Category Archives: internet

Demographics of My Blog

Since I’m on a demographics kick I thought I’d post about the countries that have viewed my blog. While I’ve been writing for about 5 years, WordPress only started doing the country demographics in February of 2012. So who reads my blog? The top ten countries might be who you would expect. After all, I write in English, so the Engligh speaking nations are at the top. Plus, I’m Canadian but Canada isn’t number one. This might be because we have a relatively small population for a rather larger land mass. Of course, we modern, pampered people tend to live more toward the southern border because it’s just much nicer than freezing your ass off. And to all the Inuit, I admire the ancestral hardiness that let you survive and prosper in the Arctic, but it’s not for me.

So yes, the US is my number one reading country. We have that close proximity and the masses to bolster the readers. Canada is in second place with the Brits not far behind. Sorry, Scotland, you guys are considered part of Great Britain, but the Republic of Ireland is separate. Fourth most populous readers is India. Not only do India and China have about a third of the world’s population but one of my more popular posts was Betel Nut Adventures.

Fifth place goes to the Ozzies. Hello, Down Under. If you haven’t done so, check out the blogger from New Zealand, Ms Bunny.Eats.Design. Great fun. Next come the Philippines and Brazil. I’m not sure what draws readers to my site but I’ve written about many things so something catches the eye.

The last three spots in the top ten readers fall to Germany, the Netherlands and France. I was in the Netherlands two years ago and loved it, especially Delft and Den Bosch. Germany and France, I’ll be visiting you in about a month and I hope to post about my travels.

From polgeonow.com

From polgeonow.com

As fascinating, at the other end of the demographics are all those countries where one lone soul found me: New Caledonia, Mauritania, Togo, Anguilla, Djibouti, Congo, Malawi, Faeroe Islands, Andorra, Somalia, Swaziland, Palau, Solomon Islands, Turks and Caicos, and Cuba. What’s fascinating is that I haven’t even heard of some of these places:  Marshal Islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Kiribati, Gabon. I’ve learned something new about the world.

In fact, I can say almost all of the world has seen my blog. Here are the countries who haven’t found me yet: Greenland, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Then there is a strip in Africa: Zambia, Western Sahara, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Madagascar. I would hazard a guess that Greenland might have issues of connectivity. Whereas the other nations might be too impoverished or in political unrest (or they don’t speak English). It’s just a guess because I’m certainly not up on all the African nations but it’s my best surmise.

I can’t say how accurate WordPress’s map is in showing all countries but it’s interesting to think that we can reach most of the world these days. Even if most of the world doesn’t speak English, there are smatterings everywhere.  I’d be interested in some of the less frequent visiting countries to hear what drew you to my blog. In the meantime, it was fun to see what countries have stopped by. Keep on dropping in.

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Filed under Culture, internet, people

WordPress Creates a Bomb

wordpress, hidden dashbar, frustrating changes, blogging, writing, designing blog

Is WordPress owned by Microsoft because this latest change smacked of the annoyance that every Microsoft upgrade has.

If you recently logged into your WordPress blog, you might notice that things changed, and change drastically they did with no warning. It seems WordPress decided to study Facebook and take a page from the book of annoying.  Normally, they’ve done a few changes and they seemed okay and intuitive. The dropdown menu was great. So this morning when I logged in I couldn’t find where to get to my posts, nor how to find my dashboard, which is where the other aspects of designing the blog are, such as managing comments, placing widgets, changing themes, edit and adding posts, reviewing old ones, etc. The dropdown menu had been simplified but nothing seemed to indicate where the dashboard was. So I thought I’d find feedback, which they used to have and which I didn’t even have to use very much. I found the support section and posted a comment (my comments are in regular font, blue italics for the volunteer who was driven as crazy as me, other colors for other commenters. There are a few more comments in the actual thread but they were only spinning off or commenting on what they disliked as well. Full thread is here:

What the hell? You guys have changed everything, even on how to contact anyone or leave feedback. Now I have to hunt to find a way to make a new post and view my previous posts. Not to mention, where did my dashboard go? This is not one of your better tinkerings. Please put back the dropdown menu and make it easy again.

The blog I need help with is colleenanderson.wordpress.com.

No changes are going to be reverted. If your have specific issues please list them and we will deal with them.

where did my dashboard go?

http://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/wp-admin is where you l;of-in and logging in results in being on your own blog’s dashboard.

