Category Archives: General

2009 Wrap Up

This is my first post as part of an Absolute Write blog chain.  The site runs blog chains every month, and this month, the topic is “Wrap Up List 2009” – a chance to reflect on the previous year. At the bottom of this post you will find a list of the other people participating in the chain. I encourage you to take a look at their blogs – there’s some good writers taking part.

I’m pleased to say that 2009 was a decent year for me.  I’m looking forward to 2010, and plan to build on the foundations set this year.

Health

I had some health issues this year, but my doctors have been great.  I think this is worth mentioning because I moved relatively recently, and the doctors at my former place of residence were terrible.  At one point I had to get so sick I was hospitalized – for something that turned out to need a course of antibiotics – because my old doctor insisted all my symptoms were in my head. If you have a good doctor, be thankful!

I took up weight lifting this year, and I’m working towards a weight goal in bench / deadlift.  I’m planning to buy a squat rack next summer so that I can start squatting more regularly – at the moment it’s awkward  and a little dangerous to try to squat heavy weights, so I’m only doing weights I know I can manage easily to get the form down.

Next year I hope to compete in a powerlifting competition.  I’m not expecting to do well, but at least I’ll be able to say I’ve competed.

Writing

In 2008, I started working on my first book, the WordPress-MU Beginner’s Guide. It was published by Packt Publishing in October 2009, and next month I’ll find out how the early sales went.  Initial reviews have been positive, and I learned a lot about the publishing process while working on the title.  I’m looking forward to writing more books with Packt in the future.

I also started working as a proof reader (and I’m sure that mentioning that will mean this post is riddled with typos and other errors).  It’s a job that I enjoy because I get to read interesting books – before they’re published, and get paid to do it!

I’m currently working on a technical review of a book about Ubuntu for tech publishing company O’Reilly, and I’m really enjoying that title too.  My publisher has cleared me to work on a short ebook for O’Reilly, something that I’m very grateful for.  I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about option clauses, so having a publisher that’s willing to work with their authors to maintain a good relationship makes me feel blessed.

Ubuntu Membership

Writing about, and reviewing a book on Ubuntu has made me get more involved with the community.  I’ve already posted about Ubuntu Membership, and that’s something I plan to pursue next year.  This year I started to learn packaging, and I got involved with the bug triaging project, and I hope to continue both of those things long term.

Business

Myth Games – the site I run which offers game reviews and news, moved to a new server this year.  I’m working on ironing out some bugs and adding some new site features which should make it easier to update and to add new content.  The site move and the associated downtime killed our traffic in the short term,but it’s going back up, and I hope it will exceed it’s former traffic levels by the time E3 (the biggest trade show in the industry) comes around again.

We missed E3 last year because of my health issues.  Hopefully that won’t happen again in 2010.

Fiction

I have a lot of respect for people who can write fiction. I’m working on a couple of short stories, but I have a lot to learn in that regard.  I didn’t take part in NANOWRIMO this year, and that’s something I regret.  Rather than delay the whole thing until next November, I think I’ll have an unofficial NANO sometime in the spring – anything to get me writing, and get over this fear of fiction.

Legends Reborn is still in progress.  It’s a mammoth project, though, so I’m not expecting to have much to show for it until this time next year. I have a couple of betas lined up, but I don’t want to pull them in until I know what *I* want to do, because I fear too many changes will burn them out.

Life

I got my provisional driving license recently, and I plan on learning to drive in the spring.  The weather is far too bad (icy / dark / wet) to learn at the moment.  I will be taking an advanced course, assuming I pass, so that I have an idea how to handle such weather.  I just don’t want my first experience of handling a vehicle to be skidding off the road!

That concludes my wrap-up. The other participants in the blog chain are listed below. Please do take a look at them, and wish them all well for next year!

Lost Wanderer – http://www.lostwanderer5.blogspot.com
Claire Crossdale – http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com/
coryleslie – http://corrinejackson.wordpress.com/
bsolah – http://benjaminsolah.com/blog
DavidZahir – http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/
RavenCorinnCarluk – http://ravencorinncarluk.blogspot.com
Ralph Pines – http://ralfast.wordpress.com/
shethinkstoomuch – http://shethinkstoomuch.wordpress.com
Lady Cat – http://www.randomwriterlythoughts.blogspot.com
truelyana – http://expressiveworld.com
misaditas – http://misaditas-novels.blogspot.co

collectonian – http://collectonian.livejournal.com/632314.html (PREVIOUS)
razibahmed – http://www.blogging37.com
(Next)

beawhiz – http://beawrites.wordpress.com
FreshHell – http://freshhell.wordpress.com
AlissaC – http://alissacarleton.blogspot.com
Aimee – http://writing.aimeelaine.com
Forbidden Snowflake – http://www.alleslinks.com

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Social bookmarking links script

There are dozens of social bookmarking services.  If you tried to promote your site on all of them, you would probably end up spending more time on submitting pages to those sites than you would on producing new content.

