techy/internet

Do You Hit and Run or Leave a Note?

There are a lot of blogs out there nowadays – it seems the blogging community has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. Which brings me right to the heart of the matter: I have way too many blogs in my Google Reader and I admit to you all right here and now – I am a lurker. Phew…I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

Lurking. It sounds so dirty, doesn’t it? Like an internet crime that should be punishable by hard labor and restriction from reading for 2-5 years? Thankfully, it’s not. But there are just too many good blogs on the information superhighway and just not enough time in my day to leave a comment. It’s sort of like a hit-and-run, only without the consequences. Oh, sure…they know I’ve been there (hello all you traffic cops out there), but they don’t know who I am, because I didn’t leave a note on their bloggy window.

I’m trying to be better, I really am. I generally leave comments once a week or so, but I read daily. I don’t expect folks to comment here (although it is oh-so-wonderful) when they visit — especially if they don’t stick around. But it’s always so nice to sign on and find that someone cared enough to de-lurk, even if only to say “hi, I am reading your blog.” I know somewhere, out there, people are reading. (’cause I’m the biggest traffic cop around).

let’s discuss this. Are you like me — a lurker, someone who hits and runs? Or do you try to leave a note, spreading love and sunshine wherever you go? Of course, if you are a lurker, you’ll have to de-lurk just this once to weigh in on this subject, I hope you know that.

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wfmw – thou shalt love thy commenters

Do you blog on the Blogger platform? Did you know that your commenters don’t get “credit” from Technorati or any of the other major ranking sites because Blogger has a “do not follow” policy they build right into their templates? What that basically means is that your commenters don’t get credit for linking their name to your blog. For shame!

There is a movement going on in the blogging community you may not be aware of. It’s called the “U comment, I Follow”. Randa Clay sums it up best:

Almost all blog platforms by default are set up so that a “dead end” piece of code is inserted wherever there is a link in a comment, so that search engines will not “count” the link as they are crawling the internet. This was originally designed to help stop comment spam, but it doesn’t work. What it does is remove some of the incentive for your readers contribute to your site by commenting on your posts.

What can you do about it? Turn off “nofollow”. Show your commenters that you appreciate them. Spread the link love.

Randa also has a variety of buttons you can save and use on your site to show you are comment friendly. In addition, I’ve found a website that explains in very SIMPLE and concrete terms how to remove the “no follow” from your blog template. I was able to do it with no problems whatsoever. One very important side note – BACK UP YOUR BLOG TEMPLATE before doing anything. That way, if for some crazy reason, it goes wonky, you still have your original code saved on your computer.

And feel free to leave a comment, ’cause you’ll definitely get credit for it with me! Be sure to head on over and see Shannon @ Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday tips!

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WFMW – Christian Movie Reviews

I have always been fairly selective about what movies my kids are allowed to watch, whether it be in our home or at a friend’s. If there was ever a question about a movie, the answer would always be “no” until my husband and I had rented it and watched it, which in turn, left our kids understandingly frustrated.

But no more. We discovered that Focus on the Family has a website called “Plugged In Online” that does movies, dvds, television and music reviews from a Christian standpoint. They are honest assessments highlighting positive elements, spiritual content, sexual content, violent content, crude or profane language, drug or alcohol content, and other negative elements. Each review is concluded with the reviewers final thoughts kind of summarizing what has been said and giving you points to ponder before making your decision. Here’s an excerpt from the review for the new Veggie Tales movie, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything:

So, setting aside any expectation of a between-the-eyes Sunday school lesson, what kind of kids’ movie is Pirates? Maybe I should answer that question with a recitation of places it doesn’t go that so many other animated flicks do:

It refuses to reference the “f-word” as a joke line the way Open Season does. It sticks to clean veggie humor, not crass “nut” humor like Over the Hedge. It stays far, far away from the New Agey worldviews expressed in Brother Bear. It doesn’t feature Regis Philbin and Larry King as the voices of drag-queen “sisters” like the Shrek movies do. It avoids what we called Happy Feet’s “oddly unpleasant interjections of spiritualism and Footloose-style loosen-up-you-old-fuddy-duddy ‘moralizing.'” And it doesn’t indulge in mean-spirited name-calling (“booger breath,” “moron,” “idiot,” etc.) the way pretty much every movie from Meet the Robinsons to Garfield does.

