Category Archives: Utilities

Alternatives to Google’s Site Map Generator

I’ve yet to pick my poison, but here’s a few alternatives to Google’s Sitemap Generator:

Google’s Sitemap Buzz

Google’s Sitemap Generator is not exactly easy to use, but the potential the Sitemaps program has to reveal important content buried in complex or dynamic architectures is very promising.
After trying to install, configure and run the Google Sitemap Generator my server for a few hours I realized three things: 1. I don’t know anything about Python, 2. running shell scripts is harder than I thought it would be, and 3. Google is really expecting a lot out of your everyday web designer.

I mean, I can follow directions, I even taught myself Perl back in the day but for some reason, I’m missing something. So I added a search my RSS feed aggregator to look for blog posts related to Google’s new Sitemap service and related tool, the Sitemap Generator, which was unveiled just two days ago, hoping it would create enough buzz that better tutorials would surface. Although, there has been a lot of talk (and 23rd World was even quoted – whoopee!), no one seems to have reviewed the generator tool itself.

In fact, the only mention anyone makes of using the generator script (that I could find) were two instances of problems. Fortunately there’s already a PHP script solution for us folks running WordPress blogs and I suppose I could make one the old fashioned way until then. Okay, maybe abbreviated versions. As long as we’re handcoding, stream of conscious offers some good advice:

1) Don’t set your priority really high all the time. Google folks are not stupid. It will penalize you for making everything have a high priority. My advice is set everything at 0.5 and set a few high priority pages as .8, or 1.

2) If you run a dynamic site, then this is really for you — you can make sure that google knows about every page. Even pages that are not linked to.

Just to rephrase the priority thing, Google explicitly states that the priority is only used to compare pages within your site, so if you had them all at 0.5 it would be no different than if they were all at 1.0. It’s is simply an opportunity to create emphasis. This is really a great idea, and I would personally advise people to de-emphasize portal and about pages, placing emphasis on keyword rich pages and blog posts themselves. This program has a lot of potential. You see, Google can see hierarchy in terms of site architecture, but not everyone’s actual important/relevant content is in the top tiers (although, ideally it should be). I can’t wait to get this generator script thing worked out. Please let me know if you’ve had success with it and/or if you could lend a Unix command line novice a hand!

Choosing a Browser

Lots of people at Browse Happy want you to ditch Internet Explorer for any other browser…Mozilla, Opera, Safari or Firefox. Although site stats and news reports indicate that more and more market share is going to Firefox, I still believe people need a compelling reason to switch to new software when what they are using seems to work. I think people do need convincing, so now a sweet-faced non-geek music student, Sarah Williams, will tell you why she switched to Firefox. She’s not alone, If you do switch to a new browser, you should do it for the right reasons: tangible benefits, not oozing testimonials.

Explaining RSS

It’s hard to explain RSS feeds to one who hasn’t used them. It’s kind of a do it first, ask questions later sort of thing. To quote the essentials from Tim Yang’s 15 Things You Can Do With RSS Feeds:

Basically, you can perform any task with RSS that requires search or information retrieval from a server. Automatically and repeatedly.

He follows to detail several tricks including staying informed of stock quotes, aggregating all of your email, and keeping up on major news from a a collective of major TV networks and newspapers. He mentions one that I wish I would have read yesterday – backup all of your posts with Bloglines. Due to a problem with a plugin installation today I lost several posts here. Had I fixed my WordPress headers I could have retrieved them. Lesson learned!