Snoskred Gets Banned!

One of the very first kayaking blogs that I stumbled upon quite by accident back in the days that I did not know kayaking blogs existed was Yakabout.

I have learnt a lot from reading this blog, and many of the things I have learned have changed our experience of kayaking forever for us. For example the shark skins – had we not heard about them on Yakabout earlier this year, we would have put the kayak away during the winter months like we did the year before. Thanks to Yakabout writing about them we got the shark skins and kayaked ourselves silly during the winter months.

At some point during the last few months with us making the decision to get into fishing from the kayak, I wanted to learn more about the fishing aspect of things. So I looked around the web with Yakabout’s links page as a starting point, and I found a kayak forum called AKFF – the Australian Kayak Fishing Forum. I lurked for a bit, getting a feel for the water, and then I signed up and began posting.

I won’t lie and say that I felt comfortable right off the bat there – there was a lot of discussion between people who clearly knew each other personally. There was also a fair bit of “Aussie” humour, some of it funny, some of it not funny at all. That is usually the case with Aussie humour, I tend to find. You take the good with the bad, though.

Earlier this week a big argument broke out when one of the members posted a photo of their dog in a thread asking members to sign a petition. Their dog happens to be a Dingo. It is legal to keep them in NSW providing you follow very specific rules, which the person in question was doing. Frankly I wish every dog breed had rules and you needed a permit to keep them, having been bitten twice by dogs I hate it when people just let their dogs run loose in the streets. It happens a lot where I live.

It seems on this forum when people have an argument, nobody reports the posts, the mod team don’t bother to step in even when they can see that rules are being broken and personal attacks are being made, and then when asked why action was not taken, they state that nobody reported the posts.

Once the argument is over – or even while it is ongoing, members of the forum will jump into the thread posting completely off topic and somewhat stupid things to try and break the tension and calm things down (hello, that is what happens when the mod/admin team isn’t doing their job properly!)

So when I saw a totally offensive (to me at least) image of a dead cat on a road posted in that thread with a sign saying “Free Cat” pointing at the run over animal, I reported the post.

I can’t remember exactly what I said when I reported it, maybe just something like inappropriate image. If I was shocked by the image, I was completely flabbergasted by the response I got from a moderator on the site named Leftieant.

As I have now been banned from the site, I am unable to post a copy of it, however I remember him saying that the image had been sent by email a lot, and he believed it wasn’t inappropriate or offensive.

I responded saying I had never seen it before, I was offended by it, and that I knew there were quite a few members on the site who were under 18, and that I hated to think of kids stumbling onto that image as a surprise to them. I also quoted sections from the rules that the image specifically broke.

I did not receive a response to that private message, and no action was taken about the photo. It is still there as far as I know. It was about this time that I began feeling this site might not be a great place to hang out.. what happened next certainly proved those feelings to be correct.

On Sunday afternoon, I visited the AKFF forums only to find a couple of threads with ……… in the title, one of which was soon deleted. I then discovered that the signature of one of the forum members – Astro, who is a contributor at Yakabout – seemed to have been modified and now made no sense.

It now said – Kayak Fishing Correspondent http://……… – and I knew that it should have said Yakabout where the dots were. Hmm.. I dropped over to Yakabout where people were already chatting about this bizarre phenomenon in the shoutbox.

That same day, Yakabout had launched a set of forums on their site. Jealous much, AKFF guys? There was no reason to be – there is plenty of room on the internet for everyone to have their own forums. However with Yakabout being as well known and as popular as it was, they clearly felt threatened by it.

I wasn’t about to keep my mouth shut about this. I felt that any community that would act so childishly towards someone as awesome as Josh from Yakabout was probably not a place I was going to spend a lot of time in the future, so I was happy to be quite outspoken about it and you can clearly see that I was in this thread which I am surprised still exists – read it while you can!.

However I did not break the rules – being an Administrator on other forums, I know better than to do that.

Josh from Yakabout also posted about the goings on, which you can read here – Days Of Our Lives.

Imagine my surprise when I returned home from a kayaking trip on Monday only to find that my forum account on AKFF no longer existed. I am in excellent company though, because Yakass (Josh) no longer exists either. No explanation from the people on AKFF, no discussion, no mention of a warning, nothing. They just threw away two members of the community.

I am assuming (perhaps someone from the site reading this could comment and let me know for sure) that they made the decision to ban Josh, and they felt I would not keep quiet about that either, so they banned me at the same time.

Now me, I can understand. I am nobody in the kayak fishing world. But Josh? Who is probably one of the most well known (not to mention popular) kayak fishermen in Australia these days? That’s a bad choice, guys. That one will come back to bite you once your members work out what is going on. Oh wait.. you’re not ballsy enough to explain it to them, and they’re gonna have to figure it out all on their own?

Let me give you an example of how you are supposed to administrate a forum. When you ban someone and create a new rule as a result of that, you need to let people in on the secret.

Recently a member on The Mudflats borrowed money from other members promising to pay it back – and then did not pay it back. When we Admins found out about this, we chose to ban the member and we also created some new rules as a result. Here you can see the post where we explained the banning, and here you can see the new rules.

That’s how you do it, AKFF people. So why don’t you explain the banning of Yakass and Snoskred to your members? Oh wait.. you don’t have a good reason for doing it? Ohhh.. right.

There were some people on AKFF who I looked forward to meeting – I guess that won’t be possible now. That is the one thing I do regret about all of this.

Not one to let things like this upset me, I have built the bridge and got over it – and joined a new kayak forum which Josh assures me is awesome, and a quick look around over there shows me it probably is the better place for me anyway, they have a local fishing group. And I see some of the people I had hoped to meet are members of this new forum also too.

internet, kayak, people talking about you

Welcome Slash Dotters..

I’ve read through the comments here, and I just have a couple of things to point out.

In the case of AKMuckraker, previous to Doogan outing her, there was no connection between her real life identity, and the identity of AKMuckraker. You couldn’t google and find a link between the two. It simply was not possible.