Most of those sites are very sensitive to ‘spam’, and are hostile towards people who are clearly shilling or promoting their own web sites.  So, if you have a strong community already, why not encourage your users to promote your site for you, rather than doing all the submission work yourself.

One effective way to do this is to place social bookmarking links at the bottom of each article.  These links take the user to the submission page of their favourite social bookmarking site, so all they have to do is enter a quick description, and submit.

One such script is available for download here.

This script was originally designed by Hugo Haas.  I have been using it on my web sites for quite some time, simply updating the social bookmarking links as necessary.

The script is ideal for use on any web site – whether it’s powered by WordPress-MU, Joomla, e107, or any other CMS.  It’s also useful for custom coded sites.  Just extract the folders, drop the Javascript into your pages, and you’re good to go.

LinkedIn Update – Fake Profile Removed

I’m finally back online, and I’m glad to report that LinkedIn have removed the faked LinkedIn profile that I mentioned last month.  To their credit, they actually removed it within 10 days of me making the support request – I simply didn’t spot the email telling me they’d done so, as I haven’t been able to get online much until recently.

I’m pleased they removed the profile, and I’m relieved that the creator of the fake profile didn’t do anything to damage the reputation of Myth Games, however I’d still love to know who made it, and why.

Win a trip to Alton Towers

Are you and the kids desperate to get out of the house for a while?   Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? are doing a competition in association with Andrex Puppy Points which could be just the thing for you – assuming you’re from the UK.  This weeks’ “Win It Wednesday” gives you a chance to win a trip for two adults and two children to Alton Towers – along with a stay in a nice 4 star hotel.

The competition is easy to enter, just leave a comment on the post, and if you want an extra entry, follow their blog.

Good luck!

Well, so much for a post a day

Unfortunately, my plans for a post a day throughout this month have been thwarted by good old BT.  Currently, I’m paying for a net connection I can’t use because the phone line it’s attached to no longer exists.

I’m going to be offline for another week.  I’ve picked up a mobile broadband dongle, which I plan to use for checking email and doing a little surfing, but I’m rationing the usage of it, since I don’t want to have to top it up again.

Regular posting will resume in August.  I hope!

Fake LinkedIn Profiles

As a freelancer, and the owner of a small company, I like to maintain a presence on as many different social networks as possible.  I don’t devote huge amounts of time to them all – there’s so many that I just don’t have the time!  However I do make an effort to create an account, link up with any contacts of mine that also have a presence on the site, and log in at least once a month to check for messages, and see what people are up to.

LinkedIn is one of the networks that I’m a little more active on.  The groups are useful, and answering questions is a great way to get your name out there.  Plus, it’s a little more spam-free and work focused than most of the other networks.

Every now and then, I get told that I have a new colleage at Myth Games.  Since Myth Games is a family-ran company with a full time staff of two people, and only a handful of occasional contributors (all of whom are close friends), I’m always curious to see who these supposed colleagues are.  Usually, LinkedIn has simply gotten confused, and the person they’re pointing me to works for a different company that happens to have “Myth” or “Mythical” in the name.

Today, however, I saw someone claiming to be a Journalist at Myth Games.   They had no connections, were a new profile, and had joined several gaming and journalism related groups.

I’m not entirely sure why anyone would do that.  If you’re going to fake working somewhere, why not pick somewhere big?  If they’re after some contacts, working for a comparatively small, independent site is not going to benefit them that much, and if they’re playing a practical joke, I’m not sure what they’re trying to achieve.

I’ve contacted LinkedIn to ask them to investigate the profile, hopefully they’ll close it down.

If you’re the owner of a company, have you ever encountered anyone falsely claiming to work for you on LinkedIn? If so, how did you deal with it?  Did those false claims do any damage?

Myth Games is getting a redesign

Myth Games has had the same design for almost two years, and I’ve finally found the incentive to update it.  We bought a VPS recently, and there’s a few differences between our old shared hosting and the VPS set up, which means that some features on the site don’t quite work as intended.

Rather than dig through the old site’s rather messy code, I’ve started work on a new design, which will include a more CMS-like back end, to make life easier for people when they’re updating the site.  If all goes as planned, the new design will be live (in beta form) later today.

I’ve thrown out the phpBB Portal part of the site – everything is custom coded now, except for the ads system, which is powered by OpenX.  I’m hopeful that the new design will be much faster, and much more stable – the phpBB Portal performed well most of the time, but needed regular database optimization, and was prone to falling over during times of high load – such as the first day of a games trade show.

The challenge now is finding an effective way of caching pages, without having the cache eat too much disk space.

I’ll be signing up to OpenX marketplace.  Since the death of HypeCouncil a couple of years ago, I haven’t found a good advertiser that offers decently paying, relevant ads for gaming and entertainment sites.  If anyone knows of one, I’d love to hear from you!