Thursday, July 31, 2008

A new blogger's log: Week 2

Sunday, July 27
Just realized that I omitted a major milestone from last week's log -- the receipt of my first comment. While it was rewarding to see my first visitors last week, it was even more rewarding to receive my first comment. Especially since it was a nice one. Another milestone today. I did a Google Blog Search to see if I could find my "subprime" post, and my post was at the top of the list! Pretty cool. (The secret is in picking the right search words/terms.) Blog search will also be useful to check if a topic has already been blogged about before I get too involved.

Monday, July 28
I bought a new book, Blogging for Dummies. Right down my alley. My first impression is that it's a little more advanced than the "Everything" book, and about the level I need at this point.

Began drafting several new posts. Following my friend Tom's advice in his Blogging 101 post, I am trying to make liberal use of links.

The sign-in problem has returned -- but only sporadically. I can work around it by navigating back to the previous screen, so this problem is on the back burner for now.

Tuesday, July 29
Established a Test Platform blog so that I can test without jeopardizing my main blog. I already have some Test Posts that I used, e.g., when experimenting with linking (They're drafts that I never publish). However, in many cases it will be preferable to have a separate blog to test in.

Wednesday, July 30
Wrote new post called "About Me", and then added a text box in the sidebar that links to that post. That gives me more flexibility in the format than is available in the standard "about me" box. Not a perfect solution, but it works.
Also, posted my 2nd real (non-log, non-"about") post.

Thursday, July 31
One of my upcoming posts will require a table. So far, creating a table seems way more complicated than I would have expected. I'll have to do more research.

Friday, August 1
Added an "About This Site" post using same approach as I used for "About Me." I called it a draft as there are still some issues that I need to work through regarding direction. Also, added RSS subscription button to my sidebar.

Saturday, August 2
Initially, I thought the first week was a typical week and that future weeks would be as full of problems and discovery as the first. That's not the case. My assessment now is that I learned a good portion of what I need to know about the blogging process during my first week, and that content issues will play an increasingly larger role from this point forward. Given that, while I will keep logging significant learnings and milestones, this will be my final weekly post of the log. From this point forward, I will make posts to this series on a more flexible, "as needed" schedule.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's a business!

It’s that time of year again. Someday soon, a football player traded or dropped from his team’s roster, will explain -- “It’s a business.” I don’t mean to pick on football players, or even athletes in general. I hear this from people in all walks of life. What strikes me is the hostility, the bitterness that they apparently associate with the word “business.”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A new blogger's log: Week 1

Sunday, July 20
Bought The Everything Blogging Book. It's pretty basic. However, one advantage is that it is so far from being intimidating that I was encouraged to dive right in. Right away, it was clear that the easiest way to get started was to sign in at Google Blogger. A few minutes later, my template was up and running.

Tuesday, July 22
My first post! However, I'm concerned that the analytical & research oriented posts that I'm likely to focus on will likely take way more time than I bargained for.

Wednesday, July 23
Added a category list and links to my favorite blogs to my sidebar. Blogger help told me all I needed to know.
Submitted my blog/URL to Google, Yahoo and IceRocket.
E-mailed an old friend who is an experienced blogger asking for a few pointers.

Found a great site that has lots of Blogger tips. His input was very helpful in choosing a package to monitor traffic. I chose StatCounter. Unfortunately, the results are pretty discouraging when there is no traffic to count.

Thursday, July 24
My friend overachieved. He has started a series of posts for beginning bloggers on his site. His first post in the series is The Importance of Links. He was nice enough to give me a referral in his post. So, ... now there are actually Stats to be Counted! The reader statistics from StatCounter are impressive. They tell me everything I want to know at this point -- and then some.

Friday, July 25
Soon after installing StatCounter, maybe by coincidence, I started having problems signing in to Blogger. Blogger help suggested deleting cookies and enabling JavaScript. Didn't help. However, going into my Norton Utility software and making Blogger a trusted site seems to have solved the problem.

The only other problem so far is that my "about me" is a jumble and I haven't yet figured out how to format it. Too bad Blogger doesn't handle "about me" the same way it handles posts....

Note: This week's log was written after the fact. Next week I will log daily, but post only at the end of the week. The results should be more useful.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Subprime Mess: The Problem With Low Down Payments

For the past year or more, we have experienced nearly unprecedented turmoil in the housing markets. Blame has been assigned to everyone from the buyers to the lenders to Wall Street and beyond. We are now in the process of taking corrective action. New laws and policies are being proposed seemingly every week with the goal of helping to resolve the current situation and avoiding a repeat occurrence. However, I am concerned that not enough attention is being paid to the role that down payments play in this whole process.

In the old days, the standard down payment on a home was 20%. Somewhere along the way this requirement has been reduced, in some cases to 5% or even lower. Granted, the down payment requirements are now on the increase. However, as best I can tell from the FHA web site, one can still get a mortgage with as little as 3% down.

Presumably, the objective of the lower down payment requirement is to facilitate home ownership – especially among those who may not be able to meet conventional loan requirements. But, is 3% down really a good idea for someone