Writing 101

Spend 10 Minutes Doing This Every Day and You Could Transform Your Blogging



Today I want to suggest an exercise that has the potential to improve your blogging profoundly if you build it into your daily routine.

Look at another blog

OK – this may not sound that profound – most of us read other blogs every day but it doesn’t revolutionise what we do – but stick with me for a second while I explain HOW to do it in a way that could have a big impact.

Here’s what I do every day

I choose a blog and then spend 5-10 minutes reviewing it. My aim is not to ‘consume’ it as a reader…. but rather to review it with the view of learning about blogging.


Blogging 101

Identify Your Target Audience

Here I sit at 2 minutes past midnight with a blank screen in front of me and no idea what to write about. Who is my target audience? Well, in a case like this – nobody I guess. It is highly unlikely that this article will appeal to anyone unless I can focus and get some direction. So, let me see where to go from here.

Blank Screen Syndrome

There are many theories and smart pieces of advice available on the web explaining what to do when you suffer from that dreaded writer’s block. Some of the classic problems are:

  • You cannot come up with an idea

    Wow, sounds just like my situation. – I have absolutely no idea what to write, my screen is blank and I am deleting text as fast as I type it. This is where I am supposed to step back and write something trivial to get the ideas going again. Yeah, right. At 6 minutes past midnight my head is screaming for sleep and I am going cross-eyed. I should be off to bed, but I am determined to complete the assignment tonight.

  • All the ideas peter out

    Oh yes, here we go again. Just when I thought I had a really cool idea all sorted out I lose interest or realise that no target audience in the world will be interested in it. Another idea dies a silent death only to be replaced by the next even crazier one. This is going to be a long night.

  • I have an outline but cannot expand on it

    At last, things are starting to fall into place. My article has an outline, but whatever I try, the article will not stay on track. The outline is faulty and I do not know how to fix it without a major re-write. Worse still, I have two peaks in my article and I do not know how to get from one to the other. – Off to the bin we go.

  • If nothing works on paper do some physical exercise

    I read somewhere that physical exercise is a sure way to get fresh blood flowing to the brain and this may stimulate the creative juices. Well, I can go for a walk or hit the treadmill. However, neither option appeals to me right now. This is Africa and you do not go walking around alone at this time of the night, well not unless you have a death wish. That leaves the treadmill then. Hmm, this will be fun! I can just imagine the look on my daughters face after being woken by our rather noisy treadmill.

I found a very helpful diagram produced by New York Book Editors ( that explains how to solve this terrible problem and will make use of it in future. It is too late for me to salvage anything more constructive than I already have.



Blogging 101

My Neighbours And I

Today I reach out to the wonderful bloggers that I have met so far. Their individual styles are a constant inspiration for me.  The diversity of the topics and the bloggers knowledge of the subjects they have chosen, encourages me to continue blogging as well. My blog is a little bit of many subjects and it is interesting to see that I am not the only blogger with this approach.

The assignment requires that I reach out to my neighbours. The five bloggers I have decided to list are as follows:

  1. Kitt O ‘Malley
    Kit is an amazing person that has put her life on display via her blog. Her tagline, “love live and learn with bipolar disorder says it all.
  2. Cheryl Christine
    Cheryl has a very diverse blog that always has something of interest to read. She has a very easy writing style that I like and is not afraid to say it as she sees it.

  3.  loveanagirl
    One of the really cool bloggers I have found. Go and read her article “What type of woman do you have” and you will see what I mean. An amazing sense of humour is included as well.
  4. Udayology
    This man has taken some amazing pictures that are cleverly incorporated into each blog post he writes.
  5. Amanda Under Construction
    Books, books and more books. This lady has more books than the central library. If I had the space my study would look the same.

There are so many more bloggers that deserve being mentioned. They too are amazing people.




Blogging 101

Edit The Title And Tagline

What is in a name, or to be more precise, what is in a blog title and tagline? I remember the hours I spent pondering over what my blog title and tagline should be. I changed them more often than I care to remember before settling on “Life In The Fast Lane”.

How I eventually selected it I cannot say, but I like it and it is very appropriate. Let me explain. I work in the software industry, a very dynamic and constantly changing environment. It is filled with challenges and new technology that constantly demands my attention. I have the curiosity of a child and an unsatisfiable thirst to understand and work with new technology.

