of the text, it doesn’t matter as the next step will get everything back.

3) Use CTRL+A (or CTRL+X) to copy every text you pasted on the search box.

4) Paste text on MS Word.

Take note though that if there are multiple paragraphs being copy and pasted, each paragraph has to be manually separated from the other. But this is something I can handle unless there is another trick to solve this.

Now where was I? Ah, December 22, 2006. Hmmm, bad grammars.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Still with runny nose after four days. I hope I’d be better tomorrow.)

Why I Now Care More About Plagiarism

What a surprising way to welcome myself back to the online world after my self-imposed (trying to still be a good Catholic somehow) 3-day internet hiatus. As I slowly back-read tweets I began to see the a pattern of striking news from several tweeps I follow—tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan has offered to retire as ADMU’s chairman of the board of trustees after someone exposed his recent speech to the school’s graduates as having been copied from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Conan O’Brien and J. K. Rowling. In short MVP was guilty of plagiarism. So what really is plagiarism?

Basically, plagiarism is a word commonly defined as copying someone else’s literary work and trying to pass it off as one’s own. Literary works among other things like movies, technical drawings and music become copyrighted as soon as its original author makes it; which means that the author assumes immediate ownership and thus when his writings (or any other work) are plagiarized by another person, makes the act alone technically, a form of stealing. The topic of plagiarism has been actually a topic of discussion and argument among authors and scholars for a very long time, and as a matter of fact, according to Answers.com plagiarism dates back from the 17th century. The site’s definition states that the word plagiarism has its roots from the Greek word plagion which means to ‘kidnap.’ Furthermore, Plagiarism.org has a list of things that constitutes plagiarism. Here are some of them: 

Changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit.” This may occur when someone paraphrases, or reword, a thought but still ending up with almost the same as what the original document contains. This is either a product of poor reconstruction OR a purposeful intent to deceive its readers.

Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not.” This instance would normally arise if one comes to a point when he wrongly decides to get as much facts as he can in order to support an argument, an analysis or a conclusion.

Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks.” Many of today’s technology applications probably make everyone guilty of this no matter how well the intent. Case in point, one can easily find in social networking sites, such as Facebook, sharing of inspiring stories or quotes which without the mere quotation marks (and worse, the quote’s author) may make someone who is not aware of the quote think that it actually is his/her friend’s own thought. There’s also Twitter (and SMS) where limits in the allowable characters makes it easy for one to plagiarize.

So is plagiarism bad? Yes. But like any other wrongdoing, it would be ethical to listen and know why someone did it in the first place. Again, Plagiarism.org sums up two general reasons why the act.

Intentional

According to plagiarism.org, those considered to be intentional are reasons like ”everyone’s doing it”—so why can’t I? ”But there words are better”—and why the need to waste time thinking about when in fact there’s already one that has been done by one who’s an expert. And there’s of course, the need to ”make the grade” which may be arise from cramming after realizing that schedules cannot be met. 

Unintentional

There are of course who despite their best effort to avoid plagiarism still fall to the trap of making the mistake of plagiarizing someone else’s work.

And also listed on Plagiarism.org are the following reasons students plagiarize:

There is “citation confusion.” According to this site, this is perhaps the most common reason students are caught plagiarizing. The question now is, “How should one make a citation?” Wikipedia.org has the answer. It says, ”While you should try to write citations correctly, what matters is that you add your source—provide enough information to identify the source, and others will improve the formatting if needed.” This simply implies that there is really no rule on how to cite a source as long as what is written to acknowledge it is correct and updated. Such rule may prove useful if a document or presentation will be for an informal setting (or if one is just preparing a draft) or if one is citing an online source as copying exactly the URL (or link) may be enough. Of course such isn’t always the case. Wikipedia.org explains further, ”Each article should use the same citation method throughout. If an article already has citations, adopt the method in use or seek consensus before changing it.” These statements refer to formal research, like in the Academe, where appropriate formats of citation are to be observed. Examples of recognized formats are the APA style, MLA style and The Chicago Manual of Style. For students and some individuals picking the choice of which citation format should be followed is just as confusing as the research itself. But at the end of the day, what counts the most is whether he recognized and acknowledged where he got his reference and giving credit to whom credit is due is very important to avoid or repeat such mistake.

Belief that “facts shouldn’t be quoted.” The availability of the internet and the thinking that what is being presented is common knowledge is one of the reasons  many think that it is not necessary to cite what they have extracted. In order to avoid plagiarizing, the website suggests a short yet foolproof tip, ”when in doubt, cite sources.”

The existence of “cultural relativism.” It is quite noteworthy that not every culture actually recognizes the need to acknowledge literary works. It is not therefore surprising if expat students who come from different cultural backgrounds commit plagiarism as their awareness to giving credit to literary works may be different compared with the other local students.

