Categories
Updates

Technology Bloggers 4th Anniversary

Hello, hello, hello!

I’m back! Jonny’s been holding the fort (quite marvellously I might add) for most of the year so far, having written eight articles, compared to my rather measly three. Recently he’s been travelling and hasn’t been able to post much.

I’m hear with some great news for the blog, we are both full of ideas (as per usual) and there is a lot more to come from us before the end of the month – and beyond! I have just scheduled a post introducing a potentially revolutionary transportation technology for Wednesday, I’m working on a review for next Monday and there are a few exciting projects we are working on in the background as well.

Today of course is quite a special day for the blog, as it is four years ago today that it launched. I’m going to make this article short, to keep you in anticipation of what is to come in the next few weeks!

A Quick Check Of The Figures

As I like to every year, I’m going to briefly go over a few viewing/subscriber statistics, just as a good reference, so everyone knows where we are at.

Visitors

  • Over 160,000 people have visited the blog in the last four years
  • We have received almost 300,000 hits (pageviews)
  • The average time people spend on the site at a time is 1 minute and 24 seconds – about the time it takes to read one of our shorter articles

External Interaction

Design Changes

I shall leave you with this, four snapshots of Technology Bloggers, taken shortly after its birthday each year. Oh how times have changed. 🙂
Technology Bloggers theme history

Happy Birthday Technology Bloggers!

Categories
Blogging Updates WordPress

Fall in love with WordPress again with WordPress 4.0

Hello!

So as I said, hello! I wanted to make an entrance, since it has been 7 weeks since I wrote an article!

I also wanted to show off how brilliant WordPress 4.0 is, by adding a YouTube video. I literally just added the URL to the post and voilà, the video appears then and there in WordPress as I am writing this article. No need to preview the post or wait for it to go live, I add the URL and the video is there straight away!

Why that video though? Well I am back, and WordPress has just been given a bit of rejig with the release of 4.0 – named Benny.

So, we are going to save the world and their will be a good dose of cool cars, gadgets and weapons, mixed with a bit of humour along the way.

Alright, this is quite tenuous, maybe I just wanted to put the video in because I could. I did because I could.

It’s all well and good being serious with this blogging malarkey, but one needs to let ones hair down once in a while, and a funky friendly post is a good way to do that. Probably.

WordPress is fantastic. In my humble opinion, no other blogging platform comes close, let alone another free, open source one!

This is a bit of a non-post of ramblings, but trust me, there is better stuff to come.

You are still reading anyway, aren’t you?

Categories
Media Technology Updates

Be decisive!

Technology can be both a help and a hindrance.

Emails

An @ symbol in an envelopeEmails are a fantastic way to communicate. They are fast, they are fairly reliable, it is possible to tell when someone has received your message, you can send pictures and files via them etc.

I love emails, emails are great.

There is a problem with emails though. They have the ability to suck a massive amount of time from your life. According to this study, at work many of us spend over a quarter of our time dealing with emails. I have also heard statistics that we each spend an hour of our lives every day reading and replying to emails. I have access to emails on my phone and as am guilty as many other people, I check my emails every so often. Those ‘every so oftens’ add up though.

The reason I am writing this – and the reason for the title – is because I have just been decisive. This blog is a hobby for me. I enjoy writing, I enjoy updating/fixing the site, and I also enjoy reading what others write.

The thing that annoys me is I don’t particularly enjoy dealing with emails. It used to be okay when just 2 or 3 a day came in, maybe even enjoyable at that rate, but now I get hundreds each week, it has started to become a chore. A chore that I am maybe not always keeping on top of.

I try to deal with emails when they come in, but some are too time-consuming, so I will scan read them and then leave them for later. Later often never comes though.

Moving Forward

So, because this is a hobby, I want to spend time doing the things I enjoy. I can cope with a few small emails.

I have just marked all the emails in Technology Bloggers inbox as read. All those messages I had scan read and then left for later are now gone – all 120 of them!

