A Plan to Restore the “Xanga Style” Community on “Free” WordPress

(Note: This is a “Pinned Blog” – newer blogs below this one)

Soullfire is Bringing Sexy Community Back

** Former Xangans – Like and Reblog if you support this idea **

It’s been close to a month OVER SIX MONTHS since Xanga has launched it’s “updated” “Xanga 2.0″, driven with the WordPress engine, and it’s still operating well below the “free” WordPress state. The “community” that was, disappeared with the end of Xanga 1.0 with the loss of free blogging, along with all of “1.0’s” community centric features like having a front page, ring groups, and general areas where users could find each other and congregate.

Xanga has given no updates – so no one over there knows how long the “non community” condition will last.

Many former Xangans like myself have moved their general blogging over to “free” WordPress but are also feeling a general loss of overall community that “Xanga 1.0″ had.

After using my WordPress site more often, I realized that it has certain features that will allow the former Xanga community to reconnect.  The answer lies in the “Reader” section, which is accessed by the top menu bar:

Top_WP_menu

In the Reader section, on the right hand side, there’s a “Topics” exploration search column underneath “Find Friends”:

Side_WP_menu

The topics search works by searching all the “Tag” keywords put in a blog and displays the blogs that have a match. Below shows an example of the Tag area in a new blog:

blog_WP_menu

Tag words go on the bottom line separated by commas.

So once you’ve published a blog with certain tag words, it can be searched by others using the “Topics” search function.

Now here’s where the Xanga community restoration comes into the picture. All that’s needed are some common “key words” used as tags that will allow users to find posts by former Xangans. Searching on a particular keyword will be similar to using the Xanga “Blog Rings” to find a group of posts related to a similar interest.

Okay, to set this up, Xangans need to do the following:

Post a blog stating what your Xanga name was and what your current name is now. In this blog use the tag word “ID_Xanga“. This will let people search for other former Xanga users using “ID_Xanga” as well as identify the Xangans who have changed their usernames. The beauty of this is it will only pull up the blogs that use this tag, so you will have an exclusive Xanga search feature.

Next, when blogging, include the tag word “FreeXanga“. This will allow folks to find the latest blogs of former Xangans.

Following this format, we can now use keywords to group blogs by interest or subject, just like the former “Xanga 1.0″ Blog Ring or “Ish” sites. I’ve created a few tag words to get us started:

QOTD_Xan  – Use this tag word to post with a question of the day

Dollarish_Xan – Use this tag word to post with a money/savings/economic blog

Politicish_Xan – Use this tag to post with a political related blog

Rant_Xan – Use this tag to post with a rant type of blog

Drama_Xan – Use this tag for drama blogs – for the drama lovers, haha. =)

Townhall_Xan – Use this tag for general community info. This would be the tag to use when introducing new tag words to create a new search group.

FreeXanga – Use this tag in all your blogs to make them “Xangan” searchable.

I added “Xan” to the tag word topics to make it unique to Xangans, and it provides the general format for creating new search terms/groups. “ID_Xanga” need only to be used once for identification and to create a search list.

I think this should work to help restore the “Xanga 1.0″ style of community on WP, with the super bonus of now having a new world of people available to meet as well!

Note: The max number of searchable tag words is 9, so don’t add too many tags words to your blog.

** Like and Reblog this and pass the word around if you support this idea – the “FREE” solution to bringing back community “Xanga 1.0″ style! =)  **

Government By The People and For the People? Look at the New Budget and Decide

I have soooo many opinions regarding various current events and political happenings, but the lack of time keeps me at bay.

The current situation of the latest federal budget talks motivated me to at least point out a few things that appear to be very wrong/sad.

The biggest threat to this country isn’t true liberal, conservative, libertarian, or independent thought- it’s the pervasive lack of critical thought employed by the masses. This is all too apparent when looking at online comments that follow news articles. There are so many passionate, but inaccurate opinions masquerading as facts being thrown around, I sometimes wonder if people are being paid to deliberately push misinformation.

