April 6, 2015

  • Using 2.0 - embedding videos...

    For those that aren't used to using wordpress, I was asked to make some posts to help get more folks acclimated to operating this platform...

    Much of what is shared here can be found elsewhere online - in wordpress forums and the like... so it's not anything new...

    But, since we're more accustomed to things Xanga 1.0 - might be good to have something to help translate...

    Today's post is in reference to the following link: https://en.support.wordpress.com/videos/youtube/

    To share a video off of youtube, for example, just put in the URL, but make sure it's NOT hyperlinked.  The platform will take care of the rest.

    There are other ways to format the video for your post - as the article will show.

    Yep, that's it.

    Feel free to chime in with your tips, ideas, questions, etc...

    Embed away... :)

April 4, 2015

  • It's April - Autism Awareness Month... and something else...

    These past few weeks I've been tackling a few things around our home...

    From trees being removed, to putting up new fences, spring cleaning, and getting things ready for the end of the school year.

    These, along with the usual online stuff I normally do, it's been busier than normal.

    But I like doing things that are constructive and keep me moving and active, don't you?

    I have a serious challenge remaining still for too long.  It frustrates me when I need to keep still.  But sometimes sitting still allows us to reflect on things a bit more... so I remind myself.

    In any event, here's a couple of things to keep on the lookout for:

    April is Autism Awareness Month, so there's going to be some posts about that topic this month.   I am encouraged that the folks at www.playingforchange.org will be doing a bit of collaboration for the series we're working on for The Autism Channel.   Here's one of their music videos...

    For something a bit more Xanga related, expect some announcements soon - as some testing is already being done on a couple of new features to be launced.  One has been requested by many folks since the launch of 2.0. :)

    Ok, back to the grind....

March 26, 2015

  • The Bigger they are, the Harder they Fall

    It took 10 years to find the right company to fell a tree that was between our home, and that of our neighbors.

    Why so long?

    Cost.

    We sought over 13 quotes to get all of our trees trimmed, and to take care of a very large willow oak.

    Who did we end up going with?   Our 14th quote - Atlantic Arbor.

    It's a small company with a small team of dedicated guys who took their time taking down each limb piece by piece... for three days.

    Here is the final epic cut....

    https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=952429304770165

    Now that the tree is gone, a new fence is up - and I've been cleaning up the yard ever since.
    (we also got a lot of firewood out of this deal)

    Ok... back to work... (house work/ yard work... and online work)

     

March 5, 2015

  • SonRise Music Festival

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    This past week I was asked to head up the social media side of the SonRise Music Festival.

    The official 'title' provided to this volunteer opportunity is Social Media Director.

    The SonRise Music Festival is a 3 day praise and worship session that includes top Christian Music artists and ministries that come together on the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach, VA.  The heart of this organization is to address homelessness.

    It's an annual event, and this year it's dates are scheduled for June 12th, 13th and 14th.

    Last years event included such artists as "Switchfoot", "Sonicflood" and "Francesca Battistelli" amongst several others.
    I'm looking forward to sharing this years line up - but first I've been focusing on updating all of their social media outlets and doing the usual prep work for what's coming down the line.

    An event like this is actually an answer to prayer, in that I needed some experience like this to learn more about putting on an event.

    So, if you have an interest in this project - and are on some social media outlets - here are the links:

    Main Website: http://www.sonrisemusicfestival.com/
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sonrisemusicfestival
    Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/sonrisefestival
    Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sonrisefest
    Stay tuned, as ticket sales will be announced soon (with early bird specials)... along with who's performing, etc...

    Until later....back to the grind...(with more Xanga and Autisable updates)

March 2, 2015

  • Jimmy Moore - Livin' La Vida Low Carb

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    Ok, what in the world am I doing talking about this guy?

    Well, let me do a bit of an introduction, first.

    I worked with Jimmy back in the mid-late 90's.   Jimmy, at the time, was a big dude.   Let's just say that when I say I'm a big guy at 6'4" and 343 lbs... Jimmy was even bigger.
    (here's a link to his site that shares his story more:  http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/about-2 )

    Back in the 90's I was in a lot better shape, around 260 lbs and very fit.   That's what happens when one gets older and also sits on his but for about a decade doing desk work... but I digress.  (and Yes, I'm working on my lifestyle changes)

    But Jimmy had his own share of challenges, and his wife was one of my co-workers/employees at the warehouse where I worked.

