As you may have noticed, the blog is looking a little different nowadays. Today is the fifth anniversary of its founding (back in April 2012) and I decided that to mark the occasion, I would give the blog a makeover. We got rid of the old theme we were using (Mystere) and brought in a more modern looking one from WordPress, named ‘Plane’. The blog has also been officially renamed. It is now to be known as ‘HEM News Agency’, to better reflect the content and premise of the blog. The old name “The Half-Eaten Mind Blog” is still acceptable however, and we are keeping it as an unofficial pseudonym (not sure if this would be the right word for it).
Nowadays, an increasingly number of websites are going for the flat design trend, shafting the gradients and gimmicks of old and going for a cleaner and simpler look, with block colours and basic typefaces. The Half-Eaten Mind has joined the fray, and I have spent around 2-3 hours creating new headers and branding with the help of graphic design website Canva. I have spent a good chunk of this morning putting the new branding in place (we had massive trouble with the blog header however, wrong size meant it had to be redone, don’t ever take WordPress’s recommended header measurements as gospel, let me warn you!). The branding also applies to our social media accounts and any related sites like Gravatar. The colours I have used (dark green, sky blue, and slate blue, were chosen as they firstly fit well together, and also they relate to the history of what used to be known as the HEM Blog, in terms of the blog’s previous design. As a mark of respect to how we used to do things, I carried over the famous HEM street sign, which was our semi-official logo for a couple of years. Something new, something old, as people who organise baby showers would say.
We are also introducing new flags at the beginning of our articles. The 7+ year old flags made by FamFamFam (leeched on via StatCounter) will now be replaced by a new set of flags designed by Turkish graphic artist Muharrem Senyil and originally featured on designer’s hangout Dribbble. These flat design-inspired elements suit the new look of HEM News Agency very well, in my opinion.
It has been a great five years at the helm of HEM. I have learnt a lot and made many friends. This blog was originally set up partly to help me enter the journalism profession. While I did not ultimately realise that dream as of yet (stiff competition for jobs!), the blog indirectly helped me score a second job which I have now been working in for two years, as a writer, creative consultant and social media manager for a small consultancy focussed on finance and education between Africa and Europe.
I’m not going to sing like a canary and say it was all plain sailing. There were times when I felt like giving up the blog, as I have now have less time to write on weekends than when I first started. But then I would be giving up my dreams and talents needlessly, and I would disappoint a lot of friends, fans and supporters. I did feel the blog needed a makeover, as it was looking a bit outdated and stale, and hopefully this spring clean and makeover will help breathe new life into this baby of mine.
Don’t worry though, we will still be releasing the same news stories, features and personal blogposts that made HEM what it is. That is not going to change.
I hope you all like the new look and name and please feel free to comment or give your feedback if you prefer.
Let’s look forward to another five years of great news, features and writing, and many more memorable experiences and lessons along the way.
Everyone gather round…quick…quick…you there!!…stop swinging off that chandelier!.
It’s been a special week for this blog. We’ve been expanding our services into online newspaper making by teaming up with online media curation site paper.li to launch two new e-papers.
But that’s not been the only good news here at HEM HQ (Half-Eaten Mind Headquarters).
On the 12th April 2015, the blog reached a very special milestone. It passed the 100,000 views mark and has in fact surged ahead. With more than 350 articles, of which a handful have gone viral worldwide, we have given people all over a lot of great news and features to read and enjoy. It’s been a hard slog to get there, but it is a proud achievement and one that fills my heart with joy. Even I’m in shock that there’s that many views now, but this just goes to show where hard work, graft, persistence and dedication to your ideals and dreams can take you.
Oh we’re not done yet….
This past Wednesday (or Thursday if you count from when we began operations) marks the third anniversary of the establishment of the blog. Our very first article, way back in April 2012, was a feature piece on the Shard tower here in London, which was still under construction at the time and now looks very glimmering. Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength, changed a lot visually and in terms of our content, branched out into all sorts of things, shook hands with several clients and even self-published a book. But most importantly of all, I have made many new friends and followers.
Hot on the heels of our new online newspaper, The Half-Eaten Times, which was officially launched on the 5th of April, 2015 in association with online media curator site paper.li, we have decided to start a new publication specifically promoting the content of the HEM blogging community.
Called simply “HEM Bloggers’ News“, this new e-newspaper from Half-Eaten Mind and paper.li is exclusively designed to showcase and promote articles, photos, musings and much more from the great friends and compadres we have made in the WordPress community and beyond. As with our news version, HEM Bloggers’ News will come out twice daily, with links disseminated on Twitter.
