Internet and Computers

Website Update Time

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Amaryllis collage in two black and white versionsBooks don’t sell themselves. Unfortunately. You must market, publicize, convince people to write reviews for you — not rave about the book only to you. An up-to-date website also helps to sell yourself and your books. It ups your SEO on Google, a good thing as that’s how people find you. But an old-looking website plants doubt in potential readers’ minds.

So I’ve set myself a triple updating job: keep the blog pages that are an extension of Concussion Is Brain Injury updated with new info and ideas; blog regularly; and update the appearance and function of the entire site.

That last task I used to do yearly. Every year, I had to relearn what I’d done the previous year in the back end of my site: how to tweak the theme I used and how to read the HTML/CSS codes I’d copied and pasted to customize my site. Now the free — always and only use free is my motto — theme is obsolete, and I have to find a new one to customize. The problem is I feel like I can’t understand the back end anymore, it’s been years and years since I last updated (for reasons I touch on in Concussion Is Brain Injury). From my experience with SoloLearn, I know my programming knowledge is in my brain somewhere. I can relearn. But I haven’t retained what SoloLearn taught me well. Believe it or not, that is a step up. At one time I couldn’t have remembered my pre-injury programming knowledge at all, and whatever I had learnt would’ve vamoosed in minutes. So at least I can remember for a bit. It was hard to believe that though this past week as I found a new theme, tried to learn it, and all I felt was a massive wall between me and understanding.

I’m beginning this updating mountain climb with an easier site I manage. At first, the new theme was completely — I mean completely, absolutely, totally — incomprehensible to me. I’m used to clicking here, mousing there, to figure things out, kind of like how I play with my photos, trying out different looks until I find what I like. But all the options were, like, huh?‽!!! Thankfully the theme designers had made a helpful video; it just took awhile to find it.

I clicked here, played with settings there, tried and tried experimenting with almost every option to see what they would do to the site. But still the whole thing was murky. And I was seriously, painfully fatigued.

All of a sudden, I understood how their theme worked, what all the options did, how to “read” the back end. Phew.

But now I have to keep working on it, for I’ve only just begun with the basics of the site and after two days off, already began to forget how some of the options worked. I still have to relearn how to use the Events feature I installed years ago, figure out how to make some of the fonts look the way I want, and set up a gallery. And, oh yeah, why does the site title keep changing its look FFS??!!

Once I master the easier site, I’ll be set to work on my site.

If I take too many days to rest, which exhaustion probably will force me to, because with brain injury, rest is neverending, I’ll forget it all over again. Stab a fork in my eye if I have to take too much downtime and relearn it all. But right now, I’m pleased with how it’s looking and functioning . . . Except for that site title that seems to have acquired a gremlin.

Concussion is Brain Injury

Archived Storify on #HealingTheBrain Conference 24 May 2017

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Storify, bought out by Adobe, shut down operations, flinging my Storify and everyone else’s into the virtual trash bin. Fortunately, the internet has helpful coders who supplement the pathetic FAQ Adobe created, and I’ve recreated the Storify here below as an archive.

Storify Screenshot Healing the Brain Conference 24 May 2017

I attended the Healing The Brain conference on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 as a brain injury survivor and live tweeted it, both to share with the world and my way of taking notes. I came away pumped with a clearer way of seeing the brain and a renewed purpose for revising my book Concussion Is Brain Injury. Doidge spoke eloquently on why neuroplasticity can be harnessed to permanently treat brain injuries and Thompson on one effective way to do so. Brain maps prove people with brain injury/concussion have real problems and are not malingering! Read the tweets for all the deets!

https://twitter.com/ShireenJ/status/867482745102110720

https://twitter.com/ShireenJ/status/867450250092568576

https://twitter.com/ShireenJ/status/867441316992569345

https://twitter.com/ShireenJ/status/867414767882862592

https://twitter.com/ShireenJ/status/867414215727906816

Featured

talk talk talk Blog Looking Snazzy and Modern

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Screenshot of political blog talk talk talktalk talk talk — my original blog — has been looking sad and dated for way too long. I put updating it in my endless ToDo list. Publishing Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me moved it from being written in some task app into my head, needling me regularly until finally Christmas arrived with NO appointments, NO TTC to sap the living energy from me. I got it done. Took longer than expected. With brain injury, doesn’t it always? I used one of Blogger’s new themes, then customized it, sticking with a dark theme because I liked it, and it helps to differentiate my political blog from this one. And I fiddled around with one of my Toronto waterfront photos for my header image — even mulling over a quacking duck shot — until I decided I liked the sardonic look of the gulls. They’re just soooo Toronto and political looking.

