Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

To Automate or Not to Automate Blogging Tasks: That’s the Question

Filed under: Blogging — by at 6:04 pm on Friday, October 30, 2009

Being a successful blogger means way more than being an engaging writer on a somewhat consistent basis. A successful blogger juggles many hats: writer, researcher, community-builder, web designer, techie, networker, marketer, statistician, and entrepreneur (if one desires to convert this all-consuming hobby into an income source) are the hats that most readily come to mind. Needless to say, a successful blogger always has something to do. For someone operating with only one thumb, the to-do list is never-ending!

To take this blog the next level, which is still to be determine where exactly that next level is, some changes need to be in the works, including, possibly, automating a few tasks.

While wearing my community-builder hat, I attempt to thank (via email) new readers when leave their first comment and I invite them to stop by again – to let them know that i did indeed see their contribution and that I appreciated it, and to welcome them to my blog’s community. However, unfortunately, I don’t always get to it and, to be honest, it bugs me. I don’t want to be an absentee blogger. On the other hand, my left thumb can accomplish only so much.

In searching for a solution, I came across the WordPress plugin Comment Relish that “sends an e-mail message to users who comment on your website who have never commented before.” But, reading some of the reviews and responses, some bloggers were concerned the automated email may be seen as spammy; annoying rather than welcoming. Scratch that idea!

A few weeks ago at BlogWorld, listening to a WordCamp Las Vegas panel with top-notched bloggers Chris Garrett, Darren Rowse and Jeremy Wright, a bunch of useful WordPress plugins were rattled off, including Thank Me Later. Although a similar concept to Comment Relish, Thank Me Later “is highly configurable. It allows you to create multiple e-mail messages and to send the message after a pre-defined amount of time, making messages appear more unique and people-friendly.” Sounds intriguing.

As my current readers, would you have objected to receiving an automated yet personalized email a day or two after leaving your first comment, thanking you and perhaps pointing you to hidden gems on this blog, after I had approved your comment?

Have you say:


Please share any other plugins this blog must have to make the most of this left thumb! Thanks.

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Swine Flu and Successful Blog Posts: An Unlikely Combination

Filed under: Blogging,Living with a disability — by at 12:39 pm on Wednesday, October 28, 2009

After feeling completely wiped and feverish with chills for a few days, then feeling liked I had been pushed in the stomach on Monday, with some unpleasantaries following, Tuesday morning found me in the emergency room. The diagnosis: I have symptoms “suggestive of the swine flu”.

A prescribed box of Tamiflu from the British Columbia Pandemic SupplyPerhaps I was “abusing the system”, given I wasn’t feeling too sick, yet, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I appreciate that doctors didn’t expect me to make it through my first night here on earth and that the last 43 years (next Wednesday!), I’m not ready to call it “quits” quite yet! I wanted to nip this bug early before my symptoms worsened. I’m now on a five-day treatment of Tamiflu from the British Columbia Pandemic Supply.

I would have happily sat out this phenomenon, but, unfortunately, this bug is non-discriminatory and includes anyone. From a study I read earlier this year, which I now cannot find, but this news report echoes the same results: “Almost two-thirds of the children who died with swine flu had epilepsy, cerebral palsy or other neurodevelopmental conditions. In a previous flu season, only a third of pediatric deaths had those conditions.” Admittedly, I am not child age, but I am not about to quibble over a few years. That report had me scared! And hearing reports of healthy adults with no “underlying conditions” dying from H1N1 didn’t help to calm my fears.

So…I’m going to do something very un-Glenda-like and not push myself. Once I hit publish on this post, I am going to back to bed.

Before I’d go crawl into my bed with my kitty, I’d like to leave you with this:

This weekend Blogger Extraordinaire Liz Strauss celebrated her 4th blog birthday. She invited her readers to share their most successful blog post. This was my contribution:

Although I stopped by yesterday, I was stumped on which blog post to share as my most successful post. How is the success of posts measured? My mind went totally blank, which, you know, is rare.

Last night, while watching tv in bed because I was too dead to even move, one post rose to the surface of consciousness.

It is a post about a lesson taught by a wise friend; a lesson I still hold dear today. Every time I implement the lesson, I feel my wise friend sitting on my shoulder, reassuring nodding with warmth and approval, “It’s not about you; it’s about them. Say thank you and accept their words graciously.”

