Blogs

  1. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 008

    Some sea lions bellow,
    Some sleep,
    Some crawl on top of others
    As they crowd onto a raft
    At the Astoria, Oregon
    Municipal mooring docks.

    What a beautiful poem! I found it captioning an image on the front page of The Seattle Times newspaper which was left outside my hotel room. The image illustrates a story about sea lions; how the sea lion population is doing great, and how that might spell trouble for the salmon population.

    On a March morning,
    Federal, state and university biologists
    Clear space at the Astoria dock
    For a day of research.

    Animal news poetry.

    Posted 30 March 2015, 7:43 pm

  2. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 007

    I’m staying at the Edgewater hotel in Seattle, an unusual structure that is literally on the water, giving it a nautical atmosphere. The views out on the Puget Sound are quite lovely.

    Inside, the hotel has more of a Twin Peaks vibe. It feels less like a hotel and more like a lodge.

    The hotel is clearly proud of the many rock stars it has hosted over the years. As you settle into your cosy room, you can imagine what it was like when the Beatles were fishing from their balcony, or Led Zeppelin were doing unspeakable things with mudsharks.

    Posted 30 March 2015, 12:09 am

  3. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 006

    We spent the day yesterday wandering around the Fremont neighbourhood of Seattle. Fremont is home to many sculptural landmarks. There’s a statue of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, a rocket ship, an apatosaur topiary, and of course, the Fremont troll.

    Now that I’ve seen the Fremont troll, I can confirm that it is real. Which is a bit of shame. Just think about it: how awesome would it be if it didn’t actually exist but everyone in Seattle played along, encouraging tourists to check out the Fremont troll? Then when you got there, you found out that you had, yes, been trolled.

    Posted 28 March 2015, 4:45 pm

  4. Writing For SEO

    [Blog] Writing For SEO: ‘Just create relevant quality content and you’ll be OK’. There are many reasons why I disagree

    Google is looking to highlight all the great content on the web and SEO is dead. Ergo, just create some content that your audience will like and you’ll be OK.

    It’s a point of view I don’t adhere to, something that will come as no surprise if you’ve read this blog or met me in person.

    How do you determine what’s relevant content, anyway?

    Pink Fluffy ElephantHow are you going to write some relevant, quality material for your site? As a huge enthusiast about pink fluffy elephants (thanks to Tim Capper for trusting me with them for this post) you could create the definitive content on the social and political background of your favourite cuddly toy, or trends in manufacture, or whatever fascinates you.

    But is there anyone else in the world who’s interested in your writings? If there isn’t, you’re in trouble, no matter how great your quality. Ot how much you think your audience will love it.

    I don’t like leaving things to chance

    As a marketer, I know there’s no such thing as a sure thing. But I do know I can weight the odds in my favour – and my clients’ favour.

    Instead of the guesswork and received wisdom of traditional, non-digital marketing, there’s more data available from the web than even many professionals know what to do with! That doesn’t mean it’s all out of your hands. You need to know what you should be looking for and where that information can be found.

    Do the right things, and you’ll be far ahead of most of your competitors.

    I’m never content about contentContent - nice!

    I’d like to have a stern word with the person who came up with the terms we used for digital and paper-based words. I mean ‘content’ and ‘copy’. What a way to undersell their importance!

    Content is, well, content. Stuff in a container. And can cover a multitude of sins – sloppy writing, bad grammar, spun content from other places etc etc etc.

    Your task isn’t just to fill your web pages, but to fill them with something that works for everyone involved – you, your company, your client, your readers, your prospects, your customers, your accountant, your suppliers…

    It’s content that will attract, engage and lead to a longer and more profitable relationship.

    So you need to create Content Plus. That’s a better class of content, or Content Plus Strategy.

    Five Principles For Content Plus

    Create content that attracts

    Even with the rise of Social Media, the lion’s share of site visitors still come from search engines. That should come as no surprise. Good performance on search engines should therefore be priority for your content. That same content should also work beautifully with your social media initiatives, so by prioritizing search, you’re sacrificing leverage elsewhere.

    Give your site a clear direction…

    …and a rationale for that direction.

    At the very least, look for some popular key phrases, ones that people are looking for information about and use that information as a starting point for your content creation.

