Friday 30 September 2016

Gremlins in the machine - an IT update

Recently all sorts of odd things have been happening to Blogger and other online software that I use.  I understand that online software develops at a rapid pace and often when I have been frustrated at the a change, I find that the developers are paddling away like a duck's legs and soon it is fixed and often (but not always) better.  However I do find it frustrating when I spend time making sure that my social media accounts look attractive only to have the look thrown up in the air by a new design.

Here are a few changes I have noticed lately:

Blog Feed
Today I found that my blog feed on my side bar had disappeared.  Fortunately my blog was backed up by the National Library's Pandora database in March this year so I can refer to the lists there.  I have started to add a few names but it may take me some time to do this.  It will slow me down in visiting other blogs.

So seems like an opportunity for a review of the blogs on my feed.  It makes me sad to see so many bloggers I love to follow become inactive.  Occasionally I am gladdened to find that they are back online.  So when bloggers on my feed become inactive, I am reluctant to delete them as I hope to hear from them again.  However it does make my feed a bit stale.  I also have the issue of trying to keep up with new blogs I discover as there are many so I add new blogs to my feed reader sporadically when I have time and energy.  This means that many others fly under the radar.  I am still unsure of how to address inactive bloggers and new bloggers on my feed but will give it some thought as I recreate the list.

Search this Blog function
In the last day or two, I have found that the Search This Blog function, which has been useful for producing a list of relevant posts on my blog, has started to produce a feed of relevant blogs.  It is so much easier to run my eye over a list than to scroll through full blog posts. 

This search function has been slightly awry for a while because instead of going to the most relevant posts, it seems to produce a list of posts in an order that makes no sense to me.  (Eg, if I search sausage rolls, it wont bring up sausage rolls recipes posts but instead the posts that happen to link to my sausage rolls recipes!)  I have used some alternative code before that is not quite so useful as it produces a list of links on a non-blog page but I may need to revert to this.

Planet VegMel
My blog has been listed on ever since early on in my blogging days (2007 or 2008?) and it has been a great way to link up with other vegan-friendly bloggers in Melbourne.  I was sad to see my blog had disappeared from the Planet VegMel aggregator feed recently and was told by the manager that my blog had been crashing Planet VegMel.  I really don't want to crash the site but do love being part of it.  I was relieved when they tried again and couple of weeks later my blog was behaving again.  Don't know what happened there!

When I joined Pinterest, it took me a while to get the boards looking nice on my own home page.  For a while I could set the right picture as the "face" of each board.  Then they changed it so I couldn't work out how to set the photo.  But a while back I noticed that they had changed the shape of the pictures and now all the nice square photos I chose look really silly because they are now a widescreen landscape shape.

I had spent a while finding a decent header photo for my Facebook page and setting it up.  Recently, Facebook, has changed the look of the headers.  It is more like a website than a page.  It is unsettling rather than looking really horrid but it meant trying to find some of the features I regularly use.  And I wonder where this is going?

A Few Positive Final Notes
  • And I have a few more positive IT updates.  
  • At work we have been using Slack for team communications.  While not perfect, it has been quite helpful.   
  • I have had my 100th photo accepted on FoodGawker.  It felt like an achievement after all the photos I have had rejected.  FoodGawker is still a mystery.
  • I have moved up to a Level 8 Super Foodie on Zomato.  Another little victory!

I am now off to get my blog feed list back up and running.  Meanwhile any feedback or advice on these issues is welcome.  I guess it is a timely reminder the back up my blog too!


  1. Ah Ive noted something was wrong , but now you mention it - yes the search blog function has been stupendous recently and much more that sometimes I consider jumping to Wordpress like many...
    Ah so happy that you've had your 100th picture accepted by Foodgawker, I don't seem to tick their boxes and often get rejections so I have given up, but if you have any advice email me, but no worries if not. Also Well done on Zomato, not sure what that is here, but I praise your little victories, they humble us.

    1. Thanks Shaheen - I have really depended on the search blog function but now it is a bit haywire I am glad I have kept up my index which I am finding easier to search now

      have sent you some foodgawker things that work for me but basically natural light, not too close up, and often a bit lighter than I expect would work - have been surprised that it seems to be about photo quality more than food styling as some of my prettier shots are rejected and plainer ones get in

      And Zomato is a website/app that is about sharing experiences of restaurants - I quite like it but when I was in the UK I noticed it wasn't used so much so it was not as useful there as it is in Melbourne where there are lots of reviews.

  2. I get sick of them changing programs. Blogger has enough issues as it is - I would like to see them introduce a photo rotation feature as it always a battle to get my photis posted the right way up. It is also imposdible to post from my mobile phone, which makes things difficult when the only access I have is via mobile phone.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - me too about changing programs - these software programs aren't good at keeping up informed though I appreciated that there is lots of incremental change but still it is annoying! I am very particular in only posting from my laptop which probably makes life a bit harder but at least I avoid the mobile issue

  3. I've also noticed lots of recent blogger gremlins - and a few people have commented about features I haven't changed on my blog too. It's frustrating, but I'm too time poor to migrate platforms any time soon. Well done on the Foodgawker milestone!

    1. Thanks Lisa - it is really annoying when you set up pages and posts to look good and then they change them - but I too am too time poor to do much - and I am too wary of the problems of changing to wordpress, much as I like the idea

  4. Yep! It seems there's always something changing and creeking. If there's one thing that I really struggle with with blogging, it's the tech stuff...... it takes way too much time to sort the problems and most of the time the effort is far too much to fit in with work...... when Facebook or any other platform changes something, I feel like I have to start over with googling and learning a way round it.... As soon as I think I have sussed something, I have to start again....... uuuggghhh!

    1. Thanks Kate - yeah, I feel like I didn't sign up to do tech - just cooking and sharing - but somehow the tech interferes and demands attention and time that I don't have.


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