Now I have to hunt to find a way to make a new post and view my previous posts.

new post link > http://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php
all posts link > http://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php
sticky post at the head of the forum > Changes to Media Handling > http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/changes-to-media-handling?replies=1

It’s fine to have a bunch of links listed but that doesn’t help me when I sign in. When I log in, I cannot find the dashboard that lists themes, posts, etc. I can hit new post, sure. But I often have some in the works and want to go back to my list.

Other changes in the past have made sense, made accessibility easier. This one falls into the realm of annoying Facebook changes. If it takes me longer to hunt, it certainly isn’t intuitive.

Oh, and why is it even harder to contact WordPress. I had to really really hunt for a place to post. What happened to “Feedback?”

@collenanderson
re: the links I provided
You’re welcome. Please fee free to bookmark them as I have done so you can access them quickly and easily.

Unfortunately bookmarking is a stop-gap and doesn’t make ease of accessibility from the wordpress page better. I use different computers and bookmarking is not the best option. I hope wordpress will think about these changes. I agree with the above person too on inserting media. There are now more steps to do the same thing.

We’re devolving here. I understand you’re a volunteer and thank you for your prompt answers but they don’t let us navigate wordpress any better.

@collenanderson
This is a peer support forum where Volunteers answer most questions and tag threads with issues we technical issues that we cannot assist with resolving. We don’t provide emotional support for adaptation to unwelcome changes (please note that we are probably just as unhappy as you are and we don’t get any prior warning of any changes either), but we are happy to assist with technical issues and tag threads when Staff assistance is required.

If I needed emotional support I would go cry on a friend’s shoulder or have a drink. I’m talking about feedback here. As in, where do I click on the wordpress page to get to my list of past posts and my drafts? Why is it so hidden now? Do I now need a map of links to get there? Isn’t that rather old fashioned?

If wordpress is so uninterested in how their changes affect their users that would explain why there is no longer a section for leaving feedback. And likewise, the dropdown menu was useful and quick. It is no longer there and no longer quick.

Like the person above, where can we leave feedback?

As in, where do I click on the wordpress page to get to my list of past posts and my drafts

Your dashboard is here > http://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/wp-admin

Dashboard > Posts > All Posts
http://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php

Dashboard > Posts > All Posts (Drafts)
http://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?post_status=draft&post_type=post

Like the person above, where can we leave feedback?

There is no specific forum for feedback.

I know what to do when I have the dashboard. What I’m talking about, again, is that when I log in I see no place to bring up the dashboard. If I have to have a host of links, then wordpress has just gone backwards in time.
Step 1. Log in
Step 2. Go to dashboard (what do I click on?)

This has yet to be answered. Don’t give me a link, tell me what I’m looking for to find the dashboard.

Dashboard > Posts > All Posts
Dashboard > Posts > All Posts > (Drafts)

Sigh. There is nothing that indicates the dashboard. Where did you find the dashboard? It is the dashboard that I’m still looking for. I’m sure once I find the dashboard I’ll find the posts and drafts and widgets and themes and all the other things that are there once you have the dashboard.

There is no dashboard. I AM TRYING TO FIND THE DASHBOARD, PLEASE.

This is the link to your own blog’s dashboard http://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/wp-admin

Read more here > http://en.support.wordpress.com/dashboard/

For clarity the link to every wordpress.com dashboard is the URL of the blog followed by /wp-admin/

You’ve said that there is no forum, but that isn’t really what we asked. We are asking for any way that we can leave feedback. Is there an email address or a form (not a forum) we can fill out anywhere?

I understand you want to provide feedback re: the changes and that’s why I tagged this thread for Staff attention long ago.

There is not phone support. The email address is only for technical issues and using it places you in a queue with those who have technical issues being addressed to Support Staff, not to developers who make these changes. When we create a support ticket by contacting Staff or by flagging a thread here in the forums for their assistance it’s important to understand Support Staff have a backlog. They deal with the support tickets and threads with the earliest dates first. So if we contact them more than once on the same issue or bump threads the date moves forward and it takes longer to get help. This thread is flagged for Staff attention. What’s required is your patience please.

I didn’t think this was a hard question You could even send me a screen shot showing what you click on, but giving me a link again and again does not answer my question. After I log in, what do I click on, that is not a link, that will let me get to the dashboard?

It seems I cannot include a screenshot but once I log in there is nowhere that the word dashboard shows. No where. Not in the minimized dropdown menu, not when I click the blue tabs. No where, no dashboard. Sure, once I get the dashboard, I have all my usual choices, I presume, but where, without sending me another link, is the dashboard? Describe the steps to get to it by clicking. Or is it gone and that’s why we’re playing out this fiasco?

