Off Line

This is what happened last year, last week, next week…

SERVER NOT FOUND, words guaranteed to strike dread in the hearts of anyone expecting to go on line in the next few seconds. When I saw those words I tried every device in the house, only to get the same answer. I did not need to go on the internet, it was a catching up with housework day. At least we hadn’t had a power cut; electricity not WiFi was all that was needed to work the washing machine, vacuum cleaner and most importantly the radio, the only companion that makes chores bearable.

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So why was I experiencing medium levels of stress, anxiety and restlessness?
First cause was the question Why? Obviously the Internet works by magic, but what had broken the spell and would the magic ever return?
Second worry; I was due to Facetime family in Australia early the next morning.
Third problem; I needed ( wanted ) to post tomorrow’s blog.
Finally came the hollow panic: what was I missing while off line? Would I be the last relative to put a sad emoticon on Facebook if a baby wasn’t well or if someone was in casualty? Were there any important e-mails? Would WordPressdom manage without me, were there any comments to comment on?

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There was a time when I wasn’t on Facebook or WordPress; further back I didn’t have an e-mail address. There is a telephone in the house attached to a land line, which at some stage beams up to a satellite. I could just phone Australia. Anybody could phone me if there was an emergency. I could still get on with writing on paper … or Microsoft Word… if I ever finished the housework. So why was I still anxious?
When the long suffering Cyberspouse came home he dismissed the gravity of the situation, commenting calmly that Virgin was probably ‘down’. However, he decided he would unplug the router and plug it in again. Instantly messages and Whatsapps pinged into our mobile phones. Facebook lit up the large ( old television ) screen of my desk top computer. I was delighted, proof indeed that the internet works by magic. The way to restore it is by a magic spell that I cannot perform; the internet has to be switched off and on by someone who is not a technophobe and who is totally uninterested in social media.
I was late cooking dinner that evening ( again ) because I had to check all my multi media connections. And what had I missed?

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Sunset pictures from Facebook photographer friends.
A petition to save a cow swimming in the harbour after escaping from a live export ship in Fremantle Port, Western Australia.
Three million bloggers had commented on thousands of other bloggers’ blogs.
I am not (am I not? ) a Facebook Fanatic or WordPress Prisoner… After several years of being blissfully without a mobile phone I am now on my second third hand Smart phone and used to ( dependent on )the security of knowing I can check Facebook while I am out to make sure I’m not missing anything. I can take photographs with my phone and post them so that Facebook Friends and Instagram Followers do not miss anything I’m doing out in real life. On the bus I can read blogs and post comments…

My Dark and Milk collection has two stories about what can go horribly wrong on Facebook. ‘You Have One Friend’ and ‘Friend Request’.
Look out for Friday Flash Fiction where you can read ‘You Have One Friend’.

Silly Saturday – The Past Unblogged

It’s a tragedy, so many years wasted, so many years of our lives unblogged and the more decades you have put in on this planet, the greater the loss. Interesting events could have been shared legibly with the world instead of scribbled on an aerogramme to a few family and friends.

For those who haven’t been to a post office museum, an aerogramme bore little resemblance to Instagram, but in its own humble way was very convenient. A foldable gummed piece of blue paper bought from the post office; the idea being to write in large neat script at the top, then realise you had plenty yet to say and pack the words in tighter. By the time you turned over to the fourth and last panel you were reduced to illegible scribble with hardly room to sign your name. Then stick it down and post in a letter box. Perhaps there are attics full of these flimsy blue papers, full of family history across the seas…

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On holiday people could send picture post cards and still can, but they would not be in the picture… how many miles of travel unrecorded on Facebook, Instagram and blogs? Travellers had to wait till they got back to their hotel or tent to try and write to their loved ones, more likely no one would know where they had been until they had returned and who would believe they had been at the top of that mountain or canoed round those tropical islands without proof?

If you could go back in time and blog about your life which times would you reveal? A worse thought; if your parents had been blessed with the internet would they have been writing funny blogs about your nappy disasters at the swimming pool changing room or your tantrum in the supermarket…

liebster-award

Silly Saturday – Instant Instagram

Should you be on Instagram? Of course, you should be on everything, just in case you miss something.

What is Instagram for? I have absolutely no idea, but it is quite fun.

‘Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook, Inc. It was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010.’

Any the wiser?

Don’t worry, as long as you have a mobile phone that takes pictures you can join. Post your picture and put some hashtags.  Why, I’m not sure, but if you put #brightonpier  you are linked with all the other people who have taken better pictures of Brighton Pier. Some people put a few hashtags, others a whole list of them, which is a teeny bit showing off.

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But the most important thing, Rule One, is to take pictures instantly and send them off instantly. As soon as you arrive on holiday or you are in the middle of a big street demonstration, take a photo with your phone so that your followers will be envious, or impressed that you are protesting instead of sitting at home on the sofa looking at your phone. Don’t try to cheat by sending a picture of last year’s holiday; especially if it is a picture of you standing in front of Notre Dame. Someone is sure to find out…

Hey I’m in Venice at the moment and it’s raining not sunny.

