We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, December 18. 2008
There's an immense difference between a Christmas gift that you'd like very much but hesitate to ask for because it's expensive or hard to obtain — and a gift you can't ask for at all because of the time and effort involved.
Between hanging out at the tiki hut with the locals and going to the Sunday BBQ at the nearby park, I tend to intermingle with 'regular' people a fair amount; meaning, people who aren't computer whizzes and/or savvy blog participants.
And it's not surprising that a huge number of people out there would love to get a little blog site going where they could post their daily thoughts ("You wouldn't believe what happened to me just now at the supermarket!") and pics and videos for family and friends to enjoy, yet most of them never even attempt it.
In pursuing the issue, the answer, unsurprisingly, is that people simply don't think they have the ability to put one together. And, admittedly, it probably sounds a little daunting to hear you have to "construct" a blog site when you're not even sure what an "icon" or "menu" is.
Setting up the site is a snap. You download a free FTP program and use that to upload the files for the blogging program. There's a 'Settings' page where you'll make a few tweaks and you're ready to roll.
The easy-to-follow instructions that will walk you through the whole process are on my Easy-Blogsite. If you run into a snag, just ask here in one of my posts and I'll email you back and we'll get the rascal ironed out.
As far as the actual present goes, it might be fun to simply give them a nice Xmas card with three mysterious lines of information on it:
Then be with them the first time they go to the site. You'd have a few 'Welcome!' posts on the home page, interesting links in the sidebar, and maybe some family pics or even videos on display. It should be a great moment when they suddenly 'get it' and ask, "You mean this is all mine??"
Then go to the main editor and show them how easy it is to make a post. Just type merrily away and hit the 'Publish' button. Show them how easy it is to import a picture from their computer, and how they can change the entire look of their new site with one click of the mouse using the fabulous 'themes' you've pre-installed. Their feelings will range from "stunned" to "beyond thrilled."
I hope she likes pink and blue.
Or how about that old person next door who spends all day long watching TV? I don't have to tell you, of all people, the meaning the blogosphere can have on one's life. A spouse, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, your best friend, your kids — can you think of a more appreciated gift than a gift one cannot ask for?
This Christmas, give that someone special a gift like no other.
Give them a door to the world.
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The Sirens song. Is the world ready for Habu striking up the start of Deep Purples Smoke on the Water before sunrise? BTW I think I'm going to add that Deep Purple beginng to my ringtone on my cellphone.
One of the great instrumental openings to a song and an era gone by.
Instant blogsite huh? Hmmmm.
Ah... the foolishness of youth. That was hilarious Habu. The video more than the chords. A great reminder of why I'm not now what I was then. Actually, I always thought that opening rather pedestrian... no slight intended. Promise.
Habu - Sounds like you've got that someone special in mind for a nice Christmas present. I'm sure he's a wonderful person and deserves the very best. Buy him two sites. :)
That was a nice guest-post you did the other day on The Drunken Elephant (or whateveritwas), calling our attention to the fact that's there's more to it than just saying, "Let's bomb Iran's sorry ass!" There's also the nuclear residue to consider, so it's nice seeing steps being taken in that direction. Mutant births are just so embarrassing.
"Instant blogsite huh? Hmmmm."
To get it up and running really takes no more time than the time to upload the WordPress files. While most people would want to play with themes and plugins and all that, it's ready to blog-and-post right out of the box. Check out this cool theme.
See you online. :)
What are the differences between it and the Blogger accounts which everyone I know and I already have? Themes don't interest me as much as the ability to share photos and links to related sites and prior posts. Specifically:
--is it as easy to use as Facebook (which is loathsome for other reasons, but which is a snap to upload links, videos to)
--number of readers possible (100 with Blogger)
--does it work with Macs? Yes, I know Mac has a fantastic proprietary email and photo service but photo loading is glacially slow because of server bottlenecks
-- is it easier to insert links, have just the first paragraph of a post with "More" for any glutton for punishment to read more rather than skipping over it, and post and shift around photographs, also copy and paste text
Retriever - Good questions, all.
"What are the differences between it and the Blogger accounts which everyone I know and I already have?"
A number of things spring to mind:
- Their spam filter occasionally runs amok, putting a bunch of sites in the kill filter. Then you have to 'appeal' to Google to get it unfiltered, which apparently can take up to three days, and in the meantime people are wondering where the hell the site is.
- Ditto the way you can get a site blacklisted by complaining about it, like the way the Obmaniacs shut down a number of sites last summer, including Theo's, I believe.
