Mighty Leap’s Mighty Cover of 80s Pop Classic Everywhere

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fypfg_LUyRk]

Friends and colleagues who have worked with me over the years know that I am more than a little partial to reggae from the music’s 60s and 70s golden era. So much so, in fact, that I developed the Roots of Reggae intergenerational music project with a little help from my friends and had DJ Keith Lawrence of Mi-Soul.com play at my wedding back in April of this year.

Given my passion for reggae I could not pass up the chance to tell you about a great guilty pleasure of a reggae tune I discovered yesterday via Twitter.

The song in question is called everywhere and is a cover of the 80s pop classic by Fleetwood Mac. It is performed by Mighty Leap, a 10 piece reggae band from Reading, not necessarily a place you associate with high grade reggae. As well as performing in their own right, Mighty Leap sometimes serve as the backing band for quirky dub musician/remixer Roots Manuva collaborator Wrongtom. With that kind of pedigree, I had to give Mighty Leap a chance.

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How to Embed Links to Documents in Images on WordPress

Blog, blogpost, Francis Clarke, image, link, embed, image, backpack, WordPress
Blogpost with download link to document embedded in image.

Yesterday evening I taught the penultimate session of the six week introduction to web design I have been delivering at the mac Birmingham. To keep things simple, I have had to concentrate on teaching students how they can use the WordPress.com platform to create basic customised sites. Nonetheless, in the course of answering students’ questions I’ve learned a few new tricks, one of which I’d like to share with you today.

Using WordPress to Share Documents 

When you think of WordPress, blogging is most likely the first thing that comes to mind. Continuing with this thought, you might think WordPress is pretty good for displaying the odd photo or embedded YouTube video but not up to the job of acting as a central for written reports and other important resources.

While it’s true WordPress does not as standard offer the kind of business-grade document management features seen is packages such as SharePoint or Huddle, with a little bit of work you I have discovered even the most basic of WordPress sites can allow you to make your documents publicly accessible in a way that is simple and visually appealing.

There are two parts to making your important documents publicly accessible on your WordPress site.

Part One: Uploading your Document

WordPress, Upload, Insert Media, Blogging
Uploading your document using the Insert Media button

First, upload the file(s) you wish to make available. Somewhat confusingly, you must do this via the ‘Add Media’ button more commonly associated with adding photos or videos. The button can also be used for a wide range of commonly used formats such as Word, PDF and Excel.

One you uploaded your file, take a look at the information contained in the ‘attachment details’ box, which is visible when you have selected your uploaded file.

Select and copy the address of the file you have uploaded. This can be found in the ‘attachment display settings’ section of the details box.

Next, open up a simple notepad or word processing program and paste the address of the file’s location onto a page for safe keeping.

Part Two : Visually Presenting your Document in WordPress

Now that your document is stored in WordPress, the challenge is to present the document in WordPress in a way that is clear and simple for your visitors to understand.

If you simply choose to add your document to the post you will see the name of your document listed on your post. The writing will be in a different colour to your standard text to signify to users that they can click on the text to download the document. In this scenario, your document is treated in the same way as a web link in a news article.

While this is an okay solution, simply presenting your documents by their title is not very visually appealing. Worse still, visitors could easily be confused and not spot the file download in amongst other content.

To get around this issue, you need to do the following. First, upload an image you wish to use to represent your document. This could be a graphical icon representing a written report or it could even be a screenshot or photographic image from the document itself.

Once you have uploaded the image, the next step is to copy the address of the document which you pasted into your notepad.

Once you have this, select the image file. This will bring up the ‘attachment details’ box you saw earlier.

WordPress, Custom URL, Embed, Embedded, Link, Custom URL, URL
Embed a link to your document underneath the image by pasting the document address in the Custom URL field.

Next, click on the ‘Link to’ menu option and change it ‘Custom URL’. Once you have done this, simply paste in the address of your document, which should look something like:

http://francisclarke.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/backpack-rap.docx.

Now, hit ‘Insert into post’. This will  result in the image being displayed in your post, with a link to the original document contained underneath.

To check whether your actions have been successful, hit the ‘Preview’ button. If everything has gone to plan you should be able to click on the image or icon in order to download a copy of the file you originally uploaded.

Keep in Touch

Personally, I think embedding download links to files and other resources looks better and is clearer than simply listing them by their file name.

What do you think? As ever, it is great to get feedback on these posts and to learn new tips from others.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any tips or suggestions for any web-based tools, services or shortcuts you think more people should know about. I will look to take on-board your suggestions and share them with my class and in future posts.