While opinions abound, what’s lacking is an open mind that seeks the truth/reality of what they are talking about. It’s more about making one’s point than in being accurate or finding the truth. Judging by comments – just about EVERYONE thinks they are the “enlightened ones” and anyone who disagrees with them are the poor clueless low information folks brainwashed by their media/pundit of choice.

The last election was the lowest turn out since 1942. That in itself is an amazing stat. Think about how many people whine and complain about the government or politicians they don’t like, and yet the odds are high that while they can find the time to complain – they run up short when it comes time to actually make a difference. Remember that the next time you see complaint comments online.

Next, the country is so inundated with opinion based news media that many simply don’t try to digest the news and think about it for themselves, but are swayed by the broadcast opinions of others as to what is right or wrong. This has resulted in extreme polarization so it’s rare for people to actually have an intelligent discussion of topics rather than a barrage of accusations and insults being hurled at each other when there are disagreements. The end result of this is that neither person ever changes their mind or grows over the wasted exchange of words

If everyone would just focus on ONE thing politically, we would all be better off – what are your local elected officials doing to make life better for you and your friends and family? Don’t accept an answer that includes an attack of their political rival, find out the exact things they have done to make your life better as opposed to serving corporate interests in ways that are harmful to you.

Some of the terms of the new budget agreement that were APPROVED by many Democrats and Republicans really stand out as not being for anyone but the 1% and/or corporate interests and clearly not in the best interest of the average person regardless of party affiliation.

Some Examples:

1) The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform package passed in 2010 put new limits on how banks that receive taxpayer backing can use high-risk financial instruments known as a swaps, which were a key driver of the last financial crisis.

It’s only been 6 years since the 2008 meltdown that sparked the Great Recession. Despite proven fraud on the part of the big banks, none of them has faced criminal charges, and now the safe guards intended to prevent a repeat of this type of crash are being stripped away. The current budget deal removes those limits.

Who sponsored this addition and how does this move help anyone but the banks and their desire to take more risk at our expense? Yet, this passed the House. What people should do is find out if their representative voted in favor of this and if so, have them explain to you why they shouldn’t be impeached over taking actions that increase taxpayer risk of having to bailout banks in the future after we just had the worst recession since the Great Depression.

This is how the negotiations regarding this were described:

“In exchange for ending “swaps” restriction, lawmakers boosted the budgets of two Wall Street regulators, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.”

Lack of proper banking regulation and enforcement let to the 2008 meltdown. How is boosting the budget of the regulators now something that needs to be “negotiated”? Shouldn’t this be a given? It sounds like we have a group of folks who are taking the side of banks – whose representatives are they? Will this help you or the banks? Is your representative on the side of banks?

2) Currently, rich people can only give $32,400 per year to a political party. The new budget deal moves the decimal point on that cap, allowing annual contributions of up to $324,000 to the Republican or Democratic national committees.

Hows that for “bipartisan” cooperation? Was this to help the majority of people, or just the plutocracy of the country? This should be crystal clear proof of just how much our government is bought and paid for by the 1%. Do you really think they actually are concerned about your interests over the demands of those who can afford to give those sums of money?

Hey, but they also agreed on an area to save money- by cutting pension benefits to retiree’s.

These are just a few of many highly questionable things attached to this deal that should concern everyone. But sadly, most won’t be concerned. Instead, they will let the conversation devolve into a Republican vs Democrat, Liberal vs Conservative mishmash of name calling and attacks instead of asking why so many our OUR ELECTED CONGRESS seems to be bending over backward to help the elite of our society at the expense of everyone else?

People would rather blame the things they don’t like on the political party they have been trained to hate without realizing that things would likely be very similar if not identical if parties swapped positions of power.

Until folks learn to move beyond the “passionate” but blind mantras of their party of choice and make decisions for themselves to make their elected rep held ACCOUNTABLE for their actions, they will continue to sell the 99% down the river by bits and pieces.

 

 

 

 

Trading Update: R&D Continues

chemistry-lab-500

 

My time focusing on the details of trading is bearing good fruit. It’s interesting in that as one moves to closer precision and finer detail, the amount of time needed for analysis also increases. It’s the difference between picking a “general” entry point where you aren’t sure in the immediate short term where prices are headed, but believe the overall move to go in a specific direction over time, versus a narrow range entry that is expected to move in the expected direction immediately.

