Friday, December 26, 2008

How to build a social media site on next to no budget – Part 1 - Lefora Forums

Lefora is an all-in-one solution for forum hosting. If you want a set of forums, be they related to a website, or just a stand-alone forum for a group, Lefora is a one-stop shop.

Getting you own forum is incredibly easy. You just get yourself a Lefora account (which uses the same process as signing up to be a member of any of a million forums on the internet that you’ve already seen), and then pick a forum name. Once you’ve done that (as long as the name is available), you’re off and running.

By default, you get three default forum Categories (Sub-forums, if you will) – General, FAQ and News. If you want to stick with these heading, good for you. If not, they’re easily edited or deleted, and you can add more Categories to your liking. You can also include descriptive text to explain to your users what each Category is for.

Posting is also quite easy. It follows the same format as pretty much any other forum out there on the internet – Select either “New Topic” or “Reply” and start typing. One interesting feature is that you can choose to post to multiple Categories by selecting them from a tick-box list. Once you’ve posted to multiple Categories, replies to your new topic also go to the same categories originally selected. It’s going to be interesting to see if this feature gets abused. Apparently there is a built-in Spam filter, but I haven’t been spammed yet (it reports how many unsolicited messages it intercepts) so I’m still to pass judgement on how effective it is.

Features I’d like to see include the ability to preview posts before you submit them.. Currently there is just a submit button, and you have 15 minutes to edit your post. I’d also like to see more options for text formatting in your posts (Currently plain text only – no bold, or colours or italics etc. without using html coding in your post), and a little more flexibility in the Templates. The ones that are there are okay, but I’m yet to find any way to edit the font, or change out the text title for your forum for a banner graphic, or even to change a single colour rather than the whole colour scheme.

The default URL for your new forum is (yourforumname).lefora.com. There is a pay option (as at this time, US$10 annually) to have a custom domain, allowing you to use a URL along the lines of forum.(yourforumname).com , as long as you actually own the domain name. I’ll be offering advice on how to get your own domain name on the cheap in a future article in this series.

All in all, this is a pretty cool service. A forum is one of the best ways to engage your audience and give them an option to respond to your rantings into the wilds of the internet. The fact that Lefora gives you the opportunity to have your own forum with less than 5 minutes setup and no ongoing costs unless you want to fork out for extra features is a boon to anybody who wants to interact with anybody who cares to interact with them.

-Chris
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Five In A Row

So I’ve been listening to some new music lately (well, new to me at least), and I wanted to share some.

Paris Is Burning (Alex Gopher Remix) by Ladyhawke is something I could definitely lose myself in, out on the dance floor. Good beats and trance qualities are a great mix to just let wash over you as you enjoy the ride. The only thing I’m not so into is the slowed down soft ending though. For me an immediate hard cut off at the end is more effective with this sort of piece.

It’s A War by Dukes Of Windsor has a marching-style stomp-inducing hook to it that I quite liked. Definitely something I could enjoy again. Mellow enough to enjoy in the background whilst just having a drink or chilling out, and hard enough to listen to while getting ready to head out for the night as a way to rev up for the forthcoming evening. A good middle ground musically.

Brave Robot by Children Collide has a great sound. Vocally and musically I enjoyed this. It made me want to head out straight away to see some live music, preferably these guys! The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. For all my talk of wanting a hard ending with Paris Is Burning, the method used in Brave Robot is just cliché these days. It’s a little too “Wanna Be Rock Star” and since Children Collide’s music is so strong they simply don’t need it. Still, I’d be happy to lay out money for these guys!

Growing On Me by Dash & Will is another one where I could just chill and enjoy it. Mellow with great vocals. In fact the vocals are so enjoyable that I could listen to Dash & Will anytime. There’s a kind of groove within the music that makes me think of long summer evenings... but maybe that’s just me. Once again though, what is it with the cliché bits at the end of songs? Just end the song in a style that suits it and avoids clichés along the way... surely that’s not too hard to manage?

Stealing Happiness by Gin Wigmore has a quirky vocal sound. Musically it is quite different to the other tracks listed here and the quiet nature of it is an interesting one to finish on. I can picture myself with this piece on in the background as go about my day-to-day things. On my first listen of the track I liked the sound of Gin Wigmore’s vocals but it didn’t grab me as a whole... yet after another two listens I really liked it. It’s a gentle sounding piece and definitely works well enough to have in the background and not overpower your focus on work or play.

If you’d like to hear any of these tracks for yourself you can find each of them available to download for free at the following locations thanks to Universal Music Australia and WHO Magazine:

1) Paris Is Burning (Alex Gopher Remix) by Ladyhawke

2) It’s A War by Dukes Of Windsor

3) Brave Robot by Children Collide

4) Growing On Me by Dash & Will

5) Stealing Happiness by Gin Wigmore

Enjoy :)
~ Rogue