My Most Popular Posts From 2010

I was recently looking through my blogging statistics and discovered that I can see the most viewed posts during that time period. I didn’t know that I could do that. I should spend a bit more time exploring the other features of WordPress.

Like all statistics, they can be a bit skewed. For example, a very popular post published in late December wouldn’t be well represented compared to a post from January. The earlier one would have much more time to be found and indexed in the search engines.

  1. How I Use My iPad for Business
  2. Book Review – Learning SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services
  3. The effects of DISTINCT in a SQL query
  4. Interactive Sorting Using a Tablix in Reporting Services
  5. Making Presentations With My iPad
  6. So I Got Promoted, Now What? Stop Doing Your OldĀ Job
  7. My Experience with a Virtual Assistant using TimeSvr
  8. The Power of Regex in PowerShell
  9. The effects UNION in a SQL query
  10. Viewing Missing Indexes in Management Studio 2005

I’m not sure whether or not I would consider these my “best posts of 2010″. I’ll have to think about that. Maybe I’ll post a link to those another time.

The Best Four Sentence Blog Post Ever

“Eliminate all unnecessary words from your writing.” That’s the advice given me by Jeremiah Peschka (blog, twitter) at SQLSaturday 51 when I was picking his brain on writing. He recommended that I read “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. I’ve added it on my list.

In a recent blog post, Seth Godin took this technique to an extreme. The result was nothing short of profound. In four short sentences, Godin managed to admonish and edify businesspeople the world over. Wow.

The power of making every word count.

Book Review: Crush It!


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Not long ago, I read a review of Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Crush It! The reviewer, Michael Hyatt (Twitter | Blog), liked the book so much that after listening to the audio version, he bought the printed version so he could read it and make notes. This is significant because Michael Hyatt knows a good book when he reads it. He’s the CEO of Thomas Nelson and this is not one of Thomas Nelson’s books. As a regular reader of Michael Hyatt’s blog I thought “If he likes it, I’ll probably like it.” So I bought the book.

As I began reading the book, my expectations were high. In addition to Hyatt’s glowing recommendation, the subject of the book is right up my alley, so to speak. Although I had initially resisted getting involved with social networking sites such as FaceBook and Twitter, over the past couple of years I’ve come to embrace the concept.

We Need to Talk

One of the first things many people tend to think of when asked about social media is the amount of time you can easily spend just idly chatting away with friends from around the world. And that’s certainly true. You can waste a lot of time doing that if you are not careful. But in moderation, a bit of water cooler type conversation can be healthy, particularly for those of us who regularly work from a home office.

But despite the potential time sink that these social networking sites can become, I believe that they can be of great benefit when used properly.

On many occasions, I’ve used Twitter to help SQL Server professionals from around the world who have reached out to the SQL community 140 characters at a time. I’ve even hooked up a PowerPoint slide deck to my Twitter account to have it automatically tweet key points during presentations I’ve delivered at conferences and user groups.

And it’s a two-way street; I’ve learned a ton from following Twitter conversations from the likes of Paul Randal (@PaulRandal), Buck Woody (@BuckWoody), Brent Ozar (@BrentO), Jonathan Kehayias (@SQLSarg), and Aaron Bertrand(@AaronBertrand) to name but a few.

It’s Social Networking with a Purpose

And that is Gary Vaynerchuk’s point. When used with intention and focus, social networking sites can be used to find and generate interest about most anything your passionate about.

In Crush It!, he proposes that anyone with “hustle” can take something they are passionate about and turn that into a revenue generating business using social networking sites and blogs. He outlines a pretty straightforward approach. In short (and I’m doing a bit of a disservice by distilling the book down to just these five points):

  1. Find something you are passionate about.
  2. Create a blog about it (audio podcasts, videos, or the written word.)
  3. Generate good content daily.
  4. Promote it by participating in the social networks.
  5. And finally monetize your blog through advertizing.

He doesn’t suggest that this is easy. In fact he repeatedly writes that this will be a lot of hard work and long hours.

A Good Primer

Gary Vaynerchuk comes across as a very dynamic individual with a big personality. He shares some of his background and how he created a very popular wine tasting site with lots and lots of visits each day.

The book starts out by outlining how social networking has changed the way business is done, how it levels the playing field for small businesses with limited promotional budgets.

He then lays out the five points that I’ve already mentioned, encouraging the reader with each step.

