Category: Blogging about blogging

Blogging about blogging

VaultPress: WordPress cloud backup/monitoring/security updates

Automattic, corporate sponsor of the amazing WordPress web publishing platform, today announced the new VaultPress service and initiated a private beta.

VaultPress is, in short, a cloud service that provides automatic cloud-based backups, uptime monitoring, and security updates for any WordPress instance. They’re planning to charge about $10/month for the service, but will finalize the details at a later date.

As a WordPress administrator, blogger and consultant, I couldn’t be more excited about such a service. WordPress is one of the biggest Content Management Systems (CMS) out there, and powers everything from personal blogs (like to the New York Times. But like any web application, it requires backups, uptime monitoring, and quick responses to emerging security vulnerabilities. For people like me who administrate several clients’ WordPress instances, the overhead of such management is a serious challenge. VaultPress looks as if it will provide a great centralized way to do this for WordPress blogs of any size. And if the pricing turns out to be so low, it will be accessible to many, from the individual blogger to the biggest company.

Those wanting to get in on the private beta may apply for it here. While I’m not yet offering VaultPress as part of my custom WordPress consulting solutions, I’m keeping an eye on it for the future. And if you’ve been thinking about your own web strategy recently, (shameless plug alert) I love nothing more than putting people in command of their own web presence with tools like WordPress- feel free to drop me an e-mail at (my first name) .

Blogging about blogging

Creating Tunelog, a Music Industry Blog

For the last week I’ve been working  a lot on a new project of mine: a blog providing commentary on the changing face of the modern music business. I’m calling it Tunelog, which will be at once I’m ready to launch.

I have a few reasons for doing this right now. I’ve enjoyed keeping this blog, but at the end of the day, the stuff I write on is for myself, and it’s a nice bonus if anyone else cares to read it. It’s mostly personal stuff that’s a bit more thought-out than a quick Twitter or Facebook posting. And for every two things I post, I’ve got a mostly-finished rant sitting as an unpublished draft that I ended up rereading and thinking, “well that’s great, I guess I worked that thought out in writing and came to a better understanding of it, but I don’t want that drivel being seen by anyone.” But when I get more focused on writing focused material that would be presentable to others, I remember how much I’ve missed writing for an audience. (It’s one of the things I gave up in going after a Business Administration major.)

So I’m going like crazy after this syndicated blog deal. It’s amazing just how simple it is to produce content online these days, and the social Internet is making it even more effortless to access a loyal and interested audience. I have professional experience with WordPress and have the know-how that unintentionally comes with being a Facebook and Twitter user, so that helps me personally, but I really can’t believe how the barriers to building a brand from scratch have fallen in such a profound way.

I’m learning a lot as I go: unlike this personal blog, I’d actually like to gain some serious readership and make a bit of ad revenue from it. So I’m doing a lot of thinking about the right strategies to employ for such a business venture: search engine optimization (SEO), marketing through social bookmarking sites, and active participation in related online communities. There is something to be said about using these things effectively, but at the end of the day, publishing high-quality content that people actually want to read is what will make or break me.

I’m going in with an extremely minimal investment in the site beyond my own human resources. I’m intentionally telling my web app developer side to take a back seat to my side that likes to actually produce written content. I imagine that I will have spent less than 20 hours on technical site setup before it launches. I figure that even if Tunelog fails to gather an audience, I’ll be spending a good amount of my free time doing professional writing on a topic I enjoy writing about, and I’ll have developed several different kinds of professional skills and a portfolio site in the process.

My to-do list of pre-launch tasks is getting smaller by the day, and I’m looking forward to taking it public. I have two big strategy things left that I still need to think a lot about, even after the initial launch:

  1. I need to properly gauge the target audience’s attention span. I don’t want to be regurgitating other news blogs, but rather offering insightful commentary. The question is about how to effectively do that amidst today’s “too long, didn’t read” mentality. I have to figure how independent artists and other interested parties want to consume content.
  2. I need to polish off my writing skills to present stuff professionally without sacrificing the unique voice that I want to associate with my personal brand. I’ll probably tackle a few of my journalism nerd friends and try to tap their brains for ideas on how to do this.

So that’s it for now… I’m really excited about all the work I’m doing on this site now, and you can be sure to hear more about it as Tunelog comes closer to launching!

Blogging about blogging revamp

(Facebook and RSS readers, please disregard this post)

I’ve made a few minor updates to… It now uses Fusion, a great theme from Digital Nature. Threaded comments are now enabled: hover over a comment and you will find “reply” and “quote” buttons.

