All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

The Hobbit – A Review

Last Friday I decided to go to see the new movie The Hobbit. I had seen all 3 of the Lord of the Rings movies, enjoyed each of them, but truthfully had no idea what any of it was about. In my mind, I thought it was only about a guy called a hobbit who had to get a ring to a volcano to melt it; all that other stuff was confusing. And I had never read any of the books; I tried, but just wasn’t interested.

The_Hobbit

Also, this movie had gotten fairly maudlin reviews from many professional reviewers who griped about its length, griped about how it was shot (48 fps, or frames per second, versus the normal 24 fps for 3D), griped about what they said reminded them of Star Wars Phantom Menace… they didn’t like it. They liked Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman and nothing else.

The story of The Hobbit is how Bilbo Baggins, the uncle of LOTR’s hero Frodo, comes to discover and own the ring that ends up having to be destroyed later. It also talks about the adventure he goes on, along with 14 other individuals which includes Gandolf the Grey, who’s also in the LOTR movies, to help liberate the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor that had been taken over by a dragon named Smaug. The second story arc is that the current exiled king of Erebor, Thorin Oakenshield, had thought he killed Azog, a top leader of Orcs, and it turns out that not only is he not dead but he wants revenge; who wouldn’t?

And the ring… it’s almost a subplot, to the extent that if you hadn’t seen any of the LOTR movies and were seeing this movie for the first time without knowing anything else you’d think it was just a plot point that was setting up the next movie, since this will be a 3 movie arc. That’s saved until the last 35 minutes of the movie, which is about 2 hours and 45 minutes long. We know how important it is, and it seems that Gandolf knows something’s different near the end, but the rest of us… if we didn’t have foresight into what was coming we’d miss it.

You know what? I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and knew exactly what was going on at every step along the way. Probably because this movie explains how they got to the LOTR movies and books, some things started to fall in place for me. The faster filming of frames made the movie lighter than traditional 3D, and that was nice. The one problem was that every once in awhile it looked like the background was moving when the action stopped; that was freaky.

The part some critics hated was the comedy part. There were a lot of funny parts in this movie that were interspersed with the serious and action parts. I loved that, especially early on when Bilbo is trying to figure out what’s going on. Frankly, I think all of us would react the same way to suddenly having lots of creatures in the house that aren’t like you and you don’t know why, and they’re eating your food and drinking your wine.

Even the scenes with Gollum were both intense and funny and, well, weirdly sick because I’d never gotten the real sense of just how dangerous he was and could be in the 3 LOTR movies, which might seem strange to some of you who saw those movies. It was well done here; frankly, I think this entire movie was well done.

Overall I had a great time. I didn’t notice how long the movie was while watching it. The critics said no action takes place until the last 40 minutes of the movie; I wonder what they were watching. There are great back stories here and lots of fun. Visually it’s stunning, and I’ll just say that it was fun seeing rock people fighting as opposed to Transformers, which I also enjoyed. This is a lot of fun, with no bad language and yet I’m still not sure that young kids should see this. But the teens will love it, the movie’s going to be successful, and I have no qualms about recommending it.

Go have fun!
 

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What’s Your Traffic Looking Like Lately?

Most of us track our traffic in one way or another. I’m not necessarily always checking mine, but I have a plugin on Firefox that tells me the Alexa rank for every website I visit, including my own.

sydney road sundays
Jes via Compfight

Lately I’m not happy with what I’m seeing. Except for one of my sites, my traffic is dropping across the board. And I don’t mean by a little bit either. In just a few weeks traffic has nosedived, and I’m at kind of a loss to explain it. All my blogs and websites are showing decreases. The one site that’s not showing a decrease is one where I’ve added new content when it hadn’t had anything new in almost 9 months, so it’s being paid attention to again.

The only connection I have to lower traffic, and it makes no sense, is the addition of CommentLuv Premium to the site. I decided to finally go ahead and bite the bullet because in the back of my mind I see the day when the free one won’t be supported anymore, along with the Growmap Antispybot plugin and some others, and as the reduced rate it seemed like the smart way to go.

CommentLuv usually helps promote traffic, especially if you have the dofollow attribute set, but for whatever reason my traffic has dropped on all my blogs, and it coincided with my adding it. Maybe my settings aren’t correct; maybe I’m blocking something that shouldn’t be blocked; I’m not sure.

On the flip side, comments have remained steady. If those had dropped as well I’d be worrying more than I am. And my Feedburner subscriptions haven’t fallen, so that’s a good deal as well.