That’s sorted the problem out for now, but what about the future? 3 lines. 3 lines is all you are getting. If you are going to contact us through our contact form, you can only write up to 500 characters – about 3 lines. You work hard to be clear and concise and I will do the same back.

If you want to take up the 3 sentence challenge, you might want to consider letting people know why your emails are so short.

Lets see if this works.

Categories
Updates

A new theme as Technology Bloggers turns 3!

A chocolate cakeImage Credit

Three years ago today, on April the 13th 2011, Technology Bloggers was born. The blog has changed a lot over the years, however we have always stuck with the same theme. Today everything changes.

Technology Bloggers new logo
A new logo (version 2.5) for our third birthday.

Today’s theme change is clearly the biggest visual change the blog has ever had.

We are now using a theme called Celebrate. There are many things I do not like about the new theme, but there were many things I didn’t like about TwentyTen, (our old theme) but slowly, over time I ironed out most of the creases.

The font is my main bugbear at the moment, but at least it is legible – Celebrate’s default font was very thin.

Feedback and suggestions are very welcome.

Anyway, watch this space.

Looking Back

Once in a while it doesn’t hurt to take a glance back to see how far the blog has come – in fact I believe it is probably quite healthy to review how we got to where we are – so here is a quick snapshot of Technology Bloggers progress, three years in.

Visitors

  • In February of this year, we received our 150,000th visit
  • This month we hit a quarter of a million pageviews
  • Earlier in the month we also received our 135,000th unique visitor
  • The average time spent on the blog is 1 minute and 29 seconds – just enough time to read an article

Community

  • Over 80 people have written articles on Technology Bloggers
  • Together we have published 499 articles – post 500 will be the first of a new era
  • We have received over 4,400 comments from hundreds of different readers
  • It is now possible to comment on articles through WordPress, Facebook and Google+

External Interaction

  • In the last year we have gained hundreds of subscribers
  • We now have almost 400 Twitter followers
  • Over 300 people receive updates from Technology Bloggers on Facebook
  • More than 230 people subscribe to our feed – with over 50 people subscribing via email

Looking Forward

I want Technology Bloggers to be more author focused from now on. The blog was founded as a community blog, to be focused on a strong base of authors – not just a lot of guest posts which is what we have seen in the past. I will be developing the theme to help promote the people behind the content. As always your suggestions and ideas will drive the blog forward.

Very soon we are going to be introducing a whole new wave of guest bloggers and authors – and maybe an editor or two as well.

I leave you with this: just look how far we have come…

Two images of Technology Bloggers
Technology Bloggers shortly after it launched and three years on – before the theme change.

Over and out. 🙂
Christopher

Categories
Updates

Changes to our writing structure

Change happens. Often change is neither good or bad, it’s just different.

Technology Bloggers logo (2.0)Here comes some good change.

When I founded Technology Bloggers almost three years ago, the idea was meant to be a blog that was built by a community of people. We did have a good diverse mix of writers, however over time quality started to dip and many writers only wrote one post – which was not the aim. As you may have noticed, it is only really myself and Jonny who post now, as bringing new talent through takes such a long time.

One of the advantages I have now is that I understand blogging a lot better, and this has helped me to step back and look at the system we have to see if it is working. It isn’t. We are getting too many applications and it is becoming hard to keep up with them all. Also, many of the applications are not what we are looking for.

Changes

Today the whole writer landscape changes. We do away with the old system of contributors, authors, editors and admins and move to a new system of guest bloggers, authors and editors. The old Write For Us page has been updated to reflect the changes, and is now called Join Us. Head over there for details on each of the new roles and how to apply.

In brief, guest bloggers are those who write one-off, special posts for the blog. They are already well respected individuals in their field and will only be posting occasionally.

Authors post more frequently and are a more visible part of the community in the long-term. Editors are those who post very regularly and also have additional responsibilities.

Everyone who has recently applied to become a contributor will soon be sent an email informing them of our new structure and asking them to check out our new structure if they want to apply. All current authors and contributors will also be contacted to let them know what we are doing.

