Photojournalism layoffs

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I’m pretty dang excited to say I’ve launched the first Finer Things in Tech podcast with my friend John Morrison, though it might not be about what you think. In fact, some episodes may not be directly about tech at all, which is why I decided to try “Finer Things in…” for the name.

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We want to do things a little differently with this show. For starters, plenty of podcasts have cornered the market on shows that last upwards of 60-90 minutes or more, so Finer Things In episodes will be around 20 minutes or less and focus on one or two of the most important topics of their time. In other words, just the finer things.

Some episodes will delve into a significant turning point in tech from the last week, others might be about a lasting thorn in the industry’s side. In line with the ethos of this site, I don’t think of this first Finer Things series as a news show. It’s a succinct conversation about the principal, underlying events and culture of tech, related industries, and, occasionally, whatever we feel like.

For example, in this inaugural episode, we discussed why the Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire photography staff and what it means for both readers and the changing world of “professional” photojournalism. Our next show will likely be Monday/Tuesday June 10, and we’ll almost certainly discuss not just what Apple does and doesn’t announce at WWDC 2013, but why it matters. The show after that? We’ll see.

Guests will soon be on the menu. While I’ve been screencasting and sometimes moonlighted as a podcaster over the years, please bear with us as I get on my feet with running a show like this. I’m also toying with sponsorship and a couple other ideas to support the show and Finer Things in Tech itself, but more on that later.

If you have feedback on the show, the format, what you’d like to hear, or anything else, please let us know here or around the web:

As always, thanks for reading and, now, listening.

Finer News: Updates to RSS feeds, main sections

Google’s been shutting down services in an effort to focus, and one clearly not long for this world is FeedBurner, the service I (and many, many publishers) have used to power my RSS feeds. I’m going to get ahead of the game and bring the main Finer Things in Tech feeds back home where they belong.

New RSS Feeds

If you still follow any main Finer Things feeds in Google Reader, they should update automatically; I don’t think you have to lift a finger. However, I’m not sure how other readers handle feed redirects, so to make sure everyone can play along or if you simply want to resubscribe just to be sure, here are the main feeds for:

Later today (Thursday, May 2, 2013) I’m going to make the switch for each of these feeds. Of course, you can subscribe to tag feeds for specific topics you’re interested in, and follow Finer Things on other services like Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. Check out links and instructions on the follow page.

I’m sorry I’ve had to mess with these feeds so much, but this should be the last time for the foreseeable future. I’m using WordPress’ native feed system now, and URI.LV to transparently count subscribers.

A Layout Tweak

I also recently updated each major Finer Things in Tech section with new header so recent posts make a better splash.

Finer Things section slider

I want to make it easier for you to read just the sections you care about—Mac, iOS, PC, Web, and anything I add in the future—so look for more improvements like this in the future.

Your thoughts on making the main Finer Things in Tech social accounts more useful

As you may know, I make Finer Things in Tech available in a number of places, so you can follow your favorite sections on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and RSS. I also have accounts for Finer Things in Tech itself on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, and I’m looking for ways to make them more useful.
Right now I post things like feature updates and general site news, but they don’t happen all that often. One idea I had is to hook up a syndication service to publish every single post from across all sections, but would that be too much?

Another idea is to publish just the featured posts across all sections—Mac, iOS, PC, Web, and potential future sections like Windows Phone and Android—to each of these main Finer Things in Tech accounts. I don’t feature posts all that often, so it would be a low but steady way to highlight the crème de la crème of the site in one place.

Whatdoyathink, idea #1 or #2? Or something else entirely? If you have ideas for what you would like to see on the main Finer Things in Tech social accounts, comment here or drop me a line privately, I’m all ears.

About Finer Things in Tech v2.5

FT 2013 JanuaryOne day soon I will finish up my draft about the evolution of Finer Things in Tech. It really has gone through a few major platform changes—Tumblr, WordPress, Squarespace, and back to WordPress—that readers regularly ask me about. I plan to share the experience and what I’ve learned, but today is not that day.