Why not check it out, see what other bloggers are talking about and make some new friends. The community has given so much to the Half-Eaten Mind. Now this is one small way we are paying back the love.
HEM Bloggers’ News is available for viewing at the below URL and on the side toolbar:
It’s been a while….a long while since the Half-Eaten Mind last got an award for blogging services. We last hauled one in during July of 2014, and just when you thought it was all over, our great, cool and wonderful HEM Community, comes back to do it again.
This weekend, HEM has been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Julian Pereira, a.k.a Julx, an Emirati of Sri Lankan origin who lives and works in the uber-cool shoppers’ paradise of Dubai. He’s, in his words, “a normal, average guy with a normal, average life”. This instance of a VIBA nom comes with a brand new badge, a re-interpretation of the original retro, Art-Nouveau-esque motif in common circulation on many blogs in the English-speaking world. The normal white or cream background has been replaced by what appears to be a photo of several people triumphantly raising a trophy into the sky. A fitting triumph and nomination for HEM.
His site Julx’s Blogbegan life as a secured portal for discussions on technology and computer issues. The blog soon disappeared down the back of the Internet’s sofa, before Julian came back, pulled it out, dusted it off…and the rest is history.
Julian received his VIBA from a friend named Aly. As always with WordPress blogging awards, we have some rules to go through before we turn up the revelries to ear-splitting level and freak out ALL the neighbours in the block.
The Rules are as follows:
Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
List the rules and display the award.
Share seven facts about yourself.
Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.
1. Many, many thanks to Julx for kindly considering the Half-Eaten Mind and myself for the VIBA award. You are a true star in the blogosphere. Here’s his nomination article:
2. You mean this award…..?. It’s very ‘purty’!!…It’s for those blog soldiers who help keep the blogosphere a beautiful place.
3. ONE – I am currently doing a distance-learning course on weekends. This course is being offered as a free incentive by Newham Council in east London, UK for people to obtain and update their work skills. There are different modules on offer, and the one I’m doing at the moment is for Microsoft Excel 2013.
TWO: I’m probably one of the few (obviously mutated) individuals in this world who is capable of touching the tip of their nose with their tongue. What blindingly obvious purpose this will serve me in my life I’ll never know.
THREE: The last restaurant I visited was Cabana Brazilian Barbeque in Camden, London. Their spicy chicken is simply delicious and the chocolate cake is one massive rich brownie!
FOUR: I love Eighties music!
FIVE: My blog’s Twitter account (@halfeatenmind) recently got a follow from none other than Huffington Post blogger and Welsh cutie/weather presenter Sian Lloyd.
SIX: I have hazel-coloured eyes. Very unusual for people with Indo-Mauritian heritage.
SEVEN: I’m addicted to kebabs. Really addicted. Sadly I’m sort of dieting, so the kebab intake has had a massive machete taken to it in my quest to fight the flab.
All will receive a pingback notifying them of their nominations once I get this article published this Sunday. A big congrats to each and every one of you, and remember acceptance is entirely voluntary. Each one of you has inspired me in some way.
5. As with every award we recieve, this latest VIBA will be going to a place of pride on the HEM Directories and Awards page – https://halfeatenmind.wordpress.com/links-awards/ . You can view and follow Julian’s blog at: julxrp.wordpress.com/, where he has a cute cat gazing up at the moonlight. Because everyone knows cats pretty much define the Internet…and life.
On this last award of 2014, I once again would like to thank Julian for choosing the Half-Eaten Mind as a nominee and wish him all the best in his blogging.
Today, the Half-Eaten Mind receives its fifth badge of the Versatile Blogger Award from accomplished and passionate photographer Inese, who lives in County Tipperary, Ireland. Inese runs her own blog and natural photography portfolio, “inesemjphotography” (Inese MJ Photography). Her photograph blog is a heart-warming collection of natural places, plants and animals around her home in southern Ireland, as well as street scenes in the Irish capital, Dublin (Baile Atha Cliath – Irish). She also does a side run in portraiture for babies, older children and families, and has used her camera skill to sweeten the special moments of many families. Inese is also a family history (genealogy) enthusiast and doting grandmother to two little girls, which has helped inspire her passion for creating lifetime memories of children.
Photographs mean memories. It is lovely to have a studio shot now and then, but after many years your loyal pet, your toy horse, or your favorite tree will matter as much as your sweet little face. I am not only taking your portrait; I am making memories for you.
