November 29, 2016

mangalaspotpourri

Mangala's Potpourri
http://mangalaspotpourri.blogspot.in/

Indian-variety-blog-by-Mangala

A blog full of variety: 

Traditional Indian cooking: posting signature recipes of the elderly besides my own;
Bollywood songs with focus on The Golden Era of Hindi Cinema;
Poems and creative writing;
Paintings;
Cryptic Clues in Crossword Puzzles

- Mangala Madhuchand

November 22, 2016

How to save your Blogger blog posts from an unwanted autosave?

Many bloggers whose blogs are on Blogger platform have shared their dismay on the web about their posts disappearing while they were working on them. A friend said, she selected the text that she had composed over a week, something happened on its own and the next moment there was nothing on the post. Such experiences can be frustrating.

The culprit is AUTOSAVE that comes by default on the Blogger platform, and you cannot avoid it. When you face sudden disappearance of text on a post, what happens is that you accidentally select the text and delete it (or you cut the text for pasting it elsewhere) and AUTOSAVE saves the post at that very moment. It saves the blank post and your text is gone!


How to retrieve post content on Blogger blog?

Google/ Blogger has no provision for undeleting post content. You can take these actions if you have accidentally lost content from a blog post on Blogger:

1. Quickly press Ctrl+Z (on Windows computers) or Undo (on iOS/ Mac) many times.

If you press 'undo' or Ctrl+Z on the keyboard, that works only for a few seconds because if in the meantime AUTOSAVE has saved a new version, the actions before that cannot be taken back.

2. Open a document (e.g. a MS Word doc) and give Paste command (Ctrl+V on Windows). It will paste the content if it was cut (not deleted) and is still stored in the clipboard.

3.Go to History on the browser and try to retrieve a previous version of the post. Often not very useful but worth trying if nothing else works.

4. You can also try clicking on the 'Previous' icon/ button next to the address bar on the browser. It also seldom works as AUTOSAVE works really fast.

5,6,7,8. These ones work fine if you had a published post but you accidentally removed its content and then saved it. Go to the cache of the browser and look for an older version. Or go to archive.com and ask for back versions of that page, which might have been saved by Archives.com a few weeks/ months back. Or, if you had been working on the same computer and have not cleared the browser's history for some time, you could find the previous saved version in it. Or, you could ask one of your subscribers (if you have a subscription widget on the blog through which others can subscribe to your posts) or email friends (if you send them an email after you published a post) to send you the post they received from you.
 

What to do to avoid accidentally erasing a post on Blogger blog?

Here is a very simple workaround, but you need to discipline yourself to do that. Moreover, this is a preventive action, not something that you can do if the post is already erased:

How to use a poxy blog to avoid autosave in Blogger
1. Open a new blog and make it private (Settings> Basic> Privacy)Compose a post. Keep its settings (font and its size, alignment etc) as similar to the main blog as possible. Now publish it. (The post will be published but will be visible to you only.)

After that, you can keep making modifications to this post. After each session, 'Update' it rather than 'Revert to draft'. 

Autosave does not work on a published post and so your post remains as it is!

However, keep Updating it at intervals so that your edits are not lost due to power failure etc.

For transferring the post to the main blog, open the post in HTML mode, copy the content and paste it into a new post on the main blog. (Open that post also in HTML mode.)

2. The other, some swear it to be much better, way to avoid accidental loss of post content is to compose posts in a blog editor. We tried a number of free blog editors and sought bloggers' comments on them, and found Open Live Writer to be the best. However, all may not feel comfortable with an editor outside of Blogger. 

3. You can also use Google Docs to compose posts. [A great tip: If you want to make complex posts, for example with table, Google Docs is a good way to go. Otherwise you have to put HTML codes into the post.

We don't find it a great idea to use MS Word or other word processors for composing blog posts. When you copy the composed text into a Blogger (or Wordpress) editor, all the commands and characters associated with the word processor are also copied. Our experience even with saving web or blogging versions of MS Word was also not satisfactory.

November 17, 2016

Life is the price paid by free speech bloggers... video, marketplace offers from biggies: Social Media updates

Zimbabwe's war on social media after the national flag became a symbol of protest


The Zimbabwean Government, threatened by the massive popularity of social media, has invoked  harsh laws and threatened the public to behave. The telecom regulatory authority has warned social media activists in no uncertain terms by issuing statements such as this: We would like all Zimbabweans to know that we are completely against this behavior and, therefore, advise that anyone generating, passing on or sharing such abusive and subversive materials which are tantamount to criminal behavior will be disconnected and the law will take its course. President Robert Mugabe himself has directly and indirectly asked people to behave or face action.

What has irked the government is the use of social media to spread criticism against the government. In April this year, priest Evan Mawarire uploaded a video in which he criticized the government's economic policies. The national flag that he had worn around his neck soon became a symbol of protest first on the social media (hashtag #ThisFlag) and then on the ground.

