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“Woot” & “Retweet” Added to Oxford

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50,000 people throng Circle Line

More than 50,000 people turned up to take free train rides through the 11 new stations from Dhoby Ghaut to Bartley.” quoted *The Straits Time today.

It’s not unusual to see people forming up lines everywhere in Singapore. These are some of the places you get to see Singapore’s national hobby:

  1. Outside of 4D/Toto booth; especially when the prize is big;
  2. Newly launched shopping centres;
  3. Newly launched MRT lines;
  4. Hawker centres with famous food stalls;
  5. Traffic jams caused by ‘curious’ motorists. Note, the jam is caused by curious motorists, not caused by the accident itself. And the best part is many a time, the accident is actually on the other side of the road;
  6. New IPO launches – most of the people queueing up are there for the freebies and free lunches;
  7. It’s early in the morning. I can’t think of any more. If you’d like you can contribute more to this list.

Seriously, are Singaporeans getting bored? Is queuing one of favourite Singaporean’s pastimes? Or am I the odd one out? What gives?

Maybe The Straits Times can interview those Singaporeans who like to queue.

Maybe somebody can get into their minds and find out why.

Maybe someone can think of a way to ‘milk’ those queue-happy Singaporeans. :)

Maybe…

*Source: Breaking News – The Straits Times

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Must-have WordPress Plugins for SEO Productivity

If you’re using WordPress and also into using SEO utilities to enhance your search engines positions, here are some plugins that’ll definitely save you time and much hassle:

  1. All in One SEO Pack – There are many cool features in this plugins. But to cut the long story rather short: Optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines. At the time of this writing, it has already been downloaded more than 4 million times.
  2. Dagon Design Sitemap Generator – Although, I’m using Google Xitemap Generator in the backend, I use Dagon to show my display my sitemap on my site itself.
  3. Google Xitemap Generator – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog. With such a sitemap, it’s much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently.
  4. WP Auto Tagger – If you like to tag your post but sometimes don’t know what to tag. This plugin can save you some time. This plugin uses the Yahoo API to suggest tags based on the post content. You have the option to automatically tags posts on save or get tag suggestions with a single click.
  5. WP Super Cache – Search spiders are very busy and impatient creatures. This may just feed their impatience the right way! Whether you’re expecting a spike in visitors or not, just install it. It’ll definitely lighten your server’s load.
  6. Yoast Breadcrumbs – Easily add breadcrumbs to your template with this plugin. What are breadcrumbs? Just look at “Home » Blogging 101 » Must-have WordPress Plugins for SEO Productivity” that appears right under the menu.

Although the list above may not be exhaustive, it is more than sufficient for most of us.

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Up Your Website Ranking in 6 Simple Steps!

As an owner of a web hosting and web design company, I’m always asked by clients to help improve their website ranking by doing some simple tweaking. If you’re new to the field of search engine optimisation, here are 6 simple steps you can start with to help make your client’s site to be more visible to search engines: [Read more...]

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Are you a social media addict?

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be fun and also a great way to establish your social media presence. But they can also be very addictive. And if you’re not careful or aware, you can be easily sucked into this addiction. And this addiction to social media sites put you into the same category of people who suffer from IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder)

Widipedia defines and divides IAD into:

“Subtypes by activity, such as excessive viewing of pornography, overwhelming and excessive gaming, inappropriate involvement in online social networking sites or blogging, and Internet shopping addiction”

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. If you have or suspect you have the symptoms below, it’s time you started to fast from these social media sites and go take a walk in the park! You:

  • Spend more time on these social media sites than on your work.
  • Look forward to using them everyday.
  • Have your browser homepages set to these sites.
  • Get estactic when someone ‘thumbs-up’ your status or RT your tweets.
  • Click the Refresh/Reload button on your browser every few minutes to see if anyone has responded to your posting.
  • Spend more time answering quizzes or playing Bejeweled or the like than doing the important tasks first.
  • Answer all the quizzes in Facebook and when the result is not what you expected, you scorn at it. (This has to do with the ego thing).
  • Start using all the social media jargon in your SMS (eg. @, RT, #FF).
  • Feel like something is missing when you don’t get on these sites for a couple of days.

