Backpacking Dad’s #BlogHer11 and #HomeHer11 Terrible Jam Giveaways

I’m going to BlogHer this weekend. I may be there already. (Are you reading this in the future? Then I went last weekend. It was fun. In your case this post is completely dated, and you should skip around to something else.)

Last year I stayed home instead of going to BlogHer, and in order to pass the time I started, then later tried desperately to keep up with, HomeHer (#HomeHer10 on Twitter). It was a joke that lasted four days. I’m still laughing.

This year, although I’ll be at BlogHer, a big piece of my heart is with the #HomeHer11 crowd, a dedicated and enthusiastic group of people who have been talking about this unconference for a while now, some of them since #HomeHer10 ended. In honour of those of you who will be at #HomeHer11, I thought I’d throw a little giveaway into the mix. How would you like some jam?

And not just any jam! This is some really terrible jam. It was jam I made from peaches from my tree during #HomeHer10. It’s overcooked, looks black in the wrong light, and it’s a year old. But, despite all of that, I love this jam, because making it was a huge part of my first HomeHer updates last year. It should go in a museum. I’m serious: Do not eat this jam. (Well, maybe it’s okay to eat. What the hell do I know about year old jam? This is my first time having any in my cupboards.)


So, #HomeHer11 folks, if you would like to win this completely unappealing piece of history, just leave a comment below with a #HomeHer11 hashtag (this will let me know for sure you are attending HomeHer and are not some creeping BlogHer wank, trying to steal jam). As usual with my giveaways, if you get a friend to enter as well, and they leave a comment in reply to your comment, you get an extra entry in the drawing, numbered immediately after them.

You do not have to follow me on Twitter or Facebook or anything like that. Just love #HomeHer11 deep in your hearts.

Now, I’m not leaving people going to BlogHer completely out in the lurch. I will also be bringing some terrible jam to them in San Diego. This terrible jam is made from apricots picked this July, it is completely untasted, and I know I didn’t use enough pectin to settle it, so it slides around a good amount. Its only saving grace is the way it looks. It is Superficial Jam.


So, #BlogHer11 folks, if you want to win this possibly inedible jar of apricot jam, you have to do some more work than my #HomeHer11 friends. I have 30 business cards to give out at BlogHer this year, leftover from a run I ordered two years ago. The information on these business cards is slightly out of date (my Facebook page is at now), and the picture is ancient. I have hand-numbered these cards from 1-30. To enter into the Terrible Jam giveaway, you need to have one of these cards. That’s right! It’s a totally exclusive giveaway! Further, I will only give you one of my collector’s item business cards if you address me as “O Captain, My Captain” when you see me.

I’m such an ass.

That’s it: See me, say “O Captain My Captain”, get a business card, hope I select your number, win some worthless jam that I made myself. You should probably follow me on Twitter ( so you can see what the winning number is, but I’ll also post it here on the blog. You’re going to have to be able to find me so I can give you the jam though.

Both drawings will be done on Saturday night. I think. If I remember.

(Note: I am bringing the Superficial Jam with me to San Diego, so I’ll physically give it to the person who wins. The Historic Jam will have to be shipped to the person who wins.)

Good luck!

How to Attend BlogHer as a Dude: Updated for 2011. Now with more cargo shorts.

In the next month two weeks you will read post after post about OMG BlogHer I Can’t Wait To Go! or Damn BlogHer I Hate Those People Why Can’t They Shut Up About It?

You will read tips on how to interpret apparent standoffishness as shyness, snobbery as insecurity, hilarity as drunkenness. You will read about all the parties you will rock or feel outcast at. You will read…no, maybe you’ll just delete these posts, because they will become boring and repetitive.

But only here at Backpacking Dad will the MEN get the insight they’re looking for. Only here will the MEN attending BlogHer receive the reassurance they need to engage comfortably in a setting of a thousand women.

So, a list.

