Cambridge Analytica and Facebook Inspired Me to Take Back My Data

I’ve been blogging on this site for almost 20 years now, and over that time I’ve tried just about every platform, every option there is, and have ended up back where I started. Over the last few years I’ve let my blog sit on the wordpress.com “free” site, while I took a break for the most part, while I tried out and contributed to other sites like Medium and all those other free content based sites.

Blogging has changed so much over the last 20 years, but it is still alive and well, and makes up a good bit of the knowledge base of the internet. I like to think I had a small part in that back in the early 90’s when I posted my first pages on a site called Concentric.net, my url address at the time was http://www.concentric.net/~sfillmer but is long long gone (previously Nextlink Communications, Concentric Network Corporation and Allegiance Telecom, Inc. is now a telecommunications company owned by XO Holdings, Inc, which is now owned by Verizon).

I wrote a post about 6 years ago now called WORDPRESS SELF HOSTED VS WORDPRESS.COM HOSTED BLOG PROS CONS :: REVIEW which detailed out the difference between the .org and the free .com and while it’s been nice not having to worry about malware and other attacks, I’ve come full circle and determined that with anything “free” there is a cost. Don’t let the “free” sites fool you into thinking their platform is free. Everything always has a cost, there is always an exchange for the free. It could be privacy, rights to market your own content, creatives rights, somewhere there is a cost to you and a way the “free” platform makes their money (otherwise they wouldn’t exist unless they were some government funded platform or something and then you have a whole different kind of cost, just look at China’s biggest social media platform).

This is so obvious when it comes to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Medium, and perhaps to a lessor extent WordPress.com, where anything you create on those platforms belongs to them. The exchange is you get to use a cool platform for free, and anything you contribute becomes part of their bottom line.

This is how the internet has worked for a long time now, and I know moving my site back to where I control my own data and content won’t change that, but at least I will have control of my own created content. So, it was messy, but I moved the DNS servers over, I deleted my mapping on wordpress.com, changed from an IP4 to an IP6 (my ISP has issues with this), and did the whole export/import thing. It’s still going to be a mess for a while, but I can now ftp into my own files, change them, alter them in any way I wish, market them, and screw them up.

After the news came out about Cambridge Analytica scandal this week it really made up my mind to take back over all my content and start having ftp access to my data once again. So thanks Facebook, thanks Cambridge Analytica, and while I can’t quit Facebook outright because of my job as Director of Communications, I can at least not give you every last bit of my data content.

Does this ultimately change anything for people to profit off others content, nope, but at least I have control of my own created content. I’m not sure what this means for this site. As blogging has changed over the last 20 years so have my interests and things I’d write about today aren’t the same as they were. In some ways my interests have grown, or outgrown some areas, and I love to test out that 10,000 hour rule and its validity with different things. Instead of focusing time and attention on the social media sites, I’m going to use that time to be here instead. I moved over here to create and be creative, to inspire and be inspired. Wherever that leads.

When a Book Transforms and Becomes a New Creation

The ESV Bible, a Moleskine Journal, and a Diet Coke
The ESV Bible, a Moleskine Journal, and a Diet Coke

This week the Weekly Writing Challenge at WordPress was called A Few of My Favorite Things, and while I enjoyed reading everyone’s interpretation of this post, I found this one quite difficult to put into words, especially since I don’t collect anything. The challenge was this:

tell us about your most meaningful possession… let us know about the heirloom item, what’s important are the memories and people that these objects symbolize, not what they’re actually used for. Transport us into the past by telling us about your favorite “thing.” What is it? What does it look like? What memories of people or things or events does it conjure?

My problem is I purposely don’t college anything, at all, and the fact that WordPress specified my computer/device didn’t count, I had to nix my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, which I hate to say are very high on my list. It is a point of my existence to follow the concept of laying treasures for yourself up in Heaven, where moth do not destroy and thieves do not come in and steal. I started thinking about it in terms of what would I grab if there was a fire in my house and I only had time to take two things. These may seem cliché, but the two physical items that mean the most to me are a personal favorite book, my Bible, and my Moleskine journals, and a Diet Coke.

