Weekend ahead

Autumn-like weather and a bad cold, but it’s still a Friday! And just for the record, I don’t mind fast forwarding to spring.

More search phrases – but not really a surprise to me given the quality of content here at 😉 :

  • Dilbert project tracking – points to an old blog post on pre-emptive planning. I guess the Dilbert comes from the blogroll link pointing to the corresponding blog.
  • And a search for something like marketing mix nutella will inevitably lead to this page, cos of my numerous marketing text snippets and my amazing collection of Nutella alternatives.

Thank you, Google for brightening up my day!

blogger blogging LIFT07 tech

Not new

At Lift 07 there was a panel on technological overload. The video of the panel is available here.

Update: Since Google Video is no more, the video can be viewed on Vimeo

Panel Discussion:Dealing with technological overload (Lift07 EN) from Lift Conference on Vimeo.

Fellow blogger Mlle. A. pointed out that this kind of discussion isn’t new.

A couple of days ago she sent in an article by Ann Blair on “Reading Strategies for Coping with Information Overload ca. 1550-1700” published in 2003 in the Journal of the History of Ideas.

As more and more books were published, academics worried about keeping up: they discussed the effects of reading manuals and encyclopedias or reading “only in parts”. And discussed strategies to classify information, added indexes and used cut and paste to arrange the information they received.

Blogging isn’t new either:

“Reading is useless, vain and silly when no writing is involved, unless you are reading (devotionally) Thomas a Kempis or some such. Although I would not want even that kind of reading to be devoid of all note taking.”

Interesting stuff.

blogging CDs

Blogging fatigue

In case you haven’t heard:
There seems to be an outbreak of blogging fatigue

Is it similar to battle fatigue?

blogging tech

The Rise and Fall of Blogging, Twitter and Facebook

Thinking of starting a blog?

Don’t bother!

blogging General tech wordpress

Adding the SEO Title Tag plugin

Here are my short notes on new WordPress plugins I’m trying out at

SEO Title Tag

I read about this in a WordCamp 2007 report last weekend. The corresponding plugin web page is here.

If you’re using K2, open header.php and replace everything within the title tag with this:

< ?php if (function_exists('seo_title_tag')) { seo_title_tag(); } else { wp_title(''); ?> < ?php if ( !(is_404()) && (is_single()) or (is_page()) or (is_archive()) ) { ?> at < ?php } ?> < ?php bloginfo('name'); } ?>

e voilà :

adding the seo title tag

Bad behavior

According to the website:

Bad Behavior complements other link spam solutions by acting as a gatekeeper, preventing spammers from ever delivering their junk, and in many cases, from ever reading your site in the first place. This keeps your site’s load down, makes your site logs cleaner, and can help prevent denial of service conditions caused by spammers.

And yes, my logs are cleaner. Less spam is slipping thru into the comment moderation queue.

Bad behavior

Stats plugin

I’ve been using Counterize II for a couple of months and can recommend it.

If you’re in a hosted setup like, you could use a service like Sitemeter, Statcounter, or Google Analytics.

blogging marketing wordpress

Corporate Blogging Experience

What others are saying about corporate blogging

I like this:

Actions always prove louder than words. Lead by example. Give people something to aspire to but don’t make it so daunting that they will be easily discouraged.

This holds true for a lot of other things as well, not just blogging…

Apparently the number of blogs is peaking and the hype is starting to move on. Meno male. I’ve always had hype antibodies. On the other hand, I’m not a sceptical late adopter either…

Blogging isn’t easy. It’s time-consuming. And results will not be immediate. But it’s a good way for small and medium-sized companies to bypass the media gatekeepers and spread their message faster. The publishing world has changed / is changing.

Another useful article I found (while writing and editing this post) is Quick Tips on Corporate Blogging:

  • Designate an editor.
  • Don’t be too precious about it, but do have a purpose.
  • Content is king.
  • Develop a content engine.
  • Have an editorial policy.
  • Experiment, learn, and evolve.
  • Make it a core part of your marketing strategy.
  • Be patient and watch your audience grow.
blogger blogging flickr General swiss tech wikipedia wordpress

nchenga’s Web 2.0 roundup: Links and comments

How many online services did you sign up for, use once or twice, and then never return again?

In my case, that would be lots of ’em. Some of them are really popular services like Digg or Mister Wong, where I just haven’t found a personal use case, or I’ve got a substitute or workaround. While some of them have disappeared, like or

Here’s an idea for a blog post which I’ll update as I go along and find more unused websites in the backwaters of my Internet history.

