You Must Be Crazy – A Chromebook!

Samsung Series 5-550 Chromebook

Right before Thanksgiving I went and did something crazy – even for me.

No it didn’t have a lot to do with running or healthy-living, well not really, but maybe a little bit of my mental health. What I did really impacted how I blog about those things and participate in my social media communities.

HMMMMMM – What in the world are you talking (exasperated voice)!

If you look at my “quick about me” in the sidebar, I say that I “use technology to complicate my life”.

Isn’t that the truth sometimes! I honestly believe that this is true for many of us, while we love our technology and how it can connect us to others or seemingly make some things easier, technology sure as hell doesn’t simplify our lives.

I have found that technology does not always make life easier or less complicated, in fact it usually does just the opposite for me and I have been purposely looking way to simplify and uncomplicate my life whenever possible.

That is when I chose to buy a Chromebook rather than yet another Windows or Mac computer.

Huh! What is a Chromebook?

A: It is a computer that uses Google’s Chrome Operating System.

What does it do?

A: It is a modern computer, but it does not have native apps and relies more on the web apps in “THE CLOUD” (in a deeply ominous voice), but does have enough off-line capabilities to get through the times when you are not connected to “THE CLOUD”.

Primary Computer

Actually my Samsung Series 5-550 Chromebook has become my primary computer and does about 95% of what I want to do on a computer. When I have to go back and use my 4 year-old MacBookPro or my Windows 7 PC, it is painful for me to do so.

They both just seem so slow, big and gommy to me now. They have become niche machines that I use when I have to, not because I want to. Playing a game like NeverWinter Nights II or screwing around with iTunes on my iPhone 4S, to manage my music is about the only times I turn on my Mac. The PC is even less – it is my wife’s and I do the maintenance on it, which reminds me of why I love my Chromebook so much each time I have to do that.

Now wait minute Harold, you have both a Mac (which is running Mountain Lion – the latest and greatest OS from Apple) and a PC (running Windows 7) and you don’t use them unless you have to?

That’s right and as my Chromebook continues to improve, I plan to use them even less! The less than 10 second to get to the log in screen, almost instant on when you open the cover, not worrying about security or updates as much have really sold me on this laptop.

Along with the fact that I have done 100% of my work (not the nice to do or have stuff), on my Chromebook for the past 6 weeks, tells me it does what I need for a computer to do.

Not for Everyone

Now a Chromebook is not for everyone and it does require a bit of a change in your mindset about how you do things with it, but once you get beyond the initial resistance to change (at least for me), things begin to happen. It opens a lot of different ways to get things done and not break the freaking bank every time you want to try something new or different.

Honestly, the Chromebook sucks when it comes to dedicated printing to non-Google Cloud Print ready printers, it works, but not easily (another reason in my mind to go more paperless), some versions don’t play Netflix well or at all (my 550 does just fine) and some other things that are a pain in the butt.

Google Play and a Chromebook don’t play well together (especially the uploading/downloading of your music – which sucks) and you can only get Chromebook Apps from the Chrome Web Store (but both Apple and Microsoft are heading in that direction too)

No you cannot load your familiar local programs like: Microsoft Office, Apple’s iWork or anything that uses Java, in other words executable files that are stored on your laptop – they don’t work.

Mindset Shift

That is where the mindset shift comes into play, you have to do almost everything via “THE CLOUD”. Also most of your files are stored there – via Google’s Drive, but you can use SkyDrive, Dropbox or other cloud storage services, but they don’t integrate and sync as easily or as well.

“THE CLOUD” is a scary place for many and they don’t trust it, however, within 5 years, I have a feeling that is where most of our stuff will be regardless of what you want. Software As A Service will be the norm and you will have less control of what is happening on your computer no matter who makes it. So unless you are going to maintain your stuff on an old off-line standalone computer, you need to get used to “CLOUD COMPUTING”.

IMAG0434

No I am not some young wiz-kid who thinks he has the world by the ass, I am an old fart who is moving along with the times and seeing the writing on the wall. The change is coming, you can fight it kicking and screaming or just use it to your advantage, either way it is coming.

The reality is that

my Samsung Series 5-550 Chromebook laptop computer has just become my computer, it is nothing special or different for me to use it now. I open up the top, the screen pops up and I start to work.

The hardest thing that I had to figure out was which web applications to use that met my needs, instead what software I had that I needed to use. That is a big change of perspective and if you can’t figure what I mean by that, then you will not like a Chromebook.