Our cluttered Our Writers page has gone, and it has been replaced with a new page to reflect the changes. Here you will be able to find out much more about who writes for us than you could before.

Jonny Hankins Profile
Jonny’s old profile (top) and his new profile (bottom) on our new Our Writers page.

I have more (exciting) changes planned for the very near future, however I would like to know your thoughts too.

Do you feel these new changes are fair and will take us in the direction we need to go? Do you have any more suggestions or comments on anything related to the blog?

Thank you for your time, over and out.

Categories
Blogging Updates

Goodbye CommentLuv

“…blogging has changed, and the blog itself is no-longer where many people read and interact. Read in the feed and comment on social media. Blogging is still there, but I think comments are slowly dying…

A feed and social profile were luxuries years ago, however now it seems they are part of blogging itself – if you don’t have them do you have a blog at all?”

That is a quote from a comment I left in June this year.

Digital media explorer Ari Herzog has noted how blog comments are evolving, and he now offers his readers the ability to leave a comment via the standard (vanilla) WordPress commenting system, as well as via Facebook and Google Plus.

Blogging is still very much alive, however as my opening quote suggests, the way authors go about publishing content and how readers then go abut digesting and debating this, has changed significantly in recent times.

CommentLuv

Just over two years ago I wrote a post detailing why you should use the CommentLuv plugin. Today very few 0f the reasons I state still hold true.

I have now deactivated CommentLuv on Technology Bloggers for these simple reasons:

Two comments with CommentLuv links
Two great comments with irrelevant CommentLuv links.
  • CommentLuv looks messy – take a look at the two comments to the right. They are both great comments, but they are followed by an untidy, irrelevant link. If someone is interesting in your site, they will check it out anyway.
  • CommentLuv promotes spam – having looked through our comments, very few of our genuine visitors actually take advantage of CommentLuv, yet almost all the spam comments we get include a CommentLuv link.
  • CommentLuv increases load time – you know how obsessed I am with speed, so much so, any plugin which significantly impacts load time is now under scrutiny. CommentLuv is quite a heavy plugin which I have found has a big impact on page load time, and that extra lag isn’t justifiable for what it offers.
  • CommentLuv is bad for SEO – one of the key things Google has been clamping down on of late is irrelevant links. If you run a site about lawnmowers, and you have a large number of links coming from a technology website, it probably doesn’t do you any favours. Similarly, if I have written an article on something tech related, comments with random links introducing irrelevant keywords, dilute the content and probably don’t do my article any favours.
Google SEO chart
CommentLuv is arguable bad for SEO.

CommentLuv was once a great plugin, but its time has passed. The web is changing, blogging more so than ever, so it is time to say goodbye to CommentLuv.

Categories
Updates

Technology Bloggers turns 2!

Today, Technology Bloggers turns 2!

Happy Birthday Technology BloggersMany blogs get abandoned within the first year, blogs that last more than a year are rare. Blogging is said to have died and been reborn so many times, with millions of blogs, big and small falling by the wayside. But we haven’t!

Amazing growth, a growing social influence, and ranked in the top 275 technology blogs on the internet by Technorati, Technology Bloggers has had an amazing two years; and there is loads more to come!

Always striving to improve, every day we are becoming a bigger name in the technology industry.

Lets have a look at what’s happened in the last year…

Traffic

The blog has undoubtedly grown in popularity since last year. Here are some interesting visitor statistics which show the extent of our growth.

  • In year two (2012/2013) we had 65,000 unique visitors, 20k more than in year one (2011/2012)
  • Overall the number of visits were up 88% year on year
  • Year one saw 70,000 pageviews, whilst year 2 saw a staggering 64% increase to 115,000!
  • On average people spend 100 seconds (1 minute and 40 seconds) when visiting the blog

Social

Our presence on social media has significantly grown in the last year. We now post every article (title, excerpt and link) to Twitter and Facebook, as well as interesting things we find across the net, and developments – like my recent visit to the Gadget Show Live – more to come on that soon.