Another reason is most likely the ” extreme sport” that I have been involved in. Skydiving by default is not for the faint hearted, but more likely reserved for those of us with a death wish. Go and read my post where I briefly explain the sport.



Blogging 101

An Introduction – Who Am I

Welcome to my blog and my first post in the Blogging 101 course. I am excited to be part of the blogging community and proud of the small steps I have taken so far. I admit that I find it challenging at times to write an article, and look at the blank screen with no idea what I will post for the day.

Today I have decided to lean on the daily prompt for inspiration.

Why blog publicly?

A good question, but the short answer is a simple one. I have never been one to keep a private journal. it does not appeal to me, and I will find every excuse under the sun to avoid it. Blogging publicly on the other hand is far more challenging and rewarding. People read my posts and comment on them and I get the opportunity to interact with all these wonderful bloggers.

What topics?

This is a good question with a very broad answer. I write articles for my company’s website as well as my private blog. In the case of the company website, articles are very focussed on IT related issues. My private blog on the other hand, is a little cluttered and does not have a singular direction. Frankly, I am enjoying myself and just having fun; the focussed direction has taken a back seat and will come later.

Who to connect with?

Like minded people I guess. Anyone with a sense of humour that can see the funny side of a situation. I am not here to offload my worries and troubles. I will go and see a shrink if I ever need one. On a more serious note, there is always a time when laughter must be put aside and attention placed on pressing issues.

A year later?

Well, within the year I would like to have a more active blog and make friends with more of the blogging community. I am sure my goals will change during the year, but for now I want to blog and learn as much as I can.

Join me and have some fun and let’s see where we are in twelve months time.


Software sales

Pricing For Enterprise Software Solutions

In my line of work I deal with buyers from purchasing departments of multinationals requesting pricing for enterprise software solutions. Supplying a price is often a little more complicated than looking it up on a price list. In reality it involves a lot more.

Before supplying a price to the buyer, it is essential to understand  their business requirements for the software solution. What follows is a scaled down version of the entire process followed for every enquiry.

Understand Business Requirements

To understand the business requirements a series of meetings are held with all the business stake-holders involved. During this process the business problem(s) are documented and possible solutions noted. Meetings are also held with stake-holders from the IT department to obtain their input and discuss the current hardware configuration and surplus capacity within the organisation.

All too often the IT department is classified as a cost centre and not a business unit. When this happens they are frequently never consulted about future software solutions to be purchased. This often results in projects running out of time and over budget. Fortunately this view is changing and we are seeing more organisations that accept IT as a business unit contributing to the value of the organisation.

During discussions with the IT management and business stake-holders licensing of the solution is worked out and the following information is noted.

  • Number of technicians that require access to the solution
  • Number of PC’s, laptops and servers used in the organisation

  • Hardware requirements for the solution and the cost estimates to purchase the hardware.

  • Enterprise solutions are modular. During these discussions the business stake-holders elect the required modules.

Hosting Solution

Many of the large enterprise solutions are now being offered as a cloud based solution, eliminating the need to purchase costly hardware and operating systems. However, cloud based software solutions are not accepted by many companies for security reasons. In some cases organisations do not want a third party managing their data while others are more concerned with the fact that their data is being stored on servers on another continent.

The anti-cloud lobby is still very strong and all the major software vendors are aware of this. Therefore, they support solutions that target both segments of the market.

Hidden Agenda

During the meetings with the business stake-holders hidden agendas are often uncovered. A prime example of a hidden agenda involves business managers from different divisions favouring products because they have used them before, instead of selecting what is best for the entire organisation.

Another example of a hidden agenda is the practice where managers vote for a given solution for company political reasons to further their career instead of selecting what is best for the organisation.

Budget Availability

Now that the vendor has all the business requirements for the solution he is able to work out a provisional cost for the software. He will also include his professional services to install and configure the software and train the users of the software. Additional costs may also be added for the migration of data from the old system to the new solution.

Solution Selection Process

The solution selection process is a very busy time for the teams assigned to the products that reach the short list. During this phase the following processes need to be completed before the final solution is provisionally selected.