I must confess that I was on the verge of scoring full marks! And hence my absence from these sites for awhile. :)

And as usual, the list above is not exhaustive. Please feel free to add to it.

Best regards,
Melvin Neo

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Customizing Features and Teasers in Thesis 1.5.1

NOTE: As I’m not using the Thesis theme anymore, I’ll not be in a position to give any more reply and help in this area. Please accept my apology. However, the steps below should still work for Thesis 1.5.1. Here’s a screenshot on my customised Thesis theme: http://www.melvinneo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/thesis.gif

After upgrading to Thesis 1.5.1, I went through hell trying to restore the original ‘Magazine’ look (both with Featured and Teasers posts) and praise God, I finally came out victorious!

I’m writing this tutorial so that you guys don’t have to go through hell just like I did!

Some of the steps below are taken from two sites (see PS). But because I find they’re either missing something or kind of dated. That’s why I’m compiling the steps here.

Here goes…

Features are posts which are displayed normally; Teasers are small boxes which display more limited information about each post, as a way to “tease” your readers into clicking through to read the full post.

PLEASE REMEMBER TO SAVE YOUR SETTINGS AFTER EACH STEP!

1.  Decide how many of each post type you want. Since Teasers display two across by default in Thesis (each taking up half the width of your content area), you should choose an even number of Teasers for optimal results.

2.  On the Reading Settings panel in WordPress, in the field for Blog pages show at most, enter the total of the number of Features and the number of Teasers you’ve decided to display. For example, if you’ve chosen to have three Features and four Teasers, you should enter the number 7 in this field.

Note: This setting will also determine how many total posts display on other multi-post pages, such as your archives, search results, etc. This behavior is controlled by WordPress, not Thesis.

3.  Go to “Appearance” followed by “Thesis Custom Programming” and copy and paste the following code to the last available space:

//Featured Post
function featurecontent() { ?>
	<div id="my-feature-box">
		<?php $my_query = new WP_Query('category_name=featured&showposts=1'); while ($my_query->have_posts()) : $my_query->the_post(); $do_not_duplicate = $post->ID;?>
			<h2><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark" title="<?php the_title(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>
			<?php the_excerpt(); ?>
			<div class="featurereadmore">
				<a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark" title="Read the full article">Read the full article &rarr;</a>
			</div>
		<?php endwhile; ?>
	</div>
<?php
}
add_action('thesis_hook_feature_box', 'featurecontent');

Note that the number ’1′ in ‘showposts=1′ means only 1 featured post will be displayed. If you want 2, just change it to 2, so on and so forth.

4.  If you don’t like the plain  look, you can change the featured post by changing the custom_css. Here are the css codes I added to make it look like what it is now. Go to “Appearance” followed by “Thesis Custom Styling” and copy and paste the following codes to the last available space:

/* Featured Post Formatting */
.custom #my-feature-box { font-family: Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; color: #222222; background: #aaaaaa; padding: 22px 15px 22px 15px; background: url(i/featured.gif); }
.custom #my-feature-box h2 { font-family: Georgia,"Times New Roman",Verdana; font-size: 2.2em; margin: 0 0 15px 0; }
.custom #my-feature-box h2 a { color: #000000; text-decoration: none; }
.custom #my-feature-box h2 a:hover { color: #000000; text-decoration: underline;}
.custom #my-feature-box p { font-size: 1.4em; line-height:1.571em; text-align: justify;}
.custom #my-feature-box .featurereadmore { padding: 22px 0 0 0; }
.custom #my-feature-box .featurereadmore a { font-size: 14px; text-decoration: none; }

5.  Create a category called, “Featured” and subsequently place the post(s) you want to feature under the “Featured” category. NOTE: Make sure you spell the word “Featured” with the exact spelling and casing like mine. If not, I’m not sure whether it’ll turn up fine or not.

