No, I Won’t Post Once A Week


WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

There is a large bunch of bloggers who have put a graphic on their blog proclaiming that they will post once a day or once a week for the entire year.

I’m not one of them.

Sorry, but I like to publish posts that have value and meaning. I can’t do that every day or every week. When I post I like to think it is worth reading and there are times that this depressed, worn out writer can barely manage to drag himself out of bed and put in a day’s work.

Lately I’ve been suffering. Four weeks ago I stopped taking my anti-depressants and stopped seeing my therapist and the one real change was that my energy levels dropped. Getting to work was hard enough, writing and editing a blog post impossible.

One of the things I decided a while ago was that I’m not going to make any promises about posting to this blog and I’m not going to feel guilty when I don’t. I think quality is more important than posting too often.

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Kicking Goals


WordPress dashboard interface

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt asks “When you started your blog, did you set any goals? Have you achieved them? Have they changed at all?”

What a question? I’ve had a blog for many years.

If you go back to my first blog then it was really just a pace on the ‘net I could call my own. It had some non-fiction, some fiction and a couple of tech articles.

My second blog was built when I bought my domain name, honestpuck.com, which I decided I needed since the name Tony Williams is far too common and I needed an alias less common. It was both a place for me to collect all my book reviews, and back then I was writing a lot of reviews of technical books, and a place for me to play with blogging software.

After several different blogging systems I spent a lot of time hacking on blosxom as at that time I was really enjoying Perl but at about the same time the rate at which I was writing book reviews was slipping I was becoming tired of Perl and switched to a self-hosted WordPress blog.

After that the aim of my blog was to develop an audience for some more technical posts and it wasn’t really successful. Developing an audience for a tech blog is hard and slow. That incarnation of my blog slowly died through inattention and a lack of an audience.

About two years ago my anxiety and depression started to develop some strength. I’ve suffered from both to some degree for many years and back then they started gaining strength again. My work and my relationship suffered. Then a little over a year ago my relationship collapsed and I went through some extremely hard times with my ex-partner. Severe major depression was one result.

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Why the Changes WordPress.com?


WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

So now WordPress.com bloggers have two different top bars. The old one you see when you first go to your blog or another WordPress.com blog and a new one when you go to almost any administration task.

How do I like the new top bar? To say that I don’t like it at all would be an understatement. It adds the ability to quickly get to the blog reader and Freshly Pressed and takes away the ability to quickly get to the two most important parts of the Dashboard, managing comments and the best New Post editor.

The simplified New Post editor, the only one accessible from the new top bar, lacks three extremely important features, the ability to set a category for your blog post, the ability to edit the ‘Publicize’ slug and where it will be publicised (I like to be able to turn off LinkedIn for my more personal posts) and finally it doesn’t support ‘Text’ mode which I use constantly since I type most of my posts into a text editor using MarkDown for format (which isn’t supported by WordPress.com) and then use “Export to clipboard in HTML” and paste the result into Text mode.

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Two Things Annoying Me About WordPress.com


Today I discovered two things about WordPress.com that are annoying. One they can easily fix, the other is just a result of the wierd society of the net . Well, I sort of knew about them before but today they annoyed me. Perhaps I’m in an annoyable state?

The easy one to fix is that the “New Post” link under the logo on the left of the top bar takes you to a really nice page to choose the type of post you want to make but then takes you to a post editing page that doesn’t let you categorise the post or change the publicize link.

On the other hand if you go to your blog name in the menu under your name and icon on the right of the bar you can go straight to the “Add New Post” page of the Dashboard. Unfortunately you don’t get those nice pre-formatted link types you get the other way.

I know, I know. First world problem. What am I complaining about, it’s really great blogging software?

Then the second problem. “Like” whores. If you have a blog here on WordPress.com you know them, the people who come along and they hit the “Like” button on more than half a dozen posts on your blog and when you check their notifications it links back to ‘yourultimatediet.net’ or something similar. I wonder why they bother when on the post itself the link is to their Gravatar profile? I like to think my writing is good but to hit the “Like” button on the last eight posts. I’m not that good. I guess it could be that hitting the like button costs them nothing and they do actually think the post is worth reading. They may just set the bar a lot lower than me, frankly I read a lot of posts and I don’t hit that button unless I really do think your post is a good one. Indeed I’m almost certain to now go and read a few more of your posts and if I find another couple worth liking likely to follow you in my WordPress.com Reader.

