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.)

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.

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

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)

Like Writers and Photographers

“…I remember coming home a few days after EDSA 1 and playing it on the piano without interruption, and completing this five minute song in an unbelievable two minutes. How was that possible, if the song takes five minutes to sing…” – Jim Paredes

Athletes call it the playing the zone. It is the level where most play their best games and the performance continues as soon as they get into it and ends until they tire themselves out. Similarly, this applies to everything we do, day in and day out. There are times when we spontaneously do something without even having to think about it, when everything just seems fluid. Even doing a simple household chore has its own zone.

This must be why all of a sudden there’s that void of well-composed photos on my multiply.com network. Just a few months back there was a barrage of spectacular pictures coming from my online buddies but lately it seems no one has posted much or not one has shot anything worthy to be considered photography. Hopefully, their pricey Canon SLRs aren’t sitting in a corner, collecting molds and dusts.

This is also true with bloggers and reviewers. I miss the days when I’d read write ups so nice that I’d wonder if the man behind the harmony of words are pro incognito or just plain individuals like me who don’t have the bucks to purchase expensive cameras and therefore decided to write instead. While creativity is involved, this is what sets the two hobbies or pastimes apart. Photography enthusiasts need at least a high-end SLR while all bloggers need is just an intangible idea.

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed some of my previous (more than a year ago) posts and some made me smile and pat myself on the back, while some not so much. My only consolation is that my blog traffic isn’t so high thereby reaching only a few unlucky individuals. Having no proofreader or editor is my ultimate alibi.

But I still remember the times when I’d write better (as far as I’m concerned),  when I’d feel like I’m immersed in the zone. These are when a favorite music either plays in the background or just inside my head. I think the rhythm does something with the composition especially if it goes with the emotions behind the idea that is set at that very moment. My keyboard becomes the piano sans  the melody.

Even the people I admire and envy for having been gifted enough to possess such wonderful talents in both literature and photography, such as Jim Paredes and James Deakin don’t come free from blunders. I’ve read and seen some of their works and I can’t help but think “Hey, this isn’t them” or “Did they really do this?” But then, these are busy guys and the pressure of the deadlines sometimes affects the outcome.

With Christmas season getting nearer each day, work activities piling up, vacations to consider, parties to attend to are all joining our already chaotic schedule, I still hope that people could still find time to focus and be in the zone. Let those great articles come  back again and let those lenses capture the beauty of everyday life.

Blog’s 1st Year

 

I can’t believe that a year has passed since I started writing and blogging. It was Aug 30, 2006 when I first got myself out of the couch, turned the TV off and approached my then lowly but dependable PC and started composing my Rockstar post. The result was actually surprising. I wrote one that actually made me pat myself on the back even with the uncertainty that grammatical errors could exist and await for one keen grammar Nazi’s eye or any smart elementary kid to take notice.

But there’s always something for encouragement to just do it. As if by coincidence our Daily Quote calendar has this for Aug 30: “A life spent making mistakes is not only honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing – George Bernard Shaw”. So timely, so appropriate. One more reason to make mistakes, or in this case, write blogs. I smiled and nodded when I read it. This calendar was given to me by my wife.

My wife. Two words that I’ve been including in most of my blogs either consciously or unconsciously . Well it’s no wonder, she’s the one who inspired and encouraged me to try writing. As far as I know, she is the leader of my few readers who visit my blogspot every now and then. My Technorati rank will attest to that – Rank: 3,915,745 . Ti abi.