6.  Go to  “Appearance” and in the “Thesis Options” panel, under Home Page“, expand the “Home Page Display” section. For Number of featured posts to show,  select the number of posts you’ve decided on for Features. I SELECTED ’0′ BECAUSE MY CUSTOM PROGRAM IN STEP 3 OVERRODE THIS OPTION.

7.  Go to “Appearance” followed by “Design Options” and under “Feature Box” expand the “Placement” section. As for me, I chose “In your content column“, “on home page only” and “Above all posts” Right above the “Feature Box” option, there’s a “Teasers” option. You can play with it however you want.

And there’s all to it! Have fun.

Hope my instructions are clear enough so that you guys can cut short your learning curve!

Best regards,
Melvin Neo

PS: The steps above were taken from http://diythemes.com/answers/configure-features-teasers/ and http://www.emptycabinmedia.com/thesis-feature-box/. But because I find they’re either missing something or kind of dated. That’s why I’m compiling the steps here.

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The steps I took to customise my Thesis theme

NOTE: As I’m not using the Thesis theme anymore, I’ll not be in a position to give any more reply and help in this area. Please accept my apology. However, the steps below should still work for Thesis 1.5.1. Here’s a screenshot on my customised Thesis theme: http://www.melvinneo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/thesis.gif

If you’re using the Thesis theme and are not doing any customisation to it, you’re not doing any justice to the immense flexibility of the theme! In fact, I think you’re simply wasting your money. Granted, I know not everyone of us is as tech savvy, but at least do something to it so that your theme doesn’t look like one of those free themes!

To help you guys kick-off some customisation juice in you, I’ll show you step by step what I did to customise my theme to make it look like the current one:

1. Install the plugin, “Thesis Open Hook

When you install it, not only the “Thesis Open Hook” plugin will be installed, the plugins “Thesis Custom Styling” and “Thesis Custom Programming” will be installed too. You need the latter two to do the changes I mention below.

2. Add a pinstriped image to the background

Open up the ‘custom.css’ file by clicking on the link, “Appearance” followed by, “Thesis Custom Styling”. Find the last immediate empty space and key in or copy and paste the following CSS codes:

/* Body and Background */
body.custom {
background: #ffffff none scroll right top;
background-image:url(i/bg.png);
background-repeat:repeat-x;
}

Note that ‘i’ is the folder where I put the ‘bg.png’ file. You do not have to name your background file, ‘bg.png’. Just name it anything you like and make sure you change the codes accordingly.

Click on the “Save Settings” button to save your file.

*3. Add a custom header image to your blog

Open up the ‘custom.css’ file by clicking on the link, “Appearance” followed by, “Thesis Custom Styling”. Find the last immediate empty space and key in or copy and paste the following CSS codes:

/* Header Image */
.custom #header #logo a { display: block; height: 180px; width: 915px; background: url(i/melvin-header.jpg) no-repeat; outline: none; }
.custom #header #logo, .custom #header #tagline { text-indent: -9999px; }
.custom #header #tagline { height: 0; }
.custom #header {border-bottom:none; padding:0}
.custom #header { padding: 0;
}

Note that the width of the image is dependent on the column and sidebar sizes you’ve selected. And ‘i’ is the folder where I place my ‘melvin-header.jpg’ file. Again, the header file can be any name. Just make sure you change the codes accordingly.

Click on the “Save Settings” button to save your file.

4. Add 2 borders – 1 dark grey and a ligher shade of grey

Open up the ‘custom.css’ file by clicking on the link, “Appearance” followed by, “Thesis Custom Styling”. Find the last immediate empty space and key in the following CSS codes:

/* Content Container */
.custom #container {
margin-top: 1em;
margin-bottom: 1em;
padding: 0.6em;
background: #333333;
border: 0.3em solid #565656;
}

#333333 will output the dark grey and #565656 the lighter shade of grey border.

Click on the “Save Settings” button to save your file

5. Bring the header image above the navigation menus

Open up the ‘custom_functions.php’ file by clicking on the link, “Appearance” followed by, “Thesis Custom Programming”. Find the last immediate empty space and key in or copy & paste the following codes:

//Move Header Up
remove_action(‘thesis_hook_before_header’, ‘thesis_nav_menu’); add_action(‘thesis_hook_after_header’, ‘thesis_nav_menu’);

Click on the “Save Settings” button to save your file.

