January 2007 Archives
January 31, 2007
Anthonty has a wee think about how useful those "post to Digg" links at the bottom of blog posts are in generating traffic, based on this handy graph. He's done a really nice little round-up of how different "big media" properties, including my own employer's New Scientist, handle them.
Executive summary? They're pretty good traffic drivers. The irony here is that I've just removed mine. They will probably reappear after some work and thought.
However, the thing that troubles me about these social voting and bookmarking sites is that, on the whole, they're great for technology-based content, but none of the services seem to have made aggressive inroads into other niches just yet. So, I could see them working for our Computer Weekly bloggers (Stuart, David and Tony), but would they work for Caterer, say?
If you're reading this, the transfer worked. The vitual removal men have drunk their last cup of digital tea and have headed for home. One Man & His Blog is now happily hosted on Dreamhost. I've been using them for my WoW guild's various community bits and bobs for a while now, and am mighty impressed with their service.
I've taken the opportunity to stick yet another new design on the blog, one that leave enough space for large pics to be posted from Flickr. I'd missed that in the last iteration of this blog and am really glad to have it back. I have a suspicion that I won't be truly happy with my design until I pay someone to do a custom one for me, though.
The new version of Movable Type supports something called FastCGI, and I'm now running the blog under that. And my, does the web interface fly. You should see a real speed increase when leaving comments.
Anyway, that's enough blog geekiness for the time being. Back to the normal waffle of marginal interest to anyone bar myself.
January 30, 2007
January 27, 2007
I'm in the process of moving this blog to a different host. There may be...
Apologies if it all goes strange over the next few days.
January 26, 2007
If all has gone according to plan, you can now sign into this blog to comment using OpenID. That means you can use your Vox blog address, Livejournal username or any other OpenID service to identify yourself to my blogging software. This is very exciting to the geeks in the audience and probably rather confusing to everybody else...
It was all done using this handy wee plugin.
Incidentally, I discovered while doing this that my webhost had decided to rename my comments.cgi file without informing me, presumably because of an uptick in spam comments, without bothering to inform me. Well, thanks guys. Oh, and thanks for the helpful suggestion in the rename that I should install spam protection. I already had Spam Lookup and MT Akismet in place. Any other suggestions? Or are you just going to randomly disable parts of my site without talking to me whenever you feel like it?
The time has come to move hosts, I suspect.
January 25, 2007
On my morning commute, I catch up with my podcasts. And, on this morning's commute, I caught up with the latest Strange Attractor podcast, which had been sat on my iPod for a little while without me noticing. And, my goodness, what a corker. It's not often you catch me laughing out loud as I drive the Croydon flyover, but I did this morning. The pair's evisceration of both The Independent's "blogs" and Keith Waterhouse's laughable opinion piece in the Daily
Hate Mail is just perfect.
And I strongly suggest my blogging journalist colleagues have a listen to it, just in case they feel the temptation to write "What do you think?" at the end of their posts...
As the podcast is hosted on Odeo, I can embed it here for your listening pleasure:
powered by ODEO
January 24, 2007
If everything goes according to plan, our time in Lewisham is nearly over. The refurbishment of the flat is nearly done, and it should be on the market by the spring. And, when it is sold, we'll be moving away from Lewisham.
Just as I spent a while looking at Soho in the lead-up to leaving it, I'm going to do a series of posts, saying goodbye and charting what I thin about the past, present and future of the borough where I've lived for over a decade. A lot of my early blogging was about Lewisham, and many of my early blogging contacts were locals. This seems a fitting end to this era of my life.
Let's start with this:
A whole parade of shops has suddenly closed down on Lee High Road. That's a classic sign of a landlord pulling in leases for redevelopment. And let's face it, Lewisham is ripe for redevelopment. Aside for a dodgy pub making way for a new Nando's, the only significant thing to happen in the town centre over the last decade has been the Docklands Light Railway terminal.
Finally, a neat way of differentiating journalists and bloggers. "Bloggers suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, journalists suffer from Attention deficit disorder." In other words, journalists report and move on and don't always follow up. Bloggers are obsessive, get hold of an issue and won't let go....
And I can't help feeling that more reporters should be like bloggers.
January 22, 2007
When blogging first hit the mainstream media consciousness (and by that I mean "articles appeared in the nationals", not "individual journalists started experimenting with blogs"), the image they portrayed of blogging was usually of the bedroom journalist, posting his online diary in his underwear. That image has stuck in some journalists' minds, even as their more enlightened colleagues embrace this new publishing medium and do great things with it.
Strangely, though, things are starting to come full circle, with new tools developing to support the "bedroom blogger", the person who is using a blog only to talk to a small group of friends and family. That's why I find this interview with Ben & Mena Trott of Six Apart good reading:
This is a good and growing business that supports 150 employees, but it is not the break-out phenomenon that justified the fancy price paid for YouTube.
For that reason the Trotts recently launched Vox, a free personal blogging and social-networking service - and Six Apart's shot at the big time.
One of the important advances with Vox is the privacy controls that allow users to choose just who can see "every post, every picture, every sound clip, every video". Not every blog, and not every post, needs to be wholly public. There are many times when people want to share information and photos only with their family or friends.
"Just because you're a blogger, it does not mean you're publishing to the world," said Mena. "Without this privacy, blogging won't grow in the way that it should grow."
Certainly, there's no good reason why the tools for mainstream publishing should look the same as those for private publishing. Indeed, it's a sign of the growing sophistication of blogging as an idea that a company like Six Apart can happily support five different blog platforms.
Personally, while I happily use Movable Type here and its Enterprise version at work, I just love playing around with Vox. My blog there is full of multimedia gubbins that it's actually quite tricky to get posted on this blog, but which is dead easy to do on Tincan Alley.
