Thursday, July 31, 2008

Free softwares for PCs

Since this is a blog about this Nerd in Progress who is a freebie fan, I thought I MUST share this blog with you guys - Free software mission. Enough of paying for everything you put on your computer. There are loads of free softwares that will do most of the work for you without destroying your wallet.

This site is so in keeping with what I do here, that I just couldn't resist writing about it. Where's the connection between learning to be efficient in online life and freeware? Uh... unless you are rich (not me), you don't want to buy something or the other each time you get on a new learning curve. Its what you do that matters, not what you use to get the job done. And there are many softwares out there you don't need to pay for.

What I really like about this site is the personal challenge element. Those of you who follow my other sites already know that I'm a sucker for people putting themselves on the line. So here you have Jonny Karp, a blogger like you and me keeping his computer running on completely free stuff and sharing his findings with us. The variety is amazing and I particularly enjoyed some of my favourites being appreciated. Let me not spoil your suspense. Go over and see what its about.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Passwords manager

The one thing that makes my life perfect in the online world is the software Roboform. I use a lot of accounts in many places - discussion forums, emails, blogs, websites, webhosting, advertising, social netwroking...... and they only seem to increase.

In a world where stolen passowrds are not impossible, I like to use complex passwords that are unique to each site. However, its not all that easy. Remembering them was a pain. Taking them along while travelling, etc was worse. Remembering them when I change them......

Even keeping a handy text file had its dangers and inconveniences until *drumroll*

RoboForm: Learn more...

Now, I literally go around the web merry as you please, doing my own thing, hardly noticing when I login to sites, because the Roboform toolbar just sits there happily in my browser and shows up any logins I may have to the site I am on. If I don't, I register, login, and save it with literally one click. So the next time I go there, I breeze through with a click or so.

The best part is the whole thing is secure. I can passowrd protect my list of passwords, so anyone using my computer without it can't use my accounts automatically.

I can create safe notes, form details to fill in with a single click and such things that earlier used to end up with me typing the same old stuff over and over.

Tried creating social bookmarking accounts to promote your site? Or multiple emails you have to check for various purposes...... the applications are literally endless, and this one tool is going to change your life.

Wordpress 2.6 released

If you are thinking of creating your new blog, look no further, really, Wordpress rules. With a strong community of developers and followers, wordpress offers tremendous functionality and versatility in both looks and features.

Its famous three step install skips you through the set up process and before you know it, you are elbow deep into the stuff you really want to do rather than spend time setting things up.

Of all the softwares I have used, and I have used quite a few, Wordpress wins hands down. I literally learn to use this one software, and I can create sites, blogs, galleries, discussion forums..... no one said it has to remain limited to blogging.

Its sheer ease of use makes it simple and tempting to publish updates regularly, and its management of multiple levels of users keeps life happening for multiple contributors. Most of the time with my clients, lower access levels are not so much about limiting access and authority as it is about limiting the number of confusing choices and damage potential. Wordpress works very well for this.

I have literally made sites so static from it, that no one would guess that its actually running on a blogging platform.

Finding themes is a snap. I think wordpress probably has the most number of themes available. AND if you can't find something that suits your fancy, its pretty easy to convert an existing theme into a wordpress theme. Maybe I'll write a post about that eventually.

Finding plugins to do pretty much anything you wish is a snap too.

I'm finding this so strange to be writing about wordpress on a blog hosted on blogger, but then, what do I do, this is my backstage with my website work, so to say.

The only downside I have seen with wordpress is that it is pretty demanding on a server - like any classy creature. Fancy bikes inhale fuel, pretty women are expensive and handsome men are .... well .... demanding. Let's not lose track here. Point is, this is the expense for using wordpress. If you don't watch out, your first date with digg will bring the shutters down. However, like most things in wordpress, there are plugins to the rescue, and some pretty efficient cache plugins should do the job easily.

So, quit working hard, work smart.