Both of these items have a grand history of being passed down from generation to generation. Not necessarily in my family, or my wife’s family, but Bibles have been heirlooms to survive the centuries, and so have journals going all the way back to Saint Augustine in Confessions. The combination of these two items makes a reader into a writer, one feeding off the other.

How a Book Transforms and Becomes a New Creation

Sample Page from My Bible in Psalm 104-105
Sample Page from My Bible in Psalm 104-105

I think it could very well be impossible to describe what this particular book has meant to me, and it is one of my most favorite physical “things” I own. One of the most interesting explanations of how we cleave to our very personal copy of God’s word comes to me from John Steinbeck in East of Eden when he said, “In that one book she had her history and her poetry, her knowledge of peoples and things, her ethics, her morals, and her salvation. She never studied the Bible or inspected it; she just read it. The many places where it seems to refute itself did not confuse her in the least. And finally she came to a point where she knew it so well that she went right on reading it without listening.”

There is a point at which a book transforms into more than ink and paper, more than just something that was created by a Johannes Gutenberg protégé. Once a reader makes an investment of time and mental energy there is a point at which the book becomes a new creation, something that becomes a combination of both author and reader.

The transformation isn’t something that takes place at the time of purchase, or after the first completed reading. It’s a slow, gradual process. Something that takes place over an extended period of time as the reader devours each word, and ultimately comes to acknowledge the true meaning the author intended to communicate. It’s at this point the book becomes alive with life, and subsequently changes the life of the reader from that point on.

This physical “thing” is something that has transformed me, and is one of my most prized possessions, but like so many possessions we cherish, it’s not the physical object that has meaning, but what it represents. We can even literally throw the Bible in the trash if it (1) becomes the ultimate object of our affection, or (2) sits on the shelf closed to our mind.

The Thick Cotton Pages of a Moleskine Journal

Writing Sample of Moleskine Journals
Writing Sample of My Moleskine Journals

The other, slightly less poetic item I like, are my Moleskine journals (and of course a cold Diet Coke). The Moleskine philosophy has a rich history of famous writers and artists like Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway (ok, well maybe that’s not totally correct, but it’s great marketing). For some reason their reinvigoration of this brand in 1997 spawned a great desire to create and write on paper when the rest of the world went digital.

You can find some incredible examples of Moleskine creativity on Flickr and elsewhere on the Internet, of people who are far more creative than I am when it comes to transforming a Moleskine journal into a work of art.

This transformation process I described in the section above is completely reversed now when you first crack open the clean pages of a Moleskine journal. The new owner is immediately presented with unlimited possibilities in empty pages, pages which will be created by the experiences of life. You are now the author instead of the reader, and the blank pages become testimonies of the hours and days you spend in the process of life.

As the years have gone by since I started writing in these journals I can now look back at days I have long forgotten, details I would never have been able to remember, and people who have been called home. These pages have become markers in time for me, something I can go back and read with wonder even though I lived through the days myself.

So there you have it. Two physical objects or things that mean something to me personally, and although I hope to some day pass these on to someone else, their meaning is truly symbolic only.


[On a side note, I’m aware these “challenge” posts from WordPress (they do a photo and writing challenge post each week over on Daily Post Blog) are basically pointless when it comes to my normal content, but I have found they serve their purpose… to challenge… to open up the mind and cause one to think, and that is a good thing. In my years in seminary since 2009, each week I found myself writing these seemingly “pointless” posts, called Discussion Board posts. Even though I might have known the material, I always learned something else by forcing myself to complete the task. So that’s why I continue to post on these DP topics, just in case you were wondering.]

Related Posts to Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few of My Favorite Things

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  3. My Desk « Misky
  4. Weekly Writing Challenge: Meaningful Possessions | Aurora La Petite
  5. A Few of My Favourite Things « Aw Diddums

Nothing Motivates Writing Like a New Theme Design

Wordpress.com Twenty Twelve Theme Design
WordPress.com Twenty Twelve Theme Design

I know to non-bloggers, writing a blog post about blogging is a kin to photographers talking about equipment (which we love to do), but to the rest of the world, it’s… boring… that is unless you love photography, or in this case blogging. If you know WordPress, their mantra is Code is Poetry, and maybe that’s why I love their coding.

