journalism technology writing

Worth reading this week

A quote I’ve been pondering lately:

“One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”  — Bruce Lee

Some interesting stuff that I stumbled across over the last few days:

Yes, This Photo from Everest Is Real – What happened to the days when Everest was the achievement of a select few? Now it looks like an assembly line of rich people all jockeying to get up and down the hill before they die.

Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think (Taming the Mammoth) – So much of what we do in life is predicated on the decision making of “what will other people think?” This is a great treatise on living on your terms in a way that minimizes the unfound fear that prevents so many of us from pursuing things that can bring us more happiness in the limited time we have.

You should have a personal web site – I’ve been meaning to get back to blogging for a while. This little article caught my eye and prompted me to dust off my blog and get writing again. Thanks Mark!

Incognito no more: Publishers close loopholes as paywall blockers emerge – I used to work at an online newspaper and I led some of our paywall integrations. I was always discouraged by the technology because I immediately saw the flaws and workarounds that could be used to skirt them. But seems I’m an outlier. As this article argues, the vast majority of website visitors aren’t tech-savvy enough (or couldn’t be bothered) with trying to go around paywalls (I suspect quite a few just give up and miss out on good content once they hit the end of their free viewing period).

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – I haven’t read the whole article yet, but I was directed to this story while reading Digital Minimalism. Really interesting arguments to be made for limiting screen time, especially for kids. I’m still working through the book, but my fav quote so far: “Regular doses of solitude, mixed in with our default mode of socialite, are necessary to flourish as a human being.

I’m always interested about what you read this week too. Feel free to share what you’ve been reading in the comments below.

Talk soon!



Using Google Reader’s “Send To” feature in WordPress

I’m a heavy user of Google Reader (GR). In fact, I pretty much read all of my web content from GR. I rarely visit a blog directly. It’s so much easier to aggregate all of my favourite blogs in GR and read them that way. It makes me more efficient, as I can quickly skim through tens or hundreds of posts. And, I can email interesting posts to friends. I use gmail, and Google has integrated the ability to send to people in my address book directly from GR. Easy peasy.

A new-ish feature of GR is the ability to “Send To”. Basically, within a post in GR, I can send some content to another app. Some default places a post can be sent is Blogger, delicious, Digg, Facebook and Twitter. But I use WordPress. What’s a person to do? Well… there’s good news. The good folks at Google have opened up the API to allow additional “Send To” locations to be added. So, a bit of tinkering and I was able to build in a custom “Send To’ so that I can submit stuff I read in GR directly to my blogs. This makes it much easier to blog about items that I find in my reading within GR.

And, to help you out, here are the steps to add your own custom “Send To” for your WordPress blog:


  1. In Google Reader, go to “Settings” (top right hand corner of the screen);
  2. Click the “Send To” menu option in the top nav bar of the settings area of GR;
  3. Select any default “Send To” places;
  4. To add your custom “Send To” destination, click the “Create a custom link” button at the bottom of the screen;
  5. Here are the settings that I used to get my wirepaper blog set up:
  6. Name:
  7. URL:”${url}&t=${title}&s=${source}&v=2” (without the quotes and obviously, replace the “” with your domain name)
  8. Icon URL: (this is my custom avatar – feel free to substitute it with your favourite)
  9. Click “Save”.
  10. Voila! All done.

Go back to GR and give it a try. Let me know how this works out for you.


Great Blogs for Bloggers

I’m working on another series and hope to have it ready to go for next week. In the meantime, I’m going to post some links to some other sites that have recently provided some content similar to my last series. At the very least, this should provide some additional reading material pertaining to good blog posts. And, I’ve also included one or two fun sites from people I’ve met recently. Plenty of good stuff to read here.

Here goes:’s 200 articles for bloggers
13 Must Read Blog Tips Warrior Blog- Internet Marketing Made Easy: The Affiliate Guide Marketing, Offering Affiliate Marketing Tip and Affiliate Marketing Tool
The Crazy Australian
Pro Blog Design

Thanks folks for your words of encouragement and for sharing your tips with me. Greatly appreciated!



