Normally I hate blog posts about blogging, but…

…I’ll make an exception today because I’m writing one ūüôā

My WordPress blog goes through long periods of neglect (like my squash playing or cleaning the bath) but then the mood strikes and here I am again. How come?

  • Firstly¬†because my To-Do app on the iPad prompted me that it’s time to back up my blog. Actually there’s not a lot of point me backing up this blog since the last post was in March and I backed it up in April. Although, since I’m now writing a new post…
  • Secondly¬†because when I do blog I sometimes try a different theme and I knew that I really didn’t like my last choice. But of course, you can’t see my last choice because I’ve now changed it. And if you read this at some point in the future (what else might you do? read it in the past…?) you might not be seeing the theme I chose¬†today ‘cos I might have changed it again…
  • Thirdly¬†because I was thinking about writing a tech-based post due to the increasing frequency with which I’m being notified that my devices / software aren’t up to scratch to run the latest stuff. More on this below.

Hence, I sit and type.

On my 2009 Compaq desktop running Windows Vista. Vista???!! Yep. On which I run Internet Explorer 9, the latest Vista can understand. And which, Twitter, now tells me, is inadequate and therefore I am reduced to viewing Twitter Mobile. On my desktop.

twitter_ie9

Humph.

My other ageing device is a second generation iPod Touch, circa January 2009. I recently tried to add a Gmail account to the mail app and Gmail refused, saying the device wasn’t secure enough. Can’t complain about that, what with me being an IT guy and all. Then yesterday YouTube on the iPod started warning me it no longer fully supported my device.

Dang it. Inevitable really.

And so I muse on changing the PC, upgrading the PC to Windows 8.1 (and thence to Windows 10), and whether to keep the iPod for music only and invest in – gasp – a smartphone that can handle my email and YouTube thingies.¬†(My current phone is distinctly¬†unsmart – it makes calls and sends texts, end of story. Until my iPod started showing these signs of obsolescence I thought I’d hang on to my old phone until it broke. But maybe not.)

If you have absolutely nothing better to do, watch this space for further developments. And if you really have absolutely nothing better to do than that, I suggest you seek help.

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Grasshopper Reader: Quit just reading the titles!

Grasshopper

Beware the Grasshopper Reader!

I blame the Internet. In the days when the only time you heard the word “online” was when Scotty informed Captain Kirk that the warp drive wouldn't be back online for another twenty minutes (only to be told that he had no more than ten, to which he calmly replied that he'd see what he could do but that he canna change the laws of physics, but you knew, just knew, he'd have those crystals humming again in a little over nine minutes…erm, sorry, carried away…), my reading was mostly front to back. Books – start at page 1 (or maybe page “i” if it had those odd pre-pages before the actual pages) and read to the end. Magazines – such as Railway Modeller, Record Mirror or (its much cooler, hardcore successor) Sounds – generally front to back. Even newspapers – be it the Wigan Observer or the mostly tedious Methodist Recorder – generally got the “serial access” treatment, i.e. one page / story after another, even if I did skip over the reports from the WI and the latest scores from the village cricket team.

Scotty

Today if the bookshelf and magazine rack holds no allure we're spoilt with literally endless reading options on the Web. (Well, maybe not literally endless. Not even Google could index an infinite Web.) I currently have two favourite sources, neither of which, I'm ashamed to say, is the BBC News site, although I do drop in there occasionally. No. For me it's Twitter and, of course, WordPress.

 

There's good stuff on other people's blogs. I have a “Reader” which presents me with updates from blogs I've followed and the editors' suggestions of others worth a look. Twitter similarly offers links to stuff worth reading, or viewing, or mulling on, or just laughing at.

One is obliged, of course, to be selective. I am not wracked with guilt at the fact that I don't read everything dangled in front of my digital nose. What I have realised, however, is a very postmodern tendency for me to skim, and skim…and skim…and hardly ever click through and read what will, in all likelihood, be a relatively short piece anyway. Rather, I hear myself thinking, “That might be interesting but I'll scroll a bit more in case there's something more interesting further down.” Then I do the same thing at the next title and synopsis. And again. And again.

You'll have heard, no doubt, of the grasshopper mind – one that can't stay focused for any length of time. I, it seems, am in danger of becoming a Grasshopper Reader – always skimming, scrolling, checking out what's on offer – but missing out on most of it for fear of missing the really great article that might be just a click (or swipe of the finger) away on the next screen.

So, I confess. And I repent.

I need to change my mind and change my habit. Better to read, enjoy and interact with some of the universe of online reading than none of it. Ditch the postmodern fear of choosing in case something better comes along. Click. And read. As I hope you'll do when next you see links to my posts. After all, if we were all Gasshopper Readers nobody would ever read anything.

 

Someone tell me why I should tweet!

Never done this before. Blogging, that is. It’s yet another communication channel I’m launching into later than what must be at least a squillion other people.

(I know. I wrote “squillion” and it’s not an actual number. Is it? Drat, better go check before I build a whole routine on a false premise – or, at least, on the premise that something is false – that is to say, that squillion isn’t a genuine number – when, in fact, it’s not true to say that it’s false…or something.

Well, as it turns out it actually is a number; it’s just that nobody knows what it is. If I’d taken the trouble to Google it before I started this I’d have saved myself a whole load of typing because I’d have found this right at the top of the results:

Urban Dictionary: squillion
A word which can be used to indicate a large amount of some thing. Much larger than a million but smaller than a zillion.
www.urbandictionary.com/define.php

So now you know.)

As I was saying, it seems like, well, let’s just say “lots of people” shall we? – have been doing this for a long time. And here’s me, aged forty-something and a bit, supposedly a lover of writing, supposedly “not bad” at it, supposedly would like to “make something more if it”, etcetera, and I have never, ever blogged. I am, as it were, a blogging virgin.

Well, no more! This is it – my first time. And the question I have is this: How was it for you?

Or, at least, that will be my question once I’ve actually made my point. Because, yes, there is one. Not for nothing is this blog called “Is It Just Me?”. For here, dear online colleagues, I shall present to you questions, mysteries and conundrums which puzzle, intrigue or irritate me. I shall fling them willy-nilly into the blogosphere in hopes of enlightenment, entertainment or, at the very least, affirmation that, no, it isn’t just me.

So, as I launch the web’s gazillionth blog, let me put it to you. Today’s question, that is. And it’s this: Why don’t I “get” Twitter? Put another way, why should I tweet?

Once I finally acquired a mobile phone in 2002 (another late start, I know) it didn’t take long for me to “get” texting. When my kids went to university I finally saw some value in Facebook (having been completely flummoxed by the whole MySpace/Bebo craze when they were at school). But Twitter? Not grasped that one yet, no sir. Never mind that zillions of people have clearly “got it”. (Yes, that is more than a squillion). Never mind that one of them is Stephen Fry, whose linguistic dexterity is something of an inspiration to a would-be blogger. And never mind that at least one police force has been tweeting, or so I believe.

Yes, I’ve been to the site. No, I don’t have an account. Yes, I’ve read some tweets. No, I still don’t see the point. I mean, what does it do that you can’t do with a web site / email / RSS feed / Facebook update / nice letter in the post?

Enlighten me, please.