Funny thing is, I find more people interested in new theme designs than I find people interested in writing on their blogs so go figure. I really try not to change themes too often, and Google doesn’t like it all that much either, but this time my last highly customized premium them, called Portfolio by WordPress only lasted about 3-4 months (see scalability issue below).

It’s Not the Theme It’s the Content

I’m not really sure why this is, but it seems to be true, even though I refute the notion when asked. I hear it all the time… if I just had a new, fresh, nice looking, well designed, custom coded, update to my blog, I would write more. And every time I hear that, my response is always the same. If you don’t write on your blog when it’s ugly-ish your not going to write on your blog when it’s beautiful. The phrase amongst websites and blogs that “content is king” has been true for years, and will remain true for all foreseeable futures of Internet knowhow. There is just nothing that makes up for good content. If you doubt this, just check out three of the worst designed websites on the Internet; Craigslist, Drudge Report, and Reddit, who are also some of the highest traffic sites on the Internet.

Still, every time I update my theme (which I try not to do very often), I get reinvigorated and excited about my blog. I still think my advice holds true, forget your design and just start posting good content and the design will works it’s way in. If you are in the habit of producing high quality, consistent content already, a new theme will be even more invigorating.

The New Twenty Twelve WordPress Theme

Some of the most versatile website designs today are from WordPress. I have written on them many times before so I won’t repeat that here, but if you have that strong desire to change designs like you change Facebook profile pics, WordPress is for you, at least theme wise. For the first time, I have gone with a custom design of a default WordPress theme from the guys over at Automattic, called Twenty Twelve, so this them I used here is available to anyone with a WordPress blog.

My top priorities when it comes to design are readability, typography, clarity, customization, scalability to move from one design to another, and a design that will fade into the background allowing the images and writing to take over, and Twenty Twelve hit these requirements quite well. This new them has one thing my previous theme didn’t have, the ability to move on to the next theme. The greater the customization, the harder it is to move on to the next code.

Twenty Twelve, launched on August 28, 2012, this theme is now going to sit as the WordPress default theme, an update to their “Twenty something” series of themes. It uses a new typography from Google (Open Sans), which is one of the most readable sets they have produced. If you have a WordPress blog, check it out, but you might already be using the theme and just didn’t know it. Thanks for another great theme WordPress. In my relentless desire to find the cleanest, minimalist theme design, you have brought me one step closer to perfection, at least in my mind.

Quick Update on My Blog Design and Format

Scott Fillmer Blog Update Design and Portfolio

First of all, I’ll say right off, I’m not a big fan of blogging about blogging, but sometimes I do it just to organize things out in my own mind as well, that’s what this is then. I hear it all the time, if I get a better, newer, and more fresh looking design, I’ll blog more, but that rarely happens. It’s like waiting to do something until the circumstances are just right in your mind, and often times, they never will be. That said, I do think there is a hint of truth to those statements, so over the weekend, after (literally) years of searching, I found one of my favorite customizable WordPress.com designs called Portfolio. So I wanted to make three quick points below today about my world of blogging.

A Little About the Versatility of WordPress as a Platform

WordPress is such an extremely versatile platform. Over the course of 10+ years now, this site has developed into far more than a blog to me, and much of that has to do with the ability that WordPress.com and WordPress.org (there is a difference, see also WordPress Self Hosted vs WordPress.com Hosted Blog Pros Cons :: Review), gives its users. As I have said many times over the years, your blog can be far more than just a place to type a few sentences, you can do that on Facebook. I really have such a narrow view on digital world design and organization, much of which I actually owe to my son and his design abilities, that nothing really ever quite fit my perfect balance of minimalist design, good typography, ability to showcase photography and writing, and so on, but this finally comes close.

A Little About Blog Purpose and Site Organization

Over time, I have begun to heavily filter what I placed on my blog, and what I write on my blog, much to my own dismay. To keep this creative avenue alive in my mind, I actually went to a few anonymous blogs, which as of now, I have combined and imported into this blog, with the intention of continuing those posts alive over here, even if they are trivial, unpolished thought, or just a photo with some comments. These other two sites were specifically for unpolished writing and photos. The writing site was writing only, no photos, and was called Religitic Writing at Religitic.com, which can now be found here under the Religitic tag. The other was photos with only a caption, or a short story, and those are now located in my Gallery and Stories section.

