Category Archives: Musing

This song was unleashed 50 years ago today

In case you’ve been living on another planet for the past 50 years, here’s some background to You Really Got Me

You can find a few other versions on this post

Roundup Formats

Poll_graphic-300x300I find that I have become something of a challenge addict, and consequently am finding it increasingly difficult to look up a post done for one challenge or another. So I thought I would try a round up for each challenge.  I’m undecided as to what is the most reader-friendly format – a post with a pingback from every item in that challenge, or a post with hyperlinks.  So I’m throwing it out to you, dear reader –  which format works best?

You can see the formats by choosing “Roundup” from the black menu on the left.

Pressure: Influence

hypnosis_cartoonAre you good at influencing other people?

According to Klout, my influence varies from day to day.   The Klout search engines look at interactions through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ , LinkedIn, Foursquare  Blogger and WordPress, and about a half-dozen other micro-blogging networks.  Lately, I’ve been spending more time blogging than social networking and the result is that my  Klout “influence” is falling. My all-time high is score is 100, and today it’s a lowly 26.  Having not posted anything on this blog for around two years, I’ve been following a number of blogging challenges through January, and according to WordPress stats, this has increased my average of 1 view per day to 30 between 1 January and today. So which is true?   If I believe Klout to be a measure of my online worth, my virtual heart would have descended to the soles of my cyber-boots.   If I believe WordPress, I would be approaching e-Nirvana.

Klout  claims that you will discover how you influence your networks, share and grow your passions and earn recognition for your influence.  It’s very glossy and there is some impressive-looking about how to promote yourself.  If your Klout rises, you get perks. This site does two things – it monitors the networks, and applies a score, or a rating, if you will, based on the number of interactions you have, e.g. shares, clicks, likes, favourites and so on, and also allows members to “vote” each other up on a set number of topics – the more influence you gain, the more topics you can have to be voted on.  The maximum score is 100.  As of today, the Klout home page shows that Mr Obama enjoys a score of 99.

I’m not that worried about promoting myself, but I do like to test numbers and mess about on the internet.  A little while ago, I engaged in an experiment with an acquaintance of mine – he is a professional who wishes to promote himself online for business reasons. Lots of people do.  I’ve got my own Facebook and Twitter accounts, and the three dogs in residence at Baskerville Manor at the time also had their own profiles on both networks.  Anyway, one wet Saturday morning when I really had nothing better to do than fool about with my laptop I decided to amuse myself by seeing how far I could push this person’s Klout score.  Each dog got signed up to Klout, and together we voted up our subject on every topic he had listed.  At about 8:00 am, his score was 5.  The in-site voting spree netted him another 30.  Next step was to find him on Facebook and engage in a round of likes, shares and comments on his latest five posts – score: 20.  So by around 10:00 am, he had a Klout rating of 55.  Rounds 2 and 3 followed on Twitter and LinkedIn – by noon he had reached the dizzy height of 93  Following with some comments and likes on his WordPress blog, the meter twitched a little higher, finally settling at 98.  Meanwhile, my dogs had begun to complain that their email inboxes and their Twitter feeds were overflowing with Klout notifications.  Result of the experiment?  The rating mechanism seems to have a bias for in-site scoring, and the search engine seems to be more sensitive to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn than to WordPress.  The drop in my Klout mentioned above seems to support this.

Did the Klout score do anything to improve my subject’s profile?  Not appreciably, he tells me.  Today, without the support of me and my canine assistants, his Klout score is back to 11.  Even with this drastic reduction in his Klout, business goes on as usual.  Like me, he was not terribly thrilled about the promised perks – when they materialised in our respective dashboards, they turned out to be special offers for movie tickets (only usable if you are in America), coffee vouchers (ditto), and … roll of drums.. a breast pump. As the ship called motherhood has sailed far past my personal horizon, I’m just a tad underwhelmed.

The moral of this story? My experiment demonstrate that I was rather good at influencing my test subject’s Klout, but that there was no appreciable benefit to me, him, or mankind in general.  So, while you think about whether or not you are good at influencing other people, consider the context, then ask yourself – does it really matter?

NaBloPoMo January 2014  – Queen – Under Pressure – Picture from Hypnosis Information Center – which has some interesting information about how to avoid being influenced.

Pressure: Perfection

No one is perfect, that's why pencils have erasersToday’s question: Do you feel pressure to be perfect? How much of it is tied to what you see online?

Again with the ambiguous questions.  Are we talking about physical perfection, perfect hairstyle, perfect skills, perfect employee, mother, pet guardian, or blogger?