I will continue monitoring traffic to see if it starts to improve any, but it’s possible that it’s the season that’s making it fall some. As it gets close to this particular holiday season, traffic often drops. When I looked at last year I saw that traffic dropped almost 20% in December when compared to November, and in 2010 it dropped 25% in the same time period.

So maybe the coincidence with CommentLuv is just that. Maybe it’s just historical precedence taking over. The same thing happens with people being admitted to the hospital by the way; more people get admitted during winter than they do in the summer. Just a little bit of trivia to make your day go well. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

12 Things For 12/12/12

This is going to be a strange post, and it’s all China Ya’s fault. On Facebook, she wrote something saying that she’d missed the date 12/12/12, the only one all of us will see in our lifetime (well, anyone that’s able to read now anyway), only to realize later on, after I and a couple other people mentioned something about it, that she had the date wrong. Then she kind of challenged me to write something on the date and have it release at 12:12PM.

12-12-12

What, now I’m a writer? Oh yeah, I am. And I am the guy who wrote about blogging and creativity after all. I decided to take on the challenge. I’m going to write about 12 things, some you probably won’t care about but hey, it’s 12 things; 12 thoughts I have on my mind that I’m going to share. Will they all be popular or nonsensical? I don’t know yet; I’m being creative. Here we go.

1. I’ve lived in this house of mine 12 years now. Officially we’ve owned it since August, but we didn’t move in until October 1st. It’s by far the longest I’ve ever lived in one location; before that it was 5 years.

2. I’m not registered in any political party, though my politics lean left; I don’t think there’s any secret to that second part. Why don’t I belong to a party? Because overall I don’t like being in large groups where people are expected to believe in the same thing in the same exact way. When that kind of thing occurs, very little good seems to come of it long term. And explains why…

3. I don’t trust religion and I don’t believe in any gods. That’s striking to a lot of people because I’ve never drank, cursed, taken any illicit drugs or smoked a cigarette. By the way, how many of those who consider themselves totally pious can say that?

More people have died in this world over religious beliefs than racism; that should be shocking but it’s not. How many people cry for religious freedom and yet when someone disagrees with them they label them a heathen or non-believer, even if they believe. Nope, don’t care.

4. I think there should be mandatory parenting classes for anyone who becomes a parent under the age of 30. These wouldn’t be classes on how to raise a child to adulthood because no one would remember any of that. But I tend to believe more parents should know how to handle the first year and why that year is so important to the lifetime development of a child. I believe it would help every potential parent not only come to grips with what’s coming but also realize they’re not in it alone. Hillary Clinton was right; it does, and should, take a village to raise a child.

5. While I’m at it, I believe in a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have a baby and I don’t believe fathers should have any say in it. However, I believe all father’s should be forced to pay child support for those children, and I believe the dollar amounts should be a standard percentage so those fathers aren’t being hurt to the extent that they can’t have a life if they decide not to be in that child’s life. It took two to have that child, so it should take two to raise that child, and if that means the mother needs to work, then so be it.

6. Though I believe that people often deserve consequences for their actions, I also believe that maybe sometimes we take it to the extreme. Shooting someone in the face because they looked at you wrong is way over the top. Yelling at someone because your child is disturbing the peace of everyone else is way over the top. There’s definitely a lack of responsibility that’s growing in this world, and a lack of common decency as well.

I’m not immune to some bad behavior here and there but I never yell at people and I haven’t hit anyone since I was 18, though I’ve wanted to. I haven’t totally learned to turn the other cheek but I am learning how to be bated into exchanges with trolls, no matter where they are. I’m growing up! 🙂

7. You need to know about your health. Some of you might remember my post on the relationship between health and your dreams. In the past few weeks I’ve had some friends who have just discovered they have maladies they didn’t know about because they hadn’t gone to the doctors in awhile, and one who learned of his malady even though he had been going. He told me that he just figured it would go away, but without taking the precautions against its possibility it became an eventuality.

You know when you’re feeling “off”. Folks, doctors aren’t perfect but they have more training than you, and they know as well that stuff doesn’t just “go away”, even if you don’t feel as bad days later. Don’t become a bad statistic; check yourself out if you’re not feeling up to par.

8. What do you want to do with your life? Who do you admire, and why? Who can help you get to where you’d like to be? Are you ready for success? And what about Naomi? Other than that last question, these are things we all need to ask ourselves on a continual basis if we feel down, depressed, stuck in a nothing position in life whether it’s professional or personal or just want something more and better. There are great lessons out there, people who have already been through it.