Please wait patiently for Staff to assist you.

Colleen, you can open the Stats tab, and then click on the little blue W logo above the graph on the right-hand side.

Pictures of how to log in:
search for wordpress.com login on Google, then click on “log in”
http://1tess.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/log-in-1.jpg
screen to put in username and password
http://1tess.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/log-in-2.jpg
click on your gravatar
http://1tess.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/log-in-3.jpg
manage blogs—>choose blog—>(fly-out menu) choose—>dashboard
http://1tess.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/log-in-4.jpg  (I guess they didn’t get that thing about not giving links but tell me where to click, but this time the links were relevant, even if red circled in case I couldn’t read “Manage My Blogs.” Yeegods, that used to be where you went if you had more than one blog or wanted to add other writers. I never thought the dashboard would be hidden there.)

@gio162,
OMG, now why was it so hard to get to this point? Thanks. I didn’t even see that tiny hidden logo and didn’t think it linked anywhere.

And @1tess, thank you also. It was nice of wordpress to hide things and make this a hunt. Maybe next time wordpress does a wholesale switcheroo a little sidebar for a month that explains where everything has moved to would help. But that’s right, there is no feedback area, like there used to be. Instead we got to play back and forth all day. Sigh.

For future queries:
1. Log in.
2.Scroll over gravatar image
3. Click on “Manage Blogs”
4. Click on “Dashboard.”
5. Tadaa!

At this point the thread continued for a day or two but I haven’t included everything. WordPress answer my question…eventually. I really hope they didn’t take a page from Facebook (but even as I write this the formattting for the block posts has now been screwy for days.) Oh, and let’s not dwell on the demise of the Freshly Pressed… no longer easy to find.

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Filed under Culture, internet

Interesting Blog Demographics

blogging, writing, clicks, posting, blogs, internet searches, culture

Creative Commons: Kristina B flickr

You know all those fun stats that WordPress gives you if you write a blog; number of clicks per day, week, month and year, search items, posts clicked on, etc.?  Well, it’s really interesting to see trends or what people are interested in, though repeating it doesn’t always work. My first year or two I tried to write 5 days a week. Then I knocked it down to about 3 days a week. Sometimes what I write about may be topical, or just something I’ve been thinking about, but it’s not what others are reading about. Then suddenly, weeks or months later, the post takes off and gets a lot of views. I doubt I could predict what would have been the more popular posts.

If I had to guess I would have said sex, or what my government is doing to me and you. But like the Facebook cartoon that went around (it shows a person posting on serious things, government, political stuff and the post gets three “likes”, then they post on something inane, such as “I like frothy pink milkshakes” and they get 1,000 “likes”) it’s never what you think will be the hit.

My all-time top post is Rape: It’s Just a Social Media Trend, which just beats out the up-till-recent top post: Traveling in India: Betel Nut Adventures. When I look at the search criteria, people have been searching for “rape” and “betel nut.” I’m always a bit disturbed that so many people are searching out rape, and I wonder why. Is it to be informed, or worse, for some form of warped titillation? In a way I could possibly understand why betel nut might be my top post. After all, the population of India equals 17% of the world’s population.

Weekly totals tend to range but usually these two posts come out on top. This last week it switched to my recent The Skinny on Models, with anorexia being the search term. I’d like to think that this is because people are concerned about an eating disorder that’s being found in younger and younger children and is spreading too far in a society obsessed by looks.

Creative Commons: thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

I’m no big 15,000 hits a day blogger (yet) but it’s fascinating to see what hits the reader is attracted to immediately and what seems to gain interest over time, such as Starbucks and the Censored Mermaid and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Superhero Fashion. When The Only Good Thing About Snow was freshly pressed, it gained the most views in a single day to this date, but that tapered down.  I do find whenever I write about transit or the fact that people in greater Vancouver pay 33% taxes every time they park, whether in a parkade or on the street, or about Big Brother watching us, that no one seems to care. Alas. That also disturbs me because it indicates that we live in an age of complicity as well as hyper sexualization. While I’m not a prude, I’m still bothered by these connotations, at least as shown by internet searches.