When you’re looking for precise entries, you have to be dead-on in your analysis- no room for educated guesses or fudging here.  Any mistake results in a missed or failed opportunity. Making painstaking small adjustments to correct for errors is where the bulk of time is consumed. When you fine tune measure the market- you realize just how nuanced it is and care must be made to pay attentional to all the smallest details of movement. It’s like working in a lab and analyzing all the data- my trading lab! =)

Why take the extra time to achieve this level of precision? Because the more precise an entry, the smaller one’s stop loss trigger can be- meaning the less one has to risk  if wrong. Big stops are used to allow the market to move around more into the loss column due to not knowing when the market will make its anticipated move. Big stops means bigger risk and subsequent bigger losses if wrong. Smaller stops mean greater accuracy and lower risk. Of course smaller stops need greater precision entries to ensure one doesn’t get whipped out of their trade.

If all goes as planned, I’ll have some big trading updates on the way.

 

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The complete guide to networking for introverts

Originally posted on Quartz:

Most people find networking to be a somewhat uncomfortable endeavor. But the task of meeting and greeting strangers en masse—and ultimately asking them for business—can be far more painful for introverts, according to research. Extroverts, who tend to excel at building contacts outside their organization, shouldn’t be the only ones using the skill to earn more and advance in their  careers.

For introverts who feel taxed by large groups and long, awkward conversations, experts say the right approach is to carefully manage interactions and play to their strengths: small group settings, targeted meetings, and selling oneself with a light touch. Here are some rules of the road to networking for shy types:

Emails work better than cold calls.

Not only are cold calls and big events the hardest ways for introverts to network—they’re also the least effective. Cold calls can feel aggressive, intrusive, and unpleasant for both the networker and the networked. And big events usually result in talking to too many…

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Freaky Friday- “Too Many Cooks” Show

I was told it’s best to just pass this on without describing it, so I won’t elaborate too much.

Whether you find this hilarious, idiotic,  brilliant, boring, or disturbing will depend on your sense of humor as well as your TV show IQ based on how much TV you’ve watched over the years.

I found it to be quite humorous/entertaining, in a nostalgia mixed with Salvidor Dali plus PTSD sort of way.  :-)

The show is about 11 minutes long.

 

Whatcha think?  =)

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Live: The Rosetta mission’s lander has just touched down on a comet 300 million miles away from earth

soullfire:

Yesterday, the European Space Agency had a spacecraft about the size of a washing machine land on a tiny comet over 330 million miles away- an incredible and amazing achievement when you consider all the moving objects and variables.

Originally posted on Quartz:

Update (11:05am): The probe has landed safely on the comet.

Original:

In 2004, a spacecraft known as the Rosetta orbiter was launched by the European Space Agency with with the ambitious goal of landing on a comet. Now, a decade later, that goal is just hours away.

The Philae lander detached from the Rosetta orbiter a few hours ago and is expected to land on the surface of Comet 67P/CHuryumov-Gerasimenko, which is 300 million miles away from earth, at 4pm GMT, or 11 am EST. You can watch the scene from ESA mission control here:

[qz-iframe url=”http://new.livestream.com/accounts/362/events/3544091/player?autoPlay=true&mute=true” height=”56″]

NASA, the American space agency, contributed sensors to the mission. Its live stream of the landing is below. (Some of the footage overlaps with the ESA, but you can never have too much space.)

[qz-iframe url=”http://www.ustream.tv/embed/6540154?autoplay=true&volume=0″ height=”63″]

And of course, in…

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October Extreme Market Volatility AKA “Super Roller Coaster”

This comes a bit later than I had planned, but it’s still worth blogging about…

The week of October 13 – 17 was quite the wild one in market extremes. We’re talking about moves that were more than double or three times the normal move, happening throughout the trading day.

Here’s a chart of that week:

ES_Week_10_13_14

The typical daily range has been about 12 – 15 points  , so these major moves really stood out. This type of extreme market resembled the go go days back when day trading was all the rage and everyone and their cousin were attempting it.