With this new design, I have created a front “home page,” which is a landing page for some featured posts. The rest should be self explanatory by following the menu at the top, but I have a “blog” link now that takes you to the chronological list of posts on my site. I redesigned and updated the About Page and some other organizational things, which hopefully will make navigation cleaner.

A Little About My Intentions Moving Ahead

Throughout the time I have spent on my site I have tried to keep a consistent collection of content, or to remain true to my personal mission statement if you like, and my focus will continue to be for that end. I started this overhaul to my blog earlier in the year (sorry to my RSS readers who are constantly being bombarded with old post updates), and I now see it will probably take the rest of the year to complete. Because content is king, and always has been, that will be the other focus on the future of this site. This means I really hope to continue posting new stories, gallery items, and text only content on various topics that are a little less filtered.

I recently told someone that they really can’t personally create a blog or website anymore where the content was duplicated in another place, or worse yet, just repeat and repeat the same message yourself. So if you can’t be successful in creating content someone else hasn’t already created how can you create anything unique? The answer if you. You are the only you God created, and you are unique in the entire universe. So the only content that is truly unique, is content of your very own, content from your own life, your learning, and of course your own experiences (because they are always different than someone else). And that is what I intend to continue to do here on this site. Create unique original content from what I call life.

If you have a blog, send it my way, I love to read blogs that are personal, unique, and provide some type of value to the world by self expression in life.

Do We Publish Anything With Meaning and Longevity Today?

Edwards Sermons Publication

How much do we write that has meaning and longevity today? While we aren’t, and can’t, all be Mark Zuckerberg (see Mark Zuckerberg and the Biblical Meaning of Success), it got me thinking about the value (and noise) we add when it comes to our photos, videos, and  our writing today. Much like photography when the digital camera boom happened, there was a flood of “uncle Bob” photographers that rushed on the scene, flooding every corner of the Internet with second rate photos. Now 10 years later, photographers, pros and amateurs alike, are adding a staggering 200 million photos to Facebook PER DAY, or around 6 billion per month, and that’s just Facebook, Flickr from February and March 2012, has reached the pace of 1.8 million photos a day, that is up to 28 photos per second in peak times. Same goes with video, YouTube is now receiving 72 hours of video uploads per MINUTE, and I’m sure the same goes with the music industry.

So what about writing? WordPress (the blogging platform of choice for many writers and bloggers, added 937,374 new posts, 1,492,356 comments, & 197,044,567 words TODAY on WordPress.com, which doesn’t even include self-hosted WordPress blogs making that number about double. When you add Twitter in at something in the range of 300-350 million tweets per day, you really start to see the massive amount of data we put out each day. Perhaps volume of information written degrades the overall quality of our writing? Would someone who wrote in the 15-17th century have actually had an advantage to writing in the 21st century? Less noise, less Tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, Instagr.am-ing, etc, would probably have given Calvin or Luther more time to write, and write well, right?

This morning I received a notification from the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale that Wipf & Stock Publication has released previously unpublished writings of a series of sermons preached by Jonathan Edwards between 1737-1738. Here is a man who wrote profusely when it couldn’t be done on a computer. He had to write by hand, and even at that often times he didn’t have paper and had to use any scrap he could locate. In fact, he wrote so much that a whole team and museum of people are still sifting through his writings, trying to compile them into volumes. I wonder how much he could have written in the 21st century world. Maybe it would have been less… and not nearly as inspired as it was?

A Milestone in Blogging with My 1000th Blog Post :: Poll

Scott Fillmer Self Portrait

Artificial as this milestone may be, this is actually my 1,000th blog post on this blog! I set a goal a few years ago on My List that I wanted to post 1,000 blog posts, and after about 10 years of blogging, I have hit that with this post. When I think about 1,000 blog posts, it really doesn’t seem like that many, but if you do one blog post a day, never missing a day, it would take 3 years to create that many articles. Since I rarely ever posted every single day, it took me about 10 years to produce 1,000 blog posts, most of which came within the last 4-5 years. I’m pleased to have stuck with it this long, and I’m still learning more and more about blogging, writing, and the topics posted here every day.

