Category Archives: Blogging

To Blog or Not to Blog – That is the Question (to Blog About)

Note: This was originally posted to

A few weeks ago I had the chance to speak at SharePoint Saturday in New York.  Once again, a tremendous event.   This time, I spoke about “learning SharePoint” – a very broad topic.  During the presentation (which you can get here), I talked about a variety of techniques for “learning” SharePoint, including stuff like book learning, class room training, creating your own VM and most importantly (to me), community participation.  One way to participate in the SharePoint community is via blogging.  Someone asked me about blogging in particular and asked my opinion on a few concerns he had that I’ve heard others mention before.  It’s been itching at the back of my head for a few weeks so in my usual fashion, I’m scratching that itch by blogging about it.

Some people seem to think that there are so many quality bloggers out there on the scene today and that so many quality blog entries have been written that in a sense, there’s nothing new to write about.  Or, the “new” thing is so narrowly focused that it’s not going to be interesting to anyone.  I don’t agree with those sentiments or the underlying assumption about them.

For starters, if you’re blogging because it’s part of your personal attempt at learning SharePoint well, it’s really irrelevant if someone has written on your topic or not.  One of the drivers behind community participation, whether it’s for personal learning or not, is that you need to get it right.  No one wants to put up some weak blog entry and look silly in front of the world.  In the course of getting it right, you’re going to think the subject through more carefully, etc.  Thus, you’re thinking, studying and considering this topic from all kinds of angles, left to right, up to down, inside and out (or at least you should be).  That’s a very valuable exercise.  In fact, it’s almost beside the point of pushing the “post” button by the time you finish writing it since you’ve already derived much of the benefit by now.  Of course, you do want to push the post button anyway for a variety of reasons, but I digress.  The bottom line is that blogging is a valuable learning exercise in and of itself, period.

I also reject the “it’s already been done” argument.  So what if it was?  The terrible consequence is that people who are looking up your topic via bing will now find two or five or a dozen articles.  Who cares?  I always prefer to find several articles on the same topic when I go searching the tubes for stuff.   Different points of view, different writing styles, different approaches to the same problem – they all help me understand what I need.  In my opinion, the community is no where close to reaching a saturation point on good quality blog articles on any topic in the SharePoint world.

So, blog away!  You won’t hear me complaining about it.  I guarantee it 🙂


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Windows Live Spaces and Twitter Counter

I was DM’d a message from twitter today and thought I’d blog the answer.

The question is: “Hey Paul, quick one for you,how did you get the twitter counter into your live space as the script code is blocked when saved Thx”

I did this by adding a custom html widget to my live spaces page and using the little code snippet:

<a href="" 
 title="TwitterCounter for @pagalvin"> 
 <img src="" 
 alt="TwitterCounter for @pagalvin">

This uses a version of the twitter counter widget interface that gets past the windows live censor thing that we all hate so much and wish would get a bad case of poison ivy.


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Griping about Windows Live Comment Control

I picked windows live spaces back in July of 2007 as my blogging platform.  For the most part, I don’t have any regrets and Microsoft certainly extends it over time (though I mainly find out about new features by accident).

My biggest complaint right now is blog spam.  This person / account ( (among others) frequently adds a lot of spam comments to my blog in the form of comments.  MSFT added a nice feature to show “recent comments” so at least I can fairly quickly identify them (whereas before, I had to go into each blog entry separately) and clean them up.  It’s still time consuming.

I wish that:

  1. MSFT would put some better filtering for spam.
  2. That I could block specific people from adding comments.
  3. Failing the above, I could more easily identify and delete spam.  Right now, I need to do it comment by comment and it’s slow, especially when some spam robot person/program adds 25 to 50 comments in one session.

If you’re a windows live user and have some useful tricks to share, I’d be grateful.


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Reading Through 1,000 Blog Entries in 3 Weeks is like Watching Lost Season Four in a Weekend

This past summer, while I was working on two chapters for the best SharePoint social computing book ever, I began to get very far behind in my blog reading.  I use Google Reader for my RSS stuff and when you have more than 1000 unread items, it just says, "1000+".

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been sitting down and systematically reading them and tagging them as I go for future reference (I use

This past weekend I watched all of Lost, season four in a couple of sittings and catching up on 1000+ blog entries feels the same way.


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Just When I’m About to Disable Comments …

They pull me back in!

Windows Live Spaces doesn’t do a good job protecting me from comment spam.  I assume MSFT has good spam detection, but that the spammers are better.  The fact remains, however, that I get far more spam comments than I get real comments and I was just thinking in the last week or so that I was going to disable comments.