Interestingly another site, Irving Hexham’s Homepage discusses specifically about Academic Plagiarism and defines it as ”the deliberate attempt to deceive the reader through the appropriation and representation as one’s own the work and words of others. Academic plagiarism occurs when a writer repeatedly uses more than four words from a printed source without the use of quotation marks and a precise reference to the original source in a work presented as the author’s own research and scholarship. Continuous paraphrasing without serious interaction with another person’s views, by way or argument or the addition of new material and insights is a form of plagiarism in academic work.

“Deliberate attempt.” These two words from Irving Hexham’s definition is probably the best summary on how to identify whether one is really guilty of plagiarism or not. This definition complements the “unintentional” classification of plagiarism according to plagiarism.org.

After knowing why someone might commit plagiarism despite the best of intentions, the question that lingers is: How can we avoid plagiarism?

Personally, here are my 2 cents:

  1. Follow the ”when in doubt, cite the sources” rule.
  2. Check and re-check research paper if it follows proper citation.
  3. Consult an expert or someone more knowledgeable, if needed.
  4. Be more aware about how others expect their works to be cited.
  5. If possible, as permission directly from the original owner of the material.
  6. Understand Fair Use.
  7. Make use of CC or CreativeCommons.org.

Now, after this lengthy blog, you readers might wonder why I waste precious Easter Sunday time explaining what plagiarism is all about. That’s because just months ago I was into this same embarrassing situation of being accused as plagiarizing a school paper. It was one unbelievable experience because for years after I presented my college thesis–and more especially when I started blogging–I always make sure that I never copy anyone’s work without proper citation. Unfortunately, due to technicalities of this complex subject matter, my stock knowledge of it eventually caught up on me. Since then, I learned from the hard lesson and became more sensitive of how to properly attribute back someone else’s work than before.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks (F1 Sepang about to start)

My Blog Machine 2.0

”Every new beginning comes from other beginning’s end…” Closing Time by Semisonic.

Finally, my old Blog Machine has to go. The five-year old Pentium III 800 MHz PC has to give up his throne in our bedroom and give way to what I will call my Blog Machine 2.0 powered with one of the latest Intel Core 2 Duo 2.13 GHz PC.

The old machine has been a part of our life since it was given to us for free. During its early days it has opened our eyes to the wonderful world of the Internet. It has helped us appreciate the then famous (or infamous) Napster. Despite enduring the dragging speed of dial-up connection, I endured nights of downloading of what I knew before as just free music (it’s now technically known as piracy). I still can recall one person begging me to keep my connection open just to download Midge Ure’s Dear God—which happens to be one of my favorite songs (hint: 80‘s fan).

Of course, the old Intel machine also introduced me to one of the wonders of Web 2.0—web blogging or just blog. As a frustrated writer, I finally found one medium to share my thoughts and practice my writing skills, if I may call it. It was through this old machine that I drafted and published my first blog.

As everything will come to an end, the old guy is laid to rest. Some of its parts were taken out (i.e., cannibalized) for the new guy. Some were given away, to maybe meet other old PCs that hopefully will start other people to learn the basics and be awed by the World Wide Web. If there’s a PC heaven, I know his soul will be there.

For the new guy, he still has got a lot to prove. It’s been with us for just two days but so far the promises of an Intel Dual Core processor haven’t failed and continue to amaze me with its power. I’ve already made it to download applications from the internet, rip music and capture videos from our Sony HandyCam—all of which were done simultaneously. The result was just great. No glitch. Yet. If only writing skills improve together with the upgrade of a PC.

Oh, before I forget. I’m now playing a new game in this PC. It’s the modern, action-packed and adrenaline-pumping graphics—-the unforgiving game of…Spider Solitaire. LOL. I’m growing old. Ti abi.

My Blog Machine is Up!

Other than not having time to compose my blogs, my Blog Machine bogged down due to a defective UPS. This is my HP VL400 Desktop which runs on Intel Pentium III 800 MHz, 128MB SDRAM 133Mhz bus speed. More than 5 years ago, this could have put me on the bragging rights level if you compare it with other computers of its time. Sadly, technology is cruel. This week you are fast, the next couple of weeks you are slower than slow. In this world of F1-like “Giga” CPUs, mine is that one car that would have retired sooner even before the other cars have settled in their pole positions prior to the race start. But fear not! The Blog machine is at least still good for word processing, which is all I need to do my blog posts. It is also still good for the adrenalin-pumping, heart-stopping, mind-boggling game of Solitaire! At least I’ve got something to do while waiting for the next blog page to load through my56 kbps internet connection—actually, it has never or rarely reached that much speed. ti abi.