Each $ES futures contract is worth $50 per point move- so the market was either a gold mine or brutal depending on whether on was on the right or wrong side of a market move.

 

 

 

 

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I see debt people: 10 scary economic charts for Halloween

soullfire:

Some scary and sobering global economic charts just in time for Halloween.

Originally posted on Quartz:

Ghosts, zombies, witches… and unemployment rates. If you want a real scare this Halloween, check out these charts hand-picked by Quartz’s writers and editors that show the most ghastly trends in the global economy.

But be warned—these blood-curdling bars and bone-chilling lines aren’t for the squeamish…

1. Southern Europe’s jobless youth

More than half of Greek and Spaniard young people are out of work, and have been for some time. But while youth unemployment rates there have plateaued (or even started to fall), Italy’s stagnating economy is pushing more and more young people out of work.

Youth-unemployment-rate-Spain-Greece-Italy-Euro-zone_chartbuilder

2. Japan’s rapidly shrinking workforce

Japan’s working-age population peaked in 1995, and it’s been downhill ever since. The world’s largest share of over-65s as a percentage of population, an incredibly low fertility rate, and a daunting debt burden are all conspiring to limit Japan’s economic potential. But the really scary thing is that this is a sneak preview of what much of the Western world faces…

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My Final Xanga Update: After over a “Year’s Silence”, Xanga Finally Opens its Mouth and Sings its Swan Song

September 9th, 2013, was the last mass update provided by the “XangaTeam” when they went over to the “new” Xanga 2.0 “WordPress” format. After that,..silence….and more silence.

Unanswered were questions running through the mind of many- here are a few:

1) Why is Xanga 2.0, which is costing $48/yr, operating with less functionality and features than free WordPress?

2) What happened to the “Front Page” and other user and community friendly features Xanga 1.0 had?

3) When can we expect to see improvements to restore all the community centric features of Xanga 1.0?

4) if Xanga 2.0 is on the WordPress platform, why is it still shut off from the rest of the blogging community so that not even free WordPress users can leave comments?

5) I thought you guys said Xanga 2.0 was going to keep all the community features as “1.0” and would be a better deal than the free blogs like Blogspot and WordPress?

 

Days, weeks, and months passed by with nary a peep from Xanga as to what their status was and what they were doing. NOT ONE WORD. The only one saying anything was the volunteer Xanga helper EdLives who did his best to provide a positive spin to the situation.

During this time, the subscription clock was running – meaning folks were being charged to blog on a site that looks like the pre alpha version of free WordPress.

What was delivered was NOT what was offered – a new site that would have all the rich community features that made Xanga 1.0 stand out from the rest. People were NOT told the system they had pledged money to would be a bare bones version of free blogging sites and would remain in that state until further notice.

People wondered if Xanga had pulled a “bait and switch” and had taken the near $70 grand of crowdsource moula just for their own amusement.

After a year of silence the “volunteer cheerleader” EdLives mentioned that he had finally been able to communicate with Xanga CEO John and that an update would be forthcoming.

That statement became a reality on October 1 when The XangaTeam blog finally issued an update. Let’s review this update line by line to fully understand what it means…

Before I begin, remember what Xanga 2.0 was marketed as – having the SAME community features as Xanga 1.0. A direct quote from an update from them last year:

Community

Whenever anyone asks me what Xanga is all about, I always answer: “blog community.” To me, that’s what makes the site fun: you can blog, and there’s a community of people generally excited to read your posts (and vice versa).

I know a lot of people who have tried other blogging platforms, and they’ll often say that they feel they’re publishing into a vacuum… and that nobody is reading their blogs. We’re working to keep that warm community feeling on Xanga… so that when you post, your subs can quickly and easily chime in with a comment. (As part of that, we’ll be importing every single login over – along with all subscriptions/friends – so that your subs can continue to read your posts even if they’re not blogging on Xanga 2.0).

We’re incredibly excited about using the WordPress platform, as the publishing software is incredibly powerful. As we adapt it for use for Xanga 2.0, we’re working to make sure that all that power is combined with the warm fuzzy feeling of Xanga community love as well.”

