May 22, 2015

  • Pictures for Sale on FOAP

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    Okay, I know it's a bit self-serving and outright cheesy, but I was encouraged to see if my photos could sell.

    I was looking at a way to easily share and sell my pictures - and provide an opportunity for folks to sell theirs as well - and came across the FOAP app.

    Still a new app on the market, FOAP splits a sale of a picture 50/50.   And also because it's rather new, I'm sure there have been a lot of bugs in app when it first launched.

    So far, uploading has been 'Ok', and rating other people's pics is rather easy.   It does take a bit of time because you have to upload a picture one by one.

    Last night I spent a couple of hours sorting through some old pictures that I had left on my smartphone  and uploaded over 20 pictures to my FOAP account.   Some you may recognize as part of my Instagram account.

    There's a lot of great photographers out there, so one could say competition can be rather stiff.    Also, please be aware that those in the commercial graphic artist industry are able to find high quality photos at a much more affordable price on other websites.

    That being said,  I consider FOAP an outlet where I can earn a bit of money, and so I don't expect much.   And being up front with folks that if they buy a pic - they support me in what I do with at least half that.

    Like any other online store, the best way to make any sales is through self-promotion.   So this blog post and periodic sharing of this link to my FOAP account will occur on occasion.

    Here's my FOAP URL - give it a look... buy a pic if you like. :)  :    https://www.foap.com/users/joel.manzer

    If I come across any other apps or ways to earn a bit of extra cash, I'll pass that along.

    Do you like photography?   Do you sell your pictures?   What apps or websites do you use?

May 20, 2015

  • A few Updates...

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    It's been an interesting week so far.  Wish I could share 'everything' going on, but it'd be easier to share some highlights...

    First, we now expect Autisable.com to be relaunched by end of the month.   After over a year and a half, I'm looking forward to its relaunch.

    Now, given all that's been going on with Xanga, I'm not expecting a lot of bells and whistles with Autisable being on wordpress.   I do have a team that is willing to assist me in developing and improving Autisable's website as we move forward, but a lot has to be done until my team can manage it long term.

    In other good news, We are filming Autisable Live this Saturday!    This is a series that will be available on The Autism Channel.  Our first three episodes will be filmed, with one being released each month.    The series will highlight artists and local non-profits that are helping the community in some way.

    As requested, I'm going to integrate some of my instagram pics into this blog.  The above picture was taken at the Norfolk Botanical Garden's in Norfolk, Virginia.  For more pictures, check out:  http://www.instagram.com/joelmanzer

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

May 15, 2015

  • The Morning Walks and Evening Strolls

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    For those that follow me on facebook or twitter, you may already know I'm also on Instagram.

    The pics I take for instagram are usually in the morning or evening and of the sky.  I walk most mornings, mainly out of a need to get some exercise or activity, but also as a means to think and meditate.

    When I was younger I used to ride my bicycle everywhere, and one day I may do that again.   But sometimes a morning walk or evening stroll allows me to slow down and see more of what is around me.

    I'm constantly reminded at how big our world is and how one person can make a significant impact in other people's lives.
    The world around us is still rather big, no matter how much technology has allowed us to have this perception of making it smaller.

    For every picture I take and share, there's at least a dozen that I never had the opportunity to take.   I'm constantly in awe and wonder of what resides around me...

    When I see something that could be of interest (and my phone has enough battery power), I take a picture of it.

    Some folks have shared that where I live has a fascinating sky.  I first give credit where credit is due... and that isn't all on me.   Where my faith resides is whom I believe created the sky and the moments.   I also give credit to instagram for some of the filters they have... hey, I think they did a pretty good job, don't you? :)

    We all have opportunities around us.   The reality is that many of the pics were done before or after there were storms.   Just like life's storms, we don't see the joy and beauty of it until we take a look back upon it.   Sometimes I'll take a pic and don't see anything more about it until I start using some of the filters... as sometimes they pull more of a picture out of the original than what even I saw.   It's similar to a wood carver, chipping and carving away at a log to find what is to be seen.

    As odd or surreal as that may sound, it's a reflective time for me.   I thank you in advance for viewing those photos, it's very humbling to receive any encouragement.

    If you are able to take a moment and watch the sky, especially in the mornings and evenings before and after a rain shower... I'm sure you may find a similar view from time to time.   If not, no worries, they'll be there for you on a morning walk, or an evening stroll.

    *feel free to follow me on Instagram as well. :)

May 14, 2015

  • Blog Often about the Things you Love

    I've been blogging for well over 10 years.  I've seen the worst in people, and the best.

    That's what happens as you grow older as well.

