Sometimes, Love Just Ain't Enough -- Should I Leave Yahoo Contributor Network?

I've asked this question to myself a few times, but now the answer is becoming clearer, and it is YES -- I should stop writing for Yahoo.

Here are a few of the reasons:

1) Lower beat payments - payments are going down by about 30% on Yahoo Voices, and the new featuring scheme doesn't get you much time on the front page, so no chance of making any real money.

2) Yahoo doesn't count page views from mobile devices. You don't want to hear what I have to say about that. My PV's have been sliced neatly in half this month, and I'm not a happy camper. Where I used to make from $60-$80 a month doing almost nothing, this month I've barely cracked $30. Writing more doesn't seem to help.

3) I need more stable income than what Yahoo Voices provides. Used to be, if you wrote consistently and well, you could count on a few hundred bucks a month. You never can tell what you're going to get paid in upfronts there. I will take assignments with a set value of $10 or above, but as far as writing unsolicited material for upfronts, no way. I haven't gotten an offer of over $4 for unsolicited work for over a year, and that is just highway robbery.

4) I'm just tired. Tired of Marissa Mayer, who spends over a billion dollars for Tumblr but won't put any money into faithful, and quite talented, writers she already has. She'd rather cater to the pornographer teens on a site that makes her no money than to fix what is wrong with our site. I really hope she sells Voices to someone who will care for it. She may be pretty, but under that nice exterior is a heart of stone.

So there. I'll do my Alternative Medicine beats, because I like those. I will take assignments for $10 or over, but I will not bust my butt on Yahoo anymore. I have better things to do than sit around for 2 weeks waiting for a $4 offer on a 500 word article.

Nostalgia be damned. I'm going full-on CAPITALIST! YAHOO -- SHOW ME THE MONEY OR SHOW ME THE DOOR!
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The Three Best Sites for Free Stock Photos

Search engines love images, so you should add at least one image to every article you write. It's not wise to use your own images, because some sites lay claim to any text or images you post. Many Internet users think that any image found online is free to use, but that is not true. Luckily, there are several reputable places to find free images online.

Morguefile

Morguefile is my favorite free image site, but in the past year, it has gone downhill as a source for free images. If you need a special paid image, they also collaborate with several stock photo sites where you can buy images, but I've never had to do that. The site is easy to use and no membership is required, but you can register for access to features such as being able to save your favorite photos. Simply type your search term into the box and you are automatically taken to the free photos for that term. You may have to search a few times, or pore over a few pages of photos to find the perfect one, but they are totally free. When you find the image you want, click on the download link and, depending on your settings, you will be given the option to save or download to your default photo editing program. I always download to my photo editing program, because these full-sized digital images need to be resized before use.

Stock.XCHNG

This is another site that offers free or paid photos. The difference in this site is that you have to give the owner credit for their photo. There is an "Availability" box under the free image that tells you what credit is required. Standard restrictions only requires you to post a credit with the name and site. Some photographers like to be notified when their photos are used, and may require a link back to their profile. Always do what is required so you don't get an image takedown notice. I usually post the credit at the end of my articles, such as on  this article, where I go the photo from that site. A complicated credit isn't required, just the name of the photographer and the site name. The URL for the site is sxc.hu, so that is what most writers know it by.

Wikimedia Commons

This is a creative commons site owned by Wikipedia has photos you can use for free with certain restrictions. It contains pictures with creative commons licensing as well as public domain photos from private photographers and government agencies. Public domain photos do not require a credit, but creative commons photos require a credit stating the creative commons license under which they are offered along with the photographer's name and sometimes a link back to their work. This can be a little more complicated if you don't understand creative commons licensing abbreviations, but they have made it simple by putting the link into the download box for you to copy and paste. The link is long and ugly, so using a hyperlink with the basic information is best. I will be posting a tutorial on how to make hyperlinked credit lines for Wikimedia. This site is very good for nature, celebrity and public figure photos, because they use the photos from the Wikipedia pages. Most topics you find on Wikipedia have an associated photo on Wikimedia Commons.

While these three sites are the most popular free photo sites online, there are other places to find free stock photos. A simple search will give you access to literally hundreds of thousands of free photos. Be sure to read the Terms of Use carefully for each site and obey the rules. Using someone's photo without their permission is illegal, just like using someone's words.
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Websites I Miss From the 90s



I read an article on Mashable today named "10 Websites We Miss from 1996." That was the year I first joined the internet horde, and there are a lot of things I miss about those times. The websites listed were Alta Vista, Suck.com, Mr. Showbiz, Geocities, Hot Wired, Lycos, Angelfire, N64, GamePro, and Pathfinder.

Surprisingly, I have only ever heard of four of these, and only miss two of them: Alta Vista and GeoCities. Maybe it's because I wasn't interested in gaming or entertainment. I briefly had an Angelfire website, because I was playing around with creating my own pages and uploading them via FTP,  but it had too many popups. No cool popup blockers back then. This would be my list of 10 sites or services I miss from back then, but I won't say 1996, because I only got online in 1996.

Geocities

I wasn't on the early days of Geocities, when it had communities. I got on after Yahoo bought it, but it was a wonderful site. The Yahoo PageBuilder was state-of-the-art at the time, so easy to learn and feature-filled. Not until Weebly did I find anything as simple to use. Back then, webpages were simple bordered HTML pages, and we all freaked when CSS came into play, because it was (and still is) a bitch to learn and use. Geocities was easy and flexible and if we had gotten paid for views, we would have all been rich.

