May 22, 2007

iBegin Introduces Weather Widget

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Weather information may not be the most content-rich of items you can add to your blog (not to mention being often the butt of jokes about small talk). But let’s face it, each of us is concerned by the weather in our own locale. It’s one of those things we take for granted, say, when it’s a clear sunny day. But then when you’re suddenly caught under an unexpected heavy downpour while walking down the street, I’m pretty sure you would mind.

Most widget systems, such as OS X Dashboard, Google desktop gadgets, Yahoo! widget engine, Windows Vista widgets, and the like, have their own weather widgets included by default. So why should your blog not have a weather widget?

Earlier this month, iBegin introduced iBegin Weather, along with a branding-free weather widget that can be installed on blogs and websites for as long as you have access to your theme’s code (you need to paste some javascript). The widget is highly customizable in terms of look, information included, and even the link back to iBegin is optional.

Aside from being able to present useful information, Ahmed Farooq of iBegin also lauds the link-building potential of their releasing such a widget, even though the widget’s being branding-free essentially means users could opt not to link back to iBegin.

The widget is limited to US and Canadian cities, for now. Also, I wonder how soon iBegin or a third party can convert this into an actual widget/plugin for WordPress and other blog systems (meaning one you can drag and drop into your sidebar to install).

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CSS tips and tricks, Part 2

Everyone seemed to like the last article I wrote about CSS…forever ago, so I thought I’d tackle some more CSS tips and tricks – give the people what they want, right? These are some more “basic tips,” but things that I use every day and thought others might find useful. I know I said I’d write more about web analytics as they relate to design but I decided this would be faster as I’m getting close to the deadline… read more

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Web Browser Guide: Exploring the Parts and Pieces of a Web Browser

Since the web browser is the gateway to your blog and blog reading, shouldn’t you know more about how it works and how to make it work more efficiently for you? Welcome to part two in this ongoing series on the Web Browser Guide for Bloggers.

The first step in learning to navigate the web is understanding what parts and pieces on your web browser help you access a blog and navigate in and around it more efficiently.

As noted yesterday, the parts and pieces of a web browser may have different names depending upon your web browser’s naming structure, but most browser parts and piece have been fairly standardized.
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Spin-my-Blog service now available to 12 million LiveJournal bloggers

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SpinVox, creators of Spin-My-Blog, the text-to-speech service we looked at in February, has just announced a deal with Six Apart that will allow all 12 million LiveJournal bloggers to post directly to their journals simply by making a phone call and speaking their blog entry.

“Speaking is the easiest and most natural way to convey great ideas, thoughts or moments.” commented Christina Domecq, co-founder and CEO, SpinVox. “Sharing is also a natural impulse. By connecting the two simply and directly, we’re enabling people to share their life experiences in the most natural way. The voice-powered blogosphere is now available from any phone, anywhere.”

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Authenticity as a Real Life Skill for Changing the World

My friend, Peg, — a nonblogger — says that blogging is the best form of self-improvement. I agree. Blogging stretches us, as we communicate real information in real time with real feeling. The blogging culture demands authenticity and transparency, How could that not untangle personal issues that we might have been carrying?

Authenticity and transparency by definition require self-awareness and a loss of false modesty. Those two conditions underpin communication undermine our comfortable notions about who we are. The old ways we saw ourselves and the old words we used to describe us no longer work quite so well. They’re too misleading, self-deprecating, or just not really who we are.

Once we get the hang of it, authenticity and transparency free us to be honest without self-consciousness. The old fear of boastfulness or self-promotion is gone, because we are self-expressed. Learning to communicate in a blogging culture of such values could make any blogger a better person. It’s done that for me.

Learning to communicate authentically is a critical life skill. Authenticity and transparency build relationships. Relationships are the currency of success in society. Relationships are everyone’s business and every business is relationships.

The magic about this is folks are taking what bloggers have learned back into the real world. See this point from a list that Penelope Trunk developed for Guy Kawasaki. It’s from a list on workplace myths and the truths that debunk them.

