Author Archives: acflory

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes...

The price of integrity

I’ve been thinking about this all day, trying to find a way of doing the right thing without sticking my neck out. But there isn’t one. I can’t stay silent and not feel ashamed of myself.

So here is the response I received this morning from the WordPress/Automatic representative:

‘….For your site the ads placement is correct for the double sidebar option you have enabled under Settings > Theme options
There is an issue I see though where the the first ad in the sidebar is appearing blank. I have reported this to our ads team as well as the “asian girl chat” ad.
I will remove the ads from your site for the above reasons. Like I mentioned though, the ads do appear in their expected places on the site.
Write back to me here with any further questions/concerns about this. I will not be able to disable ads for every report in that forum thread. The thread will be closed once I’ve reached everyone by email.
Take care,
Liz
Happiness Engineer
WordPress.com’

If you stop receiving notifications of blog posts from me, it may be because Meeka’s Mind is no longer here. Should that happen, I would dearly love to hear from all of you on my gmail email:

meekasmind@gmail.com

-massive hugs-

Meeks


#WordPress – do you know what your blog really looks like to visitors?

When the ongoing saga of the sidebar adverts. began [here, here and here], I started a thread about it on the WordPress forum. In the days since then, more and more WordPress bloggers have left comments about the same thing happening to their own blogs. This is what one of the commenters said today:

‘I only by chance even found this out by going to my blog on another browser that I wasn’t logged into at the time. Many (most) bloggers have no idea that these new and multiple ads are on their blogs. If they were aware, there would be far more outrage on the Forums. ‘

That got me thinking. Many of my blogging friends can’t see the ad at all because they run adblocker software, but what of everyone else on WordPress? Surely we are not the only ones being targetted by these ads?

And then the penny dropped: the reason more bloggers aren’t screaming is because they only ever see their blogs from the inside, and from there, everything looks fine. What the…?

When I’m logged in to WordPress and click the button to ‘view my site’, I only ever see what’s meant to be there. I never see the ads so if I didn’t have my blog set as the home page of my Firefox browser, I probably wouldn’t know what visitors are seeing either.

But wait…it gets worse. When I write a post and preview it, the ads don’t show. I know because I just checked the preview for this post – no ad. Then I hopped on Chrome and checked my site – ADVERTISEMENT! So the ‘Preview’ function doesn’t show your blog from the outside either.

So how could this happen? Do the ‘view site’ and ‘preview’ functions only display setup choices, not real time information? Or is there a deliberate deception going on?

I hope I’m wrong. I hope it’s just one of those programming over-sights and not an attempt to hide the ads, but I’m asking all WordPress bloggers who don’t have adblocker active to check their blogs from the outside. To see how their blog appears to a stranger. And don’t just use your normal browser. If at all possible, use a variety of browsers to see exactly what kind of ads are being displayed on your blog.

These two screenshots were taken within moments of each other. The first one shows what appears on the IE browser. The second displays the ad. on the Chrome browser:

Yes, that Chrome ad is all about chatting…right…and that pretty young thing is showing all that boob because it’s a hot day…of course. No way is this an ad. for a dating site. And of course it isn’t an ad. for a porn site. Silly me.

Even if you think I’m a crazy old prude, check your blog from the outside just in case all your free content is being used to advertise something you really, really don’t like.

If you see your blog from the outside and don’t like what you see, please join the discussion here:

https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/expoitative-advertising/page/2?replies=36#post-3073849

The forum thread is on to its second page so click on page 1 to get a complete picture of what’s been happening. If you’re logged into your WordPress blog you will be able to add a comment without the need to register or sign up for the forum.

Not happy,

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


Micro-grid for Kalbarri in Western Australia!

As exciting as Elon Musk’s bet, and subsequent giant battery may be, there is a hell of a lot more going on in Australia that never gets a mention. Not sexy enough I suppose. Well, I think micro grids, renewables and batteries are very sexy so have a look at this:

This is the proposed plan for a micro grid in Kalibarri, WA. Kalibarri is a rural community which relies on power coming in via the Geraldton Feeder. Just one single source of power. When that power goes down, Kalibarri goes dark. Kind of hard to run homes, not to mention businesses, without power.

But all that will be a thing of the past once the micro grid is up and running. It will include power from the windfarm as well as power contributed by individual homes running solar panels. All that power will charge a 2 MWH [megawatt hour] battery, and the Geraldton Feeder will be there as well. All that equates to power security for a community that has had anything but. On a national level, the Kalibarri micro grid is also an example of what Australia can do in spite of the idiots in Canberra.