Yes, folks, talk talk talk is looking pretty good now. The gulls are even impressed. Sort of. The only problem is that with losing so many years of regularly working on my websites to focus on my brain injury recovery, I lost my familiarity with HTML. I only ever copied and pasted code I needed that I found on the web, anyway, but trying to figure out how to change the full post page to a white background with black text defeated me. The HTML code looked like complete gibberish. Worse, I couldn’t find what helpful techies in their helpful posts said to find in order to add or replace code. I felt like my computer-understanding brain had turned into Swiss cheese. Blogger’s themes are more visually accessible than they used to be, so I’m going to have to rely on that . . . for now. It’s not that easy trying to make one’s blog or website accessible, but as I improve, I’m hoping to be able to do that here as well as over on talk talk talk.

The nice thing about refreshing a blog’s look is that it makes you want to blog again. It’s been sporadic on talk talk talk and barely weekly here because I had to make the hard decision five, uh, six (gulp) years ago to putting my energy once again towards treating my injured neurons and recovering brain function. I hadn’t truly heard the years ticking by until I logged into my CafePress site to update its widget on talk talk talk and saw my last login date: November 2011. That was a depressing stunner. I have some choices to make.

Brain Biofeedback

Heart and Colours, the Concussion Way

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After the amazing HRV numbers a couple of weeks ago, they tanked the following week. Sigh. That’s how brain injury improvement goes, I thought. And then I began getting short of breath in the way that tells me my heart ain’t too happy, which my hypothalamus fix had made better way back when. Oh. Yeah. I’d stopped doing the CES Sleep in the evening portion of my hypothalamus fix. Sigh.

I’d skipped it one night because I was so damn tired from noveling. Novel writing is fun, rewarding but challenging and exhausting. The more tired I get, the more I need to be vigilant in using all parts of my hypothalamus fix: sub-delta audiovisual entrainment session in the evening and CES Sleep first thing in the morning and at some point at night.

I had a little talk with myself and restarted the CES Sleep at night (I hadn’t stopped using the sub-delta AVE session or CES Sleep in the morning). That shortness of breath went, and I could breathe easier again. And last week, my HRV began crawling up again while my heart rate dropped back into the 80s (from the high 90s — a number that once would have been cause for celebration is now too high — that’s what brain injury treatment is all about — returning heart and brain to normal functioning!).

I want to add here that I think the reason why my heart rate and HRV are much, much better is because of the combination of my hypothalamus fix, gamma brainwave enhancement training, and the low intensity light treatment for my neck that includes the back of my head where the cerebellum is located. I went to “laser therapy” for my below-the-head injuries, but in the last few months, I’ve realized how much it’s helped me with my brain injury, how key it’s been in improving the brain’s control of my heart. I wrote about some of that in my concussion book. But because I finished writing it before I fully understood all this and am continuing to learn about laser therapy’s effects on concussion, I didn’t put it in the book. That’s why I created blog pages as extensions of Concussion Is Brain Injury — to update it! I will be updating my related blog pages with more info on laser therapy (see the relevant URLs in Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me)!

I did write fully about my hypothalamus fix in Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me.

Sailboats screenLast week’s biofeedback also resolved a puzzle for me. The sailboat screen has the top sailboat sailing from yellow box to yellow box with a thin line connecting the boxes above the sailboat and below the waves it sails on.

Sailboat in yellow box showing yellow lineSo, I see this line as yellow. But after my eye surgery, I saw it as pink. Then my brain began to fight the influx of new visual data to return my vision to pre-brain injury and surgery, and I got confused as to the line’s colour. Was it pink or yellow?

We use this sailboat screen as the third neurofeedback training for gamma enhancement and again as the third one for inhibiting 16-20 Hz and enhancing SMR (12-15 Hz). Last week, I saw without a doubt during the gamma neurofeedback the line was yellow. Then it began to morph. Was that pink appearing??? During the 16-20 Hz inhibit neurofeedback, it was absolutely without a doubt PINK!

