Why I Stopped Blogging, And Why I Restarted Blogging

Stuff got in the way. Work got in the way. Tech got in the way. But even so, I was often thinking about what I’d write if I sat down at my desktop machine. I’d get too frustrated trying to blog from the iPhone or iPad (which is now a Mini), and the WordPress app was kind of in the way, too.

The funny thing is, when I want to know when something happened, or a major life event, I check my blog. And I go back and grab recipes, links, stuff. It’s my memory repository, I suppose, so it seems best to just pick up and start blogging again rather than incessantly reading other peoples’ posts and blogs and news items.

I’ve been relying on +Daniel Treadwell’s Google+Blog paid plugin to at least grab links from my Feedly newsfeed, but that’s been replaced by a new plugin called Social Media 2 WordPress. I’m still checking to see if I’ve got it set up right, I had to link back to my profile again and create a new API public key. It looks like it’s right, but nothing happens if I try to kick off an import.

Social Media 2 WordPress Google+ Community
Social Media 2 WordPress website – free to try, paid version 19.99 (and worth it once I figure out the bells and whistles).

Am I The Last Person To Discover Google+’s Enhanced Photos Feature? Now with MOAR LOLPeacocks

I was cleaning out mail from some of my Gmail.com accounts and realized that even deleting almost all of the unwanted mail still left 11G of stuff stored in there. At some point, I must have enabled the photo backup feature and WHOA. It had EVERYTHING on my iPhone, everything in Picasa.

If you take a lot of pictures of a Christmas tree from the same angle, you get an animated, twinkly Tannenbaum (with people dancing around it if they’re decorating). It’s actually kind of a pretty effect – Christmas Eve 2013, singing Silent Night with guitar accompaniment, you get the lit candles sparkling, too.


There’s some settings to figure out to stop the jittering, it’s much smoother “as is” if this were uploaded to a public album on Google Photos. This way, the angels on the Angel Tree look sorta fidgety.

If you take a lot of pictures of something, like the multiple head shots we took for the infamous 3D Head birthday gift prank, you get animated… heads.

And no, I’m not going there. But the Inadvertent LOLwhale albums from many years’ worth of whale-watching cruises were entertaining (I have a lot to work with there).

If you take a lot of pictures of an animal, like a peacock at a nature reserve on Oahu’s North Shore, you get this:


I made it more bettah with lots of diva attitude.

So while playing around with that and laughing at the LOLwhales and whatnot, I figured out that the funny captions on animated GIFs have to be on each layer, not just on a transparency over the top, or you get this manic blinktag effect.

That’s all for now! I’m now the last person on the Internets who learned a stupidly easy way to make animated GIFs.

Listening, listening, listening: will probably get things set up perfectly just before Last.fm quits working.

It’s not easy getting Last.fm to work on an iPad… there’s only partial functionality (I suspect that due to Apple’s well known aversion to all things Flash, and also to their reluctance to grant control of the iTunes player to third parties).

Now that I’m working from home, music is becoming more and more a necessity. I couldn’t listen before in the office environment, which could have helped me tune out distractions. Now I can listen, and it helps me stay focused while working on records in “waiting for calls” mode. I have a normal clock radio in my home office that can dock with my iPhone 4 (but not charge it, it’s an older model radio) and play either iTunes or streaming radio via various iPhone apps. Then  I realized from this post  that my iPad has more capable built in speakers, and tons more options for streaming radio.

Anyway, there are various ways to listen to music on the iPad, and I’ve tried most of them. Only a couple integrate with the Last.fm “scrobbling” feature, which compiles lists of music tracks played. I seem to finally have settled on 2 iPad internet radio apps in addition to iTunes, which are something called Radio.com and the one that works best for me, Tunemark. This is in addition to at least 2 other radio apps that I use (radioBOX and Tuner), but that don’t get “scrobbled” by Last.fm to keep a running list of songs played via streaming radio. There’s Pandora, too, but I ended up deleting it, may try it again later but it wasn’t coordinating with Last.fm any more. Why do I keep the non-scrobbling ones? Mostly because they have different lists of streaming internet radio stations, some unique or hard to find. Some are easy to set up. So they’re not worth dumping.

There doesn’t seem to be a way to get the Last.fm “custom stations” or “create your station from an artist, song, or genre” feature working on the iPad, because that seems to be kicked off only using a browser version of Last.fm that requires Flash, which Apple refuses to support. Meh. The only other way to get this feature is to install the Last.fm desktop client, which of course can’t be done on the iPad, because APPLE. Grr.

On the other hand, I was playing around on the old laptop and there I have tons of options.