You can read the whole story here:

https://westernpower.com.au/about/media/contract-awarded-for-kalbarri-s-renewable-microgrid/

And now a big thank you to Dawn who found out about this development and sent me the URL. Dawn is a Silversmith who loves cheering people up. She would call this a cheeryuppy story and I couldn’t agree more!

Keep smiling, only four more days ’till the weekend. 😀

Meeks


Any Kindle Fire 7, 8 or 10 owners out there?

I would like to gift a copy of How to Print your Novel with CreateSpace [Kindle version] in exchange for a photo of :

a) What the Table of Contents looks like, and

b) What any page looks like on the larger Kindle screens.

One reason for this odd request is that I’ve tweaked the Table of Contents, but I can’t see if the indents worked because Amazon won’t let me buy another for myself [it knows I’ve already bought the pre-tweaked version]. I know it’s just being ‘helpful’ but….grrr.

The other reason is that I’ve only just realised that what looks perfect on the Fire 6 may look anything but perfect on different sized Kindle Fires.

So…would some kind soul with a Kindle Fire 7, 8, and/or 10 help me out?

Absolutely no obligation to read it. Just take a couple of photos….

 

cheers

Meeks


Automatic – the power behind #WordPress…and those ads.

While doing some research on WordPress, I discovered that the parent, if you will, is actually a company called Automatic. Ring a bell? Yes, I was surprised too. Automatic is the name on the advert I’m fighting.

I’ve been calling the placement of that one, particular advert coercive and the intent of forcing us to pay to be free of ads, stand-over tactics. Yet, lo and behold, Automatic think they’re the best, most honourable thing since Sir Galahad:

‘Howdy! We’re the people behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, and a bunch of other products for WordPress.’

‘We are passionate about making the web a better place. We don’t build software for free –– we build it for freedom. Our goal is to democratize publishing and commerce so that anyone with a story or idea can share it with the world regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or location.’

‘Your feedback is how we learn, and we treasure it. This year we’re proud to have delivered happiness to 85% of the users who contacted us.’

‘We’re constantly learning from our users and each other about how we can improve our products and make the web a better place. Our community holds us accountable to our purpose and we wouldn’t have it any other way.’

There’s more, about how nice they are to their employees blah blah, all the current buzz words, and they may well be all those things, but here’s a reality check for Automatic:

  1. The WordPress.com platform is not a charity. In exchange for providing bloggers with a ‘home’, WordPress, and by extension Automatic, receives billions of words of free content. Think about it. Do readers come to your blog because they’re enamoured of the way it functions? Because they like the colour scheme? No, they come for the content you have written.
  2. Once the popularity of our content reached a sort of critical mass, it encouraged businesses and people who wanted to monetize their blogs to pay for WordPress.org. WordPress.org is a way of building your own website with your own domain name by using the WordPress engine. This is money coming in to Automatic because of our content.
  3. All the free bloggers on WordPress.com are guinea pigs for the changes WordPress introduces. We are never informed in advance. We are never given a choice. We are given the changes and then WordPress sits back to see what will happen. If most of its users [us] don’t complain too loudly, they keep the changes which then go on to grace the websites of paid users. If the free bloggers kick up too much of a stink, certain ‘innovations’ are quietly withdrawn and replaced with less obnoxious alternatives. But we have to yell pretty loudly for the developers to decide that something isn’t worth the effort.
  4. Now we’re into a new phase of experiments in which Automatic/Wordpress place adverts in different, more visible positions on our blogs. Some people have had their actual content obscured. Others, like me, have simply had our ability to attract new followers curtailed. In all cases, however, the aim of the experiment is to see how far the guinea pigs can be pushed before they react.
  5. As far as Automatic is concerned, no matter which way we guinea pigs jump is going to be a win-win situation. If we upgrade our free acounts to paid accounts – just to be free of these intrusive adverts – they win by gaining an ongoing ‘subscription’ from people who were just ‘freeloaders’. If we accept the situation without much complaint, they get to place paid advertisements where they will be most visible to visitors – on the best parts of our blogs. On the other hand, if we scream loudly enough, they will simply go back to placing adverts after our blog posts while they think of some other way of squeezing blood from a stone.
  6. The one thing Automatic is not worried about is losing market share. Why? Because they believe the WordPress platform is too popular to fail.

On this last point, Automatic may be right, at least in the short term. Bloggers who have been on WordPress for years, like me, have built a brand here. Search engines know where to find us. Our community knows where to find us. Moving now would mean that most of us would have to start again from scratch. Not a pleasant prospect.

But, nothing online lasts forever. Geo Cities? My Space? Remember them? Those are the only two I can think of from way back when, but at the time, they were huge. What made them fade away? I suspect it was a combination of user boredom, mismanagement and the rise of newer, more exciting, more user-friendly platforms.

