If we were having coffee . . .

. . . I’d tell you I had another hectic week. I’ve barely had time to tweet or comment on blogs at all, and I’ve missed it. Diana stayed with me most of the week and we had a fabulous visit. Even though we communicate by chat several times a day, we don’t get enough face time. It was also the first week of little-people school, so my grandson had to start first grade this week. In addition, I was very busy with a work project that had to be finished this week, and I got it done.

. . . I’d’ tell you that I managed, despite being so busy, to publish two guest posts at Comparative Geeks this week. They’re about Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. I’m especially proud of the second post, which discusses the role of Superman in the story. The art layout for that post is just about the best job I’ve ever done with images on a blog.

. . . I’d tell you I’ve upgraded my technology, so my productivity should skyrocket over the next month or two. This is good. Otherwise, I doubt I’d be able to keep up the blogging through the fall. I pickedgalaxy4 up this little gem a couple of weeks ago. It’s a Samsung Galaxy S4, and it replaces a prepaid analog phone I’ve been using for almost 10 years. It’s already indispensable. I have it set up to chirp like a bird when I get WordPress and Twitter notifications. The alert tone isn’t annoying at all. It’s actually a pleasant sound, so now, even when I’m occupied with work stuff and can’t look at my social media, I can tell how active my accounts are just from the notification alerts. I’ve also got it set up to synch to my computers, so I can plug in the USB cable and use the mouse and keyboard to operate the phone while it’s charging.

I’ve also picked up an extra laptop, thanks to Diana. For the last several months, the only computer I’ve had at home is a laptop that’s so badly damaged I can’t close the case, and I can only move it very carefully. Basically, it’s a desktop, and that means I’ve only been able to blog when I could find the time to close myself away in the home office.

This week Diana brought me a 5-year-old Dell Studio that she had custom built to gaming specs. The wireless card is dead, and the computer is so solid otherwise, it would be a shame to have someone crack it open. I picked up a USB wireless adapter for it and it works like a charm. It’s a little slow starting up, but once the first browser window is open, it’s as fast as my newer laptop and my work desktop. So now I have a computer I can take anywhere, and I can blog from my living room while I’m hanging with my family. This also means that when I’m working in the office and my grandson is around, he can have computer time without taking Vicki’s laptop.

Having a good second laptop allowed me to realign my office workspace. The external video port on my old laptop is so close to the crack in the case, I’ve been afraid to plug a monitor into it for fear that I would kill my only computer trying to get the plug in. Once I got the Dell set up, I pulled out a widescreen HD monitor that’s just been sitting since my last desktop died and risked plugging it in. Now my home office looks like this:workspace

And let me tell you, the dual monitors are useful. Once upon a time I had a technical writing job and was provided with a laptop and an external monitor. I’ve wanted a setup like that at home ever since, and now I finally have one. The combination of the dual monitors and ability to synch the smartphone is powerful. Now I can blog on one monitor and have Tweetdeck running on the other, so when I take a 15-minute writing break, I can favorite and retweet things. It took less than 15 minutes with the combination of the phone’s cloud backup and my external hard drive to copy everything from the office computer to the Dell. I’ve finally got identical bookmarks in both of the browsers I use, and have my data backed up in enough places that I’m not living in fear of losing everything because a single machine goes down.

And I’d tell you I hope to be around more this week than I have been lately.  🙂

More Efficient Blogging – Bookmarks have arrived!

I’m doing a blogging double feature today because I want to update you on my effort to keep up with more blogs. The WordPress reader, as I use it, is just inadequate for that, and it takes too much time to chase down links on my blogrolls. Even using the autocomplete to fill in addresses manually is too inefficient. So, I have a two-fold problem.

1. Part of blogging, at least the way I do it, is reading and commenting on blogs. Especially the blogs of people who stop by and regularly comment on our posts.  That’s more than 50 individuals at this point, and every one of them are good bloggers who consistently post things that are worth the time. In fact, I met nearly all them because I liked their blogs enough to leave a first comment. Which is very cool. I feel honored to have that many good bloggers hanging out with me, but it’s a lot of visiting. Which means a lot of page loading.

2. This problem snowballed on me over the past couple of months to the point that there are several blogs I’m only able to touch every two or three weeks. Which isn’t often enough for me. Even Diana has to send me heads-ups to be sure I see things at Part Time Monster when she needs feedback. That’s how wide a circle I travel on the social media.

Here’s what I’ve done, and perhaps it will help. I’ve set up a series of individual bookmark folders in my browser so that I can open entire folders at once. Most have six blogs in them. Some have more, and they contain links to the blogs of the 50 bloggers who interact with me most often, unless I’ve left someone out. And people get credit for consistent likes, facebook interaction, and tweeting with me. So It’s not just about commenting here. I’m not saying which blogs, specifically, I’ve added. But the folder structure is as follows:

  • Blogs (parent folder, on my bookmarks bar so I can get to the rest of the folders with ease).
  • Wednesday/Sunday – The largest folder. For blogs I need to make a point of keeping up with twice a week consistently.
  • One folder each for the other days of the week.
  • One folder for people who blog about one of my favorite topics, for anytime use, but I’ll look at it a minimum of once a week.
  • Look (Couldn’t think of a better name. For bloggers I’m just meeting and starting up a conversation with, so they don’t get completely lost and think I’m uninterested or only willing to talk at my blog. Also, a minimum of once a week).

This doesn’t mean I’m going to use this in a rigid way and these are the only blogs I’m paying attention to. I’ll still use my reader to like and comment. I’ll still follow referrals and pings. I’ll still check out blogs when I see new people liking and commenting. I’ll still give feedback to people who ask for it specifically because they think I might have something that’s useful for a project. The once a week/twice a week rule is a minimum, not a maximum. These visits are check-ins, basically. To let folks know I’m paying attention and be sure they don’t get lost in my reader ever again.

Will it help? No idea. But visiting six or seven blogs a day this way shouldn’t take me one bit longer than it takes me to answer Twitter notifications or check my private Facebook messages. Especially since I can load all the pages at once and use the tabbed browsing to hop from one to the other 🙂

Have a great week! I’ll have a preview of the week ahead for you tomorrow.