If you are looking for something different from a Mac or Windows laptop, the Chromebooks are worth a look. However, I am telling you to do your own research to make sure that the Chromebook meets your needs and how you use a computer – they are not the right for everyone, even if you can buy one for $199 to $249.

The biggest compliment that I can give my Chromebook is that I just use it.

Yes I just drafted this post in Google Drive’s Docs, cut and pasted it to WordPress.org’s blogwriter, took photos of my Chromebook with my HTC Incredible 2 Android smart phone, uploaded them directly from my phone to this post and published it to the web – All using my Chromebook.

Yes I can do this with other computers, but I prefer to do it with my Chromebook – thank you!

Moving to Different Web Address

Hi Everyone

I have decided to move this site to a different URL – I found a variation of my name and decided that I wanted to use that domain name for this blog, instead of the WordPress.com URL

You can find Old Guy Job Search here:

http://haroldlshaw.com/

I have looked to use my name in my URL, but when I tried variations of my name they were all taken, except this one and finally I thought that I had better take it before someone else does.

This way when people search my name on Google/Bing/Yahoo or whatever search engine they are using, if they type in my name it should come up, when I start to use Harold L. Shaw in more of my social media sites.

Thank you for your patience.

Old Guy Job Search?

Why the name – Old Guy Job Search?

It is the truth – the name of my blog describes exactly what I am doing.

  • Yes – I am turning 55 this summer. Many hear or see that number and believe it is old – it isn’t. Personally I just look at it as I have a lot to offer the right organization or employer.
  • I am looking for employment where I fit the culture and mission (philosophy) of an organization.
  • No – I am not looking for just another job.

My plans are to use this blog to document my job search efforts, give potential employers information they can use to help them decide that I am a great fit for their organization or company and give others who are older or Veterans ideas for their own job search.

What can you expect?

  • Glimpses into who I am.
  • The different things that I am doing as part of my job search.
  • That I am not some stuffy, old coot, who doesn’t have a sense of humor.
  • Discussing my strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes in the workplace.
  • Finally, that I am not always going to just do what the experts typically recommend during a job search, I have enough confidence in who I am and what I am looking for, to not always follow the expert’s advice and do what I believe is right for me.

What is important?

It is much more important to me that where I work next aligns with my values and is not just a place where I spend eight hours a day to earn a paycheck. If by publicly providing information on this blog, (like how old I am), allows a company to quickly determine that I am not what they are looking for, then that is okay, it saves us both time and effort.

However, my belief is that you will read things about me that will piqué your interests enough, to want to learn more about me and see how or where I would be a great fit for your team.

If you are interested in my qualifications and experience, please read my About Me page, go to my LinkedIn account, read my other blog “A Veteran Runnah” or better yet ask me by contacting me directly – by clicking here.

Thanks and welcome to my newest blog – “Old Guy Job Search”.

Stay Connected to Running-Even When Injured

Mike W over at Just a Little Run wrote a post Just a Little Run…: Making It Count., about what to do when injured and he offered a lot of great advice on things you can do while you are injured to stay active.

I added one more thing and I think it is an important one.

Stay Connected

(online or face-to-face)

Many runners when they are injured (whether it is running related or not) have the tendency to isolate themselves away from other runners and stop participating in a community that they were so active in before they were injured. Especially if the injury will mean a long period of not running.

Unfortunately, when they are injured many runners are thinking only about how their injury affects them (been there done that), not how they will be missed by the people they have become friends with and not how they can still contribute to the community they have been such a part of, even while they are injured.

Why

  • many are jealous of those who can run, when they can’t run and don’t want to be around people who can
  • no one “understands” how they feel about not being able to run (like nobody else has ever been injured)
  • don’t want to be a “burden” on others (you’re not)
  • don’t want to continually answer the question “When are you going to start running again?”
  • that people will get tired of hearing them whine about our injury (we understand – believe me we understand)
  • they no longer feel that we are part of the “group” if we can’t run (b.s.)

That is unfortunate, because when runners have an injury there is a process that we all seem to work through and a good blog post on those stages of injury is over at Shut up Run – Stages of Injury. Runners do need support (whether they want to admit it or not) in getting through those stages and getting back to the sport they loved so much.

