The Struggling Writer

The chronicles of a freelance writer as he tries to make a living.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Are your charitable donations going where you think they are going?

Today's Arizona Republic reports that a network of charities getting donations from the Combined Federal Campaign has been using that money to pay for vacations in France while supplies they claimed had been sent to hospitals sat in warehouses. The worst part is their actions are entirely legal.



Saturday, May 02, 2009

Not posting to Examiner = bad

With my badly organized schedule I went three days without posting and my hits dropped to 6-7 per day. Regular posts are important.

An interesting posting experiment would be to post an article but not network it and see how my hits rise. Then share it the next day without posting a new article and see if I get a bump. Although I'm sure the whole Digg, etc. thing is important it would be nice to quantify how important. I might do that sometime.

Today's article took flocking forever to get up, mostly because I was fighting with how to embed the Google map. My biggest problem was that damn information bubble which goes outside of the window since the map is small but I couldn't figure out how to get it to default to off. In case anyone is interested, the answer is to look for the parameter "iwloc=<something>" and change it to read "iwloc=near". The answer used to be to remove the iwloc parameter entirely but that's apparently no longer true, one reason it took me so long to figure it out. The problem with the whole "internet is forever" thing is there is a lot of outdated information out there, most of it without dates so you can't tell it's old junk.

One more rant about how much I hate the Examiner publishing tool. I'm now at the point where I just write the whole thing including HTML offline then cut and paste into the source window, which at least keeps me from wanting to throw my computer out the window every time I post an article. However the stupid tool likes to mess with my code even if I put it directly in the source window. It removes white space, closes tags, inserts non-breakable spaces and more. I really wish there was an option to just paste HTML and have it posted without the stupid software second guessing me. 99% of my unhappiness with Examiner comes from the awful publishing tool.

Finally a couple of useful tidbits. I found an AP Style Tipsheet which is useful because Examiner uses AP style. I'm sure there's a more comprehensive one, but that's a nice quick collection. Plus I found one way to locate pictures is to search on the Examiner site itself. For example search for "dog" then when the results come up click the AP Photos tab. These are Associated Press photos that Examiner has already paid for and examiners can use, with proper attribution of course.


Telephone Pioneers of America Park, a park built for people with disabilities

Parents of disabled children in Phoenix have an exceptional recreational resource and yet few seem to know about it. Telephone Pioneers of America Park is a facility designed from the ground up for full accessibility. It was the first barrier-free park in the country.



Please, please, please stop using Snap!

There is a special place in hell for webmasters who use popups and an even worse place for those who use Flash popups since they exist specifically to bypass popup blocker. One of the new blogging fads is to use Snap to provide flash popup previews of links. In my book this is one of the most annoying things ever invented for the web since it's just popups masquerading as a supposedly useful tool.

The previews are useless since they are too small to read. You still have to click on the link so the popups just waste time and bandwidth. Blogs become minefields where you have to carefully navigate your mouse between links so you don't actually set off an explosion of preview windows.

Thanks to PSA: How to Turn Off Snap Pop-Up I discovered getting rid of them is easy. When you get one of the windows look in the top right corner to see a gear symbol. Click on the gear and then on "Disable" from the dropdown menu. Another dialog will appear asking if you want to disable for all sites or just the current site. Click all sites, then Save. You'll get a message that tells you to reload the current page to turn off Snap and you are done.

The instructions above might be a little off since I already turned off Snap so I can't look at the dialogs to be sure of all the steps. I don't see a way to turn it back on, but why would I want to?

Death to popups!