Category Archives: Blogging

Yahoo Finally Discontinues MyBlogLog

It looks like Yahoo has made it official . . . on May 24, 2011 the MyBlogLog service will be “discontinued.” While I haven’t used the service in some time – about 2 years ago I saw this coming when their business development team all but completely blew off several attempts I made to connect – I am still saddened, as I did find the service to be the first truly valuable social tool for building traffic to my blogs.

For more information about the official announcement, please read the following email sent by the Yahoo! MyBlogLog team:

I’m a fan of several Yahoo products which simply don’t get the support that they deserve . . . I hope the Yahoo team can get their act together going forward; it is hard to see the grand-daddy of the internet looking so feeble these days

Don’t Disrespect the Help! You Never Know Who You’re Talking To

A short while ago, a call came into my office from someone asking for me. My secretary answered the call and asked the caller how he could help them. The caller responded with his name and asked to talk to me (Josh Dorkin).

My secretary then asked the caller what this was regarding and he insisted on talking to me without providing any details. Again, he was asked what it was regarding and after a moment and a huff, responded, “real estate.” Finally, in hopes of finding out what the call was about, my secretary asked the caller if he could be a little more specific, and the caller hung up on him.

My secretary did as he was told, and screened the caller to find out who was calling for me and what they were calling about. This person refused to give any details, and my secretary was correct in not passing me the phone.

If You Can’t Respect the Help, You’re Not Going to Get Very Far!

One of the greatest things about my secretary is that I am my secretary. I was screening my own calls, and the person calling was not going to get to talk to me (the real me) if he wasn’t going to give my secretary (the fake me) any respect, or acknowledge what he wanted with me.

So, next time you’re calling for someone, treat them with respect and let them know the reason for your call, as you never know who you’re talking to.

BTW – I’m looking forward to seeing if he calls back/emails again . . . should be fun!

Changing Your Works from Creative Commons Attribution to All Rights Reserved . . . WHY?

Yesterday, I received a message that blew my mind. In a post that I wrote for another blog last summer, I had included an image that I found in Flikr’s Creative Commons directory. This image was posted under a license requiring anyone using it to attribute the image to them.


(NOTE: Image above is not the image in question)

Of course, when I placed the image in the post, I included the image’s title, the photographer, and finally, a link back.

And Then Things Changed

The message that was sent to me went like this:

At the time that you posted the picture, it did have a Creative Commons License. . . . That said, at this point, the picture now has full copyright protection with ‘all rights reserved’. Since I have not given you permission to use my picture, would you kindly remove it from your site?

Of course, I respected their wishes and removed the image, but am I the only one who sees a problem with all of this?

Once you grant open access to your works and people start to use those works, how on earth do you come forward and ask for them to stop? Am I crazy, or is that akin to Amazon deleting the Orwell books on your Kindle?

Why Change Your Work from Open Source to Pay to Play?

I guess I don’t understand what inspires someone to go back on their promise to give the world free access to their works. Even if they do, who goes and hunts down everyone who has used that content and demands it be taken down?

Its all a bit funny to me . . . I guess I’m just still trying to process it.

Photo Credit: TilarX

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The Twitter Epiphany: Why post on Twitter when you can post on your blog?

I’ll admit that I’ve become accustomed to using Twitter (and other social media) throughout my day to share interesting information, links, articles, etc. I’ve been doing it for some time now, but I came to an epiphany yesterday that is going to change my behavior. I wasn’t sharing my every move like the guy in the video below (and like a HUGE number of people that I watch do), but I was still spending quality time building up Twitter instead of this and my other websites. Dave Fleet put together a good post about the commitment requirements of blogging vs Twitter, and in response to his article, I’ll argue that your time is better served blogging.

When you post links, tips, and other information on Twitter, you get little direct benefit, unless your linking to your own content only, which is a turnoff for many followers. While your followers may appreciate the information you share, and you may build your Twitter follower count, you’re foregoing the opportunity to build your own direct community for immediate gratification.

Instead of Tweeting About Your Niche, Blog About It!

