Using an Author Box to Reduce Sidebar Clutter

Today I came up with another idea to get rid of sidebar clutter, an author resource box.

Usually, an author resource box is used in blogs written by multiple writers, or by authors who routinely write for article directories which syndicate their articles out to everyone and anyone. An author resource box is the only way the writer can keep credit and get something back in the form of self promotion for their written work.

With an author resource box I can give readers a little blurb about myself and link to my Twitter, Flickr and other social media networking profiles. A very short note including my credentials as a writer and a little self promotion. As an added bonus I can remove those social media links and widgets from my sidebar.

My other recent changes to reduce sidebar clutter are about using sub-pages instead of sidebar space. I’ve put my links (blogroll) into it’s own page which can be found in the top menu. My Lifestream feed has been moved to a sub-page where it doesn’t slow down the load time for the main page(s) of the blog.

I really think it is important to consider what people (other than myself) are actually going to look at in the sidebar. If something is mostly there for me to see it, then I can move it to a page and see it there.

Note: After quite a bit of trial and error the plugin I am using to create the author resource box is New 2 WP Author Box. It is a bit too wide, but it may get some finishing touches as it goes along.

Imagination, the Monster

The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination. – Richard Wright

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by your own imagination? All the stuff locked up, and ever expanding, inside your own head?

I feel that everything we see, smell, hear, taste and touch becomes a part of us. It never leaves, even if we can’t bring it to mind when we try to think of it. All of it is still there. Our imagination takes it all and mingles it in new ways, finding new ideas from the database we give it.

This is why I don’t like violence shown in the media. It becomes part of our culture, part of our surroundings and part of our imagination. Whether you believe it, or not. Nothing that goes into your mind is ever really lost. Like karma, it will come back to you in ways you can not imagine.

Attention Game Developers

My nephew and I were talking one day after school this week, we want a game that is a combination of StrongHold and Fallout. A game where the world has gone through an apocalypse and is being rebuilt. But rather than being just a basic shoot them all, we want it to include building towns, villages and be about gathering straggling civilization back into order again. We want to rebuild the world from it’s own ruins. A game where you gather resources, likely have to fight off other survivors and others who are rebuilding in their own way (possibly with a conflicting philosophy to our own).

Also, this game must be playable on the PC as well as PS3 and gaming media.

That is your challenge, game developing and designing people.

What would your ultimate game be if you were designing or developing a game of your own? A new board game, not a computer game at all? What would the rules be? Is it cutthroat or more about learning and building things?

So far the ultimate game to me has been Carmageddon.  But, I also like Stronghold, Caeaser and it’s international variations, Civilization and The Sims. Others, but I can’t think of them right now. Mostly city building type games. I like the challenge of making it all work and then, if they dare to defy me, I kill them all. (End the game, quickly and not in a nice way).

The Creature with Six Arms

Now and then in the media they depict aliens from other planets as creatures with multiple arms. I’ve seen drawings and real people on film wearing costumes to look like they have six arms, like a grasshopper or some other insect.

I was thinking this morning that you could do a lot with extra arms. Play the piano and clap at the same time and then use the last set of arms to fold your laundry. It would be very complicated to use three sets of arms though, to keep track of each task you were doing at the same time. I think I’d have brain burn out. So, if there were a creature that really did exist with that many arms and lived a life as complicated as our own (versus an insect) it would have an exceptionally well functioning brain.

Write about this creature. All the things it can do and all the things it thinks of with this super kind of brain. Does it have any other abilities?

A Frustration of Errors AKA Happy at Last

miscellaneousI’ve been having trouble uploading graphics into my posts. It started awhile ago when I updated to another version of WordPress. I ignored it for awhile cause I wasn’t doing a lot of drawing at the time. Then I tried to fix it, no success. I couldn’t even figure out the problem. Each time I tried to upload a file I just got an error (roughly saying file not found).

Although I tried fixing it through WordPress settings I was only looking in the Media section. This past week I happened to wonder what was in Miscellaneous. Oddly enough, the only thing in Miscellaneous was the settings I needed to change to upload media files. Kind of a silly, backwards place to put that I think. Why not in Media Settings? At least I was finally able to upload media files again. I had a mini celebration and proceeded to draw about Miscellaneous and how awesome it can be.

I thought I was all set for uploading my drawings. I was wrong. When I tried to post my drawing I was blocked again. I had an error about some precondition thing. I asked for help in the CMF forum and Turnip found just what I needed. To make a long story short, it is working. Thanks to Turnip for the help!

Give a Link Even if you Don’t have a Blog

These days we assume people have a blog, not everyone does however. Or, some might not want to leave a link to their blog for whatever reason. (For instance, someone writing adult content might not want to have that link represent them when they are just sharing general information with others).

If you are leaving comments on blogs you could always add a link to something else, not a blog. How about a profile on a site where you use the forum, or a dating site? If you have Twitter or another social media site add that as your link/ website. You just need something that gives people a place to find you and give you some feedback too.  Even if it’s just to thank you for the comment.

Also, should you later want to link a blog to yourself you will be known by at least one link where people have followed you in the past.

The End of Cable TV?

For years I have heard predictions that newspapers, magazines and books will fade away as they are replaced with digital media. I’ve protested. I can’t take a computer to bed with me, I don’t even want to. It just wouldn’t be as comfortable as taking a paperback which I can fall asleep with and not worry if it falls out of bed during the night.