The line is pink.

Sailboat in yellow box showing pink lineOr is it?

The eye surgery allowed me to see fine details and colours in a way I hadn’t before. And since it, my cognitions involved in language, memory, and engaging with the world have improved a lot. Maybe I’d noticed the pink before but not enough to remember or mention to my brain trainer.

Turns out she hadn’t noticed the line colour changing before but saw it as pink. When we investigated closely, the answer was pretty simple, really. Click the computer mouse on the box to change that sailboat’s parameters, and the line turns pink to show which sailboat you’re changing. Doesn’t work too well with the pink box because the line stays pink!

All these years of using and being trained with it, never noticed before. Oy!

My ophthalmologist told me I have to keep improving the vision in my scarred eye to retain what the surgery gave me else the brain will win this battle. That means practice eye tracking. I’m thinking though maybe I should also up the light intensity during my AVE sessions (animal studies showed light stimulation similar to my AVE sessions regenerated retinas). And also to adhere to walking on streets about 1.5 hours after brain biofeedback when my vision strengthens again so as to use and cement in those networks so that my brain can lose this battle and win at seeing better. It would help to use a neck brace to force my head to sit straight and force using binocular vision but that wouldn’t be good for my neck muscles.

At least I’ve gotten better enough since the shock of 2013 to be able to think about my brain injury issues and deal with them and not resent or feel despairing that my health care professionals don’t collaborate (because my neurodoc wouldn’t know how if it smacked him on the head — his idea of collaboration is to tell others what to think and say they’re wrong when they disagree with him — well, except in the area he doesn’t consider himself an expert in, so that’s going better…anywho). Some don’t have the time, others don’t have the desire to think about and discuss these things with me as they evolve, only occasionally and only within their bailiwick when I grow desperate enough to force discussion. Then I put together what each tells me, add my own thoughts, write about it to elucidate it all to myself, implement, and hope to hell it’ll get better.

I still don’t know why any health care professional, especially my neurodoc and all other medical doctors treating brain injury, think someone with a BRAIN injury should be searching on their own actual treatments, directing their own care, and is even remotely capable of it. The part of you that recognizes, analyses, remembers, and carries out solutions is broken FFS! Sigh.

Brain Health

Do Therapists Need to be on Twitter?

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Data don’t lie; you can’t hide from data. Mid-August my gamma brainwaves had dropped, my ever-spinning busy brain, heart rate, and muscle tension risen. Then my Pastor helped me make a necessary decision, and all my brainwaves returned to my normal the first week of September. I learnt a hard lesson about social media and therapists.

The situation on Twitter my Pastor extricated me from had been unfolding for months. I had been blind to it because of being a woman who hates confrontation, because my injured brain processed slowly what I was experiencing, because the PTSD hell I am in deafened me to the subtle difference between concern and obsession.

When I began to feel crowded in late August, I spoke to three therapists, a peer mentor, friends, and family about what to do. The situation changed daily and hourly; advice I got was old by the time I returned to Twitter. My inability to make quick decisions, my self-doubt, my slow processing all rendered me unable to handle the situation in real time on my own. I didn’t have weeks for my brain to process sensory input and initiate an action plan. I needed professional help. I didn’t receive it from my not-on-Twitter therapists. If I had told any therapist a man I knew was suddenly knocking on my front door every. single. day with a bunch of roses, then roses and chocolates, then roses, chocolates, and teddy bears several times a day, what do you think they would have said? Probably not “I can’t tell you what to do.” Finally I thought of my Pastor. He is a professional, he knows off behaviour, and he participates in social media. It was the latter that benefitted me. He understood the milieu, the tools to protect people; he knew what I needed to say and what I needed to not do. Mute, block, report, in that order, he repeated to me, if the man keeps getting to me. I wrote down his instructions and acted.

Relief. Then I got angry.

Imagine being a person with a brain injury who discovers Twitter, begins to flourish socially, then is informed by mental health professionals who are not on Twitter how it’s not “real life,” it’s only a start, how they need to get a social life in the “real world.” And to leave if someone is bothering them.

