Blogging

DISIMPROVEMENT 101

It’s a trend. Developers and software companies, from the corporate level down think we are stupid. That we need everything to be made very simple lest we be overwhelmed by too many choices, too much information.

Statistics on the old, unimproved stats screen

Statistics on the old, unimproved stats screen – showing just about everything at a glance

How do I know this? Because the trend in software from most mainstream companies (excluding Adobe, which possibly accounts for their phenomenal success) has been to automate everything.

New disimproved stats page, showing less information in a thoroughly inconvenient format

New disimproved stats page, showing less information in a thoroughly inconvenient format

To leave us with few — or no — choices. Because if we have choices, we’ll screw it up, right? Because, we are stupid.

WordPress, not content with their poorly received “improved posting experience” which caused near insurrection by bloggers, has come up with an “upgraded stats page.” It’s even worse than the “improved posting experience.” Hard to believe, but it’s true.

Commonsense says an upgraded stats page contains more and/or better data. Perhaps a faster response time with improved navigation.

You would be wrong. Instead, we are getting much less information, no navigation other than scrolling (a lot of scrolling) and a slightly slower connection.

Why? Does it not occur to WordPress to test this stuff with users before dumping it on us and telling us these downgrades are really upgrades? How stupid do they think we are?

Seriously guys … how about some beta testing? Surely that would cost nothing but a little bit of time. I’m sure most, if not all, of us would happily do your beta testing. For free. Just ask. Really.

I am not stupid. Or a newbie. Neither are most of the people with whom I connect with on WordPress. If you want to put out a “statistics lite” version for your baby bloggers, that’s fine. Offer it as an option to those who feel less is more.

I don’t think the new page is easier to understand or better in any way at all. It’s less informative and has lots of links for people who are clueless about blogging without providing anything useful to experienced bloggers. That’s a world away from better. Less is not more, not if you are talking about statistics.

Better ought to mean more statistics, additional layers of information. It should include improved navigation tools — and scrolling isn’t navigation.

A bigger typeface doesn’t improve the quality of the data, especially if you’ve eliminated everything but data for one previous week.

Yup, that’s right. You can’t get stats on previous years. No depth. No way to chart overall progress unless your blog is a week old.

It’s sad. Unnecessary. And infuriating.

For other opinions, see If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It Anyway and My iPod Has Issues – WordPress Has Joined the Crazy Club.

Pointing the Way toward Excellence…..

Marilyn Armstrong:

I try to avoid awards and nominations. This is a new one and at least it doesn’t ask a lot of silly personal questions. If anyone is feeling like being nominated for this rather attractive award, free to contact me by email. Meanwhile, thank you SwittersB for thinking of me and excellence in the same sentence. I try :-)

Originally posted on SwittersB & Exploring:

little bear-smiling bear-wood carving-photography-East L.-Oregon-SwittersBI am sincerely pleased to acknowledge a nomination from Aquiliana at the enormously popular La Audacia de Aquiles for the Excellence Blog Award. Audacia de Aquiles is a most fascinating journey into Greek Mythology, history and the underpinnings to Western Civilization. Always fascinating to visit and learn. Thank you so very much Aquiliana!!! Gosh, I hope I got those vowels right.

As is consistent with the awards, I am to pass on this award to ten or so worthy creators and point the way to their site. There are so many wonderful bloggers out there and each award provides me the gift to point toward those amazing minds. With this award, you are kindly spared knowing the minutiae about SwittersB, so let me immediately point the way to my selections for the Excellence in Blogging Award.

Candy Canes Holly

excellence

Candy Canes Lites

Circadian Reflections   Gossamer Threads   Storyteller   Fabulous 50’s …

View original 64 more words

3,000 POSTS

That’s a lot of posts. Today I crossed a blogging Rubicon. There are so many posts I don’t remember half of them. I rummage through them, hoping to find gold. Sometimes, I do. I figure if I don’t remember what I wrote, probably neither do you.