Sites I tried, but which I don’t use anymore:

  • Digg
  • Mister Wong (I keep forgetting the url and typing
  • MyBlogLog (I wanted to un-subscribe, but I didn’t see the corresponding info, and now I’m too lazy and too busy. I don’t like the automatic delurking. Sometimes I want to lurk around for a while to get an opinion on the site…).
  • Stumbleupon (I tried this once or twice, got really frustrated by the navigation and the tool bar, and couldn’t find a way to un-subscribe and leave).
  • (changed the policy for their free email service to make it unusable, a clear goodbye from my side.)
  • (the hosted blog service I first tried out when I started blogging in 2003, at the time it had long and frustrating upgrade cycles, the reason that I moved to my own installation of WordPress)
  • Blogger (I read some Blogger sites… but I hate it if I need to sign in into Blogger to leave a comment, I’ve got about 2 Blogger logins floating around and I just find it cumbersome).
  • Bloglines

Sites or services that I visit regularly:

  • Flickr
  • Gmail, Gtalk…
  • Wikipedia
  • Technorati and (mainly due to lack of alternatives, I think there’s lots of room for improvement in both)
  • and (for the Swiss perspective)
  • Youtube, Revver
  • Skype (I recently signed up for SkypeOut and used it to call Malawi, very good sound quality, comparable or lower pricing compared to telecom carriers)

On the content side of things, I read:

  • Scoble
  • Dooce (you’ve got to have at least one mummy blogger in your Webtwodotoh portfolio)
  • (although recently this blog has slowed down a bit… I guess, Matthias has a lot of other duties)
  • Climb to the Stars
  • Gapingvoid (all time favorite)
  • Google News, and I’ve set up Google Alerts for a couple of keywords.
  • WordPress and (WordPress goodness hosted for you)
  • Lorelle on WordPress

My favorite RSS feed by far:

  • Dilbert

New explorations:

  • Twitter
  • Stickis
  • (they offer a smooth integration into external sites like Flickr. Pretty cool!)
  • Jumpcut (downside: another Yahoo! company…)
  • Afrigator (Blog aggregator for African sites, I like their crocodile icon!)
blogging wordpress

WordPress 2.2 tip: Press It bookmarklet

If you’ve upgraded to 2.2, don’t forget to update your Press It bookmarklet as well. I kept getting an undefined function in
wordpress/wp-admin/edit-form.php on line 35
error. Until I remembered that this might be related to the new version I installed a couple of days ago.

Here’s what you need to do:
Delete the old bookmarklet and then navigate to the WordPress dashboard at Write > Write Post. Scroll down to the section marked WordPress Bookmarklet and add the new one.

E voilà : the Press It – button in my Firefox toolbar works again…

More on WordPress bookmarklets.

And while I’m writing about the upgrade, there’s one other cool feature that I’m sure many will appreciate immensely, which was introduced in version 2.1:

  • WordPress autosaves posts while you write.

BTW, we’ve got chiperoni weather in Basel today!

blogger blogging General

Benefits of Blogging

I like this summary on the Benefits of Blogging

  • Meet and greet
  • Self documenting
  • Self promoting (if you want to, that is)
  • Mentoring
  • Education
  • Giving back (I would say: sharing)

There’s also the side-effect that when I write about a topic it helps me to reflect more on a topic and organize my thoughts.

blogger blogging flickr General tech wikipedia wordpress

Blog resource links

Here are a couple of starting points:

Blog hosting

Three possibilities:

  1. Sign up with a hosted service such as, Typepad or Vox (fastest cos it takes all of 5 mins).
  2. Sign up with a webspace provider that already includes blog software in their package.
  3. Sign up with a webspace provider that offers PHP 4.x or later and MySQL and install WordPress on your own. documentation:

Installing WordPress on your own server

The install documentation covers most setups. Installing a local copy using XAMPP or MAMP is useful especially during the design phase.

Other useful docs:

Importing content from other blogs.

Posting entries by email. As mentioned during the talk I set up a cronjob on my server, which checked at regular intervals if there was any email to post.

Templates galore:

As mentioned, setting up WordPress is fast, finding the right design theme will take a little bit longer… cos there are so many out there.

I like Scott’s collection of minimal designs.

My advice: get a theme which offers the structure you’re loooking for and then customize the CSS file.

