Category: Technology

Internet and technology-related posts. Earning money on the internet, etc.

New Ranking System – JapanSoc Sumo!

Japan’s sumo season has come to an end, but the power users over at JapanSoc are just getting started.

What is JapanSoc Sumo?

It’s a new measure for ranking users so we can see who the biggest contributors to JapanSoc are. You earn points by submitting stories, voting, commenting, saving stories as “Favorites”, and for getting positive votes on comments you write. The more points you get, the higher up the sumo rankings you’ll move, until everybody recognizes you as an almighty Yokozuna!

JapanSoc Sumo

What happened to Karma?

Karma is still there, but is now merely an indication of a user’s recent activity. If I can ever figure out the magical Karma formula, I’ll try to include more factors than just submitting stories and voting into the equations.

How do you get sumo points again?

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 10 points – Submitting a story that hits the front page
  • 7 points – Submitting a story that doesn’t make the font page
  • 5 points – Commenting on a story
  • 3 points – Voting for a story
  • 2 points – Adding a story to your Favorites
  • 1 point – Receiving a positive vote on a comment

How many points do you need to move up the rankings?

Everyone starts at Jonokuchi, the lowest level sumo rank…

  • <1,000 points – Jonokuchi
  • 1,000 – 1,999 points – Jonidan
  • 2,000 – 2,999 points – Sandamme
  • 3,000 – 3,999 points – Makushita
  • 4,000 – 4,999 points – Juryo
  • 5,000 – 5,999 points – Makkuchi
  • 6,000 – 6,999 points – Komusubi
  • 7,000 – 7,999 points – Sekiwake
  • 8,000 – 9,999 points – Ozeki
  • >10,000 points – Yokozuna

10,000 points! You’ve got to be kidding me!

I’m hopeful that JapanSoc will continue to grow and and establish itself as one of the biggest Japan-related social sites of its kind. So, five or ten years down the line, any Ozeki or Yokozuna will be like JapanSoc gods to all the new users that join. And if you’re a blogger, you can be sure they’ll start reading your blog!

The current top ten power users are…

Juryo:

Jonidan:

Jonokuchi:

… and snapping at their heels are a bunch of regular contributors who I’m sure will break into the top 10 very soon! See the full Top Users List for more.

Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Addition: Points are updated every 6 hours, not instantly.

JapanSoc Tutorial – Making Friends Part 2

In the first part of this tutorial, I went through the steps you need to add friends and send messages in JapanSoc. In this part, I’m going to explain how you can track your friends’ activity.

Step 1: Understanding the profile page

From your friends list in your profile page, you can access any of your friends’ own profile pages. Since I’m so active on JapanSoc, I’ve used my own profile for this tutorial.

The profile page has seven tabs, as follows:

  1. Personal Info – your main page with your intro and user stats.
  2. Submitted – all the posts you’ve submitted to JapanSoc.
  3. Top Stories – posts you submitted that made the front page.
  4. Upcoming – all your other posts.
  5. Commented – these are the posts you have commented on.
  6. Soc’d – these are the posts you have voted for.
  7. Favorites – posts you have saved/favorited/bookmarked.

Step 2: Subscribing to a friend’s submissions

With the exception of the Personal Info page, all these pages have a unique RSS feed icon in the top left corner, as shown:

Friend\'s RSS Feed

That means you can subscribe to a friend’s activity, which comes in very handy if you’ve cheekily teamed up with someone to soc each other’s posts! If this is the case, I would recommend subscribing only to your friend’s “submitted” RSS feed, as that includes all your friend’s posts.

You could also subscribe to the “Favorites” feed, explained in step 4.

Step 3: Subscribing to multiple RSS feeds

If you’re a hardcore JapanSoc’er and have more than one friend (which I hope you do!), you might consider using a free service such as RSS Mix to combine all your friends “submitted” feeds together into one single RSS feed.

Step 4: Understanding “Favorites”

On social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon, your “favorites” would be considered the posts you have dugg or stumbled. JapanSoc, on the other hand, has both “Soc’d” and “Favorites” pages. So what’s the difference?

