Category Archives: Blogging

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Dear Readers,

WordPress seems to have “retired” (i.e., de-supported) my blog template (“theme”) without any warning so you may have noticed some unflattering cosmetic changes to the blog.  For example, the description is gone from the top, my bio is gone from the right sidebar, several other right sidebar widgets are missing, and the footer containing my copyright and license is no longer there.

Compounding this, it seems to have been done in conjunction with a software upgrade, so I’m working in an area I don’t understand well with tools that are suddenly unfamiliar and aren’t acting as usual.

I am working to try and fix this, but meantime, please bear with me.

Thanks / Dave

(Kellblog remains covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License).

Kellblog 2.0

After an approximately* one-year hiatus, I’ve decided to start blogging again.

What Happened?

The reincarnation begins oddly, with my discovery that cybersquatters had evidently moved into Kellblog.  My WordPress account had been hacked and because the hacking was subtle it took me a while to realize what was going on.  I’d get the odd email from a friend on a post that I had done years ago as if it were new.   I searched for my post entitled “The Final Post” and couldn’t find it; evidently it had been deleted.  I looked at my Blogroll and saw, nicely tucked within the links that were supposed to be there, numerous links that weren’t.  I read one of my top posts which now had a reference to “Best Auto Loans” jammed in the middle of an otherwise normal sentence.

So someone hacked into the blog, deleted the post saying it was closed, subtly inserted spam links into top posts, and did an occasional re-post to keep things fresh.

What Does This Mean?

It means that any post before 4/6/13 (when I officially re-started) may have been compromised in some way – e.g., the publication date may be off, content may have been changed, or spam links may have been inserted.  Since there are over 500 posts from the Kellblog 1.0 era, I can’t check them all.  I feel as uncomfortable in the blog as you might feel spending the first few nights in your house after it had been robbed and ransacked.

Thoughts on Kellblog 2.0

I’d always hoped to start blogging again one day and had continued to file things under my “to blog” label during the hiatus.  The question to me was more when than if – with the exception of my wondering if blogging itself would still exist when I was ready to resume.  Had I committed the sin of naming my site KellBuggy when I should have named it KellTransport?

Several forces came together in making me want to re-start – the hacking was simply what pushed me over the edge because I needed to login to WordPress and get dirty looking around at page elements, links, the template and such. Once in the authoring environment, dashing off a quick post was easy … and so it began.

While creating a blog is somewhat organic, I have a few new/different rules for how I want to do things going forward:

  • The posting frequency will be lower.  I have a wonderful and busy day job at CEO of Host Analytics.
  • I will write less about the category and competitors.  Recall that Kellblog started life as the MarkLogic CEO Blog and, as such, was more focused on the category and the competition.  While I may write about EPM, BI, analytics, data science, big data, and such, I will try to do so from a more distant perspective.
  • I will not directly or indirectly write about things happening in my current business life.  Some folks, in cases correctly, felt they could figure out what was happening at MarkLogic by reading between the lines of my blog.  To prevent that going forward, I now have a self-imposed, long phase-lag before I will blog about lessons from any given real experience.

I look forward to re-starting and hope you enjoy my content.  Now all I need to do is a find a new RSS reader (thanks to Google discontinuing Google Reader) so I can keep up on things myself.

###

* Hence I’m not exactly sure when I stopped because that post was deleted.  I think it was around Sept 2011.

How To Make a Great Corporate Blog

I’m happy to report that Kellblog was featured prominently in a story yesterday on Business Insider entitled How To Make An Awesome Corporate Blog.

I provided the first tip: throw “corporate” out the window.

That’s because,definitionally, I don’t think there are great corporate blogs. There are only great corporate bloggers.

  • If you really want a “corporate” blog, try a “news and events” RSS feed instead. It will be less work and more directly meet the information need.
  • If you want a ghost-written CEO blog, stop. It won’t work. Give it up. (And read this post for more.)
  • If you want coverage in the blogosphere, appoint smart people to engage with existing blogs/bloggers by commenting.
  • If you really want your message, or some aspects of it, out through blogging, then find one or more people in the organization with the skill, time, and desire to write a blog that will indirectly benefit the company. For example, Timo Elliott at SAP writes such a blog, BI Questions.

The complete tip list is:

  • Throw corporate out the window
  • Who should write the blog? Everyone
  • Your content should go beyond your business. (I get cited here as well.)
  • A blog is not about marketing (but good ones can end up doing just that)
  • More content guidelines
  • Get personal
  • Encourage customer interaction
  • If you can’t do these points, then don’t have one
  • Awesome blogs to check out

I get another nice excerpt in the middle.

Whatever you do, your blog should not be “an advertisement for the company or a regurgitation of company news and press releases,” Kellogg warns.

The full story is here. For those really interested in corporate blogging, you should check out what Debbie Weil has to say on the subject.