Heck, you’ve probably already been through some things that have helped shape who you are that you’ve forgotten. Not that there’s anything wrong with you but if you feel there is, you need to know that it takes little to be better, it takes a lot to be much better, but that every day you have another chance to start anew; you just have to do it. By the way, who can tell me where the line “and what about Naomi” came from? lol

9. This is a quickie because some of you might not realize it yet. There’s a new WordPress update, 3.5, but I’m going to tell you to wait at least a week before you update it. I did it on two blogs before realizing it conflicted with some of my plugins, which is irksome. This only happened yesterday so I don’t have any answers yet. However, it’s always recommended to wait at least a few days or until you read what someone else has to say about an update before you do it. I should have known better; sigh…

10. You may not have heard this but as of the beginning of the year, your cable service, no matter where you are in the U.S., can start scrambling your television signal if you don’t have a cable box. They actually have to give you 30 days notice, so if you’ve received a letter already you know about it. They say they’re doing this because they’re trying to stop cable theft, and Congress passed it; those weasels.

No cable company has yet come out and said whether they’re going to do it but Cablevision got permission to do it in NYC in 2010 as a test. They said they didn’t get any complaints; they’re lying of course because I know at least 5 people who complained and got nothing. How much more will it cost you? No idea, but I have 8 TV’s in my house and only 2 with boxes; I’m scared.

11. Did you know that the song 12 Days of Christmas was actually a Roman Catholic catechism that was created during a period of time when Catholicism wasn’t allowed in England? Each verse had a specific meaning and used code words to represent different biblical references which no one else knew; that’s the power of music. Isn’t that freaky?

12. I don’t specifically hate anyone. I don’t know a person I hate, though I know some I don’t trust. There are groups of people I hate, and some relatively famous people I hate because of their hate. I hate concepts like racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. I hate some groups because they have the capacity for being over the top.

I don’t love a lot of people, but I like a lot of people. I like to laugh. I actually like to smile a lot. I love my music, which of course is disco and classical mainly. I love science fiction, action and cartoon films & TV shows. I like people who comment on my blog and show me the kind of dignity I try to show them on their blogs, even when I disagree with them. Overall, I like people and I tend to believe that even with a few bad eggs here and there humanity has a lot going for it. I believe we’re going to be alright long term. I hope you believe that as well.

That’s all I have and yes, it’s a long post. And I wrote it all in one sitting, no notes, until it was done.
 

Business Takes More Than Blogging

Almost 2 1/2 years ago I had a series of posts on Sundays called the Sunday Question. In April 2010 one of the posts I wrote was titled Why Do You Blog. On that post, I described my reasons for blogging, and as I looked back on it I realized that my reasoning hasn’t really changed all that much since then; obviously, since I’ve added two more blogs. 🙂

Buy and Sell.
Syed Nabil Aljunid via Compfight

Yet, since last Sunday I’ve been thinking about something that one of my co-hosts on our Sunday’s Hot Blog Tips Hangout crew, Sheryl Loch, said during one of our topic discussions. She said that blogging, blogging rank, comments and the like don’t mean anything if your intention is to make money and you’re not making any. During the conversation I wanted to debate with her, but later on as I was thinking about it I knew that she was right in that regard.

I’ve never really ever said that my purpose in blogging was to make money. I have said that I hoped to spread my influence because that would give me a better opportunity to make money but that’s not quite the same thing. I have 5 blogs and I have one that makes money, and that’s really the only blog I have where I had hopes that the blog would make money. That it makes money in a way I never anticipated is a nice bonus, and yet I know it could be much better.

In November 2011 I wrote a post telling people the reality about making money by blogging. Almost no one really does it. Those that do look at it in two different ways. One, they see it as only a business and nothing else. Two, they don’t care how much traffic they get or whether they get comments; they care only about targeted traffic that wants what they have to sell.

I know this because over and over you see these posts by people you know are making money and then you look at their rankings and they’re often worse than yours or mine. In the other direction are people with great rankings and traffic that are making very little money, or at least aren’t making enough money to live on. A good example of that, and I appreciate her honesty, is Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Cafe; take a look at this link and see how much she made in October, then compare her traffic to yours.

So then, how are people making money if blogging won’t get it done? They’re finding ways of doing other things outside of blogging to help them along. I’ve always said that if you’re hoping to make money blogging that you have to look at it in a much different way. If you have a monetary consideration, blogs are there to highlight what you do, show your potential customers you know what you’re talking about, and responding to their queries and comments because that’s what customer service is all about. You can even advertise your wares.