  • Had previously installed a cross-platform player called Clementine that scrobbles tracks and streaming radio. It’s simple, easy to work with, it just works.
  • Installed the latest beta version of the desktop Last.fm client, which is reportedly buggy, but working more or less fine for me on Ye Olde Lap-Top Computer (it may help that it’s still WinXP, don’t know). But the fabulous custom radio feature works, and the integrated plugins for Winamp work, whoo hoo! I can even “love” songsI
  • Installed the latest Winamp, ditto whoo hoo, especially as I had never bothered to import my iTunes library… and it seems I should have, because my laptop has the oldest and most complete version of my much neglected and out of date music database. I found tons of music that hasn’t survived the leaps to my old pre-Gateway computer, let alone to my old Gateway and the current custom-built with the blue blinky whirry lights. AND the Winamp plugin works – I could never get that working before. Oh, maybe I should check to see if it detects streaming radio tracks… the inability of Winamp to scrobble on my desktop on the old version is, heh heh heh, ,what got me kind of in this musical obsession death-spiral in the first place. And… there we have it, Winamp does NOT scrobble streaming radio, but it starts to scrobble saved podcasts (I have a copy of This American Life’s “Pools of Money” show on the economic crisis, and the Last.fm client detected it and the audio tracks I’d imported from iTunes
  • Tested a different Last.fm plugin, Adaba’s Last.fm Pages and widget. Didn’t work, too bad, it hadn’t been updated in 2 years, and it had the ability to create pages with latest tracks, favorites, etc.
  • Installed another plugin called Last.fm Tabs, which adds interesting features below the current one, WPLast.fm. So now I can show favorites, top rated, and so on. Not quite as good as an entire page of recent tracks, but okay for now. I may explore a different method to put that on its own page later.

So: on the iPad, I can scrobble tracks from iTunes, and scrobble some streamed radio from the Radio.com app (which has a pretty nice interface, but a lot of dead Yahoo radio links, because CBS Radio killed them or something). My iPad streaming Radio.com app (which has a pretty nice interface, but a lot of dead Yahoo radio links, because CBS Radio killed them or something). My iPad streaming radio app of choice is Tunemark, which I think was a 0.99 BARGAIN.”>radio app of choice is Tunemark, which I think was a 0.99 BARGAIN.

Radio.com was HARD to configure for Last.fm. For some reason I couldn’t get signed in for a day. Then when I thought I had turned it on, I hadn’t actually clicked a little green user icon dingus and REALLY complete the connection to Last.fm. Once that was done, the generic user icon (which looked like a Plamobil wee-people) turned into a faint AS (which scrobblers know stands not for Arne Saknussemm but for Audioscrobbler, the precursor software Last.fm bought). It took me 2 whole days to stumble into the solution – not found in any FAQ that I could find.

Yet Tunemark is a pleasure to use and configure. It comes with the stock Shoutcast directory of internet radio stations, but it’s easy to add a stream URL (Winamp is awful for adding URLs, but I grumbled and got along for years). I had to look up some of the harder to find URLs (for some reason, CBS is a major thorn in the sides of internet radio listners, they hid their high-bandwidth URLs well).

A couple of really cool features on Tunemark (and now I finally get to use the fancy new Twitter embed) are the ability to Tweet a track title and artist, or to post it as a status update to Facebook. Also, it has a way to “tunemark” or bookmark a track, which adds it to a local list which can be exported. Pretty cool, eh? I’m still figuring out what other features are hidden behind little icons.

Oh, lookit that, that’s so cute! Yep, it’s cool functionality… and similar to a nifty little thing that the old, old, old offline WordPress client ecto used to have. Just push the little “musical note” button while iTunes was playing, and it would insert a “currently listening” thing into the post. Le sigh, ecto or whatever it’s called now has been dead for Windows users for years… shame, that. Anyway, the thing is, all this fun musical woolgathering is dependent on one single piece of software – that old Audioscrobbler that Last.fm bought 6 years ago that they’ve gradually let get long in the tooth until now, it seems, it’s easier for them to update for everything BUT Apple products. There must be some longstanding fued or something. If they ever break the functionality for scrobbling to Last.fm or any other site from iTunes or from Apple products, a scream of rage will go up from thousands and thousands of hardcore music-track collectors. Reading some of the years-old pleas in the Last.fm community support pages these last few days, I’ve gotten a sense of how bored the Last.fm folks are with answering the same question over and over again: “WHEN WILL LAST.FM HAVE ITS OWN iPAD APP? WHEN? THE iPHONE VERSION LOOKS TERRIBLE ON THE TABLET!”