  • Our Facebook page has gained 246 new likes, which is a 473% increase in the last year
  • We now have 275 followers on Twitter, which is 299% up on the year 2011/2012
  • Since last year we have joined Google+ and now have 33 followers

Want to join our followers? If you subscribe you can get updates from the feed. We will only ever post something additional if we think it will interest you.

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Achievements

As a blog we have achieved far more than traffic and a strong social presence, here are some of our other great achievements:

  • Almost 4,000 comments have been posted by around 500 different commenters
  • We have 175 feed subscribers 63 of whom subscribe via email
  • We are ranked in the top 300 technology blogs in the world by Technorati (we are currently ranked 261, which is in the top 0.6% of all technology blogs in their index)
  • We were awarded British Gas’s blog of the month last April
  • We have a Google PageRank of 4 (although this doesn’t really mean very much)
  • The blog has attracted 71 different writers 24 of whom have written more than one post
  • Of our writers, 4 of them have 10 posts or more and 2 authors who have written more than 50 articles
  • Many of our writers are now claiming Google Authorship, strengthening the names behind the content on our blog

Community Awards

In the last two years, we have awarded 12 community awards in total. These awards have been given to 7 different people, with notable award winners including: Alan Tay winner of two awards; Peter Lee also winner of two awards; myself, (Christopher Roberts) winner of two awards; and Jonny Hankins who has won three awards.

2012 Community Award WinnersWinners of Technology Bloggers Community Awards - 2011

The Future

Our current growth seems to be showing no signs of slowing down, everything is just accelerating at the moment – which can be hard to manage!

In the pipeline for next year there is already a series, a competition, and loads of ideas for new posts!

Thank You

As always, thanks for playing your part in the community. Without you we couldn’t operate. Read, write or comment, everyone is important and everyone is part of the community.

Thank you everyone, here’s to another great year 🙂

By the way, this is our 400th post!

Categories
Blogging Updates

One blog, two perspectives

Technology Bloggers has two types of community members, those who read and those who write – some people do both.

For a long time now, those who contribute articles to the blog, and those who read those contributions, have seen the blog in the same way.

Not anymore.

Thanks to a clever bit of coding and a plugin or two, logged in users, now see a different blog to those who are logged out.

One of the major differences is advertisements. As you know we sometimes host advertisements on the sidebar or in the footer of the blog, in order to help fund the maintenance of the blog – someone has to pay the bills!

Logged in users still see sponsored editorials and writers personal AdSense units, however they no longer see sidebar/footer promotions. Also, logged in users get ‘behind the scenes’ information an updates that normal users don’t need to see.

For an example, see the image below.

Logged in vs standard users footer view
What Technology Bloggers homepage footer currently looks like for normal readers and logged in users.

For search engine optimisation reasons, I have been trying to remove links from the blog’s design (specifically sidebar and footer) as too many links can look spammy, and throw PageRank in all directions. Fewer links means those pages that are linked to (both internal and external) carry greater authority.

So, if you are a writer, check out your sidebar and footer, as it is different to when you are not logged in. Even if you don’t have an account, take a look at the sidebar and footer, as there is some really interesting stuff which you might find useful there!

On a slightly different note, our prodigy (well he did win the 2012 ‘Rising Star’ community award) Jonny Hankins is currently learning more about our commenting systems, via Technology Bloggers Progression Academy – a new initiative I am developing – with the aim to have him modifying comments, and therefore being promoted to the status of Editor (Level 1), in the very near future.

Hopefully we can get more writers moderating their own comments too soon. Technology Bloggers Progression Academy material is currently being tested on our guinea pig – also Mr Hankins!

Categories
Updates

Technology Bloggers community awards 2012

Slightly later than last year (I was on holiday in Italy over New Year this year), I am now going to announce the winners of Technology Bloggers community awards!

