Tag Archives: Wordpress

It’s lucky my prose isn’t purple…

Okay, I admit it, I’ve been playing all day, and I’ve reached the point where I don’t know what works and what doesn’t anymore, so..purple? Too much? Hurts the eyes? Makes you gag?

You’re allowed to be honest. The purple was not my first choice. In fact, I wanted something much more tasteful, like this:

It’s pretty, and I put a lot of work into the ‘window’, including making the window frames in Corel, but none of the WordPress themes worked with the image as the background. I guess if I had my own website, I could design it however I wanted, but these days it’s just not worth the cost of the domain, plus the hosting, plus the ongoing headaches…

And then there was the problem of functionality. I wanted visitors to be able to see my books without having to go digging for them because…ahem, I am a writer. So I looked at an old theme with a ‘carousel’, but it just didn’t do it for me either. So I decided to jazz up the theme I’ve had since 2011. Elegant Grunge isn’t new, and it’s not pretty, but it is functional.

Oh, and the purple kind of tones with the purple of the binary star image, you know, melding the symbols for Innerscape and Vokhtah? -sigh-

So. Do I keep the purple? Change the purple? Sleep on it and try again tomorrow?

Meeks

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Another post about a perplexing WordPress.com ‘feature’

I’ve had issues with the WordPress Reader in the past, but this latest one has me scratching my head. Have a look at how many screens I have to go through to comment on a post from the Reader:

This is a screenshot of the Reader. Notice the function circled in red? Comments are definitely available.

So I click on the heading of the article to read what it’s actually about and get this:

 

‘Share’, ‘Comments’ and ‘Like’ are still available, as you can see, but if you click on the ‘Comment’ function, WordPress just refreshes the page you’re on without allowing you to:

  • leave a comment or
  • see what other comments there might be.

You can, however, click the ‘Like’ function.

Something not shown in the screenshot [because it wouldn’t fit] is a very small link in the top right corner of the screen that says ‘Visit page’. I didn’t notice that link at first, and assumed that I was already on the page. But no. To get to the actual page, I need to click again, either on the ‘Visit page’ link or on the heading of the article.

Then and only then do I finally get to the poster’s blog where…glory be…I can leave a comment!

And, of course, with all these clicks needed to simply leave a comment, you’ll have to click back just as many times. 😦

Is this a WordPress change-in-progress that isn’t quite there yet? I hope so because this layering is annoying and will probably stop all but the most determined reader from leaving a comment, and that is bad for all of us.

WordPress is not Facebook. It’s a blogging community that interacts via comments. That is its strength and beauty. Likes are all well and good, but we all know that it’s comments from friends and potential new friends that puts the joy into blogging. Anything that creates a barrier between members of this community should be avoided at all costs.

Let’s get back to a format where the Reader provides not only tasty samples but also a direct gateway to the main course.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. And after all that, you can read Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog post here. 🙂


Happy 5th anniversary…ME!

I just received a notification from WordPress that Meeka’s Mind is five years old. Colour me amazed.

Five years is a respectable milestone in the real world. You expect things to happen after five years. You expect things to have changed, and my world certainly has.

When I first started this blog, I was sending posts out into the void, not really expecting them to be found. Given how long and evangelical they were, I’m doubly amazed that any of you found me at all!

The following excerpt is from the very first post I ever wrote, on this day in 2011:

I love the good things in life as much as anyone, so I too I like things the way they are now. Nonetheless, if things must change then I’d rather get used to those changes gradually. And I’d rather have some choice in the matter.

– If  power production is part of the problem [as it is] then I’d rather pay a competitive price for solar panels than keep on  paying for dirty power.

– If petrol driven cars are part of the problem [as they are] then let me choose to buy a hybrid or electric care instead [which I can then charge from those lovely solar panels I put in].

– If shipping food from one end of the globe to the other is part of the problem then let me choose to eat only food that is in season and grown locally.

Adjusting to change does not have to be horrendous. Those who have money only have to change their priorities. Those who do not have money should get assistance, and most importantly re-training opportunities so they can take advantage of the new jobs the new industries will bring.

A smooth transition is possible, but only if we get our collective heads out of the sand, and only if we recognize that helping the most vulnerable amongst us is not charity but an investment in the future.

As a writer I can see the possibilities for a better, brighter future, but only time will tell whether we make the transition smoothly, or fall in a heap as a species.

As a human being I’m hoping we don’t go the way of the real dinosaurs, but as a writer I have to acknowledge that at the moment, an end-of-the-world scenario is more likely.

