We’ve moved…

Posted October 8, 2009 by Lee Aase
Categories: Chancellor RAQs

I just realized that some people were coming to this site, hosted on WordPress.com, instead of the new SMUG U site. Please go to SMUG to see the latest in using social media to learn social media.

Go to SMUG and become a SMUGgle!

When it’s this cold…

Posted January 13, 2009 by Lee Aase
Categories: Personal

Tags: , , , ,

I tell folks that Minnesota winters “aren’t too bad,” which anyone who speaks Minnesotan knows us better than “not too good.”

I tell them that there are usually only about three weeks a year when it’s REALLY cold, meaning it stays below zero Fahrenheit around the clock.

This is one if those weeks.

Below is a picture of our Old Main thermostat. The number on the right is our customary setting, a comfortable 69. The number on the left was the actual temperature this morning.

When it’s this cold, the furnace can’t keep up, even if it runs non-stop.

Makes you glad SMUG is a virtual university, doesn’t it?

The other purpose if this post is to do my first post-migration one via iPhone. I expect that no adjustment of my settings on the iPhone WordPress app will be needed…and if you can see this, that’s the case.

I will update this a little later with some video that shows the value if our SMUG North Annex.

Beginning Blog Migration to Self-Hosted WordPress!

Posted January 6, 2009 by Lee Aase
Categories: Blogging

Tags: , , , ,

As I tweeted just a few minutes ago, my static IP address from GoDaddy became active tonight (a little over 24 hours into the 1-72 hour window I had been promised.) So I think this is the last post I will be writing on WordPress.com before we move to our new servers. Hopefully within 24-48 hours you’ll be seeing a new look for SMUG.

I’ll be tweeting the progress on the @SMUG_U account and also some on @LeeAase. So if you follow those, or set search.twitter.com to follow the #smug or #blogmigration hashtags, you’ll be able to participate vicariously. I expect that I may have questions along the way and will be tweeting them, so if you have tips or answers to offer, I’d appreciate you chiming in.

Twitter 104: Four Steps to Building Your Twitter Network

Posted January 6, 2009 by Lee Aase
Categories: Twitter

Tags: , , , ,

This is the equivalent of a “lab exercise” to accompany Twitter 103. See that course for the the theory. Twitter 104 gives you the step-by-step roadmap to building your own personalized network in Twitter.

Please note that you probably want to follow no more than 10 new people at a time on Twitter; because of the spammer phenomenon, following tons of new people at once raises alerts that can cause temporary account suspension (at least I’ve heard that’s the case.) I’ve put a tweet out about this and will try to confirm when I get an answer, and will update the post accordingly. So you may need to complete this course over several days (especially Step Three) to avoid this problem.

Let’s get started!

Step One: Invite Friends & Family to Twitter

In a variation on the the old saying, “The family that prays together stays together,” I says “The family that regularly Tweets doesn’t miss a beat.” Click this link and then enter the email addresses of your spouse, offspring, siblings, parents and closest friends. Follow them and ask them to do likewise. Unlike the cell phone providers with their “circles” and “fave fives” you don’t have a limit on the number with whom you can connect through Twitter.

Then, hypothetically speaking, when your daughter drives 250 miles to meet the family of the young man with whom she has become involved, she can just send a quick tweet to let everyone know she made it safely. Not that we’ve had an issues with kids causing us to stay up worrying or anything. ;-)

Step Two: Invite 10 Work Colleagues

In like manner, pick 10 people with whom you work regularly and invite them to join so you can follow each other. Then, as you run across interesting articles on the Web, for instance, you can tweet about them instead of sending the group email that typically snowballs into the “reply all” blizzard that overtakes your inbox. (Not the greatest use of metaphors, but it’s early a.m. as I write this.) If you want to have more company-confidential conversation, Yammer is a Twitter-like service for which I have developed a separate curriculum.

If either your family or work colleagues want more information on Twitter and why it’s worthwhile, send them to Twitter 101 for an overview.