- Then there's people complaining about sexual content and getting one of those "Content Warning" pages before readers can get to the site. Theo went through that for months before finally bailing out and switching to a new account.
- The 'plugins' give you hundreds of extra options that don't come with either Blogger or the stock WordPress. Slideshows that show pics in full-screen size, sophisticated video players that do likewise, a very elaborate text editor, jukebox programs -- pretty much anything you can think of.
- You can customize absolutely everything the site displays, from graphics to text. For example, if you want the little 'More' blurb to say something specific, you hunt down the file it's in with an in-depth search and change it in Notepad. Using an FTP program, you can edit it directly on the site. No big deal.
- And, perhaps most importantly, it's yours. A Blogger site is theirs. You're just borrowing the space. If you ever have a spat with them, or there's some feature you just gotta have that they don't offer, they hold on to the domain name that everybody has in their sidebar links.
"is it as easy to use as Facebook (which is loathsome for other reasons, but which is a snap to upload links, videos to)"
Don't know. Never been on Facebook. To upload pics and Zips files and such in WordPress, you click on the button, browse to the file and that does it. That's pretty much standard fare. Maggie's editor (Serendipity) is the same way. If the editor's good enough, it'll give you the option to put a black border around the pic and spacing around the sides so text doesn't bump up against it.
To put streaming videos on a WordPress site involves nothing more than one small line of code on the page, thanks to a plugin.
"number of readers possible (100 with Blogger)"
Unlimited using the host I recommend. Ditto accumulated monthly bandwidth. No hard gates, gigantic CPU on the server.
If you mean backing up the database, there's a plugin that does that automagically on whatever schedule you select. There's no need to back up the uploads because you've got them mirrored on your hard drive.
"does it work with Macs?"
Ooo, trick question. :)
It's an online editor that's accessed via the browser, just like Blogger. Given that JPGs and FLVs are multi-platform, there wouldn't be any problem there. On the other hand, your SIT files might not be very popular, heh.
"is it easier to insert links"
Standard routine. Highlight the text, hit the 'Link' button and paste in the address.
"have just the first paragraph of a post with 'More'"
You hit the 'More' button then just keep typing. It inserts whatever you want it to say and breaks up the page for the readers.
"and post and shift around photographs, also copy and paste text"
All standard cut & paste routines using Ctrl-X,C,V. Pics, vids and icons (like anchor icons) cut & paste just fine, on the same page or page-to-page.
So, to sum up, as far as general editing and posting pics and such, I'd say they're about the same. It's all the extra goodies and the ability to customize things that makes the big dif, along with keeping control of things by owning the domain name. And at a whopping $6.95/mo it's a little hard to complain about the cost.
Any further questions, lemme know.
Thanks so much! Very helpful...To look into over Xmas break.
Getting ready to drive to work and see if this snowstorm actually materializes. Even if it does they would never send home those of us who show up and are not "Deathly ill" (ahem) because if they shut our office, they will have to pay the police and firemen and snowplow crews overtime. I could care less about weather as spouse and I grew up with WAY more snow than these wimps, and I can always walk if the roads close.
But feel at least 102 years old working across platforms because each of the 15 computers in the house has vices and virtues of its own, sometimes complicate it. DOn't even get me started on the networking and wireless printing issues of machines that range in age from 10 years old up....but I digress.
One other question about the program you like: I presently can't edit or add to my site from the office all day obviously because their computers are monitored (DUH) and my Blackberry and phone provider aren't compatible with adding photos or text to Blogger. With the above??
It is very weird that many functions work on the canned Blogger menus using a Vista laptop (that is appalling for photo editing) but not on my gorgeous IMac which is great for photos.
The complaints threat you reminded me of on Blogger is daunting, particularly for an opinionated critter like myself. Like my late golden retriever I sometimes curiously blunder onto somebody else's blog territory with my muddy paws, commenting hastily and w my usual verbosity, leaving SOMEBODY an opening, and unintentionally annoying the pair of junk yard dogs guarding the place from newcomers. This pack dynamic is interesting in theory, but the nips, growls and snarls are unpleasant when one has not set out to be disagreeable.
