RSS – A How-To Guide for Beginners

Recently I decided to explore an area with which I was unfamiliar: RSS feeds.

If you’re a WordPress user, you probably know how to follow blogs so they show up in the ‘Blogs I Follow’ feed.  I personally like this feature, but what happens if you come across a website that you can’t follow with WordPress?  Here Google steps in to save the day again, with Google Reader.  Now for a while, RSS kind of confused me, but then I figured out what it was and, more importantly, how to properly use it.  While Google doesn’t have the only RSS reader out there, Google makes RSS fairly simple to understand (like most google products). Continue reading

Protesting Internet Censorship – UPDATED

By now you’ve probably heard about the internet censorship bills known as SOPA and PIPA.  Most likely you’ve also discovered that several reputable websites are protesting these bills.  Sites such as Google, Wikipedia, and even WordPress are protesting SOPA and PIPA by either blacking out parts of their site or publishing black renditions of their sites.  What are they saying?  Here’s some information about these bills, straight from the sites protesting them:

(UPDATE:  As of Friday, January 20th, these bills have been SUSPENDED!  Keep watching though – we can’t let our guard down!)

What are SOPA and PIPA?
SOPA and PIPA represent two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively. SOPA is short for the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” and PIPA is an acronym for the “Protect IP Act.” (“IP” stands for “intellectual property.”) In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet. Detailed information about these bills can be found in the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act articles on Wikipedia, which are available during the blackout. GovTrack lets you follow both bills through the legislative process: SOPA on this page, and PIPA on this one. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for the public interest in the digital realm, has [http// summarized why these bills are simply unacceptable] in a world that values an open, secure, and free Internet.


What’s this about?

Congress is trying to pass legislation that threatens free speech and innovation on the Internet, under the banner of anti-piracy efforts.

What’s at risk?

The proposed infrastructure would damage the security of the Internet and allow the government extensive censorship abilities.

What’s at risk?

The proposed infrastructure would damage the security of the Internet and allow the government extensive censorship abilities.

How is it done?

The US will be able to block a site’s web traffic, ad traffic and search traffic using the same website censorship methods used by China, Iran and Syria.

What about piracy?

Piracy is a problem but there are better ways to address it that don’t stifle innovation, knowledge and creativity — or give the US such unchecked power over the global Internet.

Did you notice a protest ribbon in the top right corner of this blog?  Fellow bloggers, you can do that too!  WordPress has given you the option to protest with a ribbon and/or a full blackout.  Here’s what WordPress says:

We are making it possible for you to participate in the protest. There are two options: a “Stop Censorship” ribbon and a full blackout. The blackout portion will be in effect January 18 from 8am to 8pm EST, while the ribbon will be displayed until January 24. Here’s how to join in:

  1. Go to Settings → Protest SOPA/PIPA in your dashboard.
  2. Select if you want to join the blackout or show a ribbon.
  3. If you choose to join the blackout, you can edit the message that will be shown on your site during the blackout.
  4. Preview what your protest will look like.
  5. Click “Save Changes” button to activate your protest.

That’s it! Easy-peasy activism right at your fingertips.

The “Stop Censorship” ribbon will display in the upper corner of your site and links to It will display until January 24, 2012 (the Senate vote date).

Readers and fellow bloggers, this is a very important time in the Internet’s history.  SOPA and PIPA need to be stopped, and they won’t be stopped unless action is taken on our part.  If you have a way to protest on your own website or blog, please do so!  Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, call your congressional representatives and tell them to stop these bills!  Keep the Internet open and uncensored for all in the U.S. by acting today!

WordPress’ Protest Article:

AdSense – Yet Another Google Tool

I think I’ll skip the end-of-year look back and jump right into things here.  Today’s topic: Google AdSense.

Most of you have probably heard of AdSense, the polar opposite of Google AdWords.  In brief, AdSense allows you to put textual ads or image ads on your website by simply adding a few lines of code.  Google then feeds your website ads from advertisers who compete in AdWords fashion for publication.  People click their ads, and you get paid.  All you’ve got to do is put the code where you want it – and wait for Google’s approval of your site.  That’s the catch.

A simple web search will turn up all kinds of people complaining that Google took forever to approve their accounts.  Google says:

Once you’ve submitted your AdSense application and verified your email address, it typically takes 2-3 days for our specialists to complete the review. However, depending on the volume of applications we receive, it may take a week or longer. 

It’s been three weeks since I signed up, and they still haven’t approved me.  I’m not sure what the delay is, and I’ll have to look into it, but it seems strange that Google’s taking so long to work with me.  What I’m wondering now, if any of you or someone you know have used AdSense, is what your/their experience has been with AdSense’s approval system.  If you’ve got something you can share, please do!  Comments, as usual, are welcome.  My experience with Google AdSense is far from over, and I’ll be back on the subject when more develops.