Last Wednesday and Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend the Internet Summit 12 conference right here in Raleigh. The conference featured speakers from across the country who are experts in various web-related disciplines, from analytics to content to user experience to social media.
I hope to share more insights from the conference soon, but, for now . . . Here are the rough notes I took during each session I attended. I saw several of my friends and colleagues struggling to keep up with their note-taking, especially during some of the more fast-paced presentations, so I thought I’d share. Enjoy!
I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop for about a decade now. I first remember using it in college for my film courses, and I’ve been using it personally and professionally ever since. However, I’ve never had any formal Photoshop training.
Well, it’s about time!
Currently, I’m halfway through the N.C. Office of State Personnel (OSP) Professional Skills Program’s Photoshop 2 course, and I’ll have earned my certificate from the program by the end of the week. So far, after the first day of class, I’ve actually learned a lot! Over the years I’ve developed my own workarounds and “hacks” to achieve certain effects, but the class has taught me easier and more efficient ways to get the same results. I’ve already been able to put my new skills into practice in my projects at work.
This is the second course I’ve taken through OSP. Earlier in the year, I arranged for a group of my coworkers and me to take their Web Writing and Search Engine Optimization course as a precursor to our web redesign content migration efforts. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to take more courses in the future!
I put together a photo album for my mom’s birthday, featuring the photos from their recent trip to Europe, using Mixbook.com. Click on the album cover below to check it out!
As I mentioned in “The Secret Talent of a Good Project Manager,” I’ve spent a lot of time this past year planning an international vacation.
Well, the vacation finally came and went … And it was a spectacular success!
My husband and I spent two weeks in France and Italy, and my parents joined us in France for a few days before continuing on to England. We sipped champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, toured the town where I studied abroad in college, dipped our toes in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, saw the most famous works of art in the world, sat 11 rows away from Pope Benedict XVI, visited the grave of one of Jesus’ disciples, walked in Augustus’ footsteps, and hiked to the top of Mount Vesuvius. It was amazing.
I’ve included links below to photo galleries for each leg of our trip. Enjoy!
|9/1 – 9/2||Paris, France||Album|
|9/4||Versailles & Paris, France||Album|
|9/5||Paris & Tours, France||Album|
|9/6 – 9/7||Biarritz, France||Album|
|9/9||Nimes & Nice, France||Album|
|9/11||Florence & Rome, Italy||Album|
|9/12||Vatican City and Rome, Italy||Album|
|9/15 – 9/16||Rome, Italy||Album|
“How many tablecloths does it take to cover a football field?”
That was the single most interesting (if incredibly bizarre) job interview question I’ve ever been asked. Coming in a close second, though, is the question: “Do you prefer writing or editing?”
Most people might not find this inquiry that fascinating, except for those of us with a deeply rooted love of the written word and all things grammar-related. I really had to take my time and think through the correct response to this question – not “correct” meaning the answer for which the interviewer was hoping, but “correct” meaning true to myself and my passion for written communication.
First of all, there is writing. There can be no editing without writing. Writing requires creativity to come up with an idea, an argument, and a structure. Writing requires research to make the story work and a vocabulary to make it come alive. Writing is creating.
Then, there is editing. All good writing is rewriting. It takes a keen editing eye to tweak and perfect ideas and words into their strongest possible versions. Editing means examining existing thoughts, detecting flaws, imagining all the possibilities, and rearranging writing until it really truly pops.
It was a tough decision – but, ultimately, I chose editing. I love writing, but I love the rewrite more. It can be incredibly challenging but also extremely fulfilling. I love taking my own thoughts and finding ways to improve them – making them clearer and stronger. I love helping others improve their words, as well. From proofreading for grammar and style to restructuring entire arguments, I enjoy working with other writers to strengthen their communications. In the end, editing is a more satisfying experience.
Which do you prefer?
How do I know if I’m doing SEO right? Sure, I know the rules, but am I really practicing what I preach?
