NO GOALS? NOT MUCH CHANGE … SHARING, WEEK 35

Share Your World – 2014 Week 35

Have your blogging goals changed?

I never had any blogging goals except to post pictures and write stuff and hope some people outside immediate friends and family might see it. It’s easy to meet or exceed ones goals if you don’t have any. Goals.

Stats 9-1-14

I didn’t expect I would enjoy blogging as much as I do. Nor did I expect my writing and photography to be so well received. That has been a very pleasant surprise. The writing I did professionally wasn’t the sort that wins awards, gets applause, or attention. It was “bread and butter” writing. Honorable work. It didn’t save the world, but it didn’t harm it, either. And it paid well. Best of all, I got to meet great people, some of whom are still friends after many years.

community-9-1-14But blogging — it’s the first time I’ve written for myself and have an audience. A responsive audience. An encouraging, often flattering audience. People say the nicest things.

My current blogging goals? I still don’t have any. I plan to continue to do what I have done.  I hope it continues to be as much fun and as satisfying as it has been for the past two and a half years.

If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?

No need to think about this one. I want to be a flyer in the trapeze act. I want to cannonball through the air, weightless and free of gravity. But … keep the net in place, okay? Just in case.

If you could go back and talk to yourself at age 18 what advice would you give yourself?  Or if you are younger than 25 what words of wisdom would you like to tell yourself at age 45?

As I am not getting any younger (no one except Dorian Gray gets younger and it’s Dorian’s portrait, not the real him that’s aging backwards), I would tell myself to relax. Stop wasting all that time worrying. Worrying is useless — and ruins the moment. I would NOT marry the second husband — talk about a waste of time and energy. I would always carry a camera and write more just for fun. I guess I should have done better with my money. Okay, I’ll tell myself to start saving money.

What is your favorite comfort snack food?

Unchanged since the last time this came up, it’s crystallized ginger. In many and varied forms.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Charter finally fixed our bad connection at the pole on the street. After 13 years of malfunctioning, our cable is working the way it is supposed to. Imagine that!

Next week? There is a get-together with old friends in Boston. That should be a nice diversion.

HURT SO BAD

The silencing of Linda Ronstadt, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

All through the 1970’s, you could not leave your transistor radio on for long without hearing the distinctive voice of Linda Ronstadt.  She emerged from her early time with The Stone Poneys from the mid 60’s as broke, from paying for much of their third and final album, but with a solo career emerging.  Her cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” became a hit and she was on her way.

After assembling a strong group of musicians and friends, she went ahead with both covers of songs from the 50’s and 60’s as well as some new songs.  The combination brought her hit after hit and made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.  She posted 10 top ten songs and one of her hottest was a cover of the Little Anthony and the Imperials song, Hurt So Bad,” which peaked in 1980.

In a career that lasted until 2011, Ronstadt sold over 100 million records and her voice can be heard on an astounding 120 albums.  She has an impressive collection of awards, including 11 Grammys.  She remained popular until her retirement in 2011 when she declared herself “100 per cent retired.”  While some walk away from their careers as they get older, it is always somewhat of a surprise when a famous person retires.  You really expect them to come back at some point.  That was never going to happen for Ronstadt.

She could no longer sing.  She was physically unable.  In 2012 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in August 2013 the news was stated publically.  Her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came too late in her career.  In April 2014, the disease progressed to the point where she could not perform at her induction, or even attend.  Her friends took her place on stage, singing out her biggest hits in tribute.

In July, President Obama handed out twelve 2013 National Medals of Arts and Humanities, including one for Linda Ronstadt.  This honor was not to be denied to her.  She was brought to Washington and wheeled into the East Room by a military aide, but she stood and walked up to the President of the United States to receive her award “for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music.”  After the ceremony President Obama admitted to the crowd,  “I told Linda Ronstadt I had a crush on her back in the day.”  It’s OK to admit that.  Millions of others boys did too.

 

THAT POPULAR TOUCH

We bloggers are endlessly in search of answers. All kinds of answers. I am, in particular, forever seeking an answer to the ultimate blogger query: What makes people follow me … and why are some posts popular while others (often, in my opinion, better) … not?