My other top posts follow. You will see that many of them have to do with sex or sexualization in some way. But not all. I’m happy that people liked The Stones of Ireland: I as well. Oh, and I expect this post to not be popular because it’s dealing with statistics, not breasts or betel nut. ;)

TOP 13 POSTS

Rape: It’s Just a Social Media Trend

Traveling in India: Betel Nut Adventures

Home page (It’s hard to tell which posts these would be as it’s a daily change, every time I post.)

Starbucks and the Censored Mermaid (How did the Starbucks logo evolve and devolve?)

Incest, Betrayal and Genetic Sexual Attraction

The Only Good Thing About Snow (This one was freshly pressed.)

My Religion’s Better Than Yours

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Superhero Fashion

About Colleen (Yes, the about me page, which probably needs updating)

The Disturbing Trend of Sexifying Children (The creepy world of child beauty pageants.)

Tonsil Tales (My adventures on getting rid of my tonisls.)

The Stones of Ireland: I

Sexy Cartoons: the Cutesifying of Society

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Filed under Culture, internet, sex, Writing

How to Bomb Out on Dating Sites

dating, love, dating sites, sex, men, chatting

Creative Commons by Motoyen (Flickr)

I’m in a state of singlehood at the moment, which some liken to being a leper while others might see as being a lion amongst a herd of gazelles. People often have different requirements on a dating site. Some want short-term dating, some long-term leading to a permanent relationship. Others want casual companions or to hook up with a bed buddy for the night. In the last situation you might start your online chat with, “Do you like it doggy style?”

But for me, there is no faster turnoff than a guy who doesn’t bother to chat about life, the universe and other intriguing things (notice I didn’t say “everything”) but instead begins with “I’m very physical. I like to cuddle/neck/be oral/snuggle/have a high libido/enjoy holding hands. What do you like?” To me, it’s rude and crass. Stick it in your profile, if you must. Often, we haven’t exchanged names yet so it’s like a guy on the street flashing open his trenchcoat.

If you met someone at a friend’s dinner party, would you start out saying, “Do you like it hard and fast or slow and soft?” Perhaps it’s suitable in some cases but in most it would be crossing a line way too soon. And without the benefit of alcohol when online (I presume here) it’s certainly a rude slap. A guy that starts with the 20 questions about sex may as well stick a picture of his penis up online as well. And if that’s all he can really think of to talk about he should just say he’s looking for sex. I couldn’t lose interest faster.

The other way to bomb in the dating field is to do another twenty questions about the age and ethnicity of guys I’ve dated. It’s one thing to know if I would date someone younger or older than me but another to want me to list their nationalities. In my bomb shelter I will hide from the barrage of such questions and wonder what the reason for asking is. If I’m willing to talk to a person younger or older and of any color it already shows I’ll likely date them. Listing every nationality or religion is bizarre.

I’d prefer not to be bombed with a multitude of questions but to trade questions and answers back and forth, even discussions about life and interests. Guys like the top two examples make me think they wouldn’t be good dating material because in one way or another they’re more hung up on sex than on relationships and on who to date by looks than just who is compatible. I do believe sex is part of a good partnership but it’s not all. If it was, I wouldn’t worry about being single or not. A great mind is more likely to get me into bed than a sex fiend is.

If you’re a guy or a woman and you think you’d like a relationship but all you can think to talk about is sex then I would suggest learning how to carry a conversation. You certainly don’t want to arrow in on the genitals in the first few chats online with someone. Unless a relationship is established, to me, it will always be crass. Those intimate questions are better left to discussions in person. If all you want is to have online sex, go for it. Just don’t bother chatting with me. Forget about love; let’s start with a decent conversation.

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Filed under Culture, internet, people, relationships, sex

Plenty of Fish is For Suckers

There are many dating sites out there and some are better than others. Some of course are better for one person over another depending on how it’s set up and what you’re looking for. Of the ones I’ve tried Plenty of Fish was pretty much a stagnant sea. I had a male friend who liked it though because he called it Plenty of F**ks. He wanted one-night stands and women were happy to comply. I didn’t want that, so it wasn’t that good. In fact, I found communication with potentials lacking so completely that I decided to not just inactivate my account but delete it.

Plenty of Fish = Plenty of Leeches

Plenty of Fish = Plenty of Leeches Creative Commons: http://monkeyfilter.com/link.php/14452

That was over two years ago. I removed my profile, but I was still getting notices. I removed it again, went deeper in and tried to remove it all the way to the bone. I deleted the account, which means I shouldn’t exist in POF’s database anymore. That seemed to do it, so I thought. But oddly, when they were hacked a couple of months back I got warnings about changing my password. WTF? I sent them an email saying I had no idea what my password was anymore, and to remove me from their site as I had already done this once. I got another computer generated message, and another, and another.