 

Also, they noted that they would be more communicative going forward with the arrival of Xanga 2.0, with the community playing a greater role in guidance and control. The year of silence appears to contradict that notion however.

Anyway, EdLives’ answer to mine and others complaints about this lack of response was that we didn’t have all the info to justify our criticism and when the John’s update came to light, all would make sense. You can be the judge if this is the case. Here we go (my comments in blue)….

_________________________________

Update

We want to thank everyone for being there for us.  Without your involvement, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Here are a few of the things that we’ve been working on over this past year:

* We built out a new server system, and migrated thousands of websites over to the new servers
* We fought off ongoing DDOS and brute password attacks that were slowing the site down
* We’ve made further upgrades to our server setup over the past six months, to use new more powerful servers as they became available.
* We’re planning one more server upgrade later this year, to take advantage of better and cheaper server systems that have become available.

(These hardware updates are nice, but this is the “back end” stuff- the stuff that is invisible to the customer, the blogger. For the PAYING customer, the more important items would be front end stuff like the user interface along with user features and operations.)

One area where we’ve dropped the ball is providing updates on all of the above.  Initially we were fighting off the DDOS attacks, and didn’t want to tip off our attackers on our progress.  So we focused on talking to our users one at a time, through our email support and help forums.

 (So this is their excuse for over  a YEAR of SILENCE? They act like no other company has to deal with “denial of service attacks”. Newflash- it happens to just about ALL major internet entities such as Facebook, Google, Blogspot, Amazon, and a host of other popular internet companies. It’s nothing new.

Besides that, how on earth do they think that justifies ZERO updates for a YEAR? They didn’t want to “tip off” the attackers?  What does that have to do with any upgrades or new hardware purchased? And if this were the REAL reason for lack of updates, why not just state that as a simple update – that they are dealing with internet attacks without going into any details?

Two Words: LAME EXCUSE

IMO: They should just admit this was a screw up with no decent excuse and fully ACCEPT the blame rather than try to deflect it.

On to the next LIE – they focused on talking to users “one at a time”? I guess all the folks saying their emails and attempt at contacting Xanga went unanswered must be hallucinating…)

But more recently, we’ve largely defeated the ongoing DDOS and password attacks.  The site has been up and stable, and we’re gearing up to make the further upgrades mentioned above.  We’ll be providing more regular updates and communication, both on this blog and also on our Facebook page.

(The site may be stable, but it still has subpar functionality than that of free blogging sites. And didn’t they ALREADY say last year that they would be updating more? Xanga needs to learn that WORDS are CHEAPACTION Counts.)

 So we’re working to communicate more regularly, and to start building the community teams that we mentioned earlier.

(As in a YEAR ago before they collected the funds and went silent)

First up: we’ve asked Joel of edlives.xanga.com to serve as a community liaison.  You can reach him at his blog at edlives.xanga.com, or through Xanga’s facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/xanga.  We will have a regular call with Joel to discuss feedback and ideas.

(Uh, really? Isn’t this what he was doing ALREADY? The only difference now is you are making it “official”?)

We’re also going to be working together to pull together a list of other areas where we could use help.  If any come to mind, please let us know and we’ll discuss it with Joel in our next call!  And as a thank you for sticking with us, we’re offering 6 months of free blog hosting to all of our paid members.  Just email Eugenia at help@xanga.net, and she’ll add it the extra months to your account!

 (So lets see- in return for one year of horrible blogging conditions with no updates that whole time, the reward to the diehards is 6 more months of broken website? Really? Even worse is folks who want this offer will have to request it as it isn’t being given out automatically.

Let’s take a moment to think about this- Xanga hasn’t updated for over a year – so most folks that did pay for subs have no idea there is a new Xanga update and a free six month offer. Why not just extend everyone’s sub by six months automatically? Oh yeah, if they did that, some folks who would have PAID another $48 to blog may put off doing that.

So it’s okay to leave paying users in the dark for over a year on a subpar blogging site, but it’s NOT OKAY to extend them the additional time automatically, because making money is more important, got it.)

Thank you for sticking with us over the past year.  We’re looking forward to working together to build Xanga in the coming year.