Soc’d posts are the ones you’ve considered good enough to vote for. I tend to soc an awful lot of posts (582 as I write this!), but that doesn’t mean that I think they are all brilliant articles which are worth printing, framing and hanging on the wall.

Favorites, in the JapanSoc sense, are the best of the best, the ones you actual want to save so you can find them again in the future. These are the posts you want to tell all your friends about.

Step 5: Adding Favorites

Below the post you want to add to your Favorites is a link, “Add to Favorites”.

Add to Favorites

When you click that link, you’ll be notified of success and given the option of going directly to your Favorites.

Successfully added to Favorites

Posts that you have “favorited”, can be removed by clicking the “Remove” link. (Don’t worry Billy, I didn’t click it!).

Favorites and Remove

You’ll also notice that there is an RSS icon on the Favorites page, too, so you can subscribe to your friends’ favorite posts.

A New Addition to JapanSoc

Recently FavoritedAt the bottom of the JapanSoc sidebar, I’ve added a new box showing posts that users have recently added to their favorites. It’s worth keeping an eye on this box as you might find some great articles you had previously missed.

Of course, it also provides another opportunity for some self-promotion. If you add your own stories to your Favorites, they are going to appear in this box for all to see.

Summary

Now you know how to create a list of favorite posts in JapanSoc, and share your recommendations with friends using the RSS feeds in your profile pages.

JapanSoc Tutorial – Making Friends Part 1

Recently on JapanSoc, user Japanite submitted a post titled Creating JapanSoc Groups in Other Social Sites in which he said:

I think we should consider uniting together to promote our sites in other social news sites. I thought about recommending everyone’s stories in sites like StumbleUpon or Digg, to get better exposure to new visitors.

I thought that was a great idea, and so did a few other JapanSoc users. The bloggers amongst us all chipped in with Digg and StumbleUpon user names, and now we’re in a better position to rally support for our favorite blog posts.

Socializing on JapanSoc

The big social bookmarking sites mentioned above offer tremendous functionality for building small communities of like-minded people, and while JapanSoc is rather limited in that respect, it’s not without its own fancy features.

This tutorial is split into two parts. This first part covers JapanSoc’s Messaging functionality, and part two will explain how you can “favorite” stories and track your friends behavior on the site.

Adding Friends

Before I get into messaging in JapanSoc, you need to know how add friends to your friends list. Let’s do that first:

Step 1: Go to your friend’s profile page

Click your friend’s username under his or her submissions, comments, or anywhere they have been active.

Step 1

Step 2: Add your friend

On the profile page you’ll see a link to add that person to your friends list.

Step 2

Step 3: View your friends list

Once you’ve added your friend, you should see the green “successfully added friend” message. After that you can click the “View my friends” link, which is also accessible from your own profile page.

Step 3

Step 4: Find your new friend in your friends list

That will take you to your own profile page and display your list of friends. In this example, you’ll see “billywest” (from 7:10 to Tokyo) is now in my list, and I’m going to click the “message” icon next to his name to send him a message.

Step 4

Step 5: Compose a message

A box opens up and you can send your first message. Bear in mind that this isn’t email. Your friend won’t receive the message in his email box. Instead…

Step 5

Step 6: Receiving a message

…when your friend next logs into JapanSoc, he’ll see an alert notifying him of his message.

Step 6

Step 7: Viewing the message

Clicking the “View now” link in the previous step opens up the message which you can then reply to, delete, or just close. Alternatively, you could have gone directly to your Inbox, as shown in the next step.

Step 7

Step 8: Managing your messages

Your Inbox can be accessed from your profile page.

Step 8

Step 9: Your JapanSoc Inbox

In your Inbox, you can view, reply to and delete messages as you please.

Step 9

Summary

So, in short:

  1. Add a friend
  2. View list of friends
  3. Send a message
  4. Manage messages in your Inbox

Now you know how to pester your friends for socs and comments. Next time I’ll explain how to track your friends actions, and harness the power of social bookmarking! πŸ˜€

Continue: Part 2: Using favorites and subscribing to your friends’ activity

Microsoft Banishes Japan from Language Pack Market?