Will WordPress fade away like those other platforms? Absolutely. The only unknown is when, and that depends a lot on how greedy Automatic become. You see, if Automatic push too hard they’ll cross that fine line between too-much-to-lose and anything-is-better-than-this.

It can happen with any relationship: inertia holds us in place until misery, and the lure of something better finally galvanises us into action. Bottom line, there are a lot of blogging platforms out there, and they all need our content. Our.  Free. Content.

I’m not ready for divorce yet, but the point of no return is getting closer. And no, I’m not a modern-day Donna Quixote. I am stubborn, but the truth is that I simply can’t afford to pay even the base cost of an upgrade package. Thanks to my late parents, I have a roof over my head, but the only income I have is from the ‘Dole’. To earn the Dole, I work over 15 hours a week as a volunteer. For my efforts I ‘earn’ about $270-ish per week [not sure what the conversion rate is to USD, but it’s less]. If I were paid for my teaching, I’d be earning between 35 and 40 dollars per hour. Taking the lower rate, that would be $525 per week. But I can’t get a paid job so I’m trapped below the poverty line, hanging on by my teeth until I qualify for the pension. At the moment, a pensioner receives approximately $100 more a week, plus they can earn over $6000 per year before their pension is reduced.

I hate displaying my financial situation like this, but sometimes only the truth will do, and the truth is that paying WordPress is simply not an option.

I intend to spam this post on Twitter, but I don’t want my blogging friends to feel like the meat in the sandwich, so I’ve turned comments off. If anyone wants to contact me directly, you can find me on:

-hugs-

Meeks


Please help!

The on again, off again advert in my no.1 sidebar is back for the umpteenth time so I’m asking everyone who visits my blog to click the button under the advert that says ‘Report this ad.’ [or words to that effect]. I’m going to re-run this post once a week until something happens to break this deadlock.

I have no idea whether I’ll achieve any lasting reversal, but my only other option is to shut up shop and start a new blog somewhere else. Meeka’s Mind has been a wonderful home to me, and I really, REALLY don’t want to leave, but in these circumstances, paying not to have ads would feel exactly like paying protection money. Can’t do that. 😦

Thanks in advance,

Meeks


#WordPress…what the…? 1:32pm update

 

Okay, this time I’ve been taking screenshots to prove I’m not going nuts. The timestamp of the first one shows 12:47 pm – i.e. just before lunch here in Oz:

The second one is timestamped 1:36 pm   – i.e. just after lunch in Oz. The advert in the sidebar is not the same, but it does duplicate the one below my post:

Something, or perhaps someone, is playing funny buggers, and I’m not impressed. I left a complaint on the WordPress.com forum, but until I receive a proper resolution to this issue, I’m going to keep posting updates about it.

Apologies, everyone, but I’m so angry there’s steam coming out of my ears.

Meeks

 

 

Sunday, February 4, 2016. This is beyond a joke. When I logged into my blog ten minutes ago, the advert was back, even longer than before. I started updating this post and decided I needed a screenshot. Viewed my site again, and the advert gone, again.

Am I going mad?

If anyone viewed my blog in the last 8 hours, could you please let me know whether there was a long, blue advert in the sidebar?

Honestly, I am starting to feel as if WordPress has it in for me. Am I too outspoken? Have I been too critical? Or am I being not-so-subtly pushed to upgrade from free to paid?

I don’t want to think so. I would really like to think there is a reasonable explanation. I would really, really like to think that WordPress is a company with too much integrity to play underhand tricks like this, because just at the moment it feels a lot like…coercion? standover tactics?…blackmail?

Meeks

I’m not sure how it happened, but that advert I was complaining about has disappeared, and I have my sidebar back. -dance-

When you run a free blog, you have to accept some advertising.

After all, the company that runs the platform that makes that free blog possible have to recoup their costs somewhere.

Until very recently, that ‘somewhere’ was just after my blog posts.

Now, I have this:

Right at the top of the page, taking up PRIME realestate in my no.1 sidebar. That’s the spot where I put all my important widgets, the ones I want visitors to see, even if they don’t see anything else. That is my critical spot. Now it has a great big advert. in it.

But that’s not all. The same advert. also appears at the bottom of the post, along with a second one for some other company so visitors to my blog are hit with three adverts, coming at them from all sides. Nothing discreet about this!

I was furious and clicked the ‘Report this ad’ button’ which is why it now has just a placeholder. But is this enough? Or will this disgusting placement simply return tomorrow or the day after?

What the hell were you thinking, Workpress?

Fair use is one thing. Blatant exploitation of my blog, to the detriment of my blog, is another. This is a step too far.

