Tag Archives: #AtoZChallenge

Wanting For Magic Not Music

A Magical Melody is no longer available on this blog. It is available for free by subscribing to the newsletter, included when you purchase Confronting the Demon, or is available in the anthology Spells: Ten Tales of Magic.  

Details of where the book may be purchased will be listed as soon as they become available.
This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P , Q, R, S, T, U and V.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!



Vexatious Blog Habits

Blog Habits

There are a number of things about blogs that annoy me. It’s really not that hard to make a presentable blog, at least I don’t think so. I’ve done it twice using the Blogger platform, with no HTML knowledge and only basic computer skills. 

Even if you’re not all that creative, I don’t think any of these points require any degree of creativity. Just some common sense. Which, OK, probably isn’t all that common… 

So here’s a list of the things that vex me most on blogs.




  • CAPTCHA. This is my number one vexatious blog habit. Don’t use it. You don’t need it. There are alternatives. I hate being required to enter incomprehensible letters into my computer before being allowed to comment. I know I’ve sometimes typed these wrong but it still accepts them occasionally. Maybe there is a margin of error, I don’t know. I sure know I squint at them and wonder what the hell that letter is. Remember you wantpeople to comment. If it’s all too hard, they just won’t;
  • Widgets overhanging sidebars. If you’ve put a widget in your sidebar, make sure it fits. I have two sidebars, one wide and one narrow so when I add widgets I can stick it in whichever sidebar is the closest fit. If I need to make the sidebar wider, I can and I do. It just looks tacky when you put a widget in a sidebar that is too small. It’s kind of like parking an SUV in a small car garage. Only cheaper;
  • Lack of sharing buttons. For the love of God, don’t ask me to share your blog (unless you give me something I can RT) if your blog has no sharing buttons. Because I will go there, look for the tweet button, not find one and go ‘stuff this’;
  • Dark ages comment systems. I recently encountered a comment system where everyone who commented appeared as “guest” with no name. B-A-D. Quite apart from that, it was very difficult to work out how to comment;
  • Bad formatting. The use of super-large, badly formatted type (all bold, all italics, or random and unexplainable use of either) appears amateurish, not to mention sloppy. If I see this, I’m unlikely to want to come back to your blog;
  • Blog posts split over multiple pages. I know some people like to do this to break up big posts, but can I just say NO. If your post is really that long it concerns you, post it in multiple parts. I do this when I post short stories (usually 2000 – 4000 words) or sometimes posts in my mythical creatures series if I have too many creatures to deal with. Splitting it over multiple pages just means I have to wait for the next page to load. This is just an opportunity for me to give up and go elsewhere;
You want to attract readers and more, once they arrive, you want to keep them, and then if you keep them, you want them to comment and/or tell their friends. All of the above bad habits are disincentives on one or more of these fronts. 

What the hell does this say??
I’m entered in the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition for both Flight of the Dragon and Somebody Has To Say It. If you like this blog, or Flight of the Dragon, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d be so good as to stop by and vote for me here.


This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P , Q, R, S, T, and U.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!