In social media, where it is all about “them”, it may be strange that I chose a post in which “I” learn a valuable lesson as my most successful post. But, this lesson has better equipped me to interact with my readers, friends and colleagues, both online and in-person. Isn’t that a success?

The lesson? How to respond to the remark “You’re such an inspiration!”

Thanks Liz for all who you are and all that you do for others. I’m sure your Dad is proud.

Cheers to you, Liz!

Now I’d like to invite you to do the same. Feel free to share your most successful blog post, in however way you define success. Or, if you are without a blog, share your most favourite post or article from anywhere online – whether it most deeply touched you, moved you to action, made you laugh or was the most useful. Whatever. Share. Others might enjoy it too.

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Dreams Do Come True – With a Little Help from Friends

Filed under: Living with a disability,Motivation — by at 7:44 pm on Friday, October 23, 2009

One thing about being in a loving and supportive marriage is taking an interest and learning about one another’s hobbies and passions. One of Darrell’s interests is watching car racing, particularly NASCAR. Over the years I have learned way more about NASCAR racing than I ever thought I wanted to know.

Sunday afternoons during the season typically finds Darrell watching the televised NASCAR race. I watch a few laps with him, ask a few pesky questions – Why was a caution called? What does [insert racing terminology] mean? How many more laps? – then I carry on folding cloths, cleaning the cat box or tweeting with friends before going back to watch a few more laps with my hubby.

While watching one race, Darrell mentioned that his dream was to ride in a NASCAR and to feel the speed.

For a guy who was heartbroken at 16 because he was not able to learn how to drive, even with hand controls available, because of his double vision and lack of depth perception, his dream had extra meaning.

I filed away that tidbit.

Then, during a race earlier this spring, I received an email from my friend Damien Patton who is also an avid NASCAR fan and had worked on a pit crew. I mentioned Darrell’s dream to him. Damien’s response was “let’s see what we can do while you’re down here in Vegas for BlogWorld”.

After several emails back and forth, and countless phone calls by Damien and his partner Jennifer, last Tuesday morning found the four of us, in front of the Las Vegas Hilton, loading into a Mercedes and a pick-up truck with a rented U-Haul trailer; our chairs tied down with a web of cables. What a sight we must have been!

Darrell had no idea we were off to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway! Nor for what reason!

With help and patience from the Richard Petty Driving Experience and Damien’s back, Darrell was dressed in a fireproof suit…

Darrell being dressed in a fireproof suit

and helmet…

Darrell wearing a race helmet

and helped into a race car…

Darrell being lifted into a NASCAR

then engines were started and Darrell was off to live his dream…

Darrell in a NASCAR racing around the track

After three laps around the track, his expression was priceless…

Darrell gives two thumbs up
(Photo credit: Damien Patton)

Due to a glitch with the onboard video recording, Darrell was given the rare opportunity to live his dream a second time!

I absolutely love this photo of Darrell! The moment he realizes what had just occurred…

Darrell's priceless smile
(Photo credit: Damien Patton)

A big thank you to the Richard Petty Driving Experience, Damien and Jennifer for making my husband’s lifelong dream come true! I’m so glad I was there to share the moment with Darrell.

Happy 50th, Darrell! I love you. And, remember, dreams really can come true!

Our Las Vegas Trip in Review

Part 1: Hilton Room Disappoints on Accessibility

Part 2: Dreams Do Come True – With a Little Help from Friends

Part 3: Making the Impossible Possible – Not Always Perfect or Pretty

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Hilton Room Disappoints on Accessibility

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 6:21 pm on Thursday, October 22, 2009

The bright lights and signs at the luggage carousel at the Las Vegas airport.Thanksgiving Day, Darrell and I made our third pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the BlogWorld and New Media Expo. The slot machines, bright lights and ads everywhere as soon as stepping off the plane is no longer overwhelming and makes our Vancouver International Airport seem boring and calming in comparison.

Statue of Elvis Presley at Las Vegas HiltonThis year we decided to stay at the Las Vegas Hilton, where Elvis had performed 837 consecutive sold out concerts, to be closer to the Convention Center for the three days of BlogWorld. (This photo was taken at 6am the morning we left, which explains why it is so dark.)