One of the perks of Twitter, of course, is that it lets you send short bits of information. We may not always want to do an entire blog post about something, but I’ve noticed in my case and that of others, that we are spending more and more time chatting it up on Twitter at the expense of our own blogs.

I realized that I was spending close to an half hour a day on Twitter . . . time that I could otherwise spend building up my own content and blog’s brand. Some people may argue that I can better build the brand by spending time on Twitter, but I disagree. I think Twitter is a great tool to help extend the reach of your brand, but in that half hour a day I was Tweeting, I could be working on my own articles and creating better content for my readers.

Reasons to Blog Instead of Tweeting

  • First and foremost, you retain the traffic – Content is king, and once you go on Twitter and other networks to share content instead of doing it on your own site, you’re helping to build their community instead of your own. Of course, your followers may enjoy the link out to a cool story or link, but why give away the link juice when you can do a post about it on your own site and retain eyeballs?
  • Monetization – There are certainly some tools designed to monetize Twitter for users (primarily, these are money making URL shortner tools), but if you’re adding the content to your own site, you increase the monetization capabilities of your blog.
  • Deep exploration of a topic, site, link, etc – I realize that the beauty of Twitter is that it is a “micro blogging” application. That said, it isn’t a great place to deeply explore and delve into a topic. You can certainly talk about a topic in a series of tweets, but it makes it difficult for a large group of readers/followers to stay on message. Obviously, a blog post can deeply examine any subject, of course provided the writer is capable of expressing himself.

I do think that there is value in participating on Twitter, and I’ve made a ton of great connections through it, but I think it is very easy to get caught up in it all. A little bit of time each day is fine, but any more and you should probably be hanging out on your own website or building up your own content.

Are there other reasons that I’m missing? What do YOU think?

Is your time better served posting on Twitter or adding additional content to your own website?

CNN & MSNBC Want to Know about My American Airlines Horror Story

Since posting my story about how American Airlines abandoned me, and then treated me like a 5th class citizen last week, I was contacted by both MSNBC and CNN.

I got the email from Christopher Elliot of MSNBC first thing Thursday morning (he sent it to me 4:30am that day – the day of my flight), and he wanted to discuss what I went through. Unfortunately, I got back to him too late for his deadline, but I was told that he’d mention my story and link to the blog post I wrote about it . . . I haven’t seen anything yet! Any updates, Christopher?

I was also contacted by Jen Haley of CNN. Jen was writing an article about travel insurance and decided to get in touch. The article just went live on the CNN site and I thought I’d share it with all of you.

So . . . check out:
Protect your cash if travel plans get canceled

American Airlines Cancels Thousands of Flights then Hangs Up on Customers Repeatedly


BOYCOTT AMERICAN AIRLINES

images.jpg



As many people are aware, American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights yesterday, and then canceled 1000 today. They just announced another set of hundreds of cancellations for tomorrow . . .

Why does anyone care?

Well, I happen to be one of the 100,000 plus passengers affected by these cancellations, and there is a big difference between what American is saying on the news and what is happening in reality!

American is Ignoring Their Customers and Leaving them Stranded!

Upon hearing about the issues American is having, I started calling the airline early this afternoon, in hopes of figuring out what to do about my flight tomorrow. I was able to get through customer service, but when I got to the digital announcement that tells you how long the wait is, the line went dead.

This happened over and again – 7 TIMES TOTAL!

Annoyed, I thought I’d be clever and call the corporate line for AMR, the parent company of the airline. When I reached someone, they told me I’d have to speak with customer service, and that they’d connect me. I got someone after a 20 minute wait and was told that they could not handle the situation; I would need to talk to some desk that is dealing with the issue. When they transferred me to this desk, the hold music came on, and after 4 minutes, the line went dead! I called back and told everyone I spoke to what happened, and was told that there was NOTHING that they could do, and that they would put me back to that number. Again the line went dead as they tried to connect me.

Note that I’ve done this on multiple phones, and it is not the fault of my cell phone, home phone, or other line . . .

Finally, at around 3:14pm I got an automated phone call from American (I signed up for such messages through the website) letting me know that my flight tomorrow was, in fact, canceled.

