Weblog Tools Collection recently spotlighted a WordPress plugin to automatically tweet old posts. It seems like a good way to bring attention to a site’s archives, as long as it’s used sparingly. The frequency can be as high as once an hour, which IMO is a good way to lose all your followers, but one post every few days seems like it might be reasonable and even interesting.

I’ve already got a setup in place to show a “flashback” post on the front page, but most of the blog’s traffic seems to come from searches these days. Every once in a while I’ll happen to look at the front myself and say, “Oh, yeah, that was a good one!” and post a link on Twitter or Facebook.

This new plugin posts automatically, and picks an article at random. That’s helpful, because it can find old posts that I’ve forgotten. On the downside, because it’s random, there’s no quality control. It could just as easily pull out something completely inane that was funny for about a week five years ago as it could dredge up a forgotten gem. And there’s always the risk of promoting “Happy New Year!” in August — which is exactly what happened when I tested it on Speed Force.

You can filter out categories, but I think it might be more useful to filter on tags. Sure, it can take a while to go through the archives tagging posts that you feel are worth a second look, but it would certainly improve the signal/noise ratio with this scheme. Even better, there’s a lot more you can do once you’ve tagged your “classics.” Highlight them on archive pages, list some of them in the sidebar, build an index, etc.

Hmm, this might be an interesting project at some point.

Update (August 23): Well, I’ve disabled this for now — on both blogs — because of the lack of control. I’d rather forget to post “Hey, remember this?” than have it clutter up people’s accounts with old linkblogging digests or something similarly pointless. When I have time, I should work on that classics project, both tagging posts and hacking on the plugin.

WTF? eBay says I can’t charge more than $3 to ship an item in the DVD category. I’m selling a 2-pound boxed set. The cheapest USPS rate is $3.16 for media mail. I appreciate the effort to prevent sellers from overcharging for shipping, and $3 leaves plenty of room for most DVDs…but apparently it hasn’t occurred to them that people might be selling larger boxed sets.

Anyway, I’m selling some Farscape DVDs on eBay. The auctions end Sunday, November 29.

Flock. One of the problems with the ubiquitous Get Firefox! Get Opera! etc. web buttons is that while they might encourage someone unfamiliar with the product to check it out, they’re kind of pointless to someone who already uses your preferred browser. Sure, there’s a sense of, “Hey, this author uses Opera too!” but that’s about all it can do.

To make these a little more useful, on my Flash site, I use JavaScript to switch the button if someone’s using Firefox, and instead promote the Spread Firefox site. I’ve written up a similar method for Opera, though it’s less clear where to send people.

I recently discovered that Flock has taken another approach to solving this problem. As you may recall, Flock is a browser based on Firefox, focusing on social networking. It integrates with blogging sites, photo-sharing sites, bookmark-sharing sites and so on.

The Flockstars Extension expands on this by converting the button into a mini-profile. You fill in information like an avatar, usernames at Flickr, YouTube, etc., and links to your website(s). It generates button code that acts like an ordinary Flock button, but contains all this extra information.

The extension reads this information. Visitors to your site who are using Flock and the extension will see an icon in the toolbar, which will pop up a short profile and a menu of all the facets of your online presence.

It’s a cool idea, and seems to fit perfectly with Flock’s target audience. But it only solves half the problem. The browser promo badge is still there, still taking up space. The fact that the profile data is in the button code doesn’t make a difference; it might as well be stored in a set of META tags in the page head.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about various web browsers. Opera can/can’t do this. Firefox can/can’t do that. There’s only so much you can do to promote one product when you only know rumors or outdated facts about another.

Opera users: If someone told you that Firefox was better than Opera because it doesn’t have ads, you wouldn’t take them seriously. You’d know the ads have been gone since last year, and you’d wonder what else they have wrong.

Firefox users: If someone told you Opera was better than Firefox because Firefox won’t let you reorder tabs, you wouldn’t take them seriously. You’d know that Firefox 1.5 did just that, and you’d wonder what else they have wrong.

And neither of you will convince an IE fan that Opera is better because of tabs and a built-in search box because they’ll tell you that IE7 has both.

When you’re trying to convince someone that X is better than Y, and they know Y very well, you’d better know Y well enough not to make statements that the other person knows are false. When you do, you’ll lose credibility, and the rest of your argument — the part you do know well — will suffer for it. (I suspect a lot of software flame wars get started this way!)

So here’s my suggestion: If you want to promote Opera, go and download Firefox 1.5. If you want to promote Firefox, go and download the Opera 9 beta. Either way, try out the IE7 beta (if your Windows version will run it) or fire up Safari (if you’re on a Mac). Mess around with them enough that you’re familiar with how they work, what you can do with them, and how they handle your favorite web pages. That way the next time you face an IE fan (to the extent that IE has fans), or a Firefox fan, or an Opera fan, or a Safari fan, you’ll be armed with accurate information.

As for the post title — I don’t think it’s necessary for the major browsers to be enemies. I think there’s plenty of room for cordial competition rather than a cutthroat struggle. But “Know Your Enemy” is a better attention-getter than “Familiarize yourself with the competition.” 😉

*This post originally appeared in two slightly different forms on my blog Confessions of a Web Developer at the My Opera community and on my Spread Firefox blog.

Posting an Opera button on your website or blog is a great way to encourage people to try out the browser — but what if the visitor already uses Opera? It shows solidarity, but what if you could show them something else, something that is new to them?

You might want to replace your regular Opera banner with an ad for Opera Mini. Or show them another graphic of your own design. Or maybe not even a graphic, maybe post some sort of message, like “Opera spoken here!” or “Welcome, Opera visitors!”

It’s relatively simple to do this in PHP, or ASP, or some other server-side script…but sometimes you have to stick with static HTML. Well, client-side JavaScript can replace chunks of your page, and here’s how to do it.

1. Put the following script in a file called operalinks.js:

function replaceOperaLink(linkID) {

if(linkNode=document.getElementById(linkID)) {

if ( 0 <= navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera') ) {

var newButton=document.createElement('span');

newButton.innerHTML = '<a href="http://www.opera.com/">Glad to see you're using Opera!</a>';

var parentNode=linkNode.parentNode;





For the innerHTML section, you can plug in a new link and banner, or a special message, or anything you want. (Just make sure that you put a backslash () in front of any apostrophes you use.)

2. Put a unique ID in the tag for your regular Opera button. Use the outermost tag that you want to replace. For example, let’s start it off with this:

<a id="OpLink" href="http://www.opera.com">Download Opera!</a>

3. Load the script in your document’s <head> section:

<script type="text/javascript" src="operalinks.js">

4. Call the function in the body onload event using the ID you chose in step 2:

<body onload="replaceOperaLink('OpLink')">

When the page loads, the script will check the visitor’s browser. If it’s Opera, it’ll replace the banner with whatever message you chose in step 1. It’s compatible with both HTML and XHTML, and you don’t need to worry about using <noscript> tags to make sure the banner still shows up for people with JavaScript disabled.

*This post originally appeared on Confessions of a Web Developer, my blog at the My Opera community.