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Blogger’s Challenge: A steady posting rhythm

November 4, 2007

I sat down today and got reminded by the fact that I was -still- the owner of this blog. It occurred to me that I had no idea what on earth I should be doing with the thing. Sad fact of the matter is that there hasn’t been a single post in this neat corner of the Internet for quite some time. One could just spend a long time debating the why, the how and the when of this fact, yet it’s one that I’ve found all too familiar.

Undoubtedly this is a familiar process many people suffer from. As long as something is new, and therefore interesting, it is worth investing time in. This changes when, after a given time frame, the newness starts to wear off. What was once interesting becomes a drag, dull, or even worse, an obligatory task that one must perform because of the assumed responsibilities you have gained in that brief period you were interested.

This manner of behavior appears to difficult to get out of, with as a result that you put off posting about the variety of topics that popped up in your head. Procrastinating is something many people are all to familiar with, and I’ve found that I’m quite the master at it. At the moment there are no less than four subjects right on top of my head that I wish to write about, but somehow manage not to.

This kind of behavior pattern is a problem that I wanted solved, because I -do- enjoy writing down these little thought blurbs of mine. I made the decision that it was time to look around the Internet to see what kind of ideas other people had on this particular topic. Inventing a wheel twice has always been something that I found a waste of time, far more easier to try and find practical solutions for a problem other people undoubtedly suffer from as well.

During my search I ran into this article written by Darren Rowse:

Plan your posting Schedule
In it, Rowse has a long story about how he eventually came to realize that to even out his output of articles he had to plan ahead. By planning his articles he managed to maintain a stable post count and did so while keeping an steady quality of written articles. I found this idea very intriguing, earlier experiences with ‘To Do’-lists have taught me that with physically writing things down one tends to be actually more inclined to perform the tasks written down.

Somehow a task that is written down is more ‘real’ than one that’s just floating around in your head. Making it harder to avoid doing it. It is my intention to try the method with my blogging habits and see how it pans out. Feel free to submit a comment or two if you feel that there are better ideas out there, or if you want to give your random thoughts.

Here’s to hoping that the advice actually works, and that I can do a write up of two to three posts a week.

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Hyves Feature; Blog Import

July 9, 2007

Hyves

A while back I started out an hyves page in order to keep track of the people I’ve met in my life. I’ve always been rather bad staying in contact with anyone I met. So I’ve turned to Hyves to help me out a little. One slight problem though, the profile page at hyves was unable to import blog entries from other blog sites. So I was forced to simply link to my wordpress blog.

Hyves made an update though, so the posts I make with wordpress, are automatically imported unto my Hyves profile page, making it easier for people who only keep track of hyves to read my deep and pointless thoughts. It’s good to see that the ease of which people can make use of RSS is slowly seeping into the various profile sites.

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Of deadlines and unwanted errors

June 30, 2007

Deadlines suck, period. Ever notice how in the last final hours illogical stupid problems crop up and hamper you at your every turn when you least need it? Well, so did I. When working on some code to get some ruby / flex interaction done, Flex managed to come up with a new error.

The issue in question involved the error message: “An internal build error has occurred. Please check the Error Log.” when I was compiling my project. Absolutely nothing worked to get the problem fixed, including all the normal practices such as cleaning, recreating workspace, and a few more pointless desperate attempts to get it working.

The error log itself, found in the .metadata file of a workspace under “.log”, was a mess with all manner of declarations. Impossible to make out I then found an entry on the Internet from someone with a similar problem.

Basic programming mistake, never forget the semicolon after declaring a variable.

public class SomeClass
{
public var someKindofVariable:Object
}

Guess what you have to do… time and again when finding yourself in this situation, is start rolling back code and begin to do a detailed analysis for syntax errors that normally do not pose any problems… which is easier said than done, given the style that I program at times.

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Netvibes; Adding new Minor RIA blogs

June 8, 2007

One of my firsts posts was about Netvibes. This web application allows you to organize your feeds on line. It doesn’t require registration, you can easily add new feeds and use tabs to organize the feeds by customizing the heck out of your own page.

