Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blah, Blah, Blah...

Did you think I'd died? I've been learning to speak to computers. " FGU265DYDY3Q " I declare, claiming this blog as my territory. As if any of you real, live, human beans ever had any doubts. "FGU265DYDY3Q, Technorati," I mumble, practicing my pronunciation. I'm beginning to think speaking Chinese IS easier.

Now and then, this blog goes into hibernation, like a bear. (I have no idea why, then, I chose an elephant for a background - except, I suppose, that it remembers things and a blog is a good place for random reminiscence. Or something.)

This is one of those annoying "verify your blog" posts.

It's likely to vanish without notice, leaving in its wake a hideous 404 error. Forgive it, in advance.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Your Mission...

…should you choose to accept it, is to help me win the We Blog Better Guest Posting Contest. The gloves are off; a certain blog promotion site owner has entered the contest and is now mass mailing all of his loyal subscribers, asking them to vote and comment on his entry.

Well, Dear Readers, we may be a much smaller group, but I have faith you all.

I’d tell you who it is, but… knowing human nature as I do, you’d just feel compelled to run over and take a peek at the competition, and that would only serve to increase his entry’s views. Then, you might feel the urge to post a quick “Nanny nanny boo boo!!” in his comments, but that would only add to his points, as well. So no peeking. Seriously. Stop now. I know your fingers are itching – don’t do it.

If your clicking fingers need a workout (did you know that you burn five calories for every 100 keystrokes?*), the following online activities might be fun – and they will definitely help me win:

Vote me up! The links below will take you straight to Blokube, Digg,Blog Interact, and Blog Engage entries for each of my contest posts. Just click the links below and vote (or Digg or Share):

If you’ve already done all of these things, this is the LAST time you need to think about it – because you can only vote and Digg an entry ONCE on each site. Done here? Done. Move on to the next paragraph, please!

Comment and Share! You can do these things every day. Several times a day. Go read the contest entry posts (if you haven’t already) and comment, comment, comment!

Failure to Plan, Planning to Fail: Why You Need a Social Media Planand also on Search Engine Optimization? SEO What?

NOTE: Only the first three levels of threaded comments count, so here’s a thought – leave one comment for each point in the post – for example, what did you think of the planning tips? How about theTwitter tips? Facebook tips? And so on. It’s good practice for writing single topic emails later in the day, right?

If you like the posts, please don’t keep them to yourself – hit those Share and Like buttons. Remember: Sharing is caring. Practice those Twitter and Facebook skills!

Got a blog? Inbound links are golden. (If you have a blog, you know this.) Consider linking to one or both of my contest entries, please.

How to Comment When You Don’t Know What to Say

Several people have asked for my help in formulating comments. A couple even said, “I wanted to comment, but you pretty much said it all in your post.” Whoops. I really do value your input here, now more than ever! I may have come across as a know-it-all, but that’s only because I bluff well. Oddly, most of you seem quite capable of being chatty when you want to be – so I can only surmise this is something akin to “stage fright.” What you need to do is imagine all those other bloggers over there wearing nothing but their skivvies…

Scratch that thought. Of course, if you want to imagine my competitor, aka “He Who Must Not Be Named,” dressed in nothing but his Underoos, that’s your business.

A few ideas for comments in general:

  • Start a new thread, or comment on a first-level comment.
  • Remember that you do not have to be right, nor do you have to know the first thing about “SEO” or “social media,” although I’m pretty sure you can talk authoritatively about the latter if you’re a Facebook addict like the other 67% of us.
  • Begin your comment with, “Great post…” but to avoid being labeled a spammer, be sure to give at least one good reason why it was “great,” or “pithy,” or “enlightening,” or “entertaining,” or “information-packed,” or “thought-provoking,” or “hilarious,” or … okay, yeah, you get the idea.
  • Begin your comment with, “You are SO full of beans! Idjit! You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about…” but again, be sure to elaborate and enumerate the points you take exception to and why.
  • Ask a question. The question should contain at least 3 key words from the content of the post, no more than 11, and should be creative and original. “Do you feel that SEO – that is, search engine optimization techniques – and good writing will be relevant in the post-Apocalyptic, zombie-run world, or will all brains be sourced locally by illiterates who say ‘Unngggh, bwaiiiins’?” Or, “Which is running hotter on the Zombie forums, according to Google Analytics and Twitter metrics: sporks or bendy straws? Do sporks and bendy straws have their own Facebook pages yet?” Do you see? There’s an art to this – but once you get started, you’ll see just how much fun it can be. (Do try to keep the discussion at least tangentially related to the post, lest you annoy Kiesha and she be forced to step in and stop said fun.)
  • Tell everyone about my books Trockle and A Puppy, Not a Guppy (Aforementioned competitor’s fans are waxing poetic and gushing about his site, so it’s only fair my fans get equal time, don’t you think?)
  • Did I mention that We Blog Better uses CommentLuv? Who doesn’t need more Luv?

