This site’s been offline for at least a week – down to some sort of weird DNS failure. So not only were peeps getting an error page when they tried to view this site, but no email was getting to me from my domain email address.
As you can see, it’s now fixed – thanks to my hosting company 34sp.com for their as-always-amazing tech support. I’m happy to give them a free ad – it took only two and a half hours from my first frantic email to getting my site back online, on a Friday night when I’m sure that they’d rather be out enjoying themselves.
Anyway, if you did try to email me last week and didn’t get a reply, I wasn’t ignoring you!
So this morning, I got out of bed feeling like c**p – headachy, sinuses stuffed up, tired and aching. I’m waiting for an appointment to see an ENT specialist about my chronic sinusitis, but that will take weeks.
So I needed some cheering up. And I think I’ve managed it. Going through my emails, I found a Twitter notification that I was now being followed by somebody who described herself as a “Crystal Skull Explorer” (her capitalisation). Looking at her Twitter account, it was clear that she wasn’t exploring in the scientific sense.
I have no idea why such a person would decide to follow me. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the subject on Twitter; and in fact, I haven’t used Twitter for months (like Facebook, it was taking up far too much of my time). Wondering what to do about this follower, it struck me that I could put my Twitter account to some good use. It took me only a matter of minutes to find this article and tweet it, with an ambiguous description so that she would at least click on the link and read some of it..
That felt quite satisfying. Then I turned to my blog feed and immediately found a link to this wonderful comic strip. It incorporates everything I feel about science and the world of learning. So I tweeted that as well.
The Crystal Skull Explorer probably won’t read it, but you never know. But now I feel cheered up – I’ve done my good deed for the day.
….having another bout of insommnia, I stayed up. With nothing much on the TV, I resorted to my usual nighttime amusement of watching CNN with the sound turned off, trying to guess what they’re talking about purely from what’s on the screen. The culture divide and the insular nature of US news can make it an entertaining little game.
This time, I landed in the middle of an interview. The interviewer (I think he was the interviewer, he seemed to be doing most of the talking) was a fat middleaged bloke wearing a crazed-looking piece of shagpile carpeting on his head. The interviewee looked pretty normal; he was balding and his remaining hair had taken the sensible precaution of hiding at the back of his head, out of sight of the shagpile menacing from the opposite side of the desk. Underneath the shot of these two was a banner giving highly condensed tidbits of what the interviewee was saying. Some of these were so bizarre-seeming that I started writing them down:
LAUER TALKS “TODAY” (Oh good – not “YESTERDAY” or “A WEEK NEXT TUESDAY” then);
LAUER: IPHONE IS MY ALARM (Don’t they have alarm clocks in America?);
LAUER: DAY STARTS QUICKLY (In your part of the world maybe…);
LAUER: “YOU HAVE TO SHOW YOU CARE” (About what? Why should I???? And don’t you tell me what to do!!!);
LAUER: “CURIC HAS 1,000 IDEAS” (does this CURIC person/thing collect ideas? If so, why? Where does he/she/it keep them all? Are any of them any good?);
LAUER: MEREDITH “MOST REAL PERSON” (How was this decided – by scientific analysis or by consensus? Or did Meredith win an actual “reality” show where people voted on how closely the contestants resembled real human beings? If so, what happened to the losers, those unfortunates who were judged to be less-real persons? But what makes one person more or less real than any other person anyway? Especially on TV?)
…And at that point I decided all these existential questions were getting far too much for my poor little brain and I’d better get some sleep.
(Comment spam blitzed in the precious 24 hours:
….with a spammer. Got this one this morning (URL munged so they don’t get any google goodness):
I’ll take this opportunity to introduce myself, my name is Eddie Brown,
very nice to meet you. I’m SEO expert working at iSEO Traffic.
I came across diary.astrologicalassociation.com while making a research for one of
my partners and I have few interesting suggestions for you
like increasing your traffic & improving your rankings.
I would love to tell you more about my ideas.
If you are interested I will be happy to send the additional information
and all the details needed to make it happen.
Thanks a bunch,
So, I wrote back:
Thank you for taking such an interest in my site diary.astrologicalassociation.com. It is heartening to see that people across the world are taking an interest in British astrology meetings. Regretfully though, I doubt that I need your SEO expertise, as I am quite happy with the page hits we are already getting (especially from people such as yourself!)
