Anachostic

My tagline, let me show you it.

Tag Archives: blogging

Now And Future

You might think there is someone new managing this blog.  But no, it is still the same person.  I’ve gotten a recent “kick in the pants” to write more.  You can see in my history that I’ve posted a few times a month and sometimes when nothing was going on, or when lots was going on, I skipped a month.  You can also see that I’ve been trying to post consistently every weekday as of late.  This accelerated publishing frequency has necessitated that I dip into old drafts and refine them for posting.  Not to worry there, I’ve got dozens in the backlog. 

I’ve never been at a loss for ideas, but over the years, it became a significant effort for me to flesh out an idea into a post.  It’s the same mechanism I use when writing music (which also has been neglected).  You start with a riff, and if you’re lucky, you have a hook.  Then you have to form the song around that riff.  If you have a good hook, you have to elevate the rest of the song’s parts to match the hook’s quality.  If it’s just a riff, you have to hope you’ll find the hook in the creation process.

Having ideas is easy.  Anyone can have them.  And that’s why Twitter exists.  At various times, I considered moving to Twitter because I could get ideas out without having to construct a narrative.  But now that I’ve shaken the dust off, I feel more accomplished being able to express an idea and surround it with context.

You’ll also notice that I’m starting to incorporate images and hyperlinks in my posts, where I rarely did before.  Actually, if you go way back to when this blog wasn’t even on WordPress, you’ll see more images.  So, I’m actually going back to my early blogging days.

On a completely different topic, I recently found out that the excellent blog composing utility, Windows Live Writer, which has been dormant for years and years, finally has a successor – Open Live Writer.  This utility seems to be a continuation of the original Windows Live Writer code, just updated to work with current blog platforms.  At a minimum, they fixed some issues with publishing to Blogger.  It’s definitely worth a look if you haven’t tried it before.

And lastly, a small announcement for the week coming up.  I’ve been practicing the skill of expanding a simple idea into something more substantial and to do that, I’ve written a small series of stories.  Well, they’re too short to be stories, more like tales.  Since it is Halloween season, these tales are all dark.  I’ll be posting them all next week.  Here’s a preview of what’s coming:

  • Halloween Scenes – Bundle Of Joy
  • Halloween Scenes – Everybody Loves You Now
  • Halloween Scenes – Desiccation
  • Halloween Scenes – Lesson Of A Lifetime
  • Halloween Scenes – Peep Show
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Getting Your Due

I mentioned in a previous post about a blogger who had posted something that didn’t really sit right with me.  When I went to confirm some details in that prior post, I saw that I used this post’s title in that post.  So, I guess I still have the same issues.

In the previous post, I was saying how the entrepreneurial lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and certainly not me.  Aside from the level of effort it takes to start it up and keep it going, I also have significant issues with a practice I have been seeing more frequently.  That practice is the monetization of information.  One blog that I follow has reviews on random products that are interesting.  Recently, that blogger started linking to those products using affiliate links so they get a slight reimbursement for their referrals.  That was never the case before.  And this other blogger recently made a post expressing the same thing, that he needs to start using affiliate links whenever he is giving advice or recommendations.

This bothers me for so many reasons.  First and foremost is the WIIFM aspect (What’s In It For Me?).  WIIFM isn’t always bad, but when the only thing you are interested in is money, I think it is.  Why should someone promote another’s website/product/service?  Well, you could because you want to see the company succeed or because you want your readers to benefit from a great product/service.  Or, somewhat selfishly, you want the company to stay in business because you use that company too and you need them to stick around.  Or, as I see these affiliate links, you don’t particularly care about the company or your readers and just want some money. 

Affiliate links are a scourge on the Internet.  Once you start down that path, it’s a very short walk until you get to entire websites that trick people who have misspelled a domain name.  What “entrepreneur” had the idea of “Oh you misspelled macys.com as macies.com.  Here’s a link to the real site you were looking for.  By the way, anything you purchase after clicking on that link will give me a small payout.  It won’t affect anything you do, but it’s just a way for you to pay me back for this helpful site I created to correct your misspelling.  You’re welcome.”

Along with the WIIFM issue is the viewpoint that information is not free.  Something like “I could tell you what you want to know, but I need a small payment first.”  Some people could argue that it’s a fair exchange.  The information is there for free if you can find it, but if you want a shortcut over the bridge, you need to pay the toll operator.  It sounds like a “victim of success” complaint.  You want to be an authority, but once you are an authority, you’re in too much demand and so you have to employ discouragements.