My ideas haven’t actually changed, but boy, have I ever learned to keep my posts short[er]. That particular post on Climate Change contains something I’ve rarely seen in the WordPress environment – a page break. -rolls eyes-

Something else that’s changed between then and now, is how I view myself. Back then I was too embarrassed to even call myself a writer. I had a story – Vokhtah – but no idea how to publish it. I also had a blog, but saw it only as a ‘necessary’ vehicle for the dreaded marketing monster.

Now, I’m proud to say, I have a blog I love for its own sake. I have online friends who have stuck with me for years. And I’m finally the author of 7 published books.

Thank you, each and every one of you.

love

Meeks

 


#WordPress dumbed down for mobile phones

meekathara furiousI tried to show a friend some tips and tricks for her new WordPress.com blog site yesterday.

Imagine my confusion when I realised that her version of WordPress.com does NOT have the WP-Admin button! This is what it looks like on my blog:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach2

Clicking the WP Admin button takes me to the original WP Dashboard, which looks like this:

 

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach3

I cut a bit of the screenshot out in the middle so you could see it more clearly. Click the image to see it in full size.

This old Dashboard is quite powerful and great for serious bloggers who, like me, have literally hundreds if not thousands of blog posts to manage. I admit that it might be a bit daunting for the casual blogger. I also admit that the new WordPress interface may be easier to learn/use for the casual blogger, but so far, every time I’ve tried to use it, I’ve just been frustrated by how awkward and clunky the whole thing is. And slow, let’s not forget slow. As a fairly seriously blogger, I find the new-ish interface a poor tool. But horses for courses, right?

Wrong. Apparently, I still have WP Admin because I’ve been a blogger on WordPress since 2011. New bloggers are not so lucky, they don’t get a choice at all, and I fear that in time, us old guard bloggers will end up with no choice as well.

But why dumb WordPress down so badly?

In search of answers I went to Papa Google and found this:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach

Again, click on the image to see it at full size.

The screenshot was taken from a WordPress forum dating back to late [November?] 2015. The thread is about WP users complaining about losing the link to the old Dashboard [via WP Admin]. A couple of European Moderators have chimed in as well, complaining about not being notified of such a serious change by WordPress, and hence not being able to help their forum members.

The thing I found most interesting on this forum was the comment by an actual WordPress staff member – supernovia – who says, and I quote:

If it helps, all of the mobile apps have been like the newer admin area for a while now,
and as we transition WordPress.com to make everything more consistent, having two different interfaces was confusing new users.

And right there – ‘the mobile apps’ – is the nub of the problem. WordPress doesn’t want to maintain two separate interfaces – one for mobile apps and one for pc’s – so the interface for the pc is being dumbed down as much as possible to save development costs.

Lots of large developers have done the same thing – remember Windows 8, the OS that was meant to bridge the gap between mobile phones, tablets and pc’s? All seem to have missed the most basic point about demographics – app users don’t work on their mobile phones. People who work still use pc’s because pc’s are still a million times more powerful and convenient to use than something which can only be used by your bloody thumbs.

The corporate world doesn’t like the dumbed down, mobile version of programmes because they are not cost efficient for the user. Many of us on WordPress run what amounts to a small business via our blogs. Something designed to work efficiently as a mobile phone app will NOT allow us to work more efficiently at home, in front of a nice LARGE screen with a full-sized keyboard.

Don’t believe that the new interface is weaker and less efficient? Here’s proof. Just before starting this post, I ran an experiment using both the old Dashboard search function and the new interface search function.

The result? Dashboard 1, new interface 0. The new interface search function failed. Completely.

What did I search for?

I was searching for a draft post on making scones. This is the original post title:

Lois’ Soda Water #Scones

I typed ‘scone’ into the old Dashboard search function and it found:

scone-found

This is a ‘closest match’ which found the post I was looking for.

Then, I tried to find the new interface search function. This is what it looks like:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach4

Before you can type in any search words, you have to click the magnifying icon…excuse me? The standard for most programmes is to type the search words into the search box and /then/ click the magnifying glass to carry out the search. I guess the WordPress devs wanted to be…different.

Then, having finally found out how to actually do a search, this is what happened:

scone-not-found

The one nice thing about the new search function is that it searches as you type so it begins displaying possible search results before you even finish typing. Or in my case, not.

Clearly the new interface search function is set for exact matches only – remember the title of my blog post is Lois’ Soda Water #Scones. The hashtag threw the search engine off completely.

