Only Genuine People Need Apply

This comment from “Veronica S” was in the comment queue this morning.

I’m not really to sure how using blogs work but I heard that by leaving my comment it can help inform and help people with information I know about. So here we go. I used the services of [URL removed] that really helped me get work in Canada. I wanted to write this message here so let people know that these guys are really good and fast. I got my gob confirmed in just 11 days. I hope they find a job in Canada for anyone looking there as well.

Spammers just seem to be getting smarter and smarter. The comment was submitted to my “Best Websites Built on WordPress” post. At first glance, the content appeared almost relevant to the post. The comment made it past Akismet and I had to read the comment twice to be sure that it wasn’t a genuine comment.

The giveaways? A hotmail address that consisted of an alphanumeric string that would be a very secure, very tough to remember password. But surely not an email address. Oh, and for good measure, the Website URL provided was the same as the link embedded in the email.

But here’s an irony for you: The company’s slogan displayed in prominent red font on their home page: “Only genuine people need apply.”

Only Genuine People Need Apply

Now, that’s got to bring a smile to your face.

19 years later…

Near the Louvre, before the arch commemorating AusterlitzI’m writing this in Paris, France.

19 years ago, my wife and I looked at one another as we sat in a cafe in London and said, “Well, with us starting a family, we may skip a year in our annual European vacations.”

That was 1989. Nineteen years later, we’re taking our next trip. And in the meantime, we’ve had three great children, who are growing up to be wonderful people.

Would I change a single decision we made in the past 19 years? None that I can think of.

Kids. They’re the gift that just keeps taking – and giving.

Heard on Air Canada

Air Canada, Canada's largest airlineAs my flight arrived in Ottawa last night, the pilot came on the intercom to say, “Thank you for flying with Air Canada. I know you have choices. Thank you for flying with us.”

It’s a small thing. But,the fact that the person who had just flown us safely from one place to another cared enough to say these words sent a message that he was conscious of the fact that he was responsible not just for a chunk of flying metal, but also a hundred souls. And that means a lot when you entrust your wellbeing to a stranger on the other side of the locked door.

So, to the pilot of Air Canada 462 on October 4, thank you for bringing me home safely to my family. I did have a choice. And I’m glad that I chose to fly with you.

Note to Air Canada management:

Your customer facing and flight personnel are doing a great job. Please be concerned with their welfare, keep them happy and Air Canada will have a better chance of making it through the economic downturn.

Meet WordCamp Toronto Organizer Melissa Feeney

WordCamp Toronto 2008WordCamp Toronto is happening this weekend. And like all great community events, it will only happen as a result of the efforts of volunteers who give generously of their time and effort.

I caught up with Melissa Feeney at Third Tuesday Toronto. Melissa is one of the founding organizers of WordCamp Toronto, along with Mathieu Yuill.

She told me that WordCamp has been programmed to be of interest not just to developers and people who use WordPress, but that the sessions will be of interest to anyone who has any interest in blogging, including students, people in the PR industry and even those who have just discovered Perez Hilton. 🙂

And where did they get the idea to organize WordCamp in Toronto? Melissa says that they attended WordCamp in Dallas and were impressed with the concept. They decided that WordCamp would enrich the community in Toronto. And bingo. Here we are.

Thank you to Melissa, Mathieu and all the organizers who have invested so much of themselves to make WordCamp Toronto something that we all can benefit from.

Your favourite WordPress plug-ins?

WordCamp Toronto 2008In my presentation at WordCamp Toronto this weekend. I’d like to illustrate how WordPress plug-ins have extended the power of WordPress as a publishing platform.

Plug-ins that stand out

What do you think are the best plug-ins for WordPress? What are the most innovative? What extend its capabilities as a platform? What make it easier to use?

What my Twitter Friends Say

Here are some of the answers I received when I asked my Twitter friends what their favourite WordPress plug-ins are:

Jason Prini, @jasonprini, suggests two plug-ins: He says “you should never have a WP install without am XML sitemap generator” and “for bilingual blogging qTranslate is the BEST I’ve found yet.”