Yeah, yeah, another first world problem. Hey, it might surprise you to learn it but I live in the first world, by definition all my problems are going to be first world problems.

So as a blogger what rattles your cage?

Hobson’s Choice


Poster for the 1954 film "Hobson's Choice"

Poster for the 1954 film “Hobson’s Choice”

Today’s Daily Prompt: If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick? Why?

The first thing that should be said is that this is not really “Hobson’s Choice”. Technically Hobson’s Choice is a choice between taking something or nothing. Here in Australia we’d say “you have two choices, Buckley’s or none”.

The tale goes that the phrase comes from a livery stable owner Thomas Hobson who, to rotate his horses, would give customers a choice between taking the horse closest to the door or none at all. The Oxford English Dictionary has the phrase first used in 1680.

No, what we have here is a “Morton’s fork”, a choice between two unattractive options. We might say we are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. This phrase comes from the collecting of taxes by John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury in the late 15th century, who held that a man living modestly must be saving money and could therefore afford taxes, whereas if he was living extravagantly then he was obviously rich and could still afford them.

So having settled the question of exactly what sort of dilemma it is that we face let’s return to the original question.

Would I rather write a blog but read none or read as many as I like but not write one?

That’s an easy question to answer most of the time. Over the past five or so years that I have blogged it has been an exceptionally on and off affair and to be honest more often off than on. All of that time I have been a voracious consumer of other people’s blogs.

Most of them I read in Google Reader so I see them as an RSS feed. Google Reader tells me that I subscribe to over a hundred blogs, though quite a number of those are either dead or post rarely but I certainly read posts from over fifty a week.

So most of the time I’d answer that I want to read rather than write.

The problem with that answer is the pleasure I get from writing. Do you think we could be slippery and somehow sneak some writing in there? I won’t write a blog but I will write long posts on Facebook or perhaps Google Plus. No, I think that is breaking the spirit of the question. At the moment I am enjoying writing my blog here on WordPress.com – the social aspects of a blog in this blog collection are particularly appealing.

I have such a voracious appetite for information though. In my job I also need to keep up with technology, a system administrator needs to keep on learning and knowing what new software is available or when existing software is upgraded. Blogs do that for me.

So I think the answer would be to give up writing a blog and just read. Oh no, do you think I’d be allowed to write some fiction? Could I write some technical articles for other people? How about extremely long comments on other people’s blogs? Surely I can write something?

Hitting Freshly Pressed


There's my post up on the Freshly Pressed page.

There’s my post up on the Freshly Pressed page

Tony was up to his usual morning routine: radio on 702 Sydney and MacBook Air on his lap as he sat on the couch, web browser open with multiple tabs showing his mailbox, calendar, RSS reader, Google Plus and Facebook – the usual list of suspects.

This morning he also had open a tab new to his routine, WordPress.com showing the blog reader, a feed of blogs on WordPress.com that he had started to follow.

I had started up a WordPress.com blog after giving up trying to keep my own blog free of spam comments and malware break ins. It had been an entire weekend’s work to extract all my posts from two other blogs and shift them to WordPress.com. I was happy with the shift, I’d found a theme I liked and even spent some time tweaking and customising it. I’d already had a couple of good comments on posts and a few other WordPress.com bloggers were following my blog.

A post on “Daily Post”, a blog written by staff at WordPress.com, caught his eye. Weekly Writing Challenge — Mind the Gap asked bloggers a question “Are animated GIFs the stuff of junior highschool hijinks or, are they the political cartoons of the new millenium?”.

Brain cells lit up, synapses connected and a few vague memories surfaced in Tony’s mind. He remembered seeing some animated GIFs which were high quality photographs with a small amount of subtle movement animated on top. New York Fashion Week also seemed to be associated with the memory.

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