After attending the Monday’s Raleigh SEO Meetup on How to Audit Your Site for SEO, I returned home with the motivation to finally kick the tires of JillianWarren.com’s SEO strategy and see how it’s working. I always update this site with SEO best practices in mind, but (as it’s a personal side project and not my actual work), I’m not always as diligent as I could be, usually in the interest of saving time.
With my SEO vigor renewed, I set out to accomplish Day 1 of Phil Buckley‘s SEO site audit workbook. (It also helps that I spent the rest of the week at home sick, so I had extra free time to devote to the project!)
Day 1: complete! I’m always invigorated by attending industry events like the Raleigh SEO Meetup, but then other priorities compete for my energy and I fail to follow through on all the ideas and tips I accumulate. I hope to stick with this one and put all 7 days of the SEO Audit plan into practice.
What adjectives best describe you?
I have always been fascinated by branding, and a lot of branding – particularly personal branding – relates to character traits and values. Branding exercises constantly challenge us to find the perfect word or set of words to describe ourselves or our businesses.
In my personal branding efforts, I’ve long struggled to find the precise word to describe one of my defining characteristics. Am I determined, resolute, driven, ambitious, or dedicated? There are so many words that describe the same basic idea (the long list below from thesaurus.com is just the tip of the iceberg), but they have varying shades of meaning that can sway the brand in different directions. Which one of these best defines me?
As with many things in life, I find that my determination/dedication/what-have-you is best described through an example. I am currently training for my third half-marathon – which takes a ton of determination in and of itself – but it’s been a long, hard, bumpy road to get there.
As a teenager, I was an average but consistent member of my junior high and high school cross-country teams, before other extracurricular priorities forced me to take a hiatus from the sport. Seven years later, I jumped back into distance running – starting with a one-mile fun run in July and working my way up to my first half-marathon by November. It was an amazing achievement! I started dreaming of fulfilling my teenage goal of running a full marathon.
Then, I broke my foot.
A painful stress fracture from overuse (read: too much running!) sidelined me in January 2008. I spent two months hobbling around on crutches … Then, in May, I got back on the treadmill for the first time. I took it easy and did everything I could to avoid further injury. Running takes a lot of patience and dedication to keep chipping away, week by week, to build up strength and endurance. By November, I ran the City of Oaks Half-Marathon for the second year in a row. Take that, right foot!
Of course, as luck would have it, just two days after crossing the finish line, I came down with a mystery knee/hamstring ailment. I couldn’t run more than one quarter of a mile without severe pain. I went to doctors and physical therapists and even yoga teachers, but no one could figure it out. This left me with no choice but to retire from the sport.
Two years later, I got the running itch again, so I joined a walk-to-run group – thinking that taking this slow approach might help me avoid another injury. At first, we would run for less than one minute at a time, and each week we kicked it up a small notch until I could do 10 minutes at a time without pain. Eventually, I did a full 5K. It was tedious but worth it. Comeback #2 had worked!
I was so excited that I signed up for a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. Five miles seemed ambitious, but I thought I could tackle it by sticking to my run/walk intervals. Unfortunately, my fears were realized when my knee issues flared up by the second mile. Despite the pain, I finished the race – before spending the rest of the holiday stuck in a recliner, unable to easily straighten or bend my knee. However, this cloud did have a silver lining. I finally figured out my problem: I have runner’s knee. And, now that I knew the issue, I could work on solving it!
Now, another 1.5 years has gone by, and here I am … Resolved to be a runner again, and working on my third comeback from injury. I started another run/walk interval training program in March, and I’ve run a couple 5Ks. I’ve now run up to 9 miles at once, and I signed up for my third City of Oaks Half-Marathon in November. If all goes well and my body cooperates, I may finally run a full marathon next year: Chicago 2013.
Running isn’t an easy sport in the first place – physically or mentally … But, I’ve taken on this challenge a few times and am going to keep at it until I truly succeed. I may not yet have settled on the perfect word to describe the tenacity and resolve required to run, but hopefully this example illustrates some of the characteristics I possess. Also, if you think I’m the type of person who gives up easily, the story should prove you wrong! That’s just not part of my personal brand.