Serendipity-Blogging-Map

I think I’ve got it. The answer became suddenly obvious while I was reading “Excellent demo” on Mindful Digressions site. He’s one of the bloggers I always read. One of a handful. He is like me insofar as he writes about everything, whatever is on his mind. Sometimes funny, maybe serious, frequently thought-provoking, and informative. Always well-written, entertaining, and admirably free of typos. Even if the day’s post isn’t exactly up my alley, it’s worth reading.

Excellent demo” was about a software presentation to a prospective client that goes horribly wrong. The WiFi connection doesn’t work, the hot spot tool doesn’t help. It’s humiliating. The kind of experience we have all had, in one way or another. It’s painfully universal. I can remember at least two horrible professional moments, both involving cameras. After more than 30 years, they remain cringe-worthy and painful to the touch.

Oh, his company got the contract anyhow. He wondered how that could be? I thought the answer is probably simple. Everyone in that room at some time or another had a similar experience. That the demo went badly generated a visceral empathy. It didn’t sell the product, but it didn’t UNsell the product, either.

Back on Serendipity, I noticed the last two posts that did better than usual were both about the kind of stuff that happens to everyone. THANK YOU, I THINK, about backhanded compliments and I JUST WANT TO FEEL BETTER, which talks about dealing with doctors who don’t see you as a real person.

The common thread? I looked at other popular posts. One that Garry wrote about his parents, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MOM AND DAD! and a similar post by me, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!. A few more posts Garry wrote about me when I was sick.

I looked at the list of my all-time most popular posts. Not including camera, movie, television, and technology reviews which have a life-cycle unique to that type of post and setting aside DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE, which has a life of its own … all Serendipity’s most popular posts have some universal theme — something anyone, everyone can relate to.

I don’t write this way on purpose. I write the way I write because I write that way. I’m betting most of you don’t design your style. It comes out of you. It is you. I can control my subject matter, but I have little control over my style. When anyone asks about my “process,” I come up blank. What’s a process?

I don’t have a process. I get an idea. I write about it. It may leap out of a conversation with Garry, a comment I make on someone else’s blog, a book I’m reading, a TV show I’ve watched. A dream I had or what the dogs did. Many are anecdotes … things that happened here and elsewhere. Often, the interesting part of the story isn’t the event, but how it affected me.

There are blogs that deal with issues. Special interest web sites which talk about current events, news, politics, religion, the power structure, education. Some are all about history or literature. Or talk only about movies. They have their audiences, people who are interested in the things these bloggers write about. Me and many of you reading this have special interests too, but mostly, we are interested in life.

That’s what we write about it. Sometimes, it’s a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Nice and tidy. As often as not, it’s a memory, a string of thoughts wrapped around something that happened. A wish, a wisp, a wistful moment. And strangely, other people enjoy reading it. Go figure, right?

USING A NEW STATISTIC – FROM THE POSTS PAGE

Posts in menuMaybe I missed it. Maybe the link has been there for some time and I just noticed it. Or maybe it was recently added and no one at WordPress felt it worth mentioning. In any case, there’s a statistical link in town I’ve not previously explored.

I like it. Of all of WordPress’s analytic tools, this is the one which tells me about specific posts. You can find it under the “Stats” column on the Posts or All Posts page. You get there using  the “Posts” or “All Posts” entry on the black menu on the left side of the dashboard.

One of the problems I’ve had with the numbers WordPress supplies is they are too general. It’s hard to get information about individual posts. But this data can tell me if I am reaching my audience, how many views on which days. I see a curve showing the life cycle of the post. Useful information for a blogger.

There are still holes in the statistics, such as how I can have a post with more than a hundred “likes” when the stats say it only has 75 views.

In the following screen capture, you can see the STATS column. Note the little bar chart symbol. If you click on the symbol, voilà. You get more information on that post.

post page with stat link

Here’s a readout on a recent, relatively popular post.

Just want to feel better stats

You’ll notice that the “views” are divided into dark and light blue. The dark blue band at the top represents “syndicated views,” the light blue “on-site” views. I think I get “on-site,” but what are “syndicated views”?

Are those views which originate from the Reader? There is no explanation, so I can only guess. Syndicated views could mean views from links on other blogs or pages elsewhere on WordPress, such as “The Daily Prompt” page. If one of you finds out, I’d appreciate your getting back to me on it.

I assume this is a relatively recent addition because I can’t get accurate information on older posts. For example, this one, from 2013, note in the final week shown, the viewing percent for the post went up by a full 2,770% — very impressive, isn’t it? But three weeks earlier, it went up by 1,100% — so in a month, it went up a solid 3,870%. Can’t beat that.

stats for gazing through 2013-now

The percentage change for the final week of this post went up a lot — 2,770%! Wowie zowie!