He spent three months obsessively asking people who AKMuckraker was. He did this because she posted this blog post – Are You People Nuts? Lessons In Email Etiquette – this post came about as a direct result of his own actions.

The actions? Rep Mike Doogan replies to emails in a very inappropriate manner as a matter of course, it seems. But in that case he had collected up 30 or so different email addresses, and then emailed them ALL with the email addresses viewable to everyone. That is a clear breach of the privacy of those people who wrote to him.

Now AKMuckraker had a right to inform people about that, in my opinion. If you write an email to your representative, you expect there to be a level of privacy. Apparently this sent Doogan quite over the edge and began his obsession with her.

He chose to send out her identity in a newsletter to his constituents, many of whom may never have heard of AKMuckraker at all. That is the part which is most inappropriate in my opinion.

There are many reasons people want to remain anonymous on the internet. Alaska is a quite a small place in the scheme of things and like a lot of small towns to have true freedom of speech you don’t want to use your real name.

Other reasons someone might wish to remain anonymous –

* Because it is a standard identity- and privacy-protection precaution
* Because they have experienced online or offline stalking, harassment, or political or domestic violence
* Because they wish to discuss sexual abuse, sexuality, domestic abuse, assault, politics, health, or mental illness, and do not wish some subset of family, friends, strangers, aquaintances, employers, or potential employers to know about it
* Because they wish to keep their private lives, activities, and tastes separate from their professional lives, employers, or potential employers
* Because they fear threats to their employment or the custody of their children
* Because it’s the custom among their Internet cohort
* Because it’s no one else’s business

Bear in mind also – remember Kathy Sierra? Remember Dooce? Remember Abby Lee? What person in their right mind would knowingly put themselves out there for the kind of treatment those people went through?

Would you put your hand up to be fired from your job because of your blog? To receive death threats – and the people sending them know where you live? Who knows how far those people who do not like what you wrote might go?

The bottom of the bottom lines is – AKMuckraker would never have written about Doogan if he were acting in a sane manner. He is the politician who was sending the crazy emails to 30 people at once. If he had been doing the right thing and treating the people who elected him professionally and with respect, AKMuckraker would not have exposed his behavior. And NOTE – It is actually his JOB to listen to what the people are saying, and respond appropriately.

I haven’t had time to collect links today but here are some from yesterday – I would like to highlight these –

Picture of Mudflats’ AK Muckraker Posted! <-- do not fear, just go and read it. ;) I would not be posting a link if it infringed on AKM's privacy, and AKM has commented on the post too. Lorelle Van Fossen, who to me is famous but may be unknown to many of you, is writing a series on this event - The Outing of a Blogger: Social Transparency or Violation?
The Outing of a Blogger: Is it Legal to Reveal a Blogger?
The Outing of a Blogger: The Fear of Being Found Out

More links will be added to this post once I work out what hasn’t been posted. Apologies for any double ups.

Dear Mr. Doogan (Don’t feed the bears)
A Final Thought About Rep. Doogan and Mudflats
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
alaskan dem legislator outs blogger
Mike Doogan- own version of 1st ammendment
Anonymous bloggers, journalism and politics
The pertinent point
Alaska Legislator Mike Doogan: A Tool Of The First Order
Headline Does Not Match Story, Part 14: “Anti-Palin”?
Mike Doogan was wrong!
Take action on behalf of MUDFLATS
Mike Doogan Fell
My Letter to The Ethics Committee
Anonymous blogging
Open Letter to Alaskan Rep Mike Doogan
Please look for a new book by Alaska writer Mike Doogan: “Indecent Exposure.”
Know Your Blogging Rights and Help Protect Anonymous Bloggers Everywhere
Suck. Suck. Blow.
ADN’s Ear Siding With Doogan – The World Has Gone Mad
Politician Outs Blogger
…it begins.

Angry Snoskred, anonymity, internet, Internet Safety, The Mudflats, US Politics

Politician Outs Blogger

I honestly cannot believe I am typing this..

Some time ago Alaskan Politician Rep Mike Doogan was sending some crazy emails to people who emailed him and AKMuckraker was one of the bloggers involved in exposing his craziness.

Apparently this did not sit well with Rep Doogan. He has been trying to find out who AKMuckraker was for several months now and he has finally managed to do it. He then sent out a message to people on his mailing list via his official legislative newsletter, advising them of the real name of AKMuckraker. It is possible that when he did this, he broke the law.

Whether or not people support AKMuckrakers opinions, I believe most people would support her right to remain anonymous. I feel it is a right that everyone on the internet is entitled to – people make the decision for their own reasons, some because they have been cyber stalked in the past, some to prevent being cyber-stalked in the future.

This may be the first known case of an anonymous blogger being cyber-stalked by a politician determined to find out their real identity and out them, though!

You can read the full story here –

In Exposing the Identity of Mudflats, Rep. Mike Doogan Exposes Himself.

There are also some other blog posts on this subject –
Progressive Alaska
Shannyn Moore
The Immoral Minority
Palin Gates
Think Alaska
We’re Not That Stupid

I have been supporting AKMuckraker for almost 6 months now – we have been hosting her blog and forums – we have a team of mods and admins who keep the forums running smoothly. I did not need to know her real name to do that (and in fact did not know her real name until today) nor did I care what her name was. I understand anonymous blogging – I do it myself for the reasons explained on my about page.

My support will not change – other than to do whatever it takes to make sure Rep Mike Doogan never wins an election again, and to also inform the worldwide media of what he has done. It is highly inappropriate.

Epic Fail, Rep Doogan. Epic Fail.

I may not be around much for the next week or so, I’ll be busy taking action on this. ;)

Angry Snoskred, anonymity, internet, Internet Safety, politics, US Elections

Death To Internet Explorer 6

Ladies & Gentlemen. Please listen carefully. What I am about to say is so important I feel that I want to type it in caps. Rather than inflict caps lock on you, I’m going to trust that you are paying attention.

Internet Explorer version 6 and below does not render CSS properly.

