Leveraging A Monthly Community Newsletter With The Power Of Blogs

What can be leveraged from a simple and informative monthly community newsletter?

Currently, the National Council of Vanik Associations (NCVA) here in the UK produces a monthly newsletter called Vanik Voice which is available as a downloadable PDF file. This month the readership have been informed about it by email, and referred to a link where they can download the newsletter.

The newsletter itself is most certainly informative, awakening, and entertaining. See for yourself by downloading the Diwali 2007 issue at www.ncva.co.uk/newsletter/november2007.pdf

Although increasingly valuable to its readership, this approach to sharing information certainly has it’s limitations:

  • Newsletter content is only accessible by those who know how to get to the downloadable PDF.
  • Existing readers who remember an article from a previous newsletter would need to trawl through all the previous issues of the newsletter to find what they’re looking for.
  • There is currently no easy and direct way for the issues covered in the articles to be explored easily amongst like-minded (and even non-like-minded!) Vaniks around the world.

7 Easy Steps To Overcoming These Limitations By Setting Up A Simple Online Blog (Web Log) And Mailing List Solution:

  1. Get hold of an easy to remember domain name such as www.ncvanews.org (cost $10 USD / £5 GBP per year)
  2. Host the website on a web host such as Dreamhost that allows you to set the site up using WordPress technology (cost $7.95 USD per month)
  3. Ask your web designer to make the site attractive in it’s appearance, have them install the various WordPress plugins that encourage visitors to make comments, and set up your very own branded email address such as news@ncvanews.org. (cost £200 GBP)
  4. Invest in an online mailing list solution such as Professional Cart Solutions that allows readers to automatically register for / unregister from receiving regular news updates. (cost $29 USD per month)
  5. Start posting up your news and articles to this new WordPress driven site. (cost: your time)
  6. Create and an email each month to be sent to your mailing list which highlights the best articles / news items, along with direct links to each of the pages where the articles are posted. (cost: your time)
  7. Respond to the comments that appear for each article on the site to encourage further community involvement and therefore further awareness of Vaniks around the globe. (PRICELESS)

Here are some major benefits with this new approach:

  • News is added on the blog whenever something new arises – now no more waiting to put it into the next issue.
  • Blogs are set up with RSS feeds which are great for those who want to be kept posted on news as soon as you post it on the site.
  • Those outside the Vanik community can also benefit from the fresh content which helps raise global awareness of the Vaniks.
  • The editor now just needs to post articles and news on the blog, and then compile a simple monthly email with links to the most important / popular blog posts.
  • Appropriate pictures and relevant videos from sources such as YouTube can be displayed on the site.
  • Most importantly, comments on the blog by the readers and random visitors who are interested in the content, certainly help to enhance community involvement, and encourages dialogue with the international Vanik community and beyond.

So would the initial cost of setting this up and maintaining it yearly be worthwhile when it comes to the overall value received by the whole Vanik community and those beyond it?

How To Get More Life Out Of Your Laptop Battery

Laptops are brilliant for portability, yet can be great betrayers. I’m out in Kenya for a month, and relying on my laptop battery more than ever – you just don’t know when you’ll next get reliable access to a mains supply for recharging the laptop!

As part of the natural ageing process or due to active use, batteries eventually get worn down – sometimes even when not in use. Do you use a laptop? Here’s how you can get more life out of your laptop battery:

  1. Be Screen Smart: Lower the use of graphics by changing the screen resolution, shutting off fancy graphics drivers, and dimming your screen – this will all save battery juice.
  2. Turn Off All Unused Devices: If you’re not using connected USB devices, WiFi, or Bluetooth, disconnect them or turn them off. Also, minimise CD/DVD use, because optical drives are one of the worst at consuming power – they spin, taking power, even when not actively being used.
  3. Unplug When Charged: When the battery is fully charged, unplug it from the mains and let the laptop use it’s own battery, until all the juice runs out. The more you overcharge your battery, the smaller the amount of charge it will hold the next time.
  4. Add More RAM: Having more RAM allows you to process more, whereas relying on virtual memory which means hard drive use – hard drives tend to use much more power than your RAM sticks.
  5. Keep It Clean: Watch how your laptop operates more efficiently while it’s cooler! Your air vents can be cleaned out with a cloth or keyboard cleaner. Your battery’s metal contacts can be cleaned with a cloth moistened with alcohol – do this every few months and it’ll keep the transfer of power from your battery more efficient.
  6. Focus On One Thing At A Time: All the programs that run on your computer concurrently will add to the central processing unit load, which cuts down battery life. Aim to do one thing at a time while you’re on battery, rather than working on a spreadsheet, listening to an online radio show and letting your email client run in the background. Adopt this for your work in general – you’ll quickly recognise the power of focus!
  7. Defragment Regularly: Defragmenting takes all the various parts of a file on your computer and puts them next to each other, which means less work for your disk drive when locating files, and therefore less battery power used.
  8. Go Into Hibernation: Rather than putting your computer in standby mode, hibernating a PC will actually save it’s state as it is, and complete shut itself down. When you want to continue working, simply turn your computer on, and you can continue working where you left off.

So there you go – the power of portability, blended with battery smarts!