I thought I’d give it another shot and called the main reservations line . . . after sitting on hold for 24 minutes I finally got someone on the phone! He asked why I was calling and I explained to him who I was, what flight I was on, and that I wanted to make arrangements to get on another flight.

The agent (never gave me his name, unfortunately) proceeded to explain that they were experiencing cancellations because of the FAA. I responded that the cancellations were happening because American never did their job in the first place with inspecting their fleet properly, and the agent snapped back that it wasn’t American’s fault, but the FAA’s.

I didn’t want to get into an argument, so I asked him if we could figure out how to resolve the issue with my canceled flight.

He told me “you have two options: we can refund your ticket or put you on a flight Friday afternoon” (instead of Thursday that I needed). I began to ask about getting a ticket on another airline when he cut me off and started to re-explain that I had two options. He then kept talking about how the airline was taking care of things, but would not allow me to get a word in. I tried to speak and he kept talking over me. This went on for well over a minute, but the agent NEVER allowed me to get another word in – he just kept talking.

Finally, the line went dead . . . he hung up on me!

As I write this blog article, I’m sitting next to my phone on speakerphone . . . I’ve been waiting for 1:32:15 (almost 1.5 hours) to get someone, and it doesn’t seem like it will be happening ANY TIME SOON!

So . . . when the American Airlines spokesman goes on CNN and other networks to tell everyone that they are taking care of the people that they stranded (screwed over), don’t believe their lies!

I’m not being taken care of! I’m being ignored! I will certainly do my best to avoid American from here on in thanks to this spit in the face!

UPDATE: 5:44pm THEY JUST HUNG UP ON ME AGAIN!!!
Just after publishing this article my wife managed to reach someone at American Airlines on her phone. She had been on the phone waiting for 26 minutes when the agent called . . . meanwhile, the time I’d been holding on the other line had reached 1 hour, 35 minutes.

She handed me the phone and I pointed this out to the agent, who said, “well, I’m on the phone now, so what can I do for you?” I thought I’d hang up the other line as I finally reached someone . . .

I told the agent that I was calling about a canceled flight, but before going forward, I wanted to find out who I was talking with. I asked for her name and she told me it was Margie. She then repeated the question, “what can I do for you?” I explained that I was hung up on by the previous agent and I just wanted to make sure I had a written record of who I was speaking with. I asked for some kind of identifying information like her Agent ID # or call center info, and she responded telling me “all calls are recorded, so we have a record of your conversations.” I told her that I appreciate that, but I wanted to have it for my own information . . . we could then discuss the problem I’m having. Suddenly, the line went dead, AGAIN! I was once again hung up on!

UPDATE 6:12pm – My wife just got someone from American Airlines on the phone again . . . and the didn’t hang up! Miracle of Miracles!

He was VERY NICE and helped my wife get a refund for our flight. They weren’t able to get us on a direct flight to replace the one that was canceled . . . he let us know that there were flights on United, but they couldn’t verify whether or not we’d get on the flight. Without that guarantee, we could arrive at the airport and sit for hours waiting to get some kind of verification. Instead, we decided that the only prudent course was to get a refund (note – we had already purchased 2 tickets on Southwest for $1006 immediately after the last hang-up) for our 2 tickets for $318.00.

After it was all said and taken care of, the agent (Ron Moore – PF), explained that what we had been through was uncalled for and that American did not put up with that kind of behavior. He apologized profusely, and I must say, did a FANTASTIC job. He did tell me that anyone who hangs up on a customer would typically be fired (if they found out about it), and additionally, if someone refuses to release identifying information to a customer (Margie), they are disciplined.

Unfortunately, Mr. Moore’s fantastic customer service does not make up for the horrific experience that we’ve been through in trying to handle this situation with American Airlines.

We’re now out an additional $688, and supposedly must wait at least 60 days to get refunded the $318 we initially paid for our tickets. So . . . until that happens, we’re out a grand total of $1321.00 for a $318.00 airline ticket!

So . . . What are you going to do about it American Airlines?

