Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sliced storytelling event in Phoenix this Saturday

Project 365 #169: 180609 Somebody PLEASE Pick ...
Image by comedy_nose via Flickr
It's no secret that I enjoy hearing myself talk. To people. So when I heard that Robert Hoekman, Jr. was putting on a storytelling event this coming Saturday night, I jumped at the chance to be a part of Sliced.

This promises to be a bit different than other speaking engagements. If you've heard me speak at Ignite, at a conference, or participate on a panel, this will a different thing altogether. First of all, there's no projector. No screen. And no notes, props or other things to jog my memory. Just me, a microphone, a buzzer set to ding at 15 minutes, and an autobiographical story.

But I won't be alone. Other storytellers from the Valley include Jeff Moriarty, Brian Dunn, and Robert. I think there are some open slots, so reach out to Robert if you've got a story at the ready.

RSVP on the Facebook event. Tell your friends. And come watch. It'll be fun!

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Bolo 2009 attracts local and national talent

Last month, I told you about an upcoming event called Bolo 2009. As it's an agency-focused event, I didn't spend a lot of time talking about it here. I talk about all kinds of things here, but advertising sure isn't one of them. Yeah, I do it. But it's not why you read me.

bolo-badge-200Then a funny thing happened. As word started to spread around the valley, people not in the advertising biz started asking to come. Obviously, they won't come for the same things an agency-person would. So agencyside, the organizers behind Bolo, (full disclosure: I work for their parent company Sitewire) provided an option that may make part of the event more attractive.

If you want to hear the three keynotes -- Guy Kawasaki, Bryan Eisenberg & Jim Lecinski -- and have three fancy breakfasts, that's now an option for $159. Register and use the discount code "Keynote".

But as you gleaned from the title of this blog post, Bolo 2009 is quickly become the stage for some local ad-world rock stars and Twitterati. They include...

... and me.

If that sounds like a crowd you'd like to learn from and interact with, you have to pay admission price. At $999, that doesn't come cheap. However, I have a discount code that will save you $500. So if you've been on the fence, maybe this pushes you over. Again, this is an advertising agency-focused conference. We will not spend every waking hour talking about Twitter or other forms of social media. Social media will be discussed, but from the POV of an ad agency.

Funny enough, the new discount code for this deal is "EVFN". Heh. #evfn is a lot of things, but an old-school business networking event isn't one of those. None the less, that's the code. And it's for anyone to use.

Hurry up. Bolo 2009 happens October 12 - 14th. That's a few short weeks away. See you then?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm no designer, but...

A graphical depiction of a very simple css doc...
Image via Wikipedia
... I'm pretty happy with how the site is looking so far. Mad props to those of you on Twitter who helped answer many of my questions today.

Beyond making it look better (and no, I'm not done yet), I fixed some broken things. The Places page is working again, and I'm back to using Feedburner, so the subscriber count for the feed should normalize in a few days.

Thesis is pretty slick, and it has shown me just how little I know about CSS. I get the concept and the syntax, but the grammar is very strange to me. But that's OK. So was HTML when I first hacked apart a website and hacked together mine back in 1994. We've come a long way, baby.

For colors, I'm using the "greenish" theme from kuler. A perfect site for the color-challenged like myself!

If you feel the urge to do this on your own -- go for it! But I highly recommend using the Firebug plugin for Firefox to help isolate what element you're trying to change. Without it, you're wading through code for days on end. That way lies madness!

With luck, I'll be back to updating the site on a regular basis. Got lots of stuff to say, and now have a proud place to say it! I'll slowly work on making it "prouder" as my time and skill-set will allow. In the meantime, play nice!

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You know, this web stuff just might catch on

A Series of Tubes
Image via Wikipedia
I just love the informative videos that XPLANE puts out. Few of the facts outright knock me off my feet, but I live in this world every day. So do many others, but it's my job to pay attention to things like this. If that's not your job, then some of these facts will blow your freakin' mind. Here's the latest, Did You Know 4.0

I didn't know, however, that 90% of all email sent was spam. Rather than be depressed by that, I'm amazed. I'm amazed that it still works.

