On rediscovering a love of blogging, writing

Missing for so long, my love of writing, blogging and ultimately content creation is driving me to kickstart kenmc.com after a lengthy absence.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve added a blog post to kenmc.com.

What was once my sole outlet from a writing point of view has gathered layers of dust in the past few years as other avenues expanded. Design, radio, food, music, theatre and more all came in to play. Continue reading “On rediscovering a love of blogging, writing”

KenMcGuire.ie

Currently enjoying an upswing in blogging across various blogs from late 2011, I’ve finally settled on using kenmcguire.ie as a personal blog. Yes, the food, arts, and music are still getting attention, along with the events but as the content spin on kenmc.com weighs far more heavily on technology side than anything else (outside of 2011), I’m using kenmcguire.ie as a personal outlet for photos and projects I’m working on in 2012 so you might start seeing that one pop up a bit more on Twitter and Facebook.

After spending so long deliberating what direction to take kenmc.com in, I figure a complete change is as good as the rest.

Happy New Year to all.

Documenting A Year

Happy Birthday To Ken

Project 365. 365 Photos. 365-A-Day. Photo-A-Day.

Call it what you like, at this stage, the majority of people know what they are – a collection of photos (at least 365 of them) designed to chronicle a year in the life of something. Some people take a photo of a sunrise a day. Some people take a photo of their face for a year. Me, I’ve just decided to chronicle the gap between 2011 and 2012.

I turned 28 on Tuesday, had a cracking meal with some cracking people and arrived home with a load of photos from the night. But I’m shooting things every day, whether for work, theatre, food or something else. The phone goes with me everywhere and the pocket camera goes with me everywhere (and certainly has the scratches to prove it).

So, inspired by a friend that’s doing something similar since she lost her job earlier in the year, I’ve decided to run a 365 photo blog what happens between birthday 28 and birthday 29. Some days there’ll be one photo, some days a dozen. I know there will be food, technology, festivals, singing, dancing, wedding planning, the US, Canada, sun, snow and more involved. Keeping to it is one thing, but having set the site up as a Tumblog (Tumblr-type blog) with a mobile interface, it shouldn’t be all that hard.

It started on May 31st and there’s two days there already.

KLCK Bloggers Network In Kildare

KLCK Bloggers Network in Kilkenny
KLCK gathering in Kilkenny, pic via Amanda Webb

The second Monday of the month is almost upon us which means the next KLCK Bloggers Network meeting is just around the corner as well. I was invited along as a guest speaker for last month’s gathering which took place in Kilkenny. 18 or so people made the night, the good numbers sparking some interesting conversation about blog promotion, mailing lists, WordPress plugins and the like.

The November gathering takes place this coming Monday at the Johnstown Business Centre in Johnstown, Co. Kildare.

We have an excellent speaker lined up for the night. John O’Connor from Red Oak Tax Refunds will be talking about measuring the success of our blog and we are introducing a round table discussion on how to find inspiration for our blogs. We are hoping that this round table discussion will encourage more knowledge sharing amongst the group and enable novice bloggers to get more from our meetups.

It’s shaping up to be a great meeting and as always …

The network is aimed at connecting bloggers new and experienced in counties Kildare, Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny with the meetups rotating between every month.

It’s a 7pm kick off, there’s no charge to go along and if you’re new to blogging, looking to build your blog or just get out and about for tea and chat,then Johnstown Business Centre is the place to be on Monday evening. You can follow the group’s activities on Facebook.

Blogging About Food

I had been thinking about it long enough, taking photos long enough, tweeting about it long enough and getting in the neck from friends long enough.

The “it” I’m referring to is food, my love of food, and now I’ve taken all of the above and finally started up a proper food blog.

I’ve got a year’s worth of photos on the iPhone and HTC that are primarily about food. I kept a tumblr blog going until mid summer which was made up just of photos of meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, anything went. But a trip to Foodcamp over the bank holiday weekend gave me the kick in the arse / boost I needed to put everything in the one place and start writing about all things food. And so, if you didn’t get a nudge from me on Facebook about it, I present Any Given Food.