Improving Cycling in Birmingham Through Information and Collaboration

Cycle, Stand, Cycle Stand, Birmingham, Brindley Place, October, 2013, Francis Clarke
Cycle stands: Coming to Ludgate Hill autumn 2013. Photo: Francis Clarke

Regular readers and people who follow me on Twitter will know that I have been campaigning since February to get cycle stands installed in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.

I’m pleased to be able to tell you that after eight months of Tweets, phone calls I have now been told by Birmingham City Council’s Director of Highways that stands will be installed this autumn in the Ludgate Hill area of the neighbourhood. And while I won’t be able to relax until I actually see and use the new cycle stands, getting this far has made me reflect on my experiences to date and think about how cycling provision in Birmingham and the relationship between citizens, communities and local government can be improved.

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It’s Not Where You’re From, It’s Where You Place Your @ (On Twitter)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq3R-h8qJnE]
Eric B & Rakim: Social Media Pioneers?

Fans of Golden Age Hip Hop will no doubt be familiar with the adage, ‘it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at’. If you’re not, do yourself a favour and check out this classic performance of I Know You Got Soul by Eric B & Rakim to find out what it’s all about.

Less well known,  but no less important when it comes to maintaining your credibility whe using Twitter effectively, is to not only where you’re at, but where you place your @. Please forgive the rather tenuous link to vintage hip hop but I couldn’t think of a better way of introducing what could be a fairly dry topic.

Twitter Rules of Engagement: Following and Being Followed

Unlike Facebook, Twitter works on the basis of Followers rather than Friends. This means with Twitter you can choose to follow (and receive updates from) people without them having to accept you as their friend. That means you can quietly chuckle along to the musings of @richardosman from the TV quiz show Pointless, irrespective of whether he deems you sufficiently interesting to follow back.

So far so simple. But a question I am often asked in the course of my work is who can see the Tweets you send. The answer I give usually starts off with ‘that depends’.

On a basic level, people who follow you on Twitter will see your messages in their Timeline. So if for example you have 20 Followers, your message will potentially be read by 20 people.

Things get a little more complicated, however, when it comes to replying to other people’s Tweets and/or mentioning other people by their Twitter username in a message. Please allow me to explain.

Right To Reply

Twitter is all about having conversations, not simply broadcasting your thoughts to the world (that’s the theory, anyway). As such, replying to people is key to using Twitter effectively.

When you hit Reply to someone the first thing you’ll see in your message box is their Twitter name. For example, if you were to Reply to a Tweet I had sent, you would first see @francisclarke, followed by some space to write your comment and/or share a link to a picture, video or web page.

@francisclarke Interesting blog post about how to use Twitter more effectively. Next time why not write a shorter article, though!

In this scenario, who can see the message you sent?

The answer is the person who you are replying to plus any Followers you have who follow both you and the person you are replying to.

To go back to the @richardosman example, if I were to reply to one of Richard’s Tweets, he would see my message in his timeline. However, my Followers and his Followers would only see my message in their timeline if they just so happened to follow both Richard and I.

When you think about it, this is actually a really helpful feature of Twitter. After all, just because you follow me it doesn’t mean you’re interested in seeing a conversation between myself and a quiz show celeb. It’s just possible you might have better things to do with your time.

The Difference Between a Reply and a Mention

But what about those occasions when you want to bring your Followers into an interesting conversation or make them aware of an opportunity? For example, you might want to publicly thank someone for the work the help they’ve given you introduce that person to your Followers, so that they can discover them, too. In this situation, you need to move your @ in order to create a Mention.

Mentions work differently to Replies. With a Reply, the person’s name is listed at the start of a Tweet whereas with a Reply the person’s name is placed in the middle of your message.

For example, if you want to tell your Followers about this post and encourage them to follow me to discover more helpful tips in future you would write something along the lines of this:

Just read an interesting post from @francisclarke on how to use Twitter more effectively, You should def check out his work!

Were you to send this message (and please don’t feel you have to send this exact message!) then ALL of your Followers would see your message, not simply those who already follow me.

Mentions are a great way of bringing your Followers into a conversation and making them aware of issues you are passionate about. As with anything in life, however, you should think about how and when you choose to use the Mention function, so that your Folllowers are not overwhelmed by content they are not interested in.

Share Your Tips

I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’ve only scraped the surface when it comes to online storage. Please feel free to contact me if you have any tips or suggestions for any web-based tools, services or shortcuts you think more people should know about. I will look to take on-board your suggestions and share them with my class and in future posts.