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September 21, 2007

Missing HTML: Reward If Found!

Bill says watching me manage my blog is akin to witnessing dogs mating: there are shudders and misfires, yelping and awkward pauses, but in the end a post or a puppy is produced.

Although I’ve been blogging for more than two years, I was 37 when I started.  HTML and Flickr have all been highly mysterious to me, and every week I struggle with something else that seems like it should be elementary, but it ends up taking me hours of playing with codes and applications to figure out.  None of this comes naturally.

Perhaps those of us who are old enough to have witnessed the mind-blowing transition from rotary to push-button telephones blew the neural pathway that instantly grasps the most basic points of computer programming. (Heartbreakingly, my parents were not earl adopters of the new phone technology, despite my pleas that we were wasting more time than most people because we dialed of 9’s so often, which took forever.)

My latest challenge arose when I was trying to upload a tiny image from another website to mine and link it back to that same website.  I do that all the time, but this time the site asked me to “upload the image and save it to my server” and not to link directly to the page itself.

Now see, I have a good grasp of osmosis, and I can give a talk about the birds and the bees, and I successfully broke a son of the habit of popping out of bed at night.  I am capable.

But I’m not quite sure what “my server” is and a fair amount of googling didn’t help.  I found other pages containing instructions for uploading graphics, but all seemed to assume that anyone capable of blinking could upload an image to her server.

By dinnertime, I had uploaded the image to my desktop and fiddled with it, looking for its code, with no success.

“I’ve uploaded a graphic to the desktop and I can’t find its HTML,” I complained to Bill as I grated Parmesan to sprinkle on our Linguini With Bacon and Roasted Red Pepper.  “And I don’t know what ‘my server’ is.  Is that my computer?  Is that WordPress?”

Finn was pouring the milks for dinner, and I heard him mutter, “I thought I was the server around here,” but I ignored him.

“And even if I knew what my server was, I’d still be in a mell of a hess* because I can’t find the HTML for the picture.  It’s making me insane,” I continued.  “Can you call twinsanity and tell them dinner’s ready?”

Once we sat down, Bill was ready to address the issue.

“Have you vacuumed under your bitmap?” he asked, trying not to laugh.   “Or you could try bleaching the jpeg.”  He was spouting nonsense; he considers this type of talk foreplay.

“Ha ha,” I said.  “You won’t be getting any until I figure this out.”

Three hours later, the kitchen was clean, laundry was running, the boys were asleep and I either figured out or finessed  a way to create some code that ran the graphic off my site, but linked it to the other one.

I found the HTML: a big victory for a forty-year-old blogger making her way through the blogosphere  one small step at a time.

* My mom used to say this in the days of shag carpets and rotary phones; no idea how it popped out of my mouth in the new millennium.

Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Blender

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 8:40 amBlast From the Past,Dot Com Bah- Computer Hell11 comments  

May 23, 2007

Boring Blogger Has Career Day Envy

Getting a compliment from a sixth-grader is the highest form of flattery, so I was thrilled when a close friend’s daughter asked me to talk about writing at her school’s Career Day. Although I’ve never given this type of talk to twelve-year-olds before, I’ve done it in front of several adult audiences, and I figured I would be a huge hit with the preteen crowd.

I like to make sure I have a large film screen set up so everyone can see the screen well. I demonstrate how comments work, and how clicking on the name in a comment will take you to that person’s blog. I show them the back side of the blog where all the coding is and that generally draws a big response and much undeserved respect for my limited coding skills.

It’s also a cool touch to show the audience your stat program at the beginning of the talk so they can see how many readers have checked in, and then look again at the end of the presentation so they can see how many people clicked on the site while they were listening.

I figured I had it made. Internet, cool coding, funny stories, winning personality– I’d be the Career Day Star.

Things didn’t go exactly as I had planned. First, I’d assumed that the other speakers would have boring jobs. A lawyer (I’ve tried to tell my boys what I do in that job and make it interesting and that’s a losing battle), an investment banker, an accountant with a head for numbers and a personality to match.

Sadly for me, the other contestants speakers included representatives of the local NPR affiliate, a chef, an orthopedic surgeon, and a makeup consultant.

