My Notebook

My notebook is where I keep random notes, experiments and bits of research. Some of these become full posts in time, others stay here for prosperity.


Excluding categories from your blog in WordPress

If you want to suppress a particular category from your WordPress blog it’s quite easy to do. All you need is the following snippet of code:

function exclude_category_home( $query ) {
// I exclude a specific category from the home page.
if ( $query->is_home ) {
$query->set( ‘cat’, ‘-139’ );
return $query;

add_filter( ‘pre_get_posts’, ‘exclude_category_home’ );

The function tells the index query to omit category 139. On my blog, 139 is the “notebook” category where I keep my random thoughts and notes that don’t fit well in a blog structure. I suggest you use the ID as its more reliable than trying to infer it from the category name.

To find your category’s ID, edit the category in WordPress and look at the URL:


The bit in bold (tag_ID=139) gives you the ID.

“add_filter” tells WordPress to call the function before the loop.

I’ve put this code in my site’s plugin so it doesn’t get lost the next time I change the theme.

It’s a useful piece of code if you do article spinning or want to keep certain things off your blog.


Bumbling Boris Johnson

Bumbling Boris Johnson

I think this style of cover comes from a piece on Barack Obama. I wanted to mimic it, just as an experiment in using text masks.

Seeing as he was all over the news, I grabbed an image of Boris Johnson via the FCO. The headline I thought was provocative given how divisive he is.

Putting it together didn’t take long, probably because I was in mimic mode. It’s good to do quick, keep-the-skills-fresh type experiments like this from time to time.


UK Advertising spend grows (again)

UK Advertising spend grows (again)

Looks like UK plc pumped even more money into advertising in the first half of 2019. Overall spending was up 17% and mostly there were winners. Search stays top, although video display advertising has seen the biggest boost.

Source: IAB.


My name is Ross

My name is Ross

Experimenting with using opacity and oversized text.


Promo image for a post on “Article Spinning”

Promo image for a post on “Article Spinning”

I wrote a post on Article Spinning. TL; DR: it’s where you take an article and change bits of it for different keywords.

It needed a promotional image, so I sat down and cooked this one up. Idea is hopefully self-explanatory. Think I’m still finding my way a little coming up with the way I’d like to present my images. They’re still a little random.


Influencer hero image

Influencer hero image

Created this one for a piece on Influencers that started here and migrated over to my business website, then came back again.

I used rotoscoping on a base image, then dialled back the detail to create something more abstract and illustration like. Finally I made changes to the colouring until I had something original.

Thing is, I can’t remember which image I used or where it came from. Guess that shows how homogenous Instagram’s become.


A socket as a fuel pump

A socket as a fuel pump

I use “Crazy 8s” and “Crazy 4s” when I’m coming up with ideas for my work. This was a sheet I did for promoting electric vehicles that went nowhere.

The “Crazy” method is pretty easy. Just fold a sheet of paper until you have 4 or 8 cells. Then you get 20 seconds a cell to sketch an idea. Hit 20 seconds, move on to the next.


A to-do list from September

A to-do list from September

Todo list from a few months back. I was clearing out my content, reducing the rubbish on my website and looking for some focus.

Rather than use a sophisticated web based to-do list, there are times then a sheet of paper and square boxes does the trick. In this case it was a digital sheet of paper using Paper on my iPad.

Might have been a bit harsh about Flickr.


How do I reduce the number of emails in my inbox

Thinking about how to reduce the number of emails that find their way into my inbox. I listed out the different ways I manage my emails and thought I’d put them into an article of some sort. I never got round to it.

Here’s my top tips…

  • Filter out newsletters. Every month I clear down and unsubscribe
  • Do email at set times in the day.
  • Use the inbox as a to-do list. It stays there until it’s done.
  • Archive threads by printing to PDF and filing. WHY? Important contract stuff might be lurking in there.
  • Use snooze (only for emails that need a thoughtful reply).

About Ross A Hall

I help companies make the most of content. Some people call me a writer, others a content manager. I prefer "someone who gets results".

Need a hand? Get in touch.