But, on going to your site somespammyspammer.com, I noticed that the copy is badly written and has a number of glaring grammatical faults. As you must surely know, bad writing and poor use of English are amongst the features that drive potential customers away from a site. It looks unprofessional and gives a poor impression of your company’s competence. So I am taking this opportunity to offer you my copy-editing and copy-writing services. I can work in both UK and US English and my rates are reasonable. Please do not hesitate to contact me for details.
Well, at least that’s cheered me up.
ETA: Got a reply back a few hours later:
thanks for responding
What I am actually speaking about is making an article exchange between us, I’ll send you my article that will be about ~300-~400 words for you to place as a fresh page in your site.
In return, you’ll send me your article (at any length that you’d like) and I’ll publish your article in the site I’ve promise you on. Inside my article I’d like to have 3 links and of course that I’ll return the same to you.
I think this will be excellent diversity links for both our websites and I’m really looking forward making this exchange with you.
We are offering our services for FREE!
Waiting for your reply
Sigh. In his first email, he’d included a link to his LinkedIn profile; according to that he’s American, living in Boston (and with a High School and college education which clearly failed him in the area of English).
It appears to be true that some Americans simply don’t get British humour. Play the game, dammit!
Dealt with another 20-odd sp*m comments this morning. What’s so attractive about my little blog? It never used to be this bad. Just to be safe, I’ve tightened up my site security, changing the password and username. Luckily, my hosting company is very good with server security and in the six or seven years I’ve been with them, I’ve never had any worries there. The one time a site of mine got hacked, it was due to me unknowingly uploading some virus code on a WordPress template page; I got on to tech support about it and they immediately – and I’m talking about within two hours of contacting them – checked the whole site for me.
Not been on Facebook – I’ve decided to give that a rest for now. My perennial communication problem seem to be getting worse nowadays; either I misunderstand/don’t understand, or I get misunderstood myself. So I speak even less to people now, it’s easier. It’sOK if I have time to think and analyse; but I often didn’t stop to do that when responding to FB posts. So writing blog posts like this is better for me. I know its part of having Asperger’s, but it didn’t used to be this bad.
Oh well, something to be dealt with…. And at least I’ve more time to work on the Diary now that I’m not frittering away the day with Facebook.
Well, I don’t know why, but yesterday’s post seem to have attracted unwelcome attention. The blog collected about five sp*m comments in the three months since my last post, but this morning I’ve had to blitz about 20 new bits of sp*m.
Anyway, it’s encouraged me to post again; well, that and the fact that I just had another reason to use Facebook less. S, one of my ‘friends’ (i.e. a FB ‘friend’, nobody I know in real life, just the friend of a friend of a friend….) posted a pic of a rusting bike grown into a tree, along with some glurgy tripe about how a boy had chained the bike to the tree in 1914, gone off to war and never came back to unchain, so we should remember those who never returned… glurgeglurgeglurge. If the story was true that boy must have had a time machine, since it was clearly a 1980s BMX bike. So I posted that the story was a fake. S angrily replied that I was a nitpicker and that the message was the important thing. I refrained from reminding him what would happen if the world’s nitpickers stopped checking every detail (nitpickers of the world unite!), just posted back that if the message held any truth, it could stand on its own without any sugary story-telling.
Anyway, it got me annoyed enough to get off Facebook and start a bit of work on the Diary. See you later, peeps.
ETA: Just about a minute after I published this post, it attracted a sp*m comment. Sigh.
It’s been three months since I last posted here, and even that was a bit of an effort. Well, I’ll try to post more often.
I’m still busy; not only trying to get the 2013 Elfin Diary finished in time but also struggling to tidy up the Astrological Association website – I’ve been appointed the webmaster. And not succeeding too well at either task….
I’ve had eyesight problems, a side-effect of of a new anti-inflammatory painkiller I started in February. It worked marvellously and I felt healthier and more energetic than I’d done in years; but after the first month my eyes started blurring and drying up, to the point eventually where I couldn’t look at a computor screen, or read, or even watch TV for long. So the painkillers had to go and I’m back with my aches and pains and stiffness and tiredness and permanent general urghness.
