Change happens. Often change is neither good or bad, it’s just different.
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.
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.
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?
Today I pose a question: is it possible to blog on a daily basis?
It is easy to ‘scrape’ content on a daily basis, but can you write and publish a really good post every day? Jonny seems to have publishing weekly down to a tee, every week we get something new and thought provoking. 4 to 5 posts each month, every month.
I have a more erratic style of publishing, 2 posts in January, 5 in December, 1 in November, 3 in October, 5 in September, none in August – you get the picture.
I like to spend a lot of time on articles. I usually do a lot of research and background reading to try and put together an interesting, factually sound piece of work. I am a little bit of a perfectionist, which is sometimes really good, but it can be annoying. If I care about something, I like to put a lot of work into it. I care for this blog, so I want every post to be really good. Not every post I publish has or will be really good. I need to face the facts.
So, I as I am writing this I am setting myself a challenge. Write an article at least once a week and hit publish. No faffing around, just write a post and publish it every Monday.
We all leave a footprint on the world, just by being alive we contribute to environmental degradation. No matter what you do, you can’t eliminate your effect (offset it maybe) on the world, but you can minimise it.
In this article I am going to look at some very simple things you can do to reduce the impact you have on the planet, making you a greener individual.
The amount of water we use has a big impact on the environment, as well as other people. Last April I posted an article which asked you to question your usage of water. I have included a brief summary of the article
Of all the water on earth, just 0.007% is drinkable, and whilst our usage of water and the number of people on earth are both rapidly growing, water supplies aren’t. Drought is a real issue in many areas of the world and one in nine people don’t have access to safe drinking water.
Excessive use (and arguably wastage) of water via things like regular use of hose pipes and using water hungry appliances (like washing machines) when they have spare capacity, can easily be reduced, and can significantly decrease our water usage.
In the comments, there was some great feedback. Jonny suggested using a water butt to collect rainwater to water your garden, saying “it is really shocking to think that many people use drinking water to keep the lawn green“. Shane told us how he plays 5 minute songs when having a shower, so he know when it’s time to get out, and Jean noted how he tries to fix leaks as soon as he finds them, as they are a massive waste of water – and money!
Another step you can take which will reduce your carbon footprint is choosing local. In 2009, I wrote an article on the technology behind food, discussing the journey food takes, and the impact it has on the planet, getting it to our table. Although the figures might have slightly changed, the concept behind the article is still the same: buying local produce significantly reduces your carbon footprint.
Local doesn’t even have to mean that close. Ideally, within 20 miles of the shop you buy is the best sort of ‘local’, however even food that has been grown within 200 miles is much better than food that has been flown across the globe.
Local food not only promotes energy conservation, but it also supports local farmers. Farm shops are a really good place you can get local food, why not check out BigBarn, a site designed to help you find where you can get locally produced food.
Reuse, Repair and Recycle Technology
It is important to use technology to its full potential, and to keep using it until it is no longer viable. Once something stops working, or is no longer able to fulfil your needs, whenever possible, repair or upgrade it. If your PC is starting to run a little sluggish, try to speed it up again (maybe visit my speed up your computer article) add some more RAM, upgrade the graphics card, and consider increasing the storage capacity.
As Jonny wrote last year, electronic waste is a real problem, computer components can be hard to recycle, and are often toxic. Therefore it is important to try to reduce electronic waste, and when it does occur, ensure it is disposed or/recycled properly.
If you have reused and repaired a device as much as possible, the next step is recycling. Recycling electronic waste is a growing industry, computer recycling and schemes which enable you to recycle mobile phones, so your technology is either properly recycled, or repaired and reused, either resold locally, or distributed to developing countries are becoming ever more common. Many firms (like the one I link to above) are even paying you for your old technology – reduce your ecological footprint, and get paid, what more could you ask for!
There seems to be a growing resistance to nuclear power, fossil fuels are running out and this matched with the lack of investment in renewables, is leading us to a global energy crisis. Every individual can make a difference, by reducing their consumption.
Turning off devices instead of leaving them on standby, switching to energy bulbs, and insulate your home and relatively simple and cheap ways to save energy, which we have probably all heard many times. Steps which involve using smarter technologies, such as getting Remote Heating Control installed and choosing smarter energy using devices are also good ways to save power, and are now also becoming more common.
Four of the best ways you can reduce your environment impact are to: be more frugal with water; try and buy local produce; maintain technology for as long as possible, and then recycle it; and reducing your energy usage.
Feel free to critique any of my points, and by all means, suggest your own ideas below.
Many 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…
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
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.
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 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
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.
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!
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 🙂
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.
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.
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!
When I write, I want to write quality articles; articles which interest, amaze and inspire. Mediocre content annoy me. If ever I write something which I consider of low quality, I never publish it – I will either review it or scrap it.
