Sunday 14 July 2013

Blogs - Part 2

There is something about blogging that brings out the worst in some people. When you launch a blog two things will almost inevitably happen.

The first is that you will start receiving spam comments, nominally responding to what you wrote but in practice containing a link, or links, to some questionable site. I assume that somebody has created a software programme that trawls the net looking for places to post promotional material thinly camouflaged as an expression of interest or support. Clicking on the link provided is always bad idea: unless you want to give your virus or malware checker some work to do!

The second, albeit marginally less annoying, thing that will happen, is that people will ask to swap links to your blog for links to their blog. On the face of it there is nothing wrong with doing this: although links between blogs with totally unrelated target audiences presumably don’t generate many hits.

In practice many of the young bloggers who do this have a strange way of behaving. They could, proactively, put a link to my blog from theirs. Then they could make contact asking me to reciprocate. This approach is almost never used but would work almost every time.

They could make contact to suggest a mutual link swap and demonstrate their sincerity by offering to link to my blog first or they could make contact and say that once I had put a link on my blog they would do the same and then actually do so. Neither approach seems to get used very often.

In practice they tend to make contact to say that once I had put a link on my blog they would do the same but then “forget” to do so until reminded or they never get around to doing so even if reminded. Both approaches are commonly used but both unfailingly result in me regarding them negatively.

And the whole process makes me sigh every time!

Monday 8 July 2013

Blogs and why I like them

I like reading blogs. They open a little window into the life of a person that otherwise I would never meet. They can give me an insight into the thoughts and the daily lives of people, some of whom seem to live on an entirely different planet to me.

Some blogs I remember vividly include one written by a City of London banker whose entire world seemed to be ring-fenced by the M25. There was the teacher in rural North Dakota (USA) and the student teacher doing VSO in Calabar (Nigeria) whose combined experiences in teaching were so like mine but whose daily routines were entirely different from mine and from each other. 

There was the religious couple who had lost three children through miscarriage or still birth whose strength in adversity was quite simply awe inspiring and the youngster from South Wales who had a grade one hissy fit at every tiny thing that went wrong is her, apparently very affluent, world.

While some blogs are intended to be amusing - and a small number succeeded in this aim - most blogs are rather more mundane. A few blogs I discovered, usually by accident, were almost unbelievably poignant. I’ve read about a young married couple where the husband was dying from a rare degenerative disease, I’ve shared the pain and sense of injustice of a father whose ex-wife took their child back to Mexico (from Texas) and the story of the university lecturer whose “face didn’t fit”.

But all this enjoyment comes with a price attached. Bloggers come and go and are free to stop blogging whenever they want. None of the blogs I spoken about in this message have been added to in the last 6 months. Some remained accessible but inactive, dormant residues of a half-told story for weeks or months then vanished. Others were deleted with no warning and, presumably, few to mourn their passing.

But I remember them.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Nobody likes to be taken for a fool

Nobody likes to be taken for a fool so when people “try it on” with Claire the culprit can hardly be surprised when relationships become somewhat frosty.

Our gas fire is on an annual service contract so although it wasn’t causing us any concern it was given a full service only the other week. Curiously, almost immediately after the engineer’s visit, it developed a fault that required a second visit and the replacement of a part. So what exactly had the first visit achieved?

At best we were left wondering just how comprehensive the initial annual service had been if the cracks in such a key component hadn’t been discovered in the course of the visit. At worse we did have to wonder if the component failure and the visit of the engineer were somehow connected. That a profit yielding fault should appear so soon after the engineer departed seems rather too much of a co-incidence.

The part failure created the impression of a gas leak. What do you do when you have a gas leak - you report it and somebody is supposed to come out straight away. We did and they didn’t. It was an almost unbelievable 3 days before an engineer arrived.

Needless to say we are most unimpressed with the performance of the company and we will not be renewing our contract unless it proves to be impossible to make any alternative provision.

At the same time as this drama has been running we have had another repeat of the classic excuse “it must have got lost in the post” for one item coupled with “I never received it” for a second item. All the culprit has achieved has been to make themselves look somewhat less reliable than I had previously imagined. I had thought better of them and I'm disappointed.