Archive for September, 2010

Kindle Unboxing

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

The Amazon Kindle arrived this morning. When it would arrive has been shrouded in mystery, so this was a surprise. Originally I bought it as a birthday present for my daughter. Primary reason - we have three floor to ceiling bookshelves in the living room, another room with two walls, other book cases dotted about in various other rooms. And that doesn't include the tech books! Whilst I don't see myself getting rid of all these books ideally all future purchases will be on Kindle. That was reclaim any future loss of living room real estate to paper books. And be kinder to the trees too.

The unboxing was cool. Not quite Apple standards, but very exciting nonetheless. The first thing that struck me about the Kindle was that it had a sticker stuck on the screen telling me how to turn it on. Better peel that sticker off first, I thought. But, then I realized it wasn't a sticker - it was the E Ink screen. It really does look like paper! There's not a backlight as such. The screen is very matt. Somehow it just looks like a changing page. As I'm an iPad owner already I had purchased lots of books for the Kindle App on the iPad so downloading them was just one click. And they came in FAST! It was pre-configured to my account. No need to fiddle about finding email addresses and passwords. Magic!

It's the size of a paperback book, so small enough to fit in my purse - handier than the iPad in that respect. I bought I nice leather case (Amazon's own) for it. It looks cute. It feels robust.

So, why did I just give the Kindle to my daughter two weeks before her birthday? Why did I make no attempt to keep it for myself? (Yes, I am that mean when it comes to tech!) Why am I not ordering my own? The main problem is the flicker. When you press the button to turn the page - and compared to the finger swipe across the screen on the iPad, this seems clunky - the screen turns for an instant the inverse colour - white on black - and it's this function of the E Ink that isn't quite ready yet in my opinion. If you don't notice it, it won't bother you. If like me, you get after-images and migraines, you'll hate it. It's just the sort of thing to mess up my eyesight for the day. Apparently it's a feature not a bug. It's part of how E Ink work, so there's not likely to be a nice software update to fix it any time soon, sadly.

Hence, that's my Kindle story for now. The two plus points I see it having are:

  • the small size of it. It's not as tiny as reading Kindle books on my iPhone (which can render the world blurry for the rest of the day if I do that for too long first thing in the morning) but it's small enough to fit in my pocket, unlike the iPad.
  • The matt screen makes it easier to read outdoors that the iPad (which on a sunny day can be anywhere from impossible to see to downright dangerous if you happen to catch a reflection of the sun).

I am hoping they'll solve the flashing problem in the next version. Then I'll be back, I'm sure!

How do I make my blog work for me?

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Very often I get asked how to set up a blog, what to talk about, and inevitably how to get to the top of Google. This is a subject that I've been writing and teaching about for years. These days however I'm getting asked this by a whole new set of people. These are often people who don't really want to be bloggers - they just know they need to blog in order to play the social media game to publicize their book, their movie, their band or whateveritis they've done. They don't have time to learn about blogging - they need answers fast

Now my first reply is to ask what you mean by getting to the top of Google. What do you want the Google user to have searched for to find you? Your name? The name of your product? The title of your book? Your movie? whatever-it-is. This usually stumps people. Invariably they've typed in their name into Google and what they really want out of SEO is to get to themselves to the top of the listings for their name. Changing your name is the only option if your name is a common one (short of inventing a time machine to go back and get your parents to give you a more unique first name, with a possible second temporal journey to get your mother to choose a man with a more unique last name). Most people do something important or become famous in another way then their name will jump right to the top ahead of all those other Smiths and Joneses.

Find me on Google

But what if I need my blog to help me get there?

So now you are past the fixation with getting  your name into Google, let's get back to getting what ever it is you do into the search engines. Well, unlike your given name, you have more control over what you name your film, your book, your band or your album. For goodness sake before you give your project a title, Google it! Check it out on who is to see if the domain name is available.

Think about the words that you choose - are they search engine friendly? Very common every day phrases will take longer to get to the top. If you type the word 'movie' in as well as your title, Google will pick up on this much quicker. Remembering to use the keyword 'movie' however is difficult. Many people worry about stuffing keyword meta tags into all their webpages. My take on this is a little bit different. This is partly because I've created a LOT of websites over the last fifteen years. In the early days it was pretty darn easy to get to the top. These days it's inevitably harder. Everyone is writing, blogging, tweeting. It can seem so much more daunting when you're starting out.  Stuffing meta tags ain't gonna help much!

It's all too easy to get bogged down worrying about your keywords or getting the right theme rather than doing THE most important thing for your site and your project which is to:

CREATE CONTENT!!!

If your site has no content it has nothing. You are not going to get anywhere in the rankings until you've surmounted the problem of an empty site.

But even more importantly than search engines, PEOPLE love content. So start writing, start Tweeting. Share a link to every post you write on your Facebook page, email a link to your Mom, anything and everything to get it out there.

Remember, content is king. So get writing! Good luck!

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