The State of Scot’s Newsletter

I’m really tired of the Rolling Stones.

There, I got that off my chest. But it’s not what I wanted to tell you.

Now, about the blog, newsletter, whatever it is — Scot’s Newsletter. Here’s where things stand.

There’s a lot to do on the blog and newsletter sites to stitch them together, make them work in tandem. I want to combine them, not replace the old with the new. I’m feeling my way toward that, gradually. But at some point, major surgery will probably occur. For now, my recent promotion and ongoing physical therapy take priority. But I am planning in my minimal spare time.

Performing surgery on the WordPress code — except where related to design — is proving to be more difficult than I’d hoped. And the mods available for WordPress aren’t all that great. I’ve received lots of excellent suggestions from the newsletter’s readers for making the blog work better. People generally would prefer that the blog entries weren’t separate permalink pages. Many would also like the same kind of navigation the HTML newsletter offered, with a TOC at the top linking down to each item and a “back to top” link at the end of each entry. I’d prefer that too, but it’s not as easy to refit the blog code as you’d think.

Another recurring theme I hear from readers is the desire to make it easy to print “an issue.” The concept of separate monthly issues is blurring, to be honest. Much quicker than I’d expected, I find myself writing individual blog posts on different days. It seems to me that the content is better when I write it this way. But it’s a judgment call as to what items are in a specific issue. The blog software archives by calendar month.

So, anyway, the problem with printing isn’t the printing itself, but the fact that you’re not printing an issue, per se. Also, you need to print the stories pretty soon after you get the text-based blurb-and-link newsletter because as I add new posts, ones from the bottom roll off the main page into the archive.

What I’m currently doing is leaving all the latest entries at their full length, and the ones from the “last issue” will be abbreviated with a “read more” link. I’m also setting the “Recent Posts” column to show only the stories in the current “issue.” I don’t know where this will lead, to be honest. This could be transitional, or it might be my solution. I still have a lot of thinking to do to make the user experience the way I want it.

One thing I want to make very clear: This Is Much Easier for Me! I appreciate the support of so many of you who agreed to something very different even though you might not really have wanted that change. Everything about this is better, easier, faster, and less expensive. It also lets me focus researching and writing content instead of the tedium of production hassles.

The New Newsletter

Those of you getting the notification newsletter are seeing the first rendition of a new template this week. Drop me a note if you have a suggestion. It’s a work in progress.

All newsletter subscribers should be advised that my newsletter distributor, Dundee.net, will shortly be merging the HTML and Text lists into a single list for the notification newsletter. That change saves me money and time, but the main reason to do it is that it will greatly simplify the subscription tools. Subscribing, unsubscribing, and changing your email address all become much more straightforward processes. You’ll still need to receive a confirmation email and click the confirmation link it contains to verify intent to subscribe (also on email-address changes), but most of the problems that people have with the Scot’s Newsletter subscription tools will vaporize when there’s only one list.

What does merging the two lists mean for you? For most people, nothing. Both the process and the result of the merging should be invisible. People who are currently subscribed to both the HTML and Text lists with the same email address should find that they’re subscribed only once. If you’re subscribed to both lists with two different email addresses, you’ll have two subscriptions to the same newsletter after the merging. You can simply unsubscribe one of them.

During the merge period, the subscription center may be down for hours or days.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll keep you posted on changes as I schedule them.

10 Responses to “The State of Scot’s Newsletter”

  1. sekirt Says:

    Any way you want to make it work is fine. The end result is still Scot Finnie information and it all works for me and is appreciated!

  2. mrobert Says:

    My first impressions are that the changes are fine. I enjoy change as it helps everyone challenge their comfort zone. As sekirt says it’s having access to your excellent research and analysis that’s key here. I add my own thanks

  3. hpb_ca Says:

    Scot, I’ve been a newsletter subscriber for some time, and “Scot’s” is the only newsletter of several that has remained a must-read for me. Thanks!

    The blog format works great for me; I’ve just spent the last few hours off-and-on reading posts. I’d just like to make one suggestion/request: I would like to see the posting-date somewhere near the beginning of each entry.

    p.s. Your EIC promotion is no less than you deserve, IMHO.

  4. wintomacmaybe Says:

    I was one who wished to keep the old text format, proofread each issue, and save a copy of ony the topics I wanted to save as a text file on my computer for offline browsing. As stated by mrobert, however, I needed to get out of my comfort zone. When the LangaList merged with Windows Secrets, I stopped doing this with their newsletter, and you’ve pushed me over a needed edge to stop doing that, period, with any newsletter than maintains online archives. After all, if your computer’s crashed, your going to have to access it from another computer, anyway, and online access and search is faster than recopying to your other computer (you do have one, don’t youu?) from your USB backup drive and then searching for what you want.

    Per my username, I will probably be switching to Mac after the holiday activites give me time for something else and, if I do, yours will probably be the only newsletter I’ll be keeping out of my current bunch, anyway, since I’ll probably Bootcamp to XP rather than Vista, and the Windows newsletters will be feeding me less info re XP as it recedes further into the past.

  5. MichaelHorowitz Says:

    FYI. If you sign up to make comments on this blog, be aware that the userid is case sensitive. In most systems only the password is case sensitive, not also the userid.

  6. Scot Says:

    This is straight WordPress functionality. WordPress is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, blog applications available. So it’s not like this is unusual. I didn’t notice it, though, and it’s a good point to make.

  7. rschnier Says:

    Now that you have the blog/newsletter set up for RSS syndication, the new blog-based state of the newsletter is just right for me. Using an RSS reader like Firefox “live bookmarks” I can now choose exactly which articles are of interest to me and read just those, in a random-access manner to boot. The content of the newsletter has always been great (I’ve been a subscriber for several years) and now that I’m able to home in on exactly the articles that interest me the most, it’s the best of all worlds. Thanks Scot for working to achieve this, and I’m glad it’s working out to be easier for you as well…sounds like a win-win all around.

  8. Flick Says:

    Might I recommend FeedBlitz (http://www.feedblitz.com/) as a way to further simplify your newsletter mailings? They handle all the subscription stuff, can put ads in for you, all that.

    Just a thought.

  9. Slowrider5 Says:

    One thing I just realized, for those who liked the email format, and use MS Outlook 2007, you can subscribe to the blog via RSS feed and postings will show up as messages in Outlook 2007 under the RSS Feeds tree.

    Don’t worry, I’ll still come to the web site sometimes to loads the ads :)

  10. GTK48 Says:

    I will never tire of The Rolling Stones. LOL. Keep up the good work and get well.

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