Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Under Construction

As you may notice, I am working on this blog. Specifically, I am working on a better way of organizing my "blogroll" and links. I am attempting to implement the tabbed links box that you see over to the right. I found the scripts and how to make it on jayallen.org. Links currently on there do not reflect sites that I recommend. This will be updated at some point today. I want everything working before I add in all my links. So check back later to see the finished product!

I have neglected the site for the past week or so. It was my birthday last week and I went on a little trip for a few days, and then it took me a few more days to recover the exhaustion of the trip and other weekend activities. But fear not, I will be back to posting as soon as I finish up the project I mentioned above. I'll be picking our first "Blog of the Week" soon, so stay tuned! We've had a number of fabulous submissions, and it will be difficult to choose!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Blog of the Week!

We're adding a new feature to the site! Instead of me just being on the hunt for cool blogs, you can also submit your blog (or someone else's) to be considered for "Blog of the Week". Each week I will choose one blog to be "Blog of the Week". It will get a feature story, and the winner will receive a permanent link on the site as well. You'll also get a screenshot over to to the right in the sidebar for one week.

So, if you know of any good blogs, submit them today! If you're not choosen one week, you could still be choosen the next, so you only need to submit your site once. :)

If this gets popular enough, I might change it to "Blog of the Day". But we'll see. In the meantime, I will still be featuring cool sites that I come across as I find them.

Great photoshop tutorial!

V7N member, Sabeur has created an excellent tutorial on how to create your own ipod with Photoshop. You can view that on his blog, Sabsblog.

Check out his final result:

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Advertise your blog - for FREE!

Rojo recently unveiled a new service - FeedShare -which allows bloggers to advertise their blog on other blogs for FREE. FeedShare seems to have taken several cues from Googles AdWords/AdSense programs.

Bloggers can sign up and create an ad for their blog to be published on other blogs. You pick the keywords that you want your blog ad to be targeted for. Publish your ad, and get ready to start publishing FeedShare ads on your own blog.

To publish FeedShare ads on your own blog, you simply choose which style of ads you would like to display : the 120x240 vertical banner or the 468x60 full banner. Then, select the keywords you would like to target, and copy and paste the resulting code into your blog template.

The resulting ads look quite simliar to AdSense ads. You can view an example here above the newest blog post each day. I've placed it there for maximum exposure. For every impression on your blog, you'll get you'll get a listing on someone else's blog or even on Rojo.com itself. The more traffic you generate on your blog, the more your ad will be seen.

This sounds like a great service to help generate some interest in lesser known blogs. You get relevant targeted blog ads displayed on your blog, and in return get your blog publicized. It's a very community-oriented approach, and I like it.

Read more about FeedShare and sign-up today!

Tracking your every comment...

Today I stumbled across another interesting creation in the blog world - CoComment. CoComment allows you to keep track of your comments across various blogs, and gives you the option of sharing your comments on other blogs with the readers of your own blog. You can also set it up to send you notifications of replies to blog comments that you have made. Interesting.

So apparently, if you sign up for this, your readers can skip Googling you, and find out with the click of a button what blogs you read and comment on - all on your very own blog.

It sounds interesting, but I think I'll pass on this one. Should we really make it that much easier for internet stalkers? ;)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Great site for web/blog dev.

Check out this web developer resource site, "Links To...". There are tons of links to website and blog add-ons. It'll keep you busy and entertained for hours! I'm adding this site to my link list.:)

Feed Icons for Your Blog

FeedIcons.com offers a zip package of those little square feed icons in a variety of sizes in orange and greyscale colors. Change the colors in Photoshop if you aren't a fan of the orange, and make it green like I did. Or choose whatever color you like.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cool Stuff for Your Blog

Looking for add-ons and plug-ins for your blog? Want to spruce it up a bit with custom templates and images? Well, read on!

Blogflux offers a number of really cool tools for your blog, including MapStats, which tracks all your visitors and then plots them nicely on a Google Map. Click the "BF MapStats" button to the right to check out my Map Stats. I just installed it today, so some of the numbers aren't there yet, but it'll give you a good idea. The information the map gives you is pretty cool as well, and you can select from a number of different views.

Blogflux also offers, a cool button maker to make buttons like the "BF MapStats" one. You choose the colors, text, and it does all the work for you. Just right click the final product and save! Other Blogflux services include: Blog Directory, LinkLog, PageRank Checker, Pinger, Polls, Scramble, a subscription service, themes, and Suggest which suggests some good blogs for you to read.

I just came across this site today, which has TONS of links to various blog related services, tools, etc. - Weblogs Compendium. And for the librarians out there, the main page of the site has some great links to library related blog stuff like Libdex's directory to library weblogs and the open directory library weblog directory. Speaking of directories, I have to add my Google Librarian Blog to those!

If you're a newbie blogger or blog reader, check out the Blog Glossary to get a handle on all the jargon and terms thrown about in the blogosphere.

Blogthings has a lot of interesting quizzes you can put in your blog. Here's one to test your knowledge of blogging. How much do you know? Here's what I got:

You Know a Lot About Blogging

You got 5/8 correct!

