Yesterday was a very special day for the Half-Eaten Mind. While for the owner it was yet another long one at work and surviving the Hammersmith and City line followed by buses that just don’t want to wait for you, the blog has marked two years since its establishment on the 16th April, 2012. That’s a whole two years of news stories covering the globe, of entertaining and visually powerful features on a variety of subjects, hordes of awards and of course, the dozens of friends and supporters I have made along the way. It has been a great twenty-four months, in which I have developed and grown as a blogger and journalist and the blog has become a labour of love which has brought a lot into my life, even if that means slogging a bit on the weekends. Especially when my landlord supplied with a squeaky second-hand office chair that is a heavy as a pregnant walrus and does my back in.
In the couple of days running up to the anniversary, I was slowly becoming jittery with measured excitement at the Half-Eaten Mind reaching this important milestone. On its official Twitter account, I tweeted on the impending birthday a couple of times, complete with our own unique hashtag #HEMturnstwo. The way I was going would have perhaps got the casual observer wondering if I was talking about a living breathing human being… or going slightly soft in the brains, but for me, HEM has been almost like a child of mine, one that I helped nurture and grow. Now it has reached the tender age of two, I can stand back from my laptop and say that I have really achieved something here, which for someone like me who was not born with a prestigious life and a silver spoon in his mouth, means a great deal.
To ready HEM for its birthday, I decided to do a reorganisation of the front menu and basically sort our two hundred plus articles and blogposts into set categories based on subject. I did this, as apart from being a bit of an organisation freak, I wanted to give HEM a more professional news website setup as you would find with any mainstream news media outlet. Equally important, there was a significant need to make the blog more user-friendly too. By reforming the menu options, visitors would not only find it easier to locate what they’re looking for but also to search around subjects that interest them. So for example, if you are looking for international news, there is now a tab on the menu that takes you directly to all our ‘World News’ stories, with minimum fuss and maximum relevancy. This of course supplements the existing search option on the right of the webpage which came pre-packaged with the theme I’m using. As the blog matures and increases its online presence, and with the anniversary rapidly approaching, now more than ever was an ideal time to tidy up the menu. All articles were categorised according to certain broad themes and using the HEM dashboard’s ‘quick edit’ function, took only two days to designate those categories for eleven pages of articles stretching back to our very first feature published in the spring of 2012. I was incredibly grateful for the quick edit function. It made things for me a lot easier than having to manually edit each article which would have taken more like two weeks than two days.
On the 16th April, 2014, I was unable to produce this article then as I was on the day job. However with the long Easter break coming up and with both the upcoming Friday and Monday being public holidays (bank holidays), I was in for a long lie-in. So after arriving home with a steaming hot lamb doner kebab in hand, I stuffed tonight’s dinner in the fridge for later and went upstairs to my room and the epic nerve centre that is the home of this blog. In other words, my Toshiba Satellite C660 laptop. Literally the first thing I did upon switching the laptop on and waiting for it to (slowly) power up, was to begin searching for pictures. Why, you may ask?. Because just like a chef will rummage through the fridge to find the right ingredients for the perfect casserole, I needed to find the right visual ingredients to make the official HEM second anniversary graphic. I used the Google CC search to pick out media and blogging related images, but the crux of this beastie was a wallpaper. A free PC wallpaper that showed a glass sphere sitting and refracting sunlight onto a newspaper page so straight and flat it appeared to have been heavily ironed and folded immaculately.
While there were many other wallpapers and backgrounds with a newsprint or journalistic theme available, this particular wallpaper spoke volumes to me. I needed something that would fit the blog’s purpose as a news site, but not be gaudy, childish or be too loud for the components I would be adding later. The contrast of light and physical state between the orb and the paper struck me as being particularly attractive yet subtle in its portrayal. This was amazing especially given that the image, taken from a free wallpapers site, was in black-and-white. The image’s simplicity, unabashed intellectual design, and its size would give me ample room to work on with my graphic design skills and follow the recipe instructions that were rapidly unfolding in my head as I opened up another website that would be the online ‘kitchen’ of my ideas….the photo editing page of piZap.