The beta version of their software is working. I’m hoping that a website redesign is coming (without the horrible Flash that means I can’t work all the music, video, “play” or radio buttons on the iPad or iPhone). But I have a horrible feeling that I’ve finally figured out how to make a record of all the great music I’m listening to now, only to probably lose this ability at any time, at Last.fm’s whim. You see, CBS Radio bought Last.fm a few years ago. Not long after that, they took their best streaming URLs behind a kind of content wall (forcing listeners to listen to high-bandwith WXRT HD via their website, for example) and they also appear to have simply turned off a lot of Yahoo! radio streams, after taking them over. So it’s not known how long CBS might be okay with the whole “scrobbling via API to various third-party players and blog plugins” concept, unless they see significant purchase revenue from incoming links to scrobblers’ pages. I dunno.

Anyway, I’ve listened to a lot of old and new music tonight playing around on the iPad and Ye Olde Laptop, the Dull Uninspiron. While it lasts, I’ll enjoy listening during the day, too.

More music later. And more tweets.


Turned Off Auto-Posts To Facebook For Now

I’ve turned off a couple of auto-post features for now, at least through the end of the political season.

The Twitter Tools plugin has a “create daily or weekly post from tweets” feature, I’ve turned off the weekly tweets posts as my usage has spiked, probably to an annoying degree, on my main account. I’ll migrate the political and topical news commentary and reaction to a different account, and pare my “follows” back to more personal topics on the main account.

I’d rather not irritate my real-life friends and acquaintances further with my current interest with the political process. It’s only going to get signal-to-noisier.

The Facebook Connect plugin has a “publish to Facebook” feature that I’ve turned off, but I can kick it off manually on individual posts. If you want to read everything I post, which lately isn’t that much since I got into Twitter, read it here or via the feed.

According to my comments archives my only readers are spammers and bots anyway, so nobody is likely to be affected by these changes. 😉

Now this, THIS is scrobbling: Clementine and Last.fm and Streaming radio just plain work.

On a whim, I looked once again to see if there’s a way to set WinAmp up to “scrobble” streaming radio, and it appears not… but one word at the Last.fm support site said simply “clementine” and that seems to do the job nicely. Built in support for Last.fm, Grooveshark, Spotify, and a few other services. There’s a ton of Internet radio stations to explore, and it’s relatively simple to set up playlists with my favorite Radio Riel streams, plus stations I’ve encountered on trips and local stations too.

The Last.fm feed is put into my sidebar using a plugin called WPLast.fm – it’ll pick up oddities like on-air ads and station IDs, and some songs miss the feed but are visible at my Last.fm page

I’ll try to move the political stuff and noise elsewhere. I can’t blog during the workday – that goes without saying. But I can certainly have music playing. I’ve moved some of the “stats” stuff to the About page, which could use some work but it clears up some white space on the main page and post pages.

Clementine runs well on the old laptop, it’ll get installed on the main desktop machine too, so that when I’m online in the evenings, I can listen to whatever I want and scrobble tracks.

Still need to carve some time out to upload a few batches of photos to Flickr from the last 2 trips. More later.

Dusting It Off, Coff Coff

Yes, yes, Ginny Who? here.

It’s been a busy and eventful few months since our vacation in Hawaii… whoa, really. There’s a lot going on in the family (can’t blog about that) and there’s a lot going on at Holy Moly (hey, Faddah Manny is our vicar now!).

My husband David had a little contretemps with a local streetlamp the other day while riding his bike, and now sports a nifty scrape on one of his legs. He pointed the lamppost out tonight on our way back from dinner with his brother Dan and said “That’s the lamppost. I’m plotting my insidious revenge.” It’s something to do with pink paint and humiliations galore.

My new computer is running pretty, okay really quite REALLY REALLY well after I stepped back from the latest nVidia driver – I was getting something called the “Pink Screen of Death” when I’d finish watching a YouTube video or log off of Second Life and had run across references to a driver conflict on a support page. So that’s all good and fine, and I hope to be doing more regular blogging and stuff inworld and outworld again.

I tried to get the old Express App working with the Woo Tumblog plugin – this is just so I can easily blog links and photos and quotes from my iPhone, all of which are possible but not easy with the “official” WordPress app for iPhone. However, the instructions for getting it working don’t relate at all to the structure of the NomNom theme I now use (and lurve, lurve, lurve).

The church website at Holy Moly looks great, needs some updating with some content stuff Faddah Manny sent me – we’ve got videos now! I’ll be doing some better graphics on the main page; what I have now was a stopgap from back when I was under… some design constraints from above (not from Above, just… above).

