I’d imagine the vast majority of people who work at a desk or type away on a computer keyboard all day have pretty terrible posture. Probably a bad back, neck ache and shoulder stiffness, too. It’s something I’m prone to and even though I’m aware of the need to avoid slumping forwards, get up, move around, there are still too many sessions when I’m focusing in on a task and the time just disappears. Next thing I know I’m a hunched-over ball of imminent lancing agony as I try to de-contort my torso and regain some semblance of human form.
Anyhow, last week James Clear shared a very short exercise video by a chap called (or who calls himself?) Max Shank. I watched it, attempted the ‘thoracic bridge’ exercise that was recommended and… it worked. A minute or so of twisting and stretching on the floor (it’s a bit more technical than I’m making it sound – watch the vid below to get the proper picture) and my shoulders felt looser, my back stretchier. Even my neck stiffness wasn’t as pronounced as it tends to be. Good stuff. I’ve been clambering and stretching in the same configuration twice a day since.
Here’s the demo video. If you’re a fellow back-neck-shoulder pain casualty, give the thoracic bridge a go, let me know if it works for you.
I’ve just completed a project for Dragonwell Publishing, an independent genre fiction publisher based in the U.S. and selling both print and ebooks to a global audience via the Dragonwell webstore and Amazon.
Dragonwell’s Publisher Dawei Dong contacted me via a referral from one of Angry Robot’s authors. Following our initial discussions, I prepared a full overview report on Dragonwell’s online assets and social media channels. I was able to make a number of recommendations for potential enhancements, which Dawei was very pleased with.
By way of a first-stage project I’ve now re-vamped Dragonwell’s email templates – which involved an encounter with Mailchimp’s admin interface for the first time and a fair bit of HTML and CSS work – to boost the social media interactivity and cross-selling potential of their customer and reviewer ebulletins, whilst keeping everything clean, minimal and responsive on the design front. Hopefully the results are suitably simple-but-effective, as per Dawei’s brief. I hope to be given the opportunity to work with Dawei on other elements of Dragonwell’s online marketing mix in future.
If you’re a publisher – whether you’re an small press / independent, an author-publisher, or you work for a larger company or imprint – and would be interested in finding out what I could do to help you boost your online marketing results, please feel free to get in touch to discuss your requirements.
The latest version of WordPress, WordPress 3.7, is now available and is being rolled out via the usual dashboard reminder.
WordPress 3.7 is a system functionality and security release. Rather than adding any particularly impressive new user features or styling, it’s a quiet, understated upgrade that improves some of the core functionality.
WordPress users can now benefit from automatic sub-version (security and bug-fix) updates – so no need to trigger an update if WordPress clicks from 3.7 to 3.7.1 in a couple of weeks – along with options for developers to control the process. There’s also an improved password strength checker, to make sure you’re not using a password that hackers are likely to guess right out of the gate.
We’re also promised better search results via an improved algorhithm and non-English language sites will surely appreciate automatic language file updates.
In short: not much new to see or play with, but a few useful enhancements nonetheless. More info at the WordPress blog (along with a heads-up that the next version is due in December).
Upgrade now, folks.
I’m very pleased indeed to announce that the British Fantasy Society has engaged my services for the build and content management of a website for their annual convention, FantasyCon 2014.
At this stage, with the event just under a year away, the role of the site is to provide key info to potential convention attendees. I’ve deliberately kept the site quite minimalist in design, with a focus on usability, clarity and ease of navigation. The site will be developed further over the next few months as additional information requirements arise, event programmes are finalised and additional guests are announced.
If you’re running an event or convention and would be interested in a website to help promote the event and provide information to attendees, do get in touch and I’d be happy to discuss your requirements.
If you’re running your own WordPress installation – and even more so if, like me, you’re running sites on behalf of your clients – then the security of your WordPress site(s) and content is something you really should be taking Very Seriously Indeed. Don’t assume that WordPress is a ‘safe’ product – it’s only every going to be as good as the security measures that you apply to the server you’re hosting it on and the computer(s) or device(s) that you use to access the site.
This handy presentation, by Brad Williams and Brian Messenlehner from WebDevStudios was shared by hosting provider Siteground, following a webinar on website security that they ran recently (video of the full webinar is also available at that link).
I’m already using a fair few of the security methods tips in the slides, but there are a couple more that I’ll be implementing shortly. Much better to be safe than sorry.
Hat-tip to Brian Krogsgard’s Post Status for the link.
For more on WordPress security, try the following articles:
I’ve posted my first two articles for the Bookmarketology.com project, in a series on Website Essentials that I’ll be developing over the next few weeks.
So far I’ve introduced the subject area in 15 Must-Have Elements for Your Author Website and have kicked off the discussion on The Vital Importance of Creating a Good First Impression Online with reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s 2006 book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, which is one of my recommended reading picks.