There is no magic formula to having a great career except to be you. Really you. Know who you are and have the humility to understand that self-knowledge is a never-ending journey. Figure out how to do what you love, and you’ll be great at it. Offer your true, good-natured self to other people and you’ll have a great network. Those who stand out as leaders have a notable authenticity that enables them to make genuinely meaningful connections with a wide range of people. Authenticity is a tool for changing the world by doing good.

Then move on to the wisdom of less is more offered by Steve Roesler.

If we’re going to consider authenticity as a success factor, then we need to acknowledge:
1. What we think we should be — but we are not.
2. What someone else told us we should be — but we are not.
3. What we think others want to hear that we are — but we are not.
4. What we think we can become — but we know we cannot.

Blogging leads us to know who we are. It must, if we become authentic. Authenticity by it’s very nature is about humility and acceptance of our transparent selves.

This is world-changing action taking place from the inside out of each individual. If I want to change the world, what better place to start than in my mirror?

Liz Strauss writes and talks about changing the world at Successful-Blog.

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May 21, 2007

Is Blogging A First-World Activity?

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Jennifer Jacquet over at Science Blogs recently spent some time in the Galapagos, and as a relatively new blogger began to wonder: Is blogging an activity that can only be found in first-world countries?

Is it lack of access?  Not so, she mentions, as net cafe’s exist (although the access is s-l-o-w).

But it does raise some interesting issues, as to whether or not cultural mores have prevented the proliferation of blogging, or whether it lacks a champion for this kind of medium in developing areas, or whether the part of youth culture that may have adopted it has moved past it and glommed onto — or are ‘blogging’ — within social networks.

While citizens of first world countries, as a whole, have the benefit of better educations, one would think that in areas of the world with conflict, poverty, or oppression, having a powerful tool to find and express that voice might be attractive.

Or it might not.

What do you think?

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Web Browser Guide for Bloggers

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;
teach him to use the Net
and he won’t bother you for weeks.”
Anonymous

It’s strange that we spend more time talking about our blogging programs than we do the tool that uses those blogging programs, our web browser. The more connected our lives become to the web, the more reliant we become on the web browser to get us the information we need and use with as little effort as possible.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be doing a series called the “Web Browser Guide for Bloggers”, helping you learn more about how the browser works and how to make it work better for you as part of your blogging experience.

For some, this will be old news. You’ve been surfing the web for so long, the tips and tricks of browsing are totally unconscious steps you take to make the process smoother and faster. Many learned only enough to do what they needed to do and are stuck in a browsing rut. For others, it’s never too late for an old dog to learn a few new tricks. I’ll also be asking for your browsing tips and tricks along the way.

This web browser guide is designed to help you learn, step-by-step:

  • How to use a web browser better.
  • How to get your web browser to work better for you and your blogging needs.
  • How to effectively search the web through your browser.
  • Tips on how to use your browser to help you find content and write articles for your blog.
  • How to use your browser to help you develop and administer your blog.
  • And more about how to use your browser to make your blogging experience easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable.

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Is blogging the perfect low-cost home business?

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While trawling through my many news feeds, I came across an article entitled Internet Home Business Ideas For Those Without Any Money: Blogging.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I’ve been on the Internet for long enough to become a little skeptical (perhaps cynical) when I read anything to do with “Internet Home Business”, despite the fact that I believed for a long time that I would earn a living primarily through the Internet, and in fact am now doing so.

So what set the alarm bells off here?

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Business Wire to host seminar on blogging for Israeli CEOs

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Business Wire announced that it will be hosting a seminar on corporate blogging for Israeli CEO’s and VPs of Marketing, featuring PR and Social media expert Alan L. Weinkrantz.

“Corporate blogging is becoming a staple of corporate communications,” added Yair Merfish President of M.G.M. Publications, Business Wire’s representative and licensee in Israel. “In addition to getting more recognition from journalists, analysts, and customers, they’re also attracting the attention of other bloggers – another important source of coverage.”

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Rumor: Google To Purchase Feedburner For $100 Million?

Whether you love them or hate them, rumors are abounding on whether or not the search engine giant is considering purchasing Feedburner, which helps bloggers large and small track the number of users reading their sites.

While some are proposing Google is interested in Feedburner to help aid in their never ending war against spammers, others think the real reason lies in the pot of gold at the other end of the RSS rainbow.
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