Isolation

When a runner isolates themselves from their online or real life running support network:

  • it deprives the injured runner of one their natural running support networks that help them stay engaged with others who have the same interests
  • they lose contact with those who would stay positive about their return to running, even when the person doesn’t believe it will happen
  • they tend to be more pessimistic about whether/when and how they will get back to the sport
  • develop bad habits, i.e. eating, drinking, not doing anything at all to remain active, instead of what they can. Then find themselves completely out of shape in a relatively short time
  • they let go of the great friendships they have developed in that community
  • it takes them longer to return to the sport they loved so much
  • or worse the injured runner just completely leaves running
  • I am sure there are more, but this is a start to that list

These are all things that I have done and so have many other injured runners.

What can you do

You can sit back and become a couch potato, get fat, lazy and pessimistic about the future or you can make the best of a bad situation, pick yourself up, dust yourself and stay involved your running community.

What can an injured runner do to stay involved in running, even though they might be injured:

  • Volunteer to help out at local races, events, fun run or your local running club (help with registration at races or whatever you can do)
  • There are always online chats/hastags: #fitfluential #runchat #fitblog #runners #running and all the other online running forums to participate in.
  • help organize things for other runners, be part of the clean-up detail
  • if you have computer skills, blogging, know how to put together a webpage, use Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social media to  publicize the club and to attract new members, can help write a newsletter, etc. your local running club should be very interested in your help and you will be considered a very valuable asset to the club
  • figure out what other skills that you have, that can be a huge asset – carpentry, photography, writing, etc.
  • be part of a support team, I know of many times at local fun runs (back in the day), that injured runners would drive the “I’m done vehicle” for the other runners who couldn’t/didn’t complete a run. I have used that vehicle as a runner a couple of times during fun runs and it was a welcome sight. Just have some plastic bags to cover your seats – those damn sweaty runners.
  • if your friends are at a race and you haven’t volunteered to help, cheer your friends on in different parts of the race course (if possible) and be there at the end to help them out. You would appreciate it if the roles were reversed.
  • take lots of pictures of your friends running, races, fun runs, events, etc., they will tell you how horrible they look, but will still be thankful that you took the pictures of them in action and add them to their albums, blogs or however, they keep track of their photos.  Runners usually don’t have too many pictures of us running or at running events.
  • most of all stay our friend
  • An injured runner still has all that experience and knowledge that they gained while they were running and can continue to pass that knowledge on to other runners.

There are so many things that an injured runner can do to remain active in the running community and I am sure that you have more ideas to help injured runners stay active in the running community.

The reality is that

JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE INJURED DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU CANNOT REMAIN INVOLVED IN YOUR RUNNING COMMUNITY.

It totally sucks, to be injured and not be able to run whatever the reason (I was gone for almost 18 months this last time and it wasn’t even running related), but it doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to give to your fellow runners while you are injured.

You can exchange the word “runner” for any other activity you enjoy and continue to participate – this is not just about about running.

What do you think?

What do you think, should injured runners just fade away from the running community or should they continue to be active and vibrant members of that community, even if they can’t run?

Finally

If you are injured look closely at the things that Mike at Just a Little Run…: Making It Count says in his post – it is all great advice! But remember, it is also important to stay connected to others who share your interests, even when you can’t actively participate. You still have a lot to offer other runners even while you are injured.

Switching to WordPress.com

I am going to cut straight to it – here is my big announcement.

I have moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress.com.

What are you doing Shaw?

Harold weren’t you the original Blogger fanboy who always said so many good things about how flexible it was and how you liked it so much. Yep – that was me. I still think that Blogger is a fine Blogging platform, but I haven’t been happy with the looks of “A Veteran Runnah” when I used the Blogger Themes.

I have searched through over a thousand of the downloadable Blogger templates, finding around 50 that I have attempted to “go live” with on the blog.  Unfortunately, all the themes that I liked after viewing them on the blog have either had or developed problems.

It doesn’t really matter what the issue were, I don’t have the technical ability to fix them. It seemed like I was spending a great deal of time working on my themes, instead of writing posts – which is what I really want to do – just write.

I don’t want to have to mess around with re-coding, de-bugging a freemium theme or having the blog linking to sites that I don’t want it to.  I know – you get what you pay for.

That is why today I switched to WordPress.com. No I didn’t go the self-hosted route, after the fiasco I had with that the last time, I am simply not ready to try it again – at this time. Plus the costs of a self-hosted, plus a premium theme were not in the budget.

Benefits of moving to WordPress.com?