It’s patronizing, unhelpful, uncomprehending of social media, and a nicely worded putdown of your client’s experiential knowledge of Twitter as if it’s not as good as your what-you-heard-through-the-grapevine knowledge.

How can you really know the new and opaque Twitter community if you’ve never lived in it? Would you consider yourself qualified to help a person if you had no experience with commuting, with working, with living with a family, with friendship, with social clubs, with professional groups? That’s the kind of therapist you are when you attempt to aid a patient on Twitter when you’re unfamiliar with it yourself.

Up till now, I’ve thought it would be nice but not necessary to have my therapists on Twitter with me. But I’ve changed my mind. It is necessary for people in the helping professions to be on Twitter, to be experientially familiar with it.

So this blog post is for mental health professionals with no social media life experience.

  1. Social media, specifically Twitter, is real life.

  2. People in the helping professions who are not participating even to a small, regular degree, cannot help their patients or clients when toxic situations arise. They may think they can; their clients may hope they can. But they can’t.

How can you tell when behaviour is tipping from a bit too interested to obsession to stalking when you’re not familiar with what’s normal behaviour on social media?

When would you advise a patient being harassed on Twitter?

You may have heard about the obvious dangers where men tweet vicious rape and death threats to women. But people also become obsessed with a tweep so subtly and cleverly that fellow tweeps won’t recognize the danger. These people can control a person through misusing good Twitter features and can stalk them with no effort. I can see furrowed brows as you guys not on social media think “following” is stalking. It isn’t.

That’s the essential problem isn’t it when your patients or clients are on Twitter or Facebook and you are not: you speak different languages.

It’s like the telephone forty years ago. The instrument of instant voice communication was ubiquitous in Canada but not in England. Every time I visited England, I’d go to call someone and was sharply rebuked. What? What do you mean I can’t just pick up the phone and talk? What do you mean I can only use it if urgent and to use the mail instead? Since when do people use letters to talk to each other?!!! Argh!!! The English relatives would have the opposite experience coming to Canada; they would marvel at this concept of easily talking to people any old time and for as long as they wanted to. How novel! How fast! How freeing!!

That’s social media: novel, fast, freeing; also fun, challenging, stimulating, newsy.

But a therapist not on Twitter is like that relative in England: unknowing and unbelieving.

Twitter has matured into a community separate yet threaded into the world. Today, people of like minds meet each other across space and time; people of opposite minds debate and people from different cultures learn how they argue differently, making us Canadians appreciate how respectful we are; people talk to each other rapidly as if face-to-face, as well as in slow motion over several hours; people congregate around conversations like at the best party ever; people strike up friendships, draw “real-life” relationships closer, and take Twitter ones into geographic space, thereby changing them in unforeseen ways; people live tweet events to an audience who watch through their smartphone apps; journalists smash through the confining walls of traditional media; people influence politicians; and people get a hell of a lot better customer service – it’s amazing what complaining about bad service to one’s 1000+ followers does for your telephone service. Tone, mood, tiredness, hunger, laughter, knowledge, EQ, IQ, sense of humour, interests all come through in tweets. People become intertwined; personal discussions are conducted in public instead of privately through DM. As a result, all sorts of social cohesions and problems crop up that therapists have no clue about, even if explained through the imperfect filter of their patient’s experience. How would you advise your client in trouble on Twitter? Perhaps tell them to take a break from social media, as I was told to?

But that advice blames the victim and reveals your harmful-to-your-client ignorance of safety tools created to allow the victim to stay on happily while sending the offender out the air lock. Can you imagine advising your client to not visit their friends, don’t read the newspaper, don’t talk to politicians, don’t attend events, don’t watch videos, don’t listen to music, don’t share your photos, don’t write? Well, that’s what you’re doing when you suggest quitting Twitter or social media.

What does a patient do when a painful conversation pops up in their stream? Could you advise them and recognize the urgency if their tweeps began arguing with them, muted them, blocked them for no reason they could understand? Arguments are a fact of Twitter life. Not all are bad. Political or news-driven arguments are informative or entertaining and the cool thing is that strangers jump in – but perhaps a person with a brain injury or social phobia would hesitate to participate without your help. Being able to ask you, their therapist, for knowledgeable guidance would not only be nice but moreso necessary for people with poor social skills and/or low EQ, dontchya think?