Since I’m a numbers kind of thinker it is amazing to see what kind of history you can build when you consistently post over an extended period of time. [On a side note: in actuality this works with just about anything in life that you consistently, and continuously work at over an extended period of time. Anything from the compounding of interest in saving money to a consistent walk with Christ, growing in faith little by little, builds up piece by piece to collectively make something far larger than the size of its pieces. The problem with that, and the great challenge to us today in our immediate satisfaction culture, is that it takes time to build something of value, and we don’t want to take the time, or invest the time, to accomplish this. It can’t be done overnight or immediately, it is only achieved through building up over an extended period of time.]

So over time, within the 1,000 blog posts, there was over 1 million spam messages blocked, almost 500,000 words written, over 397,200 individual click-throughs using 3,197 tags, and 2,731 comments made. The busiest day over the past 10 years was October 11th, 2011 when I posted The Challenge of Being Salt and Light in the Darkness from one of the toughest days in Uganda, and the most viewed post ever over the 1,000 posts was (and still is) a review on a damaged kindle screenI wrote years ago. The most commented and heated conversations on this blog came from, what I thought at the time was a rather mild posting of the lyrics to U2’s Hawkmoon, Jesus, I need Your Love, Hawkmoon, which launched into a debate about God, atheism, and homosexuality, which really had nothing to do with the original post in the first place.

With all that said, I would love to know which category is your favorite between the 4 plus 1 of Faith, Photography, Journal, Tech, and then Sidenotes. Just from the traffic I pretty much understand which category the most viewed, but I am always trying to learn more about my beloved blog readers, so I would love for you to chose your favorite category from the poll below.

Even though I have been blogging for 10 years, I am still continually trying to learn how to create the best unique, genuine, and fresh spot on the web I can from my own personal experiences. Thanks to my readers, and everyone who has encouraged me along the way, I put on this shirt today just for you!

WordPress Self Hosted vs WordPress.com Hosted Blog Pros Cons :: Review

Wordpress vs GoDaddy Self Hosted

I know many people will be reading this thinking about if they should switch between a WordPress.com site to a WordPress.org (self-hosted) site, not the other way around. It’s been about a week since I made the switch over from being a self hosted blog (almost 10 years on the WordPress.org codex) to now being a WordPress.com hosted blog, and the move, hopefully the last one I ever make in the hosting realm) has been great.

I had always sorta scoffed at the non-self-hosted WordPress blogs. After all, those were just blogs who couldn’t or didn’t know how to self-host, right? Well, my Rule #29 says I have had a change of heart. I am amazed, to say the least, at the difference between the two options, and while each has their own advantages and disadvantages, WordPress.com has built an enormous community of bloggers based on their hosted platform that a self-hosted blog is completely removed from. This is just the nature of self-hosting, you are on your own, you have full control over all the code, can make any change you want to the php files and so on, but you do give up an incredible community of bloggers.

Below is a list of the fifteen best and worst things about the hosting differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org in no specific order. Which one is best for you would be the one that has fewer cons I would think, but I used a self-hosted (GoDaddy.com) blog for almost 10 years until I found the cons outweighed the pros of letting WordPress.com host my site. After one week on WordPress.com I am thrilled. So if you are trying to decide between a WordPress hosted blog or a self-hosted install of WordPress.org Codex, read through the list below first. Any question feel free to ask in the comment, not a problem.