Types of Blog Posts Day 5 of 5: Interaction type posts

In this 5 part series, we’re examining 5 Different Types of Blog Posts.

Post 5 of 5 (red)Question: What’s one of the best ways to build rapport with your audience?

Answer: To engage your audience in a dialogue. And the primary way of doing this is asking or answering questions. I’ve used this method a few times and it works wonders. Here’s why:

  • When readers ask questions, they have a vested interest in watching for a response.
  • When readers ask questions, you know that they are reading your content and that they want to engage in conversation with you.
  • When you answer reader questions, you are providing content that is in demand.
  • When you answer reader questions, you are telling your readers that you care about them.

All of this helps to build a sense of community around your blog. Community is so important. Few people last long simply sitting and listening to a lecture. The best teachers I’ve ever had have invited discussion, whether in the form of questions, comments or personal observations. It is this give and take between the participants that leads to growth in your audience.

Question-type posts are just that: You ask your readers to submit questions that they would like you to address in future posts. This is a great way to build a posting schedule for the near future if you’re unsure about what to write about. And, it’s also a great way to keep your readers coming back on a regular basis.

Answer-type posts are the follow up to the question-type posts (pretty obvious stuff). These are especially good when you provide links to the people that posed the questions. Everybody likes to see their names mentioned in print. Mentioning them at the beginning of this type of post immediately bumps your blog to the top of their favourites list for a while! Keep that in mind when trying to build community with your readers.

And, whether you use all of the questions or not in your blog posts, be sure to respond to every suggestion in some way. Remember, you’re building relationships with your visitors. Write them back. Thank them for their submissions. If you’re going to use their questions, great. Give them some sort of idea when you’ll be addressing their questions. And if you don’t use their questions, it’s probably a good idea to let them know why. After all, they did take the time to write to you.

So… to properly wrap up this post, I guess I should ask a question. Here goes:

What would you like to see me talk about in a future post or series of posts here at


Types of Blog Posts Day 4 of 5: Blog Series

In this 5 part series, we’re examining 5 Different Types of Blog Posts.

Post 4 of 5 (red)There are times when you have an ambitious message to get out to your audience. You want to cover a bunch of stuff and you’re not sure how best to structure it. A good rule of thumb is to keep blog posts short and easy to read. So, that rules out generating complex posts. So, why not break up a complex post into multiple posts?

Blog series are just that – a series of blog posts that has a unifying theme. Take this current blog series as an example. I wanted to convey my tips pertaining to different types of blog posts. I didn’t want to just provide a very basic list and leaving it at that. And I also didn’t want to provide a HUGE blog post containing all of this info. So, I broke it up into sections.

Here are the steps that I took to build this series:

  1. I made a high-level list of items that I wanted to present. In this case, I was able to brainstorm 7 key types of blog posts.
  2. I organized those items into a structured list. I managed to categorize the 7 items into a 5 item list.
  3. I expanded upon each item in the structured list. This became the text of each blog entry.
  4. I settled on a unifying theme to tie it all together. This was the “5 Days of Blog Posts” title that I gave to this series.
  5. I generated a simple, eye-pleasing badge (the Day X of 5 badge) to dress up the posts a little and to provide a bit of a legend to the post in relation to the rest of the series.
  6. I built the blog posts in WordPress and scheduled them for publication in advance. I wrote these posts a week in advance. this allowed me to be a week ahead of my post schedule and it also alleviated the stress of needing to produce a blog post on short notice.

One of my favourite things about blog series’ is that they allow me to be more verbose. In each blog post, I do my best to be concise and to the point. The ability to elaborate on each point means that I explain things with more detail, which adds value for the reader.

And, a blog series gives the reader a reason to come back each day. As long as the content is strong, it should keep your readers coming back throughout the series to see what’s going to happen next.

That’s it for today. Until tomorrow, tag!