Your not a total blogging geek yet... give it time.

Now... on to themes. Default themes are okay, but customized ones are better. You can change up default themes by modifying the CSS code, or you can apply entirely new ones that you design from scratch or find on the net.

Colleen, a regular at v7n, is the blog theme queen. Her site, Mystical Twilight, has some awesome free themes to download for Wordpress. Additionally, she can create custom themes to suit your needs or match your existing website for a pretty good price.

In addition to Colleen's site, there are several other good resources for blog themes:

  • BloggingPro has a good selection of Wordpress themes.
  • Here are more great Wordpress themes from Alex King.
  • A Blogger blog about Blogger templates.
  • Blogskins has a HUGE selection of themes for many different blog platforms.

And finally, learn a little something about graphic design at JuggoPop's Worthless Blog (that's not my name for it, it's his!). Check out the "Bling Bling" Text Tutorial, and learn how to pimp out your site. ;)

So, that's all for today. That should be enough to keep you busy with your blog for awhile. I know it'll keep me busy, that's for sure.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blog Communities: 9Rules

John Scott's $10,000 Blog Challenge posting got me thinking about the blogging community, so I started out on a search for established blogging communities online. Then I got sidetracked and started looking up web design related blogs, and came across SmileyCat. I really liked the design of this blog - the colors are nice, has a nice layout, it's easy to read, and so on. Then I saw a logo on there that said "Proud Member - 9Rules Network", and thought hmm...I wonder what 9Rules is. So I clicked....

As I soon found out, 9Rules is an elite community of bloggers. The 9Rules About page explains it a little better:

"The 9rules Network is a community of the best weblogs in the world on a variety of topics. We started 9rules to give passionate writers more exposure and to help readers find great blogs on their favorite subjects. It’s difficult to find sites worth returning to, so 9rules brings together the very best of the independent web all under one roof."

Serious writers can help eachother get more exposure, and it helps readers by directing them to some "great blogs". Members give eachother tips and advice, share ideas, and send eachother traffic. The little guys get a fighting chance. Getting into the "club" is a bit tricky, however. Not everyone gets in.

To become a 9Rules member, you must submit your blog during their submission rounds. According to the site, they've had three 24-hour submission rounds already, each garnering hundreds of entrants. So how do they decide who gets in? Basically you have to have an all-around good blog featuring a good design, great content, a passion for your topic, quality writing, and preferably a blog hosted on your own domain (although they said they still consider Blogger sites if they%

The $10,000 Blog Challenge

John Scott of v7n announced yesterday that he will be giving away $10,000 to people who read his blog. You're probably thinking - "Wow, how pathetic is this guy that he has to pay people to read his blog?" and you're also probably wondering why he would shell out money just to get readers. Really guys, it's not as bad as it sounds. Sure, he'll benefit from increased traffic and coverage, but there's a larger issue at hand.

John Scott believes, as do many others, that the blogosphere resembles an 8th grade clique. There's the cool, popular crowd up top who all hang out together and fuel eachother's successes. They are the so-called trend-setters, what they do is cool and great, and if you don't want to be made a fool of, you'd better be nice to them. Then there's the average crowd -this group encompasses most bloggers. They have their loyal friends and readers, but they lack the connections to make it big. Sometimes the average blogger gets lucky and gets pulled into the cool crowd, but that doesn't happen all that often.

This kind of reminds me of the whole "the rich get richer, the poor get poorer" thing. The "A-list" bloggers all link to eachother, and very, very rarely link to "little" guys. Meanwhile, everyone else is left to scramble and kiss up to the A-listers hoping to be fed some scraps in the way of a link or a mention. Some might liken the lesser-known bloggers to dogs performing tricks just to get noticed. Bad talk an A-lister, and you're blacklisted. It's kind of pathetic.

John Scott wants this practice to end. And so with the start of his new "contest" - the $10,000 Blog Challenge - he hopes to bring this issue to light and change the way things operate in the blogosphere. To participate in the challenge, bloggers must make their intentions to link to lesser-known and unknown blogs known on their blog, and actually follow through with it. He stresses that it would be preferred to not just link to them, but mention them in the actual content. Oh, and make sure you don't link to the Technorati top 100 blogs.

The grand prize winner will take home $3,000 cash, and remaining $7,000 will be distributed to the top 70 runners-up who will each receive $100 worth of schwag, cash, or gift certificates.

So I'd like to take John up on his challenge and participate. From now and for the foreseeable future, this blog will feature some really great unknown or little known blogs. I won't be featuring any old blog for the heck of it. Sorry guys. These blogs must be GOOD. I know that there are probably still some librarian readers out there who may still be reading this, and yes, I will be featuring some librarian blogs as well. There are some really great ones out there. But I will also be featuring blogs outside of the library world from a wide range of topics.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Please keep all hands, feet, and other objects inside the ride at all times. Thank you, and enjoy your day at Geauga Lake. ;)

Our first featured blog is coming soon....