I’ve taken some effort in adding all the blogs of the students and teachers who are active in the Minor RIA at the college course Communication & Multimedia Design. These are currently numbering around 30 people and I haven’t even begun adding the blogs of other Minors who are also part of the same course.

One more nifty feature of netvibes is the ability to export your tabs and share them with other people. So, for those who want the blogs of all the RIA students and teachers previous mentioned use the button below to add them to your own Netvibes space.


Add to netvibes

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How to lead a community

June 8, 2007

Community

A while ago, I mentioned an article in which was explained how a successful community ought to be build. Today I ran into a different article in which Matthew Haughey talks about how someone should lead a community.

A few specific points that I’ve stolen from the article are:

1. Take emotion out of decisions
A community is a place of discussion, sometimes these discussions include some unpleasant posts about a subject or person. It’s important to take a neutral stance in some of these discussions as a community leader. Give people the opportunity to rectify their mistakes and remain patient. Deleting topics, merely because they do not suit your vision, sometimes leads to you disagreeing with other members of your community.

2. Talk like a human, not a robot
While you have be neutral and decisive, people do not want a dictator or a robot as someone who is moderating and leading a community. Give them someone they can identify with, be honest and talk to people as if they stand right in front of you. Be the best member of your site. Lead by example by participating as much as you can in your own community. This is a good way to attract other well-intentioned members of your site and also reminds everyone a real person is behind it all and building the best community they can for everyone. Speak honestly and be supportive of other members.

3. Give people something they can be proud of
By giving people the ability to customize the information they can show to other people you encourage them to communicate with other people. A mere name and a comment is very impersonal and doesn’t instill a community sense a fullblown profile page would.

4. Bring users in during community decisions
You can’t make rash top-down decisions and expect your community to be okay with it. Give your community the opportunity to present their own vision. Welcoming the opinions of users gives the community owner(s) valuable feedback and gives members another way to contribute positively to the community.

5. Guidelines not rules
Try to run a community based on hard and fast rules, and instead try to steer members into following community norms in looser guideline form. This often works for the majority of members that want a nice, respectful community. Once you start down the path of absolutes and rules you’ll quickly end up in two bad places.

  • 1) you’ll get the edgecase loving lawyer/engineer types that will argue and interpret rules ad infinitum and break them just to see what happens. These people will drive you crazy.
  • 2) you will find yourself in a situation where you have to make a bad decision you know is unfair, but you have to because it was one of The Rules That Got Broken.

Guidelines allow for nuance and though it’s hard to scale nuance in a large community environment, it’s another way you can run a site like a human and not a lawyerbot.

A very interesting piece of writing, if you have the time I would say to make an effort in reading the whole article at fortuito.us

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The Art and Science of apologizing

June 7, 2007

Working with other people can be a challenge. Each individual has a unique perspective on how to perceive actions of another. Sometimes this can result in conflicts that were unintended and which require a proper apology to resolve it. While I was browsing the Internet I ran into this website. In it is a detailed analysis of how a proper apology should be made, which I thought would be interesting to share.

A proper apology should always include the following:

  • A detailed account of the situation
  • Acknowledgement of the hurt or damage done
  • Taking responsibility for the situation
  • Recognition of your role in the event
  • A statement of regret
  • Asking for forgiveness
  • A promise that it won’t happen again
  • A form of restitution whenever possible

Visit www.perfectapology.com for a more extensive amount of information the art and science of making an apology.

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Nielsen’s Heuristic Evaluation (Part 2)

June 6, 2007

Started this list a while back, and now I return with a few more points of Nielsen’s Evaluation:

3# User control and freedom
When designing an interface always wonder if users are free to do as they please. If so, bear in mind that mistakes are easily made, and as such there should always be a way to undo a chosen action. Flexible intuitive interfaces cause less irritation than a constricting step by step procedural interfaces that go only in one direction.

4# Consistency and standards
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Be consistent in your use of terminology and try to meet a user’s expectations when assigning a name to a menu option. Make use of the information that’s already there, let for example the system decide which language should be used by checking the browser language setting.

5# Error prevention
Where there are people and applications things are bound to go wrong at some point or another. A better solution than good collection of error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action. Making an application “idiot-proof” is an important way of avoiding complications in its use later on.

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