Flickery goodness:

I cross-link to Flickr to add pictures to my blog, but you can also upload files and photos directamente into WordPress. Please note: you’ll need to resize for the web and your layout. I’m lazy: I use Flickr and Quickr Pickr.

You can also set up Flickr to post pics directly to your blog. Within Flickr, go to Your Account > Extending Flickr . Click edit in the section labelled Your Blogs and follow the instructions displayed.

Here’s an advanced user guide for Flickr, describing how you can post pics per email, etc.

On commenting:

All comments at this site land in the moderation queue and I check the queue once a day. I don’t always reply or write back immediately. As you’ll probably notice in the next few weeks, sometimes I don’t have the time. But if I do, I’ll usually reply online at the source – in my blog, if it’s a comment on my site, or if it’s a trackback, i’ll go see their post and add a comment in their blog.

I think the main point you need to get across is that you reserve the right to edit or delete comments. This is especially important if you’re moving into business blogging.

There’s the Lifehacker’s guide to commenting to refer to.

Commenting is a way to increase traffic and expand your network.

And remember to activate Akismet or other comment spam plugins.

RSS feeds:

Every WordPress blog offers a feed for entries and a feed for comments. At Chip this is:

Again, there are numerous RSS feed readers. And your choice of reader will depend on your personal reading preferences. I use the newsfeeds reader included within Opera. Thunderbird also includes a feed reader per default. And there are numerous feed readers for FireFox. Please note: some media news feeds (e.g. BBC) send out entires every minute and will easily swamp you.

More high-level infos on the concept of RSS are available in this Wikipedia article.

Further background links:

The Corporate Weblog Manifesto by Scobleizer

Ten Tips For A Better Weblog

How To Blog And Not Lose Your Job


blogger blogging General nutella-alternative nutellaalternative wordpress

The slides

Here are the slides of my talk that I just held at the STC Transalpine Chapter Conf:

They’re very minimal and short… but over time I’ve collected a lot of examples at the back of my head so that I easily managed to fill the 1 hour slot. The online demo worked well with the mobile access card I had (big relief). A little slower than WLAN but ok.

I’ll post a list of online resources on blogging, RSS feeds, and WordPress sometime soon.

A couple of complimentary links:

Buon weekend,

blogger blogging CMS General wordpress

Blogging for Content Developers

At an undisclosed location in the very near future, the editor of this beautiful blog will be holding a talk on a high-flying topic yet to be prepared.

Blogging for Content Developers

I’ve decided to give this whole project a jump-start by writing down the outline in my blog… because getting started is always the hard part. The audience will be technical writers and communicators, but I don’t know how many of them are into blogging. I think, I’ll start with some questions like:

  • Who’s got a blog?
  • Who is taking care of a work blog (either internally or externally)?
  • Who is planning to set up a blog?
  • Who started a blog but gave up after some time?

2nd Section: Why blog?
Basically this section will include a little bit about my first blog at an ASP-like blog provider and the subsequent move to WordPress. My initial idea when I set out was to help cross the digital divide and point to content about my home country, Malawi.

Example of the power of blogging: During the last General Elections in Malawi, Alex at the Polytechnic helped to keep us informed by posting regular information and allowing Malawians to comment. In general, blogging has increased the amount of direct infos available on Malawi in the Internet.

Top reasons for content developers to start blogging:

  • Provide a continuous online sample of your writing skills, one of your top skills.
  • Learn about new technologies and keep up with development. Let’s face it: the world of publishing has changed/is changing. Blogging helps you to understand the ways and means, as well as the way online communities evolve and behave.
  • Use your blog to become a subject matter expert in your domain.
  • Expand your network (private and business). Get to know new people and explore new opportunities.

3rd Section: Why WordPress?
This section will kind of list my reasons to go for WordPress, but could easily be taken as a list of criteria to watch out for if you’re evaluating other CMS tools:

  • Open source and free.
  • Huge community and good support.
  • Lots of new features and bug releases per year.
  • Good separation between design and content.
  • Stable.
  • Good documentation (Thank you, Lorelle).
  • Lots of plugins and design templates to choose from.

Server requirements: MySQL and PHP or above

Knowledge requirement: some knowledge of CSS and HTML to tweak and customize a design template.

Section 4: Beyond the Current Blog Hype
Currently we’re going thru a hype phase. Everybody’s starting a blog.

Splogs, spam comments and cyber bullying/threatening are a huge problem.