MSN Groups
 
These were the most fun you could have without alcohol. The MSN community was made up largely of graphic hobbyists, who created signatures and webpage backgrounds and tiles. I had a gardening group on there, but I also had a couple of communities where I created and gave away siggies, backgrounds, and tiles. It was easy to use and easy to navigate. Unfortunately, it also took up a lot of bandwidth because of the graphics, and since it was so open and free, it had a lot of spammy sites, so MSN took it down. It was a sad day for everyone there when it closed, and we all scrambled to Yahoo groups and other places, but nothing was ever the same.

Netscape

Not only did they have the most awesome browser, the Netscape Navigator, but it included a page builder second to none available at the time. I was just learning to build pages and upload them via FTP to free web space, so this was where I learned that. Firefox stole their thunder when they built on top of their open-source platform and literally put the browser into virtual mothballs. AOL bought it and tried to continue development, but finally stopped in 2008. You can still download the last version if you are just nostalgic, or have a super-old computer that won't support newer browsers.

Free Usenet
 
Access to Usenet used to be free through your ISP. You could access every corner of it, although it was all pretty simple back then. Still, it was a fun place to hang out, and was the Facebook of its time, where you could chat with people from all over the world. Better yet, nobody had avatars or profiles, so it was -- and still is -- completely anonymous.

Free ISPs

I started online with Freewwwebs.com. It was slow, of course, as most computers had 14.4K dialup modems, but it sure beat paying $30 a month for AOL. They went nearly bankrupt, sold out to Juno, who sold out to NetZero, and the days of free internet were over. Maybe Google will bring it back with their free fiber project. We can only hope. Now I pay $60 a month for cable internet, which is unreliable at best and never gives me what I pay for.

So this is all I really miss. There are sites that used to be awesome that are now much diminished and neglected by their owners, but that's another article.


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Day 2 of 30-Day Social Media Fast

So I was not good today. I found something I simply had to share. It was just too good to keep to myself. I went on a binge -- shared it everywhere.

I got an email today from some new crowdsourcing company and put in an application. Plus, I got a reply from a couple of Craigslist ads. One was a scam, which I reported, but one looks promising. Doesn't pay much, but small eggs are just as nutritious as large eggs -- you just have to eat more of them.

CrowdSource still doesn't have anything decent to do. I will keep writing for Yahoo and doing as much CrowdSource as I can. I have a goal every day, and so far this month, I haven't met that daily goal, but I'm still trying.

Content Blvd. is pretty much a bust. If I'm going to write on spec, I'll put some stuff up on Constant Content that isn't just presented to one person who never does anything with it. It's not reliable enough to generate steady income. It's like Constant Content forcing you to only write to the daily requests, and not allowing you to submit anything just on its own. I do like the owner there, and I think he is trying to create something viable. I'll hang in there with them, but won't be contributing much, just looking to see what comes up and what happens.

I suspended all my Fiverr gigs. I don't have time to deal with it right now. I'm going to start going through boxes and finding stuff to sell during downtimes from now on. I can't just sit here and let time slip away. September is coming faster than it seems.

So that's day 2. Hope yours was better than mine.
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How NOT to Get a Job Through Craigslist

I look on Craigslist daily for opportunities, but you have to be careful. Today, for some strange reason, I decided to see what writers were posting in jobs wanted. I found this ad and had to share it. This is how NOT to get a job on Craigslist. Seriously, if you're looking for a writing job, and ESPECIALLY an editing job, don't have typos in your ad.


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Day 1 of the 30 Day Social Media Fast

Well, this is harder than I thought it would be. I keep getting notifications from sites about threads I'm subscribed to or comments on threads or new members wanting to get into G+ communities. I've been good about not posting anything, but I have to check to see if spammers are posting, and I have to approve/disapprove new members. Only day one, and I've already decided that if I can't get any mods on the groups, I'm going to shut them down. Everyone wants to belong and benefit, but no one wants to help. I have mods on two, but not on the others.

On the other hand, it rained all day, so my plan to work in the yard fell through. I've pretty much been job-hunting today, looking for something decent paying that doesn't involve having to write in present tense without the words can, may, should, would, and could. Seriously -- what kind of idiot doesn't let you use the word "can?"  I don't want to write on spec either, but people who are willing to pay decently are few and far between.

There are new rules on CrowdSource every day, and I just hate even going there, although I need the work. Now there is nothing up there but reviews. I thought reviews were supposed to be written by people who had used something, not just made up off the top of your head. Guess not. Most of the "facilities" they want reviewed aren't even online, so how you are supposed to review them is beyond me.

I'm more and more convinced that they have lost the ask.com contract, because they crap they are putting up now is just that -- CRAP.  That, plus the fact that TripleCurve is begging for writers to write thousands of articles a week tells me that they are the lucky winners. They want too much for what they pay, though.

I may have lost my health beats on YCN. They aren't there this morning, but Jelena is checking into it. And just when I had decided to start writing for them again. They don't pay much, but at least they don't have freaky editors, and you can write from your own experience.

The writing world has basically gone to hell in a handbasket. I'm in a bad situation right now where I need a lot of money quickly, so I have to take what I can get and work long hours to make enough money, but when this is over, I'm taking it easier. I'm done with trying to make tons of money. I just want to pay the bills and have a little left over at the end of the month. I never have been extremely ambitious, and I'm not going to start being ambitious now at my age.

I'm also going to look back into doing more affiliate marketing. I wish I had never stopped doing that, because now I have forgotten everything I knew about it, but I can learn again. I know a lot more about affiliate marketing in general now than I did when I started, so that's a viable alternative to just writing for pennies.

I just have to get past September, then I'll be fine.


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One Week to Social Media Shutdown

Yep, just one week until May 1, when I turn off my social media sites and concentrate on work, home and friends. I am really looking forward to it, as I hope to get caught up on a few things I haven't had time for until now.

