Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “blogging”

Testing WordPress

Just testing to see if WordPress will let me post.

If this appears, it will let me post text, but it doesn’t seem to want to let me post links or pictures.

Here is a picture:



This is a link — click on it.

You can’t even enter a link manually <a href=””>this is a link – click on it</a>

Hey, WordPress — have you ever heard of the saying — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

I don’t want an “improved posting experience”, I just want an editor that works.

I hate it when softweare developers promise an improved “experience”.

Every time I see that, I know what it will be — reduced functionality, and the main experience is frustration.

When they offer an “improved experience” it always means more bells and whistles, fewer pistons and cylinders.










Nine years of Notes from Underground

This blog opened with its first post nine years ago, on 28 November 2005, so I’ll look back on some of the highlights of the last nine years of blogging here.

When it started, Notes from Underground was on different platform, Blogger, and I was impressed with the east of posting quick articles. The very first post was a bit of an experiment to see what was possible, and you can see what it was about here: Notes from underground: Seek and ye shall find

I’ve lost touch with a few old friends, and so I’ve entered their details in a “reverse people finder” at:

Who? Me? Is someone (old friend) looking for you? People Search Finder.

I’ve subsequently found a couple of them.

One found me through my web page, which shouldn’t be too difficult. Another I found through Google — entering her name in normal search brought up too many hits. But I searched images, and wondered how easy it would be to recognise someone after 30 years. Well, bingo. Up popped an image, and my old friend had changed, of course, but was still recognisable.

That was before Facebook, and I’vw found Facebook a better way of finding old friends. but if your friends aren’t on Facebook, Who? Me? might be worth a try.

Quite early on, however, Google took over the Blogger platform, and began fiddling with the Blogger editor. I had been attracted to it by its ease of use for posting stuff quickly, but Google set about making i8t harder to use and reducing the functionalityy so that eventually I, like many others, moved this blog to WordPress. I left the original one up, so that links would not be broken, but nothing new has been posted there for the last two years.

Within a month of starting this blog it was involved in a blogging experiment. Two Christian bloggers, Phil Wyman and John Smulo, proposed a synchronised blog, or Synchroblog, where a group of bloggers would post on the same general topic on the same day, and post links to each other’s blogs, so that someone could read several different views on the same topic. The topic was Syncretism, and my contribution was an article which I had posted on a Geocities web site, since closed, but you can still see the article at Sundkler deconstructed: Bethesda AICs and syncretism

Abandoned places of empire: Ruins of an English monastery

Abandoned places of empire: Ruins of an English monastery

Synchroblogs became quite popular for a while, and there was one every month or so, with quite a wide variety of views. But eventually it came to be managed by a few people in the USA, who chose topices that were mainly US-centred, and a lot of the variety disappeared. Partly for that reason, I rarely participate in synchroblogs any more, but the main reason  for not participating is that there used to be a mailing list, with a monthly reminder, and those now organising the Synchroblogs disdain to use it, and without the regular reminder I simply tend to forget to find out what the topic and date are for this month. But it can be found out here. if one remembers to look, which I rarely do.

Looking back over the last nine years, some of the best Synchroblogs that I have participated in have been:

Not all blog posts are synchroblog posts, of course, and there have been other kinds of posts over the last 9 years. Still on the theme of the “new monasticism” is

Abandoned places of empire

and another post on the theme of abandoned places concerns the Metroblitz, the ill-fated predecessor of the Gautrain:

Trains and individualism

Other posts on trains seem to be perennially popular:

and, still on the theme of travel, our series of posts on a holiday trip around Namibia and Botswana in 2013, which covers three of our blogs, and so goes beyond this one.

The illegibility of WordPress

Whose idea was it to fill WordPress blogs with illegible fonts?

I recently wrote a comment in another blog, and the first line of my comment was this:

The Facebook world is very much a Web 1.0 world.

but all I could see of it was this:

Th     l  l    ll i   i  mu h i   l       i l l.