  1. I now have http://aveteranrunnah.com/ as my URL, to match my Blog’s name, so it will be easier to find me.
  2. The themes look better to me and although the choices are more limited, I have found a few that I really like and can dress them up enough to make them mine.
  3. The themes work and I don’t have to mess around with coding or de-bugging the theme for problems. I can just report it and it magically gets fixed :-).
  4. The blogwriter is superior in WordPress.com.
  5. Another reason that I acted so swiftly is because “A Veteran Runnah” was only a couple of months old and it was starting getting a little bit of traction, it is easy to do a move while the blog is relatively new than if it were more established.
  6. Blogging is what WordPress does, it is not just a minor part of a large Corporation.

There are others, but those are 4 major reasons that I switched.  What do I lose by making this switch – STATs, my pageviews will go down for a while until my readers get used to it and the search engines recognize the change.

Changing your blog host is a lot of work.

While importing the posts was very easy, now I have to go back and re-do all of my links to make sure they work correctly.

Ensure all the settings are correct.

Go to the Google and Bing Webmaster and Google Analytics sites to ensure they start indexing my new blog.

Add the WordPress.com site to Feedburner

Select the proper widgets

Get a header I can live with until I get a chance to create a really good one for “A Veteran Runnah”.

Along with a bunch of little things that you don’t think about until something you need or want is not there.

I will miss

The biggest thing that I am going miss is the ability to put Adsense on my blog. Not that is really a big deal, after 4 years of blogging, I am just over half-way to the Google disbursement level, it would only take another 2-3 years to reach it at the pace I was going. 🙂

The reality is that

while it was nice to think that I was making a few dollars a month or so, it was really a non-concern as part of the move and I have a feeling that some readers will like the ad-free look.

If I had waited any longer moving “A Veteran Runnah” would have only gotten more difficult.  It came down to do it now, if I am going to do it all.

Now that I have made the switch to WordPress.com – it is time to just write.

Karma and My Blog’s Theme Review

It is surprising how Karma works sometimes, when I wrote my Runners Have You Really Looked at Your Blog Lately last Saturday night, I didn’t realize how much that I would be talking about myself.  After a couple of people asked me to take a look at their blog, I thought that I better take a look at my own first.

I had recently switched back to an old theme that I really, really liked because the one I was using had a fatal flaw that I couldn’t correct. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the old theme’s fatal flaw – the page links did not work correctly.

This is the problem that I find with more than a few of the free Blogger templates that I have downloaded and tried – something usually doesn’t work or is missing and I don’t have the knowledge or ability to fix what is wrong. That is also why I seem to keep changing my blog themes so often. I know just enough to be dangerous.

So if you had been to my blog and attempted to go to any of the pages lately and couldn’t – I apologize.

Looking at My Own Blog

I might just as well put my money where my mouth is and review my own blog and reveal all of its warts – that I can see.

This is what is above the fold when my blog was first opened to do my review.
Overall First Impression
Boring is the first word that I use. Yes it has clean lines, but it is pretty evident that this is one of the Google themes that has been customized a little bit. It doesn’t have that “look” that sets it apart from other blogs. The theme is boxy and too square.

I will probably be looking for a better looking Blogger theme that works, unless Google gets going on their Dynamic views and gives us the ability to have sidebars with those themes. Like most everyone I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on a premium theme, so I do have to find one for free that everything works correctly.

Header
The header does not line-up like it is supposed to. The pictures are blurry instead of being crisp, the tagline is not current – it should read “Keep smiling and good things can happen :-)”.  To be honest this header is hastily put together and looks it. The header needs to be changed to something cleaner, so until I can create a header that looks great, I will leave it plain gray, which looks better than a bad header.
Readability
Good – Black lettering on white background
Color Scheme
Gray, white, dark blue, they all seem to work together, but the theme seems a bit dark. Probably need to lighten it up.
Post area
  • Adsense ad at the top has gotten a few clicks, so I want to leave that there. I really like a magazine style landing/home page, but unfortunately this template you have to manually create the page breaks to achieve this effect.
  • I don’t like the social media widget on the landing page, it is great for the post page, but would like to option of whether to show or not on front page – in my opinion it makes the landing page look cluttered.
  • Reduce the number of posts that are visible to correspond to the sidebars, so there is not a lot of empty space as the reader scrolls down.
  • Move the Amazon widget to the bottom post area, to present a cleaner look at the bottom of the blog.
Left Sidebar
  • Recent Picture – Personally, I believe that readers want to see the blogger(s) and that having your picture or an image that depicts you helps. This to me, gives the readers a quick sense of who the blogger is and if they are who they say they are and walk the walk, not just talk about it. Yes pictures can be doctored or look nothing like the actual person, but after a while, if the writer is not who they say they are, it gets figured out.
  • a quick blurb to let readers know what to expect when reading AVR.
  • an Adsense widget
  • 3 buttons of things that I belong to or am doing (when the doing is over, the button will be retired to a page that I am creating for that purpose).
  • DailyMile training widget – which helps remind me to log my run there and also lets readers know that I am still running. Just another way to show you are walking the walk. Also the edges of the widget are outside of the sidebar.
  • Popular Posts for the past 30 days – give the readers an opportunity to look at some of my other more popular posts.
  • Blog Archive – if a reader wants to quickly go back and see other posts that I have written. I have room to expand this to the open position and might do that now.

