In with the new; out with the new – Figuring out RSS

I did not know what an RSS Feed was, but the concept wasn’t too hard to figure out since I do follow certain people/sites on Facebook.  Also, having set up my blog in WordPress helped too because I had added blogs to my Reader.  However, when researching RSS Feeds, I found that people had different opinions on their usefulness.

The video provided by Dr. Morgan  explaining what RSS is  explains that RSS readers are the “new” way to search for desired and updated content.  Another site I found, Digital Trends, claimed that RSS Readers are not as popular as they used to be, saying that many websites now only offer a “subscription” option. Despite the declining use, Digital Trends claimed that RSS Readers are still worth having.

And so, I embarked on another trek into the land of technology.  I began my journey by using the  tutorial at Feedly.com as suggested by Dr. Morgan.  This was a fairly simple process.  I got my feed set up and added the links to the blogs and sites I wanted to follow.  It took me a little trial and error to figure out how to organized everything.  I ended up having to unfollow everything I had loaded and adding each one a second time to align them with the categories I wanted to use.  There may have been an easier way to do this, but I did not find the directions in the tutorial to be very useful.  I think they expect users to figure it out.

The second problem I had was actually following sites by clicking the orange RSS button.  When I clicked on it, the sites wanted to automatically use “live bookmarks.”  I wasn’t sure if this was the right thing or not, and when I looked at the other applications I could choose, I was still confused.  So, rather than adding sites by clicking the RSS button, I manually copied and pasted the urls into Feedly.

Next, I decided to attempt to add the RSS widget to my blog; hopefully this made it easier for others to follow me.

The last step I did to get the RSS Reader set up was to add the app to my phone.  I seem to find that web stuff is easier to navigate on the mobile devices.  Once I downloaded the app, I visited my own blog and clicked to add it to the RSS  feed.  That went smoothly – no message about live bookmarks.

If anyone can tell me how live bookmarks work, that would be great!  Should I be clicking yes to this when trying to add a site to my RSS Feed, or should I choose another application?  Thanks everyone!

I Wish I Knew What He Was Saying

I don’t understand what this little parakeet is saying to the chicken, but I sure like watching his conversation.  It’s a little bit how I feel reading Steve Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited. I am reading this text for another class.  I don’t understand much of what he’s talking about, but I sure am having fun reading it!

Video credits: Parrot persuades chicken! Very Funny!by smeh UA and licensed by Creative Commons Attribution License

Photo credits:  Cool by Justin P. Lambert is licensed under CC by 2.0

I was sent home from school on the first day of fourth grade.  I attended a private missionary school.  They had a dress code.  One of the rules was: no t-shirts with writing across the front.  A rule that applied to all students but was an effort to minimize the amount of attention paid to girls’ chests.

I knew the rule.  But my t-shirt had writing down the side and had a cartoon surfer dude duck on the other side.  Clearly this shirt was not a transgression.  Plus, I was ten.  However, when the school teacher read my “Cool is an Attitude” shirt, she was not impressed.  I was forced to go home and change.  Later that week I was sent home for wearing too short of skirt, and I was assigned extra work detail (cleaning the bathrooms after school).  Life was not easy in fourth grade, but I did learn to respect the rules and that breaking them has consequences.

For this course, I’m finding myself very concerned about inadvertently breaking the rules.  I’ve spent the past fifteen years teaching MLA format, so I understand the concept of citing your sources; however, citing  sources  online is rather new to me, and I worry I will mess it up.  I’m doing my best to research and follow online instructions (Here’s a useful link about attribution), but it’s challenging – impossible- to understand all the legalese.

If anyone can give me a few simple rules to follow or tips on this topic, I would be grateful.

Setting up my first blog. EVER.

It’s been established now that I’m new at this.  A total novice. Not only have I never written a blog, I’ve never even followed one!  I know.  I know.

Setting up this blog has been a lot of fun and has been easier than I anticipated; however, that makes me think I’m probably doing something wrong.  No big deal.  Just the whole world can see this.  It’s taken some time, some trial and error, and I’ve had to read and follow instructions every step of the way, but for such an amateur, I felt pretty accomplished.  I struggled a bit with finding a theme that I thought was appealing both to the eye and to a reading audience.  I found some of the themes attractive, but I didn’t think they were the most conducive to a text-heavy blog. I just kept switching them up until I found something I liked.

