One-Minute Book Reviews

October 6, 2008

Late Night With Jan Harayda – FBI and CIA Bloggers Use WordPress and Other Things I Learned at New York WordCamp 2008

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:27 pm
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This is Part I of an interview with Jan Harayda, a journalist and the editor-in-chief of One-Minute Book Reviews, about yesterday’s New York WordCamp. Part II will appear on “Late Night With Jan Harayda” on Tuesday night. It will deal with bread-and-butter topics covered at WordCamp, such as how to market your blog and use video on WordPress.

WordCamp started at 9:30 on a beautiful Sunday morning in New York. Did anybody show up?
O, ye of little faith! About 100 of us spent more than 8 hours in a conference room at Sun Microsystems in midtown. Well before the day ended, some of the bloggers announced that they had found a bar where people could continue their education in the finer points of WordPress after hours. Those of us who had to catch buses back to New Jersey never found out how many were sober when their training was complete. Clearly WordCamp was a success.

A hundred people on a Sunday morning? Was WordCamp, like, free?
It cost $30. But that got you bagels and Danish for breakfast and a sack lunch: a sandwich, salad, fruit, and an oversized chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookie. And we got some nice stretchy orange-and-brown WordPress T-shirts that, so they would fit you even if you ate a lot of the mini cherry pastries at breakfast.

Why do you think so many people showed up for WordCamp?
I’ll quote Matt Mullenweg ma.tt/about/, founding developer of WordPress, who dealt with that question during his keynote address: “I believe WordPress users are smarter and more attractive than the general population.”

Was that Matt’s best joke?
No. Matt’s best joke was his entertaining imitation of how the CNN anchor Anderson Cooper almost got blown away while reporting on a recent hurricane. “They should get, like, a heavier person to cover hurricanes,” Matt said, leaning to one side. [Note: My notes say that Matt actually said: “They should put, like, a heavier person to cover hurricanes,” but my version sounds better, don’t you think?]

So Matt’s jokes were the best part of WordCamp?
The best part of WordCamp was that the program had something for everybody. At least a third of the participants said that they considered themselves Web developers or designers. Most of the rest were rank-and-file bloggers like me. A few said, in effect, that they didn’t have blogs yet but had come realize that this was a tragic mistake that they planned to undo.

What did you learn about WordPress from WordCamp?
WordPress is one of the largest open-source projects on the Web along with Firefox and a few others. It has about 4 million blogs, and version 2.7 will come out in November. The most popular page among bloggers on WordPress is the stats page. The most popular plug-in is Akismet spam protection.

WordPress also offers a lot of colorful, free themes, which combine display and plug-in features and help to determine the look of your site. Unfortunately, some con artists on the Web falsely claim to offer legal alternatives to these. If you download their fake themes, they put evil codes on your site that load it with spam or worse. So if you don’t like the free WordPress themes, you should buy a Premium theme from WordPress or have somebody you trust design one for you.

Another piece of bad news was that in China censors have sometimes removed as many as 80 percent of WordPress posts.

Did anybody mention that rumor that the CIA uses WordPress?
Isn’t that fascinating? It’s true, apparently. Matt said in his speech that the U.S. government agencies that have WordPress blogs include the following: the Air Force, the Army, the CIA, the Coast Guard, the FBI, the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security. And he wasn’t joking the way he was about Anderson Cooper and the hurricane. That so many government agencies use WordPress shows you how secure it is compared with some other blogging platforms. Will the Oval Office be next?

You’ll find more WordCamp New York wordcamp.info/2008/10/05/october-2008-upcoming-wordcamps/ and on the New York WordPress Meetup wordpress.meetup.com/169/calendar/8858860/.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

Notes From WordPress’s New York Word Camp 2008 – A Comic Novelist Rates Matt Mullenweg’s Jokes Tonight on ‘Late Night With Jan Harayda’

Filed under: Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:48 am
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I spent most of yesterday at WordPress’s New York Word Camp 2008 and will have a few notes on what I learned tonight on “Late Night With Jan Harayda,” which will appear after 10 p.m. Eastern Time. This post will include an answer (from my perspective as a comic novelist) to, “What was WordPress founding developer Matt Mullenweg’s ma.tt/about/best joke in his keynote address?” Today’s book review will appear by 1 p.m. Monday.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

July 28, 2008

Delete Key Awards Midterm Report – Handicapping the Year’s Worst Writing in Books

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News,Publishing — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:26 pm
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How bad is the worst of the drivel that publishers have flung at us in 2008? Does it just brim with clichés, psychobabble and grammatical errors? Or is it also crass, tasteless and full of needless – if unintentionally comical – sex? You be the judge.