Relationships on Twitter are real ones. People are people everywhere. They bring their baggage into the Twitter community, even when they intend to hide it. If they tweet regularly they’ll eventually reveal more and more of themselves.

One of my therapists said it’s like texting. Um, no. It’s more like film acting or writing a book in that you have no specific audience in mind. Maybe one day when you’re a little emotional or bored, you tweet out something revelatory. You mayn’t get a reply, so you won’t know it was read. That drops your guard a little. You tweet out something more revelatory. Pretty soon, regular followers and anyone checking out your timeline will develop a pretty good picture of you. But in texting you always have one person firmly in mind – so you’ll remember to keep hiding what you don’t want the other person to know. And no one ever joins in that conversation sans an invitation.

I was also told it’s like a dating site where the person you’re supposed to be exclusive with can see when you’ve logged on and who’ve you corresponded with. Really? I had no idea. But, um, no. Twitter doesn’t reveal lurkers. But Twitter does make monitoring dead easy: turn on notifications on a favourite tweep and voilá, as soon as she tweets, your smartphone or tablet buzzes. It’s a great feature for friends to keep up with each other or a therapist to monitor a fragile client, but it can also be used to obsess over a person. Or control them. Or stalk them. Fun.

Would a therapist not on social media know about that?

No. You wouldn’t. And so you might say soothingly, it’s only a coincidence he tweets you within minutes of you tweeting and he’s suddenly mimicking your tweets, not recognizing the danger to your client.

Would a therapist not on social media know Twitter is like face-to-face communication and how rapidly things evolve or devolve?

No. You wouldn’t. And so you might tell a woman patient with a brain injury worried about a man obsessed with her, that you can’t tell her what to do but can discuss it at the next appointment if it remains unresolved, as if she has weeks to decide, compose, act.

Would a therapist not on social media understand mute, block, report?

No. You wouldn’t. And so you would tell your client to take a break from a big part of her real life instead of advising her on how to use the safety tools in order to stay in her community sans being harassed.

Well, what’s in it for me, asked one health care professional of me, as if being able to advise their patient appropriately was not a good enough reason. Ahem.

Well, okay then: what’s in it for you to live in a community, live in Toronto, be part of Canadian life?

Do you read newspapers? Twitter will provide you broader and more comprehensive news faster than your traditional newspapers, TV, radio, way beyond what you can imagine. Do you like to influence local politics? Twitter will get you direct access to policians, bureaucrats, and journalists. Do you like to chat over coffee? You’ll meet all sorts of people from around the globe to shoot the breeze with. Do you want to expand your professional learning? You’ll get together with patients and fellow professionals in scheduled chats. Do you want to meet like minds and be challenged by new ideas? Do you want to break out of your geographic box and meet your fellow Canuckians, learn about Canada’s North, feast your eyes on the gorgeousness of our country, our planet? Do you want to meet your fellow professionals from the UK, Australia, India, etc. socially as well as professionally? Do you want to participate in your professional conferences more fully? Do you want to watch volcanoes blow complete with visible and audible shock waves? Do you want to participate in or watch events you can’t attend? Do you want to discuss a TV show no one in your family is interested in while you’re viewing it? Do you like to people watch? Well, Twitter does all that and more because it’s a community comprising flesh-and-blood humans connecting through their minds. Rather sci-fi’ish I know. But real.

Twitter is real life. Twitter is where your patients and clients live. That is why you as a therapist must join in. Or if you choose not to, know that you are abandoning your client to the deceivers of the world while you watch from the sidelines benignly.

Brain Biofeedback

Biofeedback, Technology, Blogging, and Fatigue

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I'm getting an iPhone. Hopefully, this year; they’re a tad in demand. I made this decision after weeks of building problems and one particularly frustrating set of days. One big problem I have is that I can write on my iPod Touch within the white noise of the subway but cannot post my draft to my blog until I get home because of the lack of free secure WiFi along my routes. Not usually a problem, but these days I’m exhausted by the time I open my front door, and as a result, my blogging has fallen off. With the iPhone, I wouldn’t have to keep updating this post that I draft en route but never post once home, for three weeks now. Not good.