Step Three: Follow Your Fellow SMUGgles

Students (and faculty for that matter) at Social Media University, Global are known as SMUGgles. (Here’s an explanation of the term.) You can go here to see a list of your fellow SMUGgles on Twitter. (or at least the ones who have chosen to follow the @SMUG_U feed.) As of this morning, you’ll see something like this:


Just click the “Follow” button next to each name (as illustrated in Twitter 103), and you’ll start to develop a network of like-minded people interested in learning more about social media, and who are tweeting about our discoveries. As of this writing, we have 238 members in our SMUG Facebook group, so I’m hoping our Twitter network will grow rapidly. And because of the velocity of interchanges with Twitter, I’m confident this group of SMUGgles following each other will provide a great platform for connecting and learning together.

Step Four: Join Interesting Conversations

Make sure your notifications are set so that you see all @ replies from those you’re following in your Twitter stream. Your settings should look like this:


This ensures that you “see all of the @replies made by people you follow, whether or not you follow the person to whom the reply is directed.” This is a great way to see one side of conversations that you might find interesting, and that you may wish to join. Just as importantly, you’ll see the people with whom your friends are engaged (see the @JasonFalls example from Twitter 103) and you may likewise want to follow them.

In reply to my tweet about the number of follows per day that sets off spam alarms, @mflinsch suggested mrtweet.net as a good resource for building your network. So I’ve followed @mrtweet, and will update this post if it becomes Step Five.

Twitter 103: Following and Being Followed

Posted January 5, 2009 by Lee Aase
Categories: Twitter

Tags: , ,

This post is part of the SMUG Twitter curriculum, and its prerequisite is Twitter 102: Creating an Account. To successfully complete this course, you need to have established your own Twitter profile.

One of the keys to Twitter is the people you follow, and who follows you.

Some people decide to just follow a few close friends in Twitter, while others follow more broadly, to develop an information-gathering network.

More on those philosophies in a bit, but for starters here is a video tutorial that illustrates the mechanics of how you can get started in finding people to follow to start building your Twitter network:

Now about the philosophies of following and being followed:

You could decide that you only want to follow family and close friends in Twitter. That’s a perfectly valid option. In that way you would be able to stay more involved on a daily basis with those who already are closest to you.

On the other end of the spectrum we have those like @Scobleizer (Robert Scoble) who follow and are followed by thousands (20,852 and 47,828 at present).

I would recommend you find a balance somewhere in the middle. By all means invite your family, friends and work colleagues to join you on Twitter, but you have much to gain by broadening your network. You’ll meet interesting people and learn of news that’s relevant to you, and will be able to participate in interesting discussions.

And when you have a question, you can just “Tweet” it and you’ll likely get lotsof good feedback, as I did when I was looking for Web hosting recommendations.


To avoid making this a two-credit class, we’re going to limit the homework and carry it over into Twitter 104. So for now your assignments are limited.

  1. If you haven’t already, follow my personal Twitter account (@LeeAase) and the SMUG University Twitter feed (@SMUG_U). I will follow you back.
  2. Pick eight more people to follow from this great post from Sam Bradley, bringing the total new people you follow today to 10. Note that if you follow too many new people in one day, it may raise suspicions with Twitter that you’re a spammer. But 10 is a nice safe number for starters.

Coming tomorrow is Twitter 104: Building Your Twitter Network, which will be a “lab session” much like I experienced in my college days getting a minor in Chemistry. It will take you through a process of building the personal Twitter network that’s right for you.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

My Last WordPress.com Post (I Hope)

Posted January 3, 2009 by Lee Aase
Categories: Blogging

Tags: , , , , , , ,

As I mentioned in Blogging 310, I’m making the switch from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress platform. I appreciate all the suggestions and guidance I’ve received via Twitter and through the post comments. I particularly want to call out Bill Ferriss (@billfer), who also works in the health care Web world. He also runs a blog about the Detroit Tigers, which means I guess that he should be my sworn enemy, since I’m a Minnesota Twins fan. Just goes to show the powerful unifying force of Twitter. ;-)

It seems there are a lot of good hosting options available, ranging from shared hosting, in which your space is among several others on the same server, to dedicated hosting, in which you are on your own real or virtual server. The former is generally a few dollars a month, while the latter typically starts at $50 a month and goes up from there. As I mentioned, I’m really cheap, and Bill says shared hosting is probably a good place to start (although he’s outgrown it.)

