Do you love to update or access Twitter over the web?  Are you a Firefox moron?  Then, grab the Power Twitter add-on, as it wonderfully enhances your Web Twitter experience.

Install Power Twitter

Power Twitter is a Firefox add-on and it works with Firefox versions 1.5 – 3.5.  The current version as on 11 August 2009, is 1.32.

Installation is straight forward and you should see Power Twitter in action on restarting the browser and visiting

Retweet from the Web

A major drawback with the Web version of Twitter is the lack of inherent Retweet (RT) support.  Power Twitter helps you to retweet messages right from the web.

View URL Previews, even the Shortened Ones!

You can view the Page Title and the favicon of the target pages, even if only the shortened URL is available in the status update.  This helps you decide, whether to follow the link to the page or not.


Retweet and View URL Title from Twitter Web

Hover over the Users and see their Latest Updates

You can hover over the “following” list on the Twitter home page and all their latest updates “pop” like magic.  This is really helpful if you don’t wish to search for updates from people who matter.


Hover over the People you follow and see all their latest updates

Shorten URL when you post an update

Another good thing about Power Twitter is that, it lets you Shorten the URL when you post an update.  This is another feature missing in the Twitter Web.  Comes in handy, if you post a lot of URL to Twitter.


View Images and Videos right on Twitter

If the URL posted on Twitter resolves to an image or an Online Video, then you can view them right on the Twitter page.  This is my favorite feature of Power Twitter!  I have not checked how it works with Vimeo etc.  But it is good to go with YouTube!



So, I hope most of these features appeal to you, if you are a Power Twitter user.  It’s time to grab the add-on and let me know how you like it!

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BackType to Manage Comments across the web

by Ashwin on August 9, 2009


You comment on a blog post.  You comment on a website.  Have you ever wondered how to manage all these comments from a Single Dashboard?  BackType provides you a solution.

How it works?

First signup for an account with BackType. Once done, you provide the details to claim comments from across the web.

By claiming – you setup the URLs that you usually comment with.  For example, if you specify whenever commenting on any blog or website, setup this URL with BackType.  Similarly, specify all such URL so that BackType can look for your comments.

In addition, BackType allows you to enter your social networking account details like Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, Digg etc. With this, even the comments you make using these accounts are grabbed by BackType.


Claim your URL and link your Social Networking Accounts

BackType also lets you add a widget to your blog, that shows all the websites and blogs you have recently commented on.


A Handy widget to display Comments on your Blog or Website

BackType Subscriptions and Alerts

BackType provides you with the following subscription options, to track comments and discussions across the web.

Subscribe to People

You can subscribe to comments made by popular people on the web like – Chris Brogan, Michael Arrington, Garry Tan etc. Whenever they comment on posts over the web, you can keep track of them and participate in powerful conversations.

Subscribe to Articles and Blog Posts

You can specify links to Articles or Blog Posts and let BackType intimate you whenever comments are posted.  Also, you can specify the Articles or Blog Posts and BackType fetches you related happenings from all over the web, that revolves around the specified items.  This helps you follow powerful stuff on the internet and the wave created around them.


This is one of the powerful feature of BackType.  Assume you are interesting to track the happenings around PHP Developer Conference 2009. You can setup an alert for this “keyword” and BackType sends you e-mail whenever the “keyword” is mentioned in any comment across the web.  How powerful is it?!

Why should you use BackType?

BackType helps you mainly with the following:

  • Manage your Comments in a single dashboard
  • Follow powerful people and their comments across the web
  • Subscribe to comments on particular Articles or Blog Posts
  • Get Alerts when some keywords are specified on any comments across the web

Following comments and engaging in a comment network is essential for any blogger.  So get started with BackType and manage your comments like a pro.  Happy Commenting!

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hot cakes

Like These Hot Cakes!

If you are into Professional Blogging and carefully watching your Blog Statistics for sometime, then it goes without saying that purely Personal posts do not go well with the readers.  So what kind of posts people love to read?  What to write that sell like hot cakes with your readers?  To know this, read on.

The list is in NO specific order. Also, the list is by NO means complete. Period.

1.  Make Money Posts

This is a definite candidate to gain you page visits and popularity.  There are many casual bloggers who are trying to make some money through their blogs.  So if you offer them some real and effective tips on making money, then consider the blog post sold!