This is the second year of community awards, and this year, the awards were democratic. I gave you (the community), the opportunity to suggest awards and nominations, and then you voted on who you wanted to win each of the six awards.

This year each award had 4 nominees, meaning that there were 24 nominations; which were filled by 13 different people.

You have voted, and the results are now in. Here are this years winners.

Top Commenter

Nominees:

  • Lillie Ammann
  • Peter Lee
  • David Jamieson
  • Neil Duncan

Runner Up

Lillie AmmannThe runner up for this years top commenter community award is Lillie Ammann! Congratulations for Lillie for her nomination, she doesn’t comment very often but when she does, it is always kind words and useful feedback 🙂 You can find out more about Lillie by visiting her blog.

Winner

Peter LeeWith 57% of the vote, the clear winner of this years top commenter award is Peter Lee! My thanks go out to Peter for his fantastic contribution to the blog. Peter commented on the blog around 60 times in 2012, which is quite a lot! Never were his comments bland or meaningless though, they always added value to the article, which is a credit to Peter and the community. Peter has a website which you can visit called Computer How To Guide.

Top Writer (Contributor)

Nominees:

  • Alan Tay
  • Hayley Anderson
  • Nick Sotos
  • Chadrack Irobogo

Runner Up

Hayley AndersonHayley Anderson took 29% of the community vote, putting her in second place. Hayley likes to write about nanotechnology, a very interesting industry which is advancing all the time. Hayley maintains a website herself, which is about Microscopes.

Winner

Alan TayThe winner of the top contributor category of the community awards 2012 is Alan Tay! So far Alan has contributed 7 articles to the blog, and displays many of the characteristics of a good writer. Alan often replies to people who comment on his articles, and generally writes thoughtful and useful material. Alan is a specialist in IT Security, which he blogs about on his own site too.

Top Writer (Author+)

Nominees:

  • Christopher Roberts
  • Jonny Hankins
  • Steve August
  • Ron Fletcher

Runner Up

Jonny HankinsIn a very respectable second place is Jonny Hankins. Author and innovation and responsibility researcher for the Bassetti Foundation, who currently resides in Boston (USA), Jonny has been a great author this year. His posts have inspired, amazed and amused, making him a true credit to the blog. Check out more of his work by visiting the Bassetti Foundation website.

Winner

Christopher RobertsIt is with the utmost pride that I announce that the winner of the top author award 2012 is me – Christopher Roberts! It was a close fought contest between me and Jonny and myself, with 37.5% and 62.5% of the vote respectively – I am honoured to have won. Personally I feel that Jonny’s posts are often better than mine, but I shall acknowledge to the public vote and declare myself the winner. Thank you everyone 🙂

Rising Star

Nominees:

  • Steve August
  • Jonny Hankins
  • David Jamieson
  • Chadrack Irobogo

Runner Up

Steve AugustWith 25% of the vote Steve August is the runner up for this award. Steve is relatively new to the community, and yet in the 5 months of 2012 that he was part of the community, he posted 7 app reviews – his preferred area of writing. Steve also contributes to Alpha Digits where you can read more of his work.

Winner

Jonny Hankins63% of the vote saw Jonny Hankins take the 2012 community award for rising star! My heartfelt congratulations go to Jonny for his fantastic contribution to the blog. With 59 posts and a series under his belt already, who knows where 2013 will take his ever progressing blogging career!

Most Friendly Member of the Community

Nominees:

  • Tammi Kibler
  • Peter Lee
  • Lillie Ammann
  • Chadrack Irobogo

Runner Up

Lillie AmmannLillie Ammann was also nominated for this category, and took 25% of the vote, making her the runner up for this award 2012. Again, well done Lillie for the nomination and votes, you are a truly valued member of the community.