This is my typical day:

Wake up - get coffee
Go to Google+ and post daily thread on the writing community. (5 minutes)
Go to Pinterest and YouTube and find interesting things to post to other communities. (1 hour - or more if I get caught up looking at things on those sites)
Check Email (notice social networking comes BEFORE checking emails)
Check the News sites and share interesting finds.
Get second cup of coffee & breakfast
Check new posts in the stream on G+, comment and share. (another hour)
Watch one t.v. show and relax while eating my breakfast (I may cut out t.v. too -- haven't decided yet)
Go to all my writing sites, check in and start to work

During the day, I get notifications from G+ and email, which I have to check.
I usually check into G+ at least a few times a day during break times, instead of doing things I need to be doing here.
At night, I spend a couple of hours on G+  and Pinterest, and check into the few remaining friends I have on FB.

I figure in a normal day, I spend 3-4 hours on social networking sites. That's time I could spend working or decluttering. I'm hoping that by not going to these sites at all, I can get more done and make more money. We'll see.

I WILL be posting to my blogs, but not sharing (DUH!), so if you want to keep up, you need to subscribe to new posts. I will keep you informed on my progress, or lack of, without social media.

I can do this. It's only a month. I keep telling myself that.

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The 30-Day Social Media Diet

Actually, I'm going on a social media fast. I've decided that for 30 days, I'm not going on social media at all. I'm going to be online to work only, no socializing. After work, I'm going out into the world and do things. I spend way too much time in front of this screen. It's worse than t.v.! I work online, I watch all my entertainment online, I socialize online, I LIVE online. I go crazy when my computer conks out.

This is not healthy. I need a life. I need some inspiration. So for 30 days, I'm going to sign off and get out of this house. I'm going to garden, and walk and exercise and go places. I'm going to go to the beach -- where I haven't been in I don't know how many years. You really kinda burn out on the beach after living in FL for awhile.

I'll still check emails, but no chats, no Skype, no FB, no G+, no hangouts -- nothing! If people want to talk to me, they are going to have to call me on the phone or come to see me, or invite me to see them. Anyway, it will have to be personal.

If you'd like to join me on this 30-day Social Media Diet, let me know. We can rock our lives together. It's just a month. Why not give it a try? Get out from in front of the computer and get a life!


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Should You Give Up Social Networking?

Sometimes I wonder how I would do if I gave up social networking sites completely. They were essential when I was getting much of my money from content sites that paid per view, but now they are basically just a time-suck, except for the occasional posting an article from my blogs.

I never post on Twitter, although I have a lot of followers. I dumped all but a few friends and family on FB. I'm pretty involved with G+, but am getting a little tired of that as well.

I started a lot of communities on G+ with an eye to becoming a social media manager, and using them as something to put on my resume, but now the thought of having to post to social network sites all day makes me want to just shut down the computer and take a nap.

I have been thinking about the report I heard that only 30% of all registered users on FB are active. That's pretty much true for all social sites, I think. People join, then Real Life interferes, and their accounts just go dormant. It's like all those Blogger blogs that no one is ever going to post on again that are just sitting there, because Google refuses to take them down and recycle the names. It's all wasted space on some computer, aside from the personal information they harvest from those accounts.

I may take a social networking vacation. I'm thinking a 30 day experiment to see if I earn more or less without all that to distract me. If I find it is more productive to leave them alone, I wouldn't have any problem doing that. Like I found out when I left FB, those who really wanted to stay in touch did anyway through normal things like the telephone. The rest just went away and never got in touch again. And that's o.k., because you know what?

I DON'T KNOW ANY OF THOSE PEOPLE. They are just names and faces on an internet site, people who I'm not even sure are real, and honestly -- most of them probably aren't.

So 30 days off sounds good. Maybe I'll do that next month.
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My First Impressions of Windows 8

My computer died, and it broke my heart, because I loved it. I had to have something to work with, so I bought a new computer with Windows 8. Boy, at first I was flabbergasted! It took me a couple of hours just to figure out how to get around the screens. I missed my quick launch bar, and wanted some way to get something similar to the start menu on my task bar. I found out how to put the desktop on the task bar. Actually, I don't believe the instructions were for the desktop, but it turned out to be that plus some. I think THIS is where I found those directions. Hard to tell, since it was a fluke that worked out really well. This what that looks like:



Then there was that missing Quick Launch bar. I love that thing! Can't live without it. THIS is where I found directions for that. Then I had to figure out how to get what I wanted onto the quick launch bar. That I found in the Ultimate Windows 8 Taskbar Pinning Guide.

I figured out how to create a recovery partition, and will be making a backup copy of Windows as soon as I get a 4 gig flash drive to put it on. Since this system was designed for tablets, you CAN back up to disks, but it takes a lot of them, so best just to put it on the thumb drive. I'll be getting that done in the next couple of days.

So far, I don't HATE Windows 8, but it's not at all what I would have expected. Of course, it was created for tablets primarily, so I expect it to be very different. I'm learning little ways to make it more like Windows 7, at least in look and feel, but I'm not going to make any really huge changes. I hear the file system is awesome, so I can't wait to get into that.

I haven't run into but one program that isn't compatible, and it had a viable replacement. My Firefox and all my favorite add-ons work just fine. I have a lot of my apps downloaded. I'm not getting them until I need them.

Honestly, I doubt I'll ever use the Start Screen much. I'm working out a way to put the shut down controls on the taskbar too, because it's a pain to get to them --- to many clicks.  

More to come in the Adventures of Deb and Windows 8, so stay tuned!
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Web Media Companies: What to Look for and What to Be Skeptical Of



I have just found something and thought I should make my fellow writers aware of it. When looking for jobs on job boards, if you find a "company" that does not have its own URL or email under that domain, watch out. I just found this ad on Pro Blogger that sounded good. It was offering $40,000 a year, but they want 100 articles a week for 50 weeks a year, which is $8 an article. They have a minimum of 5 articles a week, which I imagine is what it takes to stay employed, so if you have a better-paying gig that is taking up all your time, you could lose your position. When I looked at the contact email, it was a gmail address, which is strange, since they have a Canadian website, so why aren't they receiving mail through that?

