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Blogging about Blogs

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Ch-Ch-Changes Update: Comment Problem SOLVED!

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Eureka!

After copious feedback from my small but loyal audience, I believe I’ve solved the “I can see everyone else’s answers so why bother guessing?” problem with my latest Photoshop contest.

WordPress has an available plugin called Comment Timeout by James McKay. It’s simple enough – it enhances WordPress’s built-in “all comments on or all comments off” functionality by allowing the administrator (that’s me) to specify an age at which posts no longer receive comments. But more importantly (to me, anyway), it allows me to override the setting on a post-by-post basis.

So, I’ve set posts to “timeout” at zero days old (i.e., immediately), which sends all the comments to moderation. But for all non-photoshop posts, I can override that setting with one-click at posting time. So now, most posts on this blog will allow (encourage!) comments as they always did, and the Photoshop contest posts will send them to my moderation queue. I’ll leave them hidden until I reveal the answer to the puzzle, and then people can click back & see what everyone else’s guesses were.

Problem solved!

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 1 Comment »

Back to Blogging?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

With 2011 coming to a close, and my Brain Celebri-teaser contest coming to an end, I’ve been thinking about what to do with my blog in 2012.

The Photoshop contest had basically become the entirety of the content in 2011 for two reasons. First, the amount of media I consume exploded this year (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts, as well as the e-mail & blog traffic I used to read), and despite the name of the blog, I do eventually need some sleep. Second, the very presence of Facebook’s status update feature has allowed me to share quick thoughts and/or links with a much wider audience and with much less effort.

That said, I’ve come to miss writing longer form entries (even if very few people read them), so I’m thinking of starting up again. I won’t be foolhardy enough to plan out a schedule, because every time I’ve done that in the past, I’ve failed to keep it up. But I have been brainstorming some topics/features to write about. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

If anyone has any requests, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m open to experimenting if you guys are…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 2 Comments »

To follow, but never to lead…

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

OK, the social media revolution is complete. I joined Twitter.

<rationale>
I’ve been reading too many articles lately in which some newswire is relaying news – typically celebrity news – based on what the celebrity in question has just tweeted. So, I figure, why not use Twitter as the news source it has become? I do not ever intend to tweet (I’m already on Facebook, and I honestly can’t see a reason to be on both, unless I’m caught in a real life, hashtag-worthy event…). Rather, I plan to use Twitter as a kind of “Facebook of the Stars,” in which I can read about what various celebrities are telling the world without having to catch up on them through E! Online or Yahoo! Gossip or some other aggregator that has worked an exclamation point into their name.
</rationale>

So, at the advice of a friend, I googled “Most Twitter Followers,” which led me to this site – a list of the one thousand most popular tweeters. Of the thousand I found there, I “followed” 59 people. Here they are, sorted in order from most followers to least:

1) Lady Gaga21) Al Yankovic41) Hugh Jackman
2) Justin Bieber22) Larry King42) David Blaine
3) Britney Spears23) Wil Wheaton43) Drew Carey
4) Barack Obama24) Lindsay Lohan44) Lea Michele
5) Kim Kardashian25) Penn Jillette45) Miranda Cosgrove
6) Katy Perry26) Bill Cosby46) Craig Ferguson
7) Ellen DeGeneres27) Dalai Lama47) John Hodgman
8) Taylor Swift28) Brent Spiner48) William Shatner
9) Oprah Winfrey29) Alyssa Milano49) Steve Martin
10) Justin Timberlake30) Kevin Nealon50) Sarah Palin
11) Ashley Tisdale31) Nick Swisher51) Seth Meyers
12) Ryan Seacrest32) Yoko Ono52) Tina Fey
13) Paris Hilton33) Sarah Silverman53) Roger Ebert
14) Demi Moore34) Neil Patrick Harris54) Bill Maher
15) Jimmy Fallon35) John Cleese55) Joan Rivers
16) John Legend36) Dr. Phil56) Pamela Anderson
17) Al Gore37) Barbara Walters57) Miley Cyrus
18) Conan O’Brien38) WikiLeaks58) Jessica Simpson
19) Dr. Drew39) Michael Moore59) Howard Stern
20) Stephen Colbert40) Kathy Griffin

In terms of actual entertainment, I am fans of some of these folks and not of others, but they all looked like they might produce interesting tweets, which was my only criteria here (and thus concludes the story of how a Twitter user came to follow both Michael Moore and Sarah Palin on the same day. If only I had a way to share this exciting news with everyone I know. Oh yeah, that’s right: Facebook).

