Sunday, June 30, 2013

Required field must not be blank ... For fun and profit

Sometimes it feels like those hard-working folks at Google add infuriating features just to remind us who's in charge. Maybe it's their way of taunting us with their rewarding careers of free lunches, of free day care, of high pay, and of a working environment filled with play.

You may have found the latest "enhancement" when you tried to edit your blog. As you created a post, you immediately got an error message:
"Required field must not be blank. Ignore warning"

Google can't tell you which required field should be blank - that would defeat the purpose of taunting you. In fact, you can't even save any of your work in a draft form until you solve this mystery.

And clicking on the "ignore warning" link only brings the warning back in a few seconds. Nah-NAH nuh Nah-NAH!

So let me help. Just put some text in the title field. Ta-Da!

Of course, whatever you use for in the title-block becomes part of your post's web address. Forever and ever.

This can be a bit of a problem if you use something like "I'd love Hitler", then work on your draft on and off for several days, finally realizing your piece really needs to be published with "I'd love to kick Hitler in the groin" in its address. Too bad. (Although, your initial title may spike your web traffic as numerous, soon-to-be-disappointed skinheads flock to your site from a miss-interpreted search. Yes, I agree. Serves them reich, er, right.)

I know there are rare writers out there who have a headline in mind before they begin to compose their masterpieces. Unfortunately, I'm not that proficient. I have to write my ideas down first, and then develop the working title afterwards.

But if Google is changing the rules of the game, so be it. I'm going to try the old SEO approach to naming my preliminary drafts.

"SEO" is the web version of those catchy headlines you see at the checkout counters on the magazine covers - those glossy, over-priced tabloids that promise life-changing advice if you read their articles. Usually, these stories are the same sort of advice you rejected from your parents.

Remember the defiant attitude of a younger you when your mother freely told you to "eat your vegetables"? Yet now, as an adult, you'll pay good money to magazines that promise "how to live forever with the revolutionary pea and broccoli diet".

A lot of successful bloggers use the same newsstand trick to get people to their sites. Often, the posts don't quite deliver on their banners.

So I apologize ahead of time if you are mistakenly enticed to read my entries and learn it's not what you expect. (Not that that should be any different from before.)

So here are a few titles that may show up in the addresses of my posts:

"Five ways to remove road tar from your mosquito's wings."

"Bikini wax: A soldier's best friend for that shiny bikini."

"How to tell if your goldfish is not into you."

"If at first you don't succeed (the joys of celibacy)"

"10 things you should know about 3 secrets involving your friend's 100 highlighted hairs."

"Thyme and Tide wait for no man: A Bachelor's guide to cooking and laundry."

"How to live the life of luxury as a Google employee while giving your customers more aggravating lives." (Just kidding, Google guys. Wait. Don't .....)

After further investigation, I have to you tell that I was wwwwrrrrr, I was wwwrrrrooonnn, I was ... wrong. There! Feel better?

You CAN save your draft under one title and then publish your post with another. I found this important fact at the blog "The Real Blogger Status".

I apologize to the Google for implying any elitist attitude by their developers. I hope this means we can still do lunch. At your campus, of course.

"I shouldn't have spent" only lasts a lifetime

Life is full of regrets. The worse remorse probably comes at the end.

The dying man in a hospital who thinks, "I shouldn't have spent so much time at work instead of with my family."

The elderly woman wasting her final moments in a nursing home with thoughts of "I shouldn't have spent my life so safe and boring."

The man plummeting down the side of a tall building, thinking "I shouldn't have spent $299.95 for this flying portion."

Good news though - these lamentations are temporary. For example, one day you will no longer worry about "I shouldn't have spent time reading this post."

Friday, June 28, 2013

Courage in the Check-out Line of Fire

My girlfriend scowled and grew angrier by the second. I had given up by that point and could only laugh at the absurd situation.

We stood with our groceries in the shortest check-out line. Only 3 people stood between us and freedom from the store's din. The lady in front of us held a gallon of milk. The two ladies in front of her each had a half-full basket of food, with the front-most woman putting her last item on the conveyor belt.

That's when the fun started.

When the cashier announced the total of the bill, the woman embarked on a lengthy search through her purse. At first, I thought it was one of those embarrassing "Oh no! I left my money at home!" moments. But no. She stopped her less-than-frantic search when she handed the cashier a small mountain of coupons.

The annoyed clerk spent the first few minutes scanning and rescanning mangled coupons. She then spent another couple of moments reviewing the long grocery printout. Finally, we all endured the next five minutes as cashier and customer haggled over the legitimacy of the reject coupons.

Ultimately, after glaciers had crawled a few inches further on the Earth, our cash conscious shopper agreed to the total and spent another agonizingly long time searching her purse for ... wait for it ... we did ... a check book.

As this wondrous transaction concluded, our line of weary shoppers contained their celebratory cheer. Our coupon clipper moved up to wait on the next woman behind her.

Now, you and I - being contentious citizens of the check-out line - would have had our coupons and payment ready before that last item hit the price scan. But what do others do? That's right. They form shopping clubs. And our line was privy to one of their meetings.

Her friend waddled forward to begin the sequel: "Day Of The Damned ... Coupon Clippers". Yes, her friend graciously gave us a repeat performance.

By then, the patient lady in front of us left the line. Her gallon of milk had expired.

When Fate promoted us to the front of the line, we placed our few, meager items on the counter. The check-out clerk asked how we were doing. My girlfriend said, "Not using coupons."

I shouldn't knock coupon users. With these pieces of shiny paper, our thrifty time-wasters saved $10 each (according to the cashier ). And it only cost those of us in line 20 minutes of our lives ... each.

Had I known ahead of time, I would have given those women $20. But that's the action of a richer man. Maybe I should be cutting coupons. And maybe I can get a deal on a bullet-proof vest to wear while checking out.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Watch out for falling rocks

Let me introduce myself. I am the Sisyphus of blogging. I spend months struggling to push that burdensome rock of frequent posts up the steep slope of popularity. Then, when I take a few days off from blogging to rest, that rock careens down the slope, taking my hard-earned audience with it. Then, like Sisyphus's punishment, I begin the laborious work all over again.

I've been repeating this fruitless cycle for several years now - always motivated by hope that enough popularity would transform into financial rewards. I write; you like; you tell your friends, and one of them has the business connections to keep me gainfully writing.

Then I wake up.

Lately, that blogging rock has become much heavier. And more discouraging. From my rumble of words, I find it harder to release an acceptable post.

But you probably have noticed that. Or not.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Yet Another Facebook Danger: Cloning

My daughter's facebook account just got cloned by some idiot. Apparently, cloning someone's page is the latest in security attacks on your FB site. Here is an article on how it happens and how to prevent it: Facebook Cloning