The Elephant in the Screen

I thought I’d better address this particular issue now rather than in a few posts’ time, mostly because I won’t want to in a few posts’ time.

Gone is the wonderful, creaky Indifferent Ignorance layout that’s been my favourite thing to look at for the past five point five years and in its place is… well, by the time you read this it could be anything. I didn’t set out to change everything, but I have been very aware recently that the theme I’ve used since 2010, Bueno, hasn’t been supported by WP for a good year or two. Whatever – I kind of liked that the site looked like a curmudgeonly old lady. But the theme gradually started to make the site look like it wasn’t working properly, especially when I wanted to embed new, hip features like a social media icon. So on Monday I toddled over to WP’s themes page and had a nose at what they had to offer – and instead of previewing one theme, I activated it. And I can’t get the old one back, since it’s out of commission.

I might’ve had a brief nervous breakdown.

Found on Tumblr somewhere
Found on Tumblr somewhere

But life moves on, so I’m now concentrating on finding a new theme that a) I like and b) I can afford. I’d like to get the blue/white/pink thing going again, because I like it, but beggars can’t be choosers and I can’t afford to customise shit, so whatever you see right now might be permanent.

Until I press the wrong fuckin button again, anyway.

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Explaining the Internet Slowdown (and protesting so you might not be able to read it)

It’s not that often that a lot of the people who use the Internet agree on something, but it looks like the US government has given us all a common enemy (again. Didn’t this happen with SOPA and Prop 8?!). I don’t have a huge understanding of the technical aspects of it, but essentially the US Federal Communications Commission has proposed laws that mean Internet providers can charge money for websites to access their subscribers. Those who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay would get slower Internet connections than those who could. It’s kind of like private healthcare versus the NHS; companies who can afford to pay for top healthcare plans (or Internet) would get seen to quickly and in top-notch conditions (quick page loading), and the rest of us would be put into an 18-month waiting list and spend a week in A&E (the buffer symbol for minutes or hours at a time).

A&E is slow at the moment, but imagine if NHS hospitals were purposely given rubbish equipment compared to private ones? People on the NHS would stay ill or get worse while private patients would be sorted in a jiffy. Now I think about it, that analogy is quite similar to the debacle of non-free-at-point-of-use-healthcare countries… like America. Now’s not the time.

To show what these new conditions would be like, lots of sites – including Tumblr, Etsy, Twitter and Automattic, which powers WP and therefore here – have enforced a slow Internet day, today. Pages, videos and music streams are loading at the speed at which they would load everyday if telecoms companies started charging for access. Many sites affected probably could pay for the quick connection, especially if they increased adverts – but users are likely to be put off by the ads and anyway, what about little online businesses who pay for their own connection? What about people who want to stream videos from sites who haven’t paid for quick access?

The buffer symbol. All the goddamn time.

What can we do to prevent this shit happening at all: head to this website, which is petitioning Congress to stop the proposal from becoming law. If you’re using a site that’s campaigning for ‘net neutrality’, as they call it, you can have a look to see that they’re doing in protest.

Most big Internet companies are a bit corrupt. Most people on the Internet are tossers. But none of us wants to put up with slow service, regardless of the sites we use or the people we abuse while on them.

PS (sort of) Since Etsy is protesting too, I’ve put a discount on my Etsy shop. I was going to anyway to celebrate Blood of Olympus coming out in October, and today seemed a good time to start it. Enter UNCLERICK2014 at the checkout for 30% off, although maybe wait until the protest’s over for a good long browse.

How To Not Write a Shit Blog

I Googled that very title to make myself feel better and it turns out that despite all the questionable wonderful advice that’s out there for bloggers, nobody’s actually telling anyone else how to not be shit.

Or they were, because this ties in perfectly with January’s which-website-features-make-you-want-to-shoot-the-Internet post, which got you all talking quite a bit. So here is my half term gift to you all:

