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.

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