Adsense Manager is “Yet Another Adsense Plugin” which helps you manage the Adsense ads on your WordPress site. Unlike other Adsense plugins however, Adsense Manager generates the code automatically for you. Now you can create, edit and position Ads all from within your WordPress admin panel. On WordPress Widgets enabled blogs you can also drag the Ads around your Sidebar to position them as you like.

Ad Settings

The plugin is currently fairly young (compared to some of my plugins) but it should be fairly stable and bug free. Feedback and suggestions for improvements are always welcome.

More information is available here…

AdSense Manager 3.x has now been released. Please see the updated instructions.

The instructions below will guide you through the first steps of configuring Adsense Manager 2.x.

Getting Ready

Before you can do anything else, you will first need to set yourself up with an AdSense account and install the AdSense Manager plugin.

  1. Download AdSense Manager.

Take the downloaded file, unzip and copy the adsense-manager directory into your WordPress plugins directory at /wp-content/plugins/. Access your WordPress dashboard, and go to Plugins. Click ‘Activate’ to install and start AdSense Manager: you’re now ready to set up your account and ad details.

Setting Up Adsense Manager

Once installed the first step is to set up your Adsense ID to enable Ads from your account to be displayed. To do this, go to Options » Adsense Manager.

Main Options Panel

Enter your Google Adsense Account ID in the box provided. You can get this from your Google Account Settings.

Below here are the settings for Be Nice! a method for supporting development by donating a % of your Ad space and Alternate Ads to raise funds for AdSense Manager. This new method is completely compatible with Google’s T&Cs and all ads are hand-selected and guaranteed to be family friendly.

Thanks for your ongoing support: the income generated in this way allows me to dedicate time that would be otherwise spent on a bar job.

Just enter a % value indicating the proportion of ads you wish to use to support us. If you enter 0 only your own ads will be shown (no hard feelings) but please consider donating instead.

Create Ads

You’re now ready to add new Ads to your site. There are a number of different types of Google Ad units available (Advert, Link Unit, Referral) and a number of ways to generate Ads (AdSense Manager Unit, Direct Code, Code Converter). The first is the simplest and should suit most small blogging sites.

Manage » Ads

Main Settings

To Add a new Ad Unit simply scroll down the Manage Ads page to the Create New form.

Basic Settings for All Units

First you need to enter a name for your Ad unit. Names are restricted to alphanumeric characters (i.e. a-zA-Z0-9) and the “-” character, however if you enter anything else in the Name field it will be converted automatically for you. Keep it short and simple.

Next you can enter a Channel ID from your Google account. Channels are an optional Google feature for tracking which Ads are generating most clicks. Unfortunately because of the way Google works you have to copy and paste your Channel ID from generated code on the Google website. See tips and tricks for a quick way to do this.

Product Selection

Product identifies which kind of Ad unit you are going to insert into your site. At this point you can choose between a standard Ad unit, Link unit or Referral. There is also the option of a Direct Code Ad. Each of these is covered below.

Adverts & Link Units

The final step for basic setup is to choose the format and dimensions of your Ad/Link unit. You can follow the link to see a list of available formats on the Google AdSense website.

Ad Unit

Note that both of these options allow you to “Use Default” as the setting. See the default settings section for tips on how to use these. If you’re unsure whether it’s worth it: Defaults give you the power to switch the colour of all the Ads on your site in a single click.

Link Unit

Colour Settings

Colour settings allow you to configure how adverts appear on your site. These are configured in the same was as on the Google AdSense website – simply enter the hex colour code (e.g. FFFFFF for white, FF0000 for bright red, etc.) into the box provided. You may want to check your theme’s CSS file and copy the colours direct from there.

Ad / Link Colour Settings

Again, as with format settings, you can leave these blank and AdSense Manager will use any default settings you have configured.

Referrals

Google AdSense Referral units are links or buttons that direct visitors to signup for a number of Google provided services, including Google software (and Firefox).

Create Referral Unit

Unfortunately because of the way that Google Referral code is generated, it’s not possible to provide a list of options to build a Referral Unit.

Instead, once you have selected your Referral type (Text or Image) you need to then enter your CPA code. You can find this in your Google generated code: simply copy & paste it across into this box. If you are using an Image Referral (i.e. a button) you will also need to choose the correct dimensions at which the unit is to be shown.

I’ll continue to look into improving the interface used to generate Referral Ads. If you find it too much trouble to copy and paste the CPA code/etc. you can instead use the Code Converter feature to import whole sections of Google AdSense code in one go.

Direct Code Ad / Code Converter

Direct Code Ads are useful if you either want to use online Google AdSense code generator, or if you are using an alternative Ad system (not Google) and want to use AdSense Manager to position your ads. To use, simply choose Direct Code Ad from the Product list and paste your code into the box provided.

Direct Code & Code Converter

However, for users of Google AdSense there is another powerful tool available. By checking the box underneath the code area you can have AdSense Manager convert your code into a managed ad unit – taking on your defaults, and being configurable through the Manage Ads interface.

This is a simple way to ad previously generated code to AdSense manager, as well as a good (simple) method for importing Referral Ads.

Advanced Settings

All types of advert have additional “Advanced” settings shown on the far right hand side.

Show Inline Ads

Advanced Settings

Here you can choose which pages Inline Ads (those that you add to your posts using the <!–adsense–$gt; format) will appear on. Sometimes you may not want them to appear on your front page (to prevent showing too many Ads on one page) or your may want to hide them in archives. The default settings have them visible everywhere, but you can configure this if you wish.

HTML Markup

Advanced Settings

If you want to control the positioning of your Ads more carefully you can add HTML markup into these boxes and this will be inserted before/after your AdSense code. For example, if you want to float your Ads left (and have the text wrap to the right) simply enter: <div style="float:left;"> into the HTML Before box, and </div> into the HTML After box.

Alternate Ads (Optional)

Advanced Settings

Google allows you to specify an URL for alternative Ads to be shown when it cannot find anything relevant for the page you are displaying. If you want to specify one, simply enter it here. Alternatively you can specify a solid colour to display.

Default Ad Settings

An additional feature of AdSense Manager is the ability to set up Ad defaults. These settings are used as the basis for all your adverts and provide a way to change multiple adverts at once. For example, you can set up your Ad colours as defaults and then change all your ads simultaneously if you update your theme.

Default Ad Settings

To set up your Default Ad settings click on the “Edit” button on the top line of your Ad list. Scroll down to the Edit form and enter your values in the same way used for creating Ad units.

Once you’re finished click Save changes »

Ad Management

Once you have a few blocks listed, you can manage each block using the buttons provided on the right hand side of the Ad list. Details of each of these are given below:

Manage » Ads

Clicking + generates a copy of the selected Ad, which can then be reconfigured with any necessary changes. This is a good way of setting up a series of similar Ads for example. Note: You can also do some similar things with <a default settings.

Set Default sets which Ad unit will be used by default on your site. When adding AdSense Manager code to your site (or in your posts) you have the option to either specify an ad ID or to show the default. If you opt to show the default Ad on your site, you can then cycle through different Ad configurations by changing the selected Default Ad here.

Positioning Ads

Widgets

If you have the Sidebar Widgets plugin installed, each Ad block will appear on the Widgets configuration page to be positioned as you like. Each Ad will appear with the name of the block in the title.

Ad Widget

Drag onto your sidebar and position as you want.

Sidebar Modules (K2)

Because of a limitation in Sidebar Modules you cannot configure them in the standard way for Widgets. Instead, from the Sidebar Modules panel, create a “AdSense Ad” module and tag it with the name of the Ad block which you want to display in that position.

For example, if you have an Ad block named #myfirstad, you can place it in your sidebar by creating an “AdSense Ad” module and naming it “#myfirstad”. Note that you can add anything else you want to the name of the Ad as long as the name is included, preceded by the # symbol. Once created you can configure the module as normal.

This support is currently experimental so please let me know how you get on & I’ll work to keep improving the interface where possible.

Posts and Pages

You can include Ads into your Posts and Pages using the code below where “name” is the name of the Ad block you have created.

<!--adsense#name-->

You can also display the default Ad in your posts and pages by omitting #name. Doing this allows you to switch these Ads simply by switching the Default Ad in Manager » Ads.

<!--adsense-->

Of course any Ads in posts update automatically when colours or layouts are modified.

Code

You can include Ads in your non-Widget blog adding the code below in your WordPress templates. For example, a good place to add Ads might be sidebar.php.

<?php adsensem_ad('name'); ?>

Again you can display the Default ad by omitting the ‘name’ e.g.

<?php adsensem_ad(); ?>

If you want to avoid errors when you disable AdSense Manager you’ll want to add a function check to the above code. For example:

<?php
if(function_exists('adsensem_ad')){
adsensem_ad("name");
}
?>

<?php
if(function_exists('adsensem_ad')){
adsensem_ad();
}
?>

More

If you have any further questions on using Adsense Manager or have suggestions for modifications, simply leave a comment & I’ll get back to you.

IM Online v3.4b Released

February 28, 2007

WordPress’ most popular IM status plugin has made it the grand old age of v3.4. The latest version is the result of a fast run of development following the rewrite for v3.0 and brings added stability, intelligence and accuracy to your online status notifications.

New to the v3.x branch

  • Status checking now carried out within the plugin, providing for caching of status and intelligent server switching on failure.
  • Improved reliability, auto-selects servers based on previous success in getting a positive reponse (online/offline).
  • No delay to display online status on the page
  • Up to 7 accounts for display, configurable order

Version 3.4b specifically addresses a number of early implementation bugs and improves on the intelligence in the status-server switching code. IM Online now remembers which servers are most likely to give good online/offline responses and automatically uses them next time – saving checking time and preventing poor results.

Upgrading

Upgrading is easy and is highly recommended to anyone using a previous version of IM Online.

Comments and suggestions welcome as always! Thankyou for helping make IM Online one of the most popular WordPress plugins around.

Increasing traffic is the measure of success for a website. More visitors equals more exposure which in turns generates more income. However, if you have hosted your site on a low-end package you could get hit by excess use charges just as your start celebrating your success.

Here at mutube.com the combination of 4,625 visitors (8,531 hits) a month and popular free downloads quickly helped trip our 1Gb bandwidth limit.

In this article I’ll look at how I’ve used the combined power of Apache Server and Coral Cache to distribute all kinds of requests away from your server transparently.
Read the rest of this entry »

Kubuntu Like You Ubuntu

January 5, 2007

Kubuntu’s mostly-standard KDE desktop layout bears no resemblence to Ubuntu/Gnome. The good news is that if you prefer one layout over the other it’s quite possible to modify the two desktops to look more or less identical. This guide concentrates on applying Ubuntu/Gnome-style layout to Kubuntu/KDE’s panels. If you are going to be using both desktops interchangeably and often it makes sense to have both desktops fairly similar for ease of use.

Starting up…

The most noticeable difference between Ubuntu/Gnome and Kubuntu/KDE is the loss of a second panel. The KDE panel contains everything normally found on the top Gnome panel, plus a Taskbar.

Main Panel to the Top

Rather than delete everything at the bottom and the re-create it above, we can just move the current panel up & create a new blank at the bottom.

  1. Right-click on a blank are of the bottom panel & select “Configure Panel…”
  2. Click the button in the top-left of the arrangement selections.
  3. Adjust the size of the panel to Small.
  4. Click OK.

Your panel should now have jumped to the top of the screen.

Second Panel

Right-click again on the top panel, select “Add New Panel…” and choose “Panel”.
We cannot use the Taskbar panel type because we also want to be able to add the Desktop Switcher and Trash applets.

The next step is to configure the bottom panel to make it the same size as the top one. Unfortunately there is a confirmed bug which prevents editing settings on double panels. If you try and configure the panel, your settings are applied to the main panel instead. Thankfully the fix is simple.

After you have added your second panel simply press Alt-F2 to bring up the Run Command dialog, then enter:

touch ~/.kde/share/config/kickerrc

This reloads the panel configuration & updates with the newly added panel.

Right click on either panel and select “Configure Panel…”. In the window that appears you now have the ability (thanks to the bugfix) to select which panel you want to change. In this drop-down list, “Main Panel” refers to the panel at the top of the screen, whereas “Panel” refers to the one at the bottom. Select “Panel”.

Adjust the size of this bottom panel to Small to match the top panel (and Ubuntu/Gnome).

You may also wish to disable the auto-hiding button on this bar. To do this select the “Hiding” section of the configuration panel. Simply uncheck the checkbox next to “Show right panel-hiding button”.

Click OK to take you back to your desktop.

Taskbar on the Bottom

Now we have our bottom panel sorted out, we need to start adding the standard Ubuntu/Gnome functionality to it. The process for adding applets to a panel is straightforward. Simply right-click on the panel, select “Add Applet to Panel” and then choose your applet from the list. It’s not important which order you do this in because you can drag things around, but for simplicity sakes do the following:

  1. Add Trash Icon.
  2. Add Desktop Switcher
  3. Add Taskbar
  4. Add Show Desktop Icon

Now they are all in place you can now drag them around the panel until you get something that looks something like this:

Finish up the Top

Now we have a Taskbar on the top panel and one at the bottom. Right-click on the top panel and select “Remove From Panel…”, “Applet” and “Taskbar”. Repeat this step again to remove the “Desktop Preview & Pager” applet.

With the space now created we can add the additional functions found in Ubuntu/Gnome to the top panel.

Applications, Locations, Settings

Unfortunately, KDE doesn’t support having the text labels on for the main menus (which conveniently increase the click-area for the most used menu). However, we can still arrange the same functions in the same place.

We already have a Programs button (the “K” Menu) and an equivalent of Places (the “System Menu”). Next to these two in Ubuntu/Gnome we also have a Settings menu. To add this right-click on the top Panel and select “Add Applet to Panel…” and select “Settings” from the list that appears.

The settings icon (a spanner) will appear somewhere on the top Panel. To move it to the correct position, right click and select “Move Settings Menu”. You can now drag it to it’s correct location next to the System menu.

At this point you may also want to replace the Konqueror icon with Firefox if you prefer. The first step is to right-click on the Konqueror icon and select “Remove Konqueror Browser Button”. Now, to add Firefox right-click again and select “Add Application to Panel”. Choose Firefox from the list that appears (it’s available under Internet).

Logout & Clock

To add the Panel Lock/Logout functionality you find in Ubuntu/Gnome you simply need to add another Applet. Right click on the Panel, select “Add Applet to Panel…” and find “Lock/Logout Buttons”. Once you’ve added this, drag it to it’s correct position as using the grip that appears when you put your mouse over the buttons.

Changing the clock is personal preference – you may find it’s a little big for the new thin Panel. To change fonts simply right click on the clock and choose “Configure Clock…” Use the window that appears to make the neccessary changes and then click OK.

Wallpaper & Icons

These are of course option – the icons and wallpaper will have minimal impact on usability of switching desktops. Personally I prefer the clean style of the KDE Crystal icons to the chunky Human ones from Ubuntu/Gnome, especially as under KDE the theme is not complete. However, for those of you who really want to complete the switch there are a couple of simple steps to take.

Click the K-Menu and select System Settings. In the panel that appears select Appearance and then Icons. Choose Human from the list on the right. Click OK and the Ubuntu Human Icons will be applied after a short delay.

If you have Ubuntu/Gnome installed you will already have the ubuntu-wallpapers packaged installed. However, if you removed the ubuntu-desktop metapackage you may find that ubuntu-wallpapers disappeared with it. First, we’ll check to make sure it’s installed.

  • Click “K” Menu, System, Adept Manager.
  • In the Adept Manager window, enter “wallpaper” into the Search box.
  • Find edgy-wallpapers in the package list below.
  • If it is marked as “Installed” you already have the wallpapers packaged. Otherwise, right-click and select “Request Install”.
  • Push the “Apply Changes” button, wait for the installation to complete & then exit Adept.

Now, to select the default ubuntu wallpaper, right click on your Desktop and select “Configure Desktop…”

Ubuntu/Gnome and Kubuntu/KDE keep their wallpapers in a different location so they will not appear automatically in the wallpaper drop-down list. To find them, click the Folder icon next to the current wallpaper drop-down list and you will get an Open dialog window.

In the location bar at the top enter:

/usr/share/backgrounds

Select “ubuntu-smooth chocolate” and click OK.

The last change you can make at this point is to remove the grey gradient on the panels which comes standard with Kubunt/KDE to make it flat. To do this, simple right-click on either Panel, choose “Configure Panel…” and then select Appearance.