Part One: The Preemptive Strike

  • Have something to say or showcase. It doesn’t have to be any more specific than just wanting a place to share things you like with your friends, or having a feeling that you’ve got something to say… As long as you’re interested a subject, you can talk about it convincingly. (If that something is “I hate my life” or images of your self-harm habit, please leave this website and write in a diary/journal, or seek medical help. Or both).
  • Think up a decent name. Something you can remember, something other people can spell, something catchy. Thesauruses are good  at helping with this. I think I got Indifferent Ignorance’s name by playing about with words on Word (although I thought it was called “Ignorant Indifference” when I wrote about it in my diary that night… ah, fate).
  • Pick a the right platform. I advocate WordPress because I use it and I know it’s excellent for just about everything – although be careful about mixing up WordPress.com with WordPress.org; the ‘org’ one requires ‘self-hosting’ and technology and stuff, whereas anyone with an Internet connection can use ‘dot com’ for free. There are also many great Blogger sites, although I’ve noticed that they seem to have less to offer in terms of pages and adding things. Part of me can’t believe I’m about to say this, but: Tumblr can be good too. Some of the best websites are Tumblrs. It all depends on what you want to make – WP is great for full-blown ‘websites’, while Tumblr’s good for less formal things. I get the distinct impression that within Tumbr is a black hole of creepy GIFs and over-enthusiastic fandom members, so if you want to keep your hands clean, maybe use Tumblr for blogging with your friends and WP or Blogger for a portfolio site. WordPress or Blogger might also carry more website-weight in certain circles of society, if you catch my drift. There are also options such as Webs or Wix. Have a look for real-life examples of them all and decide which you like best. Be wary of website-making websites that charge you the national debt just to add some colour – you can probably do it for free somewhere else.

Part Two: the Shoes That Match the Bag

  • Create a decent layout. I can’t even describe how tricky and important this is. Presentation on the Internet is everything, because there are 10,000-odd bloggers doing exactly what you are, and if your page is hard to read or use, people will leave. Some tips for a decent layout:
      • Look at websites and decide which aspects of their designs you like and which you don’t. Implement the good ones. The Webby Awards winners are a great, if vast, place to get ideas.
      • Don’t use anything luminous, stripy, moving, sparkly, dark or multiple colours in excess. Colours that look great in life, like yellow or fuchsia, tend not to work as backgrounds because they make people’s eyes roll around in their heads. This is a great guide to screen-friendly colours, and this seems quite fun. If you’re going for a dark background, use other colours to break it up. GIFs as backgrounds and cursors that are actually little pictures can also make one’s eyes burn, as can patterns without a break. Your writing has to be legible before people can read it…
      • Don’t make links that go round in circles and don’t make links that lead to nowhere.
      • This shouldn’t happen on a host site that does everything for you, but avoid menus and pictures that overlap with text or other links. Make the viewing experience easy and pleasant, like floaty cake. Save the offence and difficulty for the content!
      • I just reread all that and it was preachy. Basically, don’t do this (it really is best viewed in Internet Explorer).
  • With all that moaning aside, it’s good to utilise available customisation options. Custom headers and backgrounds and the like make your blog all unique and distinctive, unless you’ve nicked someone else’s design completely.
  • Break up a lot of text by adding images or videos where possible. Press ‘enter’ a couple of times a post. Use the bold/underline buttons. Add links so to break up the monotony (like above – I was going to let you find the different types of host sites yourselves, but one may as well be a helpful citizen without being a hypocrite).
  • Most host-sites are up-to-date with smart phone technology, but it might be good to double-check that your site’s readable on phones and tablets as well as on computer or laptop screens. Or this could end up in your comment box:
From DevleoperMemes.com
From DevleoperMemes.com
  • Avoid hit counters, because they tend to have  a similar effect of telling people how many people you’ve slept with. Site statistics are like bra sizes: you have nothing to be embarrassed about, but generally such information is best kept private.

Part Three: Alienating Your Audience

  • Add an email subscription button so people can be sent posts via email – this happens automatically. It can be good to link up your blog with your other accounts too, so new posts get publicised as a Tweet or Facebook status with a link. Be wary of linking every single account with every other account, though, because people may read the same thing several times and experience Internet-claustrophobia.
  • It can be good to make a blog email address. It’s a seriously bad idea to put your personal email online, but having another address associated with the name of your blog gives potential contacts, well-wishers and spammers somewhere to contact you that’s less public than the comments section. Ignore all spam, by the way. No matter how good the deal, you will regret those Russian girls/pharmaceutical drug investments/loans.
  • Encourage comments. You will discover, little novice-blogger who is thinking of making a site, that comments are gold dust. The most down-heartening response to a piece of work is no response at all. Unfortunately, getting one’s audience to admit to being an audience is like getting politicians to admit they were wrong, and sometimes you have to moderate (delete) nasty or inappropriate comments anyway, whether they’re aimed at you or another reader. Which is interesting,  because if someone has a problem with your blog, they can just… leave it. But comments are good, generally, and can be prompted by a question at the end of a post, or perhaps a welcoming comments section. Reply to comments wherever possible and make a sub-blog. Mix with the mortals and occasionally wash your hands afterwards.
  • One of those basic ‘blogger tips’ is to interact with other bloggers to build a network of bloggie contacts. Don’t. Or rather, don’t search random words, open every site that comes up and click ‘follow’. The poor sod on the other end will open their emails, see a “You’ve got another follower!” message, feel validated as a human and realise thirty seconds later that your blogs have nothing in common and you were another mass-subscribing blog-robot. Search for things you like, by all means, and discover new sites, and interact with them, because bloggie networks are great. But be selective and genuine. People can tell a mile off if you’re faking it, even without eye-contact.
  • Don’t hold posts to ransom. “I won’t post again until  I’ve got xxx likes!!!!!” just ensures that you will never, ever, post again.