Right Sidebar

  • Search this blog widget – some users might use this if they are searching for a particular subject on my blog, put it up where it can quickly be found,
  • Contact me by email: I use Kontactr because it is easy to use and free. I don’t like publishing my email on my site if I don’t have to, this cuts down on spam emails. There are other email services you can use.
  • Follow me widgets for the social media sites that I participate on – unfortunately these are separate widgets for following me via RSS, Email Google Friend Connect, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.  I would prefer to have an all in one widget that looks better than a bunch of separate widgets. This is on my todo list.
  • Adsense widget – I have 4 ads on my blog and haven’t tried to over do them.
  • Blogs I Follow – I think it is important to share those blogs that you enjoy reading with others, not all the “experts” agree with this, but my blog my choice.
  • Feedjit widget – I enjoy seeing where people are coming from and when they were here, just me being nosy.  I decided to not use the popular world maps widget, since it didn’t really tell me a whole lot that Feedjit doesn’t.

Bottom Widget bar

I have to clean this area up, it is a place where I dump widgets I am not sure of keeping or are not working correctly and I need to fix them for my blog or widgets that I just can’t think where they actually belong end up here.

That was a quick review of my blog theme. I have a lot of work todo!  I am not crazy about the theme, but everything works and that is important. I have to figure out if I can live with this theme, until the sidebar is available in Dynamic Views themes or do I just go out and look for a great theme for Blogger?  Any suggestions?

The reality is that

everyone has their idea of what makes a great looking blog and what widgets you have in your sidebar. There is a great deal of personal choice in setting up your blog. However, if I hadn’t taken my own advice and gone through my blog to make sure that everything worked, I would still have a theme up that frustrates my readers when they clicked on the pages.

Todos

After doing this review I can see somethings that need to be improved, changed or gotten rid of.

  • Look at other 3 column themes
  • While I have this theme change the background page and borders, so it flows better and doesn’t look as boxy.
  • Create an appealing header
  • Fix DailyMile widget
  • Get rid of the 3 on the Google+ widget
  • Find an all in one follow-me widget that I like
  • Clean up the bottom widget area.

What did I miss?

This is your change to tell me thing you don’t like about this theme and offer come constructive criticism or welcome advice on things that a reader of this blog you would like to see me improve in my theme.

If you go back and look at your theme, did you find anything that didn’t work, you didn’t really like or just didn’t fit the direction you are going. Do your own blog review and then link back here, so we can see the improvements we are making in our blogs.

Thanks 🙂

Runners Have You Really Looked At Your Blog Lately

Most people seem to have one or the other –
there are others but these are the two most
popular blogging platforms.

I know that this is a weird post for a running/fitness blog, but runners or anyone really, if you have a blog – when was the last time you really looked at it?

– Does everything work – right?
– Can I easily subscribe to your blog?
– Do you have the same theme that you started with all those years ago?
– How do you think that a visitor sees your blog?

Okay Shaw what are you up to? Honestly I am probably going to put my foot in my mouth and piss a couple of people off, but other than that not too much.

I have gone through my feeds and I looked at a lot of blogs over the past couple of weeks. I have seen the full spectrum of blogs from the ones that are very visually appealing to the ones that – well to be honest looked like crap to me.  When I say a blog looks like crap it means that they are poorly thought out, cluttered and distracting me from reading a blog post.

Who Do I Think I Am?