It’s been well over a year since I bought a new Japanese PC with Windows Vista and Office 2007. I did my research and made sure to buy Vista Ultimate so that I could switch Windows to English at the click of a button. That was no problem when Microsoft made an English language pack available as a free Ultimate Extra download.

Office 2007 in Japanese

I was already a bit of a whizz with the old versions of Word and Excel in English, so using them in Japanese was easy if you could remember what belonged where.

Now though, the whole layout of Word and Excel has changed with Office 2007. I mean, it’s completely different. There aren’t even any proper menus anymore, and figuring out where everything is takes so much time, especially when it’s all in a foreign language.

Did Microsoft Japan forget to make an English Office language pack?

If you live anywhere except Japan, you can get language packs for Office 2007. Just go here, choose the language you want and the country you live in, and after that, I have no idea. I failed at the “Choose country” stage.

No Language Packs for Japan

Japan, banished from Microsoft’s world of language packs?

Even if you live on the sinking island of Kiribati, or in Africa’s war-torn Burundi, you can buy an English language pack online thanks to the marvels of the world wide web. Unfortunately for us stuck in Japan with Office 2007 in Japanese, we aren’t as lucky as the 920 people living in the world’s smallest country, the Vatican City State, or even Malawi, arguably the world’s poorest nation.

What about buying it offline?

The official word from Microsoft Japan is:

Still no single language packs

Which roughly translates to:

How do you purchase a Multi-Language Pack?

Multi-Language Packs are sold through retail stores and a volume licensing program.

When will Single Language Packs be available?

Single Language Pack will be released sequentially. (Whatever that means)

All is not lost though, because if you follow their tip about retail stores and go to Yahoo Shopping, you’ll find they are selling the Multi-Language Pack! However, 25,000 yen is a hefty price to pay if you only want English for home use.

Stuck with Japanese Office 2007

There doesn’t seem to be much choice but to wait this one out. I do love Vista and I’m very impressed with Office 2007, even if it does take me three times longer to do anything.

Am I alone with this problem? Are any of you scratching your heads over the language pack issue? I’d love to hear from you!

Have You Got Your .JP Yet?

Not so long ago, I registered nickramsay.com and pointed it here. That was just one step in helping my blog reach #1 in Google when you searched for my name… although my arch-rival, Conservative politician, Nick Ramsay, has now reclaimed that spot. Well done, Nick. Best of four? πŸ˜‰

Get a domain name in Japanese

In the comments on that post, acclaimed author, environmentalist, database magician and Japan blogger, Jason Irwin, alerted me to JP Domains, a website at which I could register two .jp domain names for just $40, and have them point to my blog with my name in katakana!

Get your name before you lose it

According to Dale Carnegie, “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”, and he’s absolutely right! I took Jason’s advice and snapped up ニックラムセむ.jp (Nick Ramsay) and ι™ΈδΊΊ.jp (Rikuto, my son) and pointed them both to this blog.

Now, if you do the same, you can tell your Japanese friends your site’s URL in Japanese, which makes it far easier for them to remember, and if you’re lucky, you’ll come up at #1 in Google for your name in Japanese, too! Very cool.

How to register a .jp domain name

Since I think this is so awesome, I asked Jason if he would be kind enough to write a step-by-step guide on how to register a .jp domain. Not only did he happily agree, he even let me host the page right here! So please take a moment to read, or bookmark for later, Jason’s article, Why Buy a .JP Domain Name?

Recent Posts in Category – WordPress Plugin

An example of the Recent Posts in Category plugin in action.Hot on the heels of my If Older Than’ plugin for WordPress, I’ve put together another little script that returns a list of recent posts from a category you specify. So, for example, if you want to show a list of the last 10 posts from your Japan Food category, now you can.

On the right you can see a screenshot of how I’m using it on one of my other websites. It’s especially suited to a newspaper-style blog, or a custom archive page.

