Tag Archives: blogging

Happy 6th birthday!

With two birthdays a year I feel like the Queen! Credit: Wikipedia
With two birthdays a year I feel like the Queen! Credit: Wikipedia

It’s hard to believe that this blog is now six years old.

I started this blog in 2010 when I realised that customers and colleagues were asking similar questions and I wanted a more efficient way to broadcast thoughts more quickly. Those were the days before ‘thought leadership’ and other such marketing terms were commonplace. Continue reading Happy 6th birthday!

Weekly reading list – August

Facebook redefined the word friend in 2004
Facebook redefined the word friend in 2004

Fresh back from a summer holiday – well actually mine was a bit of a knackering washout really – here are some recommended web reading links.

I’ve also taken out a 12-week trial subscription to The Economist. Between reading one of the issues and a book at the moment, I can’t keep up. I struggle to reach half way through the magazine before another one arrives.

The quality, depth and opinion of the articles is top-notch. I’m not saying I always agree with the opinion, but the manner it’s conveyed is excellent.

From relationships to revolutions: seven ways Facebook has changed the world – Facebook has changed our lives, and I believe it’s mainly for the better. This article shows 7 key aspects (including mass employment).  Continue reading Weekly reading list – August

Happy 5th Birthday!

A fifth birthday!
A fifth birthday!

It’s true… as you get older, time seems to accelerate. It feels like only a few weeks ago I was writing last year’s Happy Birthday post.

I started this blog because I found myself telling several people the same piece of news and opinion. I took their advice and created this blog.

Last year I said that there had been “a step change in traffic, with pretty much double the level of traffic as two years’ ago”. This year, traffic almost doubled again, with almost 20,000 sessions on the site over the last year.

Continue reading Happy 5th Birthday!

Happy 4th Birthday

Photo: SugarDaze
Photo: SugarDaze

Four years ago I started this blog because I found myself telling several people the same piece of news and opinion. Some of them suggested I publish these thoughts on a blog, and I took their advice.

In the last four years, the amount of people viewing this site has steadily (and thankfully, significantly) increased.

Naturally, I’ve had my times where I haven’t had much to say – so I haven’t said anything (one of my favourite quotes is from Margaret Thatcher’s husband Denis, who said “Better keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt.“)

The last year has seen a step change in traffic, with pretty much double the level of traffic as two years’ ago.

Thank you to all the readers who come here from all over the World for their continued support.

Please let me know if you have any other topics that you’d like me to cover, and as always I’ll try to take the comments on board.

How to deal with Internet services that are closing down

Death of Internet servicesThere has been a lot of discussion on the web this week regarding three separate services: Google Reader, Evernote and Posterous. I have talked about how our Internet trust will be broken soon, and each of these three vendors have demonstrated this in their own ways.

Google have shut down their Reader service. It doesn’t bother me too much – the service was satisfactory, nothing more, and I prefer to read RSS feed in Outlook. Reader was a free service, and its users’ main complaint is how it knocked other services out of the market only to stop the product years later when everyone has gone bust.

Evernote announced that it’s service has been compromised, “…but don’t worry…” passwords haven’t been compromised. What its users don’t understand is that the content in the thousands/ millions of notes probably was compromised. So if you used an Evernote page for passwords or other confidential data, well, it’s probably not so confidential any longer.

And while Posterous announced a while ago that they would be shutting down, I’ve spent a few evenings this week moving this very blog from Posterous over to a new provider. I’ve actually bitten the bullet and moved the blog over to my own personal server. I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of moving it again.

Playing Devil’s advocate, the services above are free. You pay peanuts (or nothing), so you don’t get a chance to say “Hey, I was using that…”.

As a learned friend of mine once said, “Today’s gift is tomorrow’s expectation.”

So what’s the advice for the future?

Firstly, corporates take note. If you use these services, be prepared for here today, gone tomorrow. Use PaaS (Platform as a Service) vendors – Salesforce, Google Analytics, Endava (shameless plug), etc., but make sure your data is transferable, accessible and secure (not necessarily in that order).

Secondly, consumers need to be similarly aware. I have a simple approach – I assume all new startups can be gone in an instant, and are operated by a fourteen year old in their bedroom somewhere dodgy. Only once the trust builds up will I invest more time with content.