Nevertheless, blogs are here to stay. Esp. mainstream media is feeling the heat. A kind of independent blog journalism is establishing itself and many companies are using blogs to reach out to their customers. See Krusenstern for an excellent entry on old, established media vs. blog journalism.

Millions of blogs are started and abandoned within 3 months. It’s not easy to write and communicate effectively. This is where I see lots of opportunities for tech. communicators (e.g. as Chief Blogging Officer).

Section 5: Your Benefit as a Tech. Communicator

If you’re a consultant/ext. contractor, use current CMS technology to enhance your work website. Blogging is a good way to make your business website less static. Example: I remember a conf where one of the participants was distributing tonnes of business cards. I had a look at the website afterwards and was utterly disappointed.

Use your blog to:

  • Point to interesting industry developments.
  • Voice own opinion on a topic.
  • Publish short howto’s, code snippets, tutorials, extensions, examples.
  • Link to relevant industry developments and use “Trackback” to respond to other blogs, which you find during your daily Internet watch.
  • Personal impression of conferences / shows.
  • Keep online notes of interesting website or talks you’ve attended.

If you offer focussed content on a special topic the chances of attracting readers are somewhat higher than with a personal blog. Frequency is important. To set up a readership you need to post at regular intervals. On the upside, entries do not have to be very long and you can post entries to WordPress via email.

Don’t move into blogging if you don’t enjoy writing OR if you’re looking for fast money. It needs some time to establish your blog and people lurk around a long time before they start commenting (approx. 200 visits for every commenter). But if you write about a niche topic and provide good content, people will find you.

Avoid the typical marketing glib and press release speak in your blog.

Section 6: Demo of a WordPress Blog
Show tags, permalinks, trackbacks, and RSS feeds (if there’s interest).

My Very Personal Benefit:

Thru my hobby, I know more about today’s publishing opportunities and learnt lots about CSS, which I can use in my day job.

I’ve got a new hobby and all the flickery goodness that comes with it.

I’ve found new friends and keep in contact with old ones.

I’ve got my own online reference (e.g. re-setting my ADSL router) and online bookmark site.

Section 7: Resources and Discussion
One very good introductory resource on business blogging is:


The End

I’m tired and I’ll add more resource links later. In the meantime, feel free to offer suggestions or challenge my outline.

blogcampswitzerland blogger blogging General


I attended today’s BlogCamp in Zurich; a so-called unConference because it organizes itself like BarCamp. But heh, we’re in Switzerland so it was fairly well organized.

I saw a couple of familiar faces. Maybe I should get a t-shirt saying “Blog conference tourist”… And I invited some of the Basel bloggers to the upcoming Basel Flickr group meeting.

Here are some short notes on the talks I attended:

Jürg Stucker showed a knowledge platform they’re using internally at Namics; it’s sort of like a wiki and blog combined with email functionality, i.e. you can post and email an entry at the same time. One of the questions asked was what would happen if it was turned off: Jürg said probably the number of emails would increase and probably some of the fun entries would disappear cos it’s not the kind of information you send around by email. Another question was is there a tool like this available out-of-the-box.



Stephanie Booth talked about multilingual blogging, the pain of translating blog articles, and the technical difficulties of using 2 languages in the same blog. And even in multi-lingual Switzerland, our language skills vary, i.e. we might not feel comfortable commenting in our second or third language. There’s a need to bridge the gap. Her suggestion: Post a short summary to give your readers an idea if this topic is worth ploughing thru or not. Write in a simple and concise style, if you’re addressing a multilingual audience. On the Web, the language barrier is the real separator: Swiss French bloggers look towards France, while Swiss Germans focus more on Austrian or German sites.

benbit gave a live demo how easy it is to hack into a web portal, thanks to XSS and JavaScript. His advice for users: don’t use auto login. Many companies are careless in the way they handle customer data. Even if they are informed about the security hole, no action is taken to secure the site. He suggests getting a tool like RoboForm.


And in the final session, I attended Denis Nordmann’s talk on the future of podcasting. This was an honest overview of the current market situation in Switzerland, which is dominated by public TV and radio broadcasters. Business models based on advertising are difficult to implement, because in general advertisers are interested in regional markets, very few companies advertise globally. And secondly it seems that the big player in this market is somewhat hesitant to fix a “bug” in iTunes which would allow podcast platforms to find out more about their podcast audience, again valuable data for advertisers. Note to myself, check out the podcast platform at:



My feedback for the organizers:
I’d prefer one day instead of two, and I think a Saturday is great.