Some Other Obvious Things to Watch For

Watch for sites that have British wording, such as calling articles "stories", asking for "solid writing samples" or, like the one above, try to convince you that seeking better paying jobs is a waste of time. Also watch for companies that ask for too much -- 20 to 30 "quality" articles a day, for example. These are not writers who started a company, because obviously, they have no clue how long it takes to write a "quality" article.

Also, watch for sites that have no Terms of Use or Terms of Service and no Privacy Statement. These two things are pretty much required by Google anymore for a legitimate listing, which many outsourcers may not know.


Legitimate or Outsourcers?

The thing is, these little fly-by-night "media companies" are popping up everywhere, so be careful. Sometimes, they are actually just one person who is picking up jobs on ODesk or Elance and outsourcing them for less money.

If a company wants you to write articles within a couple of hours after they are posted, they are probably outsourcers. I've seen a lot of outsourcers on ODesk obviously doing the ask.com work from Triple Curve and CrowdSource, so apply to those two first.

Also, look out for companies that want the work done quickly, but don't pay but once every two weeks or once a month. They are outsourcers waiting to get paid before they pay you. Sometimes, you may run into problems if an article is rejected, because the less scrupulous of the bunch won't pay you at all.

Best Way to Stay Safe

READ THE TERMS AND PRIVACY STATEMENT CAREFULLY! It only takes a few minutes of your time, and may save you a lot of headaches, for example, I once ran across a company that said simply by submitting it to the site, you gave them full rights, so in effect, they could never pay you and still put the article up online LEGALLY.  There are a few companies on Amazon Mechanical Turk who do this on a regular basis, so if you are working there, download and install the TurkOpticon add-on (get it here) and check out every requester. 

Ask your writer friends where they work, what they have found to be the best companies or sites to be paid fairly and reliably.
Be careful of a requester on Odesk or Elance that send you multiple article templates, and who want the title and something called a "callout." Those are outsourcing work for Triple Curve or CrowdSource. Apply directly to one of those two places. They pay more.
Trust your instincts. If something seems wrong, it usually is. If you're not sure, go to one of your favorite writing forums and ask other writers.

Pretty soon, all these scammer and outsourcing "media companies" will be sandboxed by Google, but check them out carefully first. I've found at least 6 in the last two weeks that were from the UK, so there may be someone over there setting up multiple sites. Most of them have very simple headers, such as the one listed above, and many of the sites look exactly alike except for different colors and different names.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad people online who will take advantage of you. Keep your eyes and ears open and ask lots of questions and you will be o.k.
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And This is the Downside to Freelancing - Broken Eggs and a Messy Basket

I preach a lot about not putting all your eggs in one basket, but most eggs last a little longer than the CrowdSource one did.

I am very discouraged right now. I fear that there will be no more readily available work on CrowdSource. I have other clients and other places to write, but none that provided so much steady, relatively easy work. I could apply to be an editor there, but I really don't want to be an editor. Right now, I'm taking a day or two off to figure out exactly what to do.

I was all gung-ho on Content Blvd, but none of the articles I wrote last week were accepted, and the worst part is that you don't even know if anyone has seen them. I'm not inclined to leave them up there just in case someone picks them up. I need something more guaranteed. I can't afford to spend my time writing good content with no guarantee of payment. If I could, I'd write for Constant Content, which I may yet be forced to do.

Yes, I could go to ODesk, but I really don't like that system, and it has so many scammers, like the guy who is paying $8 an article for stuff he's selling to Triple Curve for $12. Who's to say he will ever really pay anyone?

Textbroker - $5 an article if you're lucky and if you do one thing wrong, you're downgraded back to level 3 where there is no work. Fiverr is not viable, because I can't write on the topics they want. I know nothing about internet marketing or SEO, and that's all they ask for, except for the one guy who wanted articles on fishing.

Yahoo is still there, but no one is getting over $6 per article there, and PV's are abysmal. I could write more on gardening and that would probably make me some good money over the summer, so I may do that. My PV's always pick up there in the spring and it usually carries through summer, since most of what I write on is gardening. I really need to learn to like writing about celebrities or finance, but I don't, so that's that.

This is the worst time in a long time for me. I have to make a shitload of money before my son's wedding, and it just isn't going to happen, I don't think. I don't know what to do, I really don't. Not only that, but I'm getting to where I don't care.




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FIXED: Dell Inspiron 3520 - Can't Turn Off Touchpad

I don't think Dell has ever had a laptop that didn't have touchpad problems. They use an ALPS device, and it seems they just aren't the best touchpads available.

On my new laptop, the touchpad is in a very inconvenient place, and no matter what I did, it would not work. None of the Control Panel settings worked nor did the F3 toggle key, and it would not turn off, even when I uninstalled the driver and rebooted! Now that's weird. It was like the touchpad just had a mind of its own.

It seems that the driver installed in this computer at the factory is not the one you need for Windows 8. Luckily (although they don't tell you this), there is a new driver on the Dell Downloads Website. To get there:

  • Go to your Start Screen
  • Click on the My Dell Support Center icon
  • Click on the Drivers icon
  • At the top of the page, specify Windows 8 (32 or 64 bit)
  • Scroll down to Input
  • Download and install the driver
  • Restart your computer
VOILA! The touchpad works. Well, at least the F3 key works. I haven't tried the other controls.

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No, Google+ is Not Dead -- It's Just Dead to You, and Here is Why

I have to laugh every time some idiot posts online that Google+ is dead or that no one is there. I mean REALLY laugh -- like guffaw, hold my sides, tears streaming down my face laughing. Well -- maybe not that much, but seriously giggling.

