LEARNING TO BLOG: MOVING ON

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There have been eighteen practice posts in this blog.

What have I learned from all that practice?

  • that you learn to blog by blogging
  • that you learn to post by posting (regularly if possible)
  • that you learn technology through lots of trial and error (and a little bit of help from your friends)
  • that you find readers by reading (and liking and following)
  • that writing well can’t hurt (if you’re a writer)
  • that shameless self-promotion also helps
  • that it’s time to stop the practice and start the performance

So I may be gone for a few days, while I struggle with “Start A New Blog,” fiddle with widgets, and like that.

In the meanwhile, if you find yourself missing “Learning to Blog,” here’s something more for you to read. It’s not really blog-like, but you might like it anyway — a scrap of memoir that appeared a few years ago in Persimmontree, an online magazine of the arts by women over sixty.  I’m told it sounds like me.

You can find it at www.Persimmontree.org/v2/spring-2010/a-story/

If you do like it, please let me know by leaving a comment below.  It’s always helpful to learn how readers respond to one’s writing.

And never fear.  Once I conquer the technical bits,  I shall — like MacArthur — return.

See you soon.

LEARNING TO BLOG: 2-5

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Tomorrow is my last class with John LeMasney.  So this is my last homework post of the week.  (Although not the last post of the blog.)

I therefore thought I would try to share with you a video sent to me by an acquaintance last spring.  It’s a flashmob performance of the Ode to Joy (from the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony), filmed in the main square of Sabadell, Spain.

It takes a bit of time to hear it out, so be patient.  Everyone in my non-virtual life who’s seen it has enjoyed it very much.

I hope you do too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=GBaHPND2QJg&feature=youtu.be

LEARNING TO BLOG: 2-4

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Today is Election Day, an exercise in futility for New Jersey Democrats like me.  Nonetheless, in a little while  I will be going down to my polling place at Princeton Charter School, like a good citizen, to record my desire to stop Chris Christie.  It isn’t going to matter at all whether I do this or not, because he will almost certainly win the election by a landslide and continue as governor until he moves on to the Republican nomination for president.  But what’ s the alternative?  Silence is also speech.  And not voting is casting a vote for the guy you don’t want.

Actually, I sort of like plain-talking, no-nonsense Chris Christie.  (What’s not to like — except his party and his politics?)  But you don’t go into the ballot box because you might enjoy hanging out with the candidate when he isn’t electioneering.  (Although younger Bush picked up a lot of votes from folks who did just that. And now look where we are!)

However, this is not a blog about politics.  I wouldn’t dare.  (Intelligent people never discuss religion or politics, said the Wise Man.) I mention Christie only because I’m not going to have a lot of time for WordPress today.

Just about enough time to share some good news:  I think I may have finally mastered the “Add Media” bit!  So here are some photos to look at, without too much more verbiage from me.  Wish me luck.

Mastering Media

Possible home page photo for the blog I'm learning to blog for

Possible Home Page photo for “The Getting-Old Blog” (The not-yet-here blog for which I’m learning to blog.)  Photo too gloomy?  What do you think?

 Family Room (in the words of realtors)  Where we  hang out the most.

Family Room.  Where we hang out the most. Where the blogging gets done.

The cats a year ago, when Sophie had just arrived.  Sasha on the left, Sophie on the right.

The cats a year ago, when Sophie had just arrived. Sasha on the left, Sophie on the right.

My mother, aged three or four.  Taken in a photographer's studio in Russia, 1907 or 1908. (And seven or eight years later came the Revolution.)

My mother, aged three or four. Taken in a photographer’s studio in Russia, 1907 or 1908, before the Revolution.

Me.  (So now you know.)

Me. (So now you know.)

I’m off to the polls!

LEARNING TO BLOG: 2:3

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TEN THINGS I DIDN’T DO WHILE ‘LEARNING TO BLOG’

  1. Pay the bills.
  2. Cook.
  3. Play with the cats.
  4. Read Room At the Top by John Braine for an Evergreen Forum  literature class on “Angry Young Men” that meets day after tomorrow.
  5. Laundry.
  6. Learn how to use my brand new iPhone5S.
  7. Go to the gym.  (Did buy some new black exercise pants at Lululemon and Athleta though.)
  8. Watch Netflix movies while holding hands with man-I-live-with on the living room sofa.
  9. Send new beneficiary designation forms to financial advisor for forwarding to Schwab.
  10. Decide what to give my youngest grandchild for her sixth birthday.

Bottom line:  The cats are mad at me, we have no clean underwear left, we’ve bought a lot of takeout biryani and sushi. And we’d better not die before this practice blog is done.

Its days, however, are clearly numbered.  There’s only one more session of John LeMasney’s class.  Two more homework posts.  I’m getting spammed. I’m getting frustrated.  (Still can’t master that “Insert Media” business.)  And I didn’t get a thank-you email from Belgorod.  (Pout.)

I’d better start practicing “Learning to Blog”‘s final bow.

LEARNING TO BLOG: 1-9

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The last part of our first class went like this:

1.  Learning about adding “wp-admin” to our blog address as a way of getting to Dashboard.

2.  Looking around Dashboard.

3.   Listening to LeMasney explain the difference between a post and a page.

4.   Following instructions to click “New Post” and type some garbage.

5.    Following instructions to click “Publish.”

6.    Being upset at having “published” garbage.

7.    Receiving reassurance from LeMasney (a) that no one would ever find it; and (b) that if I was really worried that I might be disgracing myself, the garbage post could be later sent to Trash.