Adding a site icon sounded intimidating, so I put that off for a day.  When I came at it fresh (after a lot of coffee), it wasn’t so bad at all, and I was actually pretty excited about my photo choice for my header and icon – the pipes are a part of our boiler system in our house.  I was going for a metaphor of all of our (those of us taking English 3177/5177) thoughts and ideas connecting.

The second challenge was adding a widget.  I understood the concept, but the first couple that I tried didn’t seem to show up on my blog.  I wanted to add a widget where I could add posts that I like from classmates.  I set this up, but nothing showed up on my site.  I wondered if it was something that would only show up when I had an actual post to like.  Since I couldn’t see it, I tried to delete that widget.  I’m still not sure if I was successful in deleting it or what happened to that.  Next, I tried a video widget.  I successfully posted a video from Youtube, but I was unsure about if/how to cite content from another site.   Again, I made an attempt to delete. My third widget stuck.  I chose to add a widget that allows others to follow my blog.  I thought this might become useful when people hear about this almost 40-year-old classmate attempting to go digital. Honestly, I think my 77-year old mom has more experience with the smartphone than I do.  At least I can always call my mom when I run into problems.

The most challenging part of setting up the blog for me is knowing that what I put on this page gets sent out in to the world.  My thoughts and photos will zoom down that internet highway to some unknown destination that I have no control over.  It’s unsettling to feel so vulnerable, so exposed.  Do you feel it too?

I’m excited about next steps. Eager to see what’s around the next bend.  When have you traveled new roads?  What’s an experience that pushed you out of your comfort zone?

Such a noob

This has become a popular roast in our household over the past couple of months.  I have two boys (9 and 13), so insults and name-calling are pretty standard communication.  Today, however, I am a self-proclaimed Noob.  When I went to high school, we learned how to type on actual type-writers.  Computers were accessed only during the one-hour computer class (I am pretty sure I took Spanish that hour), and the internet was something we used on a rare occasion – usually to send an email.  The computer sounded like it was an airplane getting ready for take-off or a sick and dying animal while it struggled to connect to the world wide web. Grinding. Whirring. Squ–eeeeaaa–king.

Of course, I’ve gotten used to the technology advances over time.  I have taken classes online.  I have taught classes online.  I own tablets and smart phones.  Yet, I have remained very hesitant and cautious about engaging online.  I’ve cautiously kept my distance.  I am one of few in my generation that never had a My Space account.  To be honest, I just opened a Facebook account about 6 months ago.  Facebook and Pintrest. Yep; that’s the extent of my social media outlets.  My boys would tell me to “Take the L.”

I guess my reasons for staying away from social media are complicated. Originally, I distanced myself from it out of a desire to distance myself from my past altogether.  I moved away, and I wanted it to stay that way.  I wanted to start my new life untethered.  When I had children, I wanted to keep their lives private as well.  I’ll admit to feeling fearful about what having our information “out there” meant.  And so, twenty years of my life have gone by tooling around on a few cooking websites, banging out a few daily emails, watching some cat videos on Youtube, but staying away from social media.

Not only has setting up this blog been a challenge technologically, it has also been a mental, emotional and psychological exercise.  Time to get out of my comfort zone.  It’s a new year.  I’m ready to stretch myself.  Hopefully when this is all over, I won’t be such a noob.

About Me

I’ve got a story.  Just like  you do.  Maybe one day we’ll meet, and I’ll share more of mine with you.  And you’ll know me well enough to know that I will listen when you tell me yours.

For now, here’s a glimpse of my life.  I’m going to turn 40 this year.  The birthday I remember my parents’ friends celebrating with decorations of tombstones and black paper – over the hill.  I wonder now what the fuss was about.  I don’t feel any older than I did in my mid-to-late twenties.  Do I?

Over the past 40 years I got married, I had two children, I earned two degrees, I found a rewarding career, I made wonderful friends, I traveled, I experienced health issues, I went through painful circumstances, I lost loved ones.  Through it all, I am blessed.

I live in Southeast Minnesota with my husband, my two sons, two cats and a talking budgie.  When we are not spending time at our jobs, we are into sports and spending time outdoors.  We also love to curl up with a good book or have family game night.  I guess I could sum up  my life this way: faith, family, and things worth fighting for.

I hope to meet you one of these days.

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