I’ve been posting quite a lot on Facebook*; being able to post interesting links and short snippets seems to suit me better than writing lengthy blog posts these days. Also, it’s good for keeping up with family and (real) friends. But every now and then, I chafe at the length restrictions of FB posts and think that I should maybe use my blog instead. Something else that makes me feel I should post less on FB is that there are a small but annoying number of people on my friends list who post either endless pictures of unicorns and fairies and glurgy sayings (I’m sick of being told I need to dance in the bloody rain!) or lunatic US political rants, or inane witterings about their cute pet dogs. A good interesting discussion is much more to my liking.
*I don’t use my real name on FB, so if you want to friend me there, email me; however, if I don’t know you in real life, I probably won’t accept your friend request. Especially if I think you’re the type who likes to post endless unicorn pics and glurgy sayings, lunatic rants, or inane witterings about your cuddly pets. If you think you’re not that type, then give it a go!
So, for the Winter Solstice Consumerfest, one of the daughters gave me a subscription to Lovefilm. So I’ve been finally enjoying some of the decent films that I’ve missed in recent years.
But of course, not all of them have been good; the stinker so far has to be Unknown. I wasn’t expecting it to be bad – it stars Liam Neeson (one of my favourite actors) and the basic plot outline is promising. Dr. Martin Harris, a US biotechnology scientist, and his wife Liz travel to Germany for a big science conference; about to check into a hotel, he realises that he’s left his briefcase at the airport, grabs a taxi back there; the taxi is involved in an accident; the scientist wakes up days later in hospital and slowly discovers that his entire identity has been taken over by another man; even his wife, when he confronts her, denies knowing him. Although adapted from a German novel, its premise of shifting identities and unreliable memories sounds very Phillip K Dick. So I had high hopes for it.
The first half-hour, when Harris is discovering that he may not be who he thinks he is, is fine. After that, it starts turning into a pretty stupid action thriller, complete with car chases, gunfights, ginormous explosions and equally ginormous plot holes. Even more ginormous spoilers follow, so I’ve put the rest of the post here: Continue reading
Hmmm. Don’t seem to be doing anything worth writing about these days. I spend my time in front of the computer, busy with lots of things – putting the 2013 Elfin Diary together, checking emails, reading Facebook and blogs.
Today, I’m updating the Oakleaf Circle site – there are updates that have been waiting since last October! I also found that the site’s contact form hasn’t been working for at least a month – mysteriously the entire contact form software had been deleted from the site, and I have no idea how. So I had to spend half an hour installing and configuring.
My ankles and knees still aren’t good enough for walking, the weather’s cloudy and cold, no great disasters – not a lot to write about, really. So I’ll go and make myself a cup of tea….. And maybe think myself lucky for not living in exciting times right now.
Wow – haven’t posted anything here for nearly two months. Best get writing then.
Like I said before, the month before Xmas was madness here, with Elfin Diary orders coming in all the time. Now the rush is over, I can sit back and analyse the mistakes. The print bill was more than I anticipated – that was my error, I hadn’t clarified things. Not a big problem – I’ve covered all my costs and even made a small profit, but I’m going to have to raise prices. Having been thrown into the deep end and knowing nothing about pricing, I simply used the same prices that Caro had been using for at least three or four years.
Of course, I have to be careful with raising prices, especially in these times – put them up too much and people won’t be able to afford them, keep them low and I’ll be left out of pocket. So, at the moment, it’s a bit of a guessing game.
Another mistake I made was to think I could sell all the Diaries myself. It now turns out that Caro had supplied shops all over the country – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told “I’ve always bought my Diary in XYZ shop, but they don’t have any this year”. But of course, without her list of shops I had no idea. This time, it will be different; I’m compiling a list of New Age shops and will be leafleting them all come August.
A smaller mistake was not noting the date of posting on each order form; a number of Diaries went AWOL in the post and weakly telling people “Er, I’m sure I posted it sometime last week…” isn’t good business. So a cheap date-stamper will be on this year’s shopping list.
Finally, this year the 2013 Diaries will be ready for sale in September! (Won’t they, John? )
It’s a lovely sunny day out right now but I daren’t go out walking. My ankle has been bothering me for weeks – Doc G says it’s probably a strained ligament, and he’s probably right (it started when I bought a new pair of boots) but it doesn’t seem to be getting any better; everytime I stop taking my daily dose of paracetamol the aching and twinging comes back. So I’m pretty much stuck indoors for the time being. Luckily the weather has been pretty awful most days. Good job, I suppose, as I have to get the 2013 D finished before May.
So, best to stop procrastinating, and get on with it!