    According to Neil Patel, quoting the 2013 B2B Small Business Content Marketing Trends – North America by the Content Marketing Institute/Outbrain, 94% of B2B (business to business) sites use Content Marketing (2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends – North America by the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs). My takeaway from this is that you’re going to have a hard task beating all your competitors unless you up your game.

    He then lands the knockout punch. Nearly half of those 98% do not have a documented content strategy.

    Join the 44% with a content strategy, and you’re one up on the majority of your competitors.

    Let them thrash about aimlessly in the wilderness while you grab yourself a GPS. Just imagine how much time and money you’ll save by heading straight for your destination.

    Where does your direction come from?

    You need to put some structure and deeper understanding in place so that you can really interact with your audience.

    Start from what you think you know. Your target readership – age, gender, education, geographical location etc.

    • Think about how they’d find your site. Write down some searches you think they’d make to find you
    • Use Google Keyword Planner to find more popular alternatives and long-tail key phrases that will help you interact with just the people who are your ideal customers
    • Try to find a keyword niche that fits perfectly, yet is not as competitive as most – you’ll get the fastest results

    Create Quality over Quantity

    Although Google does give you some kudos for publishing often, that’s with the caveat that you’re producing great material. Run-of-the-mill Content just won’t do.

    Produce better and longer and publish less often – try to deliver your best quality quality once a week rather than filling web pages every day. Your readers will love you as you won’t be wasting their time, and so should Google.

    Recently, I’ve been working on longer posts. I find I write between 400 and 800 words a post naturally. It feels about right to me as a writer and my picture of my audience.

    But that’s my guess.

    Get out of your comfort zone and deliver!

    When I wrote the first ‘quick and dirty’ draft of this piece, it ran to 628 words. But I wanted to create more and better, to go outside my comfort zone. That means I have to add real value, not just extra words. I also need to keep to this site’s core value of ‘Plain Talk’ and not dive deeper into the subject.

    Do the hard work!

    With Writing For SEO, I’m trying to make SEO and Content Marketing simpler for you. That’s what I must deliver.

    So keep in mind your ideal reader, and keep your content focused on them. And do the hard work for them.

    Are you still listening to those who say creating relevant, quality content is all?

    I’m hoping I’ve convinced you of the pitfalls of following hunches when it comes to your website. Don’t leave your success to chance. Get some facts under your belt and be sure you’re providing value to your visitors.

    Do you agree?

    Thanks to David Hall and Andrew Gray for their images, provided under Creative Commons Licence.

    Posted 27 March 2015, 6:24 pm

  5. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 005

    I enjoy a good time travel yarn. Two of the most enjoyable temporal tales of recent years have been Rian Johnson’s film Looper and William Gibson’s book The Peripheral.

    Mind you, the internal time travel rules of Looper are all over the place, whereas The Peripheral is wonderfully consistent.

    Both share an interesting commonality in their settings. They are set in the future and …the future: two different time periods but neither of them are the present. Both works also share the premise that the more technologically advanced future would inevitably exploit the time period further down the light cone.

    Posted 27 March 2015, 6:17 pm

  6. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 004

    I’m staying with my brother-in-law Jeb in Seattle’s Green Lake neighbourhood. Right around the corner from his house, there’s a great little sandwich place called The Butcher & The Baker.

    Yes, the mandatory ampersand is there setting off all the hipster alarm bells but, y’know, I’ve been thinking… if the label “hipster” means good food, good coffee, good beer, good music, or good bicycles, well I’m okay with that.

    In the case of The Butcher & The Baker, the food is very good indeed. They could probably slap adjectives like “hand-crafted” or “artisinal” on everything they produce.

    They make delicious sandwiches.

    Hipsters.

    Posted 26 March 2015, 5:55 pm

  7. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 003

    I measure transatlantic flights in movies watched. Yesterday’s journey from London to Seattle was four movies long.

    1. The Imitation Game: a necessarily fictionalised account of Turing’s life (one of the gotchas about top-secret work is that it’s, well, secret). But couldn’t Tommy Flowers have been given at least a walk-on part?
    2. Fury: Brad Pitt plays Lee Marvin in a war story told through the eyes of the naive rookie as seen in The Big Red One and Saving Private Ryan.
    3. Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part One: The Hungering.
    4. Paddington: just right for the end of a flight.

