Internet

Somebody Home but the Light Wasn’t On

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Just a quickie to prove that I am not yet dead – I hope – you never know. I’ve had massive problems with my internet again for a couple of days, so I’m very sorry for being late with EVERYTHING now. I’ll start getting caught up with everyone now, and then share the results of the book blog tour too. I loved it!

This is how hard my internet provider worked to assist. I shall say no more.

Lizard on Wall

Guest Blogger In The Hut – Faiz Ahmed

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Today I’m very excited to introduce you to my first ever guest blogger. I’ve decided to host a guest every week on my blog, to share other people’s news and opinions here, add a bit of spice, and maybe start up some spritely chats. These posts are completely written by my guests, in their own words, with no interference from me at all. I may agree with them or not – that will generally be my little secret.

So, without further ado – meet my fabulous friend, Faiz Ahmed. Faiz writes because he loves to write. Why else would an engineer with a post graduate degree in business management give up corporate life to enter this profession? You can find him on Google+ but not Facebook. He’s also on LinkedIn but not Twitter. Contact him – he’s more than ready to contribute to your blog as well, and share what he calls his random rants. He replies to every mail that he receives at mailfaizhere@gmail.com

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The Endangered Species of Writers

Ideas can come easily, however, it is difficult indeed to clearly express them. That is why all are not writers. There are people who say, writing is an art which can be grown (or inculcated). I do not buy this opinion. Either you have this inside you or you don’t. If you have it, it can be polished; the art of concise writing (if desired and needed), for instance, can be worked upon. But until you have this gifted and “inherited from the abode above” quality of expressing yourself using written words, you cannot grow into a writer.

Nowadays I see a new trade called “content writing”. I will be honest, I tried my hand in it as well. Apart from the monotony of writing on the same topic over and over, I received another insight. The writers are like robots, who are given a topic, a fixed word length, a bunch of keywords and they start. Let me share a true example with you. There is this website development company I am associated with called IT Chimes and one content writer there wrote these articles in 3 days.

1. Acknowledge When Your Garage Door Asks for Repairs
2. When You Have To Get Your Garage Doors Repaired?
3. How to Ensure Garage Door Safety?
4. Selecting the Best Garage Door Opener for your Garage Doors
5. Garage Doors – What to Do When They Start to Malfunction?

I am not taking anything away from my good friend Vijay Pratap who wrote these. You must be someone who can never be bored to write these topics which are identical really. Then there is also the point of being ingenious to present the same wine in so many different bottles. But my thought drifted to a different direction. With so much of useless information overloading the web, will the good writing hold any value? After all, we must accept that we are spending less time on webpages than ever. And when we make the internet a place to dump coals, I wonder whether anyone will come looking for the diamonds, such as the writings from Jo Robinson here. How can we stop this proliferation with the democratic equality the internet presents to anyone and everyone?

I personally keep my blog well hidden. Not only have I never promoted, I consciously tried to keep it out of the reach of the search engines. That is me, but there are various other places where people write extremely well and also desire to be recognized. There again, I wonder, how well the search engines will rank these places. Yes, we have the power of social media. I met Jo in Google Plus only, but that is because I consciously made that effort. Will those who are not aware that Jo writes well be able to find her write-ups using any search engine? I wonder….

I would certainly like to see a world where pebbles are differentiated from pearls clearly and distinctively. Not only the writers who use their sincere feelings to create memorable and insightful readings need this but they deserve this.

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Thanks for joining me in my guest hut today Faiz! Thank you very much also for the lovely compliments, and the chance to share your view on content writing, and the flooding of the internet with sub-standard scribbles. I’m looking forward to hearing if everyone agrees with you. Now… For some reason I’ve got a terrible urge to write a story about garage doors. And another to quickly Google my name too.

Till next time friends. xxx

Lost Civilisations and Dinosaur Dragons

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The combination of a computer seemingly in the process of conking out, and my usual interesting internet connectivity issues, I’ve done pretty well in the temper tantrum department lately. I still have quite a bit to trawl through on my desk dinosaur and transfer to the laptop, so there’s a definite underlying sense of terror there that I’ll lose something. This last week every time I’ve tried to load up my actual Twitter page I’ve been confronted by a weird gobbledegook of text, so a few small falls there, temper wise. This morning I managed to actually open it properly, and so far my dinosaur hasn’t rebooted itself once. Calm prevails, and no innocent passer by is likely to have his ears assaulted by foul Irish curses.