Unwinnable War: Ciara vs Telecommunications Giant

Telecommunications Giant
When I planned this post, the war was still raging. Since then, I must declare my victory! I am triumphant. But if you’re in Australia, here’s an incredibly long list of reasons not to use Telstra. I will, as soon as possible, be switching back to iinet. Disclaimer: iinet isn’t paying me to write this blog but they probably should be…
  1. December 2011 – Online application for phone and internet is rejected without explanation – to start, when rejecting applications, it’s always handy to advise the applicant why;
  2. On enquiry, Telstra staff could not advise definitively why it had been rejected. We were offered half a dozen reasons, finally settling on broadband not being available in our area. Since I live in Sydney, this seemed preposterous. Supposedly this was because our developer hadn’t completed some paperwork;
  3. Furious, I called the developer for our estate who said they had completed all the necessary paperwork as it was a council requirement. They promised to chase up Telstra;
  4. Mid-December – The developer’s Telstra contact said she would fix the problem. Hallelujah! All was right in the world. Or at least my small corner of it;
  5. The problem was fixed as promised. Apparently they couldn’t find our address (it being a new house) and therefore concluded no internet was available there. Hello, if we can’t find someone in the system shouldn’t the next question be ‘Is this a new residence?’;
  6. 3 days before Christmas – The ‘Bundles’ department called me. Apparently no department at Telstra communicates with any other and Bundles told me I couldn’t have internet – again. My anger levels spiked, as did my need for alcoholic sedation;
  7. Sales advised Bundles had attempted to schedule the internet connection before the phone. Way to go, genius, I’m a lawyer and even I know enough about telecommunications to know the phone line must go in before the internet. Sales scheduled the phone connection;
  8. Between Christmas and New Year – The technician arrives to connect the phone and tells me there are no cables in the street. He says he needs to call someone else. OK, not happy, but a minor hiccough. We’ll get the cables down and it’ll all be good;
  9. Early January – Telstra advises it will be 3-4 business days before they can advise me of a timeframe for the cabling. OK, I can live with that;
  10. Telstra advises they won’t be running any cables at all as we fall in the National Broadband Network (NBN) area and they are responsible for laying the cables.
  11. Annoyed at getting the run-around, I call NBN to find out when the cable will go in. NBN advise me our developer does not have an application pending and therefore it will take TWOto TEN YEARS to lay cable at our address. Blood pressure goes through the roof. I should have self-medicated with vodka but I didn’t. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
  12. I call the developer but the person I need to speak to is not in. I leave a message. In lieu of shouting at the developer, I send an angry email to my local Member of Parliament (like a Senator, or something…) on the basis this is all his fault and that of his government for introducing NBN in the first place.
  13. A lovely guy from the MP’s office calls me almost immediately to tell me they will look into it and that can’t be right. They are taking it up with the office of the Senator for Telecommunications. All right! Feel a little bad for my email but the guy seemed to understand.
  14. Mid January 2012 – The MP’s office calls to confirm it appears to be Telstra’s area and not NBN. The MP will take it up with the Telstra Regional Manager;
  15. MP’s office calls to check it’s OK they give my personal information to Telstra. Yes, they know I’m a lawyer… So does Telstra, now, apparently, courtesy of the MP’s office.
  16. Telstra’s Bundle department calls me to find out why the internet hasn’t been arranged. He speaks incredibly poor English to the extent that when I tell him there are no cables in the street he offers me ADSL (apparently thinking I meant cable internet) on our phone line. There is no phone line, dumb-ass! Don’t you people talk to each other or keep notes on a centralised file?? Apparently not;
  17. Late January I am advised the cables will be in by mid-March;
  18. January to February – 2 incorrect bills, and a jousting match over a parcel Telstra sent that I didn’t receive or request and which Telstra refused to refund me for until I returned it – you can read about it here;
  19. Mid March – cables go in and phone is connected. No internet. Why not? Telstra advise my request for internet has been cancelled. Annoyed, I reinstate the order;
  20. Late March – still no internet. The order has been cancelled again! Told the internet will be up and running in a week.
  21. Early April – Internet connected but no modem. Telstra advise me I ‘rejected’ delivery of the modem. I most certainly did not – see herefor an explanation of this. Reorganised delivery of the modem.
  22. Mid-April. Still no modem. Modem delivery cancelled again. Give up and buy modem, for which Telstra refunds us. 

Finally, more than 4 months after the fact, our phone, internet and pay TV is connected and running as intended. Of course, Telstra still managed to have the last word. For reasons unexplained, my email bills were cancelled (and I note Telstra charges you a fee if you receive paper bills) and still didn’t manage to bundle all our services correctly. 

But I’ve fixed those problems. So I won the war. Take that, Telstra!

Now all I need to do is hope the next 2 years are reasonably hassle free so I can switch back to iinet when my contract expires without suffering too badly in the interim. 

Telstra, really, how can you stuff up everything so badly? You need help!


I’m entered in the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition for both Flight of the Dragon and Somebody Has To Say It. If you like this blog, or Flight of the Dragon, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d be so good as to stop by and vote for me here.

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P , Q, R, S and T.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.


Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!


Triberr Etiquette Or How Not To Piss Off Your Tribemates

Triberr Etiquette

For those who don’t know, Triberr is a platform that allows bloggers to band together to support each other by semi-automating the tweeting of each other’s blog posts. 

When Triberr was first conceived by its founders, users were urged to ‘tribe up’ with Tweeps they knew and trusted because the idea and expectation was everyone would tweet out everything their tribemates posted to their blog and funnelled through Triberr. Since the loss of fully automated tweeting, this idea has fallen more and more by the wayside. Navigating the politics of any given tribe can be treacherous. Tempers flare. Insults are exchanged. 

Some tribes have rules. Everyone must tweet everyone else’s tweets. Tribemates must not post more than once a day. Tribemates must post more than three times a day. There is no obligation on tweeting at all.
And some tribes don’t have rules. 

Where there are no rules, or the rules are quite relaxed with no expectation of tweeting, then tribemates can clash. 

Sure, you may not be obligated to tweet me, but if you don’t tweet me, why should I feel obliged to tweet you? Triberr is and always has been an ‘I scratch your back, you scratch my back’ arrangement. 