Nod to John Federico for showing this to me.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm on Thesis

... but I'm a crappy layout dude. So bear with me as I work through the pain of figuring out what's going on.

And the RSS feed is still broken. Was hoping the new theme would clear that up. Not so much.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My RSS feed is broken

Unure what is going on, but my RSS feed seems to be broken. It's not throwing errors, it's throwing blanks.

This could be the result of my recent upgrade to the latest Wordpress version 2.8.4 . I was many, many revs behind.

This could be the result of the ancient-ass Theme I'm using. Yeah, I said I was going to get Thesis going. Something about intentions and pavement...

This could be the result of my upgrade to Echo for my comments.

This could be a problem with FeedBurner, so I turned off the Feedburner Feed Replacement plugin, version 2.2 by Steve Smith. It will take some time for the cache to clear.

So please accept my apologies if you're trying to subscribe and getting the blank page. Bottom line: I have no idea what is wrong. But I'll keep investigating, knocking things off one at a time.

Networking 2.0 in a networking 1.0 world

Business card pile
Image of Christopher S. Penn by Christopher S. Penn via Flickr
Last night was Twestival in Phoenix. It was a rocking good time that was well attended. Props to @ChrisLee for being the local Phoenix coordinator of this national event. If you missed it, loads of photos are already on Flickr. I look forward to next year.

But I have to be better prepared. You see, I'm rather used to the new "networking 2.0" groups and the people that attend them. In these networking 2.0 events, rarely am I asked "what do you do?". Rarely does someone hand me a business card within 15 seconds of meeting them. I don't even carry business cards anymore, and it's probably because I don't have a good answer for the question.

So far, my standard answer is "lots of different things". And while that's accurate, I probably come off like an unskilled laborer or drifter. Not exactly the image I'm trying to portray. My backup reply is "I'm a digital business strategist", which is either incredibly douchey or completely non-helpful. In fact, I can't think of a single person who didn't respond with a version of "what the hell does that mean?". And not in a "please tell me more" way, either.

And it's going to happen again in less than 10 hours. I'm off to a small gathering in LA, where I'll be engaging with people I've never met. At least one person will ask me what I do, and I need a better answer.

I'm thinking of taking a radical approach. I'm thinking of picking one "thing" about me, and answering with that. But how do I pick? Obviously, I want to pick the most interesting thing I do and the thing I'm most interested in talking about. But I have lots of things I'm involved with that I think are interesting and that I like to talk about.

Guess I just have to get over it and pick one.

For those of you in the same boat, what do you do? How do you handle "the question" when you are a heck of a lot more than the title someone gave you at your day-job?

You can respond in the comments if you like, but I've got the new Echo System working, so if you comment anywhere else with a LINK back to this page, it should show up auto-magically. Cool!

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

5 Reasons Your Wordpress Blog Sucks

Image representing WordPress as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase
I'm having a blast leading the Social Media 101 sessions at Social Media Club Phoenix each month. If you're in Phoenix the 2nd Thursday of the month, you should come.

This week I'm giving a brief workshop on making Wordpress-powered blogs better. I take the 101 seriously. This will focus on 5 low-level but often-missed changes that are easy to implement and will improve the blog. The official title for tonight is "5 Simple Things That Make Your Blog Better". But over here, where I have to be less sensitive, that's 5 Reasons Your Wordpress Blog Sucks.

  1. No one knows who the hell you are.
    You spent all that time coming up with a clever blog name. You're writing from a first-person POV. You've filled your post with great and actionable information. I'd love to give you credit, help spread the word or even leave you a comment. Trouble is, I have no idea who the hell you are.

    You need an About page. And it needs to say something about you. Wordpress comes with a page already set up. It's called... you guessed it: About. Edit it. Enter in some stuff. Like who the hell you are.