I couldn’t get anything at all on the oldest version of the post. They best I could get was a summary that supposedly includes everything from when I officially started blogging in February 2012:

top posts stats

“The FBI Can’t Do A Simple Google Search?” shows 10,143 hits, but the search engine can’t find that post. It can only find the one I most recently re-published. The old one was gone, buried. It is difficult to figure out if the problem is the statistical analysis or the search engine. Both?

Limitations notwithstanding, this is a useful tool if you don’t have quite as many published posts as Serendipity (more than 2600 and growing). I have to assume if you have less stuff in your files, the search engine will find it. I’m just guessing.

This little tool isn’t going to answer all your statistical questions, but it’s a good way to get a clearer picture of how a post has been received. For those of us who enjoy working the numbers, this is useful information. Have fun!

STATS AND STATS – 6,001 FOLLOWERS?

Someone just alerted me that the count displayed on my site shows 6,001 followers.

followers-total_8-14-14

No matter what it shows, I don’t have anywhere near that many followers, unless you count Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. My Facebook total is especially meaningless in this context. Most of them are people with whom I used to play Metropolis. I don’t play Metropolis anymore, but the connections I made because of the game are still officially Facebook friends. They were never real friends, just folks with whom I played a game.

For reasons unexplained (probably rivalry), Google followers are not counted.

None of the WordPress counts are reliable. Until last year, hits from the Reader were not counted. Then, for a while, WordPress provided a separate tally of Reader hits. After a few weeks, it was discontinued.

Now I have no idea how or if Reader hits count. Who is counted? Many of us use not just WordPress’s Reader, but other readers. Like Bloglovin, to name just one of many.

As far as I know, the only hits that count (for sure) are when a reader clicks on an individual post. If a readers just accesses your site, then scrolls through, reading as he or she goes, it counts as a single hit. On the other hand, if someone is looking at a photo gallery, then clicks on 6 different pictures, you will get 7 hits — 1 for selecting the post and 1 each for every picture.

Hits_8-14-14

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

You can study the statistics all you want, but all you can extract are general trends. More or less traffic. A little analysis will show you which of your posts get the most traffic, though the count on that is also suspect. It is not unusual for the number of “Likes” on a post to exceed the supposed total number of hits on it or show 17 hits when you’ve got 75 “Likes” and 55 comments. How can that be?

The only followers I count are WordPress followers yet I know I have followers who prefer to not create a WordPress profile and never register. So they aren’t part of the “follower” count. I’m not sure whether or not they count at all.  I only know they exist because they are friends and have told me they read my posts. Since none of them comment or “Like”, are they counted?

followers_8-14-14

We want to make sense of our numbers, but it isn’t going to happen. It won’t make sense because WordPress won’t tell us how they come up with the numbers. We need a definition of “hit.” I’d like WordPress to tell me if Reader “hits” are included in the count. Until we have a realistic idea of how they come up with the numbers, we will never understand what they mean.

Does anyone besides me wonder why they won’t tell us for what are they using our numbers? How are they mining our data? To whom they are selling our personal information? I don’t worry about hackers nearly as much as I worry about being sold as part of a list.

What I can tell you with certainty, is I do not have more than 6,000 followers. No matter what it says in the little box.

And all of us are getting more hits than the hit count shows.

WORDPRESS – A GIANT STEP BACKWARDS

WordPress’s new, “new format” is bad in so many ways. It’s a classic example of “stealing defeat from the jaws of victory.” They have replaced a format that works with one that is pretty and useless. There are dozens of sayings about this kind of thing from “all that glitters is not gold” to “pretty is as pretty does.”

They all mean the same thing. Looking good is not enough. An attractive cover does not a good book make. The new format:

  • No word count
  • No proofreading
  • Confusing scheduling
  • Bad default setting for “save” ; the default  is instant publication rather than draft, which will mean a lot of accidental postings
  • No “paste as plain text” (major problem — adds a lot of bugs and bad code)
  • Very slow loading, even slower saving
  • You cannot edit photographs in this format. Galleries have no “edit” link. Individual photos are missing the functions that allow you to set their position (left, center, right, none) and size
  • You cannot change or add a caption. Even if you set it up using the “classic” mode, you cannot edit it in the new one.