  • Evaluation of the solutions that made the short-list.
  • Document advantages and disadvantages in terms of the business requirements.

  • Documenting the hardware and software requirements for the solution.

  • Call for quotations.This is the first time that pricing for the solution is supplied.

  • Prepare and submit a proposal.

  • Solution presentation by the vendor.

  • Final Solution Selection

    The final solution selection is normally done at board level after the business stake-holders have given their input. This is a process that can take a few days or extend over a period of months. Further delays can be caused when budgets for the new solution are only available in the new financial year.





    Asset Management

    Know about IT asset management

    The importance of IT asset management can never be over-stated.


    Asset management has always been part of business. It is very necessary to manage assets of business in order to have proper life cycle management and help in better strategic decision making. Assets include all types of assets, tangible, intangible that are associated with business.

    Asset management is required in all types of business. With IT integration in many companies and business, it has now become IT asset management. It involves hardware and software inventory details of business and manages them properly. It helps in saving time & money by avoiding unnecessary purchase of assets and making optimum utilization of existing assets. Also companies which maintain a good assets management program, incur less cost in maintenance of assets.

    In IT asset management, there is a different management for hardware as well as software. The main role of IT asset management in any organization is that it is accountable for…

    View original post 168 more words

    Writing 101

    Boost Site Traffic Through Google Plus

    Always wanted to know how to boost my traffic.

    Web Marketing Newsletter

    google-plus-social-icon-20438843You can boost your website traffic by posting your blog links on Google Plus. How come? You might ask. Well, it’s because of these three things:

    1. Google Plus is owned by Google.

    2. Google search is what most people use when searching for stuff online.

    3. Google gives importance to links that are being posted on Google Plus.

    It really is that simple. So all you have to do is make sure that you have a G+ account. If you’re logged in to your Youtube account or Gmail, you’re also automatically logged in to your G+ account. Now, what you have to do is just optimize your Google Plus. Join circles, follow people, add your contacts from your other social networks. Then start posting your blog links to your G+ account.

    For more information on how to do this, please head to:  Increase website traffic with Google+…

    View original post 1 more word

    Content Marketing

    9 Tips For Building A Killer Content Marketing Strategy

    Content marketing. It’s one of the biggest buzzwords in recent years, and everyone is eager to dive into it.
    In fact, it is probably the most effective and sustainable way to grow traffic, earn leads, and increase revenue. Unfortunately, some companies and bloggers are just absolutely failing at it.


    Blogging 101

    Parody: Letter to Easy Days

    Writing 101

    Writing 101 – Character Building

    The Boss! He turned my life upside down the day I joined the firm. A tall man with broad shoulders, wild red hair and piercing green eyes.  Quick to anger, his booming voice is often heard lashing out at the unfortunate staff member who makes a mistake.

    Demanding only the best in the shortest time possible from all his staff ensured that everyone stayed focussed all the time. There were no “bad hair days” or slacking off early on a Friday afternoon. No sir, not when the boss was around.

    Well, that is what I thought. I soon learnt that he had a soft spot for the women, young or old. Don’t get me wrong, he was not a player. Actually he was happily married and had 3 children, a son and 2 daughters.

    I had the good fortune of meeting the eldest daughter for the first time one afternoon on my way out of the office. She was walking towards the ground floor lifts when I spotted her.

    Beautiful, stunning where the first words that sprung into my mind. I was in love, instantly and without a doubt. How is this possible? Until then I was a firm believer that love at first sight was a fallacy. How else could I explain my sudden emotional turmoil, other than to say it must be love.

    She had on a long flowing green dress that clung to her supple young body and complimented the colour of her eyes. Moving with grace across the floor, the tips of her painted toes could be seen peeping out from under her dress with every step she took.

    As she got closer her refined features became more apparent. Her fair skin complimented the colour of her hair and eyes. The dimple on the corner of her full lips may be seen as a flaw to some but to me, it was beautiful.

    She caught my eye and smiled mischievously. “You must be Gordon” she said, as she came to a stop in front of me. “And you are Carol, I assume”? She smiled and nodded her head. “I have been dying to meet you” we both blurted out and then stopped, and started laughing like two old friends.




    Shared Posts

    AIR: Part One

    This is an awesome story of a very brave woman. Not even cancer could break her spirit.

