Algorithms and Victor Hood – What’s That All About?

The newly published author, Victor A. Hood, is better known to followers of his blog as Al Hood. His work can be found at:  The Cvillean – The adventures of little read writing Hood.

Al recently published an autobiography, “So, That’s What It’s All About, Alfie!” I wanted to purchase it. I knew it was being sold by Amazon,  but wondered if it would show up in a ‘Google’ search. I started with the author’s name and the name of the book. The search engine came back with  some books, including ones about Robin Hood, some obits, a type of range hood… but not what I was looking for.

Next I went to Amazon.com and looked in the book section for “So, That’s What It’s All About, Alfie!” Amazon told me I had used too many words, so they showed me 2000 results for a search for the words ‘so thats all’. Al’s book was fifth in the results. The first four books were about preaching, teacher leadership and sex education for youth.

I then tried searching in Amazon for Victor A. Hood. While Al’s book did come up on the top of this list, Amazon asked me if I meant to search for Victoria Hood. That was an interesting suggestion because in Al’s book, he noted that his mother had hoped he would be a girl. She had already picked out a name: Victoria.

Searching and Algorithms – What’s that all about?
The results we see when we search for anything is decided by an algorithm. This is a set of instructions with certain conditions that will deliver a pre-defined result. The people who write these algorithms influence what you are going to see. A Google Spokeswoman unintentionally confirmed this by saying:

We do today what we have done all along, provide relevant results from the most reliable sources available.
– Google Spokeswoman in response to a WSJ article in 2019 –

“The most reliable sources available”  – someone is deciding for you what the reliable sources will be.

Now the Government Wants to Decide What you will See
The Canadian Government has introduced Bill C-10, the internet streaming tax. The primary goal of this bill, as stated by Openmedia.org, is:
… expanding Canada’s Broadcasting Act to apply to all streaming audio or video content on the Internet… In addition to the taxes… C-10 would grant the CRTC the right to set quotas for how much of a streaming platform’s content must be CanCon (Canadian Content), and to require… apps, websites and search results to make CanCon appear more frequently and prominently within the service.

The Canadian Government deciding what you should see. What could possible be wrong with that?!?

For more about Algorithms, click these links to my posts:
Math and Number Quotations
Algorithms – Do They Have a Hidden Agenda?

When the Dashboard of your Dodge Transforms into that of a Chev (or WordPress Hides the Classic Editor Again)

Logged onto my WordPress Account this morning and the Dashboard (the place where you manage everything to do with your blog) was different. Familiar enough to know where everything was, but presented in a different manner.

I explained to The Car Guy that it was like getting into an old Dodge and finding the familiar dashboard was now something that belonged in a new Chev. I would be able to use it, but it would take a bit of time to figure out how everything worked… though there was a problem because I couldn’t figure out how to start it.

In WordPress, the ‘start’ button is the post editor. I’m used to the ‘Classic Editor’. WordPress is pushing us to use the new and improved and very confusing ‘Block Editor’. This morning, I couldn’t find the button to start the ‘Classic Editor’.

I contacted support and was told that the dashboard changes (which removed the Classic Editor ‘start’ button) are slowly being rolled out, which is why there was no announcement.

I’ve chased the Classic Editor over hill and dale and will not give up on it until WordPress ‘kills’ it. It is no longer about what is the best editor, it is about my stubborn determination to hold onto something that works for me.

After a bit of back and forth, the WordPress Happiness Engineer eventually found me a link to get me back into the old Dashboard. If you are a blogger and you want to get back to the dashboard that lets you use the Classic Editor, then here is the link. Just replace ‘yourblog’ with the part of the url that is specific to your blog:

https://yourblog.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php

11th Anniversary of Blogging

I reached my 11 year Blogging Milestone at the beginning of November. Though that is a long time compared to the longevity of many blogs, my output has been only 1000 posts. Many bloggers I know consistently deliver an interesting post a day! If I had been able to do that, I would have authored 4,015 posts in 11 years!

I was on a mission last year to reach 1000 posts on my 10th Blogging Anniversary but came up short by 78 posts. This year I wanted to have 1111 posts… drat, short by 111 posts… I think I’m going backwards.