Inese herself picked up this award from Aquileana, a friend of the HEM who writes on historic topics in English and Spanish. She was very honoured and grateful to receive this award and likewise, I am very happy and honoured that Inese has chosen to pass on this award to me. 🙂
Hot on the heels of the awesome Versatile Blogger Award picked up on Monday from Kim Gosselin, I then discovered that I have also gone and got myself a coveted Very Inspiring Blogger Award from good blogging pal Gene Gordon of the “Sourcerer” blog.
Sourcerer is a blog about music, comics, photos and opinions. It is a multi-contributor outfit posting the latest happenings in the world of pop culture, humour, social commentary and geekery. If you need to learn the hard and fast facts about the state of this world, but want to get your side fill of special-edition Marvel comics and Star Trek features, let the Sourcerer work his magic on you.
In addition to Gene, the blog also showcases the works of four other bloggers, Gene’s sister Diana, who blogs under ‘Part Time Monster’ (a previous award sender of the Half-Eaten Mind), Comp Geek David, Quaint Jeremy and Marissa Bergen. An operation of family and friends, the Sourcerer is all about blogging for enjoyment, sharing the contributors’ individual and varied talents and reaching out to people with similar interests. They like to keep things loose and funny, but occasionally venture into the territory of political and social issues.
Gene himself was nominated for the VIBA by Nerd in the Brain on the 6th of July 2014 (Sunday) which he was very happy about and commented that it had come at a perfect time. All of the nominees Gene chose have been those who have inspired him in one way or another. I have inspired Gene on his Twitter journey and we have given each other a lot of support. I admire and am inspired by his writing skill, his grasp of multitudinous topics and the fact that he is an awesome guy to have known. Thanks very much!!
The Two Rules:
1) The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger Awardlogo on her/his blog, and link to the blog they got nominated from.
This award nomination was from Gene Gordon of ‘Sourcerer’. His nomination article can be foundhere.
2) The nominee shall nominate fifteen (15) bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.
About five months ago, a leading light in the HEM Community, young blogger and avid photographer Alex Smithson took an extended hiatus from blogging to concentrate on revising/preparations for his GCSEs. These are all-important end-of-school examinations taken by students in the UK as they approach their 16th birthday.
Now with exams finally out of the way and stress finally out of the system,Croydon–based Alex will be making a long-awaited return to blogging and taking amazing views of the world through his blog “Mother Nature” http://asterisk15.wordpress.com/.
Alex will be returning to full time blogging on the July 1st, 2014, just as the British summer really begins to kick in, affording ample opportunities for Alex to add to his repertoire of pictures on his blog, much of which involves detailed depictions of local wildlife and urban locations, including much photography in the botanical vein.
He has released some promotional materials that being a good friend and fellow blogger, I have shared these with you all as a congratulations for Alex on his comeback and to help him promote his blog to a wider audience.
Using the open-source GIMPgraphics software, Alex even created this cool “Under Construction” sign as he will soon be selecting a new theme to mark the refurbishment of Mother Nature.
This is Alex’s website as it is now (May 2014) before his refurbishment and new theme kicks into action. I prepared this image using the Snipping Tool feature which I have recently learnt to use on Windows computers and then uploaded to the blog’s image gallery and server from WordPress.
Is it a bird?….is it a plane?…no, it’s a Superman-tastic The Most Influential Blogger Award from Don Charisma!!. On the 21st May 2014 (this past Wednesday), the indefatigable Don nominated the Half-Eaten Mind as part of his superhero themed giveaway for this renowned and influential award, which he has given his own special twist to.
As part of the giveaway, the Don is offering two such badges to nominees, a Superman badge for the guys and a Superwoman badge for the ladies, although of course you do not have to choose according to gender. When nominated for awards, Don Charisma likes to take the old badges and rework them in his own cool style. Since 2013, he has been nominated seven times himself.
At first he was not sure how to create a badge that would reflect the idea behind the Most Influential Blogger Award. He started by asking around for opinions on the most influential personalities in human history, but soon concluded that all the most influential people in days gone past had an Achilles heel – they were not universally accepted as influential paragons of civilisation. Don shelved the idea and instead opted for the most popular superheroes the world has ever seen leap from the pages of a comic book: Superman and Superwoman.
Don Charisma’s Superman badge.
His alternative Superwoman badge.
The original badge awarded to the Don.