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

That was it with no mention of any restoration of ANY of the community features of Xanga 1.0.  This was it after a year of silence.

So was EdLives right? Does the above “update” adequately explain the year plus long silence and massively degraded service so that prior complaints were not justified?

 

To me the update did explain quite a bit- it made it CRYSTAL CLEAR that Xanga is finished and “Xanga 1.0″ is history, not to be duplicated by anything Xanga offers for the foreseeable future.

It’s crystal clear that any business sense Xanga had at the beginning of its existence has left the building long ago. The first and most important rule in any business is that CUSTOMERS COME FIRST. You MUST do what it takes to convince new people to pay for your service and current customers to continue paying.

Imagine if Facebook, Google, or Amazon decided to offer extremely subpar service for an ENTIRE YEAR. Do you think they would still retain their customer base, or would the vast majority of folks migrate to other companies? And those are FREE sites! But Xanga thinks charging people for a service inferior to free blogging sites, and ignoring their customer base is the ticket to success.

The reality of the situation is Xanga already lost most of their users when they decided to put up a pay wall. Then they lost many of the folks who paid to blog during the continued poor functionality of their “new” Xanga 2.0 site. Now the 1 year subs are expiring and there is no incentive for anyone to continue to pay to blog under such poor conditions.

Xanga needed to restore the community features ASAP and they FAILED MISERABLY and don’t seem the least concerned about it.

There are so few people left that there’s little hope for any type of recovery and more subs expiring will be the final nails in the coffin.

If people want to restore the old “Xanga Style Community”, it will have to be done elsewhere without Xanga’s “help”.

In summary, this is my response to Xanga CEO John’s latest “Update“:

 

 

RIP Xanga 1.0 you deserved to go out better than this.

 

 

WordPress Fix: How to Find Your “DashBoard” Button after WP’s Latest “Improvement”

It seems that as of late WP has been bitten by the “change” bug and has been making what seem like spurious updates to its site. Earlier this year they “upgraded” the blog edit page which I found to be quite hostile to saving and formatting, so I went back to using “classic mode” once they allowed us to. I say “allowed” because they just sprung the new edit page with no warning or trial period allow you to test the waters first. I and many other users found the original editor to be more user friendly, which is why they probably made it available again.

A more recent change is having the list of menu items on your blog site such as “Blogs I Follow” and “Freshly Pressed” appear on the left side of the screen rather than the right side. Why switch sides? Were people actually complaining about the menu being on the right side? I wasn’t, and I find it annoying for it to be moved to the left.

That change, while annoying, was harmless relative to the latest “improvement” foisted on the blogging public- the “new”, but definitely NOT improved  “My Sites” menu.

The previous “My Sites” option button gave you access to your “Dashboard”,  which gives you an overview of your stats, comments made, replies received, in addition to other useful information and tools.

However, this is what the new “My Sites” page looks like:

WP_info1

Um,….where’s the Dashboard button, you may ask? Good question…..great question! WP has made changes and neglected to tell anyone how to access the prior menu items that existed there. How very nice and considerate of them….NOT! >:(

I guess they thought these changes would be so “intuitive” that all the answers would just come naturally. That certainly wasn’t the case for me as I felt pretty lost.

I was fortunate my browser saved the location of “Dashboard” so I was still able to access it, but I was angry that I wasn’t able to find it directly, so I set to work trying to figure it out.

I finally did, and will present it here in case you too are having issues with finding it. You be the judge on if this “new upgrade” makes it “easier and faster” to find things as WP  claims…..

Step 1: Locate the “All sites” toggle on the top left side of the screen (see red circled item):

 

WP_info2

Step 2: Click on “All sites” list if closed to show the list of sites available (green circle):

 

WP_info3

 

Step 3:  Click on the site you wish to use. This will reveal a list of additional menu items:

 

WP_info4

Step 4: Click on the “Menus” button (red circle):

WP_info5

Step 5: Okay, now you are almost there and you see a screen that “looks” like the old dashboard, but you have to make one more selection – click on the “Dashboard” button located on the top left (blue circle):

 

WP_info6

 

And there you go – so MUCH easier and faster now, right? :/