Before I make this too long of a rant, here’s an example of linking to something just because you want to:

This Kickstarter is a book of comics.  It’s organized by Matt Bors, who is a comic writer I’ve followed for quite a while.  He went to a paid website and let his personal website die, and I didn’t follow him to his new home.  However, I try to support him when I can, and this is one of those times.  If you like to get world perspectives through visual media, like comics and illustrations, this book would suit you well.

Revamp

In the continuing theme of rebuild and reinvent this year, I took the sledgehammer to my website.  It’s something that has been needing torn down for many years.  The idea of a website going without an update for… 10 years (?!) is unheard of.  Unless the site is truly dead.

But I’m not dead yet.  And I decided to redo the website in a much simplified version.  Gone is the whole “About Us” page, making me seem like some big firm of developers.  Gone are the Software and Support sections that really only had a couple of items in them.  Who was I trying to impress?

Back when I started, there was this pressure to always seem like a consummate professional and always like a huge organization, because no one would take you seriously otherwise.  As time and experience went on, I realized, I didn’t need any of that validation.

Now I’m down to two whole pages, but I have links to other whole websites I’m doing, so that makes my site more what it should be: a portal to my other work.

And part of that website is another blog, so maybe that will get revived as well.  Let’s see last post was…October 2012.  Sigh.

Get To The Point

It’s somewhat shocking to me to see the way I’ve changed as I’ve aged.  One thing that recently struck me is the way I write.  I wandered onto another person’s blog and this person fancied himself a writer.  Every sentence had a level of pomposity that even the word pomposity doesn’t even express.  By that, I mean his writing was excessively flowery.  I thought, geez, I used to write like that.

I have no idea why I used to do it or why I stopped.  I must assume, like with many things as I got older, the question became, “Who am I trying to impress, here?”  The answer most every time was, it doesn’t matter.

But, I could still write like that if I wanted to.  But when I read stuff like that after writing, it sounds overdone.  If you can’t get the point across in normal language, advanced vocabulary isn’t going to help you.  Maybe it’s because I now write much more factual content and less fiction.  Fiction is a place where descriptive, verbose, and picturesque language should be used – to transport the reader.  When you are writing instructions, you don’t want to transport the reader anywhere. You want to get shit done.

Ah, romance.  That fleeting, etheric sensation that compels a man to remove himself from his left-brained, analytical prison and dash madly to the fountain of life.  To drink deeply of the youth and vigor that had previously been tucked away in the recesses of his being, like a book scorned and discarded as too childish and fantastical for the adult he wished to be.  Unhand that child, villain!

That’s how it reads to me.  A bunch of independent words that each strike an emotional note and end up as a cacophonic disaster.  Sure, some people do it better than others, and some even do it worse than that contrived mish-mash I spit up.

And the reason I wrote this is because I found an old archive disk with documents – old documents – on it and I’m deathly afraid to open them.  On the other hand, maybe writing a story parodying that style would be good for me.  The whole, “so bad, it’s good” could be something I excel at.  I mean, what the hell, Fifty Shades of Grey exists, right?

The More You Know

I guess I’ve been on a Tumblr-hating kick lately.  Actually, I guess it’s more of a social media hate-fest.  But mostly, it’s just seeing how fucked up Tumblr users are.  I was searching for articles to support my position and was surprised that it wasn’t the articles, but the comments on those articles that proved my point.

In a Forbes article (Forbes!), the author was writing about a Tumblr post that had millions of reblogs/likes (“notes” in the Tumblr world) and how cool it was.  One reader wasn’t happy that her special world had been exposed:

Dearest Jason; let alone Forbes.
If you had a heart, and knew how tumblr worked, tumblr is one big family, and if you are someone who knew how tumblr worked, before it was mainstream, you’d understand: The people of tumblr are lazy f*cks who don’t change posts because the are ignorant a-holes like you.
We respect each others posts like how we would respect each other in real life. For the fact that you even had the though of changing the title from it’s original is completely wrong of you, and that you actually did so, you have failed to be my friend.
It is also hard to rewrite a title when there are comments in the body about the original title. Again, if you delete the body, you are once again an ignorant a-hole.
So thank you for telling everyone that you do not have a heart, and try to be a smart*ss, when really, you are just destroying the rules of tumblr.
PS Treat others the way you want to be treated
PSS Romney still sucks.

I think the overriding message here is respect.  And maybe grammar.  No really, the issue here is hypocrisy, with a heaping helping of self-righteousness.  Actually, a Tumblr user would be a self-righteousness machine, oiled with hypocrisy, manufacturing indignation and outrage for a marketplace of similar machines that continue to process and refine the product until it reaches maximum absurdity.

