In an effort to make me actually write something here, I decided to revamp the look of the site with (what I think is) a nice, clean white two-column theme. Like it, hate it, indifferent, or think I should just shut up and write and stop messing on with themes and widgets? Let me know.
Archive for the 'Blogs & Blogging' Category
I blogged here about tumblelogs a long time ago.
Now I’ve finally signed up for one. Here’s mine: Lost and Found
I plan to use it for shorter, more frequent posts, pictures, songs and links which deserve a little more comment than you can give on del.icio.us. This blog will remain of course, but I’ll try to post longer, more in-depth articles, reviews and comments.
Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog recently you’ll know that I’m into web 2.0 services which aggregate all your content in one place, so you may never need to visit my Tumblr blog at all. But please feel free to catch up with me on Friendfeed and Swurl.
It’s Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and it’s a PC gaming blog:
Here’s the 411: It’s written by some of the funniest and most experienced people in PC games today (people like Jim Rossignol, John Walker, Alec Meer and Kieron — BremXJones — Gillen, if you don’t believe me). It’s also not bogged down with the kind of crappy publisher-funded non-reviews that populate big-name sites like Gamespot, Gamespy, IGN, et al.
That means there’s a good balance of big-name stuff — like Far Cry 2 — and weirder indie games, as well as some retro trips down memory lane, such as when Kieron remembers the genius that was Syndicate, before Peter Molyneux lost his marbles and Bullfrog went down the toilet… Ah memories.
You may remember Commoncraft, creators of simple but effective ‘For Dummies’-esque, 3-minute online tutorial videos, such as Social Networking in Plain English and Social Bookmarking in Plain English. I like them because they’re uncomplicated and get straight to the point, packing in enough content to get the message across to newbies without being overwhelming like, say, reading an article at Wikipedia on the same topic.
They’ve recently released a new video entitled Blogs in Plain English, which you can also catch on Youtube:
It’s an interesting take on a complex topic. LeFevre decides to show the difference between ‘old’ news which relied on publishing companies, editors, professional journalists and so on, and ‘new’ 21st century news. The latter, through the internet, allows anyone with an interest in any topic to become a newscaster.
I’d have liked it if they’d given a few seconds to the ‘splog‘ phenomenon, instead of just glossing over with facts about numbers of blogs being on the increase, and ‘oh, look how easy it is, why not start one yourself?’. Still, you can’t have everything: overall, this is a very effective and entertaining introduction to the world of blogging and blogs that even your grandmother could understand.
Yep, you read that right:
Yay! Here’s to 100 posts on this blog and countless more hours spent carefully constructing text that virtually no one reads. That’s a lie, of course; to date I’ve had 24,084 hits — and that’s just since I moved to WordPress in July of last year.
All told, I’ve been blogging for 18 months, or 566 days, or 13584 hours, or 815040 minutes, or… you get the idea. In any case, that’s roughly 1.3 posts per week — not bad for an amateur!
Popularity-wise, How (Not) To Buy A Hang Drum has been far and away my most read post, with a staggering (for me anyway) 5,919 hits. Not surprisingly, most people find this blog by typing “hang drum” or similar into Google: the above post is actually on the first page of Google’s results for hang drum at the time of this writing.
I received 358 hits in a single day earlier this year, but most days I get a respectable 100-150. Hardly major league (or even Vauxhall Conference for that matter), but not bad for a non-specialist blog from a rank amateur. Of course, it’s not all about the traffic — well, actually, none of it’s about the traffic because I don’t have any ads on here, so I make absolutely no money — it’s all about the love baybee!
So here’s to another 100 posts. Goodness knows what I’ll write about, but lack of a topic or a marketing strategy hasn’t stopped me in the past!
I decided to change my blog’s theme today to the recently released Digg 3 column theme by Small Potato. I’ve wanted a 3-column theme for a while mainly because, under the old 2-column theme, my sidebar went on for miles. I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll keep this new one or have a look around for others, but I thought a fresh look can’t be bad… Right? It looks a bit cluttered at the moment, but maybe I just need to reorganize my sidebars a little bit. I also need to find a new image for the header – I was getting a bit bored of the old head-melt graffiti.
