Week 1: Music, Typography, and Photography blogging

Here we are, the first week of 2014. I thought it'd be a good idea to start off the weekly linked post this year with a few things that might be of value not only now, but for the rest of the year.

John Carey's favourite music from last year

John posted a collection of the music he listened to and liked the most during 2013. It's a pretty good list of music. I found a few gems that I'd never heard of before. My favourite is probably Psychic by Darkside, which I'm listening to as I write this. You can listen to the first song, Golden Arrow, in this YouTube link. It's over 11 minutes and it gets better every time I listen to it. Perfect for writing.

Character of a Typeface

If you're a typography geek, like I am, and you know why the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, then you'll enjoy this short video.

Tips on how to run a successful photo blog

David Cleland wrote a post with 8 tips for anyone thinking of creating a photography blog. It's good advice. He recommends using Wordpress and I do agree to a certain extent. It's what I use for every other site I have and what this one was hosted on originally. However, this one has been on Squarespace for years. At the time, Wordpress needed way too many plugins and between updates to Wordpress itself and the plugins, things broke too often. Fortunatley now most of the functionality you need comes built into Wordpress, so that's less of an issue.

So there it is. Three things that I'm sure I'll come back to a few times. I hope you enjoy them as well.

The name of the blog

Surat Lozowick wrote an article about the implications of naming your blog after your own name or calling it something unique. He writes:

Increasingly, people are writing and curating on self-titled blogs, often in the place of a static landing page on a personal domain. Online, your name is your brand, so this makes sense. But a blog named after its author doesn’t say anything about subject matter, which can be both negative and positive — a thoughtful name can define the topics to cover, but it can also restrict them.

I’ve been wrestling with this idea myself even before I started this site.

At first I wanted to find a cool name for it, something like Daring Fireball or Tweetage Wasteland or Forkbombr, but nothing came to mind that convinced me.

Then I thought it might be better to find a simple name that described what the site was about, like Minimal Mac or Practically Efficient. But I wanted this site to be about my personal interests and not necessarily to have a narrow focus. I do, after all, have many different interests. So that didn’t convince me either.

All this while I kept writing and not publishing anywhere. I was waiting to find the right name.

I didn’t want to use my own name as I already have another website about my photography at www.gabrielponzanelli.com and it just seemed too confusing. The photography site has been around for years and it’s my photographic hub. I love it and enjoy writing and sharing my photography there, but because it’s always been exclusively about photography I’ve always felt it’s not the right place to write about my other interests: technology, marketing, Apple, leadership, etc. So I wanted a new place, but didn’t know what to call it. Plus, my name is just too hard to spell.

But then I read a book by Seth Godin in which he basically recommended you stop waiting until whatever you’re doing is perfect and just ship it. It was inspiring enough that I thought what the hell, if this new site is going to be about my interests I guess it’s OK to name it after me. So I went with www.gabrielponzanelli.net and started publishing my thoughts.

I have to admit I’m still not convinced it was a good move. There’s still a part of me that thinks I should find a cool name and move it across. Or maybe combine the .net and .com into one single site.

I’m still not sure what to do, but I just may move it to a new home one day.

via: Shawn Blanc


Shawn Blanc:

And as for growth? My idea of “SEO” is to write with mustard, and my idea of “link-bait” is to publish stuff that you guys love.

He's writing about the business model for his site. I'm a fan of his writing and I applaud him for thinking this way. There is just way too much junk out there in the Internet. Too many "writers" focusing on ranking highly in Google instead of focusing on their readers or what they really want to say.

I hope more writers follow Shawn's example.

By the way, this is what he means by mustard. If you write or are considering, go read it before you start.

Blurb books without Flash... only on iOS?

Blurb is a company that prints books on demand allowing consumers to self-publish. It's a great idea. Also really cool is that you can see previews of the books online. However, these previews require you to have Adobe's Flash player installed.

This wasn't that much of an issue in pre-iOS days, but since the iPhone and iPad cannot view Flash content, it's a good idea for sites to at least have a non-Flash version. Those annoying "missing plug-in" messages are bad and give consumers a terrible experience.

Well, Blurb did the right thing and you can actually see previews on an iPad, and they look beautiful.

However, it seems the non-Flash version works only if you view from an iOS browser. I don't have Flash installed in my MacBook Pro as that's the way they now ship from Apple. I need to test sites as a normal person (ie. my mom) would see them, so I decided to live without Flash and downloaded Chrome for when I need it (got the tip on Daring Fireball).

Well, visiting a Blurb book preview from Safari on my MacBook Pro gives me a dreaded "Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player". I just don't understand why they would do this. If they've already built a non-Flash version why not just display that if no Flash plugin is detected? Seems like a no brainer to me.