Or That’s the Brexit march, not Extinction Rebellion.

Rule two, post pictures every day, or better still, every hour in case your followers wonder what has happened to you. If you are not going anywhere, or your life is unbelievably dull you can always pop in the garden, or someone else’s garden and take pictures of flowers. People like bright happy flowers to cheer their day. If you have a cat or puppy, even better, followers will never tire of endless pictures of your pet’s cuteness.

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How do you get followers? Wait or follow other people and hope they follow you. Occasionally you may get a message

ilovemyself is now following you, why not follow them back.

Look at their gallery, if they only take pictures of themselves you may not want to follow them…

Hopefully you will soon see a little red heart flashing to tell you someone liked your picture. You can also share your pictures on Facebook and Twitter, though when you go on Facebook and see your picture on the big computer screen it may not look as good as it did on your little phone screen…

Happy Snapping

If you like looking at photos there are always plenty on my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-three-picture-gallery/

Do you like taking photographs?

Do you prefer phones or cameras?

Do you enjoy posting pictures on social media?

 

Where Am I?

Dark events are inevitably connected to the dark side of the internet, a far cry from what Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, intended.

The worldwide web turned 30 last week. To mark the occasion, its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee — in an event at the Science Museum in London — offered a cri de coeur. With more than half the world now online, Berners-Lee pleaded with every one of us to fight for “the kind of web we want”. It is, he said, “one of the most important causes of our time”.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tim-berners-lee-calls-for-a-fight-for-the-kind-of-web-we-want-wk95rjxls

 For those of us enjoying the many benefits of the internet and for authors using it as a ‘platform’ it seems incongruous that fellow bloggers, full of good cheer, have their positive posts deleted from Facebook while terrorists and extremists manage to post hate and the unthinkable.

Ever since I reluctantly joined Facebook nine years ago I have heard talk of it being ‘finished’ and people leaving, but most of us are still there. However, a few writers have now joined ‘MeWe’, planning to use it as their new platform. I had a look at it on Sunday and as it seemed simple to sign up, I did. What next I’m not sure, especially with my dodgy technical skills and the fact I keep forgetting what it’s called – WeMe, WeWe?

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Eons ago I tried joining Twitter, accidentally joined twice then lost both accounts. I have since recovered one, but I have not yet got a grip on it. It seems to be a lot of retweeting of greetings. My WordPress blogs are linked to Twitter, apologies to any fellow Tweeters I have ignored or not thanked for retweeting… I find WordPress easier to negotiate and blogs more satisfying to read.

My website I also started long ago, another ‘must have’ for new authors; it is a paid for template, a photo album with pages to fill in! If I had known about WordPress back then perhaps I would have done things differently, but when the most unexpected people mention that they have been looking at my website, I think it has a place in the ether.

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https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/

Instagram is a more recent venture; as I love photography I enjoy the challenge of seeking new views to snap most days, but I am not sure how one is supposed to use it to promote books or any other business.

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Meanwhile back at Facebook I have an author page where I post links to my blogs and website; posts there are all mine, though how many people find their way there is another matter! On general Facebook pages there is no logic as to what will pop up on your page and which of your own posts will be seen by friends and family. Facebook Messenger is a boon, so easy to send messages and photos instantly to groups of friends or family. Facebook groups are as good as the members in them. It was Author Chat Forum that started me linking in with other writers on line. Local groups can be handy, but sometimes lead to ‘discussions’ about dogs, cats or coffee shops and hundreds of comments that go on for days. I think I’ll be sticking with Facebook for a good while yet; after all, I would miss the hilarious cartoons and genuine fake news that get shared around.

Choose social media you enjoy for its own sake; otherwise you could be spending a lot of time for little in the way of book sales if that is your only aim.

What social media do you like to use?

Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Photography

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A hundred years ago this girl and her cousin managed to cheat at photography, even Sir Arthur Connan Doyle was taken in and was convinced these were real fairies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies

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With the advent of digital photography everyone can have a go at cheating, not just the enthusiasts lurking in the dark room.

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The experts and enthusiasts are still around; they like playing with big lenses and buy expensive software to digitally manipulate their images – sometimes beyond all recognition.

http://www.photogog.com/inmymindseye

Visit Cyberspouse’s website to see some creative work.

 

39982808_671374146565963_2316413924456529920_nBut those of us who only point and shoot with compact cameras and smart phones can still produce strange pictures.

I don’t actually phone anybody with my smart phone, I just use it to put pictures on Instagram and send photos to family and friends on messenger. One day I discovered you can write on the pictures. On Instagram you can turn your picture black and white or brighten it up, share on Facebook, then download to your computer and use it for your WordPress blog. On WordPress you can crop pictures, reverse them or turn them upside down.

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We bought an ipad to Facetime two continents, but I discovered you can take photogaphs with different effects.

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A saucer of floating flowers.

 

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The hot summer of 2018.

 

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But you don’t have to rely on magical equipment – this is the Odeon cinema taken through the bus window on a rainy night.

 

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…and this is not my nice tidy garden shed, but a picture of the side of the garden centre’s truck.

