Saturday, June 30, 2012

Singing the Updated Blogger Interface Blues

Got into the admin area of TheBest50Years this morning and what an unpleasant surprise awaited me there - I'd been reverted to the 'updated' Blogger interface - again. Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again - I HATE the new Blogger interface! Fortunately, this time I knew to look for the little gear thingy over on the right and switch back. Unfortunately, I've had a message for months alerting me that the old interface is on the way out. They don't say when, just that it "will be removed in the coming months" - well, crap! This really sucks.

As I've also said before, I do so appreciate Google for all they do at no cost to all of us here on the other side. To date, I've found Blogger to be the easiest blogging platform to use. For the most part, I can upload photos, move things around and figure out how to do what I want done as far as changes go. I find the old interface very friendly looking and intuitive to use. The new one? NOT! It's UGLY in addition to being unfriendly looking and I can't find what I need or where I want to go.

Is it just me?

Nope. When I posted on this before, I actually got the most comments of any post on the blog. Not saying much, I admit but none were from previous commenters or anyone I personally know. So if my infinitesimal readership feels strongly enough to take the time to agree with me on this, I know I am not alone and that many folks feel the same way. Kind of like a self-selected not quite random sample in a study.

Anyway, I guess soon there will be nothing I can do but go forward with the horrible new interface. The problem is that I can't even find where I want to go every time (three or four now) that I've come here to post and it's been changed. In fact, last summer when I didn't yet know I could switch back, my posting slowed way down because it was so cumbersome and frustrating just to try to get it done.

Accepting what I cannot change...

Oh well, I guess it's free and the only game in town for me and TheBest50Years so I'll keep on keeping on. But it sure is frustrating that Google won't leave well enough alone. Change for the sake of change alone is usually a bad idea and I just wish whoever out there is in charge would get a clue.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Simple, Safe, Effective and CHEAP Homemade Spray-on Cleaner

I know I may be late to the cleaning party on this one but I've just made the most amazing discovery! Did you know that plain old vinegar mixed with water is a great household cleaner? How simple and cheap is that?

Ok - so "discovery" really isn't accurate. After all, there are probably thousands of websites that promote cleaning with vinegar. But it's a discovery to me because I hadn't actually tried it myself and so had yet to discover how absolutely great it really is.

Here's what I did:

Mix plain white vinegar 50/50 with plain water in a spray bottle.

(Not too difficult, I know - but I set it apart in this post so it wouldn't get lost.)

Now here's the cool part. For years, I've battled a slight mineral buildup on the outside rim of the plastic base to my shower. I don't know when exactly this build up happens - it seems I'll just look down one day and there it is. Of course, it also attracts dust and becomes a grimy looking line just below the shower doors. I've used several cleaning products and had finally taken to just scraping it off with a knife now and again.

Well, scrape no more! I sprayed my 50/50 vinegar/water combo on there and presto! It wiped right off! (Ok - it wiped off with a little back and forth pressure after sitting for a minute. But it sure beats scraping it with a knife.) And the best part is no nasty fumes. In fact, it just reminds me what fun it is to color Easter eggs.

Vinegar will supposedly kill mold, as well, but mine didn't take all the discoloration out of the caulking around the bottom inside of the shower, although it did fade it somewhat. For that job, I guess I'll still have to use bleach until we can re-caulk the shower.

Anyway, if you haven't tried vinegar mixed with water as a general cleaning product, go buy yourself a spray bottle and give it a go! It's super cheap, completely safe for kids and pets, works way better than I would have thought and makes your house smell like Easter fun. What's the down side?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Welcome Summer!

Looking forward to too much fun with the grandkids this year!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Truth About Getting Older

"When you’re in your nineties and looking back, it’s not going to be how many awards you’ve won. It's really what did you stand for. Did you make a positive difference for people?"
- Elizabeth Dole

Friday, June 8, 2012

Self-Publishing for Kindle on Amazon

I just got done publishing for Kindle on Amazon! Granted, it wasn't my own book. No, I actually just republished the edited version of MERRIWEATHER IN SEARCH OF THE FAIRIES, a cute story my MIL wrote for kids. It's been available digitally online for over a year but we just recently discovered that somehow the currently uploaded version had NOT been edited. And in fact, now that I'm a pro at all this (yeah, right!), I suspect that the uploaded file may have even inadvertently been changed for the worse prior to publishing.

So how could that happen? How could a digital file get changed without anyone noticing? Well, I'm not 100% sure but I have some ideas. Now that I'm a professional proofreader and have been using the Track Changes feature in Word, I've made some interesting and potentially horrifying discoveries. Let's suffice to say that it seems to glitch up sometimes (software glitches up? really?) and I believe may possibly even make unintended changes.

Also, now that I've experienced the full editing process from both the proofreader and client sides, I can say with absolute certainty that it is almost impossible NOT to make mistakes when choosing to accept or reject changes. The two options are one on top of the other and it is so easy to click on the one you DON'T want. But enough of all that...

How to Self-Publish Your Book for Kindle

Amazon has made publishing EASY! To publish for Kindle, all you have to do is sign up for an account at Kindle Direct Publishing. If you already have an Amazon account, you can sign in with it. Then you just enter all the required information and upload your cover image and properly formatted HTML file.

Oops! Say what? Properly formatted HTML file? Uh-oh.

Not to worry! I just did it and so can you. If you have Word 2010, I can vouch that it's super-easy to convert your document to HTML format. If you have an earlier version of Word, supposedly it's still easy but I don't know that personally. And if you don't have Word? Well, I seem to recall a recommendation to use OpenOffice but don't quote me on that.

Anyway, everything you need to know to publish successfully for Kindle is available on the site. And if you want the info in Kindle format, you can download Building Your Book for Kindle free. I have Kindle for PC on my computer so I just had the directions open right there through the whole process.

A word of caution: Pay special attention to the formatting requirements. I've read a lot of Kindle books lately and now I know why some are so well laid out and easy to navigate and others are...well...not. It is imperative that you format exactly as instructed and then convert to the right type of HTML. But like I said, if I can do it, so can you!

MORNING-AFTER UPDATE: While the new version of the republished book was live by the next morning, the Look Inside feature still showed the old unedited version. Apparently, changes to the description and preview on Amazon’s site take additional time. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Better Way to Look at Failure

"Don't be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid."
- John Keats