That’s the thing though. My Irish heritage is only the half of it. I had eight aunts and two uncles on my mother’s side of the family alone, which kind of negated the aura of virtuous innocence my granny liked to project. My grandfather was six foot four inches of carrot topped Irish terror, and within the gaggle of cousins there was always some sort of feud going on. Family get togethers generally started out with a lot of loving it up, but invariably ended with some sort of verbal brawl, especially after Uncle Cedric got down towards the bottom of his bottle of single malt. My dad died when I was six, my mom got together with an Italian guy, and he brought his rowdy lot into the fray. I had a loud childhood. Tantrums were normal. So you can see now how absolutely brilliant I am by controlling my unavoidable temper gene, and being so wonderfully accepting and tranquil. I’m humble also. Really.

Yesterday I couldn’t hook up to any of my sites properly all day. A while ago this would probably have resulted in a computer being hurled out of the window, but now I see that there really isn’t any point to getting cross. I’ve done everything I can now, and this is as good as it’s going to get for me here and now. This internet is what it is. And if I fail to win friends and influence people because of it, it won’t be from lack of trying. So I sloped off with the horde to catch up on my Ancient Aliens again. Then I had a bit of time on my hands. So. I hope you’re comfy.

I don’t disagree that aliens have been visiting us. I don’t agree either. I do think that it might be wrong to credit aliens with all the major building work more than a few thousand years ago though. Who knows what sort of things happened here back in the mists of time. If you watch a series called Life After People you’ll see how quickly the trappings of a civilization will be obliterated when there’s nobody around to look after them. Apart from nuclear waste and rocks, not much survives over thousands of years. One thing that’s always struck me as weird is the fact that after six million years of human evolution, homo sapiens only popped up around two hundred thousand years ago, apparently never progressed very far beyond flint tools and arrows until a couple of thousand years ago, remained really thick even then, and then suddenly got incredibly “civilized” only in the last hundred years or so. I never believe anything I can’t actually look at myself, but if I do see something that exists, I don’t see any point in agreeing with “theories” about it that aren’t logical to me – I believe what I see, no matter how odd it may be. All of this eyeballing of ancient structures has me firmly believing that in Earth’s past there were hugely technologically advanced civilizations. What happened to them is another story. They all seem to have disappeared. Maybe they were wiped out by each other or climatic events, or even little green guys from the planet Zog. Who knows? But I will never believe that these mysterious ancient places were built by people wielding the simple tools that the experts of the day insist were used in their construction.
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Ollantaytambo is one of those fascinating places where, as in many such sites around the globe, there is much more ancient construction under the top level of the structures believed to have been built in 1440 AD. These ancient structures are around 14 000 years old.
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Slabs weighing fifty tons were cut out of a mountain face, moved down said mountain, over a river, and then fused together using some sort of really high heat source.
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The stone in question is called Andesite – a pretty hard rock, and today would have to be cut using a very powerful tool. So I’m looking at these things, and wondering why I’m being told that this area was definitely only populated by hunter gatherers 14 000 years ago. It makes no sense at all. This was not done by a couple of muscly guys in loincloths with a couple of flakes of flint.