Niloy killer arrested in Bangladesh: Will he be tried and will other bloggers get justice?


Recall a series of killings of bloggers and other free-thinkers in Bangladesh in recent months, and worldwide criticism of the government for being soft on radical groups hacking anybody seen to be writing against Islamic thought as propagated by hardliners? Since July, the government has cracked down on such elements with an iron hand. 

This Islamist radical, Khairul Islam, is reported to have admitted to killing Niloy. He also eliminated a publisher, Dipan. 

Zone9 bloggers again under threat.


Ethiopia has arrested over 11000 citizens under the Emergency rule. Any sort of protest can get one straight into the jail.

Zone9, the bloggers that are the social media face of protest against misrule in this country, have faced arrest, threats  and unfavorable court orders.  Four of the bloggers released in 2015, appeared in the court a fortnight back. One of them, Befeqadu, has been arrested now for his recent interview to VOA.
  

This Mauritanian blogger might be hanged soon for being critical of Prophet.


The clergy in Mauritania is after Mkhaitir for his apostasy or heresy. It has urged the government to immediately implement death penalty to Mkhaitir. 

This writer/ blogger wrote an article in 2014 in a French web-mag Chezvlane, in which he said, Prophet Mohammed indulged in double standards in his dealings with Jews and Arabs. His sentence to death was swift and has been upheld by the court of appeal. Mauritania watchers say, he does not have much chance in the supreme court too. With the clergy after his blood, one more free voice might soon get silenced for ever.
    

The angry face of blogging in Singapore free, but for how long?

 
Amos Yee's YTube, blog pages

Amos Yee, 17, a Singaporean blogger, who was sentenced to six weeks in jail last week for his posts critical of Muslims and Christians, is being released before completing the sentence. He has earlier been jailed for a similar charge of 'intending to wound religious feelings' and undermining religious harmony. Yee posts primarily on his YouTube account, Facebook page and Wordpress blog, from which some posts have been taken down for being obscene or hurtful towards some religions. 

Now some tech updates:

Tried Facebook Marketplace yet?


Facebook last month launched Marketplace, a platform for buying/ selling products from/ to people nearby, in a few markets including the US and the UK.

Facebook Marketplace (image: FB)

Facebook says more than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups on its platform each month - from families in a local neighborhood to collectors around the world. So, taking it forward, Marketplace is supposed to be a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.

Considering Facebook's huge popularity, this would definitely challenge the supremacy of the likes of Craiglist and eBay, will it? 

New heat in video calling app field: Duo vs WhatsApp vs ?


Google has not only launched Duo, the video calling app, but has this also bundled in its new Pixel phones. In fact, Google has deprecated Hangout on these phones in favor of Duo. WhatsApp has launched video calling, though on Android phones only (not iOS) as of now.

Video calling may not replace voice calling in the next few years but its share will go up significantly. So, after video on demand, small video clips, self-playing videos and live video, video calling was the natural next step in the internet-based communication world. It could not succeed well in the pre-app era but the latest offerings on apps seem to work from day one. That leads to the scramble. Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp (also owned now by Facebook), Hike, Skype, Google Duo... There are many players already and new emerging but like chat apps, only a few will sustain. Let's see.

November 11, 2016

5 reasons your blog is stuck for a wrong reason, and how to come out of it

You start a blog. Then you write the best you can. You follow the advice that you see on the web - adding photos, sprucing up the headline, SEO, technical tweaking...

The blog doesn't move forward. You realize that your friends who were initially commenting a lot on your  blog have become less interested, unless you had appreciated their latest posts.

Something is wrong with the blog, you feel, and look for reasons for its NOT going the way you had visualized when creating the blog. You look for more advice and tips. You find a claim of getting a hundred thousand followers in a month and fall for it. You find some unethical tricks and are tempted to try them.

Nothing works, or something seems to work for a few days and then the blog goes back to square one.

What should I do? Why is my blog not getting enough traffic though I write so well? I have tried all SEO, even paid for it, but I'm not getting a lasting success, why?

One of the main mistakes most bloggers make is that they choose a wrong niche*. The wrong choice of the subject of the blog is, in fact, the biggest indirect cause for the blog getting stuck in the mud.  

We have found it after analyzing 300 blogs in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs and an equal number of blogs randomly chosen from the rejected list, over the last three months.

Let's see why most bloggers reach that stage:

1. Choosing a subject on somebody's advice or seeing someone succeed with that

Many people start blogging because others in their friendship circle or relations are doing that. With the rise of social networks, chat sites and social apps, fewer people are under social pressure to open a blog, but it does happen. Blogs started with others' advice or by following a successful blogger also suffer from many other ills.