This Anniversary I’d like to thank all the readers and fellow bloggers who have made the ‘Year of the ‘Rona Virus’ tolerable. Your stories have lifted my spirits. They have taken my mind to far flung places while my body was in lock down!

Sadly, some of you dropped out of sight. I worry about you, especially if you are senior citizens. You have triple jeopardy – the virus itself, the worry about the virus and the loneliness of isolation. Quadruple jeopardy if your sinuses don’t take well to masking. Quintuple if you are a political conservative. Sextuple if you are a white male. Septuple if… well, you get the idea.

I’ll wrap up this Anniversary post with a few punny thoughts about blogging. Groan if you must…

As a blogger, I constantly feel cold, probably because I’m surrounded by so many drafts.

I avoid using apostrophes in my blogging. They are too possessive.

Is there a blogger whose creative life hasn’t been punctuated with slow writing periods?

My editor once criticized my blog. He said that double negatives were a “no-no.”

Sometimes I run out of blogging ideas. That’s when I go to the fabric store and find new material.

The left side of my blog is completely missing, but it’s all right now.

We bloggers are sometimes deep thinkers. For example, if pencils came with erasers at both ends, what would be the point?

While doing research for a blog on sign language, nothing handy came up, at least nothing I could put my finger on.

Would a blog about transcendentalism require Thoreau editing?

Missing in Action: The WordPress.com Classic Editor

If you, like me, have stubbornly refused to use the newish (and ever changing) WordPress Block Editor, you may have recently discovered that WordPress no longer appears to give you the option to choose the Classic Editor to write your posts.

There is, however, an easy work around that takes you back to the ‘good old days.’ Here is what you do:

If your ‘My Home’ looks like the one above, click the option ‘WP Admin.’
This will take you to the old ‘Dashboard’ above. Click on the word ‘Posts’ so that it is highlighted.
Now you will see ‘Posts Add New’ to the right of the word ‘Dashboard’.
Click the arrow to the right of ‘Add New’ and there will be a drop down menu that gives you the option of the new ‘Block Editor’ or the old ‘Classic Editor’.

I suppose the Classic Editor will eventually be discontinued. It has basic capabilities, but doesn’t let you “Author richly laid-out posts”… richly laid out posts that might end up looking like they came from the Classic Editor if they are read in a feed reader or on a smart phone.

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.
-Charles Mingus –

Quarantine – on the Home Stretch

We’ve finished day 10 of the 14 days of Covid quarantine (mandated by Canada when we came home from Arizona.) While it is good to be back on the acreage in time to watch the first green things pop out of the ground, it is a bit challenging to not even be able to go pick up the mail!

The Car Guy decided the best way to get groceries was to order on line and have home delivery. This has worked very well. A ‘personal shopper’ texts us as they shop. They let us know if anything isn’t available. The only downside is that The Car Guy has managed to order a few things in a far greater size than we would normally buy… this jar of peanut butter will last us for a very long time!

Peanut Butter

The big 1 Kg size.

Filter

Topaz Studio

Do you notice anything unusual about the position of the photos? They are side by side – and the text is beside the photos, rather than below it. This is just one of the features of the WordPress.com block editor. I had never used it before, but thought it might be prudent to at least know what it can do before the day comes that the WordPress Classic Editor disappears.

Here are some other things I’ve learned to do. I can add a separator (the line below) and make it narrow or wide – in any colour I like.


I can add an image and give it a rounded style. This is in a two column block again.

I can add a calendar of my sites’ posts:

June 2021
S M T W T F S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

I can add a gallery of photos. I can choose the size of the images and how many columns I want them to be in.

This is a Drop Cap. I will have to resist the temptation to overuse this feature. I already use too many exclamation marks! I also like dashes – though I’m never sure when I should use an ‘en’ dash or an ’em’ dash.

Now I’ve got three columns. The middle one is the list block. The last column is the quote block.

  • I can choose alignment
  • I can make the type bold
  • I can add some color

this is a quote – I don’t want the red line, but I don’t know how to get rid of it.

Slow going. It took me most of the evening to write this post!

What say you if you are a WordPress Blogger? Do you use the Classic WordPress Editor or the new Block Editor? What feature do you think is the coolest?