There’s about a week’s worth of posts on there at the moment but the notebook I’ve been keeping should see me through to the Spring, which is certainly enough in terms of content to get me started. That said, I’m not a conventional food blogger by any means. I can’t see myself painstakingly describing recipes (I’m very much “throw in a bit of this, some of that, bang it in the oven”) kind of home cook but the blog will carry posts on local markets, a wealth of foodie photos, dinners out, gluten-free bits and bobs and whatever else takes my foodie fancy.

I’m directing my food tweets via a new account, @anygivenfood and I’ll be posting extra content as I get it over on the Any Given Food Facebook page.

As of this morning I’ve also released a podcast feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/FoodcampPodcasts) for the Savour Kilkenny Foodcamp Podcasts so if you missed out on Foodcamp last week you can grab yourself some of the talks. There’s four available to download at present with more to come over today and tomorrow.

Thoughts and comments much appreciated and if you would like to subscribe to the new blog use this RSS feed.

Talking Plugins With KLCK Bloggers Network

Kilkenny Pembroke Hotel

I don’t usually go out of my way to speak at events or gatherings, social, business or otherwise. But when Keith Bohanna asked if I could fill in for him at last night’s KLCK Bloggers Network gathering in Kilkenny I figured I couldn’t say no, the event being on my doorstep and all.

I would equate the gathering last night to something akin to Open Coffee only minus the coffee and a bit more formal. The KLCK Bloggers Network was formed by Amanda Webb (of Spiderworking.com, in the running for best videocaster at this year’s Irish Web Awards) and Lorna Sixsmith of Garendenny Lane who I had met previously at Kilkenny Open Coffee (also turns out we’re both writing for a Carlow magazine). The event itself was held in the Kilkenny Pembroke Hotel who were providing one of their conference rooms complete with projector, screen, notepads, pens, all you would need to run an event like it.

While I was the second speaker on the night (which worked out a treat in terms of the content), Marie Ennis-O’Connor was first up to bat leading a great talk on driving additional traffic to your blog, from starting out as a blogger to building a community around your blog through email, comments, guest blogging and more. The audience (about 18/19 of us there) was a mix of beginner and experienced bloggers with some people simply coming in to get an understanding of what blogging is and does for people.

My own talk was quickly cobbled together yesterday on the back of what I call my WordPress toolbox – the plugins I deem essential to any WordPress installation and ones that I keep handy in a zip file whenever I’m starting a new blog either for myself or a client but I felt it went well for something that was a technical overview of additions you can make to your WordPress blog for the both the admin side of things and your theme out front. You can get the list of plugins and links here on Slideshare. The slides also feature a glimpse of the new branding I’m rolling out across the business later in the month.

Last night was the fourth monthly gathering of the network which heads to Kildare for November and should be back in Kilkenny come February or March. The name – KLCK – is an aconym for Kildare Laois Carlow and Kilkenny and they’re actively looking for topics for discussion that would benefit all in attendance, along with speakers. If the rest of the gatherings are along the lines of last night then they’ll be well worth heading along to. Having it hosted in the Pembroke created an opportunity for people to stay on for drinks and further the conversation in the bar but there’s signs there of a good group and network in the making, with everyone being able to contribute on some level from the own experiences. One thing I did note though is that for the 18 people in the room, there were only four men around the table, one of them being me as a speaker for the evening. Makes a change from the male-dominated Open Coffee mornings in Kilkenny.

That said, it’s also opened me up to the notion that I need to get to more events. Outside of Kilkenny, I think Media2020 and the Blog Awards in Galway were the only events I’ve been to for the year. Time to get back on the road, maybe as far as Kildare for the second Monday in November…

The Start Of A New Year

IT’S THE start of a new year, a new decade. A chance to review the last 365 days and plan, or attempt to plan, for the next.