I want to make a difference in the world, be it a small or big difference (I would prefer big) I have to start on a personal scale. If I can improve your life by changing the way you think and feel (for the better), and enriching your knowledge and understanding, then I am doing my job.
I love reading Jonny’s posts every week, they always interest me and many have inspired me to make (usually small) changes in my life and have often caused me to write something myself. Jonny posts once a week, on a Thursday – with the odd exception. Would he be able to post such great content if he posted twice a week? What about three times? I don’t know.
I am not meaning to pick on Jonny, once a week is just great and very appreciated. One day Jonny will stop writing as often, and one day he will stop writing all together. I hope that day is a long way off, and by that time I have no doubt that we will have other writers writing the quality and quantity of content that he writes.
The same goes for me. I get a lot from blogging at the moment, I love the researching and crafting process that goes into making an article, and I also love the responses. But one day I shall probably stop too.
Think about your favourite TV show, how often does it air? Usually (with exceptions) the best shows/series take months to produce and don’t launch every day/week of the year.
Blogging is the same. I want us to post 6 great articles a week. Jonny gives us one of those posts. I am usually able to provide another, and we often get the third from another writer – like Steve, Ron, Alan or another writer. Usually we only post 4 or 5 articles a week, and that’s fine. I would like to post 6, but would rather post 4 quality articles than 6 mediocre ones.
Blogs that post less often, usually don’t have such a great readership. It’s a fact. There are exceptions of course. What would a news site be, if it only published once a week?
If I was able to monetise Technology Bloggers so that I could run it as a business, then I could dedicate more time to it, as it would become a job, not just a hobby. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we do host the odd bit of sponsored content, to help pay the hosting bills, and fund competitions, but this site is never going to make millions. I am not sure I would still want to blog, if it was solely for money though, so I don’t want to monetise the site.
So, here is the dilemma I have: produce okay content, daily; or produce quality content, less often.
I want to post 6 articles a week, only 3 are provided, who plugs the gap? Usually me. If I don’t I feel bad, as I don’t feel I have fulfilled my duty to the site. If I post the extra posts needed, but they aren’t quite as good as content I have produced before, I am angry that I let the posts go live.
There is a very fine balance which needs to be struck, and I am not sure I am there just yet.
Would you prefer to read 5 star articles once a week, 4 star articles twice a week, or 2 star articles daily?
The reason I am writing this is because I feel we had a great 2012, I had a great 2012 as a blogger, especially in the last few weeks. That said, I know my diary for 2013 is already looking pretty full. Friends, family, education, work and recreation all take a lot of our time, and rightly so. However other commitments I have, do mean that I will have less time to write in 2013.
Rest assured, I am not throwing in the towel and am going to continue to do my best to keep us up and running at full capacity, but there is a lot to do.
If you want to help, I am more than happy to accept suggestions. I would love to promote more users to author status, and give everyone more control.
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.
The 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.
With 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)
Hayley 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.
The 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+)
In 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.
It 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 🙂
With 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.
63% 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
Lillie 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.
Peter 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
Now 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!
I 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 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.
In around three weeks time I hope to reveal the winners of Technology Bloggers 2012 community awards.
To do that, there are a few things that need to happen, one of which is for you (the community) to vote as to who you feel deserves each award.
The aim of the awards is to recognise key and valued members of the community, and to celebrate the brilliant personalities that make up our blog.
Here is a quote from my article on the awards last year:
“…at the end of the year, we shall celebrate the people who have helped make this blog the huge success it is today.”
Last week I asked for your award suggestions and comments, and from the response I received, I am assuming that everyone pretty much liked the awards we had last year, so we are going to stick with them.
So, without further ado, let the voting commence!
Below you can find the 6 awards that are up for grabs, and the nominations for each award. Read the description of the award, consider the candidates and then cast your vote as to who you feel should be claimed victor.
Who do you feel posts the most valuable and interesting comments, which you always enjoy reading?
Top Writer (Contributor)
Which writer do you feel has made the most valuable contribution to the blog in the last year. Who’s articles do you love to read?
Petrol cars have no future. That is a fact, in 50 years time there will be no crude oil left on planet earth (assuming current consumption rates don’t decrease) therefore there will be no oil left to make petroleum or diesel.
Biofuel, hydrogen, LPG and electric cars are the future, there is no doubt about that. Right now there are many hybrid cars which use petrol with another power source, but in the future, petrol from natural oil will be no more.
There are of course other ways you can power cars, using compressed air is one method as is water-cell technology. These are not however currently concepts in mass production. If you follow those two links, you will find posts written by Jonny on the concepts mentioned.