A few ideas for comments on Failure to Plan, Planning to Fail: Why You Need a Social Media Plan:

  • What is your business? Do you have a social media plan?
  • What kind of metrics do you use to measure “success,” personally?
  • How do you set SMART goals?
  • What are your own favorite tips for Twitter, Facebook, Empire Avenue, LinkedIN, blogging?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? (Gahhh, we all hate that question with a purple passion. Have fun with it here! Let ‘er rip!)
  • What did you think of the links I provided to more information? Did you hover over each of them? Did you find anything interesting when you did?

A few ideas for comments on Search Engine Optimization? SEO What?

  • Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • Which SEO techniques, plug-ins, or add-ons have you found truly useful?
  • What did you think of the links I provided to more information? Did you hover over each of them? Did you find anything interesting when you did?

Well, you’re on your own from here. Please help me win this thing! It’s become a point of pride, now.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blogger was down??

Where was I?

I missed all the fuss. Happy Saturday, everyone!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book, Nook, and Kindle

My coworker and I are enjoying an "antisocial lunch." :) 

Playing with Design (Again!)

I loved the old theme, but it just wasn't clean enough. The sidebar was too narrow, the proportions all wrong... and I've already got one high-maintenance, highly-customized, very personal theme on my main blog, It's All a Matter of Perspective. So I went looking for a new Blogger theme, and I like this one so far. Getting the header just right is a bit of work if you're not a graphic artist, but it's fun and it's not going to suck half my life away.

What do you think? It's from Roam2Rome.

Writers Blog Through Writer's Block

I don't believe in "writer's block." I believe "writer's block" is just a face-saving way of saying one of the following:

  • I don't have the skill to express, on paper, all the cool thoughts running around in my head.
  • I don't have a cool thought in my head right now; I have absolutely NOTHING worthwhile to say.
  • I want to write, but I feel guilty leaving the housework to rot.
  • It's a really pretty day out, and writing feels too much like work.
  • Truth is, I don't want to write at all. Writing's PAINFUL. I want to have written, preferably a bestselling book with a six-figure advance.

Next time you're tempted to say, "I have writer's block," ask yourself why - ask, "What do I really mean by this term, 'writer's block'?" Then, if you really want to write, address the root cause of the problem - don't moan about it. The writer with writer's block is a cliche - and any writer KNOWS that cliches are to be avoided like the...zombies created when the cook at Dan's Deli put too much preservative in the salami. (Wordy, perhaps, but "plague" would've been unintentionally ironic.)

Grab that paper and pen and WRITE!! Or leave a comment below, telling us YOUR favorite excuses NOT to write.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

An Annual Thing

Get the feeling it's an annual thing, this "redecorate and blow your blog away" deal?

Blogging. Why?

Right now, I don't even know.

For the second time in a month, I've killed my site. Arguably, this one's about 90% my fault. But the point IS arguable - I wouldn't have killed it had I not relied on my host's support article that said, essentially, "Oh, that little directory there? You don't really need that. You could blow it away, and your site would still load."

Arguably, it's IntenseDebate's fault. Or the theme developer's.

I suppose it's NOT IntenseDebate's fault, exactly; everything was working just fiiiine until I tried deactivating the plug-in. Ever try beating a Zombie with its own arm? Not a pretty sight.

Next thing I knew, I was getting a Feedburner window every time I tried entering a comment. Anyone here ever have an issue (we're talking WordPress, here) where, upon clicking Submit on the comments, a Feedburner subscription email confirmation dialog pops up??

Here's the sequence of events:

- Installed and activated KeywordLuv
- Deactivated IntenseDebate (name field's not long enough for KeywordLuv)
- Got stupid cross-link between Comments and Feedburner.

I had this cross link when I first switched Web hosts, too. Reinstalling and resyncing IntenseDebate is probably what fixed it; I'm not sure. Bottom line: I've seen it before, and it went away.

Any ideas?

For all the snobbery on the part of some WordPress users, and for all the fun one can have with WordPress, there's much to be said for the simplicity of Blogger.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Go Ahead and Write on the Walls...Really!

