Move from Blogger to WordPress

I finally did it – over the weekend I moved my blog from Blogger! Although the old blog was hosted on my own web site, as is the new version, I disliked having to use the Blogger software on Google’s own servers. For the majority of the time access was no problem but there have been days when availability has been zero and response times very slow. My own web hosting service is not perfect – none are – but it is more reliable and predictable than Blogger. But the deciding factor was that I wanted to play around with more gizmos, widgets and layouts. I was able to experiment with third party plugins using Blogger, in fact one had to in the early days because it lacked so many of the standard blog features such as tagging, but you have to mess around with the template code. If you want to switch to another layout/template, you lose most of your customisation.

I contemplated Typepad and have even invested in an account but I am leaving that for experimental purposes. As I would still have to use the software and hosting on their system I would again be at the mercy of their ‘down times’, and there have been many of those judging from the number of ‘no access’ problems I see with Typepad based blogs in my RSS reader. It was Brian Kelly’s new(ish) blog that encouraged me to look at WordPress. I was not too keen on hosting on so I decided to be brave and load the software onto my own server. Feedback from other users suggested that it would be relatively painless but I was prepared for problems right from the start. There weren’t any.

The sequence of events was as follows:

  1. Check that my hosting service has the required version of PHP and MySQL. It did.
  2. Activate and set up a MySQL database. That took about 30 seconds using my hosting service’s control panel.
  3. Download the WordPress software and install on my web server. There are two sets of instructions on installation: a 5 minute quick start for experienced users and more detailed instructions if you are new to this. Being a complete novice I, of course, decided to go for the Quick Start :-) It worked!
  4. Decide on a layout and colour. I rather like Brian’s three column layout so I opted for Andreas09.
  5. Play around with the sidebar content and layout, and install Sidebar widgets. Look at a few other plugins.

That all took about 30 minutes and I was ready to start blogging in WordPress.

Then I had to decide whether to import my Blogger content into WordPress or leave it archived in the old files. As an experiment I decided to try out the import option. The support documents and discussion forums suggested that there might be a few problems and that it might not work 100%. The only step that caused me a few difficulties was republishing my old blog onto Blogspot, a pre-requisite for the script to work. It took me a while to remember how to do it and then Blogger/Blogspot decided to go into slow motion right in the middle of the transfer. After that, the script did its job and everything, excluding the plug-in content, was transferred in about 10 minutes.

There are only two problems with my transferred content. The first is that Blogger lets you associate a URL with the title of a posting: this is not carried over in any form and could annoy users if that is the only reference to the address of the product or service you are blogging. The second is that any links in the body of the content to previous postings in Blogger are retained. The latter is not surprising and I can live with that.

I now have to embark on an advertising campaign to alert people to the new address, check links on my web site and in presentations. The old Blog will be left on my web site for a while and it will be interesting to see how long it takes for people to switch to the new one. It looks as though the winner for the prize for being the first to spot and link to it goes to Chris Armstrong and his info NeoGnostic blog. As I am in his home town of Aberystwyth next week, it looks as though I owe him a drink or two, or even three.

Ask X has just automatically redirected me to what seems to be a test version of a new interface called Ask X. My first impression of the Spartan home page is that I do not like it at all. The menu of search options – news, images, blogs and feeds etc. – that normally appears on the right hand side of the screen has gone. All you have is a single search box. Phil Bradley and I have already argued the case for leaving tabs such as these on the home page with Accoona, who very quickly restored them. As with Accoona, I do not want to have to do a two step process to carry out, for example, a blog or news search. Some of the options for the other resources reappear on the results page, but to have to carry out an ‘all’ search first annoys me.

Today’s Ask X home page

AskX Home Page

I do like the three panel results screen, though. The left hand panel includes a search box together with links to some of the specialist resources, and the Zoom options (Narrow, Expand, Related Names). It also contains search suggestions that change as you type.

The middle panel contains your search results and on the right panel there are sample results from other types of resources including video, news, images, blogs and encyclopedia. For those who do not think beyond standard web page searching they are a reminder of other, possibly more relevant forms of information.

Ask X results screen


HotFrog Business Directories

Newly launched HotFrog UK is an interesting implementation of a business directory from Reed Business Information. Based on its Australian counterpart, a tag cloud forms a major part of the home page, highlighting the top 50 products/services. There is also an alphabetical index if you wish to browse all the categories. In addition you can browse an A-Z of companies or use the search box to carry out a key word search.

Limiting your search to a region or county is a two step process. You first search on a category and a location box appears on the results screen alongside the companies.

Business owners can add their company to the directory free of charge and can determine how they want their business classified. They can also include brand names in their entries.

There are another thirteen country ‘versions’ of HotFrog including India, Spain, Germany, France, Thailand and the US, all of which use the same interface. They are easily missed as the links are represented only by a series of flags at the bottom of the home pages.

Lack of overlap in search engines

Greg Notess has come across another example of why we need to use more than one search tool and why Google is not always best. In his recent posting
Page Found at 3 or 6: Not Google he shows that a web page he could not find in Google – a page on a Canadian academic site that has existed since at least 2003 – was indexed by Yahoo!, Gigablast, and Exalead, but it not by Google, Live, or Ask. The article is accompanied by a short screencast.

SLA Europe Information Professional 2007: Call for Nominations

Posted on behalf of Penny Leach, SLA Board

The Board of SLA Europe would like to remind you that the closing date for nominations for the SLA Europe Information Professional 2007 Award (SLA Europe IP 2007) is 28th February 2007.

The goal of the annual Information Professional Award is to recognise outstanding achievement in the information profession amongst those living and working in Europe, so this is a chance to gain recognition for a professional colleague or yourself.