Therefore instead of the navigation bar on my blog looking the way it is supposed to look – which is like this –

Navigation Bar

It looks like this –

Navigation Bar in Internet Explorer 6.

I don’t have to tell you that clearly something is very wrong with Internet Explorer 6 and below because the picture clearly tells the story. I could fix it so that it looks ok in Internet Explorer 6, but you know something? Why should we web designers have to do a lot of work to fix something that isn’t our fault, but is the fault of a defective browser?

My website looks exactly how it is supposed to look in every other browser except for Internet Explorer 6 and below. I know this because I have tested it.  You can test yours at Browsershots.

And you know what else? People using Internet Explorer 6 or below?

You should upgrade. NOW.

Drop what you’re doing and click on this link to upgrade your defective web browser!

Alternatively, you should switch to Mozilla Firefox which actually works properly – and always has done. You won’t believe how different the internet looks when you see it the way web designers intended. Firefox even does automatic upgrades these days, so you will never ever have to worry about downloading another upgrade yourself again – it will tell you it needs to upgrade, and you just click yes. It does not get any easier.

This topic annoys me so much it makes me want to swear. You see how I restrained myself from saying lots of rude words? I’m not sure how much longer I can keep doing that, so upgrade today. ;)


All About Skype – Tech Tuesday

Sephy’s post today tells you about how to install Skype – I’m going to talk about what you might want to use it for. Skype is brilliant and there is so much you can do with it, I highly recommend it – and here’s why.

Free Stuff –

I’m going to divide this post into things you can do for free – there is a lot of those – and things you have to pay for.

Text Chats – One On One –

You can chat via text to one other person using skype, 24/7, for free.

Text Chats – With A Group –

You can create a group chat, which can have up to 100 participants. So basically I could start a group chat, and then add anyone I had as a contact on my skype list. Group chats can go on 24/7 for the foreseeable future. When you go offline, all the messages you miss arrive as a surprise when you log back in the next time.

We used group chats a lot in the early days of scam victim support and it was wonderful – there was always someone else around who could help you if you needed assistance. This is a brilliant feature. It might not be so handy for bloggers, because our blogs are how we keep in touch. However it could be great for people who are a bit lonely and want to chat to someone.

Other Features –

Send Files To Your Contacts –

Sephy and I use this all the time to send photos – spreadsheets – text files – virtually any kind of file can be sent via Skype.

Send Contacts To Other Contacts –

Say that one of you got skype and added me as your first contact. With a few mouse clicks I can send you other contacts from my list of contacts – thus expanding your contact list.

Play Games –

I’ve never used this feature but apparently it is great fun. They have 18 different games to choose from like Chess, Hangman, Tic-tac-toe and Sudoku.

But Wait, There’s More!

With every update more and more features are added. I have only scratched the surface of what you can do – they now have call centre software (great for scammers who want to call me!), team collaboration additions where you can have a whiteboard everyone can write on, the ability to work on documents together, translation abilities, there’s even the ability to add a “lie detector” – though I’m not sure how well it works, I’ve never used it. All of that is 100% free.

Calls –

Call Another Computer Using Skype –

I am in Australia. Sephy is in the USA. If we were calling via normal phone lines we would rarely talk via voice to each other due to the cost. However because we both have Skype, we can call each other anytime for free. Anyone reading this who put Skype onto their computer – you would also be able to call us, and we could call you, for free.

Free Video Calls To Other Computers –

I don’t do this myself, but if you have a webcam you can make free video calls to other Skype users. This is fantastic for families when one parent goes on holidays and wants to keep in touch, for families who have divorced and the kids want to speak face to face to the other parent no matter how far away they are, for long distance relationships, for those of us who have overseas family, there’s so many things this is great for. It’s not just for perverts and slightly creepy people. ;)

Call 1-800 Numbers in the USA –

You can call 1-800, 1-877, 1-866, 1-855 numbers in the USA and Canada 100% for free – from anywhere in the world, anytime. You do not need to have any call credits with Skype to do this. You can download the program and start making free calls right now.

Call toll free Numbers In These Countries –

You can call toll free numbers in Australia, Austria, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, UK and Taiwan as well – absolutely free. Again you don’t need to have any call credits.

Conference Calls –

This is one of the best features of Skype. You can have up to 5 people on a conference call at once – sometimes up to 9 if you have the right kind of computer. It takes a little getting used to when you’re talking with 4 other people but once you get the hang of it this is fantastic.

Join Skypecasts –

This is a new area for me, I’ve never used it. Skypecasts are basically public chats – a few I spotted were language exchange where you can chat and make friends with people wherever they are, a maths tutor skypecast, a lunch time music concert, an alcoholics anonymous skypecast – and if you want to create one all of your own, you can do that for free.

Pay Stuff –

Call Home Phones And Mobiles From Your Computer –

The prices for calls are all available here – they are not too bad for the majority of countries. Especially considering what you would normally pay for long distance calls.

The HUGE advantage of Skype is – your call cannot be traced. The way the Voice Over Internet Protocol works is your call is sent to the nearest “out” point in that country. If someone you are calling sees any number (unlikely, we scambaiters have tested this pretty thoroughly), it would be the number of the out point. They would never know you aren’t using a real phone. Well, maybe some people won’t think that is an advantage but we scambaiters sure loved it. ;)

Conference Calls –

Remember the free conference call option? You can combine that with one or more outgoing calls. We’ve used this a LOT with scambaiting – one of the most fun things is to call two scammers and then let them speak to each other – a fun game of “who is on de line” “hello” “why did you call me” “I didn’t call you, you called me” is generally the result. We have also called scammers with four scambaiters on the line and each played various characters during the call.

You might use it to conference family members who have skype with family members who do not, or friends who are overseas and have skype with friends who are close to you without skype.

Skype-In –

You can get a telephone number for people to call you on your computer. Again the benefits of this can be huge. People don’t know where you are in the world. You can choose a number in – Australia, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States. You get voicemail free with Skype In.

