BLOGGING MEET. Blogie Robillo (2nd from right) talks about his experience organizing events for Davao and Mindanao bloggers. With him are (from left) Kevin Ray Chua, Xerxes Bernadez, and Wilson Ng.

Davao, Cebu bloggers meet

A dozen or so Cebu-based bloggers met in Bo’s Coffee Club on Osmeña Boulevard in Cebu City yesterday afternoon.

Winston organized the gathering by posting an invitation in his site for a meet-up. Winston and Blogie Robillo then shared with Cebu bloggers how they were able to organize the Davao blogging community.

DAVAO, CEBU BLOGGERS. Wilson Ng talks about plans for the coming Mandaue Business Month during the meet-up of Cebu-based bloggers. The business activity in August will have several tech-related events.

DAVAO, CEBU BLOGGERS. Wilson Ng talks about plans for the coming Mandaue Business Month during the meet-up of Cebu-based bloggers. The business activity in August will have several tech-related events.

I came into the meet-up from a meeting with Wilson Ng and Rio Calle on a web development project related to the Mandaue Business Month in August. During the meet-up, Wilson presented his plans for the Mandaue activity, which will include several technology-related events.

During the meeting, the bloggers agreed to meet regularly for coffee on certain weekends. Winston gathered contact details of those present and will be setting up a mailing list to centralize discussions related to Cebu blogging meetings and events.

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Cebu bloggers meetup

If you’re a blogger based in Cebu, please drop by at the iBrowse Internet Cafe near Cebu Doctor’s University at the North Reclamation Area on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 6:00 p.m. We are organizing a short blogger meet-up there with the indefatigable DigitalFilipino founder Janette Toral.

Janette will be in Cebu for a workshop on Web 2.0 applications and Internet marketing on Feb. 7 and 8. She is also working on a project for bloggers’ involvement in the 2010 elections. We talked about it last year and agreed it would be great to gather Cebu bloggers to talk about blogging and the elections.

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You want someone to represent the Philippine blogosphere? Get Sybil

Blogger Jayvee Fernandez caused quite a ruckus in several Philippine blogs recently when he accused Janette Toral of “misrepresenting the Philippine blogosphere” for her own merit.

Clueless that I was, the first person I asked, via IM, about Jayvee’s “Bloggers, MISrepresent” post was Janette. She then told me that she suspected that she was the subject of the post. The two, it seems, have now settled the issue. Disclaimer: Janette writes a weekly column for the newspaper I work for but I do not deal with her.

I will not deal with Jayvee’s criticisms of Janette’s presentation. But I don’t think his criticisms are enough to support his allegation that Janette misrepresented “the Philippine blogosphere.”

But a core issue in the whole exchange is something that I feel strongly against. Some people have this unfortunate tendency to box blogging–and the people who practice the craft–in.

Bloggers, including Filipinos, are a varied lot. We’re not a clone army.

Some make a living off their blogs, others don’t. Some are journalists who blog, others are bloggers who are now also journalists. Some blog to get laid, others get laid off because of blogging. Some are atheists, others are devoutly religious. Some use WordPress, others Blogger, Multiply, Serendipity, etc. Some are link whores, others are plain whores (and I love them for it). Some are good cooks, others are kitchen disasters waiting to happen.

To represent such a diverse group of people, you need to have an extreme case of schizophrenia.

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Blogging break

It’s been an exceedingly hectic week in the newsroom since the May 14 elections. This is my 4th election coverage and it was as it has always been: frenzied, tiring, and stressful but ultimately exciting and fulfilling.

News events such as elections make you want to leave the newsroom for the field. Out there, the adrenaline rush is stronger. In the newsroom, you somehow feel cooped up.

Blogging had to take the backstage. For days, I didn’t visit my blog, let alone posted an entry. I left my RSS feeds unread. I set aside all my experiments and suspended work on a site that I will be launching soon.

Philippine Blog Awards trophy BLOG AWARD. I finally got my Philippine Blog Awards trophy. The fragile package was mailed to me by Gail de la Cruz-Villanueva, one of the organizers. Click on photo to enlarge.

But a package I received last Sunday got me back into blogging mode. It was my trophy for winning the best technology blog awards in the Philippine Blog Awards last March. Gail de la Cruz-Villanueva kindly took the effort of mailing the fragile trophy to me.

The first thing I did after going back to blogging mode was update my WordPress installation and those of sites that I help run or manage.

