Category Archives: Technology

Blandin brainstorming


I was invited to a Blandin Foundation brainstorming session today on the topic of rural communities and the development of broadband infrastructure, online content, and civic engagement. We met at the home of Bill Coleman in Mahtomedi, where his mailbox and backyard wildlife (click photos to enlarge) made for a unique setting.

Left photo, L o R: Tim Erickson,; Ann Treacy, Treacy Information Services; Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors Corp.; Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Blandin’s Public Policy and Engagement Program; Jane Leonard, Minnesota Rural Partners.

Left center: Becky LaPlant and Mary Magnuson, Program Assistants in Blandin’s Public Policy and Engagement Program; Steve Clift,

Right center: Patrick Marx, recently a senior staffer at Blandin, now a consultant to them; and Jane (see above).

Right: Bill and Bernadine (see above). Click all photos to enlarge.

History and connections were rich. I’ve recently collaborated with Tim on a St. Paul edemocracy outreach project; with Steve on many issues and projects, including civic leadership blogging in the UK and the ReadMyDay project; Jane and Ann I’ve known since way back in the MRnet and days — and Jane came to Northfield 18 months ago to speak at an NDDC forum on wi-fi. I’d not met Patrick but first heard about him from Sean Kershaw at the Citizens League (a blogging client) and more recently, because of his involvement and support of Bill Densmore and the Media Giraffe Project. He knew all about the Atwater video that Bill and I have been working on. But the most startling connection was when I mentioned how my involvement as the Salonkeeper with Utne Reader’s Neighborhood Salon Association back in the 90s was instrumental in the formation of Northfield Citizens Online and Bernadine blurted out: “My mother joined an Utne Salon when they first started and their salon is still going on!” That’s 15 years and counting. Cool beans. One final mention: a tip of the blog hat to Mike O’Connor who couldn’t be there today and who was instrumental in my getting an invitation. Thanks, Mikey. All the way with Y2K!

Testing Windows Live Writer as a blogging client

I am exploring Windows Live Writer, wondering if the word processor can be a good blogging client, even better than my current favorite, Zoundry Blog Writer.

First test is to see how it handles images and whether or not it allows text to be wrapped easily. Looks good.

Can it link URLs to images? Apparently, yes.

Can it do linked thumbnails? Apparently, yes.

Using Google Analytics for web traffic stats


I installed the new Google Analytics tool here on my own site a few days ago. “Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site. “

Here’s an initial snapshot from what they call the executive summary.

It’s a free service and is not difficult to install. You do need a Gmail account.

Olympus WS-100 Digital Voice Recorder

IMG_3558.JPG IMG_3556.JPG
I used my Olympus WS-100 Digital Voice Recorder to record yesterday’s Citizens League forum at MPR. A couple of my colleagues asked what I used (“surprisingly good audio capture from your device”) so I thought I’d blog it here… trying to practice what I preach (answer your email with your blog).

What immediately attracted me to the device was the USB connector. And just like any old flash/jump/thumb drive, it can be used to store any files on it. What keeps me liking is its ease-of-use and quality audio. I paid $99 for it at my Northfield area Radio Shack store.

Click the photos to enlarge. I thought I’d do my Ferris Bueller singing ‘Twist and Shout’ imitation since I had the shirt on. Be thankful there’s no audioblog of it forthcoming.

My email notification list problems

Last week, I posted an entry here titled Using email lists for weblog notification like I knew what I was talking about. For those of you who got my email notification via the Zoodoka service, you probably noticed a small problem: it didn’t work.

I should have taken more time to test it out over a week or more, which I’ve now started doing. I still don’t know whether the problem was my lack of understanding or a glitch with their service. Regardless, my apologies.

I’m back to using Dada Mail (formerly known as Mojo Mail) for the emailing of weblog headlines once a month or so until I’m more sure that a switchover will work.

Using email lists for weblog notification

I’ve been searching for other tools to automate the email notification options for a weblog. While RSS is all the rage and the best way to go, IMHO, most visitors to a website/weblog still don’t use it or know how to use it.

For several years, I’ve used Dada (Mojo) Mail for my own blogs and a few clients and although I still like it, I’ve not figured out how to make it work seamlessly with weblogs.

feedburnerlogo.gifA few months ago, I noticed that Feedburner, which I now use for all my RSS feeds (free), added an email marketing automation option which emails an individual blog entry out to list subscribers as soon as the blog entry is posted.

zoodokalogo.gifAnd then earlier this week, a UK colleague and blogger Mike Alderson at Open Eye Communications alerted me to Problogger (“Helping bloggers earn money”) where I saw how he was using email for his site visitors… both Feedburner‘s email service and a service I’d not heard of called Zookoda (free) which he installed back in March. It works in harmony with the RSS feed and has the great advantage of allowing you to send out emails automatically (“broadcast” is their term), once per week or per month or per number of new posts (the latter is the option I’m going to use and recommend for most of my clients).

So I’ve set up these two new features on my right sidebar, plus I’ve created a Subscription Options page where all this is explained, along with the RSS feed and podcast. And I’m going to use it today to broadcast to all the subscribers who previously had signed up to my Dada/Mojo list.

If you’re a client and would like me to set this up for your weblog, let me know.

Tiger Technologies

tigertechdot.gifTiger Technologies is a web hosting company based in Berkeley, California.

I’ve used them for all my own web sites and the vast majority of my client web sites (dozens) for over three years now.

New clients often ask me “Why TigerTech in California when you/we are here in the Upper Midwest?”

  • They’ve been super reliable, with nary any downtime in three years.
  • The internet routing (connection speed and latency) between Northfield, MN (where I am) and their server farm in the Bay area of California has always seemed to be faster than to server farms in the Twin Cities.
  • They’re always cost-competitive.
  • They’re big enough to have all the sever bells and whistles I need in a web host. (As of a year ago, they were hosting over 3,500 sites.)
  • They’re very smart. I know some very knowlegeable geeks who are very impressed with them.
  • They’re very personable. These people know how to convey friendliness, both via phone and email. I’m pretty clueless on server-related techie stuff and I’m never made to feel like a doofus.
  • They are extremely responsive, both via phone and email, even on weekends and evenings.

Robert, Nicholas, Nami, and the rest of the team: I think of you as colleagues, not just staffers at a company who’s a provider/supplier. You’re the best.

Allowing comments, preventing spam

spam.gifI have a couple of leaders now who are ready to make selective use of the WordPress comment feature.

So I’m experimenting with it here to find the best way to make it easy for the site visitors, yet prevent spammers from abusing it.

Upon the recommendation of this recent message thread in the WordPress forums, I’ve enabled the Askimet, Bad Behaviour and Spam Karma 2 plug-ins, while avoiding the Captcha approach.

I’ve turned on comments and trackbacks on this and all future blog entries to see if it works.

Business Week article on internal and external blogs

The May 22 issue of BusinessWeek ran this article:

And here’s a follow-up on the piece by SixApart, the makers of the Movable Type weblog
platform they’re using:


Of the two external blogs mentioned, I’m most interested in Randy’s Journal, as the consultant describes it as “… the classic senior executive/thought leadership blog.” Randy Baseler is vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle. Blogging is all good but how do you market to your customers is the key, lately there have been buzz around CRM, I really like it actually, if you dont know what it is then read this