The price of Skype In seems to have gone up since I last bought mine. It’s now 15 euro for 3 months, or 50 euro for 12 months. However if you have relatives or friends in any of those countries above you can get a telephone number where it would be a local call for them to ring you. That is brilliant.

Skype Pro

This is a new option – a low monthly fee for quite a lot of features but they vary per country. Check your country here

You’re In Control

The way payment works is you choose to add credit in small chunks. If you run out of credit it is your choice whether or not to add more. You can pay with Paypal, Mastercard, Visa, Diners, Moneybookers or you can choose a regular bank transfer option if you want to purchase credit regularly. I have used Skype for over two years now – it has always been safe and secure.

If You Want It Now..

Read Sephy’s post for info on how to download Skype, install Skype, and use Skype – Skype – A phenomenal tool for communication. For more information on Skype, you can visit their homepage.

internet, tuesday think tank

Spam – NEVER Unsubscribe! NEVER Reply!

We bloggers want to put an email address out there on our blogs for people to contact us with. The spammers have “data mining” software, which grabs those email addresses off the internet and loads them into their spam email programs. So how can you protect yourself from this deluge of unwanted email?

Never Unsubscribe – Never Reply

I got an email this morning from a friend of mine, who mentioned receiving a spam email from Romania. This one was actually personally addressed to their email address, which often tricks people into thinking they had actually subscribed to receive these emails.

The bottom line is, spammers send these emails out in the hope that people will unsubscribe – or reply to the email asking them not to email again. Can you figure the logic in people who reply to scammers and spammers saying “Don’t email me again, ever.” – You never asked them to email you and asking them not to email you makes no sense at all. Like they’re going to do anything you ask them to do!!!

Once they have confirmed there is a real human being reading emails at that email address, they can sell it on to other spammers and make big money out of it. So set yourself a policy of never reply, never unsubscribe.

Is It Possible To Not Get Spam Emails?

Yes it is. You just have to keep your email address completely private. As in, you don’t give it to anyone, anywhere. Of course, that defeats the purpose of having an email address! You want people to be able to get in touch with you – you just don’t want spammers and scammers getting in touch.

What Else Can I Do?

There are a couple of options which are relatively simple that may not stop the spammers and scammers completely, but at least makes it harder for them.

Make Your Email Address An Image –

You may have seen this kind of image around the place – note this email address I don’t use anymore so don’t ya’all email me at it!


This is easily generated online thanks to this wonderful website – Email Icon Generator.

The only trouble with this is, your email address needs to be simple enough that people can work it out from the image. Try to use letters only because numbers will be confusing. You will find some people will get the address wrong or simply not bother, though. It is almost as bad as those Captcha word generator things for comments.

Put An Extra Word Into Your Email Address –

Then tell people underneath which word to remove. For example (this is not a real email address) <--- take out the Poop to reach me. The only trouble with this is people find it annoying and troublesome and might not email you at all. People used to use NOSPAM as the word to take out - don't use that word anymore, the scammers and spammers have worked that trick out. They're not complete nitwits, ya'all! ;)
Use One Email For The Net –

This is the solution I have chosen for myself. Make an email address which is for the web only and which receives email only – never use it for subscribing to things or personal emails or responding to anything. Be very aware that emails which arrive in there can potentially be spams and scams, and never unsubscribe to anything sent to that address – because you never USED that address to subscribe.

Make another email address for personal correspondance and keep that one to yourself and friends only. There’s no limit on how many email addresses you can have.

I use 5 different email addresses for this blog. One here for people to contact me with, one which receives all the comments people post on my blog, one which I use to email people back with, one which I use for things I have signed up for which are blog related, and one which I use when I reply to comments.

Stumble It –

I hope this might be useful information and helpful to everyone out there on the net, if you found it to be useful please stumble it. ;)

Over To You!

What are you doing to protect yourself from spam and scammers? Do you receive a lot of scam or spam emails?

internet, scams, spam, www safety

Am I A Good Blogger?

Kirsten from All About Me – And Then Some asked many interesting questions yesterday in her post Am I A Good Blogger? and it’s such an important topic that I felt a comment would not do justice to it. So today I am going to take on two of the important questions we bloggers should ask ourselves. Do I buy my own domain? What about social networking?

Do I Buy My Own Domain?

Absofreakinglutely! Kirsten is on Blogger, which makes it easy to use your own domain yet continue to enjoy all the benefits of using Blogger. There are many reasons why you need your own domain and here are some of the important ones –

– Wherever you go, there you are. People will always know exactly where to find you.
– You build links back to your blogspot domain – you could be building them to your domain name.
– You have absolutely no control over what the people at Blogger do.- If Blogger went haywire – would any of the people who read you regularly know how to find you again? If you have your own domain they can easily find you.
– If someone hacked into your blog, you would be able to redirect your domain to the new blog (this happens a lot more than people realise, don’t think it’s impossible) and people could still find you.
– You may decide later to change your blogging platform to WordPress, or create a portal instead of a blog (tinyportal is my favourite and one I have looked at using in the past) or do one of a million things, and by having links to your domain rather than a blogspot URL, you get a jumpstart on page rank, on links to you, etc..
– It gives you flexibility – you can decide to move, or not
– either way you’re *able* to make these decisions yourself.
– If you decide to take your blog down for whatever reasons you can leave a simple page with instructions on how to contact you.
– You cannot get your own Alexa ranking on a blogspot domain. You automatically get Blogger’s ranking. For the bloggers who do want to earn some money from blogging, an Alexa rank is a bit important. ;) It is one of the things advertisers look at. (Update – check the comments, you can have an alexa ranking on blogspot but you have to have a large-ish amount of traffic to get it, Thanks Meg!)

The only time you should not use your own domain is if you have been blogging for a very long time on the one you have now and have high rankings on that blog. Even then I would STILL consider it.

Now a few quick myths we need to get out of the way re owning your own domain name.

It’s Expensive.