It has been a couple of months since I wrote about my plans for the Wall Candy Arts - Chalkboard Removable Wall Decals from AllModernBaby. They arrived on my doorstep just before we were due to leave on our vacation, and by the time we were done with a ten-day trip to Vancouver and Alaska, and a week-long family reunion in Los Angeles, I was so busy trying to get caught up on work and other things that I barely had time to look at them. So much for using them as my secret weapon in the Plan to Get Organized.

When I did get a chance to open the package, I found the chalkboard decals commiserating with my Franklin Planner and my son's dog-eared, but largely unused, assignment notebook from Seventh Grade. The decals were exactly as advertised - easy to apply.

It's not the most beautiful wall decoration ever, particularly when applied over eggshell white paint. (Oh, hey - you were expecting to see this in the kids' rooms? My youngest is 13, meaning we don't post pictures of his private inner sanctum on the blog. Just imagine it on the wall in your toddler's room, or think of all the creative places YOU could put it in YOUR house.) But these are meant to encourage creativity, doodling, and posting quick reminders - not to grace the walls of a formal living room. Be sure to peel each decal carefully off the backing; I got a faint but definite crease in this one when I peeled it too quickly and it folded over on itself. I suspect the crease will show up more, over time, as it collects a fine layer of chalk dust. I'm also sure that a damp cloth will make it (mostly) disappear again. My main concern had been the fact that all of our walls are textured and painted. Although a smooth surface is recommended, the chalkboard decals work just fine on textured, painted walls. It does make for a slightly bumpy writing surface, and that makes it harder to write actual words - assuming you care, later, about being able to read them. But it might serve to teach the basics of stone rubbing, and it can be a great little pick-me-up when the kids write encouraging notes, like, "Oh, for cripe's sake, mom, you're not blogging about ME again, are you?"

I made that up. Between the bumpy surface and the three sticks of standard-issue white institutional chalk that comes with these things, there's not really room for all that prose.

I suppose, if I'd put all the decals together, edge-to-edge, there would've been room for the first draft of a very short children's picture book or a couple of colorful limericks. But I suggest that these wall clings are more appropriate for creative, artistic doodles and I would like to have seen a small package of multicolored chalk included in the cylinder with the decals. That said, I think these should be reserved for kids who are old enough to know how how to color inside the lines, or you'll have chalk all over the walls. It's not easy to keep it off the walls when erasing, as it is.

Overall, the chalkboard wall decals from WallCandy Arts are fun, imaginative, and a nice way to encourage creativity, assuming you're pretty sure your kids won't take it as a license to freely write on all the walls. Together or separately, they can serve as a cute little family message board, but for organization and scheduling, I'd stick to a write-on, wipe-off wall calendar.

My twenty year old daughter is eager to steal a couple of these for herself. I told her she could, as soon as I finished telling you about them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Doesn't Pay Attention, Doesn't Follow Directions

My son is the quintessential "absent-minded professor." And I'm sorry to say he gets it from me. Often portrayed as a talented, brilliant thinker whose focus on theory or invention leads him to ignore or forget his real-world surroundings, the absent-minded professor is prone to making lame-brained mistakes, like putting his shoes on the wrong feet. Or watching the stars so intently that he steps into a mud puddle. More generally, the phrase is used to describe people who are so engrossed in their own little world that they lose track of their surroundings.

We'd do well to keep an organizer or a PDA, if only we could remember where we put it. Post-It® notes work well, too - if we bother to look at them. It doesn't matter if they're plastered all over the PC monitor; we're so lost in the space between our ears we simply stop seeing them for the organizational tool that they are. The sunny yellow squares begin to remind us of a lion's mane, and next thing you know, we're on a mental safari in the Serengeti.

People like us make great novelists and poets, but we don't do well on assembly lines. We'd be a danger to ourselves and others if heavy machinery, sharp objects, and repetitive work were involved.

Fortunately, homework is merely repetitive and a paper cut never killed anyone. Or did it? (Google is a great distraction. I call it "the rabbit hole.") Anyway... a little more organization wouldn't come amiss. I'm sure my teachers would've appreciated it, and maybe it's not too late for my son to develop better habits.

NOT that I think it's going to be the magic bullet or anything, but I am looking forward to reviewing some clever chalkboard wall decals from All Modern Baby. If they don't help my son and me get organized, they will at least appeal to our inner artists. While my babies aren't babies anymore, I was intrigued with some of the versatile furniture and products they carry, such as Stokke Care Changing Table Student Desk Expansion Kit that is designed to grow with your baby. Add a couple of Stokke Classic Tripp Trapp High Chairs - high chairs that convert to chairs for kids, teens, and adults - and you've got the perfect little study desk or gaming desk.