The midterm scouting report below lists passages have a chance to make the finals for the Delete Key Awards, the Internet literary prizes handed out every March 15 to authors who don’t use their delete keys enough. Keep in mind that the race for the Delete Key Awards has a staggered start. Any book published by Dec. 31 is eligible and stronger candidates may emerge. You can help to keep your candidate in the race by leaving a comment that supports a deserving passages.

No callback for this sentence
“Just before the ax fell, lightning struck and my life changed, never to be the same again.”
From Audition: A Memoir (Knopf, 624 pp., $29.95), Barbara Walters. Quote via a review by Kyle Smith in the Wall Street Journal
online.wsj.com/article/SB121038380585382137.html?mod=todays_us_weekend_journal.

Seinfeld was never like this
“Not that Jesus wasn’t a really cool guy – great teacher, excellent speaker, yadda yadda yadda. But … Son of God? Where’s the proof?”

“You don’t think it’s possible that Mr. Smythe was … well … resurrected?”
From Change of Heart: A Novel (Simon & Schuster/Atria, 447 pp., $26.95), by Jodi Picoult. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/07/21.

Deep Frey’d
“He eats most of it with his hands when he’s done he licks the plate clean he has another does the same thing.”
From Bright Shiny Morning (HarperCollins, 501 pp., 26.95), by James Frey. Quote via a review by Walter Kirn in the New York Times Book Review, July 6, 2008 www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/books/review/Kirn-t.html.

Was something lost in translation?
“Now he understood how the great, unlettered military genius Genghis Khan, as well as the illiterate or semiliterate military leaders of peoples such as the Quanrong, the Huns, the Tungus, the Turks, the Mongols, and the Jurchens, were able to bring the Chinese (whose great military sage Sun-tzu had produced his universally acclaimed treatise The Art of War) to their knees, to run roughshod over their territory, and to interrupt their dynastic cycles.”

“Heaven and man do not easily come to together, but the wolf and the grassland merge like water and milk.”

“I nearly peed my pants [sic].”
From Wolf Totem (Penguin, 527 pp., $29.95), Jiang Rong. Translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/05/27.

Whoops
“whoops-musicale (sei tu m’ami) ahhahahahaha / loopy di looploop.”
From a poem in Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara (Knopf, 265 pp., $30), edited by Mark Ford. Quote via a review by William Logan in the New York Times Book Review, June 29, 2008 www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/books/review/Logan-t.html?ref=review.

Be glad they didn’t! Name your children!
“I say, ‘The library is a boring place! All I will meet there are stinky pages.’”
and
“Miss Toadskin thinks she can gross us out with her science experiments. But I live for that stuff!”
From Read All About It! (HarperCollins, 32 pp., $17.99, ages 4–6), by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush, illustrated by Denise Brunkus. www.nytimes.com/2008/05/11/books/review/Sutton-t.html?ref=authors

Department of overexplanation
A line of dialogue from An Incomplete Revenge: “So, despite Ramsay MacDonald being pressed to form a National Government to get us through this mess, and well-founded talk of Britain going off the gold standard any day now, there’s still room for optimism – and I want to move ahead soon.”

Then there’s passage in which the heroine tells her father, “Dad, I’ve been thinking about Nana,” and he replies, “Your mother’s mother?”
From An Incomplete Revenge: A Maisie Dobbs Novel (Holt, 303 pp., $24), by Jacqueline Winspear. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/04/29.

The literal truth
“I literally held Grace day and night for the first year of her life.”
From Comfort: A Journey Through Grief (Norton, 188 pp., $19.95), by Ann Hood.