I sent messages each time that bounced back to me. Yes, this was their customer service email. Some customer service. I sincerely hope no one pays for this crap. This last week I’ve received three emails with my “matches” even though I no longer have an account according to their deletion instructions. I’ve sent them two cease and desist emails and let me tell you, it’s not easy. You have to go to their website and dig around. There is something that actually says “contact us”, but if you click on the header that says “Delete/Hide My Account” you get nothing. Oh sorry, you get more little messages telling you what to do but you don’t get to send them an email. Click again, yet another layer of message.

When you finally find a way in to to send an email, you get no answer as I can attest with the ones I’ve sent. I shouldn’t have to deactivate an account I deleted over two years ago. Here’s what they say about getting rid of the notification messages:

I do not want any more email notifications.

You can stop message notifications (sent out when you get a message) in Mail Settings. Unfortunately you cannot stop the “latest match” emails usually sent out on Mondays – if these are a problem we’ll delete your account upon request.

Oddly enough I’ve asked POF at least four times to delete me permanently. And try to find a place to contact them to do this deletion. It’s a blatant lie. I have received neither an answer nor a deletion from the continual messages. And of course, I can’t delete my account because I no longer know my username or password. I finally had to email for it again and you have to go through many messages of “wait, don’t go” to get to deleting, if it works. My next step will be to see if I can charge them with harassment, and report them to any place or regulatory body I can. If you know of any such bodies on this, and on them storing my information after I expressly deleted it, let me know.

But for your own sakes, do not ever join up with Plenty of Fish. Obviously they treat their clients as suckers and you’ll have better luck getting barnacles off your ship than these leeches off your back. My rating on this dating site: -5. Stay far away.
Addendum: here it is Feb. 22, nearly a year after this post. I did send a letter to the Privacy Commissioner last year and received a letter back saying it didn’t fall in their jurisdiction but to try the provincial Privacy Commissioner. I was going to toss the letter as I thought POF had stopped harassing me and guess what, last week more spam from POF. They will go against the law and keep your information forever because they probably know how hard it is to track down even who to send this to.

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Filed under Culture, internet, relationships, security

She Dressed That Way, She Must Have Wanted It

Creative Commons: catatonickid.wordpress.com

The title of this piece is one of the most common excuses given by a rapist who’s been caught. We hear variations on the theme such as “She was dressed provocatively; what did she expect?” “Why didn’t you fight him off?”  “I knew she wanted it.” “Saying no is just a game; she was playing hard to get.”

Over three years of writing this blog I have seen trends as to what becomes a popular post. Sometimes it’s a few months after the original date. Some of my more popular posts were on Polygamy: I Do, I Do, I Do, and Polyamory: I Love You and You and You, as well as Starbucks and the Censored Mermaid, Travels in India: Betel Nut Adventures (who knew betel nut was such a popular search item) Incest, Betrayal and Genetic Sexual Attraction and Rape: It’s Just a Social Media Trend. Except for the Starbucks and the betel nut you could say that my top posts are about sex in one form or another. It’s not that I’ve written exclusively on this topic but when I look at the daily search topics that bring readers to my site the top one, since I wrote “Rape: It’s Just a Social Media Trend,” is “rape.”

In a way this disturbs me because I’m wondering what people are looking for when they  are searching out rape. I would hope that it is a concern for women (and men) the world over who have been victims of rape, a violent physical crime that can leave a lifetime of emotional (as well as physical) scars. I would really hope people are trying to find solutions and ways to protect themselves and others from such crimes, as a way of education to stop the perpetration of such violence. But I worry because I know the internet, when it first started, was a big pit for people to look for sex, talk about sex, seek out all things sexual.

Sex is never a bad thing when between consenting adults and I’m certainly not against sex. However, rape is never a good thing and never consensual. It is the forcing of oneself on another. It may be less or more violent (resulting in death at its extreme) but it is never nonviolent. Holding a gun or a knife to someone’s head is still a violent assault when coupled with rape.

Rape is used by men to denigrate women in countries under unrest, being overthrown, destabilized by guerrilla warfare. It is far more horrible than being shot dead in a war. It is a crime against the defenseless, because of strength and/or weapons. A culture does not have to be so different from ours (in fact it can be and is the same as ours,) for it to perpetuate the stigma of rape. Some Middle Eastern countries put all the onus on a woman. If she is raped, she must bring witnesses. In other cases she’s charged with adultery, no matter that she couldn’t resist in one way or another. It’s always the woman’s fault.