No, it’s not. You can buy a .com domain for as little as $8.95USD a year – and some domains are even cheaper. I do recommend that you also purchase the privacy protection for $6.99USD per year – that means nobody knows your real name, address, phone number, just by looking up your whois information – worth a little extra money! For less than $16 you’re all set. We use Go Daddy for all our domains – all five of them. Meg from Dipping Into The Blogpond also wrote a great post about getting your own domain name and debunking the myths of .au domain names.

You Need Hosting.

No, you don’t. With Blogger all you need is the domain name. Blogger is going to do all the hosting for you. Later down the track, if you wanted to go to WordPress you may need to consider hosting – but Go Daddy provides hosting for as little as $2.99 a month and there are many excellent hosting packages out there on the internet.

It’s Not Worth Doing Now.

Any blogger who has moved from a blogspot domain to their own domain will tell you – the sooner you do it, the better. Even if you’re just blogging as a hobby you may change your mind about that later – and then have to go to all the effort of re-establishing page rank (which you may well have built to 6 or even higher) and Alexa rankings and backlinks and blogrolls etc.

When I changed from the blogspot domain, Sephy had just done it weeks before me, and he already had a list of the sites I needed to change my URL on. The list was long but it was a fast job and only took me an hour or so. However all the backlinks I lost.. whoa. I had the old domain on a 101 rating with Technorati. My new site was a 0. I had a google page rank of 4. My new site was (and still is) a 0. It was painful. I made the change on the 17th of July and my new domain name is up to a 78 on Technorati – without me having the time to devote to letting people know I’d moved by visiting their blogs personally. It’s still on my to do list. ;) The longer you leave it, the more painful it will be.

Blogging Is Just A Hobby.

Can you name one other hobby of yours that you can do completely for free? All my hobbies cost something. I can’t think of one hobby I do that I haven’t had to put some cash towards.

I’m Not Blogging For Money.

I’m not painting for money. I’m not reading for money. I’m not playing computer games for money. I’m not gardening for money. I’m not watching DVD’s for money. I’ve easily spent 3 times what I’ve spent on buying my own domain on all of the above – sometimes 30 times.

What About Social Networking?

Kirsten said – I don’t have time to dedicate to heavy social networking… If I did I’m sure I’d have more readers than I do now.

The only social networking tool that draws large amounts of traffic is probably StumbleUpon – Digg is not quite the same thing, that’s more a news and article network. The others are nice, and often leave pretty pictures in your sidebar but realistically don’t bring large amounts of traffic in the way StumbleUpon can. So in my opinion, StumbleUpon is an absolute MUST – I’ll talk more about StumbleUpon in a minute. I do still recommend you sign up to a couple of the networks, as follows.

Bumpzee –

Bumpzee is basically a series of blog communities. Each community has an RSS feed. That means whenever you post, your blog post goes out to a lot of people. If you can make your title and first 250 words eyecatching enough, you will get some traffic from it. However even better you will find that some absolutely legendary people within these communities – and you will build excellent relationships.

It does not require a lot of time to join Bumpzee, and once you have joined you can throw the community feeds into your reader. They do generate a fair bit of posting traffic but as time goes by you will figure out which blogs you can live without, and add your favourites into your reader on their own.

MyBlogLog –

One thing I love about MyBlogLog is the fact that it autoadds you to a bloggers community once you have visited their site 10 times. So just by cruising around the blogs you love, you are social networking too. I log in there once a week and add any new friends to my friends list, this takes maybe 5 minutes. They also have some great stats which come for free when you’re a member – outclicks is really useful for me.

BlogCatalog –

Very similar to MyBlogLog. I think if you have one you should have both, but maybe that’s just me. It doesn’t take much effort to sign up at these, and very little effort to maintain them unless you *want* to put more effort in. I wish BlogCatalog did the autoadding thing, too. (Jonathan, BlogCatalog’s new blogger liason team member, are you reading this?)

Make An Impression –

With all three of the above communities, you can put the little widgets in your sidebar and see when people have dropped by on sight. I personally love that. Make sure you get yourself a unique and eyecatching avatar – preferably an image you have taken yourself if possible because then it is less likely it will be copied. Use the same avatar on *all* social networking sites. People will click on your avatar to find out more about you, and they often end up at your blog. It’s not a huge amount of traffic but it is one way to find new readers.


The main thing you need to do for StumbleUpon is download a toolbar in order to use it. The toolbar is excellent. It contains everything you need in order to stumble. I’m not going to write a guide on how to stumble here, because Meg already did that much better than I can. ;) Beginners Guide To StumbleUpon – You do not need to absorb all the information in the guide at once. Bookmark the article, and go back to it once a week, learn something new. I still keep going back to it.

I stumble sometimes 5-10 minutes a week. If I find myself at an internet loose end, I tend to stumble rather than do anything else. Sometimes that happens – you’ve read everything in your feed reader, you’ve checked the news sites, youve done everything you wanted to do, and now you’re like.. hmm.. the internet is BORING. Then you see the toolbar, and you remember – no it isn’t! and you hit the stumble button.

The even better thing about stumbling is, you can give a blogger a bit of a traffic burst when they blog something you really enjoy – and you can do this with just ONE click. They deserve that – and they will appreciate it and thank you for it.

You *should* make sure to tag anything you stumble – take a couple of moments to do this and make sure to put it in all appropriate categories. A post like this for example would belong in blogs, internet, blogger. There’s a drop down box, adding tags is simple. Meg had to send me an email to let me know that one. ;) hehe thanks Meg!


You don’t have to want to be an “A list” blogger to make the most of your blogging by having your own domain name. You just have to want to be the best blogger you can be. A lot of people don’t read blogs about blogging and when they *do* read blogs about blogging they feel a bit offended – I haven’t done that, I don’t need to do that, etc. You have to take the best bits of what the blogs about blogging are saying, the bits you can use, the bits that apply to you, the tips you want to try, and let the rest go. ;) I’m not going to just follow one persons advice on something, I want to read a lot of opinions, that’s why those blogs are so popular.