Overall, canned programs are appealing in the same way that hideously expensive Nikon cameras and lenses are to me: a real pro (or someone with more natural talent in their little finger than I have in my whole body)may be able to produce gorgeous output on everyday equipment and without much editing or tweaking. But an enthusiast like myself is glad not to have to reinvent the wheel. I was reminded of this when admiring the GORGEOUS macro pictures of domestic life on a Blogger site of note recently, taken by a loving mommy of young kids. Closeups of architectural details, home ornaments, family scenes, etc. and spare but quite lovely notes and observations of everyday life. To see a world in a grain of sand, and all that... Similar to some of Sisu's luscious cat pictures, but of a wider range of aubjects. The mommy in question uses a Nikon D60 and kit lenses, I think. Way better pictures than I am able to take. Look at it (no, I am not a relative or friend) as she does beautifully with the Blogger programs:
My own photographs tend to be landscapes or to be people or animals zoomed in on from afar (family tease me "It's the sniper going forth" as I head out into the woods or the beach looking for wildlife or a beautiful view) and do not translate as well into those tiny blog boxes, as macro closeups of a flower or bug or cat's eyes do. My friend uses them to paint her landscapes from.
The superior .me (Mac's unfortunate tribute to narcissism) photo viewing program, isn't properly coordinated with their clunky blog program and the mac proprietary program (like everything to do with Jobs) locks you into their way of doing things. Even if it is beautiful, it is still theirs.
Enough blather. Time to go bring home the bacon.
"But feel at least 102 years old working across platforms because each of the 15 computers in the house has vices and virtues of its own"
Bwah-hah! Isn't working across platforms a ball? I used to have a Mac, a PC and an Amiga all networked together (anyone here remember the "serial port null block"?) and it was a friggin' nightmare. In my field work days, I remember networking five office computers together -- using five different versions of Windows; 98SE, ME, 2K, XP and Server. I did it, but how, I'll never know.
As far as editing your site from work, since all you're doing is going there via the browser, not uploading 9 gigs of videos via FTP, why would it be a no-no? That is, all the monitor track would show is that you went to your site once at 9:23 in the morning. It wouldn't be able to say what you actually did on the site since everything's done online. And the fact that you logged off the site at 4:23 in the afternoon might mean nothing more than it was innocently up in a browser tab all day long.
Or is going to a non-approved site in the first place the no-no? I suppose the way around that would be to subscribe to Verizon Wireless and switch your work computer's Internet input. Savvy practitioners of the art would have a secret switch box under the desk where they could flip back and forth.
Maybe I should change my handle to "Dr. Devious". :)
"anyone here remember the "serial port null block"
My God how could any of us forget. It was on everyone lips at the time (if you were a total geek).
Dr. You apparently haven't caught on to the fact that while your encyclopedic knowledge of computers and their care and feeding is obviously your oxygen, 90% of it is never incorporated into this blog (unless by you) nor does there seem to be huge outcry for tales of the good old "null block days" When will we hear your memories of the TRS-80?..dude, most of you stuff is informative but is esoteric geekdom at it's finest.
Now I'm sure the posters here appreciate thqat someone carries that mantle and does the spadework but it is for some of us much too close to playing second chair flute in the Junior High School Band. But rock on Dr, I assure you I read at least every other word prior to shaking my head and wondering if you're chairbound.
"90% of it is never incorporated into this blog (unless by you) nor does there seem to be huge outcry for tales of the good old "null block days"
Yes, but this post is the very antithesis of a geek post. The entire premise was that putting together a blog site is so easy that anyone can do it.
As for that 10% of interested readers, that's why Bird Dog invited me aboard. You can't have an eclectic site and totally disregard the world of computers -- and especially given that it's the computer that allows the blog to exist in the first place. But, by the same token, the very nature of an eclectic site means you're never going to please everyone. X percent won't have any interest in articles on the economic situation, Y percent won't have any interest in cigar humidors and Z percent won't have any interest in the political stuff. So it all balances out.
I suspect BD saw a computer geek hanging around, giving esoteric advice and recognized a tool he could use to the sites advantage. Even the second chair flute player is allowed in the music room. In fact I believe you asked to "help" out as opposed to being invited to help out.
Eclectic it is but has there been a sustained surge in participation/comments since your addition? Doubtful.
"I suspect BD saw a computer geek hanging around, giving esoteric advice and recognized a tool he could use to the sites advantage."
Actually, it was just the opposite. Remember the crappy old comments editor that didn't accept links and such? I not only had to find out what kind of software Maggie's was using on my own and then find a support forum, but I then left a message asking about editors, which was the best, how to set it up, then after getting an answer I forwarded the link to Maggie's webmaster, basically leaving them no choice but to upgrade. Pushy bastard, aren't I?
"Even the second chair flute player is allowed in the music room."
But that's still missing the point of an eclectic site. There is no 'first chair'. BD posts on the latest cigar humidor and 'dog of the week', Junkman posts links, Barrie and Wynnie post on politics and economics, the Dyl does his Dylan routine, Doc Bliss takes care of the psych angle and I post on techie stuff. Bird Dog could care less when it comes to who's reading who, he just wants to make sure all the bases are covered.