  2. No one knows how to contact you.
    You've done a great job getting my attention. I see we share common goals, and I'd like to reach out to you to share something, buy something, or just strike up a conversation. It's not quite something I want to leave in a comment, so I need to contact you privately. Trouble is, you haven't even the decency to post an email address. No, your last Tweet won't do. I want a direct, one-on-one method of contacting you.

    The simplest fix: add your contact info to the About page. A better fix: create a new page. Call it Contact. Fill that sucker up with every way possible for people to get a hold of you. Don't be cute. Afraid of spam? Spell out your email, but don't link it.

  3. You have a rotten permalink structure.
    Dipping into a little technology, but don't panic. Suffice to say that "p=123" in a URL doesn't tell me -- or Google -- what your post is about. If you want your posts discoverable, then do the very basic thing of upgrading your permalink structure to use the title of your post as the URL.

    Settings > Permalinks > Month and Name.

    Save and done. Your URLs now look all fancy like. Which Google cares about more than people, though I look at them, too.

  4. You aren't branding your posts "in the wild".
    Not all of your readers go to your site. Shocking, I know. And while still in the early days, RSS readers are becoming more popular. With an RSS reader, I can subscribe to your blog and have the content come to me. And it's only the content of your posts. No branding. Nothing other than what you put in the posts. Unless you do some tweaking.

    First, make sure that Wordpress is associating your name with the post the way you want. Go to Users and edit your user name. Fill out your first and last name, then change the "Display name publicly as" to the one you want. By default, Wordpress associates your user name with all posts. Not all that helpful if you've used "hotrocker1986" since leaving highschool.

    Second, and not for the faint of heart, is editing your themes to get your name up there front and center. I do it, but I'm not afraid of .php. Well, I can't write it. But I know enough people to help me if I screw it up terribly. But adding some static text isn't that hard. Specifically, I edited the following:
    • Main Index Template
    • Single Post

    But hey, I like to live dangerously.

  5. You don't post for the future.
    Ever wonder how hard-core bloggers manage to get a post up just about every day and still hold down a day job, family responsibilities and a grueling travel schedule? Here's their secret: the don't post every day. Nope. They post in batch. They write when and where they can, when the opportunity strikes or the mood takes them. And they rarely write directly in Wordpress. They gather up posts, sometimes a dozen at a time, and then feed them into Wordpress all at once. But they feed them out to you one at a time.

    This magic is called "future posting". It's really nothing more than adding a post, but changing the "publish immediately" option (look for the small calendar on the right side of your screen) to some date in the future. Got five posts? Load all of 'em up and increment the date by one each time. Now you're posting like a rock star.

I hope this is helpful. I hope I can get through it all in half an hour tonight! See you at #SMCPHX!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Comments now powered by Echo


Originally uploaded by evo_terra

I've been preaching the decentralized nature of feedback for some time. After years of trying to force people to comment where I wanted them to, I finally gave up. This was a couple of years ago, and I've spent the remaining time trying out various tools and techniques to keep me apprised of the conversations outside these "walls".

My latest arrow in the quiver: Echo. It's a new commenting tool by JS-Kit.com. From what I've seen, it does a great job of sufring the social interwebs for comments and conversations about a blog post, then bringing those back and adding them to the main comment stream.

The net effect: social media monitoring without a lot of work for me, and none for you. My blog is fairly low traffic, so I'm not expecting to see terribly compelling results. But if you've got a blog that gets people talking off-site, give it a shot. Seems like a good way to spend $12.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

And... we're back!

Sunrise in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Image via Wikipedia
Looks that way. HUGE props to Clair High for fixing my screwup and getting us back up and running. We're now fresh and minted on WordPress 2.8.4. My next step: install Thesis. 'Cuz it's cool. Back to more insightful posts... soon?

And for those of you -- like me -- on a long weekend: enjoy it!

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Upgrade time

I've delayed upgrading this blog long enough. And with the long weekend. It's time. So it'll be down. Then back up. I hope. Wish me luck. 2.8.4, here I come!