Tag Archives: blogging

7 Things About Me

I guess the prominence of my blog is growing as I have just been tagged in a meme game by Dragos from eDragonu.

Seems like a good idea to let all my blog readers know more about me as well as to get 7 more blogger’s involved so here goes.

First, here are the rules.

  • Link to the original tagger(s), and list these rules on my blog.
  • Share 7 facts about myself in the post – some random, some weird.
  • Tag 7 people at the end of my post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

7 Things About Me

Well, as the name suggest I have to tell you all 7 things about me that you may not already know. So here goes..

  1. I am 35 years old and my Birthday is in March
  2. I am married to Helen and have four children, Rosie (Age 9), Jack (Age 7), Tom and Poppy (Twins aged 2)
  3. I am the co-founder and Director of RandomStorm a Vulnerability Management and PCI DSS ASV.
  4. I am a published author with McGraw Hill and Cisco Press. I have written 7 books and 2 eBooks on Cisco Network Security. I am just working on another ebook for Cisco Press covering Router and Switch Security.
  5. My Hobbies include Mountain Biking, Running, Golf, and Wing Chun Kung Fu. When I make time to relax I like to grab a good movie or take my aggression out on the PS3.
  6. My favorite places in the UK are Northumberland and the Lake District. I try to visit both of these at least a week each year. Both have beautiful unspoiled countryside.
  7. When I was 11 I was on the national news and front page of all major UK newspapers for bringing a live hand grenade home from the World War One trenches in Ypres, Belgium. I had it at the side of my bed for 6 months before we found out that it was “potentially lethal”.

Now I have to pass this on to the following bloggers:

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Be sure to check out the blogs I have just mentioned as they are all on my blog reading list.

DIGTD.com is running WordPress 2.7

Just a quick post to test out the posting functionality of WordPress 2.7 which I upgraded this blog to earlier today.

All seems in order, had a sight issue with some of the plugins not getting re activated after my upgrade.

I am very impressed with the new WordPress interface. I think this is probably the biggest cosmetic update that I have ever seen to WordPress and I am going to enjoy learning all the cool ways of using it in the most productive way.

For those of you who are interested, I performed the upgrade from 2.6.3 to 2.7 using the WordPress Automatic Upgrade Plugin. All went really smooth and worked fine.

If you find anything that is broken or does not work as expected, please let me know.

New Blog Alias – digtd.com

Did I Get Things Done LogoIn order to make things easier for my readers, and shorten what is quite a long domain name for this blog I have registered the domain name digtd.com and pointed it to the existing domain name.

Therefore, from now you can use either the existing domain name or www.digtd.com to get to this blog. I will still be using both domain names but will be promoting the shorter name in some upcoming merchandise that I am going to create as giveaways.

There are various methods of achieving what I have done and I did some research before I made the change to ensure that what I was doing would not give me any Search Engine penalties that would damage the good work I have done in building a brand and loyal readership of this blog.

The easiest and most common way to achieve this is to just park one domain on the top of another. From what I have read though Google and other search engines can have an issue with this method as they can see the site as a separate entity, and therefore duplicate content. Domain parking is the most common method that companies employ in order to point multiple domains, or domain extensions to the same website. For example when you purchase the .com and .net domain name and point them both at the .com.

It appears that the best way to achieve this is with a 301 Redirect. With a 301 Redirect you are telling the search engines that your content has permanently moved, so they know that the site is not a duplicate.

The problem is that in order to do this, you need a hosting account linked to each domain name that you want to redirect and then you can either do the redirect in the index.php or in my case I used a redirect in the .htaccess file.

I have a few other sites that are using domain parking. Looks like I have some more tasks to add to OmniFocus in order to get these changed over to 301 Redirects.

You can read more on 301 Redirect at the Wikipedia page.

As always, would love to hear any thoughts or tips any of you have regarding what I have said in the post.

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 23rd November 2008

This week I am linking to five blogs that I have never linked to before. Some of these are established and some are total newbies to Productivity Blogging. Great to see new blogs appearing all the time.

If you have a new blog and have some great posts, be sure to let me know and I will gladly link to your great content in my weekly link roundup.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is a link to a UK based site dedicated to managing your time. This is a great little site with some great resources. Pretty basic information and the site is Adsense heavy but sill a nice little site. It does appear to be a “Made for Adsense” type of site at first glance but the content does check out to be unique.
  • My second link is a link to the GTD tag from the Blue Knight Blog. The main reason for the inclusion of this blog is the information to be found on Pocket Informant. I used to use Pocket Informant on my Windows PDA and loved it. Nice to see it is still going and people are using it in their GTD and Productivity methodologies.
  • My third link is a link to a Scotch Box Hipster PDA (hPDA). A bit of fun and some good information from this new GTD Blogger.
  • My fourth link is a link to the first Google Android GTD Application Review from the Getting Things Done Blogspot Blog. Now, I have never seen an Android phone but looking at the user interface, I do not think the iPhone has much to worry about!
  • My fifth and last link for this week is a link to a neat little post about taking notes and using MarkUp. Another new blogger that I have never linked to and a blog which does seem to have good resoruces on it.