The vertical strokes in the letters are visible, horizontal strokes are faint, and diagonal strokes fainter still, so that in a word like “Facebook” all one can see are the vertical strokes of the b and the k, which make the word look like ”    l  l”.

The blog post in question was Church in a Facebook World | Liturgy, where the blog says that it is “Powered by Headway, the drag and drop WordPress theme”, but most of WordPress’s public and help pages seem to be written in the same barely legible font. The list of Categories in the right column where I am writing this are in the same illegible font.

I really couldn’t be bothered to read most of the comments on that blog, because peering at the screen trying to work out what the words are leaves one so exhausted that it isn’t worth bothering to think of what those words are trying to say.

These are not the Dead Sea Scrolls or some other ancient documents that have to be deciphered after being exposed to the vagaries of the climate, insects and other hazards for thousands of years. Why make text on a computer screen look like a badly-fixed paper photograph that has been left out in the sun?

You can surely devise fonts with a face and colour that contrasts enough with the background to make them legible. So why do the people at WordPress seem to go out of their way to make them hard to read? Are they trying to kill blogging?


Eight years old

Eight years old

This blog is eight years old today, and here is a link to the first post. But WordPress is taking so long to load that it might be tomorrow before this gets posted.

That is actually on the old site, where this blog started. I moved it from Blogspot here to WordPress about a year ago when Google crippled the Blogger editor, removing lots of functionality and making it much harder to use. But I left the old one up, so that links to and from it would still work.

I wish people who abandon their blogs would not simply delete them, because deleting them creates a lot of broken links on other blogs.


South African Blog Awards 2013

I just received a reminder that the registration process for the South African blog awards is now open.

SABA-tiny-bannerAnyone who is interested can go here to register their blog.

I entered my blogs last year, but I think I’ll give it a miss this year. Last years winner wasn’t too bad, but I thought the runners-up were pretty poor quality. If you want to know why I thought that, see here.

The problem is that the “awards” are not really awards at all. It’s more like an election campaign, where the blogger who manages to run around getting the most friends and friends of friends to vote for their blog wins.

I put a little discreet announcement of the thing in the sidebar, and said that if people liked my blog, they could click on the link for vote for it. If they liked it they would, and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t. But if you want to get anywhere with such things you need to put a lot of effort into campaigning, and soliciting votes in the same way that people solicit “likes” on Facebook. I don’t like it when people solicit “likes”, and I don’t like soliciting votes for blog awards. The awards say nothing at all about the quality of the blogs, but rather they are a measure of how energetically the bloggers campaigned for votes.

It’s a bit like the lead up to the election of the leader of the ANC at Mangaung last year.

There’s all the politicking, the sucking up, the wheeling and dealing. It’s not about policies, it’s about personalities.

I said last year that I’d like to see Mamphela Ramphele as president of South Africa, which would mean that she would have had to go through all that politicking and wheeling and dealing and infighting and back-stabbing to get anywhere near the top of the heap, and I doubt that that would have been to her taste. And anyone who does find it en0ugh to their taste to get to the top of the heap is unlikely to make a good leader of the country. It was easier to start a new party than to go through all that.

And so with the SA Blog Awards.

They don’t really say much about the quality of the blogs. They are rather a measure of who could sucker enougyh friends and supporters to vote for them. But if you’re willing to put the effort into campaigning, go for it.



WordPress stats hard to read

Is it just me, or have the WordPress stats pages (and editing pages) just become harder to read?

In typing this, some letters (and parts of letters) are easily seen, but the rest are faint. It looks like a pice of paper on which raindrops have fallen and dissolved the ink in patches, making it fainter?

Or do I just need new glasses yet again?

Looks like I’ll have to write blog posts outside WordPress and copy and paste them in — trying to spot typos is too much of a strain.

The line below this in the entry form is almost unreadable — “Tags (llol llol lool loll oll loll l olollo)

Internet connections and speeds

After 12 days without a phone or Internet connection, I’ve been catching up on reading blogs, and Jenny Hillebrand had an interesting thing about Internet speeds here Carpenter’s Shoes: Internet Speed.

