A Very Quick Update

I still have not managed to overcome the image upload issue I have been having. I cleaned up my server (deleted lots of what I hope were unnecessary files), upgraded to the latest version of WordPress, and installed a new theme.

Still, I have issues. Next I will be uninstalling all of the plugins (extra functionality) I have added.

Things may start to look and work much differently.  Just thought I’d give y’all a heads-up.

“I’ll be back.”

The Linking On Up Test

I mentioned the other day that my pal ShyB decided to make Things I Saw Today a regular feature on her blog. I suggested that it would be fun to enable her followers to add links to her post when they decide to participate. To do that, you need a linky. It gets a bit technical, so I volunteered to test the linky options to figure out which works best.

I’m not sure of the technical term, but there’s a LIST linky… that’s the kind where she would have a list on her site. Participants would be required to include a link back to ShyBiker’s post to access the list of other participants. There’s also a BLOG HOP linky… the creator of the linky tool I chose explained that one best, so I’ll borrow a quote from his blog to explain the blog hop.

What is a blog hop?

A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS.
When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the
exact same list appears on each blog.

Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list.
The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.

Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can “HOP” from blog
to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

Get it?

Even if you don’t understand the difference, I’d like you to help me — and ShyB! — test the thing. You need a blog to do this. And it needs to be a Blogger blog or a WordPress blog that is not hosted for free on the WordPress site. Something about WordPress not allowing Java on blogs they host…

Anyway, if enough of our followers have a free WordPress blog, I’ll figure out how to get code that works for both. Meanwhile, since ShyB has a Blogger blog and I use standalone WordPress, we’ll try it this way.

But first, here’s what the link should look like on your page. Except without the blue border (I added that to make the image stand out a bit).

The Linky Tool is below.

The Linky Tool is above.

Please help us test this thing. The test will only be “live” for a few days.

In theory, the linky tool is supposed to be easy to add to your post.

One thing I discovered is to make sure you are in HTML view mode before you paste the code into your post.

WordPress is either being quirky or it’s normal to have to STAY IN HTML VIEW MODE, or the linky code will disappear.

Did you see that? Stay in HTML VIEW mode.

The way it is supposed to work is you click on “Click here to enter” and the participant form pops up. Once you enter all of the necessary info, you’ll either be given the code OR you’ll gave to select “Get the code here…” on the original post. That’s why we’re doing this test. To see if it really works the way it is supposed to.

If participants find this too difficult, we can explore other options.

Technical Difficulties

I’ve had a bit of an up-and-down month on the technology front.

Why Hasn’t She Been Reading My Blog?

First, there were the issues with Google Reader. That’s the program used to aggregate the latest posts from blogs that I follow.

Think of it as a subscription manager. You tell it what blogs you want to subscribe to (that’s what “follow” means) and it keeps a list, alerting you whenever new stuff is posted. That way you have one place to go to instead of multiple places when you want to see what all of your favorite bloggers have been up to. You can add and (allegedly) remove blogs as you see fit.

Over the years, I’ve followed various people. Here lately, I’ve come to the realization that too much of my time is being spent on the Internet, and it’s getting in the way of me getting stuff done around the houses that needs to be done. So I decided to whittle down the list of blogs I follow. I only kept the ones that belong to people I REALLY like and really don’t want to lose touch with. I deleted all the rest.

All was good.

Then a few days later, all of the blogs I’d deleted were back. I deleted them again. They came back. I deleted them once more. Again, they reappeared.

What’s up with that?

Apparently, there’s a bug/issue with Google Reader wherein their system cannot distinguish between subscriptions you want to delete and those that are accidentally deleted. So every few days it scans your account and restores all of the subscriptions you’ve “lost.” So you can NEVER get rid of the subscriptions you no longer want to see.

There may be a way around that or some sort of fix, but I’d spent so much time trying to figure out what was going on AND had become rather irritated with it all, that I just decided to kill my Google Reader link and use a new feed reader.

I decided on Feed Demon, a free Windows RSS reader that seems to work pretty well. So now, all you folks who have been missing me, wondering why I haven’t been reading or commenting as much as usual should see me hanging around again.

Why Hasn’t She Been Calling Me/Returning My Calls?

I’m not much of a phone person. I hardly use my land-line phone, much less my cell phone. Yet Hubby has been nagging me for months to get a new cell phone. His cell phone is work-issued, so he gets what they give him. Sure, he could also have a personal cell phone, but that would just be dumb.

He’s been dropping hints to me left and right about upgrading my phone. Not-so-subtle hints like, “When are you getting your new phone? Have you decided which one to get? Did you order your phone yet?”

Last Monday, he sent me an e-mail with a link to the phone he recommended.

