The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding

The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet BrandingIf one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to read a self-help book then look no further than Al and Laura Ries’ “The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding.”

Yes it is out of print, but you can buy it used – or do what I did, rented it on Audio Cassette for two 2 hour car drives. I didn’t agree with all of it, but there’s lots of useful information and concepts that apply to how and why your church website is an entirely different kettle of fish than your church’s hardcopy newsletter and/or on-air radio ministry.

In the mean time, I’d like to extend a healthy and prosperous 2005 to all of the HYCW cult members (and members to be). May all your pages Google and may all your links optimize to the top.

P.S. it also appears the authors (father and daugther) have put out an updated version entitled “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” … I’m linking up the audio version because it’s something you can listen to on and off … over and over again as you drive to work (or church).

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That was painful – yes my site was offline

Failures happen, like a Bugs Bunny-esque gremlin that latched onto server hosting HYCW. Not like I haven’t been meaning to convert all my .shtml files to .php – not like I haven’t written about how to use mod_rewrite to not loose a single precious Google link in the process.

Figures, just when I get a few days off, something goes ACK! There I am minding my own business, leaving the server absolutely alone when a CPanel update decides to fix something that ain’t broke. This in turn causes a a catostrophic change in my Apache server which in turn forces me to recompile the danged thing (Apache that is) which in turn compels me to deal with the whole suexec thing finally prompting me to change all my links from .SHTML to .PHP … something your church website might have to do at some point in time.

Fortunately, and once again, mod_rewrite to the rescue – perhaps the single biggest reason I prefer Apache over IIS. For example, Google has been very generous in how high it has indexed this site. Problem is, if I change all my .shtml archives to .php what happens to those wonderful links?

With the following mod_rewrite added to my .htaccess file in my root directory, all queries for .shtml are rewritten to php:

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule (.*)\.s*html$ $1.php

How painless was that? Still, I need – well actually want to change all my internal .shtml links to .php – yet another reason to use a content management system such as MovableType or pMachine instead of one of those online services.

Of course the trade-off is that I still need to find what little nasty file ownership issue going here that’s causing some other problems – and probably need to port my “rotatoe-slogan-o-matic-machine-like-thingie” to PHP.

Other than that, how was YOUR Christmas? Oh wait, comments appear broken – I’ll fix that tomorrow, along with my layout which is now all fubar’d.

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How to Make (friendlier) a Pop-up Window

Popups are the spawn of satan … in fact say so much in ‘the Book‘ … most of the time. Like medicinal marijuana for terminally ill cancer patients who have an adversion to morphine, pop-ups do have some rare, legitimate utility for things like calendar widgets for date-related form entries and/or disclaimer type information. Which is why I’ve linked an article by Elise Bauer entitled “How To Make a Pop-up Window” that shows how to do it right – especially for those of us who like to right click.

Sometimes you might want to link to a popup window from your Movable Type weblog. For example you can make your About page a popup instead of a separate page. Although using the target=”blank” attribute in a hyperlink can generate a new page, using javascript commands for popups will give you more control over the appearance and location of the popup.

Can I have an ‘Amen!?’ Or at least a partial head knod, for while I’m no fan of the target=”_blank” attribute, I do like the idea of giving the users more control of their destiny when it comes to popup windows. This is especially true for those of us slugging it out with the way ASP.Net uses, or should I say abuses Javascript to launch popups and other such controls.

If you’re not sure what I mean you can view a popup of my very first post/press release one of two ways.

  • Left click on it and you get a popup
  • Right Click on it and you can open a new browser Window (or tab for you hip, cool FireFox users)

It is the ability to right click and do things like open window, tabs, create bookmarks and/or save linkable content that makes Elise’s example so valuable — at least to me — of course your mileage may vary.

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Stopping Sucky Comment Spam with SCode for Comments

Tired of sucky comment spam? So is Rob Hulson who kindly writes:

Dean,

Still loving the Scripturizer plugin. Works great and I’ve been blessed by its inclusion for my website.

I had a question for you, and that’s what you use for your comments. Is the thing that you’re using (the whole “Put in the number” deal) helping with the amount of spam you’ve received? I’m getting a lot and I’m tired of it. I just went to “Approve,” but now I spend my time deleting junk mail in my comment queue.

Is it a plugin that you’re using? I’d like to make use of it on my website. Thanks a lot, have a blessed Lord’s day. :o)

Rob Hulson

I like notes like this, especially when they come amid a week where someone else has been questioning my Christianity because of some of my exciting blog titles such as “Do drop-down menus suck like a remora?” and “Church Marketing Sucks – the website.” That and the pugged-nose smiley at the end of Rob’s message can’t be beat … but I digress.

The point is, Rob not only says nice things about one of my more furtive ministries, but also asks a question for which I have a quick, solid and finite answer … in three parts even:

  • Yes Rob, I’ve reduced my comment spam down to about 1 entry per week via a nifty little plug-in by James Seng entitled SCode.
  • Yes, it does create a usability issue for those who have their graphics disabled — especially those ‘bots who are bypassing your blog entries all together and are exploiting a weakness in ‘my-comments.cgi’ … at least if you’re using a 2.n version of MovableType.
  • Yes, I got it to work with Jay Allen’s most excellent MT-BlackList, though I’m thinking of unhooking the two as SCode seems to be getting the job done quite nicely.

Rob, hope that answers your question. Now if someone out there could answer mine … specifically, do you suppose it would be wise to mention to my detractors that my name appears indelibly etched onto the bathroom walls of the Internet via “Son of Web Pages That Suck?

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