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Remembering Why I Retired and Some Advice

Warning: Non Geek Types May Suffer Eyes Glassing Over

As many of you may know, I had a career in IT. I started as an intern working in an IT shop on an Army base in Alaska. I was one of a few women in the field, but my manager was a glass ceiling breaking black woman who was the first of many women who revealed what women were capable of in the work place. My daily mentors were predominately men, who were kind and generous with their knowledge.

After 40 years in the field and experiencing many downsizing and right sizing reorganizations, I left the field to teach art to an underserved population and then after five years went back to school to learn web design. 

When I retired and shuttered my business, I worked for someone else for a while, but it did not suit me. I was no longer able to choose the kind of work I did and honestly, it was not lucrative enough to make it worth losing my beloved retired life. I did retain several clients on my hosting service.

During the last few days, I have been in front of my computer, performing backups and preparing for a forced upgrade of PHP software. Normally this is not a problem except these are legacy WordPress systems, many of which are running themes and plugins that are no longer supported or compatible with later releases of software.

Of course, nothing works as planned. There are glitches and voids where different people have differing levels of understanding. I have been in online chats with the hosting company, often explaining why their process does not work as they thought. It is frustrating and it reminds me why I decided to retire. After experiencing all the latest and greatest software over 40 or 50 years, sometimes the intrigue of new technology loses its appeal.

Now for the advice. If you ever plan to self-host your WordPress site, take some time to learn the basics of the hosting side. A little knowledge can go a long way.

Try not to get tempted to purchase themes from smaller theme companies. If you plan to purchase a theme, do some research on the company. Make sure they are going to be around a while. There are so many themes out there on production sites that are no longer supported. This makes keeping your software updated and current much more difficult.

I have found that Themes by Automattic or the WordPress team are the most likely to always stay in step with WordPress software releases. Some premium theme vendors require subscription fees in order to get support for their products and to receive updates. Always do your research.

Now a couple of every day blogging tips. WordPress suffers glitches. Like this post. I tried to write it with the block editor, but suddenly, there was no place to put in a title. That’s a new glitch to me.

Also, understand the reader settings. I was trying to re-follow a fellow blogger via email. There was already a glitch for this person in that their followers were being dropped. I could not get a follow to work for any email address. BUT, I found that because of a setting I had used in Reader, WordPress used that setting to prevent me following via my WordPress email or accepting an invitation to follow. Here’s the culprit. I had it set so I did not receive both reader and email, but then suddenly I was missing posts in reader:

Now I am again getting his Posts via email! But that still does not answer why he was dropping followers or why I could not subscribe with a different email address.

Bottom line, if you have problems or glitches in WordPress, just ask. I guarantee someone has already experienced the same problem,. 

Blog

A Word on Comments and Following

Since I have several new followers, I thought it might be helpful to share how I approach comments and following new blogs.  If other established bloggers have other ideas, I invite you to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

First of all, initially, no comments are posted until I have approved at least one comment from that person. For me, it requires several steps before that happens.

  1. First, I read the comment. Does it make sense in response to the post? If it seems way out in left field, the comment will be deleted.
  2. If the comment makes sense, I then check the website and Gravatar (Globally Recognized Avatar) associated with the user.
  3. If the Gravatar seems authentic (meaning there is a photograph of some sort and a profile or links to a blog or website), then I check the blog or the website. If either is obviously fake (no about, no content, only an aggregator, default WordPress pages and posts), then the comment will likely be deleted. EXCEPTION: I do realize I have followers that do not have blogs or websites, but I generally know them or can tell if the email address is valid.
  4. Once the first comment is approved, further comments will be approved automatically.

What I will do:

  1. Read all comments.
  2. Respond to comments. Some comments that are simple like a smiley face, I may just ‘Like’.
  3. Block commenters, URL’s, and spammers in a heartbeat.
  4. Check out your website or blog. If I find what you write interesting or compelling, I may follow you.

What I will NOT do:

  1. Follow your blog just because you ask me to.
  2. Tolerate any disrespectful comments to me or any of my followers.
  3. Allow spam comments or comments or referrals to spammy websites.
  4. Leave a comment asking any other blogger to follow me.

My advice to new bloggers is to write authentically. If you love animals, write about animals. If you love photography, share your photos and how you approach photography. If you are a mom struggling with life in the pandemic, write about that. If you are a writer, share some of your work. If you love music, share it and tell the world why you love it. Just be yourself. Authenticity comes through in your writing. Engage with bloggers you follow. Leave comments and when the blogger responds, acknowledge them.

This blogging community is a generous one. If you have questions for a blogger you like, ask the question.

Note: If you do not have a Gravatar or understand what they are, start here:  How to Sign Up for an Account

Blog

Blogging Thoughts and Tidbits

I spent some time tonight going through my WordPress subscriptions for blogs I follow. Through this process a few thoughts, observations and suggestions arose I thought worth sharing. Some of them are repetitive from comments of other longtime bloggers – many share similar suggestions.