Those of you who have followed this website for a while will know that piZap is my go-to source for easy to make yet flawlessly appreciable graphics. Indeed a lot of the homemade graphics I have produced for the Half-Eaten Mind, including our Plaistow tower blocks header came out of the pizap foundry. I won’t go into the long and probably boring detail of how exactly I put the HEM 2nd anniversary image together, but let’s put this way, this image was probably one of the best I have created to date.
Now while I do have a good eye for the artistically wild side of life, I’m not under any delusion that I am an amazing Photoshopping whizzkid who can make Michealangelo masterpieces with some pixels and a few clicks of a mouse. But when I finally pulled the tarpaulin off this baby, I was so shocked that I could hear my mind shout at me “I’m bloody impressed”. After about one and a half hours of working on an empty stomach, mind buzzing while tweaking image sizes and opacity and moving text boxes all over the place, I had created a masterpiece that I think would win a few plaudits at your local design awards bash. I think what works for this special ‘poster’ graphic is just that it appears professionally done and forged in the visual essence of what the media is about in a single element.
This image is colourful, but restrained in its expression. It is busy but not over the top. It’s catchy, but not in-your-face. You could say I have reached a happy and settled medium between my desire to go crazy with all the colours and widgets that piZap offers, and the need to project a professional clean-cut image, which is a steadily increasing importance as my blog matures as a news and views website. Everyone will have their impression and perception of this picture, but when I looked at it yesterday I was saying to myself that this would not look too out of place in a trade magazine or even as a half-page spread in a newspaper. Subeditors: if you like what you see, you can find my contacts on the About page 😉
Please bear in mind that the clarity and resolution of the HEM 2nd anniversary image might be less than perfect. That is due to the limitations of showing piZap images on these blogpages but also due to resizing to help accommodate it in this article. You can see the original unstretched version on the HEM Flickr page.
Since producing the above image, I have assigned it to places of pride on our social media network. It is the current cover image for our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HalfEatenMind) and as a background for our Twitter account (https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind) on a temporary basis.
Before we round off things with a little birthday cheer, here is a Top Ten of HEM-related stuff from the past two years we have brought you cutting-edge news and amazing features, as well as various other facts and tidbits.
All-time (total) blog views – as of 17/04/2014 13.06
All-time number of comments – as of 17/04/2014 13.06
Blog facts and follows
379 BLOG FOLLOWERS (WORDPRESS & EMAIL)
17 COMMENT FOLLOWERS
866 TWITTER FOLLOWERS
12 FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS
Top 10 most read articles (excluding home page)
1. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014: Vijay’s best new year images (10,141 views)
2. PHOTO MOMENT: Islamic New Year – Hijri 1435 (3,696 views)
4. LLOYDS BANKING GROUP: Lloyds and TSB to part ways (1,747 views)
5. ATACAMA HUMANOID: Alleged extraterrestrial corpse is of this world (1,632 views)
6. WALLPAPER: Diwali 2013/2070 (1,525 views)
7. SHRIMANT BAJIRAO PESHWA: Legendary warrior of the Marathas (1,428 views)
10. ANNOUNCEMENT: New wallpaper to celebrate Diwali (851 views)
Top 10 countries by views
1. United States – 16,115
2. United Kingdom – 13,318
3. India – 8,229
4. Canada – 1,273
5. Australia – 971
6. Pakistan – 774
7. Germany – 763
8. Indonesia – 761
9. France – 736
10. United Arab Emirates – 643
Top 10 referrers (websites bringing visitors to HEM)
1. Google Search (24,453 views)
2. Google Image Search (8,255 views)
3. Google Mobile (682 views)
4. Yahoo Search (489 views)
5. Bing (479 views)
6. Ask.com (183 views)
7. search.babylon.com (76 views)
8. AOL (65 views)
9. mywebsearch.com (55 views)
10. isearch.avg.com (54 views)
Top 10 search engine terms
1. grave encounters (279 views)
2. diwali (235 views)
3. atacama humanoid hoax (176 views)
4. new year 2014 (137 views)
5. lloyds tsb split (119 views)
6. bajirao peshwa (98 views)
7. happy diwali animated gif (74 views)
8. happy new year animated gif (70 views)
9. anjali family photos (69 views)
10. new year images 2014 (61 views)
This is the week that HEM turns two, and while the blog cannot exactly say ‘thank you’, I would like to wish the Half-Eaten Mind a very happy 2nd birthday!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HALF-EATEN MIND!!