This has been a tremendously helpful tool for our family, as we’ve even been able to use our phone look up a movie while standing in line at the movie theatre when our first choice was sold out! If you haven’t checked it out, I encourage you to do so. We even discovered that some of the movies we were most afraid of were pretty mild compared to what we had envisioned (i.e. – Evan Almighty — which we would never have watched had it not been for Unplugged Online). So go forth and watch movies with confidence! (and check out Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips)

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I don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in the spin cycle – just turning round and round and never really accomplishing very much but getting the ever-living daylights drained out of you? That pretty much sums up my week. Except I actually enjoyed it…so does that make me insane?

AJ had a Dr’s appt this past week and we learned he is mildly asthmatic, in addition to having ezcema (which we discovered at last week’s appt). So we left the Dr’s office armed with 3 new prescriptions. He received an inhaler, which has been an interesting experience. Have you ever tried getting a 5 year old to do anything slowly? Especially inhale? It is about as easy as trying to herd a bunch of cats into a bathtub full of water.

K is playing basketball in the Upward program this year and may I just say her participation in the program should be called “OhMyWord.” Now, don’t misunderstand me – she has athletic ability. She is, after all, my child. But she has never, ever played organized basketball and it’s painful, albeit humorous to watch her learn. Never one to quit, she has determination and the desire to win inside of her. Still. Sometimes that is just not enough, folks. Her team played their first game this weekend and my girl didn’t know the difference between offense and defense, bless her heart. She was playing defense at both baskets and there was one moment in the game where she actually got the ball and forgot if she was offense or defense and ended up throwing it in a teammate’s face just to rid herself of the pressure and possibly the impending embarrassment of making a basket at the wrong post. Sigh. Much of the rest of the weekend was spent going over the rules of the game with her. Something her coaches apparently overlooked, since all the other girls on her team are returning players.

And our new computer is wonderful. I have never had anything as nice as this – I can run more than one program at a time and it doesn’t freeze up. Miracle of miracles, I tell you. God is so good. He has even answered my prayers for patience. He has given me many opportunities this week to exercise my willingness to trust Him and remain calm while transferring files and programs from the old computer to the new one. Like when the old computer’s screen kept shutting off mid-transfer and wouldn’t come back on, no matter what I did and I had to power the tower down to reboot the screen — I remained calm and said to myself, “Self…remain calm.” See how easy that was? I just love it when God answers prayers. And I didn’t even pull out one hair, although I’m pretty sure a few gave up and turned loose and a few others turned grey in the process. (And do you spell grey “grey” or “gray”? It was always my understand both were acceptable, but everytime I spell it “grey”, spellcheck says it’s spelled incorrectly…go figure)

I did think about shedding a few tears when I realized I had inadvertently deleted a 30 page mini-book I had written in college for creative writing. It was some of my best work ever about growing up on a farm and country life. I was reformatting a disk and thought I had saved it to the desktop on the old computer (I even checked the folder where it was supposed to be stored) and just as I hit the “delete” key to remove it from the disk, I noticed the folder was gone. After a mild panic attack and trying to cancel the delete (which didn’t work), I gave up and just decided that I would rewrite it in the days to come. It was peppered with country witticisms my Aunt Sister (her real name was Leola Daniels, but she was called “Sister” because, well, she was the oldest sister of 4 boys and 5 girls on my dad’s side) and Uncle Steve used to say – things like “He’s so poor he’d have to borrow money to buy water to cry with” or “She’s so dull she couldn’t cut hot butter with a knife.” Thing is, the mini-book was written 15 years ago, before I had three children and when my brain still remembered things that happened longer than 5 minutes ago. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to write that well again. I had honestly forgotten about it until I saw it and my mind exploded with the bloggy possibilities. “Oooh…I could pull a Pioneer Woman and post it in chapters” was but one of many that came to mind. Oh..okay, it was the only one that came to mind because really? my mind can only process one thought at a time, people. Especially when I’m working on the whole patience thing.