I started this process because I was missing updates from several bloggers I admire. So into the WordPress reader I went. If you have not done this, it might be well worth your time. (The Reader is an aggregator of blogs you follow – they can be WordPress or other blogs as well.)

The initial screen looks something like this.

Now, click the red MANAGE button. You will get a screen that includes all of the blogs you follow.

Now if you click the settings button, the settings window will open. From here you can select whether or not you want to receive notifications of a new post, if you want them emailed to you and how frequently, and whether or not you want to be notified of new comments via email.

 

For some reason, when I follow new blogs, WordPress now seems to default to emailing me all posts. I follow too many blogs to receive and manage that many emails. So, I choose which blogs I want to be emailed about and which ones I will keep up with in reader. My settings were all discombobulated, thus me losing posts I really wanted to read.

Now onto my refresher points about blogging in general.

  • Comments. Askimet does a great job in catching most spam. But that does not mean it is perfect. Often times, comments from blogging friends get swept into the Spam folder. Check your Spam folder often. Make sure there are no comments you want to approve, then do a bulk edit and delete the remaining comments. On average, I get 30 or so new Spam Comments every day. It is easier to delete them a few at a time.
  • If you have a harassing troll, you can always block them from your blog. You can always block words, too, and send those comments directly to trash. I block certain words. I still check the trash before I delete it.
  • Please do not leave me a comment every day asking me to follow your blog. I won’t. I decide what blogs to follow based on what a blogger writes about. I rarely follow business blogs unless it is something of great interest to me. Blogging is my peaceful place.
  • Gravatar. If you do not have one, create on. This is generally one of the first places we look to decide if we think a comment is legitimate. If you have a Gravatar, look and see if it needs to be updated.
  • I have two follow buttons on my blog. One allows a follow that goes directly to the WordPress reader – this is intended, I think, for WordPress followers. There is another to strictly follow by email. Having only the email follow may discourage someone from following your blog.
  • Think about added a search Widget to your blog. It is a nice way for followers to find a post they may want to re-read.
  • Consider adding the Widget which allows your blog to be translated into other languages.
  • Leaving Comments. If you follow a blog, leave thoughtful comments. And if others comment on your blog, respond in kind.
  • When to stop commenting. Each blog only allows for a certain number of nested comments. This can become, who says the last word – or like my southern rooted family trying to say goodby – it goes on forever. I would love to know when you decide to stop replying. Thoughts?
  • Lastly, there are a number of bloggers who no longer write posts and no longer comment. Let’s face it, blogging is not for everyone. The question becomes, do you continue to follow blogs that appear to be abandoned? Be careful before deleting. One blogger I admire had heart surgery and was gone for an extended time, so I was happy to see them back. At some point, though, maybe they moved on. I have a few bloggers who are deceased, and I keep them in my follows because some are nice to revisit from time to time.

As always, I enjoy reading your perspective. Now I am off to update my own Gravatar!

Blog

Classic Block – First Look

Today I am in WP-Admin writing this blog. This space is very familiar to me as it is the editor I always used for my Web Design clients. It is more like the classic editor. Yesterday, I wrote my blog using the Classic block in the block editor. Here are a few comments on the process on my iPad.

Look / Feel

While the classic block looks similar, it is different. The formatting controls are no longer static and seem to offer fewer controls. Instead, the formatting Controls float on the page often obscuring the line of text above. There were times I thought my text disappeared only to discover it was just obscured. I can see how this might be helpful if you write a long post – the controls would float down the page as you write.

The + sign for adding blocks seemed to always be below the line I was typing. I am not sure what triggered it. It was easy to delete.

Spacing between paragraphs did not look consistent although when previewing the post, the formatting looked as it should.

Frustrations

I often received the message indicating the saved post was different than the current version. It did not tell me if it was more current which left me confused. At one time I restored the saved version only to discover it had less content than what appeared on my screen.

If I left the WordPress tab and went to read an email or research something, when I returned my screen was ‘frozen’ meaning I could not Scroll the screen or type. I had to close the post and reopen to unfreeze it. All content was there when I returned.

Even though I was using the classic block editor, it became obvious the paragraphs were treated as mini-blocks. For example, I could not highlight the entire post and delete it all at once (which I often do when copying a post for recurring posts like SoCS or One Liner Wednesday). I had to delete each paragraph independently.

Time to Post

It definitely took a little longer to write a post because I did not prepare. I just dove in.

I am attaching screen shots below that show the classic block I used yesterday and the WP-Admin editor I am using today. Keep in mind I am writing on my iPad. Eventually I will do this on my laptop and report back. Also, I did not add photos or do any fancy formatting with either post.

Classic Block

Photo of classic block editor

WP-Admin Editor

Photo of WP-Admin editor

Blog, Writing

WordPress, When Will I Learn?

The WordPress Gremlins ate a post I have been working on for weeks. It had 15 saved drafts. Today I published it and it has gone into oblivion. Not in the trash folder, not in drafts and certainly not in published.

I have no desire to write in Word and copy and paste and deal with reformatting.

I do not have the energy to re-write the post. I do not think I could capture the essence of this very sensitive topic.

This is crap.