"Eclectic it is but has there been a sustained surge in participation/comments since your addition? Doubtful."
I'd make that "very doubtful." What geek would plow through a bunch of boring articles on economics and politics just to read the occasional interesting geek post?
On the other hand, are you honestly going to sit there and tell the guy who doubled his browsing speed after my recent post on the subject that he'd be better off if I hadn't posted it?
That's why you can't view it as a numbers game. I have hundreds of video guides on my site, and many of them I knew not one person in a thousand was going to use when I wrote it, but so what? The world of instruction isn't a popularity contest.
No matter how you slice your baloney, you were a pushy bastard (is that a violation of the MF language code?) who did everything but beg to update the site. You finally succeeded in inserting yourself as well as all the wonderful, but totally avoided by most, little computer tweeks.
"That's why you can't view it as a numbers game"
Don't delude youself or so breathlessly contradict yourself by stating it's not a numbers game. It's always a numbers game. Your myopia lead you to make that statement in terms of increased participation by hoi polloi while touting your ability to increase computer speed, which is measured in what?....numbers. That was your contradiction.
And I assure you that if the individual or individuals decide one day that their ROI however they choose to measure it, once again ,numbers, they will cease supporting this site and it will evaporate.
It's always about the numbers.
"No matter how you slice your baloney, you were a pushy bastard (is that a violation of the MF language code?) [no] who did everything but beg to update the site."
Oh, no, you've got me totally wrong. I begged like crazy. It was after the second heartfelt plea to put in a better editor that I decided it was up to me. I, uh, presume you understand that installing a plugin takes about a minute? The webmaster just had to be shown which one to grab and boom, it was done.
"You finally succeeded in inserting yourself"
That's very amusing. Are you implying that this is some kind of dream-come-true for a techie writer? I'm used to this. Do you really think the two compare?
"as well as all the wonderful, but totally avoided by most, little computer tweeks."
Not according to the numbers. The site stats indicate some of my posts have been very popular.
And, honestly, are you saying doubling someone's browser speed is a "little" tweak?
- "That's why you can't view it as a numbers game"
"Don't delude youself or so breathlessly contradict yourself by stating it's not a numbers game."
You're talking about computer numbers, I'm talking about people numbers. Kind of a different thing, no?
"It's always a numbers game."
We've had this conversation before. If a site doesn't advertise, then what possible difference would it make if 10 people showed up or 10,000? This isn't an ego trip for Bird Dog. It's just a hobby he maintains on the side during his busy professional day, just something to have fun with. You and others in the commentariat take it much more seriously than he does.
"which is measured in what?....numbers. That was your contradiction."
In the psychology biz that's known as "reaching."
"And I assure you that if the individual or individuals decide one day that their ROI however they choose to measure it, once again ,numbers, they will cease supporting this site and it will evaporate."
Nope. Numbers only count when it's serious.
"It's always about the numbers."
Nope. Numbers only count when it's serious. You once showed this same lack of comprehension when you accused me of "advertising" my site when I left a link in the comments to a post I'd written. Given that I'd only checked my site stats once in the previous year (when Glenn Reynolds linked to me), imagine my amusement upon reading that. Numbers don't mean a thing unless one's making money from the site or one's on an ego trip, and I can assure you that Bird Dog is guilty of neither.
Well you had to slice that batch of refutation baloney really thin in attempting to explain away reality.
"I'm used to this"
WOW, I think that gets you a Gold Medal in Geekdom.
It's trite but so true....get a life; cause if that's what you're doing you'll be headed for the cool aid when you finish growing that widows hump.
Anyway, I'm ready for your final word and also to send you a Merry Christmas greeting. Have a great '09 too.
(OK folks move along, nothing to see here, just move along)
"WOW, I think that gets you a Gold Medal in Geekdom."
And thankee kindly. Took years to achieve that kind of status. Video is a very exciting, ongoing field and it's been fun to be a part of it. The recent advent of 1280 x 768 hi-def video ("Blu-ray") has added yet another level to it.
"Anyway, I'm ready for your final word and also to send you a Merry Christmas greeting. Have a great '09 too."
And the same to you. In its own warped way, it'll be fun to watch Obama's gaffes and ineptitudes on display and see how the MSM handles it. See if there's a little 'buyer's remorse' popping up here and there.
I suppose one of the most interesting things to dread/fear/watch will be 'universal' health care. It's one of those things that sounds great when you're pitching it as an ideology -- not so great when you realize it means giving up your posh Manhattan doctor for a government nurse.