As I mentioned before, Google Reader doesn’t affect me. Posterous… well, whenever I’ve been to blogger meetings, everyone is talking about WordPress and I felt like I was on the wrong platform.

Evernote is the one that has annoyed me the most, because it’s (present tense) such a great product. But I can’t trust it. And my corporate security guys have said we can’t use it any longer (or any similar services).

So I’ve started using OneNote again. A few guys in the office use OneNote, and since I got the new convertible Ultrabook, OneNote makes sense. And then I discovered the OneNote iPhone app, which syncs with my laptop… and boom! I now have an enterprise version of Evernote.

Whilst writing this article I noticed that Menshn has shut down as well. Menshn was a great idea, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first users invited. I say it was a great idea, although I hadn’t logged on for a couple of months, so it hadn’t quite replaced my preferred social networks.

But the morale of this post is that if I had invested huge amounts of time and content, I’d be pretty miffed at the moment that it’s now all gone.

Website reading list

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At a recent event, I met up with a regular reader of this blog, Andrew, who asked me what websites and news feeds I read regularly to keep track of trends within digital media, social media and the web in general.

I’ll start the answer with a disclaimer – this list has been growing over time, and follows specific interests that I’ve had over the last couple of years.

I find it impossible to keep going to specific websites to keep up to date, so RSS feeds are the answer. I’ve tried using a number of RSS readers but because my life is ruled by Outlook – when the 2010 version came along with an excellent RSS reader, I was sold, and am now able to stay up to date with RSS feeds.

If you use Outlook 2010 but don’t use it for RSS, I recommend you try it because it presents articles just like emails. (Like you need more emails…)

I’m not including news feeds that post less than an article a month. So the list, in alphabetical order is:

  • Google News. I’ve set up a number of RSS feeds using Google Alerts. I monitor most of the suppliers in our technology stack, and skim read through the list regularly. I have to skim it because there’s usually a lot of duplicate content because of press releases. Examples of the feeds include Akamai (one of our Content Delivery Partners), Endava and IMG (my former company and I still find it interesting to follow).
  • This blog. I keep an archive of all the articles because I find it easier to search, and it’s a nice offline backup method.
  • Confused of Calcutta. Written by JP Rangaswami, the Chief Scientist at Salesforce.com. His articles are thought provoking and detailed about all aspects of information, and wider architecture thoughts. If you like the book, Cluetrain Manifesto, you’ll love his blog (especially as he wrote a chapter in the 10th anniversary edition) because they share the same writing style. I often comment on JP’s articles.
  • Google Webmaster Central Blog. Excellent resource for the latest happenings, straight from the preverbial horse’s mouth. I’ll often spot content in the articles and email it around to the technical teams at work.
  • Hitwise Intelligence – Heather Dougherty. We have a love/hate relationship with Hitwise that I won’t go into here. Sometimes Heather posts interesting traffic trends. Very US centric (not necessarily a bad thing), however she’s one of my preferred Hitwise bloggers.
  • Information Is Beautiful. I am fascinated by this company. Anyone who can illustrate massive or complex data sets to enable us mortals to understand it in 2 seconds and keep our attention for 15 minutes with the same diagram is a magician. Chances are that if you see me shortly after a new post, I’ll tell you about it.
  • IP TV Times. Updated very regularly, Iolo Jones provides a straight-from-the-heart view of pretty much anything connected to digital media, video, commercialisation and online piracy. I aspire to updating this blog as regularly as Iolo updates his. I often comment on Iolo’s articles.
  • Matt Groves Digital Donut. One of the nicest guys in the Digital industry, Matt works at Fallon and often updates his blog with the latest campaigns that have either caught his eye (around the World – not just the UK, which is something I like) or that Fallon are working on.
  • The Opposite Direction. Also one of the nicest guys in the industry, Robin heads up the social media practice at McCann who we do a lot of work with. Social Media is packed with jump-on-the-bandwagon consultants who are full of hot air however Robin is the complete opposite – he shares his knowledge and experience in every meeting. His blog is written in a similar way – you typically learn something new in most articles.
  • The Register. Because I am in IT, and the Register provides the latest IT (and some scientific) news, usually with a good sense of humour. I don’t read every article (it would take all day) – I generally skim the headlines and read any articles that are relevant.
  • UK news: Office for National Statistics (The Guardian). I like statistics and the ONS has lots of them. The Guardian apply some commentary but I like the fact it’s up to the reader to make sense of them.
  • Webcredible. A varied blog from a usability consultancy where an old IMG colleague, Ismail, works. The blog is full of useful digital media best practices (not just usability) and examples of best websites out-there.
  • What’s Next: Top Trends. Thoughts from one of my favourite ‘futurists’, Richard Watson. I often comment on Richard’s posts.