Two weeks in a row, I wrote and then updated:

It really is nice being able to see letters, images, and colours on my iPod sharper after gamma brainwave biofeedback. I just wish the effect would last, and brain fatigue wouldn't turn things blurry.

I was fatigued after last week’s and this week’s session [“last week” and “this week” are now three and two weeks ago], but the training effect on my vision and perception held for awhile. I was aware of my surroundings in the way of how I used to be aware in the periphery while reading or listening to music and I didn't go sailing past my stop while drafting this post on my iPod; it was the second week in a row that I felt able to type while walking (tsk). Didn't do it though!

I was fatigued more than usual afterwards last week because I read for 15 minutes! Holy cow. I usually read for five.

In the usual way of things, I begin my biofeedback session with reading while my Wernicke’s area is being stimulated for 7 minutes, and I end with 5 minutes of reading while I'm connected to the computer via electrodes on the PZ area of my skull, on my thumb for heart, my finger for temperature, and belt for breathing.

I'd asked previously that, since I've begun my metaphysics course, if I could continue reading for a little while after my session was over so as to be under the immediate influence of training sans any deleterious effects of taking the TTC (my trainer alternates clients in different rooms so that while one is getting ready to leave, she can set the next one up, so no worries about holding up the next client). That was to start last week, but since she began to set the next client up as soon as she began the reading screen for me and that turned into 15 minutes, it sort of incorporated my extra reading into my reading biofeedback screen (this week it was as we’d intended; still needed a nap). That turned out better for me because I was receiving auditory feedback during the whole of my philosophy reading. The auditory feedback is like a white noise. As long as the gamma sailboat is chugging along and the busy brain and 16-19Hz sailboats are stalled on their virtual seas, the noise buzzes. That means whenever I heard it, I was producing gamma brainwaves while not falling into rumination or producing beta spindles. I heard it a lot. This was good. Also, my trainer crowed as soon as she saw my results. My muscle tension was low. Well, I said I was sitting still and upright, the biofeedback training position, reading a computer screen, wouldn't it be low like during the three-minute training screens? No! You were reading, she said, as if that explained it. Well, it was hard stuff. I did have to take a break by reading easy stuff, then I was able to return to reading the intro to the philosopher Quine. Still, I was physically still! Maybe, that’s the point: when reading, our bodies unconsciously work out what we’re reading. I don't know. I meant to ask for clarification this week but was consumed by my dying cell phone and iPod Touch (cell battery lasted years longer than the iPod but both decided to tank at same time).

My heart rate was 10 beats per minute lower than the previous week and ten beats lower again this week and so five minutes of writing got it down to the teens as in 118. And this week, five minutes got it down to 109. Relief! I hope this time the effect is permanent and keeps dropping my heart rate to normal territory!!

I did read a few minutes longer last week after she unhooked me from the computer to finish up something. I gulped down some water, demolished my snack bar, and was ready for coffee and food both last week and this. I'm not sure why but I'm much hungrier after my gamma sessions than I have been in a long time. Oh yeah, new location, new brain area being woken up. Well, duh.

Internet and Computers

Quitting Squidoo for Violating my Terms of Service

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The Error message reads: “Whoops! No publishing allowed. This lens is currently locked for a violation of our Terms of Service, as per the email we sent you. You’re welcome to a) Grab your content and take it elsewhere, if you’d rather not continue with Squidoo or b) Review your content and make edits here in the Workshop to improve the lens. But you won’t be able to Publish the lens live until you can demonstrate that the violation has been addressed. Thanks.

I wrote this how-to lens on autographing books for authors almost four years ago. Squidoo decided three days before Christmas 2011 (when book sales spike) that my article was  — pick one, your guess, they won’t tell, shhhh — pornographic; contained profanity; spammy (guess too many copies of Lifeliner in my pic); something they couldn’t support cause, you know, authors autographing books for readers is so … well, words fail me; a “doorway” lens  to affiliate programs like promoting authors autographing their own books; unoriginal (all those hours I spent writing and polishing was just, well, meh); article spinning (whatever the heck that is, but if I don’t know what it means then I must’ve done it, eh?); and plagiarism.

I’ve been down the false accusation of plagiarism road with Squidoo before.