Social networking can seem time consuming but tends to be a lot less time consuming than you’d think. ;) Have I convinced you of the benefits of both, Kirsten? As long as you don’t use Facebook, which I am told is the temporal vortex of the Internet. I don’t know for sure, I haven’t signed up! :)

When I get time, I’m going to add a “best blogs about blogging” list of blogs to the sidebar. If you’re reading this and you have any suggestions on blogs that should be in that list, leave a comment with a link to the blog please. ;)

blogging tips, feed readers, internet

Australians all let us rejoice..

Many Australians read this blog and I’d love for them to come over and comment on this post and give me their insights or perhaps make a post of their own. Does anyone else feel like they don’t belong here in this country, or is it just me? The Hump Day Hmmm topic this week is – Race, Society and the Internet. We Aussies have a unique view on this topic, I think.

Australia is a multi cultural land. I have been raised to appreciate and respect other cultures, traditions, beliefs – and I do. We have people from many lands who have come here. The Australian Census in 2006 lists over 30 different countries of birth for the current residents of this country – and one of those categories was “other”, so the real truth is difficult to know.

If you ask an Australian what does multi-cultural mean, they will generally mention food. Yes we have many different foods here in this country but it is about so much more. Language. Religion. Beliefs. Genetics. Art. All of that plus a lot more – right down to how the homes smell and whether you take your shoes off at the door or not.

Where I grew up was a fairly typical Australian neighbourhood. Across the road lived people from Sweden. They spoke Swedish and taught me some Swedish. They had a REAL pine Christmas tree. They had exotic names. Next door to them were people from Poland. They were stand offish. They decorated their Easter Eggs in the traditional Polish Pisanka style. Next door to them were people from Italy. Oh, the food. They took me to Midnight Mass and I adored it.

At primary (grade) school, my first best friend was Ellen. She was Chinese and just as much of an outcast at school as I was, which was why we got along so well. We both had a crush on Iva Davies from Icehouse. In year 7 there was a school camp, and Ellen was the only person whose parents would not allow her to go. In solidarity, I refused to go, and the two of us stayed behind, the only two out of almost 100 students. Her parents had a Chinese restaurant and we would go there after school, folding napkins, eating chicken and sweet corn soup, spring rolls and prawn crackers and drinking Coke. I still find it hard to drink anything else with Chinese food. The two are forever associated for me.


Iva Davies, as he was back then. Noice!

My second best friend was Leila. She was from Iraq. Her home smelt mystical. I cannot describe it other than to say incense sticks and spicy food. She had arrived in Australia very recently and there was a lot of fear and concern for family and friends left behind. She had the most beautiful exotic clothes and gorgeous dark curly hair and this accent which seemed to be to be sent from Heaven. I wanted to talk like her.

My third best friend was Rachel. She lived three doors up. Her parents were second generation Australian, from English stock. Her mother had this major thing about naphthalene flakes and moths. She would sprinkle naphthalene flakes on the floor and vacuum them. The smell was impregnated into Rachel’s clothes and some of the kids teased her about it. Me personally I liked the smell from a distance but going into the house was difficult, you almost needed a gas mask to survive it.

We were the four – inseparable. We came as a package. When primary school ended, none of my three best friends went to my high school. I arrived there and I was the outcast. I was not stick thin. There were 500+ people in my year level. The only people who would accept me into their group were the “nerds”. Mostly I retreated within myself because people were so rude and nasty to me. I began to hate school and look forward to the weekends when I could see my old friends from primary school. By the end of that year the four became people I saw less and less often. They’d got involved with their own school lives – but where did that leave me?

I ended up going to church to seek out people I could be friends with. There I met my new best friend who was my best friend for all of high school and quite a few years after. She was second generation Australian, her parents were from the Isle of Man in the UK. She went to a different school than me, but she was an outcast there – she was also overweight like me and she was a diabetic. She spent a lot of time in the hospital which was near to me, and I spent a lot of time there with her. I’d walk to the hospital after school and stay there until my parents picked me up about 9pm.

Around this time next door to us on the right side a new neighbour moved in from Malaysia. He was a later addition to the neighbourhood, arriving in the late 80’s. He was not too much older than me and his parents had sent him and his brother out here to go to school. I had a major crush on him but I never said a word, feeling he would be terrified by it. Instead we became very close friends. He would go back to Malaysia for several weeks over Christmas and his absence was like a gaping hole. You took your shoes off at the door. Often Leonard would find large huntsmen spiders in his shoes and say maybe this custom was not a good idea in Australia.

The majority of the population here are not “native” Australians. I was born and raised here and no matter how much I might want to be, I will never be considered a “native” Australian, just like many Americans will never be considered “native” Americans – though I don’t think Americans feel it in the same way I do (do ya’all?). I do not have any Aboriginal blood running through my veins. Many Australians would consider that to be a good thing – I personally wish there was, for many reasons. First and foremost is I want to be considered a “native” Australian. I was born here. This is my country. To be told I am not native to my own country is honestly one of the most irritating feelings.. it seems petty and pedantic but it really stings and this annoys me more the older I get.

I don’t actually know very much about my ancestors or how they got here but I do know there’s Scottish blood on my Mother’s side and English blood on my Father’s side. Maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to men in kilts. :) I have never seen Braveheart and I don’t understand much about Scottish traditions. I am hugely attracted to Aboriginal Art. Something about it speaks loudly to me. When I first started doing art I kept seeing dot paintings in my head.

I’m no master in Australian History or anything, but over 200 years ago the English used to send their convicts here. People who stole a loaf of bread would be shipped out to Australia as a punishment. Whoever thought up that idea had obviously never been here. The place has amazing natural beauty. Aborigines have been treated very badly in this country since about the time the convict settlers arrived. There is a lot of anger on both sides – everyone is angry, actually. It’s not my intention to go back over the history and explain why people are angry and to be honest what is in the past should be able to stay in the past. Let’s live in the now, not the past. Right?