If you have any other recommendations or comments on the feeds above, please do let me know.

Photo courtesy of Bytelove.

    Weeknote #1 – losing weight and launching a new chocolate bar

    Weeknotes seem to be the new compromise between micro-blogging (aka Twitter) and full on blogging. Take a look at Weeknote – it’s quite a neat site if you have something to say but don’t want to be constrained to 140 characters.

    Marc Holmes and others have started adopting a nice approach to their blogs, by including a weeknote every errrrrr…. seven days, so I thought I’d try it too. So here goes for the last week:

    • Launched The Race Season on SpotsVStripes – a new campaign as part of Cadbury’s sponsorship of London 2012. A very addictive set of Flash games. And a new chocolate bar (the Race Bar – try it and let me know what you think). Here’s the TV advert:
    • Found an excellent new utility for capturing tall web pages as images.
    • On a personal note – last week was officially the first time it cost more than £20 to fill up my motorbike. I’m not complaining too much, considering a bottle of water at Euston station costs £1.50 (that’s 20p more per litre than petrol).
    • Using Timely more and more for writing loads of tweets in one session, then letting them ‘go live’ over the course of the week.
    • Finished reading Lord Sugar’s auto-biography, loving virtually every word of it. Worst of all, I didn’t have another book ready to start reading, so I’m back to the Metro each day. Another reason to use the bike more!
    • Read a couple of good articles – one which said that in the US most Internet shoppers are pretty affluent; the second is debating whether we’re in a second dotcom bubble.
    • I got my data back from a faulty hard disk.
    • Learnt what the word undecillion means during a session on IPv6. (10 to the power of 36).
    • A fair amount of cycle rides (two sessions of 20+ miles) and a 2.5 run around the block. All in the aim of completing this year’s London to Brighton quicker than last year and being a stone lighter at the same time.
    • Watched that match

    Learning from eBay timing

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    Several few years ago I got really involved selling stuff on eBay, became a PowerSeller for a few months and turned over a nice revenue, until the choice was to give up my main job and go into eBay full time. I decided to concentrate more on my main job, and well, the rest is recent history.

    One of the things I learnt from eBay was that when it comes to auctions, timing is 90% of the story.

    There was little point creating an auction that would finish at say, 11am on a Monday morning. The end of the auction was when there would be the highest number of bids, and Monday morning was a poor time for attracting traffic to the bid.

    I used to list items on the weekend, and pay a few pence extra for a ‘Scheduled start‘. After some trial and [lots of] error I would schedule for items to finish at around 5.30 or 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On items to do with the home, I would schedule for auctions to finish on a Sunday evening.

    I’ve noticed that timing is once again really important when it comes to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn statuses. Actually, the same is true of any status update. If someone (or a brand) continually updates a status, any previous status falls down from prominence very quickly. End users will probably be following tens, hundreds or sometimes thousands of other users/brands, so the timing between status updates is absolutely key.

    I now find I’m using the same practices for writing blog articles and Twitter updates.

    I write almost all the week’s blog posts on a Sunday morning, and delay them being made public – trying to stagger them over the week. Also, I try to choose a decent time when they are made public (which then posts to my Twitter page, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). If I made them all public in one go, especially on a Sunday, only the most recent one would get any traffic.

    Posterous has an excellent scheduler for blog posts. For my Twitter feed, I use either Timely, which has been written specifically to address the timing issue above, or sometimes TweetDeck. Timely is OK, but provides pretty random scheduling (you can’t provide a time – the system does it for you). I find TweetDeck is one those applications that tries to be all things to all people, and ends up being unusable to all of them as well, so in practice I tend to use Timely more often.

    Photo courtesy of LenP17 on Flickr.