They sent a nice note saying sorry, it was a “false positive” after I found the plagiarist of my article that they blocked last May. They wrote that they would greenlight it so it wouldn’t happen again, but they didn’t think to greenlight the author, namely me. They seem to have a default stance that Squidoo authors plagiarize and so no point telling Squidoo authors when their work is plagiarized, just cut out the articles. Some site.

Squidoo also wrote in their email to me dated 22 December 2011:

We aim to support high-quality, original and useful lifestyle content that real readers will be glad to land on.”

Yes I can see how comments like these most recent ones would mean readers were not glad to land on it:

“i like this..” Oct 24, 2010 5:14 pm

“I will release my first book and it is all about my experiences as a mystery shopper. I found this site very informative and I am so excited to sign my book to someone who will really appreciate it. Thanks for the signing guides and more power” MysterySh0pper, Dec 11, 2010 6:32 am

“Thanks for the ideas….my first book signing is coming up in a few days!! http://map-thenovel.com” nitronarc, Feb 21, 2011 9:23 pm

“A lens about how to autograph a book: now I’ve seen it all! I am impressed with the research you did! (I’ve never had to autograph a book, but I have had to autograph the CD copy of an ebook!)” TravelingRae, Jun 18, 2011 12:16 am

This week, after I finished revising my novel and finally had the energy to deal with this company and do their work for them, I searched for plagiarized words from my autographing article, and it looks like it was copied elsewhere then possibly taken down or made invisible. Although Google shows other sites as having plagiarized my article, the sites themselves no longer show it, as far as I can tell.

Violations of my copyright are the only thing important to me.

Then I also noticed all my Squidoo lenses on installing and using Ubuntu were taken down. I can’t be bothered yelling at this stupid company again. If it doesn’t have the ability to know which writers are original and to see that it had screwed up before with the same writer, it’s not worth the effort to tell them. I know I said I was going to take down my Squidoo account last time they blasted me with their spraying figure-out-which-term-you-violated-then-maybe-we’ll-talk gun. But didn’t. This time I am.

There may be orphaned links on my website to my old Squidoo lenses once I’ve cancelled my account. Please let me know if you find any.

Last time, they only made nice because I blasted them back and reprimanded my copyright violator — thanks for the help Squidoo in telling me about them and helping me demand they take the plagiarized copy down, not — but I was mollified. This time, I don’t see why again I have to be treated as guilty until innocent. If they default to that position, then they have a problem with their contributors. From telecoms to Squidoo, I’ve had enough of behemoth companies banging their weight around. I quit. Writers looking for autographing advice — and my other former Squidoo essays — can come straight to my own website, thank you very much.

"We're lucky to have you around."
Marketing

Follow-Me, Follow-You Authors on Twitter Miss Out

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Okay, I’m getting a tad fed-up. It is one thing to have marketing folk follow you on Twitter then a few days later, unfollow you. Obviously they’re trying to boost their follower count. But it is another for an author or writer to do it. What are they thinking? That Twitter is just for marketing? That they’ll sell more books if we authors all reciprocate and follow each other like a bunch of tail-sniffing dogs in some club that supports each other’s fundraising efforts but gets no outside supporters? They also have the most boring Twitter feeds, filled with shills and only shills for their book, with maybe some random thought chucked in every now and then. What a waste. Of Twitter and the writer’s time. And mine.

For those who don’t know, this practice of following a person and then within a day or perhaps a generous five days unfollowing the person if they don’t follow back arose because of Twitter’s policy. Once you follow 2,000 people, you must have a certain ratio of follow:being followed in order to increase that number above 2,000. So the idea is you follow a person, they immediately follow you. You unfollow the person and repeat with another. (Writers who do this may not unfollow as it’s also, in their view, some sort of support thing.) If they don’t follow you, you definitely unfollow them. That way the number of people who follow you will remain higher than the number you follow, and Twitter will let you increase the number of people you follow beyond 2,000. You follow? However, with apps like TwitDiff, people like me can now spot these kind of Twitterers and no longer have to waste our time checking out their Twitter feed.