Caution: Posts that make unrealistic claims like create 10000$ from your blog in the first month or get 100 subscribers in a week, can have negative effects on your blog (unless you are the best in town).  Better avoid these!

Some Blogs that are masters of this content:
John Chow dot com – Yaro Starak
Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging – ProBlogger

2.  Tutorial Posts

Teaching something to people gains you two things – reputation and more important, the authority. People mostly turn up to Internet and Search engines, when they wish to learn something.  It can be as simple as How to create a Blog? to as complex as How to Fix a snag in the Rolls Royce Engine that runs an Airbus?.

Never underestimate the power of your tutorial.  For example, if you are an expert with CSS, go ahead and write a tutorial on CSS Basics for everyone.  Even though there are numerous other articles on the same subject, your expertise and writing style may make you a winner.

Tip: Make your tutorials simple and easy to understand.  Use illustrations and make it interactive.  Also support your readers whenever they turn up with issues

Some Blogs that are masters of this content:
Smashing Magazine
Woork | Web design, tutorials, resources and inspiration.

3.  Tips and Tricks

Many bloggers or web workers know the basics.  But at times, they get stuck somewhere.  It could be a minor trick that can help them out.  If you offer that tip, then it is very likely that they turn up to you in future.  Who knows – you might even gain some prospective customers in the process.

Again, never underestimate the value of your tip.  You can make the day of someone, with a tip that could be very trivial.

Tip: Make sure you try the tip and it works.  Never experiment a tip or trick with your readers.  Again, follow up in case they need your help

4.  Collection of Resources

This is a probably an easy post to write – depending on the type of the collection.  During the process of learning, you might have gathered quite a few resources.  I am sure they must be stuck somewhere amidst your bookmarks.  Collecting these and organizing them in the form of a post, can help your readers a lot.

The list could be anything, as long as all the items are logically related to one another.

Tip: Give only live URLs.  Check out for broken links and remove them from the list.  Categorize the resources for better organization and usage

Some Example Posts:
100 Excellent Free WordPress Themes – Smashing Magazine
100+ Lists To Help You Become a Better Blogger – Blogussion

5.  Reviews

Reviews are another type of posts that sell like hot cakes.  The review could be of anything that is of interest to your audience – a product, a website, a service etc.

But this is one of the complex posts to write.  You have to do a complete research before writing the review.  Also, domain expertise is required to come up with a high quality review.  So write these kind of posts only when you are very comfortable with the subject, as it could influence some decisions on the readers’ part.

Tip: Never make it a biased review.  Consider both the advantages and disadvantages.  If applicable, share your personal experiences

6.  Solving a Problem

This is a very important kind of post, that can earn you loyal subscribers. Take a problem from the reader’s domain and provide a complete solution to it.  As with tips and tricks, make sure that the solution works perfectly for you, before recommending it to your readers.

Tip: Clearly mention your assumptions in solving the problem.  Also provide pointers on how to avoid the recurrence of such problems

That’s it I have for you now. It’s time for you to talk!  So what kind of posts are you comfortable with?  What are your key strength areas?  What kind of posts have gained you traffic?  I would love to hear them all.  Shoot in your comments or DM me on Twitter @thotsunlimited

Photo Credit: roboppy

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Header of a blog is the prominent advertising spot and a banner image here would just make things better.  I will share a very simple tip to setup the header banner image using the powerful Thesis Theme.

I assume that you have setup the Thesis OpenHook plugin.  If not, go grab it here and Thesis is just 50% useful without this!

1.  Create the CSS Style for the Banner Image

Go to Thesis Custom Styling section of your Thesis Administration Panel.  (you can find it just below the Editor link)

Let us now add the following entry into the entry box, which would find its place in the custom.css file.

/* Banner Ad in the Header */
.custom #leaderboard_ad {
  float: right;
  position: absolute;
  width: 468px;
  height: 60px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 675px;

width – Value must match the width of the Banner Image (typical value is 468px)
height – Value must match the height of the Banner Image (typical value is 60px)
top – Gap between the top of your blog and the start of the Banner Image
left – From where the Banner Image should start, on the left side of the page.  Higher the value, the image would be shifted on the right

Adjust the top and left values based on the styling and layout of your blog.

2.  Add the HTML code for the Banner Image

Typically the banner images are setup using the Affiliate Code that your affiliate has provided you or the Google Adsense script.

