March 27, 2008

John McCain’s Daughter Starts Blog

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Meghan McCain’s blog is not your typical politico destination. Rather, it’s an insightful look at John McCain’s family, offering a glimpse at the life of a senior citizen making a run at the White House.

Comedian Bill Maher once joked (and I’m paraphrasing): “If Barack Obama is YouTube, John McCain is feeding tube.”

Mccainblogette.com, started by the Senator’s 23-year-old daughter, is designed to help debunk popular opinion that McCain is out of touch with young voters.

The blog states that its “musings and pop culture on the political trail.” But you won’t find opinions on policies in Iraq or battles over universal healthcare. Rather, you’ll just find candid behind-the-scenes stories and photos. Plus, you’ll find out what the potential first daughter is listening to on her iPod: The Fratellis and Arctic Monkeys, in case you were interested.

There are lots of videos too. Given that many voters base their decision on personality, the blog is one of the many Web tools that the candidates have employed so far during election ’08. Meghan isn’t polished and perfect, and never tries to be. And that’s exactly the goal.

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Dear WordPress, A Response To Your Letter

Dear WordPress,

Today I received your letter regarding the new uploading and gallery functionality in WordPress 2.5. I also received the advance copy (aka 2.5 RC2) but have not been able to install it yet due to work related issues.

I do appreciate your letter though, and the walkthrough of the new image interface. Uploading multiple images looks like a breeze, and the gallery functionality looks splendid. I wish I had it back in 2006, but I will most certainly find good use of it in this year as well.
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March 26, 2008

Selling on Half.com As Blogging Motivation

After blogging for quite some time, I’ve certainly experienced lulls in writing desire. The obvious term would be “blogger’s block.”

A bit of self-contemplation and armchair psychology is in order.

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WordPress Wednesday News: WordPress 2.5 Due Any Day, Beta 2 Released, Many Plugins Updated, WordCamp Dallas This Weekend, WordCamp UK Suggested, and More

Due out by the end of the week, we hope, everyone is talking about WordPress 2.5, the hottest release in a ages. WordCamp Dallas is this weekend, bringing together the best in blogging and WordCamp. There is talk of a WordCamp in the UK! Work continues on WordCamp Milan, a European WordCamp united languages and crossing borders with blogging and WordPress. A lot of WordPress Plugins are being updated in time for WordPress 2.5. And more WordPress news.

WordPress News

WordCamp Dallas NOW! WordCamp Dallas is March 29-30, 2008, this weekend. If you are attending and covering the event on your blog, be sure and use the wordcampdallas2008 tag on your blog, Flickr, and other social media sites so we can all track the events and activities. I’ve written some reasons on why you should attend this innovative conference on WordPress – it’s the amazing speakers covering video blogging, SEO, podcasting, marketing, and lots of WordPress. WordPress 2.5 should have just been released and Matt Mullenweg will be there to discuss the latest version of WordPress and where WordPress is going to go. Charles Stricklin offers a WordCamp Dallas Attendee Breakdown based upon registration information to encourage you even more to attend. Be there!

WordPress 2.5 News: WordPress 2.5 Release Candidate 2 is out, with screencasts and video showing off the new Administration Panels.

The development team is working hard to get it ready for release by this weekend. According to the WordPress Development Blog, the custom fields AJAX forms have been improved, a bug in TinyMCE is being worked on, feedback is going into fixing the interface and improving it, improvements to the features in the Write Post panel continue with contributors no longer shown things they can’t use based upon user permission levels, and more fixes and upgrades coming in all the time.

Other articles about WordPress 2.5 include:

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Submit Your Website for the Hollywood NetAwards®

Filed as News with 4 comments

Get out your tuxedo and shine the bling bling, your Website could soon have you walking the red carpet with Hollywood’s elite.

OK, maybe not.

But there is a new award in town: The Hollywood NetAwards®, honoring excellence in the online entertainment field.

Created to spotlight emerging talent and to further forge a relationship between old and new media, the awards show will feature 22 categories:

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Lionsgate claims first Blu-ray interactive movie blog

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Anyone with a passing interest in the world of consumer electronics, and particularly high definition disc players, will have heard of HD DVD and Blu-ray.

The feature set of Blu-ray, now the dominant high definition disc format, is still evolving. Eventually, all players will have to offer BD-Live functionality which, amongst other things, offers Internet connectivity and interactive features.

Most Blu-ray discs still don’t offer much in the way of interactive features, mainly because the technology is still quite new, development costs are still quite high, the installed user base is fairly small, and “Profile 2.0″ isn’t yet a mandatory feature for all Blu-ray players.

However, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, a long time supporter of Blu-ray, has announced that its SAW IV movie, released in the UK this month, premieres “the world’s first interactive Blu-ray disc movie blog, called MoLog”.

According to the press release, this feature will allow users to create and share their own added value content via blog entries.

And that’s it. Details are scarce, though it does seem as if the technology will appear on other titles in due course. Whether these are real blogs, and whether they’ll be accessible to the wider Internet community, remains to be seen. It could simply be Lionsgate using the word “blog” because it’s a bit trendy right now.

Added to which, I can’t imagine many people wanting to type out long blog entries using a standard TV remote control unit. Perhaps a Twitter-style system would go down better?

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Why Blogs Can Be Extremely Profitable But …

There is a cloud over many of the world economies caused by the financial woes in the USA. When the American banks sneeze the rest of us catch a cold. This is causing a lot of people to worry about their jobs and mortgages, so of course there will be many who look at blogs for a quick buck.