I am not a professional blogger and certainly don’t have a lot of background in web or blog design, but have done this blogging thing for a little while and have developed a pretty good idea what a decent looking blog looks like and what doesn’t work all that well.

Unfortunately

Since I started this updating my feeds, I have come across a few blogs that to be honest turned me off so badly that I didn’t subscribe to their feed. Sometimes I didn’t even bother to try to read their posts, because I was so distracted by all the crap that they had on their blog.

Not Pro Bloggers

I know that most runners are not professional bloggers, web designers or have boatloads of money to go hire someone to make their blog look good – hell I am not and can’t either.  However, just because many of us don’t have the ability or money to do what we would really like to do with our blog’s appearance, it doesn’t mean that our blog’s shouldn’t look neat, clean and be somewhat visually appealing, have everything work correctly and be able to subscribe easily if they want to.

No One Right Way

Your blog is a reflection of who you are. What image do you project to your readers or potential readers? What image do you want to project? Are they the same?

Go to your blog and what is the first thing that you see when you land there?  How does it affect you, is it appealing or is it busy and cluttered? If this wasn’t your blog, would you like it?

There is no one right or wrong way to set up a blog, sometimes it is refreshing to see someone try something new or different, but there are surefire ways to drive people away from your blog and I saw too many that did that to me.

Advertising

One of the biggest problems I saw was how some bloggers were attempting to monetize their blog. They have so many advertisements, links, flashing ads, invitations to sign up for their page, or newsletter. Then they have a video that automatically starts, when I land on the site and other visual or audio distractions that make it so, I couldn’t focus on the blog long enough to read the posts.

It also takes so long to load some of these sites, that sometimes I thought that there was a problem with my browser.

Hell I understand wanting to make some money through your blog(s), but when you overdo it, I know that it turns me off.  If you want to make you blog look like the Sunday coupon section of the paper, go for it – it is your blog and your choice, but I probably won’t subscribe to your feed or purposely go back to your site again.

Then again that is just me.

There are ways to advertise on your site that are bit more subtle and give your readers a better visual experience when we visit your blog.  Do I expect everyone to stop advertising on blogs – hell no I don’t plan to. I am just asking you to stop and look at your blog to make sure you are seeing the same thing that your potential customers/readers are seeing.

Widgets

Then there were the sites who have sidebars and feels the need to add every sidebar widget they can find, using .GIF files and then don’t get rid of them when they have something else that does the same thing or heaven forbid they don’t need it. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to where the widgets are placed or why they are even a part of this blog. All of these widgets again, slow down your load times and can frustrate your readers.

Look closely at your sidebar and you should have a specific purpose or reason for each widget that you have there. If there isn’t one, why do you have that widget on your sidebar. After you do it once, go back and look at your widgets again and see if there are any questionable widgets left, why do you need them? If you really don’t get rid of them.

Badges

I know that we are proud of the races we have run, the distances we have completed, the “athons” we have participated in and all the awards that our blogs have won.  However, at what point can the badges be retired or added to a page that readers and blog owners can look at if we want to, instead of having them in the sidebar.  That doesn’t mean get rid of all of your badges, but take a look at them, which ones really matter to you and what ones are just there because you don’t have anyplace else to put them.

The reality is that

the blogs that are not visually appealing to me, are cluttered, way too freaking busy, don’t have any sense of what goes where and make difficult to focus on the reading (which is why I go to most blogs – to read the posts, not look at advertisements or cool widgets – even though sometimes I do see something that looks interesting or is cool), because so much is going on around it.

That is one of the reasons why I started using Google Reader so much, I don’t have to look at some of those blogs when I only want to read an article.

I am not an expert and I will be the first one to say it and I don’t mean to be critical of anyone else’s blog, because mine is nothing all that special either.

Just take a look

All I am asking is that you take a good long look at your blog and then look at it from the view of someone who just clicked a link and is arriving there for the first time. What kind of first impression is your blog going to make to that person.

Is your blog a reflection of you? Will it entice someone to stay and look around or will it confuse them and push them away.

Your Choice

How you setup and have your blog look is your choice. You have to decide if you are blogging for you or your readers, then you will have a better idea of how you will setup your blog.

I would never tell you how to set up your blog, but if it is not visually appealing or if it is too cluttered or distracting for me, I won’t be back.

Epic Internet Fail at Home 1/11/12

A new day dawning 🙂

We are experiencing an Epic Fail of the Internet at my house.