Go to your Thesis OpenHook section in the administration page and add the Banner Image code in the After Title field.


Following is an example Banner Image code, that I used for display.

And that’s it!  You are all set to display the Banner Image on the header section of your blog.  You can also check out how this works on my blog.

One such Banner Image I really liked, is that of ProBlogger.  It is so nicely positioned and fits exactly with rest of the header.



Got bored of the traditional Feedburner Feedcount image?  Stuck with the Twitter Plugins that claim to display the number of followers in your blog? Forget them all.  I will show you how to get the Feedburner and Twitter subscriber stats programmatically (using PHP) in your Thesis powered blog and display them at your convenience.  This can also be used on a Wordpress blog running any theme, with ease.

1.  Modify your custom_functions.php file

Let us first create a couple of functions in the custom_functions.php, that would do us the job of fetching the numbers.

You can find the custom_functions.php file under the following directory – Your Blog Theme Directory/custom/custom_functions.php

function get_feedburner_stats() {
  $fbrefreshtime = 43200;  //Refresh Feedburner twice in a day

  $fb = wp_cache_get('fbstats_key');

  if ($fb == false) {
    $yourfeeduri = 'ThoughtsUnlimited'; 
    $feed = ''.$yourfeeduri;
    $ch = curl_init();
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $feed);
    $feed = curl_exec($ch); curl_close($ch);
    $xml = new SimpleXMLElement($feed);
    $fb = $xml->feed->entry['circulation']; 

    //Set the Value in Cache
    wp_cache_set('fbstats_key', strval($fb), '', $fbrefreshtime);
  return $fb;

function get_twitter_stats() {
  $twitterrefreshtime = 54000;  //Refresh Twitter Stats once every 15 minutes

  $tw = wp_cache_get('twstats_key');

  if ($tw == false) {
    $yourtwitter = 'thotsunlimited';
    $ch = curl_init();
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $twurl);
    $data = curl_exec($ch);
    $xml = new SimpleXMLElement($data);
    $tw = $xml->status->user->followers_count; 

    //Set the Value in Cache
    wp_cache_set('twstats_key', strval($tw), '', $twitterrefreshtime);  //Will expire after the Refresh time you set
  return $tw;

Make sure that you replace the $yourfeeduri and $yourtwitter values, with your own values

Updated on 08/05/2009:

Modified the Code to cache the numbers using WP_Cache, as excessive API calls might be unsuitable for blogs with many page views per hour. Thanks to Christian for pointing this out here.

Enable WP Caching, by adding define(’WP_CACHE’, true); to your wp-config.php file. Check this out, for information on enabling the WP Cache

Make double sure that you enable the Awareness API for your Feedburner Account


2.  Call the function wherever you need and style the output

So now you have the way to get the numbers.  Call them from anywhere you need and appropriately style the output.  I would recommend using the Thesis OpenHook plug-in to place the output of these functions.

Calling the function is pretty straightforward. One example could be:

 Join the fleet of  Subscribers 

You can look at the sidebar of my blog, to see one other example in action.

Hope you found this useful. Add any useful extensions to this tip, as comments to this post.


Imagine! You are browsing the internet at workplace and suddenly come across an interesting piece of information, that you want to post to Facebook.  Alas, Facebook is blocked in your workplace! So what you do?  Posterous – is for your rescue.

If Posterous sounds extremely new to you – checkout their FAQ here  It is pretty exhaustive.

So, Posterous lets you post text, images or even videos right from your mailbox.  For instance, to post something to Facebook, set up your Posterous account, send an e-mail to a particular address – everything else is taken care by Posterous.


Keep an eye on this space for a detailed post on Posterous and how it might evolve into a “king-size” Twitter!


5 Truths about Professional Blogging

by Ashwin on July 26, 2009


Ok, let’s get straight to the point of this post.  Have you ever thought about making your casual blog a professional oneIf yes, then you know that this is not straight forward. I am not going to get into the depths of professional blogging, in this post.  But I will share a few truths about Professional Blogging, that should help you maintain the focus.

There is NO overnight success in Blogging

Different bloggers have different targets.  Some wish to get popular by blogging, some are happy with thousands of readers/subscribers, some want to make money from their blogs… Whatever the target may be – there is no overnight success in Blogging. If you are into serious blogging, I am sure you have a few PDF files on your computer hard disk that claims to earn you $XXXXX from your blogs.  Though possible, I can tell you that it doesn’t work 99.99% of the times.  So understand the truth – there is no overnight success in Blogging.