Me And My Blog

I just finished reading a blog post about blogging.  The main content of the post seemed geared to doing blogging as a profession and as a way to make money.  It got me wondering when things changed?

No, I’m not really that dumb.  I know blogging, once it became mainstream, was a critical marketing and sales tool.  I guess at this point, my thoughts are, why is it still considered the way to do things?  And, like many cases where I read something that insists I need to do something differently to do it correctly, I question myself.

I made a milestone post a while ago describing my relationship with my blog.  It’s a personal journal, like me just talking to myself or to no one in specific.  And just right there, I violated another recommendation.  I didn’t link to the post where I mentioned that.  I do internal links extremely infrequently, which is considered bad.  I actually do very few links of any kind.  Why?  Because I think a link encourages distraction.  Someone has probably done some study of the pros and cons of hyperlinks vs. footnotes.  One providing instant additional information but possibly containing other information that hasn’t been covered yet, and the other allowing you to absorb the entire document before seeking additional info.

So let me explain my relationship with my blog, contrasted with other social media options.  This is a journal, first and foremost.  I can use it to search and remember what life was like for me at that time.  This blog does have some pretty low points in its records.  Although I could accomplish the same thing in Facebook, there’s a significant difference.  On FB, if I’m bitching, gloating, bragging, or whining, I’m doing it in front of my chosen audience.  Likewise, people are doing it to me when I am in their chosen audience.  But in my blog, even if the reader knows who I am, the blog is not directly attributable to my name. 

Here’s another way to put it.  Making a post on FB is saying, “I want everyone who is friends with me to know I said this.”  Making a post on my blog is saying, “I want anyone who cares to know this.”  See the difference?  The blog doesn’t directly attribute a statement to me.  It’s the same reason I don’t watermark any photographs.  I may not get credit for cool stuff, but I won’t get flack for bad stuff either.

How To Blog For Tumblr

Two simple rules.  Make it all about yourself and make it emotionally exhausting.  For example:

Yesterday, I was out for a drive and I saw a business that I thought looked interesting.  I went inside and browsed around a little bit.  Some of the items they sold were kind of odd, and I just decided it wasn’t the kind of place for me.  So, when I was leaving, the owner asked me if I found everything ok.  I said that it was an interesting store and left it at that.  I didn’t say what I was really thinking.

Instead, you write:

Now, yesterday, I was outside for the first time in what felt like forever, since I’ve been cooped up in this asylum for what feels like forever.  As I drove along, my senses were exhilarated by the fresh, clean air – despite having that slightly opaque quality of horrible pesticide from the nearby farms.  And in those moments, I was caught between my love for life and the despise of my ego-centric human co-habitors who want nothing more than to make a shifty buck.  And speaking of bucks, here’s a new business that looks interesting.  Maybe I will find some of the things that make me go, hmmm.  That is my forte, you know.  Making people go hmmm.  Upon entering the store, I was completely taken aback by the unnerving and overpowering vibe of… weirdness?  Nay, insanity. My eyes wept for the innocence of a million children that would be subjected to such devious depictions of capitalism, and my mind, in its best attempt to shelter me from further despair, became numb to the entire experience.  When my overloaded, overworked, and overstressed senses could not handle the assault any further, I hastened to the door.  Oh sweet freedom from this agony!  You are only steps away!  But before I could savor the fresh, liberating experience of being unshackled from this oppression, the storeowner – a peddler of the most profane wares in the universe – had the audacity to ask me if I found what I was looking for.  In my mind, I cursed him a thousand ways and considered informing him that the only thing I found was offensive offerings with monetary and aesthetic value so low that I would need to be compensated to even consider purchasing one.  Choking back my words of justice, I politely told him his store was interesting and I left him to ponder the ramifications of such a simple answer to his question.  He should think long and hard on it, for there was a message in my tone of voice that words could not convey.  I pray that no one should have to be subjected to what I had to endure this day, yesterday.

You see, I can write like this, but choose not to.  Thank god.

Blog Checkpoint

So, now I’ve been blogging over six years.  And in that six years, I’ve skipped 12 months.  I mean, there’s only 12 month-long periods in that six years where I have not made a post.  It seems to be a pattern of a sort.  A lot of the gaps are due to what’s going on in my work and personal life – if I have time to think for myself.  You know, sometimes you get a long stretch where you can’t think of anything but what you’re working on right then.  Then there’s other times where you want to think about anything but what you’re supposed to be doing.  Hint: This is one of those times.

I have over 200 posts in my blog.  I remember getting an email from WordPress congratulating me on reaching 100 posts.  Maybe I have to get to 1000 for another pat on the back?  The number of posts I’ve made over my blog’s lifespan isn’t a significant number, and there are the gaps I mentioned before, so I guess I wouldn’t classify myself as “prolific”. 