But then, why should posting photos or movies to a "serious" blog be any harder than to a "fun" one? Vox is a great service, but I hope to see some of that fantastic interface innovation hit Movable Type in the near future, too.
What a fashionable lot the travel industry are. Clearly far more Louis Vuitton luggage that backpacker chic...
January 22 is the most depressing day of the year, according to one headline-grabbing psychologist who, among other things cites fading memories of holidays as one reason for this being a particularly gloomy start to the working week.
Who is this headline-grabbing psychologist? A quick outbreak of hot, Google action turns up this:
Dr Cliff Arnall, a Cardiff University psychologist, devised the formula that shows today is the most depressing.
His equation takes into account six factors: weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.
Taken together they pinpoint today as 'Blue Monday'.
So now you know.
I've only left my desk for about 10 minutes the whole day, and only achieved a fraction of what I wanted to do.
This, I suspect, is the downside of having a job you're really passionate about. The highs are higher, but the lows are lower.
I just want to go home, dive into a bath of whisky and never come out again.
January 19, 2007
There's a couple of social tools I've fallen in love with over the last month or so.
Twitter is horribly addictive. It allows you update your friends with quick updates as to what you're doing via text message, IM or the Twitter website. It doesn't sound like much, but just try it. It's fascinating getting these small, regular updates about other people's lives. My latest Twitters appear at the top of the sidebar of this blog's homepage, and you can subscribe to my updates over at my Twitter page.
The other tool that's caught my attention is MyBlogLog, which is a fascinating way of keeping track of who's visiting your site and of finding interesting new blogs as well. You can see my MyBlogLog box on my blog's frontpage. I'm not the only one who thinks it's a great idea, either. Yahoo has snapped the service up, and Om Malik has a good anatomy of the deal.
So, here's the first in what should be a wave of posts from tabs I've had sitting open, ready for me to blog about:
My, but things are getting interesting in the big, bad world of mainstream journalistic blogging. For one thing, one of our tabloids has been blogging away and nobody's noticed. Yes, The Mirror managed to launch 13 blogs, with all the functionality you'd expect, and nobody really noticed in the blogging world. Ah, well, all that proved is that we're all intellectual snobs, who won't touch tabloids with a bargepole.
Meanwhile, the broadsheets aren't having a great time of it. Shane Richmond of The Telegraph has been asking the paper's bloggers to avoid talking about the workings of the paper. And that's a shame, because it was an element of their blogs I liked. Jeff Jarvis takes the paper to task, and lays into The Independent's pathetic blogging effort while he's at it.
If you're reading this, I've upgraded to the latest version of Movable Type successfully. If you aren't, I suspect a stressful weekend lies ahead.
January 9, 2007
There's no doubt that Steve Jobs and Apple know how to build excitement. People do not set up �Keynote Bingo� for Gates's keynotes at CES. Microsoft does not shroud its booth in black cloth to build up expectations about the goodies hidden underneath.
It also, I suspect, creates a sense of shared experience amongst the Mac loyalists, a bonding of identity much the way that the Queen's Speech on Christmas Day used to do for us Brits.
Whatever. It's fun to see what goodies Uncle Steve has lined up for us. Let's see if he can live up to this year's greater-than-normal hype.
January 4, 2007
Want to know what many, many print journalists feel about the big, brave world of blogging and Web 2.0? Read this rant on dialogue with readers by Joel Stein:
Here's what my Internet-fearing editors have failed to understand: I don't want to talk to you; I want to talk at you. A column is not my attempt to engage in a conversation with you. I have more than enough people to converse with. And I don't listen to them either. That sound on the phone, Mom, is me typing.
While this is meant to be amusing (and is pretty blatant link bait), like much humour, it's founded in truth. I've had journalists I've worked with say things very, very similar to that.
Of course, the crucial point here is not what he wants to do, it what his readers want him to do. If they're happy just reading him and not maintaining any sort of dialogue, Stein, and journalists like him, will still have a job in five years. if the audience decides that dialogue is something they want, he's in trouble.
A lot of e-mail screeds argue that, in return for the privilege of broadcasting my opinion, I have the responsibility to listen to you. I don't. No more than you have a responsibility to read me. I'm not an elected servant. I'm an arrogant, solipsistic, attention-needy freak who pretends to have an opinion about everything.
Ah, well then. He does have the crucial characteristics needed to be a blogger�
[Via Falling Off A Blog]
- I took my first photograph when I was 3 years old and created my first newspaper when I was under 10. Sometimes, career directions show very early...
- I'm a failed scientist. I did the grand total of one term at Imperial College studying Physics, before giving it all up to do an English Literature degree instead.
- I used to be a very serious fencer. Some 20 years ago I was part of the Scottish Youth Squad in Epee tournaments.
- I'm secretly rather proud of the number of results you get when you search for my name on Amazon, even if the majority of the results are out of print now.
- I was named after a character in The Archers. My namesake was recently one half of the rural soap's first gay wedding.
(Interestingly, this spreading meme seems to be regarded as something of a virus by a few prominent bloggers. For those of us with accounts on social blogging platforms like Livejournal, they're a very ordinary way of life. Most days people have some meme or other up on their blog. Vox even has a built-in meme with QotD. This one has probably spread much further than most because it really does reveal more interesting information than the usual quizzes.)
January 3, 2007
Sorry for the blog silence, but I've been off the grid for much of the past couple of weeks, first at my broadband-free brother's place, and then in the depths of Devon, where I didn't even have mobile phone reception, let alone internet access. Pictures from the latter adventure are steadily being uploaded to this set on Flickr.
After all the fuss and horror over Le Web 3, it was nice to get away from the internet and even blogs for a while. But now, I'm back and raring to go.
Expect heavy blogging ahead