    Posted 25 March 2015, 6:41 pm

  8. Favicon Freelance Copywriter | Web / SEO Copywriter | Dorset / London / Brighton

    [Blog] Freelance Copywriter | Web / SEO Copywriter | Dorset / London / Brighton: How should a freelance copywriter submit work to their clients?

    The short answer is: probably in Word format. The longer answer: however they want it. And that’s something you should check, just in case they’re expecting you to submit HTML, Pages files or post-it notes. This question falls within the realm of ‘assumptions’. There are certain things that you might assume about an agreement with a […]

    Posted 25 March 2015, 8:44 am

  9. Cogapp blogs

    [Blog] Cogapp blogs: The hypothetical brief: creative thinking and digital marketing strategy with D&AD

    Grant Cieciura from the Cogapp design department headed to D&AD for a professional development course 'A Day in the Life of your Digital Strategy'. If you’re curious about digital marketing and better ways to be creative at work, read on for Grant’s takeaways from the course. 

    D&AD blog 2.png

    Read more

    read more

    Posted 24 March 2015, 5:07 pm

  10. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 002

    I want to know how it feels to write every day. But it’s not really just about writing. It’s about writing within constraints.

    Design requires constraints. It’s a tired old cliché, but there’s something to it. Without constraints, is design even possible? Or is it then art? (not there’s anything wrong with art; I’m just trying to differentiate it from design: notice I didn’t say “just” art.)

    The 140 characters of a tweet. The column inches of a newspaper story. The width of a button on an interface. These are all constraints.

    It’s not just about writing. It’s about editing.

    Posted 24 March 2015, 1:03 pm

  11. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 001

    When it comes to writing, there are no shortcuts. Either you’re moving your fingers and putting words onto a screen (or page), or you’re not. Sure, you can lay the groundwork, do your research, and read about what it takes to write, but ultimately you’ve got to make your hands tap those keys (or move that pen).

    Hunter S. Thompson wanted to know how it felt to write the great American novel. So he sat in front of his typewriter and typed out The Great Gatsby, word for word.

    I want to know how it feels to write every day.

    Posted 23 March 2015, 12:45 pm

  12. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: Codebar Brighton

    There’s been a whole series of events going on in Brighton this month under the banner of Spring Forward:

    Spring Forward is a month-long celebration of the role of women in digital culture and runs throughout March in parallel with Women’s History Month.

    Luckily for me, a lot of the events have been happening at 68 Middle Street—home of Clearleft—so I’ve been taking full advantage of as many as I can (also, if I go to an event that means that Tessa doesn’t have to stick around every night of the week to lock up afterwards). Charlotte has been going to even more.

    I managed to get to Tech In Ten—run by She Codes Brighton—which was great, but I missed out on Pixels and Prosecco by Press Fire To Win which sounded like it was a lot of fun. And there are more events still to come, like She Says and Ladies That UX.

    What’s great about Spring Forward events like She Codes, 300 Seconds, She Says, and Ladies That UX is that they aren’t one-offs; they’re happening all-year round, along with other great regular Brighton events like Async and UX Brighton.

    And then there’s Codebar. I had heard about Codebar before, but Spring Forward was the first chance I had to get stuck in—it was being hosted at 68 Middle Street, so I said I’d stick around to lock up afterwards. I’m so glad I did. It was great!

    In a nutshell, Codebar offers a chance for people who are under-represented in the world of programming and technology to get some free training by pairing them with tutors who volunteer their time. I offered to help out anyone who was learning HTML and CSS (after tamping down the inevitable inner voice of imposter syndrome that was asking “who are you to be teaching anyone anything?”).

    I really, really enjoyed it. It was so nice to meet people from outside the world of web design and development. It was also a terrific reminder that the act of making websites is something that everybody should be able to participate in. This is for everyone.

    Codebar Brighton takes place once a week, changing up the venue on rotation. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to maintain that momentum. It’s thanks to the tireless efforts of the seemingl indefatigable Ruby programmers Rosa and Dot that it’s such a great success. I am in their debt.