Also, I’ve added a sidebar with my recent posts on Twitter. I update Twitter much more often than I write blog posts, so if you want to follow my smaller, more frequent updates, you can keep an eye on the “What I’m doing” section of the sidebar.

Blogging about blogging

Social Network Overload

While technology has generally done huge things to help people communicate, I’m starting to feel like the internet has reached a kind of “saturation point” where the technology- or lack of integration and accessibility of information across applications – has become more of a limitingfactor in how I can take advantage of these communication channels.

Point in case: instant messaging. In the ’90s, AOL and Yahoo were king, and everyone was on. Now, I have to run a multi-protocol IM program to keep me logged into AIM, Yahoo, MSN, and Jabber. On top of that, I have to log into Office Live Communicator for my work contacts, Skype because it doesn’t work with my multi-protocol program…. What a mess!

Point in case: cell phone plans. Everybody has a “free mobile-to-mobile calling” plan to get existing customers to draw others in their social network to that cell service provider. Verizon has an amazing marketing term for this – you are “in.” Back in Arizona, it was very important to be “in,” because otherwise my friends would be more worried about calling or texting me. Now, providers are starting to let people choose a few numbers from other networks to add to the unlimited calling for an extra charge.

Point in case: social networking sites. Some people are on Facebook. Some people are on MySpace. Some people are on both but really would prefer that you use one over the other. If you’re not on one, you’re missing out on your friends’ activities and whatever they have to share. If you take pictures, are you going to publish them to Facebook? MySpace? Flickr? Are you going to take the time to upload them everywhere so that everyone sees them?

What it comes down to is competing products with the same basic functionality. Because most of these products/services lock your data into their network, it is hard to upload a photo or blog post and have it simultaneously show up everywhere: your social network profiles, photo galleries, your friends’ news feeds, your personal website. On the technical side, a lot of this could be improved by decentralizing data storage and making everything both publish and import RSS like crazy.

From a business perspective, I think that companies thriving on their social networks need to be wary of what happened to the record industry. At first, labels did extremely well because they controlled the distribution methods. Without their power to manufacture and distribute, artists were powerless. But technology improved and now the means to both produce and distribute music are much more accessible to everyone. Likewise, today much of the focus is on the site itself – are you on Facebook? Are you blogging on the same service as your friends? With time, this too will be come irrelevant, individual sites becoming homogeneous while technology still improves our ability to communicate.

On a much more practical level, I am frustrated by the need to keep up with everyone on different sites. I wish I could write my blog here, post my photos here, IM from one application, and have it all get to my friends. I don’t care about the transmission medium. I just am tired of all of the effort and upkeep involved in using many different apps that do the same thing. But if I don’t do it, I can’t reach everyone! Grr.

Blogging about blogging


Writing last night’s post reminded me why I blog in the first place. Yes, it was long, and probably didn’t make much sense to anyone but myself, but all of the thought and questioning required in transforming my abstract thoughts into written form helps me understand the issue at question better – I feel a lot less “lost in it all” now than before I sat down for an hour and wrote about it.

On a completely different schedule, living in Arizona for 4 years made me forget how much I detest daylight savings time.  My body didn’t adjust to the time change at all, and now that we’ve sprung ahead, being up “late” now means 3 AM instead of 2 AM, and now it’s 6:30 PM and I feel like dinner should still be a long way off.  Stupid northern farmers. DST is useless!

One good thing about it, though, is that it’s one more sign that spring will finally be here in 11 days. That doesn’t mean much in Colorado, and I expect at least 2 more substantial snowstorms, but the sunnier, the better.

Today I saw something I haven’t seen since last summer: a bee.  More specifically, a dying bee.

bee.jpg (yes, this photo is crap. My iPhone is my “carry-around” camera, not my Canon. Just trust me, that speck in the center is a writhing bee.)

At first the bee was running all over the window frames, and had me on the edge – I frickin hate bees. But after a few minutes, it changed to rolling movements, stretching and contracting, curling up, slowly kicking its legs in what seemed like a desire to go out fighting, to never give up. Now, though, it is near motionless, a victim of its own inevitable mortality.

I think it’s weird how we rarely see most living things die. Whenever I’m around wildlife, there usually are plenty of living creatures around me, but I don’t notice a bunch of carcasses. I guess a lot of it can be chalked up to the food chain, but I have to admit that nature is very good at cleaning up after itself. But what about this bee? It died on a coffeeshop windowsill, in the unnatural urban habitat controlled by the humans. Will a scavenging spider claim it? Will it be swept up by a barista at closing time?

Likewise, it reminds me of how insignificant my own life is from a universal perspective. All the time I spend freaking out over relatively little stuff could really be spent doing better things…