Your feedback would be hugely welcome, if you have any comments you’d like to leave on either article. And if you’d like to keep up with the rest of the Website Essentials series, please do subscriber to the bookmarketology.com RSS feed, or even better, Join the Bookmarketology Ebulletin List.
For the past few weeks, m’colleague Alasdair Stuart and I have been working on the behind-the-scenes setup for a new website, social media and podcast project: Bokmarketology.com.
The big idea behind the Bookmarketology project is to help more people in the publishing industry – writers, published authors, publishers, agents and booksellers alike – sell more books, by improving their marketing skills. We’ll do so by sharing practical advice, tools and techniques to tackle common marketing problems and make the most of marketing-driven opportunities. We’ll also be talking to movers and shakers in the publishing industry who are already successfully applying these tools and techniques, as well as marketing thinkers, service providers and software developers with practical solutions to offer.
My first post is a summary of 15 Must-Have Elements for Author Websites, each of which I’ll be talking about in more detail in subsequent posts in the Website Essentials series. That’s just the very tip of the iceberg; Alasdair and I have brainstormed and identified dozens of potential subject areas to discuss and explore, so we’ll have plenty to talk about in the weeks and months ahead.
If you’re involved in publishing, whatever your capacity or level of interest, please do take a look at the site. Alasdair and I would love to hear your feedback.
You can also sign up for the Bookmarketologists ebulletin list, subscribe to the Bookmarketology.com RSS feed, follow @Bookmarketology on Twitter, join the Bookmarketologists Group on LinkedIn or check out the Bookmarketology page at Google+.
Content Marketer Jeff Bullas posted a great article on his blog yesterday: 50 One Sentence Tips for Bloggers.
Packed with useful, easily-digestable portions of advice on everything from blog post structure and composition to social media and community engagement. Highly useful advice for anyone who uses a blog to support their business, or who wants to build a blog that’s successful in the long term.
My personal favourite wasn’t actually one of the fifty, but a point that Jeff made in his intro to the ‘Structure and Composition’ section: “Don’t wait to be perfect. Write, edit and hit the publish button.” All to often it’s easy to get sucked into endless rounds of tweaking, polishing and trying to perfect a blog post that might not have much wrong with it in the first place. Better to get the content out there. You can always add an edit or correction – or even write a whole new blog post to correct or contradict an earlier point – at a later date if you need to.
A few more of Jeff’s blogging top tips:
- Structure and Composition: “Blog posts can be informational or editorial, detailed or high-level summaries, but not all of the above at the same time.”
- Search Engine Optimisation: “Google wants to give highest search visibility to content that is authoritative, relevant, useful, readable and shareable.”
- Tech Stuff: “Use WordPress unless you have very good reasons not to.”
- Layout: “Avoid ads and pop-up windows unless you have a very, very, very good reason to use them.”
- Creative: “When you borrow an idea or gain inspiration from it, give credit (and a link) to the source.”
- Marketing, Community and Engagement: “Community building takes far more time than writing.”
- Miscellaneous: “Rather than being enslaved by a rigid publishing schedule, publish when you have something to say.”
Read the full article at www.jeffbullas.com.
Quality. A word that’s bandied around very quickly and easily, especially in product and service descriptions – “top quality”, “highest quality”, “quality standards” – as if it’s something that can be objectively benchmarked and defined. It’s not.
Seth Godin, he says:
Quality is not an absolute measure. It doesn’t mean ‘deluxeness’ or ‘perfection’. It means keeping the promise the customer wants you to make.
In Drucker on Marketing, William Cohen quotes Peter Drucker as saying:
Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in but what the buyer gets out and is willing to pay for, based on their definition of value, not the supplier’s.
Quality is as Quality does. And it’s always in the eye of the beholder.
Image Credit: elementa1, via sxc.hu
I have a confession to make. I think I’m one of the most disorganised, chaotic and un-disciplined people I know. Or at least I would be, given half an excuse.
The good news is, about eight years ago I acknowledged that I had a problem and decided to bloody well do something about it. And that something was to start using David Allen’s stress-free productivity system: GTD.
Here’s a short video of David at a TED Conference (I think 2005 or 2006), explaining the essential problem faced by most of us and outlining the basics of his solution:
I bought a copy of David Allen‘s book Getting Things Done and I don’t think it’s too hyperbolic to say that it changed my life. I learned that said life didn’t have to be a maelstrom of mess and unfinished business, because now I had a systematic method with which to take control of my commitments, make effective decisions about priority actions and generally Get Things Done.
And yes, GTD really is incredibly liberating. It really does enable you to get a sense of perspective, take control of your life and find a way to move forwards. I suppose in that sense it’s similar to other recovery programmes designed to help people facing life-affecting problems.