UPDATE 8:39pm – I JUST GOT A CALL FROM THE AMERICAN AIRLINES AUTOMATED PHONE SYSTEM AND WAS NOTIFIED THAT MY FLIGHT WAS REINSTATED!
ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!??!?!?!?
After going through everything I’ve gone through today (hours on hold and hangups), setting up a refund with American Airlines, and spending over $1000 on a replacement flight, I get a call telling me the flight is back on . . . what the hell would you do?

A Web-Based Photoshop Alternative – Splashup.com

I just discovered a very cool site that promises to do to Adobe Photoshop what all of the web-based Google Desktop applications have done to Office. The website, Splashup, emulates Photoshop quite well, and is a must for any newbie blogger or web-designer who is strapped for cash and unwilling to buy PS.

I definitely recommend the site and hope that the developers continue to build up the features that are available.

Joshua Dorkin Interviewed about Housing Crisis by CBS News Radio as Founder of BiggerPockets.com

Hey all! It has been a month since my last post and I’m finding that keeping up with this blog along with everything else I do continues to be difficult. I will struggle on and try to keep it alive and kicking. With that in mind, I wanted to share a bit of news . . .

Joshua Dorkin Makes the National News as Real Estate Commentator

Earlier today, I was interviewed about the US Housing Crisis by CBS radio, and the interview aired throughout the afternoon on KNX 1070 News Radio in Southern California, and across the Nation on all radio stations broadcasting CBS Network news. For more on the interview, visit the BiggerPockets Blog.

It was fun to do, and I have been happy with the feedback so far. I certainly hope to continue sharing my views with the media and the rest of the country.

If anyone else in the press is interested in speaking with me, I’d be more than happy to make myself available.

Thanks for everyone’s continued support!

Jazz Up Your Blog or Website with Video Broadcasting Online: Some Cool Webcam Tools

josh-peace.jpgEveryone these days has a webcam, and I’m pretty sure most people don’t really use it too much (outside those of you voyeurs & teenagers out there). I actually use mine almost daily making video phone calls through Skype. It’s great! I keep up with my family, friends, and business associates by making these video calls.

There are, however, other great uses of these cameras. I did some exploring yesterday and found a bunch of cool resources for doing online broadcasting via your webcam. These tools can be used to start your own live online TV show, to create a video blog, or to just make interesting web-videos. All are worth checking out!
Live Web Broadcasting Tools

Scheduled and On-Demand Web Broadcasting Tools


SplashCast Demonstration
Note: This took me 5 minutes to put together!

Thanks to Masternewmedia.com for putting out a great web broadcasting guide and list of web broadcasting tools!

Should Blogs Focus on a Particular Niche?

I was reading a few posts over at Digitalpoint Webmaster forums and came across a post asking if a niche was necessary for a blog. The person asking this question had asked the same question only a few weeks ago, but seemed to be unconvinced.

If You’re Blogging for Money, You Must Have a Niche.

If You’re Blogging for Fun, Do What You Want!

I, like other serious bloggers, use feed readers to keep up with all of the blogs that I subscribe to and read. In order to speed my way through the list of around 100 blogs (reduced from several hundred – it was simply too much), I categorize them by topic. Some of the categories I use include: real estate investing, seo, blogging, technology, politics, and entrepreneurship.

I don’t have the time to play around on unprofessional, unfocused blogs. I want to find informative articles or newsworthy posts and I want to do so quickly and easily. If I go to Problogger or DoshDosh, I know I’m going to read about blogging; if I go to AsktheVC, I’ll read about venture capital; at the Instigator Blog, I’ll read about startup company advice. You want your blog to be predictable so people can come to rely on it as a source of information about whatever niche you cover.

But . . . TimeforBlogging isn’t Completely Focused

This site does cover a variety of topics, but I actually do it for fun, not for money. I am too busy with my other sites to truly focus on this one . . . it serves more as a diary of my experiences, infused wit some helpful tips for others. If I wanted to truly monetize this blog, I’d operate it in a completely different manner than I currently do. I would keep it focused to either blogging, entrepreneurship, my personal politics, or something else.

What do you think? Is it absolutely necessary for a blogger to focus on a niche to be successful?