But even here, we see the onus put onto the victim for the crime. As my first paragraph indicates, it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a burka or a mini skirt, somebody will decide that you are a) nothing but the possession of a man, b) dressing to bring about a violent act upon your person and/or c) having to cover up because men cannot control themselves. If these atatements were true, then in fact it would show that men are more like animals than women and really, if that’s the case it’s obvious who should be running the world. But I want to point out that not all men are rapists and should never be considered so.

Yet, any man who is a rapist, is responsible for his acts. Not his mother, not his teacher, not his father, not the woman he rapes. Especially not the woman (or man) that he rapes. They are victims. It doesn’t matter if they’re naked or in a parka. If they say no, it’s no. In our western culture our ads and our lifestyle pumps up sexuality all the time. It’s pretty much the norm but it shouldn’t condone rape. And ads, like the Dolce & Gabbana piece that I mentioned in the earlier blog, are more than offensive. They’re criminal because they try to say that rape is sexy. And there are computer games where one can rape animated characters over and over again. Sure, a real person isn’t being hurt but there is no justification (as there is in shooter games where you might be shooting aliens or the enemy) that justifies such reprehensible acts.

This following site is by someone studying trends of crime against women and has some good information. How to Justify Rape No one should ever make rape acceptable or feel responsible if they’re raped. If you were specifically searching about rape, please take a moment to fill out the anonymous poll.

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Filed under crime, Culture, history, internet, security, sex

Uttering Threats Can Get You Arrested

In one of my recent posts someone sent a comment that is both disgusting and offensive and shows the problem with the attitudes of some people towards women. I have set my filters to approve comments before they are posted, so I will not give the person the satisfaction of seeing their horrid comment. But be forewarned, anyone who threatens me in any way will be reported.

This did bring up an interesting issue about internet and abusing people online. If you do a search you will find sites for cyber bullying (a form of harassment) and for cyber luring. In fact there is a lot of information on protecting children who maybe be lured, raped or otherwise abused through internet stalkers. There is cyber stalking and information on internet fraud, Nigerian scam letters and viruses. But there isn’t much on being threatened by someone on the internet.

In fact, I checked both my local police and the RCMP websites and it was very unclear. I did find that the comments the person made fall under section 264.1 of the criminal code, that of “uttering threats.” Threats are indeed considered a criminal offence and I will report all such threats to the police and did so with this comment. The police said that should this happen to any of you, you should call the police in the jurisdiction in which you reside, unless you know there is a specific task force set up for such reasons.

These attitudes, whether as a sick joke or someone who is intent on harm, should not even be tolerated. I will never condone jokes about rape because to do so makes the attitude more acceptable. I will never accept that women are chattel, lesser creatures or deserving of abuses because they are women. I will never agree that one race, religion or gender is superior over another. There are fine lines on jokes but those of a violent nature are not only in poor taste but set up precedents for increasingly violent behavior.

If you feel threatened by someone making suggestions to you on the internet, contact your local police on their non-emergency number (unless the person says they’re going to attack you on a set date or time). Keep all information so that you can give them as much evidence as possible. And don’t ever think you should just take it. I will not be intimidated by a jerk in any way.

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Filed under crime, internet, people, security

Google: Just Another Name For Big Brother

Were you suspicious at all when Google decided to film every street in your city? Did you even notice when it seems they captured more than just an image of the street, that there were some car license plates, discernible faces, and even pictures into people’s living rooms, not to mention a few burglaries? Or were you blasé and accepting of another way in which we’re being watched constantly and in Google slowly taking over the world in a myriad of digital ways? I sometimes wonder what would happen should Google turn out to be a political force.

There are people who called us paranoid when we worried about all these captured images. I wondered how well would it work for people planning espionage. I haven’t searched using Google Earth much but it’s been minimally helpful. The only time I looked outside of North America was to research for a story that takes place in Ireland, and it turns out there is only a satellite image of parts of Ireland, no street views. Well there is sort of a street view of Dublin, in parts, but with digital approximations of buildings for other areas. Who knows what other countries have but I hear the Germans are pretty suspicious of Google snooping and are limiting what they’ll be able to digitize.

