How I made my own URL shortener

25 December, 2011 § 2 Comments

Well, this will be a short post (get it?)…

About a month ago, I registered the domain msuja.ws (as well as msujaws.com). I set up a simple page on the site that directs users to various webpages/websites about me. I’ve also been using the domain as a URL shortener, but like most lazy developers I chose the simplest and easiest route.

To do so, I uploaded an .htaccess file that does a permanent-redirect to the longer URL. Here is the current state of the file:

redirect 301 /1 http://msujaws.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/more-enhancements-for-html5-video-and-audio-in-firefox/
redirect 301 /f http://msujaws.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/nuking-parts-of-firefoxs-main-thead-io/
redirect 301 /9 http://msujaws.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/my-contributions-to-todays-firefox-release/
redirect 301 /c http://msujaws.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/announcing-cheevos-for-firefox/
redirect 301 /cheevos https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/cheevos/

To add a new shortened URL, I connect to the server via FTP and append another line.

It’s pretty easy for one person, and it’s nice to have both control over the shortener as well as letting other people know that this is a link from me that can be trusted.

Tips for blogging

12 July, 2011 § Leave a comment

It is not always easy to come up with topics to blog about.

  • When I was in the Black Poet Society at Michigan State University, we often had people (including myself) that would go through periods of writers block.
  • At the beginning of 2011, I decided I would try to write a blog post per day and it wasn’t easy to think of topics.

There are a few strategies for writing that I have come to rely upon.

  1. As I am going through my day, I like to keep a small piece of paper handy for me to jot down ideas that pop up. These are helpful because without writing them down, I am likely to forget them and never revisit them. They don’t have to be perfect topics, but they plant a seed that can grow to a full blog post.
  2. WordPress.com has built-in visitor statistics. These are useful to see how your visitors have landed on your blog. Once in a while I will see a user’s search query who was looking for something that I didn’t provide. If the topic is interesting, I might add it to my list.
  3. The third and most important strategy is to narrow down your topics. When presented with less choice, it is easier to make a decision. We used this strategy in our poetry workshops, and there is no reason that it can’t be used for blogging. Don’t think, “What would be something cool to write about?” Instead, find a tangible object in your house and think about what you can write based on that object. This drastically narrows the scope, and makes creativity blossom.

How a post a day drew visitors through the roof

31 January, 2011 § 3 Comments

I’ve been writing on this blog since November 2008 as a way to improve my technical writing skills and document the things that I learn. This year, I accepted a personal challenge to write a blog post a day.

In just this month, I’ve learned that blog posts don’t have to span multiple pages or include many citations. In fact, placing deeper posts among many shorter posts can bring more attention to the longer posts.

Since writing a post a month, my statistics for this blog have skyrocketed.

You may remember from a previous post that my total visit count for 2010 was over 6,300, whereas the first month of 2011 has brought in nearly 3,500 visitors.

I’ll be continuing to post more often to this blog. Let me know what you think, and also if you think the quality of the posts has degraded at all.

TechSmith’s DevCorner

28 January, 2011 § 1 Comment

Update: I’ve embedded the introductory video at the bottom of this post.

Yesterday was the launch of TechSmith’s DevCorner. The DevCorner is a new column on the company’s Visual Lounge blog.

Randall Brown and I are really excited about how cool it is to work as Software Engineers at TechSmith, and we also enjoy learning tons from the developer community at-large. We want to give back to the community, and also show off what it’s like to work at TechSmith.

Starting this week, we’ll be running a weekly post on the Visual Lounge. The posts will focus on common developer discussion topics, programming tips, and the development staff at TechSmith.

I’m looking forward to see what comes of the new column. Let me know what you think!

Reflections on blogging

8 September, 2009 § 4 Comments

I started this blog in November of 2008 and have grown as a learner and a writer over this time period. I remember reading a post a while back by Dare Obasanjo where he talks about how blogging affects his learning.

When I write a blog post, I feel implicitly forced to explain my reasoning and do a little deeper digging. From doing this, I’ve come to the conclusion that what separates most people from being considered “knowledgeable” is the amount of investigation that a person is willing to spend.

The same can be applied to researching fixes for a software bug. If a bug is considered a must-fix high-severity bug, the bug is much more likely to get found and fixed by a developer willing to do the research and investigation necessary to find and fix the bug. Further, this developer is likely to gain a “knowledgeable” reputation.

Agree or disagree, let me know in the comments.

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