Now, I really didn’t need a new phone. But since he’d gone to all that trouble (and to make him quit nagging me), I finally caved and got a new phone. Not just any phone, a droid/smartphone.

I didn’t tell Hubby I had ordered it. So when the phone arrived on Tuesday, he was quite surprised. He activated it, charged it (so we thought), and spent the next couple of hours testing it. Then later that night I drove to our WV place to get ready for my girlfriend getaway “weekend.”

Most weekends don’t start on Wednesday, but my friends were anxious for their break. I had to work Wednesday and Thursday, so they had to entertain themselves. But they managed just fine.

Anyway, Tuesday night I spent a couple of hours checking out the phone’s features and then went to bed. I plugged the phone in so it would charge. Then the next morning I realized it wasn’t charging.

Of course, I was in West Virginia, nowhere near a Verizon store. And we have not established a PO Box or mailing address, so they couldn’t ship anything to me even if they wanted to. The phone had appeared to be working okay, it just wasn’t charging.

Long story short, I received a bad USB cable. I finally got a new one on Monday and now the phone is all charged and seems to be working just fine.

But, I have to say, there’s nothing that makes one feel older than new technology.

The user’s manual for this “phone” is 308 pages long!

So, if you call me and I hang up on you, please be patient. I’ll call you right back.

If your phone rings one time or even half a ring and you see it’s a missed call from me, sorry! I didn’t mean to call you. I was just trying to figure out/manage my contacts list.

When I told Eric about my new phone, he said, “Welcome to the future!” I guess it’s about time.

Why Hasn’t She Been Posting as Often?

Nothing technical about that one. I’m actually very on-the-fence about maintaining this blog. It has no real purpose other than serving as a bit of a creative outlet for me. While I have several loyal followers, most days I feel like I am just talking to myself. And since I have another blog that does have a clear focus, and many of the cool folks who read this blog also read that one, I might just post over there for awhile.

This blogging stuff takes time. And time is not something I happen to have a lot of. Spare time, that is. I do work full time. We’re trying to finish the kitchen project at the WV place. And there are a number of projects at the MD place that need tackling. My office is in complete and total disarray. I haven’t seen much of my family (the ones I don’t live with). The house needs cleaning. Bills need to be paid. I need to find all of those important tax receipts that are floating around somewhere. The flower beds need weeding. The lawn needs some work. I’m losing touch with many people because I don’t squeeze time in for phone calls.

Get the picture?

So, if I seem to have disappeared, check over at my Appalachian Tours blog.

And to those loyal, outspoken followers of mine, you should know who you are. But just in case, so you know that I really appreciate your support, I have to mention all of you. There’s Shannon, ShyBiker, Fuzzy Galore, Jess of Old Nichols Farm, StillMary, Jade, Annelies, and Tiff. Thanks. Your active participation is what’s kept me here this long. My Appalachian Tours blog isn’t all about motorcycles, it’s about local travel with a smattering of personal stuff thrown in. I hope you’ll consider visiting me there.

For now, work is calling. So are those bills. And I know that tax form is in my office somewhere. Sigh…

Finding Your Way Around My New Blog

This new blog of mine not only looks different than the old one, it works a bit differently, too.

Specialty Pages

The page you’re on now is the home page, which is where the main blog is located. I also have specialty pages. Right now, there’s a PHOTOGRAPHY page and a DOGS page. (I just added the dogs page today, by the way.) Not all of the info on the specialty pages will appear in the main blog. So, if you are in fact interested in the specialties, you’ll have to click on the links in the menu bar at the top of the page.


Have you figured out how to comment yet? It’s really pretty easy. On the upper right side of each post, you’ll see that green box, which tells you how many comments are associated with that post. If you click on that box, you’ll be taken to the comment field. The only information you are required to provide, in addition to your comment, is your name and e-mail address. A Web site address/URL is completely optional. The first time you comment, the comment will not appear until I have approved it. After you have been designated as an approved commenter, your comments should show up pretty quickly.


I am still trying to figure out how to get my followers to show up. That’s one of those niggling little things that is making me nuts.


I am also trying to add a subscription tool. Ideally, you should be able to click a button and enter your e-mail address then every time I post something you’ll get an e-mail telling you there’s a new post to read.


There are other things I am working on, too. If you are confused for any reason, don’t like the new look, love the new look, etc., let me know. Please. I love comments.

Anything you’d like to see changed? Let me know that, too.

And don’t forget to check out the dogs page today to see the cool videos I posted.

I look forward to reading your comments soon!

