Posts Tagged ‘zemanta’

Zemanta Review Part Two

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Blog better using ZemantaImage by chucks via FlickrAbout a week ago, I reviewed a blogging tool called Zemanta. I was very excited about it, but my excitement faded as I clumsily tried to test the software with the very review I was writing. It left me scratching my head and promising to revisit the topic after some more hands-on time with Zemanta. As promised, here’s part two of my Zemanta review.

I am going to keep this one short because I’ve already explained what Zemanta does and how it’s used. I will talk a little about what else I’ve learned in the last week and correct some assumptions from my previous review.

Giving photos a chance again
In my previous review, I choked on the photo adding capabilities of Zemanta. It seemed to me that photos would vanish. This still appears to be the case for me with FireFox 3 on Vista. I find that images will still occasionally vanish, but I have a much better handle on things now. If I want an image, I simply click on it on the right side. If I want a different image instead, I just click a different image. While I am much more comfortable with it, I still have a few suggestions for the developers.

1. I need more images to choose from. I seem to get the same geisha girl with a laptop every time I start a post.
2. Allow me to use more than one image per post.
3. An image should always be placed where the my cursor was in my editing text area before I clicked the image. Every time I add an image, it’s always top right aligned and sometimes, I want it down with the paragraph it relates to.

I have figured out how to add more images sources (like my Flickr account), though it still seems a bit limited. Still, even if I could only add my own images from Flickr, Zemanta saves me a step.

Links make a little more sense now, too.
If you don’t understand Zemanta’s link suggestion tool, it can be a little cumbersome. I guess I always just expect something to happen at my cursor position when I use a tool. When you click a link from one of the drop-downs named after the words they will link, it creates a contextual link for you. This is handy mostly for reference links, but will be nice if their link choices some day include other blogs that will give me trackback links. Currently, they mostly go to Wikipedia, which is to be expected while they grow. If you install Zemanta, be sure to add your own blog and Flickr account so your resources will be available to the rest of us and you’ll get lots of link love.

SEO tags and my apology
This is one area where Zemanta shines and I owe them an apology. The SEO tags functionality does a pretty good job of guessing some tags I would think of that I would normally have to type in as well as some that would have slipped my mind. When I’m done with my post, I just click the tags I want and they’re added. Then I manually add any remaining tags that I want. It’s another time-saver and it works just as it should, despite what I said previously.

Filter, My Stuff, and Preferences
Since I’ve continued to play with Zemanta, I’ve found more that needs to be written about. “Filter” and “My Stuff”, for example, are options just above your image choices. They both make sense given their names. Filter gives you a text box to filter images by keyword. If you happened to type about 100 different things but you’re looking for a photo of a puppy, you can filter images for “puppy” and get what you need faster. “My Stuff” just narrows the image pool to your own images.

Preferences is a whole area I had previously missed. It hides at the bottom of the Zemanta panel. When you click the link, a new window pops up with your preferences page. Included are “Image Position”, which lets you choose the horizontal alignment of your image, “HTML Code Style”, which allows you to choose between standard HTML and xHTML, and “Signature Image”, which is where you choose what style of “re-blog” image you want at the foot of your post (or none). The preferences page includes two additional sections called “Personal” and “My Stuff”. The Personal section allows you to add a bit of personal information, as well as an Amazon.com associates ID. I added mine, but if I happen to mention my favorite movie, Dream a Little Dream, Zemanta offers links to IMDB, Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes, but not to Amazon. I am excited about seeing that work, though. The My Stuff section is where you ad your stuff, of course. Here, you can identify your Flickr account, add your social networks, and add blogs and other sources.

My new verdict : Install it
As I said before, I’ve installed the FireFox plugin, so if I ever dislike it, I can remove it. The posts will still have the “Re-Blog” or “Zemified” footer links, but I think it may be a keeper.

CONS:
- Only one image
- Images always at the top
- Amazon links not an option yet?
- Seemingly limited sources

PROS:
- Add images in a snap
- Add tags easily
- Suggests tags I might forget
- Provides resource links
- Provides a means for others to find and use my media and posts

The minor cons can be fixed pretty easily, I think, and the limited resources will improve as more people use it, I feel. My excitement for Zemanta is renewed, and I can’t wait to watch it grow. If you install it, drop a link below to your first Zemanta post and let us know what you think.

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Hands On With Zemanta – Your Blog Writing Concierge?

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

One of the things Blog World provides plenty of is new products and software with amazing claims of greatness. There are some that I think look good enough to check out further, and some that I don’t, but there’s rarely any that I feel have hit a home run. Zemanta may be one of those. I say “may be”, because it’s a tool that assists you with finding photos and related articles to link to based on your content, as well as tags for your post, so this very post IS the review and we’ll all know how well it worked by the end of the post. Of course, the post is about blogging tools, so I’ll add in some content about why you might need a blogging tool to help you with your posts.

