1,000 Commenter Deserves Recognition

BlogStats-121307I want to thank everyone who contributes to the community on my blog. I have come to realize my initial post is just the beginning of the conversation, and it is through readers and their comments that real value can be added to my post. I have been fortunate to have an excellent community building around my blog and I want to thank you.

I can’t believe I recently received my 1,000th comment. I thought this milestone is worth mentioning and the commenter should be recognized. In fact as I write this, I am almost to 1,050 comments.

My 1,000 commenter is Opal of Vegan Momma. I was not surprised that she was the 1,000 commenter as she frequently visits and contributes to my blog. I figured I would interview Opal so we could find out more about her and she was kind enough to take the time to respond.

Interview with Opal of Vegan Momma

 

1 – How did you get into blogging?

Hmm, I had the website Vegan Momma long before I started blogging. I had a lot of info that I wanted to write about, but I wanted to do it without using Dreamweaver.  That’s how I found out about blogging before that time I had no idea what “blogging” could do.  I checked out Blogger. I hated it!  I deserted the blog the first day I signed up.  I moved onto TypePad stayed with them for 9 months and finally moved my blog onto my website Vegan Momma. I should have done that from the beginning.

2 – What attracts you to a blog, and what keeps you reading?

Solid & informative content what keeps me coming back.  I want to visit someone that is friendly and takes time to respond to their visitors. If I feel like I’m having a conversation with you, well you are added to my blogroll and my RSS Feed.

3 – You have numerous blogs that you write, can you give a quick list and overview?

Wow, that would take a long time.  I’ll just write about a few of them, ok?

Vegan Mommawww.veganmomma.com/blog

Is my main baby? Initially, I created this website so I could talk about veganism after about a year (surprised it took me that long) I grew weary talking about that. I was only networking with other vegans.  I don’t follow that practice in real life so why in the world am I doing it online. This website is constantly evolving recently I’ve been writing more about health, nutrition, exercise, and alternative ways people can make money online.  You don’t have to write reviews, and you don’t have to be dependent on search engines for your traffic.  I’m not.

Healing Yourself Naturallywww.healingyourselfnaturally.com

I’m passionate about alternative health so it’s only natural that I write about it.  I guess it’s my way of showing people there are natural ways remedies for the variety of ailments we encounter throughout life.  I don’t think over the counter remedies should be the first choice.  I’m hoping through providing information/recipes that people will be open to other methods to heal themselves.  In many cases you can heal yourself naturally without the side effects that is associated with medication.

The Raw & The Cookedwww.therawandthecooked.com

This is a whole food recipe website.  I don’t post junk food on here.  Westernized cultures consume entirely too much junk food I’m not about to prepare those types of recipes.  We have a high amount of disease we really need to wake up and focus on what we our putting into our bodies.  Many diseases that plague our society (various cancer, diabetes, heart condition, high cholesterol) can be linked to our health choices.  Its time we wake up and make changes in our lives.  We have only one body quit filling it with junk.  ☺

Weight Loss Diva’s – www.weightlossdivas.com

This one is currently sitting collecting dust.  I’m going to hire someone to take on this project they will have a similar vision as myself and be extremely knowledgeable about nutrition. There are many people searching for ways to lose weight.  I think many will look for a quick fix to accomplish these goals although some might lose weight rapidly following these methods, it’s not the healthiest option available and if you don’t have a plan on how you are going to maintain the new figure the weight will come back.

A Homeschool Resourcewww.ahomeschoolresource.com

I created this website because there are many people who are single that want to homeschool their child but think they cannot accomplish this.  I believe they can. I’ve met single parents who work outside the homes that are able to accomplish this.  That is impressive.

4 – You are a very busy person, how do you have time to work, take care of your family, and still write your blog and build community?

It can be hard fortunately I don’t require too much sleep.  I sleep three – five hours nightly and I’m fully rested.  I also take care of my body which accounts for me not needing a lot of sleep.  

I take the time for what is important.  My daughter, businesses, fitness & relaxing.  My daughter is my #1 priority, naturally she comes before everything.  I manage to fulfill most of my goals simply because I make a schedule and try to stick to it.  I don’t make excuses.  Yes I do have to make sacrifices occasionally, but I’ve seen the benefits of doing that, and it inspires me to do more.  My hard work is paying off.  I could sit around complaining about what I cannot do but how is that helping me?  It’s not.  It takes a lot of work to be “successful”.  Success isn’t always about money.  I’m willing to put in the time and sacrifice to become a success.

5 – You receive quite a bit of positive feedback concerning your blogs, what suggestions do you have for other blogger’s?