10th Anniversary – Fueled by Chocolate

I started blogging Ten Years ago because I was feeling Invisible. I thought that blogging would give me an opportunity to express my thoughts about what it was like to be a woman who is older than all of her kitchen appliances, older than the house she lives in, but not as old as the dirt in the yard. A women who society had decided was too old to be beautiful and energetic, and too young to be wise and full of character. An Invisible Woman.

It didn’t actually take many blog posts to exhaust the subject of being oldish and ignored, so I moved on to examining the evil Beauty Empire whose income depended on making women think they are not beautiful. Older women were offered dangerous potions to banish grey hair and wrinkles. Younger women were enticed into halls of cosmetics and lairs of surgeons who promised to make all their dreams come true – for a price. Even young girls were made to believe they were not pretty enough or thin enough.

With the Beauty Industry firmly admonished, the rest of my blogging career alternately galloped and stalled (I know, a mixed metaphor). The Great Cabin Flood and The Car Guy’s Motorcycle Accident supplied lots of material, but pretty much killed any desire to write about it. Taking Photos of Nature, on the other hand, provided more material than I will ever be able to use.

Six months ago, with the Tenth Anniversary rapidly approaching, I set the goal of publishing 1000 posts in 10 years. With this post, I’m excited to report I am… about 78 posts short of 1000. I think it is safe to say I won’t have 1100 posts finished by this time next year either… drat, I really liked the synchronicity of the numbers.

I even contemplated not blogging any more – but that didn’t fit with all the things I’ve been doing and seeing. Things like:

Literary Origami (Better known as Book folding)

Scrumble Crochet – (Also called Freeform Crochet)

Moose on the Loose (Always a surprise when you wake up and find one ambling across the field behind the house)

 

These are just a few of the many items that all want to be entered into my Codex Vitae (a capture of things I’ve learned). Watch for their stories in the weeks and months to come!

How long have you been blogging? If you don’t blog, do you scrapbook or have another way of capturing the story of your life?

I Found my Pizza Crust

Before the ‘Pizza Crust’

In the big scheme of things, it was a little blip. I logged onto my WordPress blog a few days ago, and instead of being greeted with my WP Admin page, I was looking at the contents of the WordPress Feed Reader. Instead of seeing my personal Dashboard, I was seeing the endless list of what other people had posted and what WordPress thought I should read, etc, etc.

I was not amused. Granted, I could still get to my WP Admin page in a few clicks, but that wasn’t the point. When I log on to this account, I want my information to be the priority.

I won’t go into great detail about the discussion I had online with three WordPress ‘Happiness Engineers’; the rating I gave them when I got a cheerful email asking me to rate my help experience; or the message I posted in the WordPress Forums.

That’s now water under the bridge because this morning when I logged on, life was back to normal. My WP Admin page was the first thing I saw. That wretched Reader was back where it belonged – a tab at the top of the page.

The ‘Pizza Crust’

The ‘pizza crust on the sidewalk’ was the email that I got from WordPress (in response to my message thanking them for fixing my problem).

Isn’t that just a hoot!? They changed something in order to fix something which then broke something else, which when they fixed that, it also fixed something that they didn’t know they had broken.

Refreshing honesty and a good outcome for all. Life is Good.

What Say You – have you found any ‘pizza crusts on the sidewalk’ lately?

Some of Me Has Moved

After much thought about whether to change my blog URL, or move, I decided to split this blog into two blogs. This one is called Amusives. The old blog is called The Truth Fairy (formerly Fueled by Chocolate). Update: The old blog is closed for now.

The old blog has a new URL. It was easy to do. WordPress changes the address on all the posts and pages; and updates all the media addresses. All my stats remain.

Unfortunately, all the comments I’ve ever made on other WordPress blogs don’t get updated completely. The URL that people click would be the old site address, which would be broken. My gravatar profile (photo and the links I have entered) is always updated  with the information I entered in my profile.

Another downside is that every site that has created a link to the old blog address has become a broken link. Also, my google ranking for some things will tank for some period of time. (I have a handful of posts that have been popular for years thanks to how they rank with google!)

Before I embarked on this ‘you can’t go back’ change, I wanted to find out how readers find my new posts:

1. Are you an email subscriber?
2. Do you follow on the WordPress Reader (you clicked the ‘Follow’ link)?
3. Do you use a feed reader such as Feedly?
4. Do you follow links on my Facebook page?
5. Do you follow links on Twitter?
6. Do you visit me after I have left a comment on your blog?
7. Do you stop by now and then just to see what is new?

So, why the change? I can’t really explain the logic as to why I had to do this, but I did.

woman lift moveMaybe it was because I have been blogging for Ten Years and needed a change.

Maybe it is because my computer is still at the repair shop and I have spent over two weeks working with a computer toolbox where all the ‘screwdrivers’ are now ‘pliers’ and there isn’t a ‘hammer’ to be had.

Maybe it is because it is cold and rainy and my fingers shouldn’t get numb trying to pick raspberries in August.

Maybe, maybe, maybe…

WordPress Reader is Acting Strangely

Do you follow my blog in the WordPress Reader? If you do, then you might be wondering why I am reposting old stuff. The short answer is, I’m not. The WordPress Reader is doing it for me – a totally unsolicitated behaviour.

The Reader is also not advertising most of my new posts. Catch 22 – right! If I try to tell WordPress Readers about this issue in a new post, will the Reader publish the new post?

Or will the Reader pick another old post like this one – How to Replace iTunes with CopyTrans Manager, which was first published in 2009. It appeared in the WordPress Reader a day ago.

This has been going on for a few months now, but I wasn’t paying attention (Christmas, New Years, travel to AZ, etc). Then I contacted a few of my regular readers. Thanks go to to Al and Faye for confirming my suspicions that the WordPress Reader had developed a mind of its own! I alerted the WordPress Happiness Engineers who say that the ‘Reader team’ has being contacted and the issue is being ‘escalated’ with them.

Even more puzzling, some of my readers are being sent to links that are a revision of one of my old posts. Since only I can see revisions, WordPress simply tells people

I’ve alerted the WordPress Happiness Engineers about that too. Perhaps they have some bugs to work out in their world of big data. Or maybe, somehow, I’ve broken my blog…

Your Blog – What Do Your Visitors See?

I give my blog a make-over now and then. (WordPress.com has so many themes to try). When I test drive a new one, I ask a few friends to let me know what their browser thinks of the change. Does my blog load fairly fast on their computer, phone or other device? Can they read the blog easily? Does anything seem to be ‘broken’?

Why does speed matter?

My frog connection – photo dimensions are 302px by 219 px. The size is 23.9 KB

We might live in a fast paced world, but our internet connections vary from rabbit to turtle. I sometimes have a frog connection – fast leaps alternating with “really, you’ve stopped completely!?” pauses. A fast website loads completely in my browser while my frog is leaping. I can read the site while my frog has stopped to admire the scenery. A slow website doesn’t load completely during the leaps. I often get tired of waiting and abandon the site.

Apparently search engines also use load speed as one of the factors in search ranking. You can test the speed of your site with a free tool called Pingdom Website Speed Test. The test will tell you how fast your site is. If you scroll down their page, you will be able to see exactly what is slowing your site down.

If you click the Home button on my menu above, you can check my new landing page. According to Pingdom my Performance Grade is 90 and it loads faster than 83% of sites tested from New York City.

How does your Home Page compare?

One way to speed up your site – reduce the size of your images

Your theme choice dictates the size your images will display. Resize your images to match your theme – your images will then be the best the theme can offer AND the fastest to deliver to your readers.

The original of this frog photo was 2756 px by 1991 px with a size of 2.82 MB. The content width for this theme (default post) is, however, only 640 px.  (I’ve been using a maximum image size of 700 px for quite a few years).

This frog photo is 702 px by 508 px. It is 72.5 KB in size.

This frog photo is 902 px by 652 px. It is 107 KB in size.

As you can see, the frog photo on the bottom is of no better quality than the photo above it, but it takes up more space in your WordPress account. If I had uploaded the full size photo, it would have taken a lot longer to load, and would not have looked appreciably better than the smaller size photos.

Is your font choice working for or against you?

Speaking of size, is your font large enough to be read easily? What about colour? Dark text on a light background is easy to read. Light text on a dark background is harder to read. Check your site on a computer, a tablet and a phone. How readable is it?

If you a Frog Lover

The frog in the photo is a Northern Leopard Frog. They are no longer common in Alberta, though we often used to see them at the cabin.