Winner
Peter LeePeter Lee took his second award this year by winning the most friendly member of the community award. Huge congratulations to Peter, as willing two awards is quite something! I look forward to your participation in 2013 🙂

Top All Rounder

Nominees:

  • Christopher Roberts
  • Jonny Hankins
  • Alan Tay
  • Chadrack Irobogo

Runner Up

Jonny HankinsNow for the big one, the top all rounder. In the past I have referred to this as “Technology Bloggers ultimate award” as it is for someone who is an example an outstanding community member, which is why it is very deservingly that Jonny Hankins was nominated for this award, which he claimed runner up status for. One community award and runner up for another two, not a bad 2012 Jonny!

Winner
Christopher RobertsI am truly humbled to have received 91% of the vote for this award. I love this blog and the people who make it as great as it is, which is probably why I put so much time and effort into posting content, moderating comments, tweaking things and generally just doing my best to make it a fantastic site to visit. Again, I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, I am truly grateful.

Well that’s 2012’s awards over, 6 categories, with 7 unique winners and runners up, democratically chosen by you: the readers of the blog.

2012 Community Award Winners

2012 was a brilliant year for us, and our visitor numbers prove it. Here is a sneak peak at some traffic stats that I wouldn’t usually publicly release.

Technology Bloggers Traffic
The number of visits the blog has had (per month) since it started on April the 13th 2011.

Happy New Year everyone, here’s to 2013!

Categories
Festive Media Science Updates

Year End Update

As the year ends I would like to look at some of my post over the last year or so to give an update about what has unfolded since I wrote them.

2012 Ending
The End is Near

I will start with Citizen Science. In 2011 I wrote an article about online gamers as scientists, and this year a couple of posts touched upon the issue of citizen science.

Recently the UK press has carried a story about a WW2 carrier pigeon whose remains were found in a chimney. The bird had a capsule on its leg that contained a message in code. Experts were unable to understand the message so they released the data into the public domain in the hope that somebody would be able to decode it. A perfect example of citizen science, the use of the Internet to access millions of brains.

A gentleman in Ontario responded with what he believes is the meaning of the note, although debate is rife around the issue of verification. He claims that the code is from WW1 and nothing more than a series of acronyms. Read this BBC article for more.

Still way back in 2011 I wrote a post about prosthetic limb technology and the fact that someone had opted to amputate a hand in order to have a robotic replacement fitted. Recently doctors have reported great improvements in prosthetic control, including controlling the artificial limbs through thought.

This experimental science has been going on for some time now, with implants in the brain interpreting neuron activity in order to make the limb move. As sensors get better movement improves and so control is greater. This week researchers in the US have released video of a woman operating a robot hand through thought. Watch it here on the Independent newspaper site.

One thing that isn’t addressed in the press coverage that I feel is important is that the person does not have to be attached to the arm, they can operate it remotely. This must have implications for how research and the handling of dangerous materials may be treated in the future.

If you want to see where this technology might take us just have a look at this video reportedly of someone controlling a remote control quadcopter using only thought waves. Incredible stuff!

More recently I wrote a piece about the compulsory tagging of students in a Texas school district. The project has run into problems as one of the students was withdrawn and moved to another school for refusing to wear the tag on religious grounds. Read the report here.

Andrea Hernandez refused to wear the tag saying that the bar code it contained could be the mark of the beast, an interpretation she takes from the book of Revelation. When they removed the mark from the tag she continued to refuse to wear it however so was effectively expelled. She is taking the school to court over the matter presenting problems to all those involved in the project.

I also wrote about the MOSE project to protect Venice from the rising seawater that floods the city ever more frequently. Recent news (in Italian) states that the project will no longer be ready in 2014 (2012 was the original date set for completion) but will possibly be finished in 2016.

The major problem seems to be lack of money. The project budget has increased massively, and the economic crisis has meant that money is found piecemeal so that the work can continue.

I do not want to be too critical of the land that bore my wife and children, but unfinished engineering projects are not uncommon in Italy, let’s hope this one does not end like many others.

Next week I will be taking a self enforced holiday, so no post on Thursday. Happy winter solstice to all, enjoy the festivities, thanks to everyone who has read and/or commented over the last year and I will be back in the new year (presuming that the Mayans were mistaken).