    Posted 22 March 2015, 6:12 pm

  13. Favicon All these things

    [Blog] All these things: How to remap the # (hash) key on Apple UK keyboards in OS X

    Given how useful the # key is, it has always annoyed me that on the standard UK Apple keyboard, getting a # key requires keying Alt-3 to get it to appear. 

    If you are doing web development with jQuery or writing shell scripts or python, you end up using this key a lot and Alt-3 just doesn't work for me.  However, on the left of the recent Apple keyboard, there is the § key.  I've never used §, I guess somebody must.  

    Anyway, so I went and found Ukelele, a keyboard layout editor, and modified the keyboard map to put the # where the § used to be, and the result is what I call the BritishLHash keyboard layout.

    How to use this:

    1. Download the file, and put it in your ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts folder.
    2. Open Language and Text in System Preferences
    3. Select the Input Sources tab
    4. Tick next to the BritshLHash keyboard.  This makes it available as an input source for you.  And also Tick Show Input in the menu bar
    5. Find the little flag in the menu bar.  Pop it up and change it to BritishLHash.

    That's all there is to it.  I've been using this mapped file for a year or so, and it works fine in OS X 10.5 and 10.6.

    Or if you want to meddle with key maps and propose changes, have a look at the GitHub repo: grasuth/britishlhash.

    Note: this is a repost of the original article on this that I posted in 2010.

    Posted 21 March 2015, 1:22 pm

  14. Writing For SEO

    [Blog] Writing For SEO: The Writer’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools

    If you’re not a techy, you may not have heard of Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). If you’re a writer and have, you may well have dismissed them as being outside your remit.

    To some extent, you’d be right. They are the natural domain of techies, but you’d be wrong to ignore GWT. They can really help with your SEO copy.

    And, like Google Analytics, GWT is free, so you have nothing to lose. Give it a go with my Guide to Google Webmaster Tools.

    Laurel & Hardy

    Someone – I can’t remember who – put the idea in my head that Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools were the Laurel and Hardy of websites. Analytics is the large, slightly bloated one and Webmaster Tools the thin one.

    Laurel & Hardy

    Not many jokes from the Google pairing, but together they make a winning team.

    I’m going to assume you already have Google Analytics installed.

    You may find this article helpful if you haven’t.

    Setting up Google Webmaster Tools

    To make things easy, use the same Google account for GWT as you have for GA (if you have neither set up, then still make sure you associate both of them with the same Google account). You’ll find it easier to set up, and easier to use.

    Open your GWT account (you will need to be logged into the Google account you want to use).

    Google Webmaster Tools - Home

    Now add a site.

    Enter or paste in your site’s URL and then click on Add A Site (see red button, above).

    Now you need to verify the site is yours. If you’ve used the same Google account for GWT that you use for GA, this is easier than an easy thing.

    Easy GWT Verification

    Click Verify, and GWT will be set up for the site. Job done!

    Google may recommend another method, as here, where you’ll need to use FTP to upload a small file to your server. You may also have to use this method – or one of the alternatives – if you’re not using the asynchronous tracking code.

    Verify GWT

    Again click Verify to make sure GWT is set up properly.

    Just one more thing… You need to set up the Default View as All Website Data (unless your GA account has other views set up and you have good reason to use one of them).

    Now link Google Webmaster Tools to Google Analytics

    In Google Analytics, go to the Reporting tab towards the top of the screen, then the Acquisition menu on the left. Then click on Search Engine Optimization and Queries

    GWT Integration into GA

    Click on Set up Webmaster Tools data sharing and you’re good to go.

    But you may need to contain your enthusiasm. If you’ve had to install these services, you may need to wait a week or two while they accumulate sufficient data to be worth analyzing. Have a look now, but come back later if there’s not much to see.

    What’s important for a content writer?

    How to get a list of search queriesThe one section, more than any other you’ll love is the Queries section. It’s where you can overturn all those Not Provideds you find in Analytics. While these aren’t quite as accurate as the old Analytics data, they’re indispensable for your content marketing efforts.

    So log in to GWT and find the Search Queries menu. Click see the key phrases people are using to find your site, plus the number of Impressions (the number of searches your site has appeared in, the number of clicks that have led to a visit to your site, the click through rate (CTR) and the average position in the SERPs.