8.    Getting homework for next time.  (But I’ve already told you about that. Ten posts to create before the following Thursday.)

And then?  Time to find our way out of the building to our cars.

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Was it worth it?  Taking the class, I mean.

Yes and no.

Yes, if you need your hand held, as I apparently do, where “technology” is concerned.  It was reassuring to go online to WordPress in company.

No, once you’ve got a username and password, because WordPress is very good about sending an instructional first email to its newbies.  By the time I got home, there it was waiting in my email box:  everything I needed to know about how to set up a profile and find myself a theme.  (Both of which I’ve done.  Which is why you’re looking — if anyone out there is looking — at a calming color photo at the top of this blog.)  There is also some information on your Home page about how to go further.  My next step, I guess, would be to establish a page for the “About” me part of the blog.  But I’m waiting, because it’s a pretty good guess that LeMasney may cover this in session two of the course, and what would I do while he did, if I’d already done it?

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P.S.  I did spend some of that first night after the class wondering what I would blog about when I began to blog.  It even took me quite a while to fall asleep.

But then, in the morning, it came to me:  I would do my ten homework posts about “Learning to Blog.”

So here we are.

LEARNING TO BLOG: 1-8

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Back to Room 132.  Back to passwords.  LeMasney suggests making our WordPress password as strong as possible.  

“Why?” I ask.  “We’re not protecting a financial site here.  It’s only a blog.”

Only a blog?   

He is shocked. If the password is weak, he explains, the blog is vulnerable — to the jealous, the malevolent, the meddlesome. Someone could take it down!  

Actually, it would be no great loss to the world if someone took down ten pieces of homework captioned “Learning to Blog.”  However, I am willing to try to protect my all-too-mortal prose for as long as possible.

These are the three “How to Create A Website” rules for “strong”:

     1.  Eschew phrases like “Jack and Jill.”  (That one may merit a “duh.”)

     2.   Substitute a number — for example “2” — for a given letter — such as “u.”  (Better yet, two numbers for two letters.)

     3.    Insert at least one sign — perhaps “$”? — in each part of the password.

To which I suggest one more rule:

     4.    Try to remember your new password.

That last rule is not so easy.  Think of all the passwords you have, each with its different requirements.

Here’s a quick review of some of mine:   (a)  The bank ATM:  Only four numbers or letters;  (b)  The investment bank where most of what I have is stashed: Five to eight letters or numbers, but must include at least one letter or number, and don’t forget to change it every six months; (c) the New Yorker app on my iPad and iPhone:  my email address.  (But I have three. Which one did I give?)  

Then there’s my Apple ID; the password for the non-smart cell phone I tried to give to my dear man after I bought the iPhone; my reduced-fee Metro card password, which I have completely forgotten, with the result that when I go to New York I have to buy a regular price Metro card despite being hugely over the age when the price gets cut in half (if you can remember your password). Not to mention the passwords for all the credit cards, Amazon Prime, Abe Books.  Etcetera, etcetera.  

Surely you have similar problems yourself.  

And if you write down all those passwords and user IDs and answers to special questions, such as “the name of your favorite pet,” designed to make sure you are you — if you write all that down in a special little notebook, with a real pen, and remember to change what needs changing every six months, you will probably have misplaced the little notebook by the time you need it.

Now here comes yet another password — to get me on at WordPress.  Little notebook, where are you?  Not in Room 132.  I copy the new password down in the notebook I brought to class, which is not the little password notebook.

I’ll just have to copy the new WordPress password all over again in the little notebook when I get home.   If I remember.  

And can find it.

But guess what?  We’re finally ready to blog!

 

 

 

LEARNING TO BLOG: 1-7

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As promised, this installment of my week’s homework for “How To Create A Website” was going to be a riff on passwords.  But scratch that. Here’s something much more interesting.  (At least to me.)

I HAVE A FOLLOWER!

The news came in my email on Sunday night.  Someone named “papergong” was following “Learning to Blog!”  Papergong was going to get an e-mail every time I posted!

“Congratulations,” said WordPress. (In its email).

But how could this be?  I was sure I was posting into the void.  I mean, this was just homework.  Not my real blog, the blog I want to do when I learn how to blog.

Okay, I put in a few tags (even though LeMasney hadn’t said anything about tags yet).  But they weren’t the sort of tags which would beckon to anyone who was already blogging.

I mean, “technologically challenged, learning to blog”?    Come on.

It was flattering, though.

So who was “papergong?” anyway?

I clicked to find out.  And found three photographs of a very young man  — young enough to be a grandson, if I had begun babymaking earlier than I did.  Cute, though.  He looked a bit like my very first boyfriend (now probably dead) — back in 1947, when I was sixteen and first boyfriend was twenty-five.

Maybe papergong was first boyfriend’s grandson?

(Just kidding.)

No other information, though.  And papergong’s own blog wasn’t much more informative.  It’s all about music videos made by groups I’ve never heard of.  (Not that I’ve heard of any music groups now functioning.) He writes short and grammatically lucid commentaries on each video which I don’t understand well enough to tell you about.

I therefore really and truly hope papergong will explain himself when he reads this.  (If he’s still following, that is.)  Because I haven’t got a clue.

What does he like?  Why is he following?  Was it a mistake?  An erroneous tremor of the finger on the mouse or the scratchpad?  What could a wordy lady like me possibly have to say to a  musicman like him?

Speak up please, papergong.  Give “Learning to Blog” its very first “comment.” Think of it as gratifying grandma.

And thank you.