I’ve recently been finding that my tags aren’t sufficient anymore.  Either I’m wanting to discuss different topics now, or I have been applying tags only tenuously to posts that don’t deserve them.  I never wanted my tag cloud to be huge – I always wanted it to look balanced, but it might have to grow out of necessity.

I’m really light on comments, and that’s ok with me.  They say that the best blogs have a strong community and a lot of conversation, but I don’t think that suits my blog.  Mine is just a notepad or journal kind of thing.  I envision my blog as if you the reader are overhearing me at a restaurant bitching about or explaining something about my day or the world or whatever.  And, like that scenario, I’m not exactly expecting you to approach me and comment on what I’m talking about.  But if you find the topic interests you, discuss it with others.  I’m certainly no authority, so you don’t need to clarify or seek guidance on a topic from me.

On blogging itself, there is more and more rabble that the medium is dead.  Short-form messages are “better”, “more concise”, “more timely”, and to me, more bullshit.  One of my favorite tags on my blog is “overpopulation”.  There’s way too many damn people out there.  And because of this, no one can possibly take it all in.  But there’s this expectation that you should take it all in. 

Look, there’s nothing wrong with having a very tight filter on your incoming data.  And you shouldn’t feel bad that you are not absorbing or are missing something.  If you could absorb everything, how boring would your life be?  Every time someone would mention something to you, your answer would be, “yeah, I read about that.”  That also makes it shitty for the other person, too.  That sounds like a great future post: Diversity vs. Unity.  When everyone knows all the same stuff, where does that take us?

In closing, I am still a fan of writing.  I’ve been getting better about proofreading – reading my post in its entirety to make sure it makes sense and has a decent flow.  There’s been plenty of times that I’ve reworked sentences, and when I do, it makes me feel better that I took the time to proof it.  And finally, thanks to you for reading.

Key Board

When I’m at work, there’s some desk items that cause some distraction.  It could be the stuffed creatures on the shelf, it could be the NERF guns or the NERF Super Soaker missile (“The F Bomb”).  But for some people, the thing that catches their attention is my keyboard.  It’s a new keyboard, but it doesn’t look new.  It’s old-school.  It’s actually impossible to find a decent picture of it online.  Even the manufacturer’s website doesn’t have a flattering photo of it.  It’s a KeyTronic.  It’s been my favorite keyboard brand for at least 15 years.  It hasn’t changed its look in 15 years, nor has it changed its feeling.

Yesterday, I purchased the newest model of KeyTronic’s keyboards and this weekend, I’ll have the chance to find out if they are remaining true to their roots.  There’s a couple things I can’t live without on this keyboard.  When I say I can’t live without them, I mean, I bought one for home and one for work.  The productivity loss when I change keyboard layouts is significant.  The KeyTronic keyboard is offered with a large L Enter key instead of the straight bar Enter key.  This makes the backspace half-sized and moves the backslash key up to the top row.  The other thing I can’t live without is the tactile snap of the keys.  Less important, but noticeable, is the huge chasm of empty space between keys.  This is a very forgiving keyboard to type on.  When you type code all day and in the evenings either code some more or blog, a good keyboard is required.  Yet another design feature you don’t see everywhere is what someone called the “stadium seating” of the keys.  When the top row of keys is nearly 50% higher than the lowest row, I find my thumb resting more naturally under my fingers to hit the space bar.

I was looking online to see if there were any other KeyTronic fans.  Outside of product reviews, there’s a couple of threads on a mechanical keyboard forum praising the feel of the KeyTronic, although also admitting it is not a mechanical.  So, besides that, I didn’t find much.  And what I read sort of inspired me to type a bit and remember why I liked this keyboard so much. 

In this day where flat keyboards are the standard, and chiclet keyboards are fashionable, it seems like typing is taking a back seat, which is consistent with the slow decline towards content consumption instead of content creation.  You need a keyboard to type a URL or a status update or maybe an email (so long…); you don’t need a task-oriented keyboard.  Gamers buy keyboards made for their needs.  I would like to believe that this keyboard grew up as a product optimized for the needs of the time, which required much more typing than the current age.  But now it’s become a keyboard made for my needs – extended typing sessions.

So now I’m waiting and hoping that I will have a new keyboard that has all the same great feeling of this one but has a look of “what kind of keyboard is that?” instead of “is that even a USB keyboard?”

Everything’s mobile now

Now it seems I can do just any everything from anywhere. I can even do long form composition on my phone and blog it.

Huh.

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