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.

January 14, 2015

  • Win an Xbox One from @GuardianLocate

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    Ok, so who is Guardian Locate - and what is this all about?  and why did I post this on my Xanga blog to be promoted everywhere?

    First:

    Guardian Locate is a company that provides business and personal tracking systems.  This includes GPS tracking.
    They are also an advertiser for Autisable.com.  One major reason that Autisable's logo is on this Giveaway/campaign.

    Wandering/Elopement in the Autism community is as high as 50%.   Some of those who wander make their way into the news, with the most undesired outcome.
    Many tracking systems that are on the market are rather expensive to the average Autism family, and Guardian Locate wants to make a difference.

    They will be launching an indiegogo campaign to help keep costs low.   Of course there are countless investor's willing to be a part of the company, but many of those investor's worry about 'the bottom line' as to what they will be making.  Once the crowdfunding campaign is launched, I'll be sharing that as well.

    The heart of those who have founded this company is to help save lives.   They have partnered with Project Lifesaver International - a long established organization that works with First Responders worldwide - to bring about the best in tracking technology and training -to help find lost loved ones.

    Second:

    Autisable is currently being worked on to relaunch.  Right now the Xanga team is addressing the theme of the site, and also how to manage ads on the site.... along with other Xanga related issues as previously discussed.

    Normally this is something that would be an Autisable blog - but being that the Xanga community has been such an integral part of Autisable coming this far, and with the support of The Xanga Team - I'm sharing this beyond the Autism community at large.

    As an added note - wandering/elopement also impacts families dealing with Alzheimer's.   By reaching beyond the autism community and through any other outlet - we can help both major communities dealing with Autism and Alzheimer's.

    And Lastly:

    The other logo's on the picture above relate to:
    - 'Lost and Tired'... a dad with three children with who are on the Autism Spectrum (and who is a co-founder of Guardian Locate)..

    - 'Fun and Function' - a collaborative company providing tools and toys to help the special needs community.

    To kick things off, Guardian Locate is doing an Xbox One giveaway!

    This is a means by which you can win an Xbox without paying or contributing money, and at the same time help share with everyone what great things Guardian Locate is doing!

    Who knows, in the process of you sharing and trying to win an Xbox - you may be shining the light on a product that could help a family dealing with Autism or Alzheimer's in saving a lost loved one.

    Click here for details and to enter for your chance to win an XBox....

    http://www.guardianlocate.com/2015/01/win-a-free-xbox-one-game-console-from-guardian-locate/

    Thank you for participating, and good luck!

January 6, 2015

  • Back from the Holiday's

    Hello everyone, and welcome back from the Holiday's... and Happy New Year!

    It isn't that I really went anywhere during the Holiday's - but rather that due to family scheduling I wasn't able to be online that much to blog and update various sites.

    Life does that - doesn't it?  You try and plan to address several things, but those curve balls called life moments swing on by and priorities take over.

    In any event, I'm back.

    I did receive word that the Themes and some programming for Autisable are continuing to progress and I should receive an update soon.

    I will be following up with John to see if there is any major updates with Xanga,  and will advise accordingly once anything new has happened.

    While things are moving forward with Autisable's relaunch, we're also double checking to make sure all social media outlets are geared up and ready to roll, along with an e-mail campaign to reach out to all the syndicated bloggers and organizations we've been working with over the years.

    On that note, I'll also be updating my personal social media accounts as well this month.

    There is one thing that is needed ...  content for Xanga's facebook page.

    So, if you have a link that you'd like to be shared on Xanga's facebook page - please feel free to share it. (and please make sure it's safe for work viewing/reading)

    Have a great day!

December 11, 2014

  • Communication is a Dialogue

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    Our need as a species to communicate is within our genetics.

    We all want, and desire, to be heard and to be understood.  In short, we want to be accepted.

    But while many people are talking and yelling, other folks are thinking of what to say.

    This begs the question - is anyone really listening?

    I remember as a child my parents telling me that there is a big difference between hearing someone, and listening to someone.

    Hearing is equated to a sound, in that anyone can say, "I hear you.".

    But listening requires comprehension and understanding.... it requires effort.

    There's been a lot going on with Autisable, and one of the aspects of working on a site that reaches out and helps the Autism community - is to ensure that the site has a consistent message that is relatable.   This can always prove a challenge to any business or organization that tries to serve its respective demographic.

    The Autism community is as diverse in its opinions and efforts as the spectrum itself.    This diversity is both its strength, and it's weakness.
    First, it crosses many standard demographics - it's not just a racial issue, nor is it a specific age issue.   It affects a broad range of people - from Parents, to Grandparents, to Siblings... and most of all - to those who are on the spectrum.

    The goal is to find commonalities - and to make sure that all aspects of the community have the opportunity to be heard.

    People need to be at least heard, but it's up to us to actually Listen - as individuals, as a community, and as a business/organization.

    To ensure that Autisable is on target with its efforts, there are regular phone calls and e-mails with all aspects of the community.   This effort is to make sure that we understand what the community at large is wanting, and needing.    At times the autism community is at odds with itself, and this division has hindered the progress of the message of the community being heard.

    Having input from all aspects of the Autism community is key to making sure Autisable remains a respectable vision.  This means listening not only to those that the public regularly sees and hears, but also to those who aren't or don't have the opportunity to be seen and/or heard.

    But it's not just Autisable that has had this challenge to remain relatable in terms of communication and message, the same can be said for Xanga.

    Allow me for a moment to share....