If you like to prefer to use WordPress widgets and are afraid of editing theme files, then you might want to avoid this plugin (and all my others come to think of it!).

Otherwise, you can download it from my WordPress plugins page.

If Older Than – WordPress Plugin

It’s been a while since I made a WordPress plugin, but today I had the urge to put some ads on my blog, in places where my regular readers won’t see them. I could have used a plugin such as the Shylock Adsense Plugin, but it has far more options than I need. Instead, I made a little script to do this:

If Older Than WordPress Plugin Example

My plugins are WordPress Old Skool

NO fancy customization options in the admin panel, NO widgets, NO user support! My plugins need you to open your theme editor and paste some PHP into your template. If you can do that, you are old skool, too! πŸ˜›

Download from my WordPress Plugins page

Visit my new WordPress Plugins page to see what I’ve made (most are taken from my old website, Nice4Rice.com).

Google Speed Search Lesson #9 – Features

This is part nine of my Google Speed-Search series. In the last lesson, I gave examples of using Google’s site: syntax. In this lesson, we’re going to have some fun with some really useful search features.

Google as a calculator

Did you know you can use Google as a calculator? Using either math or plain English, just search with your query, and the Big G will give you the answer!

Examples:

Google as a calculator

Using Google to convert measurements
Google can also be used for measurement conversion. This is very handy for converting between imperial and metric, and is so much faster than searching for a dedicated website and using that.

Examples:

Google for currency conversion

If you live in Japan, you’re probably converting yen to dollars or pounds and back again quite regularly. You might even use a website like xe.com, but did you know you could do it all in Google?

Examples:

Using Google as a dictionary

When you’ve lived in Japan a long time, you’ll start to forget how to spell English words, and even forget the meaning of some of them! If you are like me, you’ll absolutely love Google’s define: syntax.

Examples:

Google as a know-it-all smarty pants!

Although Google as a search engine typically points you to websites that can answer your questions, it occasionally likes to show off and just tell you the answers without you needing to visit any websites at all! Try these:

This is all just a little of what you can do with Google, and maybe I’ll come back and cover more search features another time. If you’re keen to learn more, you should take a look at Google Help : Search Features.

Nick Ramsay Google Battle Update

In October last year, I laid down the gauntlet and swore I would take the number one spot in Google’s search results for my own name. My opponent was none other than the politician, Nick Ramsay, who happens to be a fellow Brit, born in the same year as myself! Supported by internet powerhouses Wikipedia and the British Conservative Party, it was going to be tough…

Rising to the top

Five months later, and I’ve done it! I’m now No.1 in Google’s search results for my name. The key to my success was probably not telling my competition I was competing with him! πŸ˜‰

Comparing search results

What’s your Google battle?

If you could get your own blog or website to rank higher in the search engines, what “family-friendly” keyword or search term would you want to rank higher for? It would obviously need to be related to your site. One of the more popular search phrases for people in this community is “Japan blog”, which returns GeishaBlog.com as the first result. I bet that one gets a few hits!

What Software Do You Use to Edit Photos?

The scary mascotYou remember I wrote about the controversial mascot for Nara’s Heijo-Kyo anniversary, right? Well Tokyo Mango picked up the same story and posted the photo you can see here. Clearly the little girl is frightened out of her skin at the sight of the antler-inflicted Buddha guy… or is she?

Seeing isn’t believing

It turns out that this picture was “photoshopped”, a word used to describe an image edited (or in this case, faked) with the popular graphics program, Adobe Photoshop. Quite why such an expensive piece of software is so popular its name gets used as a verb, I have no idea, but it seems everyone has a copy… literally. πŸ˜‰

How do you edit your photos?

I’m stuck with an old version of Paint Shop Pro, which is way cheaper than Photoshop and can do almost as much, but how about you guys? What do you edit your photos with?

Google Speed Search Lesson #8 – Site:

This is part eight of my Google Speed-Search series. In the last lesson, I showed you some of Google’s special syntax. This time, I’ll continue that theme with the site: syntax element.