    One of the nicest couple's that I know, Jimmy and Christine are always a joy to be around.   Then they moved away from Virginia and began a different journey.

    I caught up with Jimmy awhile back, and he lost a LOT of weight.  About 180 lbs.   He's actually smaller than me!!!  (ugh... talk about some competitive motivation)
    This past week he asked me to help him out with some social media tweaking, to help him streamline some things.

    He did have two facebook pages, and some cross-promotional apps needed to be applied to his facebook page.
    So, I'm helping him out a little.

    Merged both his facebook pages, added some apps, and I am helping to get him up to speed on some social media/website stuff.    Hey, it's what I do. :)

    But, Jimmy is very active online - and interactive with his audience and the people who like what he's shared about eating healthy.   He's written several books, gone on many speaking engagements, been on TV - and practices what he preaches - cause its worked for him!

    So, here's his tweaked Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/livinlowcarbman

    Nice to be able to help out a good friend.   And for those interested in what he's sharing - check out his website as well: http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/

    I'm glad I have the opportunity to help him out... and to share his story.

    Until later... back to the grind....

  • Getting Back to Routine

    As an Autism Parent, routine is one major issue that is a must to maintain.

    Whenever anything changes routine, the challenges associated with that change can include potential destruction.

    After two weeks of schedule changes with Short Stacks school being closed due to 'snow days' - today was the first day in getting back into routines.
    That, along with the weather changes and his 12 year molars coming in... it's been a rather fun-filled couple of weeks.

    Let's just say that I'm going to be getting some serious dry-wall technique practice in over the next few weeks.   (OH JOY!)

    I have, however, been able to start the first of several expected rewrites to my book about being an Autism Dad.     So that's some good news.
    In other good news, I was asked to be the Social Media Director for a non-profit called SonRise Music Festival.   It's a local ministry that brings in top christian musicians/bands for several days of performing at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  I'll share more about that project soon enough.  Although helping SonRise is a volunteer gig, it's a good cause.

    This past weekend I was also able to actually get paid in helping a friend get his social media back on track. (More an that down the road as well).

    Autisable is making serious progress, mostly in the series we are developing for The Autism Channel.  We have almost all the initial content available for the first 3 episodes, so it's now time to set up a meeting with the studio to get things moving along.

    Now, Coolmonkey and Soullfire shared a lot of direct questions that needed to be answered by John at Xanga.  I expressed to John that if we got those questions addressed/answered, then many in the community would be very grateful.    I also shared with him some of the other questions that we need to really take care of  as well.  In short, that we need to get back to a routine of making serious progress on the site.  John completely agreed....

    As of late last week, he shared with me that he's "Been getting a ton done lately"... and he's "trying to get an update for us that's more substantive, as requested."

    I did dump a lot more on him than just what Soullfire and Coolmonkey have been bringing up - but expressed that their issues with what has been going on needed to be answered.

    Rest assured that my goal as community liaison is to build a bridge of communication on both sides.   I'm a conduit of information from the team to the community... and from the community to the team.

    I've heard many positive things about what is going on.... and of course the worst of the worst.

    That being said, Xanga is still moving forward.

    I was also asked in previous posts/comments to provide some how to's on working with Xanga.   I am trying to get back into a routine, but will see if I can find some wordpress related videos and links to share to get people started.   Since we are, after all, powered by wordpress - much of how to manage Xanga will be very similar for the time being.

    For things that are Xanga specific, I'll see about doing some basic how to's to get folks started.   As things are apt to change, I wouldn't want to focus on too many how to posts as that might cause confusion down the road.

    So, in terms of immediate need on 'how to do something with Xanga 2.0'.... what would be your top two priorities?

    Until later... back to getting things into routine. :)

February 19, 2015

  • Some Updates

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    I've been so focused on getting Autisable ready, that I haven't had a chance to really address this blogs look and feel.

    This theme is what was transferred from Xanga 1.0.  And although I'm not one for a lot of change, I'm ready for when theme's become available and I can modify/update my xanga blog.

    I appreciate Eugenia for helping to get this blog at least presentable.   The old Brain Fried Network header that barelyjen created all those years ago is still here, although that website has been down for some time.

