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WordPress is a great Content Management System (CMS).  It can be a blog, but it can also be so much more.  It can be a VERY easily updated website as well.  But in order to really get the most out of WordPress, you need to deploy a few plugins that aren’t included with the basic package.  Luckily, they are all free.  I have 40 active plugins on LaneBailey.com and 20 here.  And all of the plugins listed below are on both sites.

These aren’t limited to just real estate sites… they can be used by anyone, especially those utilizing WordPress as a business website.

Here they are in no particular order…

  1. All in One SEO Pack*.  If you are blogging for business or to get noticed, you will need to be optimized for search engines.  This plugin, after it is set up, handles a lot of the drudgery of SEO.  You still need to provide the killer content, though…
  2. FaceBook Share.  There are a variety of ways to do this, but the basic point is that FaceBook is second only to Google in importance for growing your site.  You NEED to have a way for readers to easily share your killer content with their friends.
  3. Facebook logo
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    MobilePress.  This is a plugin that builds a mobile version of your site.  You can tweak the mobile version so that it is faster and easier for mobile users.  And the growth in mobile web surfing is astounding.

  4. TAC (Theme Authenticity Checker).  If you like to use free themes, this is a great plugin that will look through the theme for potentially malicious or junky scripts.  If it does catch something, it isn’t always completely bad code… but it is a good prompt to look into it further.
  5. SoJ Tag Feed.  Turn any post tag into a RSS feed.  This is great for sending some of your content to your other sites.  It is also a great way to have a feed that is targeted for a specific audience (like maybe a different feed for buyer and sellers).
  6. WordPress Editorial Calendar*.  I’m writing this post a few days before it is going live.  I usually try to have anywhere from 3 to 10 posts in queue at any given time.  This allows my blog to be more consistent.  With the WP Editorial Calendar, I can look and see at a glance when I have posts scheduled to run.  If I had other bloggers, I could also see who is posting what… and when.
  7. This icon, known as the
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    WP-DBManager*.  This allows you to inspect, repair and optimize your databases from right within the WordPress admin panel.  But, it also allows you to get scheduled back-ups.  You HAVE to have back-ups coming in regularly in case there is a problem.

  8. Zemanta*.  This is one of the plugins that I leverage more than any other.  It allows me to easily find and use images and related articles.  I can use just my own or I can use items from around the web.  One word of caution, though… KNOW if it is content you are allowed to use.  The articles are generally not a problem (they are just linked), but you CAN get into trouble with images.
  9. Page Link To.  This allows you to build a “holder page” so that you can link in the menu to items outside of the WordPress installation.  If you have a squeeze page, sales page or other site that you want included in your menu, this is the way to do it.
  10. Blog Copyright (by BTE).  If you don’t protect your content, nobody else will.  This doesn’t keep it from being stolen, but it keeps the reasonably honest people honest… and can make it easier to find the scrapers that steal it.

 

The plugins with a “*” after them are the ones that I think EVERYONE needs to have on their blog.  These are the ones to grab first.  I would have a hard time blogging without these…

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What do you think?  What plugins do you find essential?

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Weightloss pyramid.
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About 5 months ago, I embarked on a journey.  I expected it to last over a year… but I have found myself ahead of schedule.  I’m still not there, but still ahead of schedule.

What is this journey, you ask?

I decided to lose weight.  My goal was to lose 60 pounds, at a rate of about 1 pound a week.  As a dad with two (active) small boys, I needed to get back into some semblance of shape.  I had put it off long enough…

But what does this have to do with a technology and social networking blog?

Two things…

First off, MyFitnessPal.com is a website that helps count and track calories.  And there is NO way to make a weight loss plan without knowing and controlling what you eat.  There are a lot of calorie counters out there… and I have no doubt that they are very nice.  This happens to be the one I landed on.  MFP also has a forum, a blogging platform, FaceBook integration (which I don’t really use) and a social interaction component.

The idea is that having a peer group to interact with, in addition to a database with a few hundred thousand foods, weight loss will be easier.

And of course they have an app.  And that is the icing on the cake (sorry…) for me.  Instead of typing up a bunch of foods to enter them, most foods can be entered simply by scanning the package barcode.  And having the database at your fingertips while deciding what to order in most restaurants helps a lot…  I was seriously shocked with the amount of calories in many of my favorite foods.

For me, it isn’t about denial of everything I like, but rather, it is about being aware of what I eat and eating a reasonable amount…

You can check out the badge below to see how I’m doing with my goal…

MyFitnessPal – Free Calorie Counter

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The app has been sitting on my phone for months… and months… and months.  I got the phone back in October, 2010, and Vlingo was pre-installed.  But I never took the time to figure out how to use it.  I just shoveled it off to the side and ignored it. And then I decided a few days ago that I needed to go through all of my apps and use them or kill them.

I have long been interested in speech recognition for blogging and to replace typing while driving.  To start with, I don’t type that fast… and I often have my best blogging ideas when I am on the move.  And while video can be a viable option, it isn’t always the way to go.  Typed posts are easier to scan for interest, as opposed to videos that may only be watched if the prospective viewer already knows they want the information.

