Tag Archives: blogging

412. Blogging Hints

I disclaimed technical skills in my last post, but I know a few things. I didn’t bail out of HTML because I didn’t understand it. I did understand it, but it was too time consuming.

There are a few features in WordPress which I rarely see bloggers taking advantage of. Insert/edit link is one of them. In fact, I just used it. Take a look at the words “my last post” in the preceding paragraph. If you click on them, it will take you to my last post.

I’ll show how it was done, but first a caution. The drawing at the top of this post was done quickly on a very old vector graphics program, with limitations. The arrow is added to draw your attention. The icon above the arrow, and the one to its right should be rotated 45 degrees, but it would explode if I tried that on my old program.

If you want to link a new post to an old one, first go to the old one and copy the permalink. You can identify it because it says permalink. Now come to the new post, highlight the words you want to identify your link, choose the Insert/edit link icon above the arrow and paste the permalink into the floater. Then be sure to hit the right angle back arrow afterward, or nothing will happen. All done.

You can also link to things you didn’t write. When I wrote about the worst story ever told (See 238. The Worst Story), I was referring to W. W. Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw. Since it is in public domain, you can find it in its entirety on the internet. That’s what I did when I wrote about it a year ago, and I linked to it. Things worked fine then, but now it gives a 403 error.

Nothing lasts forever on the internet, except misinformation.

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All this brings me to my second hint: If you read it a year ago, it isn’t true.

About five years ago, when I was just thinking about blogging someday, I bought and read a book about SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is the holy grail of websites. Do it right and everyone will be reading your posts. How do you do it right? Nobody knows because they keep changing the rules.

Every word of that SEO manual was gold when I bought it. Every word is false today.

Sloppy posting makes internet reliability even worse. If you are going to Octoberfest, beware. The date you got off the internet may be for Octoberfest of 2012.

Hint 2.1: Nobody ever takes down outdated internet data.

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Final hint: HTML is good to have in your back pocket.

Here we are reaching the limit of my knowledge. When I do this kind of thing, I have WordPress: the missing manual open to the appropriate page, and I don’t do it often. However, if you need the result, it is worth the work.

I use HTML to put virtual chapters in archived material. For example, Blondel of Arden, which just ran in Serial, is also available in Backfile. It was serialzed in 13 parts; when it went into archive, I kept those 13 parts as virtual chapters.

Go to the menu at the top of this page, to Backfile, follow the drop-down and click on Blondel of Arden. You will see a series of blue, underlined numbers from 1 through 13. If you click on one of them, it will jump you to an equivalent number in the body of the short story. That way, if you don’t read it all at once, you can go back later and jump to where you left off.

All it takes is some very short bits of code which I won’t try to teach you. But how do you get the code into the post or page in the first place?

Look at the drawing at the top of this post. In the upper right are the words Visual and Text. Visual is the default. The next time you write a post, follow up by clicking Text. You will see what you have written, translated into HTML. That’s where you go to slip in your little bits of code, but unless you are familiar with HTML, you need a good book or a good friend at your side the first time you try it.

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411. WordCamp Sacramento

Saturday, September 16th, I attended WordCamp, Sacramento, and it was a disaster. I left when there were still hours remaining in the first day of a two day conference.

Don’t get me wrong. I was impressed; the conference was well organized and the presenters were knowledgable. The problem was in the advertising. There should have been a disclaimer to warn people like me to stay away. I’ll explain further, below.

About three years ago I decided to blog and set about learning how. It took a while and there were lots of wrong turns along the way. I began by studying HTML and CSS. (see 408. Behind the Curtain) I’m glad I did. That study gave me some deep background knowledge, and some specific skills as well.

Do you check out the comments when you read someone’s blog? I always do. There is a lot of back patting but also some interesting insights. J. M. Williams, in a comment on the post above, said that HTML served him better than algebra. That sounds entirely reasonable. I don’t use it often, but I couldn’t do without it when I need it.

Well into learning HTML and CSS, i stumbled on WordPress and found a way of blogging without coding. There are others who provide the same kind of service. Blogster comes to mind. I have seen blogs done on Blogster that looked great. I’ve never used it, so I don’t know how seamless the user experience is. That’s all I can say about Blogster.

On the other hand, I have worked with WordPress for about two and a half years. It comes in two flavors, WordPress.org and WordPress.com. From the user’s viewpoint, they are quite different.