Fight Fire With Fire: Hitting Sploggers Back Where it Hurts

This week, another SPLOG popped up that included stolen copyrighted content from one of my other blogs. This time, I was pretty annoyed. Normally, when I discover that a splog has stolen content from one of my sites, I’ll request they remove the content with a CC to their host. I don’t really go after them in the pocketbook because most of these sites are clearly from people who don’t know any better. Their contact info is easily accessable, revealing that they are not trying to hide from anyone.

This guy not only had Google AdSense ads all over the site, but also Kontera’s In-Text links.

You’d Think Both Google and Kontera Would Screen Their Publishers!

As the thief had clearly hidden their identity both on the site, and through their registrar, I decided this one was worth nailing; he was clearly hiding from people like me and he needs to be busted! In addition to contacting his host, DreamHost, to let them know, I also emailed both Google and Kontera to inform them of of the violations to their respective TOS and demonstrated how and where this guy was stealing my content. Some people create SPLOGS without knowing that they are doing wrong. This guy clearly knew it and took all the proper steps to make sure no one could find him . . .

Now, I’m waiting to see who takes care of this thief:

  1. His host, DreamHost
  2. Google (AdSense)
  3. Kontera

Who do you think will nail this Jerk first?

Flying Tips, Cool Online Trends, and Google Gets Scary! Are We In a Brave New World?

  • I’d like to thanks CNN for sharing with me the incredible AvoidDelays, which is brought to all of us from our nation’s air controllers. This site is chock full of awesome data about flying in the US, including airports to avoid, worst time to fly to certain cities, and much more. If you travel at all, this site is a must for your bookmarks!
  • Thanks to ComputerWorld, I learned that Google recently launched Google Trends, an improved version of their previous Zeitgeist. Googe Trends has an awesome feature that allows you to search the 100 fastest rising search terms in the US, which should come in very handy for those bloggers and others who target popular keywords. You can also look at cool trend & historical charts of different terms, something that is pretty fun to fool around with.
  • google brave new world On the other hand, in a more ominous story, apparently, Google doesn’t think it has invaded our personal lives enough, and wants to delve deeper. In a story I learned about from Drudge, the Financial Times interviewed the Google guys and they revealed their EXTREMELY FRIGHTENING plan to take over the world:
      Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said gathering more personal data was a key way for Google to expand and the company believes that is the logical extension of its stated mission to organise the world’s information.

      Asked how Google might look in five years’ time, Mr Schmidt said: “We are very early in the total information we have within Google. The algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalisation.

      “The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?’ ”

    I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I’m absolutely more afraid of Google then I am the US government under the Bush/Cheney regime. If the government knew as much about everyone as Google did, we’d all be up in arms! I already discussed how they use private data to get better results from Google Blogsearch in the past, and this is just another step towards a complete invasion of all of our privacy. Sadly, people are embracing their efforts instead of fighting them.

    Do you really want any one company to know that much about you? It is indeed a Brave New World and we don’t even realize it!

Cyber-News: May 16, 2007

Here are some important news stories from the past day that are worth a look:

Technorati’s WTF Got Game(d)

Introducing Technorati’s WTF aka Where’s The Fire

I don’t think it has quite caught on yet, but Technorati has built it’s own answer to Digg, Reddit and the rest of the social news and bookmarking sites. It’s called Where’s The Fire or WTF and covers “What’s Hot, and Why.” Considering the popularity and resources of Technorati, it seems like this should be more popular than it already is . . .

WTF Manipulation

Unfortunately, it seems like people are already manipulating the system. I was just looking and there were 4 stories on the front page of the site all promoting some blog (that is a huge POS). Each story had 15 votes and they were all in different categories for added exposure. WTF’s competition already has methods for dealing with situations like these, and if Technorati doesn’t handle the problem FAST, then it is likely that this application will turn out to be a complete flop.

technorati WTF
User Manipulating Technorati’s WTF

If Technorati hopes to gain any ground on the competition for social bookmarking/social news, then they need to get a grip on this ASAP. In addition, publicity is going to be key . . . if no one knows about WTF, then it will never become popular (pretty obvious, I know).

Meanwhile, feel free to vote on and support some of the articles I’ve posted to WTF, or just submit some yourself!