Tag Archives: Blogs

UMass Blogs Quota Increased

UMassBlogsAs of October 30, 2009, you have 100 MB of space allotted to your blog. This increased quota, the previous quota was 50 MB, will allow you to store more images, videos, and other files with your blog. Enjoy!

Faculty can contact the OIT Help Desk for information about increasing their quota beyond 100 MB. 

More on the Blogs at UMass Amherst Service

Taking the Mystery out of RSS

In a perfect world, updates from all your favorite news websites and blogs would appear instantly in one place, ready for you to access.  You wouldn’t have to hunt.  It would be like getting your meals delivered from the best restaurants in town, everyday.

I’ve often wished for just such a service.  And then I found it…right under my nose.  It’s called an RSS reader, and you’ve probably seen everywhere the little orange squares that signal its feeds.

We’d like to take away some of the mystery from RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) and get you to try it out!  You’ll wonder how you lived without it.

Here’s a brief summary of how it works: most news sites and blogs generate constantly updated “feeds” of all their latest content.  An RSS reader tracks your favorite feeds and delivers them to you in one location.  Think of it as an email inbox filled with your very own, personalized Web content.  Just imagine… no more checking the same websites day in and day out to see if anything new has popped up.  And you’ll never miss a thing.

For example, in my RSS reader, I am tracking the New York Times‘s “Most Emailed Stories,” my best friend’s blog, the comments my students post on our course website, and (of course) the TeachOIT blog.  As soon as a student posts a comment or another story moves into the NY Times‘s most emailed list, it appears in my reader — complete with a description (and sometimes the full text), a link, and an option to share by email.

Although there are many RSS readers available, I use Google Reader because it is straightforward and requires no download.  All you need to do is create a free Google account (which also gives you access to Google’s email, photo, calendar, and other services).

Once you have set up your reader, you can start adding “subscriptions” to your favorite websites by clicking on the site’s RSS link (which usually appears like this: ) or you can add the site’s URL directly in your reader.

And don’t forget: if you have your own UMass Blog, you can create a visible link to your blog’s feed to help your students and colleagues subscribe to your posts.  Under the Design tab, click Widgets and then add Meta if you have not already.  When you visit your blog, you should now see a link for “Entries RSS” and “Comments RSS” on the side menu.  Visitors can now subscribe to your blog in the manner outlined above.

That’s it!  Turns out, RSS really is Really Simple.

Tracking Visitors to your Blog with Google Analyitcs

If you’ve set up a UMass Blog to document your research or teaching, you might be interested to know who your visitors are. The days of the simple hit counter are gone, replaced with Google Analytics, a Google tool that tracks a wealth of data about where your visitors are coming from, which sections of your blog they are reading, and how often are they returning. 

Here’s how to enable Google Anayltics on your blog, (instructions via Kevin Skelly’s OIT Software Support Blog)

  1. Log in to the administrative dashboard of your blog.
  2. Click the Plugins link (at the right hand side of the banner.)
  3. Click Activate to the right of Ultimate Google Analytics.
  4. Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/
  5. Click the Access Analytics button.
  6. To the right of Website Profiles click Add New Profile.
  7. Enter the URL of your blog. The http:// is already supplied, so enter the rest of the URL e.g. “blogs.umass.edu/YourUsername”.
  8. Click Finish.
  9. Select the string that looks like UA-#######-# and copy it.
  10. Return to your blog dashboard and click Settings (at top right).
  11. Click Ultimate GA under the banner.
  12. The box labeled Account ID should now have that same number in it, but if it doesn’t, you can paste it in now.
  13. Click Update Options.
  14. After some people have visited your blog, you can go back to Google Analytics and click “View report” in the line next to where your blogs website is displayed. This will take you to the report for your blog, where you will be able to see how much activity your blog has received.