‘Retiring’ teblog from Typepad to WordPress

Every post older than this one is taken from teblog – my blog that ran on Typepad from 2005 to 2015. The explanation for the move is in the topmost ‘Goodbye’ post.

While the transfer was reasonably straightforward (it was only 530 posts), WordPress didn’t like certain characters. In fact, it wouldn’t even allow me to edit any posts with those characters in. (They showed up in the public posts as black diamonds with question marks in.) The characters I’ve found thus far are the pound sign, the ellipsis (three dots), angled brackets, forward slashes and angled double quotes. If you need to do this, use these abbreviations – pound, hellip, lt, gt, frasl and quot respectively. Precede each one with an ampersand (&) and finish with a semi-colon (;).

[Later: It’s not happy with accents either. I found it most reliable to use codes like #232 and #233 for grave and accute accents on an e. You still have to start and end with an ampersand and a semi-colon.   Here’s a decent collection of character codes. Mouse over each character to see all the possible codes for it. I found the last one on each list worked fine in WordPress. ] Here’s my set of dodgy characters (there were 286 in the blog altogether:

Dodgy chars

[ Just discovered that WordPress has trouble with the em dash as well. I used #8195 with the ampersand and semi-colon as before. ]

Since Typepad exports a text file, it’s a relatively simple (although tedious) task to go through searching and replacing the offending characters. Which is what I’m doing right now.

Once the offending posts and comments are deleted from WordPress, it should be a simple matter to re-import the cleaned up Typepad file. WordPress ignores duplicates of what it already has. Tip: Empty the ‘Trash’ of your faulty posts and comments before you start otherwise WordPress will skip them.

[ Later: Darn it – I didn’t change cross-links to other posts – they still go to Typepad. I should be able to fix them inside the WordPress posts. I pointed TextPad’s ‘search in files’ at the exported file to list them. I copied and pasted the results list to a text file for a permanent record.]

[ Later still: It was a bit tedious – yet only 57 posts and comments had cross-links in them. You have to find the linked-to post to get its  URL then paste this in to replace the cross-link. If you have loads, you might prefer not to do a manual conversion and use an automated service like TP2WP. This currently costs $49. It’s probably worth mentioning that its security certificate expired on 7 Dec 2015 and you may be denied access to the service. It does, however, come highly recommended, so I assume it does all this donkey work for you. I’ve asked one of the co-authors about both things. Will report back here. ]

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Goodbye

Finally, after almost eleven years, I’m closing this blog. This is the Teblog archive – transferred from Typepad because its own archive has a horrible colour scheme.

I’m closing it because I found it hard to find things to say that might interest or deliver value to my readers. (Since closing it, I’ve probably had an idea worth sharing about every three months. That didn’t seem a good enough reason to keep the blog open.)

In other respects (training, writing and editing) I’m still very active. My website is tebbo.com.

Elastic writing is all very well, but…

Blogs and other online writing platforms allow people to write as much or as little as they want.

However, it shouldn't be about what 'they' want but about what the reader wants.

A well-known blogger recently wrote a very long piece making good, but very few, points.

I'd like to know how long the average reader persevered. I read to the end and wished I hadn't.

I was tempted to add the dismissive tl;dr (too long; didn't read) comment. But, since I had read it, that wouldn't have been fair.

I realised that genie is out of the bottle and online writers feel they can do what they like, but now that most of us are online, it means that we have to fight for the right to be read.

And one way to earn that right is to respect the reader's time.

Time for (blog) retirement?

Hi Folks,

I'm very seriously thinking of closing this blog. This one started in 2005, following some experimentation in late 2004 after hearing Adriana Lukas speak on the subject at a conference. As a writer for Information World Review at the time, I had to try and understand this new world.

In my very first post I said I wouldn't "feed the beast" in pursuit of rankings and, rightly or wrongly, I stuck to that principle. If I don't think I can inform or entertain you, then I don't bother.

Now, the posts are few and far between and, as a precaution (against tuture regrets), I have made backups of this blog and the one I ran for Guy Kewney before he died and for tributes after he passed away.

Other places seem more appropriate for my efforts these days. I add selected useful stuff to my tebbo.com website as I discover it and I still write on interesting topics in various publications – sometimes anonymously. I occasionally speak up on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. And Alison O'Leary quizzed me on Business Writing and Media Handling in a bunch of useful YouTube videos.

The question for my (very few?) readers is therefore, "Can you think of a single good reason to keep this blog going?" No need to respond if your answer is "no".

I'll just say, "Thank you for visiting and maybe see you in another place."

Kind regards,

David Tebbutt.

 

Do what you love. Love what you do.

I’m a lucky person. Not only have I enjoyed almost all of my work, I’ve also had wonderful things drop into my lap out of the blue.

It happened in January this year. The circumstances were tragic. But the outcome has been brilliant. I was asked to help out with a magazine while the editor was in hospital. I went to meet the people and, the very day I turned up, the editor died. As I say, tragic circumstances but it meant they needed an editor; quickly. And there I was.

Because it was a quarterly magazine, it meant I could slip the effort in between other work. And thus began an unexpected lifting of my spirits as I settled, once again, into the editor’s chair. (It soon became clear that I’d be slipping my other work in between pauses in the editorial work, but that was okay too.)

I love everything I do – writing for magazines and businesses, training people (mainly in media skills), rummaging around the technical highways and byways of the computer world and the web. But, most of all, I just love putting magazines and minibooks together. To have something concrete in your hands, that you’ve shepherded through, is very satisfying. Dealing with loads of new people – contributors, vendors and PR folk mainly, is good fun. Even giving contributors guidance on rewrites is great when what comes back exceeds expectations. (I only had to do it twice, mind.)