Content is the King

Nobody keeps visiting a blog, to admire the design and layout.  An attractive and clean design definitely appeals to a first time visitor, but it is the content that brings in repeat visitors and subscribers. Engrave it in your minds – Content is the King! Once you have all ingredients of a professional blog in place, spend quality time on the content of your blog posts.  It can do wonders to your blog!

I strongly recommend you to bookmark, a copywriting blog by Brian Clark.  This blog helps you write compelling content, that people will read.

Subscribers are your blog’s Lifeline.  Treat them special!

Treat your blog’s subscribers special.  They are the ones who have shown interest in your blog and waiting for something great.  It can be a freebie, a goodie or a tip that helps them with something.  But make sure you keep them happy and help them get something out of your blog.

Writing Style makes a lot of difference

A blog post is not an article or a research paper.  Keep that in mind when you write.  On an average, I read about 100-200 blog posts everyday and it is not possible to read through the complete text of everything.  I am sure this is the case with most active readers.  So keep your style simple, give a gist of your post at the beginning and entice the reader to continue.

Networking with Bloggers of similar niche is vital

Your blog is never alone.  There are hundreds of similar bloggers, blogging about almost the same topic.  Networking with those bloggers and sharing your ideas, are definitely good for your blog’s health.  Some ways of networking are – commenting on the blogs you regularly read, writing guest posts and promoting others’ content. I am sure this is vital, if you with to succeed as a professional blogger.

I am not yet a blogger, who makes a living out of his/her blog.  But I am sure I will get there.  This post is purely a collection of lessons learnt, during my 8 months of professional blogging.  Share your ideas and experiences as comments to this post.  I would love to hear them all.

Photo Credit: emdot

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On 21st of this month, Yahoo! announced the roll out of a new home page through their corporate blog (Yodel Anecdotal).  In the times when social networking means more than just connecting with people, let us briefly look how Yahoo! leverages Web 2.0 and tries to provide some interesting stuff through their new home page.

What’s New

Logo changes color

The traditional “red” colored Yahoo! logo has given way to a more catchy looking purple one.  Also their favicon has been changed to match the new logo.

yahoologo_old yahoologo_new

Featured News section

Earlier, the featured news section shows the top news with an image and to read the rest, user has to click a link, to be taken to a new page.  But in the improved version of the home page, up to 20 items can be scrolled using the arrow keys, without navigating away from the page.  This definitely helps the user experience – by providing more information on a given page.


Change the Page color

Now users can choose a favorite color for their home page, as there is “no one size fits all” with web applications.  But this appears very naive – compare it with the themes available for the iGoogle home page!! Yahoo! has a lot to improve in this area.


Favorite Applications


This is an interesting improvement from the previous version of the home page.  On the left side, you see the traditional applications that you find on a regular Yahoo! home page – Buzz, Cricket, News etc.

But the real improvement can be seen, once you hover over any of the applications listed here.  A layered screen pops up and displays the information.  For instance, this is what comes up when I hover over the Movies section.


Also many other sites like – All Things Digital, eBay, NYT, HowStuffWorks, WSJ – can be added to the Favorites section.  Another interesting thing to note is the ability to add any of your favorite site, by just providing the URL.  But this did not work well with me, when I tried to add my blog!

Interesting to note is that the following are also supported as favorite applications – Facebook, Gmail, MySpace. I did not try out MySpace, but had NO success setting up Gmail and Facebook.  Even after I granted access to my Google Accounts, Yahoo! was still asking me to ‘Sign In’.  Worse with Facebook, I was stuck on the Authorize screen. I am sure this feature is still in BETA (or ALPHA?) level!

You can check out this post on the Yahoo! official blog – – to know more details about the new home page.

What Can Improve?


I have been using iGoogle for ages now and I know that it is slow!  But Yahoo!’s home page, with relatively light features is slow too.  Though my Internet connection is not very fast, but there is a good scope for improvement.

Applications are buggy

I was enthralled to find Gmail and Facebook listed among the applications but was only disappointed to find them not working.  I am sure Yahoo! is still working on their home page, but expecting a lot of improvement on this front.