Now, in the real world, I have 996 blog posts, including close to 100 drafts. I often link back to previous posts when I write new posts. After 4 years, I very rarely remember the exact title of any of my posts. That means a ‘closest match’ is VITAL. For me, the new search function is next to useless.

So, will WordPress see reason and give serious bloggers back the tools they need to work efficiently? Or are we going to have to live with this dumbed down, mobile phone app?

Sadly, I think we’ll have to live with a poor interface until someone, somewhere, realises that you can’t do real work with just your thumbs.

Unhappy, WordPress.

Meeks


#WordPress vs #Facebook?

I spent five minutes on Facebook this morning, and I couldn’t wait to leave.

I commented on a couple of family posts and liked a couple of Hugh Howey’s posts, but I still couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I also liked posts by some of my friends, most of whom are on Facebook, yet it didn’t feel like a genuine interaction. That only seems to happen on our respective websites and blogs.

I know there are special interest groups on Facebook – like Indies Unlimited – that should be of interest to me, but I am so uncomfortable on Facebook that I’m never there long enough to interact with them.

I don’t know why I am so viscerally ill at ease on Facebook, but I would like to find out, so forgive me if this post turns into a form of digital navel gazing.

Okay, starting with the factual, the following graphic is a side-by-side view of my WordPress and Facebook pages. WordPress is on the left, Facebook is on the right:

wp-vs-fb-screenshot

What strikes you first when you compare these two pages?

If you’re anything like me, your first impression of WordPress will be that it’s visually restful. Your eye is drawn to centre stage for the main event while the ancillary functions stay modestly in the wings.

I’m no graphic designer but I have worked with images most of my life, and to me, the WordPress layout design is:

  • easy to read
  • easy to navigate
  • and uncluttered

By contrast, as soon as I glance across at the Facebook page, my eyes start to spin. Everywhere I look, the realestate of the page is packed with information, all of it trying to get my attention in some way. I can actually feel my body tense up as my brain tries to sort the clutter into something I can work with.

And before you think I’m a neat freak…I’m not. I love the elegant minimalism of traditional Japanese interior design, but I loath the sterile feel of contemporary interior design.

My idea of warm and cosy is this:

acf-homepage-mockup

In case you’re wondering, this is a mockup of the website I was thinking of creating about two years ago. I gave up on the idea for a number of reasons, the main one being that moving ‘house’ would have meant losing most of the visibility I had gained on WordPress.com. I’d rather have a simple blog that everyone can find than a snazzy website that people would have to find all over again.

Anyway…the background photo is of my actual loungeroom and illustrates the kind of clutter I love – warm, cosy, intimate.

[Slight graphic correction: the walls are not dark brown as shown in the photo; they are actually a warm, olive green]

To me, Facebook is not intimate at all. It’s like walking into a barn filled with strangers having a party. There’s no room to dance or do things so everyone stands around, drinks in hand, shouting to be heard over the high decibel background noise. And even when I find a group of people I actually know, I don’t feel as if we can have a deep and meaningful conversation because you can’t do deep and meaningful while shouting at the top of your lungs.

By contrast, all of my interactions on WordPress feel like an intimate dinner party, regardless of who’s hosting the meal.

And right there, I think I have my answer. I am who I am, and I take myself wherever I go, even online.

I’m not a typical introvert though. I’m not shy. I can stand up in front of a class and give a lecture without the slightest twinge of discomfort, but I simply can’t do big, loud parties. Never have, never will. I don’t even understand why other people enjoy them so much. It’s as if I’m missing the big party gene, and when I am forced to attend one, you will generally find me in the kitchen – if there is one – or standing in a corner somewhere, bored out of my brain.

In the real world, my preferred form of social interaction is dinner with close friends. While we eat, we do catch up on the minutiae of life, but once coffee and dessert arrive, the conversation inevitably turns to issues – political, ethical, philosophical, universal – and I’m like a pig in the proverbial. My brain is on fire, and I am totally in the moment. I could stay up all night because we’re all firing off each other. It’s wonderful.

In the digital world, I frequently have dinner at Pinky’s house. Pinky runs a salon where debate is the dessert served up with coffee. Or I might pop in to the Passive Guy to catch up with the latest issues in publishing. And then there’s dancing and trips to the Museum of Modern Art with Candy, or afternoon tea with EllaDee. Anne invites me in for an afternoon of botanical drawing, while David Prosser has me in stitches with his sly-yet-gentle humour.

Take a look at the people in the sidebar of this post. They are all my friends, not because we’ve friended each other, but because we’ve shared moments of mutual understanding. They are all kindred spirits in one way or another, and WordPress [for all its faults] makes our intimate communities possible.