Anyway, first impressions of Twitter as news source:



Yeah – this is gonna get weird fast…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs, Movie Talk, Primetime TV, Words about Music | 3 Comments »

In which I apologize to Astrology fans everywhere…

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

OK, so it all started back in August of 2009, when I saw on one of those “Born on This Day…” sites that Leonard Bernstein and Billy Ray Cyrus share the same birthday. I thought this was somehow ironic, and posted it under the heading “Proof That Astrology Is Nonsense.”

Fast forward to April of this year, when I turned the concept into a (mostly) weekly series, showing photos of pairs of celebrities who shared the same birthday and were somehow “odd couples.” Eight of these posts went by with the usual reaction – an occasional comment or a “Like” from the Facebook crowd.

But then yesterday, I published my ninth post of the series (George M. Cohan & Franz Kafka), and started receiving multiple messages from folks who were upset about how I was over-generalizing, over-simplifying, under-valuing, and speciously criticizing the field of astrology. None of which was the point, of course, as much as it was to highlight weird pairs of celebrities. That said, astrology? Really? Is nothing up for free ridicule anymore? Ah well, live and learn.

In any case, I’ve renamed the series Unlikely Twins, and have removed just about all references to astrology and/or horoscopes. Hopefully, we can all now share a weekly chuckle, and leave the arguing to important matters – like politics. Or whether the World Cup is getting in the way of a perfectly good baseball season.

(And oh, by the way, Happy Birthday to both Ringo Starr and Gustav Mahler, composers of Yellow Submarine and Kindertotenlieder – Songs on the Deaths of Children, respectively…)

Categories: Blogging about Blogs, Unlikely Twins | 9 Comments »

Brandon’s Blog

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Last night, my younger son, Brandon, asked me, “Daddy, can I have a blog?” When I asked why he wanted a blog, he told me he wanted to post pictures of baseball fields and funny houses. Of course, no father could possibly argue with such sound logic, and so, without further adieu, I present to you all: Brandon’s Blog.

It also has a place of honor on the top menubar of this site, in case you lose the URL and need a fix of ballfields and funny houses.

In the spirit of encouraging young bloggers, if you’re reading this and are so inclined, please take a peek over there, rate some pictures (Funny, Cool, or Interesting), and maybe even leave a comment. I’m sure he’d get a kick out of that. Thanks!

Categories: Blogging about Blogs, Family Matters | 5 Comments »

Man Bites Dog Story: Facebook drives blog traffic

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Lileks, 2/5/10:

Was amused to read that Kids Today have stopped blogging, more or less; they’ve moved the blurtage over to Facebook, which makes much more sense. The web is the Great Heaving Sea; Facebook is an auditorium. Tumblr is a flea-market. Blogs will either be for writers, or communities gathered around a particular ideology or subject, or ace aggregators who can spit out 30 unique links a day.

(Jason Bennion has some interesting thoughts on this too, which I will link to as soon as he gets his blog back up & running).

On balance, I can’t say I disagree with Lileks. Popularity-wise, Facebook is to blogging what blogging was to personal homepages back in 1995. That said, there are some counterexamples.

Take the week of January 25-29, 2010, for example. Someone (and who knows, really, how these things get started) declared it “Doppleganger Week” on Facebook. The idea was that you’d replace your profile picture with a picture of a celebrity who you’ve often been told you look like. So, by the end of the week, rather than reading status updates from your friends Joe, Mike, Janet and Kate, you’re reading updates from Charlie Sheen, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and Demi Moore. A waste of time? Sure. But hey – it’s one of those communal time-wasters that gives everyone something to schmooze about for a while, and isn’t that really what Facebook is for?

Now, flashback about 3.5 years ago, when someone sent me a link to a celebrity face recognition service. It being 2006, I blogged about it, rather than Facebook sharing it or tweeting about it. The resulting blog post contains a lot of celebrity images and links to pages about those celebrities, which not only makes it a valuable resource for Doppleganger Week, but also gives it enough Google Juice (hat tip: Jeff Jarvis) to show up at the top of the list in all sorts of queries about celebrity images.

The result? Here’s Facebook’s Doppleganger Week as viewed through my Google Analytics stats:

For the two weeks prior to Doppleganger Week (Jan 11-Jan 22), my little corner of the web here garnered 665 pageviews, with the Celebrity Look-Alike post accounting for just 18 of those.

For the following two weeks (Doppleganger Week actually seemed to last more like two weeks – Jan 25-Feb 5), the Celebrity Look-Alike post received 389 pageviews on it’s own, an increase of just over 2,000%. The site as a whole had 1,045 pageviews in those two weeks, a 57% increase.

