Here’s one of my church chums giving the sermon today, in a badass ensemble consisting of a prayer stole or preaching stole and a fine Cubs T-shirt. We’re still in Summer Casual mode at Holy Moly.
When I’m under pressure and feeling overwhelmed, I SITS around a lot watching TV, goofing around on Twitter, and sending texts and postcards to random Congresspeople and government departement secretaries. Yesterday, I was up against a hard time limit and solved a technical issue with one of my website/blogs that’s been frustrating me for months.
So, finally, I went back to church at Holy Moly for the first time since JUNE. I had to, today was the first day the choir was supposed to be “back in black,” hence my self-imposed hard time limit. The church website absolutely had to show updates, or I’d have to deal with more questions as to why outdated posts about EASTER were still visible on the static main page.
My conscience is now clear. You can see the result of much needless agita at St Nicholas Episcopal Church.
Still some cosmetic tweaks needed, but the timely content is front and center, and it’s easy to update. Now for figuring out the easiest way for a couple of more people to have update access. The biggest hurdle is cleared at last.
My extended absence each week kept getting longer and longer, because aside from not being able to figure out a frustrating technical issue with the church website (which is now licked), I had gotten much too slack and comfortable about Sunday morning sleep-ins.
It started out just being “the choir is off for the summer” but it turned into many more things left undone than I could cope with, and I didn’t want to show up until I figured them out.
However, late last night I finally implemented some dang useful tools for administering the Holy Moly website. They are the same tools that I was playing around with here at Blogula Rasa that greatly simplify and streamline the task of writing, publishing, and sharing a blog post to social media.
The problem starts with my own lack of confidence, exacerbated by a tendency to self-distract and hare off into an expending state of spin. If I had to get something done, I needed to get three or four other things done first that “weren’t working right” or bugging me. And those things would generate more and more things that frustrated or stymied me.
Since I have this blog, and a couple of other personal blogs, and the church website/blog to administer, if something stops working on one site, it has to be dealt with at the other sites, which all have different themes and back-end plugins and style sheets to cope with.
Add to that, a disinclination to spend much time at my “home computer” desk, which is a bit of a cobbled-together arrangement that’s not all that comfortable. I used to spend hours and hours online, chatting or fooling around with a 3D design program (which is fiendishly frustrating in itself). But more than a year ago, I stopped going online, and started spending more time discussing the bizarre events of the American presidential election on Twitter and Facebook. I kind of dropped a lot of balls with my online social contacts.
And add to THAT, complete frustration with trying to update my two most important blog/websites on a small mini iPad rather than wrestling with an older laptop that’s badly in need of updating. I use WordPress, and the web interface on the iPAd in Safari is hard to work with, with a maddening tendency to throw a “server not responding, lost connection” error that is related to the wireless keyboard I use. I’d find myself spending an HOUR just trying to write, annotate, and SAVE (save, save, save) a draft. Forget trying to publish, that took at least 5 or 10 tries and required turning off the wireless keyboard and pressing the Publish button for JUST the right amount of time. Sometimes I’d start updating and give up, furious. The desktop was uncomfortable, the laptop unworkable, the iPad a complete torture.
Frankly, it was easier to just post something on Twitter, rather than make my self crazy trying to write anything longer than 140 characters.
Meanwhile, all the blogs used a variety of plugins that were supposed to automate the task of reposting content to various Facebook pages and Twitter. It worked for a long time, and then gradually, some plugins stopped working, other plugins announced they were ceasing to be supported. Don’t even get me started on how Google stopped developing Picasa, that was the backbone of my large collection of seasonally appropriate images for the church website, that also semi automated sending photos to the church Facebook page and Flickr.
I stayed away from church because I got tired of explaining to people why the church website wasn’t getting updated each week; one of my church chums is a solid rock of dependability who sends nicely formatted Constant Comment newsletters every Tuesday without fail; all I have to do is copy/paste some essays, news items, and stock images, and aside from the back-end plugins not working, the church website at least could be a snap. Except that I kept putting off wrestling with it, for months.
For a while I relied on IFTTT recipes to deal with reposting at Facebook (the church likes FB’s ability to show events, photos, etc.) and also reposting to Twitter. But that was cumbersome. I couldn’t face my chums (or Father Manny), so I stayed away.
Then, at Blogula Rasa, I stumbled on to a whole suite of plugins called Jetpack, that everyone else in WordPress-land has been using forever.
One plugin replaced four or five (or more ) other plugins, and solved their weird conflicts and interdependencies. It even simplified how stuff is displayed on the side column (though I’m still using a creaky old method for “sideblogging” that requires me to use the horrible Safari web inteface).
Jetpack made it simple to link multiple blogs to the clean interface at WordPress.com, and also to the vastly improved (and beautifully un-distracting) editor for the WordPress for iOS app. Either way, I write a post that can be saved as a draft, and published, with NO crazymaking “lost connection, failed to save” errors. I deleted all the outdated, superfuous plugins, surrendered to the iOS app, and suddenly, it’s easy and pleasurable to write again. All the little extra doodads and widgets that I had, have Jetpack versions that are powerful, configurable, and a snap.
Once I started implementing and updating at the church website, I had one set of somewhat tedious tasks that I had been procrastinating on.
Even though “recent posts” showed up as links in the Holy Moly sidebar, the folks at church wanted to see news and upcoming events as posts on the main page, which is static. I hadn’t used “sticky” posts, I had been messing with adding excerpts by hand (and it was a pain). I looked at “under the hood” solutions that I didn’t understand, and then found one more plugin for pulling in content that is highly recommended, implemented on more than 50,000 sites, and recently updated.
Now, I have 3 different categories visible as slick sliding menus; I could make them look like a grid, or nested, or whatever. But any post I create in those 3 categories will appear on the main page of the Holy Moly site. As long as I add a featured image, they display nicely without resorting to the macro-keys I used for adding my beloved (but horribly dated) drop shadows. This is another reason I was using the horrible Safari browser interface for blogging, because it had access to my customized editor.
I went to church this morning with a clear conscience, knowing that the front page of the church website has updated content about upcoming events. Never mind about all the stuff I never got around to posting for events over the summer.
As my church chum Bill’s sermon covered forgiving a sinner up to 77 times, I figure I was stuck on 76rpm…right up until I found the way to simplify my process and just get ‘er done. The sensation of not spinning or flailing is wonderful.
No longer immobilized by stress, there’s the matter of my online social and technical obligations to tackle, and a rather big birthday coming up next week. And a new chair for my uncomfortable desk. And more bike riding. And…
Well, that’s enough to go on with for now.