Disclaimer: this is my interpretation and view. If I get something completely wrong, please leave a comment 😉

blogafrica blogger blogging General Malawi-related

Malawi bloggers

When I started blogging back in Jan 2003, one of my high flying and lofty ideas was to help cross the digital divide and point to content about Malawi. A goal I haven’t really managed to keep. But from time to time I’ve pointed to various Malawi sites. It’s great to see that the number of fellow Malawi bloggers is increasing.


  • Victor Kaonga, currently based in Sweden, raising an interesting question “Is Malawi really poor?”. Victor is also writing about Malawi at Global Voices Online.
  • Cryton blogging from the UK about his studies and work and how life in GB compares to Malawi. I like the way he interweaves his texts with Chichewa comments. He’s got an interesting theory regarding soap operas. In my opinion the number of drinking holes is equally high in Malawi.
  • And Soyapi visited Yahoo! HQ
  • There’s another interesting blog collecting information about Africa’s connectivity.
blogger blogging General tech

The Nihilist Impulse

For future reference:
Eurozine article by Geert Lovink on weblogs

via Bruno Giussani

blogafrica blogger blogging General Malawi-related tech ubuntu

Free Software for Malawi

Alex Antener presents a talk on his Malawi projects:

Freie Software – Eine Chance für Afrika, (in German)

Very interesting, and lots of screens with GNU Linux.

[update] The official recording of the talk is available online.

blogger blogging General

text snippet

On the maximum saturation point:

If a new blog is being created every second, it’s worth mentioning that one is being abandoned every 1.5 seconds.

blogafrica blogger blogging General Malawi-related tech

Malawi bloggers on Madonna

My Google alert for news on Malawi has never had so many US and European articles as in the past months. All because of Madonna. Topics such as the last General Elections or bad harvests – which have a much bigger impact – were only covered by the usual outlets (BBC World, CNN). I remember searching Malawi forums for news on the election results.

A friend asked how Malawians see Madonna’s recent adoption of a Malawian baby boy. I haven’t heard much. Cos I’m here in Basel. But here’s a summary of Malawi bloggers that referred to the celebrity news:

  • Mike of Hacktivate built the Kumbali Lodge website, where Madonna stayed 😉
  • Alex of posted this excellent caricature of NGOs and their reaction (rough translation: the child needs to return, is that understood?). He helped to keep us informed during the last General Elections by setting up a web server at the Polytechnic and posting news and comments at frequent intervals.
  • and Soyapi uses the Madonna news item to point to Malawian software that you can also “adopt”.

I guess, there’s more out there. And more to come when Madonna goes back. I hope, she’s not in it for the PR only. In my humble opinion being adopted by a rich celebrity doesn’t really mean you’ll have a better life.

But even for Malawi, you can say that blogging technology has made it simpler to read personal thoughts and reports on news items.

Feel free to leave a comment.

BTW, this blog post was again inspired by fresh air.

blogging General

get moving

I agree with this gapingvoid post:

“So forget about blogs and bloggers and blogging and focus on this — the cost and difficulty of publishing absolutely anything, by anyone, into a global medium, just got a whole lot lower. And the effects of that increased pool of potential producers is going to be vast.”

Publishing has just gotten faster, delete all the buzz words, and ignore the same old blogging discussions, and get moving…

blogging General tech wordpress

off the beaten track

This guy has got some very nice WordPress themes:

wildbits — Kram

blogging General marketing

business blogging

for future reference:

CIO on business blogging

via Anil Dash

blogger blogging dogcontent General

Famous Blog Dogs

are you ready to jump?

If you’re a bit like me, you’ve also contributed your part to the Internet’s dog and/or cat content.

But there are some dogs out there with a really large fan base. Right at the top of the list are:

blogging General

blonk… blonk…

Blonking along? Apparently this is what it means…

To blog without notable creativity, inspiration or merit; covering the same ground trod by countless others in the echo chamber; blogging as an alternative to thinking.

“I was going to write a considered piece about climate change in sub-Saharan Africa, but I’ve just been blonking pictures of my cat.”


blogger blogging General Malawi-related

Malawi Blogroll at Technorati

Soyapi has set up a list of Malawi blogs at Technorati.

blogafrica blogger blogging General Malawi-related

Another Malawi blog

newly started:
Malawi Wildlife