3000 post state screenshot

It’s funny, really. Yesterday, the prompt asked how long I’d been blogging daily. Personally, it’s just about two years, not counting when I was hospitalized and couldn’t do anything, not even breathe. Then there was the memorable vacation at the Cape Cod house of horrible where the WiFi didn’t work.

However, I should point out that even when I was too ill to personally pen posts (love those P words), Garry and Rich jumped in and filled the gap, so there have been daily posts — at least one, and usually more — for a long time.

And of course, the result is 3,000 posts.

Cape Cod Bathroom

The other result — which I attribute in part to my persistent prolific productivity (say that fast, three times without tripping over your tongue), another piece added to my fascinating and ongoing saga of encounters with Death. And maybe writing stuff that people enjoy reading. Oh, and a few nice pictures, too.

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The last couple of month have been the two best months ever, but views are starting to drop as the holiday season gets underway. Of course. Life intrudes on blog-reading-time. It’s been a good year for Serendipity. I’d have to be a total ingrate to fail to say thank you to all of you.

You’ve been here. Reading, encouraging, connecting. You’ve been supportive through some of my most terrible times. You have been more supportive than my family and in a weird way, you have become family.

Thank you. You make life fun and encourage me to soldier on!


As for today’s prompt, it is not stupid. Or silly. It is merely boring, a repetition of a theme which wasn’t interesting the first time around and has not improved with frequent iterations.

I would never strand anyone on an island. If you were stuck on one, if I was able to send you something, I’d send a helicopter to bring you back. Unless, of course, you were “stranded” on Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. Those are two very classy islands and getting stranded is just fine. I’d suggest a cozy cottage somewhere on the road between Vineyard Haven and Edgartown.

Postscript: If one were to get stuck on one of the aforementioned islands, the thing he/she/they are most likely to run out of, is money. So a handful of credit cards with high limits and low-interest would probably be appreciated, I’m sure. And cash is accepted everywhere.

In that case, I’d be happy to get a couple of tickets and join you.

NEVER BEEN BIG ON BINGO

So, the Great Minds of WordPress asked: “What’s the longest stretch you’ve ever pulled off of posting daily to your blog? What did you learn about blogging through that achievement, and what made you break the streak?”

Well, now that’s a fine question. I was reading CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS and realized while I was answering her, I was writing the whole answer (more or less), so really, she was my morning’s inspiration. That and discovering the new little Shark rechargeable vacuum cleaner I bought really picks up the dog hair. I was dubious about their claims, but by golly, this little machine has balls!

Shark Bagless Navigator

I digress and apologize. It’s hard to keep on point this early in the day. Well, maybe it isn’t all that early. Never mind. I need more caffeine before I can properly focus on being witty.

First of all, blogging is my current profession.

Otherwise, life as a senior citizen is 24/7 tech support to family, friends, and sometimes random strangers. I admit, I get a buzz when the young whippersnappers ask for my help because they don’t know anything about their computers except how to turn them on and off. Oh, they also know how to plug them in. They grasp the finer points of supplying electricity and charging batteries, but that’s as far as they can go.

I don’t know exactly when I started daily posting. More than two years ago. It’s not a statistic WordPress provides. My streak was rudely interrupted by a vacation at a Cape Cod dump where WiFi didn’t work. While I was in the hospital, I had to send in substitute authors while I did a little pas de deux with death. I was very lucky that Garry and Rich were there for me or this blog would probably have died, even if I didn’t.

It turned out, Garry got better stats than me, which is embarrassing. What a guy. He didn’t let popularity go to his head , which might have something to do with other prizes he won over the years. I think he only counts success if it comes with a statuette or plaque.

There I go, digressing again.

In any case, the moment I could write, Garry retired. My husband is a noble man.

And so, with all the flaws in the system, I forge (forage?) on ahead (a head?).

72-MorningCabin-10-6_22

The more interesting question is why? I don’t know why I started posting daily. I know I’m as addicted to writing as I am to the coffee I drink while I do it. It keeps my brain ticking along, keeps my writing skills from fading into something I “used to do”. Writing stimulates all those electrical impulses in the cranium. Because I blog, I have a use for the strange thoughts that pop out.