However, today, I found two excellent comments in response to this post (about Limited Access) and this post (about limiting search to documents, as opposed to folders).  Those comments are so complementary (in that they add a lot of value to my post), I can’t see disabling comments and thereby closing off that avenue of useful information.  So, I’ve resigned myself to being a human spam catcher / cleaner.  Live spaces does provide a pretty decent way to clean up comments, but who wants to waste time doing that?


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New Blogger on the Block

My EMC colleague, Erik Swenson, has been persuaded to jump in the fray, stand up and be counted 🙂

He blogs about about a wide variety of SharePoint branding topics at  Some of his recent posts include interesting stuff about Photoshop, Microsoft Office Live for small business, SharePoint Governance, creating custom WCM styles and so forth.  He does not confine himself to branding.  It’s quite an interesting mix which is a little bit different from a lot of the SharePoint blogs with which I’m familiar.

His RSS feed is:

Check it out and give him a little encouragement.  We all need that from time to time, especially when we first really dive into this blogging world.


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If You Haven’t Tried Twitter …

Twitter is a very odd duck.  I’ve been using Twitter for a little over a month and in some indefinable way, it’s almost as important to me as email.  I find myself vaguely unsettled if I wait too long before looking over what others are twittering about.  I get annoyed at Twitter’s occasional performance problems because it means I’m missing out.  I get a little puff of excitement when I see a new Woot announcement.

It’s a real community builder in a way that really complements blogs and forums and even personal face to face meetings.

In the last month, I’ve followed one person’s attempts at shaking a cold while trying to manage a Seder.

I’ve learned personal detail about many folks I mainly "know" through blogs — where they live, the kind of projects they work on, that they have a work / family issues to manage just like me.

One person’s mother passed away … a sad event for sure.  But sharing that fact changes and enhances the character of the whole experience.

That’s just the personal stuff.

There’s more to it than that.  It’s also another medium for sharing ideas, or more often I think, seeking help.  Throw a question up on Twitter and you’re never left hanging and the responses typically arrive within minutes.

If you haven’t tried it, you should really give it a go. 

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Guest Blogging?

It seems fairly common in the political blogging world for a given blog to host a "guest blogger".  When I’m in political blog land I must be wearing a different pair of eye glasses because it never occurred to me that "guest blogging" might make sense for a technical blog like mine.  That is, until I read this post by Kanwal Khipple over at The Best of SharePoint Buzz- January 2008

Thinking on it, I believe there could be a lot of people out there in SharePoint land that have the itch to put together an article, short or long, technical or more business oriented, etc, but don’t run their own blog for all the usual reasons.  If you’re one of those people, I’d be happy to host it.  You can reach me via email or leave a comment.  I haven’t thought through any kind of guidelines, but I suppose that I’d want it to be oriented around SharePoint, but I also like to throw in some personal observations about consulting now and then.  I’m also trying to publish a "Sunday Funny" every week and I’m bound to run out of ideas for that.

If you’re a regular blogger already but would like to experiment with guest blogging, I’m definitely open to that too, either as a host or a guest 🙂


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Thinking About Changing Blogging Platform

I started off my "blogging career" using Microsoft’s platform and it’s been good to me.  It’s easy to post, there are good options and widgets for managing your "space", decent web storage and so forth.

However, I really just fell into the MS solution with almost no planning.  That alone calls for me to evaluate where I am and where I’m going, in terms of a blogging platform.  There are also two important limitations that bother me right now vis-à-vis Windows Live Spaces. 

First, I can’t get very good statistics.  There are stats but the detail is often truncated and not presented in a way that allows for any kind of analysis.  There no sorting or export capability.  I get many blog ideas based on the kind of information people find (or especially fail to find) when they search my blog.  It’s very hard to use lives spaces for that.

Second, there does not seem to be any mechanism to "monetize" a windows live space blog.  In fact, in order to get rid of MS ads (from which I derive no benefit), I need to actually pay Microsoft.  (At least, that’s how I understand it; I have been unable to get definitive answers to this and questions like it).

Now that I’ve got an established pattern and set of blogging habits, I want to evaluate other options.  I’ve done some research and there are a lot of choices, but I’m curious as to what other people, particularly others in the SharePoint community (as bloggers or readers), like to use. 

If this subject interests you and you have an opinion or are willing to share your experience, please leave a comment or email me directly.



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