The secret switch box appeals as using a blackberry or netbook with independent connection is obviously NOT work. One way to feel like James or Jane Bond when driven to distraction by work software running more slowly than chipping stone tablets But it wouldn't be right, take too much time away from what I am supposed to be doing. Whereas I can post a comment on the blackberry in the tome it takes a database to load when my peers sip coffee and discuss fantasy football. Visiting any site w political content wd be risky.
Back to the chain gang
Allow me to share Habu's special gift to me with everyone!
Well as I said you can't prevent name napping. I wouldn't begin to know how to construct a page like that one. I'm barely up to speed on italics and bold useage.
I didn't read any of it in depth but it certainly was colorful.
Well I guess Habu can be duplicated by anyone, one of the frailties of the Internet. So be it. Not a thing I can do about it.
Please don't violate Maggie's comment policy with bad language.
"Help ,e out here. I've never written anything for a site called The Drunken Elephant."
It was Theo's 'site of the day' last week. Check this out.
Re this line:
"I'm sure he's a wonderful person and deserves the very best. Buy him two sites. :)"
I thought you were thinking of getting a site going, so I thought this "special someone" you were thinking of (you) deserved two sites, he was so special. See the smiley face? Just making a silly joke.
I guarantee you The Elephant Bar has never asked me to write anything. I use to post their with great frequency but as the group grew smaller and smaller I couldn't tolerate the the big he coon , Desert Rat, so I quit posting their with the exception of a line once every month or two.
As you can see if you look through the history of the last year I'm not much there, but their circle of six or seven posters are really really anti Habu. I'm surprised the site owner 2164 put that up. I always thought of him as an honorable guy. I was wrong.
Once again there is no way that I know of to copywrite a posters name so I imagine "Habu" will get tossed around a good bit by those I've irritated.
Apologies for the language.
Candidly this internet posting now occupies about 5% of the time I use to spend. MF is about the only place I visit except the financial sites. I figured with just about the entire world posting and seeing a good deal of repetition
of what I might say having already been said why waste the time.
But The Elephant Bar piece from "Habu" wasn't from my keyboard. I probably should go back and read it but to what end? I really don't care what they say over there so why waste the time...
The phrase "I could care less." makes no sense. Two commenters on this thread have used it. It makes you look like an idiot.
Why does it make ME look lke an idiot? I didn't even say it. Or in its own spirit, I DID even say it (meaning, I didn't).
Anyhoo, sure, let's give blog sites instead of socks. that way when you get up on Christmas morning and your feet are freezing and your other pair of socks is still dripping dry on a coathanger over the kitvchen sink, why, you can just grab a couple of nice wool blogsites and pull em onto those freezing feets. Yeah, THAT'll keep your toes toasty! eSocks! Ha! (bloody damn yankees)
El Cid Vicious
Director of Marketing
Acme Socks Company
Hey doc! I came late to the Easy-Blogsite.com and very nice. Good work. Now for the burning question: Whatever happened to "www.dr-mercury.com" ? It looks like it is now a commercial redirect to other stuff besides what you were known for.... like hurricane blogging and such. You finally take up chauffeuring college girls out to the reefs? Good for you! Just wondering where you got off to........
Joe - Glad you liked Easy-Blogsite. WordPress is just too cool. I love wrangling with PHP. It's just easy enough to understand that us normal slobs can tackle it, but enough of a challenge to keep one humble. Unlike HTML, which I can read like most people read English. The great thing about PHP is that you can almost always find the color or size or font you're looking for as long as you keep hacking at it.
Regarding that dr-mercury site, it's history. I only keep them up for a year or two before I get bored and move on to something else. That last site was my experimentation with a blog-style format (yawn). At the moment I'm busy being a video god again as the tinkerers (videophiles) work around all the software issues presented by the new hi-def DVD format.
For example, Cinemacraft Encoder (CCE), perhaps the premiere video rendering program, can't handle a 1280 x 768 hi-def input, so a workaround using AVISynth had to be worked out. But it has to be a certain version of AVISynth, and it has to be a certain version of CCE, and-
The usual video nightmare stuff, in other words. Since my video how-to site pioneered the SVCD and DivX formats when they hit the scene, then DVD when cheap blank discs and burners arrived, the gang was clamoring for me to bring it up to speed with the new hi-def routines. Basically, what programs work and what ones don't, and workarounds if possible.
BTW, you didn't say if you actually fired up a blog site, but if you did and you run into a nasty PHP snag, give a holler here and we'll work it out. That is, if you don't mind sharing the fun. :)