1. Figure out why you are there. Seriously, why are you there? Why? It’s called BlogHER, man, so what the hell are you doing there? And no, it isn’t enough that you take it seriously as a social media conference, or that you are interested in pro tips from the panelists, or meeting up with readers or friends or networking with powerful and influential people who happen to have vaginas. No. You are a dude. You have no business going to BlogHer despite how open and lovely everyone in the BlogHer organization is about including men. You have no business because someone in that room you are standing in will think you are a skeevy perv. So, unless you really are a skeevy perv you are going to have to do some thinking about yourself: Are you comfortable with your reasons for attending? Good. Haters to the left.

2. Do your best not to hang out with other dudes. It’s BlogHer, man, and the point really is to interact with, and learn from and about, women. No matter how tempting it might be to form a circle of guy friends and hang out with them for three days in a sea of female writers and PR folks, this is a recipe for disaster. First, because guys have a tendency to reinforce guy-ness when they are around guys, and that inevitably means that your attempt at finding a safety zone will result in creating a permanent Dome of Awesome Hotness that the women won’t be able to breach. And then you’ll have spent all weekend in a Dome of Awesome Hotness and you could have done that at a bar at home. Also, guys in a Dome of Awesome Hotness have a tendency to start to whip “˜em out and pee on each other to reduce the hotness. You will start showboating, peacocking, competing, and generally turn into a dick, Shawn. Find female friends to hang out with and engage with other men as opportunity allows, but do not rely on them for comfort and inclusion.

3. Bring a nice shirt. (Updated: Bring two nice shirts.)

4. Make sure you really really really have something valuable and original to add to a conversation before asking for a microphone during a panel and putting in your two cents and your balls. Maybe the room has something to learn from you, but be certain that you aren’t just talking to hear yourself speak and to look cool in front of everyone, Shawn.

5. Take lots of pictures, but do not allow pictures to be taken of yourself. (Updated: Unless you look awesome, in which case, the more pictures there are of you, the better. Also, make sure to upload pictures to Twitter immediately so everyone can tell you how awesome you look while you are looking like that instead of later when you no longer look like that. Feedback in the middle of social situations will help you get through social situations.)

6. Always be more sober than the person next to you. Because it’s completely awesome to let them go on and on and start to say insane things, but odds are there is a video camera around somewhere and you don’t want to be the star of Dudes At BlogHer Gone Wild.

7. Do not wear your cargo shorts, Shawn. (Updated: FOR THIS YEAR ONLY, SINCE IT IS IN SAN DIEGO, CARGO SHORTS ARE PERMITTED.)

8. You will be memorable. You will not be able to remember everyone. The disparity will fuel your ego while also spiraling you into despair. Forget about it. It’s not about you. That is, you aren’t memorable because of how awesome you are, but because of how male you are. You might also be awesome. But so are a thousand women in the room and I’ll give you odds that you get more attention than 75% of them. Don’t let it go to your head. Also, don’t let it go to your head. And don’t let it go to your head. Behave like someone who deserves to be a rock star, not like someone who is a rock star. Be cool, man. Just be cool. It’s not up to you to be the life of the party. Find someone else to pressure into being the life of the party.

9. Do your utmost to give unsolicited advice to other male BlogHer attendees. It will endear you to them and they will want to be your friend. They don’t have any influence, though, so make sure you spurn them for someone who does at the first opportunity.

10. Write a post-BlogHer post about all the people you met, but wait until six or seven months have gone by so that you can really strain your memory.

Any other advice for the guys going this year?

Ladies, feel free to offer up your “skeevy dude” stories and then feel utterly remorseful about assuming that about him. But yeah, I saw that guy. What a perv. (Updated:  Seriously. What was that guy thinking?)


Why I Rid Myself of Disqus and NetworkedBlogs

I noticed a little glitch as I was sending out yesterday’s post about my mom’s visit. When I clicked on the link to my post as it appeared in NetworkedBlogs, my Disqus commenting system wouldn’t load. NetworkedBlogs keeps readers inside their own link when they read your page, instead of just sending the reader to the post directly. This may have been confusing Disqus, which only wanted to load comments for people who were actually, fully, on my website. I’d never noticed this before, but that may be because I’ve never relied on NetworkedBlogs as much as I had been for the past week. I use NetworkedBlogs to share snippets of my blog with Facebook (instead of importing the blog posts entirely as Notes and then basically giving Facebook that traffic instead of using Facebook as a way to get people to my blog), and I just recently started letting NetworkedBlogs feed to my Twitter account too.