WordPress.org is the master organization, largely staffed by volunteers, which provides the basic code that underpins everything else. They do not provide themes, plugins, hosting service, and so forth, but they are quite willing to help you find those things for yourself. They are the people who put on WordCamp and more power to them, even though it didn’t work for me.

WordPress.com is a one stop shop. The provide WordPress software (via the dot org people), hosting, themes, a plugin master pack, and they will sell you a URL or let you use one of theirs for free.

Big hint: if you plan to blog, buy your URL as soon as possible, before someone else gets it. The name you call your blog is much less important. If you google sydlogsdon.com, you’ll get me every time. If you google A Writing Life, you’ll get me and a hundred other bloggers who call their sites the same thing.

If all you want to do it write a blog, go WordPress.com. If you love the tech stuff, or if you have sophisticated tastes in aesthetics, or if you plan to run a business, dot org gives you much more flexibility. you pay for that by working harder at the tech side of your craft

WordCamp Sacramento was by and for the dot org side of WordPress. Three-quarters of what they presented had no application in my dot com world. The other quarter, I already knew.

Bottom line: If you are a dot organisms there are WordCamps all over and you will probably find them useful. Most of the readers of my blog are dot commies, and don’t need what WordCamp provides. more Wednesday

408. Behind the Curtain

Most of the time, I assume that the people who read this are writers or would-be writers. I also know that most of you are bloggers, but I don’t get the idea that you are blog nerds.

Before I started this blog, I did a lot of research and started studying HTML and CSS. Then I discovered WordPress and found out that I could blog without learning them. I already spend more hours than I can afford just writing, so I was happy to let WordPress take care of what’s going on under the hood.

I get the very strong impression that most of you have made the same decision.

My Dashboard tells me that I have made 799 posts in the two years I have been blogging. If it weren’t for WordPress that would never have happened. Still I find myself frustrated when I can’t do everything I want, or when my results aren’t all I would like, so I am going to a WordPress convention in about a week to see what else I can learn.

Meanwhile, a week ago I screwed up. I had to drop in an extra post titled OOPS because post #406 was eaten by the machine. We always say that, but it’s always our fault. In this case, it reminded me that I do something I have not seen any other blog do — I run twin, independent blogs on one site. That’s where the screwup occurred and it reminded me that some of you might want to know how to run multiple blogs.

So it’s nerd time. Minimally.

It is typical for blogs to appear on a website’s home page. That’s the first thing that usually comes up and it works fine. If you want two separate blogs, you have to put them elsewhere. This requires you to do two things.

First, change your home page to a front page. Go to manage site pages and use page templates under page attributes. Afterward, whatever is on your front page remains unchanged, no matter what posts you write. If you go to the top of the page you are now reading and click on Welcome to my Worlds you will see my front page. It pops up whenever you come in via sydlogsdon.com,  but if you get to me by another route, you may never have seen it. This page has only changed two or three times in the last year, when I felt a change was necessary.

Second, you need to set up a category and category page for each blog. Uncategorized already exists and is the default. If you look down on the right column of this page, you will find CATEGORIES and under that, A Writing Life, Into the Storm, Serial, and uncategorized.

Into the Storm is simply a relic from when I was learning, which I never bothered to remove. Ignore it.

A Writing Life is the name of the blog you are reading. It also appears in the menu across the top of the page. Serial is my other blog, also in the menu at the top. If you have never explored Serial, click there now and it will take you to today’s post on that blog, which happens to be Symphony 2.

Every time I write a post I have to choose a category — either A Writing Life or Serial — so the computer will know where to put it. If I don’t make a choice, the computer puts it into uncategorized. That is what happened to post #406. My dashboard said it had been published, but it didn’t show up where it belonged. The computer didn’t know where to put it, so it didn’t put it anywhere. Hence, the extra post called OOPS.

As I said, I am as little nerdy as possible on WordPress because computers will eat up your life if you let them. If you want to know more about all this, go where I went two years ago, https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/using-category-pages-to-organize-content/. You can use Further Reading on the upper left side of that page to backtrack to category and to creating category pages.

Most people don’t do any of this. Then the software places their posts into uncategorized and puts them on their homepage.

That’s all I remember from when I set things up two years ago. If you know more, or want to comment, make a reply.