Thanks WordPress, and sorry Facebook but this square peg will never find a home on your pages.

-hugs-

Meeks


From biscuits to Viagra?

I rarely go into my spam folder, but I did today and discovered that the keywords ‘New’ and ‘Improved’ [in the title of a post] can attract some interesting spam.

The post in question was my rant about Arnotts BBQ Shapes biscuits which are marketed as ‘new and improved’…and are anything but. I stand by my comments about the biscuits, but I may to think twice about my titles in the future. Then again, just including viagra in the title of this post may bring even more spammers to my door. I’ll keep you posted.

This is a screenshot of one of the viagra ones:

blog spam1

The kinky porn ones I’ll leave to your imagination, other than to say they seem to be attracted to the word ‘sexy’ in my post ‘Villains – what is it that makes them so sexy?‘.

On a brighter note, I’m immensely relieved that only 11 of my comments are from spammers. That’s not bad over four years and almost 12,000 comments. 😀

cheers

Meeks


Weeding my #Reader list

Dear Everyone,

Please don’t worry, 98% of my Reader list remains unchanged, which means that I’m still following you, still popping in whenever I can, still enjoying your content.

meekathara furiousThe 2% of blogs I have weeded out include some ‘professional’ rebloggers and an 18+ site that suddenly appeared out of the blue [excuse the pun].

I have nothing against ‘soft porn’, or even erotica. If that’s what you enjoy, great, just allow me the freedom not to be bombarded by it. This is not the first time that the WordPress Reader has gifted me with questional blogs, but I really hope it’s the last.

I have nothing against reblogs either, in fact when I find a post that really grabs me, I’ll reblog it myself. But…if I recommend something it’s because I genuinely think its good. You may disagree with me – we are different after all – but at least you’ll know that my recommendation is honest. When I find my Reader filled with recommendations that smack of professional marketing, well, I get a little annoyed.

Do I flood you with endless posts about my books?

Maybe I should. Maybe I should become a professional marketer myself. Maybe I should treat all of you like potential dollar signs…but I can’t. Most of the people I follow, I really like and to my old-fashioned way of looking at the world, when you like someone you treat them with the same respect you’d like them to show you.

So no spamming of marketing material on Meeka’s Mind. If you like my fiction, great. If you only come here for the how-to posts, that’s great as well. If you only drop in for the music or some wacky tech, you’ll always be welcome. And if you stay and chat, you’ll become part of the family. My Manifesto.

Phew…I feel so much better after that rant!

hugs to all,

Meeks

 


#WordPress Devs….just stop it! This #Reader is 0/5

Okay, now you’ve really messed up my Reader! Where the hell are the blogs I follow?

For those who haven’t yet seen the new WordPress Reader landing page, this is it:

wordpress crap reader 2016

Under ‘Welcome to the Reader’ you will find this:

Recent posts from blogs and sites you follow will appear here.

But they don’t. They don’t appear ANYWHERE. Nor is there a clickable link to take me to wherever my follows have been hidden.

‘Explore Discover’ [shown as 1 on the screenshot] is Freshly Pressed with a new name.

‘Get recommendations…’ is just that, a list of blogs I do not follow that WordPress thinks I should be paying attention to.

In the Navigation pane to the left is an option called ‘My Likes’, but this only takes me to posts I have liked in the past.

Nowhere can I see a way of checking in on the blogs I have CHOSEN to follow for reasons pertinent to me.

How dare WordPress tell me my choices don’t count!

I hope this is a glitch of some sort that will get fixed pronto because this new Reader is so awful I really am tempted to leave WordPress altogether. Only the thought of losing all the material I have created during the last four years is stopping me.

Not happy WordPress. This time you really have gone too far.

A.C Flory

Meeka’s Mind

https://acflory.wordpress.com

17/2/2016


WP and the plight of single-post bloggers

Yesterday I posted about my favourite bloggers not appearing in the WordPress Reader. You can find that post here. Today, I’m posting about how I worked it out, and why the answer doesn’t make me happy.

So first up, what did I discover?

I’ll start by saying that WordPress has not been messing with my blog, at least, not directly. However my timezone, and the prolific nature of some of the blogs I follow have combined to create a situation where I actually get to see very few of the blogs I follow. This is a design issue, but more on that later.

The person I have to thank for this discovery is the lovely D.V. Berkom. D.V. is an international blogger/writer friend, and I normally follow her posts via email, but today I went to her blog via the ‘Followed Sites/Manage’ option in the WordPress Reader:

WP followed sites

When I clicked on the blue ‘DV Berkom Books’ link, I was taken directly to her site where I saw that she had published a post 2 hours before. I couldn’t remember seeing it on my Reader so where was it?