Blogging break is over, I’m currently working on a few posts.

Looking back

I started 2006 with a massive traffic spike when Lifehacker linked to two of my posts: how to color-code tasks in Backpackit using The Printable CEO as guide, and how to get things done faster on your phone by using Float’s Mobile Agent. Since then, my site’s traffic has tripled and certain posts have been to the front pages of Digg once and del.icio.us thrice.

I blog because I want to improve my writing. Instead of the notebook writing coaches tell you to keep for regular jottings, I keep a blog. My measure for success is simple: once in a while I’d go over old posts and see how I would have written it better. I’d spot passages that could be sharpened, details that could be clarified and grammatical errors that could be corrected.

But blogging, being the medium that it is, provides a lot of bonuses. I’ve gotten feedback, through this blog, that helped me improve my writing and technical skills. Comments have pointed me to scripts and programs related to my field of interest: content management systems. Blogging has also brought me into contact with people whom I share an interest with.

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Paying bloggers to write about products, services

(Note: This post is not part of the ReviewMe program). I got an e-mail early this morning from the people behind Text Link Ads (referral link). The e-mail said this site was pre-approved for their newly launched ReviewMe advertising program.

I was intrigued because I never signed up for the program. I was set to just ignore it and continue playing with Drupal but I found that Abe Olandres, one of the country’s top bloggers, signed up for it. In his blog post, people were discussing the rates for their blogs and I got curious how much ReviewMe will be charging for reviews in this site.

ReviewMe REVIEWME VALUATION. My blog’s rate for ReviewMe when I signed up to check the service. I’ve since signed out as I only wanted to know my blog’s rate. Click on image to enlarge.

I signed up to check their service and found that if I join the program, advertisers will have to pay $100 for reviews in this blog, half of it will go to ReviewMe and I get to collect the other half. It was ego-boosting to note that I had the same valuation as Abe’s blog and even Pinoy Tech Blog, the country’s top technology group blog.

I signed out of the program after getting screen grabs of my blog’s valuation. The program isn’t for me.

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How to convert any web template into a WordPress theme

Among blogging applications, WordPress probably has the largest number of great-looking themes to use. Still, there are hundreds of free and even open source web templates not yet converted to work with WordPress. Knowing how to make this themes work with WordPress broadens your choice of design to use for your blog.

Converting a web template is fairly easy if you take the time to learn how to do it. I wrote this guide for someone like me a few months back — eager to use a great looking web design and yet not knowing how to start converting it to work with WordPress. If you want to view a video tutorial on how I turned this open source web design into this WordPress theme, click here for the blog post.

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Turning a web template into a WordPress theme: a video tutorial

Knowing how to turn any web template into a WordPress theme broadens your choice of designs to use for your blog. I created this video tutorial for someone like me a few months back: eager to attempt turning a great looking open source web template into a WordPress theme but not knowing how to start. If you want to read a tutorial based on the screencast, click here.

For the screencast, I turned this open source web template into this WordPress theme. The video tutorial ends with the creation of the different WordPress theme files. The part when I activated the theme, tweaked it, and fixed errors wasn’t captured as I ran out of virtual memory. I just included notes on the tweaking after the screencast below.

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Database down; spirits up

I woke up to a WordPress database error yesterday. The error wasn’t caused by any changes I did to the site but something to do with the server.

I spent hours the night before working on this, a demo of using WordPress to manage a news portal.

With time to kill while waiting for the site to be fixed, I implemented something that had been listed in my “someday” list – customize the WordPress database error message and have the system send you an e-mail when your blog can’t connect to your database. I hate to admit it but I actually enjoyed the downtime as it taught me a lot as well as afforded me the time to play around with something I had long wanted to do.

The hack is surprisingly easy and I enjoyed crafting a database error page that I just might intentionally place wrong config data soon to test my planned addition to the error page.

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Nautica05-WordPress theme released

I’ve released the nautica05-wordpress theme, a template based on the open source Nautica05 design posted at the Open Source Templates site by Studio7Designs. I used the Nautica05 template in turning this Cebu blog into a webzine, which I discussed in my previous blog post.

Nautica05-wordpress is a template for blog sites. I will be releasing later a hacked version of the template for use in webzines managed by WordPress. Nautica05-wordpress uses a two column layout by default but you can easily change this to three-columns by following the instructions in the nautica05-wordpress page.

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