I took the opportunity to try it out on a few different tasks…

  • Text Messaging – I sent a few texts.  It was as easy as it could be.  The speech recognition and spelling were spot on.  The messages were short, so punctuation and paragraphing weren’t an issue.  The only annoying part was that I had to select which of my contacts numbers it needed to go to… instead of defaulting to mobile.
  • Emailing – This didn’t go quite as well.  The message was a lot longer, and needed paragraph breaks, but Vlingo didn’t seem to know where they should have been.  There were also a couple of spelling snafus.  Depending on the email, going over it and tweaking the formatting before sending it would be a pretty good idea.
  • Voice Search – This was great…  I asked for a particular restaurant and the result was a list of their locations, based on the distance from my location.  Simple and accurate.
  • Navigation – Again, this did an acceptable job.  I asked for navigation to an address and the phone fired up the Nav app and gave me the right directions.
  • Note to Self – I didn’t actually try this one out, but I think it will be a nice option.  When I can type on the phone, I often email post ideas and other items to myself.  NtS should send me a nice reminder and place an item on my ToDo list.

One of the ways I would like to use this is to post to Posterous.  Since it is VERY straight-forward to email a post, complete with pictures and/or video to Posterous, it seems like it should be a slam dunk to dictate a post, add a few pictures or a video, and easily create nice content.

Give it a rip.  Vlingo is a nice way to bridge between sitting down typing a post and video blogging or podcasting.  For Android, the app is free.  They also have apps for iPhone, BlackBerry and other devices.  And isn’t this why we get the groovy-cool mobile devices… to make life easier and a little more efficient?

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Remember from the intro post, these are the primary requirements I have for a To Do app for my phone/computer/the cloud…

Among the requirements I have for a to do list are:

  • Repeating Tasks… I write on 4 blogs and maintain a couple of dynamic websites that always need fresh content.  So, I need to remember where I need to write posts each day.  My repeating tasks include:
    • Same day each month (gathering statistics in my local MLS)
    • Same day each week (weekly posts like my 53 Cool Concept series each Sunday)
    • Every X number of days (for places I post every four or eight days, etc)
  • Ability to tag or note which tasks are for which purpose
  • Prioritization (so I don’t get caught up in stuff that doesn’t matter… missing things that are more important)
  • Ability to sync between my mobile device and other devices (laptop, cloud, etc.)
  • That seems pretty simple…

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    Fifth up is Taskos.

    Repeating Tasks

    This is the one that kicks out most of the To Do Lists for me.  There are several options, which may make this a great opportunity for some folks, but I felt a little limited.

    • Daily – You can set tasks to repeat daily, or every x number of days.  Not every Tuesday or any other variant.
    • Weekly – Tasks can be set to repeat on a weekly basis, as well.  So, if you have a task that needs to be done every Tuesday, this is the option you would use.  You can set it to repeat on multiple selected days without entering each of them separately.  That puts this above many other task apps.
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    • Monthly – The next option would be a monthly task.  This can be set a specific day (November 20th for example) but not on a trigger (like the 3rd Saturday of the month).

    Categorization

    Tasks can be applied to specific categories.  This helps to keep things organized.

    Prioritization

    Google Tasks icon for Fluid

    We HAVE to be able to focus on the things that are most important.  Checkmark has three priority levels: low, medium and high.  One thing I would note here, though.  You CAN change the order that tasks appear on the list, however, the changes aren’t controlled enough.  For example, I keep several tasks without due dates.  With my tasks organized by date, they appear first, even though they are not a priority for me.

     

    One thing that Taskos does is to sync well with Google Calendar.  I personally find a lot of limits in Google Calendar (not the calendar as much as the accompanying tasks).  If Google Calendar and Google Tasks could do exactly as I wanted, this would be a viable app for me to handle Task Management.

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    Remember from the intro post, these are the primary requirements I have for a To Do app for my phone/computer/the cloud…

    Among the requirements I have for a to do list are:

    • Repeating Tasks… I write on 4 blogs and maintain a couple of dynamic websites that always need fresh content.  So, I need to remember where I need to write posts each day.  My repeating tasks include:
      • Same day each month (gathering statistics in my local MLS)
      • Same day each week (weekly posts like my 53 Cool Concept series each Sunday)
      • Every X number of days (for places I post every four or eight days, etc)
    • Ability to tag or note which tasks are for which purpose
    • Prioritization (so I don’t get caught up in stuff that doesn’t matter… missing things that are more important)
  • Ability to sync between my mobile device and other devices (laptop, cloud, etc.)
  • That seems pretty simple…

    Fourth up is Todo of Me.

    Repeating Tasks

    Aztec sun stone replica
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    This is the one that kicks out most of the To Do Lists for me.  There are several options, which may make this a great opportunity for some folks, but I felt a little limited.

    • Daily – You can set tasks to repeat daily… just daily.  Not every Tuesday or any other variant.
    • Weekly – Tasks can be set to repeat on a weekly basis, as well.  So, if you have a task that needs to be done every Tuesday, this is the option you would use.  You can’t set it to repeat on multiple selected days without entering each of them separately.
    • Monthly – The next option would be a monthly task.  This can be set a specific day (November 20th for example) but not on a trigger (like the 3rd Saturday of the month).

    Partial Completion

    Tasks can be made partially complete.  This is great if you have multi-part tasks.  They can be unstarted, in-progress or complete.

    Prioritization

    We HAVE to be able to focus on the things that are most important.  Checkmark has four priority levels: low, medium, high and emergency (I named them that… they have different color stars in the app).

     

    This app is pretty bare bones.  It might serve for some, but my calendar/task needs are well beyond this app.  There is a paid/Pro version, and I have not reviewed that version.

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