    That's the era of websites, when they work - you stick with them... when they don't, you move on.

    For me, I see Xanga moving forward.  Is it as fast as I expected it to be?  No, of course not.   But it's good to know it's still around and the team is working on improvements.

    I've always viewed the initial upgrade of utilizing wordpress as changing the foundation of a building.   With the framework, the steel beams and walls, being the upcoming theme system.   This is aspect of dealing with features that the team is on right now.

    From my conversations with John, he wants to push out some updates that we can actually see.   Which I think is a good thing, and to which I'm sure many people will say, "about dang time."

    It was pretty cool this past week that a reporter from the Washington Post highlighted Xanga has one throwback site that still around.

    Some folks in my last few updates and in messages have asked me to share on this blog what we share on Xanga's facebook page.

    I do have some good news on that note, and it doesn't require me to keep track of all the posts on the page to share on my blog...

    Now, for those who aren't on facebook - you can still view Xanga's facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/xanga without an account.

    You don't have to have an account on facebook to see all the updates we're posting.  The only thing you are unable to do is comment/like or share those updates.  We are currently making all facebook posts public, so as to make sure everyone can see all posts on the page, regardless if they have a facebook account or not.

    I am coordinating with The Xanga Team as to find and locate active bloggers on the site, and will be sharing their Xanga blog posts on the facebook page.   Even though you may not have an account on the facebook page, you can still click those links and still be connected to Xangans. :)

    This level of sharing will be much easier for us to do, rather than trying to get all status updates in a single post.   It will also allow everyone to see comments on the page, even though you may not be able to comment.

    Think of it as treating the Facebook page as Xanga's main page where bloggers posts are highlighted, at least until the team updates the main page.   Also, based on previous blog posts and conversations with John - the front page of Xanga is expected to be managed by xangans.

    There are some challenges with sharing content from xanga blogs onto Xanga's facebook page  - so I'll name a few:
    1.  many folks have followers lock on their blog.  this means that if you have your account settings are adjusted that only followers can see your blog, don't expect your blog to be shared on Xanga's Facebook page.   Beyond that, don't expect any new people visiting your blog either.   Adjust your settings if you want more people to see what you're writing/sharing.

    2. some folks have sign-in lock turned on.   This means that someone has to be signed into Xanga in order to see your blog posts.  Again, this is fine if you like Xangans to visit your blog (upgraded xanga accounts or not), but it also means we can't share your content via the Xanga Facebook page - as the blog doesn't appear on Facebook and therefore a challenge to share it to more xangans/general public.

    3. add media to your blog - search for a relevant picture for your blog post.  This is an option, but a visual prompt with a blog gets more attention then just the words.

    Use of the facebook page will change over time, but being that I'm not the only one managing the page - it will provide an opportunity for everyone to see what's going on in a real time fashion, and not have to wait on me to provide an update.

    Please let me know if you have any further questions/concerns.

    ----------Update------------

    Here's the settings in your dashboard to adjust if you want to change them...

    Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 4.14.05 PM

February 12, 2015

  • Taking the right Steps

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    In John's latest post he discusses the teams efforts in choosing the right theme system.

    Here's the link to his post:  http://thexangateam.xanga.com/2015/02/11/what-weve-been-learning-about-themes/?

    The theme of a site is how a site looks and feels, and a theme system is the framework by which most everything else revolves around.

    This step is extremely important in site development, as the current major theme systems on the market each have pros and cons.   John did mention a few in his post.

    What we are using now with Xanga is the default theme system that came out of the box with a self-hosted wordpress site.   As many have shared in FB groups and on the Xanga FB page (along with this blog) - they are not thrilled at all.    After all, the default theme system we are using is nothing but what is used on a basic default wordpress website.

    The issue with choosing and selecting what theme system will work best depends on what direction we as a community want to use the site for, and how we want to manage our own blogs.

    How pages are displayed, how we manage our blogs - and what other plugins (or features) we apply to the site from here on out  - needs to be compatible with the framework that is being selected/applied to the site.

    As John shared in his post, the Xanga team is researching which theme system may work best, as some are more about flexibility and others for ease of use.