    By clicking on the With change button you can see the trends compared to the previous period.

    And, since you’ve linked GWT with GA, this data is available there, too, in the Queries section you visited above.

    Search Query List

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    What else can help you as a writer?

    Although it’s titled rather dauntingly HTML Improvements, this report can help you check your Meta descriptions and Title tags are OK with Google and if Google has detected any non-indexable content.

    HTML Improvements

    Click on any of the links, and you’ll get more detailed information. Here’s what clicking on Non-informative title tags shows:

    Non-informative title tags

    Try to put everything that appears in this report right – especially any issues with Non-indexable content.

    OK. Those are the two most important areas in GWT for writers. That’s not so say you won’t find other sections useful. Once you’ve got to grips with these, I’d say explore GWT. You can’t do any harm to your site.

    If you’re a writer, I’d like to know how you use Google Webmaster Tools, and what you think of the Writer’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools.

    Posted 20 March 2015, 5:52 pm

  15. Favicon All these things

    [Blog] All these things: Standing to work

    Once back in the late nineties, I did my back in a bit.  I’m sure it was lifing large granite rocks for the too-big garden or maybe it walking walking my baby daughter around and around the loungeroom at 3am.  Now I can’t remember what I did.    

    The result was sitting down hurt a lot; standing was fine.   Off to Ikea.  At the time, they had a desk that you could assemble so the table top was high. I did.  And I got to rather like standing up while working.   I kept it up for maybe a year, then moving house and circumstances meant that desk had to go and I’ve been sitting.

    Fast forward to mid-last year. I’m setting up my new office/study at home in the old loungeroom.  I don’t really want a great big desk even if it does glide up and down electrically or something.  I’ll cover it with paper and USB stuff. I want something that I can stand at that holds a laptop at a good angle.  Like.. a tripod stand or something.

    This is a solved problem if you are a musician.  I found this thing on Amazon in the UK:  Quik Lok LPH/003 Tripod Laptop Holder (~ £70).  This is a pretty solid tubular tripod that has a tilt-able shelf to place a laptop.  

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    So for this thing to work, it has to be sturdy enough to handle a good lot of typing and be able to get a reasonable tilt to get the laptop display up.  Turns out it is.  This thing is solid.  The only thing you can't do is lean on it, which I realised I used to do a lot for my old standing desk.  I think that is a good thing.

    I manage to get a good tilt on the base of the laptop but still the screen is below my eyes.  And I'd like some more screen anyway.  So now we have to jump from musicians tools into trade-show display tools.  Some sort of computer-monitor or TV stand or something wall of shelf mounted?

    So, I needs something with a stable VESA mounting that can support at least a 24" display.   I looked around a bit and then found this Allcam TR940 TV floor stand (~£60). This has a VESA mount and a big but sturdy tripod.  I was hoping that this tripod and the laptop stand's tripods would fit together somehow.  They do fit.

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image


    So the combo gives me  a laptop at a good typing height and a good sized display directly in front of my eyes when I'm standing. It takes up minimum floor space, it easily moves to another room or packs away. And best of all, the laptop stand is perfect for karaoke apps :-)

    Note that I never stand for all of a work day.  Half a day I guess. My house has tables and sofas and spaces to sit on the floor as well.  I move around a bit.  I find that when standing I am more animated in conference calls and also more easily distracted. Sitting I'm more fixed in mind and body.   More concentrated, potentially dull. Different styles for different settings.

    It works for me. Avoiding horizontal surfaces means there are less places to pile up papers, dust, broken bits of tech. So deal with those now rather than putting them down.

    Here's the resulting setup.  It works very well for me.

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image



    Posted 20 March 2015, 8:03 am

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  1. Urgent Need with BMS/NJ 3 posts.
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Last.fm artist chart

This is a chart of the most listened to artists in the BNM last.fm group. Chart for the week ending Sun, 29 Mar 2015.

  1. David Bowie
  2. Blur
  3. Aphex Twin
  4. Arctic Monkeys
  5. Ben Howard
  6. Bob Marley & The Wailers
  7. Florence + the Machine
  8. alt-J
  9. Muse
  10. Gorillaz

Chart updated every Sunday.

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