How I Want My News: TimesReader vs. Bloglines vs. … vs. Outlook?

I finally got tired of Bloglines this weekend and bit the bullet, figured out how to export my feed list in OPML and import it into other readers. That, plus some playing around with TimesReader, got me thinking about how I want my news, in the end with a pretty unanticipated result.

First, let’s talk about Bloglines. Relative to Pluck, the first RSS reader I tried, Bloglines was a dream. It was easy to use. It was performant enough. It was thin-client, meaning first that I didn’t have to download and install an application and second that it was accessible anywhere — I could read feeds on my machine at work or my wife’s machine at home and it was the same experience.

Over the years, however, I had some problems with Bloglines:

  • Bloglines didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. Bloglines has this lame blogging tool included, which I can’t imagine anyone using to publish a real blog. It has a playlists tab which struck me as odd and confusing. The company seemed lost.
  • Bloglines didn’t evolve. This reminds me of MapQuest. Back in 2005, when Google Maps was launched and they blew by MapQuest overnight, I was — despite being a Google contrarian — actually happy. Why? Because in the preceding years, I felt like MapQuest was complacent, didn’t evolve, and basically deserved what it got.
  • Bloglines was slow and cumbersome. One example: I like to mark important items “keep new” for future blog fodder, but there is no easy way to un-mark lots of them.
  • You have to be online to use Bloglines. I do my best reading on planes so this was a big negative. (I’d often print posts so I could read them later. Ich.)
  • Bloglines didn’t provide a way to share newsworthy items. One of my favorite media/publishing feeds is Jill O’Neil’s shared items in Google Reader. As Jill churns through loads of information, every once in a while she flags an item for her feed, and the result is an expert-aggregated stream of very interesting stories.
  • The prior point is just one instance of a broader problem: Bloglines is its own, fairly cut-off world. The question then becomes how many worlds do I want to visit every day and in which world do I want to get my news?

I’d always struggled with the question of which feeds should I put in MyYahoo vs. Bloglines. In the end, I put the fun stuff on MyYahoo (e.g., Sharks scores, French news, E! gossip) and the serious stuff in Bloglines. That division reflected two facts: (1) I didn’t want to be buried in technology and business feeds every time I launched my browser, and (2) that MyYahoo is a bad place for serious feed-reading (e.g., you need to open a new window to see more than the last 3-5 stories, there’s no way to mark stories unread or share interesting ones).

Since Twitter’s in vogue as a news delivery platform, let’s ponder Twitter for moment. While Twitter is fun, I participate in that fun, and I do get the odd news story from a Tweet every now and then, there is no way that I want to use Twitter to get my news. That’s not to say, by the way, that Twitter isn’t wonderful for truly-breaking news. But my problem is specific: keeping up with about 100 RSS feeds related to technology and business. Twitter’s not the solution. In many ways, it’s part of the problem: if you have a finite number of “worlds” (or sites) you want to periodically visit, then Twitter is definitely one of them, and this reduces your capacity for the rest.

(And yes, I know I can get Tweetstreams as RSS feeds and thus eliminate the need to visit the Twitter world, but I’ve only done that once: for the H1N1 feed from CDC. Somehow, I have a desire to keep my Twitter world and my RSS worlds separate.)

Some might suggest that Facebook is the right place to get news, and I’d say yes if “news” means updates about my friends, their whereabouts, and their lives. I’ve sometimes heard Facebook referred to as the good news newspaper with highly personalized information, and I think that’s a pretty good description. But, as a place to read and aggregate 100 RSS feeds? No. In fact, I find it vaguely irritating when people status-update serious news stories (I can get them elsewhere, thanks) and quite irritating when people do business marketing with their status-updates. In terms of my “world theory,” the Facebook world has a clear position in my mind (“friends”). It’s definitely a world I want to visit and a world I want to keep pure.

This leads to the notion of “work friend” and LinkedIn. While I’d never consider making LinkedIn my primary news source, I do think that they have done a wonderful job with their news section. I’m not sure how they’re doing it, but I assume their using their knowledge of who my friends are and what they’re reading to suggest stories for me: and the suggestions are always quite good. So, news-wise, I view LinkedIn as a good place to find stories that I might otherwise miss, but it does not solve my problem of keeping up with 100 RSS feeds that I know I want to follow.

So now we come back to the RSS reader category. I tried Google Reader over the weekend, and while I preferred it to Bloglines, it still suffered from the must-be-online problem and the own-world problem. But I liked the UI better than Bloglines and it enabled sharing a feed of interesting items, so I was about to convert when I stopped and thought for a second about that RSS Feeds folder in Outlook 2007.

I imported my OPML file into Outlook and the rest was history. I hate to say it, and the last thing I thought I’d ever say was that I want “more stuff in email” but this seems to be the best solution for me. Why?