Commenting on blogs

It is an important part of being a blogger to read and comment on other blogs. It helps you keep in touch with what other bloggers on your subject are up to, brings in new ideas and learnings, and helps you broaden your views and develop new perspectives about your own subject.

This is important because as we continue to write, we exhaust the things we originally wanted to say, and begin to get repetitive. Naturally, repetitive is boring. Also, unlike a book or a website, a blog is an evolving publication. Nothing here is frozen for all time, and it is a log of your own evolution as a person interested in the subject. Perhaps to be compared with a magazine with fresh issues each month to catch the readers interest.

Not evolving makes YOU boring. You don't want that.

Why comment? Remember the excitement you feel when someone comments on your blog? Well, other bloggers feel that too. Sharing the impact of the post on you is the easiest way to connect with an author. Connecting with other authors helps you build relationships in the online world, which mean a whole load of new things - links to your blog, references to you, blogging relationships, reputation, advertising income..... you get the people interested in you as a person, and you can get them to do a whole load of nice things for you.

Another way is of course to write about what they are up to on your blog. This needs some relevance to what you are up to. For example, we are now talking about blogging and commenting. Have you been to Darren Rose there has a fabulous way of writing about blogging in a way that leads to development of our skills and its really easy to read.

If you are interested in earning from your blog, look at John Chow's blog. Again, many useful tips and references that will help us.

So how do you go about reading and commenting on blogs? One way is to keep an eye out when you read something and look for opportunities to get in touch with the author. Now, inane comments are only going to irritate the author, but if you can share something others would want to know, people get interested in you quickly.

As an author for example, I enjoy knowing what my blog does to you. Do you feel happy, sad, irritated, inspired, challenged.....? When I go to other blogs, reading such comments give me an idea of the writer's relationships with the readers. Other comments I enjoy knowing is when you bring in a perspective that I hadn't thought of or add information that is not included in the original post.

Very often, and interesting comment makes me follow through to the commenter's link. I expect to find more of what I found interesting there. If nothing, I will follow links in comments on my own blog to see who is interacting with me. Never mind the search engines, even the kind of interest you can generate with this is quite high.

So if you want to do this actively, how do you go about doing it? What I usually do is I plan a post I would like to write, and search for blogs related with it as a part of the research. It gives me a good idea of the kind of approaches to the subject, as well as provides me the opportunity to interact with other writers on it. Then, I write my post and link to resources I found interesting and comment on the others sharing my experience of their posts and adding anything of value that occurs to me.

There are many ways of finding such blogs. Blog search engines, technorati, regular search engines are some. There are commenting softwares that make this much easier for you. They are able to search for blogs on a subject you specify that are open to comments. Comment Kahuna and Fast Blog Finder are two free examples. There are possibilities to look for page rank or no follow on links, etc, but their greatest strength is having a list of commentable blogs quickly lined up fo ryou.

While some bloggers frown on the use of such softwares, the real reason of the frowning is people leaving random comments on blogs that add no value and only spam links. If you are willing to read the posts and make an effort to comment in a way people would enjoy reading, the only difference the softwares bring in is that of removing places you can't comment on from your searches.

With judicious planning of the comments you make, it is possible to build links, relationships and a reputation in the online world.

Friday, July 18, 2008

ScribeFire review

I use ScribeFire to post on my blogs. Its quick and convenient and allows me to post to all my blogs from my browser. So if I find a site that is interesting, I can staay with that site as I write about it.

If you are a blogger and don't have scribefire, you are missing out. Go get it now (I'm assuming you are already using Firefox - If you aren't, get THAT first).

Anyway, I have recently experienced this problem with ScribeFire where the posts I publish are filed as pending review in my WordPress (not here, of course). Blogger works fine.