I had gone to check out options at these various sites, including GoDaddy.com, where I have registered the domain name for SMUG. I also got a good illustration of some smart techniques for upselling customers, when I received this email yesterday:


The folds at GoDaddy know I’m in the market for hosting services because I visited those portions of the site, and they’re giving me an incentive to choose them. Smart business.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Tonight, after I get back from my son’s basketball game against the nearby rival Albert Lea Tigers, I’m going to start the switch. I’ll be tweeting about the process on the @SMUG_U account (please follow if you haven’t already) using the hashtags #smug and #blogmigration, and giving a real-time account of the process. As you follow and get my Tweets (although I know most SMUGgles have better things to do on their Saturday nights) , please feel free to share any pointers.

I’ll also be capturing screenshots and videos for more 300-level Blogging courses. Through Twitter I’ll have time stamps that mark how long each step takes. Hopefully I will be resuming the Twitter curriculum (and the advanced Blogging courses) on Monday on my new GoDaddy server and with a new theme.

Updated 1/5/09: As of this morning, about 35 hours after I activated my GoDaddy hosting account, they still haven’t completed the account set-up. I understand that my purchase at 10 p.m. on Saturday is probably unusual, but GoDaddy advertises itself as a 24/7 provider. I guess setting up is more labor intensive, and I don’t mind them not working Sundays. In fact, I would support that. But when they say it should be done within 24 hours, they should indicate the weekend exception.

Blogging 310: Taking the Self-Hosted WordPress Plunge

Posted January 2, 2009 by Lee Aase
Categories: Blogging

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

When I started this blog 30 months ago, my goal was to get hands-on experience with blogging. I was going to be responsible for our new media/social media initiatives at Mayo Clinic, and it seemed reasonable that I should dive in and become familiar with the tools and what they can do, so I could recommend the best way to apply them in my work.

Here were the criteria I set for myself in choosing a blogging platform:

  1. It had to be easy. I needed to be able to set it up myself, without any help from our IT department. This was for my personal learning and enrichment, so I wasn’t about to ask IT to help. Not that they would have (or should have) even if I had asked. They’re great people, but they have other priorities, like managing the medical and billing records for over a million patients a year, and all of the other administrative data required for an organization with 50,000 employees. The three major platforms I examined — Blogger, TypePad and WordPress — all met that standard.
  2. Free had to be an option. I also was really cheap. I didn’t want to have to spend anything out of pocket to learn about blogging. That kicked Typepad out of consideration, because its minimum was $4.95 a month. Did I mention that I’m really cheap?
  3. A self-hosting upgrade option was desirable. I wanted to explore a platform that would allow me to grow, and that could be used for intranet blogs, too, so that we could get accustomed to a common interface. That meant wordpress.com was edging ahead, because Blogger is a strictly Internet solution. I wanted to have an upgrade path that could include domain mapping, and that would let me eventually move to a hosting service (for more control) without breaking links and losing Google juice.
  4. The Robert Scoble Tiebreaker. It wasn’t really a tie: as indicated by the factors above, I was leaning toward WordPress.com. But I figured if that service was good enough for someone as savvy as Scoble, it could meet my needs. That settled it.

I have been extremely happy with my decision, and my blogging on wordpress.com has been fun, rewarding and cheap. For the most part, anything you see on this blog is something you could do without IT support and at no cost. I believe that to this point my total investment, including domain mapping and additional storage upgrades and a domain name from GoDaddy.com, has been about $30. And I have helped several people start blogs for which they have yet to spend a cent.

The WordPress.com service has been great, and they continually add more value, such as the 3 GB of free storage. I have absolutely no complaints.

