Musings from the Coast

Great Blog Tools

This page contains a list of the service providers, tools, and technologies used here at Montara Ventures. Perhaps this is of interest and maybe it will even help you with your blog or web site.


Servlet Inc. – The good folks at Servlet have been around a long time. The thing that distinguishes them from any other provider is the service. They’ll take care of you and make sure you’re a satisfied customer. Yes, you can get cheaper packages, but you’ll never find the degree of personal attention and service that this team provides. Highly recommended. Disclosure: I’ve known the founders of Servlet for over 20 years, but I maintain no commercial relationship with the company other than as a customer.


Fedora – Works for me and for millions of others. I did also consider OpenSolaris (due to my long relationship with Sun Microsystems.)

Apache – Works well, very flexible, tons of packages and add-ons available. Best web server available in my opinion.

PHP – A fine scripting language.

MySQL – Best open source database bar none.

WordPress – If you’re going to host your own blog, WordPress the choice. If you want them to host it, check out

Minim Theme – One of the best things about WP is the sheer number and variety of themes. We like the Minim Theme from the UpStart Blogger. We’ve modified it heavily, but the core influence is still apparent.

404 Notifier – This plugin keeps you informed of errors on your blog through email messages and/or an rss feed. Written by prolific plugin author Alex King.

Akismet – I love Akismet. I wouldn’t blog without Akismet. 66,000 spam comments have been caught and handled by this wonder plugin authored by Matt Mullenweg. Highly Recommended.

All-in-one-SEO – A convenient and effective meta tag, short description, and title manager. With WP 2.3, you get these things for free now, but I still like the way the plugin manages the activities a bit better.

Get Recent Comments – A plugin that finds and displays the most recent comments and trackbacks on your blog at the place of your choosing.

Google XML Sitemaps – This handy plugin creates sitemap.xml files, compresses them, and alerts major players like Google and Yahoo that you’ve got new content.

Popularity Contest – Another plugin by the prolific Alex King. This one outfits your blog with a weighting system to determine the most popular content on your blog and then display it wherever you’d like.

Recent Posts – This plugin makes a handy list of your x latest posts for inclusion in sidebars etc.

Related Posts – This plugin enables full text indexing on your blog database and will suggest entries that are somehow related to the present entry being viewed.

WP Short Stats – This plugin queries your database to let you know who’s visiting what on your blog when. Nice little package that does a great job in concert with web log analyzers.

AWStats – A comprehensive and detailed web log analyzer. I wouldn’t put up a web site without it. Highly Recommended.

Mac OSX – It’s not like Apple needs any more press, but I can say this. When you can shift your focus from making the computer work to simply doing work on the computer, your life transforms for the better. I was staunchly anti-Mac for years, OSX has changed that. I don’t know how to work without Expose for instance.

Transmit – A full-featured and robust file transfer utility. Yes, I have scripts using rsync that keep two machines synchronized, but when I’m in user land, Transmit fits the bill. No fuss, no muss.

Navicat – The best GUI tool for MySQL bar none. If you work with MySQL frequently, run, don’t walk to pick up this indispensable utility.

Taco Edit – A fast and efficient html, css, and php editor.

Graphic Converter – If you muck with images, then you’ll need a utility like this. Great for resizing, conversion, and basic editing/touch-up.

FeedBurner – A great, now free, way to outsource and aggregate your RSS feeds. Recently acquired by Google.

PayPal – If you’re going to business on the net, you may as well use PayPal. It’s a great way to get paid and pay people.

Google Analytics – Place a little snippet of code in your blog and away you go. A full-featured and free way to understand who’s doing what on your site and to track changes that improve/degrade the experience. My only gripe is that it consistently under counts visitors relative to local web log analysis and blog stat plugin analysis (and even relative to AdSense – where you’re getting paid for traffic!)

Pingomatic – A reliable ping/announcement service for your content with limited coverage.

Pingoat – A comprehensive ping/announcement service for your content.


Local Advertising – I will work with you to create the best exposure for the best price possible. Read the details if you’re interested.

Kontera – Inline, contextual text link advertising. This is new for me, I don’t know how well it will work as yet.

Google AdSense – The mature leader in the marketplace. It works, but the conversion rates and pay rates leave alot to be desired. I’m working to increase the effectiveness of this tool set on this blog.


Mac G5 Tower – Great desktop machine, plenty of horse power to host a staging and testing system at home for the blog, webserver, and databases.

Mac Powerbook – Great laptop machine, also hosts copies of everything and allows me to make updates while on the move.

HP Xeon Rackmount Server – Rugged and reliable server thus far, provided by Servlet as part of our hosting package.