Searching a web site

If you know which site you want to search, Google’s site command is a wonderful time saver that often cuts two or three steps out of the search process, helping you find what you need more quickly. It’s particularly useful when you remember seeing something on a site, and want to go straight to that article. Here are a few examples of how I use it:

Searching Japan Probe

Japanprobe.com has a lot of posts about the nation’s favorite chimpanzee, Pan-kun. So if you are looking for those, you could either wade through the “Animal videos” category, or use JapanProbe’s own search box… if you can find it. πŸ˜‰

A quicker way would be to fire up Google and type:

site:japanprobe.com pan-kun

What this does is limit your search to pages from the site, JapanProbe.com, containing the word “pan-kun”. Note that there’s no space after the colon.

Searching Dave’s ESL Cafe

I believe Dave’s ESL Cafe is the biggest ESL site on the net, and its forums are loaded with rants and raves about teaching English. With such a huge site, Google’s special syntax comes in very handy. Let’s say you were looking for discussion about the textbook, New Interchange, this would save you a lot of time:

site:eslcafe.com "New Interchange" textbook

That search will only return pages from eslcafe.com which contain both the phrase “New Interchange” and the word “textbook”.

Searching Tokyo Times

Every blog seems to have a different way of displaying search results. For example, I’ve set up this blog to show 30 summaries per page that match your search term. Tokyo Times on the other hand gives you five full articles. That’s great if you want to read recent posts on the topic you are searching for, but if you’re trying to find something buried in the archives, it could take you a while… unless:

site:tokyotimes.org "Hello Kitty"

This has to be the best way to get to all of the “Hello Kitty” posts on Tokyo Times (if you have that urge). Note: Make sure you know whether the site is a .com, .net, .org. or whatever, otherwise you’ll be searching the wrong site!

Searching What Japan Thinks

What Japan Thinks is the complete resource for Japanese opinion polls in English, and if any site could benefit from a search box it would be this one. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be one on the site itself, which is why Google’s special syntax for searching specific sites is so handy:

site:whatjapanthinks.com iPhone

That should tell you what Japan thinks about Apple’s button-less cell phone.

Exploring sites further

The above examples should give you some ideas about how the site command can help you speed up your searches. For more power at your fingertips, combine it with what you’ve learned in the rest of this series and you’ll be able to track down almost anything!

Next: Lesson #9 – Features

JapanSoc Update – 100 Users and Upcoming Downtime

JapanSoc hits 100 users!Β 

Edward Chmura put out a good word for JapanSoc on Japundit this week, helping to push the number of registered users over the 100 mark. Let me thank Ed, who is also responsible for the excellent Japan Talk podcast, and let me welcome any new JapanSoc users to my blog, the place where I post updates about the site (so please subscribe!).

Web host problems continue…

Lately I’ve been hugely frustrated with my current web host. I run a dozen websites and over the last month, I’ve seen more downtime than I have in my whole three years with the company. Even when the sites are working, they seem to be sluggish and often timeout when trying to load.

I won’t name names until I’m off my current web host, but I will say that they have been either impossible to contact or slow to respond to “trouble tickets”. Let me give you an example of how bad their service has become. This screenshot shows one of my sites had a sudden drop in traffic on Wednesday, March 5th. Usually the sites go down while the U.S. is asleep so I’m not affected too much, but this time it happened for maybe six hours during U.S. peak time:

Unexpected downtime

Naturally, I sent a “trouble ticket” to my web host and had to wait over 24 hours for a response:

“The connection has timed out. The server is taking too long to respond.” I get the same error for all the listed domains. Please help. Nick.

Dear Nicholas. Thank you for the word to support. As far as I can see your site working properly and fast. Also we haven’t any records in our tech logs regarding problems with your web or mysql server. So please re-check your site once again. Should you have any further question feel free to contact us and we will be glad to assist you.

That was enough to make me sign up for another web host and start the laborious process of moving my websites across.