Part Four: the Content

  • Ensure you press ‘proofread’  before publishing every post. Do not, ever, use text speak. U snd lk n idt n its aktully hrder 2 rite out n rd thn prper sntncez. Nothing says “f-in’ idiot” like a large amount of bad English. Typos are okay, typos happen and prove you’re not Catfish material. Just for the love of all things unholy, reserve text speak and red squiggly lines for spiting your most loathed teacher on the last essay of the year. Or for when you work for Fox News.
  • Unless you are Gerard Way, do not post multiple times per day. You clog up people’s email inboxes and social media feeds. You also miss a PR trick, because regular-yet-not-completely-predictable posting habits are habits that won’t make you fat or die when you’re forty. They will reassure the reader that your blog isn’t a graveyard and is worth another visit. In fact, the only  way by which you can legitimately post a lot at once is if you have a solid readership before you start (hence Gerard as the prime example, because his 2008/9 posts were gold. I think we can expand Frank to this too now though).
  • Avoid, wherever possible, the ‘ism’s. These include but are not exclusive to: narcissism, sexism, racism, homophobia-ism and aversion-to-other-people’s-opinions-ism. Unless your blog is an ‘ism’ blog, of course, in which case please do ignore this point. Controversy – a reaction – is good. Basic rudeness is not, and it’s harder to spot in writing, so go with your gut. If you think you’ll regret posting something, do not post it.
  • Don’t break the law. This sounds both stupid and blindingly obvious, but here’s the deal: libel is when you write something untrue about a person, and is basically a criminal offence. The thing with blogging (and this is also true of posting on any other Internet site in existence) is that what you’ve written is there forever/until the electricity, and therefore the Internet, runs out. You can always delete things you regret writing, and the average person won’t be able to access them unless they’ve taken a screen-shot. But there are ways to access deleted, or supposedly hidden, content. Local media laws apply to you as an Internet user – you’re essentially a journalist, even if you’re just      commenting on pictures of cats, and you’re expected to behave like one… Take the interesting case of Sally Bercow, who at time of writing is an MP’s wife. She gained minor notoriety posing for a magazine interview in front of the Houses of Parliament wearing nothing but a bedsheet, and gained a court case when she Tweeted this:
From Photos.pcpro.co.uk
From Photos.pcpro.co.uk

 in response to completely untrue Twitter-rumours that Lord McAlpine was a kiddie-fiddler. So, again, go with your gut. If you aren’t prepared to defend what you’ve posted, don’t post it (this also goes for general, non-criminally ambiguous posts:anyone can find your blog, and that includes the person you met at that party whose idiotic views you both quoted and ridiculed).

  • If you use other people’s images, videos or music in your post, credit the original website and creator. Some people see use of their stuff as copyright infringement, so keep an eye out for the old “this image may not be reproduced without permission” and either get permission or find another image. Regardless of whether or not you ‘have permission’, always do a little caption with a name and link wherever possible. It’s polite.

Part Five: the Only Real Piece of Advice You Need Someone Else To Tell You

  • Get off the Internet, go outside your place of residence and live. Then the rest will evolve, like the best types of music and worst types of ignorance.

I’m being serious. Go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Or the rain or snow or whatever. Take some photos, think deep thoughts… Come home, post a blog and wait for superstardom to call.

Or, as is statistically more likely, wait for your mum to call that dinner’s ready and spend the next six months to two years learning how to tag convincingly…

Let me know how you get on?!

