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Archive for August, 2008


Stuff I have bookmarked for August 21st:

Category : Bookmarks | Blog

This rather mega post from Paul Stamatiou made me think about what I’m going to be using from September to manage myself and my business. Most of these I have been using for a while, or have just started to get set up.


I use Gmail for my email, set up  to work with the domain through Google Apps. It works wonderfully, including being able to access it on my iPhone.


I use iCal on my Mac, which syncs with the iPhone through MobileMe. Some people have had trouble with this service, but it works fine for me. MobileMe also means I have a web based version of the calendar should I need to give others access.


I have two types of documents, those that I am working on with others, and those which are pretty much just for me. The former I put on Google Docs, the latter I edit with Office 2008 on the Mac and save on my iDisk, which thanks to MobileMe is accessible from anywhere. All Docs I regularly back up on my hard drive.

I’m currently experimenting with how to plan work and time, with spreadsheets and calendars. Am sure I will figure it out soon.


I have contacts in my phone, synced to the Mac and online with MobileMe. I’m also starting to fill out Zoho CRM, which is an online customer relationship management platform, running in the browser, which is free for up to three users. It’s a very comprehensive system, far too big for my purposes, really, but I am trying to find the bits of functionality I need and how I can make them work for me.

The Zoho suite of online apps is truly amazing, though I have to admit to never having got into them properly because there is simply too much of it!


Mixture of old and new media here. First port of call is my notebook; but second I go for Evernote which syncs between web, iPhone and Mac desktop application, including text, images and audio.

What’s important

So what I seem to need in the apps I use is mobility. I need to be able access as much of my stuff as I can in different locations, whether I have my own laptop with me or not - and even when I only have my phone with me.

Category : Featured | Online Working | Software | Blog

Stuff I have bookmarked for August 20th:

  • URL Rewriting for Beginners - Apache - Added Bytes - Useful guide. Thanks to Pete Ashton for the tip.
  • Citizenscape - The CitizenScape eParticipation Programme Trial Project will integrate and test state-of-the-art Web 2.0 social networking ICT-based tools and solutions in a socially purposeful way in concrete legislative and decision-making processes - specifically looking at engaging Citizens to debate and engage with the implementation of EU environmental legislation at a local level.
Category : Bookmarks | Blog

Following up on the Scripting Enabled event, coming up in September, here’s a presentation setting out some of the background. Well worth clicking through!

Thanks to Dom for the pointer.

Category : Events | Featured | Presentation | Blog

Stuff I have bookmarked for August 18th:

Category : Bookmarks | Blog

I have been looking around recently at social networkings systems, focusing on freely available ones, such as Elgg (which powers the rather lovely UnLtdWorld, and which has its proper v1.0 release out soon) and PeopleAggregator. The other option I had thought of would be to fashion something out of Drupal.

A post at Read/WriteWeb, however, has made me step back and think a little:

Platforms like WordPress and Movable Type democratized the process of self-publishing. With these tools, everyone could be a publisher and it didn’t require advanced technical expertise to do so. Now, the next revolution for publishing is to bring that same ease of creation to the process of building social networks. With Six Apart’s recent release of Movable Type 4.2, that revolution has begun. The new release provides DIY tools for building your own social networking platform which includes member profiles, forums, friending capabilities, rating of content, and more. WordPress isn’t too far behind, either - a new platform called BuddyPress, is being built on the WordPress core. Is this the future of blogging? Or is this the future of web publishing altogether?

I had been aware of BuddyPress for a while, but whilst I have noted Moveable Type’s development, I’ve never really go into that platform, for some reason. I think the Buddy/WordPress approach is sound, though, not building up the core functionality of the platform, but adding the social networking features as add-ons. If you want it, it’s there to use, otherwise you don’t need to be troubled with it.

BuddyPress is sadly some way from being production ready, so for now I’ll stick with the dedicated social network platforms. But in the future, rather than learn a new system, it will be a lot easier to use one I am familiar with to develop exactly what I need.

What are other folks’ views?

Category : Featured | Social Networking | wordpress | Blog

One of the key things for any website is findability - in other words, it’s great having a site packed full of useful content, but it’s pointless if no one knows where it is. So, it’s about having good navigation on your site, but also being search engine friendly. Many people’s first port of call will be a search engine, and more often than not, that search engine will be Google. If you want people to visit your site, then, it’s a good idea to know how your site fairs in searches, and to find out how you can improve its performance.

This stuff can be called SEO, of course, although findability is a nicer, if clunkier term, that doesn’t make you think of black hats and registering thousands of Blogger blogs. There are some notes I took at an interesting talk at WordCampUK on the issue of SEO/findability here - essentially the message is “if you write it (well), they will come”.

To help monitor how well your site does in search engines, there are a number of tools to use, including traditional webstats services such as the remarkably free Google Analytics, amongst many others. Google has just released another, though, which looks like it could be really interesting to use, especially on high-profile, high-traffic sites.

Google Insights for Search is a tool to allow you to track and analyse the use of search terms in Google, allowing you to filter by location, date ranges or categories. So, you can whack in the name of your organisation, and track how many times it has been searched on over a number of years, comparing each year. This is useful because you can identify seasonal spikes - and the reverse - so you can anticipate demand, for example.

You can also compare the performance of two keywords alongside each other, again allowing you to track the two and see which are most popular in the searches people are performing. This is a better bet than using traditional metrics, which tend to show what search engne terms people use to find your website - it’s useful to know what related terms people use to find other website, to see if you can include content to pick up some of that traffic.

As I said earlier, this tool really is best used on sites with lots of traffic, as smaller site searches (like “DavePress” as a keyword) don’t register at all! I can certainly see value here for local authorities and government departments though, to see what people search for within their area of interest.

It will be interesting to see how people put this service to use, and how much value is does add in the end. Anyone tried it yet to track their organisations results?

Category : Featured | Search | Blog

Twitter is great, it really is. Even with the downtime, the dropping of SMS updates in the UK and other places, and all the other little irritations with the service, it still manages to inspire a considerable loyalty among those that use it.

As I have written elsewhere, it’s the fact that Twitter works as a service which makes it so cool. Rather than try to please everyone, all the time, through the use of its API Twitter has outsourced a lot of the user interaction stuff to other people, whether Twhirl, Tweetdeck, Twitterific, Hahlo or many others. Twitter is therefore the wholesaler of the service, rather than necessarily the retailer.

One of my favourite services built upon Twitter was the search engine Summize, which was so good that Twitter bought it. Now found at, the service will tell you exactly what is being said about a particular keyword or phrase. I found it really useful recently at WordCampUK, using it to track what people were saying on Twitter in a much more effective way that with, say, Hashtags.

Anyway, after all that preamble, here’s my top Twitter tip, which uses Twitter search. Simply run a search on @yourusername, and then subscribe to the RSS feed. You’ll never miss a reply again!

I hope people find this useful - it would be good to hear other people’s Twitter tips!

Category : Featured | Twittering | Blog

Blog Action Day is happening on October 15th this year, with a theme of ‘Poverty’. What’s Blog Action Day?

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

Here’s a video with some more info:

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

So now you know. Like Tom Watson, I’m thinking what I can plan to blog on that day…

Category : Blogging | Featured | Blog

Stuff I have bookmarked for August 15th through August 16th:

Category : Bookmarks | Blog