Upcoming JapanSoc downtime

I haven’t decided when to move JapanSoc or this blog, but it will probably happen within the next two weeks. When it does, I imagine there could be about 72 hours of downtime while I wait for the domain name servers to point to the new web host, and of course I’ll have to figure out how to import the databases and get JapanSoc running with PHP 5.

Once it’s all working, you should find JapanSoc loading faster and being online the promised 99.9% of the time. That should make the three days of downtime worth it, and I hope you all agree.

In the meantime, please continue using JapanSoc as you have been, and expect another notice before I start making the move.

JapanSoc Video Tutorial – Social Bookmarking Button

Over on the Daily J, our friend Tori is working hard to bring Japan’s community of bloggers together. As well as projects such as Nipponster and Japanopedia, he is regularly giving exposure to blogs and community-driven websites such as JapanSoc.

To my surprise, he has started on a series of video tutorials for each of the tools on my JapanSoc Toolbox page, starting with a guide on how to install the JapanSoc Voting Button. Since I think video tutorials are an excellent idea, I’ve made one myself!

The JapanSoc social bookmarking button is a textual or graphical link at the bottom of a blog post that when clicked, automatically submits an article to JapanSoc. Here’s my first attempt at a video tutorial, a 9 minute overview, stealthily avoiding all the details and focusing only on WordPress.org blogs.

If you can’t see the video, watch it here on YouTube.

Note: I made this video using Hypercam (shareware) and Windows Movie Maker (bundled with Vista).

See Spam on JapanSoc? Bury It!

Imagine you own a business. You need a website, so you hire a programmer to build one for you. You need content, so you hire someone to write articles for you. Now you have this great website, but you don’t have any visitors. The next step would be to hire an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) professional to get your site ranking higher in Google, Yahoo and co.

One way to boost a site’s rankings is by linking to it from other websites. So let’s imagine your website is about organic tea. Your SEO professional might email other tea-related websites and ask if they would link to you, but chances are they won’t. He might go onto a chat forum and mention your site, but how many people out there are talking about organic tea? Does this guy even know enough about organic tea to hold a conversation on the topic? Unlikely.

A good SEO professional will try to get legitimate links from relevant sources. On the other hand, less ethical “professionals” choose the easier option of spamming blogs and social bookmarking sites such as JapanSoc.

JapanSoc, like other social bookmarking sites, is an easy target. Once you’ve registered, you can submit any website you like. I’ve already seen Hawaiian weddings, CSS style sheets, and of course, organic tea among the upcoming stories. On some occasions, these submissions have actually been quite good! The title is descriptive and the summary of the site has been well-written. If you were paying for these links, you’d probably be quite proud of their quality.

The problem is, the SEO “professional” has wasted his time because his submissions aren’t related to Japan… which means they are spam, spam, spam, spam, with a hint of spam. You’ve put your heart into your organic tea business, you’ve had a fantastic website designed for you, and you’re not even aware that you are responsible for all this spam.

As long as people are paying for SEO, spam will continue. While I can do my best to ban and block every spammer that signs up at JapanSoc, I urge you to help me out by hitting the “bury” link on any spam submission. Thank you! πŸ™‚

53% Still Use Internet Explorer 6

IE6 vs IE7 users on LongCountdown.comDo you use Internet Explorer 6.0? According to my web stats, 53% of IE users who visit this blog are still on version 6 of Microsoft’s web browser.

In all fairness, unless you live behind a computer like I do, you probably aren’t even aware that Microsoft released version 7 in November 2006 to combat all the viruses that IE6 (and therefore Windows itself) was vulnerable to.

Besides the security problems that have plagued IE6, it is also a pain in the rear for webmasters. It’s like a vegetarian sitting down for Christmas dinner. Modern web browsers will, for the most part, display what the webmaster intended. IE6 on the other hand, demands special attention, often a separate set of web pages specifically designed for it.

Are you sure you don’t use Internet Explorer 6.0? If you don’t know, please click the “Help” menu in your toolbar and click “About”. Now, if you do find that you are still on version 6.0, or even worse, one of the 0.2% on version 5, please do one of the following:

A) Upgrade to Internet Explorer 7,
B) Download and use FireFox instead,
C) Upgrade to Windows Vista which has IE7 by default, or
D) Wait for Microsoft to force an IE7 upgrade upon you.