Google+ is not dead, it's just DIFFERENT. You wanted more privacy, so G+ invented circles. You can share your posts with everyone in your circles, or just one group of people. When you circle someone, if they don't circle you back, you won't see anything they post unless they make that post public.

So while you're thinking nobody is posting, you just aren't seeing them, because they aren't posting to you. Trust me, people are posting. I have over 600 people in my circles, but not all of them see my posts. For example, I have a circle for Acquaintances which are people I don't know well enough to know where to place them yet. A lot of what I post is to all my circles, but some of what I post is only to my Home and Garden or Writers and Bloggers circles. Why would I force irrelevant posts on people who aren't interested? I had enough of that crap at Facebook! If I was friends with someone, I had to see everything they posted, whether I wanted to or not.

That's why I love G+ sooooooo much! I have a lot of people in my circles who write. Some of them write about gardening. If I post something that relates to writing about gardening, I will share with both. If I share something JUST about growing something, I will post only to home and garden. I also have a circle for photographers, simply because I love looking at their pictures, however, they are very prolific posters, so I can choose NOT to see the photography posts when I look at my posts by not choosing to view that circle.I can see posts only from gardeners, or only from writers, or only from photographers. It's very relaxing to be able to just pop in to see what people are doing in their gardens without having to go through several dozen irrelevant messages about celebrities and politics and whatever else.

Then there are communities. Communities are for where the circles intersect, where you might not want to circle everyone that has anything to say there, but still want to see what they have to say. I own several communities and belong to several more. I can allow posts from communities to show up in my stream, but I choose not to. I reserve my stream for the people in my circles.

Yes, it takes some getting used to how things work on Google+, but once you do, you will either love it and leave all your other social networking sites behind, or you will hate it and stay on FB bashing G+.

But trust me, there are plenty of people here, and we are ALL posting...just not to you.
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Marissa Mayer, Telecommuting and Constructive Discharge

I've read a lot in the last few days about Marissa Mayer and her decree that people will no longer be able to telecommute. Opinions are running about 20-to-1 against her, when it may not have actually been her decision at all. She did, after all, recently hire a new head of HR, Jacqueline Reses, and it was her name on the leaked memo.

I'll keep this brief, because enough has been said on the topic, but to those of us familiar with the practice, this is so clearly a case of constructive discharge.  According to Wikipedia,
In employment law, constructive dismissal, also called constructive discharge, occurs when employees resign because their employer's behaviour (sic) has become so intolerable or heinous or made life so difficult that the employee has no choice but to resign. Since the resignation was not truly voluntary, it is in effect a termination. For example, when an employer makes life extremely difficult for an employee to attempt to have the employee resign rather than outright firing the employee, the employer is trying to effect a constructive discharge.
 The last CEO of Yahoo lost his job after he fired thousands of employees to try to improve the bottom line, so Mayer can't exactly do that again, can she? In fact, she is trying to get some of those people back. She does, however, have to get rid of some more people, so this is how she does it. If she forces them to quit by giving them a "choice" that is really no choice, Yahoo does not have to pay them unemployment. Yes, that's right. Mrs. Mayer is trying to fire hundreds of people and keep them from drawing unemployment on Yahoo's account.

She's doing a lot of other things that people aren't aware of too. At Yahoo Contributor Network, she has done away with programs that pay for contributor articles and replaced them with assignments which are literally "given" to Yahoo for exclusive rights with no pay. THEN the staff takes those articles and chops pieces out of them to create a compilation article which is promoted on one of Yahoo's major sites. Contributors who usually receive money for page views get nothing, zip, NADA for these compilations that use their words, because the gave those words away.

Sorry, maybe this isn't so short after all, but I don't like Marissa Mayer or the minions she has brought on board. She still has a lot of employees fooled, but one day, the rose-colored glasses will clear and they will see her for what she is -- someone who was blocked from rising to the highest levels of management at Google because she doesn't have what it takes, and someone who will likely not last long at Yahoo.

Gee, wonder where she will get free daycare then?
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My Three Favorite Firefox Tab Utilities

As a freelancer, I usually have a lot of tabs open, and by a lot, I mean more than 20. I like to keep my social networking tabs open so I can check my stream occasionally. My main email tab is always open. When researching, I can have up to 10 tabs open at once along with all those previously mentioned.

This was getting very confusing, and deleting them when I was done was getting to be a pain as well. If I wanted to bookmark all my research tabs, well, that was a time-consuming nightmare. I've found a few add-ons that are most helpful in controlling all of this mess.

Multiple Tab Handler

This fixed my problem of closing multiple tabs at once. The way it works is by using your mouse to highlight the tabs you want to work with. Once highlighted, the features include:
  • Close selected tabs
  • Close not-selected tabs
  • Reload selected tabs
  • Duplicate selected tabs
  • Move selected tabs to a new window
  • Bookmark selected tabs
  • Copy URLs/titles+URLs/HTML links for selected tabs to the clipboard
  • Save (download) selected tabs to the local disk

You can also:
  • Close right tabs (my favorite)
  • Close left tabs
  • Close all tabs including the selected tab
  • Close similar tabs (same domain) and exclude the selected tab

You can use ctrl-click or shift-click to select multiple tabs and drag and drop single or multiple selected tabs, which I find very handy.

There are other features I will probably never use, but it's a powerful tool that uses very few resources.

That still left me the problem of too many open tabs, most of them hanging out hidden off the right end of the screen.

Enter my second favorite tab add-on.

Bar Tab Lite X

Once upon a time there was a cool add-on named Bar Tab, but it isn't being updated anymore and sadly, isn't compatible with the new versions of Firefox. However, Bar Tab had much more power than I need. I just need some way to get more tabs per square inch.

