My battle with chronic pain

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Science

BlogHer this year challenged me not just mentally, but also physically. I had a hard battle with my chronic pain, which not only made me frustrated and annoyed, but also disappointed me.

I recently started massage therapy for my TOS. It has thus far been very painful. The treatments are painful, but I work on my breathing to relax – being tense would only make it worse. I get a brief two days of relief from the treatment, and then subsequently feel worse. Especially in my neck area, not so much the nerve pain.

This year at BlogHer I had one of my first comparative experiences regarding my pain. Attending the conference two years in a row showed me just how much worse my pain has become, despite my lessened reliance on pain medications. Mentally I can deal with pain – constant pain has taught me how to manage.

When my pain goes above a normal threshold level, I have a routine in place to handle it. Tylenol if it’s my arm, advil if it’s my shoulder or neck, and as a last resort, a prescribed narcotic to relieve my symptoms. These days I go take a nap to amplify the tylenol’s effect and lessen my reliance on medications.

I didn’t have these luxuries at BlogHer. Both days I took myself to a quiet bench for an hour to lie down, which was a partial relief. But both days I left early in the evening networking sessions. It pained me to have to do so, but I was unable to overcome my pain. I had to miss networking and socializing with my fellow BlogHer’s and turn down dinner plans – something I did with much regret.

Both nights Ianiv drove me home blasting the A/C to lessen the nausea and headaches the pain brings on. And once home, I went for the narcotics and rest to try to regain my sanity.

The flight home was agony. I hate airplane seats. I don’t do well with bucket seats because they push my shoulder forward and increase my pain. I can only be so creative with pillows. This time I asked for ice, and it was helpful.

Today I lost my battle with pain. My morning medications did not relieve my pain, and my regimen of nap + meds had no effect. Not even the narcotic. I grew fairly desperate as I could not even type – my fingers were sore and my arm half asleep. So, I turned on the heating pad (something I hate doing in summer) and slept on the couch for 4 hours. Not moving. I had my cats for company, which was soothing.

I feel somewhat relieved. My arm feels like it weighs five times as much as the other. And I am still a bit feverish. I am sad that it interrupted my conference experience and that it affects my life in this way. I hope sharing this experience will be a comfort to others in similar situations.

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BlogHer 2006: Final thoughts

Posted in Blogging, Events, Professional Blogging

I am back from another year at BlogHer and I am still absorbing the social forces that always seem to come over me at this conference.

My blogging was quiet for day two of BlogHer. The second day was more open, in many ways. First, some sessions were outside (birds of a feather) or in rooms with few tables or outlets. Second, the sessions were more open – less structured, more q & a, more about the social impact that blogging has on our lives and on the world.

I spent the day going from session to session or just sitting with my fellow bloggers. Absorbing. Learning. I was overwhelmed by authenticity in the Mommy Blogging panel – sitting in a room with women who put themselves out there emotionally every day. Who blog the ups and downs of their lives and chronicle the lives of their children. To me this is brave and beautiful and amazing. And more than anything, humbling. It hit me with a realization that I have lost some of my authenticity in my aim to balance "reputation" with "authenticity", or perhaps more accurately "identity".

I sat on a panel with two other great women, Heather Armstrong and Rachelle Bowden. The panel was called "From Here to Autonomy" and was about making a living blogging – from the how to’s to the social dimensions. Check out the great recap by RookieMoms.

I really enjoyed participating this year as speaker. I went in eager to learn from the audience what questions they had of me and the response pattern that my story would evoke. The social dynamic of authenticity did not come up, which is a pity and something I will open up to my readers at another time, but we talked on lots of fronts. From daily pressures to advertising methods to RSS advertising to working at home. I really hope the audience enjoyed the panel as much as I did (thanks to my other panelists!) and if there are any follow up questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

The short of the conference: I loved it. I could probably do without the first day, it being more for beginner bloggers, but the second day cannot be challenged anywhere. It opened me to new passions in myself for writing and humbled my experiences. I feel inspired. I feel challenged. And I am looking forward to next year already.

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“From Here to Autonomy” Panel

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

Rachelle Bowden, Heather Armstrong (Dooce), Arieanna Foley

BlogHer: Building your blog audience

Posted in Blogging, Events, Professional Blogging, Social networking

Workshop: Building your blog audience
Speaker: Elise Bauer

3 Pillars of Building Traffic & Audience:

  1. Content
  2. Community
  3. Technology

Content

  • Useful (e.g. Lifehacker) – provides value over time
  • Entertaining
  • Timely- latest scoop, requires a time commitment
  • Focus your content, whether your content is one or all three of the above, it needs to be focused. Niche draws a specific community of interest. It connects.
  • Post a lot, but do not sacrifice quality
  • Use images
  • Write well
  • Consider text effects: headlines, size
  • Be interactive: polls, contests, interviews, controversy
  • Top 10 Lists, How to’s
  • Care about the topic to sustain over time. It will come out in your writing.

Community

  • Connect to others who share your interest (your ‘community of interest’)
  • Link, leave comments, join online events, contribute to the community
  • Link via posts or blogroll
  • Lots of bloggers find others via their stats
  • Do not send a link exchange email – those sound odd

Technology

  • How do people find your blog?