Pros of Worpress.com and Cons of Self-Hosted Blog

  1. Price, free (this depends on if you pay for custom design, domain, and no ads, which I did, then it’s a wash $90/year)
  2. You do not have to handle any heavy coding
  3. Participation in and traffic from the WordPress.com community like, blogs of the daytags, their reader
  4. Possibility to get Freshly Pressed (Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed) (happened here on October 2012 with this post)
  5. No SQL Database and tables to backup or mess with
  6. You will not get hacked, or you greatly lessen to possibility of getting hacked
  7. You will not lose your data, it won’t get corrupted, deleted, or all around messed up
  8. The UI (user interface) or dashboard is slightly better than .org version
  9. You do not have bandwidth limitations, sky is the limit if your blog gets hammered
  10. You don’t have to handle the upgrades to the WordPress.com platform (that is often a pain)
  11. Never any down time (even though GoDaddy says they never go down, “connection to database” comes up)
  12. Extremely fast server response times in loading the site and saving new posts
  13. You don’t have to deal with GoDaddy.com (exception see #8 below)
  14. Custom domain mapping available (this is a must for me, if this wasn’t here, I’m out)
  15. Customization of the CSS code (this one was also a huge deciding factor for me, but #14 and #15 are not free)

Cons of Worpress.com and Pros of Self-Hosted Blog

  1. You do not get as much control over your own site
  2. Only customization you can do is in the style.css file (that wasn’t as bad as I thought either)
  3. No control over the code, can’t customize php files
  4. No control over the robots.txt file (can’t set/change crawl rates)
  5. Seems to be harder to get Google to index your site (verdict is still out on this one)
  6. Can’t use plugins (I thought this would be a bigger deal than it is)
  7. Can’t upload a custom theme, only options are theme WordPress.com makes available to you
  8. You will still need a domain to host files if you want off-wordpress.com file storage
  9. Price, could possibly be cheaper than the “free” WordPress.com hosted if you only pay for Godaddy.com $5/mth host
  10. WordPress.com hosted pushes ads on your site unless you pay $30/year to take them off (this stinks)
  11. No ability to host your own advertising on the site from third party vendors
  12. You don’t have any type of FTP access to your files, can’t download the wp-content/uploads directory (this also stinks)
  13. Self-hosted is complete and total control over all php files, do as you like
  14. Self-hosted is a great learning tool for customizing php code, themes, design, etc
  15. Self-hosted you own everything that has to do with the content, the files are your files

How to Fix a WordPress Blog that Keeps Getting Hacked with Malware

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now, and after a while you pretty much go through every hosting account, every possible theme, and eventually you will probably get hacked (if you run a self-hosted domain) at some point. Of course, my last theme, the one I have been using on this site now for over a year, specifically warns you about this, and for good reason. They even inserted this in a text note in the stylesheet.css file.

***** IMPORTANT *****
Don’t pirate this theme. Themes are typically hacked and injected with spam files and scripts that will get you ‘black-listed’ from search engines and create security risks on your server.
FYI – http://wpmu.org/why-you-should-never-search-for-free-wordpress-themes-in-google-or-anywhere-else/

I had never been hacked before I started using this theme a year ago, but because I loved the design I kept trying to fight the hackers and keep my site clean. Today I finally gave up, or gave in, and for the first time in 5 years, I have switched to letting wordpress.com host my blog. There are of course advantages and disadvantages to each hosting choice, if you are interested, check out WordPress.com, WordPress, and WordPress.org.

Once your wordpress blog is hacked, you almost have to completely start all over again to make sure all the backdoor files and logins are completely removed. I managed to stay ahead of them for a year, but just got tired of fighting it. At that point, I either delete all the database tables in my SQL database, rebuild and reinstall everything, or just move over here. If you site has been hacked, check out my top five most helpful sites below.

The first thing you want to do is check your .htaccess file, then go through each directory looking for files that don’t belong there. They can even be files that look like they do belong there, like common.php and the like, which usually contain some big source code. Run the site checker (link below), and change the passwords on your SQL database, ftp host/username, and your WordPress user login as well.

  1. FAQ My site was hacked
  2. Free website malware & blacklist scan
  3. Cleaning Your Site from Google Webmaster Tools
  4. How To Completely Clean Your Hacked WordPress Installation
  5. The best way to remove malware from a WordPress blog using GoDaddy

I think most people who have a self hosted site would probably just keep the self hosted site since there are several disadvantages to using wordpress.com, or blogger, etc., one being it will take Google forever to start indexing my site again, but in the long run this will ensure no malware ever gets back on this site again, ever.