Arguably the greenest option for the future is electric cars. The electricity used to power the cars can be generate from renewable sources, (it isn’t necessarily, but that is an option) and electricity from renewables is a lot less damaging to the planet than energy generated from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – be it in on the micro scale inside an engine of a car, or on a macro scale in a network of power stations.
Electric cars are starting to look more and more normal, (in the past some have looked somewhat abstract!) and are becoming more efficient every year.
The Future Car Challenge
This year, British Gas (the company who installed Remote Heating Control in my home) became an official partner of The Future Car Challenge. The Future Car Challenge is an annual event, which showcases the latest developments in the electric car industry. This year, members from the British Gas team drove fro Brighton up to London, with the aim of using the least amount of energy as possible, using the latest electric cars. The team included comedian Robert Llewellyn, Ben Collins, (A.K.A. ‘The Stig’), and Commonwealth gold medal swimmer Ross Davenport.
British Gas are setting up a national charging network, to help increase the viability of electric cars. A charging network is as vital to electric cars as service stations are to petrol and diesel cars. Some electric cars do have the ability to transfer energy generate from breaking into electricity, (as seem in Formula 1 cars) however this alone isn’t enough to power them, so electric recharge points are essential.
Here is a statement from British Gas on their involvement with electric cars:
“British Gas is dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place now and in the future. We are leading the way in providing expertise and charging solutions in the Electric Vehicle market through partnering with Nissan, Renault, Hitachi Capital, Toyota and Vauxhall.
British Gas’ dedicated charging solutions are safer, convenient and more compatible than plugging electric vehicles directly into the mains supply socket at home. Not only do we offer charging solutions that can cut charging times by around a third, but British Gas also offers its customers specially designed tariffs to help them charge for less.”
To celebrate the event, we have five solar power car sets to giveaway, courtesy of British Gas!
The prize is a John Lewis Solar Go Go Car, (click the link for more info) a cool kit from which you can build your own solar powered car! Okay it isn’t quite as good as an electric car, but it looks great fun, and could make a fantastic Christmas present…
The giveaway will run for 8 days, from today until the end of next Wednesday (12.00am on Thursday the 13th).
The prizes will be sent out by British Gas to the UK only, so if you don’t live in the UK I am afraid you can’t enter. If you have an address in the UK you can get the prize sent to if you win, you are in!
How To Enter
It is really easy to enter the competition, all you need to do is enter an email address we can contact you on (if you win) in the Rafflecopter widget below. If you like the blog on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or are subscribed to our feed via email, then you can gain some extra entries.
Want a Solar Go Go Car kit? Enter below!
Winners will be emailed on Thursday the 13th to let them know that they have won, and will be announced on the blog shortly after.
A couple of months ago I wanted to buy a new sofa. I found something that looked great in my local online sales paper, so I had to decide whether to go and see it. This involves hiring a car or taking a train and bus, because it was not close to my house and I don’t have a car of my own here in the US. Another possibility was just to hire a van, go and see it and buy it on the spot, a slightly riskier option.
So I did what many do, I looked up the seller via Google to see who he was. He turned out to be the CEO of a local business, so I made my decision. I hired a van and drove out, bought it on the spot, a lovely piece. I based the decision on the seller’s Linkedin profile, presuming that I had the right person from the name, and all went well.
The BBC recently broadcast a program on the World Service Outlook program along the same lines, but with a different outcome. It is available on Podcast here, but I would like to outline the story for you all.
In 2009 Iran saw street protests following the disputed presidential elections. Violence flared and a young woman was shot dead. Her name was Neda Agha-Soltan. Journalists from the international press soon picked up on the story, and rather like me searched Facebook and other sites for a photo of the victim. They found one and published it.
The next day Neda Soltan, a university professor saw her photos in the press. They had the wrong person. Obviously this may have caused some distress for her friends and family, so she contacted the press institutions and told them of their mistakes. They however continued to use her photo, and soon it was appearing on leaflets and became the face that distinguished the protests.
A few days later government secret service officers turned up at the professor’s house. They wanted to prove that the rumours of the death were all false, a CIA or EU plot to discredit the government, and they had proof that Neda was still alive. They wanted her to come forward and display to the world that she was still with us.
When she refused she was arrested. Upon her temporary release her friends managed to smuggle her out of the country, into Turkey and on to Germany where she claimed political asylum. She is currently in the US but has not seen her family and cannot return to Iran.
The Internet has given journalists incredible tools and access to information, but here a mistake has ruined somebody’s life. The first thing people do when they want to learn about a person is type their name into their favourite search engine. Facebook is like a CV, but contains far more intimate and possibly compromising information, but users seem not to take this into consideration.
In the case above there seems to be no recourse to the law, and anyway it would not help. A bit of responsibility wouldn’t go amiss on both sides though!