Additional whines:

  • I have include a lack of a list of available tage/autocomplete, so I risk creating unnecessary and duplicate like tags for my posts.
  • Shows some strange errors after closing its blogging window about the API of my platform or similar. To date, I haven't figured out any problem this has created beyonf the inconvenience of clicking away those alerts.
  • Having the blogging tool at my fingertips all through my browser experience tempts me to post more often because of sheer accessibility.
  • Much of the good bits work - copy pastes (including media), uploads via API or FTP, etc.
  • Picks up Urls and stuff from the browser or clipboard making linking much easier.
  • Posts to multiple platforms LiveJournal Xanga Windows Live Spaces Performancing Tumblr MySpace b2Evolution Splinder
  • Is extremely convenient an dsupports the objectives of a blogger.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Blog Development Challenge - Blog Growth - 1

As you can see, this is a new blog. It began with 4 Tips for Getting faster on a computer five days ago.

It deals with good blogging and growing in online skills, and I am going to use this blog itself to show the effectiveness of what works. Periodically, I will be updating changes in statistics and charting changes in them.

As of now, the blog has:

  • 0 subscribers
  • 5 posts
  • 0 search traffic
  • 0 direct traffic
  • 0 referrals
..... pretty much everything is fresh - clean slate. Let's see how this situation evolves.

Emotion and writing

If you look at great content around the net, it contains emotion. Why is it so? It is because emotion connects people. It helps us the writer's perspective and reaches out to us. We respond how we are addressed. If someone speaks to you in terms of data, you tend to respond similarly. If someone shares their feelings, you interact on the level of feelings. It is really difficult to not do this.

So, when you find a writer writing from the heart, you tend to listen, respond, agree, disagree from your heart. That person becomes "real" to you, and the connection you feel makes you feel acknowledged by the writer, even if you don't ever communicate directly with each other.

This works for all communication. Be it in life, online, or reading a book.

So how does knowing this help you?

The next time you write an email, a blog post or comment or anything, share your state of being and you will find your reader interested in what you have to say. Its not easy and doesn't happen like a switch, but the more you make an effort, the more you will find yourself experiencing the impact on your writing and in the responses you get. It takes time, effort and courage to open your heart, but its worth it.

It isn't great writing that has emotion, but writing that has emotion becoming great.

What does your expereince tell you?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Started mobile blogging

I always wanted to get a shot at mobile blogging. Not that I enjoy typing on that tiny thing, but because I could share whenever I wanted to. This is how I did it:

I have a Gmail account, so I went to gmail on my phone and downloaded the application for my phone. This makes it easier for me to access my email account.

Then, I sent an email to

The reply to this email contained a code that I had to enter along with the usual image verification.

I got some blog autocreated for my mobile.

Then, I shifted the preference from my mobile publishing to that blog, to this one.

Done. This post is made from my mobile

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

10 Tips to an earning blog

  1. Write regularly
  2. Spend some time once in a while to look at your earning, but don't obsess - spend that time in working toward getting traffic
  3. Invest your traffic and income efforts among various services - don't put all your eggs in the google basket. Try other ways of monetizing your content or getting traffic like Direct-link-ads, Linkworth, Chitika, Payperpost, Sponsored Reviews or any of the many programmes out there - these ones work very well for me.
  4. Create a schedule and stick to it - come rain or sunshine.
  5. Divide your time between content, presentation, promotion and income management - in that order.
  6. Brainstorm for perspectives that could add fresh value and meaning to your blog
  7. Interact with other bloggers and respond to the comments you get
  8. Use your social networking profiles to create an interest in yourself and share your blog as another way to know you.
  9. Add a reference to your blog in your signatures on emails and forum posts and links when you comment on other sites or share videos, etc. If you have photo albums, use your link as a watermark on the most interesting photos.
  10. Don't get hooked to any one of these and keep your mood flowing and presence relaxed on your own blog, as well as other places you frequent online.
Promoting your blog for more traffic is an art and a science. Losing sight of either will not help.