In any case, watch this space…
UPDATE: Later that day: Er, yeah, well – I got bored of Digg 3. Basically, it didn’t really fit with the style I was looking for, so I ditched it in favour of this one: Cutline by Chris Pearson. Despite the fact that it’s back to two columns, I think it’s a lot neater and less cluttered. I’m keeping it… For now…
I only found out about this half an hour ago, via this excellent post from Read/WriteWeb, so I’ve had limited opportunity to roadtest it. My first impression, as a dedicated Bloglines user for over a year, is that it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Finally, Bloglines is on an equal footing — in terms of looks and overall presentation — with popular alternatives like Google Reader and My Yahoo.
The first thing you’ll notice is the slick new Ajax interface: now you can drag and drop feeds on the fly, without having to enter a separate editing mode. The major innovation, though, must be the new start page. This brings Bloglines into line with most other modern web-based aggregators. Now you can drag your favourite feeds onto your home page and see all the top headlines in one place before you dip into individual feeds.
There are also a couple of different viewing modes: Quick View displays just the headlines for a given feed, while 3-Pane View splits the reading pane in two and puts headlines in the top pane and the full story below.
Since this is a beta, several features are lacking at present, such as options to save posts and clip to a blog — something which I use extensively on vanilla Bloglines. However, these are all scheduled for future releases, along with options to share posts (in true social bookmarking style) and greater power for users to personalize their feeds.
I’d also like to see Bloglines browser buttons so that I can subscribe to a feed in a single click from any webpage, as well as a button to clip a page to my clip blog for later reading. If this can be rolled out in conjunction with some robust sharing tools, it could make Bloglines a credible alternative to social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us.
UPDATE: 28/08/2007: The new beta doesn’t display properly in IE (at least in version 6, which is what we’re stuck with at work — I will test it on 7 tonight when I get home). It seems Bloglines are aware of this since they issue a notice to that effect when you attempt to log in: effectively, it states that you can upgrade to Firefox, or “continue on foolishly anyways”.
Like many other bloggers, I’m incurably self-obsessed, so I inevitably spend a large amount of time looking at my blog stats in WordPress. Recently, I noticed that a lot of people come to this blog to read my Hang Drum post. In fact, it’s one of the most popular posts on this blog.
Thanks to the magic of WordPress stats, I also noticed that these people have often found this blog by searching for “buy a hang drum”, “hang drum dealers” or similar. I expect that they’ll be disappointed with that post which is, essentially, a mild expression of interest in a unique and quirky instrument, rather than a How To guide.
Of course, I hate to disappoint, so over the past few days I’ve been trying to answer the question: how do you buy a hang drum? Unfortunately it looks like the short answer is: you can’t.
Here’s why: It turns out that a couple of guys in Switzerland — Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer — design and produce the hang themselves. Judging by what I’ve read on several other blogs and forums, these guys are only willing to make a “handful” of these instruments every year to order through their company, Panart. See this Metafilter post (and comments) for more details:
If you can make the trip over to Switzerland — and assuming they’re still making them — you can expect to pay upwards of US$500 for one. If not, forget it. Apparently, they set up a distribution network as well as a website (www.hang.ch – don’t bother going there; it’ll either give you a 404 or a filler search page) in the early days, but this was quickly overwhelmed by high demand. You may be able to find one or two on E-bay, but you should expect to pay a premium for them, as I indicated in my original post.
It’s actually incredibly difficult to find up-to-date information on the current situation, but it appears that they’ve either stopped producing the instrument, or are still making it in very limited quantities. Judging by the level of demand online, it’s highly unlikely that anyone outside a select few will be able to get their hands on one in time for Christmas 2007.
UPDATE: 26/08/2007: You’ll see that Michael from das hangblog has dropped by the comments section to helpfully give an updated picture of the hang-buying situation. Bottom line: you may be in with a chance of buying one next year — but you’ve still got to travel to Switzerland.
UPDATE: 24/04/2009: A hang drum fan called Tim has helpfully left a comment on the other hang drum post with some up-to-date information.