So I am just a little frustrated!

We were having some pretty significant issues with the Internet most of last night, being slow, browsers crashing and it just acting wonky (good technical term).

That isn’t good for someone who is trying hard to increase his web presence and get a blog off the ground that is just over a month old.

Last night I tried to get involved with a podcast that was being made, then “talk” on #fitblog’s weekly Twitter chat – on a topic that relates directly to what I am attempting to do and even when checking my email it was not working well.I just happened to be in the middle of a major site crash and subsequent re-design, when the Internet stopped working completely. Which really, really sucked and got my stress levels way up. After messing around for about 1/2 hour trying to get the Internet back I gave up.  I just went to bed feeling pretty frustrated and hopeful that it would be back up in the morning.This morning the router had the ugly orange light indicating “whoa boss no Internet yet”, verses of the beautiful blue one which tells me everything is okay and I can get back to work. Usually my TWC Internet has been very reliable and these outages only last a few minutes and are more of an inconvenience than a problem.Today it is a problem.

We called it in and during the conversation discovered that they had several calls of dropped Internet connections in our area. So it doesn’t appear to be a problem on our end (which I never thought it was). What is the most frustrating is that the soonest that they can get a service call out is sometime between 3 and 7 tomorrow afternoon and we have fairly significant snow storm coming in 6-12 inches – so I will be surprised if we see anyone from the cable company tomorrow.

This means for a few days we will not have Internet at the house which is a pain in the butt!

Especially when I know that people are visiting my site and it was in shambles – that is not the kind of impression that you want to leave an initial visitor or have your regular readers wonder what you are doing. I haven’t been able to respond to email, Twitter, Google + or Facebook or other social media sites I regularly haunt. I was able to go down to my local McDonalds, buy a cup of coffee and get the site back up, but things are still not where I want them to be.

I apologize, if you visited “A Veteran Runnah” and it didn’t work or look right for you.
You don’t stop and realize how much we as a society have come to rely on the Internet to communicate, work and just find out what is going on in the world – Until you don’t have it.It is making me reconsider having “everything” in the cloud and start using a few more of the desktop tools for Mail, RSS and Calendar then syncing with the Cloud.I hope that the Internet service, will somehow magically start working sometime today, when they get their servers back up.At least I don’t need the Internet to go for my run today, so I will be able to do that even it doesn’t come back up right away and help lower my stress levels a lot.

Technology is great when it is working the way you expect it to, but sucks when it doesn’t.Keep smiling and good things will happen! 🙂

Are You a Creature of Habit?

We are such creatures of habit.

Do you have a certain daily routine that you follow and when you are not able to follow it, you feel stressed out because of it.

I am very lucky my daily routine has evolved into a pretty consistent and comfortable one, where I go at my pace, while continuing to get a lot done.

This morning I had to get up at 5:30 A.M. to make sure that I got to the hospital for my Dad’s procedure. So everything felt rushed and hurried, until around 9:00 when I was able to sit down in the cafe, while Dad was in the operating room.

What is my daily routine?

Wake up between 7:00 and 7:30 A.M., talk about what has to be accomplished during the day and then I get up and do my morning weigh-in (something I find that I need to do as a part of my personal accountability).

After that I take Bennie for his first walk of the Day, about a mile. Actually I look forward to this walk, it gives me a chance to clear the cobwebs, see what the weather is outside and have a little time to myself.

When we get back, I prepare breakfast – it is something I can cook :-). Since I retired I think there have only been 3 days that I haven’t had this meal.

  • 1/4 cup Oatmeal
  • 1tsp of Cinnamon & Ginger
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 tbs Honey
  • a Banana
  • black coffee.

See I told you it was an easy meal to prepare – one that I can handle.  Yes I am boring, but this is something that I like and haven’t gotten tired of it yet.

I sit talk with TheWife, check email, look at Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc., comment on blogs I have read and begin writing the first blog post of the day. Sometime between 9:30 and 10:00 we decide who is going on Bennie’s long walk and do morning chores. Bennie’s long walk usually is around 3 miles. If I don’t go on the walk, I continue working on the blog post and then go for my run. If go on the walk I run after lunch.

Lunch is usually right around noon and consists of a salad and leftovers from whatever we had the night before with a cup of green tea. Yes I help with the prep work, especially when the garden is going and we have fresh from the garden salads.

