tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

Brighton Craigslist opens

Brighton now has it's own version of Craigslist. It sports the standard Craiglist look - very 1997 but very functional. Hopefully there will be enough interest to keep it running. So far I have the only group posting on it, but that should fill up soon enough.

New backup service from G2 Support

Olly (a fellow ex-G2Blue person) at G2 Support has launched a new backup service for PCs and Macs.

Basically it gives you a bit of software which lets you nominate areas of your hard drive for backing up to a remote site (in fact, more than one remote site.) So if something happens to your computer - i.e. the hard disk breaks - all of your files are safe and you can get at them from another computer. Or indeed if you delete something you didn't mean to, the service will have the file in your backup (and it can even keep them for seven days after you've deleted them, just in case.) Everything is encrypted, so I don't have to worry about anyone else reading my invoices.

The scheduling software is good, it looks very Windows, but that isn't going to upset me on my Mac. It's easy to use and to schedule, which is them main thing as I only remember to backup to CD/DVD occasionally. As well as files you can backup MySQL and MS SQL databases, though I haven't tried that bit yet.

Helpfully, you can restore to any computer where you've installed the software, so I can backup files from my Mac, and get at them from my PC if my Mac is turned off or somewhere else - a very helpful side-effect of all the backups.

There are prices for various options, the basic service gives you 5Gb of space for £15 a month, which should be fine for most freelancers and small businesses, and it's cheap to get more space. Well worth it for piece of mind that my work is safe should anything happen to my office.

Self Assessment - tax doesn't have to be working

I'd booked my time out to fill in my tax return on-line today, mainly because most of my clients aren't back at work yet so I could do it relatively undisturbed. Unfortunately apparently lots of other people have had the same idea as I can't get in to the system.

The Inland Revenue helpline have told me it's just weight of traffic with the number of users and have asked if I can try at a less busy time of day. In a way this is fine, but I worry that it'll be bad for people who leave it to the last minute (i.e. like me, last year.) If it's not working now, will it work during a big, last-minute rush?

Removing 'nofollow' from links in WordPress

My Google Mini development blog runs on WordPress, which is a great piece of software, but it unfortunately puts 'nofollow' on the rel attribute on links to commenter's websites. This means Google won't take the link in to account when judging how popular the commenter's website is.

rel='nofollow' was supposed to be a way for Google to ignore spam comments left on blogs, which would set up lots (hundreds or thousands) of links to low quality sites and help make them rank well in Google. 'nofollow' means Google won't pass any PageRank through the link to that site. This is all very well, but lots of blogging software now comes with this added automatically to links by commenters, and I think that's wrong. I stop spam comments by using blocking software and moderating each comment - just using nofollow doesn't stop spam comments from being submitted to my blog, it just stops it being such a problem for Google. I think the people who leave good comments deserve the little boost they get from adding to the conversation on my site, I don't want to use 'nofollow'.

To take the 'nofollow' tag off the comments, I edited the 'comment-function.php' file in the 'wp-includes' directory of the site. On line 360 some code writes out the link with rel='external nofollow' - I don't mind about 'external', so I just deleted out " nofollow" and saved and uploaded the file. Now people who comment get a little benefit out of it, which is just the way I want it.

Setting goals for the year

At the start of last year I set a few business related goals for 2006: the main ones being:

  1. help WPC expand

  2. get better at using Google Search Appliances / Minis and get more work on them

  3. to save a certain amount of money towards getting a mortgage

These were all pretty loose and happily I managed them all, although I haven't done as much for WPC as I wanted, mainly as I took on too much straight development work chasing part 3.

I was sitting down to work out what I definitely wanted to achieve this year, business-wise, and kept getting caught up in the details - what certain projects would need to make them work, what technology I'd have to use for what. Whilst away from my computer and paper a couple of days ago it all boiled down to the basics I wanted:

  1. Help WPC grow

  2. Help The Farm grow

  3. Make money when I'm asleep

The three things are all interesting to me - WPC is my main business and SEO/SEM has some interesting intellectual challenges as well as plenty of scut work. The Farm helps me meet interesting people as well as having various other advantages, but it would be interesting to help it move on - perhaps helping the more entrepreneurial elements get their own ideas in to working businesses.

The final one covers a problem that many freelancers / small businesses have - when I'm not working, I don't bring any money in, which means taking holidays can be a real dent in earnings. I'm going to be putting some time in to setting up projects that make money even if I'm not monitoring them and putting time in constantly. My Reluctant Mechanic site does this all ready - making a small amount of money through advertising, but I need bigger amounts than that if it's going to make a difference to me when I'm away.

I'd like to build up to a few hundred pounds a month initially, then if I can get it up to a thousand Pounds a month I'd be satisfied. I'll post more about this soon, it's interesting to contrast some of the general ideas that get thrown around in the SEO world, compared to ones that come from being a developer.

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