Family stuff… well, things proceed with all deliberate speed (both happy things and sad things). That’s about all I can say about that. David’s diabetes ride training is going pretty well except for the evil lamppost incident, and I’m coughing my head off with a stupid spring cold that’s settled into an annoying barking hackfest. Am now on prescription meds that have worked in the past to head off the dreaded “bronchitis that does not quit even for summer, nyah nyah.”

It started a week ago Sunday, suddenly; I thought it was allergies because I’d been dusting and fooling around emptying the Roomba, because I just started coughing, sneezing, and had runny nose and eyes. Nope, it was a cold. I even stayed home for 3 days last week.

Speaking of staying home, next week I’ve got the week off, and toward the weekend, I’ll be… heh heh, blogging from a magical kingdom. And later in the summer, if things go well, I’ll start working from home (using the smallest bedroom as a home office).

Whee! Well, I’m hoping that it’ll mean that some of my “allergy triggers” from the poor air circ at work will be a thing of the past. The room has a real, openable window, and a ceiling fan. So, YAY! At least during reasonable weather, fresh air won’t be a problem. And during winter and summer, there won’t be the stuffy “bad air” triggers that have been getting worse and worse for me at work the last few years.

If the technology can be installed properly (the internal structure of the house might make the install tricky), it’s going to be really great. One of my co-workers is already working from home and loves it (another co-worker actually relocated to Phoenix and kept her same position and team, she REALLY loves it).

That’s about all there is to that. This is the public knowledge part, anyway, and I don’t know much more about it than the bare bones. Looking forward to it and hoping that there won’t be any hitches or glitches.

Okay, Last.fm, I give in. I’m scrobbling again… to The Muppets. Blogging muse must be fed.

I’ve given in to Last.fm, as I found that it was easy to add a widget to scrobble tracks I’ve listened to on iTunes or via Last.fm (it’s not working for the internet radio stations I listen to on Winamp). So far, I’ve listened to random things, and something I created called “The Muppets Radio.” It’s made for some interesting audio moments, which eventually led to Monty Python and something wacky called Moxy Fruvious. It’s high time I opened up to new music… I’m hoping it’ll help me dare to be a bit more productive and creative around here.

If you stumble across the blog after a long time away, you’ll see there’ve been a lot of changes. I’m giving a more modern WordPress theme a try… flirted with WooThemes, but found that their otherwise nifty WooTumblog plugin, paired with the Express for WordPress app for the iPhone really only works with Woothemes – all other themes require some modifications. The default Twenty Ten theme was the only example given for how to get it working; I had it working for a while with my previous theme, Amazing Grace, but it stopped working after the most recent WordPress version came out.

So, I decided to try the latest default theme, called Twenty Eleven. However, it was completely different from the previous default theme, and the instructions for getting WooTumblog configured were nowhere to be found. In fact, there was some indication on the support forums for WooTumblog that the latest version of WordPress kind of indicated that it would be harder and harder to integrate it into any non-Woothemes template.

Meh, I had played around with it from the iPhone, but it didn’t really make my blogging any easier from there. So I bailed on it (especially when an adjustment I tried to make to get it working totally broke my website. Buh-bye).

That said, I went all in with the new default theme, but still wanted a three column layout.

Enter NomNom Twenty Eleven child theme by Zeaks.

  • 8 premade color schemes
  • 6 new layouts including 3 different 3 column layouts
  • Nivo Slider added to header with several options to control the look
  • Option to resize the header
  • Support for excerpts with post thumbnails
  • Second menu above the header
  • Sidebar on post pages
  • Area to add your own custom CSS that will not be overwritten with an upgrade
  • Google Font selector for most areas
  • Built in related posts under each post with on/off option
  • Superfish dropdown menu effects
  • Custom Twitter, Flickr, Author Biography widgets
  • Plain text to URL support(just type a url in a post, no need to create a link)
  • WPPageNavi template and style support
  • Color options for all menu areas
  • All code is well commented

I didn’t really start working with it until yesterday, but it has plenty of flexibility for the kinds of color, graphic, and font tweaks that you might make to adapt a default theme. I’ve already added my normal CSS drop shadows – nice not to have to add it to the stylesheet, this theme has a custom CSS box where you can add it and it supposedly won’t get messed up in an upgrade. I’ve also added about a dozen custom banners that are taken from my own pictures – easy as pie, much simpler and more striking than the way I was doing it before. I may still fool with the Flickr badge in the right column.

There’s still some things to tweak but this is a pretty good start. And it’s been pleasant to listen to Last.fm come up with variations on “The Muppets” as a radio station, and see the music get added to my left side bar. I’ve also been listening to Radio Riel, my standby, which WON’T scrobble from what I can tell – via Winamp and http://www.radioriel.org.

More later, headed out to see “White Christmas” at the Marriott Lincolnshire.