Seems I’m not the only one loving Top Floor Flat life – I was so flattered to be featured in the Londonist, a fantastic London-wide weblog. If you’re particularly curious as to my favourite post on the blog, what up and coming London blog I’ve got my eye on, whether I’ve ever been sick on the London underground and other important questions, then check out The London Blogger Interviews #21: The Top Floor Flat on the Londonist.
It’s Wednesday night and somehow I’ve gone from being embarrassingly punctual to the late side of fashionable. No one will care particularly – once again I am off to a London tech meetup to, well, meet a whole host of complete strangers – however I am a bit ashamed of the fact that I’ve managed to get lost in the most central part of London less than three blocks away from the bar I’m trying to find. But, I’m a girl so I’m prepared. My A-Z is in my bag. And I am not ashamed to ask for directions from my coworker, Alice, who wrongly assumed I knew where we were going. Being prepared, willing to ask for help and female are traits I will share with those I am about to meet and finally the bar is in sight. Silicon Stilettos, here I come.
Silicon Stilettos, organised by Zuzanna of Huddle.net, is a chance for techie women of London to gather, sip some sponsored drinks (in the case of tonight’s event, the beverages are being provided by Sun Startup Essentials and the few men in attendance are for the most part responsible for the plentiful food and drink so we don’t give them too hard a time), chat about business and technology and meet share ideas.
There are a number of brilliant women in attendance, but one of the entrepreneurs in attendance whose company really caught my attention was Anna of CompletelyNovel. CompletelyNovel is an online platform for writers to publish their stories and readers to find new online reading material. While using the web as a way to share creative writing is nothing new, CompletelyNovel offers ways for writers to manage their fan base and articulate readership to partner publishing houses, basically making a case for their book’s success before the publishing houses take the risk and expense of publishing the story. As CompletelyNovel puts it, “would a band be signed to a record label without fans, record sales and a tour?” Now, authors have the opportunity to prove they will be a success and increase their chances of getting picked up by a publisher. Additionally, readers get the chance to access all sorts of brilliant fiction in one online library for free, and support their favourite authors.
Anna and CompletelyNovel represents just one of the many interesting stories I hear at Silicon Stilettos and anyone who thinks that women are not a driving force in technology would be forced to reevaluate in the presence of the strong, entrepreneurial women I meet tonight. Thank you so much to Zuzanna for organising the event and Sun Startup for sponsoring the night. I look forward to future Silicon Stiletto events.
It also seems fitting that my recap of an evening with this wonderful group of women marks the 200th post here at The Top Floor Flat. I’d like to thank friends and family who have been reading since my fateful flight from JFK to Heathrow. To be in the company of these women is just one small indication of how far I’ve come. Thank you for reading, commenting and being a part of my adventure!
Although mother’s day was a number of weeks ago now in the UK, this Sunday is Mother’s Day in the states. So in honor of mums everywhere, and in particular my amazingly wonderful mother, Lila, here is a plug for a mum-created blog and a family health public service announcement.
The weather is warming, the days are longer and the rain is gone enough of the time for Londoners to get reacquainted with the sun. That’s right, summer is approaching. It seems apt, then, that May – the time when everyone is getting so excited about seasonal changes that clothing seems optional – is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month. I suppose National refers to the states but last I checked, people outside the US get skin cancer too so I’m taking the awareness across the pond.
People are increasingly aware of the need to slather themselves and their children with sunblock but it’s still important to remember that nearly 50% cases of diagnosed cancer cases are skin cancer/melanoma, even though it is one of the most preventable types. With everything from SPF70 super cremes to sun protection foundation makeup and chapstick, it’s a lot easier to protect yourself from sun damage these days than it was when SPF5 “tanning cremes” were standard beachwear.
One of my favourite travel blogs, Traveling Mamas, has done a feature on the significance of the month and are donating $100 to the Skin Cancer Foundation. I highly recommend that you check out the blog, the Skin Cancer Foundation, and remember to pack the sunblock this summer.
Last Tuesday, I attended my second London Bloggers Meetup. The timing was excellent as Spoonfed’s iPhone application had just that day been featured in TechCrunch and I was excited to show off the application (I even got a snazzy iPhone for the night to take along). This past meetup was supported by the charity Fashion Targets Breast Cancer which was setup by Ralph Lauren in 1994 as the fashion industries response to breast cancer. The campaign raises funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, the UK’s leading breast cancer charity and to date has raised over nine million quid!
As always at these sorts of events I had a fantastic time chatting with the other attendees and met some very interesting Londoners. I’ve heard that relatively quickly the London tech scene becomes smaller – that you begin to see the same faces over and over again (to be fair, this is probably true of Silicon Valley as well) but I’m still at the point where each person is a new introduction and I’m happy to keep it that way for a while. Most of the people I spoke with were in marketing or PR – and to be honest they seemed less concerned with chatting about blogging with other bloggers than they did about finding bloggers to write about their companies – but I always enjoy being with a group of tech savvy individuals that shares a common lingo and interest. Looking forward to the next one!
When I have some time to spare between work and running around Europe, I like to work on minor improvements to my blog such as my blog design, blog SEO and blog plugins. Most of the things I change are either tiny cosmetic updates or back end and not things that I would expect my readers to notice. The elements I most enjoy updating, however, are my blog plugins. A plugin is a bit of code that you can upload to a blog in order to add additional features. For readers who have been around for a while, they might remember the “send me a text message” tool in the sidebar (which I had to remove due to spam messages) – that was a plugin. Other plugins can add photo galleries, allow readers to rate and vote on their favourite posts, generate random quotes or make sure your post’s title is search engine optimisied. There are literally thousands of fun little widgets and tools and add ons that other coders have created for bloggers like me to use.
What impresses me most is the variety of options and the people who take the time to make them. While in many cases, bloggers with a solid technical background create plugins to solve problems that they have encountered and then share them with the blogger community, in other cases, people just enjoy making the plugins for others. I’ve even paid for a plugin when it solved a very tricky problem that I had no other way to work around.
If you have a WordPress blog, take a look at some of these directories of great plugins below.
The Official WordPress Plugin Directory
It’s easy to get carried away with plugins on a blog – and there are some pretty ridiculous plugin options as well. The best way to ensure that your blog doesn’t become over run is to think of what you like to see on other blogs. Is it important to you to see random quotes of the day elsewhere on the net? If so, go for it. If not, maybe give that plugin a skip. Also think about what your blog is trying to convey. If you’re aiming to be the next Mashable-style tech blog, then having a rotating picture of a lolcat on your sidebar might not be the best option, no matter how much it makes you laugh. Sometimes the best plugins of all are the ones that no one necessarily sees but that add great value to your blog overall.
What are your favourite plugins? What frustrates you about your blog that you have been looking for a plugin to fix?