There was a time when I wanted to be a winner, the best equestrian/fencer among my friends, get the great job, achieve a university degree and have a perfectly trained pet.  I also wanted to be thin, elegant and perfectly turned out.  To achieve the sport targets, I cycled everywhere, went to the gym twice a week, practised fencing three times per week, swam at least once per week, and rode twice per week. Two nights per week I attended lectures.  My dog was drilled every day in heel work, fetch, sit, stay, etc.  Sometimes he came to my fencing club and acted as a referee – he was very good at deciding who should get the point. I sat up all night writing essays, slaved all day in the office, and bounced from activity to activity without a breath in between.  All the time maintaining a nice hairdo, makeup every day and a separate wardrobe for each aspect of my busy life. Somehow, I never had enough energy to clamber up the career ladder as well.  Some things never change, I still don’t make the wisest life decisions, choosing what pleases me over what might bring a financial gain.

As time went by the dog got older and really wasn’t interested in being a superdog –  and I had the sense to follow the proverbial advice to “let sleeping dogs lie”.  Instead of doing drills every day, he preferred to spend time on the couch with his head on my lap, and I enjoyed that too. I purchased a car to get me from activity to activity, and then realised that the maintenance and running costs considerably reduced my ability to pay the fees to engage in all those activities.  There was a gradual slippage in the horse-riding sessions (the most expensive activity).  Then my mum became ill and I was her primary carer, so the fencing and the university course were put on hold “until she was better”.  Well, old people do some things reliably – they get older, they begin to fail, and then they die.  This process can take a long time.  The search for perfection lost its importance.

In the early, pre-Google days of wobbly dial up connections, the intrepid browser would be far more focused than we are today.  It was go to the desk, fire up the PC, login, listen to the almost satisfying squeal from the modem as it gradually made contact with the intraweb (nb: when did that name come into use?) get the information you wanted and get offline quickly, before the rest of the household raised Cain because [a] the phone bill was rapidly clocking up [b] nobody else could use the phone.  In those days, if I came across a site with too many images or advertisements, I would reject it because of the loading time – not just because of [a] and [b] but also because I had too many other things to do.

These days you just have to pick up your smart phone and you are in – Zero to Overkill – indiscriminate information overload in seconds.  Thankfully, I’m older now, I’ve done my time striving to be the best at this, an expert in that.  If I’d had the same access way back when I was all gung-ho and action, I would probably have imploded.  My interest now lies with the wellbeing of the animals in my care, cultivating my ever-growing indoor jungle, getting through the reading list that was originally suggested by the long-ago degree course and has grown exponentially since then, making my pictures, and this current obsession with blogging, some of which I wrote about in Pressure: Who is responsible.   So when I go online, it’s generally to refer to the Great Oracle (Google) for bits and pieces of information on these topics, or to check in on how friends I don’t get to see very often are doing.  I’m wise enough now to be selective about what I take from consulting the Great Oracle.  Each of the dogs came to me as adults, from different rescue situations, so they are not perfectly behaved, and I don’t mind, because they are happy and healthy and that’s the main thing. The cats are behaving, as far as I can tell with my limited experience, like normal cats – I’m having fund observing them and learning how to understand them.   I’ve realised that plants will grow well for me regardless of how assiduously (or not) I care for them.  The process of making pictures is far more satisfying than looking at them when they are done (although when they come out well, it does feel good).  I’m about two stone heavier, and on days off, when I’m digging into what I like to do, my hair looks like a haystack, and I don’t care.

So, in answer to the question, no I don’t feel the pressure to be perfect any more, and ever since broadband became available, I’m very grateful that I don’t.

Under Pressure – Queen – NaBloPoMo January 2014

Day Eighteen: Activate a social network–Zero to Hero and Beyond on Facebook

Task for today: Activate a social network.

Sheesh, I’ve had Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn publicised ever since I opened my WordPress account.  Yesterday I clearly had an attack of precognition, because I signed up for Path – although having done so,  I don’t really see the point of it, having already got the Big Three as well as Google+ on the go, and all my friends and family are signed up to one more. Nobody I know uses Path, they can see my stuff on the other platforms, so why annoy them.  I signed up for Pinterest a couple of weeks ago, but haven’t really got the hang of it yet.

The thing is, the Publicise tool on WordPress simply allows you to publish your own posts.  If you like a blog, you can add it to your Blogroll, or links widget, or whatever, but if you want to share anything from that other blog on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. it seems that you must go to each individual post to do it.  There is an app on Facebook, called Networked Blogs which my niece and I used to good effect a couple of years ago, when she was engaged in a charity fund-raiser.  This app allows you to “network” any blog, regardless of the platform. You can choose to have your favourite blogs just in your reader (which is way easier on the eye  than the WordPress reader), you can set up any blog you like to automatically “syndicate” to your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, and if your friends are also members, they can “vote up” your posts in their own readers (and you can do the same in return).

As an experiment, over the next couple of days I am going to add the blogs I follow to my Networked Blogs account and syndicate them to a new Facebook page I’ve started called “Zero to Hero and Beyond”. There’s a post there about Networked Blogs, so you can join if you like, or just “like” the page.  If you add me on Networked Blogs, I promise to add you back and share you on the page.  Go on, give it a go, let’s see how it comes out.



Zero to Hero