*6. Apply different colour codes to the navigation menu

Open up the ‘custom.css’ file by clicking on the link, “Appearance” followed by, “Thesis Custom Styling”. Find the last immediate empty space and key in or copy & paste the following CSS codes:

/* Custom Navibar */
.custom ul#tabs {border-bottom:none; border-left:none; background:#333333;}
.custom ul#tabs li {margin-bottom:0; border:none; background:none;}
.custom ul#tabs li.current_page_item a {
color: #fff;
background-color: #333;
font-style:italic;
background-image: none;
}
.custom ul#tabs li.page-item-1 a {
background-color: #304860;
color: white;
}
.custom ul#tabs li.page-item-2 a {
background-color: #4890C0;
color: white;
}
.custom ul#tabs li.rss a { padding-right: 23px;
background: url(i/icon-rss.gif) no-repeat 97% 50%;
color: white;
}
.custom #tabs li a {
color: black;
text-decoration: none;
margin: 0;
padding: 7px 15px;
background: #EBF7FF none repeat-x;
}
.custom ul#tabs li a:hover {
background-color: #333333;
color: white;
text-decoration: none;
background-image: none;
}
.custom ul#tabs li.page_item a:hover {
background-color: #333333;
background-image: none;
}
.custom ul#tabs li.rss a:hover {
background-color: #91918f;
text-decoration: underline;
background: url(i/icon-rss.gif) no-repeat 97% 50%;
}

Click on the “Save Settings” button to save your file.

Note that ‘i’ is the folder where I put the ‘icon-rss.gif’ file. Currently, I only have “Home”, “What About Melvin” and “Contact Melvin” links, therefore, the codes stop at 2. If you want to add more just change the following:

.custom ul#tabs li.page-item-3 a {
background-color: #4890C0;
color: white;
}

’3′ being the next page menu and ’4890C0′ being another colour code. Note that 4890C0 is the same as item-2. Therefore, it’s good that you change it to another one.

Have fun customising your Thesis theme! This is not brain surgery. Nobody will die when you make a mistake. :)

Best regards
Melvin Neo

* The ideas for Step 3 were taken from  www.howtomakemyblog.com and Step 6 from www.berchman.com

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8 reasons why I don’t follow back

I find it amusing when people follow me on Twiter, they’d expect me to follow them back! And when they find out that I don’t follow back, very soon they’ll un-follow me. Please understand that Twitter is a social media site. If I find nothing in common with you, why must I follow you back and get ‘social’ with you? Oh please…. follow back is not an obligation.

I vet my followers manually. And if I don’t follow you back, here are some reasons:

  1. Your bio is a complete blank. There’s nothing about you, about what you do and where you’re from. Worse still, your profile picture is the default Twitter one-small-and-one-big-circle avatar!
  2. Your web bio is a link to an affliate site, some get rick quick scheme or pornographic site.
  3. You precede or follow every one of your tweets with a link to your own site.
  4. You consistently use vulgarity or foul language.
  5. You have thousands of followers and followings and yet less than a hundred tweets. It’s a dead giveaway that you’re using some bots to boost your follower’s count (a.k.a your ego).
  6. You joined Twitter for less than a month and yet have thousands of followers and followings. Another dead giveaway that your bot is in action!
  7. Your name is of complete opposite gender from your profile picture. Duh?
  8. We have nothing in common. So why bother?

I repeat. Twitter is a social media site. Not a place for people to flaunt their followers count. I’m not impressed with numbers. I’d rather follow someone who only has 50 followers and yet is an engaging Tweep than someone who has tens of thousands of followers but do nothing more than just tweeting power quotes or RT-ing other Tweeps. Remember the ‘social’ in social media sites!

Best regards,
Melvin Neo

PS:  The above 8 reasons are all that I can think of for now. Some may have slipped my mind. If you have more, please do not hesitate to add to it. Thanks!