I am going away tomorrow for a midweek break to Centerparcs in Nottingham. Looking forward to a nice break with the family before the chaos of Christmas sets in.

May not be many posts this week, 3G coverage dependent.

AwayFind – Increase your Email Productivity

AwayFindIn the last update from my email productivity experiment, I mentioned that I had been told about a new online service called AwayFind which apparently would help with the issues I was having.

This blog post is worth reading as it will save you time, just as it saved me time. I use AwayFind as my email solution and do not get paid anything for telling you that I use it. You are getting the best type of recommendation for this product as I am a Raving Fan of it and believe that it can save you time.

I get a lot of free invites and requests to check things out but after a few days, I did manage to log in to the account that had been created for me and check it out. I am happy to say that I was very happy with what I saw.

From the AwayFind website:

Awayfind is not just a web tool,
it’s a blueprint for escaping email, with a handbook and a community to ensure your success.

In a nutshell, AwayFind is a web application that provides you with a web contact form that you can use in your email signature or auto-responder that enables people to contact you. There is also a methodology and associated free eBook once you sign up with simple, clear instructions on how to configure the system in order to reduce the burden email puts you under.

So, somebody sends you an email. Your auto-responder thanks them and tells them you are not checking email frequently so if their matter is urgent to please contact you via the AwayFind contact form. If the matter is not urgent, the email stays in your inbox ready for you to read it at your will.

If the matter is urgent, they will fill in the contact form and you will be contacted immediately via your preferred method.

To get started with AwayFind you need to head over to the AwayFind site and sign up for a free account.

Once you have an account you can login and from here you get your AwayFind Inbox and a very simple control panel. The first thing you want to be doing is editing your contact form.

This contact form is the form that you will direct people to in order to get in touch with you and it is the key component of the AwayFind service.


You can really personalize this form with your own details and logos to make it look an extension of your corporate branding.

Once this is complete, the next important step is to set how AwayFind reaches you. This is the method of contact once somebody completes the AwayFind web contact form. This is an important part. If you are not checking email, there is no point using your main email address as the contact method. It kind of defeats the purpose.

The way I use this is twofold. I have entered my cell phone number so that I get an SMS message and I have also cleverly entered my MobileMe email address.

As I use an iPhone and MobileMe, these emails are pushed to me and it does work pretty neat. I do not use the MobileMe address for much else so I know when I get an email on that account it is an important one. I sometimes have data and no cell coverage and sometimes cell coverage and no data. So, I always know I will get the urgent message.

Once AwayFind is configured you need to set up your mail server to send the auto-responder, for which instructions are available via AwayFind for the major mail server vendors. AwayFind even produce some sample auto-responders for you to use.


So, how have I got on with AwayFind?

Well, I have been using AwayFind for the last month or so. I check email twice a day, or when I need to. I have stopped mail notifications and I manually check email on my iPhone.

I am totally free of “notification twitch”, that common complaint suffered by anybody who has ever owned a Blackberry!

I get on average two or three urgent requests a week. I have had no complaints out of people who email me, just curiosity about the system and how much time it is saving me.

If you want to save time and check email only twice a day, or less, then you either risk missing the occasional important time sensitive emails or you sign up to AwayFind.

I do realize that this will not work for everybody as unfortunately some people would not get away with this in their working environment due to the outdated attitudes of their superiors. However, give it a try, make them try it and I am sure, that you will see the benefit of the system.

I know this has sounded like a long sales pitch, but it is a subject that I am passionate about and I am full of enthusiasm for AwayFind. I wish them every success.

Have any of you tried AwayFind?, any views about the service or methodology? I would love to hear.


StumbleUpon – The Second Northern Bloggers Meetup

Well, I have just arrived home from the second Northern UK Bloggers Meetup. After the success of the first meetup, I could not wait to see what else I could learn from the second, and also what people I would meet.

As before, the event was organised by Jamie Harrop and the main speaker for the evening was Tim Nash, who presented a fascinating talk about StumbleUpon. Now, I have not really used StumbleUpon, apart from playing with a paid campaign for one of my other sites at the beginning of this year and it was great to hear Tim, who obviously knows one heck of a lot about StumbleUpon, share a few of his secrets with us. I have already signed up for StumbleUpon and added the toolbar to my installation of Firefox, so let’s see if I can put his great advice to use.

