Make Blogging Your New Years Resolution

Do you have a New Year's Resolution? Is it to blog (or blog more often)? If so, keep reading!

I'm coming up to my 5th anniversary of blogging and looking at my stats, I've written around 150 posts per year for most of that time, although in 2010 I "only" wrote 102 posts, possibly because one or two other things happened in my life. So many people tell me they want to blog, or they have a blog but can't find the time to write, that I thought I'd try to give some pointers for those resolving to blog this New Year.

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Advice To Another Blogger

Recently I was approached by a friend of mine looking to start his own technical blog. I've been blogging here for some years, and he wrote to ask my advice. I replied to him, but thought that the ideas could be useful to others in the same position, so here's that email, published here for anyone else who wants to see it:
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My Talk Filing System

Three years ago, I had never spoken in public (I have video of that first attempt and all I can say is that I've come a long, long way!). Since then, I've done rather a lot of it. I've submitted countless conference talks, had the minority of those accepted, and prepared and delivered those that were. Not many talks have been given twice, but some have, and now some are getting rebranded since I am working for myself and can choose my own slide branding these days. All this adds up to a lot of content to keep track of!

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How to Be a Good Conference Citizen

I get to a lot of events and the crowds at each one are different and there's a different atmosphere - but at every event there are people who are making the whole thing less enjoyable for everyone else. Probably a lot of those people don't much care what effect their behaviour has on other people, but if you want to avoid being one of those people, these are my tips:

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Celebrating 10 Years

Today I'm celebrating 10 years dating the same man (since we're not married, we don't have an official anniversary but we celebrate this one). He'll be mortified when he realises I wrote about it on my blog but hey, this is important (and if you date a blogger, this is going to happen!). It's been a privilege and a pleasure; surprising, challenging, and wonderful all at the same time. Here's to another 10 years!

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Tips for Event Hosting: Content, Feedback and Socials

This is the final post in a short series about hosting events, based purely on my own experience and no specific expertise, in the hope that they will be useful to others doing similar things. If you are interested, you can read the first two posts, about preparing for the event and what to do on the day. This post is about some of the additional things about an event; sharing the content afterwards, getting feedback from attendees, and the most important bit - the social event.
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Tips for Event Hosting: On The Day

This post is the second in a series of three about organising and hosting events. If you're interested, you could also read the first post about event preparation.

As an organiser you should know exactly where you are going on the day and what you need. Namebadges (sticky labels and pen if nothing else) will be needed at registration, if you have tickets and need to tick people off then rope in lots of volunteers (it sounds like a lot but 3-5% of your total attendee count is ideal) and brief them, and spread out across as much space as you have so you can parallelise as much as possible - registration is always chaos because of course everyone shows up at once and causes a backlog! Continue reading

Tips for Event Hosting: Preparation

I've been to a lot of events, mostly technical, software-related ones, and I've also helped organise a few as well. For people organising events for the first time there are definitely some pitfalls that might not be obvious until you actually, well, until you fall into them! I thought I'd capture my experiences into a series of blog posts, in case they can help any future organisers to avoid some of the traps. First up: what to do before your event starts.

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Something Special from PHPWomen

Last month, while in Amsterdam to host the Dutch PHP Conference 2010, I was absolutely stunned (as in, completely speechless - that's pretty rare for me) to have my PHPWomen friends pull me aside and present me with something:

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The inscription reads:

Lorna Mitchell
In recognition of your extraordinary efforts
PHPWomen

Although I took the photos of this outside, this item now has pride of place on my mantlepiece, where I can look at it and reflect on what a huge influence the PHPWomen have been, and continue to be, for me and so many others.

Looking Back at 2009

2009 was a funny year. I started it with a trip to South America, returning to a job I'd held for a year and was starting to feel settled with. I had grand plans for the year, for myself, my home, and my career. And at the end of the year I can honestly say I achieved absolutely none of these.

Its not necessarily a negative thing - I did some absolutely great things in 2009, its just they weren't the things on my list. I spoke at a number of conferences and other events, and finally started to feel like I had something to say! The highlights were presenting at tek (because I finally started to feel competent at conference speaking), and PHPNW - where its my home conference which I organise and I knew exactly the session I wanted to bring. I wrote it, brought it, and the session was really well-received. I am definitely not finished with speaking nerves, but I know that if I can get up there and be properly prepared - I have something to give to my audience. Already I'm lined up for quite a few speaking events in 2010 and I'm almost more excited than nervous (almost). Everyone told me the nerves would get better with time - they just omitted to tell me how much time.

In 2008 I was surprised to find that I had written 195 blog posts in a year. I did many more interesting things in 2009 and basically worked a lot more, so I knew I'd be blogging less. This is the 119th post of the year though so actually I did pretty well, all things considered. I'm pleased that I've managed to keep writing even through the busy times of the year. I usually post a screenshot of my stats but they're not that interesting this year to be honest, they're holding fairly steady and since I don't track who reads my feeds, it would only be a guess anyway. The blog was mostly a replacement for me remembering things - and it hasn't changed a lot in the 4 years I've had it really!

One thing that I will mention which turned into a bit of a feature this year was that I actually started taking photos of things other than knitting! I think it started with our trip to Peru in January, and also the experience of having my own camera, with nobody else but me to see the results. I'm taking more photos than ever and just replaced my little camera so that's pretty exciting - my photos are on flickr if you're interested.

All in all, 2009 was the year that didn't go to plan - I'm mostly happy about the net result and I think perhaps it was time for me to get a reminder that a master plan isn't always a good thing. So I'm going with the flow for 2010 and wondering what the coming year has in store; at work and in my wider technical activities I know I'm going to be very very busy and this sadly means I'm stepping away from some of the activities and committments that I've enjoyed until now. Above everything else I am hoping that 2010 holds success and good health for us all!