I have never immediately followed back because I am too slow. First off, it can take me weeks to check out feeds, it all depends on my energy levels and what else I’m doing. With some feeds, I can’t make up my mind if I want to follow them. With feeds filled with RTs and @ replies, I know I don’t because a feed filled with RTs is too difficult to read, and a feed filled with @ replies means I won’t see it with how Twitter handles those tweets. Only TweetDeck would show me them, and I’m not on TweetDeck that often. In a very, very few cases, feeds are a slam-dunk to follow. They have funny tweets, interesting tweets, intriguing links, banal tweets, good info, some @ replies, a few RTs, or a combo of all of those; they have conversations; they’re not filled with hashtags fore and aft, which make my eyes spin. In short, they’re worth the follow.

Those kinds of feeds ought to be a natural for writers to write, or at least aspire to.

Apparently not.

I joined Twitter for the same reason I started a blog: to practice my writing (those 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell writes about plus it’s fun or at least work I like) and to express myself. Twitter had the added discipline of imposing brevity. Short writing, putting a complex thought into few words, is not easy. Twitter provides the perfect opportunity to practise.

Twitter also provides the writer the chance to write pithy thoughts on a wide variety of subjects. You’re not confined to the subject of your books or the theme of your blog.

I have also discovered that Twitter allows an author to meet readers. Goodreads does that too, but not in the real-time, free-flowing conversational way that Twitter does, in which others can join in to your conversations.

And Twitter allows you to meet or follow interesting people in the publishing industry and learn from them. You can’t do that — heck, you can’t do any of the above — if all you’re doing is exchanging book shills, which becomes extremely tedious before the day is half over.

Yes, an author does need to tweet on their books, what others are saying about the books, where to buy, sales and promotions. And yes, there will be bursts of these tweets when a new book comes out. But over the course of a year, those tweets should be a small part; even in the bursts they should not be the only topic on the author’s feed.

Twitter is a merit thing when it comes to following. I don’t expect people to follow me just for following support. I don’t expect people to follow me back just because I followed them. My tweets may not be their cup of tea. So I don’t like it when people impose the expectation of you-have-to-follow-me-just-because-I-followed-you-even-if-my-feed-is-the-biggest-yawnfest-you-ever-encountered. TwittDiff lets me spot these kinds of Twitterers in the ease of my email inbox. I no longer have to spend precious energy or minutes checking out a feed, only to discover that they’ve already unfollowed me (you can tell by the lack of direct message ability). But even with TwitDiff, it really irritates me when writers unfollow because I didn’t follow back right away or at all.

Authors who think we should follow each other because it’s how we support each other and that by boosting Twitter follower numbers we will somehow sell books, are missing out. And they are also missing out in how we can truly support each other: by sharing info, by discussing how we do things, joining up under a shared hashtag like #amwriting or #nanowrimo even though we may not follow each other. These authors and writers have just stuck a finger in the eye of Twitter’s opportunity.

“Real” authors, the established ones, don’t do this follow-you-follow-me thing. They’re too busy writing interesting tweets.

Internet and Computers

Greener Families Does the Right Thing: Takes Down Plagiarized Article

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I’d steeled myself to take the next step in my salvo against the ones who’d plagiarized my chocolate article, especially as I hadn’t received an email of apology or compliance. I went to the page and…

Greener Families Page for Chocolate Article Taken Down Cropped 20 May 2011

Well, isn’t that a surprise! First Squidoo does the right thing and restores my deleted article and now Greener Families does the right thing and deletes their illegal copy of it.

Two lessons I’ve learnt:

1. Don’t give up when you see injustice done: Write! Write the transgressors, use civil language, include sentences that tell them you can prove your claim, and copy legal language from websites who’ve gone through the same steps as you.

2. People in the wrong don’t apologise, don’t acknowledge they did wrong, and don’t let you know when they’ve rectified the situation. With people like Squidoo or Greener Families, it doesn’t matter really, other than it’s annoying, because I don’t have a personal relationship with them. But when it happens in a personal relationship, that relationship is doomed to superficiality at best and will likely fade away. For when the transgressor fails to admit wrong, apologise, and repent (change their mind, way of doing things), then the trangressed is likely to hold them at harm’s length even if s/he shows a smiling face to the transgressor. Don’t fool yourself. Being a coward and not apologising (in the hopes it’ll all go away and why can’t we all make nice) isn’t going to fix anything and will ruin what relationship you have left.

Now I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming. Yay!