Special Father's Day Post: Description of My Dad

Shannon's latest Makes Me Smile Monday theme is fathers. When I think of my childhood and spending time with my father, I think of us playing catch in the field near our house. He always pretended I was throwing the ball so hard and fast that it hurt his hand. He would also swing a rope with a ball around the end while I batted it. My dad was more supportive with me for baseball than any other sport -- perhaps because he could participate...

Google Reader's Shared Items Feature -- Allows You to Easily Share Selected Posts from Your Feeds

Google Reader offers a Shared feature that allows you to share select posts from your list of feeds in Google Reader by simply clicking a Share link (see image below). You can then provide your readers with a link to your shared items page as well as your shared items feed. I just added my Shared Items page as a link in my header.

PostSecret -- a Postcard Confession Site, Fathers Theme

Have you ever run across Postsecret? It's an interesting site showing anonymously submitted confessions on postcards. This latest post has a father's day theme -- some are sad confessions, others are downright funny, like the one below:

Survey Results of My Blog's Readership and My Accompanying Analysis

Last week I posted a survey on my site asking who my readers were. Here are the results of that survey. You can view the report here as well. Geographic Breakdown Here's a geographic breakdown of where my readers are located. Survey Analysis Most of my of my readers are in technical communication. They're more interested in blogging than podcasting, and only a handful have met me personally. This means I'm largely writing for strangers....

TechCrunch Founder Interview on iinnovate -- Arrington Talks About How Blogging Is a Treadmill

This innovate podcast with Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, provides an interesting look into entrepreneurship. Arrington says blogging can be like a treadmill rather than a train — the treadmill (blog) just requires more and more content without really going anywhere. He actually says blogging is not a good business. Each day you have to generate new, interesting content for your blog to keep readers coming back. The best kinds ...

Intro to Information Architecture -- Reflections on the Different Roles We Can Play

This podcast from Tim and Tom's Design Critique is a good introduction to Information Architecture. Information architecture involves making content findable, usually in reference to websites. How intuitive is it for users to locate what they're trying to find or do? The role of the information architect is to organize information such that the user has no trouble finding exactly what he or she desires, particularly in situations where th...

My Podcast Picks

My Recommended Podcasts feed gives you the best episode picks from a variety of podcasts. These podcast episodes often spur me to write about their ideas. You can subscribe to the Recommended Podcast feed here. (You can also read about 17 podcasts I recommend here.)

Installing Mediawiki Is Much Easier Than The Instructions Suggest -- My Quick 10 Step Tutorial for Installing Mediawiki

If you glance at the instructions for installing Mediawiki, it looks like you have to run complicated scripts with shell access to your server and other geeky stuff. In reality, it's about as easy to install as Dokuwiki -- assuming you have a typical hosted account, such as with Blue Host or Lunar Pages. Here's how to do it. To install Mediawiki: The latest version of Mediawiki requires PHP5. If you don't already have PHP5 on your serve...

Madcap Flare Spotlight -- "Six Persistent Flare Problems" Post by Paul Pehrson

Update Feb 2008: If you read Paul's post at the link below, almost everything is now crossed out, because Madcap has either fixed all the problems Paul raised or they explained workarounds. It's a really interesting read. Also, be sure to check out this podcast with Paul as well as my post on 45 Things I Love About Flare, 31 Things I Hate About It. Paul Pehrson has an excellent post detailing six persistent problems he's encountered with ...

A New Approach: Tech Comm News

Listen here: In this podcast, Heidi and I try to cover the latest news related to the technical communication field. We amassed a number of newsworthy items on a wiki and talked about most of these items. For shownotes, see the wiki archive page. There you can find links to everything we covered. If you have news you would like to submit to the podcast, add to the wiki here. To contact me, send me an e-mail at tomjoht@g...

Google Master Plan Video -- Speculations on the Hidden Purposes Behind Google's Information Collection

Destry Wion pointed out this video detailing Google's Master Plan to me. Really interesting presentation to watch. Google's simple motto is "Don't be evil," but as they achieve total human omniscience, won't it be tempting to start abusing that power? I hope they use it for good -- such as catching criminals and stopping terrorists, rather than empowering marketers. Google is still viewed as cool; if they abuse their power, they'll lose t...

Everything Is Miscellaneous -- The Problem with Classifying Information

I heard a good podcast on IT Conversations called "Everything Is Miscellaneous." Dr. Moira Gunn interviews David Weinburger, one of the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto (which was the Web 2.0 manifesto). One of Weinburger's points is that traditional models of classification are breaking down. Information cannot be neatly categorized and shelved anymore. Everything is thrown into a giant box labeled Miscellaneous. His point is best expr...

Writing Style to Keep in Mind for Blog Posts -- Be Clearer Than Usual, State Main Point Up Front

I came across a good article on writing style for blog posts. Pro blogger Darren Rowse says, The average person only comprehends 60% of what they read. .... To ensure your reader ‘gets' what you're saying you need to make it clear by using some of the following techniques. - Use simple language. Avoid technical jargon. - Don't introduce too many ideas in one post. You can always add another post later. - Start your entry wi...

Punishing by Rewards -- Motivational Techniques That Don't Work

This podcast from Alexander Kjerulf, called "Why 'Motivation by Pizza' Doesn't Work," opened my eyes about the reasons behind motivation.  We were on the verge of implementing a member recognition/rewards program in our chapter when Clyde Parson sent me the link.  Kjerulf's podcast was so good I listened to it twice. In brief, Kjerulf says you can't motivate someone by offering a reward, whether the reward is a bonus or a pizza, or whethe...

Leadership Lesson: After Building Some Trust, Make Direct Invitations

I learned a great leadership lesson today. For a couple of weeks a few of us were complaining that no one wanted to do the STC competition this year because it's too much work. And so often in the chapter we feel short on volunteers. You have to twist people's arms to get them to do anything, it seems. Not really. Mark Hanigan e-mailed me saying, "I would bet that there are quite a few people who would volunteer to take on roles if you ca...