Our furniture-stuffed room at the Las Vegas Hilton We were looking forward to experiencing the poshness of the Hilton. We had visited the Hilton in previous years and were impressed by its overall accessibility. However, we were immediately disappointed by our accessible room. Two double beds, an oversized chair and ottoman, plus our two wheelchairs made for a rather cramped room.

Our accessible bathroom at the Las Vegas HiltonThe bathroom was more spacious, with plenty of room to maneuver our wheelchairs. Curiously, the grab bars were used as towels racks. Even though a bath bench was provided, the legs were not adjustable, making it impossible to place over the side of the tub and, hence, rendering it useless for bathing. When asking at the front desk, housekeeping did not have any other benches with adjustable legs.

Darrell in his wheelchair, sitting beside the bedThe worst annoyance was the bed’s height. The bed was higher than Darrell’s wheelchair wheelchair arm. How many accessible beds are that friggin’ high? Darrell had to transfer up to bed, on a rather soft mattress. As for me at only 5”3’, climbing into bed took on a whole new meaning! According to the front desk, all of the beds are this height.

 Automatic door opener at the Las Vegas HiltonBut, having said all of that, this was the first hotel room Darrell and I have experienced with an automatic door opener!

Bathing was dubious, getting into bed an effort, but, at least, we could leave the room with ease!

Even though we enjoyed the rest of the Hilton’s amenities and enjoyed being so close to the Convention Center, we will likely be returning to the more accessible Imperial Palace or another Vegas hotel next year.

Part 1: Hilton Room Disappoints on Accessibility

Part 2: Dreams Do Come True – With a Little Help from Friends

Part 3: Making the Impossible Possible – Not Always Perfect or Pretty

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Fresh from WordCamp Las Vegas

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by at 1:50 pm on Saturday, October 17, 2009

If everything went as planned, Damien Patton are now leaving the stage after a rockin’ panel presentation at WordCamp Las Vegas at BlogWorld!

Thank you to everyone who attended and a big shout out to John Hawkins for all of your efforts!

My presentation “How POUR is Your Blog” is now available as an ebook. Help yourself to a copy and feel free to spread the word widely.

During my presentation, I had the pleasure of introducing the following three bloggers with disabilities in attempts to put faces to the concept of blog accessibility:

Darrell Shandro Darrell Shandrow is an accomplished information technology professional with over ten years of experience in several computer fields including accessibility, customer service, networking, technical support and training. He is also nearly totally blind and relies on a screen reader, which enables him to use computer technology on the job, in the classroom and at home by providing the same information available on the computer’s screen in Braille and speech output.

To give a brief glimpse into what using a screen reader is like: Imagine the entire screen blacked out except for a little square which follows the currently highlighted item. you can only see what is in the little rectangle. To see anything else on the screen requires you to move the square over it using the arrow keys."
For a blind person, this "seeing" involves feeling text in Braille or hearing a voice read it as commands are entered to move the imaginary rectangle around the screen. This leads to many obstacles and frustrations when using the internet.

Darrell blogs at 

Ricky Buchanan Meet Ricky Buchanan. Multiple disabilities and chronic illnesses, causing extreme muscle weakness and severely limited stamina,keep Ricky in bed for 22-24 hours a day.

Yet, being a self-proclaimed geek, she has her computer and various technological gadgets arranged within easy reach so that she can work with minimal physical exertion, while laying on her back in bed.

Ricky is quite active online – her lifeline to the outside world. She blogs at about surviving and thriving while confined to bed, homebound, or otherwise stuck in one place. And at about assistive technology for Apple and Mac users. She also runs No Pity City – Disability gear with slogans that tells it like it is.

Her main theory on life is: I may have disabilities and problems and troubles and stuff that holds me back, but dammit I’m Not Done Living!

Karen Putz Last but definitely not least is Karen Putz – a deaf mom of three deaf and hard of hearing teenagers. Her husband is also deaf.

On top of being a busy Mom, Karen is a sales manager for videophones and relay services for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. She is also an avid advocate for the deaf community and a prolific writer and blogger.

She shares her world as a deaf mom on her blog

With more and more content being put online in the format of audio and video without captioning, Karen fears her children will become further excluded from society.

More about WordCamp once I am home. For now, it is par-tay time; after all, this is Vegas!

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