After that, depending on what you do, you have to get out there and find your customers. You can use your blog to drive your customers if you’re going to promote yourself online. You can do traditional marketing but use your blog and blog posts to help you along the way. If you’re a writer you can use your blog to show off your skills. Of course blogging is great for SEO and that might help drive people to your website.

In other words, if you’re looking to make money and it includes blogging, think outside the box and figure out a symbiotic relationship between the two. Don’t be held back by convention, and don’t be scared to take chances. By the way, I’m going to be working on that myself with my main business blog. I figure after more than 7 years it’s probably time to push things a bit. What am I going to do? Not sure yet.

This blog’s focus probably won’t change much. After all, I still have too much I want to share. 😉
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

7 Ways To Increase Your Visibility On Facebook

About six weeks ago I wrote a post here talking about Facebook and its Edgerank algorithm that prevents a majority of your connections from seeing what you put out, whether it’s your regular profile or your business profile. I then told you how you can set things up so you can see what you want to see on Facebook with a couple of neat little steps.

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and MyblogLog
Luc Legay via Compfight

Today I’m going to give you 7 things you can try to increase your Facebook visibility. I’ll warn you up front that some of these are time intensive, and yet I’ve found that they work in small degrees. Are you ready? Let’s begin:

1. Select 5 to 10 people you’re connected to and visit their page. I don’t mean the people you talk to all the time but some of the other people whose news you almost never see, if you see it at all. Check out the page to see if they have any activity whatsoever. If not, think about unfriending them; they obviously won’t care. If they do then find something you can like or comment on, and if you don’t see anything like that then send them a short message asking them how things are going or whatever. If they respond, you’re on your way.

2. Share a lot of the images you see in your stream from your friends. I know, you think it’s redundant, but when you realize just how little of your stuff is being seen you then realize how little stuff from others is being seen. There’s nearly a billion people on Facebook; do you really think most people will mind if they happen to see something twice? Not only that but it seems Facebook has taken care of that by grouping things that have shown up in one’s stream more than once in a day, so no worries.

3. Either “like” or comment on more of the things you see in your stream. I’ll admit that I was hesitant to do this type of thing for a couple of years. Then I realized that it’s a way of making sure you keep seeing things from people you want to see it from, especially once I learned about Edgerank. That’s how Facebook decides what you see, by determining what you liked to see previously. And if people see you more often, there’s a likelihood that they’ll like your stuff and share it as well.

4. “Like” many pages of things you like that pertain to your business or interests. I have joined a few leadership pages because that’s what I talk about mainly on my Facebook business page. I also love motivational stuff so I’ve joined a few of those pages so I can see and share what they have here and there. And of course a few things you really like which, in my case, means Star Trek and Snoopy! 🙂

5. Visit select pages that you’ve liked, go through them, and if there’s anything you see that is share worthy share it. This is the biggest thing I do, and I do it daily. I do it for three reasons. One, because it helps me find a couple more things I can share on my business page other than my own blog posts. Two, it helps give me some things to share that others might not see because they’re haven’t liked what I like. And three, it promotes other people’s stuff, which they like and thus feel a sense of obligation to share some of your stuff. It’s all about cooperation in the long run.

6. Invite people to your page. As simple as this one seems, you’d be surprised by how many people never think about doing this. Your group page offers you a chance to invite people you’re connected to without your necessarily having to publicize it in the open, although doing that every once in awhile can’t hurt either. My strategy was to selectively invite people in groups rather than everyone at once, so I did it by inviting 50 people at a time. You only get to invite them once, just so you know.

7. Ask people to share your stuff. We hate doing this, and I’ll admit that it’s rare I’ll do it. There’s nothing wrong with asking people if they’ll share something you think is pretty special but don’t abuse it. If you always ask then there’s nothing special about it and people will get tired of seeing it. I dropped a page I liked that had lots of great stuff in it because there was always this message asking you to share, and it was there when I did share, thus making it hard for me to write something over it.

I know you’re asking “how much did your traffic increase.” It’s hard to say. However, I’ve noticed that I’m seeing people on Facebook whose missives I’ve never seen before, and the number of people who have liked my Facebook page has increased. None of that depresses me at all. By the way, if you’d like to check out my Facebook page take a look at that little widget to the right and give it a little click. 😉

Meanwhile, I did a video with my Hot Blog Tips crew on the topic of alliances, which kind of pertains to this topic, and we even argue a bit over SEO:


http://youtu.be/XyJVEjPqU1c

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell