Tag Archives: blogging

Denial solves nothing. Don’t do it.

Denial comes in different guises. Usually when we say someone is in denial we think of it in negative terms. There is a person who won’t accept the truth, we think. There is a person who can’t cope.

denial as self defence

denial as defence

You might not want to face the truth about all kinds of things: illness; ageing, addiction, relationships. Some people use denial as a means of self defence. They think by ignoring the facts that everything will somehow improve.

Wrong.

denial never resolves

don’t deny your feelings

I have experience of it. I suppose most of us have at one time or another. But pushing aside problems only has the effect of allowing them to accumulate. Like cancer, they grow. They multiply. They keep on multiplying until your whole system is toxic.

When you know you have a medical problem you do something about it, don’t you? You go and get it fixed. But anything to do with emotions/feelings/fears/anxieties etc etc. we tend to shy away from. In a previous post I wrote about Brené Brown’s ideas on vulnerability. She’s all for coming out with your vulnerabilities and giving them voice. It’s the most courageous thing you can do.

But there are people who not only deny their own feelings: they deny yours too. When you’ve had the courage to make yourself vulnerable and express how someone’s actions make you feel they should acknowledge what you’ve said. If they refuse, they have a problem. They are in denial. And if you allow it to continue you’re the one who’s going to end up with a bigger problem than you had to begin with.

denial is avoiding your soul

face your truth

Yet there is a positive aspect to denial. Consider the following:

Matthew 16:24  Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Self denial is another matter altogether. Abandonment of the needs of self and taking up your share of the suffering of humanity (your cross) is key to being a good human.

All well and good if you’re dealing with other ‘good’ human beings. There comes a point, it seems to me, when you can’t continue giving to others if they are in such a state of denial they prefer to continue hiding behind a false front. Surely that would be time for some tough love. Standing back and allowing someone to experience the error of their thinking might be the lesson they need. Obviously you wouldn’t do that with a child who wants to play with matches but when an adult is making the choice to live in denial all you can do is let them get on with it and remove yourself.

true colours

you can’t live in denial forever

Well, Amen to that.

Anybody like to add their comments? Don’t be shy. You can reach me on my Facebook Celia Micklefield author page and on Twitter @cmicklefield

Thank you for visiting.

 

widgets screen

Widgets. Bells whistles and pretty pictures

You gotta have Widgets.

I lost all my widgets when my website crashed after updating to WordPress 4.7.2  I discovered the problem was caused by non-compatible plug ins. My screen showed the white page of death.

Fatal error: Cannot redeclare add_term_meta() (previously declared in /home3/cecilia/public_html/wp-includes/taxonomy.php:1153) in /home3/cecilia/public_html/wp-content/plugins/taxonomy-metadata/taxonomy-metadata.php on line 97

With the help of the marvellous James F at Hostgator we managed to get me up and running again. (see previous post.)

BUT. I’d lost all my widgets. Most of my plug ins were incompatible with my new updated system. What’s a girl to do?

Jetpack has the answers. Mostly.

This is a great package. Widgets coming out of its ears. Top Ten posts to show in your sidebar. Background stats to show how many views for each post. Subscriber email check box. Connection to your latest Tweets. Loadsa widgets.

You can tell there’s a ‘BUT’ coming.

I don’t like the image widget from Jetpack

It distorts your pictures. I’ve tried every which way to improve their appearance but gave up in the end. Images within the text of a post look fine.

widget screen

widget screen

The widget screen above from my media library looks okay. But when I tried to put an image box in my contents sidebar on the right of the page the picture was as distorted as the ones in the popular posts widget in the primary sidebar on the left.

Altering pixel size did nothing to help. Instead I looked elsewhere.

Black Studio TinyMCE widget

This is the one I always used before updating. I checked its compatibility and – Bob’s your uncle – it’s good to go.

The burning hand image I use for my CRPS posts looks as it should in the contents sidebar. I’m happy to continue using this widget.

Now I want to know how to put borders around images as I could before updating. It used to be an easy option. Maybe I’m just missing the information. It must be here somewhere.

Update at your peril. A necessary evil?

 Want your website secure? Update now.

I’d been eyeing the update recommendation for some months. Each time I looked at my WordPress dashboard there was the update message again.

update system

update NOW!!!

I know you’re supposed to update your systems. If you don’t you might find things don’t work so well. But I’m a careful sort. I wait. I wait to see if the latest update has caused problems for others before I take the leap into the unknown.

I made the decision. Time to update. I backed up using WordPress’ recommended plug in. I thought, It’ll be okay. If anything goes wrong I can go back to where I was before.

update wordpress

Update and calm in the same sentence?

Duh! See, I’m no expert at this malarkey. I’m a writer. I write novels and short stories and, to be honest, I’m pretty amazed that I ever got this far with managing my own website.

So, feeling reasonably confident I was fully prepared I hit the update button.

update in progress

what progress?

Have you ever seen the white page of death? It looks something like this:

Fatal error: Cannot redeclare add_term_meta() (previously declared in /home3/cecilia/public_html/wp-includes/taxonomy.php:1153) in /home3/cecilia/public_html/wp-content/plugins/taxonomy-metadata/taxonomy-metadata.php on line 97

What the . . .?

NOOOOOOOOOO!

I tried accessing my dashboard. Nothing doing. Just the white page of update death. FATAL ERROR are very scary words. I think my hair actually stood on end.

the horrors of update

update howling

I had a bit of a think. I made coffee. Thought some more. This must be fixable, thought I, but I need a fix that’s easy to understand.

First stop – Youtube.

Youtube is amazing. You can find out how to do everything from installing a post motor filter in your old Dyson to bathing a canary in preparation for a bird show. (I once spent a whole afternoon learning multiple ways of tying a scarf around your head for a fancy dress party). But fixing a FATAL ERROR on your website? I knew it was going to give me grief. Two minutes in and I was losing the will to you know what. Eventually it became clear I needed to contact my server who hosts my website. Hostgator. Right then. Saturday afternoon? Is there anybody there?

update with Hostgatorr

My website server. Could they help?

Their website says – Contact us by email, phone or use the online Help Chat form.

a) they don’t give you an email address

b) I can’t afford to call Texas

c) the online help is experiencing an excess of traffic

Hmmm. I wonder why. Maybe all the bloggers out there have received their own white page of death.

I tried again and again. Still nothing doing. Back to Youtube to see how to access my cPanel at Hostgator. This is the page where you can get into your account and, I thought, maybe I can simply delete the offending plug in which has obviously assassinated my website.

control panel

Hostgator control panel

Hostgator didn’t seem to know who I am. They wouldn’t let me in. I searched through all my carefully stored and protected info from the early days and found my welcome email with my username and password. I made doubly damned sure I entered it properly.

Zilch. Nada.

Funny, I thought. They know who I am when it’s time to pay the bill.

Saturday afternoon became Saturday evening and my eyes were on stalks. Reluctantly I conceded defeat and poured a large brandy.

James F to the rescue

On Sunday I got through. James F appeared out of the wide blue yonder and answered my online question.

update help

hostgator help

So now I’m back up and running. BUT –

all my plug ins are deactivated and, according to WordPress, most of them are untested on 4.7.2.

Now I have no FOLLOW CELIA subscriber check box. All my colourful content in the sidebars has disappeared. I can’t put borders around images in my posts nor can I automatically share my posts on Facebook, Twitter et al.

I’m disappointed. Not with James F. He is Superman as far as I’m concerned. But, come on WordPress. I’ve been a good girl and updated and you took my sweeties away.

Ah, well. I’ll just have to find plug ins that WILL work with my new updated system. Bear with . . . .

 

Send me a comment. I’d love to hear if others have had similar issues. And when I find a plug in that lets you subscribe please do.

Edit:

Spammers are hitting my website again. And this time they’re DANGEROUS.

Lowlife spammers are bugging me again.

spammers are lowlife

the lowlife ranking of a spammer

Each day I’m spending my time trashing their messages. I open my dashboard and there they are again with their generic messages.

Fifty messages per day, sometimes.

Last time I got hit, the messages were about shoes and sunglasses etc. See previous post. Hand-held magnifiers and the like are fairly innocuous. Targetted spamming might well make me a likely prospect for showing interest in wanting to buy one of those. It’s ageism, of course, but pretty harmless.

BUT,

These spammer guys are DANGEROUS.

Here’s a list of what I’m being offered by the latest rash of spammers:

tramadol, lorazepam, xanax, ativan, ambien, klonopin, hydrocodone cough syrup, zolpidem and viagra.

I hadn’t heard of some of these. I did some research.

What is lorazepam?

Lorazepam is in a group of drugs called benzodiazepines (ben-zoe-dye-AZE-eh-peens). It affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause anxiety.

Lorazepam is used to treat anxiety disorders.

Important information about lorazepam

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to lorazepam or to other benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), or oxazepam (Serax). This medication can cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not use lorazepam if you are pregnant.

Before taking lorazepam, tell your doctor if you have any breathing problems, glaucoma, kidney or liver disease, or a history of depression, suicidal thoughts, or addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Do not drink alcohol while taking lorazepam. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol.

Avoid using other medicines that make you sleepy. They can add to sleepiness caused by lorazepam.

Lorazepam may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Lorazepam should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

How can we allow this?

So, it’s okay, is it, to offer these dangerous drugs online? Habit-forming antidepressants like lorazepam, xanax and ativan? Sedatives like ambien, which can also cause serious side effects. Klonopin is a sleeping pill. Zolpidem is a trade name for ambien.

This is one extremely dangerous cocktail of drugs available online. They are habit-forming. They can cause birth defects.

Who are these low-lifes who take payment for sending out all this spam? Here’s a diagram showing how spammers get paid.

viagra spammer

how spammers get paid

There must be a way to stop this. There has to be a way to interrupt the supply chain. After all, legitimate pharmaceutical companies manufacture these drugs. You might question why they don’t know who they’re supplying.

The problem is, as the diagram explains, the patent has expired on many of these medications. This means seedy laboratories out to make a quick buck can make their own versions. That isn’t illegal. It is illegal to use another company’s registered trade name and copy their packaging. That’s piracy.

But the biggest crime in all of this, it seems to me, is being part of a system that allows people to buy online as much as they want of dangerous drugs that should be strictly controlled.

I’d like to grab these spammers and shove a packet of their own sedatives where the sun don’t shine. It’s dirty money you’re taking, people.

Surely, whenever money is changing hands like this, there’s a way to track these nasty businesses and close them down.

Click the Tweet button to pass this message to your Twitter groups.

I’m on iCloud 9. Lovin’ my Mac. Am I an iAngel now?

loveclouds

Lovin’ the cloud

Writer in Languedoc has got herself on the iCloud with a shining, brand new Apple ID and email address. Does that make her an iAngel? No, iAngel is the Trade name of a certain body sling for carrying babies. Weird, that.

iangel

Never mind, Writer in Languedoc will be able to access her documents from anywhere in the world on her iPhone or iPad. She’ll be able to edit her drafts from far flung corners of the planet. All her Apple products will be talking to each other to share what they know and make it available, anywhere, any place, any time. Oh, that phrase has already been used too. Anybody remember Martini? I’m showing my age now.

Martini by iCloud?

any time, any place, anywhere

But anyway, back to the magic of Apple and the amazing iCloud. What else will I be able to do with it? I’ll be able to take pictures on my iPhone, for example and they’ll be automatically sent to my computer and iPad.

This would be a very useful feature for writer in Languedoc’s weekly Vinewatch reports. Images would be ready to incorporate into text without having to upload them manually.

So, now I’ve a new logo in my repertoire. A shiny, new button to press. Oh, I’m leaving my old self behind now that I’m bang up to date with my sparkling new iMac.

iCloudlogo

my new button

Wow, Grandma! What next?

Best get yourself an iPhone and an iPad then, so you can use all these extra gizmos.

Here’s a cunning plan. First, sell more short stories to pay for the new gizmos.

No, first, WRITE more stories for selling. It’s all well and good having followers on your blog and on Twitter et al, but all these new gadgets are going to cost. Right?

Okay, then. Open up Pages. Start writing. What, no Word for Mac on this shiny new iMac?

No Madam, that doesn’t come as part of the package. However, Pages can do everything you will require. Uh-oh! There’s another big learning curve ahead.

Thank goodness for people like Alexander Anichkin. What he can’t do in Pages isn’t worth knowing. Follow the link to visit his blog. Be careful, you could spend hours on there marvelling at the man and never get anything done at all.

Oh, so much to learn, so much to learn . . .

icloudcontrol

iCloud at the centre of my new world

iMac on order

The Dog’s Doodahs. New Mac on order.

iMac

My new baby

My new computer will soon be on its way.

Isn’t he going to be the dog’s doodahs?

Why have I chosen a desktop?

I like to have a fixed workplace. When I sit in my workroom, I know I’m at work. I’m not going to get distracted by that pile of ironing or the view of the garden that needs weeding, or get up to put the kettle on. I don’t need to be able to pick up my machine and take it somewhere else.

The people at the other end of the Apple helpline in Ireland were really helpful. They wanted to make sure I was making the right choice for me and the way I prefer to work. They also talked me through other requirements and answered my questions about guarantees. Because my home address is in France, my purchase had to go through Apple France. That’s the way it works.

Ah but, says I, I want a qwerty key board please, not a French one with all those extra letter ‘e’s and everything else in a different place. No problem says the delightful Irish Ray, we can do that for you. So, I tell him how I first fell in love with the iMac on a pre-Christmas shopping trip with my sister and niece in Bristol. They were busy looking at clothes and cosmetics but the sexiest thing I saw that day was the iMac in the Apple store. He was standing there looking so beautiful I just had to go in the store and play with him.

At the moment I’m using my old Eee PC – a cute very girly white pearl shell thingummy bob with a tiny screen and miniscule keyboard. But, it’s doing the job okay so far.

My old machine died a protracted death. It was sad to witness. Much choking and switching itself off and me getting very annoyed and frustrated.

But I’m sad at his demise. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend. Worse, before he goes, I’m going to rip his guts out.

Apologies to my followers. My posts are likely to be fewer and further between until I get my new setup organized.

24 hours without internet. The joys of living in France

24hours

A whole day!

 

Twenty four hours without the internet. 24 whole hours!

The Gollum Boy (see earlier post ) began pacing as soon as he got home from school. What? No internet? How could anybody DO THIS TO HIM? Didn’t they know he had an appointment with Syndicate on YouTube?

He had to resort to the X-Box WITHOUT KiNECT. Saints preserve us! Saint Louise, actually on the fifteenth of March. Saint Louise of the Daughters of Charity, the ones who used to wear those huge starched cornettes on their heads that made them look like seagulls. Her saint’s day is the fifteenth of March. It says so on my calendar.

Not the Ides of March! Oh, Blimey, I’ve just realized. We lost our phone and internet connection on the Ides of March. It must have been an omen. Well, we live along the Via Domitia, don’cha know. Julius Caesar passed this way on his way to Spain. You can hear the ghostly legions tramping by in their skirts and sandals. No, that’s Gollum Boy, tramping by on his way to raid the fridge. He has a face like a wet weekend and his eyes are like slits. (He’s still very grey, by the way, but he has had a wash.)

So, what can one do when all the connections are down? One could go for a walk. One could read a few chapters. One could learn a new recipe. One could watch a movie on TV. One could go for a walk. One could read a few chapters. One could . . .

bitingnails

Oh, No!

I‘VE LOST MY INTERNET CONNECTION! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?

The truth is, we’ve all got so used to having these connections at our fingertips, we take them for granted. And, I believe, we allow them too much say in our lives.

One of the joys of living in a small French village is that, from time to time, we are thrust into a past when such household commodities didn’t exist. In any case, what use would winegrowers and their fieldworkers have had for such things? Their days were already full of working to earn a living. Now, the winegrowers’ grandchildren have laptops and X boxes and Playstations and tablets and smartphones and none of them want to follow grandpa into viticulture. No. They want to be the next Syndicate. The next #1 Solo Gamer.

But they can’t all be number 1, can they? At some point, they’ll have to start paying their way. Give unto Caesar etc. We’ve let this internet stuff take over our lives. Its marching through our homes and families like the legions of the Roman Empire.

Well, we all know what happened to that, don’t we?

The trouble is, how will I keep up with Twitter and Facebook and Linkedin and my website when the Internet Empire collapses?

Blogging? Blogging? Give me a break

This is me.cabbageGreen as. Thought I’d got it sorted, did I? Knew all about blogging, did I? Getting all smug over the SEO stuff and plug-ins and talking like I know what I’m talking about? Wake up, girl. Sorry, that should be: Wake up, GRANDMA! You don’t know the half of it. There are people out there who’ve known this stuff since they were in primary school. There are kids could laugh you into the middle of next week. There are TODDLERS, dammit, who know more computer-speak than you do.  Kids who were blogging before they’d learned how to help with the washing up. There are generations of whizz-kids out there who have known this stuff since they were in nappies. ( Are they still called whizz-kids? Probably not)

See how out of touch I am? See what a numpty? Here’s another picture of me looking green.

cabbageface

green as grass AND cabbage-looking

 

That’s me told, then. That’s me wrung out and hung out to dry. So, while you’re up there, Grandma, remember this: there is ALWAYS something new to learn.

If you joined an evening class and went to learn how to, let’s say, build a rabbit hutch, you’d expect to come across unfamiliar terminology, never having built anything in your life before. Never having held a saw or a hammer or bashed in a nail with one end of it. But at least you’d know what a hammer was. You’d know what all the relevant tools were called and what they looked like as well as the job you were expected to do with them.

I’ve heard of chicken wire – I think I’d know where to go buy some.  I don’t know how to chicletize my website. WTF? I thought chicklets were what you gave the kids to eat when you were too tired to cook. I don’t KNOW what a feedburner is, so what’s the point in telling me to use one? I wouldn’t know one if it was hanging out my arse. I know what a log burner is. Will that help?

But, as I already said, there are people out there who’ve been au fait with all this stuff since before the dawn of the century. How did I ever think I’d be able to get up to speed with it in a matter of weeks? It’s true what they say about ignorance. It’s bliss!

Blogging for life?

Two months I’ve been at it now. Two months I’ve been blogging and learning what I should be blogging about. Two months’ worth of discovering there’s a whole new language out there that I never knew existed.

codebehind

the code behind the image

Hiding behind all our embedded pictures and behind all our carefully planned text, there’s a parallel world of symbols and things that look like runes. They know what they’re supposed to be doing. I still don’t. I’ve learned some rudimentary tricks to put borders around my pictures. Then I learned how to change the colour of said borders. And I was thrilled! I was so thrilled I made myself a crib sheet with the hash numbers of colours I’d probably use most often. And, get this, I didn’t know where my hash sign was. (I’m on a second-hand Mac) I had to Google to find out. Then I had to write it down on a post-it and stick that up where I could see it until the information lodged in my memory.

forsterquote1

how much time would Forster have spent blogging?

This is how utterly green I was when I started out. Two months ago. Just two months ago. I’ve added plug-ins to my site. I’ve learned something about Search Engine Optimization and H tags. As well as all of this, I’ve got myself on Twitter and Linkedin and I’m learning how to Stumbleupon with the best of them. Did I mention it was only two months ago?

It isn’t the life I planned.

Spam, Spam, Spam and Spear Phishing

spamThis is what I remember. This is what you kept in the larder for emergency suppers. My mother did anyway. Ghastly, bright pink stuff you could eat straight from the tin or fry it and pretend it was something else.

Then, Python got hold of it and made it a sketch and a song and then a musical show.

pythonspam

 

Now, Spam is the stuff that arrives on your dashboard every day.

Experts say it generates a response rate of just 0.00001 per cent – but is still hugely profitable. Spammers used to take hefty commissions from sales with huge margins–generic or fake pharmaceuticals, pirated software, etc.

Web-based spam, using shady SEO methods and browser-hijacking trojans, offers an attractive alternative to new or small partners. For one, it takes almost no investment. Web hosting is extremely cheap, the e-commerce systems used in affiliate programs are free and easy to copy to a new site, and fewer measures need to be taken to avoid prosecution under anti-spam laws, which were written first and foremost to combat email spam.

So, Spam is here to stay as long as somebody is making money from it. However, the patterns of Spam seem to be changing. Whereas once it was blanket-bombing, the future indicates more targeted spamming. According to Anthony M. Freed of Security Bistro, Spam levels are down, but targeted attacks are up. Here’s what he says at http://www.securitybistro.com

Posted on January 15, 2013 by Anthony M. Freed

Less spam in your inbox: Good news. More spam geared towards targeted attacks: Not so good… In the wake of multiple large-scale botnet take-downs in 2011 and 2012, the over all volume of general spam traffic decreased significantly (53%), but targeted attacks via email are on the uptick according to researchers from German e-mail security provider Eleven. The percentage of spam messages that contained malicious agents such as malware-laden attachments, links to websites that facilitate drive-by attacks, and targeted phishing operations all showed a measurable increase over previous years, and the trend towards more focused attacks is expected to continue through 2013.’

Blimey. I’ve been targeted. Is that why they’re offering me hand-held magnifiers and gadgets for checking my blood pressure. Is there actually a spy-bot out there spear-phishing for grandmas?

nospamPiss off!