Hope you like the new design too, I’m always on the look out for the design with the cleanest look, best typography, and easiest to view, to “chunk” is it for now. If you are looking for all my photography that currently isn’t showing up, I’m having to change the url’s so hopefully they will all be back up in the next few days.

Is Twitter Really a Useful Tool for Your Business?

Follow Scott Fillmer on TwitterWith all the hype surrounding Twitter I had to give it a go a few months ago. The big question for me at the time was, is Twitter a useful tool or another avenue that eats time on the Internet?

I am not sure that question has really been answered in my mind yet, but I have made some observations over its use the last month, and if nothing else at all it has connected me to some people in business and blogging that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. At this point, I only wish more of my existing friends were using Twitter.  I do see some fluctuation where people do come in and out of Twitter so it can be hard to make acquaintances and keep them going if the someone you meet then jumps out or is never heard from again.  I wouldn’t say this is the norm, and there are so many useful applications now that you can use with Twitter, it is hard not to jump on the Twitter bandwagon.

So Does Twitter Have Usefulness

What caught my eye and got me using Twitter was all the blog posts about its usefulness in business applications, and of course blogging. A few good posts I came across are:

Since most of these posts go into how Twitter functions I won’t try to repeat that here, but I have found a few good applications for its use. Blogging is all about networking of sorts, and Twitter is a social networking agent, so put the two together with a WordPress Twitter Tools Plugin and you have a great match.

Twitter Tools Plugin & Twhirl

This is a great plugin (and another great one by Alex King, whom I am starting to think is the king of WordPress plugins) that will automatically post a tweet when you post a new blog article. It is simple to use, and is loaded with options. This is the area on my sidebar that says “What I’m doing…” and it updates with blog posts and also @replies and regular tweet posts.

Then there is Twhirl. This is a standalone program that runs on Adobe’s Air platform that will allow you to use Twitter similar to an IM window on your desktop. They also just came out with a new version, info is on their blog at twhirl 0.8 released – adding friendfeed support. This and support through iPhone and other mobile devises make using Twitter easy.

Interacting is Networking

I found out that you really don’t want to call an automatic blog post entry the end of your Twitter use though. This is not quite the best etiquette to be used on Twitter. Like most things. To make them truly useful you really need to use and interact with them.

This is the case on Twitter as well. I learned how to use the @replies and general updates through a fellow user on Twitter and it expanded it use and productivity, at least as far as traffic goes, ten fold. I would highly recommend using Twitter for more than just blog post entries.

What has your experience been with Twitter? Do you find it a useful tool to use in business applications?

If you are so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scottfillmer

WordPress Updates and Upgrades

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Today was a nice day spent at home. One of those days where you don’t have to go anywhere except stay at home and work. I sat in my office at my computer almost all day (starting at about 5am), but it was a nice day outside and not having to drive anywhere was nice.

WordPress Updates

I started off the day finally taking the plunge into upgrading all of my blogs to the new WordPress 2.5 version. I have never updated to a new version of WordPress throughout the years because of how difficult I thought and heard it was to upgrade the back end system.

I am happy to say that I upgraded about 6 blogs to the new version, and all without any major problems or data loss. This isn’t much of anything you see on the user side, but the back end changes they made were really incredible and I am thrilled with the new version. While I was upgrade all the various code and plugins I went ahead and integrated all the blogs that I currently author so they flow well together and all are now accessible from the navigation bar at the top.

Books and More

We are still trying to catch up with the book orders and listings from being gone the last few weeks. I managed to only carry a few boxes up and down today. I managed to add some new ebay items today along with some consulting work and some updates on Elance.

Animal Visitors

We usually have a wide variety of birds here each day. Yesterday we had several small deer run through the property but today has mostly been these gigantic squirrels we have here. We call them Fox Squirrels but I am not sure of there exact species name. Deborah has now named the new fox squirrel, Bandit (an all white squirrel with a black band around its head), and he (or she, I really wouldn’t know) has taken upon himself to walk through the yard a few time each day.

Everything Else

I was able to get a good 3-4 mile walk in today and even did a small amount of needed yard work so I wouldn’t have to do it this weekend. Off to watch the Braves play the Marlins.