    Jess Dewes

    On January 30th, 2014, a woman walked into my photography studio carrying a tote bag full of oxygen tanks and jewelry. She smiled at me from under the hose that disappeared into her nostrils and I fell for her instantly.

    On film, first meeting, 1/30/14.

    A few months prior to the day Julie VonderHaar came to my studio for a portrait, I was invited to be part of a group photography show at a gallery called SOHA in South St. Louis, MO.  I was informed that the theme of the exhibit was simply AIR. Each photographer (8 total) was to interpret the theme however they liked and create something for the show. As a businessperson, exhibiting in shows like this is rarely lucrative, but the artist in me couldn’t resist the opportunity to stretch a bit beyond my work portfolio of baby portraits, corporate head shots, and wedding documentation.

    I knew…

    View original post 1,388 more words

    Writing 101

    Writing 101 – The Letter

    A woman brushes past me as she dashes to board the last train to Cape Town. In her haste she drops a letter and I watch as it drifts slowly to the ground at my feet. Without hesitating I stoop and pick it up before rushing after her.

    Too late! The train doors hiss close and I watch in dismay as it accelerates out of the station. I turn away from the edge of the station and walk back to the bench where I left my luggage, letter in hand.

    Seated once again, I examine the letter hoping to find an address I can return it to. The outside of the old envelope is blank so I gently remove the single sheet of paper from the open end. The paper is delicate and has a soft feminine fragrance.

    There is a short scribbled message in the centre of the page.

    Mom, help me please! I am in serious trouble, and need you here. Paul is missing and the police are not taking me seriously.

    You warned me that this may happen, but I did not listen. I have moved in with Mrs Smith because it is no longer safe at home.

    Please hurry mom, I think Paul is dead…




    Writing 101

    The Loss – Part One

    Walking down the familiar cobbled street to the quaint coffee shop were we first met, still brings tears to my eyes. It has been over a year since the tragic accident, yet it still seems like yesterday.

    Our first meeting was by chance, when I dashed in there one night to get out of the cold, pouring rain. On entering the coffee shop I spotted an empty table near the fire. Without checking that it may be occupied I made my way over to it, and dropped my weary frame into one of the over-stuffed comfortable chairs.

    The room was warm and snug. The roar of the fire was a pleasant change from the organised chaos on the city roads outside. Old stagecoach lamps hung from the walls, throwing pools of dim light over the tables. Large oil paintings of winter scenes in old London adorned the walls, like windows into the past.

    My exhaustion caught up with me and I fell asleep in this warm and comfortable environment. I woke slowly to the gentle touch of your hand. Opening my eyes I saw your radiant smile for the very first time. You were sitting in the chair opposite me. Only then did I see your handbag on the table and realised that I was an uninvited guest at your table.

    Apologising for the intrusion I stood up and looked around for another empty table. You just smiled, touched my hand briefly, and asked me to sit down and share your table. I looked down at this beautiful young woman, smiled and sat down immediately. The rented video I planned to watch that evening, suddenly became unimportant.

    We sat next to the fire until the early morning hours talking and laughing like old friends. This was a dream come true for both of us. It was as if fate had guided us to the coffee shop. Little did we suspect the heartache that lay ahead for both of us.

    This chance meeting changed both our lives forever.

    Writing 101

    Writing 101 – 3 Songs And Their Meaning

    Music has always played an important part in my life. It is an anchor to my past, my present and my future. It has the power to raise my spirits and just as easily, send them crashing into a pit of despair.

    Looking back over the years, I have been fortunate to experience the rock movement of the 70’s, punk of the 80’s and so much more. Then along came Rap and the likes of Eminem and his “Rap God” song. Now I do not know about you but rapping 100 words in 15 seconds is an impossible speed for most of us.

    One of the big musical moments in my life was the release of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. The censor board released the movie without an age restriction. However, 6 weeks later they reversed their decision, deciding that the track “Touch-a Touch-a Touch me” was unsuitable for public viewing, and set a date for the banning of the movie.

    The night before the banning every cinema in the country aired a double feature of the movie for one last time. The irony being that the entire audience consisted of school children.  Those were the same children who skipped school or slept through half the lessons the following day.