Screen elements must be draggable and rearrangeable

I definitely expect my screen elements to be draggable, so I can keep my favorite ones at the top while moving the rest to somewhere I don’t see often.  I definitely look forward to this from Yahoo!

Lack of Themes and Gadgets suck!

There is no full fledged theme support with Yahoo! home page.  Also, there are no ways (yet!) for custom applications to plug-in with the page.  These are some valuable lessons, that iGoogle can teach!

Will the new Yahoo! be my home page? Not Yet!

I would love to hear your thoughts on the new Yahoo! Home page.  You can either put them as comments to this post or ping me on Twitter @thotsunlimited

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If you are into web development and do a lot of funny stuff like me, then I would recommend to follow these 5 sites.  The mode of follow – Bookmarking, RSS, Email Feed – might differ from me, but the one thing I am sure of is the quality of information.

1. Smashing Magazine

Definitely tops the list with the depth and research that goes into each post.  If you are into web design/development and not heard of Smashing Magazine, then you are missing something!  Sometimes you find the posts are really long, but its definitely worth spending the time.

Link to: Smashing Magazine

2.  Woork

You don’t find Antonio Lupetti, the author of Woork, posting very often.  But when he does, the quality is assured.  The topic of posts vary from tips, techniques, tools and everything around web development.  A must follow, to know about some interesting tools, which you might eventually start using!

Link to: Woork

3.  Nettuts

Think quality web development tutorials, think Nettuts.  I really mean it!  All the tutorials posts over there are of high quality.  I have a separate label in my Google Bookmarks just for Nettuts and the tutorials of my interest.  Just keep tuning into Nettuts often and you will understand what I mean.

Link to: Nettuts

4.  SpeckyBoy

This is one of my recent finds.  I found this blog through a guest post in Nettuts, got impressed and finally subscribed to it.  The overall quality of the content is good but it may take a while before confirming its usefulness.  But it looks definitely worth a try!

Link to: SpeckyBoy

5.  Ajaxian

Ajaxian is a simple and effective blog to keep you posted on the happenings in the AJAX world.  Sometimes the posts lack depth but nevertheless a good one to follow.  Let me know if you differ.

Link to: Ajaxian

This list is completely based on my experience with these sites or blogs.  There is absolutely nothing between the authors of these blogs and me, except that I am a reader of theirs.  Feel free to suggest more useful blogs and I will be more than pleased to add them to the list.



If you are a part time blogger like me, the biggest challenge you might face is the frequency and quality of posts, while managing with your full time job.  But maintaining a (strict) blogging schedule is good for your blog in the long run. I will show you why, in this post.  Read on!

Search engines start loving your blog

If you are aware of basic SEO techniques, then you will appreciate that the Search Engines take more interest in those blogs or websites which get frequently updated.  It is no good if you post once in every two days, but the content is stale and uninterestingThere is always a compromise between the frequency and quality.  But once you optimize both, then more traffic from search engines start coming towards your blog!

Makes readers engage better with your blog

We are in the age of information explosion.  People are stuffed with information – through blogs, web sites, Twitter, Facebook and so on.  Also, people who read blogs through their RSS reader are very limited.  Most of them still bookmark sites and visit them at their convenience. So maintaining a schedule lets your readers anticipate new entries and doesn’t disappoint them when they visit your blog.

Creates a sense of commitment

Once you create a blogging schedule and start sticking to it, a sense of commitment is created within.  This is especially good if you are planning to get into professional blogging.  Also, commitment slowly transforms into passion which is definitely good for your blog.

People know that you are blogging

I sometimes visit niche blogs with quality content, but only disappointed to find that the latest post is about a month old.  Though I am tempted to browse through the blog and see what it has to offer me, I don’t feel the urge to Subscribe via RSS.  So maintaining a blogging schedule and thus creating a posting frequency, tells even a new visitor that your blog is alive!

So if you are convinced that maintaining a blogging schedule is essential – then I recommend you to read the following posts from ProBloggerone of my favorite blogging blogs – with regard to the topic in hand.

Develop an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog

Editorial Calendars and Professional Blogging

5 Ways to ‘Systemize’ your Blogging

How to Develop a Niche Blog Content Plan

What is your Weekend Blogging Strategy?

So what do you think about maintaining a blogging schedule?  Do drop in your thoughts as comments to this post.

Photo Credit: Joe Lanman