I stopped supporting IE6 on my websites a long time ago, so I’m very happy that IE7 is being sent out as a Windows automatic update for anyone who hasn’t already upgraded. Bring it on Microsoft, the sooner the better! πŸ™‚

New JapanSoc Banners and Buttons

For JapanSoc to be successful, it needs the support of the Japan blogging community. So, to assist my fellow bloggers in exposing new readers to the social bookmarking site, I’ve put together a selection of banners and buttons which you can add to your own blog or website.

Click for the JapanSoc banners page

Phew! They were hard work to make, but I hope you find them useful. If you need any other sizes, just let me know.

JapanSoc Web Widget

Two JapanSoc RSS widgetsI really wanted to make some kind of gizmo to display the JapanSoc RSS feed anywhere online, and was thrilled to find a website that made this process extremely easy. So easy in fact, even Michael McKinlay has done it! Thanks to WidgetBox.com, anyone with an RSS feed can make a “Blidget” in just a few minutes, and that’s what I did for JapanSoc.

What does it do and where does it go?

As you can see, there are two flavors. The orange one shows the main Top Stories feed, while the blue one is for Upcoming Stories on JapanSoc. You can embed these widgets pretty much anywhere, e.g. iGoogle, Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, and Blogger. You can even customize their appearance somewhat before you embed them.

Embed the JapanSoc widgets in all these places!

Search for more Japan widgets on WidgetBox

A quick search for Japan in the WidgetBox gallery shows some very interesting results. You can embed everything from Japan-based jobs to J-Pop, and even a widget from Jamaipanese! Very cool.

Get your JapanSoc web widgets here, and don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for more JapanSoc updates.

JapanSoc Poll – 3 Socs to Hit Front Page?

JapanSoc continues to grow. There have been 398 Japan-related articles submitted to the site since it started last November. On those articles, there have been 348 comments and 1159 votes. That means that each article has been soc’ed an average 2.9 times.

Hitting the JapanSoc front page

Currently, when an article is submitted to JapanSoc, it goes in the “Upcoming” queue. Two votes are needed for it to hit the front page and be added to the main rss feed. One vote is automatically given by the submitter, so only one other vote is necessary. With 67 registered users as I write this, almost everything is getting a second vote and making it off the queue.

The case for a 3 soc promotion requirement

  • Three votes would make sure only the best articles make it to the front page.
  • With fewer articles getting promoted, existing front page articles can get more exposure.
  • Users might promote JapanSoc more, encouraging people to soc their submissions.

The case against a 3 soc promotion requirement

  • Submissions might disappear down the Upcoming page before enough people see them.
  • Special interest topics might not get the exposure they deserve.
  • Users might be discouraged from submitting articles if it is harder to make the front page.

Time to vote… Voting has ended, and the “3 Soc Rule” is now in effect.

[poll id=”4″]

JapanSoc Toolbox

JapanSoc.com

Welcome to the JapanSoc Toolbox, a page full of resources to help you get the most out of Japan’s fastest growing social bookmarking site for the foreign community.

I’ve listed them in order of release, with new additions added as they become available. Please let me know if any of them are broken.

The JapanSoc Bookmarklet – Submit while you surf

JapanSoc Bookmarklet

The bookmarklet is added to either your browser’s bookmarks or links bar. You can submit a page to JapanSoc just by clicking this button, saving time and encouraging you to submit more articles! Find the bookmarklet on your JapanSoc profile page and read the instructions for the browser you use. Note: As an alternative, consider the Nipponster Toolbar described below.

JapanSoc Social Bookmarking Button

JapanSoc Social Bookmarking Button

This handy little button can be added to the foot of your blog posts, allowing your readers to submit your articles to JapanSoc. If you’d like to include a JapanSoc button on your site, grab the code and buttons from How can people soc my articles? on the JapanSoc FAQ.