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A puddle.

Visit my picture gallery to see more pictures or spot some cheats.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-three-picture-gallery/

 

 

 

 

Youtube Nativity

Last century, in a previous incarnation, I went to mother and toddler groups; no doubt they have to be called something else now, Kids and Karers? We did have one granny, a few child minders and a couple of fathers. It was one of these fathers who brought his video camera along, no one else possessed such equipment. We thought he was showing off and hovering over his poor child. The ethos of the club was to ignore the little ones while indulging in a good gossip. These days he would probably have to have a background check before even being allowed into the church hall, let alone with a video camera. I wonder where that little boy is now, perhaps hot housed into a world leader, his whole life recorded for posterity.

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How would we all have fared, how different would our lives have been if we had grown up in the digital world, our pathetic appearance in the school nativity recorded and watched by grandchildren. I never got to be Mary or even an angel; in top infants I was merely the innkeeper’s wife with the line ‘Come this way.’ Would anyone want to see themselves coming last on sports day or dancing round the maypole in junior school? We did not get the ribbons tangled during our school’s centenary celebrations, but whether we looked elegant is another matter.

Our lives did not go completely unrecorded, Dad got a reel to reel tape recorder and secretly recorded Mum and the aunties, nobody could believe how awful their own voice sounded. When we had our school holiday in top juniors, several mothers went along as helpers, not mine thank goodness. One of these ladies had a cine camera, we were all going to be film stars. When it came time for the showing of the film, I did not appear at all.

There are families who have wonderful silent records of every Christmas, cine cameras were around for a long time before being superseded by videos, but most people took only photographs. Now every moment of a life can be recorded instantly, film or photo and broadcast to the world. Granddad on the other side of the world can see the new grandson having his umbilical cord cut. Great grandparents can see pretty in pink little miss precocious doing her first ballet exam at the age of two.

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But I feel more than a twinge of regret when I think of all the missed Instagrams I could have taken, pictures shared on Facebook and blogs written of my pre digital life. We have many photo albums, but camera film could not be wasted taking pictures of weird things; night scenes through rain splattered bus windows or the ubiquitous snaps of meals out or in.

Perhaps the more obsessed bloggers would have started much earlier if they had had the opportunity.

Baby Blogger…

Day One; with a bit of help from Mummy and Daddy I am starting this blog to record my whole life. Today was a bit of a milestone as I said my first words… blog, post and WordPress. Of course I know lots more words than that, but my lips and tongue aren’t working properly yet, just one of the challenges of being a baby.

Day Two; I have my first two followers, Mummy and Daddy… Sam the cat isn’t on WordPress so he can’t Like me, but here is a picture of him.

Day Three; We went to Wriggle and Rhyme Story Time at the library, I gave it four out of five stars…

 

My novel Quarter Acre Block is inspired by my early years.

 

Confessions of a Photophile

I laughed at the radio comedy; the woman in a state of panic who couldn’t go out to dinner with her friends because she had lost her mobile phone and wouldn’t be able to take a picture of the meal…

Have I become that woman? Of course not, when I take pictures of meals or glasses of festive mulled wine, it is with a large dose of irony. Besides, I love taking pictures of everything, thus proving I am not obsessed with recording the minutia of my everyday (dull) life.

I do belong to a camera club, but I don’t ‘do technical’. My enjoyment comes from looking out for interesting shots, not working out what lens to use. I point and shoot, but my photography has evolved from black and white prints to a computer full of digital images. First of all I joined Facebook and started sharing pictures, then I acquired a website with blank pages that needed to be filled with more than writing. Soon I was taking pictures not merely for family and holiday memories, but searching for original images for FB and my website. At this stage I had only my compact digital camera and marvelled at people instantly downloading images on line from the dinner they were about to eat or the tropical seas they were about to dive into.

But when I acquired a second hand smart phone I was hooked. Seeking shade from the glaring sun so I could see properly to send instant images to Facebook; fumbling to share my picture to the camera club FB page before Cyberspouse could. Mostly if I am out with other people I lose sight of them as I continually stop to take pictures.

My latest media outlet is Instagram. I’m not sure what the actual point of it is; you can only use your phone, but you can also share to Facebook and numerous other destinations in the ether that I haven’t yet navigated.

Yesterday, with a long winter walk planned, I had camera and phone in my rucksack, but vowed not to take them out till we reached our destination; firstly because it was too cold to keep taking gloves off or stand around and secondly I was looking forward to unpacking the flask of mulled wine, glasses and mince pies the long suffering one was carrying in his rucksack. But near the end of the woodland road that leads to the beach with the most expensive beach huts in the country, our route required us to manoeuvre round huge puddles and in the muddy puddles were interesting reflections of trees. We were planning to return a different way, so I just had to take my camera out…

And when we finally reached our scenic destination, the answer to the question ‘Where shall we sit?’ was obvious. ‘Where can I get the best shot of the red wine against the late afternoon sky, so I can post it on Instagram?’

Visit my website to see local seasonal scenes, the illustrated Beachwriter’s Blog and a winter picture quiz.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-two-coastal-views