Stay positive.  It’s great to have regulars, but it’s also nice to reach out to new people.  I try to follow up with every new person that stops by my blog.  Sure they get the generic email that goes out to all my readers, but I also try to send them a personal email.  I respond to the comment they left and invite them to come back.  I also let them know if they have a blog I will be stopping by to visit.

Opal also followed this question up with a list of suggestions. They were such great suggestions that they get their own post.

6 – It is obvious that photography is one of your hobbies, do you have others?

I have many hobbies. Although I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, I love creating it.  I imagine over the past several years I’ve sold hundreds of jewelry pieces, and I’ve given many of them away also.

Helping Others

Hmm, is that a hobby?  I volunteer a few times monthly at a local homeless shelter.  I’m also a mentor for an 11 year old girl.

Fitness

You might as well say that is an addiction.  It keeps the stress at an all time low.  The past few months have been very stressful. I’ve got a lot on my plate but the exercise keeps me positive and the projects that face me daily just aren’t so bad.

Extreme Sports

I love skydiving this is a something I put on hold when my daughter made an appearance I’m hoping it’s something I can pick up when she is a little older.

7 – You have a young daughter, how do you balance how much to disclose about your family on your blog?

People are shocked when I tell them I’m a private person because some say I’m so “open” on my blog.  What I reveal on my website is only a small sampling of who I am.  I don’t reveal everything about me of course that goes double with my daughter.  I don’t use her first name on my website.  I’m not comfortable revealing too much about my daughter so I don’t post too many pictures about her or write to many personal things about her.  If she wants to reveal tidbits of her life when she takes up blogging (I believe she will) than that will be her decision. Of course, if she is underage I’ll keep a tight control on what she can or cannot reveal. Now that I think of it that would be pretty cool if she decided to blog on momma’s blog when she gets older. Barring any unforeseen problems I believe Vegan Momma will be around for a long time.

8 – Does Aiyana help you blog, and does she have any favorite bloggers?

Yeah, tries to get in the way, lol.  Currently she is “blogging” but those are simple notes for family/friends.  She’s been reading since she was three. It’s amazing how much she has improved in that aspect. Since I know how important technology is I encourage her interest and let her explore, under mommy’s supervision.

Who are Aiyana’s favorite bloggers?

I’ll name the top three. I honestly think you’re her favorite.  Why?  You have a lot of screenshots on your website.  She sees that a lot with my work.  I take screenshots of my work and send them to clients. Occasionally I do that on some of my website’s.  She makes that connection and thinks you must be “ok” because you do something that mommy does.  She also knows you work with computers.  She knows that mommy loves computers/technology.  She usually calls you Mr. Thomas the Tech Guy or Mr T the Tech Evangelist! She thinks it’s cool that you work on a computer must like her.  Her computer is a Windows OS a HPdv6000t that she has named “Zizzy”.

She likes Pelf www.chenpn.com and is in love with her new turtle website (so am I).  Ms. Pelf sent Aiyana turtle cards all the way from Malaysia so she is the #1 lady blogger in her book.  

She also likes Mrs. Beth www.eclecticstudiocafe.com/blog Mrs. Beth sent her a gorgeous photo of a jumping spider.  It’s framed and hanging in our room.  She’s also fond of her daughter although the only way she’s met her is through her photo online.  Anyone that shows a lot of pictures will get a lot of attention from Ms. Aiyana.  She’s visual.  Currently mommy is on her “bad list” because I haven’t been posting a lot of photos, lol.

9 – You have 4 ferrets, what are their names?

My adorable little monsters, lol.  I cannot imagine my world without my fuzzbutts. I named them after Hindu deities; Ganesh, Indra, Hanuman, & Kali.  Although I’m Buddhist I’m accepting and interested in a variety of religions.  My ferrets can be found at www.ferretshaven.com.  I’ve been neglecting their website.  However they have informed me if I don’t start posting videos and pictures they will hide my keys, again!  😉

How you “view” me online is how I am in person.  I’m very approachable and am always smiling.  People like that.  Thomas, thanks for taking the time to interview me.  You’re a fabulous person, my favorite Microsoft guy, and I’ve been a fan of your website ever since I discovered you earlier this year.  You’re an excellent example of how to make your website interesting.  You do it well.

Summary

Thanks to Opal for the great information, and thanks to my readers and commenter’s. If you are a reader and have not yet commented, please feel free to add to the conversation.

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Becoming a Technical Writer

MSTP-Cover I have received quite a few emails asking me about becoming a Technical Writer. I appreciate these emails and do what I can to steer people in the right direction.