Of course things never work that way. The major issue is, somebody introduced the Aborigines to alcohol, drugs, and petrol sniffing. Some people tried to do good things and built houses for the Aborigines to live in, perhaps they thought it would help to make them “civilised”. They were quite offended when many of the Aborigines pulled out the floor and took off the roof – they need to feel the dirt under their feet and see the stars above their heads. Oh, and some people stole a bunch of their children, claiming those kids weren’t being looked after. In fact an entire generation of Aboriginal children were stolen out of their homes. The Other Half’s own Mother was one of this stolen generation. She wasn’t wearing shoes in her backyard. That is why she and her brother were taken away.

Aha – did you pick up on that? The Other Half has Aboriginal blood in his ancestry. Oh, he’s pretty white. You can’t tell by his skin color. We believe he has two generations of white blood, though nobody can be sure, that whole stolen generation thing gets in the way of the family tree, and his Mother did not truly embrace being Aboriginal because of being stolen. It was something mentioned in a whisper. He does have a lot of the typical Aboriginal genetic traits – a thick skull, a wider, flatter, sort of squished onto his face nose, curly dark hair. To me The Other Half looks a little bit like Guy Sebastian, except without the groomed eyebrows.


Guy Sebastian from Australian Idol.

Guy is a fairly unusual Australian Idol – he was not born here. Guy Sebastian was born in Klang, Malaysia to a Sri Lankan and Malaysian father, and a mother of Portuguese and English descent who had been raised in India.

If you were to look at The Other Half chances are you would guess he is from the middle east – since September 11, he cannot get through security at the airport without being vacuumed to see if he is carrying explosives. People are always surprised when *I* tell them he is Aboriginal and their initial reaction is “I thought he was from (middle east country). He does not tell people. He doesn’t mind me telling them, but to him it’s not important. It is also not a part of him because he was not raised in that culture.

To me, who values the fact that he can call himself a “native” Australian, this is pure blasphemy. On one hand I can see why – some people have a stereotypical view of Aborigines – that they are drunk homeless people. It’s not true for the majority of Aborigines, but it *is* true for a small group of them. Of course that small group are the more noticeable ones when you’re walking through the park they are drinking in. If I had the smallest amount of Aboriginal blood in me, I would rejoice and embrace the culture with open arms, because at least then I would feel like I belong here.

Because they were treated so badly in the past, like America there is now the politically correct non discrimination thing going on. Some jobs are advertised with “Must be of Aboriginal descent”. The Other Half would never apply for one of those kinds of jobs, because he does not think it is fair to anyone. He does not want to be someone’s “token” Aboriginal. There’s also a large range of free services he would have access to if he chose to identify himself as being of Aboriginal descent. He won’t do it. He says it is because he has no proof that he is Aboriginal other than what his mother has told him, and what are they going to want, DNA samples? I say the same thing about those jobs where people have to be of Aboriginal descent – do you have to take along some proof?

I sit here in a land of many cultures, and I feel completely lost. I don’t have my own culture. I mentioned before when I was growing up in primary school my best friend Ellen was Chinese. That had such enormous meaning to me. She had a language of her own, her parents ran a Chinese restaurant, when you went to her house it was filled with traditional items from her parents homeland. My house seemed empty in comparison – full of love, but no cultural history. If you asked Ellen – what is your culture – I am sure she would have a list of things as long as her arm. If you ask me – what is my culture? I don’t feel like I have one. I don’t belong here. I am here, but I don’t BELONG.

To counteract this feeling of not belonging I have begun to carve out my own culture. I take pieces from other cultures that I like, and I adopt them as my own. I have a real pine Christmas tree. I cook Italian comfort food when I feel unhappy. I eat Chinese once a week and when I feel sick I cook chicken and sweet corn soup. I love Feng Shui, aromatherapy, incense sticks, Geisha dolls, midnight mass, the Norwegian language because it speaks to me on a level I don’t even understand, beaches and Aboriginal art.

None of these small, stolen traditions will ever fill that hole I feel. It will never make me belong the way I see people from minorities belong. I don’t have my own language – and when I do type the language I know, Australian English, I am accused of not knowing how to spell. Not just by people reading my own blog but by my OWN WEB BROWSER!!! Here we use ou – favourite, colour, etc. Words that I was taught to spell in school show up with a red line under them in Firefox.

Australians, I believe our biggest challenge is still to come. We now face a new religion arriving on our shores. It’s been here for a while but now it is beginning to make its presence known. I have never been more uncomfortable. I do not like some aspects of this religion at all, in particular the Hijab and Halal. Cugat once said something very intelligent to me about Halal and I hope he repeats it in the comments – about the origins of it.

I find myself offended by what seems to me to be a religion where women are considered lesser creatures. Of course I could be wrong but that is how it looks on the face of it. I believe I may be beginning to develop a prejudice against this religion and this means I am going to have to learn more about it.

Despite the same Qur’anic obligations being issued for men and women, rules regarding dress developed so that men were to cover from their navels to their knees, whereas a women were to cover all their bodies except what was essential, that is, the hands and face.

What offends me the most is Halal. The one thing I do consider truly Australian is the Aussie Hamburger – we put everything on there we can think of. Beetroot, egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pineapple, avocado. Now some places you can no longer get bacon because they are Halal. I wrote this post – Hang on a minute – on that topic back in November and also – Another non-religious post – as yet my views on that have not changed. I need to remember to look deeply to find the similarities between myself and people who follow this religion or else there’s a chance I might not accept them. That’s difficult when you feel offended as a woman by such a religion – how can I reconcile the woman I am to the women who follow something which seems to be oppressive to women?

Hump Day Hmmm, internet, life lessons, Muslim, religion, women

Blog Wrap Ups Made Simple And Easy..