And no wonder. With the heightened paranoia of terrorism and bombs many countries don’t want full images of their streets and sewer systems, communications areas, etc. outlined in such explicit detail. But that’s not all. The new millennium’s Big Brother is Google and it is everywhere. Yes, most of us use it as a medium for one thing or another, such as the search engine. Google tried to copy all books including those in copyright, infringing on all sorts of copyright laws and then hoping no one would notice. They claimed they were just moving all books into a way that people could access them easier and this makes sense for out of print books in the public domain. But those that still have estates or authors alive, and therefore existing copyrights, should be protected. Google then arrogantly set up a statement saying you could opt out but then you would have no recourse to complain if they copy one of your books, but if you opt in, you’re buying into the system. As opposed to them having to prove the copyright is now public domain, the onus fell on every author and publisher to prove they owned the copyright. This one is still being disputed and it was nice to see that at least some of the apathetic writers’ groups in Canada did band together to try to stop them.

But that’s not all, is it? Now it turns out that not only was Google capturing images of our streets and homes, it was also capturing passwords and documents if people were working on their computers and did not have their WIFI locked. Hmm, If I stole someone’s information, it would be just that. Theft, spying, invasion of privacy. Canada’s privacy commissioner has ordered Google to apologize and delete the information. That’s it? Does Google even have governments cowed that a slap on the wrist is all they get? How about a charge and massive fines? How about a watchdog checking what they have? How many years ago did the snoop the streets of our cities and we’re just finding this out now?

I said I’d be worried if Google was a political force but I’m already worried that it could be behind a political force, supplying stolen information to governments with less that honorable tendencies. I’d be naive to think they didn’t know they were doing this and stupid not to question why. And if any of you are smart, you’ll be asking these questions too and making sure Google is investigated and regulated before they do take over the world.

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Writing: The Process

I’m sure I’ve written about this before but right now I’m in the middle of the full-fledged process. I’m trying to get a story done for the World Horror Convention writing contest, as well as doing and online interview with the other Evolve authors on Bitten By Books. Go over there now if you have questions to ask or want to see a bit of how different authors view the process of writing or writing specifically about vampires: www.bittenbybooks.com I’ll also be at Orycon from Nov. 12-14 in Portland to talk about writing and to do a reading, maybe two. Right now I think I might read this virginal story I’m working on.

Indirectly, perhaps, it involves the picture to the left. Those are barrow mounds in Ireland, at Knowth. However, to back up to the beginning of this process is the kernel of an idea I had. Perhaps it started with Nancy Kilpatrick saying she was doing a second anthology of vampire fiction. I wrote one page and couldn’t think of a plot. I had atmosphere, a character and…that was it. Well, sure there was a thin plot showing itself but it was a cliché vampire tale and I didn’t want to write that, nor would anyone want to buy it.  So I put it aside and pondered. And pondered.

And came up with nothing. Thinking this one page still had something I finally emailed a bunch of people and said, “Is anyone willing to read one page of fiction and tell me what you think the story should be.” About five people responded. One went for humor, which this story was not, two gave suggestions not really suitable even to the first page, and two others gave me enough suggestions that I could kickstart the thinking process again. Sometime we need a mental smack upside the head to knock us out of those cliché grooves.

Often my next step in the writing process is this: ruminate. Turn the ideas over, think about this or that factor, literally sleep on it and work out a whole bunch logistics in my head before even hitting the paper. Then I start to make points, bits of conflict, images that come together. I went to Ireland a few years back and I’ve never used anything Irish as a setting for a story. Once I started thinking that my story started to come together better and the characters inhabiting it made more sense. Then those thoughts lead to the ability of my character to change or not and the depth of the conflict.

Next, I start writing. And stopping. And writing. And going to clean. And writing. And napping. Sometimes the story pours out and sometimes it creeps shyly. I wrote six pages last night after taking a day to write one page. And now I’m stopped (procrastinating writing this) as I try to work out the next stage. My character has overcome one conflict, but is that it? No. A good story usually has internal and external conflict so I need to bring up her internal conflict and whether she succumbs, fights or changes will remain to be seen but I have to make sure there are enough stakes in the game for my character (whose name is changing as I write this) to either emerge triumphant or changed by her travails.

Some stories have taken me years to finish because I can never satisfactorily work out the plot and conflict to my satisfaction. Some stories leap fully grown from my head like Athena from Zeus’s brow. And some are a bit of both worlds; parts flowing out while others turn to concrete in my head.