As of this weekend we are now at what I consider Finer Things in Tech 2.5. I moved from Squarespace 6 back to WordPress in fall 2012, found the Megazine WordPress theme, and rebuilt the size in a magazine format to help readers discover each section of the site and make it a little easier to find stuff you’re interested in (more of that coming soon). Altogether, since the move I have added:

  • A flexible, responsive WordPress magazine theme
  • Sub-menus to the main navigation for some of the most popular topics (tags) on Finer Things in Tech
  • Content-aware sidebars that have social links for each top-level section. Visit any post under the /Mac or /iOS categories or simply their main sections, for example, and you’ll see links to the separate social accounts for Finer Things in Mac or iOS on Twitter, Tumblr, and more
  • a new Submit a Finer Thing form powered by Gravity Forms that supports media uploads and more fields for personal data so I can thank you for public submissions
  • a new Follow page that lists all the different ways you can indulge in the Finer Things in Tech, like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS as of this writing
  • an author bio section at the bottom of each post for contributors to get more exposure from their posts. This isn’t where I want it to be yet, but at least it’s a start—I want to add more ways to thank and promote kind folks for submitting posts
  • a Creative Commons license in the footer to help other writers quickly find what kind of credit I would like for the content created here
  • RSS feeds powered by FeedBurner (found on the new Follow page), even though I realize Google seems to be slowly killing it
  • Flattr buttons on individual posts to tinker with giving readers an unobtrusive way to support the site. Think of it as sort of a tip jar for the web. You sign up with Flattr, toss a little money into your account, click Flattr buttons (or even a bookmarklet) on any site you find, and that site will get a slice of your contribution

Moving forward, my focus is on four primary things:

  • Better design and presentation – This includes presenting more media in more ways. I’ve dabbled with GIFs, now have a Finer Things in Tech YouTube channel, and I’m testing some gallery ideas; anything to help share the handy features, bits of detail, and wonderful polish of great tech. This also includes the theme—Megazine is better than what I’ve had before but I’m not entirely happy with it. WordPress really is the best place for Finer Things in Tech now and for the foreseeable future, but the WordPress theme and plugin industry is a frustrating and cumbersome mess of bad design, poor decisions, and broken abandonware
  • I’m considering an Android section – There truly is a lot of great and powerful stuff to Android these days, but there’s just one problem: I don’t really use Android myself, so I personally can’t do it the proper Finer Things justice. A Finer Things in Android section would need someone who’s interested in creating posts and proofing submissions. I’m not sure how much I can pay for this, but if you’re interested, let’s talk
  • More exposure and thanks for contributors – I want more ways to promote and otherwise thank contributors for submitting content, whether I add them as an actual author on the site (i.e., give you a login) or whether they use the public submit page
  • New ways to support Finer Things in Tech – like the Apple TV, Finer Things in Tech has been a hobby for three years. While I’m not looking to quit my day jobs, I do want to spend more time on it and find ways to let readers support the work that I and contributors do here. I might start accepting sponsorships again, but I also want to try other ways (not involving an ounce of slime, promise) to get a little creative, hence the Flattr buttons on posts. If you have ideas, I’m all ears

As always, thanks for reading and submitting to the Finer Things in Tech. In the coming weeks and months, I plan to give you plenty more to sink your teeth into.

Finer Things in Tech has a new home. Again.

I didn’t want to go through all this and write another one of these posts, honest. But after a switch to Squarespace 6 earlier this year, I decided it just was not the right service for me or Finer Things in Tech.

So back I am on WordPress, and this is where I’ll keep the site. Almost nothing has changed, though there are surely still some kinks to work out so please let me know if you find something out of place.

The one change out of my hands, of course, are the Finer Things RSS feeds. If you follow in a newsreader, you’ll have to update your feeds and I apologize for that. Fortunately, WordPress provides a feed for every category and even tag, and since I make sure to thoroughly organize and tag all posts, you can get pretty darn granular with the topics you follow.

As always, thanks for reading and putting up with all the construction dust. This is the last time for a long time I’ll be moving the site because I have some much bigger things coming that I’m really excited about. It’s time for me to stop hopping around and to start following through on the potential of Finer Things in Tech, so I’m going to do just that.

Stay tuned.

A word about tips for products that are hush hush

gear notice infoI love the tips you Finer Readers submit—thanks a bunch! Be sure to include a link to your website, Twitter, or whathaveyou so you get full recognition for your keen eye.
I should probably clarify something about unreleased products, though. If you submit a Finer Thing for, say, OS X Mountain Lion (which hasn’t landed publicly yet) or an app you’re beta testing, I can’t publish it until that product is out for the general public to enjoy. Trust me: though your bouncing-off-the-walls excitement comes across loud and clear in your submission, I want to honor the wishes of product creators and wait until they’re ready to share their exciting thing with the world. At the very least, if you just can’t contain yourself and you gotta tell someone, you can still submit the tip as long as you’re ok with me holding it until the product is public.

On the other hand, if you want to submit a tip about Windows 8—a product in “public preview”, which is Microsoftian for “beta”—or anything else that is a public beta, I’m all for it. After all, it’s public.

Don’t get me wrong, I still really want to share your Finer Things and give you credit for the submission. But if you could, please hold tips for unreleased products until the beta badge drops and the grand opening ribbon is cut.