2. Choosing a niche based on its paying potential

Many bloggers who start blogging with the sole aim to earn money choose subjects that are seen to be paying. They do all the research on the web and choose a few ones that are highly paying. The smarter among them do a lot of technical tweaking, which sometimes pays well and sometimes boomerangs as search engines penalize them for it. In all such case, the blogger is in a hurry to earn and has little love for the subject or the blog itself, so in the long run the blog stagnates.

3. Not choosing the best among possible good niches

Some bloggers do a bit of research about their strengths and weaknesses - which is highly desirable - but stop at that; they end up choosing the wrong subject out of the ones they are good at. Or they feel they can dominate the web by opening a number of blogs. After opening many blogs, they find short of time and energy for so many blogs, and most of their blogs decay. 

4. Starting the blog first and looking at the niche aspect much later

The temptation to follow someone successful or to prove that one is better than others (point no. 1 above) often leads to starting the blog in a huff. All other things including looking at one's strengths, going for proper platform and choosing the right design take a backseat till one realizes that things are not going fine. 

Some bloggers are seen working on the blog's design and their writing from be beginning but realize very late that some other subject would have suited them better. They feel short of topics in the present subject or feel bored. When that happens, they do not know whether to remain with the blog or discard all the stuff they created and start a new blog. 
 
5. Not choosing a topic at all

A very large part of the blogosphere is filled with personal blogs - blogs that talk of everything that comes to the mind of the blogger. Such blogs grow in their own way, sometimes getting popular much beyond their friendship circle, even making good money - but 9 out of 10 such blogs remain personal diaries with very few people interested in them. In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp, others' interest in such blog has gone down significantly.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, even partly, do read on.

I am new to blogging. How do I choose the right niche?


If you are a new blogger, you have all the time to make amends. Take out paper and pencil and list niches in which you are strong. Among them, choose those you are passionate about. Choose those with paying potential (if earning money from the blog is your goal). For earning, analyze how you will monetize the blog; for traffic, think what all actions you will be able to take. After a detailed analysis of your own strengths and also examining blogs already in those niches, select the topic that suits you in most respects and you'd not regret later for having chosen that subject

The following posts will help you in this analysis:
Latest ITB blog listing: for a list of variety of subjects and good blogs in those niches
5 quick points before you start a blog 
Be aware of the myths before you jump to blogging

Can I change the blog's niche now after five years of blogging?

  
Changing the niche of a blog that has run for long and has a large resource base is a lose-lose proposition. Yet, if you are stuck with it, it is never too late to make the right change. 

Try to analyze the blog from all angles and after that decide if you should revive the blog. Be rigorous and unsparing in this self-examination. Do not be tempted to revive the blog only because this is an easy and soft option. Ask the moot question again and again: Am I not wasting my energies on a niche that does not suit me? If at the end, you are 100% sure (not 99.9%) of taking it to a great height by following the right course, go for it. 

If the blog is not in a niche best for you, you have other options: 

(i) Keep maintaining the old blog but don't expect much from that. Use your creative creative energies in a more suitable niche

(ii) Re-purpose the resources of the old blog, and start a new blog in a different niche. You can use the resources of the earlier blog in many ways so that the fruit of your labor is not lost for ever - as a personal diary; as a collection of your tit-bits and creations such as travel photos, poems,  thoughts on economy etc; as an e-book or a real book; etc. 

(iii) Start a new blog and keep the old one as a section of your new blog. It can give the new readers a glimpse of your personal life, hobbies or interest in a different subject. This section might be personal section of your new professional blog.  

As a mix of these approaches, you can discard the old one and put its resources in a section in the new blog after editing them and presenting as new stuff. 

You can visit this post specifically on the question of what to consider when thinking to revive your old blog.

Whatever decision you take - create a new blog or revive the old blog with a new zeal - do not commit the same mistake again. Choose the right niche.

*niche = a position particularly well suited to the person who occupies it; a distinct segment of a market; slot; position [The Free Dictionary by Farlex]

November 4, 2016

Will social media influence US election results?

There have been many developments in the past weeks in the sphere of social media. We'd update visitors on these soon, but let's devote this post on the US presidential election, which is taking place on 8th November.
 
This year's presidential elections have been the most bitterly contested, and social media has played a big role in multiplying the bitterness and spreading it fast. Use of social media was quite high even in the last (2012) elections too but many factors have contributed to its massive use this time. Let's briefly recapitulate them before discussing the more substantial matters. The main factors are:
  • Rise in the availability of high-speed internet in most parts of the US
  • Significant increase in the use of smart phones (35% by last elections, 65% now)
  • Spread of apps, mobile sites, social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Massive rise in use of visual media (especially small videos) over various platforms 
  • Globalization of messages and their consumers (leading to high global visibility of US elections)
  • Reduced dependence on newspapers for news, especially breaking news (about 45% get their news first from social/ apps)

 

Are 2016 US Presidential elections truly riding on social media?