Andraz Tori, @andraz, volunteers “Dopplr, Disqus (and Zemanta naturally).” Andraz is the founder of Zemanta. I just discovered the plug-in thanks to his tweet. I haven’t tried it out, but I’m really intrigued by it. (Malcolm Bastien, @malcolmbastien, also suggested Zemanta. Thanks Malcolm.)WordPress

Aaron Wrixon, @aaronwrixon, says “I’m a fan of WP-SpamFree for catching and killing spam comments.”

Melanie Baker, @melle, and Stephen Davies, @stedavies, make sure I don’t forget about Akismet. “I would have probably stopped blogging without it. Almost quarter of a million spam comments stopped.”

Daniele Rossi, @danielerossi, endorses PodPress and cforms

David Jones, @doctorjones, thinks “WPtouch and WordTube are great.”

Greg Godden, greggodden tells me that “Another good one is SimplePie and the SimplePie Core, used for handling RSS feeds.” O.K. I’ve got to be honest. I don’t get this one. Can anyone who is using SimplePie explain it to me it language a non-coder can understand?

@TanMcG from Praized asked me to check out the Praized plug-ins. And heck, they’re a great Montreal-based start-up who will be at WordCamp Toronto. So, I’m not embarrassed to help them promote their plug-ins with a plug.

John Biehler, @retrocactus, says “I just spoke at WordCamp Vancouver about FAlbum (….it’s not super common so many may not have heard about it.”

Jordan Behan, jordanbehan sends me to look at, among others, flickrRSS and WP-Polls.

Finally, Brian Longest, @longest, pointed me to a post he’d written earlier this year identifying his top 10 WordPress plug-ins.

What do you think?

If you have a WordPress blog, please tell me which plug-ins you use and which you rate most highly. Are there other plug-ins that you find indispensable? What are your favourites? I’ll do another post following the presentation detailing the plug-ins I included and linking to the bloggers who suggested them.

Thank you for helping me with the research for this presentation.

One last thing:

As I look back at this post and the wealth of pointers people provided to me via Twitter, I realize that how lucky I am to have built up a community on Twitter of other people who share my interest. Mark Evans is SO right when he calls this “Twitter’s killer app.”

Hashtag Etiquette for Microblogging Search

TwitterWhen I chair a social media conference, I like to introduce the participants to Twitter and Twitter search at the beginning of the conference so that they can experience community building and conversation during the conference.

One of the participants at a conference I chaired last week posed the following question in an email:

Question for you about the use of #tags that came out of the way you used them at the conference. We are a co-sponsor of a series of [events] that revolve around various science topics. After my presentation and your use of the tags someone from one of the other sponsor of the [events] finally ‘got it’ and has asked me to add some social media elements to the events.

The next one is [next week].  I’d like to essentially Twitter the event, add some elements to our Facebook app and/or group and of course blog about it. The tag I’d use is #xxxxxxx.

Now for the question… You can’t ‘reserve’ a tag and we’d like  to do some pre-promotion through our e-mail lists and the co-sponsors’ web sites.  If I start using the tag in the next few days to make sure it doesn’t become something else ( not likely but you never can tell ) is that considered okay Twitter Etiquette or do I simply wait until the day of the event and start building up to it ?

My thoughts:

Often the same hashtag can be used for different events/contexts at different times (e.g. #ALI for the ALI Conference in September; #ALI when the Sports Hall of Fame is commemorating Muhammad Ali.)

However, to ensure that I’m not overlapping with a contemporaneous event, I’ll search for the term on prior to beginning to use it. I count on others to do the same thing. So, if you start to use a hashtag now, others will discover in their search that you are using the hashtag and they will avoid using it while you are using it.

TwemesFinally, some people argue that if you are using a term that is truly unique to you, there is no need to use a hashtag. This was the case for an event like BlogOrlando, where the organizers decided to tweet without using hashtags. However, this works if you want to be discovered only in Your event will not be picked up in mircoblogging search services such as twemes.

Bottom line:

Hashtag etiquette relies on simple consideration. Use a tag that makes sense in the context of your event. Check before you begin to use it to ensure that no one else is using it. And feel free to start using it as soon as you will be generating enough tweets to make it a meaningful search term.

What do you think?

Do you agree with my advice? Would you add to it?