The winner receives an expenses-paid trip to the SLA Conference in
Denver, June 2007
. The nominator of the winner will receive a magnum of champagne.

Further information about the Award, including past winners, can be
found on the SLA Europe web site. The from is available in Word and PDF. All you need to do at this stage is complete the form and email it to Penny Leach (, including a short statement as to why the nominee should be considered (and attaching any relevant information). You do not need to be a member of SLA to nominate or be nominated.

The Award is sponsored by sponsored by Factiva.

RSS, Blogs and Wikis – Woking Library

I am doing a repeat of my Basingstoke RSS, Blogs and Wikis presentation at Woking Library on Tuesday, 20th February. It is being organised by the Surrey Library & Information Group and kicks off at 6 pm. All those who work or have worked in Library and Information services in Surrey and the surrounding areas are welcome.

If you are interested in attending please contact Hilary Ely, Surrey County Council Libraries & Culture, East Area Office, Omnibus, Lesbourne Road, Reigate, Surrey RH2 7JA by Wednesday 14th February 2007, e-mail: Tel: 01737 737687 Fax: 01737 737649.

As an aside, I am delighted to see that the Hampshire and Isle of Wight sub-branch of CILIP’s South East Branch, and who invited me to give the talk at Basingstoke library, now have a blog at

Top 10 Search Tips from Swansea

This week I ran a workshop in Swansea on Internet search and new technologies. The first half of the day was taken up with new and recent developments and participants had the rest of the day to try out search techniques, tools, RSS, blogs and wikis for themselves. The group was made up of HE and health-care information professionals and they were all experienced, advanced searchers. It was hard work keeping up with them! At the end of the workshop they came up their own list of Top 10 Tips on Searching:

1. – Formerly MSN search and totally revamped by Microsoft, this proved to be very popular and will probably be the main alternative to Google for the workshop participants. They particularly liked the scrolling image results page and Academic Live, which is given a separate mention later. There were some negative comments about Maps, but that area is still under development and worth revisiting now and again to see how it is progressing.

2. Graball – A tool for comparing the results of two search engines side by side.

3. Allwhois – Use this to find out who owns the domain name of a web site – an essential part of assessing the quality of information.

4. What does the plus (+) sign before a term do? The major search engines automatically search for all of your terms but they ignore common ‘stop’ words such as the, of, and. For example, if you are researching a quotation that contains stop words put it all inside double quote marks and precede each of the stop words with a plus sign. They will then be included in the search. In Google, use the plus sign before a word to stop Google stemming it and looking for variations.

5. Google’s numeric range search for anything involving a range of numbers – weights, distances, temperatures, prices. Separate the numbers at the start and end of the range with two full stops (no spaces), and include a unit of measurement (optional).

For example:

toblerone 1..5 kg

will look for sites selling massive Toberlone bars. (We assumed that one carves up the 4.5 kg bar with a chain saw!)

6. The link: and linkdomain: commands in to find pages that link to a known page or site. Use them to find pages that are similar to your known page, or to see who is linking to your site.

For example: will only find pages that link to the specified page on a site. will find pages that link to any page on the site

7. Remember to use filetype: and/or site: commands to focus your search. Filetype can be be used to limit your search to PDFs, PPT, Excel, Word documents etc. Statistics, for example, are often left in Excel spreadsheets. The site: command can be used to limit your search to a type of site, for example for just UK government web sites, or to search just one site, for example Perfect for large sites that have poor navigation or useless internal search engines.

8. Alacra Industry Spotlights – and click on the Alacra Spotlights link. A collection of overviews on different industries highlighting key publications and resources for each sector. Ideal if you are new to a sector. Although this is a wiki, the Spotlights area is locked so that only Alacra can edit the pages.

9. Academic Live – “More reliable and trustworthy than Google”, and format options for bibliographic management packages such as RefWorks and EndNote. This event was held at Swansea University and there were links in each record in the results list that helped the searcher track down the full paper in the University’s own collection.

10. CrossEngine – Dozens of different search tools are grouped under tabs by type, for example web, video, audio, images, news, blogs, reference. Type in your search terms just once and then click on each search engine in turn to run the search. Similar to but more up to date and it has additional features such a file type search options for Google and Yahoo. Great for reminding you of alternative tools and different types of resources that you should be including in your strategy.

Update on CrossEngine

A few hours after I had posted my comments on CrossEngine, Greg Notess of Search Engine Showdown emailed me asking if we in the UK were seeing a different version from people in the US. My screen shot was different from what he was seeing on his screen. A quick check confirmed that CrossEngine has already made changes to the interface. The Formats tab has gone and the filetype search has been included under the Web tab (the Standard tab renamed). The audio search, previously included under Formats, now has its own tab, which seems far more sensible to me.

A few further comments now I have had time to look at it in more detail:

  • and Exalead are missing from the file format search. Both sometimes come up with unique sources when, for example, I am carrying out a highly specialised search forPowerpoint presentation or a spreadsheet containing market data. Exalead in particular does tend to pick up more European sources.
  • Accoona is missing from the News tab.
  • On a positive note, it is good to see the Gutenberg project listed under ebooks in the reference section. This was around long before Google et al and way before we all had lovely graphical interfaces to the Internet. I can recall having to FTP texts to my computer… oh Happy Days – NOT!

By the time you read this, CrossEngine may have changed something else but I’m all for that. At least it demonstrates that they are actively developing it (and possibly monitoring what the blogosphere is saying about it?). The problem for me is what am I going to see when I demonstrate it to a workshop on advanced search strategies in Swansea next week :-)