Bar Tab Lite X fixes that problem in a jiffy. With this add-on, you can "pin" tabs, which then become only icons on the left side of your tab bar. When you mouse-over them, they tell you exactly which page is tabbed, which is excellent for someone like me who can't always recognize the icons.

I can now keep all my essential tabs open in very little space. You can also highlight and pin multiple tabs, which is terrific for researching to keep all tabs on the bar instead of having to hunt them down.

You don't have to unpin the tab to view the page, but you can unpin it if you want. I use unpinned tabs as dividers or lead tabs for groups of research tabs, but I'm looking for a tab divider add-on as well.

Still, sometimes when I had to open an entire bookmark folder for research, it took up way too much space. I just recently discovered something that may be a solution to that problem.

Tree Style Tabs 

I'm still playing with this one, but it seems valuable. It gathers your tabs into trees (sub-folders in tiers), which is useful if you're opening a whole folder of bookmarks. When researching, it makes it simple to bookmark all the open tabs by putting them into a named tree, then bookmarking the entire tree. This will be something I will probably use a lot.

The only thing I don't like about this is how much space the trees take up on your tab bar. Plus, when you open a tab, it automatically opens as a tree. There must be a setting to fix that. There doesn't seem to be a way to pin the entire tree to get it out of the way. If you pin the tab, it seems to delete the first tab in the group and leave only the other tabs with a new mother. There IS an option to move the tree to a new window, but I dislike having multiple FF windows open. I think that maybe if you're working with multiple bookmarked tabs, it may be better to switch to a left or right display rather than display them on the tab bar to give it more room. There is an option to drag the sidebars closed if you need your full screen.

UPDATE: I removed Tree Style Tabs, because I didn't like it taking up space on the screen on the right or left and the tabs took up too much space on the tab bar because of the little lines added at the end and the spacing inbetween. I tried every setting, and couldn't get it to stop doing this. Plus, if I clicked on a site, then clicked on something else on the site, it changed the tab to a tree which involved verification to close. I also didn't like the 'x' being on the left side of the tab.All-in-all, an annoying add-on that didn't work for me at all. I'm still looking for a bookmarking add-on that lets you bookmark multiple tabs at once.

So these are my current solutions to multiple tabs. I'm also looking at Tile Tabs to solve that problem of storing the tree tabs so they don't use up the whole tab bar. I'll let you know how that goes soon.
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More Yahoo Contributor Network Drama

An hour before close of business on Friday, February 8, 2013 many YCN writers got emails saying that some of their beats had been discontinued. Beats didn't pay that much -- from $8 to $10 each article -- but it was steady income for a lot of YCN writers. Plus, beat articles were more likely to be featured, which could lead to some great Page View bonuses.

Home Improvement and Gardening beats are now gone as well as Shine beats. It seems a lot of education and home schooling beats are also gone. So far, health beats have not been taken away, which I don't understand because I never did as well with those as I did with the Home Improvement and Gardening articles.

They say there will be more targeted assignments in the future, but that doesn't help a lot of people if they are keeping the same system. Only those who have time to sit around waiting for assignments to appear will actually be able to pick up those articles. From what we've been seeing of assignments lately, they pay poorly if at all. 

No one knows what the future holds, but I think that maybe all upfront payments will be disappearing from YCN soon. It will be just another place you can write for Page View bonuses, or it will be closed or sold. Closing it would be the most profitable move, since there will be no upkeep cost and they will continue to get advertising profit without having to share it with writers. This seems to be the way most of the content farm sites have gone since Panda and then Penguin slammed into them. They have all this content, but can't really afford to add more or manage it, so they just close down to new submissions and take what money they can make from it. The staff remaining at these sites adds just enough content each month to keep them indexed so they can keep receiving the adsense dollars.

What I'm seeing is people starting multiple niche and micro-niche blogs, sometimes hundreds of them. These are also known as "adsense blogs," and they used to be 20-50 page blogs with static content loaded with keywords. Now they are updated weekly so as to avoid being slapped down by Google's algorithm changes. It won't be long before Google catches up to them too, though.

The only content farm still showing up regularly in search results is eHow, and we all know that they made some deal with the Google devil to keep their rankings, because let's face it, 99% of their content sucks. I used to write for them, and while I tried to turn out good content, I know hundreds of others were just trying to meet the minimum word counts. eHow is a perfect example of how corrupt the internet search system really is. There is no way they are staying on top without something going on behind the scenes.

Of course, Google admitted that Panda was aimed squarely at Associated Content (now YCN) and Suite101, so those two sites will likely never recover.

As for me, I'm in flux right now just trying to line up a couple more eggs for my basket, but I'm doing pretty well with CrowdSource and will continue to learn more about Mechanical Turk and how to make decent money there. Yahoo was a backup site for me at the best. I did make good money there one month, but then it just crashed, so even if I do still contribute there from time to time to keep my foot in the door, they are at the bottom of my list for real income. It will always be a sentimental favorite, though.
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Is Pinterest Slamming Users?

Some of you may not be familiar with the term "slamming." The act of slamming goes back to the telephone. Companies would "slam" your account by subscribing you for services you didn't want, then charging you for them on your phone bill. It was deemed illegal, and phone companies got all sorts of grief for allowing it.

Online, "slamming" means pretty much he same thing. Usually, you are just signed up for newsletters without your consent, but Pinterest has put an interesting twist on it. They call it "suggesting." This "suggesting" consists of subscribing you to follow commercial and business users, and maybe others as well. They use the pins on your board to decide who to "suggest" to you.