    Along with blogging on Xanga, I also have accounts on sites where I contribute articles here and there.

    When Xanga 1.0 was around and we had many of the ISH sites, I enjoyed sharing my faith on Revelife, as well as talking about being a dad and discussing autism related issues on Autisable (which I will still do when it relaunches).

    I've discussed various topics on triond, or dealt with social media on another site.

    My point is, when you blog regularly, you tend to blog on many different sites.  Each site has it's own audience, it's own platform.

    I enjoy talking about being a dad, and connecting with other dad's - especially ones who have a kid with special needs.   Connecting with like minded people tends to open up ideas on how I can improve myself.    So, I will be a contributing blogger to the LifeofDad.com website.

    Just another place for me to share some thoughts.

    Of course, this blog is my online blogging home.

    Until later....

May 8, 2015

  • The Last Text Message Received

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    Today marks an Anniversary.  The day my Mother died of brain cancer.

    Yes, she died last year, on Mother's Day.

    We all knew when the diagnosis came about the tumor, even she did, what would most likely happen.

    But I won't reflect on her death, as I know it's something we will all deal with one day.   I will reflect upon her life this year.

    My mom was passionate about people treating each other with respect, regardless of their personal belief's.   She was always fair, almost to a fault.

    She became a good friend, and although we had our differences, her heart was always in the right place.

    She moved several states away from me, and our phone calls became a weekly and sometimes a monthly event - but I looked forward to talking with her about what was going on in each others lives.

    I had the fortunate opportunity to visit with her about a month or so before she passed.    And based upon
    my faith, I am comforted in knowing that she's just gone ahead of me and I will see her again one day.

    I was honored when she asked me to visit an elderly blind neighbor, and read scripture to her.   It meant a lot to my Mom when I did that, and it meant a lot to me as well.  It was an acknowledgement of someones faith, and an encouragement to keep believing.

    Although my mom wasn't one to preach verbally her faith, she lived it.
    The quote "Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words." was something I can honestly say she practiced... whether she realized it or not.

    As she was a person who planned every aspect of her life as much as she could, and as stubborn as she could be, she fought and held on - making peace with friends and family.

    Her last day was Mother's Day, 2014.  Just a year ago.   Leave it to her to make Mother's Day even more special.

    Not long afterward I found this text from her when cleaning up my phone.  I saw it before, but it served as a reminder that she loved me.

    lasttext

     

    I still keep that text, and made a screenshot of it.

    It serves to remind me that although she might not be available for a phone call or a visit, I know she's still near.

    Happy Mother's Day, three words that now make me realize how important having a Mom truly is.

May 7, 2015

  • Ok, Let's Talk about it: "Spam Comments"

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    After blogging for well over a decade on several platforms, I can honestly tell you that spam comments are just a part of blogging.   How you address it is entirely up to you.

    With Xanga 1.0 we laughed at, and often joked, about spam comments.  Many folks even got frustrated and made their blog private (sign in lock) in an attempt to reduce or eliminate spam.  Personally I received at least a dozen or more spam comments a week on my blog in Xanga 1.0, and have seen a significant reduction with it with 2.0.

    Allow me to share some facts regarding spam comments...

    1 - they will happen.  In fact, if you have a blog or website with a comment feature, someone somewhere wants to create a backlink to their site utilizing the comment field.
    2 - it's NOT about you.  Spam comments are the poor mans method to create a backlink to another webpage.  In short, they don't target you, they target search engines.
    3 - they are usually generated through automation.  Programs have been created to find blogs and make comments on them.
    4 - they are bad for websites/blogs, but are easily addressed through appropriate comment moderation.

    As annoying as spam can be, there are wordpress plugins that can help eliminate/reduce spam.   But these plugins only can improve when we know how to utilize comment moderation.  So here's a quick 'how-to' ....

    When you receive a notification that someone commented on your blog and you check your comments section - here's a quick guide:

    After reading the comment and hovering over it - you'll see the options on what to do with it (I have default settings for comments on my blog)

    1.  approve/unapprove - IF you approved a comment from a person previously, they will automatically be approved for future comments - and visa versa
    2.  Reply - you may choose to reply to that individual comment.  When doing so, that person will be notified of the response (this is the latest update to comments in Xanga 2.0 that has happened)
    3. Quick Edit - you may edit someone else's comment.  Most people choose not to do this, but if you have a family friendly site and want to edit out a curse word here and there... the option is there. (I've used this feature on rare occasions on misspelled words or curse words.  If something is way out there I just remove my approval of the comment.)
    4. Spam - when selecting this it's similar to moving something to the spam folder in e-mail.  The plug in will be updated and future spam from the IP address/e-mail address will be blocked.   However, comment spam software tends to switch things up, hence the reason why combatting spam is an ongoing process.
    5. Trash - this just deletes the comment and has absolutely NO impact on improving spam filtration.