I’m not a “make money online” blogger, I don’t really do the monetization posts like Darren or John Chow, but I do believe blogs are an excellent way to make some money, even if it is just a supplemental side income.

There are low overheads and potentially high profits, doing something fun and rewarding. What’s not to like? read more

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March 25, 2008

Deep Jive Interests Looking for Guest Blogger

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For those unaware, Tony Hung, our former editor here at the Blog Herald, is actually an MD (medical doctor, that is). And whenever he’s not busy saving the world, he loves to write about new media, particularly on Deep Jive Interests. However, with a big exam coming up, Tony will be unable to post regularly on his blog. So to make sure the site stays alive, he’s looking for guest bloggers.

[M]y Royal College Exams in Internal Medicine are here (or will be, in April and May), and seeing as they are the Final Exams one writes at the end of one’s medical training they are rather important.

Although my training won’t quite end, because I’ve decided to do an extra year’s training in Palliative Care, this Exam is the Big One. Its the kind where people sweat and stress, and really, start studying in earnest about a year before the exam date.

In case you’re interested, or know someone else who may be, do get in touch with Tony. You can help the new media scene with deeper, jivier and more interesting thoughts and commentary over at Deep Jive Interests!

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Malaysia To Bloggers: Forget The Past, Let’s Be Friends

Malaysia, a country located in the South Sea of China has decided that opposing dissenting voices just may be bad for elections.

So instead of persecuting vocal bloggers, the government of Malaysia now wants to make peace with those who shout out against it from virtual microphones.

(ABC Radio Australia) Dropping earlier threats of arrest, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition now says it wants to listen to dissenting voices.

The information minister, Ahmad Shabery Cheek, says he is keen to meet bloggers and build a bridge for a two-way dialogue between the government and people.

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Creating Barriers Between You and Your Readers

One of the mistakes that most bloggers make is their continual addition of barriers between them and their readership. They might not even realize they are doing it, but these barriers can mean the difference between a successful blog, and an “okay” blog.

Comments

The first barrier I want to talk about is comments, or rather the barriers that bloggers place on their comments. To combat spam, we have done a variety of things, but in doing so, we could be killing the potential conversation on our blog. Nothing stops conversation faster on a blog than closing the comments. WordPress makes it easy to close comments, and doing so will protect you from spam, but creating a community around your blog is one of the best ways to make it successful.

The next worse offense in my opinion is forcing registration to comment. While this also helps with stopping spam dead in its tracks, it also turns off readers who feel over-subscribed. I have accounts on so many blogs, sites, and services, and I feel like if I have to sign up for one more site, I will go crazy.

I know I am not alone as a friend of mine, Mark, has noted that he hasn’t commented on the Splashpress Media blog, Performancing, because of the registration requirement, despite him enjoying the blog, and wanting to join the conversation.

I think this is where OpenID could really shine, as we continue to try to find a happy medium between fighting spam and allowing legitimate users access.

The last comment related issue that I see many blogs adding are complex CAPTCHA’s. These word images are becoming so complex and difficult that I can barely read them. I’ve written about CAPTCHA recently on Devlounge. Please spend time finding something better than CAPTCHA. Knowledge tests are much more preferred, but keep it simple to allow international readers a chance to “break the code”. If you ask something like “Who is the current President?” You’ll be putting up a huge barrier to those that don’t know, don’t understand the question, and the answer changes over time, making it more complex.

Subscribing

The second barrier I see bloggers creating is with subscriptions. If I enjoy your blog, and I want to subscribe, then you are gaining access to a piece of my mindshare. If you publish partial feeds, I will no doubt unsubscribe. Even worse, if I can’t find the subscription link on your blog, then I will move on as well.

For me, the biggest reason for bloggers to publish easy to find, full feeds is that they will be gaining access to my daily mindshare and attention. I will be exposed to their writing each and every day. Isn’t that worth more than the few pennies you will never receive by me clicking through to your actual blog?

Advertising

I understand that blogs as a business need advertising to survive, grow and even prosper, but advertising can be a huge barrier to your users. If you lay on the advertising too heavily, some users will move on without really understanding your message, or reading your content. If you put all the advertising at the top, users will sometimes leave before your content even loads, and many will not scroll down to find your content, even after it loads.

If you use animated advertising, you might find yourself with a large distraction on your blog. Who can focus on content when they have a chance to win an iPod Touch if they just make the flash widget do more pushups?

Advertising can be helpful if used correctly, but it can also be a huge barrier if done incorrectly, and far too often bloggers are using it incorrectly.

Design and Typography

The final, and one of the largest barriers that bloggers put between themselves and their readers is their design and typography. If you have a poor design, especially one that has display errors based on the browser your audience uses, you could be putting up a huge barrier and not even realize it.

Just because you downloaded a WordPress theme, doesn’t mean it works in ever browser. There can be huge issues with typography. I’ve seen a blog that was very different based on if I was in Windows, Linux or OS X. It was completely unreadable in one operating system, while beautiful in the other, but because the font wasn’t installed by default on all of my computers, I was given a different experience on each computer.

Conclusion

There are many ways you can turn away users from your blog, and in this increasingly competitive world, standing out from the crowd and making as few mistakes as possible, is the smartest way to success. Keep the barriers as few as possible, and reap the rewards of a strong user base.

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