Today, thinking about television and the cost of it (over $50 a month for me) I started thinking that all the predictions could be right… but they’ve been looking in the wrong direction. It won’t be print publications that fall to the Internet but the digital signal we watch on our TV screens.

How many people already watch TV shows and movies online, in various ways and means? How simple would it be to just watch everything on the Internet instead of owning a television and paying for cable service along with digital boxes and HDTV and other extras they convince people they just have to have? Would it really be any hardship to watch TV on the Internet? I don’t think so. Usually I only have it running in the background while I’m online anyway, I hardly notice what show is on unless I find one I actually want to watch, the odd time.

Can you debate this, for and against? Come up with 3 points for each side, just for fun.

Spinning Perception

Tim Horton’s says you save ten cents on their coffee refills if you use the plastic mugs instead of the paper cups. They could have said you pay ten cents for the paper cups each time. But it sounds better to save ten cents than to be charged an extra ten cents.

My sister opened a business a few years ago. Her initial price for admission and birthday parties had to go up when she had a better idea of her expenses after being open a month. I told her to say it had been an introductory price for the new business, a sale price, but now the business was going back to charging the standard rate. (As if that was the plan all along). She really liked the idea versus just raising her price and explaining that she had to charge more. Instead, she let customers think she had been giving them a deal (which she had, just not intentionally).

Public relations and putting a different spin on things is always interesting to me. You can format or frame an idea in a different way and completely change the outlook of others. Does it mean people are gullible? No, I think it just means there is more than one way to look at things, like being optimistic or pessimistic.

“Subliminal perception is a subject that virtually no one wants to believe exists, and — if it does exist — they much less believe that it has any practical application. . . . The techniques are in widespread use by media, advertising and public relations agencies, industrial and commercial corporations, and by the Federal government itself.” – Wilson Bryan Key

“Public-relations specialists make flower arrangements of the facts, placing them so that the wilted and less attractive petals are hidden by sturdy blooms” – Alan Harrington

Evangelist Marketing: Using the Buzz!

I stumbled on the term evangelist used in a job description. It was a first for me. I went on to read more and look it up as a career option too. I did find a job which wanted someone to create buzz for their company using all the social media and other online options. I also read about how some companies embrace the buzz about their products/ services and others intentionally ignore and downgrade it even. (I think they must be stuck in the mud). I also read more about the idea itself, evangelist marketing theory.

From Wikipedia: How to Create customer evangelists?

In their book, Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force, Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba outline six steps to creating customer evangelists:

  1. Customer plus-delta (Continuously gather customer feedback)
  2. Napsterize knowledge (Freely share your knowledge)
  3. Build the buzz (Create intelligent word-of-mouth networks)
  4. Create community (Encourage communities of customers to meet and share)
  5. Make bite-size chunks (Devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customers to bite)
  6. Create a cause (Focus on making the world, or your industry, better)

WebProNews: The Power of Customer Evangelist Marketing

AimClear: The Respectable Social Media Marketing Evangelist

FastCompany: Buzz without Bucks

For that job.. The company wanted someone to run the corporate blog (including creating podcasts), keep an eye out for any mention of the company and it’s products in any kind of web media and then play it up, cater to it. You would be involved in customer feedback and beta testing offline as well.

The right candidate:
• Has a deep knowledge of and passion for technology
• Is one of those “connectors” that makes other people want to follow them
• Has experience with, and passion for, creating and consuming new content types: websites, blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc.
• Is an active blogger (This is a must! – be prepared to show me your stuff)
• Will be the go-to person when it comes to what’s hot and what’s not on the Web.
• Is a self-starter with the willingness, and desire, to “roll up your sleeves” and get the job done
• Has masterful interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills with a juicy Web 2.0 style
• Has the ability to work collaboratively in a team environment
• Might have past experience as technology evangelist- this is a plus!

Word of Mouth Marketing Association

New Journalism?

Where do you fit in on the idea of print versus online media? Do you think the end of local newspapers, radio and television stations is just a sign of the times (changing economy and changing technology) or do you see things differently?

From the Shores of Introspect and Retrospect posted about the closing of the local newspaper in Colorado.

I posted my own comment below:

It’s very foolish to think the “new media” will or can take the place of a published newspaper for an area. For one thing, there are few new media sources which focus on any one area. One person publishers can not be unbiased in their reporting and they can not be everywhere and find the news which a staffed newspaper can.

Also, though few would think it important, the advertising flyers which we rely on to find where the specials are each week. While newspapers are a great source of local events, local business reviews too, let’s not ignore the local sales too. Online media can not offer what a newspaper has to offer.

I think relying on bloggers and new media will not be good for our language skills either. Someone who has not be trained as an Editor or other type of English language professional makes mistakes in spelling, grammar and punctuation. I like to think I am above average but I know I am not perfect. There are mistakes which I make (over and over without knowing) which a professional editor would catch, and fix.

This post is especially hitting home for me as we are seeing the possible end of your local TV station here in Barrie. Mainly a money thing. But, I think money is the symptom of the cause. People are relying on the Internet for news and entertainment. There is less of the market for TV, radio and print than there was before the Internet. But, I don’t think the old forms of media are invalid or no longer needed. Each fills a different need and utilizes the resources for news and communications in different ways.