I still have not completed my new banner for 2008. A little behind the ’08 ball, yes I am. (get it? I crack myself up) I do have some ideas, one of which I borrowed from some scrapbooking paper I have – I freehanded a little birdy from it and I will probably use it somehow in the design. I am finding that if I come up with a graphic first, it’s easier for me to do the rest of the design. Here’s the sample I drew: What are your thoughts on using this bird? Is it too cartoonish?

And might I just add that I EL-OH-VE-EEE (as Rachel would say)having my Adobe on the same computer I use for the internet? No longer do I have to use one computer for the graphics and one for blogging because neither one would do both. Now I have one computer that I can do everything on. It’s tempting to stay here all day, but that would be insanity, right? (I might enjoy that, too!)

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Purge and Binge, People!

I’ve been on a cleaning and purging binge the last few days. A new year will do that to you, you know.

No, I’m not talking about my colon, although I did order some Colonix from Dr. Natura yesterday. I’ve been feeling rather sluggish and decided what better way to jump start my new year than a total cleansing…have you seen the stuff that comes out? Be forewarned — it’s pretty gross, but what’s even grosser is the realization that that stuff might be in me, which is why I’m doing the cleanse. That, and to jump start my weight loss regime. (Since I now weigh more than I did at delivery with ANY of my children…sigh. I’ll keep you posted with how it’s going…although I’m not sure I’ll be showing you any photos of what’s happening on my, er…end. ahem.

But I digress…I was actually speaking of our home office (which, coincidentally, is also in our bedroom…gack) which is also quite the veritable mountain of paperwork. I’m terrific at giving out the organizational advice, but apparently not always so great at following it. (I’ll just blame it on the homeschooling, yes, that’s it, homeschooling).

Evidence that much filing is in order:

Actually, our old desktop (which we used for all of our business media and web design) died on us. Okay, it’s not technically, “dead”…but it’s got one foot in the grave and we had to do something before we lost all of our files. So we consulted one of our friends who got us an excellent deal on this beauty – a Dell Inspiron 531 with a 22″ high definition widescreen flat panel monitor, 2 GB of memory and a 500 GB hard drive. You found me out – I’m a techy geek after all. If I wasn’t so happy as a homeschooling sahm, I’d probably apply for a job with the Geek Squad. Their mission statement kills me “Geek Squad is an elite force of highly skilled and highly mobile Agents who provide computer support 24/7/365. Our mission is to create a world where computer problems are obsolete.” I like the little cars they get to toodle around in, too. (looks are everything in the geeky world, you know) Of course, I’d probably have to get some pocket protectors and a pair of funky black horn-rimmed glasses just to be a geeky fashionista.

Without further ado, the new computer (okay, technically, it’s only the screen, the rest of it is under the desk:

I will not have internet access to it until next week sometime – the cable service we have for our internet doesnt allow us to install a hub, so we’ll have to figure out what we are going to do about that. For now, I’m still using the laptop, which will start to travel with my husband when he goes back and forth between the office:

And further proof that my desk is clean (just in case you didn’t believe me the first time I said it):

Did you notice the book on my desktop? It’s called “No Excuse! – A New Philosophy for Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Excellence” by Jay Rifenbary. Very good book – I highly recommend it, and I haven’t even read it. My husband has and has been giving me feedback every step of the way…so I’ll read it next, because frankly? I’m totally intrigued. Ours is an older copy, so it doesn’t look like the one on the website, but it’s the same inside.

That being said, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE! for me not to blog more frequently now that I am so organized and efficient, right?

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