Posts Tagged ‘blogs’

The creators, the inventors, the doers

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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I’ve always admired people who can make something. Maybe it’s gadgets or maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s art or maybe it’s crafts. It just amazes me when they can take their skills to produce an end result that we can use or enjoy again and again.

For years I wished I could be a creative. Come up with things, produce things that others would admire me for. In fact, recently I’ve been contemplating YouTube videos. Putting content out there that people could listen to and relate to, now that’s creation! I looked in admiration at all types of people who had found their passion as a child, couldn’t stop creating, and eventually followed a path to put out amazing things. “What about me?” I thought as I reflected on skills I wish I had, like making soap or cooking or singing or dancing.

Yet all this time, I never realized that I have been creating. This very blog, in fact.

For some reason, because it’s not something I can open up an Etsy shop for or record a video or audio file of, I never considered it creating. Why did I not see it earlier? This IS content, and truly one of the original forms. And I (*gasp*) am creating it! Whoa.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been writing for so much of my life that it became the norm. I don’t even notice all I’ve written. At 10 years old, I began keeping a daily journal. 13 years later, I stopped upon meeting Panda, but by then I had been blogging on the side. So then blogging started to take hold until it became the primary way I kept track of my life. I’d share thoughts and experiences and now it’s become a place for my memories. Whenever I want to share something with friends, I can easily do a search of the 2300+ entries on my blog to pull up a post. It’s very much a part of me and an extension of me.

This is what I’ve realized: I am creative. I write blog posts. I am inventive. I constantly think of new topics to share. I am a doer. I built and manage the website for it all.

#proud

Site issues

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Two nights ago I got a 500 error on my site (internal servers down). Last time this happened I kind of freaked out and did a ton of troubleshooting, only to find that if I had just given it an hour or two it would be fine. So, lesson learned! I decided to go to bed and the next morning everything was fine. Buuut this time my site wouldn’t load at all! I gave it some time again before going to my web host’s site to try to contact them.

server timed out error message

screenshot of facebook announcement that justhost's servers were downAs it turns out, all their sites were down. Looks like the entire set of servers they use got messed up somehow. After trying to search for answers, I decided to find them on Facebook and discovered that they’d posted a message about the outage. I’m curious though, what they were doing for the past 8 hours… my best guess is that the maintenance was automated and routine, so they might not have caught the issue until they got to work this morning. Or, maybe it really takes that long for them to fix an issue this large. I mean, even all their sites were down so it looks like every single part of their network was kaput.

This does explain another question I had: why I hadn’t received emails since 4 AM EST. Since I use an email with my domain name, no incoming messages were making it. I wonder if I’ll be able to recover those emails when the servers are back up or if they’ve been lost in web wilderness forever. Hopefully nothing important was supposed to reach me at that time! My site is back up for now, but I’m still not sure if it’s all clear since it was up a little earlier and then wouldn’t load again. I hate this feeling of uncertainty! I should probably look into backing up my site on another server just in case.

Once things look resolved, I’m going to reach out to JustHost to complain if they don’t automatically offer some sort of compensation for this. A ton of people commenting on their Facebook page think similarly and I’m just glad I don’t need my site to make money, or else I’d be much more upset too! This kind of interruption of business is not good.

What would you do if your servers were down for nearly half a day?

Those artsy folk

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
2
collage of four different blogs with white backgrounds and bright colors

A few examples of those bright blogs with pretty pictures.

I’ve been following a lot of bloggers lately and they all seem to be so similar – happily married women enjoying life as a wife and mother, with loving husbands who may not get their blogging but support it, and a keen eye for design/fashion/beauty. They tend to have very nice, clean-cut, fresh-looking blogs with white backgrounds and cute, colorful themes/icons. Oh, and I don’t know if it’s just coincidence or what but they’re pretty much all Caucasian, with a few exceptions. More recently I also stumbled across a subset of these who are expats living and working abroad, usually with their spouse.

Then there’s me. I travel a good amount, but I’m not living abroad (unless you count China as my home base). I am not married nor do I have children, though I am engaged and will probably reach that stage in a few years. All of my blog themes of choice have been darker; I don’t think I ever had a white background. My space feels more “crowded” and less clean (much like my room). Generally there are some Asian-inspired elements as well. I’ve yet to see any other blog quite like mine and I’m not sure I’d ever want a blog just like those gals. On the other hand, I’m similar in that I’m also in a good relationship (but I’m only beginning to learn about all this domestic stuff – I don’t do home improvement projects or cook or do crafts like most of these ladies).