The NPR folks brought a microphone and Lord knows what else and let the kids stage a high-energy mayoral press conference. The pastry chef had mounds of fruit and melted chocolate and the students prepared chocolate-covered strawberries. The makeup consultant did a professional makeup application on one delighted sixth-grade girl, and handed samples of Chanel’s Chance perfume to everyone. Most thrillingly, the orthopedic surgeon showed clips of sports stars getting injured, then whipped out models of femurs and vertebrae and showed how he fixed the athletes. Blood, gore, sports– I never had a chance. Or a Chance.

Meanwhile, I was droning, “And after I’ve made sure I’ve used strong, vibrant words, I proofread again to take out all the extra commas that slow readers down.” Ugh.

It’s okay, really. I’d much rather concentrate on writing when I’m not practicing law. After all, I already spend a lot of time addressing blood and gore, though under less dramatic circumstances than the surgeon does. I interrogate my boys on a regular basis, so I have the art of the interview perfected at least as well as the talented folks at NPR. I’ve written plenty about my mad culinary skillz.
Next year I’m bringing sparklers and Pop Rocks for everyone!

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 8:22 amDot Com Bah- Computer Hell,Glamorous Escapades,School Today: Eraserboard Jungle6 comments  

February 17, 2007

No More Squirrels If You Help Me Raise My Self Esteem

Hey– I want to to be a Top Momma.  It would get my mind off the root canal, the broken arm, the fever virus, and so much more.
I'm a Top Mommma!

Click here to vote for me! If it makes you feel better, notice this doesn’t say Best Mama, so you can vote in good conscience.

AG

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 12:39 pmDot Com Bah- Computer Hell7 comments  

January 22, 2007

Virtual Book Club Meeting #7

It’s been ages since I hosted book club. I apologize. I’ll get right to it, because I’ve read some wonderful books recently. (If you’ve missed the last meeting, click on the “Book Reviews” tag at the top of this post and you can see them all. Don’t neglect the comments; readers always have great suggestions. None of my posts from iVillage days have comments because the comments stayed with iVillage, so if you recommended a book then you may want to re-suggest it here.)

I. BOOK CLUBBY BOOKS

I’ve read three books recently that are very different, but which were each captivating in their own way. Name All the Animals: A Memoir by Alison Smith is a memoir, and it’s a devastating one. The author lost her brother in an accident when she was fifteen and he was eighteen. The accident happens quickly; the story is about her family’s struggles after his death, and her memories of their childhood. Smith’s writing is simple and pure, and she depicts details that resonate perfectly, especially with those of us who are roughly her age and remember the songs (Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”) and fashions she recounts. If you’ve lost someone close to you (and perhaps if you haven’t) her descriptions of her thoughts and actions in the aftermath of Roy’s death will seem eerily familiar. I stayed up way too late reading this book and had to hold my eyeballs open with my fingers during Drew’s basketball game the next day.

If I were forced at gunpoint to summarize The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova in just one sentence, I’d have to say, “It’s a thinking person’s DaVinci Code, with librarians and Dracula.” But really, that wouldn’t do the book justice at all. It’s DaVinci Code- like only in that it involves a search that takes the protagonists all over Europe, they puzzle over clues and strange languages and a couple of weapons are employed here and there. The structure of the book could be confusing but mostly works well; the narrator tells the story, which sometimes quotes her father’s stories to her and then his letters to her once he disappears. The tale is convoluted yet entertaining.

I found myself reading each chapter twice, not only to ensure that I had all the characters and events straight, but to prolong the delight of reading the book. There are a couple of points at which the search for Dracula (the historical figure, not the Bela Lugosi blood-sucker you are picturing) becomes overdramatic, but it’s well worth buying into the story.

Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America reads like a novel, but in fact it’s based on actual events. At the same time Chicago was preparing to host the 1893 World’s Fair, young women and children began disappearing from Chicago. Larson writes about the men determined to make the Fair a success, and focuses on one man in particular, whose view of success was more macabre. Yes, it’s a book about architecture and a serial killer, subjects that would seem impossible to combine into one adventure, but Larson provides proof that it can be done, and well.

II. A PARENTING BOOK WORTH A LOOK

I read a book about addressing the ways having children can affect your marriage, and I intend to give it to Aunt Lulu, with a few caveats. Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows imparts some valuable messages for those couples expecting a baby or having a hard time dealing with the changes children add to the marital relationship. The book makes several very good points: that both spouses have to sacrifice to raise a child, that everyone needs to hear words of affirmation and appreciation, that sex is just plain harder to get to when you’re working on little sleep and there are toddlers hanging around.