    For those that have been a part of Xanga for the past several years know and wonder if your voice is being heard, and if The Xanga Team is even listening.
    As a liaison, my purpose is to ensure that the Team has the requests and suggestions (and complaints) that the community has - and do what I can to let you know that they have heard it.

    I can only encourage everyone that your frustration, your hope, and your suggestions and complaints have been heard... and that the Team has been listening.   It's up now to the Team to communicate that they have not only heard what you've asked me to pass along, but that they have been listening.

    Communication is a dialogue - and that dialogue requires all parties involved to listen to one another.

    Social media allows us to share our thoughts and ideas at a moment, a split second.   But it also reminds us that in order to be social, we must not only share our ideas, but we must be willing to hear and listen to other people's thoughts and ideas openly and without judgement.

    Perspectives always differ, and listening to other people's perspective is like having a mirror before you... sometimes you may like what you see, and other times you may not.

    There's always another thought, another idea... let's keep the dialogue going.

November 20, 2014

  • Home For Sale - Suffolk, VA

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    For those that don't know - my Mom passed away on Mother's Day this year, after a year long battle with Brain Cancer.

    She had a rental home in Suffolk, VA that as of earlier this week has been placed on the Market.

    Here's the listing on Zillow.com - http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/307-Loblolly-Ct-Suffolk-VA-23435/79290441_zpid/

    It's a good home, well built.

    So - if you are planning on moving to the Norfolk, VA area - and want a quiet neighborhood that's 5 minutes from the interstate... consider this home.

    Please feel free to share this post or the zillow.com listing anywhere.

     

     

     

     

     

November 13, 2014

  • Easy to Be Critical - But are you willing to do the work?

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    <beginning of rant>

    Being a part of the workforce has taught me many things over the years, one of which is something I learned early in my career.

    It's easy to be critical of what may be going on in an organization.  Usually that criticism stems from past experience, and at it's core - is a good thing.

    However, I learned early on that when you shine the light on a problem - be sure that you are offering a solution, and are willing to put your hands to make that solution happen.  Otherwise, you are just an arm chair Quarterback yelling at the TV when the team isn't doing what it's supposed to do.   You provide insight, yet you lack the fortitude to actually put work to your suggestions.  In short, you become nothing but a complainer when you aren't willing to help resolve the problem.

    I share this because there's been a lot of criticism about Xanga, and I've been more than willing to listen to anyone's issues and pass them along to John and the Xanga team.   My role here is to facilitate communication so we can move forward.

    I've reached out to those who have been highly critical of Xanga's efforts this past year - asking them if they'd be interested in actually helping out to resolve some of these issues.  After all, even the Xanga team is ready to bring about teams of people to help bring Xanga to the next level.   John shared just as much in many of his blog posts.   I've stepped up and am helping where I can, and am always encouraging others to do the same.

    But the responses from these highly critical people that I've received has been layered with more criticism - highlighting past mistakes - and that they want nothing to do with Xanga or the Team.   The irony here is that these are the same folks who still hang around, being even more critical of Xanga's efforts - yet they don't do anything to help as well.

    The option to help the community remains, and until these critical folks step up to actually assist - I'm sure we'll only read their blog posts on other sites voicing their criticism but never taking action.

    If anyone is interested in helping to bring Xanga to the next level - and actually put their talents in making Xanga better - then I am more than willing to work with you.  Even if you've been highly critical.    But just voicing an opinion and being critical and providing suggestions without actually having the will to do the work.... well....

    I can only invite you to sit on the couch and watch the game.   Scream all you want - we're getting the work done.    What are you doing?  Nothing.

    Ok... back to the grind....as I have actual work to do...

    <end of rant>

     

November 12, 2014

  • In Preparation

    If you haven't caught on by now - things have been rather busy.

    These past few weeks have been a bit rough - being sick, or taking care of a sick kid.

    But, back to the grind at getting Autisable relaunched and working on all the various aspects associated with Autisable's vision.

    Here's a few things of note at what is going on with Autisable at the moment:

    1. Preparing the site for it's relaunch.  We're working on a specific timeline, but don't expect Autisable to be like it once was.  The relaunch will show a very basic site as we get things back in order.  More about Autisable's website upgrades will be announced as we get closer to each part being launched.
    2. E-mail newsletters.  YES! we will be bringing about e-mails as a means to bring people more 'insider' news and information. Big kudos to LaNeshe for helping to organize our e-mail campaigns.  We're nearly ready to launch our first e-mail campaign. :)
    3. Giveaways!   I've already been sent many copies of several books that we will be giving away.  It's a small stock pile - and I'm really looking forward to mailing these out.  I can't wait to get things started!
    4. Advertisers!  YES!  we are already working very closely with the folks at Guardian Locate - a company that provides GPS tracking devices - which will help aid families track their loved ones who have a tendency to wander - thus saving lives.   We are always looking for new advertisers as well.   I'm currently testing out a couple of their GPS trackers and am already impressed.
    5. We are well on our way into developing a show for The Autism Channel.   We will be using segments of our show to help promote Autisable via social media outlets as well. :)

    There's many more things to share - and as we get closer to the inevitable launches - I'll make the necessary announcements.

    In Xanga news - John has been working on the long list of suggestions/recommendations that we submitted to him.   It was rather involved - and he also saw the priority of addressing mobile access.

    There were a few issues with the servers as well - as the site was down for a short period a couple of days ago due to heavy DDOS attacks.

    John is working on an update for the Xanga team blog.

    ok... back to the grind....looking forward to actually getting things DONE! :)