What comforting words would she have for fourth-degree burn victims?
“The death of your parents can be the best thing that ever happens to you.”
The first line of Death Benefits: How Losing a Parent Can Change an Adult’s Life – For the Better (Basic Books, 226 pp., $26.95), by psychotherapist Jeanne Safer. www.perseusbooksgroup.com/basic/book_detail.jsp?isbn=0465072119

How green was my chakra
“… Green: / color of the fourth chakra, / Anahata; it means unstuck — / the heart center — / the color of his fatigues.”
From The Warrior: A Mother’s Story of a Son at War (Viking, 84 pp., $21.95), by Frances Richey. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/07/27.

Hasn’t everyone at times found a suitcase stuffed with $60,000 in cash in the attic?
“Gene claimed that his father had given him $60,000 in cash, which he’d kept in a suitcase in his mother’s attic. He said that his father had told him not to put it in the bank, so Margo figured his father had never reported it to the IRS, and this was his way of protecting Gene, who said he would take the old bills to the bank and exchange them for new ones so that no one would question any transaction or track the income.

“At the time, Margo took Gene at his word.”

From Twisted Triangle: A Famous Crime Writer, a Lesbian Love Affair, and the FBI Husband’s Violent Revenge (Wiley/Jossey-Bass, 281 pp., $26.95), by Caitlin Rother with John Hess. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/07/10.

And finally a moment of silence for …

Clichés that will live forever
“I liked my students to win one for the Gipper, to go out an execute, to keep the drive alive, to march down the field, to avoid costly turnovers and to win games in the trenches even if they were gonna feel it on Monday.”
From The Last Lecture (Hyperion, 224, $21.95, by Randy Pasuch. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/05/30.

One-Minute Book Reviews is for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com and www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

July 27, 2008

How Bad Are This Year’s Books? A Delete Key Awards Midterm Report Tuesday

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News,Publishing — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:54 pm
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How bad is the worst writing in books published this year? Does it just brim with clichés, bad grammar, psychobabble and inane or dumbed-down ideas? Or is some of it also crass, tasteless and full of gratuitous – if unintentionally comical – sex?

Find out Tuesday when One-Minute Book Reviews posts the first annual midterm scouting reporting on the year’s worst writing in books. This post will include more than a dozen writing samples that have a chance to become finalists for the next Delete Key Awards, Internet literary prizes that recognize authors who don’t their delete keys enough. One-Minute Book Reviews announces the winners annually on March 15.

To read other posts on the awards and the work of the past winners, click on the “Delete Key Awards” tag at the top of this post or on the category with the same title in column below the “Top Posts” list at right.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com and www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

May 31, 2008

The Ruthless Book Club — the Online Reading Group for People Who Don’t Like Reading Groups — Starts Tomorrow

Filed under: Reading Groups — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 7:25 pm
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A guilt-free, no-required-reading book club starts tomorrow on One-Minute Book Reviews.

To take part, all you have to do read the post that will appear on this site on the first day of each month. In the post, I’ll start the conversation by mentioning a book I’ve reviewed that made an unusual impact for good or ill.

Then it’s your turn to leave a brief comment on a book you’ve read that made an impression on you. The book doesn’t have to have to have been reviewed on this site. At the Ruthless Book Club you can share a discovery or warn others about an overrated book.

Here are the rules:

You may talk about “your” book on the first day of the month or any other day. Visitors may comment on your post or mention another book at any time during the month, or until a new discussion starts on the first day of the next month.

You may bring up any kind of book – children’s or adult, trade or scholarly, in-print or out-of-print. Please keep comments brief – you can expand them if people have questions – and don’t paste in reviews or other material.

You may bring only one book to the club, not a roster. You can bring up other books at later “meetings.”

You may not comment on a book you’ve received for free from the author, agent, publisher or anyone with ties to the book. Book publicists are barred from taking part the discussion.

You may not comment on a book by a friend, enemy or anyone else with whom you might appear to have a conflict. The Ruthless Book Club will follow the rule observed by journalists: You don’t just avoid conflicts of interest but the appearance of conflicts of interest. That’s one reason the club is called “ruthless.”

Thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews, and hope to see you at the club.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

May 23, 2008

The Ruthless Book Club – Starting June 1 on One-Minute Book Reviews

Filed under: Reading Groups — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:39 pm
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Want a place to talk about books that nobody else seems to be talking about?

Not long ago, I learned about a book club in my town that operates on a different principle from most others: Instead of having everybody read the same book, the club asks each member to talk briefly at every meeting about a book – love it or hate it — that he or she has been reading recently.