To accept this award, the awardee must do the following:
Display the Award on your Blog.
Announce your win with a blog post and thank the Blogger who awarded you. Do not lump this award with any other award in a “basket”, “bouquet” or “collection” etc, I would rather you didn’t accept the award.
Present 10 deserving Bloggers with the Award.
Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded with a comment (or a pingback).
Include an embedded video of your current favourite song (YouTube has virtually everything, just copy and paste the link into your WordPress editor). If a video is not possible you can embed a SoundCloud track.
(rules reproduced from DonCharisma.org)
HEM Takes on The Rules:
1. All three badges up for display and nominees’ use.
2. I would like to humbly thank Don Charisma for kindly considering me for the Most Influential Blogger Award, especially as he has made the effort to produce these awe-inspiring badges. Superman was a significant part of my childhood and I enjoyed seeing the film series that were made in the 1980s and to a lesser extent, the more recent ‘Smallville’ drama series based on the character. I also thought Superwoman was the perfect role model for girls and she kicked baddie ass differently.
You can see Don Charisma’s original nomination post at the link below.
All nominees chosen largely at random from the Twitter feed entitled “HEM Bloggers List” on the official @halfeatenmindaccount. The ten lucky awardees above will each be individually notified via an ‘at’ mention on their feeds on Twitter, plus those who have enabled pingbacks will also get those notifications via the links published in this article.
The Half-Eaten Mind wishes to happily congratulate all the ten awardees and may they always be influential and successful.
5. The video/song I have chosen is “On a Ragga Tip” by SL2. An electronic/ragga hit influenced by Jamaican musical traditions, this party anthem made it into the UK national music charts for three weeks and stayed at Top 10 for two months in 1992. Over the years I have heard this song a few times and always loved its beat. I only recently heard it again while walking to work and the DJ had the good sense to tell everyone the artist and name at the end of the record. I ended up downloading “On a Ragga Tip” into the music library on my mobile phone and it’s become again one of my favourite tracks on there.
SOURCES/IMAGE CREDITS/VIDEO CREDIT:
“The Most Influential Blogger Award” – Don Charisma, DonCharisma.org (21 May 2014) LINK
“SL2 – On A Ragga Tip 1992 Slipmatt & Lime” – thedjslipmatt, YouTube GB (9 October 2007) LINK
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.
HEM's 2 year anniversary coming this week. Can't wait. Thanks to everyone for your support, likes and comments 🙂 #HEMturnstwo#blogging
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.
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
Today, we pick up the second award for this week and this month, with a never before seen badge for 2014 especially created by our good friend, Don Charisma. He has nominated us for the very dazzling Angel Award.
Don Charisma is a very intelligent and multi-talented blogger who has an impressive with both texts and graphics. Whether it is panoramas of Thai temples, taking pictures of a rather rude gentleman with a parrot touting for tourist dollars, or his amazing line in award badges, I have been privileged to call DC, as he’s affectionately known here, a friend and a fellow blogging enthusiast.
DC was himself nominated for this award by a good friend of his named Angie. She is, from what I gather, the originator of this heavenly divine award.
This award is dedicated to all the HEM Community as well as my youngest sister Anjali, whose name sounds very much like ‘angel’ (although nothing to do with angels, her name has a spiritual meaning). Yesterday, while visiting my mum’s house, I spent time with her teaching her how to draw graffiti-style art, after a special request from her, and I also took the chance to resurrect my drawing skills with the help of Anji’s massive set of glitter and ordinary gel pens. I did some logo designs that I plan to feature on the Half-Eaten Mind at a later date.
The badges for the Angel Award – original badge first, DC’s version depicted below.
Especially, I would like to give a big hearty thanks to the Don for selecting me. The badge is really beautiful and detailed, indeed, probably one of the best badges I have ever seen. I think both versions are awesome, but DC’s version works better because there is a tie-in with the name of the award and the picture of an Renaissance-era angel. The background as well has a heavenly feel to it. The way the light breaks into its component colour wavelengths as it emanates from an angel’s wings perhaps. What is even more touching is that DC made up this badge as a kind favour to his friend Angie – a small offering, but one in which the angels will smile on.
The Angel Award does not come with any rules or need for nominations. To take a leaf from DC, your only requirement is to do an acceptance post too. I am offering the Angel Award to ALL of the bloggers in the HEM community, so feel free to accept.
“The Angel Award – Thanks Angie :)” – Don Charisma, DonCharisma.org (5 April 2014) LINK