Find me some photos

One of the biggest problems I find while blogging is how hard it can be to find visual media to accompany my posts. If, for example, I’m writing this post about writing tools, I would probably want pictures of writing implements, note pads, maybe a keyboard or a laptop. The laptop might be my preference because that’s what I’m using to write this post. So if I type “laptop” a couple times in my post, what might I get photos of? Let’s see….

[there WAS an image of a ball park here]

OK… Maybe Euphamisms mess up the algorithm a bit, but this was just one of 9 suggested on the first page of results in my new blog post side bar. The photos included one of a laptop that I could use and a couple others that were completely not relevant. The more I type, the better my selections become. For example, when I refresh my selection, I now find another laptop that I like better.

[there WAS another image here of a keyboard]

It’s close enough. I don’t like how it throws the photo kind of randomly into my post text. Sometimes it’s where I expect it and sometimes it’s at the top of my post.

Let’s get some links!

It seems that if you add a link like the one above, it removes your images, which I consider a serious flaw in the the fireflox plugin version of the Zemanta software.

Maybe the SEO tags work?

I think it moved my link, too. I can’t tell anymore. It did give me some good tags to add, and there’s some OK images to choose from, which will save you time, but it’s more hassle than it is useful if it’s going to mangle all of its own progress.

What’s the conclusion?
I still think it’s a genius idea and will be very helpful to me if it really works. I will give it one more shot with a future post and see how it does. If it still fails, it’ll be uninstalled until some things get fixed. The upside is that I’ve installed the FireFox plugin, so if the verdict is failure, I’ll just remove the plugin. A few other blogs seem to have had better luck than me, so try it out for yourself and let me know.

NOTE: Any missing or displaced links and/or images are intentionally left that way to preserve the results of my testing and are the product of the testing.

UPDATE: Oh look at that… The link is embedded in the content. That’s actually very handy.

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BlogWorld – Market Leverage, Meeting Readers, and Super Affiliates

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

DSC05731

My first full day at BlogWorld couldn’t have been better. Michelle and I headed down for breakfast and then I headed out to grab my badge. While waiting for the exhibitor floor to open up, Ian Fernando joined me and we got caught up on our plans for the day’s panels. There were a lot of booths to hit, so I just started from one end of the room and began working my way across, skipping those that didn’t interest me and stopping to talk (sometimes at length) with people at booths that caught my eye. One of those was mindtouch, a collaborative wiki system that I am told is much more intuitive than others and can be integrated with WordPress easily. I don’t know that I’m really sold on it since I’m not much of a wiki guy, but I’ll check it out. One program that looks very interesting is Zemanta. The name isn’t the easiest to remember, but the idea is great. Zemanta integrates with WordPress to ease the process of finding photos, videos, and other artcles related to what you’re writing about. The way it was explained to me, it analyzes the text of the post you’re writing and suggests content and links for you as you type, and all the content is Creative Commons friendly. I haven’t tried it yet, but if it lives up to its promise, it should save bloggers a lot of time as well as help the artistic community promote their CC photos and videos. I’ll do a full review when I retrurn to Phoenix. While wandering around the expo floor, I was stopped my a couple people who recognized me, which is always nice. I would have loved to chat more, but I had booths to see.

Discussing John Chow's site

Ian and I met back up and headed to the panel full of name-dropees, John Chow, ShoeMoney, ProBlogger (Darren Rowse), Copy Blogger (Brian Clark), Zac Johnson, and Jim Kukral. As always, it was full of useful information, and has inspired some small changes I’ll be making to this blog in the near future. This “super panel”, was so popular, in fact, that people were having a hard time pulling themselves away and eventually people had to be reminded that there was another panel scheduled for the room. Before the panel began, I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of my readers, NikNik and Reggie from MyTechOponion. I also had an opportunity to show Jim, the damage I’ve done to my Flip in preparation for the upgrade I’m doing (expect that post soon).

Market Leverage Dinner

Just before Ian joined me and Michelle for lunch, he let me know that Michelle and I were invited to the Market Leverage dinner at Envy that the super affiliate bloggers were going to. In attendance were the panelists mentioned above as well as a few people who won seats at the dinner, a couple more affilliates, and of course, Deb, Mike, and Jen from Market Leverage. The dinner was almost as great as the opportunity to sit down with some of the blogging elite. John posted pictures of the dinner and all the food, as expected.

John Chow taking a picture of the food

The BlogWorld Opening Day party ended at 9:30, so everyone at the dinner missed that, and many of us ended up at the Tempo bar at the Hilton. Shortly after that, Ian, Michelle, the ML crew and I all headed to the Wynn, where we spent the rest of the night at Blush, drinking and dancing.

If you want to see all the photos I took, they’re on Flickr. Day one was awesome, and although I think today will be more relaxed, I’m sure I’ll get just as much out of it.