In retirement, blogging is a healthful activity. The alternative would be sitting around the local senior center waiting for the next bingo game. I’ve never been big on bingo.

What did I learn from daily blogging aside from the satisfaction it gives me? Here it goes:

  1. Write often.
  2. Write well.
  3. Post good photographs.
  4. Be nice to the people you meet online.

That’s it. That’s all of it in a nutshell. And beware of enraged squirrels.

LEFTOVERS? HUH?

Leftovers Sandwich — Today, publish a post based on unused material from a previous piece – a paragraph you nixed, a link you didn’t include, a photo you decided not to use. Let your leftovers shine!


I guess Thanksgiving went to somebody’s head. Worthy Editor has confused turkey with art. Although cooking might be considered art, I’m pretty sure leftovers, unless re-purposed as construction materials, are not.

72-Thanksgiving-Food_32

Leftover paragraphs? Rejected photographs?

I call this stuff “deleted.” Unless you are writing a book and want to save material to use somewhere else — in this book, a future book, or sequel — deleted material is gone. Poof. Bits and bytes, banished into the outer darkness.

Oh Great Editor, are you suggesting I should save leftover pieces of blog posts? Or retain photographs I think unworthy of publication — maybe because I deplore all that spare space on my hard drive and need to fill it with junk?

Who does that?

This has been another inspired post, brought to you from the creative minds at WordPress Headquarters. I could not resist. Like a moth to the flame, I was drawn in, sucked into the fiery vortex. I apologize. I’ll try not to let it happen again.

HOLIDAY TOURING: APRIL FOOL’S!

I got tapped by Doobster at Mindful Digressions (who was tapped by Willow over at Willow’s Corner) to participate in a “blog hop” called “Holiday Touring.” A blogger chooses a holiday, then poses 3 questions to 2 other selected bloggers. The questions are about how, if at all, other bloggers celebrate that particular holiday.

Dancing in the dark heritage museum

Doobster’s holiday was New Year’s Eve. He tapped me and TC Connor over at For What Is Most Valued to carry on the Holiday Touring blog hop by selecting April Fool’s Day. Here are the questions he posed to us:

  1. What, if any, April Fool’s Day pranks have been pulled on you? Alternatively, what is your favorite April Fool’s Day joke?
  2. Do you pull pranks or practical jokes on April Fool’s Day? If so, please tell us about some of your best pranks or practical jokes that you have pulled off.
  3. April Fool’s Day should be a national holiday — yes or no? Defend your position.

And now, without further fanfare, comes a much longer than necessary set of responses to what appear, on the surface, to be ridiculously simple questions.

1) Nobody has ever pulled a prank on me, not on April Fool’s Day or any other time. I think my friends simply aren’t pranksters. Not to mention this has never been a “big” holiday in New England. Its main significance to me is that Garry’s birthday is a few days away.

2) WARNING! Gratuitously long answer coming up!

Israel, where I lived for 9 years, does not celebrate April Fool’s Day … but Purim is (in part) celebrated in a similar manner. Even more so because other than Purim, most Jewish holidays are pretty grim. On Purim, though, Israel TV broadcasts faux newscasts and other funny shows. One year, they showed a hilarious version of “Candid Camera.” It had us in stitches for a week. This was back in the eighties when we only had one Israel TV channel and your alternative was Jordanian, Syrian, or Egyptian television, depending on where you lived.

You had to be there.

It came to pass … 1985 maybe? … I was doing what I did. Writing manuals. In this case, for a hardware/software combination product which read fingerprints. Nowadays, we have iris scanners, so this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was a big deal in 1985. Cutting edge technology.

It was Purim (Note: Purim is not a “get out of work” holiday.) The graphic artist and I colluded to produce a parody of the manual I was writing. I wrote the copy, he did the illustrations. I produced a few bound copies, all very hush-hush, to pass around.

Except the boss found out.

Oy. Busted. I figured I should update my résumé and start job hunting. Instead, he thrust a copy of my mock manual at me and said: “Yours?”

Meekly, I said, “Yes sir.”