In a way, I’m jealous of these women. They’re so good at photography and portray things so beautifully, in ways I may never. But at the same time, I like being different. I like how my blog reflects my Asian heritage. I like that my look is more distinctive from all those others. I don’t mind that my pictures aren’t beautiful DSLR masterpieces (but I wouldn’t mind if they were!). I guess in not being so perfect, people can see that I’m just another person figuring her way through things. At least that’s what I hope! Maybe it just makes me seem less serious or more of an amateur. That may very well be true…

Whatever the case, I tried searching for Asian bloggers and came up with a few non-English ones or semi-famous Asian ones. What about Asian-Americans like myself, just the average Jane/Joe sharing random thoughts and experiences? If you know of any, please do share. I’m still trying to find bloggers who fit my own life experiences more and I’m coming up pretty empty. Not that I don’t enjoy reading the blogs of all the other ladies I’ve seen, but I want to find some that I am more similar to and can connect with more.

How to: Manage Facebook Pages

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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First on the agenda: using the correct “voice”

facebook voice use as page dropdown menu choiceWhenever you are on Facebook interacting with content, you have the choice to use your personal profile or one of your Facebook pages. By default, you use your personal voice whenever you’re on people’s profile pages or business pages and you use your Facebook page voice whenever you’re on your own Facebook page managing it.For example, when I go to http://facebook.com/littlefatnotebook, if I like or comment on something, it shows as littlefatnotebook doing that action whereas if I go to some other business’s page and comment, it shows a comment from my personal Mary Qin account. If you want to comment as your page, then go first to your Facebook page and click the “Edit Page” dropdown menu. The last option, “Use Facebook as” is what you want. Now if you navigate away from your page, you will find that it preserves that setting and won’t switch to your personal profile as it normally would. Along the top bar, you can see which voice you’re in.

Getting more likes with exclusive content

To get more likes you could always run an ad or hold a giveaway, but if you want to up the ante for free, try setting up a tab with exclusive content, which can only be unlocked if people like your page. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of bigger brands doing this (though they mostly do it for giveaways). “Like us to enter!” they say. For the technical details on how to create locked content, check out Kira’s tutorial. You can get creative with what you offer and a lot of it depends on your brand. If you’re a blogger, you can include a list of resources for free stuff. If you sell things, you can include a special discount code. If you’re a musician, you can include a free download for your latest track. You get the idea!

Using the Facebook Pages app

Facebook created a Pages app that you can download for free to your mobile device. This makes it much easier to manage your pages on the go and it allows you to check out the Insights for your page. This also shows you notifications for your pages so you can tell whether there’s been action there lately. It’s a nice little app to keep handy!

Bringing out “posts by others” into your stream/timeline

facebook posts by others allowed on page

Have you ever noticed that when visitors comment on your page, it gets relegated to a tiny box on the side called “Recent Posts by Others” that is barely visible? Well, if you want any particular post to show up in your timeline, go to your page and choose Edit Page>>Use Activity Log. Find the post that you want bring out into your timeline stream and click on the little pencil icon on the right to edit. You can choose “Allowed on Page” or “Highlighted on Page” to have it show up mixed in with your posts. Highlighting it will just make the box bigger and more obvious in your timeline. Of course you can also choose to hide any post as well.

Have fans set up “Get Notifications” for better visibility

facebook liked button get notifications optionIt’s hard to get people’s attention in the vast sea of posts being added to Facebook every day. You can encourage fans to get your updates by scrolling over the Liked button on your page and checking “Get Notifications.” This will ensure your posts don’t get overlooked as often and will count towards the total notifications that person gets, so each update on your page is shared with them. Facebook actually doesn’t show everyone everything in the news feed, so your updates may never get much visibility otherwise.

Using Facebook Debugger for posts

Facebook Debugger is such a neat tool for those of you who may want to dig deeper into the details of your posts. If you’ve ever found that an image is not being pulled when you try to share a link to your page, you can come use the debugger to figure out why. If any errors are found on your page, you’ll see yellow boxes outlining the issue. Maybe the image was too small or you just updated it and you need Facebook to pull the new data, but it hasn’t updated yet. Try doing a hard refresh (press Ctrl+F5) and see if that fixes it.