After a couple of emails asking similar questions, it seemed prudent to create a post dedicated to this issue. Here is the advice I have for you concerning becoming a technical writer:

What is a Technical Writer?

The most important thing about being a technical writer is being able to convey, in simple terms to a wide audience, how a product works and how it is used. You can have the best product in the world but if your audience is unable to figure out the features and functionality then the product might be perceived as crap.
The main skill of a technical writer is the ability to speak with developers and subject matter experts and then translate this information into useful units of information for your audience – whoever that audience may be: developers, network administrators, end users. Your job is to document concepts, how the product works and how to use it.

Technical Writing Cycle

To create good usable content, you need to follow a creation cycle. Here is an example of a production cycle:

  • Read specs or initial product information – create rough drafts and schedules for content
  • Get an idea of features and functionality by using the product, and talking to Developers and Subject Matter Experts
  • Write initial content to be sent out for review
  • Cycle of Review / Revise – repeat until content is ready
  • Content delivery and possible localization into other languages, if appropriate

Becoming a Technical Writer

I have a couple of posts that to review as technical writing samples:

These posts will give you some examples of technical writing. I have others if you want to dig through my blog a bit. If you are really interested in becoming a technical writer, you should start building up a portfolio on your blog, or on your computer. Pick some ‘how to’s’ you want to write about, and then document them. If you get the chance have your friends review this content to ensure that you have written the information that people need to get the task done. This will start giving you some experience and will give you samples to hand over to potential employers when the time is right.

Check if your local college offers any technical writing classes. Check out the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications – you can purchase a used version on Amazon.com. The style guide will give you a foundation for technical writing, such as how to write about the interface, and what the different interface components are called. I will admit the style guide is Windows biased, but it will still give you a solid foundation about technical writing. I am sure there are other excellent style guides out there, but this is the one I am most familiar with.
Technical writers can earn a decent living, and doesn’t necessarily mean you will earn less then developers. Remember you are the voice of the product, and without a good voice a product will not do well. Good technology companies recognize this fact.

Microsoft.com/college is a site that contains great information about the requirements for becoming a technical writer at Microsoft as well as information concerning other careers. It is an excellent resource for understanding the different careers available at Microsoft.

Feed Subscribers – Welcome to My Process

For those of you that actually subscribe to my feed, you now know more concerning my post writing process. I was revising a post, I was writing on Becoming a Technical Writer, that will be live tomorrow and I hit publish instead of the formatting drop-down menu. I tried to go to the WordPress managerial interface and set the post as ‘Draft’ but I was too late, it appeared to hit the feed already – dang where is that feed lag when you actually want it?

When the post goes live tomorrow morning at 6 am PST, you will see the difference between the article that I accidentally published and the final version. This will just give you additional insight into my writing process. Those that don’t subscribe to my feed this issue will be moot.

Sorry about the confusion – I think you will find that tomorrows article contains more information and is easier to read then the one I accidentally published.

What Happened to David Airey?

I have talked about David Airey before – he is an Irish Designer and friend of mine. David has an excellent blog on graphic design and advertising. He recently went on vacation for a month and was nice enough to let his readers know in his post I’m having a break.

It turns out that while on vacation, someone hijacked David’s website. He details the issues he is facing in his post DavidAirey.com hacked. I try to think the best of people and then something like this happens and I get pretty bummed. David worked hard to build a solid reputation, successful blog, community, and design site only to have someone pull the rug out from underneath him. Someone else is now reaping the rewards for all the hard work that David has done. If you read David’s post the level of composure he has is pretty amazing.

David’s new site is www.davidairey.co.uk. David outlines how you can help in his post DavidAirey.com hacked:

If possible, I’d greatly appreciate you helping me to spread the word of my move. Also, and I don’t like to ask, but if any of you have a link to my blog on your site, it’d be very kind if you were to change the .com to .co.uk.

http://www.davidairey.com is in the hands of a hacker.

http://www.davidairey.co.uk is my new online home.

I have found David’s site to contain excellent content regarding graphic design and advertising, as well as how to write a better blog. There are a lot of good tips to be gleaned from his blog. His blog is well worth reading, and that is why I added his updated link to my blogroll.

I Won an Award

In her post I’m a Bodacious Friend, teeni of vaguetarian tea room presented me with a BFF Award. The following from her post details why I received this award:

Thomas at Thomas – Technical Blogger – I met you through Opal I think and at first I was intimidated by all your technical knowledge. But I soon saw that you were more than just a techno-geek. You had insight that you were willing to share, a beautiful daughter and family, a good sense of humor and a kind heart. I may not always understand the technical stuff like I used to, but you played a game of volleyblog with me and made me feel like I mattered. Thank you, my good friend.