Bill and I have some experience in practical application of some of these principles. We went to a marriage retreat organized by our church long ago, and it was one of the most valuable weekends we’ve spent. The church also emphasized constant appreciation, and we’ve taken that to heart. We try to remember to say gooey things like, “Thanks for unloading the dishwasher” or “thank you for taking out the trash,” even though these are chores that must be done once, if not several times a day, just to acknowledge that we noticed that the other person did something for the good of the family.

At the retreat we spent a whole day discussing sex. My take-away was that not every rendezvous has to be a gourmet dinner. Sometimes a quick Happy Meal is enough, and sometimes you only have enough energy for a Chicken McNugget, or even one fry. (I’m really hoping you can read between the lines here and fill in the corresponding actions for each food).

Remember that Kenny Rogers song “Daytime Friends” that goes:

Daytime friends and nighttime lovers,
Hoping no one else discovers
Where they go, what they do,
In their secret hideaway

Those lovers were either childless or empty nesters. If you’re going to do the gourmet dinner, you and your husband should try being nighttime friends and daytime lovers. No one else discovers where you go and what you do if you sit your children in front of videos that are otherwise strictly rationed and the turn the volume up loud. Don’t forget to lock the bedroom door!

The book does have some weaknesses. I was not the only reader to feel that the female authors were unfairly harsh in their depiction of the husbands in the book, who came across as lazy, sex-crazed sports-watching thugs. In fairness, I should note that the writers apparently met plenty of men who provided the numerous caveman quotes in the book, such as:

Women have been doing this for thousands of years. There have been centuries of human history where women have had a lot more children than we have, and they had to do a lot more work, churning the butter and washing clothes in the river. Why is she always complaining?

–Bobby, married 7 years, 1 kid.

How did Bobby get enough nookie to make a child, with an attitude like that? If I were giving him a Chicken McNugget, I might be tempted to pull his wanker right off.

III. BOOKS INTENDED FOR SMARTER READERS OR GENERATIONS Y AND Z

I tried to read two other books with less than stellar results. I’ve recently moved my website from TypePad to WordPress, and I bought WordPress 2 (Visual QuickStart Guide) to help me navigate the unfamiliar code. I alluded to this in my last post, and I’ll be mentioning it constantly in the future, but I’m about to be forty years old. Technically, this makes me a part of Generation X, but I’m almost a Baby Boomer.

I remember filmstrips in classrooms. I got contacts in fifth grade– hard lenses, that scraped against your eyeballs when they weren’t rolling back in your head near your brain somewhere. I remember when having a pushbutton phone was a big deal. Our first VCR was the size of a small suitcase. To make mix tapes, we sat with our tape recorders near the radio and waited for our favorite songs to come on, then carefully pushed the “Play” and “Record” buttons together. That’s a long way of saying that none of the coding or texting or plugins and so forth come naturally to me. I don’t understand what this means: “Use your favorite text editor to open the theme template file in which you want to display the feeds.” I don’t have a favorite text editor and in fact am not sure what a text editor is, although I probably use one.

Similarly, I use photos in my blog, and wanted to try fixing some of them without spending the money on Photoshop. I downloaded and installed GIMP, then purchased Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional to try to use the program. So far I have succeeded in cropping one picture, and I have been unable to recreate that accomplishment again. My friend can perform plastic surgery on the people in her pictures, from whitening their teeth and deleting wrinkles to smoothing their skin. I would love to do cyber-surgery on my pictures. I think I’m going to recruit a Generation Y bag boy from Publix to show me the basics and explain it in English, not techno-speak, and I’ll be a lot better off. These are probably wonderful books and I’m just not savvy enough to make the most of them.

Sigh.

IV. DUSTY BOOKS WHICH I SHOULD HAVE READ BUT HAVE NOT

I’m really proud that I made it through Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel, and enjoyed it. That was probably the last unread dusty book I made it through thanks to your encouragement. I’ve had a copy of East of Eden (Oprah’s Book Club) for ages, and I can’t seem to get excited about it. In fact, I have yet to make it past the third page. If you love it, please comment and inspire me to read it. I feel like there’s a hole in my education due to my failure to read this. Am I right, or should I take a pass?

V. CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING

Whoa– I can’t believe we drank all that wine! It must be time to go. I’m taking suggestions on books to read in all my “spare time.”