    • other sites
    • Google or other searches
    • bookmarks
    • newsfeeds
    • tagging tools (delicious, technorati, digg, etc)
    • email
    • press (send them pitches, accurate to their spaces) – pitch knowledge not you
  • SEO

    • PageRank

      • Inbound links, and the power of those links (their PageRanks)
      • Text content (not images or Flash)
      • Keyword use
      • Page title (H1 vs. bolding)
      • HTML structure
      • *bad* don’t link to spammy sites (including w/in your comments)
      • *bad* don’t have 404 errors
  • Design

    • Image size <15.5k
    • Page length and size (< 100k) – Load time
    • Font size
    • Clutter
    • Colored backgrounds
    • Upper left focus (content to the left)
    • Search bars
    • Categories
    • Mac & PC friendly on all browsers
    • Screen resolution

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BlogHer: Ten types of web writing

Posted in Business, Events, Professional Blogging, Social networking

Workshop: Ten types of web writing
Speakers:
Lisa Stone, Lynne d. Johnson

  1. Readers

    • Are you a good writer? Own it, ask for feedback, listen, perspective, learn
  2. Presentation/Layout/UI

    • Navigation, headlines, icons, illustrations
    • On site, RSS
  3. Word choice

    • Be specific in your wordchoice. Clarity, punctuation, voice, professionalism, buzz
    • Does a word have multiple meanings?
    • SEO
  4. Conversations

    • It’s up to you
  5. Headlines

    • Setting expectations of the article
    • Clarity
    • SEO
  6. Attribution

    • proovide attribution and quote appropriately
    • EFF Guide
  7. Link blogging

    • Link and proper excerpt w/ or w/o additional commentary
    • Can you do this exclusively? Why in the medium of a blog instead of delicious?
  8. Essay blogging

    • Chris Nolan and Dana Boyd
    • Longer more formal discussions
    • Concrete structure of what happened, where it stands, and a conclusion. Well thought out and planned.
  9. Question and answer

    • Who? When? Why do I care? What do they say? What is that person really like?
    • Run interviews on your blog
    • Put yourself in the mindset of the reader
    • Mommybloggers.com – 3 step Q&A: call to action (ask readers the questions to pose), interview, open-ended
  10. Reviews and how-tos

The first four are more specific to the web than print writing.

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BlogHer makes the news

Posted in Events

BlogHer makes the local news as the cover story - Female Bloggers Revving Up.

This weekend, San Jose is divided between two playgrounds, the testosterone fueled, gas guzzling, sound-wall-breaking one downtown. And the estrogen-laced community-building, business-savvy one that comes complete with corporate-sponsored child care.

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BlogHer: Primp your Blog

Posted in Blogging, Events, Social networking, Software, Technology

Workshop: Primp your blog
Speakers: Maura Chace, Megan Garnhum, Skye Kilaen, Jan Kabili

Widgets & Plugins

Accessibility

Accessibility is a broad term, defined best here on Wikipedia:

Web accessibility refers to the practice of making Web pages accessible to people using a wide range of user agent devices, not just standard web browsers. This is especially important for people with disabilities which require such devices to access the Web.

The disabilities that Web accessibility is concerned with encompass users who are:

  • blind or visually impaired, e.g. various common types of poor eyesight, various types of colour blindness
  • motor impaired, e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke
  • cognitively impaired, i.e. poor short-term memory (as commonly caused by senile dementia), dyslexia
  • hearing impaired or deaf
  • non-native speakers of the website’s language(s) (including users of sign languages)

Things to make your blog more accessible:

  • Text, Links

    • Break up text into smaller chunks
    • Name your links rather than linking ‘this’ say ‘this post on browsing’
    • Make links longer, easier to click on
    • Warn if linking to videos, pdf’s etc
    • Have a different color for ‘clicked links’
    • Underline for links for color blind
    • Make sure contrast of text to background is clear
  • Images

    • Label/describe your image for people who cannot see them
    • Add an alt attribute (label) and title attribute (brief text describing image or text it may contain) to the image – alt and title can be the same
  • CAPTCHA

    • have non-visual options for comment authorization
  • Templates

    • place your sidebar(s) the right so the posts go through the audio readers first
    • don’t set your font size in pixels or points (leave it open so users can set it in their browsers). Percentages are good.
  • Widgets

    • Check for structured markup and alt attributes
    • If Javascript, a title or caption would be useful
    • Flash getting better – if you can tab past the page past the flash element, it’s accessible

Screencasting

Defined: a video you can make without a camera. A recording of everything going on on your computer screen: movement of cursor, action on your screen, sound, etc.

  • Good info: screencastsonline.com
  • SnapzPro a cool animation program
  • Can edit screencast in iMovie
  • Steps to make screencast: prepare (your outline and workspace), record, edit, export, upload, blog, rss
  • Note for mac: use an external mic
  • Mac recording equipment: Snapz Pro, USB Mic
  • Windows recording equipment: Camtasia Studio, BBFlashback Express, Fraps, Mic
  • Mac editing: iMovie, Final Cut Express, Final Cut Studio, Quicktime Pro
  • PC editing: Movie Maker, Adobe Elements Premiere, Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Hosting: Libsyn, Ourmedia, Blip.tv, .Mac, YouTube

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