Do you like the new look? 



Wordpress logoHave you noticed the new functionality?

Written Words has moved from the worthy Blogger platform to WordPress. Along with that, as you can see, it sports a new, cleaner look and new functionality. I like the white space, the categories for blog posts and the ability to search through the blog. I hope you do, too.

Why make the change?

The most important difference now is, the Written Words blog is an integral part of my revamped Written Word Communications Company website, writtenword.ca. Since I started the blog years ago—in 2006!—I have wanted to integrate into the website. But mostly because i wasn’t willing to invest the time into figuring out how, I never did—until now.

A couple of months ago, I began an effort to update the writtenword.ca website. I quickly found that cheap or free web layout programs usually are not that easy to use, and worse, are not reliable. Freeway Express, for example, is free, but it inexplicably changed the names of all my image files. If all I wanted to do were to create a nice website that sat on my desktop computer, it was great. But when it came to uploading it to my domain host, well … I’ll tell you about that in a future post, where I review the software in detail.

Finally, I took the excellent advice offered by many colleagues, some of whom I hope are reading this post now. I decided to move to WordPress. Instead of trying Mailchimp logoto link the blog to an existing website, with WordPress, you create a website with the blogging interface. Then, you upload files to the domain host that essentially link the browser back to the wordpress.org platform. WordPress takes care of most of the grunt work of keeping track of file directories, and there’s no need to use an FTP uploader. I don’t have to wonder whether Host Name is the same as Server Name. And I don’t have to learn how to write Cascading Style Sheets, either.

WordPress also has a lot of other great features, like comment spam filters, galleries, sliders and carousels for images. MailChimp is integrated into the system, too—not that I’ve used it, but others tell me it’s quite powerful.

But the most immediate appeal was the range of layout templates WordPress offers.

How I did it

I knew that if I were to try to make this change completely on my own, I’d spend weeks chasing down blind alleys and making all sorts of newbie The Book Blogger Platform by Barb Drozdowich cover errors, so I turned to blog expert extraordinaire, and author, Barb Drozdowich of Sugarbeats Books. She’s also the author of The Book Blogger Platform and several other guidebooks for authors, and a founding member of BestSelling Reads. In the next post, I’ll explain all the details on how I made the transfer, along with some key pointers for anyone else who wants to try a self-hosted WordPress site themselves.

But for now, I want to encourage you to explore the site. Click on the house icon at top left for the Home page, and explore the four different service pages: Creating, Polishing, Publishing and Training. Check out the work that I’ve done: Books written, Books edited and Articles written. Explore the blog categories and leave comments.

Don’t ignore those social media sharing buttons. Please, if you like the look, Like it on Facebook, Plus One it on Google+, Pin it on Pinterest and all that other stuff.

Or just go to the Contact page and let me know what you think by email or any other medium.

Thanks for sharing!

 

Internet dependence




I’m writing this post on vacation, and I realize that I need more than an hour of Internet access per day.

If I want to get anything concrete done, that is. 

And it’s not my fault. The things I want to do on the Internet each day, if I could just do them quickly, would probably take me about 20 minutes.

Except for writing blog posts, of course. 

My situation
I’m on the Mayan Riviera for a 10-day all-inclusive vacation with my lovely wife, Roxanne (I know, boo-hoo), where I get to access the free WiFi network for at most an hour a day. I could have 24/7 access, but that costs more money. (My grandparents were Scottish.) So, I’ve been working with an hour’s daily  access.

It’s been very relaxing and refreshing. I’ve been mostly disconnected from the real world down here, and I’m only sporadically informed about the Montreal-New York series, the Ukrainian election, Russian invasions, celebrity deaths, mass shootings (blind guess about that, but I’m probably right), and other depressing news.

“You’re supposed to be on a beach vacation, not spending all your time looking at the Internet” my lovely wife says when I grumble. So I have another (price included) drink and splash into the Caribbean, or talk to the iguanas. They never complain about limited WiFi, so I guess I shouldn’t, either.


And I’ve learned something valuable: the Internet tortures me whenever I use it, but I do it so much I haven’t noticed until I’ve disconnected.

How the Internet tortures me:
1. Making me wait. Has anyone ever added up all the time we waste waiting for the computer or the network or whatever to stop spinning the ball or the hourglass and update the work we’ve just done? To make that connection, already, to save the file? When your access is limited to an hour in total—working and uploading as well as waiting for the app to launch and the various servers to shake hands—you really notice all those delays.

2. Limited apps. I love my iPad, but when it’s all I have for blogging, email, web surfing and social media, I really notice the differences, the limitations of the mobile apps compared to the full desktop versions. 

Take Facebook, for example. I cannot select a portion of a Facebook post, copy it and paste it into Twitter on the iPad. I don’t know if it’s because of the touch-screen interface or some combination of settings, but that’s completely intuitive on the desktop version.

Hootsuite’s iPad app doesn’t have bulk tweet scheduling, which is the main reason I use the service in the first place.

In the desktop version of Pages, my clumsy fingers find it almost impossible to change the indents on paragraphs.

The iPad version of Blogger, which I am using to write this very post, doesn’t allow me to indent whole paragraphs, or have bulleted and numbered paragraph formats. It also does not appear to have a Schedule feature, like in the full version.

I know, first world problems. But they slow down what I try to do, so I cannot accomplish in an hour what should take twenty minutes: 
– check the email and delete all the junk. On the iPad, I tend to delete news releases and social media updates, leaving them to the desktop when I have more time to devote to them. The iPad only has so much memory, and I try to restrict it to stuff I need immediately.
– check Twitter for mentions
– check the blog status for number of pageviews yesterday and comments, and publish the real ones (as opposed to spam)
– check Google+ and Facebook for important updates and announcements
– upload a new daily spreadsheet to Hootsuite.

If everything went quickly, if apps and networks responded without delay, I am sure that I could accomplish all that in 20 minutes. Okay, maybe half an hour.

Granted, it will take me 15 to 20 minutes to create a .csv file for uploading to Hootsuite. I need more time to respond to the important emails, write some of my own, and of course write blog posts like this.

But being restricted to an hour a day? It’s just frustrating.

All that to say, I’ll be back in full form, rested, recharged and full of new ideas in a matter of days. Till then, faithful readers, keep on questioning.