The way I found out about this was that I kept finding my account flooded with pins from people I didn't recognize, and in whom I would not under any circumstances be interested. The first was a fashion house. I am anything but a fashionista. I live in jeans, shorts, and t-shirts. When I clicked on the user's name, I found myself signed up to "follow all" of their posts. Since I hardly ever follow all of anyone's boards, I knew something was wrong, so I unfollowed them. Still, they kept coming, and I kept unfollowing them. I soon found myself following almost as many people as are following me, which was erroneous, because I don't follow that many people.

I went through all of those I was following and found 37 "follow all" subscriptions for commercial accounts.

I wrote to Pinterest through their help page and asked them why they did this. The first time, they didn't answer. The second time, this was the exchange:

ME: I keep finding myself subscribed to "follow all" on business users' accounts. There are very few people I "follow all" on, and I know who they are. Is Pinterest doing this stealth subscribing to promote the business accounts, or is it a hack? If it is you, I'm very close to closing my account because of it. I don't like finding myself suddenly subscribed to some business I have no interest in and having my page flooded with their pins. Let them find followers like everyone else.

PINTEREST:
Hi Deborah,
If you're unsure why you're seeing a pin in your feed, you can troubleshoot here:
https://help.pinterest.com/entries/23000246
We request that you use our help articles to get the information you need as quickly as possible. If there’s additional information you’d like our team to know, you can reply to this message.
Happy pinning!
- The Pinterest Team

I read the link. This is how I found out about the "suggesting."

"The pins you choose during registration determine the people and boards we suggest to you when you first sign up. You can't change these pin selections afterwards, but you're always welcome to follow more people or unfollow people who don't suit your interests."
It goes on to tell you how to unfollow the people they slam you with.

So I replied to them.
ME:  So I do not have any choice about you subscribing me to these business accounts? I've read the link you suggested, and that is what it seems to say. It's very annoying to have every one of their pins flooding my page. I'm going to have to think about whether I want to be part of Pinterest if this is going to continue.

PINTEREST:
We received your reply. We love interacting with pinners, but usually can’t respond individually to this type of request. Rest assured we are always listening and we’re frequently making improvements to Pinterest and our documentation based on what we read in emails like this one.
Thanks for using Pinterest.
- The Pinterest Team

In short, like it or lump it, we don't care. It's our site and if you don't like the way we run things, leave.

I've now unfollowed all but 15 users that I personally know and am sure I followed voluntarily. I won't be following anyone else, and I'll let you know how many users Pinterest slams me with in the future. Considering I only followed maybe 25 total users, and I had 187, it will be interesting to see what happens.





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A Major Writing Decision: Goodbye to Yahoo Contributor Network

I'm making a lot of major changes in my life lately, and this is just another whose time has come. Sometimes you have to let go of things to move forward.

I've been thinking about this for a few days now, and I'm not going to be writing for YCN anymore unless all my other clients dry up. The last straw was an assignment about what I wanted to hear in the inaugural speech, so I accepted it and wrote a short blurb saying I wouldn't be listening to the speech and outlined my reasons. I am very disappointed in the President's performance since he was re-elected, and feel he's still giving in way too much, so I wasn't going to listen to empty promises which he would backtrack on as soon as the special interests swooped in. He gives in too much, gives too much away, basically makes promises he has no intention of keeping. He's probably better than Romney would have been, but he would never have been my first choice as President, in fact, I did not vote for him in 2008. I didn't vote for anyone.

The article was up for a few days in the News section of Voices, got a couple of comments. It was suddenly taken down and "rejected for publication." I almost put it up as a DO, but I just deleted it. What's the point, really?

I believe it may have gotten flagged by a lot of die-hard democrats or progressives, which led to it being taken down. It wasn't complimentary to the President, but they asked for an opinion, I gave it. I just don't understand how they could reject a Display Only article when I am supposed to have the right to publish any DO without editing.

I have not been happy with the direction YCN has been taking lately. I have been here before, and no matter how many promises they make, I can see the writing on the wall. YCN is going away. They will eventually turn it into a PPV only site and stop making any upfront payments, no matter how small, for anything. You'll just be writing in hopes of getting a feature that will pay well. Lately, that hasn't been the case, and I don't have time to write "in hopes of" making some money.

YCN is good for what it is -- a place for new writers to cut their teeth and learn, and for those who don't have to depend on it for an income to make a few extra bucks. I really see it being sold off one more time because Mrs. Mayer seems to have other things in mind for Yahoo, and so it should be.

I am going to concentrate on my ghostwriting and put my best content on my blogs. I appreciate that YCN was there for me when I needed them, but this isn't the same supportive community that was when I returned and I don't feel like I belong there anymore. I won't leave it completely, and I'll still be reading my friends' articles, but unless something drastic happens, they won't be reading mine except on my blogs.
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Old Eggs, New Eggs: On Letting Go and Trying New Things

So I have stated that I'm letting go of one stressful client. I made that decision regretfully, because it took some real effort to get into the program, but once there, I knew almost immediately it wasn't for me. I'm going to name that client now, because I've made the decision that even if they renew my contract, I won't work there. It's Leapforce. Now don't get me wrong. Leapforce is an excellent program for some people, and has saved more than a few people's butts financially. The work is there if you have the time to sit around and wait for it. I loved the community there, and will seriously miss it, but it isn't for me. I need something I can count on being there when I have the time to work. Leapforce just isn't that, and although they work very hard to ensure there is steady work, their main client (Google) has more to say about that than they do, as they are the ones who provide the task to be done. I love Google. All my blogs are on Blogger, and G+ is just my favorite place to be now, so I thought helping them determine algorithms would be fun. It isn't. If I can't enjoy my work, it's not really worth my time. I still love Google, though.

So I was looking for new eggs, and came across a post by a friend talking about a place called "Hundy." Hundy is sort of like Fiverr, but you can charge up to $100 for a job. I figured I'd try it out, so I went over last night and put up some job posts. I'm interested to see how they do. I am also on Fiverr, but I don't really want to work for $5 ever again.