Sure enough, there’s a lot I’m going to do this year between work, theatre, travel, music, business as usual really.

What I missed throughout the year was a regular sense of blogging, something I’ve thorougly enjoyed over the past five years and something I plan to return to with much more vested interest in 2010.

For now, it’s the first day of a new year and those reading this I will assume are both alive and well. That’s the way it should be 🙂

To each and all I hope the new year does you well and you the same. Get up and get out, get on with your projects, turn your hobby into something new, open new doors and meet new faces. All the time while you’re doing it, have a blast as well.

K

Blogging For Beginners Hits The Spot(light)

Last May I was asked to give a Blogging For Beginners course to a number of ArtLinks members, the primary focus being on blogging from an arts perspective.

While the meat of the day was in the actual talking and conversation part (as more often than not is the case), I had put some slides together as a handout for the eighteen or so who attended. Cathy Fitzgerald has been working away on getting the ArtLinks courses online over Christmas and the Blogging For Beginners presentation on Slideshare is currently the featured presentation in the careers section.

You can view / download the slides here.

Another one on ‘Getting Ahead In The Music Industry’, a talk myself and some of the KKM crew ran in Wicklow in November 2007 should be making its way online in the next few days.

Some of the presentation may indeed be dated at this stage but will get a revamp soon enough.

WordPress 2.5 Is Live And Wild (Plus Popularity Contest Notes)

Update April 5th: Download patched version of plugin here.. Note you’ll still need to make the database changes if you don’t have the tables already in place.

The long awaited WordPress 2.5 has been released. In fairness, some of the advances in WP2.5 are as great that it could well have been labelled WordPress 3.0 but who’s to argue with version numbers.

Before rolling out upgrades across a number of my own blogs and blogs I manage for others, I’ve been doing the precautionary thing of testing WP2.5 locally with a variety of homemade themes and some of my regular plugins.

Plugin Issues

So far I’ve only found an issue with with Alex King‘s Popularity Contest plugin – if you try to activate the plugin under WP2.5, for the moment, you’ll see it triggers a fatal error. This can be fixed as outlined here

Open popularity-contest.php and scroll down to line 59. Replace require(’../../wp-blog-header.php’); with require(’../wp-blog-header.php’);

However, in running the plugin locally I found that after making the changes in order to get the plugin to activate, it wouldn’t create the two tables needed in order to run, so these had to be entered manually (via phpMyAdmin). To create the tables, you’ll need to run the following SQL queries.

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `PREFIX_ak_popularity` (
`post_id` int(11) NOT NULL,
`total` int(11) NOT NULL,
`feed_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`home_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`archive_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`category_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`single_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`comments` int(11) NOT NULL,
`pingbacks` int(11) NOT NULL,
`trackbacks` int(11) NOT NULL,
`last_modified` datetime,
KEY `post_id` (`post_id`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM;

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `PREFIX_ak_popularity_options` (
`option_name` varchar(50) NOT NULL,
`option_value` varchar(50) NOT NULL
) ENGINE=MyISAM;

Note that PREFIX refers to your WordPress table prefix, in most common cases it is simply wp_ unless you’ve got multiple copies of WordPress running in the same database.

Initial Impression

Love it. I downloaded the latest SVN version only yesterday in the office though never got around to playing with it (of course not knowing the full release would hit today). The admin interface is much smoother, I’m liking the customisable dashboard (I used to edit the admin index and strip out everything bar the ‘write a post’ link and stats) and the overall colour scheme is much more appealing. I was never a visual editor user before (and won’t change in a hurry), but I do like the changes they’ve made, including the full screen option for those intensive blogging moments.

I’ll have a full play around with the gallery / media functions yet as well as making sure my other preferred plugins (sitemaps, podpress etc.) are all up to working order before doing a widescale upgrade.

You can download the latest version of WordPress 2.5 right here. You can also see a full list of new features right here.