I thought I’d try it, and my results are here and look something like this:


If that’s the speed I’m getting at 1:40 am, what must it be like at peak periods?

I also noticed that AMATOMU :: The South African blogosphere, sorted is back, well sort of. Some of the stuff doesn’t seem to display properly, but at least it is there. I thought it was gone for good. It least it gives some idea of which South African blogs are active.


Goodbye Amatomu?

For several years now Amatomu has been the most useful guide to the South African blogosphere, but for the past couple of years it has been behaving erratically, and now it seems to have disappeared altogether.

It was started by the Mail & Guardian a few years ago, when they tried to entice several bloggers to their web site, but they abandoned that along with Amatomu some time ago. For a while Amatomu limped along on its own, but now it seems to have died altogether. All I get now is

Unable to connect
Firefox can’t establish a connection to the server at

That is sad, because now the only real guide to South African blogs that I know of is the blogrolls of other South African bloggers, and those, including my own, are often poorly maintained.

But perhaps blogging is dying anyway, and internet communication is becoming more and more trivial and inconsequential.

We read headlines like Kate Middleton Just Gave Birth to Nearly $400 Million in Economic Stimulus –, only to discover that most of it is “The commemorative schlock. So, so much schlock.”

And most of that schlock finds its way on to social media sites like Facebook nowadays.

And yes, there were (and probably still are) blogs that are just as bad, but they weren’t quite as “in your face” as Facebook.

So, I’m sorry to see the death throes of Amatomu. For all its faults, it did serve a useful purpose.



Are Google out to destroy blogging?

Google seem to be determined to drive their users away to other platforms. I moved this blog from Blogger to WordPress when they forced their new dysfunctional editor on me.

Now Goggle have been inviting Blogger users to switch their Blogger profile to a Google+ one. But the Google+ one is inferior, from a blogging point of view. On the old Blogger profile you can click on your own, or someone else’s “Interests” and find other bloggers who are interested in those things, and thus find interesting blogs to read. The Google+ profile lacks this feature, so I resisted Google’s blandishments and didn’t switch.

But they punished me for it, because when I wanted to comment on blogs that have switched, I found that I could not do so — you could type anything you liked in the comment box, but nothing would appear on the screen.

One of the blogs on which this happened has now moved to WordPress, and another has gone back to using Disqus for commenting.

And now Google have decided to call their online chat thingy “Hangouts”. Well, I don’t care what they call it, I never do online “chatting” anyway. Watching someone remotely typing on my screen and correcting spelling as they go (or not) is as bad, if not worse, than watching paint dry. But for those who do like such chatting, beware. Now there is this: nourishing obscurity — Hangouts is an analogy for Big Brother.

Actually, all this is probably part of the war between Facebook and Google for market share. They are trying to lock users into believing and acting as if their site is the Internet. They want to force everyone to communicate with other people only on their site. That’s why Facebook changed everyone’s e-mail address to a Facebook one, without telling them, and without telling them how to use it either.

Never forget that you are not the customer. You are the product that they are selling to advertisers.





Is blogging doomed?

One of the blogs in my blogroll is Aquila ka Hecate, which had an interesting (to me, anyway) discussion on the changing seasons. I wanted to comment on it, and found that I could not. Google had somehow linked the commenting facility to their Google+ (which becomes more clunky by the day), and it would not let me enter a comment. I could type the comment, but nothing appeared on the screen.

It was because of such things that I moved this blog from Blogger to WordPress several months ago. And the last thing I posted there was some negative comments about their trying to link blogs to Google+. In that case it was because of the reduced functionality of the Google+ profile, which they wanted to substitute for the Blogger one. But now they have included the commenting system as well, which doesn’t merely have reduced functionality, it simply doesn’t function at all.

And Aquila ka Hecate tried to move her blog to WordPress, here, and that doesn’t seem to have been too successful either? Is blogging doomed? It seems that the major blog hosts are out to destroy it.



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