I'm looking to get into social media management. I love being online, and to be paid to play on social media is just too tempting. I have been reading a lot about this profession, so that's what I posted on Hundy. I figure I'll pick up a couple of cheap clients, who will be nice references for better clients. That's pretty much how it works in the freelance game when you're trying to move into new areas.

Plus, I posted rates for blog posts and for managing blogs. I love blogging, MUCH more than I like writing articles. I'm hoping to get away from writing online articles completely by the end of the year, just hanging on to a few good clients just in case. I'm really getting burned out on trying to find 100 different ways to say the same old stuff over and over. Blogging is much more up-to-the-minute and flexible.

So this is part of my plan for the new year. I'm trying to evolve as online freelancing evolves. I think article writers are still much needed, and while it provides me a good income right now, I just don't see it being my mainstay for life.

ONWARD AND UPWARD!
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On Rules Online and in Real Life

I don't like people who don't think rules apply to them. Every kind of community, online or off, has rules. Otherwise, there is anarchy.  My thoughts are that if someone cannot obey simple rules in an online community without pouting and running away, they are probably much the same in real life. The only thing is, you can't just "drop out" of real life if you don't like how things are done. I see these people having a long string of short employment in jobs because they didn't like that the rules also applied to them. Of course, we all have the right to do what we want with our lives, but at some point, it all comes back on you.

So what brought on this post? I own several Google+ communities. They all have rules. I just had one member quit two of them simply because he didn't want to obey the rules. In the first one, I posted a picture of an unbelievably beautiful garden in France. He made a remark that he preferred that we post American gardens. I said that anyone, in any part of the world was allowed to post pictures of any garden anywhere, and he posted a snotty "Yes Ma'am!" and left. It wasn't his links that bothered me, it was the comment. On the second group, another gardening group, he posted a link to a group on FB, which I found out he owned. Well, the community rules clearly state that we are not to post links to Facebook. Hey, it's G+ -- don't be trying to steal our members away to your FB groups. It's just tacky, right? I deleted the post and reposted the rules for everyone to read. I was very careful to put "everyone" in the message. He removed all his posts, quit the community and evidently blocked me. A little insulting, but nothing I'm going to lose sleep over.

If you're just online to share personal stuff, and have no intention of ever trying to make any money from your posts, act however you want. But if you start out by throwing temper tantrums and not wanting to obey the rules, you won't get far -- well, unless you're Bill Gates or the next Steve Jobs, which most people aren't. 

This guy is a small-town Florida redneck -- and don't get me wrong -- I'm a SC redneck at heart, so that's not a putdown. He has an awesome back yard garden, and posts some nice videos on YouTube about what he's doing in his back yard. However, he does NOT like to be questioned on what he's done, or for anyone to make suggestions. I imagine him as one of these confederate flag flying, evangelical, "Hell no, you ain't taking my guns without a fight!" type of person, which is fine if that's who you want to be. I just never see those people getting very far in life or being taken very seriously and this guy has a lot of spunk and is trying hard to do something good for his family -- I'm assuming he has a family -- and share so people can learn, so I hate to see him alienate people who might help him with his attitude.

So remember that if you want to get anywhere online you have to bend a little. Sometimes, you have to bend a lot. That's the way it is in every business venture, and if you can't do that, you'll only get so far before the right people head the other way and the wrong people are all you have left.

It's about compromise, really. But isn't everything?
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Client Evaluation: Cost Effectiveness and Stress Factor

I have one client, who shall not be named, that is really stressful to work for. The initial per hour rate looks good until you see all the unpaid required readings and trainings which knock down that rate. Also, work availability is a problem, as it sometimes comes in spurts and if you aren't there to catch it, it's lost. There are people who put in 60-70 hours a week hanging out there trying to get 40 hours of pay. That knocks down the per hour rate to less than minimum wage in some cases.

Then there are the work reviews, which are almost always negative. They don't praise many people, although they do love the ones who put in mega hours and are constantly giving them achievement awards. There is little or no communication. Many workers write to them numerous times to ask questions and get no answers. People are let go with no explanation other than that their work is not up to standard, when they have been trying for months to find out why and what they can do to improve. Feedback is mostly nil. No one really knows what renewal evaluations are based on.

There is this overriding fear every time renewal time comes near, but this time around, I'm just letting it go. I could stress myself for the next month worrying and trying to kowtow to their expectations, or I could spend that time finding new clients that don't make me want to blow my brains out. I choose the latter.

The point of this post is that there ARE other clients, and you have to be able to weigh the negative and the positive. If you're new to this freelance game, you will likely stress and worry that you'll never find anything better. You may hang on to a bad client way too long because you have bills to pay and are afraid you can't replace them fast enough. I'm here to tell you, that is wrong thinking.

Just like you don't quit a job until you have another one, part of your working day should be spent looking for clients. The "many eggs in one basket" theory is meant explicitly to allow you to dump bad clients without detriment to your financial well being. I have been where you are, stuck with a client that makes you insane, but with no other choice but to stick with them. That almost never turns out well.

I have been doing this long enough to see the writing on the wall with this client, so I spent an hour today setting myself up to return to one of my other clients I haven't utilized in awhile. There is money to be made there. It takes a little extra time and effort, but the pay is slightly better than the client I'm likely losing. I'll spend time tomorrow hitting the freelance boards looking for other opportunities.

So if you've made no other resolutions as a freelance writer, make a commitment to find other eggs for your basket. It gives you the freedom you need to earn and stay sane. Please don't ask me what other clients are out there. There are many freelance sites that have forums where you can ask that question. In the future, I'll be doing reviews of some clients, but right now, the ball is in your court. Go for it!




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