Monday, July 14, 2008

RSS and other feeds for dummies

I am not going to try and change the "dummies" status, so don't expect me to talk about the usual versions, and XML and what nots. What I am going to do is tell you how it can make your life easier.

So, you clicked on some RSS link because it was attractively presented, found a whole load of code and probably thought that something was wrong with that page. You probably haven't even progressed to noticing that RSS links everywhere seem to do that. Never mind. The site is working just fine, and you see that bizarre code because you are seeing it in a browser and not in a feed reader. Or you may be wondering what the fuss is about.

Why should you bother to do that?
  • Because it is there...... the world seems to know something you don't and you don't like that? - joking. Read the rest.
  • You have important things to do with your time and really can't go around checking what's new and where.
  • At the same time, you do enjoy the content on those sites and hate to miss it.
  • You wish that you didn't have to keep running after information.
  • You wish you had one place to see what's new everywhere you frequent
All excellent reasons, and I am going to tell you exactly how you will be able to use the feeds to bring happiness and convenience in your online life.

Basically what an feed does is lists all the latest content on a site. So go with my train of thought for a bit... I know it is unfamiliar.

You go to different places on the net all the time, and see all kinds of stuff, and can't practically go to every site you like everyday. However, with the feed, its like the site coming to you. Get all the sites you like to come to you at a rendezvous point you decide, and read everything that's new at once.

So how do you set this up? Decide on a Feed Reader first and create that rendezvous for those sites. There is enough choice to suit the pickiest of people, but if you are a sensible person, you will be even more wary whether you want to get into all this.

A quick and painless way is to use Google Reader. When ever you go to a site you would like to stay in touch with, look for the RSS button.

Right click >> copy >> Google Reader >> add subscription >> paste

Done. No mess, no fuss.

Sites that offer Feedburner Feeds will allow you to subscribe by email, so you can get latest posts right into your inbox without worrying about how to figure out RSS.

Or an even better way would be to get Firefox or Opera and add all the feeds you like to the live bookmarks - they will be able to provide the latest on the site without needing you to visit it.

Then, read the feeds. You will find yourself pleasantly surprised that it is not as esoteric as it seems. Go ahead, try it NOW. Hit that orange RSS button, and enter a whole new life of convenient reading.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

4 Tips for Getting faster on a computer

Most people I know drive me nuts waiting for them to do something on a computer. Ok, so I am fast, but that really is no excuse for anyone to do things so slowly and painfully that their productivity is changed (or rather unchanged).

I am considered to be a wizard by my offline friends, simply because I am so fast. Of course, I am Nerd in Progress, but hey, what I know, I go all out for, which helps me get into learning the next thing.

Some suggestions I think will halve the time you spend on the computer, or double the things you can do in it.
  • Make friends with the "enter" key. Each time you fill in something and then move your hand to the mouse, and then find the button and so on..... you could simply be moving your right pinkie and getting done with it already.
  • Make friends with the "tab" key. A job for your left pinkie. fill in one form field, hit tab and the cursor jumps to the next - again, a massive time saving in locating the mouse, clicking, locating the keyboard, etc.
  • Use the fingers you have. It takes practice, but honestly, its not all that hard. Chatting is good practice that is fun as well. Pecking away with two fingers and looking at the keyboard, then looking at the screen to see if there are no mistakes is time consuming. With a little practice, you can write as I am writing now - with my fingers spread over the keyboard so that no matter what key I want to hit, there is a finger near to do it. no need for absolutely classic ten finger typing, but more than two would be nice, and if you try, you will find other fingers entering the effort voluntarily.
  • This is a progression from the previous one. Once you begin engaging all your fingers, you will find your typing speed going up on its own, as each finger learns its "job" soon, you will stop typing letters and will be typing words - much like speaking. This is a good time to look at the screen and type, only looking down at the keyboard if stuck, or a mistake happens.
It would be interesting to see if someone can time themselves and then track the time needed as these changes take hold.