Welcome to The Blog Report

I'm so glad you stopped by and hope you find this blog an interesting read. I've been blogging since April of 2006, currently the author of six public and two private blogs. In the beginning I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. Over the years through trial and error, frustration and elation, and a few tears I've learned a lot. However, the learning process when it comes to blogging continues to evolve. Here you will find a hodge podge of my blogging experiences, useful codes and how-tos, sprinkled liberally with my opinions. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Naming Images for Use on Blogs

I came across an interesting article dealing with search engine optimization quite some time ago.  One point that was mentioned was the naming of images for use on blogs.  Digital cameras usually give a name for the image that reflects the number of the picture for ordering purposes.  For example P1180592.jpg is an image downloaded from my camera.  This name is useless for search engines.  It says nothing as to what the content of the picture is.  Someone looking for what the picture depicts is not going to search for that number they are going to search by the name of the content.  This photo is a picture of garlic and herb mashed potatoes.  When I edited the image, I named the image garlicherbmashed.jpg and added the alt="garlic and herb mashed potatoes".  Now if someone is doing an image search for garlic and herb mashed potatoes, my image will show in the results resulting in the potential of that reader clicking the image to read more about it.  Using descriptive names and alt tag  for images used on blogs will help generate more organic traffic.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Lookback at 2011 That is Quickly Coming to an End

Oh my gosh, I can't believe 2011 is quickly coming to an end.  Looking back at the start of 2011 I had such high aspirations for blogging.  My goal was to have a daily post for each of my six blogs but somewhere along the line life happened.   I was injured and laid up for a couple of weeks, discovered Facebook games, had the house on the market, hubby was quite sick for awhile,  finally moved and now am just getting back into blogging gear.  The fact is life happened and despite my blogging aspirations, they didn't happen.  I don't think I did too bad but I did not reach my goals.  I will continue plugging along, hoping to get my blogs back to daily posting and so it goes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Power of Blogging

As a blogger we have a lot more potential at reaching a wider audience then ever imaginable.  In fact our audience is worldwide.  This comes with great responsibility but at the same time can be put to good use to find missing children, capture criminals, and even out shady business deals.  I purposely have an Amber Alert ticker on two of my blogs for missing and exploited children.  Blogger can have raised funds for charity events, spread the word about events others are interested in and served to warn others of devious or unethical practices all for nothing.  Bloggers don't get paid to do this, they do so simply because they love blogging and quite frankly the blog fodder doesn't hurt either. 

On a personal note I seriously detest telemarketers so I have no problem blogging about them.  A few months ago and despite blocking every number they used Centennial Windows got through once again.  I called them back, blocking my number to tell them I was on the Don't Call List aka joke of a list by the CRTC, reamed them out without giving my phone number, filed a complaint with the CRTC then blogged about it complete with their phone numbers.  Hmm, a couple of days later and checking my stats I noticed the CRTC had been poking around but we haven't had a call from them since.  Today, I walked to the grocery store.  I am making a point to find some excuse to walk daily so anyway on the way back I dang near got ran over by a lady texting while driving.  That is illegal in Ontario.  The next time this happens and there will be a next time because some people feel they are above the law I am seriously going to blog their license plate number!  Perhaps through the power of blogging there will be less telemarketers and idiots, not likely but it could happen ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Ever Present Spam Folder

Very few can get away without having a spam folder on their email account.  If you have any kind of online presence you have spam.  Spam arises from spammers deliberately harvesting your email address.  As soon as you use your email address it's out there.  We tend to keep our email address through our ISP offline as in not used on forms unless we know who we are dealing with.  The problem is some businesses sell their email lists while innocent friends or family hit reply to all without hiding the email address so despite the best of intentions, a private email address does get out there for spammers.  With any luck though, your primary email address through your ISP can be kept relatively spam free. 

For most online activity I use Yahoo and Mail.com both of which have nice, customizable spam filters.  Even Blogger has nice spam filtering abilities for comments.  The problem with spam filters is sometimes they catch false positives meaning a message gets marked as spam and is diverted to your spam filter even though it is not spam.  It is important to go through your spam folder on occasion just to be sure.  Remove any message that is not spam and delete the rest.  I find it easier if I don't let the spam folder get much more than 100 messages which takes about a week on Yahoo.  Simply deleting the spam folder without scanning through it could mean you miss good blogging opportunities as advertising offers are quite often diverted to your spam folder.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reported Entrecard Problems

Close on the heels of CMFAds closing down, many bloggers are reporting a lot of problems with Entrecard.  They either can't log in to their accounts or the widget is showing connection errors.  One comment I read said the owners of Entrecard didn't care.  Well, why should they?  Let's think about it, Graham aka Asshat  aka diaper boy came so bloody close to losing Entrecard a little over three years ago.  I left Entrecard during that fiasco and haven't looked back.  The problem is Entrecard has always been a glorified traffic exchange meaning it is quite contrary to Adsense TOS.  It still is and is definitely grounds to get your Adsense account cancelled.  But Entrecard with it's 300 drop per day policy in order to get the most hits back to your account is mind numbing, robotic like traffic driving, let's increase our bounce rate traffic.  Quite frankly three years ago I was routing for Graham to go belly up but these new investors who seem to know nothing about blogging took over so they have managed to keep Entrecard afloat long enough to milk a bit of money off of bloggers so now they don't give a hoot.  They've made their money and it's time to move on.  I feel sorry for the bloggers relying on Entrecard for traffic but in reality their time would be best spent elsewhere.  There are so many ways to build blog traffic without the time commitment of Entrecard so I don't understand why other bloggers don't use them.  Ah well, at least Entrecard is not my problem.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shake it Off