Networked Blogs & similar auto posting programs

If you’re a blogger, you probably want your posts updated to your Facebook (and Twitter) feeds but you don’t want to manually do it every time. That’s just extra work, as if blogging wasn’t time-consuming enough! You can easily set up automated posts with Networked Blogs, dlvr.it, or RSS Graffiti. I tested these and found that Networked Blogs worked best for me because it can pull an image when there’s only a video in the post, whereas the others either have no image or pull my picture from the sidebar. Additionally, Networked Blogs allows me to manually publish a post in case I needed to do that and I’m picky enough about my posts that I sometimes have to edit the post. Some of the others only publish when a new post is up and don’t allow you to republish manually. You can also use these to set up updates to your Twitter feed so you don’t have to worry about promoting new blog posts there either!

Setting up featured likes

facebook page likesOn the right side of your page’s timeline, you will find a “Likes” box that showcases some of the other pages that your page has liked. These will rotate randomly unless you choose to feature certain likes. To do that, go to your page and navigate to Edit Page>>Edit Settings>>More…>>Featured. Here you’ll see the option to Edit Featured Likes (up to 5). The ones you choose will always show up in that list on your page. If you look at mine shown to the left, the first three are featured likes that always remain the same. The last two continue to change randomly each time someone loads the page.

 

So those are some of the random tips I have for managing Facebook pages and getting the most out of them! Do you have any tips to share?

How to: Make and Use A Favicon

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , ,
1

[You can skip to the step-by-step if you’re in a hurry.]

One of my mini-obsessions when it comes building and maintaining your own website (including a blog, e-commerce store, or what have you) is having a personalized favicon. If you don’t know what a favicon is, it’s that little square image that you see on the tabs of your browser, as shown below.

line of open tabs showing various favicons in browser

The first three are my sites, which you can see each have their unique image. While they may not be the best, at least it separates me from the crowd and I don’t get the ugly paper shown on the far right. That’s what many browsers use as a placeholder for sites with no favicon. Some look better, some look worse, but you get the idea – it says nothing about YOUR site.

I tend to have a ton of tabs open at a time, so that the only thing I can see about a tab is the favicon. This becomes an important way for me to identify which tab I want to go to. I can easily spot, say Facebook, and open up that tab without guessing which one is the right one. It’s a simple step for branding that many smaller sites don’t take advantage of.

So here’s what you do:

1. Choose an image (or images) you want to use. You might want to test a few images to see which you like best. The image has to be cropped to a square and it can be your logo, your profile pic, or whatever you feel best represents your brand/website at a glance. Bloggers, it’s probably best for this to also be your avatar image when you post comments on other sites. The consistency in visual branding can only help.

2. Use a tool like HTML -Kit’s FavIcon Generator. You can upload the picture from your computer or even pull from your Twitter account’s profile pic. Then click Generate FavIcon.ico and be patient! It may take up to a minute to upload your picture and process it. If you do not upload a square image, the tool will automatically crop your picture.

non-square image gets cropped into square to generate favicon on htmlkit.com

My picture got cropped to a square and my feet were cut off in this example.

3. Download your favicon package if you’re satisfied. If not, you can upload another image until you find one you like. The HTML -Kit FavIcon Generator shows you the still and animated versions of your favicon in a browser image. You can actually click on those images to get a live preview in your own browser.

4. Open the .zip file and unzip or extract the files. You can choose to use the still or animated file. The animated  file is a .gif and the still file is a .ico. There’s also a ReadMe.txt included, with instructions on how to install your new favicon of choice. You can read that or continue with this post!

5. Now log in to your web provider (I use JustHost, many of you probably use GoDaddy, HostGator, BlueHost, etc.) and open up the File Manager. You want to go to the Root Directory of your site. If you have multiple sites, make sure you to go the correct one!

6. Upload your favicon to the Root Directory. Choose whichever one tickles your fancy, but I’d recommend the static .ico one since animated ones can appear unprofessional.

7. Add the following code to the header section of your HTML code (in between the <head> and </head> tags):

<link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”favicon.ico” >

For the animated favicon, you’re going to add some extra code:

<link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”favicon.ico” >
<link rel=”icon” type=”image/gif” href=”animated_favicon1.gif” >

8. That’s it! Refresh your page (sometimes you need a “hard” refresh by pressing Ctrl+F5 or sometimes you need to clear your cookies, maybe even close your browser or try a different one) and voila, your favicon has been updated and now represents you. 🙂

Neko font

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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After reading about Neko font on Catsparella, I couldn’t resist trying it out! I wonder if I can make letters based on the positions of my own cats… must go investigate now.

mary qin spelled out in neko font using cat images

mary qin spelled out in capital letters in neko font using cat images

My favorite by far: the Y!! The lettering looks better and better as it gets smaller, so try looking from further away! 🙂

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