But now, it’s time to take the next step and move to a self hosted solution. My main reasons:

  1. I want to explore custom plug-ins and widgets. WordPress.com strips out javascript because they don’t want one bit of malicious code on one blog to potentially affect millions of blogs. But that means I can’t embed many videos on my wp.com blogs, except for those that are on YouTube. Thankfully, YouTube is the biggest source of Web video, and wp.com does support it. But I know there are other high-quality YouTube players that will look better, and other potential sources of Web video. And that’s just a start. The plug-ins and widgets are my main reason for the move.
  2. I want better statistics. If you’re on WordPress.com, you can’t install Google Analytics, because WordPress.com has it already installed. You get some helpful free statistics from your dashboard with wp.com’s Blog Stats, but nothing as extensive as Google Analytics.
  3. I figure Google ad revenue will at least match my server costs. With wordpress.com you can’t run Google or other ads (and as Scoble says, what do you expect when you are getting a ton of value for free?) WordPress.com runs some Google ads to fund its free services. I would expect that if I run Google ads I can do likewise.
  4. I want to make my blogging easier. I’ve been illustrating workarounds that enable people to overcome WordPress.com’s limits by thinking creatively. For example, I found this information on how to put social bookmarking buttons on wordpress.com blog posts, but it takes a couple of minutes for each post. At some point the workarounds become too much work. I think that after 669 posts I’ve shown that I’m going to stick with this blogging thing. It would be a lot easier to just install the ShareThis widget and save time with each future post.
  5. It’s the Burden of a Chancellor to explore new frontiers. If I’m going to do 300-level courses in the Blogging curriculum, I need to be able to demonstrate some of the advanced functionality of the full-powered WordPress software. And I chose wordpress.com (and implemented domain mapping about a year ago) because it should make this migration fairly easy (at least as compared to Steve Rubel’s experience trying to move from Typepad to WordPress.) So now it’s time to prove it.
  6. It’s preparing for some other possible migrations. I started this blog to get hands-on experience with blogging, and have applied what I’ve learned in my work. We have several Mayo Clinic blogs now hosted on WordPress.com that we may want to enhance similarly by moving to a self-hosted solution. If there are any hiccups in the migration process, I want them to happen on my personal blog, not a work-related one.

I did a Google search for some related “how to” posts on making the move, and found a few resources that may be somewhat helpful. Here’s
an overview of the process. This one has a PDF that seems like its step-by-step instructions may be really helpful, with this related post.

My case may be a little more complicated, though. I already have leeaase.wordpress.com mapped to social-media-university-global.org. So I’m not sure how I can have a blog hosted at that same domain name on another hosting service without having some periods of broken links. Maybe it won’t be a big deal (this post makes it seem relatively simple), but for now at least it’s an unknown to me. Which means it’s a learning opportunity.

Another helpful post I found was this one which tells how to install WordPress on a Macintosh using MAMP. This will let me export my blog from wordpress.com and import it on my laptop. Once I get that part figured out, it should make it much faster when I do the switch for real with a Web hosting service.

This also seems a good time to move because the holidays (and weekends) are slow periods for blog traffic. So if I have any glitches or 404 – Not Found errors while I’m making the switch, they would be minimized if I can get the migration completed by Monday.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for recommendations on a Web hosting service. I purchased my domain name (social-media-university-global.org) from GoDaddy. Would it make the most sense to use GoDaddy for my hosting? I’ve also had recommendations for bluehost.com, enginehosting.com, liquidweb.com, mediatemple.net and ANhosting. All other things being equal, I’ll probably go for the low-cost option (remember what I said about being really cheap?)

But if you have feedback to share about this migration process in general (or hosting services in particular), I would love to hear from you. If you have either raves or rants to share, I would appreciate the guidance.

After I’ve first migrated successfully to my laptop, I will pick one of those services and make the move. And I’ll document the process along the way to make it easier for other SMUGgles when you’re ready to give it a shot.


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