Make Blogengine Look good on an iPhone or iPod with BETouch

Recently when I clicked on a link in a tweet from Chris Patters for his blog post Permanent Link to Leveraging Windows 7 Boot to VHD to Test Visual Studio 2010, and was amazed when I hit it from my iPhone and it looked like an iPhone app I HAD to check it out.  Chris is running WordPress and they have an add on called WPTouch that detects if you are coming from a mobile device.

I use Blogengine.net for my  blog and instantly hug my head in sadness thinking that I would not be able to have this for my blog.  Well guess whatjQuery15206932555133893029_1346185809184?? SoundDbbg has created the BETouch 0.1 - iPhone Theme for BlogEngine which is a port of WPTouch theme.

I downloaded it and and installed it on my blog, set BETouch as my mobile theme, but when I hit it from my iPhone it just looked like my regular site.  It should have looked like the image below.

After doing some research I found this Work Item in the BlogEngine.net site that shows how to add iPod and iPhone to the list of known mobile devices.

To make your BlogEngine.net install aware of iPhone and iPod add make the BlogEngine.MobileDevices key in you web.config look like the following.

<add key="BlogEngine.MobileDevices" value="(iphone|ipod|nokia|sonyericsson|blackberry|samsung|sec\-|windows ce|motorola|mot\-|up.b|midp\-)"/>

It all works great now my blog looks very nice and readable on an iPhone.

Blog Settings: Turning Off Comments

I have been thinking about this for a long time and finally decided to make the jump.  I am turning off comments on my blog.  I don’t have very many readers and those of you that do read my blog know me and would contact me via email or phone.  The comments I usually get are from link bots trying to drive traffic to their sites and never add anything to the discussion.

I have tried turning comment moderation and on and adding the Akismet extension for blogengine.  With that I still get an email that requires some action on my part, mostly because of the moderation rather than Akismet I am sure.

Maybe if my blog gets more popular and the need for comments arises I will consider turning them on again but until them I am going leave them off and dedicate the time I was using to deal with the few comments I was getting to more value added activities, like writing more post ;-).

Installing the Akismet Extension for BlogEngine.NET

In my previous post I mentioned I install the BlogEngine.net Akisment Extension written by Justin Etheredge.  Today Justin Chase, a member of the Microsoft Expression team, has posted great step by step instructions showing how to get it, install it, get a WordPress API key, and configure it.

Resource: Installing the Akismet Extension for BlogEngine.NET by Justin Chase

Blog Updates: Akismet and skribit

Akismet: Comment Spam filtering

akismet_blackbox

Recently I have been getting unwanted spam comments to my blog post, so I went looking for an Akismet extension for BlogEngine.  When I had a WordPress blog it was there by default you just had to get a API Key form WordPress.  It works by checking comments against a centeralized black list, if it is ok the comment goes through, if not, squash!!!! I love it. 

Thankfully Justin Etheredge created the BlogEngine.net Akisment Extension, I highly recommend you make this addition to your blog to stop unwanted comments.

skribit: Blog Idea suggestion service

skribit

Added a new service to the blog called skribit, it is very similar to user voice, it allows you to suggest topics you would like to see blogged about.  So if you have an idea of something you would like to see covered in this blog give it a try.

Adding it to BlogEngine was a snap, just used the skribit widget creator and then copied the generated code and added it in the Settings page of you BlogEngine admin, scroll to the bottom and paste the widget code into the HTML head section. Voila, you are done!

Blogengine.net and Podcasting

 

I have recently been working hard to launch a new Podcast dedicated to the community, and in that spirit I wanted to use a community built blog to publish my new show.  I choose Blogengine.net because it supported enclosures in the RSS feed out of the box. One of the other really cool features I found was the ability to supply an alternate feed URL which allowed me to point new subscribers to my FeedBurner URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/UserGroupRadio.

This post is going to go over what I did to get it working the way I wanted:

The Requirements

  • Have only blog post that are in the Podcast category be in the RSS Feed for the show
  • Create post that had the mp3 file associated with it but not visible on the post.  We want everyone to subscribe.

The Solution

Getting the mp3 file to show in the RSS feed

It took me a few tries and a few forums post to figure out how to get the mp3 file to show up in the RSS feed.  It seems straight forward, use the file upload function when creating a new entry right?  Well, that didn’t work.

It created a URL that looked like this:

<a href="/file.axd?file=myfile.mp3">myfile.mp3 (70.00 bytes)</a>

After downloading and looking at the Blogengine.net source code I found out that  it actually parse all anchor tags with the following regular expression ‘<a href=((.|\n)*?)>((.|\n)*?)</a>’.  For some reason the auto generated URL from the file upload didn’t match.

So, I put in a complete anchor tag like so.

<a href=”myfile.mp3”>myfile.mp3 (70.00 bytes)</a>

And that worked great.  Sure, would be nice if that file upload had worked but that’s ok.  I really want to host my .mp3 files on my LibSyn account anyway, so that works out fine.

Setting up the RSS Feed

I like using FeedBurner for my feeds, it allows me to move my site and not force everyone to have to re-subscribe.  I also like to use a sing category so I can control what is in the feed versus what is available on the site. Blogengine provides a unique feed for each category, the id is a GUID so the feed for a category looks like this http://mysite.com/syndication.axd?category=7f1c7a73-7290-4637-83f0-804b8499a5345 (This is not a real URL).  Plugging that into FeedBurner allows me to use http://feeds.feedburner.com/UserGroupRadio to point to the category but the subscribers just use the FeedBurner URL.  FeedBurner also allows me to plug-in all the iTunes required tags without having to modify the Blogengine source.

Hiding the link in the post

Once I got the file showing in the RSS feed I wanted to make it so that you couldn’t see it in the actual post.  This may be a little overkill for some but I have learned from other shows I have done if I really want to know how many people are listening to the show I want them to subscribe.  I realize this might push some listeners away but it is a chance I am willing to take to get some accurate metrics.  And besides most of the listeners will be pretty tech savvy and will probably not have an issue.

So to hide the file form the post wasn’t too hard all you really had to do was remove the text between > and </a>.  My new URL looked like this:

<a href="/shows/UGR-00000.mp3"></a>

This solution was not exactly as smooth as I had hoped for but, still I was able get my show up and running without adding any extensions or having to modify the core code.

Thanks Blogengine.net for helping me get my show off the ground!