Soooooo not happy WordPress. 😦

Meeks


More play time for writers :)

My thanks to Dancingpalmtrees for introducing me to this fun app:

https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/m1bt/curse-of-surreal-pipe.html

The example you see there was created by Dancingpalmtrees, and she kindly gave me permission to use it to show you what the app does. 😀

To give it a try yourselves, just scroll down a little until you reach a big green button that says ‘Write a horror plot like this’.

That button will take you to a kind of form where you simply fill in the blanks with whatever takes your fancy. When you’re finished, the app. will scramble it all up and create a ‘story’ out of the elements you’ve provided.

Alternatively, you can scroll all the way down to the bottom of the screen to a button that says ‘Create New’. Clicking this button takes you to a screen where you can choose to create something in sci-fi, romance, like the Bronte sisters etc, etc. Select whichever options appeals to you, click it and you’ll get the same form. Just fill it in and sit back to have a good giggle.

Go on, give it a go! You’re welcome. 😀

cheers
Meeks


The Bone Curse – out on March 27th, 2018

Do you believe in Voodoo? I don’t, and yet I had no trouble suspending disbelief as I read Carrie Rubin’s The Bone Curse.

For the record, I won a pre-review copy from the author.

The story begins in Paris where Ben Oris receives a small wound from an ancient bone. Ben’s best friend, Laurette, fears that some sort of evil has entered his his body through the wound, but Vodou is no part of Ben’s world and he dismisses her fears, even as people close to him begin to sicken with a mysterious illness.

To add some context, Voodoo is Hollywood, Vodou is the belief system of Haiti. It has good and evil spirits, just as most Western religions have angels and demons. More importantly, it has practitioners who actively believe. That counts for a great deal when Ben’s ordered, logical world turns upside down. First his ex-lover gets sick, then an ex-girlfriend, and finally the woman who birthed him.

Nevertheless, it’s not until Ben becomes a father and fears for the life of his newborn son that he begins to wonder if there’s more to Vodou than he wants to believe. What follows is a fast paced race against time as he tries desperately to save those he loves.

I wasn’t sure if I liked Ben Oris at the start, but as the story progressed, I found myself empathizing with him more and more. Not just because he was a Doubting Thomas like me, but because he slowly evolved into someone capable of putting others’ lives ahead of his own. As he began to care, so did I.

I can’t say any more for fear of spoiling the whole story, but I devoured The Bone Curse in under two days and I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fast paced, medical/psychological thriller that makes you think.

The book will not be published until March 27, but you can put it on pre-order here:

Most definitely 5 stars.:)

cheers

Meeks

 


I write like H.G.Wells?

I’m normally a skeptic when it comes to apps that purport to analyse this, that or the other but…this tool is spot on. It’s spooky how accurate it is…

Okay so ‘what’ is it?

‘It’ is an online app that analyses your writing based on a sample that you cut and paste onto the webiste. This is the sample I used from the Prologue of Vokhtah [and yes, I rewrote it some time ago to make it less drawn-out-prologue and more succinct intro.].

‘Tohoh was always a desperate time of year. The shimmering heat of the dry season tested every living thing on the planet, but with the red sun drawing ever closer, the winnowing of the weakest was accelerating.

Out on the plains, the scorched grass trembled in the heat haze, and the heavy seed heads hung limp on brittle stalks. Nothing moved, not even the herds of hungry akaht. They, like all the other beasts, knew when to shelter from the suns’ ill-temper.

Only on the very fringes of the grassland, where rock met soil, was there any movement. There, the black shapes of iVokh foragers trudged slowly through the waist-high grass, their long, leathery wings tucked into their sides as they harvested the seeds the akaht had missed.

As the day wore on, and the heat intensified, the eyes of the Foragers lingered ever longer on the patches of deep shade. They longed for the day to end so they could return to the cool of the Settlement, but the approach of true dark brought its own dangers, for that was when the to’pak awoke, and they were always hungry.’

In less that half a second, the app. came back with this:

‘About H. G. Wells

Picture of H. G. Wells

Herbert George “H.G.” Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was a British author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games. Together with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells has been referred to as “The Father of Science Fiction”.

Wells’s earliest specialized training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context. He was also from an early date an outspoken socialist, often (but not always, as the beginning of the First World War) sympathizing with pacifist views.

Whilst I did read H.G.Wells in my late teens, I swear on a stack of bibles that I knew nothing about his background, especially the bits highlighted in blue. More importantly, I’ve never seen him as a major influence in my work. Ursula K. LeGuin, yes. Frank Herbert, yes. H.G.Wells? Um…

I have absolutely no idea how the app. does what it does but I’m about to try it on Miira. And then, just for giggles, I’ll try it on one of the How-to books.

If you’re a writer and you want to see what your own writing style is like, go here:

https://iwl.me/s/a85d5606

cheers

Meeks

 


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