Back in my WP Reader, I scrolled down checking the published times of the posts displayed there. Again, the majority were from RGS and a few other prolific bloggers. And all had been published within the last hour.

By this point I was down to the last 1/5 of the list and still only seeing posts published in the previous hour. Instead of giving up, however, I persevered and finally found DV’s post at the 2 hour mark.

If you’re wondering how I know when posts are published, you can see the location of the timestamp here:

WP followed sites 3

I also found a slew of other single-post friends down in the nether regions. [Single-post bloggers being those people who post on average just one post per day].They had all been pushed off my radar because:

  • they had arrived while I was asleep [I live in the southern hemisphere],
  • a few, highly prolific blogs had crowded them out,
  • and I rarely check the very bottom of my Reader list.

One thing I still don’t know is how long posts hang around in my Reader before they’re shunted off entirely. 4 hours? 5? 24? If anyone knows could you please tell me in comments?

Now that I know what the problems are, I’m faced with a choice; I can either see the prolific posts that clog up my Reader or I can see the single posts published by my friends, but I really can’t see both.

Why? Because even if I scrolled right to the bottom of my Reader list every day, it would only happen once a day, so effectively, the prolific blog posts would still crowd the single-posters out.

In reality, the choice is no choice at all. I’m following close to 500 bloggers. I don’t want to see just 6 or 7 of them per day. Unfortunately, WordPress does not give me much in the way of options. I can control how often [if at all] I receive email notifications about blog posts, but I cannot control how often [if at all] I see posts displayed in my Reader. So, basically, it’s an all or nothing situation. If I follow a blog, I get everything that blog publishes. The only way to reduce the volume of posts is to unfollow the blog entirely.

And that is what I’ve done. RGS is no more.

If you’ve ever wondered how to unfollow blogs in WordPress, simply click the ‘Manage’ button next to the ‘Followed sites’ option. Once the list of followed sites is displayed, navigate to the site you wish to unfollow and click the small button to the right of the name:

WP followed sites 2

So I’ve just gone through and unfollowed the prolific bloggers. Sorry guys.:(

I’m not happy about this, and not just because I enjoyed the tech posts. I’m a single-post blogger, as are most of my friends, so I have to wonder whether our posts are being seen at all, or are they getting crowded out by the professionals? [I have no idea if the prolific bloggers are professionals or not, but as many of them reblog posts from other sources, I have to wonder where they get the time to find all this material].

Theories aside, I know one thing for certain, I’m intensely grateful that so many of you found me and have become regulars. Love you all, and apologies for ‘neglecting’ you. 😦

cheers

Meeks


WordPress Reader and the invisible Blogs

angryOkay, this post is going to start with a question: why is my WordPress Reader filled with just 7 bloggers?

I know this can’t be some kind of weird timezone difference because Saturday morning here is still Friday in the Northern hemisphere. So how is it possible that out of all the people I follow, only 7 are active?

Fortified by a large mug of caffeine, I trolled through my Reader and came up with the following numbers:

Dream Big: 2

RGS: 26

The Mighty Mumford: 5

Venturebeat: 2

Wildsound: 2

Annas Art: 1

Christian Mihai: 1

I didn’t get to the absolute bottom of the list because…I lost interest, but the numbers are still significant in a ‘what the…?’ kind of way.

I do love tech related stuff, and there was a time when I’d look forward to seeing Venturebeat posts in my Reader. Now I rarely see them at all. Instead, I seem to have an overwhelming number of RGS posts. The RGS posts are mostly tech related too, but unlike the Venturebeat articles, RGS merely reblogs from other sites. So if this is an either or situation I’d rather have Venturebeat. Please.

But this odd imbalance in my Reader goes way beyond which brand of tech articles I get to see, it screams a deeper question – ‘Where are all my other blogger friends, and who gets to choose what I see in my Reader?’

I know my invisible blogger friends are posting because I get notifications about their posts via email, but I almost never see their posts in the Reader. Why not? Has the purpose of the Reader changed whilst I had my back turned? Isn’t it meant to be about all the bloggers I follow?

Math is not my strong suit, but this odd pattern in my Reader has been growing for some time, and it’s really starting to annoy the fecal matter out of me. Why can’t my Reader truly represent all the blogs I follow?

If anyone has an answer that doesn’t involved PhD level arithmetic, I’d really love to know.

Disgruntled.

Meeks


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