Then there are the ancient “Cart Ruts” on Malta – 10 000 years old. Ruts carved into the rock, consistently equidistant, that zoom around for metres in some places, and in others, miles. This can only have been used as some sort of rail system. Nothing else makes sense here either. Hunter gatherers moving their nuts?
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Still on Malta you have more ancient temples, but a lot more fascinating is the underground structure.
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I can’t imagine what approaching disaster made people all around the world head underground, but there literally are dozens of underground cities thousands of years old. And those are only the ones that have been found so far. There’s one at Derinkuyu in Turkey that’s a bit mind blowing.
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It goes down several stories, can comfortably house 20 000 people and their livestock.
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It’s beautifully constructed with storage rooms, winepresses, and pretty much anything I would want to be a happy camper.
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There are perfectly designed ventilation shafts and huge stone sliding doors. These can only be opened from the inside, and each floor can be totally cut off separately. It really makes me wonder why such a large society would head underground and lock themselves in. Hunter gatherers hurling arrows?
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It makes me think that if some terrible disaster were to take out most of our population today, and maybe only a few hundred people were left scattered around and about, their focus would be on physical survival. Within generations it’s very possible that their descendents wouldn’t be able to read or write, and maybe as the remnants of our civilisation mostly crumbled to dust, they’d go back to the wilds entirely. Languages would be lost forever, and those that survive will change. Anything is possible after all. In another ten thousand years they may have formed a completely new civilisation though, with new modes of building, transport, and power generation unrecognisable to us. Our computers, kindles, paper books, most housing and vehicles would all have degenerated and broken down by then. They would dig up a couple of interesting artefacts I’m sure, but probably not have too much of a clue what they were looking at. The huge events of our times, especially the one that took us out, would become legends, to be scoffed at and disbelieved by those far off future progeny of ours. The old rock structures at Tiahuanacu and other places around the world would more than likely still be around in ten thousand years, and maybe a couple the things we’ve built would still be too, but I doubt that they would give much indication of life as we know it today.

I don’t see any reason to believe that dragons didn’t actually exist either. Considering the shape of dinosaurs, and the fossils now being found proving that a lot of them had feathers. And the mystery of the collective unconscious, or instinct, or whatever you’d like to call it, makes these strange writerly visions seem like ideas, when really they’re just memories. So. Now you understand the lack of internet tantrums. Without it I head off to LaLa Land. A bit.

Till next time friends. xxx

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Begone Foul Shade!

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I’ve crested my tantrum limit level, and moved over to the other side – laughter. Sometimes things just get so ridiculous that you have to. I’ve decided to take the high road, and not give whatever little nobble-a-writer demon it is that is doing his level best to… well…, nobble me, the pleasure of whining about the challenges of the last few weeks. I will instead say, that at the rate I’m going, trying to fix glitches all over the place with only a couple of hours of power a day to log on, I will soon be able to charge for my services as a vessel of supreme knowledge of arbitrary glitches. The final glitch repair currently involves the removal of the back of my computer, giving its innards a little vacuum, and finding out the meaning of errors dhep and tcpip. Some sort of running out of space thing – delete stuff you tool – sort of thing. Apparently this is what’s causing it to reboot itself every time I get to some key point in whatever it is I’m doing. Then there was the flying halogen bulb shattering incident. And I won’t mention the egg thing again.

You see where I’m going here? It’s a frontal attack. Combined with the recent iniquitous widget WordPress debacle, and the malevolent fiddling with the electricity, this final torment can only be the work of a particularly foul demon straight from the seediest neighbourhood of the nether regions of hell. Rotten little sod. And then. I loudly wished Shakespeare happy birthday today instead of yesterday. The internet being what it is, I’m sure a bit of his shade is lurking in there somewhere, plotting revenge against a scribbler, of all people, getting the date wrong. Anyway.

Horrible as quite a few of the learning curves I’ve been on have been, I’m quite glad that I’ve stuck it out. Knowledge acquired is never lost. Unless you get bashed by a falling bit of space rock, which, just lately, doesn’t seem implausible. But all in all, not too bad a trip, as far as my trips are capable of going.

Till next time friends. xxx

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Twitter Withdrawal Language

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Today is Independence Day in Zimbabwe, celebrating thirty three years of independence from colonial rule. Regardless of the political situation here, that is indeed cause to celebrate in my book. I don’t get involved in anything at all political here. I’m a South African citizen anyway, and politics can be a slippery slope no matter where you live. African Me & Satellite TV was inspired by racism and colonialism across Africa, as well as the struggle for freedom against apartheid in South Africa. That being said, even though the story plays out in Zimbabwe, it’s a novel at the end of the day, with those themes running throughout the book. It never occurred to me that its publication would more or less coincide with elections here, but I’m happy that I held it back now. I’m watching events unfold here with keen interest, and really hope that everything goes smoothly and that the lovely peoples of this country can get back to living their lives again.