JapanSoc FeedBurner FeedFlare

JapanSoc FeedBurner FeedFlare

What you see in that image above are links at the foot of a FeedBurner RSS feed. Clicking the JapanSoc link allows you to submit an article directly from the feed, which is incredibly useful if you use a feed reader such as Google Reader. The JapanSoc FeedFlare was created by Ken from WhatJapanThinks.com and can be used by anyone who has burned their feed with Feedburner. If you’re confused, watch the introduction to FeedBurner video in this DailyJ post, and then read Ken’s article so you can implement the JapanSoc FeedFlare into your own feed.

JapanSoc Voting Button

JapanSoc Voting ButtonThe JapanSoc Voting Button is the best way to encourage your readers to submit and soc your posts. It’s the most visual button and screams to be clicked! Although I’ve only tested the plugin for WordPress.org blogs, there is code you can copy and paste into your site to make it work on non-Wordpress blogs. If you’re looking for interactivity with your readers, more socs and more exposure, then this is the tool for you! Read more about the voting button.

Update: The WordPress plugin for the JapanSoc it! button is now available directly from WordPress. Read about the updates here: New JapanSoc it! Button. April 14th, 2009.

Nipponster Toolbar with JapanSoc It! Button

Nipponster Toolbar

This toolbar is unique in that it is designed for people like us. You’ve got a Japan-specific search engine, English-Japanese and Japanese-English translation tools, other useful links and gadgets, and of course, there’s a JapanSoc It! button, so you can submit articles while you surf. You can download the toolbar here.

JapanSoc Widget for Mac OS X

JapanSoc Widget for OS X

This flash-looking widget was designed by RockingInHakata author, Deas Richardson. About this tool, he says:

I whipped up an OS X widget to display the five most recent top stories AND allow me to submit new stories to JapanSoc directly from my Dashboard. I tried to keep the colors consistent with the actual site as well. If you are a JapanSoc member, or looking to be one, maybe you’ll find some use for it?

I’d love to try it, but since I don’t have a Mac, I have to settle for the video of the widget in action on Deas’ JapanSoc OS X Widget post. Incidentally, he has also made a Nipponster widget for the above mentioned, Japan-specific search engine.

JapanSoc RSS Web Widgets

JapanSoc Web Widgets

These two web widgets are an alternative to using the FeedList plugin above if you don’t have a WordPress blog. They can be embedded in sites such as iGoogle, Facebook, MySpace, Blogger and WordPress, too. Each widget represents a different JapanSoc feed; the orange one is for the main Top Stories feed, while the blue one is for Upcoming Stories. You can even customize their appearance by changing the colors and showing summaries of each story.

Stay up-to-date and keep you readers informed of the latest headlines from JapanSoc with the JapanSoc Web Widgets!

Additional Resources

Check out and bookmark this blog’s JapanSoc Info page. It has become the home for all things “JapanSoc”.

Google Speed Search Lesson #7 – Special Syntax

Here’s part seven of my Google Speed-Search series. This post looks at how you can use special syntax to finds results based on title, body text or url.

Searching only page titles

Let’s say you wanted to find profile pages for Michael Jackson. The most relevant will have “Michael Jackson profile” in the title, right? So, try searching with the intitle command:

intitle:"michael jackson profile"

This will only return web pages with that term in the title. If you are one of the few people actually looking for Osama Bin Laden, you might find him with this:

intitle:"osama bin laden location"

Searching through the body of a page

If you are looking for blog posts that recommend something better than Windows Vista, you can use the intext command to restrict your search to the body of each page:

intext:"better than Windows Vista"

That will return pages where the author has either suggested a superior alternative to the Windows operating system, or has decided that “there is nothing better than Windows Vista”

Searching through urls only

Sometimes it’s useful to search the urls of web pages to find what you’re looking for. For example, if you want to find the help page on Amazon.com, you might try using the inurl command.

inurl:help Amazon

This brings up all the help pages you could possibly need for the massive online “bookstore”. inurl has its uses, but for webmasters, you can’t beat the site command which I’ll be addressing next time.

Next: Lesson #8 – Site