    Personally, I like a balance between flexibility and ease-of-use.     But I tend to venture more on the ease-of use side, with the option to add CSS/HTML in a module for a section on my blog.    This, in my opinion, is what Xanga 1.0 had available... at least for premium members.

    Being able to adapt my blog how I see fit, and maintain a strong level of connectivity to others on the platform, is something that I think made 1.0 ... well, what we miss.

    I like setting up my blog for long term use, and updating a section or two for seasonal and/or special reasons.   In short, I don't like to change things up on my blog all the time.   I've found that blogs that change their look and feel a lot tend to confuse me.  Am I on the same persons blog that I visited last week? or is this a new person?    Stability in my sites look and feel is a part of branding I'd like to have some ease in managing.   I'd also like to add HTML/CSS to my blog, especially pertaining to advertising or getting paid to do something.  After all, that small level of flexibility would allow me to earn a bit of revenue.  If anything, to at least cover an annual cost or two for myself and others.

    But again, it all begins with the theme system.... and which one that is available that could be adapted to our purpose on Xanga 2.0 the best.

    It is a lot of research, and to be honest - I've only done a cursory amount on the topic.

    For those interested in this topic, here are some articles online that might prove interesting:

    http://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-choose-a-wordpress-theme/ 

    http://www.websitegeographer.com/wordpress-theme-blog/

    http://www.wpexplorer.com/simplify-presence-wordpress-products/

    http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/genesis-framework-review/

    http://www.sitepoint.com/4-popular-wordpress-theme-frameworks/

    http://athemes.com/collections/best-wordpress-theme-frameworks/

    Of course it's a lot of information to take in, and I'm sure John and the Team are pouring over a lot more information then I could even think of.

    Addressing a theme, therefore, isn't just about formatting and how the site looks and feels... it's about the future of Xanga.

    Any insight on this topic is always welcome.   I'm personally looking more at the Genesis framework...

    But who knows, the team might take notes that attribute the best parts of each system... and design one that is more secure then any of the others.

    Do you prefer ease of use? or would you prefer more flexibility in managing your blog?

    (already several good comments on The Xanga Team's update about this topic)

February 7, 2015

  • Forward Motion in Spite of Setbacks

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    Every project that I've ever been a part of has had its fair share of set backs.

    Set backs are present for a reason.   The biggest one is to accept that they happen and to learn from them.

    So long it is learned why set backs may happen in situations, then further progress can be made and forward motion on the project can still happen.

    It can be heart wrenching to be a part of a setback.   After all, if you put a lot of energy into a project just to find out that it isn't working or there is delay after delay...  one can feel rather drained on wanting to have anymore to do with it.

    Although Xanga has had it's own series of setbacks, John and the Team are still moving forward.   I know personally of at least 20 messages these past couple of weeks from people who want to regain access to their xanga blog, and a few more who wanted to upgrade their account.   Of course I share that people really need to contact the team at 'help@xanga.net' with their username and e-mail address associated with the account, and it moves on from there....

    For the most part,  my involvement with Xanga has been minimal for the past few weeks.  Mainly pointing people to the e-mail address and doing a few FB page updates.  Been fun working on Xanga's Facebook page, especially putting up some of latest posts. :)

    As it's now February, a change in thought happened.  At least with me it has....

    There are a few thousand people still very active on private facebook groups.   There are also some Xangans that are very active on Xanga - but their privacy settings are as such that I can't just share their content unless people are signed into their account.

    I know people are active on the site still.   I read it regularly everyday when I log into my account.  I also understand that people like to have some control over their privacy.

    It's the latest thing to highlight about Xanga.  Not much, I know.  The community still the people, not the software we miss.   There's at least 10 or more Xanga FB groups, with many being private.   But what if everyone just got active on Xanga's FB page rather than those groups?

    Who'd be interested in helping to make the Xanga Facebook page better?

    In any event, progress is being made.   John is working on his next Xanga Team update - should have it very soon.

    Until later... back to the grind.

January 20, 2015

  • Yeah, I'm on Instagram Too

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    If you're already connected to me on Xanga, you may also be connected to me on Twitter and Facebook as well.

    But, I'm also on Instagram.

    For the most part I share pictures I take with my Smartphone while I'm on my daily walks.   Above is one of the pics.

    Please take a moment to follow me... and I hope you like the pics.