blogging

The Empire’s Coming to WordCamp Toronto 2009!

by Joey deVilla on May 2, 2009

Darth Vader in the lineup for Wordcamp 2009

WordCamp Toronto 2009, the Accordion City-based conference dedicated to the WordPress blogging platform (which this blog runs on), takes place next weekend, May 8th through 10th. It’s a three-day, three-track conference with offerings for WordPress users of all types, from those just getting started with blogging to hardcore developers and designers plumbing deep into WordPress’ internals.

This year, a couple of guys from The Empire – whom you might know as Microsoft — will be presenting at WordCamp Toronto. We’ll be giving away all sorts of prizes, too!

Paul Laberge

On Day 1 at 11:00 a.m. – that’s Friday, May 8th – my coworker Paul Laberge will make his presentation, titled Customizing Your Blog on Your Local Windows Box, in which he talks about using Microsoft tools like the Web Platform Installer and Expression Web on your home computer to make the most of your WordPress blog. Here’s his abstract:

Your blog represents your online personality and as such you spend a lot of time making sure the look and feel reflects who you are. While the blog platforms available (such as WordPress) provide you with much of the plumbing for your blog, you still need to tweak it until it looks just right for you. In this session, we’ll show you how you can customize your blog on Windows using the Web Platform Installer and Microsoft’s web design tool called Expression Web, all from your local machine. Oh, and we have giveaways, too.

Day 2 – that’s Saturday, May 9th – Yours Truly will be on at 2:00 p.m. giving my presentation, Better Living Through Blogging, where I suggest that blogging is more than just personal publishing or self-expression; it’s a means to a better life. Here’s my abstract:

I took up blogging at the suggestion of my friend Cory Doctorow when my job responsibilities had been whittled down to five minutes of actual work per day. What started as a way to break out of boredom turned out to be a life-changer: I made many new friends, got a couple of TV appearances, landed a couple of jobs, met my wife and even dodged a bullet. In this presentation, I’ll regale you with stories about how I made my life better through blogging, share what I’ve learned over the past seven years and give you some tips and tricks that I’ve found useful. And yes, there will be prizes and a rock and roll accordion performance, too!

WordCamp Toronto 2009 will be held at The Oasi Restaurant, which bills itself as “Toronto’s new centre of creative gravity.” It’s located at 99 Sudbury Street, a hop skip and a jump away from the Queen/Beaconsfield neighbourhood of the Gladstone and Drake Hotels. Registration is pretty cheap: just CDN$50 for the whole conference; it’s CDN$35 if you’re a student. For more details about WordCamp Toronto 2009, visit their site. I hope to see you there!

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A glass of beer and a book
Beer and science have always gone together!

nature-networkI’m going to speaking at tonight’s Nature Network Pub Night here in Toronto on the topic of blogs, how they’ve helped me both do and find work, and how people in the sciences can make use of them.

The pub night is being held at Fionn MacCool’s at University and Adelaide (the full address is 181 University). People will start assembling there for dinner, drinks and conversation at 6:00 p.m. with the presentations starting at 7:00 p.m..

If you’re interested in getting to know your fellow science-types in town or want to catch up with me and talk about blogging, programming, science, accordion playing or anything else, please drop by tonight!

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The Air Force’s Blogging Chart, Version 2

by Joey deVilla on January 5, 2009

F-35 Lightning II fighter plane
Yes, I know that an F-35 Lightning II fighter plane has nothing at all to do with the article, but I loves me some fighters!

Captain David Faggard, Chief of Emerging Technology for the U.S. Air Force, sent me a revised version of their “rules of engagement” chart for responding to blogs and other online postings, and in PDF form to boot! You can find this chart at the original article, The Air Force’s Rules of Engagement for Blogging.

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Update, January 5, 2008: Captain David Faggard, Chief of Emerging Technology for the U.S. Air Force, sent me an updated version of their chart, whose changes are based on your comments. The chart appears in this article, and you can click on it to download a full-sized PDF version.

You’ve probably seen many articles on companies and organizations saying that they take social media seriously. Here’s one such organization that you might not expect: the United States Air Force. Take a look at the Air Force Blog Assessment chart, reproduced below:

U.S. Air Force's "Web Posting Response Assessment V.2" chart
Click the diagram to download the PDF version (455K).

The “rules of engagement” are quite good. You might find them to be useful for your own blogs, whether personal or corporate.

WebInkNow recently covered the Air Force’s approach to social media, which is far more involved than many companies who only pay lip service to the idea. They’ve assigned someone the role of “Chief of Emerging Technology”, whose job is to develop strategy, policy and plans for the Air Force’s “communicators” and whose mission is to use or build web applications as a means of engaging Airmen and the general public in conversation. The goal is to make every single Airman a communicator.

The Air Force has quite a presence on the web, which includes:

As with the Blog Assessment chart, you might want to use the Air Force’s social media strategy as a model for your own. Check out WebInkNow’s article for more.

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Exposed

by Joey deVilla on November 23, 2008

Emily Gould

How’d I miss this? Here’s an article – Exposed — from the May 25th, 2008 edition of the New York Times Magazine about one blogger’s experiences and the lines that you can cross while writing blogging, both personally and professionally. It covers some issues to keep in mind when writing in a forum that can be accessed far and wide.

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b5media logoOver at TechCrunch, Mike Arrington posted an article titled Big Blogger Pay Cuts At b5Media. As a recent ex-b5er (I’m the former Technical Project Manager), I thought I’d provide a former insider’s perspective:

  • b5media paid bloggers based on pageview statistics drawn from AWStats, which produces its results by analyzing the the server log files.
  • In b5’s experience, AWStats reported pageview counts that were significantly inflated — I’m talking numbers that were sometimes two-thirds higher than reality — and this was confirmed when AWStats’ results were compared with those reported by SiteMeter, a package we believe is far more accurate.
  • b5 recently made the switch to Omniture’s web analytics package, which delivers more accurate pageview statistics and can do the kinds of detailed analysis that the company needs.
  • As a trusted third party, Omniture provides results that can be trusted by:
    • The bloggers. Unlike AWStats, which is run by b5 and based on data on b5’s servers, Omniture’s data is collected and processes by a neutral third party with a solid industry reputation.
    • Advertisers. Just as TV ad buyers look at ratings and newspaper and magazine ad buyers look at circulation, blog advertisers look at pageview stats, and they need to be able to trust the numbers we provide them.
    • b5’s investors. They use the size of the readership as a metric for the company’s performance, and like advertisers, they need to be able to trust the stats.

Simply put, up till now, b5 has been paying bloggers based on inaccurate, inflated pageview counts. If you’re a b5 blogger and your pay drops as a result of the switch to Omniture, you’re not getting ripped off; it just means that the system no longer makes errors in your favour. It was a nice ride, but it had to end sometime.

Even under the new pay structure, blogging under the b5 umbrella is a pretty sweet deal. A guaranteed minimum CPM of $4? That’s awesome compared to the alternatives out there. Consider my personal blog, The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century, which has been averaging about 200,000 pageviews a month (outperforming most of b5’s blogs) and has had over 2 million pageviews this year according to StatCounter. I do a big happy dance when my CPM makes that rare climb over $1.10. $4? Sign me up!

To summarize, I believe that b5media’s new pay system for bloggers is both the right thing for the company and fair to its bloggers. I stand behind CEO Jeremy Wright and the rest of the b5 team in their decision.

Recommended Reading

For more details, I recommend you read Jeremy Wright’s blog post in response to the TechCrunch story.

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