Which brings me to another confession. Over the past eight years, I’ve fallen off the GTD wagon, several times. Oh, I’ve always known what I ought to be doing, and I’ve still always pad lip-service to the idea that I was a GTD’er. But the actual practice of GTD takes organisation, order and discipline to maintain on a regular basis. Just like anything else worthwhile, any other positive habit or lifestyle change that you want to effect, you have to stick with it. And I haven’t always done that.
So, here’s the plan: this week I’ve drawn a line in the sand. I’m going back to the start of the process, taking a fresh perspective and re-booting my personal GTD system. I’ve given myself permission to spend as much un-committed time this week as I need to going over the first principles of the GTD Workflow:
- Collect – Get everything I currently have on my mind out of my head and onto paper and into a physical or electronic collection system.
- Process – Identify the projects, outcomes and next actions for each actionable item in the inbox.
- Organise – Assign contexts to actionable items. Sort and file non-actionable items in a system I can rely on for future reference.
- Review – Assign time for a Weekly review of projects. Re-establish my ‘tickler file’ system and set reminders to check it daily.
- Do – Get Things Done.
I’ll be talking about the process involved and offering a progress report in a future post or two.
I may have fallen off the GTD wagon, but I’m getting back on it, and this time I aim to stay there. As David Allen says, at least I already have a wagon to clamber on to…
If you’re interested in taking a look at GTD, take a look at the www.davidco.com or check out the GTD Times blog for short taster articles. You can thank me next time you see me.
(I’m not affiliated with David Allen, DavidCo or a GTD re-seller. I’m just someone who makes use of the system and uses it to prevent my head exploding on a regular basis.)
I logged in to various sites this morning to be greeted by the long-awaited upgrade reminder for WordPress 3.6. Huzzah!
I’ll be rolling out the new version across my clients’ sites next week, but first I wanted to take a look at any new functionality and assess the likely effect of any major changes on everyone’s working practices, so I’ve installed WP3.6 here on darrenturpin.co.uk.
Here’s what’s new:
Big Improvements to Page Revisions
The one major change that I’ve been most impressed with so far is the vast improvement to the Post Revisions functionality in the WordPress editor.
Gone is the clunky old revisions list, replaced with a highly usable slider interface that allows you to quickly switch between the current and older versions of a post, restoring previous versions at a click of a button:
You can also compare two earlier versions against each other, rather than an earlier versus the current.
WordPress 3.6 is also promising improved Autosaving, so you’ll never lose content even in the event of a power-cut or system crash.
Expanded Range of Embed Sources
WordPress’s use of the oEmbed function has been expended to include a wider range of content sources, many of them music-focused (which will be extremely useful for the side-project that I’m in the process of getting back up and running).
Those new sources include Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud, which means I can drop a single URL into this post as I’m writing it…
…and by doing so embed the new Martin Simpson album that I’ve been listening to and thoroughly enjoying all week:
If you’re a Spotify user and have the desktop client open, you should be able to load the album and start listening. And if you’re not a Spotify user then you’ll be able to listen to playback in your browser.
See the full list of WordPress Embeds on the WordPress Codex for other embedding options.
And There’s More
WordPress 3.6 also offers improved API functionality, HTML5 Semantic Markup and various other development-related tweaks. Most of which, I have to admit, is a bit above my general level of WordPress Wrangling know-how, but it’s great to know that the back-end systems are continuing to improve and develop.
Have you had a chance to take a look at the latest version of WordPress yet? What do you think?
Huge congratulations and felicitations to DTL client William Sutton, whose first novel for Exhibit A, Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square is published this week.
The North American print and ebook editions are out today, July 30th, and the UK print edition will follow on Thursday, August 1st.
Here’s the cover copy to whet your appetite:
“Before Holmes, there was Lawless… Before Lawless, the London streets weren’t safe to walk…
London, 1859. Novice detective, Campbell Lawless, stumbles onto the trail of Berwick Skelton, an elusive revolutionary, threatening to bring the city to its knees with devilish acts of terror.
Thrust into a lethal, intoxicating world of sabotage and royal scandal – and aided by a gang of street urchins and a vivacious librarian – Lawless sets out to capture his underworld nemesis before he unleashes his final vengeance.
Lawless & The Devil of Euston Square is the first of a series of Victorian mysteries featuring London policeman, Campbell Lawless, on his rise through the ranks and initiation as a spy.
Murder. Vice. Pollution. Delays on the Tube. Some things never change…
And if you’re free on Thursday August 1st and anywhere near the London Gower Street branch of Waterstones Booksellers, do head along to the launch event for an evening of music, murder and metropolitan mayhem (followed by a trip to the pub) from 6.00 p.m.