  • I can read offline
  • It’s one less “world” to deal with and a world where I already get plenty of news (from mailing lists and Google Alerts)
  • I can forward blog posts without having to cut and paste — yippee!
  • I can easily mark things read or unread
  • Because I can read offline, I eliminate the frustrating problem of scanning alerts offline. (Many alerts happen in the blogs I follow thus I now typically have the relevant posts already in my RSS feeds folder.)
  • The performance hit, once it’s initially setup and cleaned up, isn’t bad

In fact, the only thing I dislike is that Outlook treats RSS folders a bit too much like regular folders. For example when filing email, recently accessed RSS feeds appear in the recently used folders list. (In my opinion, you shouldn’t be able to file anything in an RSS feed folder, but maybe I’m too much of a purist.)

Finally, as long as I was in a self-reflection on news mode, I decided to check out TimesReader, which is built in Adobe AIR. Impressions:

  • Boy, is it pretty.
  • I wonder if it’s a paved cow path. Are they making the online experience look largely like the newspaper to show they can, or because that’s the appropriate way to experience the newspaper online?
  • It’s “another world” to have to visit, and seemingly a closed one. I was surprised to see no embedded hyperlinks in news stories though not terribly surprised to see no way to bring other feeds in. As previously discussed, I’m trying to minimize my number of worlds.
  • I’m a big fan of the New York Times, a subscriber, and a frequent reader, but I doubt that I’ll use the current TimesReader very often. While I definitely prefer reading the TimesReader version over the regular website version, I’m not sure I really have time for either. Perhaps if and when there’s a TimesReader on the Kindle and I upgrade mine to the bigger screen size, then maybe I’ll be a frequent user. But for now, firing it up to read the paper in its own world is as luxurious as reading the Sunday Times cover to cover, which I love, but rarely have time to do.

When I began my RSS reading journey I’d never have guessed that it would end up in Outlook, but that’s where I am now and suspect where I’ll stay for a while.

Wow, My Blog is Worth $394,545,921

I just received a fun note from fellow blogger Daniel Tunkelang of The Noisy Channel who pointed out that Pufip has calculated the worth of my blog as $394,545,921 so I should be retiring in the next week or so.

Or perhaps, not. As I’m sure Daniel is aware, Pufip only works for top-level domain names so sadly, I think the $395M value is Blogspot’s and not mine. (And even then, it strikes me as way high.)

One of the disadvantages of hosting my blog at Blogspot is that I lose such analytics. But at this point, I actually feel rather trapped because I worry that changing the domain name would be a lot of work, break a lot of links, and cause me to lose my PageRank. I like Blogger, by the way, as a blog-creating tool, and Blogger does let you host your blog at your own domain. I’ve just defaulted into hosting it (for free, I might add) at Blogspot.

So, I’ll see you in the office tomorrow. I think Daniel will be back in his office, too — while his blog is worth a respectable $58K, I don’t think he’ll be retiring to journalism anytime soon, either.

Hi Ho!

A Blog-Based Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator

A colleague just pointed me to this site, Typeanalyzer, which claims it can identify the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) of a blog’s author by examining his or her blog.

I’m a big fan of the MTBI at work because it really helps people understand, and eventually embrace, differences:

  • It’s not that Dennis (ESTJ) doesn’t trust me. He’s just an S and thus he needs more data than I do to justify a decision. And sometimes, his S will save me because once in a while his data will trump my intuition.
  • It’s not that Andrew (ENTP) is a bad person. He’s just a P, and thus I can be certain that he will never finish anything unless I put a gun to his head. And, while that can be irritating, it’s manageable and I definitely appreciate the creativity and broken-field running that come along with his P.

Typeanalyzer’s verdict for the Mark Logic CEO Blog was dead right: INTJ.

My Blog Cited in CNBC's Executive Careers Blog

I’m excited to report that the Mark Logic CEO Blog was cited in CNBC’s Executive Careers blog in a recent post entitled Blogging and the CEO.

Excerpt:

Here’s a rundown of some of the best CEO blogs; take some inspiration from these visionary leaders if you’re thinking of starting your own executive-level blog.

They then go on to list the following folks/blogs as the ones to watch:

  • Jonathan Schwartz, Sun Microsystems
  • Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks
  • Dave Kellogg, Me!
  • Bill Marriott, Marriott
  • Mike Critelli, Pitney Bowes

Here’s what they had to say about my blog:

Kellogg, CEO of startup Mark Logic (which is developing XML server) has been blogging since 2005 on everything from business plans to XML database development.

Posting frequency: At least once every business day, usually by 8:30 am Pacific time; sometimes Kellogg posts two or three posts over the course of the day.

Bonus: If you’re a tech exec interested in database development, this blog is chock-a-block with info on the latest developments search paradigms.

Thank you! This kind of recognition helps make the midnight posts worthwhile.