The Celebrity Look-Alike post went from 2.7% of my traffic to a whopping 37% of my traffic during Doppleganger Week(s).

All thanks to Facebook. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to cross-post this blog post on my Facebook wall, in hopes of getting that crowd to click over here and read it. Because I’m old-fashioned that way…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 7 Comments »

The Twelve Sentences of 2009

Friday, December 11th, 2009

In the first of two Ilya-inspired posts (the second being “How People Found Me” – coming soon!), here are the twelve sentences that started off each month of 2009 here at I Should Be Sleeping:

January: Happy New Year to all!

February: Given the current state of the U.S. Economy, the following new rules will be instituted for this year’s annual Groundhog Day celebration festivities:

March: A few weeks back, Time Magazine published a list of the 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis, in which it details the 25 people (or groups of people) that it considers most “blameworthy.”

April: The New York Times ran an interesting article last week about the impending obsolescence of voice mail.

May: Jeff Porten raised an interesting question about the water boarding of 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, which led me to do some more detailed reading on the subject, specifically the International Red Cross Report on Detainee Abuse, and several of the Top Secret DOJ memos from May, 2005 that President Obama recently declassified (Memo 1, Memo 2, Memo 3, Memo 4).

June: As some of my readers are aware, I have been resisting joining the two newest social networking trends – Facebook and Twitter – for quite some time now.

July: It seems the new iPhone 3GS is not a big fan of direct, prolonged sunlight:

August: Sorry I’ve been away so long – its been a combination of being busy with non-blog things, a dearth of short, pithy things to say, and a host of longer, meatier topics that I’d like to discuss, but haven’t had the time to write about.

September: I’ve just returned from my first indoor baseball game – the Minnesota Twins played host to the Chicago White Sox in the soon-to-be football-only Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome here in Minneapolis.

October: This story was related to me at a leadership seminar today.

November: [Halloween was] very successful, thank you.

December: So many blog-worthy things going on in the world all at once!

And, like Ilya, they are generally reflective of what was going on all year, but in no way insightful or coherent when viewed together. Ah, tradition – how your sweet comfort frees us from the need to make sense of the things we do each year…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 3 Comments »

If I’ve Told You Once, I’ve Told You a Thousand Times…

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Today is quite a significant milestone in the extremely insignificant world of I Should Be Sleeping. This is my 1,000th blog post. In honor of this prestigious, yet highly inconspicuous occasion, I present you with some fun facts about my little corner of the web:

If I’m being brutally honest about my progress, I’d say I’m reasonably pleased with what this blog has become – a place to record my thoughts, an opportunity to learn a bit about running a modern web site, and a chance to watch the web grow from a static medium to a dynamic medium to a socially networked medium. I’ve made some legitimate friends here, and have made the acquaintance of a few interesting, if not notable, people (a few of whom have sent me free stuff!).

That said, I’d love to see the site “go viral,” and become a place where dozens of people I don’t know discuss the topics I throw out there, but I haven’t found the time nor the secret, magical ingredient to make that happen so far. After 4.5 years and 1,000 posts, I think it’s safe to say it will probably never happen. Then again, you can’t win if you don’t play.

So, to sum up, I thank you all for being a somewhat-willing part of this. If you’re still reading at this point, you are likely one of the 5-10 loyal readers who have provided more than half of the traffic described above. A special thank you to you guys as well.

Here’s to another 1,000 interesting things to say!

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 4 Comments »

Linking WordPress to Facebook – My non-ideal solution

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Warning: This is one of those technical posts that won’t make much sense to many people, but will be a goldmine to those who have exactly the same problem I was just working on. OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s begin:

A few weeks ago, I became both a Blogger and a Facebook user. One of my first tasks on Facebook was to find a way to link my blog posts to my Facebook Wall & News Feed, so that my Facebook friends could read my posts without me needing to cross-post them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Categories: Blogging about Blogs, Tech Talk | 4 Comments »

Minor Blog Maintenance

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Lately, I’ve found myself using the “Recent Comments” widgets on other blogs more frequently, in order to keep tabs on comments I’ve made, whether or not people have responded, etc.. That realization led to a second realization, which is that my blog didn’t have a “Recent Comments” widget.

As you can see on the right sidebar, this travesty was finally rectified this morning.  Astute observers will also notice that I’ve also made the hyperlinks on the right sidebar consistent with the rest of the site, and have finally figured out how to get bullet points to show up there without destroying the site layout.

As is typically the case with updates to a blog template, most of this matters more to me than to any of you, but I will ask my regular readers (the few, the proud!) to let me know if anything looks askew on their particular combination of hardware, operating system, and web browser.

Thanks all…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 5 Comments »

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