    So, if you are getting a lot of spam comments - don't delete them... just click them as spam.   As the data comes in for The Xanga Team, they can improve the technology to help you manage your blog in this area.

    For more information - check out these links:

    This one from wordpress.org shares what wordpress does to combat spam on a regular basis.

    https://codex.wordpress.org/Comment_Spam

    If you're really trying to understand spam and how to control it - this page is a good reference to start with

    https://blog.kissmetrics.com/control-blog-comment-spam/

    And for those of you who do like to eat Spam - I'm sure your local grocery store has it available (but please don't send me any).

    Until later, back to the grind...

May 5, 2015

  • What Comes with Freedom

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    First I'd like to share that this post is in response to people in the public eye who utilize their platform to speak poorly of others.

    Be it a celebrity, a blogger, or for whatever reason you have to speak publicly on whatever platform...

    It's not often I speak out against someone, as I strongly believe that we all have a right to share our thoughts openly and honestly.

    To be honest, I'm not even going to 'call-out' any individual in this post as I don't want to give them anymore publicity.

    The reality is that we claim freedom of speech as a right...

    But with this right, this freedom to speak our minds, also comes with it the responsibility.

    The responsibility to be kind....

    - bullying, in all of it's forms, is the result of people ridiculing others based on fear or some other nonsensical thought process that makes one believe they are better then another.   When we speak unkind things towards another person or group - it is saying "I am better than you!" or "you are nothing!"

    By being kind to one another, we show respect.   We don't have to belittle someone else's belief or physical or mental challenges to prove we are better than they are, do we?   (absolutely not!)

    So many children and adults have been bullied to the point to where they 'can't take it anymore' and thus take their own lives in the process.

    The phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"... didn't understand that we hold life and death in what we speak.

    So much power is held by what we speak, that we need to remind ourselves why we have two ears and one mouth... so we listen twice as much as we speak.

    For those in the public eye, their words carry far more weight due to the influence that they have with their fans and followers.

    If someone speaks ill of others because they are overweight, then a significant portion of those who follow them will also take those words to heart and mock and joke those who are overweight in a similar fashion.

    Yes, we have freedom of speech in several of our countries worldwide.   Of course you have the opportunity to speak your mind and say what you want.  That freedom came at a price of others giving their lives to make it possible for you to share what you feel what you want to share.

    Before you even open your mouth, understand that others already committed a sacrifice to make that opportunity available.   Use each opportunity wisely.

    Therefore, allow me submit one thought....

    Will the words you choose end up being ones that may cause the harm of others?

April 27, 2015

  • A Monday Morning Xanga Update

    I hope everyone is well and had a great weekend.

    Right now I've finished my first cup of coffee and have been in thought as I catch up with all the questions and concerns regarding Xanga.

    Many people have messaged Xanga's facebook page regarding a few items in question... so here's what I've been able to gather so as to provide a bit of understanding and hope...

    1 - Top of the list is in regards to response time from 'help@xanga.net'.    Realize that it's usually Eugenia who has been responding to everyone's e-mails, and she was out for a short period of time and is back doing a bit of catch up to help everyone out again.  Thanks for your patience.

    2 - Next on the list is in regards to people being concerned about their subscription running out come the beginning of May.  I've messaged John/Marc and Eugenia as to make sure we address this issue appropriately.

    3 - there has been a lot of interest from folks wanting to get back onto Xanga.   IF you have a xanga username and know what your e-mail address was that is associated with the account, then you should be able to get your account on Xanga upgraded.   New accounts are not yet available.

    4 - The team is working on getting more (older accounts/ photos/ videos) back online from the old servers.   At the same time I found this out from John,  I also received e-mails and messages that some folks were missing some photos from their accounts... so that should explain what happened on that note.

    5 - Spam filtering was being updated.   Now many have issues with spam on their accounts, ie... spam comments.   With the site now wordpress based, it's easier to block spam commenters.   There may be a flare up of spammers - but as things progress the spam blocking software should improve over time.

    6 - reply comments notification is now active.    John and the Team upgraded the notifications that let you know when your comment is replied to.   Right now, it's best used when you 'REPLY' to a comment.  New comments on existing posts are not yet notifying everyone involved in the comment thread.    For those who are facebook geeks, this means that our blogs comments are responding similar to a facebook business (ie fan) page.

    As soon as I get a response from John and/or the team, I'll update everyone with the information.

    If you have any other questions/concerns - feel free to leave a comment.

    Thanks.

     

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....