I had been using Feedburner’s built-in Twitter “Socialize” feature to send links to Twitter whenever a new post appeared in the feed, but while I was messing around with my Google Apps/Gmail Accounts and condensing or transferring ownership of different Google services to different accounts, I lost the ability to link Feedburner to my Twitter account while logged into my Google Apps account, which is the account managing Feedburner. (This appears to be associated with the Google Apps/Profiles problem that is keeping me from jumping into Google+, but it wasn’t a problem before, and I had been using my Google Apps account to access Feedburner, and its Socialize feature, the whole time. Now it seems to want me to have a Profile first before I can do that.) Whatever the reason for my inability to link Feedburner to Twitter, I needed another way to automatically push blog post titles and links out to Twitter. NetworkedBlogs has that capability.

I wasn’t entirely happy about combining those two streams, since I liked knowing how much traffic was coming from Twitter, and how much from my Facebook Page, and with both streams using the same NetworkedBlogs link there was no telling where people were coming from, just that they were all seeing the NetworkedBlogs link.

The Disqus comments failing to load may have been a new issue, a problem with NetworkedBlogs itself. Or it may have been an old problem, an interaction problem between Disqus and NetworkedBlogs, and I may not have ever noticed because I was only relying on it to send links to Facebook. I don’t know. But I wanted it fixed.

I have been a little bored with the Disqus commenting system for a while now, and wondering if I should change it to something else, or just go back to the regular WordPress name-email-website system. When I first installed Disqus, the point was to be able to reply to comments by e-mail and have them sent as an e-mail to the commenter AND show up as a reply to their comment on my site. I was pretty bad at replying to comments at the time (and I used to be AWESOME at replying to comments; I would reply to every single comment, even if it took an hour; but sometimes it DID take an hour, and then I started slacking off…) and I thought this would be a great way to get my comment-replying mojo back. But a weird thing happened: Having Disqus comments installed coincided with a significant drop in commenting on my blog. This could have been owed to me spending more time on Twitter, to people being annoyed that I wasn’t replying anymore, so why bother leaving comments, to me being way less interesting than before, to me not commenting on other blogs as much….or it could have something to do with Disqus.

Some people have complained to me before that they couldn’t figure out how to leave a comment. Disqus hides the name-email-website login screen behind its “Post as….” button below the comment box. This confused people in the beginning. Worse, many people have noted that they have problems leaving comments from their mobile devices. I can see the comment box on my Blackberry, but many people with iPhones have complained that they can’t see anything. Finally, some people just don’t like leaving Disqus comments, because Disqus saves a commenter’s profile and you can basically just go look and read every comment they’ve ever written on a Disqus-powered site anywhere.

With the problems loading comments in the NetworkedBlogs window yesterday, I decided to toss Disqus for the time being. I’ve reverted back to my old WordPress comments form. Maybe I’ll try out CommentLuv or LiveFyre or something later, but for now, this is fine. (Disqus had not made me any better at replying to comments anyway. That problem is me, and cannot be solved through technology.)

Then I started looking around for a way to push posts to Twitter without using Feedburner or NetworkedBlogs. I found WordTwit and decided to give it a try. This post will be the first it sends to Twitter for me, so I hope it works. On the Facebook side, in order to minimize my contact with NetworkedBlogs, I decided to try out Social RSS. It syndicates my blog feed, just like NetworkedBlogs was doing, but doesn’t interpose itself between the reader and the blog page. It may have other baggage that I’ll discover later, but I’m trying it out. This is the first new post it’s in charge of sending to my Facebook Page, so again, I hope it works.

If you are a NetworkedBlogs reader (that is, if you subscribed to my NetworkedBlogs stream because that’s the subscription service you prefer to use) I think it will still work. I’ll even leave the little window on the left if you are not a yet such a reader, yet hope to become so one day. All I’ve done is tell NetworkedBlogs not to send links to my own Facebook or Twitter accounts anymore; it should still pull the feed fine for others to read it.

So…how is your day? Have you broken your blog recently? I like to break mine every few months just so I feel stupid. It builds character.