After lunch is when we usually do chores or work that is needed around the house. If everything is caught up I do my RunLog blog post, check my social media sites. Do a run around 2:00 if I didn’t in the morning.

Somewhere around 4:30 we clean-up and get ready for supper. TheWife usually cooks and I try to stay out-of-the-way. Depending upon the time we finish, I either help with cleanup or do Bennie’s last 1/2 mile walk.

The rest of the evening, I am working on the blog, doing something with social media, reading and relaxing.

Usually we are in bed between 10:00 and 11:00.

This is a very flexible and low-key schedule with a bit of free time to relax a little, that has developed over the last six months. I have grown comfortable and accustomed to it and when I have to change it, I feel a little out of sorts.

The reality is that

I know that I am very lucky that my retirement allows me to have this level of flexibility, but how about you – do you have a daily schedule that you generally keep and when you have to change it, does it throw you out of sorts?

Do you just go with the flow of the day if your regular schedule changes or do you get all frazzled and stressed, especially if you can’t fit your run in.

Yes I packed my running stuff and after I leave the hospital today I plan to go for a run. How far will depend on how stressed I am when I leave. I am hoping it will only be the scheduled 4.0, but after being in a hospital most of the day, you never know, I might need more.

Make it Easier for Us to Subscribe to Your Blog

RSS Feed Icons

This week I did something that I needed to do, I deleted all of my Google Reader Subscriptions (feeds) and decided to start over.

Okay Shaw, “What are you doing this time?”

I had over 500 feeds in gReader and that was simply way too many! I didn’t really feel like going through them all individually and when you add in that there were a lot of subscriptions that were either inactive or that I didn’t really read anymore – it just seemed to me to make more sense to start over.

So the other night I did.

Interesting Pattern

When I did this and as began to add blogs back that I wanted to read, sounded interesting or that I had read before and enjoyed – an interesting pattern began to develop.

For just about half of the blogs that I was interested in subscribing to, it wasn’t easy to figure out how to subscribe to that blog!

There were no RSS feed subscription icons or links in the sidebar or at the top of the blog. I had to either cut and paste the subscription into my gReader or try to use the RSS subscription tool in Chrome which causes my browser to crash.  To say that I got frustrated would be an understatement.

It got to the point where if a blog didn’t make it easy to subscribe I didn’t.

RSS Feed Icon

The above RSS Icons are a bit fancier than the basic one here, but somewhere above the fold on your blog, there should be a RSS subscribe icon or a link for readers to be able to easily subscribe to your blog/feed.

Other Types of Feeds

Many blogs only had the Blogger Friends or the Networked Blogs sidebar widgets, which I choose not to use most of the time.  I cannot back up my feeds using these methods if I want to move my reader to something other than gReader or if something happens I can just re-load my feeds), so unless I have a specific reason for using that widget – I usually don’t.

RSS is not Dead

In spite of what some people say RSS is not dead and is still used by a lot of us out here.  We are another source of readers for your blog and shouldn’t be ignored.

Subscribe to Your Blog’s Feed

My suggestion, recommendation, and/or plea is that you go to your blog and actually subscribe to your own blog now. If it was easy for you, it probably will be easy for your readers.

However, if you have a difficult time subscribing to your own feed, think about how hard it is for your readers and do something about it.

The advice I have always seen is that you should put the subscription button or information above the fold and if you are a little more aggressive, at the bottom of each post.  Where you put your subscription information is up to you, but if you don’t make it easy for me or others, we won’t subscribe to your blog.

Don’t rely on the Reader

You shouldn’t rely on me or other readers to make it easy to subscribe to your blog, it is the blog’s owner’s responsibility to make it easy for the reader to subscribe to their blog or feed.

Email Subscribers

Some people still like to get your blog subscriptions in their email, if that is the case, please make it easy for us to subscribe that way as well.  I still use this method for certain blogs that I really want to keep up with, so while I might be a bit old school, I know that I am not alone.  Is it quick and easy to subscribe by email to your blog?

A Bit of a Rant

Sorry if this sounded a bit like a rant, but many of you have blogs that I want in my Google Reader and unfortunately you didn’t make it easy for me to do so.

The reality is that

perhaps your blog was one of these blogs and I am missing reading the important things that you have to say in your blog now, only because you didn’t make it easy enough for me to subscribe to your blog.

I know that I am going to go back in and re-do my sidebar widgets to make it easier for people to subscribe to my blog after this week.

Go take a look at your blog, you might be surprised.