Uncheck the box next to “Enable background image…”

Result

If you’ve completed ever step in this guide, you’ll get the following result:

It’s not a perfect replica of the Ubuntu/Gnome desktop (suggestions welcome) but it means you will be faced with substantially similar interface when switching between the two.

Lazy

If you would rather not make all these changes yourself, you can download the final kickerrc config file [+], extract it and Save it over your current configuration in:

~/.kde/share/config/

Restart kicker by pressing Alt-F2 to bring up the Run Command dialog and entering:

dcop kicker kicker restart

Using this update will make all the neccessary changes to the panels, but you will still need to change the wallpaper & icon settings yourself if you wish.

Finally…

If you have any suggestions for improvements to make KDE even more Ubuntu/Gnome like, then leave comments below / on Ubuntu forums. All ideas welcome! If you’re in the UK (or not) you can also join the Ubuntu-UK group for more help & information.

Great North Run, Oct 1st 2006

September 3, 2006

Me and my missus (Louise) are set to run the Great North Run this year to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust. Anthony Nolan organise the UK’s largest bone marrow register for people with leukaemia and similar life threatening illnesses. It costs about £70 to get one person on the register so our combined pledge of £700 would get 10 more people registered.

That’s quite a bit of money. We’ve got £290 so far and have elaborate plans to raise a bit more, but we’d really appreciate any help you can give. It’s for a good cause and we need all the encouragement we can get to do the whole 13miles!

Maybe you’ve enjoyed using my WordPress plugins and want to give something back. Maybe you just enjoy giving away your hard earned cash.

Either way, please give generously!

Vincent’s Van Scoff

August 21, 2006

Vincent's Van Scoff (Photoshop mock up)

Great name for a mobile food outlet, if your name is Vincent. Above is a Photoshopped mock-up (poor) I’ve done using an old Ford white van. Nice. Seriously though, can somebody please use this, it’s sending me crazy with excitement.*

* make mental note to get out more.

Everyone loves tea, right? But with so much competition in the market, you need an edge. Introduced in late 2005 Tea B was a revolution in the nations favourite drink. Named after the blend that produced it’s unique flavours (Tea A tasted like gnats piss), it quickly hit the markets & took the world by storm.

Like Guiness and other health drinks, Tea B was subject to a number of wild claims for those that drank of it”s amber-ish nectar. While claims included such standards as improved fertility, wealth, eyesight & hair growth, perhaps the most bizarre was Tea B’s apparent ability to raise the dead. This is the first recorded incidence of a family drink with supernatural powers. However, behind these wild claims there was a truth was far more chilling. In a sequence of events somewhat reminiscent of Coca Cola’s experience with it’s delicious Dasani bottled water, it was discovered that Tea B could in some cases cause illness, death and a nasty cough – though not neccessarily in that order. The manufacturers were quick to react to this ”image problem” however and, with the help of the nations best-loved celebrities – launched an intensive, nationwide, advertising campaign extolling the virtues of the drink. At the time of going to press none of those involved are now available for comment, being dead. However, if quoted claims are true, they may be back.

In another stroke of luck for the manufacturers, it was discovered that most of the negative effects of Tea B could be counteracted with a good diet and antibiotics. This opened up a whole new opportunity for cross-selling, multi-packs & special offers which kept Tea B sales refreshingly high for the remaining years.

Now, Tea B’s success is on the wane, with other drinks such as Dasani filling the niche for fashion-conscious drinks with a hint of danger. However, for those wishing to relive their youth Tea B is available from most of your local badgers and a small store in Chiswick.

Tetley MAX

August 21, 2006

Tetley MAX

Introduced in 2005, this exotic blend of tea, B6, B12, Taurine, Caffeine, Ginseng, Guarana & L-Cartine is guaranteed reach parts other tea didn”t even know existed. Picked, licked & blended by hand this fine tea has survived the wave of health fads & sensible drinks to be the no. 1 gateway drug at Buckingham Palace. While blenders readily admit excessive use may lead to the consumption of filter coffee, they also question why anyone would want to drink coffee when this is better.

Instead of normal Tetley (which proudly claims to contain “less caffeine than a cup of coffee”) Tetley Maxtm is made with the maximum caffeine content scientifically possible, some other random chemicals with exciting, energising-sounding names, and bleach.

Want some yourself? You could try contacting Tetley for a free sample. Please enjoy the “artists impression” of the box.