AG

**Click on the “Book Reviews” tag at the end of this post to read the six other Virtual Book Club Meetings!

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 10:15 pmBook Reviews,Dot Com Bah- Computer Hell29 comments  

January 19, 2007

I Talk To Grownups And They Listen

Yesterday I was hurled back into the business world, and it was a thrilling experience. My father-in-law’s Rotary Club invited me to talk about blogging and my blog in general. I haven’t practiced law in over a year. When I did, I gave speeches on a regular basis. Having the chance to talk to people who would actually listen without breaking in to say, “Mom, Porter is feeding the dog Trix and that’s the only cereal I like for breakfast” and who’d ask questions I could actually answer, instead of “Why is France part of Europe? How do you say ‘I need a bagel” in Morse code?’ or Can you give me a fouteen dollar bill for these ones?” promised to be fulfilling.

I am facing a disturbing birthday next month, and have been vigorously applying creams and lotions to my body in an attempt to look 35, or even 38. I don’t say this as a plea for gifts or compliments. Instead, it’s that when I say my audience was not exactly of the spring chicken variety, I don’t want you to think that I’m being insulting. All of us (except for a few young guys) were united in our need for reading glasses and our ignorance of the workings of many technical geegaws that younger generations manipulate without difficulty, such as text messages, instant messages, cameras on phones, MySpace, and blogs.

Based on the number of hearing aids I saw, and my instructions to “yell into the microphone,” I predict that a fair number of members still own and use rotary phones and will die having never had the pleasure of experiencing the touch-tone.

So.

Once we established what the Internet was, and that a “blog” can be thought of as a column published on the Internet, we were off and running. We discussed the fact that some bloggers, such as Dooce, make a living from their blogs. They were busily writing down the site address until I spelled it and explained it’s about a woman, her family and her constipation, and has nothing at all to do with online poker.

I told them you can make friends with other bloggers, as I have done with MetroDad and BusyMom. I told them there are blogs devoted to sports (sparks of interest from the men in the crowd) and politics, both conservative (continued interest) and liberal (uncomfortable shifting in chairs).

I understand that my father-in-law was extremely nervous about my speech, and was quoted as telling a friend earlier in the day, “I don’t know what the hell she’s going to say.”

Knowing that, being on his home turf and not wanting to piss off a devoted grandfather, I tried to choose my words carefully. I slipped up when I was asked a question about what HTML editor I use. Actually, I’m not sure of the answer to the question, and I digressed into a discussion of the HTML learning curve, my experience with Typepad and its templates, incorporating Flickr, and Technorati tags. I saw faces glaze over at this point, and finished this topic by confiding, truthfully, “You know, Bill doesn’t know a thing about any of this stuff either, and he thinks it’s really sexy when I say things like ‘Honey, I’ve messed up the HTML somewhere’ or ‘what the hell is up with this RSS feed?'”

I had a momentary brain spasm as I remembered my husband’s father was in the audience and might not ever take my boys hunting again as a result of my alluding to the fact that his son and I are physically attracted to each other, so I quickly changed the subject to blogs about SEC football.

The Rotarians asked insightful questions, most of which I could answer, and I concluded by reading the column about The Missing Macho Valentines.

I basked in the applause that ended the talk, as there is a definite scarcity of maternal praise at my house. And then I got back in the minivan, littered with Magic Treehouse books, a couple of Slim-Jim wrappers (Porter saw a twin-pack and insisted on buying it and sharing it with Drew) and other crap.

And I headed home.

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 9:51 amDot Com Bah- Computer Hell,Glamorous Escapades6 comments  


Welcome to the Kingdom

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I'm Anne Glamore, wife, mother, lawyer and blogger. I have three boys, and I'm desperately trying to train them to become Southern gentlemen, but that may be an unrealistic goal. At this point I'd be ecstatic if they'd quit farting at the dinner table. If you're new here, check out the Readers' Favorite Posts below or browse through the Categories. I write about my attempts to teach the boys about peckers and sex (which we call "making googly eyes"), my struggles with hepatitis C and spine surgery, the boys' adventures with fire and pets, my mom's death from ovarian cancer, my love of cooking (with plenty of recipes) and anything else that crosses my mind. Join me on Twitter or StumbleUpon or Email me. I'm happy to speak to your group or club.

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