So in the absence of strict tribe rules, I suggest the following common sense guidelines may help to manage the politics:
  • Sure, if you really feel someone posts nothing but crap, don’t tweet them. But if you are tweeting less than half your tribemates for quality reasons, you are probably in the wrong tribe;
  • If you don’t tweet someone, don’t expect them to tweet you back. Definitely don’t think Triberr is a place you can funnel your RSS feed through, set and forget, and never login in to approve tribemates posts. If you do, eventually no one will tweet your post. Why should people make an effort for someone unprepared to return the favour?
  • Don’t tell me you don’t tweet posts because of your ‘brand’. If you have real ‘brand’ issues, tribe up with bloggers who are all about your brand. There is no point tribing up with people you know from the get go that you will never tweet. And incidentally, don’t assume your followers are one dimensional. Fantasy readers, for example, come from all walks of life, and they have varied jobs. One of my readers enjoyed a post I tweeted about big rigs and dams, even though there’s not much in that I personally relate to.
  • If you do make a decision not to tweet a particular person, I personally think it’s courteous to notify them and let them know you don’t expect them to tweet you, but that one may just be me;
  • Tribe leaders, I do think you should encourage tribe members to bring disputes to you, rather than have them back-stabbing each other in the schoolyard as it were. Also, if someone really isn’t pulling their weight in a tribe (or is posting offensive drivel as happened in one of my tribes), you need to know about it because that person is dead weight (or downright dangerous) and isn’t adding any value to your tribe. There is little point having statistics on your tribal reach if in fact half your members are not tweeting to their followers, as that number is then just misleading. I have a few tribes where tribal leaders have removed people who were either not tweeting anyone at all, or were posting really offensive, discriminatory posts.
  • Unless you’re in a tribe that requires multiple postings per day, it’s unreasonable to expect your tribemates to tweet you more than once a day, especially if you are in a large tribe, and especially if the tribe contains a lot of daily bloggers;
If in doubt, you can always ask your tribe leader what the rules are, if any. Tribes of people you know well and really trust dowork best. I have three of these, and they are my absolute favourites! But practically speaking, I recognise that’s not always possible. 

And a word to the wise – Triberr stats have lately been unreliable, so don’t assume someone who shows as tweeting ‘0’ of your posts really is. Check your Twitter stream before you give them the kiss of death!

I’m entered in the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition for both Flight of the Dragon and Somebody Has To Say It. If you like this blog, or Flight of the Dragon, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d be so good as to stop by and vote for me here.

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P , Q, R and S.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.


Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!

Switching from Blogger to WordPress: Should You?

Switching from blogger to WordPress

 There are a lot of comparisons of blog platforms out there. I read a few when I started out and I chose Blogger, as many newbies do, for the simple reason it’s easier.

Later, we often get encouraged to move to WordPress, either WordPress.com or the self-hosted WordPress software. 

But I am sticking with Blogger, at least for the time being, and here’s why:
  • Blogger is still easier. Self-hosting would require me to learn more technical shtuff (technical term). I’ve already learned more shtuff than I care to, at great personal pain to my brain. I like the fact using my blog is easy and straight-forward and requires very little shtuff. My website is largely managed by my Dad,and requires loads of shtuff, and I certainly don’t want to pester him every time I need a blog uploaded. Unless you can show me the harder option reaps me more benefits, hard is, well, a hard sell;
  • I haven’t seen a lot of WordPress layouts I like. Yes, OK, this comes down to the customisation of each user, but I do like my Blogger layout. So why would I put in a lot of extra work for no gain? I hear a lot that Blogger looks less professional, but since the introduction of the new interface, Blogger is so customisable I don’t think this is true. With very little shtuff (and maybe a bit more in the way of creative juice), you can build a blog that looks fantastic. Sure, if you’re a professional blogger, this may be a different kettle of fish, but I’m not.
  • If you’re concerned about having blogspot.com or WordPress.com on your blog, you can redirect your Blogger blog to your own domain name. The ease of using Blogger with the appearance of a self-hosted blog! I am halfway through this process. I did ask my webmaster (aka Dad) to set up the subdomains  but I forget what they were and must now ask Dad… Hey, I have a lot on my plate, OK? Don’t judge.
  • Yes Blogger has known comment problems but you can fix this using Disqus (see here Discuss With A Q). I believe everyone should use Disqus anyway, regardless of what blog service they use, and I know plenty of people with self-hosted WordPress blogs who do.
  • Blogger now allows me to seamlessly integrate my blog with my website, so there is a menu across the top that links to all the pages of my site, and my site links to both blogs. Unless you look at the URL, you may not even know the blog isn’t on the website. And I bet a bunch of you didn’t notice… Sure, my blog layout is not identical to my website, but I’ve chosen complementing themes and colours to create the same mood if not precisely the same look and feel.
So those are my reasons. A few have attempted to convert me to WordPress, but so far their arguments haven’t made a lot of progress! They’ll need to keep at it before they convert me. 

What do you think? Do you use Blogger or WordPress? Why, and what do you like or dislike about the platform you use?

2014 Note: As you can see, I have since switched to WordPress. This was actually driven by my website, which needed greater functionality. Since the website was then on WordPress, it made simple sense to integrate the blog.

I’m entered in the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition for both Flight of the Dragon and Somebody Has To Say It. If you like this blog, or Flight of the Dragon, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d be so good as to stop by and vote for me here.

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P , Q, and R.
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.
Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.
Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!