January 26, 2007

Upgrading to Wordpress 2.1

Just upgraded Chocolate Gourmand Blog to Wordpress 2.1 I recently upgraded it to 2.07 for a security fix and noted they said 2.1 was coming at end of month.Upgrade to 2.1 now Just like installing Wordpress, upgrading is a snap. Here's what I would recommend doing for a smooth upgrade with minimal or no downtime:

1. Backup your existing wordpress installation files to a secure location. The easiest way to do this is to copy it to your local machine.

2. Backup your database. If you don't already have it installed, I recommend using a wordpress plugin to do this called--appropriately enough--Wordpress Data Backup.

3. Speaking of plugins, take a look at your plugins page and note which ones are installed but not enabled. I decided to remove the ones I don't use (tried them out and didn't like) so future upgrades would be simpler as I forget this step (and to copy plugins to new install) and had to figure out which recent comments plugin was the one I actually used.

4. Download and unpack the wordpress installation files from the WordPress download page.

5. Copy your wp-config.php file and your specific themes folder along with your special plugins (don't overwrite akismet plugin in new install--it is an upgrade, too) from your current install into the new wordpress folder. Upload the new wordpress folder to your site as a side folder (e.g. if your blog is under /blog/ then upload new files to /blog_new/). If you have any other customizations to files outside of the themes folder, merge those changes into the new wordpress files. I did notice that they did away with the template-functions-general.php and all the template* functions for a general-template.php page.

6. Open up your WordPress admin home page and log in if you haven't already done so. Rename your existing blog folder to something like blog_backup and now then you can rename the new folder you uploaded to the normal blog folder name (e.g. blog_new to blog). Reload the admin page, click upgrade, click upgrade again, watch the progress meter and you are done.

7. Double check that your plugins are all still activated and then check out your site. Hopefully it all worked out. Downtime should have been limited to less than a minute.

November 30, 2006

ChocolateGourmand.com site launched

It's been a long time coming, but chocolategourmand.com is finally live. There is even a blog at http://www.chocolategourmand.com/blog/. There are still some things to do for the site, but it has been a huge relief to get it launched, though it has been a launch with very little fanfare. Next week I will begin making candies, which will involve some 40 plus hours of stirring, dipping and cooking.

October 20, 2006

Community Marketing: Think globally, act locally

Swingline Red StaplerIf you want a successful company where people want to work, you need to market your company to your employees. For a company like Swingline, this isn’t hard to do. Every Swingline employee has one or more of your staplers on their desk. It probably isn’t difficult for employees to convey to other people in their social network what their company does and what characteristics set their company apart from the competition. They probably even have a humorous anecdote about rival Bostitch. In addition, since Swingline’s products are geared heavily to the consumer market, the same marketing materials used for your customers is also readily consumed and digested by Swingline employees. But what if you work for a company that sells something that the average consumers will never see on a store shelf or purchase?

PanavisionAn employee for a company like Panavision, makers of motion picture equipment, could easily extend their company product to the average consumer via motion pictures. But what if you work for a company that sells enterprise hardware, software and/or solutions—and your company or division is not a household name—the marketing material the company produces to promote sales is probably poorly digested by staff outside of the sales and marketing departments.

If your company’s product is consumed high up in the channel, it is important that all your employees be able to make the connection from your product to the consumer level, even if that requires linking in third parties or customers of customers. Some might argue that the non-sales employees probably don’t encounter prospects very often, if at all, so why does this even matter? The answer is simple: pride.

Can you succinctly describe your company and the benefit it provides society to relatives at Thanksgiving dinner without putting your audience to sleep? Tryptophan effects aside, if you are unable to provide the links between your non-technical relatives' daily lives and your company’s products, you probably aren’t able to take a lot of genuine pride in your company. That doesn’t mean you don’t take pride in your department, team or personal accomplishments, nor does it imply you doubt the quality of your company’s products and solutions. So how do you get employees outside of the sales cycle to live and breathe your products? You need to do some internal marketing.

If you want to unite your employees on a common front, they all need to be behind your products and solutions—employees need to understand the business. Externally, you may target key markets and individuals with slick campaigns full of acronyms and the latest analyst quotes; this is the language of your buying audience. Internally, your audience is much more diverse and includes many groups that have little time or interest to learn this language which, to many of them, may only be spoken at work by peers in other departments. This isn’t only their problem, it is the company’s problem. After all, the employees are all ambassadors of the company in their social networks. Wouldn’t you want access to this network for your community marketing?

September 28, 2006

"Company - Sucks" domains and other negative press

I just googled for "dreamhost sucks" and found a huge number of disgruntled dreamhost customers, some still currently using dreamhost, apparently. I loved the google ad in the right column: "Tired of dreamhost's outages...". I even found a couple blogs staunchly defending dreamhost and suggesting that perhaps there should be a law against company-sucks websites. Who would benefit from that?

I just read Scoble's post the recent PR problems with dreamhost. I also frequently perform searches with negative terms appended. Before the blogging era, these kinds of complaints lay buried in newsgroups or bulletin boards. Without cross pollination of blogs, these links remained buried in search results. Now I'm sure that there are plenty of happy dreamhost customers--how else could they stay in business given that a lot of the complaint web sites and blogs have been around for quite a while.

You can expect to find unhappy customer for just about any company, but the kind of negative press you see and just how pissed these people are and what lengths they will go to in order to convey their grief (and the sheer volume) can be quite revealing. It isn't just about the quality of a company's products. How a company handles themselves when a relationship sours can be very revealing. If you watched Seinfeld, you'll remember the phrase, "he's a bad breaker-upper". That's good information to know before you get involved in a relationship with a person or a hosting provider.

It's so easy to forget what life was like before the information age. To just think all we had then were the kind words of a familiar actor doing a paid endorsement. The ability to communicate both synchronously and asynchronously with anyone in the world is simply awesome. Now if the people can only clean up corporate corruption next....