I like this idea for a lot of reasons. One is that avoids forcing members to read a book even if it feels like a penance. Another is that it sidesteps a common problem that undermines many clubs: Members hesitate to be ruthlessly honest about a book for fear of hurting the feelings of the person who proposed it, and this leads to uninspired discussions. Yet another reason why I like the idea is that it allows people to share literary discoveries – or vent about overrated books – even if they don’t turn up on a club list.

So I’m going to try having an online version of the club on One-Minute Book Reviews from June 1 through Labor Day. I’ll keep the group going the fall if enough people take part. I’m calling it the Ruthless Book Club because this is a place where you can say anything about a book as long as you don’t make personal attacks on the author or other unfair comments (spoilers or misrepresentations of content, for example).

Here’s how the Ruthless Book Club will work:

On the first day of each month, I’ll put up a post encouraging you to comment briefly on a book you’ve read recently. I’ll start the conversation mentioning a book I’ve reviewed in the past few weeks that left an especially strong impression for good or ill.

You may leave a comment about any book you’ve read even if it has nothing to do with any books reviewed on One-Minute Book Reviews. Other visitors may comment on your post or mention another book at any time during the month, or until a new discussion starts on the first day of the next month.

You may not comment on any book you’ve received for free from the author, agent, publisher or anyone else connected to the book. Book publicists are barred from taking part in the discussion.

You may also not comment on a book by a friend, enemy or anyone else with whom you might appear to have a conflict. The Ruthless Book Club will follow the rule observed by journalists: You don’t just avoid conflicts of interest but the appearance of conflicts of interest. That’s another reason the club is called “ruthless.”

Other than that, you may comment on any kind of book – children’s or adult, trade or scholarly, in-print or out-of-print. The idea is: This is a place to talk about those books that you think about a lot and would like to share with others.

How does this sound to you?

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

April 23, 2008

A Quarter of a Million Visitors for One-Minute Book Reviews … With Never Any Pictures of Grammatically Challenged Cats

Filed under: News,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:41 pm
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Need some good news to cheer you up after all those gloomy articles about the economy, negative campaigning and dying book-review sections?

One-Minute Book Reviews recently had its 250,000th visitor … with never any pictures grammatically challenged cats.

There, now don’t you feel better?

[I’d love to know how to translate the number of visitors into hits, which should be much higher. Anybody know how to do this? Jan]

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

January 9, 2008

Janice Harayda of One-Minute Book Reviews Named One of 25 ‘Women Bloggers to Watch in 2008′

Have you been visiting One-Minute Book Reviews since it was running around in Pampers just over a year ago? Consider yourself a visionary.

Janice Harayda, editor-in-chief of One-Minute Book Reviews, has been named one of 25 “Women Bloggers to Watch in 2008″ by the site Virtual Woman’s Day, which aims “to bring together women from around the world to network together, learn together and grow together” virtualwomansday.blogspot.com/2008/01/women-bloggers-to-watch-in-2008.html. Heidi Richards, creator of VWD, also publishes We, a quarterly magazine about women.

One-Minute Book Reviews has had a policy since its launch in late 2006 of devoting at least 50 percent of its posts to books by female authors.

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

October 27, 2007

Are You Spending Enough Time on Your Blog to Get the Results You Want? Quote of the Day (Deirdre Day-MacLeod)

Why do some blogs succeed and others fail? Part of the answer may lie in how much time their creators spend on them, Deirdre Day-MacLeod suggests in her new book for teenagers, Career Building Through Blogging:

“According to a study of bloggers conducted by the University of Massachusetts, 31 percent of bloggers spend one to four hours per day doing research for and writing their posts,whereas 65 percent spend less than one hour. The study concluded that: 1) blogs take time; 2) blogs should be planned; 3) blogging is about interaction; and 4) the writing in a blog should be clear, real, focused, and above all, interesting.”

Deirdre Day-MacLeod in Career Building Through Blogging (Rosen Publishing, $29.25) www.deirdredaymacleod.blogspot.com. Her book is a part of Rosen’s Digital Career Building Series for teenagers, which also includes Career Building Through Digital Photography, Career Building Through Interactive Online Games and Career Buidling Through Podcasting.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

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