I wrote a post outlining Why I Blog – I Want You to Kick Ass! From my post:

I write about technologies to help you be successful. Sometimes I will give you straight information, other times I hope I give you information that makes you stop and possibly ask some additional questions.

I want you to kick ASS!

teeni let me know that I am on the right track. Writing technical content, and also writing about my family is a balance I try to constantly maintain. I want to keep my blog technically focused, but also let people know that there is a real person behind the writing.

I want my technical content to be accessible and possibly fun.

Thank you very much teeni, I am honored to have received this award.

Celebrating a Page Rank Drop

Life in the Country Logo

After the last round of Google Page Ranks, there appeared to be quite a shake up of rankings. Some blogs that were posted higher dropped in ranking for reasons that are not immediately evident. Snoskred at Life in the Country wrote about A Little Competition To Celebrate My Page Rank Drop. In this post she defines the problem she has encountered with Google Page rank:

This time last week, my site www.snoskred.org had a page rank of 4. Now, I seem to have a page rank of 3. I cannot work out why this would be so – all the advertising I have been doing is over at the old site, which continues to have a page rank of 4. However Wendy Piersall reports that Mommybloggers seem to have been hit. If that’s the case, perhaps someone should let Google know I have kitties, and not kids!

Then Snoskred steps up to the plate and outlines a competition celebrating her page rank drop.

– Write about the competition on your blog and link back to my blog however you like in that post – you receive 5 entries (be sure to comment on this post with a link to your post so I can make sure you get your entries)

– Comment here on the blog – you receive 1 entry. You can comment as many times as you like during the month. Each comment = 1 entry

– I will be putting entries into the prize drawing bowl daily.

On the 14th of December, I will draw the winners.

Now you may be thinking – hey it’s already the 14th in New South Wales when this is being posted. I am not concerned with entering the competition, I am posting this for a couple of reasons:

  • I consider Snoskred to be a friend who writes good, interesting content.
  • I believe that people should be made aware of good content regardless of their Google Page Rank.
  • Link Karma is good.

On her blog Snoskred documents one of her favorite past times ‘scambaiting’ and has weekly guest posts from other bloggers. She also documents her life in the country in Australia.

Snoskred’s competition epitomizes the spirit of ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” and it is this attitude along with her content that I am happy to recommend “Life in the County” as good reading.

Best Buy – Being Wrong the Right Way

At some point in time you are going to find yourself on the wrong side of an argument, a business plan or a proposal. You’re going to encounter a situation that did not quite go the way you planned.

Anyone can display character when things go smoothly, real character is displayed while facing adversity.

With the above thought in mind I would like to commend Best Buy on their current actions. If you are not familiar with the recent chain of events on Laughing Squid:

Post on Improv Everywhere Shirt

Scott Beale posts Improv Everywhere Best Buy Blue Polo Shirts. Improv Everywhere created a shirt very similar to the Best Buy employee shirt with a logo that states Improv Everywhere. I will say that I don’t quite get the humor of Improv Everywhere, but that is not important to the story at hand.

Improv Everywhere Best Buy polo shirt

Cease & Desist

Scott posts Best Buy Cease & Desist Letter For Blog Coverage of Parody about the cease and desist letter he received from Best Buy concerning his coverage of the Improv Everywhere Best Buy polo shirts.

Best Buy Cease & Desist Letter by Laughing Squid, on Flickr

Best Buy Cease & Desist Letter by Laughing Squid, on Flickr

Phone call and Apology

In his post Best Buy Apologies For Sending Cease & Desist Letter, Scott documents his call to the Best Buy Corporate Public Relations Group and the resulting apology letter he received.

Best Buy Apology Letter by Laughing Squid, on Flickr

Summary

I have to commend Best Buy on their handling of this situation. It sounds like Scott called them and had a rational conversation with them to explain his side of the story. Best Buy understood and realized that they had sent out the Cease & Desist letter inappropriately and sent out an apology.

As I said in the beginning at some point we are all going to be on the wrong side of things. This is just one example how to correct those errors when the are encountered.

Kudos to the people at Best Buy for issuing an apology, and thanks to Scott for the great reporting concerning this incident. Scott received the cease & desist letter, and instead of being reactionary, related his side of the story and was able to resolve this issue.

This is a good reminder for me concerning how to behave the next time I am on either side of this type of situation.

Photo Credits – Photos are from Laughing Squid.

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