    The next song on my list is from the “Rock” genre. Go and listen to the way Meatlof sings his song “Bat out of Hell“.  The music is wild and noisy but it carries a message if you listen to the song.

    My last selection is the theme song of one of the “Rocky” movies starring Sylvester Stallone. I refer of course to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. A very fitting piece of music for a powerful movie of the time.

    There are so many more songs that come to mind that are worth mentioning so it is actually sad to stop now.


    Writing 101

    Writing 101 – A Room with a View

    Slowly walking to the aircraft, weighted down by my parachute. Thoughts are racing through my mind. Is this real, am I really going to do this – again?

    I stop, turn and take one last look at the safety of the departure lounge. Shaking my head at the madness to follow, I turn and board the light aircraft. The interior of the aircraft is but a husk of its former glory.

    All the seating and decor have been stripped out to make it lighter. Instead it is packed with sky divers seated on the floor next to each other, all speaking very loudly and excitedly. We are all aware of the danger, but the adrenaline rush of the jump is awesome.

    As is custom, there are no doors on the plane and nothing is placed across the gaping hole to prevent anyone from falling out. Who wants a door on a plane when the intention is to jump out of it at heights of over 6000 feet?

    The ascent to 6000 feet takes over 15 minutes to complete but once there the fun really begins. At this hight the aircraft hangar looks the size of a match box and the runway is reduced to a small smudge in the sand. The phrase ” Space, the final frontier.” was made famous by Star Trek. Who needs Star Trek? Space can and is found at 6000 feet.

    There I was yet again exiting an aircraft with the most intense adrenaline rush you can imagine and my only safety-net being a parachute strapped to my back. This is my room. It is quiet up here and strangely peaceful. There are no distractions from cell phones or any other electronic device.

    This is the only time you get to experience the  amazing feeling of flight.  From up here the earth is beautiful and the air is crisp and very cold. All too soon gravity reminds me that it is time to deploy my parachute, ending my visit to my room.

    Even while I sit and write this article I can mentally put myself back up there and the warm weightless sensation returns.

    Writing 101

    Writing 101 – Free writing

    Where to start and what to write. So many thoughts flow through my mind. Nothing holds my attention long enough before it is replaced by another idea that seems even better than the previous on.

    Well, thankfully this is all about free writing, giving me the freedom to dream a little and let my mind wonder. However I better rein it in before the entire 20 minute session becomes a blabber of meaningless words.

    How does this relate to the theme of my blog I ask myself. Frankly it does not. There is no structure and clear direction, no statement to make or logic to prove. A total sense of free thought that has a mind of its own, going where it pleases and dragging me along for the ride. Buckle up and let’s see where it takes us.

    I can hear the sound of distant traffic humming down the motorway through my open window. In South Africa winter is supposed to be approaching and the days are getting cooler. Well, that was the way it used to be. Now the mornings are cool enough to be pleasant while by midday the temperature soars to 27 degrees centigrade. That is warm for Cape Town at this time of year.

    There is a beautiful tree in full bloom outside my window. Nature has forgotten that winter is, or should be approaching in this corner of the world.




    Shared Posts

    The Unusual Battles of a UCT Student

    Service Desk Solution Shared Posts

    LInking ITSM to Business Value and Maturity

    Dick Stark's Blog

    By Dick Stark

    RightStar just finished an internal project aimed at determining customer value—what processes have been enabled or improved using ITSM tools and is that improvement measurable in terms of improved efficiencies or reduction in the overall cost of service management?  To investigate, weset up interviews with ten FootPrints, Remedyforce, and Remedy customers ranging in size from small to large. Although there was room for improvement, especially around process consulting, overall the customers had a positive experience with RightStar. Additionally, most customers, despite their ITSM toolsets, operate at a relatively low level of ITSM maturity.

    In a 2014 Gartner Study, “The IT Service Management Unified Framework: Linking ITSM to Business Value and Maturity,” Gartner introduced a new model, the IT Service Management Unified Framework—a single strategic view into the relationship between ITSM, delivery, maturity and business value.  The report begins by discussing organizations that use a bottom-up…

    View original post 240 more words

    Shared Posts

    Why you need a maxi skirt

    Why you need a maxi skirt.