The book also provides some specifics about which online services will help you to more easily spread your reach. For instance, Ping.fm, will automatically distribute your status updates to a multitude of different social networking sites, eliminating the need to update each one individually. The same exists for video blogs as well.

Parting Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it. It was a short and easy read and really reinforced some of the concepts I had already learned from other sources on the internet. If you’re just getting started with social networks or you have a penchant for starting an online business, this book is well work its cost.

But to provide an honest and complete review, I’ll share a few minor negatives I had with the book.

Unfortunately in my case, my prior experience with social networks combined with my high expectations for the book left me wanting more. The book was very much premised on how Gary Vaynerchuk built his successful wine tasting site and didn’t explore other related topics.

For example the book did not touch on how to balance being personable in your online approach with staying focused and on subject. It also didn’t consider ways to monetizing your social networking without advertising. And finally I didn’t discuss how and when to create multiple online accounts for specific purposes.

At times during the book Gary Vaynerchuk came across like many of the late night paid advertising shows. “Using my system, you too can make $218,000 a month and live the life you deserve.” (That’s not an actual quote from the book by the way.)

Now some questions for you:

  • Have you read the book? If so, what are your impressions?
  • What other social networking resources have your found worthwhile?

The theft of ideas and content

If you regularly read SQL Server or other technology blogs, you know that the blogs can be a wonderful way to stay connected. You can learn about the latest innovations in the technology, you can keep abreast of the recent services packs and vulnerabilities, you can even learn of techniques to improve performance. The benefits of reading blogs goes on and on. I’ve got a long list of SQL Server related blogs that I read almost daily.

Additionally blogs are a good way to keep up with others on more personal level. When you read somone’s blog, you get a sense of who they are and what they are like. You almost feel like you know them. And that can be a good thing.

Stealing another’s work

But there’s been a disappointing yet growing trend in SQL Server content on the web over the past few years – the outright theft of blog content.

Initially, the plagiarism was of a more traditional style. It was typically committed by people who wanted the accolades associated with writing really good content without the effort of actually having to write it. Maybe they didn’t have the knowledge or skills to write? Maybe they did have the knowledge and skills but not the time? Who knows? But for whatever the reason, they intentionally decided to steal someone else’s work and place their name on it.

Plagiarized content of this nature would usually show up on personal blog sites. Some of the more cavalier plagiaizers would actually submit the stolen content to sites like SQLServerCentral.com and receive payment for it, hoping that their ill-conceived acts would go unnoticed. I know Steve Jones regularly has to deal with this situation.

A more subtle theft

Recently, it seems that there another breed of plagiarism that has popped up on the Internet. This form of theft is much less obvious, much less overt.

It seems more and more sites are attempting to drive traffic to their own sites with content that is not their own. They do this under they guise of being content aggregators. They may even believe that they are offering the community a service by collecting the a bunch of disparate sources of information and presenting them in one unified place.

However, they are deceiving themselves and their readers. They are, in my humble opinion, stealing content for the explicit purpose of driving traffic to their site. Perhaps they do this for ad revenue? Perhaps for the sense of accomplishment in creating a site that has millions of hits? Whatever the reason, the ends do not justify the means.

A rose by any other name is still a rose

Many, if not most, of these so-called aggregators, do not give credit to the author, they do not link back to the original source of the information, and they are not up front about their techniques for acquiring the content.

When you take the work of another and use it without the authors consent, you are plagiarizing. It’s that’s simple.

The right way

There are, of course, many aggregators that syndicate content legally with the author’s permission and consent. SQLServerPedia.com is a great example of this. They ask authors to select and submit their works. They link back to the original works. And they give credit to the author. This is the right way of doing things.

So how does this affect me?

If you enjoy reading content that others have created and want to see that content continue to flow in the most convenient way possible, you can help. Notify authors with their content has been plagiarized. Even if you are unsure whether it was used without permission or not, let the author know. They will appreciate hearing from you.

If you are an author and you’ve noticed that your content is being used without your permission, you have rights. Brent Ozar (@BrentO on twitter) has some good information on his site about plagiarism and what to do about it.

I’m actually taking his advice now. Last week I discovered that several of my blog posts are being used without my consent. Take it from me, this is not a pat-on-the-back. It’s not a I-should-feel-flattered-that-someone-liked-my-stuff-enough-to-rip-it-off. No, it’s an annoyance.

What do you think? Are aggregators plagiarizing? Have you had issues with plagiarism? I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Joe

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