And now that I’ve defined my problem, the internal conflict, I guess I need to decide if in fact the theme that I often write about in my stories will be the same here. Morality. “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” was a morality tale. “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” is maybe an immorality tale and this one, well, yeah her morals are question. I’ll see what the character decides.

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Judging the Book by the Cover

On my “About Colleen” page I allow comments but do not approve them for viewing. I had to laugh at the very long comment I received in which I was told that I don’t take “good enough care of yourself and your career” with my hair going every which way. I was told I look a bit “balmy” but I’m not even sure what that means. Is that British slang? So let’s start with my image, which coincidentally I was going to change but I just can’t now. My hair is in what we call here in North America an up-doo. Most of the hair is pinned up in looping curls with a few curls hanging down. The every which way this person commented on is actually something on the wall behind my head and possibly the chopsticks that were in my hair. The rest of the cropped out photo had me in long white gloves and a lace shawl, wearing a corset and holding three books in which my erotic writing has been published.

But it’s nice to know someone can psychologically analyze me from one picture alone. I have revealed aspects of my past life on here and talked openly about the fact that I was abused. But not every abused person is an emotional wreck nor a slob. So although this person decided that I was uh, balmy from one photo, one photo does not a person make. Think costume, folks. I like to dress up. And should you ever interview people who know me they will almost all say I have a strong sense of style. But maybe I can use this when I sell my novel: by the balmy writer, Colleen Anderson.

I was also told to “join Debtors Anonymous if I were you, where you will find others of the creative type who refuse to acknowledge that they need to make a living with their art and remain scattered and disorganized.” Hmm, Debtors Anonymous is not where one goes to make a living but where one goes to manage debts out of control. I’m sure I’ve said little about my monetary lifestyle and I am happily making a living. At times I have made a living off of my writing and at other times it supplements my income. If I surveyed most of the members of SF Canada (where I was once president to help organize things) there would be less than 5% who make their living off of writing. Even when selling a novel, chances are that unless you’re doing three a year you may not make a living. We all can’t be as lucky as J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. :) I would also like to say that people who have debts are not just artists. All sorts of people end up in huge debt-owing situations, especially with the economy of the past couple years. Let’s not stigmatize artists as all owing money and being scattered and disorganized. Try writing a blog five days a week for two years and see how scattered that makes you.

Now she did give some advice for artists though some of these points go against the ability of a debt-owing artist and are a little too all-encompassing. “If you can write poetry, draw, write and edit and sculpt, why not establish yourself in an art gallery that you start with others cooperatively, while maintaining control of the exhibits and publicity?” Writing is pretty hard to display in a gallery and where would a scattered and disorganized artist get the money to rent or buy a gallery? These things can be done but running a gallery is a different ball of wax from creating art. Still, it’s not a bad idea if I was doing more than writing. Better to own a bookstore than a gallery if you’re a writer.

Craft a career with real direction instead of wandering about aimlessly, hoping to ghost write other peoples’ lives.” Errr…really? Ghost write other people’s lives? I don’t think I’ve done this except for the lives I’ve made up. Ghost writing, if done properly, can be very lucrative. I would never ghost write for anyone who didn’t pay professional wages. I kinda wish I could wander aimlessly. Writing can only be accomplished by…writing and that takes solitary time and dedication. As I’ve said before, perseverance is a large part of the recipe.

You can then properly exhibit all your creations, package and market your poetry books and novels and short stories and articles properly while helping other creative artists to get their own products out there for sale.” Oof, when I do this I hope to be editing a magazine or part of a publishing house. I can package and market my books but it is infinitely better if they’re not all self-published. There are some very good self-publishing ventures these days that some of my friends have decided to go for as the publishing market gets tighter.  I may look at this option in the future but it does take a certain amount of capital to begin, not something a person in Debtors Anonymous could afford though.

Hosting a weekly party with fresh invites out each time can bring new audiences into the space to expand your reputations and putting flyers on windshields to announce your openings which occur regularly can bring in people, too. Everybody will show up for a bit of juice and food, especially if music is playing. Put out a tip jar in front of the musicians, so a variety of musicians will do the honors for your entertainments.” Don’t forget that juice and food, and gallery space, and flyers all take money. They are not heaven sent. But to put out flyers if you have a reading or send invites is a good thing to do and of course, galleries should have invite lists when they’re starting.

If I thought my mother read the internet I would thank her for her opinion. Likewise, I thank this person for concern in my welfare, even if based on a lot of assumptions. Still, brainstorming on ways to publicize and suggestions as she gave are not bad and can always be used by someone.

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