For a while, every Sunday on the blog I did a “weekly wrap up” post. It became a firm favorite with my readers and people often emailed or left comments letting me know how much they enjoyed it. So, would you like to make a regular wrap up a part of your blog too? Here’s how to go about it. Note, this may get a little basic at times in order to help out the less technical of us. ;)

1. Decide what categories you want.

It’s a good idea to have a weekly wrap up follow a kind of “set format” or order. It makes it easier for the readers – they know what to expect each week. You can choose any kinds of categories you want – be creative. You could choose to wrap up what has been going on in your life, perhaps little things which didn’t rate a blog post of their own. You can break down some of the categories into smaller chunks, for example my Must Reads section has extra categories within it. My weekly wrap up includes –

Funny Search Terms This Week –
Must Reads – Post of the week – Funnies –
Great Stumbles this week –
Here On The Blog –
Blogs Added To The Sidebar –
Coming Up –

2. Never be afraid to add to your categories –

This week I am going to be adding a new section where I highlight an old blog post of mine each week. I’ve written some great blog posts in the past and newer readers to the blog may never have read those. If you think of something new don’t be afraid to try it out – and if it doesn’t work out that’s ok too. Some categories you might want to only use from time to time when something fits in them instead of weekly.

3. Create a weekly wrap up text file – with formatting included.

This is the key secret to writing the weekly wrap ups – the formatting part is a secret I only recently discovered. How do you do it? I do mine in blogger but what I’m about to say can be done with almost any blogging platform.

– create a new post
– put in your category titles
– format each category title as you want them to appear (larger text, bold, color etc) note you have to do each title separately because you’re going to add text in between the titles later.
– copy the HTML (in blogger just click edit html and copy that – wordpress users, how do you do this in wordpress?)
– paste the HTML into a text file

So now, you’ll have a text file which will look very strange to you because it has odd code in it, eg – (span style=”color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-weight: bold;”)

Save this text file as the BASE file. Then save it a second time as blogwrap(date) and use blogwrap(date) as the file you put your links in as the week goes by – this way once you’ve done a wrap up you can open the base file and then save it as blogwrap(next week’s date) and start putting links etc aside again without having to delete last week’s work. This saves you time and effort!

If you looked at the file, you’ll note I have html in there for the links to posts etc. That’s important when you get to number 4.

4. Have your weekly wrap up text file open when you’re online.

I’ve mentioned Editpad Lite here on the blog before as one of the best free things available on the net – a great little program that allows you to have text files in tabs so you can flick between them.

I always have Editpad running on my computer and I now always have blogwrap(date) open so when I find a great blog post or an article or anything I want to mention in the wrap up, I can add it – this is where the HTML comes in – (a href=”link”)text(/a)

– copy the link and paste that where it says link
– copy the title of the post as written by the author to where it says text.

Once you’ve done that, you have a link ready for posting in a weekly wrap up. Don’t forget to click save whenever you add in a new link – I lost a bunch of links one time when the power went out.

5. Write your thoughts as you go.

When you copy a link, make sure to put a little bit of text next to it on the spot, so you don’t have to spend time re-visiting the links when you’re writing the blogwrap post. An example from tomorrow’s upcoming blogwrap – with the html brackets changed to ( ) so you can see how it looks in the file –

(a href=””)Hubble Heritage Gallery Of Images(/a) Sites like this are why I love Stumbleupon.

6. Comment before you leave the link.

I usually like to let bloggers know I’m going to be linking to their post in my next weekly wrap up, sort of as a heads up. This is a polite, considerate and friendly thing to do and a very good habit to get into. Sometimes I forget due to lack of talent, organization or skill. Apologies in advance, I never claimed to be a perfect blogger! ;)

7. Communicate updates to your blog.

The weekly wrap up is a great time to mention new widgets and gadgets you’ve added to the sidebar, as well as any changes you’ve made to the “face” of your blog and any new blogs you’ve added to your sidebar links. When you make a change, note it in your wrap up text file on the spot, so you don’t forget about it.

8. What’s on the horizon?

The weekly wrap up is a good time to let your readers know what may come their way over the next week – however be careful. Blogging happens all on its own sometimes, and sometimes I’ve said things were coming up but those things still have not arrived. I’d generally advise not to say too much, just a brief overview of potential possibilities and topics. However do make sure to let them know if you’re going to be participating in things like the Hump Day Hmmm or various other weekly type things.

Blog wrap ups are good for many reasons but the most important could be helping you to build relationships with other bloggers by showing them you like their work enough to link to it – and generally you will find the link love comes back to you over time.

We all find ourselves amazed, happy, excited, possibly a little scared when we start blogging and get our first comment, and we begin to connect with people. It’s a great feeling. It is a great way of showing your blog readers blogs that you enjoy – and a great way of showing bloggers you love their work which is something bloggers enjoy and like.

10. Click on the links.

Once you have published your weekly update, my advice is to click on all the links in your post. This gets the words out to bloggers that they have been linked to because all bloggers tend to check where incoming links are coming from, and generally they will drop over to your blog and check it out, sometimes leaving a comment, sometimes adding *your* blog to their list of blogs to read.

Pick a day! Let people know.

You should choose a day of the week that you’re comfortable with. I chose Sunday because it was a slow day here at the blog – it’s not anymore. ;) People drop by just to read the wrap up. It’s also made Mondays busier, too.

So there you have it –

How to create the blog wrap up and make it easy. Are you inspired? If you’re going to add one to your blog, make sure to comment and let me know, and send me a link when you write your first one, I’ll drop over to check it out.

Work Smarter –

Until recently my weekly blog wrap up was taking up a fair bit of time at the end of the week to put it together. While I was putting links and search terms aside during the week, it was more of a mish mash of stuff I’d put aside rather than anything organised. I would leave it till Sunday to format the post and lay out the links in some kind of order and in general it would take over an hour to finish writing it.

Now that I’ve decided to work smarter instead of harder, the blog wrap post comes together over the course of a week, and is ready to post on Sunday with only five minutes of checking and editing.

In Conclusion –

How many of us take the time to encourage other bloggers on a regular basis, and let people know we enjoy their blogs and enjoy their work? A weekly wrap up gives you the chance to do that – if you don’t want to do it weekly, you might consider once every two weeks, or even once a month.

blogging tips, how to guides, internet, weekly wrap up, writing tips