The Change Explained

I mentioned the other day that I was going to be changing my blog. I was planning on building a new blog, getting it all situated and then making the switch. However, once I imported the posts from ToadMama’s Web Abode (old blog) to test the new blog, I pretty much had to go ahead and make the switch. I’m not going to bore you will all of the technical details, so you’ll just have to trust me on that.

Anyhoo, that’s why all of a sudden you find yourself here. I hope you like the new look.

The reason for the change wasn’t purely aesthetic. I’ll try hard not to get too technical as I explain this.

Blogger.com, which is where the old blog was hosted, is free. It’s powered by Google. As long as you don’t have an overwhelming amount of visitors (i.e., site traffic) and your file storage doesn’t exceed a certain size.

I did not have too much traffic, but slowly but surely I have been inching toward that maximum storage limit. I’ve been blogging for about two years now. And I post a lot of images. Image files are huge. I could have upgraded the storage capacity (for a fee) or I could have transferred the files to an external server. Since I already had my own Web site with a huge amount of extra server space, I could have just transferred the old blog. But I have never been overly thrilled with Blogger’s functionality.

Over the past year or so, I’d begun to notice that many of the blogs I visited had really cool designs. I wanted to emulate some of those looks, but Blogger just does not support some of the cooler stuff. That’s when I started noticing a lot of those way-cool blogs used WordPress.

WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.

Once I started looking into WordPress, I realized I could easily migrate my files to the toadmama.com server, easily get the more-customized look I wanted, and add functionality like separate pages. That way I can have the main blog page, which you are looking at now, as well as separate, specialty pages, such as the Photography page.

Why separate pages? Because not all readers want to read in-depth, technical discussions on photography. I also plan to add a Motorcycling page. And (surprise, surprise) a page just for the dogs, too. So that if I am doing an in-depth analysis of dog behavior, I won’t bore my readers that could care less about dogs.

WordPress is better in a lot of ways. It’s much easier to post images (I can do it in batches instead of one at a time) for sure. And you all know how I like to share images, right?

The driveway, plowed.

Like this one, which shows what our WV driveway looks like this morning. We had someone plow it so that we could get in here last night. It’s a good thing, too. See the size of those snowbanks along the side?

Here you can see one of the snowbanks the plowman left behind.

Back to the change… there are still some things I am trying to work out. Like my Followers listing. I’m trying hard to get it migrated so my followers won’t have to re-enroll, but it’s not looking promising so far.

I’ll be adding those extra pages I talked about, too. And probably tweaking the look. Who knows what else.

But it should work well enough that you don’t have any problems. If you do have problems, please let me know. Please. I hate when stuff doesn’t work the way I want it to work. You can write to me at toadmama_space_@_space_gmail.com. You’ll have to remove the “_space_” before and after the “@” to make that work.

Change is Coming…

As early January creeps toward mid January, I have continued my food and photo experimentation. In case you were wondering.

Food first… A couple of nights ago, we tried Pioneer Woman’s recipe for meatloaf (I got her cookbook for Christmas). Neither of us were crazy about it when we ate it for dinner, but I must say it does make a pretty good sandwich. Tonight… Chicken Spaghetti. We loved it. Her recipe for pot roast, which I made on Sunday, makes really good pot roast (a really big mess on the stove, too).

The book, while a best-seller, has gotten mixed reviews. Personally, I love it. It’s not the best cookbook in the world, but it’s Pioneer Woman. It’s full of comfort food, and amazing pictures, and critters (inclusing my all-time favorite cow photo), and her family. It’s like I have my own piece of her with me right here in my house.

I’ve been a PW fan for a while now. She takes awesome cow pictures. She gets me into trouble though. With posts like this one about her new favorite camera lens. Just one more piece of equipment to work toward…

Speaking of working toward stuff, I really am determined to master this camera setting adjustment thing. Not all of my experiments are worth sharing. But today, I caught something I thought was very cool.

After I’d finished working, I was on my way downstairs to get dinner started. As I passed the front door, I just happened to notice a pink tinge to the sky. This time of year, you’ll see some amazing pink and blue skies. But the riot of color is fleeting. So I ran and grabbed the camera, walked outside and started snapping away. All in Manual mode, thank you very much.

I only had socks on and my feet were freezing. By the time I went inside to grab shoes, the color drama was gone. But not before I got these shots.

It’s not art, but it’s a start. Right?

Actually, I could have tweaked the color with post-processing, but I liked the way it looked as it was.

Now that I’m just about at the end of my post, are you even a weensy, teeny tiny bit curious about what is changing? Just a little?

My blog. I’m moving it in a slightly different direction. I want to incorporate more photography stuff, which will completely alienate most of my current followers, so I need to make some modifications. But it will all be good. I promise.

I’ll be unveiling a new look soon, which I think will definitely be a change for the good.