Till 2012, social media was still evolving as a quick, chatty medium to broadcast messages. It spread the message, generated some interest and almost stopped there. Not much audio-visual content floating on FB, Messenger, WhatsApp, etc... Blogs, websites and Facebook etc discussing poll issues more than playing ping-pong with spicy statements... Snapchat was just taking its baby steps at that time.
Even tweets of presidential candidates would get a few dozen, rarely a hundred, shares and comments.

This time the candidates are playing their part in giving the social media all the ammunition it asks for: histrionics played on television, sexual assault claims against Trump, dirty remarks against women made by Trump coming in the open, FBI's unnecessary clarifications on an already heated email backlash against Hillary, Trump saying he'd send her to jail...

Donald Trump is a social crowd puller due to his controversial, right wing rhetoric against immigrants - particularly Mexicans and Muslims, his sexist remarks and flamboyant personality. These appeal millennials and young voters prone to getting fun out of virtual sloganeering, lampooning, hooting, jeer. What matters is strong statements and dramatic visual expressions, not substance.

Strong statements by their candidate and mistakes by the opponent are exploited by back-end offices, support groups and fans and made into juicy memes, jokes, cartoons and spoofs. Social media does this work with vengeance and without the candidate having to pay a penny. Ted Cruz's awkwardly shaking hand with his running mate becomes the proof of his awkwardness in broad terms. Trump's mocking of Hillary's pneumonia bout is not pardoned - in fact it might prove his nemesis. 

Though a number of gaffes, ugly remarks and strong stands have been tweeted and re-tweeted many times over, the trophy for social shares is bagged by the snub Hillary gave to Trump on Twitter. When Hillary was endorsed by Obama, Trump wrote a tweet, "Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama—but nobody else does!" Hillary wrote back, "Delete your account." This one from Hillary has been re-tweeted over 500,000 times and liked over 672,000 times (so far).

That takes us to the next question: despite the buzz, does social media influence elections?
  

Does social media really contribute to a candidate's win or loss?


Though many media pundits would like to call the present elections as 'social media elections', social media's contribution to a candidate's win or loss is not likely to be substantial.

Agreed that with millions of active followers on major social networks, the two main finalists are generating unprecedented social buzz. Yet, the followers who keenly watch the candidates' actions and make an instant comment and share it with others, making a statement look like a gospel or a slip of tongue look like a habitual abuse, do it with their preconceived notion. They seldom care for others' views. Social media merely acts as echo chamber and reinforces their biases. 

The chance that people would change their voting preferences based on social media messages is slim. Only fence-sitters might be influenced by social noise. In fact, only such people are likely to be influenced by other media including television debates, person to person discussions and serious discussions/ analyses on the web. 

It is also a fact that not all followers of political leaders are their supporters, but they follow to keep abreast of the leader's latest actions. 

Since the two Presidential candidates are now neck-to-neck and their leads are shifting by the day, their stakes are very high. So, there are chances that in this scenario, even a very small contribution by the social media might become very important. Of course, from the candidates' perspective, social media is important even if it is able to change hearts of even a few thousand fence-sitters. In that respect, social is more important than print or television ads which - being non-interactive and sometimes obtrusive - hardly influence voters. 

Social media's role in taking forward major election issues

All social is not ephemeral or superficial. Some platforms, including blogs, play an important role in discussing the election issues threadbare. 

In the current elections, many websites have drawn comparisons between Trump and Hillary on key issues including jobs, immigration, gun violence, terrorism and international relations. Some blogs have advocated or criticized individual stands with  data and strong arguments. 

Candidates have been using social media to clarify their stand on different topics and also whenever a controversy arises.

Social media has exposed the frailty of both the finalists and their frivolous understanding on a number of matters of national and international importance by laying their views and actions bare in the open for all to see. In fact, this exposure is more effective than the laboriously written political commentaries and editorials, isn't it?
   

Keen to check American Presidential election results in a clear format? We have sifted the web to see which websites give detailed yet clean and simple presentation of Presidential election results. We recommend Politico. You can click on the link or the US map to visit their results page. (Disclaimer: We have no commercial or other affiliation with Politico.)

November 2, 2016

artihonrao

Straight from the Heart
http://www.artihonrao.net

​Amidst the busy lifestyle, Straight from the Heart is a place to relax. Forget about the tensions of life, remove your shoes, sip some coffee and unwind!


Poems, Stories, Story series, reviews and much more...


I believe that the essence of writing lies in not only entertaining the reader, but speaking to them through words. Being good at writing a story is not about the story being unpredictable, it is about the way you narrate the predictable story and still keep the reader interested.


- Arti Honrao​