MCRmy Census & New Site Update (please read and tell me your ideas!)

Good afternoon, snowflakes. There’s some good news and some irritating news:

First off, I’ve now logged over a hundred census entries into the database, and currently have about forty more to do – although every time I blog there’s an influx of entries, and it’s open unil the end of April, so if I haven’t emailed you with confirmation yet, please be patient. I will get through it all!

Next, I’ve successfully made an email account for the new site: thewebways@hotmail.co.uk (it was you guys’ favourite name)! However, things have been tricky from that point onwards because ‘The Webways’ is actually already in existence as a website. TheWebways.com is an internet-design site, which is a far less cool meaning than the one MCR sang about, but whatever. Because it already exists, there’s no way to make a .com or wordpress.com URL. There is, however, the option to purchase, for $17, ‘thewebways.net’ or ‘thewebways.org’. My first thought was to make it ‘livingonthewebways’ instead, but that’s been taken, as has ‘MCRchives’.  So, we have a few solutions available:

  • Use another name altogether
  •  Use an alternate name such as ‘thewebwaysMCRmy’ (which is what I used for the Twitter) and if the site takes off, get the .net or .org domain using donations from contributors and readers, or
  • I’ll buy .net or .org straight up, using money from my ‘crazy projects’ fund, and save us the hassle of swapping things around later.

It’s your call, guys. Seventeen US dollars, according to Google, is around ten pounds sterling, or around fifteen Australian dollars. Not a fortune compared with what some sites will have you pay – and the domain is bought for a year – but not fifty pence either. Do you think this is a good enough project to spend money on straight away or do we wait and see? If you contributed or used the site – which is going to be pretty damn awesome, by the way, if my flatplans are anything to go by – how would you feel about donating to buy the domain in future?

Incidentally, I will only feature projects and sites which are submitted to me; or ones I have your express permission to feature. So if you’ve got a project or site and you’d like to see it featured, start letting me know either by email or Twitter, or in a comment.

Census & Future Project Updates, Plus Wembley MCR Show Ramblings

Note: I started this post by turning into an old lady and reminiscing, then getting indignant. For the census stuff, scroll down to the next lot of italics.

I don’t know what it is about famous people dying and me thinking about writing an MCR-related blog, but it’s happened again. Whitney fans, don’t get pissy, I’m not going to start spouting about substance abuse, but –

I’m so glad Gerard and Mikey got over that, and incredibly grateful to the whole of MCR that I was able to spend today reminiscing about their show at Wembley Arena this time last year, which I was lucky enough to attend.

You know, I feel old. Because, seriously, it does not feel like a year since I saw them play. It feels like a few months at most… If you’d told me on the day of that show, or the day of the one I saw at the Hammersmith Apollo, that within a year or eighteen months I’d be in the process of creating a census for the Rmy and its subsequent website, I’d have laughed. Nervously. It’s only recently that I’ve started to appreciate the effect that My Chem has had on my life and on others’, and the census has been a catalyst for that.

I’ve currently logged seventy out of one-hundred-and-thirty-five entries, at time of writing, but your stories and your thoughts have never failed to shake me awake and remind me why I started this. I did it because it’s about damn time that the whole, wide world knows, definitively, how many kids owe good times to this band. Most of the people I’ve heard from have mentioned that the public still sees us as whiny emo wimps who fight amongst ourselves over tiny matters. I don’t have  Tumblr so don’t know about any in-fighting, but not one of the stories I’ve read has said “This band wants me to kill myself.”

So let’s kill that stereotype once and for all, please.

In-depth talk over. Let the planning begin.

So, most of you have gathered that when the census is finished and the data’s been put into a report or set of information (it closes on the 30th April), it will be published as a website (results will be out during the summer, because I have exams throughout May and June). The ‘register’ –  still can’t think up a cool name, damnit – will be on the same website, and of course always open to updating.

Now on to the idea I put to you about a website which would feature and archive projects you guys do. To clear up any confusion: it would not be like MCRmy.com or Zone 6. This site would not be open to comments or threads, except on a ‘comments’ page, and to get work featured you’d have to submit it. As to why I’m doing it: I don’t follow 1000 MCR fans on Twitter, I don’t have a Tumblr and I don’t spend hours on forums because I don’t have the time. This means that I don’t always hear of projects or blogs until they’ve come and gone, and if I don’t have an account for a project it can be tricky to keep track. So I had an idea for a site which people could sumbit their fansites or projects to – think CassieTheVenomous, AskPosion or Project Thank You – and they would be featured and archived. Want to find a fan-art blog? No problem, search it up or find that part of the site and browse to your heart’s content.

