Improving your writing skills: Lessons learned online

The best way to improve your weblog is to improve your writing. No amount of search engine optimization and membership in blog rings can make people regularly read your site if the articles are poorly written. A newspaper editor once said: the easiest thing for the reader to do is to quit reading.

Some people are born with a gift for writing but for most of us, improving our writing skills is a tedious but rewarding process of continuous learning and rewriting.

Fortunately for us, there are a lot of good websites that offer tips on how to improve our writing skills. Here are some of the sites that I frequent. I hope a few bloggers find the list useful. If you know of other sites, leave the URL in the comments field.

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Protopage vs. serverside TiddlyWiki – which works best for you?

I stumbled upon a link to www.protopage.com in del.icio.us. The description and the fact that a lot of people had bookmarked it intrigued me. Protopage is an online, personal start page powered by Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

With protopage, you can have an online list of the sites that you frequent as well as a to-do listing of tasks similar to sticky notes. Many people write their own HTML page containing links to frequently visited sites to serve as their browsers’ start page. Protopage would be an excellent replacement for this.

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Bills to split Cebu flawed?

Cebu 2nd district Rep. Antonio Cuenco has asked the House of Representatives to suspend action on the proposals to create Cebu del Sur, Cebu del Norte and Cebu Occidental.

Cuenco said proponents of the plans to create new provinces out of Cebu failed to follow instructions in the implementing rules for the creation of new provinces. Cuenco said the sponsors did not meet the required documents in the official checklist.

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Totoy tale

Someone got into my site by looking for meaning totoy in Yahoo UK search.

The entry in the traffic logs intrigued me and I tried searching for the phrase in Yahoo UK. I was partly amused and embarrassed to see that my entry on headline disasters was the top result in Yahoo UKs search for meaning totoy (this was two days back. Its no longer the top result.)

The entry in the traffic logs sparked a train of thought into how the person encountered the word totoy and under which context. Totoy, in Tagalog, means kid. In Cebuano, totoy is breast. Which totoy was he (if the person is male) looking for? Was he promised the sight of one or was he dismissed as one for being too brash?

Server wiki upgrades

Serversidewiki and ZiddlyWiki have been upgraded. Serversidewiki now sports a new theme (blue) that you can change in the settings of your account. ZiddlyWiki now uses the Kubrick theme as default.

I use both applications for my notes. ZiddlyWiki is a very good TiddlyWiki adaptation but it runs on Zope a system I am ignorant of. It took me a long time to write an index page for my free Zope account but installing ZiddlyWiki took much less time, thanks to the step-by-step instructions of Tim Morgan, the applications developer.

Serversidewiki is a hosted service. It plans to start charging on Sept. 6 but theres still a free account. If you do not have the time to experiment with server installations, then serversidewiki is the application for you. You can sign up for an account at www.serversidewiki.com.

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Bohol takes first step into ICT world

This week’s holding of the 1st Bohol Internet and Net Security conference marked the island-province�s move to take part in the information and communications technology (ICT) world. The initiative is led by the private sector — with some support from the government sector.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) appears to be the initiative’s biggest supporter with both the outgoing and incoming directors present during the conference. The governor and the mayor weren’t there (both were on official trips) and the representatives they sent only went there during the first day.

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Improving blog headlines: lessons learned offline

While reading tips on ProBlogger.net on how to improve your blog, it occurred to me that I should look into lessons I’ve learned as a print journalist on how to improve articles and headlines and apply it to my blog. I keep this blog as online equivalent of a work book – in the hope that it could improve my writing – after reading a Poynter article on how writers can improve their craft.

Headlines are important in any printed medium because these lead readers to stories. With the large number of blogs all serving RSS feeds out there, a sharp headline and an even sharper first paragraph or lead help in drawing visitors from the RSS reading public to actually visit your blog.

A good blog headline gets readers’ attention, tells them the story or part of it and draws them into visiting the site and reading the rest of the article.

Here are tips I dug up – from old and worn notebooks I used in various journalism seminars – on how to write good headlines. I hope a few bloggers out there can find these useful.

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After weeks of testing, it’s ZiddlyWiki and ServerSideWiki for me

I’ve been testing ServerSideWiki and ZiddlyWiki for weeks now. In those days of heavy-duty testing I used only either service for my notes and tasks list � no jottings on paper, no reminders in my cell phone and no notes saved as e-mail drafts in GMail.

After the tests based on current versions of the two TiddlyWiki adaptations, I finally decided to use both.

I am reorganizing my ServerSideWiki account based on notes on specific topics: WordPress, the section I manage, the column I write, general web technology notes and my blog. I am reorganizing my ZiddlyWiki to host my notes for long-term projects.

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Pantaleon Villegas, the man behind the mythical Leon Kilat

I have been using Leon Kilat as online identity for years now. I started using the pseudonym in 1999 but I have been fascinated by the story of Leon Kilat since 1998, when I was still with The Independent Post.

The Post put out a special edition for Independence Day 1998 – the centennial of Philippine Independence. The special edition, which took weeks in planning and research, was a contemporary account of the revolution in Cebu – as if The Independent Post was there to cover the events. The issue even carried ads and photos of scenes and people of that time.

It was during my research on events that I found accounts on the life of Pantaleon “Leon Kilat” Villegas, the leader of the revolution here in Cebu.

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