We bought our first computer, an Amstrad in 1989 shortly after I started university as an adult student.  Our kids were well versed using computers but not us and I refused to give up my electric typewriter in favour of the fancy new word processor.  It wasn't long before I ran into a course where computer use was mandatory so I struggled learning the ropes of Pine, Archie, saving files and that type of thing.  It was bad enough on the computers in the library with black screens and green text but the Macs in the computer lab were a whole new ball game.  Meanwhile at home I began to do a bit more experimenting on the Amstrad, discovering a whole new world via Internet in a Box.  Back then even the chat rooms and newsgroups were kinder and gentler but trolls did exist.  Fast forward to current times and trolls are everywhere with newsgroups and forums over run with them.  Surprisingly they have spilled over to blog comments as well.

The recommendation is to have contact information on your blog so a reader can contact you should they wish not to leave a comment.  I fail to see why someone would prefer to contact you privately but I can see a benefit with respect to advertisers and special offers.  The problem is some use your contact information simply to send a nasty message simply because they can and the fact is some people feel they can be as nasty as they want online because no one can do anything about it.  My blogs are not controversial enough to attract much in the way of nasty comments but I've heard some bloggers have a real problem with this type of thing especial those writing about religion or politics.

There's a saying on newsgoups - Don't Feed the Trolls!  The best response to these types of comments is no response.  If there is no response the troll quickly moves on to pester someone else.  Shake it off and don't let it bother you.  Put the comment in the trash where it belongs.  If at any time a commenter becomes agressive or threatening, report them to their ISP.  You can usually track them down via your stats.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monetizing Your Life

I came across a rather interesting question while bloghopping a couple of days ago.  The question was "Is it right to monetize your life?" obviously meaning via blogging but not really clear.  There are a couple of problems with question with the first being anytime the word 'should' is used it becomes an ethical or moral issue.  The second problem is ever since mankind came to be humans have been selling themselves in one or more ways - physically, emotionally, intellectually.  The workforce depends on the selling of manual and/or intellectually abilities.  The employee sells his/her services while the employer buys these abilities.  It's a commodity all based on supply and demand!  So let's assume the person asking the question was implying earning money from a blog that talks about your daily life, your kids, your family and you know the things you feel like blogging about.

Well here, in my opinion the waters get a bit muddied and yet making money from your 'life events' is not a new concept either.  If it were, all those nice afternoon talk shows (eg. Jerry Springer, Oprah, and etc.) would never have become a hit.  The people sharing on those types of shows certainly were not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts.  They were compensated and quite generously in many cases.  If selling your life story that ultimately includes parts of your daily life were not acceptable, autobiographies would not exist.  The tabloids wouldn't exist and the paparazzi who revel in revealing ever single little detail about the lives of the rich and famous would be out of a job.  This past year I was following the Casey Anthony trial, a very sad case that will at some point go to print with one or more of those involved profiting from telling their story and you can bet it will be rather down to the daily comings and goings leading upto and after the death of little Caley Anthony.  People have a natural, almost morbid curiosity about the lives of others because it makes their lives seem not quite so bad. 

In light of that, bloggers who blog about tidbits of their lives and receive a little and I do mean little compensation for it are doing nothing wrong as long as they are doing so in good taste.  The only ones that bother me are some of the mommy bloggers who really are exploiting their kids with current pictures of them posted almost daily which has the potential for further exploitation via those who wish to do harm.  Other than that, saying we stopped here for dinner then writing a mini critique can be rather benign.  On the other hand there is the issue of too much information such as blogging you are away from home or home alone.  If you want to blog about these type of things it's best to blog about them after the fact.

The bottom line is I don't feel that monetizing your life via a blog is wrong depending on how it is done.  Using your blog to exploit others for financial gain is ethically, morally and may even be legally wrong but that is a whole other issue...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Happens to a Blog When the Blog Author Passes Away?

Life happens so it goes without saying that sometimes a blogger (blog author) passes away so what happens to their blog?  Technically, unless there are extreme circumstances and even if there are the blog host does not have to remove the blog.  A couple of years ago I came across a blogger who had committed suicide.  It was a very sad case.  She had blogged about her emotional pain right up to the point of death.  Despite pleas from her family, the blog host refused to take down the blog.  The reason being unless the blogger gives direct authorization in the even of their death or has left the login information with a trusted friend or family member, the blog host does not have the right to remove the blog providing it is following the TOS. 

The easiest way for a blogger to deal with this issue if he or she wants their blogs removed is to leave detailed instructions complete with the login information with a trusted friend, family member or lawyer who can either delete the blog or set it to private for family members only.  I will stress trusted as I know of one case where the blog was to be deleted upon death but the person trusted with this task actually took Otherwise the blog remains as is, simply not being updated.  At some point, readership will drop to zero but that is no guarantee especially if there is good content that warrants the attention of search engines.  In short, the blog simply becomes part of the vast number of blogs in the blogosphere that have died off for any number of reasons including being abandoned.