When I first thought of it, I wasn’t actually as jazzed as I am now, because lots of you do have Internet accounts. But here’s the thing: looking through the census results that Google Docs has kindly compiled; not everyone has an social-networking account. We aren’t all fifteen year old girls. Some of us don’t want to wade through memes, Mikey’s-knees jokes or @replies to find details of a Killjoy meetup. A few of the younger kids, I’d bet, aren’t allowed Tumblrs or Facebook or the like, so can’t keep up even if they want to. Enter this project. It’ll be hosted on WordPress, which – apart from being banned from schools because it’s a blogging platform – is a safe and well-respected site. As far as archiving goes, the whole thing would look, for example, a bit like this:

Project: @CreepyFerardFanfics

Details: Twitter, run by @CreepyFan1, that posts fanfictions. Not recomended for anyone under the age of 13, homophobes and the band themselves.

URL: http://www.twitter.com/CreepyFerardFanfics

Then, if the fancy takes you, you can read that shit to your heart’s content. I sincerly hope that account doesn’t exist, on a personal note, but if it does and you want it featured, let me know.

On to the reason I’m talking you through this: the response from you guys has been overwhelmingly positive, so I couldn’t back out now even if I wanted to, and I’m currently planning the site itself. It would be a continuation of the census-and-register site, with seperate pages for each. Only problem is, I can’t get the domain name from WordPress or an email address because, so far, the thing doesn’t actually have a name. The best I’ve come up with so far is ‘Zone MCRmy’, because that’s what I thought when I had the idea; “It’d be a kind of Zone MCRmy, I suppose.”

So, if you could spare a minute, your ideas are greatly appreciated.

Checking Indifferent Ignorance Still Works…

If you’re reading this then congratulations: your subscription hasn’t mysteriously disappeared, Twitter works and, hopefully, my posts still compute.

Please tell me if your browser displays the front page looking anything like this:

 

At first I thought the problems were from me changing the tagline and sidebar a bit, but then I realised it’s only affected the front page. Then, on the advice of a nice person on the WordPress Support forum, I tried downloading a newer version of Internet Explorer, thinking my browser might need updating. But apparently I’ve already got the newest version. The funny thing is, when I click ‘preview’, the proper format comes up…

Isobel’s had trouble too, so it isn’t just me. If you’re having viewing issues, please let me know immediately so I can fix this. Or send WordPress a huffy email documenting both this and the Content Eating Monster problem, since I’m not the one who actually configures this website. I just pick the colour scheme, make nice headers, pay for the domain and talk a lot.

I feel like my baby has the flu or something. I really don’t want to pull her offline while I’m away so I can fix this when I get back. See, I’m referring to the blog as ‘her’. Help. Please.

Lack of Black

  Welcome to www.indifferentignorance.com.

  It’s my new favourite website, coming in above even MCR.com and Twitter. Definitely higher than IHateGerardWay.com.

  Which doesn’t actually exist.

  Major thank-yous to the girls, Ellen and Isobel, for putting up with my conversation starters of “So what do you think I should do to Indifferent Ignorance?” and then disagreeing with them, and Pugsley for, well, being Pugsley. Also to everyone at Neraida for putting up with the girl in the corner huddling over her laptop, even in the midst of a flood. I don’t know whose idea it was to set up wireless Internet in the restaurant, but I owe you a tip. A large one.

  Ruby, Advent is on its way.

  Comments on the new look please?

  Happy Halloween and twenty-ninth birthday, Frank (Iero. I’m not that old yet).

Oh My God, XXX, #42, 101010 – IT’S THE APOCALYPSE!!!

  Since today’s date reads 10/10/10, I thought I had better blog and make the most of it. After 2012, we’re going to have to find something else to get superstitious about, after all.

  I don’t really have anything interesting or significant to say, other than I can now officially afford WordPress domains. Patience, children, and you shall see what wonderful things I have dreamed up for you all to enjoy.

  Because it will be AWESOME. The wait will be even more worthwhile than the wait for Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Which will also be AWESOME. But because of some men in their thirties shredding guitars, not a girl in her teens typing politically incorrect rubbish.

  Obviously.

 Isobel, do you like Bullets?!