I managed to load up Twitter properly after quite some days barely getting a look in there. Today the electricity is on and my internet is at least working, although slow as a sick snail. It’s always Twitter and Facebook that won’t load when the internet is slow. This last week has seen the air turn blue for miles around a central me, and I’ve come up with many new and exciting ways of using the foulest words in the English language. Twitter is my favourite online place to be so it’s the worst place for me to be locked out of. Apart from the banter and the chat I don’t think that there is a better place for information gathering. I most of all love reading the few lines under new follower’s monikers when I follow back. I love the way some describe themselves, and make me instantly want to be their friend, and find out all about them. There really are some fascinating people in the world. I’m going to make a project of properly checking out a few of my follower’s profiles and tweets every day, and making sure that no amazing people are following me un-eyeballed.

Unfortunately after so many days of not being able to open a lot of emails, and posts on all the sites that I am part of, I know for a fact that some will be overlooked. This really bothers me. I hate the thought of anyone in the world thinking that I wouldn’t respond to anything they have to say. I think that ignoring anyone communicating directly with you is most unkind, so I’ll try my best to find every little thing. It might just take a while longer. And so, back to work for me.

Till next time friends. xxx

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Cyber Bullying

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Watching a documentary on a little girl called Megan Tyler Meier who committed suicide in 2006 just before her fourteenth birthday because of cyber-bullying. She’d stopped being friends with another girl, so by way of revenge this child’s mother opened a MySpace account in the name of Josh Evans, started communicating with Megan and they became friends. After a while the messages from “Josh” started to get a nasty – “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends”.

Other messages followed were shared with others, and nasty posts were made about her. The last message sent by “Josh” said, “Everybody in O’Fallon knows who you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.” Less than half an hour later she hung herself in her bedroom cupboard.

The thing that amazes me more than anything is that this foul deed was perpetrated by an adult. She laughed about it and said that she had intended to “mess with Megan”. She got away with it too for some legal reason. A foundation has been set up now in Megan’s name and cyber-bullying is now not so easy to get away with any more.

I wonder what it is about Facebook or any other online site that often brings out the worst in some people. Is it because they don’t have to look whoever they’re picking on or fighting with in the eye? Certainly not communicating face to face is going to lead to mistakes, sometimes in judging who you’re dealing with, and sometimes in misunderstanding what they’re saying. As a matter of interest I googled “Facebook Fights”, but I won’t be sharing what I found because it really just is too depressing. A lot of laws have now been put in to place to protect children from these sorts of attacks, and also laws to protect adults.

We as adults choose to be active on social networking sites for work or social reasons. We choose to make friends with people we will never meet, without knowing who they really are, or if they are indeed who they say they are. I use a dragon gravatar, so my friends are taking my word for the fact that I’m a harmless adult female. In reality I could be anyone or anything. The point I’m trying to make is that you could very well be besties with someone you wouldn’t let into your front gate in real life. In my own experience my online experience has been mostly good, and I have made some lovely friends in the time I’ve been there. One or two things have been not much fun, but too few and really not bad enough to mention. I like to think that I’m strong enough to deal with online nastiness, but I can see where it could easily really hurt those less able to cope with this sort of thing. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you’re strong enough to deal with a cyber bully, and these attacks are very real to the people involved, so… If you think you should pick on anyone for any reason at all – don’t, and if you think that anyone in your cyberworld is causing you any sort of pain, dump them or report them. Be nice to each other. I for one aim to be. I’m tacking on a few of the legalities (Wikipedia) on the subject. Till next time friends. xxx

Legal definition

Cyberbullying is defined in legal glossaries as
• actions that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm another or others.
• use of communication technologies for the intention of harming another person use of internet service and mobile technologies such as web pages and discussion groups as well as instant messaging or sms text messaging with the intention of harming another person.

Examples of what constitutes cyberbullying include communications that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour intended to harm another. “When the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.”
A cyberbully may be a person whom the target knows or an online stranger. A cyberbully may be anonymous and may solicit involvement of other people online who do not even know the target. This is known as a ‘digital pile-on. Common tactics used by cyberstalkers are performed in public forums, social media or online information sites and are intended to threaten a victim’s earnings, employment, reputation, or safety. Behaviours may include encouraging others to harass the victim and trying to affect a victim’s online participation. Many cyberstalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them. Cyberstalking may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass. A repeated pattern of such actions and harassment against a target by an adult constitutes cyberstalking.Cyberstalking often features linked patterns of online and offline behaviour. There are consequences of law in offline stalking and online stalking, and cyber-stalkers can be put in jail