I’ve been lucky to have worked with an excellent publisher – we collaborated amiably, which hasn’t always been the case in the past – and an excellent designer. All of our work was shared through the cloud, which meant we dropped stuff off for each other and picked it up as and when it suited us. It also meant we didn’t silt up each other’s mailboxes or get into those tedious email chains.

As soon as my first issue went to press, I re-started the moribund news blog. Of the hundreds of news items that waft my way each week, it’s actually hard to find more than two that are worth following up. Perhaps I have too many sources. (As ever, I used Yahoo! Pipes to help filter the RSS feeds and consolidate them. I’ve also been using InoReader as my feed reader, which has worked out well.)

My second issue is about to go off to the printers and the whole process has been astonishingly smooth. I’ve worked at least twice as hard as I planned to but – don’t tell the publisher – it doesn’t feel like work. It would make a fantastic hobby, except that I still have to earn a living.

Sometimes, life just delivers an opportunity to do what you love. And, if it happens, almost regardless of the money, seize the chance with both hands. The fulfilment and joy of loving what you do completely outweighs any financial considerations.

telescope or epocselet? Which way are you looking?

How often do you glaze over when someone enthuses about a product or service because you don’t “get it”?

They blast off without the faintest idea about your circumstances, your needs or your desires. Result, a baffled story-teller and a semi-comatose listener.

In extremis, it’s the religious zealots who knock on your door. But milder forms exist – the Facebook enthusiasts who are always trying to shove some dodgy philosophy down your throat – usually through pictures or video links. (Recommendation: ‘unfollow’ them – they stay in your friends list but you’re spared the distraction.)

AquaChartImageSadly, these zealots exist in business too. Some organisations are so wrapped up in their own inventions that all their publicity and promotional activities are inward-looking. Self-obsessed, if you like. And this goes for the company spokespeople too. Anyone who says ‘we’ more than ‘you’ is likely to be guilty of this.(By the way, you can get a chart of where you stand, by doing this quick assessment – it takes just a couple of minutes.)

Once you start putting your prospect first (in the same way that all good journalists put their readers first) your story will emerge as something your prospect wants to hear or read. Something that promises to, and will, deliver a desired value. This will lead them to your physical or digital door and, if you continue to play your cards right, you’ll have a new customer.

Common sense? Yes. But, in decades of dialogue with vendors of all kinds, I’ve discovered that many actually fail to make that bridge. They pay lip-service to the principle, but their words let them down. When consulting (often with Martin Banks and, more recently, with Dr. Bill Nichols), we’ve found ourselves using the term ‘looking through the wrong end of the telescope’ to describe this inward-looking approach.

We’ve even created a website called epocselet.com (that’s ‘telescope’ backwards) as an umbrella for our disparate but aligned services. Our focus is firmly on executive management and we’d be delighted to act as guides or sounding boards in the discovery, articulation and sharing of your stories. Use us as little or as much of us as you like.

The journalist’s mantra ‘know your audience’ can be applied equally in business. Change ‘audience’ to ‘prospect’ if you want, but the principle applies to anyone trying to influence anyone else, whether a prospect or an intermediary. If you’re in business, you may have multiple audiences but, at heart, you’re trying to move the same stories through to the ultimate audience, your prospect. You may be trying to influence internal staff, analysts, bloggers, journalists and the many social media cascades. In every case you need to ask yourself, “what’s in it for them?”, in order to refine the basic story to best effect.

Written baldly like that, it seems like common sense. But sometimes it’s hard to change your perspective without independent and objective help. It’s not my place to tell you where to go for this. Anyone intelligent who understands communication skills, your marketplace and who has no axe to grind will be able to help you.

But I have to mention that Bill, Martin and I – solo or in various permutations would be more than happy to help you if you’re interested. You’ll find more about us and our services at epocselet.com

 

Social Business

Luis Suarez spent many years at IBM in knowledge management and social business. Earlier this year, he branched out on his own. He's a popular speaker at conferences and advisor to many about the practicalities of social business.

One of his recent blog posts about social business challenges in the workplace spurred me to respond – something I should do more of (like blogging) but rarely get round to.

Social business at senior management level is not always appreciated or understood. In fact some (many?) actively resist it. I tried to take the management perspective with comments like:

It would be interesting to know how many of the 'resisters' of a top-down mindset are in fear of losing their power?

Perhaps they've acquired it through inheritance, accident, shareholding — anything except merit.

Or maybe they consider that their unique perspective wouldn't be understood by the 'lower orders', even if they were to share it.

When email first came in, analysis revealed that many middle managers were just 'message passers'. People just started leaving them out of conversations and they were exposed and, presumably, moved out of the way.

It's a bit different at the higher echelons of the company. I guess the answer is to find those senior management willing to engage socially and show the non-participants the value (e.g. better understanding of what's going on — in both directions) and see if participation spreads. If it doesn't then 'engagement' should perhaps be raised as an agenda item at board meetings.

Luis' responded quite fully (and harmoniously) and my response to this included:

Agree with you. Including your point on the restrictiveness (ie non-social) aspects of email.

I think that 'effective working' should always be the goal. I worry a bit when the goal is expressed as 'social' anything. Social is the mechanism, not the destination. It's something a lot of 'evangelists' (not you, of course) seem to miss.

He responded again so, if you have any interest in the subject of social business practicalities, I really urge you to add Luis' blog to your list of thought leaders in this area. He's widely known as Elsua, if you want to search for him. (Saves you ending up with loads of footballer hits.)