Follow this link to get to Tim’s post that contains his presentation slides and also some more great tips about StumbleUpon

Apart from the usual faces from the last event, there was a couple of new faces in the meetup. One of these was Mike Little from Zed1.com. Mike was one of the founding developers of WordPress and I found out when I got home that I have a book in my bookcase that he wrote about Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress.

I also met and chatted with Al Carlton from Self Made Minds, as well as other blogs. Al seemed like a very knowledgeable and well connected chat that I hope to network with further at future events.

Karyn from Miss Thrifty was also a newcomer to this event. Great to see some women at what is usually a male dominated event.

Well, cannot wait till the next one and I am going now to play with StumbleUpon and also watch some Ryder Cup!

One last thing, Stumbles on this post are most appreciated 😉

Woopra – Track Your Web Site Visitors in Real Time Better than Google Analytics

Woopra Web Analytics
At the Bloggers Meet-up I attended on Friday I had the chance to get a beta invite code for Woopra.

Woopra is a Web Site Analytics program similar in operation to Google Analytics. These type of Analytics differ from the log based Analytics Apps such as AWStats that is provided with most hosting accounts. The reason these differ is that these rely upon Javascript code on each page in order for the Analytics program to work.

In order to start using Woopra, you have to register for an account at the Woopra website. You can then add your websites to your account. If you have a beta invite code, your sites are enabled immediately. If not, you have to wait until they release some more codes and approve your site. I am unaware how long this takes at present.

Once your site is approved, you need to start using the tracking Javascript. There is a WordPress plugin that you enable and then enter the Website ID into the Plugin Configuration Screen, that is found on your WordPress Dashboard. If your site is not WordPress, you need to manually enter the Javascript shown on your Woopra Account just before the tag. I use a PHP Include for the footer for one of my non WordPress sites so this was very easy for me.

To view the Woopra Analytics, you either use the Woopra website, which shows limited information but the best way to view the stats is with the downloadable client. This client is available now for Windows and Mac. The Mac version has just been updated and works now without needing the latest 64bit only Java Runtime.

You enter your Woopra details into the client and it stars receiving stats for your account in real time.

Now, the killer use of Woopra is the real time alerting. You can see visitors as they come to your site in real time, along with information such as the referrer and also what page they are currently on. I have to date not used any tool that comes even close to what is offered by Woopra. You can also interact with the users by opening up a MSN Messenger type window in their browser. This seems like a really powerful tool for sales based companies to track web site usage and attempt to interact with the potential customer in real time as you can see how the visitor came to the site.

I have enabled Woopra on three sites. One is WordPress, one is hand cranked PHP and the other used RapidWeaver. I have got it working fine on all three with no fuss whatsoever.

Below is a screenshot showing a map of the world that shows which nation your visitors are coming from.

Woopra Web Analytics

The screenshot below shows one of the many representations of data. This case for referrers.

Woopra Web Analytics

I know a lot of fellow bloggers and webmasters read this blog. If you have not yet tried Woopra, what are you waiting for. I think this is the best analytics tool I have used and cannot wait to see how it develops in the future.

Northern UK Bloggers Meet-Up

Northern UK Bloggers
On Friday night I attended the first UK bloggers meet-up that was held in the Old Broadcasting House in Leeds City Centre.

The event was organised by Jamie Harrop and Chris Garrett. The aim of the event was to bring together local bloggers who were interested in organising some regular meet-ups and all day events similar to the WordCamp and BarCamp events.

For this first meeting, Jamie Harrop did a presentation about the new Analytics Tool, Woopra. Jamie gave out some Woopra Beta Invite codes in the meeting and I downloaded and installed Woopra for this blog and I must admit that I am very impressed with it so thanks to Jamie for a great presentation.

We then had an around the table where attendees got the chance to tell the others about their blogs. Here is a list of some of the blogs that the attendees to the meet-up had created:

3DogsBark – Personal blog of Andy Mitchel, the creator of GTD Inbox
Chrisg.com – Chris Garretts blog about Blogging and New Media
Gaj-it.com – UK Gadget News and Reviews
JamieHarrop.com – Personal blog about many aspects of life
RubyInside.com – Blog about Ruby and the Rails environment
SuperCarDrives.com – Blog about driving Super Cars
TimNash.co.uk – Personal SEO blog from Tim Nash
Travel-Rants.com – Travel blog covering all aspects of Travel
TheHodge.co.uk – Dominic Hodgson’s personal blog
Zath.co.uk – Tech and Games Blog

I heard about the meeting from the power of social networking. It was via a Twitter post that I heard about the mailing list and then the organising of the event was done through Facebook and mailing lists.

It was a great evening and I look forward to the next meeting which is hopefully going to be an all day affair.