I have not tried creating a photographic post using the new, “new post” function because I never liked that format anyway and it’s so very much worse now. I have heard very negative things about how it handles photographs. I can confirm you can’t edit photos … I have heard you can’t download photos either, but haven’t checked it out personally.

Did I mention the “paste as plain text” option stopped working a week ago? Pasting anything you copied from another source is perilous to your post and produces a godawful mess you can’t clean up unless you can edit code.

You will get the new format if you use “New Post” from the top right on your dashboard or if you click “Edit” from your website. One of the worst features is that it takes minutes, not seconds, to load. It takes even longer to save. And be careful because you may think you’re saving, but unless you change the default settings, you are publishing. Gonna be a lot of accidents.

It has a lot of display bugs. The old one — been around awhile — where all your spacing disappears if you preview the post. Several new ones where coding does not delete when you remove the text to which it was attached. And “view post” and/or  “preview” not working at all.

wordpress-format

As of this writing, you can still get the old format via the dashboard menu (left column), but for how long? They just (a few minutes ago) added “Classic mode” in case you don’t like the new format. Maybe someone complained.

Anyone who cares about formatting won’t like the new post format. The loss of both the word count and proofreading is serious for writers.

Is it pretty? Maybe, but you have less space to work in.  Does anyone want less work space? How could that be an improvement for anyone?

Who is making decisions at WordPress? Based on what? It certainly isn’t based on what their customers want or need.

WordPress is continuing to try to make everything look nice without regard for functionality. An elegant GUI full of glitches and bugs. It’s a terrible trade-off and it will come back to bite all of us in our collective asses. It’s already doing it. WordPress does not remember how many popular blogging platforms have disappeared.

Will the rest of you please complain to customer service? I’ve done my part. You all have to jump in. If you complain, they might change it. If you don’t, I guarantee they will assume you like it.

Don’t do it for me. Do it for yourselves.

See Also:

Here’s an idea, Word Press — Beta Testing!

A FLAT WORLD RULED BY ZEUS

When I was a relatively new blogger — by some standards, I am still relatively new — I thought it was cool to write about Big Issues. Religion. Freedom. Patriotism. The Meaning Of Life.

It put me on the blogging map and gave me my best ever statistics, way back in November 2012. More than 12,000 hits that one month. It was a great time to start serious blogging. A presidential election month and the visit of Hurricane Sandy. The Internet was boiling with energy. I got to ride the wave.

More than 125,000 hits later, I’ve learned a few things.

ZeusI would not write now what I wrote then. During the nearly two years that have passed, I’ve developed standards and guidelines for appropriate versus inappropriate material.

I avoid trying to convince anyone of anything — at least on my blog. I don’t mind a few round of fisticuffs on someone else’s site if they want to host the games, but not here. I won’t take on religion and politics. It’s not the controversy, it’s the stress. I can’t handle it. So I’ll offer you an historical perspective on the constitutional convention and a long, painfully detailed explanation of why term limits are a terrible idea. How they will only make Congress worse than it already is. That’s as close as I’ll go.

You want to spend the night talking about The Meaning of Life? Come on over. We’ll have cake, coffee, and talk till sunrise. Just not here. Not on this website.

Well, why not here?

Because I can’t say what I mean in 600 words. When I — or you — address a major issue on a blog, the result will be a pile of generalizations. Even if we know better. No one can offer a fully developed statement on anything significant in so few words. I certainly can’t. Minimally, I need room for citations and references.

Nor will I host a free-for-all in comments. I have no interest in being a referee. I have even less interest in promoting a viewpoint, especially since I’m notorious for changing my mind. I believe the right to change my mind is fundamental — as basic as freedom of speech.

I don’t marry my opinions.

So whatever you read here? Do not assume that I’m trying to win you to a point of view.

Other than an intense dislike of bigots and racists (even when they don’t realize they are), a lifetime commitment to human equality, women’s rights, and being nice to each other, you don’t have to agree with anything I say. Whatever you think I’m selling, I’m not. You, me, and everyone else has the right to believe whatever we want. As long as you aren’t trying to stuff it up my (or anyone’s) nose, it isn’t hate-speak, and you aren’t advocating violence towards anyone.

However: If you are seriously committed to belief in a flat world ruled by Zeus? Go for it. Just — forgive me if I can’t stop laughing.