“Make me a dozen more of these,” he said. “It’s hilarious. I want to give copies to the investors.” I think I still have a copy of it somewhere in a crate in the attic.

3) Should it be a national holiday? I think it IS a national holiday. Our politics are an all-year-round joke. What, you aren’t laughing?


Boston Commons and Statehouse-HP-1

Now it’s time for my to pick a holiday and pass the torch to some unsuspecting blogger who is just sitting around waiting for me to tag him or her for this honor.

I’m spinning the wheel. Spinning, spinning, spinning … slowing … and it’s …

Swoosique at Cancer Is Not Pink and Bill Brown at Evil Squirrel’s Nest!

And your holiday is … (tension is mounting … the room is silent and everyone is holding their breath in anticipation) … NEW YEAR’S DAY. An official holiday on which nobody ever seems to know what to do. When I was young and still made parties to which people actually came and everything, I gave an annual New Year’s Day Pig Out because I knew that no one ever had plans on New Year’s Day.

Here are the questions:

1) What do you do on New Year’s Day? Sleep off your hangover? Host a Victorian feast for a few dozen good friends? Nothing?

2) What are your plans for the coming holiday, if any. If you have some, tell me (and the world) what they are. If you have no plans or are, heaven forbid, working … explain how you got yourself into that mess.

3) Does New Year’s Day have special meaning to you? I (for example) became engaged to my husband on January 1, 1990. If it doesn’t have special meaning, say whatever is in your heart. Sharing, as they say at WordPress, is caring.

Note: WordPress doesn’t really mean it. Neither do I.

GUILTY PLEASURES – REDUX

Grateful and Guilty – Whether it’s a trashy TV show, extra-pulpy fiction, or nutrient-free candy, write a thank-you note to your guiltiest guilty pleasure.

Ingmar-Bergman-The-Seventh-Seal-Criterion-Collection-Blu-Ray-Disc-1080p-Screencapture-1920x1080-001

This prompt is 100% rerun. And this response is the identical (except for a teeny tiny bit of editing) response I made the first time around, on June 23, 2013. I keep saying: if you are going to re-issue the same prompts, I’m going to republish what I wrote in response. Not that anyone from WordPress pays the least bit of attention to what we write. You guys up there think we are really not very bright, don’t you.


No matter how sophisticated we become, how many degrees in film, literature or the arts we obtain, we keep our guilty pleasures. By which I mean the movies, books, books, and television shows we know aren’t great — and may be really dumb.

It doesn’t matter. We love them anyway.

xena-xena-warrior-princess-4981093-1200-800

I have a whole bushel of them, ranging from television shows about vampires with glowing eyes (Forever Knight), to reruns of the original Lassie. I’m a sucker for any movie featuring a non-human, be it cat, dog, horse, or sea creature. I’ll watch pretty much anything in which Candice Bergen starred or was at least featured. I’ll watch anything from any season of any Star Trek, even if I’ve seen it a hundred times.

star_trek_the_original_series

I love comedies by Mel Brooks, even the bad ones because they make me laugh. Ditto the Zucker brothers for the same reason. If you can make me laugh, you’ve got me. Sometimes, I watch things that are unintentionally funny … Xena, Princess Warrior comes to mind. I don’t know whether it was supposed to be funny, but it made me laugh until I cried.

high-anxiety-poster

My lists of favorite movies, books and television shows are a study in contrasts. I love The Lion In Winter and The Seventh Seal. I love Airplane and Hotshots Deux. I never miss a run of Best Of Show or A Mighty Wind. Or the original version of The Haunting.  From the sublime to the ridiculous, I will watch or read whatever grabs my fancy or makes me laugh without discrimination.

a-mighty-wind-4fec184fba464

It’s one of the reasons I think that “awards” like the Golden Globes and the Oscars need many more categories. How can you put a screwball comedy against a serious drama and have any kind of sensible outcome? It would be like having a dog show that included camels and goats. It wouldn’t matter how beautiful a goat or camel you have entered, it would never win Best of show.

forever-knight-season1-cast1

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