Methods used
• Cyberbullying involves repeated behaviour with intent to harm and repeated nature
• Cyberbullying is perpetrated through harassment, cyberstalking, Denigration (sending or posting cruel rumours and falsehoods to damage reputation and friendships), Impersonation, Exclusion (intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an online group).
Cyberbullying can be as simple as continuing to send e-mails or text messages harassing someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender. It may also include public actions such as repeated threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (i.e. hate speech), or defamatory false accusations), ganging up on a victim by making the person the subject of ridicule in online forums, hacking into or vandalizing sites about a person, and posting false statements as fact aimed a discrediting or humiliating a targeted person. Cyberbullying could be limited to posting rumours about a person on the internet with the intention of bringing about hatred in others’ minds or convincing others to dislike or participate in online denigration of a target. It may go to the extent of personally identifying victims of crime and publishing materials severely defaming or humiliating them. Some cyberbullies may also send threatening and harassing emails, instant messages or texts to the victims. Others post rumours or gossip and instigate others to dislike and gang up on the target.
There are laws that only address online harassment of children or focus on child predators as well as laws that protect adult cyberstalking victims, or victims of any age. Currently, there are 45 cyberstalking (and related) laws on the books. Stalking online has criminal consequences just as physical stalking

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Scissors Cut Paper – Africa Squishes WWW

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For once my Karma Yoga has failed. Today I’ve been righteously pi… cross – all day. I’m not feeling the universal love at all really. Unfortunately I have an overly strong sense of duty. Madly, I do realise that this isn’t in any way normal, my sense of duty generally encompasses “everything”. I am the Red Cross on two legs. Some might call this OCD, others, excessively anal tendencies. I take offense in general to being likened to that particular orifice though, so let’s just stick to dutiful. I belong to far too many things I suppose – groups – events – you name it. The dragon’s lurking around somewhere. On Facebook and many other sites. I’m nothing if not a joiner. And I always feel compelled to inspect every little thing that happens, or is said, or done – anywhere at all. Someone might need help, or want me to do something. This generally takes up quite a lot of my time, but I usually manage to sort of keep up, even though getting around to doing any actual writing, editing, or the new projects of painting and poetry are generally put well on the back burner most days, and very often left undone entirely. That’s cool too.

For well over a week now I’ve been stymied though. One – two, or three days with no internet at all is actually looking quite good to me right now, as long as the bugger comes on properly afterwards, so I can get back to being ana…. dutiful. Now what we have is six to eight hours off, interspersed with on, but fifteen to thirty minutes opening a post on a site, then getting abruptly cut off just as you’re ready to hit the button after typing a nice long reply. Not so nice. A lovely author friend thought I had expired I think, and must have got a nasty shock when I responded to his post five days late – although I did disappear pretty immediately again, so he might very well be getting out a nice bunch of sage to burn, while chanting a little thing around his computer, right about now I’m guessing. I can’t imagine what everyone else is thinking. If they’ve even noticed that is. People generally don’t. Do they? It’s probably a huge mistake to think that anyone actually notices you. Anyway.

The only proper way to get more than a word out is to type something really upbeat and positive – such as this is really – really! – and then zoom it in sideways to Facebook and Twitter. I’m quite good at that. It’s all in the timing. And finger power. You have to be really quick at the end, and hit the send button excessively. That’s the plan with this. We’ll just see if it works today. I have managed to make sure that my most epic poison pen email has winged its way to my internet supplier though, so hopefully tomorrow I can go back to ana…. dutiful. Whether it will land safely or not is anyone’s guess. Who knows? It is true though – that there is no rush in Africa. Maybe I should just give up the world wide web author dream, and instead just listen to the beating of the drums, breathe in the smell of my beloved Africa, the sun-warmed grass and the cooking fires, not to mention the awful pong of the unfound creature expired in the roof somewhere, and send my manuscripts off in boxes to unsuspecting and potentially outraged agents around and about. Then again – don’t let me get started on the postal service around here. For now though, I think I might just head off elsewhere, if only to ensure the continued existence of my innocent desk dinosaur here – and the window pane just to my right. I will say though, that the angst and – just lately – anger filled poems, and “interesting” cover art paintings are coming along rather nicely. I really hope to be properly back with you soon. AUM. I think.

Till next time friends. xxx

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